Follow the light

Torches have been used as an iconic symbol throughout human history as a symbol of enlightenment or coming out of the darkness. We seem to fear the dark and as such it always used to represent the more distrustful and malignant elements in our existence. Good vs evil, light vs dark. This might be due to the fact that humans have such terrible night vision, unlike some other animals. Let’s take a look at some symbols of torches in our culture.

Olympic Torch – what could be more iconic than the revered Olympic Torch? In Olympia, where the Ancient Olympic Games took place, fire was considered to be a divine element and perpetual fires were left to burn in temples. The Olympic flame was lit by the sun to maintain it’s purity.

In the modern games, the flame represents all the wonderful things that fire has enable Man to achieve. It also continues to mark the connection between the ancient and modern games. The torch relay came into being in 1936 as the lighting of the flame coincided with a long relay of runners bringing torches from Olympia to the site of the games. Once the torch has arrived, it is used to light a cauldron that remains burning for the duration of the games.

Follow the light

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Statue of Liberty – the torch in her hand is a symbol of enlightenment and freedom and celebrates America’s Independence since 1776. It was once possible to climb the torch and sit on the somewhat precarious ledge but this was banned in 1916 following a rather explosive event. Black Tom was an island in New York Harbour but at 2am on July 30 1916 it was hit by a massive explosion from 2 million tons of materials left over from the war. Materials like TNT, black powder, shrapnel and dynamite! The explosion caused the same effect as an earthquake measuring 5.5 on the Richter Scale. Shrapnel became embedded in the Statue. It is believed that Germans caused the explosion to prevent the supplies from reaching the English but the torch has remained closed ever since.

Follow the light2

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Make sure you have your own freedom and enlightenment next time you go camping as it’s not much fun fumbling around the dark. For camping torches, visit

Torches and Pitchforks – this phrase relates to an angry or unruly mob who are seeking out vengeance or retaliation. It is thought to have arisen from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and that is how the phrase entered modern popular culture. Historically, they were probably the only two items that peasants had access to. Old monster movies have used this image of a torch for driving out evil and represents the fact that light offers us protection and warmth.

From our early caveman days, fire and light have transformed our lives enabling us to prepare food, stay safe and keep warm. As humans became more developed and our physical environment was more comfortable, it was time to stretch our brains and imaginations. Fire and light then became a symbol of hope, freedom and great ideas.

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