Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The History of Jack...

The Jack-o-lantern tradition started in Ireland several hundred years ago. As the story goes, there was a character named Jack or Stingy Jack as he was called. Stingy Jack was a thief and a drunk who like to torment people by playing malicious tricks on everyone. Tis said, Jack even tricked the devil into promising that he would not take his soul when he died. However, when Jack did pass on, he was denied entrance to heaven because of the mean tricks he had played and since the devil wouldn't take him either, he was trapped in the void in between.

The devil commanded Jack to leave his gates and tossed an ember from the fire at the spirit to light his way. Jack placed the ember in a hollowed out turnip (his favorite food when he was alive) and begin to wander the earth looking for a resting place. With the lantern held in front of him he became known as Jack of the Lantern. After that on all Hallow's eve, the Irish would carve out turnips and place a candle inside to ward off evil spirits. When the Irish came to the US they brought the tradition with them. However, pumpkins were easier to come by than turnips and much easier to carve. Happy Pumpkins to you!

this post was contributed by Dsandra

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Blessings for Samhain and All Hallows

The true origins of Halloween lie with the ancient Celtic tribes who lived in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany. For the Celts, November 1st marked the beginning of a New Year cycle and the coming of winter. The night before the New Year, they celebrated the festival of Samhain, pronounced Sah-won, the Lord of the Dead on All Hallows Eve. In pagan mythology this is the night that marks the death of the Sun God as well as his simultaneous conception in the dark womb of Mother Earth. As the Sun God dies he makes preparation for his rebirth at the Yule celebrations where he will be found beneath the fir tree. Samhain celebrates the circle of life and the knowing that from death comes life as the circle continues not only in the earth and planting seasons but in our own personal lives as we prepare for the new year cycle.

During this festival, Celts believed the souls of the dead returned to mingle with the living. On the eve of Samhain, a veil between the worlds parts, allowing communion with ancestors and the spirit world. Families would leave their doors open and set tables with meals for the dead who return to visit. The purpose of this feast is to remember all those who have crossed to the other side and the love we shared with them. I always set a place for them at the table and cook a special dish that might have been their favorite. I put some food on a plate that put in the special setting I have set for them. We fill the mealtime with memories of them and talk about them, remembering the love and memories we shared with them. Upon the meal’s completion, traditional Celtic custom says to then place the ‘ancestor’ plate and cup outside so the wandering spirits can find it.

The element associated with Autumn is water, which is attached to our emotions and feelings. It is a time of letting go and releasing the things and situations that affected us negatively and caused us pain, and assimilating the spiritual growth that certainly came from those experiences. It is a time of leaving the things behind that no longer serve us on our journey to our soul’s perfection and being open to the new things we will attract for the same reason. As the year officially draws to a close and we mark the beginning of the New Year, it is a good time to let go of the old and make ready to embrace the new and all that the new year will bring. Is it new love? Is it new job or career? Will your relationship deepen and go to the next level? Are you embarking upon a personal journey of spiritual growth and development and need guidance? What lies in store for you in the new cycle of the year? Write a list of things you wish to bring into your life as well as a list of things you are releasing from your life. And let it so be.
Have a blessed Samhain and All Hallows