October 23, 2002

Sif's Guest Entry

I'm so damn The current mood of augustdreams at www.imood.com

Nicole invited me to do a Halloween guest entry in her diary, and I've been proscratinating about it, because damn! They're difficult shoes to fill.

But here I am. And as I'm a pagan, I thought I'd do a little entry on the pagan version of Halloween - Samhain. Not the history of the festival as such, but simply what it means to me. I've cheated a little, and used some quotes from a book - Ritual, by Emma Restall Orr, to make it all sound a little more poetic.

Correctly, I shouldn't call it the pagan version - Halloween was originally a pagan festival. Samhain is simply another name for it, of Celtic origin if I'm not mistaken. Samhain is a winter festival, the festival of the last harvest, midway between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice. It notes the darkness of winter "creeping into our bones, infiltrating our worlds." A time of remembering the summer past. "The harvest is in, the deciduous trees are being stripped of their leaves, the last of the summer's growth is killed back by the icy fingers of frost."

Samhain is the end of the year, the descent into winter, a time when the joys and accompishments of the year should be celebrated. It is a time of closure, to resolve past hurts and conflicts.

In addition to celebrating the physical reminders of winter, Samhain is also a festival of the dead. Traditionally, it is known as the time when the veils between the worlds of the living and the dead are at their thinnest, a time when communication and rememberance of loved ones is easier.

"Though the old year is over, the new is not begun, not in any way that is tangible. When the sun is reborn at midwinter, a new cyle wil be ushered in, but until then there is the chaos of the dark, and this can be represented in the Grove. It is a time when life is upside down, inside out and back to front. Modern Halloween's trick o' treating is a fine expression of this, and our ancestors too used trickery and deception, releasing the fear and crises of the time which is no time. Cross-dressing and stealing, joking and spilling danger all about, it was a festival of insanity."

For me, Samhain is a time to remember my ancestors, and those who have died before me. A time to reflect on the year past, and the future.

At the moment, in Australia, we are in the throes of Spring and it does feel strange writing about the other half of the year. But I hope all you in the Northern Hemisphere make the most of such a wonderful festival, full of history from so many cultures.

Love Sif

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