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Author Topic: Samhein/Halloween Sore Subject?  (Read 2270 times)

Rahni

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Samhein/Halloween Sore Subject?
« on: July 22, 2011, 02:49:04 pm »
First of all, I do not mean to mash the two separate things together, just trying to fit it all on the same line.

Secondly.
Sawaain as I understand it, is a celebration of the New Year  and the coming Winter and things.

Do you celebrate this?
What does that mean to YOU?

To me, its a night to revel in the pure joy of the magic evening!  I get mass shots of adreniline when this night comes!

Yes, to me, it was about getting a cute costume, going door to door, getting cheap frights (sometimes real frights) and free candy!

As I got older, it was about looking at the moon, breathing in the Fall air, maybe wearing something naughty and just feeling pure joy!!  And wondering what sorts of spooks would be lurking in the shadows, friendly or not! OooOOOooo!

What does Oct. 29th-Nov. 1st mean to YOU?
What do you DO? How do you CELEBRATE or IGNORE these nights?

What is the meaning of the original Devils Night/All Hallows Eve or the night of Samhein (spelling?) in history? Yes, they are all seperate but sometimes people get them all mashed together!!

I heard something about apples, sage, coned hat, brooms and dancing...original magical celebrations for this night.
Also wearing a mask to hide your face from demons, carving a pumpkin to ward off evil...

You tell ME.

:3 I wanna do it right this year!

Jenett

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Re: Samhein/Halloween Sore Subject?
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2011, 06:17:32 pm »
Quote from: Rahni;7150

Do you celebrate this?
What does that mean to YOU?


One of the things to be aware of it that it's sort of like Christmas has become in popular culture: you have some folks who go "Hey, this is a good excuse for a party", some folks for whom it's a really important and serious religious event (with a lot of pieces that take time and attention and energy), and some people who do some of both.

(Serious religious events can have - and often should have - joy in them. But I don't know about anyone else, but any ritual that takes hours of prep work tends to make me less inclined to want to go to or throw a party the same week.)

In my tradition, Samhain is the crossroads of several things, all on the more serious side of the equation:
- A time to remember our beloved dead, especially those who have died since the previous Samhain (about 60% of our ritual focus)
- A time to reflect on the past year, and what we want to leave behind (about 30% of our ritual focus)
- A time to open potential for the new year, though this is very much the smallest of the three things we focus on. (about 10% of our ritual focus.)

It's the one ritual in the tradition other than initiations that is done in much the same way ever year (variations for number of initiates who'll be there who've been through it before happen, but other than that, we don't vary it much.)

It's also a ritual that for practical reasons takes a fair bit of set-up. We've optimised a bit, but it's not uncommon for it to take 2-3 hours to set everything up, 2-4 hours for the ritual (depending on number of people involved), and 1-2 hours to clean up afterwards (not including some additional preparation time the week before for various things - for example, the foods eaten are traditionally ones that come from our cultures of origin or were favorites of people we're remembering, so there's often cooking time  involved beyond what we'd normally do for ritual.)

Even if I'm working on my own (as I'm going to be for a couple of years, because I'm moving across the country from the rest of my trad), what I'd want to do for that ritual would still take about 2 hours, and involve an hour or two of additional preparation and set-up, not including the cooking time.

That's a pretty hefty investment of time and energy, especially when you add in the fact that remembering people we've loved has an emotional consequence, too. (There are also some pieces in the ritual that we keep within the tradition but that require a particularly significant energetic commitment from the people with major ritual roles, who tend to need to spend the next week taking it easy both physically and emotionally.)

For me personally, it's also close to the anniversary of my father's death, back in 1990, and while that's a long time ago now, it is still not a time of year when I am particularly inclined to go be happy-happy-joy-joy-party mode, and between that and the ritual focus and time needs, I don't plan on doing parties.

I'm more likely to shift the yay-it's fall-party stuff to the Fall Equinox, which also happens to be my birthday (or a day or so on either side.) Great excuse for a party, and the ritual year commitments are a lot more flexible and adaptable (and also, honestly, a better fit for a 'let's have fun and enjoy the moment' party.)
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Rahni

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Re: Samhein/Halloween Sore Subject?
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2011, 07:59:13 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;7210

(Serious religious events can have - and often should have - joy in them. But I don't know about anyone else, but any ritual that takes hours of prep work tends to make me less inclined to want to go to or throw a party the same week.)

In my tradition, Samhain is the crossroads of several things, all on the more serious side of the equation:
- A time to remember our beloved dead, especially those who have died since the previous Samhain (about 60% of our ritual focus)
- A time to reflect on the past year, and what we want to leave behind (about 30% of our ritual focus)
- A time to open potential for the new year, though this is very much the smallest of the three things we focus on. (about 10% of our ritual focus.)

It's the one ritual in the tradition other than initiations that is done in much the same way ever year (variations for number of initiates who'll be there who've been through it before happen, but other than that, we don't vary it much.)

It's also a ritual that for practical reasons takes a fair bit of set-up. We've optimised a bit, but it's not uncommon for it to take 2-3 hours to set everything up, 2-4 hours for the ritual (depending on number of people involved), and 1-2 hours to clean up afterwards (not including some additional preparation time the week before for various things - for example, the foods eaten are traditionally ones that come from our cultures of origin or were favorites of people we're remembering, so there's often cooking time  involved beyond what we'd normally do for ritual.)



Sounds more serious then I thought.
I didn't fully understand it.
I do understand it a little better now, for that, I thank you.

I just wish I could experience such a thing, it sounds amazing.

I am still thinking I would like to find a support group, such as a coven, or such. It is not easy, especially with strangers who need time to know each other and trust each other.

:)

Jenett

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Re: Samhein/Halloween Sore Subject?
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2011, 11:46:18 pm »
Quote from: Rahni;7238
Sounds more serious then I thought.
I didn't fully understand it.


There are definitely different approaches (and I hope folks here will chime in with others), but you asked what I do (and why), so you got my answer for that :) I hope I was clear on why some of that's the case.

(And, as I said, some of it is personal preference: I am just not in a party cheerful mood around the anniversary of my father's death. The trad approach to Samhain as a ritual has actually helped a lot, but I'm still inclined to stay home and introvert, rather than go be happy-fun-cheerful.)

I can't talk about the details of the trad Samhain (it, as with a few things like our initiations, is oathbound material, kept within the trad), but I can talk about what I'm likely to be doing this year for my own work (since, as I said, I'll be on my own away from my tradmates, and much of the trad's ritual requires multiple people.)

Preparation
One of the traditions is carving one or more pumpkins to be used as part of the ritual. (Whether I do this when working on my own depends a bit on my schedule the week before, but I am fond of roasted pumpkin seeds, so that often sways me to do one.)

Other preparation the week before includes buying the ingredients for whatever I'm planning for the ritual supper (you may have come across the idea of a 'dumb supper' in your reading: it is a meal eaten in silence, with a plate of food that includes the favorite foods of the people you're honoring, and a plate of food for them.)

I traditionally do a meat pie when I'm bringing something to ritual (old traditional English recipe), some Granny Smith apples, and a Cadbury Fruit and Nut bar (the latter two being favorites of my father.) If I have the time/energy, I might do some kind of Austrian pastry, for my maternal relatives. (This year, I'd really like to try my hand at strudel.)  

The meat pie isn't terribly hard to make, but it does mean picking up some ingredients I don't normally have handy (a pastry pie shell, specific kinds of meat, some other things) and it takes a fair bit of chopping and mixing work. Cadbury Fruit and Nut bars (especially if I'm aiming for the proper English version, as opposed to the Americanised one) means finding an import food place or ordering online.

There's also decorating the space: traditionally, Samhain has dark altar cloths, and less bright decorations than other times (and as many candles as can reasonably be lit safely.) Since I'll be renting an apartment in a much larger house, I might look at other alternatives (LED candles, contained lanterns, etc.)

Finally, there's my usual before-ritual prep, that happens no matter what the ritual is. Thinking ahead so that I plan to do ritual when I have sufficient time and energy. Planning my meals so that I won't be starving during ritual, but so that (if I'm doing some kind of work), I'm not digesting a heavy meal, either.

(In particular, for Samhain, I often fast if my other commitments allow it, and try to do a very healthy and locally-grown diet the week before regardless - both of which take some additional attention and planning if I'm going to function well at work, etc.)

Shortly before ritual, there's also tidying the ritual space, making sure everything is laid out. Preparing me, usually through a simple ritual bath. Taking a few more moments to make sure everything's ready.

Actual ritual work
Some parts of the trad ritual require multiple people, and at least three parts of the ritual don't make any sense unless there are multiple people involved. So obviously, if working on my own, I need to adjust.

However, there's a meditation that's done every year. I can pre-record that and do the meditation. There's a segment I can do on my own. I can use the same basic invocations that are used, and invite the same deities. I can adapt several other parts - where the feast is usually a spread of everyone bringing a couple of dishes, I can plan foods that reflect my beloved dead, and that make for a reasonable meal (and reasonable leftovers.)

Along with the meditation, some specific pieces of music that are a part of the ritual, I'd include some reflection on what I want to leave behind in the old year, and what I want to bring into the new. Since I'd be working on my own, I might include divination - perhaps a one-card-per-Sabbat type spread, to keep the focus on the ritual year. I might add an additional meditation to supplement what would have been a group ritual piece in the normal flow of the ritual. Things like that.

To include those things, I'm probably looking at a 2 hour ritual, give or take - meditations take a while, the music takes a while, a thoughtful ritual meal takes a while to eat.

And then, of course, it takes time to clean up.

Quote

I am still thinking I would like to find a support group, such as a coven, or such. It is not easy, especially with strangers who need time to know each other and trust each other.

:)

 
Not always the simplest process, nope - on the other hand, people do it all the time. If you're anywhere near St. Louis, based on your profile, I know there are a number of groups in the area.

(I've got a website, also in my sig, http://gleewood.org/seeking that's designed for people seeking Pagan paths, and specifically in the religious witchcraft world. It's got a bunch of essays about finding groups and community ritual opportunities. I anticipate some more in the near future, because as part of my move, I'm going to be going to public Pagan events a bit more frequently than I have recently, because I'll want to meet people in my new area.)
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Vella Malachite

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Re: Samhein/Halloween Sore Subject?
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2011, 02:54:19 am »
Quote from: Rahni;7150
Sawaain as I understand it, is a celebration of the New Year  and the coming Winter and things.

Do you celebrate this?
What does that mean to YOU?


 
Honestly, Jenett's already answered better than I could, but the way I understand it is this: I'm following a primarily Irish path, so in order to understand Samhain, I go back to the original Irish stories and the interpretation of people following the same path.  Samhain is a time of coming winter, yes, which meant a lot of things for an agricultural society: winter was when people died.  It was bitterly cold, and most people would have been forced to stay inside as much as possible to avoid dying of the cold.  People got very angry at each other in winter because of cabin fever, and livestock and crops weren't immune to the dangers, either.

Still, winter will always happen.  Samhain, for me, is a preparation for what is about to come: the knowledge it will be cold, the knowledge that the weather will be unpleasant, even though it's not as bad for me as it was for them (for one, Australia is much warmer generally, for another, technology), and trying to be aware of the seasons.

There is also the belief that the dead walk on Samhain - I've not done enough research to form my opinion on that aspect, but it's a large part of the celebration, honouring dead ancestors, for a lot of people.

That was rambly and probably half wrong, but I hope it made some sense.
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Re: Samhein/Halloween Sore Subject?
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2011, 04:15:47 am »
Quote from: Rahni;7150
I wanna do it right this year!

Historically we don't have much other than Victorian folklorists, and the Coligny Calender to indicate that it was the 'Celtic NewYear,' but it is traditionally acknowledged as the beginning of winter, and is the start of the ritual new year in Traditional Wicca as it's the 'Great Sabbat,' so that interpretation is relevant to me, where we also honour those from the land of the dead, 'Lord of misrule,' and have a bigger feast than we do the other Sabbats.

Samhain is our modern Irish term for the month of November, after October, which is Diereadh Fómhair(Autumn's end) Outside of this still being an important harvest period for farmers&community festivals, there's still a lot of rich lore in the Gaeltacht involving the 'fairies'(Sí, na daoine maithe) where the veils hindering their activity are very thin, and few households still set out dumb suppers. The whole month of October is in preperation for Samhain, where farmers save straw, and there are still households that wait for Oíche Shamhna(Halloween night) before lighting the first fire, or putting the extra kettle on for the hot water bottle. It is mostly celebrated with community bonfires, and children&communities in Ireland put on firework displays on Halloween night similar to those in the States do on the 4th of July.

Auress

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Re: Samhein/Halloween Sore Subject?
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2011, 01:54:07 pm »
Quote from: Rahni;7150
First of all, I do not mean to mash the two separate things together, just trying to fit it all on the same line.

Secondly.
Sawaain as I understand it, is a celebration of the New Year  and the coming Winter and things.

Do you celebrate this?
What does that mean to YOU?

To me, its a night to revel in the pure joy of the magic evening!  I get mass shots of adreniline when this night comes!

Yes, to me, it was about getting a cute costume, going door to door, getting cheap frights (sometimes real frights) and free candy!

As I got older, it was about looking at the moon, breathing in the Fall air, maybe wearing something naughty and just feeling pure joy!!  And wondering what sorts of spooks would be lurking in the shadows, friendly or not! OooOOOooo!

What does Oct. 29th-Nov. 1st mean to YOU?
What do you DO? How do you CELEBRATE or IGNORE these nights?

What is the meaning of the original Devils Night/All Hallows Eve or the night of Samhein (spelling?) in history? Yes, they are all seperate but sometimes people get them all mashed together!!

I heard something about apples, sage, coned hat, brooms and dancing...original magical celebrations for this night.
Also wearing a mask to hide your face from demons, carving a pumpkin to ward off evil...

You tell ME.

:3 I wanna do it right this year!

I gave up Wicca a long time ago. But, I didn't give up the seasonal observations. I do have to do them far differently because of some personal gnosis, though.

Samhain, for me, is November 1st. The same day as Day of the Dead. I do not start it's celebrations until midnight November 1st. Most people who observe Samhain, I've noticed, celebrate it starting at sundown on Oct. 31st. I just can't do that. For me, Halloween in its popular culture sense is very much its own holiday and deserves its own time frame. It might have been originally based on Samhain, but it's become something else on its own.

Samhain is ....the Day of the Dead, Festival of the Dead, for me. I celebrate my ancestors and Beloved Dead (thank you to the Cauldronite who helped me find that way of explaining it). It's time for me to reflect on the past year and its events and to renew my witch bottle. It's the Witch's New Year, for me. It's also the last harvest and it means we must insulate ourselves for the dark half of the year. Its the welcoming of the dark half. But, it's very much separate from Halloween. When Halloween ends at midnight on Nov. 1, Samhain begins.

I would be lying if I said that it doesn't bother me that Halloween and Samhain are mixed on the same night. Yes, it bothers me. As I said, Halloween might have originally derived from Samhain, but the two are not even remotely similar now. And, popular culture has created its own holiday. They should be separate, but whatever makes you happy.

My celebrations of this particular season technically begin on Autumn Equinox, to be honest. My decorations for Halloween go up shortly after, my blog posts are all themed for it at that time, by the time Oct.31st even rolls around I've been doing Halloween and Samhain preparations for more than a month. That's how much I LOVE that time of year!!! I loathe the spring and summer because I am most alive in the fall and winter.

I do make Jack o Lanterns, hadn't heard the mask bit, but that's kind of interesting! I revel in the seasonal foods of the time. Apples, roast pork and venisons, pumpkin (!!!), sage, cranberries, root vegetables. I also revel in the scents that I associate with that time. Cinnamon, Clove, Pumpkin, Apple, Sage, Sandalwood, Dragon's Blood, etc.

I don't think there is a right way and a wrong way. My way is not someone else's way. That's okay. Do what you want, it will be authentic to you.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2011, 01:55:27 pm by Auress »

Auress

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Re: Samhein/Halloween Sore Subject?
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2011, 03:14:28 pm »
Quote from: Rahni;7150

:3 I wanna do it right this year!


I just realized I didn't cover how I decorate for all that blabbing I did in the post previous.

I have different altars for different purposes. My Halloween decor and Samhain decor come out shortly after Autumn Equinox. I don't have a religious altar, yet, but will soon, but that will be totally separate from any wheel of the year celebration.

I have a seasonal altar which is decorated with aspects of whatever seasonal observance is going on. For Samhain, it will be all last harvest items. Crows, scarecrows, acorns, pinecones, oak leaves, fall leaves, indian corn, a Jack o Lantern, etc.

I have an ancestor altar which I'm going to start maintaining year round, but as of right now I haven't been. It has pictures of my Beloved Dead (thank you again Cauldronite for that), tea lights for remembrance, items of theirs, etc. It has nothing else on it.

Then I have a Halloween display throughout the rest of the house that's totally unrelated to Samhain. Ghosts, goblins, Franksteins, Spiders, Witches (the green warted kind), mummies, etc. Horror movie memorabilia ( I collect and review horror movies on a blog). I play Halloween songs for a month straight. But on Samhain, I'm usually listening to Loreena McKennitt or something.

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Re: Samhein/Halloween Sore Subject?
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2011, 06:11:57 am »
Quote from: Rahni;7150

Do you celebrate this?
What does that mean to YOU?


We don't do trick-or-treating in the UK, so there's less of that distraction. It is still a time of dressing up and parties, but mostly for the children. Shops are full of spooky toys around that time of year, and I love them (although, when push comes to shove, I'd rather raid the toffee apples!).

In my home, we celebrate quietly, as the start of a new year and a night dedicated to our ancestors. My stepmother puts on a dumb supper, then she and I go into the garden, light the chimenea, feed the flames with things linked to what we want to see gone together with the year, and sit watching them burn down and thinking of those who have moved on before us.
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arkeiryn

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Re: Samhein/Halloween Sore Subject?
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2011, 05:52:51 pm »
Quote from: Chatelaine;9185
We don't do trick-or-treating in the UK, so there's less of that distraction. It is still a time of dressing up and parties, but mostly for the children. Shops are full of spooky toys around that time of year, and I love them (although, when push comes to shove, I'd rather raid the toffee apples!).

I don't know where in the UK you're from, but I used to go trick-or-treating all the time when I was younger ;)

Now I'm older, though, this is something like how I actually want to celebrate it:

Quote
In my home, we celebrate quietly, as the start of a new year and a night dedicated to our ancestors. My stepmother puts on a dumb supper, then she and I go into the garden, light the chimenea, feed the flames with things linked to what we want to see gone together with the year, and sit watching them burn down and thinking of those who have moved on before us.
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