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BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year

23 Apr 00 - 07:03 AM (#216462)
Subject: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: BobLusk

Loooking for ceromonial script, ideas, prcedures for doing a celtic New year celebration next fall - Oh and of course songs would be good too.

Bob


23 Apr 00 - 07:26 AM (#216466)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca

I'll look to see if I have any information. Btw, it's spelled "Samhain"


23 Apr 00 - 09:20 AM (#216485)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: katlaughing

You will find some information on a thread from last fall, here. I am sure you will hear of more, too.

Thanks,

kat


23 Apr 00 - 09:53 AM (#216500)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)

Samhain is really not the celtic new year. Most farmers celebrate the beginning of the new year on February I the beginning of Imbolc and St. Brigid's day. One of the essentials of celtic celebration is that each quarter of the year is itself a unit. Actually the feeling is that there is no really one new year. the current popular fad movements of pagans have been preaching the samhain=new year rubbish for some time. Most of their lore is also fabricated and exagerated. I am all for evolution of the tradition but please do not link exagerations and fabrications to the ancient celtic past from which we really do not have so much detail. Those wishing to know of the celebrations of the Irish year can go here:

http://www.ncf.carleton.ca/~bj333/HomePage.season.html

Conrad


23 Apr 00 - 10:08 AM (#216506)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: Susan of DT

for songs in the DT, check @seasonal and @ritual


23 Apr 00 - 10:40 AM (#216512)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: Kelida

Unfortunately, since there is so little knowledge of the ancient Celtic traditions, there is really no single ritual to celebrate the holiday. Since all the New Age groups seem to have more or less completely made up their "rituals" I would advise you to read them but take them with a grain of salt. Keep in mind that the real Celts would not have had things like silver daggers (not for quite a long time, anyway--even the Romans were still using bronze or iron) or plants that don't grow in the areas where they live. They also wouldn't have spoken English, but I suppose we could let that pass since not many people speak "dead" languages anymore. My advice would be to read as many HISTORY books you can find about the celts. Learn about their culture and history, where they lived, etc. Make up something of your own, but use your knowledge of history rather than what a lot of New Agers made up (much of which seems to have little basis in history).

Peace--Keli


23 Apr 00 - 11:49 AM (#216529)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: Áine

Dear Kelida,

The Gaelic languages are not "dead", contrary to some might think. They're alive and well, and spreading around the world -- thanks in a great degree to their wonderful history of music and song.

Le meas, Áine


23 Apr 00 - 11:58 AM (#216535)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: Amergin

No they are not dead, especially since they are being taught in the schools again. May they always flourish. One of these days I gonna have to get off my ass and learn. Blessed be. Slan go foill.


23 Apr 00 - 12:19 PM (#216541)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: Mbo

Right-o, Amergin, I'm gonna learn it meself one o' these days! Fág An Bealach!

--Mbo


23 Apr 00 - 12:44 PM (#216552)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: skarpi

Even I know some Gaelic,There are many people around the world who are learning-here in Iceland are at least six or seven I think and Iceland is small country. all the best skarpi Iceland. Slán.


23 Apr 00 - 01:03 PM (#216559)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: Eluned

Some of the wonderful music - both old and new-minted - that is available these days is certainly incentive to keep the poetic gaelic languages alive! Bob, I have a book called "Encyclopedia of Celtic Wisdom" which seems to be well-researched and free of the new-age influence; No Wicca, nothing "Neo-pagan", just an examination of old writings (OK, there is a bit of Robert Graves, but they simply present some of his work, they don't tout it), many of their sources extremely old. They (the authors, Caitlin and John Matthews) seem to believe that Samhain is the Celtic new year; they don't actively defend that belief, so I don't know if this is an assumption on their part, but digging into the old legends and lore as deeply as they do, I'd think they'd have noticed if such an assumption was wrong.


23 Apr 00 - 01:23 PM (#216568)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: Malcolm Douglas

Dr. Anne Ross has written some books which you may find useful.  For the historical/archaeological perspective, look at Pagan Celtic Britain (Routledge & Kegan Paul,1967 /Cardinal paperback,1974) and Everyday Life of the Pagan Celts (Batsford/Putnam, 1970); for more recent material -including sections on seasonal customs- there's Folklore of the Scottish Highlands (Batsford 1976; paperback 1990).

Malcolm


23 Apr 00 - 01:42 PM (#216576)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: Malcolm Douglas

I'd be a little wary of the Matthews' books, incidentally; interesting, of course, but apt to present guesswork and supposition as fact, while neglecting to provide evidence.  Caítlin Matthews seems at times to be trying to reconstruct a system of "Celtic" magic, on, I can't help but feel, the shakiest of foundations.

Malcolm


23 Apr 00 - 01:57 PM (#216586)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: Sorcha

I am more than a little wary of the Matthews. Also check out--The Druids, by Stuart Piggot; Pagan Celti Religions of the Ancient British Isles, by Ronald Hutton; Life and Death of a Druid Prince, by Anne Ross, and The Celts, by Nor Chadwick (slightly dated). T.G.E. Powell is also OK, if also slightly dated also (1958)


23 Apr 00 - 02:11 PM (#216596)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: GUEST,T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)

Samhain is not the "Celtic New Year". It is not even reliably considered "the" Irish New Year to the exclusion of all other systems of reckoning the year. It might have been "a" new year, one system among several, though the evidence for this is sketchy. Nevertheless in 19th century Ireland it was considered an extremely hazardous and important time.

Here is a remark by Ronald Hutton on Caitlín Matthews:

"Most of the approach adopted by Ms. Matthews can be found in scholarly books upon the Celts produced before the 1970s, when the new care in textual criticism and mutual appraisal came to be adopted in universities. But her work is also conditioned to the needs of her audience. To a great extent, the world of the modern 'Celtic mysteries', like that of the 'earth mysteries', is self-contained. Thus, her bibliographies are filled on the one hand with old academic works and on the other with writings of the contemporary Celtic mystical movement right up to 1990. What are missing are the scholarly publications of the 1980s, many of which have radically altered existing views of the sources for our knowledge of the ancient Celts. But then any 'movement', or 'tradition', tends to build upon iteslf, and is not much given to questioning its basic texts. Caitlín Matthews and her colleagues are not really concerned with the past, so much as with the present and the future. They are creating a mysitcal tradition out of old materials but suited to modern needs."
--Ronald Hutton, The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy, Blackwell, Oxford, 1991 (Paperback reprint 1993), p. 144.

T.


23 Apr 00 - 02:28 PM (#216600)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: Eluned

Well, DANG! And I thought I had a good source. Sounds like they are trapped in a bit of self-delusion, only using the material that suits them. I always swore I wouldn't get struck by the "Von Daanikan" delusion: believing something so much, you alter the existing evidence to support it!

while "creating a mystical tradition out of old materials but suited to modern needs" is in some ways quite admirable, I don't like being blinded to other facets of reality at the same time.

Thanks for the heads-up, guys!


23 Apr 00 - 07:12 PM (#216726)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: Kelida

Sorry. I just know they don't teach gaelic where I come from. The only place I ever hear it is in music. Is it really still a spoken language?

Peace--Keli


23 Apr 00 - 08:14 PM (#216749)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: Margaret V

In the quotation above, Hutton refers to the scholarly publications of the eighties. I had always relied on Anne Ross but it's true her work isn't the most current. Can anyone give me the short list of the academic "heavy hitters" of recent Celtic studies?

Keli, there are actually six different Celtic languages: Irish, Scottish, Manx (from the Isle of Man), Cornish, Welsh, and Breton (from Brittany). While each language has suffered threats to its survival (from English in the case of the first five and from French in the case of Breton), I believe Cornish is now the least spoken of them all. However, the languages are very much alive indeed; in some cases they are first languages for people and in some cases they have been learned at school as part of a conscious, concerted effort at maintaining political and cultural identity. Don't know where you live but if you're anywhere near a university or major urban center chances are good that a Celtic language course (most likely Irish Gaelic)is being taught. There are even website courses! Have fun exploring.

Can anyone tell me, though, what language is associated with the Celts in Galicia?


23 Apr 00 - 08:23 PM (#216750)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: Kelida

Not in Cincinnati. It's very much a German town. There is a language school that claims to teach all current spoken languages, but no gaelic. . .

Peace--Keli


23 Apr 00 - 10:27 PM (#216789)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: Malcolm Douglas

Cornish died as a spoken language in the 18th century, but there was enough recorded material to make it possible to resurrect it later on.  Nowadays there is a small nucleus of people who have learned to speak it, and have deliberately brought up their children to be bi-lingual.  Galicia, so far as I know, has no surviving Celtic tongue.

Malcolm


24 Apr 00 - 07:56 AM (#216908)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: Liz the Squeak

Actually there was a lady living at the beginning of this century (being the 20th) still speaking Cornish, and it has various 2nd/3rd generation learners who belong to the Cornish Freedom fighters, who still insist Cornwall should be a seperate kingdom again.

LTS


25 Apr 00 - 10:35 AM (#217612)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: Peg

here is something I wrote on this topic; utilizing some of Ronald Hutton's research from Stations of the Sun... keep in mind this is written for witches and neo-pagans seeking some further perspective on the holiday...

peg

http://www.witchvox.com/white/wsamhainhistory.html


25 Apr 00 - 10:59 AM (#217628)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird

Peg, though you make use of Hutton's work, you seem to disagree with him on some points. Hutton finds no evidence of an association of Samhain with the dead prior to the establishment of Hallowmas on that date by northern European Christianity. He also finds no clear evidence that Samhain was "the" "Celtic" new year. He thinks it might have been one date (among others) for reckoning the beginning of the year in Ireland. One folklorist in (I think) the 19th century observed new-year's-like customs being practised on November 1st or November Eve in one part of Scotland. But I don't recall Hutton or anyone else citing, say, a medieval annalist or a legal document reckoning the years from November 1st, rather than from January 1st, or December 25th, or the 1st Sunday of Advent as context required. (Obviously, though, if a king acceded or was crowned on November 1st, the N year of king X would begin on the same date. I don't no any cases of any writers or documents doing even this, though there may be some.)

T.


25 Apr 00 - 11:11 AM (#217637)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: Peg

Okie:
I did not say my essay agreed with everything Hutton has to say, did I? Nor did I say I was in any way attempting to unravel where the idea that Samhain is the Celtic New Year comes from...I am not a historian. I don't think Hutton himself deems that question worthy of trying to answer in a legitimate way. For better or worse, modern neo-pagan witches follow the eight festival calendar and for the most part accept the generalized explanations for the dates occurring when they do, despite occasionally having conflicting origins or sources...we _do_ know the date of Christmas was chosen to coincide with winter solstice celebrations, that Easter's timing is based upon ancient spring fertility festivals, and that All Souls' Day (November 1) clearly corresonds to Samhain. Though I think Hutton is one of the best sources on these topics, I think few know he himself is a practicing pagan--and I wish all of us were as well-read and well-versed in history and folklore as he is! But there are a great amny myths and platitudes spouted by modern witches that are simply inaccurate, but such things die hard in the absence of the willingness to do actual reading or in-depth study...

peg


25 Apr 00 - 11:34 AM (#217651)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: MMario

Easter's Timing is based on Passover. period. this is a known fact. ,BR>
Passover MAY or may NOT have been based on spring fertility rituals. that is one theory. It was well over two thousand years ago if it did occur.

All Soul's, All Saint's and Halloween are three distinct holidays in the christian calander, yet are constantly confused in literature regarding Samhain.

"Begger's Day" style rituals have been associated with virtually every day in the year at some place in the world; it was a common "good luck" ritual associated with just about anything. But then again, virtually every day of the year is a "holy day" in some custom...sometimes it is MULTIPLE holy days IN THE SAME TRADITION - though some people may celebrate one festival and others another....


25 Apr 00 - 11:56 AM (#217670)
Subject: RE: BS: Sowhain?/Celtic New Year
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird

Peg, I didn't say you said you agreed with Hutton on all points. I was simply commenting on the points of disagreement I observed between your piece and what I remember of his work.

MMario is right about Easter: its placement in the year derives from the Jewish Festival of Unleavened Bread, which originally came at the beginning of the winter-barley harvest, so its time of year was determined by the facts of agriculture. At some point (some theorize) it seems to have been combined with another springtime observance, the lamb-sacrifice of the Passover. Also, some theorize, at some point its date was rationalized into the lunar calendar, so the close connection to the ripening of the winter barley was weakened slightly.

T.