Samhain, & New Beginnings......
Had a fascinating weekend,
initially congratulating the Autumn Equinox Poetry Competition winners in Celestial Elf poetry group (2nd life)
and then configuring the Samhain/Halloween Poetry competition....
Which gave me occasion to consider the meaning of 'Samhain' and by extension, the Ancient Festivals in general....
The Cycle of Seasons
To the Celts, time was circular, not linear – reflected in their starting each day, and therefore each festival, at dusk (as one day ends, the next begins). It was measured by the changing seasons, which represented the faces fo the goddess of the land.
The Celtic view of the circularity of time is also reflected in the Celtic year, beginning with Samhain at the end of October, when nature appears to be dying down, but could also be seen as preparing for a new life. Tellingly the first month of the Celtic year is Samonios: “Seed-fall”: in other words, life and light emerge from death and darkness.
Celtic peoples preserved a sense of rhythm and continuity in their lives through the seasonal festivals. Many of these survive in some form today, the most notable relating to May Day and Halloween.
Pronounced “sauwain” was celebrated with ritual bonfires and is the origin of Halloween.
The Celtic year began with Samhain at the end of October, a time of deliberate misrule and contrariness.
It was also thought to be a time when the dead could return to warm themselves at the fires of the living, and when poets were able to enter the Otherworld.
Cattle were brought in for the winter, and in Ireland the warrior elite gave up war until Beltain (May Day).
Coming at lambing time, around the end of January, Imbolc celebrated the beginning of the end of winter.
A dish made from the docked tails of lambs were eaten. Women met to celebrate the return of the goddess in her maiden aspect.
This survived into Christian times as the Feast of Brigid, this saint being a version of the daughter of Dagda.
Beltain, celebrated around May 1, was sacred to the god Belenos.
In fact, the word “Beltain” derives from “Bel-tinne” – “fires of Bel”.
Beltain was an exuberant fire festival celebrating and encouraging fertility. Cattle were let out of winter quarters and driven between two fires in a cleansing ritual that may have had practical benefits, too.
A summer festival lasting for as long as two weeks around the beginning of August
(neatly coinciding with Glastonbury festival haha ).
It takes its name from the god Lugh, who is said to have introduced it to Ireland.
Since Lugh was multiskilled, this festival was celebrated with competitions of skill, including horse-racing.
I am always inclined to follow Nature's lead and in this traditional time of change it seems seasonal to take stock & renew , to celebrate and share the strength and joys of this year, in every available medium.
We are as we think, says the maxim, and i choose to think green.