Samhain (an ancient Gaelic word pronounced Sow’-en) is the ancient Celtic holiday that has come down to us as Hallowe’en (derivation of “All Hallows Eve”). Although it is associated today with witchcraft and doings of the devil, in pre-Christian times Samhain was simply the time when the veils between the worlds were at their thinnest. It was a time of reverence for the process of death and the mysteries of life. The astrological Samhain actually occurs at the midpoint of Scorpio which is the “cross quarter” between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice and falls on November 8th this year rather than October 31st.
The women that some now call “witches” were the wise women – the ones who understood the mysteries of the stars, the ones with an affinity to the healing powers of plants…the ones who helped to heal the sick and comfort the wounded. The ones whose power came directly from nature and bypassed the power structures of the Church and were therefore dangerous.
“History is written by the winners,” and therefore most of us were never told these tales of the brave and wise women and men that were healers of souls and teachers of the spirit. Instead, we were fed stories of evil witches and devil-worshipping pagans that were meant to frighten the masses into toeing the line of the political and religious establishment.
Samhain is a time to remember the dead, and I can’t think of a better way to remember our ancestors on the path of spiritual growth and wisdom than to watch the Burning Times Documentary. This is a beautiful film that depicts the struggle of women and men to survive the long period of the Inquisition that lasted several hundred years, and is an inspiration to continue to fight for the right to worship and honor the divine in all of Its many forms. If you can’t view the flash movie, visit the direct link here.
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Well said. I remember in a book I read that the long ago Bishop of Exbury (England) was very ill and asked a local woman for help. She had the knowledge of herbs and helped him until he got better, then asked for a small fee. He had her burned at the stake. He described the image as ‘a forest of stakes’, one or two thousand people burned at a time. Mostly women, but men and even children weren’t immune to the insanity. If you’ve never heard ‘Burning Times’ by Christy Moore you should listen to it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RntnpYTfpSc