Krampus’s Night

Before Rome, there was Krampus, the wild man of the mountains, a kind of Sasquatch who lured children away. He was sort of like the Ratcatcher of Hameln. The Romans understood that their state was founded on his energy. So did the founders of the American Republic. Note the “Out of Many, One”, and the bundle of sticks. It’s a warlike bundle, but unified.

You can see it in a Bohemian glass Krampus on my Christmas tree, where it is represented as a trident. You can, perhaps, just make out the chain that he is wearing like an Imperial sash (those Czechs have a sense of humour, for sure). It too is one out of many. This is a figure of binding and holding together. Note his golden crown. It’s like he was a saint, or an emperor.

Note as well his long black tongue. This makes him an old fertility god as well, a kind of backwards unity: instead of one out of many bound together by discipline, there are many men, bound together by one urge. In other words, Krampus is the force of life rising in the Earth and bursting forth in human society, and ordering it. This is the force we see again in asparagus, and then, in its full bloom, at Easter, when he dead rise. This is the kind of stuff that changes the world. In the United States and Canada, the Lands of Coca Cola, he is known as this guy:

Whichever form his disruption takes, may you over him your blessings. Just remember, whatever darkness he shows (and Santa’s excess above certainly has some of its own), is not from him but the social lens that he appears in. Here he shows up in Oberndorf, of “Silent Night” fame:

Everyone needs a Sasquatch or two to keep the night silent and blessed. Our human shape has deep roots, that we can put on or take off at will. Will, is the key. Tonight we choose light.

6 replies »

  1. I’m pretty sure that the bundle of sticks/arrows in the eagle’s talons refers to the era of the Roman republic, a symbol of authority (and maybe the power of life and death).

    However groups like the fascists of Mussolini and the Phalangists of Lebanon used them symbols of power that seems to some as having more to do with war than unity.

    Then, again, I used to play the bassoon, which in Italian is fagotto, I think.


    • Cool about the bassoon!

      Rome took the idea from Krampus.

      And the American Republic from Rome.

      The bundle of sticks, bound together with the axe that cut them. Such a symbol of duty, force and power.

      But what came before it, that’s the question I was trying to tease a little. What came before Krampus was demonized?

      Well, we’ll likely never know. Pan, perhaps. And your bassoon!



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