Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Danse Macabre

The Danse Macabre is a medieval allegory of the universal nature of death. According to the legend, the Grim Reaper calls the spirits of the dead across the realms of beyond life every year on All Hallows’ Eve / Halloween, to lead them in a dance of merriment and joy, from the strike of midnight until the break of dawn.
This legend represents the medieval and christian ammelioration of an even older pagan tradition of the dead spirits visiting their earthly kin at this time.

The veil between the world of life and the realms of death is at it’s thinnest between the hours of 12 midnight and 3am which has become known as 'The Witching Hour’ and it becomes even thinner at Beltane and Samhain.... Many pagans believe in a non physical place or state of being called the 'Summerlands' - a place  to go after life, which is like a waiting room for the spirit to contemplate ones life and loved ones on Earth. The spirits here are transformed into the energies of the universe most suited to the energies they have manifested in life, thus changed they brin new life and adventures into existence in the endless spirtual wheel of creation....

Death itself then holds no fear for people of a pagan perspective as we understand that death and birth are intertwined. In this view,  death itself and all goddesses and gods represent aspects of the cycle of birth, growth, death, and regeneration. Just as every good gardener knows that fertility is born out of decay, every fallen leaf feeds the roots of growing trees - so each spirit that passes to the Summerlands or beyond enriches the hearts and lives of their family and friends along the way. 
The Danse Macabre was written by French composer Camille Saint-Saens in 1874, is the most famous of the many musical representations of Death leading the spirits of the dead in dance on Halloween. Although this piece can be played on the piano, it was actually written for a full orchestra. The piece starts with the twelve strokes of midnight. As the church-tower rings the last bell of midnight, Death enters a graveyard, tapping and knocking on all the gravestones, to rouse the dead from their slumber. The wavering, continuous melody throughout the majority of the piece (in orchestral arrangements, performed by a solo violin), represents the personification of Death dancing through the churchyard, playing his violin, with the ghosts and skeletons of the dead dancing around after him.

The piece ends several minutes later, with the gradual rising of the sun, the rooster’s crowing, and the souls and skeletons of the dead crawling back into their graves, to await the Halloween dance of the next year.''

As leaves do fall so shall we all, but our spirits shall transcend us.
If we remember now those who before us go - 
our hearts shall be ever shinning.
If we remember now those who beside us are - 
our lives shall fill with gladness.
if we remember now those who will follow on - 
our legacy shall be only kindness ~

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