Today I Feel:Late, I'm Late.

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2003-10-14 @ 11:58 a.m.
More on Halloween

More info on my favorite holiday. Mostly from my Crone friends. Enjoy.

Have you ever wondered how Samhain was meant to be pronounced? Well, as in most things, this depends on exactly were you are. In Ireland, it is pronounced, "sow-in." In Wales and England, it is traditionally, "sow-een." And in Scotland,because Scots love to be different, it is, "sav-en." Of course, if you happen to be speaking to a Yank, he may well not have a clue what any of these things are while wondering why you don't celebrate, (put in a drawl) "Sam-hane."

Samhain is celebrated on October 31st, a date familiar to most people in the Western world today. Although Samhain is considered a cross quarter holiday, the cross quarter does not fall on October 31st, but occurs whenever the Sun reaches 15 degrees in Scorpio. This is usually sometime in the first week of November and coincides with the Catholic holiday of Martinmas.

Samhain is one of the most popular of the Witches' Holidays. There are three reasons for this. The first is simply that it's fun. The second is that it is the one holiday that the general(well, most of them anyway) public recognizes as a pagan holiday (even if they do have plenty of misconceptions about it) and loves to celebrate anyway. In days of yore, the lovely Christian church of old did decide, in the grand tradition of the times, that the people could be allowed to keep the holiday they were so found of, but it need a new name. They also decided that instead of being a holiday to celebrate all dead (for obvious reasons, the Church wished to focus on that part of the holiday), it should only mark the "holy" amongst the deceased. Hence, the holiday comes down through history as Halloween.

Samhain is obviously the end of the "summer" half of the year. (The Celtic people divided the year into two parts, summer and winter.) It is the last harvest before the snows. It is the dark opposite of Beltaine, announcing the rule of Darkness and celebrating the Crone. It is also considered to be the first of the new year. Since the Celts viewed time as circular rather than linear, The night that is at once the end of the year and the beginning was considered to be "outside" of time. For this reason, Samhain is a holiday of divination and a time of the dead. A night of contradiction where life and death, opposites but part of the same thing, were celebrated side by side.

The most well known aspect of Samhain is it's role as the Feast of the Dead. It is a night to honor the ancestors, to celebrate their lives, and to toast their memories. It is an evening for families to gather and hear tales of Great Grandfather's life and the legends of the Old King and his knights. It was believed that on this night, the dead could return to earth to visit with the living. It was considered polite to set places at the table at your evening meal for those recently deceased and to leave food for them and for wondering souls. Lights should be placed in windows and along roads to help guide the spirits out for the night. This was the beginnings of the ever popular jac-o-lantern. Lights where places in gourds so that the wind would not extinguished them and left as guides and as wards to protect the household from any vindictive souls who may have tracked them down.

The other role of Samhain is slightly less known, possibly due to the adamancy to the Catholic church against divination.(ok, this part I like alot, since I always get out the tarot) At Samhain, the veil between worlds is at its thinnest, which is why the dead can cross over on this eve. It also means that it is easier to see the into the future. It is a night to cast runes, deal cards, and scry. It is also a night to make decisions. The Celts have a tradition that is the root of the modern New Year's Resolution. The tradition states that on this day, one should reflect on the negatives in ones life and perform a ritual asking the Crone to help in dissipating them.

There are several forms of divination that are particular to this Eve. The most entertaining were most popular amongst young girls and dealt with finding one's true love. One of the most popular of these was to gather a group of hazel nuts together. On the shells, one marks symbols representing people that one knows. The first nut to crack should have the symbol assigned to your true love. Of course, this can be modified for use with any question, but this is the most fun.

Apple magic:Apples are of course, a very popular fall food and it would be unthinkable not to involve them in this holiday. It was said that if one cut an apple in to halves (long wise so that the star in the middle becomes visible) by candle light and ate it in front of one's own image, behind one's shoulder will appear the image of the one who loves you most.

If one peels an apple so that the peel comes off as one long strand and thrown over the shoulder, it will fall in the shape of the first letter of your love's name. A slightly less pleasant method that does not lead to having something nice to eat even if one gets bad advice, it was claimed that a snail placed in the hearth ashes would draw the initial of the one meant for whoever put the snail there.

I was looking up old vintage postcard and came across some for halloween. One of them had two rosy children on it. A boy and a girl. The boy is looking shy and standing behind the girl while she peels an apple. The caption read. "Heres hopeing the initials are yours." I thought it was funny. You see this type of thing was a hold over from pilgrims and people from all over the european would that had settled in America and considered harmless. Today it has been mostly forgotten and everyone thinks witchcraft when at one time every young girl knew how to do some little charm to see if her true loves name would be made clear to her.

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