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wheel of the year

Rated 3/5 Stars
dates, what they are about

Rituals for each sabbat and esabbat will be added to the rituals portion of the spell book. To begin, here is beltaine

MAY EVE, EASTWIND SABBAT:

FACTS AND MISINFORMATION

The following contains elements of a work authored by Mike Nichols, a Welsh Witch from K.C., Missouri. Go to: http://www.sacred-texts.com/bos/bos013.htm for the original text.

Lord Rhuddlwm, March, 2008

The Wheel of the Year consists of eight Sabbats. Four are Solar in nature, and four are Lunar in nature; all mark the passing of the year with natural milestones. All Sabbats are major or minor, the major Sabbats being Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasadh. The minor Sabbats are Yule (Winter Solstice), Ostara (Spring Equinox), Litha (Summer Solstice) and Mabon (Autumn Equinox). It is through these Sabbats that witches through out the world mark the passing of the year with celebration and reverence for the deities and events that each represents. The above named holidays are marked by witches in the Northern Hemisphere. The witches in the Southern Hemisphere reverse the Sabbats due to the opposite seasons.

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The Beltaine season of April 30-May 1 is unique. It includes:

* A Pagan Sabbat: Beltaine, usually celebrated on or near the evening of April 30. Mainly celebrated by Neo-Pagans

* Two Christian holy days:

* A secular celebration, May Day.

* A Welsh festival: Nos Galon Mai, The Eastwind Sabbat which Begins Sundown, April 30. This is the Festival of the beginning of Summer. Our Goddess presides.

* Georgia Pagans -Witches & Druids celebrate Beltaine in different ways.

* See a Basic Sabbat Ritual

* Visit Other Sabbat Festivals

* Go to Books about Welsh Faerie Witchcraft

There is a great deal of misinformation circulated about this festival; almost as much as with Halloween. Read the following information and then go to the links to arm yourself with true information.

There are four great festivals of the Witch's calendar. The two greatest of these are Nos Galon Gaeof (Halloween - the beginning of winter) and Nos Galon Mai (May Day - the beginning of summer). These two festivals are opposite each other on the wheel of the year, and divide the year into halves. Halloween (also called Samhain) is the Celtic New Year and is generally considered the more important of the two, though May Day runs a close second. Indeed, in some areas -- notably Wales -- it is considered the great holiday.

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Nos Galon Mai, also called May Day, Beltainne: (pronounced Bel-tinna, also known as Beltain, Beltane, May Day etc.), is a Sabbat celebrating fertility and the union of the young God and the Goddess. This is a wonderful celebration of the love between the God and Goddess. It is their sacred marriage. (This is where the God and Goddess concieve the spring for the following year born at Imbolc.) Celebrated with your loved one, now is the time to lay in the fertile soil and germinate those seeds you planted. In Celtic mythology this is the beginning of summer, or the growing time. Colours for this sabbat: Red and White (red for Her womb and white for His semen. It's a fertility thing), and green for the background.

At this time, life is renewing itself. Birds and animals are mating. In the fields, newly planted seeds are beginning to grow. Great fires are lit honoring the fertility God Belenos. Some leap the fires to show the exuberance of the season. Maypoles are erected and bright ribbons are entwined around it. The Maypole, a phallic symbol, represents the masculine. The soft, colorful ribbons represent the feminine. The union of the two symbolizes the union of the God and Goddess. This is the time to fertilize your dreams with action. It is legend that children conceived at Beltane were gifted by the gods.

Nos Galon Mai ushers in the fifth month of the modern calendar year, the month of May. This month is named in honor of the goddess Maia, originally a Greek mountain nymph, later identified as the most beautiful of the Seven Sisters, the Pleiades. By Zeus, she is also the mother of Hermes, god of magic. Maia's parents were Atlas and Pleione, a sea nymph.

The old Celtic name for May Day is Beltane (in its most popular Anglicized form), which is derived from the Irish Gaelic 'Bealtaine' or the Scottish Gaelic 'Bealtuinn', meaning 'Bel-fire', the fire of the Celtic god of light (Bel, Beli or Belinus). He, in turn, may be traced to the Middle Eastern god Baal.

Other names for May Day include: Cetsamhain ('opposite Samhain'), Walpurgisnacht (in Germany), and Roodmas (the medieval Church's name). This last came from Church Fathers who were hoping to shift the common people's allegiance from the Maypole (Pagan lingham - symbol of life) to the Holy Rood (the Cross - Roman instrument of death).

Incidentally, there is no historical justification for calling May 1st 'Lady Day'. For hundreds of years, that title has been proper to the Vernal Equinox (approx. March 21st), another holiday sacred to the Great Goddess. The nontraditional use of 'Lady Day' for May 1st is quite recent (within the last 15 years), and seems to be confined to America, where it has gained widespread acceptance among certain segments of the Craft population. This rather startling departure from tradition would seem to indicate an unfamiliarity with European calendar customs, as well as a lax attitude toward scholarship among too many Pagans. A simple glance at a dictionary ('Webster's 3rd' or O.E.D.), encyclopedia ('Benet's'), or standard mythology reference (Jobe's 'Dictionary of Mythology, Folklore & Symbols') would confirm the correct date for Lady Day as the Vernal Equinox.

By Celtic reckoning, the actual Beltane celebration begins on sundown of the preceding day, April 30, because the Celts always figured their days from sundown to sundown. And sundown was the proper time for Druids to kindle the great Bel-fires on the tops of the nearest beacon hill (such as Tara Hill, Co. Meath, in Ireland). These 'need-fires' had healing properties, and sky-clad Witches would jump through the flames to ensure protection.

Frequently, cattle would also be driven between two such bon-fires (oak wood was the favorite fuel for them) and, on the morrow, they would be taken to their summer pastures.

Other May Day customs include: walking the circuit of one's property ('beating the bounds'), repairing fences and boundary markers, processions of chimney-sweeps and milk maids, archery tournaments, morris dances, sword dances, feasting, music, drinking, and maidens bathing their faces in the dew of May morning to retain their youthful beauty.

In the words of Witchcraft writers Janet and Stewart Farrar, the Beltane celebration was principly a time of '...unashamed human sexuality and fertility.' Such associations include the obvious phallic symbolism of the Maypole and riding the hobby horse. Even a seemingly innocent children's nursery rhyme, 'Ride a cock horse to Banburry Cross...' retains such memories. And the next line '...to see a fine Lady on a white horse' is a reference to the annual ride of 'Lady Godiva' though Coventry. Every year for nearly three centuries, a sky-clad village maiden (elected Queen of the May) enacted this Pagan rite, until the Puritans put an end to the custom.

The Puritans, in fact, reacted with pious horror to most of the May Day rites, even making Maypoles illegal in 1644. They especially attempted to suppress the 'greenwood marriages' of young men and women who spent the entire night in the forest, staying out to greet the May sunrise, and bringing back boughs of flowers and garlands to decorate the village the next morning.

One angry Puritan wrote that men 'doe use commonly to runne into woodes in the night time, amongst maidens, to set bowes, in so muche, as I have hearde of tenne maidens whiche went to set May, and nine of them came home with childe.' And another Puritan complained that, of the girls who go into the woods, 'not the least one of them comes home again a virgin.'

Long after the Christian form of marriage (with its insistence on sexual monogamy) had replaced the older Pagan handfasting, the rules of strict fidelity were always relaxed for the May Eve rites. Names such as Robin Hood, Maid Marian, and Little John played an important par in May Day folklore, often used as titles for the dramatis personae of the celebrations. And modern surnames such as Robinson, Hodson, Johnson, and Godkin may attest to some distant May Eve spent in the woods.

These wildwood antics have inspired writers such as Kipling:

Oh, do not tell the Priest our plight,

Or he would call it a sin; But we have been out in the woods all night,

A-conjuring Summer in!

And Lerner and Lowe:

It's May! It's May!

The lusty month of May!...

Those dreary vows that ev'ryone takes,

Ev'ryone breaks.

Ev'ryone makes divine mistakes!

The lusty month of May!

It is certainly no accident that Queen Guinevere's 'abduction' by Meliagrance occurs on May 1st when she and the court have gone a-Maying, or that the usually efficient Queen's Guard, on this occasion, rode unarmed.

Some of these customs seem virtually identical to the old Roman feast of flowers, the Floriala, three days of unrestrained sexuality which began at sundown April 28th and reached a crescendo on May 1st.

There are other, even older, associations with May 1st in Celtic mythology. According to the ancient Irish 'Book of Invasions', the first settler of Ireland, Partholan, arrived on May 1st; and it was on May 1st that the plague came which destroyed his people. Years later, the Tuatha De Danann were conquered by the Milesians on May Day. In Welsh myth, the perennial battle between Gwythur and Gwyn for the love of Creudylad took place each May Day; and it was on May Eve that Teirnyon lost his colts and found Pryderi. May Eve was also the occasion of a fearful scream that was heard each year throughout Wales, one of the three curses of the Coranians lifted by the skill of Lludd and Llevelys.

By the way, due to various calendrical changes down through the centuries, the traditional date of Beltane is not the same as its astrological date. This date, like all astronomically determined dates, may vary by a day or two depending on the year. However, it may be calculated easily enough by determining the date on which the sun is at 15 degrees Taurus (usually around May 5th). British Witches often refer to this date as Old Beltane, and folklorists call it Beltane O.S. ('Old Style'). Some Covens prefer to celebrate on the old date and, at the very least, it gives one options. If a Coven is operating on 'Pagan Standard Time' and misses May 1st altogether, it can still throw a viable Beltane bash as long as it's before May 5th. This may also be a consideration for Covens that need to organize activities around the week-end.

This date has long been considered a 'power point' of the Zodiac, and is symbolized by the Bull, one of the 'tetramorph' figures featured on the Tarot cards, the World and the Wheel of Fortune. (The other three symbols are the Lion, the Eagle, and the Spirit.) Astrologers know these four figures as the symbols of the four 'fixed' signs of the Zodiac (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius), and these naturally align with the four Great Sabbats of Witchcraft. Christians have adopted the same iconograp-writers.

But for most, it is May 1st that is the great holiday of flowers, Maypoles, and greenwood frivolity. It is no wonder that, as recently as 1977, Ian Anderson could pen the following lyrics for Jethro Tull:

For the May Day is the great day,

Sung along the old straight track.

And those who ancient lines did ley

Will heed this song that calls them back.

SilverVixen

Moderator

Post # 2

Feb 15, 2009

(delete post)

Midsummer

(June 21st)

Summer Solstice

Though Summer Solstice is officially the first day of summer, Wiccan tradition calls it Midsummer. That's likely because by the experience of those who lived in most parts of Europe where holiday festivals celebrated the day, it was definitely "mid-summer." Summer temperatures and the growing season are well established by this time, and the Sun is at maximum power. This is the longest day of the year and the actual date of the solstice can vary from June 20- 22, depending on what time of day the Sun enters the 0 degree of Cancer.

"Solstice," as was said here at Winter Solstice, comes from the Latin words sol for the Sun and sistere, which means, "to cause to stand still." Since Yule the days have been gradually lengthening. Now Sun seems to "stand still" for about three days, and from this point until next Winter Solstice (the shortest day and longest night), the days will gradually shorten. This description fits the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, it happens the other way around. When it is Yule in the north, "down under" it is Midsummer. At southern hemisphere Midsummer, we in the north are celebrating Yule.

Myths of the season depict the culmination of light that is also the onset of increasing darkness. A favorite one from the Norse countries is the challenge to the Oak King (God of the waxing year) by the Holly King (God of the waning year). The two battle and of course, the Holly King wins, for it is he will reign until Yule, when he gives way to the rebirth of the Child of Light, the baby Oak King. The two are alternatively called Bright Lord and Dark Lord in similar enactments of the myth of transition from waxing to waning, light to dark. Though often "played" as two separate god images, the two are but aspects of one, and may alternatively be depicted as a transition from naïve youth to the mature Father God, who recognizes his responsibility to his Goddess and his people, even as he celebrates the culmination of his light and power. He is the youth at Beltane, hormones charged in anticipation. Now he faces a new phase of life.

The Goddess, who in her Maiden aspect met the youthful God in sacred marriage at Beltane, has now become Mother, pregnant, just as the Earth is pregnant with the growth that will become the harvest. The Mother reigns as Queen of Summer, and it is through her that her Consort comes to mature realization of his full role, and its ultimate sacrifice. She is the Earth; he is the energy and heat that has gone into the Earth so that together they create new life. His energy will be born within the grains and fruits of the harvest that in the next two turns of the wheel must be reaped and die to feed the people. The God will become a willing sacrifice, falling with the harvest and becoming the seed of his own rebirth as the wheel turns.

It is in mythologies of this eternal cycle of life, death and life again, that we see the Goddess as the eternal Wheel itself, and the God as the traveler on the wheel, each year repeating his cycle of birth, waxing, culmination, waning, death, leading to rebirth and so and on.

Midsummer rites sometimes include fairy lore, and the association of fairies with this day has been most famously celebrated in Shakesphere's A Midsummer Night's Dream. It's said that the little people, the elves and fairies, can be more easily seen at Midsummer, and that this is one of the days when the veil between the worlds is thin. We are forewarned, then, to take care when walking in the forest mists, lest we stumble into in the land of fairie where time is suspended, and we can be lost to the world for longer than we know!

An herb especially associated with Midsummer is St. John's wort. This plant with its bright yellow flower of four spikes like the solar cross is ruled by the Sun. One legend has it that if you should step on a St. John's wort flower on Midsummer's Night, you are magically transported to fairyland. St. John's wort gathered in this season can be hung over your door as an amulet of protection.

Another plant to be gathered at Midsummer as an amulet of protection is mistletoe, sacred to the Druids. Found growing in the top branches of oak trees, the mistletoe was cut at high noon with a golden sickle and never allowed to touch the ground, lest its magick be grounded. Cut it with friends who can catch the falling mistletoe in a white sheet.

In the Nordic countries where the equinoxes and solstices were the primary festivals and where the name Midsummer may have first emerged, the ancients celebrated with bonfires. The fire magic was used for divination, to encourage fertility of couples who would jump the fires together and to generate energy encouraging the Sun's potency through the growing season so that harvest abundance would be assured.

Midsummer by Other Names

Litha, another popular name for Summer Solstice, probably comes from Saxon tradition, though there are no clear sources for it. Raven Grimassi, in his Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft says that the name might be derived from the Anglo-Saxon lida, which means, "moon." This name for the summer Sabbat came into use in modern Wicca through works of the 1970s such as Starhawk's The Spiral Dance.

In ancient festivals of Gaul, Midsummer celebrations were called Feast of Epona. Epona is sometimes pictured as a Goddess riding a white mare, and sometimes as the white mare itself.

In ancient Rome, Vesta, Goddess of the Hearth, was honored in mid-June. The shrines of Vesta were usually open only to the Vestal Virgins, her priestesses, but during the annual festival of Vestalia, married women were also welcomed.

Medicine Wheels, stone circles built by Native American tribes, have been found to be aligned with the rising Sun at Summer Solstice, indicating the importance they gave this season.

The Christians, after the conversion of Europe to Christianity, attached a new meaning to the Midsummer festival time, just has they had for other pagan holidays. June 24th became the Feast of St. John the Baptist, his day to be celebrated as a day of triumph when just as this saint was the forerunner of Jesus, Summer Solstice is a forecast of the birth that would arrive with Winter Solstice.

Summer Solstice has been marked in many places around the world by stone circles or carved markers or tunneled passages through which light on solstice rising would flow. By this it is clearly shown that ancient people thought the day important enough to make great effort to predict and record its occurrence.

SilverVixen

Moderator

Post # 3

Feb 15, 2009

(delete post)

Lugnasadh

or Lammas, is August 1. Now the Corn King dies as his body is harvested from the fields so that I may be fed, so that I may live, so that I may go into the winter months of darkness rich with his blood and love in my veins. The Dark King, Shepherd of souls, becomes stronger now. With WInter I will go inward, to the inner depths of my own soul. And HE will embrace me with His love in the coming trials and celebrations of the Wintertime. Some of my crops are harvested and I give thanks. Some of my crops are not yet ready and I must insure their harvest.

The festival of Lugnasadh, or Lammas marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall. This is the first of three harvest festivals. The day now grows visibly shorter and the temperatures begin to hint at the winter to come.

We get the name, "Lammas" from the medieval Christians. Lammas means, "loaf-mass," giving us the tradition of baking loves of bread from the first grain harvest. These were often laid on the church altar as an offering. This represented the use of the first fruits of harvest.

"Lugnasadh" is the name of the holiday that comes to us from Gaelic, referring to the feast celebrating the games of the Irish sun god, Lugh. Reading the lore, we find that Lugh actually is commemorating the death of Taillte, his foster mother. The Lugnasadh celibrations are often called the Tailltean Games in Ireland.

A very common custom during this time is the handfasting that lasts a year and a day. Couples use this time to decide if they can live together for life or to part ways. If they decided to handfast for life, a ceremony would insue making that official. Handfastings of both types can occur during any time of year, though during this time is a well known practice.

Lugnasadh is the common time of year for medieval guilds to put on Renaissance Festivals. Merchants attending these will display their wares in traditional Renaissance appearance. Today, there are large groups of people that work the fairs as actors and actresses. They dress in medieval costumes and even learn to talk the common speech of the Renaissance period. Ren fare is a place where one can go to this day to see traditional, full contact jousting. Traditional music and dance is there. Shows and parades go through the day. Re-enactment of famous field battles is also common.

Traditional food and drink is available. These festivals are great fun, but beware of overspending, as the opportunity is great and tempting indeed!

Once upon a Lammas Night

When corn rigs are bonny,

Beneath the Moon's unclouded light, I held awhile to Annie...

The time went by with careless heed

Between the late and early,

With small persuasion she agreed

To see me through the barley...

Corn rigs and barley rigs,

Corn rigs are bonny!

I'll not forget that happy night

Among the rigs with Annie!

*Robert Burns

Mabon

or Fall Equinox, happens near or on September 21.Today, the length of night time is equal to the length of daytime. At the Equinox, I become aware that this time is not the balance, or rather the order, one usually sees in nature. Nature is not really balanced. But ordered. A cyprus by the ocean grows windblown by ocean storm and wind, bowing towards the earth. That cyprus is the usual balance or order of nature - stable, poised, in harmony. ALL of nature leans like the ocean-blown cyprus towards the dark earth. But Fall Equinox is a balance of light and dark, night and day and therefore is truly an outlandish moment in time: equality, a equal balancing, an actual moment of balance. I draw on my roots in the darkness, yet revel in the kiss of summer breeze and sun. I face the darkness of the fall and winter ahead and so face mysteries. The Goddess has surprises for me in the wintry months ahead that will surpass my best hopes.

The Wolf and the Stag

In the time before the tribes of Man walked upon the Earth, the Wolf and the Stag were of the same blood. They shared the world with all of the other animals in peace and friendship.

It came that a dangerous time fell upon the land. The spirits of the South had become harsh and had baked the earth until it was hard and dry. They kept the spirits of West from bringing water to the parched land. Food became scarce and the water that remained was like acid on the tongue. When the rains did come, they fell upon the barren ground in angry sheets that gouged great fissures in the face of the world.

Stag worried greatly for his sister Wolf. She had become thin and weak and Stag knew that the snows of Winter were not long from coming to bring the world to icy sleep. Fearing that Wolf could not survive, Stag called out to the Goddess for aid.

"Great Mother" cried Stag, "Please save my sister! There is no food and she is weak and sick. She must eat soon or she will perish."

"All that you require you need only to seek." the voice of the Goddess sang in Stag's heart. "But remember, that whatever you seek, if you find it not within, you will never find it without."

The words of the Goddess confused Stag and he cried out again," Mother, the Earth is barren and the Winter comes soon. I fear it may already be too late, for had I food to give her I know not if she has the strength to eat."

"If you find food for her," the Goddess spoke in rustling leaves, "then I shall grant her the strength she shall need to eat." And then she was gone. Stag was gladdened at the hope of saving his sister and hurried off to find nourishment for Wolf.

Long and hard Stag searched, turning the ground with his hooves, moving rocks and logs with his horns, but he found nothing to bring back for his sister. He continued his quest until he was too weak to search any longer.

With great sadness in his heart he returned to Wolf and wept, "Forgive me my sister, but I have searched the land over and could find no food for you to eat."

"Then this is how it must be." said Wolf. "I thank you for your efforts, my brother. I shall think of you often and will await you arrival in the Summerland. I love you, Stag." With that, Wolf laid down to wait for death to take her. Stag laid with her and wept tears of desperation and helplessness.

Wolf had lain motionless for a long time when the Dark Goddess appeared to Stag again and said, "I must take Wolf now to the Summerland." and reached out icy fingers toward Wolf¹s still form.

Stag could bear his sorrow no more and cried out at the Goddess. "No!" he bellowed, "Do not take the life of my sister! She is kind and wise and loving of all things. If only one of us can survive then let it be her. I offer over my life to you if it will let her live."

"Brave Stag," whispered the Goddess, "Your love for Wolf is true and strong. I will grant your request, her life is spared."

Wolf's body twitched and shuddered violently and with a great yelp, Wolf leapt to her feet. What Stag saw next struck terror in his heart. For the creature that stood before him was no longer held the loving eyes of his sister. No, these eyes said but one thing, hunger!

Wolf started to move toward Stag with cautious calculation and unwavering stare. Confused and frightened, Stag could think of but one thing to do, and that was run. Into the woods Stag dashed, with no thought but run. Wolf moved with lightning speed on spindly legs and wizened frame that belied the strength of the Goddess the flowed within, her eyes fixed on her goal.

Stag ran as hard as he could but quickly tired for he too had had nothing to eat for many days. Suddenly, Wolf was upon him in a blur of fang and claw and blood. Stag kicked at Wolf and forcing her off of him and held her at bay using his antlers as a shield.

"What has happened to my sister?" he thought. "Why is she doing this?" He continued to fight Wolf off but his strength ebbed quickly and he knew he could no longer keep her away. Just as Wolf was preparing for her next attack Stag heard the Goddess singing again, "if you find it not within, you will never find it without." and in that moment he understood it all. He was to be the food that his sister needed to survive. The Goddess had honored his request to spare the life of Wolf and to take his in her stead. In her wisdom, the Goddess had known that Wolf would never willingly take the life of her brother. So she had made the hunger blind her until all she could see was food.

All of the fear and confusion was washed away from Stag and he raised himself up to his full stature and proudly waited for Wolf to come. And Wolf did come.

As he fell, Stag saw the Goddess looking on and she was smiling at him. "Thank you for the life of my sister." he thought as death came to him in a warm embrace of blackness.

Wolf ate until she could eat no more and then, exhausted, she lay down and slept. She slept for a long time and dreamt of running through the forest with her brother.

Wolf awoke expecting to see her brother by her side as he had always been. Instead, she found Stag¹s lifeless body and the memory of what had occurred nearly tore her heart to pieces.

"What have I done?!" she sobbed. Her pain and sorrow welled up in her and burst forth from her throat as a sound the likes of which had never before been heard in the world. All the animals stopped and listened to the mournful sound and heard the name "Stag" as it was carried throughout the land on Wolf's baleful song.

The Goddess, hearing this cry, came to Wolf and soothed, "Weep not for your brother, my child, for he shall live on."

"But I have killed him!" wept Wolf.

"No," purred the Goddess, "So strong was Stag's love for you that he gave his life unto you that you might live. I shall bring him forth again and again as my lover and consort and the Stag shall ever more be a symbol of the love and sacrifice of the God."

"And so I shall forever honor his gift to me." said Wolf. "Leave me as I am, thin and gaunt, for it shall remind me of his love and sacrifice. And when the night is full I shall sing his name to the heavens, as will my children and my grandchildren so that the name of Stag will live on until Wolf and Stag are no more.

Samhain

happens near Halloween and is when the Wiccan year begins. My altar cloth is black, because we are in the time of year that is dark. On my altar is the harvest, our "dead Lord" whose life is in the crops and "sacrificed" when the crops are killed to become our food. This is the time of death, of honoring and communing with spirits that have passed to the other side. Now the veil between the worlds is thin. It is a good time to invite our beloved dead to visit with us. This is not a gruesome exchange, but reverent, earthy, natural, further it is joyous and festive. Victor Anderson says "If a ghost of a loved one shows up, ask him to join the party."

In recent years, there have been a number of pamphlets and books put out be various Christian organizations dealing with the origins of modern day Halloween customs. Being a Witch myself, and a student of the ancient Celts from whom we get this holiday, I have found these pamphlets woefully inaccurate and poorly researched. A typical example of this information is contained in the following quote from the pamphlet entitled "What's Wrong with Halloween?" by Russell K. Tardo. "The Druids believed that on October 31st, the last day of the year by the ancient Celtic calendar, the lord of death gathered together the souls of the dead who had been made to enter bodies of animals, and decided what forms they should take the following year. Cats were held sacred because it was believed that they were once human beings ... We see that this holiday has its origin, basis and root in the occultic Druid celebration of the dead. Only they called it 'Samhain', who was the lord of the dead (a big demon)".1 When these books and pamphlets cite sources at all, they usually list the Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Americana, and the World Book Encyclopedia. The Britannica and the Americana make no mention of cats, but do, indeed list Samhain as the Lord of Death, contrary to Celtic scholars, and list no references. The World Book mentions the cats, and calls Samhain the Lord of Death, and lists as its sources several children's books (hardly what one could consider scholarly texts, and, of course, themselves citing no references).

In an effort to correct some of this erroneous information, I have researched the religious life of the ancient Celtic peoples and the survivals of that religious life in modern times. Listed below are some of the most commonly asked questions concerning the origins and customs of Halloween. Following the questions is a lengthy bibliography where the curious reader can go to learn more about this holiday than space in this small pamphlet permits.

1. Where does Halloween come from? Our modern celebration of Halloween is a descendent of the ancient Celtic festival called "Samhain". The word is pronounced "sow-in", with "sow" rhyming

with "

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