Thursday, 31 October 2013
Today marks Halloween, Samhain, All Hallows, All Saints or Winters Eve,The Festival of the Dead. There are several explanations for its origin, one being the Roman festival of the dead 'Parentalia', but another origin, not necessarily exclusive from the Roman one, is from the ancient Celtic old day of Samhein (sa-wain). and most of the traditions that we celebrate on Halloween have its origins in Celtic/Gaelic Culture.
Samhein, which means November in Irish, was the end of summer and the harvest season in the Celtic calender. It was the last great feast held outdoors before the cold months to come. The last night of October also marked the ancient Celts New Years Eve. Marking the end of the summer and the beginning of Winter.
The Celts believed that on Samhein, the veil between the living and the dead was dropped for one day, and the spirits of the living could intermingle with the spirits of the dead. The spirits that could now cross into the land of the kiving were dangerous, and often played tricks both playful and malevolent on theliving. In an effort to stop those spirits from meddling with the dead and playing tricks on them, the living would dress up in costumes and masks in order to fool the spirits into thinking that they were one of them. This is where the idea of trick and treating comes from.
It was I guess the Christian religion that replaced the early origins with it's own traditions and celebrations with Pope Gregory 11 moving the christian holiday of 'all hollows Eve' from May 13th to November 1st to coincide with the feast of Samhein, to downplay the festivals pagan roots, but in many parts of the world on this night special cakes and food are prepared for the dead and remember departed loved ones.
Over the years we have ended up with the modern commercialised, corporate version that is now known as halloween. But Samhein and its energy has bever fully died out and still burns bright.
The following is a poem that I have composed to mark the occasion. Happy Samhein have a magical time.
There was a sprinke of magic in the air,
drifting on a pitch black night,
as the wind hummed and cried,
bending and twisting,
its shadows and shapes.
We heard a knock,
rattling on the door,
we slipped outside,
into the dark,
but no one was there,
just a cigarette,
smouldering on fallen autumn leaves.
A gust rose up,
a lost soul perhaps?
looking for shelter,
then we heard a primeaval roar,
its siren releasing,
an enticing whistle,
that connected us,
to the evenings presence,
poking at logic.
But we'd had enough of trickery,
it was getting to late to fathom,
we kissed goodnight,
to the other side of the moon,
where we concealed our mysteries,
buried our illusion,
beyond the dance of spirits,
whirling through the cosmos.