An Open Portal in Time…

dsc04452SAMHAIN…The Celts believed that Oidhche Shamhna, Samhain, was an open portal in time.

dsc04451This weekend marks the prelude to Samhain.

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=QE3V4W5FYDFA8

dsc04450Monday is the day of 

https://bealtainecottage.com/2013/09/29/the-night-of-the-thin-veil/

and is marked as a holiday here in Ireland.

dsc04449It is a time of in-between…between worlds as the Celts believed it to be… 

https://bealtainecottage.com/2015/10/05/between-world-we-celebrate/

dsc04447 The Celts understood the year to be divided into two halves associated with the dark and the light. dsc04446The dark half begins at sunset on October 31st with Samhain.

https://bealtainecottage.com/2012/10/15/the-celtic-new-year-festival-of-samhain/

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Samhain ends at Bealtaine, when the light half begins at sunset on May 1st.

dsc04444Both festivals are closely linked, but Samhain is considered to be the most important.

dsc04443 In Ireland, years ago, great preparations were made for the sharing of a  feast that included the departed as guests of honour.

dsc04442To enable them to come and go freely, all doors and windows were left unlatched; a special cake was made exclusively for their consumption, and a certain amount of other food was set aside just for them.

(http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/ACalend/Samhain.html)

dsc04441This had to be left untouched by any mortal hand for the duration of the ritual period. Eating the food of the dead was considered to be a major sacrilege and it condemned the perpetrator to becoming a hungry spirit after death, forever banned from sharing in the Samhain feast.

(http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/ACalend/Samhain.html)

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As I walked out this morning, taking these photographs, it was apparent that Samhain was close, both in the colours of the trees and the Dragon’s breath along the valley.

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So how did Samhain become All Saints Day?

dsc04434As Bridget Haggerty writes in “Irish Culture and Customs,” “…As with many of the old festivals, Christianity stepped in to do whatever it could to eliminate pagan rituals.

dsc04437In this case, it was Pope Boniface who took the festival of the dead and made it the festival of all saints and martyrs.

dsc04436 Originally it took place on May 13th, but a century later, Pope Gregory III shifted it to November.

dsc04435In Ireland, All Saints Day was instituted in 998 AD by Abbot Odilo of Cluny and by the 13th century, although many of the old Samhain rituals persisted as folk customs, November 1st had become firmly established as a Christian festival.”

dsc04433All Saints Eve is now 31st of October…Samhain!

dsc04432So what was always and only a great Celtic celebration has been claimed by a relatively contemporary religion as its own!

dsc04431However, Ireland being an island and its people being thinly removed from its cultural heritage, as John B. Keane once wrote in the play “The Field,” we have not forgotten our roots!

dsc04427In the play, “The Field,” the parish priest proclaims Christianity to be a “thin veneer” over Irish people, in a derogatory reference both to the people  and pre-Christian Paganism alike.  

dsc04426Regarding the compassion displayed for those who grieved and mourned the loss of family and loved ones, we were far removed from how the Romans described us as “Barbarians!”

dsc04425As for the souls of the dead, all were honoured, unlike the Christian church here in Ireland which regarded the souls of un-baptised babies as being condemned to “Purgatory”.

dsc04424Such was the the belief as I grew up and for the countless generations of those in my family before me.

Imagine the suffering of mothers who birthed at home and lost their babies, only to be sent to a place of darkness and nothingness.

Too cruel!

dsc04423This Samhain I will try to remember and honour all my family and friends no longer in this mortal sphere.

And celebrate with them in joy!

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Blessings X Colette at Bealtaine Cottage

The Transmigration of the Soul

back door of the cottage

The Romans conquered Europe, but resolutely refused to invade Ireland, despite ruling England, Wales and Scotland for several hundred years.

Angel at sunsetRecently I have made a concerted effort to find out why this was…Why continual Roman Emperors left Ireland alone…?

Sunset through the trees at Bealtaine CottageWhat crops up in my investigations time and again, is the issue of the ancient Celtic belief in the transmigration of the soul.

Sunset at Bealtaine CottageThis was not just something that was taught by the Druids, but an unshakeable conviction in the afterlife…one so strong, that it made them absolutely fearless in battle.

view from a window at Bealtaine CottageTransmigration of the soul is a doctrine of reincarnation.

Flo and JackWithin this belief, spirits may be reborn into any of nature’s forms – human, animal, or even inanimate things, such as trees and water.

Water garden in permaculture at Bealtaine CottageThis is supported by evidence from the ancient Celtic Heroic tales.

Celtic Cross at Bealtaine CottageThe Greek writer Diordus Siculus (c. 60 BC – 30 AD) noted that the Druids believed “the souls of men are immortal, and that after a definite number of years they live a second life when the soul passes to another body.”

Bee on Lunaria flower at Bealtaine CottageThe Greek philosopher Strabo (c. 63 BC – 21 AD) observed the Druids believed that “men’s souls and the universe are indestructible, although at times fire and water may prevail.”

Angel at Bealtaine CottageJulius Caesar wrote of the Celts “They wish to inculcate this as one of their leading tenets, that souls do not become extinct, but pass after death from one body to another, and they think that men by this tenet are in a great degree stimulated to valour, the fear of death being disregarded.”

Buddha at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture GardensThis was most troublesome for Julius Caesar, as he realized this race would not be easily defeated and thence subjugated.

Missy Cat sleeps on the bed at Bealtaine CottageThe Roman Empire was all too aware of what happened when the British Celts,  under their Queen Boadicea, decided to revolt against Roman tyranny.

The standing stone at Bealtaine Cottage February 2013The Celts, led by their Queen, cut a mighty swathe through the Roman settlements, towns and armies in England, almost wiping out Roman occupation!

light a candle at Bealtaine Cottage IrelandThe Romans had raped the daughters of Boadicea, making her watch…the entire Iceni Tribe rallied behind the dignity of their queen and against the tyranny of such barbarians as empire breeds.

Christmas eve moon above Bealtaine CottageAs for the women of the Celts, Roman Diodorus Siculus wrote of them, saying, “Among the Gauls the women are nearly as tall as the men, whom they rival in courage.”

Brigid Cross  Bealtaine Cottage Shop on EtsyAmicus Marcelling states – “A whole troop of foreigners would not be able to withstand a single Celt if he called his wife to his assistance”

Bealtaine Cottage candles in the windowJulius Caesar was frightened of the Celts, despite the mighty legions of Rome.

Bealtaine Cottage before Christmas 2012This is a truth I carry today…to be steadfast and resolute in holding fast to what I believe to be right.

Bealtaine Cottage bog garden 

Blessings X