The Customs of This Tide: The Elements with which to create rituals for this festival;
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- Rev. Lucien O'Corvi; The Shamanic Minister, A Voice in the Crowd!
- I am an Ordained Minister, a Shaman, a Reiki Master Teacher, an Aromatherapist, a Massage Therapist, an Herbalist in training, & a Crystal Healer in training! I am also a Writer! I am one of the Neo- Celí Dé (a form of Celtic christian mysticism based on original early Christianity, & certain Celtic philosophies, perspectives, & certain Druidic elements). I am also a proud member of Clan MacKay. NO PARTIES, JUST PATRIOTISM!
These are a few of my favorite things!;
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Samhain pronounced Sow-in is the ancient Celtic new year. It was a time of honoring the ancestors and the otherworld. The veil between this world and the next is thinnest at this time of the year. This natural occurrence has given rise to many superstitions, some founded in truth and some founded in non-sense as is usually the case. We Celts honor our ancestors at this time. We understand that the dead far from being gone are always with us. Our ancestors are a part of us and we of them. We are who they became as an ancestor once told me.
Other names for Samhain include;
The Hallowed Eve, Eve of the hallows, All Hallows Eve, Halloween, Hallowmass, and Hollantide. Another name for this festival is The Feast of Memory in which we choose to remember or hold in our memory. There are many more names but this list covers all the basics.
The Tide of Samhain has the usual three days for Celtic festivals. The days of the tide are as follows;
Oct. 31st Samhain, Nov. 1st New Years Day / All Saints Day, Nov. 2nd All Souls Night. November 3rd is a time of rest and retrospect and in my tradition it is the eve of respite. We have entered into a new year.
This festival tide is a time to release the old and bring the newness into our lives.
We have entered the dark half of the year just in September. Samhain marks the half way point between autumn and winter. Every day after Samhain we head towards The Winter Solstice also called Alban Arthan / Yule / Mean Geimhridh / and Christmas tide.
Customs abound in this feast. Reverent communion with the ancestors including but no limited to Divination rites. Lighting a lamp or candle in the window so good spirits know they have a friendly house to take shelter in for the night of their long pilgrimage; to walk among the living and help in what ways they can… before the veil thickens once again. Laughter and telling Jokes and satires was common. It was custom for people to gather in the houses of close friends and families and spend the time in fellowship. It was a night of making merry and making music; of dancing, singing, and the art of story telling. Communal dinners were a typical part of this feast tide. Events that brought communities and families together. besides communal reverence for the ancestral souls at rest, there were offerings of prayers for the peace of the unquiet dead as they were often called. Souls that wondered the astral plains in the veil… not at rest or at peace; souls that get lost on the way to find the light of eternal love in the other world. It is believed that prayers for those souls might hasten their return to the physical world to live again and learn better so that they can enter into peace eventually. Or that they would be given Grace and somehow be led to the light which that had previously not been able to see. It seems to be that the unquiet dead as they were called…were not seen as ancestors. They had not yet earned the right to that title it appears. To be an ancestor one had to have made it to the place of light and peace and be able to come back with wisdom and spiritual aid for the people. This seems only right to me. The idea of Service as a vocation and virtue, is good and it should continue into the next world in whatever ways it can. This then is why we have separate nights for various soul states. Samhain eve for the ancestors, All Saints day for the ancestors who had attained a much greater level in the other world, and All Souls night for sending prayer for the unquiet dead.
It is nice….a comforting thought to think there is still a way to help the souls of the dearly departed somehow; our Beloved dead and those who went unknown and unseen. That somehow we might be able to assist them to find peace seems a very good thing to me. Perhaps many of us will be in need of such help when we pass and it is a comfort to know there are those who will pray for us in such a way.
The custom of lighting a candle in the window has evolved over time and lost all true significance with commercialization. Now all houses have porch lights almost every night of the year. This is why I still like the idea of getting a small lamp or electric candle for a window. I would say real candles but most people today have blinds and curtains and the point is to help the dead not join them too soon by burning your house down lol. Perhaps we might start a different custom… that on the night of Samhain we somehow change the color of our porch lights to blue or something to make them stand out to the spirits.
Another custom had to do with families working together to get things ready for winter feasts. In the old days animals destined for slaughter would have been consecrated to Spirit and then slaughtered at this time. Herds to be kept alive would have been brought down out of the hills and in. Harvests were gathered. Meats were salted. Preserves were made. Endless baking and cooking was done. Brewing of Beers, Ales, and libations was tended to. Fire wood or peat was stacked in large stacks by the house for future fires and warmth needed to sustain life through out winter. Young and old had more fellowship together than usual. It was a time for children to learn even more from their elders and for their elders to learn also from them…connect with them…make memories for them…remember what it was like to have been young themselves. It was a time for the entire clan and family living and dead to fellowship together. It is said the ancestors gain blessings and energy when we remember them in our thoughts and in our hearts. So as they help give us guidance, we help give them something wonderful and also indefinable for us who are living… by holding them in our hearts, minds, and memories.
It was believed by many that Elementals or Fairies came at winter and blighted the natural world with ice breath to make the earth sleep and take rest from all its toil and workings.
Tales of Great Hero’s like Fionn McCumhaill were told and Poetry abounded. It was a time when The Awen flows from person to person; or more directly from Spirit to Person and vice versa… instead of It flowing from nature to a person. It keeps us mindful that as human beings we are hard wired to need each other. We need each other even on the physical level. People who are not touched and do not touch die sooner than people touch and are touched on a regular bases. It is a very real phenomenon called Touch Deficit.
A Holy Bonfire was lit by the druids on a sacred hill near
All the other lights in Ireland
were extinguished before hand and Ireland
went dark. When the druids lit the holy fire, torches were lit by the sacred
flames and sent out from it… lighting fires in each direction all across Ireland.
Thus newness and blessings were sent out all over the land from the holy fire
of the High King’s ( )
druids. This sacred and beautiful ceremony continued until the roman catholic
missionary Patrickus destroyed the tradition and began killing druids; or as
later tales made it sound more kind and miraculous; drove the snakes out of Ard Ri Ireland.
Patrickus also hated the Christians who already existed in Ireland
at the time who lived in relative peace and harmony with the druids called The Céli
Dé. These small bands of Christians were either slaughtered, absorbed into the
roman church, or driven out of the land. However even Patrick couldn’t kill the
spirit of the tradition and so people began lighting their own sacred hillside
bonfires and celebrating around them. That tradition was carried out in mass
until the first world war. However even from then until now there have been
those who have carried and kept the tradition alive. In Celtia sacred bon-fires
were and are used ritually in many different ways. They are used most of all to
cleanse, clear, and purify things; people, animals, and places. The smoke of
the sacred bonfire is believed to act in much the same way we would use white
sage, sacred burning herbs, and incense or essential oils now. The ashes of the
sacred bon-fires were also used to bless and purify things.
Human hunting was done for the year by this time, and it was time to let the Fairies have their wild hunts. The cries of Wild Geese and other worldly creatures filled the skies… and some people minds, with a slight type of terror and haunting beauty.
In some Celtic stories this was the wedding feast of The Ard Ri to The Land (Or mother earth archetypes). While in other Celtic traditions this was merely the beginning of their official courtship and betrothal which led to the marriage and consummated union at the festival of Beltaine (May day).
Many were taken and began to be initiated into the mysteries of the druids and later on the Christian priesthood at this time.
The Winter Crone called the Cailleach; one of the dark aspects of the ancient celtic mother goddess archetypes held sway during this time of the year in their ancient traditions. The Celts recognized three seasons of age for people childhood and or youth, adulthood and or parenthood, and old age when wisdom had been gathered also called elderhood. These were viewed as so for the sexes: Maiden, Mother, Crone; and Lad, Father, Magi to use modern terms people can understand.
The Holly King and The Oak King archetypes in some stories took a pre-battle feast time together during this festival. In other stories of the two male archetypes; The Holly King and the Oak King were actually lovers making love. At this time they would lay side by side; while during the dark half of the year the holly king would be on top, and the oak king would take his turn on top during the light half of the year. They were believed to be bisexual each taking their turns with the earth goddess as well as their turn on top of each other in passionate lusty sexual escapades. In most well known traditions however they battled at certain festivals (the winter and summer solstices) and the victor ruled that half of the year. These were not real battles but rather symbolic ritual acts enacting a metaphorical battle. The victor would be married or mated to the earth mother for his half of the year in these traditions. In other traditions these were just two inner aspects of the pagan god and he would stay with the earth goddess during the light half of the year and then take his private time of meditative or reflective solitude during the dark half of the year; and the goddess would miss him and cry herself to sleep during the dark half of the year. He would wake her up and make love to her…and stay with her again throughout the following light half of the next year in endless cycle. I can imagine that ancient women could well understand the pain they believed their goddess went through because of her lovers absence; having to wait in grave concern when their fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons went off to hunt or go to battle. I can also imagine how they must have rejoiced if and when the men-folk returned home again.
Rituals of Banishing and Letting go…of clearing out the old and bringing in the new abound. A quite common one that even I have used is to write down what I want to get rid of out of my life… and write down what I wish to invite into my life or co-create with God in my life. I then do a cleansing ritual with smudging. Then either in a sacred bon fire / pit fire, or by lighting a ritual candle….I burn the paper thus sending my prayer to God. The Sacred Fire is seen as a way to give things to God or turn things over to Spirit.
Ravens and Cats are two of the biggest totems for this time of the year. There are countless stories of different animals that are tied in with this festival however.
Colors for this tide-feast;
Black, White, Red,
Brown, Yellow, Burgundy, wine,
Blue, Purple, Dark Green
North the direction of Mother Earth, winter or the dark half of the year, The Ancestors resting place, and Death. Or West which has to do with water, the past, the place of dreaming, and autumn.
Time of Day;
Dead Time between and
Besum’s (Ritual Brooms), Cornucopias, Wheat, Leaves, Acorns, Stag tines, Gourds and pumpkins, candles, Cauldrons, Corn or Wheat dolls, Black Cats, Bats, and Ravens or Crows. This is by no means a complete list…just a basic guide.
Ritual Impliments most associated with this tide;
The Chalice, The Athame (Ritual dagger / blade / or sword), The Staff or Wand, The Cauldron, The Besum. Basically all of the most common ritual tools.
Plants and Libations associated with this tide;
Oak, Apple, Arborvitae (Yellow cedar), Corn and or Wheat / In ancient Europe Wheat was called Corn, Dittany of Crete, Fumitory, Hazel, Mullein, Nightshade, Pumpkin, Squash, Sage, Turnip, Wormwood, and Woad. Wassal is a Libation sometimes made for this time of the year or at yule. Meads, Ales, and Wines are the norm. This is by no means a complete list…just a basic guide.
We are in the time of the Ivy-Moon and we are moving into Reed-Moon just before Samhain; this is according to the Celtic tree zodiac lunar calender.
Prayers / Meditations / Activities;
Meditate on The House of The Ancestors. That place we must all go to when life takes its leave of us. Remember all of the best aspects of your ancestors and their triumphs and hard won evolutions and think of how you might become more worthy of those things. Think about how you take time to honor God, Spirit, and your Ancestors during the year, or how you might begin to or do it differently. How do you honor The Dead? How do you hold them in your Memory and your Heart? How do you hold God in your internal House of Memory and how do you honor God and or Spirit?
The Prayer of The Grail, (This is also a Caim Prayer);
This is a prayer I crafted from other prayers some of which are famous.
Caim is an old ritual prayer practice of the early christian celts who were influenced by their pagan ancestors before them. It means to encircle. It is a way of creating a protective circle around you, and or a way of creating a Nemeton (ritual circle or sacred space) in which to do spiritual work or activities. Basically it is a way of creating a circle of spiritual energy around you through prayer and focus. The prayers of Caim practice will usually say the word "circle" or "encompass" somewhere in them; or similar words like "surround". To recite such prayers is to practice caim or the caim.
The common Lorica;
(One of a multitude of various versions)
A Sacred Celtic Prayer:
“I arise this day through a mighty strength
The Invocation of The Trinity
Through the belief in the three-ness
Through the confession of the oneness
Of The Creator of creation
I bind onto myself this day
The power of God to hold and lead
His Eyes to watch
His might to stay
His ear to harken unto my need
The Wisdom of my God to teach
His hand to guide
His shield to ward
And Render The Word of God to give me speech
His Heavenly Hosts to be my guard
I arise this day through the strength of haven
The light of the sun, the radiance of moon,
the splendor of fire, the stability of earth,
the firmness of stone, the swiftness of wind
the quickness of lightening, and the depth of sea
Christ with me
Christ before me
Christ behind me
Christ beneath me
Christ above me
Christ to each side of me
Christ within me
Christ Encircling and Encompassing me
I arise this day through the Power of God’s love
Through the strength of Christ’s birth,
Through his initiations,
Through his ministry,
Through his passion and crucifixion,
Through his resurrection and ascension,
Through his kingship and decent to uphold
the judgment of the quick and the dead
I arise this day through a mighty strength
the Evocation of The Trinity
Through the belief in the three-ness
Through the confession of the oneness
Of The Creator of Creation
(Interesting notes about this prayer: This is a version of a prayer written by none other than the druid and celi de killer himself Patrickus. It is so strange to think that a man who was cruel enough to commit such acts also had such a seed of goodness within him as to be able to write one of the most beautiful prayers ever written. In my tradition we honor St. Brigit not Patrick as The Patron St. of Ireland. Like many Celtic prayers this prayer or at least this version of this prayer qualifies as a Caim prayer.)
Another Prayer I would like to share. I am not aware of an official name for this prayer; I have always called it my Communion Moon Prayer;
“Bless to us Oh God
The Moon that is above us
The Earth that is beneath us
The Friends who are around us
Your Image deep within us
This short prayer actually says a lot most people don’t hear. It has many layers of teachings and is one of the prayers of “The Mysteries” in my Tradition.
A prayer of Protection: in my tradition this is called, The Caim of High Protection;
“I bind onto myself this day
The power of God to hold and lead
His eyes to watch
His might to stay
His ear to harken unto my need
The Wisdom of my God to teach
His hand to guide
His shield to ward
and Render The Word of God to give me speech
His Heavenly Hosts to be my guard
The Mighty Three my protection be
Encircling and Encompassing me
Jesu An Ri around my Life, hearth, and home…
North, South, East, and West
Oh Sacred Three, oh Mystic Trinity
Here this day this very hour
I place all heaven with God’s power
And the sun and moon with their brightness
And the snow with its whiteness
And the fire with all the strength it hath
And the lightening with its rapid wrath
And the winds with their swiftness along their paths
And the sea with its deepness
And the rocks with their steepness
And the earth with its starkness
All these I place by Christ’s almighty help and Grace
Between myself and the powers of darkness
This is an adaptation of one of the prayers that I pray on All Hallows Eve…
The Prayer of The Ancestral Virtues;
“God… Oh Ancient of Days,
Grant that I may have the good virtues of my ancestors
Grant also that I might shed their short comings and my own
Grant that when I pass into Spirit at the appointed time, that I will enter The Eternal
Light and Love of your Otherworld and become worthy to be called an ancestor also.
Grant that during this life and also the next I will be able to guide people and serve
them in what way Spirit deems best for me to do, for the highest good of all!
Thank you oh Lord of Life for hearing my prayers and granting me Your Grace, and
Favor, and Your abundant Blessings in my life! Help me to be ever Mindful of Your Presence and ways in this new year!
Example prayer for All saints day;
Prayer To The Lord of Hosts;
“Oh Lord of Hosts…God of Saints and Angels,
Grant that I may inherit and personify the virtues of Your Holy Ones.
Grant that the Shining peoples of your court protect me and guide me.
Grant that I may always persevere as they did.
Grant that I may stand steadfast in their fortitude and forbearance.
Grant that I may learn from their examples and teach from them as well.
Grant that I might live as they did in virtue that is evergreen.
Grant that I may enjoy thy bounty and harvest and remember to be both thankful and grateful for them and appreciate them as well.
Grant me Thy Wisdom oh Holy One that I might know how to live and act in the right way.
Grant that I might grow ever deeper in a Loving and Eternal relationship with You Oh God, my truest and highest Spouse….The Lover of my Soul. You who art my utmost Anamcara! You who art my Everything. Help me ye Saints and Angels of God and all my Brehon… to Live my Utmost for His Highest! May my Soul Magnify Thee oh Lord God of Hosts and may I become authentic and walk in Spirit and in Truth with All Virtue. When I pass through death into eternal life Grant oh God that I might take Thy Love with me, and that I might leave a legacy of that Love and All Virtue behind for all those who still walk the earth! May I be The Holy Grail; a
Theurgy, for Your Spirit oh Lord and Amplify your Virtues always. May I
walk in Truest Power! Vessel Temple
Example Prayer for All Souls Night;
Prayer for The Unquiet Dead;
“Oh Great Lord of All Love, Light, and Life…
Grant that All Lost Souls who are not at Peace and Rest within Your Eternal Embrace find their ways to their Destiny’s.
Grant that they find their way to The Light,
move on to their judgment,
or Be Sent Back to learn the necessary lessons; and grant them success if that be their future.
Protect us from those who do not know, can not see, or will not submit unto The Light.
Keep us from dark souls who are not of Thy Light and Kingdom oh Lord.
Banish anything from our lives that is not of You!
Open our Lives and our Hearts and help us make ready; prepare us oh Lord for what roads, paths, and Vocations we are called to.
Help all those unquiet souls to find respite in your Haven or go where-else they wish.
For All the lost souls who are living amongst us in our world; Help their hearts turn to you oh Lord.
May all dark hearts die or be turned unto Thy Light oh Lord.
As always Lord…let Thy Will be done and let me increase within You oh Lord! Let your Kingdom, shine forth and be made manifest upon the earth through me!
Meditation for Nov. 3rd The Day of Respite;
This being the first regular day of the new year think about what you want this new year to be and meditate on how to fulfill that and bring it about. How can you manifest that or Co-Create it with God? What lessons did the old year teach you and in what ways can you apply those lessons in this new year and all the years to come? Be happy and make merry and seek rest, peace, and comfort on this day!
Historical Events of significance for this tide;
On Oct. 31st in the year of our Lord 1517, The event beginning The Reformation of the church in the modern Christian era occurred. Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the door of a catholic cathedral and a split from the roman catholic church began; the birth of Protestantism began. Though splitting from the roman church was not his initial intention, he set into motion a series of events with this action that eventually led to a mass amount of people breaking away from roman church rule. This was a very great thing. All people who consider themselves christians and do not belong to an early sect of christianty like myself, or who don’t belong to the roman church, have their origins in this reformation. So Samhain is also Reformation day to many christians. It is often celebrated in modern churches with parties and events called things life “Fall Fun Festivals” or “Reformation festivals”. All People however should consider this event, one of the most important events in all of history for helping bring religious freedom to all of mankind!
Misinformation I want to correct;
The Tradition of “Trick or Treat”.
Many Christians today seem to believe that the tradition of trick or treating came from ancient druidic practice. This is utter non-sense. Trick or treating as we understand it is a uniquely American tradition. Similar traditions do exist in
Europe in various places but the
traditions that gave rise to trick or treating happened much later in history
than when the original druids existed.
there two similar traditions I am aware of. The first is called Mischief night
and though very old, it could hardly be called ancient. Basically teen age
people put on masks and costumes and played pranks. They… as well as poor
people, would beg for food from a house and if it wasn’t given they would play
a prank; like taking the gate off its hinges and such things. Still this has
little if anything to do with the druids of old, and their traditions. There is
another tradition around Christmas Tide where children go around and collect
pennies for the tradition of burying The Wren who is small and despite that
said to be the king of all birds. I think I was told that the money gathered by
children at this time usually goes to them buying sweets for themselves. It is
a really cute tradition and once I got to see a video of it being carried out.
What is might be true of the ancient druids as far as this part of the year and this issue was concerned; is that a group of druids is thought to have gone door to door in each province of Ireland accompanied by the Fianna (The army of the Ard Ri of ancient Ireland) and collect taxes for The Ard Ri (The High King of Ireland / Tara... Chiefton of the Chieftons). If people couldn’t pay their taxes or wouldn’t pay their taxes; measures and sanctions might have been taken against them. It is no different than what goes on now with the I.R.S. If people didn’t pay as an act of rebellion or what have you… punishment might have been dealt, not by the drui’s but by the fianna. Such rebellion might have even ended in being put into prison or servitude, or perhaps even death. I can assure everyone however that the ancient druids didn’t say trick or treat and would have almost certainly had no such concept within their philosophies.
Witches and Evil;
Many christians today seem to believe that witches, druids, and other pagans worship the devil. This is nonsense. These peoples do not in most cases even believe in our Christian archetypes; at least not in that particular one.
Many believe that witches have human sacrifices. This is just stupidity. Witches have as one of their goals to foster and protect life. Some groups dedicated to dark practices might have animal sacrifice…but I would remind people that so did the Jews in the past and yet we christians sit in churches and speak of these acts as holy. Then we turn around and condemn others for doing the same thing we just called holy? It makes no sense. The ancient drui’s were known to have done human sacrifice. This was not at all unique in the ancient world. Many cultures and religions practiced such things. The drui’s however seemed to have rules about such practices that other cultures lacked. First we have never found evidence of children being used in this way to my knowledge. There seems to be three types of people which were used in this way. Adult Prisoners of War as we would call them. Elderly people who believed they were helping their tribe, and Young Nobles who it was believed were also helping their tribes; but who were also believed to being given seats next to the gods and earning or attaining a measure of divinity themselves. The prisoners of war probably fell into two categories. The first were those being executed as we would give someone the chair, the gas chamber, or the lethal injection in this day and age. The second were prisoners of war who were told that they could attain a measure of divinity if they were willing to go to the gods as offerings and their sacrifices were probably much less painful. They were probably given herbal potions that made them hallucinate and relax. The Young Nobles, the elderly, and the willing prisoners of war probably were much less afraid of death than we are today and so were more willing to be used in such a way in many cases. This is because they believed much more strongly than most today can understand that they would have either gone to Divinity or come right back into this life in another form. Reincarnation was a core belief of the ancient Celts. This willingness to give ones life for others in not a new concept. I would remind people of two things; Christ and what He did, and our military service people and what they do. The elderly and nobles back then believed that giving ones self as sacrifice to the gods of winter would placate them and thus winter would be much shorter and less harsh on the whole community.
Any group practicing human sacrifices today is either involved in devil worship or the worship of very dark and evil gods. These types of peoples go against the ideas of witchcraft as it exists now. I wouldn’t consider them pagan either only for the fact that they are not practicing the old country traditions which center around fertility and the giving of life and also sexuality. Any group practicing human sacrifice now are altogether evil and murderers and should be stamped out! If someone uses occult practices and yet worships the devil they are not witches but rather Kashephs as they were called in the bible; the nearest words in our language that could describe them are evil sorcerers.
The Usual type of Witch if it can be said there is such a thing lol, is not your enemy. In fact despite our differences with them my fellow christians...we the people of western world owe them a huge debt of gratitude for keeping the knowledge of our ancestors traditions, of Herbal lore and healing, and other like things alive for us in their memory's; so that we may now learn them, teach them, utilize them, and benefit from them. So stop treating your neighbors who are witches bad just because they are different from you! That is not acceptable christian behavior and you should know that if you have read the teaching of Christ!
Having said all of that, I want it remembered and understood that this time of the year for The Celtic peoples was all about Harvests, the onset of winter, and communion with whichever of the ancestors who happened to be in The Spirit World at that time. So while it was a festival about death, it was not a festival about glorifying death. Rather it was an acknowledgement of our own mortality and the cycle of life. Life then was honored as a great gift, and death a mere transition to another plain and state of being. Ancestors drew near not to accost people but to send them Love, Light, Blessings, Protection, and Guidance. It has as a festival several things in common with the Latin festival Dia de los Muertos (The day of The Dead).
While there are a great many things that can and probably will be written about this festival, I feel this covers all of the essential elements, to give people a basic understanding of what this Festival means to my people and what we do to celebrate it.
Other Important Links for understanding My Tradition;