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Image: Jan ShepherdSamhain/Hallowe'en

Here are Jan's thoughts:
Samhain means (from the Celtic) End of Summer.  In a sense we have to move ourselves back in time here to properly understand what that means for Autumn as we now know it did not exist in the original Pagan calendar.   We were either in Summer (bounty, blessedness and abundance) or Winter (threatening, sparse and demanding).  When discussing the Autumnal last time, I spoke of how, at this end of the year, one is forced to squeeze every single drop of favour from the land.

Here our forefathers (and mothers) were faced with the stark reality that there is simply nothing left.  There are no berries to forage, no crops to harvest.  Even the wild life retreats making hunting harder and more dangerous.   This is it.  We are up against the violent beauty of Nature in all her guises.   She has given up generously of all we have coaxed her into producing.   Now it’s time for our testing – are we respectful enough?   Careful enough?  Thoughtful enough?   The Winter will prove or destroy us.  Either way, this is approaching the time of our weighing as souls.  Here now, we face the highest judge of all.   Are we to prove worthy?   Or are we destined for a wasting death as a result of our own wastefulness?

I am quite sure you can see how our modern-day lives makes a total nonsense of such a stark set of choices.  Perhaps the ease with which we refill our larders, restock our cupboards and fridges, has taken from us the simple reality that Nature truly IS red in tooth and claw.   I often wonder what would happen if we were cast upon Her good nature and forgiveness.  Hopefully we have not yet crossed the line into no-man’s-land.   Um…could you please pick up that piece of litter and put it in the appropriate bin?   I thank you.

The title of Hallowe’en aggravates me roughly as much as it aggravates Graham – you will have noticed his attitude in his fantastic offering about this ceremony.  It is a shortening of “All Hallows Eve”.   That is a Christian festival instituted officially back in 800AD or so. It precedes All Hallows Day which in Christian terms remembers and celebrates all saints.  More obscurely in Christian tradition is the concept that it also celebrates the dead in general.   [More...]

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