Happy All Hallow’s Eve!

It’s Samhain!!

 The Celts called it Samhain, which means ‘summer’s end’, according to their ancient two-fold division of the year, when summer ran from Beltane to Samhain and winter ran from Samhain to Beltane. (Some modern Covens echo this structure by letting the High Priest ‘rule’ the Coven beginning on Samhain, with rulership returned to the High Priestess at Beltane.) According to the later four-fold division of the year, Samhain is seen as ‘autumn’s end’ and the beginning of winter. Samhain is pronounced (depending on where you’re from) as ‘sow-in’ (in Ireland), or ‘sow-een’ (in Wales), or ‘sav-en’ (in Scotland), or (inevitably) ‘sam-hane’ (in the U.S., where we don’t speak Gaelic).

Not only is Samhain the end of autumn; it is also, more importantly, the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. Celtic New Year’s Eve, when the new year begins with the onset of the dark phase of the year, just as the new day begins at sundown. There are many representations of Celtic gods with two faces, and it surely must have been one of them who held sway over Samhain. Like his Greek counterpart Janus, he would straddle the theshold, one face turned toward the past in commemoration of those who died during the last year, and one face gazing hopefully toward the future, mystic eyes attempting to pierce the veil and divine what the coming year holds. These two themes, celebrating the dead and divining the future, are inexorably intertwined in Samhain, as they are likely to be in any New Year’s celebration.

As a feast of the dead, it was believed the dead could, if they wished, return to the land of the living for this one night, to celebrate with their family, tribe, or clan. And so the great burial mounds of Ireland (sidh mounds) were opened up, with lighted torches lining the walls, so the dead could find their way. Extra places were set at the table and food set out for any who had died that year. And there are many stories that tell of Irish heroes making raids on the Underworld while the gates of faery stood open, though all must return to their appointed places by cock-crow.

As a feast of divination, this was the night par excellance for peering into the future. The reason for this has to do with the Celtic view of time. In a culture that uses a linear concept of time, like our modern one, New Year’s Eve is simply a milestone on a very long road that stretches in a straight line from birth to death. Thus, the New Year’s festival is a part of time. The ancient Celtic view of time, however, is cyclical. And in this framework, New Year’s Eve represents a point outside of time, when the the natural order of the universe disolves back into primordial chaos, preparatory to re-establishing itself in a new order. Thus, Samhain is a night that exists outside of time and hence it may be used to view any other point in time. At no other holiday is a tarot card reading, crystal reading, or tea-leaf reading so likely to succeed.

Samhaim–which is technically tomorrow–is a celebration of the end of summer.  Like many holidays, it was co-opted by Romans trying to bring Roman influence, culture, and religion to regions in Northern Europe.

At sunset on October 31, clans or local villages begin the formal ceremonies of Samhain by lighting a giant bonfire. The people would gather around the fire to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. It was a method of giving the Gods and Goddesses their share of the previous years herd or crops. In addition these sacred fires were a big part of the cleansing of the old year and a method to prepare for the coming new year. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, and danced around the bonfire. Many of these dances told stories or played out the cycles of life and death or commemorated the cycle of Wheel of Life. These costumes were adorned for three primary reasons. The first was to honor the dead who were allowed to rise from the Otherworld. The Celts believed that souls were set free from the land of the dead during the eve of Samhain. Those that had been trapped in the bodies of animals were released by the Lord of the Dead and sent to their new incarnations. The wearing of these costumes signified the release of these souls into the physical world. Not all of these souls were honored and respected. Some were also feared as they would return to the physical world and destroy crops, hide livestock or ‘haunt’ the living who may have done them wrong. The second reason for these traditional costumes was to hide from these malevolent spirits to escape their trickery. The final representation was a method to honor the Celtic Gods and Goddesses of the harvest, fields and flocks. Giving thanks and homage to those deities who assisted the village or clan through the trials and tribulations of the previous year. And to ask for their favor during the coming year and the harsh winter months that were approaching. In addition to celebrations and dance, it was believed that this thin veil between the physical world and the Otherworld provided extra energy for communications between the living and the dead. With these communications, Druid Priests, and Celtic Shamans would attempted to tell the fortunes of individual people through a variety of methods. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

Today, we celebrate the holiday as Halloween quite commercially since it’s also been co-opted by many businesses in their attempt to ring up their cash registers.  Well, everybody takes it more seriously as Halloween except Henri the Extensional Cat.

I still remember this from being a kid and I love the image of Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin.  I love playing the song on the piano still.  No matter what time of year I gig, this song awakens the kid in a lot of people. It’s fun to stick it in the middle of a set an watch people perk up!

It’s also the end of the season for watching a bunch of great movies and switching to nasty movies, horrid shopping conditions, and generally harassment as once again I take up arms in the war against christmas where the Roman’s morphed from Mithras’ birthday and story into yet another way to wipe out ancient cultures and myths.  However, tonight, I can still watch old horror movies and watch the fun.

26 Comments on “Happy All Hallow’s Eve!”

  1. janicen says:

    My dad used to recite this poem he learned in what he called “grammar school” which would have been in the early 1920’s:

    At Halloween the ghosts are seen
    Tripling gayly on the green.
    Now left now right with all our might
    We’ll dance until the morning light.

    My family and I recite it all during the Halloween season. It always make me think of him and smile.

  2. I have a little website of horrors for you…I saw this early today: The Tea Party gets a news site – POLITICO.com

    Tea Party conservatives are getting their very own news site.

    The Tea Party News Network, self-described as “the only trusted news source and the antidote to mainstream media bias,” is already live but will announce its launch tomorrow morning, with plans to start live video on election day. TPNN claims to have a “war room of 40-plus volunteers” who will operate out of the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, and has established partnerships with the Talk Radio Network and radio host Rusty Humphries, who will be co-anchoring the election night coverage.

    For it to be called a news site is truly a shitty piece of journalism…it is nothing but a blog twisting the “news” Check it out these headlines:

    John Hawkins TPNN Contributor
    Alan Grayson’s Rapetastic Fundraiser

    Todd Cefaratti Editor of TPNN
    Obama’s Issues with Truth: Americans Deserve Answers

    Todd Cefaratti Editor of TPNN
    Americans are Realizing It’s Time for Real Change

    Tiffiny Ruegner TPNN Contributor
    Obama Campaign Wants to Know: Are You a Virgin?

    John Hawkins TPNN Contributor
    Richard Mourdock’s Comments Prove He’s The Only Christian Pro-Lifer In The Race For The Indiana Senate

    • dakinikat says:

      They already have their own little conspiracy-related echo chamber … Sure this won’t improve things.

    • RalphB says:

      That’s suitable for Halloween all right. I can’t wait to see the crap overflow from a site that probably thinks Fox has a liberal bias.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      So Dick Armey & the Koch Brothers take on the Rupert Murdoch Empire. A war for supremacy of the world. BTW I thought the initial incarnation of the TP Brigade firmly stated that they weren’t concerned with “social issues.” Could they have lied to us?

  3. List of X says:

    If anyone still needs an idea for a Halloween outfit, I have a list of suggestions:

  4. How about some scenes from scary movies?

  5. Beata says:

    Happy Halloween, Sky Dancers!

    Here’s a traditional Irish folksong about a ghostly lover:

  6. pdgrey says:

    This is a really cool story about Halloween, FDR and Trick or Treat.

  7. RalphB says:

    Probably won’t make the Tea Party News 🙂

  8. RalphB says:

  9. RalphB says:

    Today’s battleground states polls:

    Colorado: Obama 50%, Romney 47% (We Ask America)
    Colorado: Romney 46%, Obama 45% (Reuters/Ipsos)

    Ohio: Obama 50%, Romney 45% (Quinnipiac)
    Ohio: Obama 50%, Romney 45% (Public Policy Polling)
    Ohio: Obama 48%, Romney 46% (University of Cincinnati)
    Ohio: Obama 48%, Romney 45% (Reuters/Ipsos)

    Florida: Obama 48%, Romney 47% (Quinnipiac)
    Florida: Romney 50%, Obama 47% (Gravis)
    Florida: Romney 50%, Obama 49% (We Ask America)
    Florida: Obama 47%, Romney 47% (Reuters/Ipsos)

    Iowa: Obama 50%, Romney 45% (Public Policy Polling)
    Iowa: Romney 45%, Obama 44% (University of Iowa)
    Iowa: Obama 49%, Romney 47% (We Ask America)

    Michigan: Obama 48%, Romney 45% (Detroit News)
    Michigan: Obama 48%, Romney 42% (EPIC-MRA)
    Michigan: Obama 53%, Romney 45% (Public Policy Polling)

    North Carolina: Obama 49%, Romney 49% (Public Policy Polling)

    Pennsylvania: Obama 48%, Romney 44% (Franklin and Marshall)

    Virginia: Obama 49%, Romney 47% (Quinnipiac)
    Virginia: Romney 49%, Obama 44% (Roanoke)
    Virginia: Obama 48%, Romney 46% (Reuters/Ipsos)
    Virginia: Obama 49%, Romney 46% (Public Policy Polling)

    Wisconsin: Obama 51%, Romney 46% (Public Policy Polling)
    Wisconsin: Obama 51%, Romney 43% (Marquette Law)

  10. Geez, someone please get these assholes to shut the fuck up!

    GOP hopeful: ‘Rape thing’ not cause for abortion – Associated Press – POLITICO.com

    A Republican congressional candidate says abortion should not be legal, even when it involves “the rape thing,” according to audio provided Wednesday to The Associated Press.

    An activist working on behalf of liberal group FUSE Washington asked questions of Republican hopeful for the Washington 1st Congressional District John Koster during a fundraiser Sunday. Koster said he does not oppose abortion when the life of the mother is in danger but then explains he would oppose it when it involves rape or incest.

    Koster twice uses the phrase “the rape thing” when describing his views, first saying that he knows a woman who was raped and gave up the child for adoption without any regrets.

    “But on the rape thing, it’s like, how does putting more violence onto a woman’s body and taking the life of an innocent child that’s a consequence of this crime, how does that make it better?” Koster said in the exchange.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1012/83142.html#ixzz2AwGBUYcp

    Yeah, and can you believe this idiot has daughters of his own.

    • dakinikat says:

      No, they need to say what they’ve all been thinking for 30 years now … the Republicans can’t hide these kooks any more and I’m glad about it … they all should just go to hell and NEVER be put in another state house again.

    • RalphB says:

      I hope they don’t shut up so people will realize what they’ve been voting for!

    • NW Luna says:

      Koster should STFU unless he can grow zygotes inside his own body.

    • List of X says:

      Agree, let them keep talking and keep it coming. The more they talk about rape before the election, the less is the chance they get to do anything about it after the election. As hurtful and idiotic these opinions are, it’s better that they remain opinions rather than get signed into the law.

  11. NW Luna says:

    This heathen wishes all SkyDancers a happy, Romney-free New Year. Blessed be.

    • dakinikat says:

      They only way we’re going to get rid of Romney is a good old fashioned exorcism … may he go haunt the place his money resides after his political death