Thursday, 17 October 2013

Samhain Song

The sun is bright nolonger - nor warm,
Old branches hung with sleeping.
The great wheel turns, another year,
Into the darkness fleeting.

Of questions asked with breath bowed words,
leaf rustle - bird's wing whispers.
The rivers tale unfolds a dream,
Moonlight paints winters whiskers.

As darkest night cracks silent stars,
And shapes shift slowly creeping.
In meadows that the scythe has hewn,
Now Samhain fires are leaping.

The dance of life is spinnning on,
Death cleaves and weaves light lowly.
The welcome chant as earth grows cold,
my heart, a north wind only.

The Veil Is thin and gates wide swung,
The Netherworld is dawning.
Samhain arrives with setting sun,
An Otherworld is yawning.

“Ancestors one and Kinsfolk all,
We invite you now to hearth and hall.
Come tell us of your travels hence,
And share your wisdom, recompence.

I ask you lay your blessings here,
In this season of waning of light.
That darkness not be heavy to bear,
And journeys end be bright.

Now hear the voices of the dead,
Uncounted jewels around us.
Of grandafther gone - grandmother led,
from sky - tree - earth they found us.

And one by one the spirits come,
laughing beside our firesides.
Tender tales of sights unknown,
forewarnings of the darksides.

And all too soon the gathering ends,
beloved friends departing.
To Otherworld they do return,
Another year advancing.

As fires quell - through mists one yell
Samhain's bright blessing heard we;
My time is come - now heed my tell,
And Ever Joy beside thee;

Our ancient blood runs in your veins,
The spirit of our heart your keep.
Our wisdom shared to guide you on,
Thus Take and Give - Remember.

By Cauldron of Earth and Blossom of Bone,
The Circle of Life is Unbroken.
By Depth of Sea and Light of Star,
The forms of Life are but Token.

So Mote It Be!

Original poem c.Celestial Elf 2013.

Samhain (pronounced ˈsɑːwɪn/ sow-in) marks the beginning of the "darker half" of the year. It is celebrated from sunset on 31 October to sunset on 1 November- or Halloween, which name developed from All Hallows Eve as the night preceeded All Saints Day in the later Catholic ritual calendar.

The veil is thin between the worlds of the living and dead, this is  a liminal time, when the supernatural spirits, fairies and elves ( Aes Sídhe pronounced 'ees shee') could more easily come into our world. Most scholars see these as remnants of the pagan gods and nature spirits.  It was believed that the Sidhe needed to be propitiated to ensure that the people and their livestock survived the winter. Offerings of food and drink were left for them.

Death holds no fear for pagans as we understand that death and birth are intertwined. Our goddesses and gods all represent aspects of the cycle of birth, growth, death, and regeneration. Just as every good gardener knows that fertility is born out of decay. and every fallen leaf becomes part of the soil that 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. In this spirit then the dead at Samhain revisit their homes. Feasts are held at which the souls of dead kith and kin are invited and a place set at the table for them. Single candles are also lit in a window to guide these spirits home.

Mumming and guising were traditionally a part of this festival too, and involved people going door-to-door in costume or in disguise, often reciting verses in exchange for food - perhaps originating the Halloween trick or treat tradition. The costumes worn may have been either a way of imitating, or disguising oneself from, the Aes Sídhe.

In the late 19th century, Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer (sic) suggested that this was the Celtic New Year, and this view has been upheld by other scholars and the wider pagan community, many of whom call Samhain The Witches New Year, because of its powerful associations.

As at Beltane, special bonfires are lit to protect the community - the Bone-Fire is lit and the whole community takes hands to dance both sunwise and anti-sunwise as it blazes. As the fires wane, some run through the fields with burning embers, throwing them into the air and dancing over them as they glow on the ground. There may also be a leaping competition across the remains of the fire, reminiscent of the Beltane festival. When this is finished, the people return home where in groups they tell tales, duck for apples, share the feast and practised divination with nuts and apples (more details here ).

Blessed Be Sacred Samhain
May Kith & Kin Kindly Guide You
Through All Your Days
And Darkest Nights
The Joy Of Life
Beside You