30 April 2012

Samhain in the South

Temple's Ancestral Altar, 2010
The sacred Wheel of the Year has turned once again and we find ourselves at the sabbat known as Samhain, believed to be a Gaelic festival where one's ancestors are honoured as well as the gateway to the dark half of the year is opened.  In our modern times, it has been linked to being the "Celtic New Year" thanks to the writings of Sir James Frazer and Sir John Rhys.

Referred to a Goidelic, Samhain maked the end of the harvest and it was believed that any crop that had not yet been gathered in was now the property of the Death Hag.  With  bonfires being lit, the celebrations were said to last over a period of several days, being a "last hoorah" before the coldness of the Winter months set in.

Last year I blogged about the Irish associations of Samhain and with this time of the year being a commencement of an inward journey.  That blog can be found here.  This year I thought I would share a poem by Kenny Klien, simply entitled "Samhain"

Red leaves are carried in the salt west wind
And turn to brown on dry soil.
The sun is bright still, but not warm
On the last rich gold of scattered fall.
The great wheel turns, another year
Old, bright gold with death.
Bare branches now, the Old Lord's limbs,
Chill wind the Old Lord's breath.

Like dancing leaves on sleeping branches
The dark tide of memory is stirred.
The deepest thought-flame now is kindled,
Consuming, the fire in ancient words.
Samhain, the thin veil opens, fingers
Reaching through the blackness deep.
Through the grey cloud wisps, old voices
Shapes, shifting, slowly creep.
Mab's red-eyed dogs, howling, wander
Through the fields as soil grows hard
Searching for uncounted jewels
The Fairy Queen's forgotten shards
The last red morsels, undevoured
Returned to Her who granted birth
Mab's womb, given up its children,
Shrivels, cold with the hardened earth.

In meadows that the scythe has tasted
Now the Samhain fires are high
The circle dance is weaving, spinning
On graceful foot, on darkened thigh,
The spiral dance is downward twisted,
The Horned One's chant, the Welcome Home--
"Home" is on the north wind whispered,
The Swordless Death Lord takes his throne.
And to Mab, the Horned One's sister,
Whose loins have yielded up their spark,
"Follow" now the north wind whispers,
Mab, Death Queen, the Timeless Dark.

And in the barren, fruitless meadow,
Dancing 'round the Samhain fire,
Her face a flower, her eyes a-tremble,
A young maid spins the ancient spire.
Chanting home the swordless Horned One,
Like a doe, she leaps the flame.
In cold Autumn's death, a new beginning,
In Mab's cold womb, life starts again.

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