Helly Aa, Creeker Style

About 6:30 last evening, just after dusk, a couple hundred Roberts Creekers assembled at the mandala down by the beach for the kind of unusual that event creekers are known for. Burning torches, costumed vikings and mythical symbols circled, sang and chanted Helly Aa-Helly Aa-Helly Aa.

Parents and their wide eyed kids, elders, dogs, babies, it was a typical Roberts Creek gathering of the tribe. The excitement mounted as the jarl, Phillip the mota-vated, left the circle of torchbearers surrounding the locally made viking galley torch held high.Saying a few words about the spirit of the Raven and returning of the sun he lit the galley a midship. Each torchbearer in their turn added their torch to the blaze. The mythical Raven-man appeared and wove through the crowd and circled the blaze.

Helly Aa's exact origins are lost in the fog of history. Basically it was the festival that ended the yule season in the nordic world. The vikings burned ships, thiers and everybody else's, to celebrate great events like death, life, probably most anything, the vikings loved fire, conquest and celebration. Somehow the Helly Aa celebration migrated to Scotland about 150 years ago and replaced tar-barreling as the Scots favorite spectacle of fire and light. Some years back one of those Shetland Scotsmen moved to Roberts Creek and brought his end of yule festival with him.

Seeing many old friends, like Peter Light wearing his bull horn headdress and holding court at the pre-festival fire circle,  was probably the highest highlight for me.

A bonfire, a neo-pagan ritual, chanting-singing, multi-generational, counter cultural... just another evening in Roberts Creek.