jeudi 29 octobre 2015

SAMHAIN

SAMHAIN ))))))))))))
In very ancient times, before a solar calendar was devised, what we call a year was divided into two 'years' of six months each, one warm, growing season and one where darkness and cold reigned over Nature.
On Nov 1 the change from one 'year' to the other took place, and the celebrations began the evening before, which the Celts called Samhain and the Scandinavians knew as Disablot.
In late afternoon the children went 'a-souling', visiting neighbors, singing caroles for the souls of the deceased. The people would listen to the children and reward them with hot cross buns, wishing them a good year with protection of the gods during the cold season ahead. The cross on the buns the shape of a sunwheel; it was filled with golden honey, and the buns were eaten with yellow butter, both associated with the sun.
Bonfires were lit and a drama was enacted on this evening; the players symbolizing the dark, cold forces wore ugly masks; they conquered and killed the forces of light and life in a mock battle. The highlight of the drama was the death of the Sun God, Baldur, who was killed by his blind twin brother Hodur through the treachery of Loki. At the end of the play Baldur made his descent into the Kingdom of Hel, and all Nature mourned.
After sunset everything was dark, for it was customary to let the home fires burn out that evening. The men took large gourds, hollowed them and put candles in them; wicks dipped in fish oil were also used. A slot was cut on the side so the light could guide the children home. The gourds were put along the walkways and at the crossroads.
After the play the bonfires were put out, and the farmers drove the livestock over the still warm embers which supposedly prevented diseases in the herds.
Each family took a brand from the fires with which to light up their hearths again and thus begin the next Walpurgisnacht or Beltane, the evening before May Day.
At suppertime food and drink were put out in honor of the dead. Little carved effigies of departed relatives were sprinkled with mead and, after the customary rituals, the dolls dressed in bits of clothing once worn by the deceased, were cast into the fire. This was supposed to release their souls so they could now go back to the abode of the dead. The fire represented the sun, so they did not have to wait for daylight to return to Helheim.
The next day the family decorated the graves of the dead and afterwards they went to the village square where ceremonies were held in honor of the tribal heroes and recently departed members of the community. The square was often built around a spring or an area where a great event had taken place which sanctified the ground.
These ceremonies effectively reminded all members of the tribe of their origins and the spiritual bond between past, present and future.
....................J.H.P.
(From Elsie Christensen's monthly periodical "The Odinist" )
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