Friday, 19 October 2012

More Roots of Halloween (the Celtic Samhain)

As I said last week, the roots of Halloween can be found in the Celtic (Samain) Samhain.
For the Celts, this time of the (wheel of the) year was marked by the sun's passage into the underworld - thus allowing the forces of 'the underworld' to ascend.
Halloween Lantern
Halloween Lantern (Photo credit: somewhereintheworldtoday)
Unfettered by the controlling the sun-god, Mog Ruith, the Lord of the Underworld, becomes able to walk the earth from Autumn to Winter, along with all the other creatures -of the dead- of his abode. (In Celtic mythology, the Lord of the Dead is often identified as Donn.)

Both Donn and Mog Ruith (the sun-god  are closely associated with Samhain. (Mog Ruith, as sun-god  sojourned at the realm of the underworld, the abode of Donn during this time of the year.)
The Celts were fascinated by their ancestors  causing a belief that at death they went to the house of their ancestor, the god of the underworld, Donn.
For the Celts, this was a time when fairies, goolies and all manner of other creatures and ghosts traveled abroad (walking the earth).
Their fires were lit in honor of the sun-god  Mog Ruith, and to keep the Lord of the Dead/Underworld at bay.
(Samhain is placed on the boundary between Summer and Winter, between the two halves of the year; giving it the unique status  to the Celts of being suspended in time. Belong to neither the old year nor the new. During the night of Samhain, life's natural order is thrown into chaos; the world of the living becoming entangled with the world of the dead.)
On this night, the unwary Celtic traveler  would expect to encounter creatures of the dead. (Back then, it was advisable to refrain from going out at night.) Ghosts were everywhere.
Lighting the bonfires marked the domestic celebration of the feast. Allowing the spirits of the ancestors back into the household.
The ancestral ghosts needed appeasement in the form of ritual offerings; to insure good luck through the following year. This is were the 'Trick or Treat' tradition of the modern Halloween originated. (Children dressed as the dwellers of the underworld - ghosts, witches, and monsters - visit homes with the hope of getting 'treats' or performing a 'trick' on the household's occupants - the equivalent of a dose of bad luck.)

Toffee Apples
Toffee Apples (Photo credit: julie gibbons)

More next week
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