It's that time of the year, the clocks have gone back, the evenings are getting darker, and menacing ghoulish Tories still stalk the land causing division and chaos and so much discontentment.
Today marks Halloween, however I prefer its true name Samhein the literal translation being‘summer’s end. It is the Gateway to winter, a time when the veils between the realms of the living and the afterlife were said to be especially thin, marking a time for reflection to honor the worlds of the seen and unseen. 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, and Calan gaef in Welsh 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 ancient Celts divided their year into two seasons: the light and the dark, at Beltane on 1st May and Samhain on November 1. Many believe that Samhain was the more important festival, marking the beginning of a new cycle / new year,and the most magical time of this festival was November Eve, the night of 31st October, better known today as Halloween..
In the country year, Samhain marked the first day of winter, when the herders led the cattle and sheep down from their summer pastures to the shelter of the stables, .in order to determine how many animals could be adequately fed through the winter. Those not able to be cared for were butchered, which would help to feed the family during the dark days ahead. It is partially due to this practice that Samhain is sometimes referred to as the ‘blood harvest.’
With the rise of Christianity, Samhain was changed to Hallowmas, or All Saints’ Day, to celebrate the saints in heaven, and so the night before became popularly known as Halloween. The 2nd November became All Souls Day, when prayers were to be offered to the souls of the departed. Throughout the centuries, pagan and Christian beliefs and celebrations have intertwined
Over the years we have ended up with the modern commercialised, corporate version that is now known as halloween far from its original roots when children dress up in Ghoulish costumes and go out trick and treating in what was developed in America in the late 19th and early 20th century replacing what in reality is such a sacred day The old ways are still with us despite the grip of large corporations, the real reason and respect for this occasion has never been lost. Samhein and its energy has never fully died out and still burns bright. Samhain fires have continued to light up the countryside down the ages., In some areas, ashes from these bonfires were sprinkled on surrounding fields. The day is also about remembrance and contemplation. Our ancestors, the blessed dead, are more accessible, more approachable during the time of the dying of the land. A day to commune with the dead and a celebration of the eternal cycle of reincarnation to honor our ancestors and remember our deceased loved ones.
Whether you believe in spirits or not isn't important. What we are remembering is our own mortality. By honoring the dead we are paying attention to the fact that we are alive and life is rare and precious.
The Election campaign of our lifetime is just beginning. No witchcraft or magic, no tricks, just people working together for a better future for all in our lovely beautiful country.This General Election is about down- to-earth, bread and butter issues facing a country blighted by a decade of Tory austerity and misrule.
Lets take this once in a lifetime opportunity to rebuild our society, like our parents and grandparents did after WW2. Labour can rebuild our society to mend our divisions and try and take on the vested interests holding people back.
In the meantime I offer you some bright blessings .
Though darkness treads this day of ours
today is one of celebrating light,
time to remember the paths of ancestors
forever casting their eternal beams,
goddesses returning, resurrecting feeling
whispering enchantment, releasing power,
as the veil of life gets thinner and dimmer
time to welcome old spirits that walk among us,
that enable us to dance and sing again
beyond this realm allows us to be blessed,
as leaves turn golden, and fall to nourish the land
under trees branches we can all nobly stand,
mother earth reaching out offering protection
absorbing our longings, accepting our wrongs,
in the vortex of time, keeps on shining bright
guiding us as we follow ancient paths of wisdom,
slipping through time, surrounded by love
allowing truth and justice to be the natural law.
( when the barrier between the worlds is whisper-thin and when magic, old magic, sings its heady and sweet song to anyone who cares to hear it.
~Carolyn MacCullough, Once a Witch)