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I have to admit that this title had me stumped. I really could not think of anything to comment upon that had happened in the world or had to do with the craft of writing which involved the concepts of fire and ice… I spent a while pondering possibilites – talking about opposites, for example, and how plots in stories often need these to create tension. However, nothing I could think of really inspired me. I mean, what has been happening in the UK recently that has involved a large flame?

Oh yeah…

Danny Boyle performed a massive ritual a week and a half ago which, according to many of my friends, transformed The Shire into Mordor and raised a massive, flaming eye above the stadium so that Sauron could get a good view of the Olympics.

How the hell could I have missed that?

Luckily, this massive ritual seems to have been successful. Not only did Sauron get his premium seat in the stadium but he seems to have blessed team GB with success. Because, suddenly, as if by magic, we are apparently good at Olympic sports*. That is some serious mojo there because, for as long as I can remember, we have always been rather middling at all sports. Plus, it cannot be denied that the Olympics, including the rather exciting wins we have had, have been a great boost to morale in the UK.

Personally, I there think that whatever sacrifice Grand Magistar of the Great Ritual, Danny Boyle, made to the Dark Lord Sauron to achieve this was definitely worth it.**

So, yes, the Olympic flame. It is actually a very powerful symbol supposed to commemorate the theft of fire from the gods by Prometheus (possibly the first theft in the same way as Cain performed the first homicide…) and is also an example (possibly the only existing modern example?) of what is known in religious/spiritual terms as an eternal flame (feel free to insert an appropriate joke about The Bangles here…). That is, a flame which is kept constantly tended and, rather than being put out and relit is passed on from vessel to vessel.

In fact, the modern Olympic flame is lit on Mount Olympus by eleven women representing Vestal Virgins using the light of the sun and is transferred to the new host country using torches lit from that original flame in one hell of a long relay race (which did pass very close to my house at one point, I think they got lost on the way as we are a few hundred miles north of the direct route between Athens and London).  There is a hell of a lot of symbolism inherent in that set up, not least the ideas of continuity and eternity. My point? Well, I joked that Danny Boyle was performing a massive magical ritual as part of his opening ceremony but in reality he actually was. The whole Olympics, from the opening ceremony to the closing ceremony, is packed with magical and religious symbols and whether you believe in gods, magic or whatever or not these symbols still have an affect on the human psyche. Psychologically, we have been programmed over our entire evolution to put significance on these things and respond to them with the appropriate level of awe. Fire is one of the strongest of these – Olympic flames, burning bushes, burnt offerings, all have been instrumental in our beliefs throughout history.

The scars in the path here were caused by flood damage. Photo taken on Monday 6th August 2012 at Drinkwater Park, Prestwich

What about Ice? Ah, you thought I had forgotten about ice…. Well, no, I hadn’t and my Olympic theme holds true. No, I am not talking about the Winter Olympics (which does seem to get forgotten in this country, not really been talked about much since the days of Torville and Dean and Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Edwards) but about the strange thing that happened the day after what has been described as our greatest Olympic day (Saturday 4th August, when we won oh so many medals). A massive storm raged over Manchester causing massive flooding in my local area. Now, summer storms are not unusual and flooding has been known to happen on occasion. However, the really freaky thing about this storm was that it hailed. Yes, hail. Lumps of ice fell from the sky in August on a day that had been very warm. Now, I am no expert on the weather but I think I am right in thinking that this was a somewhat unusual occurence. Clearly, whatever Boyle did had side effects which affected the weather… Maybe the powerful symbol of fire needed the equally powerful ice to balance it amd restore equilibrium to the universe?

So, there you have it… Fire and Ice, important psychological symbols which still impact us in the supposedly more secular and less superstitious modern age. Whether you are writing fantasy, horror, science fiction or even a simple contemporary romance you can use such concepts to induce potent emotions in your readers. Just as the Olympic flame has induced a great passion for sport among people who would not normally care.

* Yeah, ok, we were good at Beijing too but this year we are better… Of course, despite actually being third in the medals table behind the USA and China, according to the British media we are still apparently ‘winning’ the Olympics…

** Ok, yeah, I do not deny that all our athletes are incredibly talented and have worked hard at their sport. But we seem to suffer from bad luck a lot… missing out on gold by mere inches. This year, that bad luck has evaporated and it is about damn time it did.

Ok, Blog chains… this is how it works. You ‘ve read this one so now you are legally bound to read all the others. There is a special server in the MI5 building set aside *just* for tracking who reads what on this blog chain so they *will* find you out… If you fail in this task, the IOC will have to take all the gold medals away from whichever country you are from so the honour of your country depends on this! The list of participants is below….

Participants and posts:
orion_mk3 – http://nonexistentbooks.wordpress.com (link to this month’s post)
Ralph Pines – http://ralfast.wordpress.com/ (link to this month’s post)
areteus – https://lurkingmusings.wordpress.com/ (link to this month’s post)
Catherine Hall – http://theelephantinthetemple.blogspot.com/ (link to this month’s post)
bmadsen – http://www.bernardmadsen.com/ (link to this month’s post)
pyrosama – http://matrix-hole.blogspot.com/ (link to this month’s post)
magicmint – http://www.loneswing.com/ (link to this month’s post)
meowzbark – http://erlessard.wordpress.com/ (link to this month’s post)
tomspy77 – http://thomaswillamspychalski.wordpress.com/ (link to this month’s post)
BBBurke – http://www.awritersprogression.com/ (link to this month’s post)
writingismypassion – http://charityfaye.blogspot.com/ (link to this month’s post)
Proach – http://desstories.blogspot.com/ (link to this month’s post)
randi.lee – http://emotionalnovel.blogspot.com/ (link to this month’s post)
BigWords -http://bigwords88.wordpress.com/ (link to this month’s post)