Friday, January 02, 2015

A night of light . . .

We had been driving east through the Canadian Rockies, a very long day, when we finally came to the first sign of a settlement, a lovely bed and breakfast near a small lake. The owner invited us to sit in the hot tub late that night for the Merry Dancers were expected.

Northern Lights by James Medcalf (Flickr 2012)
The Romans and Greeks recorded stories about the Northern Lights. Cultures close to the far north and far south have very different legends about these Northern Lights. 

Scots from the Orkney Islands call them the Merry Dancers, from the Gaelic, Na Fir-Chlis, roughly translated as 'the nimble ones' who, according to legend, fought in the sky. 

Some say these sheets of color that fill the sky are a portent of storms to come. In northern Canada, the Cree believe the lights are the spirits of ancestors, saying "If we rub our hands together as we watch the lights, these spirits will dance in the sky."

We shivered in the cold night and saw on the horizon faint but awe-inspiring smudges of colors -- red, green and yellow. But this video, The Night of the Northern Lights, shows better than words, the wonder of these lights.

Read more about the Merry Dancers at The Dark Sky Diary and about their mythology at Luminarium.

No comments: