The Origins of Halloween by Silver Raven Wolf – Part 2

The Celts

Many historians feel that the greatest strength in the Celtic people lies in their collective mythos. Wading through the romanticism to find unmodified information can prove a tricky endeavor. The earliest archaeological evidence we have of the Celts rest in France and Western Germany.  The Celtic people moved into Spain, Britain, and Switzerland between the fifth and first century BCE. They even ransacked Rome in 390 BCE.

The Celtic peoples celebrated four festivals called fire festivals–commonly know today as Samhain, Oimelc (Imbolc), Beltane, and Lughnasadh. Samhain (pronounced sow-in, sow rhymes with now) was the first and foremost a harvest festival relating to animal husbandry and preparations for the winter months. Fire is an element of cleaning, a vehicle of eradication, so it is not unlikely that fire would work itself into any type of religious celebration. Fire among the ancient peoples often represented an aspect of the divine.

What does the word Samhain mean? Well, we know what it doesn’t mean. There is no archeological or literary evidence of a Celtic god by the name of Samhain. This little slip of fact appears to have begum in the 1700s and continues in some misinformed publications today. The word Samhain actually means “summers end”.

So, where did this Lord of the Dead thing come in? Over time, Samhain took on a religious significance through ministrations of the Druids (the clergy of the Celt’s). Legends indicate that on Samhain all the hearth fires in Ireland were doused and then lit again from a central fire maintained by the Druids at Tlachtga. To the Celts, Samhain was a turning point from light into darkness, and it was thought that this break or fissure created easier access to their land of the dead, Tir nan Og.

The Druids

We need to know a little bit about the Druids to continue with our history of Halloween. The Druids were versed in all learning and were considered to have the gift of prophecy. They functioned as judge, ambassadors, healers, and religious leaders. The Druids first named the holiday Samhain.

Copyright 1999 Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook Pages 24 to 29

The Origins of Halloween by Silver Raven Wolf – Part 4

The Advent of Christianity

By the fourth and fifth centuries , Celtic Christianity had oozed into Ireland. St. Patrick has his hands full, and here is where the kettle starts to boil. At, first, the Pagans openly welcomed Christianity, but as Christianity filtered into the Celtic system, church officials had a few problems—mainly the Celtics didn’t want up their holidays or folk practices. The people were not willing to throw out traditions that were ingrained into their social structure. If you can’t get someone to completely change, what do you do? Compromise. And that’s exactly what happened. Samhain was changed to All Hollow’s Eve. To make the Pagan peoples adhere more closely to this new religion of Christianity, the clergy of the day taught the peasants that fairies were really demons and devils (remember, a concept totally unknown to Celtic belief or history) and their beloved dead were horrid ghosts and ghouls. The early Christian erroneously associated the Celtic land of the dead with the Christian concept of Hell.

To help the belief in Christianity along, Druids priestess were systematically murdered. Early Christians also taught the area peasants that their Lord of the Underworld was in fact Satan, which is ridiculous, as the two mythos don’t have anything in common. It appears that Christians misunderstood what the word Samhain meant: because the peasants use this celebration to honor the dead, Christians assumed that Samhain was the incorrect pronunciation of a Pagan deity in the Bible, recorded as Samuel, from the Semitic Sammael, meaning God of the under world.

Copyright Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 1999 Pages 24 to 29

May Day [Beltane] by Jami Shoemaker – Part 1

When I was a little girl, my sister and I would celebrate the first of May by making little paper baskets and filling them with candy. We would then sneak around the neighborhood to our friend’s houses, leave them on the doorsteps, ring the bells, and run away, screaming with laughter. The trick was never to reveal your identity to the recipient of the gift. Little did I know at the time that we were celebrating an old custom that harkened back to ancient times.

Origins

Like any celebration based on ancient agricultural practices, it is impossible to know the exact origin of out May Day. Celebrations of spring are found in cultures all over the world, with similar themes of renewal, planting and growth, the gathering of flowers, and playful celebrations.

However, much of the meaning behind modern Pagan custom can be traced to Celtic origins, or at least with attribute to the Celts. We know that they divided the year into two seasons: summer and winter, the dark and life halves of the year. Within this they honored four major turning points, Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasadh, with fire festivals.

These festivals coincided astrologically with the Sun at 15 degrees Scorpio, Aquarius, Taurus, and Leo, respectively. This made these pivotal points each a type of “moveable” feast originally, like the solstices and equinoxes, which vary by a day or two from year to year. But due to changes in calendars over time, eventually the first day of the months of November, February, May, and August were earmarked for these festivals, evolving into what Witches call the Great Sabbats, with the celebrations commencing at sunset the eve before.

The flexibility in the actual date is followed by some Pagans today, and May Day, or Beltane, celebrations calculated this way are called “Old Beltane.” This explains the custom in ancient Ireland of celebrating the first day of summer on May 6. This day was given to Inghean Bhuidhe, the Yellow-Haired Girl, one of the three sister-goddesses who brought in the seasons: the First of Spring, the First of Summer, and the First Harvest.

The return of the light was called Cetsamhain (“opposite  Samhain”) or Beltaine in Ireland, Galan-Mai in Wales, and in Scotland, Beaultiunn, on the Isle of Man, it was known as Day of Summer and in Germany, Walpurgisnatch. The medieval church renamed the holiday Roodmas, hoping to shift the emphasis from the phallic Maypole to the Holy Rood, or Cross, and celebrations once marked by Pagan frivolity were usurped by festivities held in churchyards.

Copyright Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2001 Pages21 to25

May Day by Jami Shoemaker – Part 2

Roman Influence

The month of May takes its name from the goddess Maia, who appears in both Greek and Roman mythologies. In Greece, she was “grandmother,” “midwife,” or “wise one” and she was known as the mother of Hermes. The Romans associated her with their fire goddess of the same name who, along with Flora and Feronia, ruled growth and warmth, including sexual desire. Maia’s day was the first of May, and the associations with growth can still be seen in the Christian dedication of the month to Mary, Queen of Flowers.

When Romans came to Britain, they brought with them their own ancient spring rites. The goddess Flora was worshiped as the embodiment of the flowering of all of nature, including human. She was the queen of plants, the goddess of flowers, and the patron of Roman prostitutes. Flora was honored during a week-long festival from April 28–May 3. The Floralia included the gathering of flowers, used in processions, dances, and games. Young raced to see who could be the first to hang a wreath on Flora’s statue, and wrap garlands around the columns of her temple. The female body was especially6 honored at this time. Graphic, erotic medallions were distributed, and public orgies celebrated the fruitfulness of the earth. The “festival of nude women” was celebrates until the third century CE, when Roman authorities demanded the celebrants be clothed. The sense of unrestrained freedom was even enjoyed by Roman slaves on this day, with the stipulation that they return to their mater’s houses that night.

Copyright Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2001 Pages 21 to 25

The Origin of Halloween by Sliver Raven Wolf – Part 6

All Saints’ Day / All Hallows Eve / Hallowmas

All Saints’ Day and All Hallows Eve (Halloween) were first introduced in the seventh century CE. This date was changed to November 1 to supplant Pagan beliefs because those pesky Pagans just refused to cough up their original Samhain. The day was to honor God and all his saints, known and unknown All Saints’ Day later became Hallowmas, a mass to honor the dead. The Eve of All Hollow’s Eve, October 31, became All Hollow’s Eve, which evolved in to the word Hallowe’en. Although the church wished this time to be one of somber prayer and quiet custom, the Celts continued their customary bonfires and fortune telling.

All Saints’ Day is a bit different. The festival falls on November 2, a day to offer prayer and alms to assist the souls of those departed that managed to get stuck in purgatory, an in-between place that is neither heaven or hell. Over the succeeding centuries, Halloween like Christmas, picked up various customs and discarded others, depending on the complex socialization of the times and religious dictates.

Copyright Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 1999 Pages 24 to 29

May Day by Jami Shoemaker – Part 5

Modern Celebrations

Many ancient customs can be seen in current celebrations of May Day. Pagan practices embrace the Maypole, dancing, and bonfires of the past, and honor the union of Goddess and God. The magic of the warming earth, the bright greens of the woods, and the giddiness of life returning universally inspiring as ever. Whether it’s celebrates as Labor Day in Russia, Vappu in Finland, Flores de Mayo in El Salvador, or Flittin’ Day in Scotland, May Day is still a time for relaxing the rules and celebrating spring, even if that simply means going barefoot for the first time that year. And, yes, some children still leave May baskets on the doorsteps of friends’ houses and run away, squealing with delight.

Copyright Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2001 Pages 21 to 25

High Priestess Lady Beltane, Elder Priestess Hypatia, Elder P. I. T. Dawn of the Day, Elder P.I.T. Raven Spirit Walker,Elder Lady Teri, and Elder P.I.T. PynkMoon Invite You to Attend Heart’s Spirit Coven’s Gatherings

Because of different issues Heart’s Spirit Coven has missed many gatherings on Esbats and Sabbats for which Lady Beltane apologizes. Starting with June’s New Moon we will be celebrating Esbats on the Saturday that is closest to either the New or Full Moon’s calendar date. The gatherings will be held on Skype starting with only audio for June’s New Moon and the Summer/Winter Solstice gatherings. If you wish to attend a gathering please email Lady Beltane with “ATTEND GATHERING” in the Subject line at covenlifescoven@gmail.com for the information you will need to find us. She will respond to requests to attend until one hour before the scheduled Meet and Greet Time the response will include the email and name along with what the avatar looks like, what you we need to do the ritual and/or spellwork, and the rituals themselves. We will no longer be posting the rituals until a couple of days after the gatherings. Students of Coven Life’s School of Witchcraft and Coven Members will be emailed all the information for the upcoming gatherings approximately one week in advance of the gathering. Interested in becoming a student or coven member write to Lady Beltane at covenlifescoven@gmail.com put either “POSSIBLR STUDENT” or “POSSIBLE COVEN MEMBER” IN THE SUBJECT LINE PLEASE.

We will have one ritual on the Esbats but two on the Sabbats which include the Sabbats which include rituals for the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. We ask that when you attend any Esbat and/or Sabbat gathering that you are connected via Skype five minutes before the posted circle casting time and stay until the circle has been closed.

There will be a one hour Meet and Greet before any gathering. You are welcome to stay after the gatherings and chat with your old and new pagan and witch friends. If you would like to invite others to join us please have them follow the information above for finding us and put your name in the body of the email so Lady Beltane knows who invited them.

During some Greet and Meet times we will have Pagan related give away raffles. This is still in the planning stages but hope to have the guidelines for entering and how to redeem your prize.

Beltane Sunset to Sunset. April 30th – May 1st

Beltane honours Life. It represents the peak of Spring and the beginning of Summer. Earth energies are at their strongest and most active. All of life is bursting with potent fertility and at this point in the Wheel of the Year, the potential becomes conception. On May Eve the sexuality of life and the earth is at its peak. Abundant fertility, on all levels, is the central theme. The Maiden goddess has reached her fullness. She is the manifestation of growth and renewal, Flora, the Goddess of Spring, the May Queen, the May Bride. The Young Oak King, as Jack-In-The-Green, as the Green Man, falls in love with her and wins her hand. The union is consummated and the May Queen becomes pregnant. Together the May Queen and the May King are symbols of the Sacred Marriage (or Heiros Gamos), the union of Earth and Sky, and this union has merrily been re-enacted by humans throughout the centuries. For this is the night of the Greenwood Marriage. It is about sexuality and sensuality, passion, vitality and joy. And about conception. A brilliant moment in the Wheel of the Year to bring ideas, hopes and dreams into action. And have some fun…..

Traditions of Beltane

Beltane is a Fire Festival. The word ‘Beltane’ originates from the Celtic God ‘Bel’, meaning ‘the bright one’ and the Gaelic word ‘teine’ meaning fire. Together they make ‘Bright Fire’, or ‘Goodly Fire’ and traditionally bonfires were lit to honour the Sun and encourage the support of Bel and the Sun’s light to nurture the emerging future harvest and protect the community. Bel had to be won over through human effort. Traditionally all fires in the community were put out and a special fire was kindled for Beltane. “This was the Tein-eigen, the need fire. People jumped the fire to purify, cleanse and to bring fertility. Couples jumped the fire together to pledge themselves to each other. Cattle and other animals were driven through the smoke as a protection from disease and to bring fertility. At the end of the evening, the villagers would take some of the Teineigen to start their fires anew.” (From Sacred Celebrations by Glennie Kindred) Green Man – Beltane

To read more interesting things about Northern Hemisphere Beltane click here

Category Samhain/Deep Autumn

WE ARE THE ANCESTORS: MAY WE BE INTERESTING FOOD

May 9, 2020 · by Glenys D. Livingstone · in Samhain/Deep Autumn · Leave a comment Our present lives are formed by all who came before us. We are in-formed by them, whether conscious or not. In PaGaian Samhain ceremony as it has been done traditionally, participants are invited to remember the ancestors in this way: Let us remember our ancestors, those who have gone before, whose lives have been harvested, […]

THREADS OF GOLD IN THE COMPOST

April 20, 2020 · by Glenys D. Livingstone · in Samhain/Deep Autumn · 2 Comments There are threads of gold in the compost, if one has the vision for it. And we may take the golden thread, exclaim the strongest natural fibre known – our creative selves, our imaginations – for the building of a new world made sacred, of our conceiving: yet beyond our knowings, across the vast Darkness between […] For more interesting article about Southern Hemisphere Samhain click here  

5 Simple Mabon Rituals

5 Simple Ostara Rituals

Lammas/Lughnasadh Blessings Sisters, Brothers, and Guests

May your harvest be plentiful growing from what you sowed on Imbolc.

Blessed be dear ones.

A Samhain Blessing

“Blessed be the ancestors the ones whom life has fled.

Tonight we merry meet again, our own beloved dead.

The wheel of the year turns on, a new year in our sights.

The maiden has become the crone, we celebrate this night.

Author Unknown”

Halloween in Ireland

Terrifying tales and frightening facts from the home of Halloween

Halloween – a time for thrills, chills and scaring ourselves silly. But did you know that everyone’s favourite fright-filled holiday began in Ireland? Trace Halloween right back to its origins and you’ll find yourself in the mists of pagan Ireland over 3,000 years ago – a time when the ancient festival of Samhain was celebrated in the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East to mark the beginning of winter.

It’s said that at Halloween the boundary between our world and the Otherworld is at its thinnest, allowing spirits and demons to easily pass between the two. So come with us on a strange and spooky journey as we experience Halloween in Ireland.

Halloween in Ireland