Saturday, November 11, 2006

Samhain or Winter Nights

During the months of October and November, European peoples perceived that the veil between the living and the dead was the thinnest. The Norse of Northern Europe honored their Ancestors. The Celts held their New Year’s rituals at this time. Meanwhile in Rome, the Mundus (the Gate to the Roman Underworld) was opened once in October and in November.

At this time, the Celts had their New Year, called Samhain. They regarded this High Day to be the beginning of the Dark Half of the Year. It was the time that cattle were brought in from the fields for the winter. During Samhain, the Celts connected with their ancestors.

Meanwhile, the Norse held their Winter Nights. Through stories and rites, they honored the Ancestors. At night, Woden (Odin, the All-Father) or Frau Holda rode with their hounds. Searching for souls, these Gods pounded through towns and farmsteads. During the Wild Hunt, everyone stayed inside.

In October and November, the Romans opened the Mundus. During this time, people were told not to conduct major religious rites. The Dii Infiri (Underworld Gods) and the dead were about, and could do serious harm.

For me, Samhaim is the last leaf of October. In New England, the brilliant colors of the mountains become dark green and grey. For a brief moment, time and space ceased to be. I could step outside and feel the Spirits.

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