Great Fire Festival October 31
celebrated The Harvest, Gifts of Earth Mother,
Night when the
Ancestors walk among the living.
celebrated with us came dressed as a Druid, Witch, Highlander, ancestral ghost;
Celtic fire, forest or animal spirits.
We feasted and
danced and processed with our candles to an eight-foot tall Strawman for the
harvest celebration, which was set on fire in the ancient Celtic tradition
(Scottish/Irish). Participants brought flutes, fiddles or bodhráns
the native drum of the Celts. Celtic music and dancing was done in
gratitude to Earth Mother for a splendid harvest and in celebration of our
unbreakable bonds to those who have gone before
held in the big dome, a building that echoed the old village structures in
Scotland... without the thatched roof.
(Samhain, Irish Gaelic) is an important Fire Festival celebrated by the Celts
long before Christianity and the Romanization of the Western world. Contrary to
some claims, it is not a celebration of a Celtic god of the dead. Samhuinn
means, summer's end. In the Celtic calendar summer came to an end
on October 31st and the New Year began on November 1st. The Celts followed a
lunar calendar and their celebrations began at sunset.
During the day
on October 31st, home hearth fires are extinguished. At sunset, clans or local
villages begin the formal ceremonies of Samhuinn by lighting a giant bonfire or
strawman filled with harvest gifts. The people gather round the fire to burn
crops and animals as sacrifices to the deities as a way to give the gods and
goddesses gratitude for the year's herd and crops (no, we will not engage in
human sacrifice this time around... although we are sorely tempted!). The
sacred fires also signify a cleansing of the old year and preparation for the
coming new year.
During the celebration, the Celts wear costumes, and
dance round the bonfire. In days of yore these dances told stories or
dramatized the cycles of life and death or commemorated the Wheel of Life. The
costumes honor the dead who visit from the Otherworld on this night, honor
Earth Mother, ancient heroes, and sacred trees and animal spirits. To the Celts
the Earth, the very soil, is sacred and the mountains are holy places. Let us
celebrate that love for the natural world!