A Bluff Tradition: Winter Solstice Burn

Photo (c) Josh Ewing

Blue Herons Burn on Bluff Winter Solstice

This past Wednesday, December 21st, 2016 Bluff welcomed friends from across the Four Corners for the ritual burning of two giant blue heron sculptures - one as tall as 35 feet.

The herons were constructed over the past 2 months by Bluff artist Joe Pachak with as many as 50 helpers. The towering birds were made primarily of local willow and sage and when completed, were surrounded by a soft nest of willows.

The Winter Solstice is the longest and darkest night of the year so to celebrate the coming of longer, brighter days, Bluff has started a tradition of hosting winter burnings. In the past, giant mammoths, bison, and other sculptures were burned.

The wooden sculptures are lit with atl-atls, an ancient technology used in hunting by earlier paleolithic inhabitants in the area. This year, a few young kids had the honor of throwing the first flaming spears to light the birds. Watch the video below to see favorite moments of the burn.

Photo (c) Amanda Lincoln Bouchard

After months of construction, the two herons were bid farewell with a poem and interpretive dance and then burned in a quick 20 minutes. The town and its guests danced, cheered and beat drums to celebrate the past year and usher in the new.

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