Saturday, November 01, 2008

Samhain.. an addendum to... Be Very Afraid

...an excerpt from The Pagan Book of Days........



"Samhain or Samhuinn, November 1, marks the beginning of winter, at which time it was customary to slaughter livestock. (sorry to all who are vegetarians but this comes from another time when this was necessary to survive) Its Eve marked the End of the old year in the Celtic calendar and its Dawn, the Beginning of the New Year....

Samhain is thus a time Between the Years and Between the Worlds, when the veil between the Present and the Past... the Living and the Dead... is Thin... It is the Festival of the Dead, that time of Year when we Remember our Ancestors and Hail our Descendants....

In the Christian tradition, November 1 celebrates All of the Departed Saints, while November 2, Remembers the Souls of all the Dead not elevated to Sainthood. Materially the nature of the Festival, as with many other celebrations, is the same in the Pagan and the Christian Traditions....
The Festival of Samhain is celebrated widely on its Eve... This is the Christianized Festival of All Hallows' Eve, popularly known as Halloween... which is observed after dark on Oct. 31.... The masks, bats, skeletons and witches hats of present day Halloween parties are a modern expression of the Pagan Festival of Remembrance of Death and the Departed...

In the Natural year, Samhain is the third harvest when in former days, Animals were slaughtered and their meat smoked or salted down for Winter... The tangible link with the Dead at Samhain is present in the custom of Divinations on Halloween...."




I wanted to add this addendum as I think many of us have forgotten what this festival is all about.. I know I like learning more about it...
and it is good to remember the reasons why we do things......



The feast of Samhain (pronounced sow-ain) marks the onset of a darker, more introspective time of year...

19 comments:

Anet said...

This is a wonderful, interesting post Gwen. I have been learning a bit about Samhain lately.
So many of the holidays have pagen roots. I really enjoyed learning more about this time of year!

mansuetude said...

oh secretly i am so glad that blood is gone...

why i am craving onion ice cream... its nowhere to be seen! I will freeze one big vidalia onion and suck on it later--add some whip cream on top... yummm... keeps the vampires off.

**
When would the third harvest be traditionally? The equinox, sometime in September? Moon based?

I think of today as All Saints, and yesterday as Day of the dead, though more to my liking is today... to imagine the saints (the souls who help maintain the good flow) are a gift... at least to me.

There seems a theme running through the soul of things here-- the line between new life and old; the rebirth principle...
a special place.

(I might need to borrow some Cheerios)

Gwen Buchanan said...

What a coincidence Anet... .. I just discovered this when I was looking up something about All Saint's Day.. Funny how we come across things we always wondered about by happenstance.. or synchronicity which is something Mansuetude was speaking of on her blog.. which I related to..

....

mansuetude, I would love to see you sucking on a frozen onion.. now that would be a sight...
my mother likes raw onion sandwiches, a liking that was not passed on..... loved them cooked though...

Since i am just discovering more about Samhain myself... I am no expert by any means, but i am taking it as a Late harvest... as in animals or meat... maybe the final harvest of the season...
I would think the temperature would have to get down to very cool so the meat could be stored for a while during the preparation time without spoiling...

I always thought of this day Nov. 1 as All Saints Day too... not on the second.. but I guess things alter a bit as time goes on.. I am also thinking it was sort of like our Thanksgiving.. right in the middle.. Canada's in Oct. and the States in November...

I think you are more observant than I was about the theme of things, but then maybe it is only the natural way.. and it is hard to avoid...

please have a handfull..(OOOOOOOOO)

Ruth said...

Thanks for this, Gwen. A couple of years ago I got the We'Moon Calendar, have you ever seen that? It's wonderfully full of art and writings connected with Gaia rhythms for 'womyn.' I haven't gotten it since then. Here's what Deborah Koff-Chapin wrote in 2000. I like the additional ideas for making Samhain personal and for using what has died to feed what will live. It's a little long:

"Samhain, or Hallowmas, is the Celtic New Year, a time to honor the dying season. The remains of this year's harvest begin to decompose and transform into fertilizer for next year's crops. This transformation of refuse will fertilize next year's crops, providing nourishment to sustain us.

Samhain is an opportunity for us to focus on how death, separation or loss have affected us as loving beings. We can work with our disappointments and grief, clearing ourselves for a more open expression of love. Create an altar honoring a former friendship, lover or deceased relative. Cover it with keepsakes and mementos, being aware of feelings that come up. Honor these heart-cycles of death and rebirth. Are there feelings you want to relase and transform? One way to enact transformation is to gather stones, hold them; energize them with the feelings you want to let go. Fill your pockets with the stones and go to a creek, river or ocean. Toss the stones into the water; notice how much lighter the load is without them. The water of emotion soothes and breaks down the stones of our heart challenges, eventually becoming silt for new growth."

Anet said...

Gwen,
I have a blog friend named Amy. She lives in Maine and has a wonderful blog. She has written wonderful post about Samhain. I've learned alot from her.
Samhain is a time of slowing down and resting. The growing season slows and rest and we should too. Here's a link to her blog if you'd like to check it out.
http://onbradstreet.blogspot.com/

My husband's Native American side have a Ghost Supper around this time of year. To honor their spirit of their deceased family members. Turkey, traditional foods, like wild rice and the favorite dishes of their loved ones are on the menu. It's really a lovely evening.
I'm thinking of having one at our house instead of Thankgiving. Which we have trouble embracing sometimes. (The English vs. Native people thing.) The first Thankgiving feast really didn't happen the way our teachers in school taught us.
Caleb is rubbing off on me...I really need truth!
Happy Samhain to you!

mansuetude said...

i'm fascinated by the "Ghost supper" ... I always thought we stole the Thanksgiving from the Natives... (that word stole might spread like wildfire in this context.. but not to go there)

Your mother has great taste i see! :)

Wondering what happens in Florida, its too hot to do that to meats... so much of my symbolic inner life is New England seasonal based.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Ruth this is beautiful.. I love to find these details and they feel so familiar..
...such a natural thing to do.. .. and there it is.. a practice that has gone on for hundreds of years or longer.. a way for us all to comfort ourselves.. and therefore be at peace.. and hopefully carry this peaceful attitude over in our outside selves...
Thank you so much for sharing this, Ruth!
I really like the owl on the cover at the We Moon site...

Gwen Buchanan said...

Thanks Anet, for all link ... I really appreciate it.. I will love to learn more about this... one thing leads to another doesn't it.. so wonderful.. Filling ourselves with the knowledge of the ages.. and understanding where and why these activities have been passed on from...

Traditions have a way of passing beyond different cultures and beliefs... the world goes round and round and passes through the seasons and everything has a bearing on most everything else.. everything is relative...

I hope you have a most heartfelt traditional Native Feast celebrating your husbands and childrens background.. how wonderful to see the connection...

A lovely Samhain to you too!!!

Gwen Buchanan said...

mansuetude, to take part in and understand that most cultures have much in common is very enlightening.. we are really all one people...
....

Ah... another lover of raw onions!! Mom will be so pleased to hear..

...
people who lived in very hot climates must have dried their meat... and food as well, I would think... OOOOOOO

So you have seen the seasons in different climates... you must be so much more aware of the weather than me.. who has never lived any other place... I would like to hear about it...

denise said...

We seem to be synchronous, Gwen. :) My boys were asking about all this Halloween stuff, and so we chatted about where it all came from and how we got to this today. So interesting to see them question and wonder and understand.

Lovely post.

mansuetude said...

it seems hallows eve means holy evening, ... as i am told... and that an old Italian woman always celebrated the day before Halloween as holy and would bring my nephews and sister candy; make her drink zambuka... though i am spelling it wrong.

Doesn't the Jewish calendar also change into a new year in late September, about the equionox...late, the harvest... and I think i remember reading that the Celts were actually likely to have copied a lot of the old books lost in Alexandria. An Irish friend of mine had a book about that, the old Irish monks were great scribes, and kept what was lost elsewhere, in war and fire...

makes sense... i should ask about that book again,..

holy night... it seems like a long night, with the clocks turned back...

Penny said...

thank you for this, here in Australia we dont seem to do much of any thing with this except follow the Americans in trick or treat, I have always known of it as All Hallows Eve, before All saints day and also about the celtic pagan religion before, nothing is new. It is all quite fascinating and I am always amazed that so many people know so little about it.

Gwen Buchanan said...

mansuetude, it is Amazing how our bodies and brains register the light conditions and are aware of it without us realizing it till a whole hour is shifted... I constantly felt it was later all day long ...

we are little clocks...

and the moon was a golden sliver... hanging early in the south-west, very clear, crisp, constellation-filled sky, covering the still ocean all the way across to the twinkling lights on the other side of the bay...

it is enough to make your heart stop ...

Gwen Buchanan said...

Denise, our attention is turned to the changes isn't it and it seems to call out for celebration... Your sons will be very aware understanding adults one day... such a good mother you are...... thank you..

Gwen Buchanan said...

it would be good, Penny, if the candy part wasn't such a highlight... it seems commercialism and advertising has taken away the history and meaning of most holidays or celebrations...

such a shame...

I am so happy to learn more from those that know...

mansuetude said...

little clocks... ahh!
I love that...

*
dew drop
grass seed
cinnamon
rain drop
oatmeal cookie

Gwen Buchanan said...

mansuetude you have such a lovely nature...

Serena said...

I love learning about all the traditions of times passed. Here, in Australia, I often feel confused being that our seasons are the opposite so this would surely have an effect for the timing and reasoning behind some celebrations/traditions....eg. the slaughtering of animals just before the winter season (shudder at the thought - I'm vegan..lol)...September through to March/April are our warmer months.

Btw, before going vegan, cheese and raw onion sandwiches with salt and lots of pepper was one of my favourite sandwiches. Sadly, I'm not a huge fan of soy cheeses. :(

Gwen Buchanan said...

We are upside-down to each other aren't we Serena...

I know that the slaughtering of animals is not a pleasant thought to many people but many need this form of nourishment to survive...

I am not embarrassed to say that our family hunted for our food when we were growing up.. and For that I give thanks to the beasts and honour them... they sustained us.. it was a necessity...

I do love onions too...