Scare-me Samhain

by on Oct.31, 2014, under celebration, history, magickal info, sacred days


Going to meeting

Going to meeting

Hello dears,

This blog has been on hold for quite some time.  I have been taking some time to deal with both health issues and domestic ones, BUT on a better note, I’ve spent quite a bit of time studying my craft!  More on that later, but I’m starting to post here again, and what better time than Samhain (pronounced sow-ehn), the Witch’s holiday!

Most everybody celebrates this holiday on it’s modern calender day of October 31.  However, Samhain as an ancient pre-agricultural holiday, was more of a time of year than a day.  In most cultures, this was the time of year that one would shed the excesses of summer.  The entire tribe or village would gather to celebrate the turning of the seasons, to honor those who had crossed to the dreamland, and to mourn.  The weak animals, the prisoners, the hopelessly sick in the tribe would be culled either by official group decision or, in the case of the old and the ill, by volunteer, so as not to take precious resources from those who could survive the winter. That sounds harsh, I know, but living then was a bit more difficult than living now!

As time went on, and survival became less tenuous, civilization grew more powerful in the lives of the people, and nature a bit less so.  Patriarchal urban cultures began to take over things like calenders, religion and time, and regimentation was the order of the day.  Of course, there is a lot of history between those two periods, but for the sake of brevity, spin yourself to present day.  We now have a calender that codifies holidays into a nice digestible sheduled day.  A holiday that might have taken a week in old times, is now a recognizable single calender day.

Another way to look at Samhain is to note that at this time, the Sun is making it’s journey thru Scorpio.  That was much less important in ancient days, especially long before the Chaldeans began their planetary records that would eventually give us astrology.  But it is important to us today, as much of what we have as modern neo-pagans was colored by the work of high ritual magick.  That is not a bad thing, but it does make things more precise and measured.

Samhain can be seen as the time when the Sun passes 15 degrees of Scorpio.  15 degrees is the peak of the Scorpio energy, when it is supposed to be strongest.  That would be the time of the most activity, in this case the energy of fixed water: Scorpio.  Thus the correlation.  The problem with this, is that it brings us back to the generalized time of the holiday, rather than a single day.  That is because astrology itself is fluid.  The Sun begins it’s Scorpio peak energy days away from the 15th and continues several days after.  AND, to make things even more confusing, due to the precession of the seasons, the Sun now hits 15 Scorpio well after the beginning of November.

So, given all this contradictory and confusing history, how do we as modern pagans, celebrate this ancient agricultural holiday?  Why is it important to us?

Well of course, pagans love a party.  And a time to honor our loved ones, especially those that have passed out of this material world.  It is in this time of transition that it is claimed the ‘veils are thin’.  They are thin because we are remembering our lost loved ones, both human and animal.  Our minds are calling to their memory and to their spirits as our human nature and our bodies respond to the shortened days and the dying off of summer foliage.  This is very much a physical change, and not just a metaphysical one.  It is now that we gather with our coven, our lodge, our friends, and celebrate who we are and who we have been.  Who we will become is another question for later in the year, but now, as we pass below the horizon into the dark time of the year, we honor who and what has brought us here.  We also sanctify and strengthen our support network, the bonds that will keep us safe and alive thru the winter.

In addition, because at this time we are so sensitized to ‘vibrations from the other side’ it is a wonderful time for all sorts of divination!

Tarot and Book

Remember the turnip lamps, carved out with candles inside that lit a villager’s way thru the night as they traveled to gather together, and the ghosts one expected to meet on the way.  Have a nice long coze with an old friend you’ve not seen in awhile, and send your love to those you won’t see again on this side of the veil.  Perhaps you will feel their love in return.  They are watching over you, you know.

I intend to carve my pumpkin today, and to embrace a few friends.  Put on my costume and dance the night away, cast a few cards, and circle with those I love.

Till next time, my dears!
Blessed be.

Marie Angeli

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Blue Moon for August

by on Aug.30, 2012, under history, sacred days, the moon

Hello my dear friends.

Up till now, I’ve never had the urge to reprint one of my old posts.  However, after reading an article on a popular news daily, I was irritated yet again by the spread of wrong information.  So here is the original post on Blue Moons.  You will find a bit on the history of solar and lunar calenders, and I PROMISE you will also get to the bit about the origins of the term!  🙂  Enjoy my lovelies!

One of the things I’ve noticed while doing research on this Full Moon is the plethora of patriarchal overwriting of history and the abundance of information inaccuracy on the internet as a result.

For example:  Wikipedia, that absolute bastion of informative accuracy 😉 claims that a blue moon is the term used for the second moon in a calendar month.  Additionally it is claims that the name “blue moon” comes from an old English word meaning ‘to betray’ because an extra moon betrays the established order.  And finally it is concluded that extra moons only exist due to a mistaken astronomical calculation made by an obscure Farmer’s Almanac in the mid-1940’s.

See what I mean?  Has it occurred to any of the authors of these entries that the lunar calendar was agricultural in nature and was in place many thousands of years before the solar agenda came into being?  Indeed, the deep history is far more interesting than a spat between the lunar and solar contingents.

Let me take you for a moment into the development of the lunar and solar calendars so that you can see how interesting this is…

Old Sundial outside a French farmhouse

The lunar calendar was an agricultural calendar that used the 29+ days of the lunation cycle to measure time and determine the best days for planting.  It was not hard and fast, at first.  There were no steely eyed accountants sitting on their stools waiting for the exact decimal moment after the 29th day to declare the lunation cycle done and another begun.  Instead the farmer looked at the sky and watched for the reappearance of the crescent moon after the dark time to begin the lunation cycle once more, and calculate his/her planting.  Much planting was done during the full moon because it was simply easier to see, and as well the tides were high, and the water was high in the earth.  But there were also good times leading up to this full moon phase to plant, and work to be done after.

Because much work was done as a cohesive unit by family groups or villages, the village elder would mark the day that the moon returned, and eventually folks noticed that the lunar cycle was around 29 days long.  In time, it was accepted that about 13 moons marked a full agricultural cycle, or solar year, and that there were four different periods in which different agricultural activities took place.  The earliest calendars found have been fragments of bone upon which the scratches marking the days of the lunation were made.  You see, even as early as this, sometime prior to 15,000 BCE, the movement of the moon (the lunation) and the sun (the days) were used in conjunction to mark time.

However, the farmers in Egypt had a serious problem.  Each year at about the same time, the Nile flooded.  This was good for them, because the flooding caused the land around the Nile to become amazingly fertile.  But they had to know when the flood was coming each year, for their own safety!

For many years the Babylonians/Chaldeans/Egyptians had observed and recorded the movements of the planets and the stars, and because of cultural needs such as this, they began to record Planet and Star positions and use their observed anecdotal knowledge to predict cycles and events.

Hubble image of ancient stars, Nasa

They noticed that Sirius, the Dog Star, began to appear right before sunrise on the days just before the flood.  Like clockwork!  They began to track the position of the year based on the conjunction of the Dog Star with the Sun at sunrise.  Thus the Egyptians began to adapt to a solar calendar based upon star position for timing yearly agricultural events, sometime prior to 4000 BCE.  They kept the lunar calendar as well, to time religious festivals, and to help time planting.

It was during this early period that Time itself was sacred, and much ritual and ceremony were devoted to the main thrust of life, the sacred planting cycle.  Light and Darkness, the Sun and the Moon, the Day and the Night, had become the abstract metaphors of the action of Unseen gods.  The four sacred days were the longest night (Yule), the longest day (Midsummer), and the two days, the equinoxes, when Light and Dark were equally balanced.  These yearly points in time became the points of sacred beginnings and were built into calendars, temples, monuments like Stonehenge and Newgrange.

So you can see, this use of two sometimes conflicting calendars began long long ago.  The conflict is not as simple as the overthrow of an ancient matriarchal society by an more aggressive patriarchal society, although some thinkers would have it so.  I believe it is more an advance or encroachment of abstract thought upon the natural world.  Humans thought, and believed that what they thought was the Truth.  It hasn’t been so much a case of “I think, therefor I am.”  so much as it has been “I think, therefor I Know.”  or “I think, therefor I am Important.” or “I think, therefor I see God.”

Eventually, the abstract thinkers have taken over the world, first thru religion and the state, then philosophy and science, and now, technology.  The solar calendar has been adjusted and adjusted, and most of the relationship to the lunar month is lost to ancient forgetting.  Science and Logic have become the masters of our world, rather than the servants they were intended to be, and Intuition has gone the way of the lunar cycle.

The gears of logic

How does this all apply to the Blue Moon?  Well, much modern lore about the Blue Moon states that it is somehow strange or unlucky, as I pointed out above.  However, the truth is that Blue Moon is a natural consequence of a 13 Moon year being meshed with a 12 30-day month Solar Year.  It’s inevitable that there be some corners where the round peg doesn’t fit the square hole, or versa visa.  Sort of like the way that men and women mesh, isn’t it?  Or Yin/Yang.  Or just people in general.  We all have our rough edges.
The term ‘blue’ to describe the moon is likely descended from an ancient French word meaning ‘extra’, describing the not quite tight fit of the solar and lunar calendar.

May the coming year bring you the best in yourself, and abundant and positive growth in that which you desire.

I will be back this evening with a post about the current full moon, it’s sign position, and how you can perhaps use some of this abundant energy!

Blessed Be.
Marie Angeli

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All Text and Images © 2010 - 2014 Marie Angeli

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The Tao

If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.
Lao Tzu
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