It's the last day of 2014, and today we look back at the a few of the most popularPaganNewsBeagle posts of the year (the Beagle started at the end of June, so this only covers the last six months of the year.) Margot Adler; Sumerian hymn, Stonehenge secrets uncovered; a deadly garden; Samhain -- how do you say it?; Silver Ravenwolf; ancient Greek mosaics.
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We take Samhaintide seriously here in the southern highlands of Appalachia. There are rituals and ceremonies, discussions and interviews. I am blessed to live in the land where my Ancestors lie buried and so I also have the sacred duty of tending their graves in the Darkening of the year.
Then there is the garden to put to bed and there were festivals and cons to attend and so I have been called away from here for some time. I will try to be more faithful to this writing as the Solstice vigil fires are set and fed, and as the winter lingers in the land....
Sometimes I forget that Samhain is not the Halloween to All Souls celebrations that include my birthday. Samhain also can get swallowed up in the midwinter Yule/Hanukkah/Christmas/Kwanza celebrations that grip the globe. This year of the Horse has galloped; often it has felt like a bucking bronco. As we approach the end of 2014 I feel myself praying for solitude. Samhain is a season not just a hyper celebration of Celtic New Year. Which is what Halloween feels like in Ireland. We even have fireworks!
Samhain is the turning in time. Last year I spent a lot of time staring out the window. You could say I was busy doing nothing. As I look at the calendar with all the commitments marked for November I declared a moratorium for December. I have a three week window with nothing and that is the way I intend to keep it....
On Halloween weekend writer, witch, and ceremonial magician Frater Barrabbas hosted a gathering of Traditionals and friends at his home here in SE Minnesota. I swear, I’ve never seen so many stangs and black cloaks in one place before.
It’s been a warm, golden autumn here in Lake Country. We drove out to Barrabbas’ on Saturday afternoon (I’d spent the night before with my group here in Minneapolis, dancing with Old Hornie around a 150-year old white oak in a river meadow down by the Mississippi) through a landscape newly naked. The cottonwoods, birches, and maples had only recently shed their gold, leaving behind the oaks’ brown and russet, and the smoky green of Northland pines and cedars.
Barrabbas’ land is bounded by woods, a lake, and a cauldron bog. We found there a crowd of almost 40, some from as far away as Illinois and Georgia, subtly fueled by our host’s lively batches of homebrew: the rich, spicy Oktoberfest was especially beguiling.
So far this fall, we haven't had any bats in the house. Around here, that's unusual.
Most years, in the weeks before Halloween, I find at least one wheeling through the halls. We've got a bat house mounted on the wall outside—bats eat mosquitoes, so they're a valuable asset to have nesting nearby—but come the cold and the end of bug season, naturally they start looking around for a nice, cozy cave to over-winter in.
These days, I'm the household bat-catcher. Old Simmycat is gone now, but in her heyday she did the job masterfully. Like most Manx—in compensation for the lack of tail, I suppose—Simmy had powerful hindquarters and was a noteworthy jumper.
We humans have a deep, innate fear of the dark. We tend to feel more comfortable in the bright light of day that transparently reveals that which is around us, allowing us to assess and respond to people, situations, and things. There is something about the dark which adds the element of the ominous or disturbing. A screen door banging open repeatedly in daylight is a bother, needing to be closed tight lest the bugs get into the house. A screen door banging open repeatedly in the dead of night can leave us with our hearts banging out the same rhythm in our throats, tentatively tiptoeing towards it and taking deep, relieved breaths once it is safely closed and locked.
Blót-monað, the ancestors called it: Sacrifice-Month.* Or one could say (as the ancestors did, in their pragmatic way) Blood-month. It still goes on.
Deer-hunting begins this weekend here in Minnesota. Hunting opener is generally the first full weekend of November. (Just coincidence, I'm sure. Yeah, right.) Blood on the leaves.
It's the season of the Dead, yes, but let us not forget what the witches in their wisdom have always remembered: it's also the time of the Rut.** The fawns that Old Green Eyes sires right now will be born about Bealtaine, sure. Blood and spooge: Old Craft in the nutshell.