Sunday 28 October 2012


Deus Invictus Sol Mithras

It was a matter of urgency to travel back south from Scotland yesterday, the night  Britons officially enter the Months of Murk and millions become catatonically depressed. Since our rulers insist (for no good reason[i]) that daylight is more important at breakfast than in the late afternoon, British Summertime is officially suspended. In Scotland, the midwinter sun sets at an obscene THREE O’CLOCK in the afternoon. 

The Plague of Darkness afflicts Durham University in January
Seasonal Affective Disorder was not recognised as a medical condition until 1984. But there is a resounding reference to it in the Odyssey book 11. The hero describes how he found the entrance to Hell in the land of the Cimmerians, their land and city ‘swathed in fog  and cloud. The shining sun never looks upon them with his beams when he climbs the starry heavens or when he turns again to earth from heaven, but ruinous night is spread over mortals, causing them misery’. On January 2 2004 I experienced a day in the city of Durham in the far north of England when because of rainclouds it never got light at all. It was like a portent in a Senecan tragedy.  Cimmerian Durham had clearly been visited by Odysseus before me and, like him, I needed to get out of there.

The temple of Mithras at Carrawburgh
One of the stupidest questions asked by scholars of religion is Why did Roman Soldiers in Britain like the mystery cult of Mithras so much? The answer is patently obvious to anyone with S.A.D. The soldiers on Hadrian’s Wall near Durham came from lands like France with slightly more claim to perceptible winter afternoons. The darkness of northern Britain compelled them to cultivate the hero who slays the Bull of Darkness and brings back the Invincible and Unconquered Sun. Like another famous hero, Mithras was born on Dec. 25, which meant that the Gaulish squaddies could hold a party around the shortest day of the year.

My four-point plan for survival this winter is this (NB fellow sufferers, those UV lamps DON’T WORK!):

My 2012 Christmas Mithrasmas card
  • Embark on annual massive supplementary dose of SSRIs. 
  • Advance book cheapest available Greek package holiday for late August 2013, to look forward to throughout the Great Gloom. 
  • Support the very well organised campaign, who have amassed overwhelming evidence to show that retaining British Summertime all year is beneficial to the nation’s health, sanity, carbon-profile and tourist trade.   
  •  Build a cave underneath the kitchen in which to celebrate  Mithras’ birth from the Cosmic Egg (or alternatively from an Iranian Rock Face) on 25 December, the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti.  The products of a slaughtered bull need also to be prepared: I never did like turkey.

[i] The opinion of unspecified ‘farmers’ is usually cited. No farmer I know could care less, since cows don’t use clocks.


  1. The GMT/BST debate always strikes me as a completely false spectacle. It is the unthinking obedience to "Captain Clock" that should be called into question.

    If you don't like dark mornings, why not show up later at work?


    Scientific evidence shows that teenagers learn better from 11am also? So why does school start at nine?


    Because the point is not the time, or the amount of daylight, but that you learn to OBEY! The clocks going forward and back twice a year really is a "Jump? Yessir! How high?" phenomenon.

    Anyone with insufficient autonomy to reject social time and live their life at a chosen latitude according to the astronomical time prevailing there is bound to be somewhat oppressed and therefore somewhat depressed.

  2. I could not agree with you more! If I didn't have to earn a living according to my employers' timetable, get teenagers out of bed according to their schools' instructions, and obediently catch trains to enable these things to happen, I would certainly reject social time and get less depresses!