Sparks of light…

Bonfire night. In Britain, it is celebrated on November 5th every year to commemorate the death of Guy Fawkes. He was the conspirator charged with lighting the fuse on the thirty-six barrels of gunpowder secreted in a cellar beneath the Houses of Parliament in 1605.

It was a time of religious intolerance, when politics, power and religion were intimately linked. King Henry VIII had broken with Rome  with the Act of Supremacy in 1534 and for seventy years and through the reigns of the last Tudor monarchs, the pendulum had swung between religious factions. When James VI of Scotland, son of the beheaded Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots, came to the English throne after the death of Elizabeth, the Catholic community hoped for a return of their faith and position. King James made it clear that this would not be the case and a plot was devised to assassinate the king by blowing up the Houses of Parliament during the State Opening when the monarch would be present.

The plot was unmasked and Guy Fawkes found, arrested and tortured. He was not the ringleader…just the man handling the explosives, but he was sentenced to death for treason. To escape being hung, drawn and quartered, he leapt to his death from the scaffold and broke his neck.

And we celebrate this. Until 1959 it was required by law that we celebrate, though the decree was for attendance at church and a giving of thanks.  Today we seldom look beyond the effigy of the ‘guy’ that is burned on bonfires, or the fireworks that are set off to mimic the unexploded barrels.

During my childhood, bonfires were communal affairs. Families or neighbours would come together around a small bonfire, sharing the fireworks and the food prepared by each household. For weeks beforehand the children would have been ‘chumping’… finding wood for the fires… and making the ‘guy’. The effigy would be paraded or taken house to house and pennies would be given that went towards the cost of fireworks. When you think about it, the whole thing is rather gruesome, but the history and its implications were but vaguely known, and deemed of little importance. To us, as children, it was just fun…

Continue reading at: The Silent Eye

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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16 Responses to Sparks of light…

  1. Pingback: Sparks of light… – The Militant Negro™

  2. “Remember, remember
    the Fifth of November.
    Gunpowder, treason and plot.”
    That’s what we learned from our English teacher after she told us about Guy Fawkes. 😉 It’s some Fourty five years ago, but I still have it very clear in my mind. 😉


  3. Jack Eason says:

    I used to enjoy Bonfire night when I was a child. These days I loath it for two reasons. 1. It scares the hell out of people’s pets. 2. Round here people keep the neighbourhood awake for at least a week either side of November 5th. Bah humbug 😦


  4. I’ve always found it sort of funny that there’s a national holiday for the supposed traitor. It would be like America having a Benedict Arnold day. With fireworks and fake hangings and all the GOOD stuff.


  5. Widdershins says:

    It was the first alchemical tool … turning a bunch of wet smooshed-up grains into bread. 🙂


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