Thursday, 23 October 2014

Samhain / Halloween – Darkness & New Beginnings

There is a moment, every year, in the darkness between the evening 
of October 31st and the morning of November 1st when according to 
tradition the gap between our world and the realms of other beings 
- whether the immortal sióg or Christain saints or the long gone dead - 
suddenly are as close a breath or a blink; when in a moment we mere 
mortals can experience great and terrifying revelations. It is a time of 
shudders and creaks, of dark tales and guises. It is a time when old 
Celtic year gives way to the new and an infinity of possibilities lies
before us. It is a time we celebrate as Samhain or Halloween.
In ancient times Samhain was a time of feasting, judgement, law 
making and the settling of disputes, but it was also “a time of danger 
when the magic of the druids was required to control the hostility of 
the Otherworld beings by chanting and by sacrifice, spells and 
apotropaic formulae’ to ward off evil [Ross, Anne, ‘Ritual and the 
Druids’ in Green, Miranda J. (ed.) The Celtic World (London, 1995).]
There are many things to fill us with dread at this time of the year, 
not just the supernatural. Dark evenings and cold wet days can 
dampen our moods, make it harder to cope with all those day to day 
things we have to deal with;relationships, work, money and studies. 
The shortening and darkening days can make it seem so much 
harder to cope and keep going on. But the magic that brings 
darkness also brings great healing and hope.
The very darkness, dampness and cold awakens a need to draw 
closer to friends and love ones, which in turns has great benefits  
for our health, resilience, confidence and optimism. The season 
has it’s an uplifting incredible beauty: Barna woods, my favourite 
haunt, looks the very picture of an Otherworld at this time of the 
year. The leaves carpeting the ground are a myriad of colours: the 
gold of pirate treasures, mixed with rubies and emeralds from a 
dragon’s lair, with here and there patches as dark as old blood or 
a yellow as the sun in summer.
And that long relaxing walk in the autumn landscape, is not only 
wonderful for socialising and taking in the beauty of the world, it 
is also one of the most important forms of preventative medicine 
available; increasing oxygen flowing to your brain, strengthening 
your mood as well as your muscles. So if you are thinking of 
making any unbreakable oaths at this time of the year, you might 
want to think about regularly getting out for a walk with a friend 
(regardless of whether they are human, canine, zombie, living 
dead or other). You never know you might just find yourself 
transported into a whole other realm.
* * * 
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Enjoyed this article, you might want to check out:
Friendships: Enrich your life and improve your health
 Long Walks Benefit Mind and Body 
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