The autumnal equinox is almost upon us.
At this time of year, the ancient Celts conducted a mock sacrifice of a large wicker man which represented the vegetation spirit. This might have been the origin of Julius Caesar’s comment in his “Commentarii de Bello Gallico” (Commentary on the Gallic Wars) that the Druids performed human sacrifice. Although he never witnessed a human sacrifice and never met anyone who had, this story has been accepted and repeated often enough to be accepted as truth.
In modern times the figure has been adopted for festivals. The Celtic sacrifice has been reborn in the Burning Man Project, a yearly fall festival celebrated for one week in Black Rock Desert in Nevada. A wicker man is burned each year at Butser Ancient Farm in Hampshire, England as part of neopagan-themed ceremonies.
The Wicker Man, a movie staring Nicholas Cage and set in the Pacific Northwest, was released in 2006. The original was done in 1973 and filmed at various locations in Scotland. It starred Christopher Lee, Edward Woodward and Britt Eckland. I think the original is still the best.