Halloween

Samhain 2018

(Last year’s Samhain and Allhallow’s Eve posts)

It’s both a joy and a hindrance growing up and now living in Florida. The seasons don’t really change. The calendar changes just like everybody else’s, but that’s the only way to know which holiday to celebrate. Yes, we get our 12 hours of autumn, and maybe four days of winter, but other than love bug season the rest of the year it’s the same. It was nice to get bicycles and skates for Christmas because we could use them right away. We didn’t have to wait for the spring thaw. I spent many Christmas afternoons outside on my bike, skates, playing with whichever piece of sports gear I got that year. No bundling up, hell I seldom wore a shirt or shoes!  Brag all you want about winter sports. We spent two years in Alaska. You can keep all your skis, snowmobiles, and hockey gear.  Not for me.

With my birthday falling during Thanksgiving week (no, I was not born on a Thanksgiving day. I am not a Turkey. I was born on a Tuesday), that holiday holds great importance to me. Except for the year I turned 18. That was on a Thanksgiving day. But I was at Lackland Air Force Base, in basic training, pulling KP duty. So that year it basically sucked.

One thing that has bothered me for years now is the “holiday creep”.  It really pisses me off when I go into a store before November and they have Christmas decorations already up. Let’s give all the holidays their proper time.

That would make Samhain/Halloween/Allhallow’s Eve first.

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The girl’s Jack O’Lanterns for this year

Again this year, trick or treating falls in the middle of the week, so we had to take the

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A map of the corn maze. We didn’t get lost, but we didn’t do the entire maze either. Somehow we skipped about a quarter of it!

girls out for fun early.  We hit up a “Fall Festival” with a corn maze, games, food, and other typical events. Despite the heat, it was quite fun. The girls had two of their younger cousins come along, so the adults didn’t have to be with them all the time. We just had to keep them in sight.

We also took the girls to a local church’s festive events.  We got there a bit late, but there really wasn’t much to do anyway. Both the girls did the “box maze” (you had to crawl through large boxes that were placed together. It was more of a tunnel than a maze). Granddaughter-the-elder spent her time on the big inflatable slides.  Her costume was one of the characters from Disney’s Descendants 2 show. Don’t ask me which one. Maybe you can tell from the picture. But her costume was so slippery she beat all the boys down the slides every time. They said she was cheating!

Granddaughter-the-younger (costume from the same show) spent her entire time waiting in line to get her face painted. She didn’t seem to mind (don’t think she was feeling well anyway), so I’m not complaining.  I just sat on a chair off to the side where I could see everything. But the music!  So bad! They’d blast some pop tune all the kids all knew followed by a Christian song that had no relevance to the event. Sheesh..

And of course, we carved the Jack O’Lantern’s you saw above.

Tomorrow the veil thins, and travel between the realms is easier. At least that’s what some believe. It may well be true. Having never been dead, I don’t know what it takes to cross over. But last year’s posts have more info (they’re linked at the top of the page).

There aren’t many kids in our neighborhood, although some families are moving in as us old folks die off, so Wifey® and I usually don’t stay home on trick or treating night. We’ve found that even leaving all the lights out in the front of the house doesn’t stop the most determined hoodlums’ kids from banging on the door and screaming for candy.  In the past that made the dogs go crazy. But sadly, the dogs have passed on so that won’t be a problem.*

I used to dress up in costume and hand out candy and /or go to parties. But not anymore. If my granddaughters were available during the week and not just on weekends, I would do it again. Way back in the day I would drag my sound system out to the front porch and blast Rick Wakeman’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII at a very loud volume while my bud Mo and I would do our best to scare the kids trying to steal our candy. But, alas, those days are past.

Check out my friend Kirsten’s blog Once Upon A Spine. She still has the spirit.

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I don’t even wear my clown face anymore…

Peace,
B

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* Wouldn’t it be a hoot if the dogs and cat we lost last year crossed over and visited us??

What’s Stuck In My Head – 5 October

This song has been going around and around for the better part of a month. I almost posted it before, but let it sit instead.  In the time that it’s been on hold, I found out some more cool things about the song.

First, it was written by Shel Silverstein, he of The Giving Tree, Where The Sidewalk Ends and so many other cartoons, books, albums, you name it.

It’s based on a true story. From the article on Songfacts;

In the song, Sylvia’s mother is Mrs. Avery, and while that wasn’t her real last name, the rest of the story – exaggerated a bit – was true. Silversteen told Rolling Stone in 1972: “I just changed the last name, not to protect the innocent, but because it didn’t fit. It happened about eight years ago and was pretty much the way it was in the song. I called Sylvia and her mother said, ‘She can’t talk to you.’ I said, ‘Why not?’ Her mother said she was packing and she was leaving to get married, which was a big surprise to me. The guy was in Mexico and he was a bullfighter and a painter. At the time I thought that was like being a combination brain surgeon and encyclopedia salesman. Her mother finally let me talk to her, but her last words were, ‘Shel, don’t spoil it.’ For about ten seconds I had this ego charge, as if I could have spoiled it. I couldn’t have spoiled it with a sledge hammer.”

It’s interesting to know that it was based on a true story because I always thought it could happen to me!

Dr. Hook is one of my favorite musicians. His style (and by that I mean the Medicine Show since there is no real Dr. Hook) has always intrigued me. And of course, the crazy hit (also penned by Shel Silverstein) The Cover Of  ‘Rolling Stone is absolutely hysterical! And it did land them on the cover.  Although only in caricature.

But back to our song, Silvia’s Mother.  I found two very humorous articles about the song. The first is from UnNews.

4 October 2008

Sylvia’s mother, Mrs. Avery, who famously prevented her daughter from continuing her relationship with eyepatch-wearing boyfriend Dr Hook, admitted yesterday to lying during the famous telephoneconversation.

For the first time in over 35 years, she came clean about the call that ended forever hopes of a reunion between Hook and Sylvia.

Yes, Sylvia’s mother lied. What a surprise.

The second is from Ultimate Classic Rock.  The article linked is an excerpt from Dear Mr. Pop Star, by English father-and-son team Derek and Dave Philpott.  This is a collection of Monty Python-like letters to artists and witty responses from a large number of targets. The book follows the project’s online success over the past 10 years.  It’s a “letter” written to Dr. Hook advising him what he should have done during the infamous phone call. The reply is written by Dr. Hook frontman Dennis Locorriere.  It’s quite entertaining. (Hint: Click the link above to read it…).

So that’s all I have for this entry.  Please enjoy the video, I have a feeling some folks may have never heard this track before.

Oh yeah, please leave your comments here if you can. Thanks!

Peace,
B

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A Little Of This, A Little Of That

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Well, I’ve had these blog posts sitting here not being posted for quite some time now. All of these have been assigned to “I’ll finish this later”, or “Nobody wants to read about that”, or my fav, “Do I really want to post that?” categories.

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An Anniversary (Of Sorts)

Today is the 30th anniversary of my vasectomy! I realize you don’t really care. But it’s important to Wifey® and me.  The funny part was later.

We were stationed at Ft. Greely, Alaska.  Four days after my getting fixed was son-the-elder’s birthday. Needless to say, we had a party. And as with most kids birthday parties, the adults consumed massive quantities of alcohol. The big toy that year was laser tag. I don’t remember how many we purchased, but we had several pistols, rifles, vests, and helmets. Many hours and batteries were spent running around in the playground and parking lot shooting at each other. Naturally, I was extremely sore for several days after. The beer kept me from hurting that day but did nothing after that.

Pro tip: Don’t go running around right after having your nuts cut!

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Still Not The Song I Want To Hear

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The posts I’m referring to are here and here. After dinner Sunday the family was sitting at our little bar in the kitchen (where we usually eat dinner) and within 10 minutes or so I had to change the station at least 5 times. Nothing but Skynyrd, Zepplin, Springsteen, U2, etc. Even son-the-elder noticed and said I was having a bad night.

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Genealogy Still Sucks

If you missed the original post go here.  Since everything I find on my Campbell side either has too many questions to lay claim to or goes back to King Arthur, I have decided to work on some other lines for now. Besides, I can’t get anyone to answer any requests on Ancestry.

I’m just happy that I haven’t found a “tree” that links back to Adam & Eve! Although I have to think that the Campbell’s would have sprung from Adam & Lillith, Eve was too prissy.

I have many DNA links on my paternal grandmother’s side, and my mother’s side (both her mother and father’s sides). I’m also going to start on Wifey’s® tree even though she has cousins with a lot of the family already there. But I have doubts about a lot of the historical family members.

For reference follow this link for my Campbell tree and this one for Wifey’s tree.

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It’s Almost That Time Of Year!

Samhain is right around the corner! Even though we don’t participate much in Halloween (unless we have the girls), I still enjoy this time of year.  The Celt in me loves the traditions and once this day passes the next holiday is my absolute favorite of all holidays, Thanksgiving.

We have always enjoyed carving Jack O’Lanterns. But since this year Halloween falls on a Wednesday I think we’ll cut it back this year.

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To Gym Or Not To Gym

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BEARS

Yeah… This post didn’t get very far…

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Mental Health Day (Or Lack Thereof)

I’ve mentioned before that I am bipolar type II. I don’t post about it much because I really can’t. When those days hit the last thing I want to do is talk. Not that talking about it doesn’t help, it does. But, I am not one to talk about what’s going on in my messed up head. And to spit it out only relieves the pain for a very short time.  And the roller coaster emotions that this causes is even worse than just dealing with it in my own way.

Then this meme came across my Facebook the other day and I think it may have some merit.

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I can understand this. The universe has a finite amount of energy (E=mc^2 tells us this). And since we are all made of stardust (and to stardust, we’ll return) we are all connected. Maybe days when you are sad and can’t place a reason why the universe is signaling that someone needs mourning. I’m down with that.

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So those are all the leftovers that have been ignored. And to continue the Still Not The Song I Want To Hear post, this morning on the way to work, it was either Starship, Aerosmith, or Rocket Man, easily Elton’s worse song. And while putting this post together, Michael Martin Murphy’s Wildfire just came on. There is nothing that will make me change the station faster than that “song”. Has to be the absolute worst thing ever written.

But fear not dear reader (both of you), the music world is still kicking! Saturday night driving home from dinner with granddaughter-the-younger I had the Beatles channel blaring in the truck. Both of my girls love the Beatles. As this song came on, and I was singing it to her, she was laughing the entire time. When we made it home we watched Beatles videos on YouTube. It was wonderful.

Hey, you there! Leave a comment why don’t ya!

Peace,
B

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Allhallow’s Eve

So tomorrow is Hallowe’en. But since it’s on a school day again this year I’m not sure when the trick or treating will be. The ancient Celts would celebrate Samhain (see my post here), on the full moon nearest what we would call October 31st (in the times before the Gregorian calendar when it was a lunar based calendar). For us this year, that will be Saturday, November 4th at 1:23 AM. So that would make Saturday the day for trick or treating.

And of course, that would be one of the nights that the veil between the worlds would be thin, allowing all sorts of creatures, both good and bad, to visit our world from the “underworld”. Scholars point to this fact as the beginning of our Hallowe’en costumes.

“Trick-or-treating is a modern incarnation of old Irish, Manx, and Scottish practices that sometimes occurred over multiple nights leading to Samhain. In Ireland, the poor went door-to-door “mumming” or “souling.” They offered songs and prayers for the dead. As payment, the owners of the homes visited gave them soul cakes, cookies with a cross drawn on top, representing each soul detained in purgatory. Some saw the soulers, who often carried turnip lamps as they went about their rounds, as enacting the role of the dead souls seeking their food offerings. The regions that called this practice “mumming” were also referring to a type of folk theater called “Mummer’s Theater.” These often involved loose, strange plots involving stock characters. Saint George and the Doctor was a common play used at Samhain. In Somerset, children went door-to-door on October 30, called “Punkie Night.” The colloquial name “punkie” referred to their turnip (or beet) lanterns. On this holiday, children begged their neighbors for money to pay for fireworks used on the next night, called Mischief Night. The locals considered it unlucky to refuse— the children carrying the punkies represented the souls of dead children. Some regions came to call this door-to-door collections practice Halloween rhyming. Often children sang a song to the people who answered their doors and soul cakes or soul meat was part of an expected exchange. Mumming in Ireland gave way to going door-to-door, saying, “Help the Halloween party! Any apples or nuts?” In France, the tradition differed slightly. Rather than demanding food, children collected flowers from their neighbors, so that they might decorate graves of family members the following morning.”

Rajchel, Diana. Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween (Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials) (Kindle Locations 296-309). Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.. Kindle Edition.

Observing Samhain, or Hallowe’en, on Saturday also makes sense this year as the following Sunday would be All Souls Day (All Saints Sunday in the Christian Churches). A time of remembrance of those that have passed on the year before.

“Eventually both All Saints’ and All Souls’ became distinct holidays unto themselves, with All Saints’ an observance for souls believed already ascended to heaven, and All Souls’ as a day to honor souls possibly still working out some issues in purgatory. In Ireland, these days marked a time for family reunions after cow-milking season finished.”

Rajchel, Diana. Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween (Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials) (Kindle Locations 176-178). Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.. Kindle Edition.

So what are you going to do for Hallowe’en, Allhallows Eve or Hallowmas, whichever name you wish to use? We don’t have many children in our neighborhood, so Wifey® and I usually leave the house and turn off all the lights. But this year may be different, our old dog (who was more than a bit aggressive) has passed on, so it’s safe to open the door to little children again. We’ll have to see.

Leave a comment on your plans!

Peace,
B

Samhain

(This isn’t an anti any religion post. Your beliefs are your beliefs. I’m not trying to push any of my beliefs on you, please don’t try to push yours on me. This is here to show the history of one of my favorite holidays.)

The season of Samhain (pronounced SOW-win) is upon us. The greatest of the ancient Celtic fire festivals, it is usually celebrated on October 31st or the full moon closest to that date (November 4th at 1:23AM this year).  It is from this ancient festival that we believe the modern-day Halloween comes from.

To the ancient Celts, Samhain marked the most important of four Celtic fire festivals. Located halfway between an equinox and a solstice, it is one of four cross-quarter festivals. Every year on the first frost after the full moon in October, families allowed their hearth fires to burn out. At this time, they brought back herd animals from grazing and completed gathering the harvest. After the fires died, they gathered with the rest of their tribe to observe the Druid priests relighting the community sacred fire using friction. The priests induced friction with a wheel and spindle: the wheel, representing the sun, turned from east to west and lit sparks. At this time, they made prayers and offerings or sacrifices related to their needs. The Crom-cruach came out: this was an emblem of the sun, and scholars are uncertain whether it represented a Pagan god or symbolized an aspect of nature embodied in a stone pillar. The villagers left offerings of food at the edge of their village for wandering spirits and faerie folk. There was also a sacrifice of a black sheep, a black sow, or cattle. At the end, every person returned home with a brand lit from the sacred fire, which they used to relight their own hearth and then to light bonfires or to set torches at the edge of their fields. These ancients considered it a sin to relight the hearth fire any other way. To the ancient Celts, Samhain marked the completion of the harvest and called them to put their energy into preparing for the coming winter. It also betokened a day when their ancestors would come to visit, followed across the veil by all sorts of creatures both good and bad that moved freely in the mortal world on Samhain night. Since faeries were often unfriendly, the Celts dressed themselves as animals or as other fearsome creatures as a way to prevent kidnapping by faeries and later by witches.

Rajchel, Diana. Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween (Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials) (Kindle Locations 154-168). Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.. Kindle Edition.

Not only did this festival mark the end of the harvest, it was a time the “veil between the worlds” thinned. This “thining of the veil” was of great import to the ancient Celts. (And it’s pronounced Kelts, with a hard “C”).  It was a time to welcome lost family members back to ask questions of them, or just sit in remembrance of them. It was also a time that creatures of all sorts, good and bad could cross between worlds. I would like to think that when I’m gone, on this day I will be able to stand at the veil and watch my family. To see how they’re doing and maybe, somehow, let them know I’m thinking (if that’s the right word) of them. John Lennon (he of Beatle fame) is said to have told his son Julian that if he can communicate from the other side he will float a white feather in front of him. That would be cool.

In today’s world “fairy” brings up images of “Tinkerbell” and other cute little sprite-like creatures. That was not the thinking in the 3rd – 5th centuries CE. In more ancient times (maybe as far back as 30,000 BCE) these fairies and sprites were looked upon as belonging to the Mother Goddess (Cerrwiden for most of Isles) and were usually benevolent. It wasn’t until the coming of the Celtic Christians (which was separate from the Roman Catholics) that these fairies were taught to be mischievous at best, evil at worst.

Most of the “Old Gods” of the Druids (which were stolen by the patriarchal religions) were manifestations of the matriarchal religions’ Mother Goddess (or Mother Earth). To try to convert the pagans of the British Isles, the priests either turned these old Gods and Goddess into saints, as in “Saint” Brigid or claimed they were evil and cast them to live in the hills underground.

 

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Our Jack o’Lanterns from 2016

 

So the Catholic church tried to change all the pagan holidays, Samhain being only one, into a Christian holiday. They didn’t invent these “holy days” so much as usurp them from the pagan calendar.

When Christianity spread throughout Europe, the church officials went about converting the area heathens by converting their holidays. Sometimes church officials did this by scheduling an observance for a different time of year. Other times, they simply renamed the old Pagan holiday for a saint’s day. In the fifth century, Pope Boniface attempted to repurpose the ritual of honoring otherworldly spirits and the dead, identifying it as a day to honor saints and martyrs, and moving the holiday to May 13. When the late October/ November fire festivals continued anyway, in the ninth-century Pope Gregory decided to move the saints and martyrs day back to the same day as the secular festival of the dead. In the case of Samhain, rather than negate the festival of the dead, the church resorted to declaring November 1 All Saints’ Day, alternatively called All Souls’ Day. Later the church added All Souls’ Day on November 2, possibly because All Saints’ Day failed to displace the Pagan rituals. Eventually both All Saints’ and All Souls’ became distinct holidays unto themselves, with All Saints’ an observance for souls believed already ascended to heaven, and All Souls’ as a day to honor souls possibly still working out some issues in purgatory. In Ireland, these days marked a time for family reunions after cow-milking season finished. Over time the night before November 1, called among many names Hallowe’en, Allhallows eve, or Hallowmas, became the repository for most of the original Pagan practices.

Rajchel, Diana. Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween (Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials) (Kindle Locations 169-179). Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.. Kindle Edition.

As you can see, it didn’t really work. We pagans are a stubborn bunch. But I have to admit, that when I did call myself a Christian All Saint’s Sunday was an especially meaningful day for me. To hear the names of the “saints” that had left us the previous year and to have a bell chime for each name was very moving.

Despite the best efforts of the ninth century Christian Church, Samhain did not so much return as it remained. That, alongside Halloween, speaks to humanity’s enduring need to acknowledge fear, death, uncertainty, and loss. Samhain offers a chance for renewal and a chance to connect lovingly with the dead again. Halloween offers a release from the norm— often exactly what people need after enduring powerful grief. Pagans celebrate life, and with Samhain they do so by revering the dead, celebrating the chain of lives that brought us all together.

Rajchel, Diana. Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween (Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials) (Kindle Locations 423-427). Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.. Kindle Edition.

I have quoted extensively from Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween. This book is part of a series “Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials”.  While I couldn’t find a link to the entire series (there are several books) this particular book can be found here on Amazon. From there you should be able to find the rest. While I found the “recipes & crafts” section rather boring, you may enjoy that kind of stuff. The rest of the book was quite interesting to me.  If you buy it I hope you enjoy it!

Peace,
B

P.S. Long live the Celts!