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Blessed Samhain 2014 | Blessed samhain, Samhain, Samhain ritual

Samhain (Samhuinn, Oiche Shamnhna, Hallowe’en, Allhallowtide, All Hallows’ Eve). Wiccan, Druid, Pagan, Heathen Halloween holiday with a three-day celebration starting on the night of 31 October. As the Celtic wheel of the year begins to turn once again at the start of a new year, the wheel being considered a representation of the Sun, the veil between life and death is drawn aside. This is not a time of fear but a time to understand more deeply that life and death are part of a sacred whole and to usher in the dark half of the year, Pagans remembering and honouring those who have gone before. Originating from an ancient Celtic spiritual tradition, this is the most important sabbat (seasonal festival) marking the end of Summer and the year’s final harvest. In Celtic circles, the apple tree was known as the Fruit of the Underworld and, due to its seasonal availability, its fruit was often selected as a food offering at Samhain, which was known as the Feast of Apples, the humble apple being a symbol of immortality in Celtic lore. Ancient Celts marked Samhain as the most significant of the four quarterly fire festivals, the 1 November New Year being the midpoint between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice, and hearth fires in family homes were left to burn out whilst the harvest was gathered. Celebrants then joined with Druid priests to light a communal bonfire by using a wheel that would cause friction and spark flames, and fires are still lit and deadwood burned before stepping into the darkness of Winter. Cattle were sacrificed to the Celtic deities with prayers and participants took a flame from the communal bonfire back to their home to relight the hearth. As the Celts believed that the barrier between worlds was breachable during Samhain, they prepared offerings that were left outside villages and fields for fairies (sidhs). A group of hunters known as the Faery Host might also haunt Samhain and kidnap people. Celts would dress as animals and monsters so that the fairies were not tempted to kidnap them. The Sluagh would come from the west to enter houses and steal souls. Some specific monsters were associated with the mythology surrounding Samhain, including a shape-shifting creature called a Pukah that received harvest offerings from the fields. From 43 CE, the Roman Empire conquered the Celtic territories that are now England and two Pagan festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. Feralia, in late October, traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead and Lemuria honoured Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees, whose symbol was the apple, from which came the tradition of bobbing for apples on Halloween. As Christianity gained a foothold in Pagan communities, the early Roman Church missionaries’ holding a festival at this time of year helped absorb native Pagan practices into Christianity, thereby smoothing the conversion process. Church leaders then attempted to reframe Samhain as a Christian celebration, with the first attempt being in the Fifth Century, when the celebration was moved to 13 May and specified as a day celebrating saints and martyrs. The fire festivals of October and November, however, did not end with this decree and in the Eighth Century the celebration was moved back to the time of the fire festivals, but it was declared All Saints’ Day on 1 November, with All Souls’ Day following on 2 November. Neither new holiday did away with the Pagan aspects of the celebration and 31 October became known as All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween, All Saint’s Eve) with many traditional Pagan practices continuing. During the Middle Ages, the fire festivals involved bonfires known as Samghnagans, which were more personal Samhain fires nearer the farms, purportedly to protect families from fairies and witches. Carved turnips called Jack-o-lanterns named after Stingy Jack began to appear, attached by strings to sticks and embedded with coal. Later Irish tradition switched to pumpkins. In Wales, men tossed burning wood at each other in violent games and set off fireworks. In Northern England, men paraded with noisemakers. Trick-or-treating is said to have been derived from ancient Irish and Scottish practices in the nights leading up to Samhain. In Ireland, mumming was the practice of putting on costumes, going door-to-door and singing songs to the dead. Cakes were given as payment. Although the Christian All Hallows’ Eve was fully adopted in the Nineteenth Century, Irish and Scottish immigrants still took their traditions to North America. Wiccan celebration of Samhain takes many forms, from the traditional fire ceremonies to celebrations that embrace common Wiccan traditions and many aspects of modern Halloween to activities related to honouring nature or the ancestors at the passing of the year. Pagans who embrace Celtic traditions, with the intention of reintroducing them, celebrate Oiche Shamnhna to remember the union of Dagda, the chief of the supernatural Irish mythological Tuatha Dé Danann (Tuath Dé, tribe of the gods) with the Connacht (Connaught) River Unis. They place juniper decorations around their homes and create an altar to the dead, holding a feast in honour of their deceased loved ones. The festival in the Southern Hemisphere is Beltane. In the UK, the clocks go back one hour to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) at 2:00 am on the last Sunday in October and forward one hour to British Summer Time (BST) at 1:00 am on the last Sunday in March, which will be 27 March 2022, for more daylight in the evenings and less in the mornings (Daylight Saving Time). Image: pinterest.com.

Prayer Harvest is ended, the fields are bare. The earth has grown cold, the land is empty. The gods of death are lingering over us, keeping a watchful eye upon the living. They wait, patiently, for eternity is theirs. Hail to you, Freya, mistress of Folkvangr, keep the souls of our ancestors with you. Amen

When is Reformation Day - World National Holidays

Reformation Day. Lutheran Festival of the Reformation, a Lesser Festival for the Protestant religious holiday alongside All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween) during the triduum of Allhallowtide in remembrance of the start of the Reformation with the 1517 nailing by German monk Martin Luther to the door of All Saints’ Church, Wittenberg of his 95 Theses protesting against the sale of indulgences. Reformation Day does not coincide with Halloween by chance, the Eve of the 1 November All Saints’ Day having been an entirely appropriate day for Luther to post his Theses, as the castle church was open on All Saints’ Day for people to view a large collection of relics. The viewing of these relics was said to promise a reduction in time in purgatory similar to that of the purchase of an indulgence. That Martin Luther intended his 95 Theses to persuade the common people, however, is extremely unlikely, since they were written in Latin, a language that the common people did not understand. However, they were quickly translated from Latin into German and widely copied, making the controversy one of the first in history to be aided by the printing press. Within two weeks, copies of the Theses had spread throughout Germany and within two months throughout Europe, reaching France, England and Italy. This is a significant holiday for both Lutheran and Calvinist Churches, the French lawyer John Calvin having joined the theological conversation in 1536 with the publication of his Institutes of the Christian Religion. Reformation Day has been recognised by the Roman Catholic Church since 1999 and in Methodism since 2006. The United Methodist Church observance acknowledges its roots deep in the Anglican tradition, both John and Charles Wesley having been priests in the Church of England. Equally, the themes of the Reformation remain the great themes and principles of Methodism today, although the schisms that occurred in the church remain. Reformation Day helps move towards unity and community and is an opportunity to repent the sins and excesses of the past and to celebrate our common faith, even if we still cannot celebrate a common ritual and sacrament. Reformation can represent healing of old wounds and help build and strengthen Christ’s church and the love of one another as Christ has loved all. Other Protestant denominations’ celebration of this holiday range from the Lutheran and Reformed way of honouring the event to a complete lack of observance. With the increasing influence of Protestantism in Latin America amongst Evangelical Protestants, Pentecostals or Charismatics, it was declared a national holiday in Chile in 2009. Since 2016, representatives from the Anglican Communion, Baptist World Alliance, Eastern Orthodox Church and Salvation Army have also participated in the event and many Anglican/Episcopal churches hold Reformation Day services. In 2016, Anglicans from the Diocese of Chile of the Anglican Church of South America participated in the March for Jesus on Reformation Day, as a celebration of their Protestant heritage. The liturgical colour of the day is red, representing the Holy Spirit and the Martyrs of the Christian Church. Luther’s hymn Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (A Mighty Fortress is our God) paraphrasing Psalm 46 is sung. Some Lutheran schools may hold pageants celebrating his life. Image: worldnationaldays.com.

St. Wolfgang, Bishop

Saint Wolfgang of Regensburg (Wolfgangus, The Almoner) (c934-94). Feast Day for the Swabian nobleman who is sometimes counted among the 14 Holy Helpers and was one of the three great German saints of the Tenth Century, the other two being St Ulrich of Augsburg and St Conrad of Constance. At 22, Wolfgang became a teacher in the cathedral school of Trier and laboured for the reform of the archdiocese despite the hostility with which his efforts were met. Wolfgang’s residence at Trier greatly influenced his monastic and ascetic tendencies, as here he came into contact with the great reform monastery of the Tenth Century, St Maximin’s Abbey, Trier. Wolfgang entered the Benedictine order in the Abbey of Maria Einsiedeln in Switzerland and was ordained priest by St Ulrich in 968. The heathen Hungarians in ancient Pannonia were a constant menace and Ulrich sent Wolfgang, followed by other missionaries, to the Hungarians to evangelise them. Appointed Bishop of Regensburg, Bavaria in 972, Wolfgang was credited with disciplinary labours in his diocese and in the ancient and celebrated St Emmeram’s Abbey, which he reformed by granting it once more abbots of its own, thus withdrawing it from the control of the bishops of Regensburg who for many years had been abbots in commendam. He also reformed the convents of Obermünster and Niedermünster at Regensburg, chiefly by giving them as an example the convent of St Paul, Mittelmünster in Regensburg that he had founded. He co-operated in the reform of the ancient and celebrated Benedictine Abbey of Niederaltaich. As Prince of the Empire, he performed his duties to the Emperor and the Empire with the utmost conscientiousness. He took part in the various imperial diets (Dieta Imperii, Comitium Imperiale, Reichstag) of the deliberative body of the Holy Roman Empire, travelling to Paris and Verona. Towards the end of his life, Wolfgang withdrew as a hermit to a solitary spot in the Salzkammergut region of Upper Austria, now the Wolfgangsee (Wolfgang’s Lake). Whilst travelling on the Danube to Pöchlarn in Lower Austria, he fell ill and died on 31 October 994 at Pupping near Linz. His body was taken by his friends up the Danube to Regensburg, for burial in the crypt of Saint Emmeram and many miracles were seen at his grave. Soon after Wolfgang’s death, many churches chose him as their patron saint and various towns were named after him. The oldest portrait of St Wolfgang is an 1100 miniature in the Evangeliary of Saint Emmeram, now in the library of the castle cathedral in Kraków. Venerated in Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox Churches. Patron of Regensburg, carpenters, wood carvers, against apoplexy, paralysis, stomach disease, strokes. Image: catholicnewsagency.com.