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Samhain Introduction1

Samhain Introduction1

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Published by: ericalborgers on Sep 09, 2008
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09/26/2010

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Samhain Introduction
1.
@ Lady Bridget 1996
Samhain, the third of the Harvest Festivals, occurs when the Sunis aspected at 15 E Scorpio. Traditionally, this has been celebratedon October 31st, but since the precession of the equinoxes thisdate now falls on or about Nov 5th most years. Since the October31st date has been so popular for so long, there is a lot of Samhain energy associated with that date. So whether youchoose to celebrate on Oct. 31st, or whether you choose theactual astrological date of Samhain, the energies will be there foryou to tap into. Most groups now pick the nearest availableweekend between these dates that best fits into their schedule.In agricultural cultures, this was the last of the Harvests, when thegourds and pumpkins, and the last of the grains would be broughtin. Whatever was left in the fields after this was considered
"puka"
, or fairy blasted, and was certainly not considered fit toeat. For the fairies were said to go underground right afterSamhain, and not show themselves again until the day after MayDay. If a person was careless, they could find themselves in theland of Fairie! This was part of the tradition relating to costumesand masks at Samhain. This is the time when the veils between the world of the living andthe world of the dead is the thinnest. Our ancestors knew this,and so there was also the fear that the dead would return tohaunt, or even possess, the bodies of the living, or drag themback to the Underworld. Masks and costumes prevented the dead,and the fairies, from knowing who was who, and those withvengeful deceased relatives could feel safe from harm. We wearmasks so that our playful side can come out and take overwithout fear of ridicule. Some traditions wore a mask at everySabbat to preserve secrecy, along with the traditional blackhooded robe. This would also be the time when the herds were
"culled"
, which
 
means that the farmer would have to decide which of his animalswould most likely not survive the winter. These animals would beslaughtered, and the meat smoked and also used for the Feast.Reason being that if the animal would probably be too weak tolive anyway, might as well eat it now, rather than waste fodderfeeding it, and then have to kill it later, when it was tough andthin, or not be able to eat it at all if it suffered a long illness.Practicality was the most important survival trait. Thus it is thatfor us, this time of year is when we
"cull"
our habits, ourpossessions, and also our feelings. Getting rid of anything that wedon't want to bring with us into the new year is what this is allabout. Feelings of anger and resentment, bad habits that keep usfrom our desired goals, or even possessions can sometimes beholding us back from our spiritual goals. These are best evaluatedand eliminated at this time of the year.In several traditions, the Goddess rules half of the year, and theGod rules the remainder. In some this is an equal 6 months and 6months, in others, it sometimes differs with the growing season.In our tradition, Samhain is when the High Priestess gives theStaff of the Coven over to the High Priest, to ritually comemoratethat it is now his time to "rule". Since it is now the "hunter" timeof the year, he leads the circle, casts the circle, and we will evokethe God first during ritual. At Beltain, he will ritually hand the Staff back to the High Priestess to signify that her "rule" begins, and soon. Since our coven is based in South Florida, our agricultural yeardoesn't coincide with our traditional one, so we don't keep thistradition in it's strictest sense. These are the foundations onwhich our religion is built, but our real guide is whether or not itworks for us as a group and as individuals, and only each personcan judge that for herself. The myth of Persephone going underground to Hades is a verypopular Samhain Sabbat story. Actually, I have heard two similarversions. The first, is the matriarchal myth which told howPersephone loved all life, and was sad dened by the death of thethings that she loved. Demeter, her mother, also was in charge of the Underworld, but she let Hades rule there without her, sinceshe preferred the living world above. Persephone took pity on thesouls who had no one to greet them and show them compassion,
 
so she followed a hare down into a hole which became a cave andled her to the Underworld. There she met Hades, who fell in lovewith her. Eventually, she loved him as well, and so she stayedthere. Demeter was distraught, and all the earth suffered hersaddness, as she would allow nothing to grow until her daughter'sreturn. Persephone, upon hearing this news, returned to herMother, but as she had promised to love Hades, and the souls of the dead, so she returns to Hades for a few months each year. Sogoes what I believe to be a version of the original myth.After the takeover of the matrifocal cultures by the patriarchalinvaders, this myth was changed, as were many that featured ourGoddesses prominently. Now the myth had Persephone kidnappedagainst her will, held captive in Hades, raped, and tricked intoeating pomegranate seeds so that she would have to return anddwell there. This version can be read in most Greek mythologybooks, but I prefer the prior version, where Persephone choosesfreely out of her compassion for all creatures and beings tobecome Queen of the Underworld for a certain number of monthseach year. The number of months differs from culture to cultureand depends on their own climate, it corresponds to the numberof winter months they experience. It usually varies from 3 to 6,and also corresponds to the number of pomegranate seeds thatPersephone ate.As Persephone descends into the Underworld, she also becomes asymbol of the Crone, wise with her years, and willing to facedeath. As the Crone, we seek within to find our fears and torelease them. We can send our fears to the Underworld with Her,there to have them transformed into strengths, and be reborn tous.Our tradition teaches us that we will also be reborn, with thosethat we love, and that we will remember, and love them again. This is the promise of the Goddess, which is symbolized by theapple. When you slice the apple crosswise, a pentagram isrevealed, the symbol of life. The Goddess's promise is that theseeds of rebirth are revealed in the fruit, even the fruit of death,as symbolized by the pomegranate. We say that the promise of awhole orchard is revealed in the pentagram of one apple.

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