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Published on 3 Jan 2008
As the days grew shorter approaching the winter solstice it seemed to our remote ancestors that the waning sun was in imminent danger of disappearing altogether. In earlier times human or animal sacrifice was offered to placate the gods. When this ceased people knew that something had to be done that would please these all-powerful, mysterious deities so they would restore the light, allow the days to lengthen and the forces of normality rebirth and regrowth to return. At Newgrange in the Boyne valley the shaft of light entering the chamber on the shortest day of the year did the trick. From time immemorial in Ireland the Christmas Mummers have practised sympathetic magic to achieve the same result. Following the struggle between the two hero figures representing the fight between the forces of light and darkness one falls to the ground. He represents the death of the old year. Dr Brown arrives and by his magical incantations cures the fallen body. He can achieve any consequence he desires simply by simulating the problem, treating it, and transferring the desired result by a process of cause and effect to the dysfunctional unit: in this case the movement of the sun and planets. Taking their name from the Sidhe Gaoithe (Fairy Whirlwind) of Irish folklore our Sligo Mummers is part of that unbroken living tradition. (More at www.sligoheritage.com)