Tuesday, 25 October 2016
Still Not Halloween
Well, no, and it's still not Halloween in a few days.
It's still Beltane, here in the Southern Hemisphere, but I've just about given up pointing that out to most people.
I've had to conclude that either South Africans of the middle-and-upward classes don't know what season it is, or they're unaware of the significance of the ages-old celebration of the start of Winter.
(Or they just don't care and are just doing shit because the Americans do, and I must say I find this parenthetical reason the most compelling of the three).
So, OK, a quick run-down of what Samhain, also known as Halloween, has meant to humans for thousands of years:
It's the start of the Winter season. The Celts only recognised 2 seasons, Summer and Winter. Summer started on the first week in May and we celebrate that as Beltane in the Northern Hemisphere. The start of Winter was the first week in November, midway between the Solstice and the Equinox.
It marks the beginning of the period of cold and dark, the time by which all harvests were to be safely gathered in and shelters made proof against the gathering loss of sunlight.
At this time, the ancestors and the little folk - those of other realms and dimensions - would take advantage of the liminality of the environment and draw nearer to humans. It thus became necessary for us to devise strategies to keep them from our doors, our stored crops and our livestock.
You can very easily see how the spooky motif and the tradition of Trick-Or-Treating became established out of these mass subconscious workings.
The problem comes when you try to apply these venerable rituals to the start of Summer. It won't work, and you end up playing the absolute fool across all worlds, dimensions and realms.
Good luck with that, as ever, South Africa.
Pic: May Queen from the Beltane Fire Festival, 2012