Saturday, 8 November 2008

Celebrating Samhain

The Celtic New Year tradditionally began at the beginning of November and was a time for feasts and celebrations - to give thanks for the harvest and to prepare for the onset of winter and the year to come. I am drawn to think that, with the loss of a predominantly argrarian based society, the rise of the more scary and ghoulish Halloween celebration has taken over. This is fueled by the media's presentation of horror and more frightening entertainment through the likes of television, film, books and computer games. With the loss of contact with the natural world, do we draw into ourselves a more depressive and self-destructive love of fear and violence that pervades our culture? Supermarkets don't particularly celebrate a farmer having grown successful crops whereas Halloween paraphenalia is far more commercially viable. A week ago I joined with a few friends to celebrate this traditional Celtic festival in a positive and meaningful way.

A Pilgrimage

It felt like I was going on a pilgrimage
this dark, windy and very rainy evening.
Along the lonely country lanes
with windswept leaves everywhere,
A journey to the unknown
welcoming anticipation and hope.

The tipi asked us in
to sit upon the golden bales
and touch the warmth of the fire,
to join with a sharing of our souls.

We respected each other
awaiting our turn to talk with antler
to express our thanks
for the year that has passed
and look to the future
with our visons and dreams.

The rain beats on the canvas
the fire gently crackles:
natural music to fill our thoughts;
and after we have gently warmed
the deerskin drums over the flames
our music, too, joins with nature.

I am there, welcomed and warm
giving where I am able
taking what I am able to receive,
and my apprehension turns to peace.
It feels like this just continues
all my previous experiences
in many churches and conference halls
but yet this feels closer to me
something I have been longing for.

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