Tuesday, November 01, 2022

The End Is Not the End

. . . It’s just a beginning.

What many consider to be the Celtic New Year takes place this evening. It’s a turning that has its roots in the Gaelic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in) marking the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter or “darker half” of the year. It is held on November 1 but its celebration begins on the evening of October 31 as the Celtic day began and ended at sunset.

Samhain is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals along with Imbolc, Beltaine and Lughnasa. Historically it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. Similar festivals took place in Wales, Cornwall, and Brittany.

Wikipedia notes that:

Like Beltaine, Samhain was a liminal or threshold festival, when the boundary between this world and the Otherworld thinned, meaning the Aos Sí (the “spirits” or “faeries”) could more easily come into our world. Most scholars see the Aos Sí as remnants of pagan gods. At Samhain, they were appeased with offerings of food and drink, to ensure the people and their livestock survived the winter. The souls of dead kin were also thought to revisit their homes seeking hospitality, and a place was set at the table for them during a meal. Mumming and guising were part of the festival from at least the early modern era, whereby people went door-to-door in costume reciting verses in exchange for food. The costumes may have been a way of imitating, and disguising oneself from, the Aos Sí. Divination was also a big part of the festival and often involved nuts and apples.

As you’ve no doubt ascertained, many features of Samhain have been incorporated into the Catholic celebrations of November 1, “All Hollows Day” (or “All Saints Day”) and November 2, “All Souls Day.” Filtered through these celebrations, elements of Samhain also emerge in the modern holiday of Halloween.

Hallowtide, is the name I use for the time of transformative power that all these names, origins, meanings, and dates call to mind and heart.

A song which for me calls to mind and heart the transformative power of Hallowtide is “Pretty Tune" by Kiki Dee (left) and Carmelo Luggeri (with guest artists Pandit Dinesh and Micky Simmons). It’s from their sublime 1998 album Where Rivers Meet, a beautiful title that evokes the meeting of worlds associated with Hallowtide.

Hallowtide Blessings!

May this time of transformation
bring you the endings you need and
the beginnings you desire.

Dark afternoons, driving into strange cities
And if we feel the doubt, it’s only change
Back when the days were long we could do anything
Bathed in the sunlight
It’s just a different place

This is my November song
The end is not the end
It’s just a beginning
A year in your life
What’s in a name?
It’s just my pretty tune

Radio views, I’ll look and I’ll listen
But I think it maybe time not to buy these wares
Each step moves us on
Right now I’m going home
I’m going home

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Something to Think About – October 31, 2022
Samhain: A Time of Magick and Mystery
At Hallowtide, Pagan Thoughts on Restoring Our World and Our Souls
Resilience and Hope
Hallowtide Reflections
An All Hallows Eve Reflection
Halloween Thoughts
A Hallowtide Reflection
The Pagan Roots of All Saints Day
Remembering the Beloved Dead
“Call Upon Those You Love”
Our Sacred Journey Continues: An All Saints and Souls Day Reflection
An All Souls Day Reflection
Advent: A “ChristoPagan” Perspective
Magician Among the Spirits
Holy Encounters Where Two Worlds Meet
Balancing the Fire
November Musings

Opening image: Anita Wallace.
All other nature images: Michael J. Bayly

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