Sunday, 7 October 2012

Samhain Approaches............

 We awoke a week or so ago to find a hard frost on the ground, cars and houses in the neighbourhood, there is currently also an abundance of berries on the trees as is right at this time of year, but the one thing that makes me think most of Autumn and Samhain is that certain smell that is present in the woods, a musky, mellow fragrance that pulls on the memories and tells you that time of year has arrived, stimulates the memories of previous times and lets ytou know that the weather although relatively mild at the moment will soon be gripped by the cold harshness of winter. This year I first noticed this smell last weekend whilst walking our furbaby, Poppy (Great Dane xbreed), through the woods along the ship canal near where we live. The leaves are turning and beginning to fall, the mists have begun in a morning and a cold nip is beginning to be noticeable in the air at certain times of day, all this points to the fact that Samhain will soon be upon us!

Historically within paganism Samhain is celebrated on October the 31st, a date that modern folk know as Halloween, yet this date is not one that is easily identified unless you have a wroking calendar in place and are aware of the dates. Unlike the Solstices and Equinoxes, which can be identified by the relative position of the Sun (using natural or man placed markers (such as Stone Circles, Menhirs, etc), the 4 Celtic Cross festivals, the so called 'greater' festivals have no astronomical marker (that we are aware of), but are signified by being half way between the Solstices and Equinoxes.

One Tradition we studied with used another set of dates, Samhain was marked by the first Frost of Autumn, Beltaine by the First Blossoming of the May (Hawthorn) in spring, Yule and Midsummer were celebrated at the Solstices, but other festivals were less important to that group. The use of first frost to date Samhain works on many levels, it signifies the death of many crops and foodstuffs, plus the end of certain berries and fruits, it gives an easily identified point that does not require the use of calendars or astronomical observation, is it not likely then that this marker was used more bny our ancestors than a rigidly set date that relied upon observation and calendars to set its dates?

 Yes, I know our ancestors weren't dumb, that they were as intelligent and sophisticated as we are, their societies were as complex as our own in many ways, but surely faced with an easy to use marker point they would have utilised it rather than make things more complex than they needed to be? I am not looking to start argument, merely to stimulate you to think upon this for yourself, nowadays we celebrate Samhain on the 31st October as it has become Traditional within the Pagan community, but I do think that if you go back far enough you will find Samhain was not a fixed point, but rather a festival that was marked by a terrestrial weather event, some food for your thoughts perhaps?

Anyhows, however and whenever you choose to celebrate Samhain, I hope you have a blessed one!

Dark Dreams

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