Monday, 22 October 2012

Samhain/Halloween To Understand it, is to Live it.

For a moment, step out of the body glove that we call “home” and allow your consciousness to float backward in time, Before the age of computers, before the age of industry, before the age of organized religion and worship. You are a farmer, living on the steppes of the Celtic landscape. The air, is cool with a nip of moisture to it, the days of light seem to be shorter and shorter, and the crops, are slowing down. Think of your livestock, grazing in the mountains, enjoying the sweetness of the grass in higher elevation. Think of your family, comfortably settling into their huts, and think of the responsibility of the months that lie ahead. “Samhain” is drawing near.. Summers End is knocking at the threshold of nature, slowly and insidiously leaving it’s mark along the countryside. Neighbors from near and far are harvesting the last of their crops, hoping that the fruits of their vigilance will last them through the harsh months of cold that lie ahead. The valleys are beginning to fill with the noise of herded livestock as shepherds bring their herds down from the mountains to the safest reprieve they can find to protect them from the dark months ahead. They thin the herds and salt their meats, smoking them in huts so that they can persevere throughout the Winter months in makeshift smokehouses that are now beginning to dot the landscape. People are beginning to gather in a central location within the valley with as much spare food as they can rummage… the last great feast of the year is to take place soon. Bonfires will glow luminescent through the night and stories of great battles, great courage and great romance will be imparted to the younger generations by their elders who play “Russian roulette” with their lives every dawning of the winters breath. Many of these elders will not survive the cruel environment that is to come. This is their last chance to impart the knowledge and wisdom on the children and young people who will continue the bloodlines
The fires are lit… and the roar to the ceiling of the sky, offerings of fruits, vegetables and animals are made to the Sun and the Moon, a payment of sorts for bountiful harvest. As the fires encompass the offerings.. the remainder of the passing year is cleansed through flame, so that the New Year can begin without any burden of past upsets. Costumes are adorned, and the celebration moves into full swing.. the dances of life and death, the acknowledgement of cyclical nature, surround the bonfires. Celebrations of the release of souls, trapped in animal form beget a harmonious display of man and movement, as the souls depart their animal skins and move on to their new incarnations. Costumes that are worn, show a respect to this celebration, as well as work as a defense against more malevolent forces that seek to destroy the yields of the next harvests. Holy men, see through the veils of life and death to impart messages and shed light on the nature and length of the winter months ahead. This is a pivotal part of this celebration as the existence of entire villages depended upon the accuracy of these prophecies and communications. As the celebration draws to a close, and the New Year approaches, each family will light an ember from the great bonfires to bring to their homes and light their hearths with. These fires, will continue to burn night and day until the first melting begins. Food and water, are set upon each doorstep or entry to prevent winter roaming spirits from playing tricks.

This my friends, is the history of the holiday which is referred to as “All Hallows Eve” or “Halloween”. While in current times, it is a celebration for children, it’s roots, run very deep into our history, and lead to a time when this festival was not only one to celebrate the end of a harvest season, but it was also a way to say goodbye to those who would not make it through the harsh winters, as well as hello to the spirits of those who had gone ahead of them. The impact of this holiday has left a large enough mark on history that it has never been forgotten, and although it has changed, and become what a modern society believes it should be.. the beauty of it’s roots, deserves the respect of carrying on to the generations to come.


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