while all the weirdos come out tonight, for those of us who are thrilled by religious history or not…
“Samhain is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the ‘darker half’ of the year. It is celebrated from sunset on 31 October to sunset on 1 November, or about halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Kindred festivals were held at the same time of year in other Celtic lands; for example the Brythonic Calan Gaeaf (in Wales), Kalan Gwav (in Cornwall), and Kalan Goañv (in Brittany).
Samhain is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and is known to have pre-Christian roots. Many important events in Irish mythology happen or begin on Samhain. It was the time when cattle were brought back down from the summer pastures and when livestock were slaughtered for the winter. As at Beltane, special bonfires were lit. These were deemed to have protective and cleansing powers and there were rituals involving them. Samhain (like Beltane) was seen as a liminal time, when the spirits or fairies (the Aos Sí) could more easily come into our world. Most scholars see the Aos Sí as remnants of the pagan gods and nature spirits. It was believed that the Aos Sí needed to be propitiated to ensure that the people and their livestock survived the winter. Offerings of food and drink were left for them. The souls of the dead were also thought to revisit their homes. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them. Mumming and guising were part of the festival, and involved people going door-to-door in costume (or in disguise), often reciting verses in exchange for food. The costumes may have been a way of imitating, or disguising oneself from, the Aos Sí. Divination rituals were also a big part of the festival and often involved nuts and apples. In the late 19th century, Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer suggested that it was the ‘Celtic New Year’, and this view has been repeated by some other scholars.
In the 9th century, the Roman Catholic Church shifted the date of All Saints’ Day to 1 November, while 2 November later became All Souls’ Day. Over time, Samhain and All Saints’/All Souls’ merged to create the modern Halloween. Historians have used the name ‘Samhain’ to refer to Gaelic ‘Halloween’ customs up until the 19th century.
Since the latter 20th century, Celtic neopagans and Wiccans have observed Samhain, or something based on it, as a religious holiday. Neopagans in the Southern Hemisphere often celebrate Samhain at the other end of the year (~30 April – 1 May).”
I often wonder how a person could live without God.
I’m not asking which faith system is correct or not.
In other words, how could a person live without a faith system — without God?
- If you answer, do so politely. I’m not looking for a fight of any kind with any atheist group and/or individual. I’m just curious.
Is there anything really sacred? Depending on your religious beliefs, you can choose any of hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of answers. If there’s one thing that I’ve leaned from Paganism and Pantheism is that the earth is sacred as the source of food and shelter for humanity while we (“mutant monkeys”) destroy it. The Dutch neofolk band Omnia said it best in two of their songs — Earth Warrior and I Don’t Speak Human.
It’s almost as a hippie revival taking place in Europe where some of the best music’s coming from. In any case, regardless of religion (or lack of) and/or the music you hold dear, we (“mutant monkeys”) should try to keep the earth’s delicate ecosystem alive and healthy.
A little back ago, I wrote about Eluveitie. I don’t often over-analyze why I listen to the music I like. I just know I like it and want to listen to some song again and again. Anything else I can do without. Since I’m writing (typing) this entry, it’s a fair guess to say that it’s time over-analyze my interest in music — folk metal, in this case. The usual pop melody’s structured around lyrics over percussion (drums) and strings (one or two guitars and a bass — biggest exception being The Doors with an electric organ instead of a bass). The introduction of wind (brass or wood) fills a vast emptiness in the hearing spectrum. All this brings an enrichment to the music as well as exploiting musical modes and/or changing tempos.
I’ve been listening to Pagan (also referred to as folk) metal for a while. I’ve currently got Eluveitie (Switzerland) on heavy rotation. Some of their songs are in ancient Celtic languages like Omnos (roughly translated as Fear) written in Gaulish — sort of music for nerds (at least, no songs in Klingon — Qapla’!) with a range of instruments including
- hammered dulcimers,
- hurdy gurdy,
- Irish bouzouki,
- uilleann pipes,
- and whistles,
- not merely the guitar, bass and drums structure in most popular music.
The only problem I’ve got is that a handful of tracks are plain screamo with slight folk metal in the far background. Needless to say (type), I’m a tough customer especially when adding material to my collection of over 600 discs ranging from folk (not metal) and country to electronica and rave to thrash and industrial metal.