April Watson

Blessed Samhain, by April Watson

Samhain (pronounced Sow-en) is a pagan holiday observed for centuries. Morden Wiccans often hold festivals that fall between the Autum and Winter Equinoxes. Samhain is celebrated on October 31st, the same day as the modern Halloween. Wiccans believe in a balance between life and death. For this reason, Samhain celebrations focus on moourning and communicating with the dead, and also celebrating life.

Samhain ( October 31st )
also known as: Halloween, ShadwFest, Martinmas, Old Hallowmas
Samhain is the Witches’ New Year’s Eve, Novenber 1st is the first day of the new year, it marks the end of summer and the beginning of winter. It is the final harvest of the year. This is the time of the year when the ancient tribes harvested for the last time during the year, and prepared for the long months of winter. Food was stored, activity was moved from outdoors to indoors, by the warmth of the hearth fire.
The ancient tribes celebrated the Celtic Feast of the Dead, a practice which is carried on today. Samhain is a time when we honor our ancestors and the memory they left behind. On Samhain the veil between all worlds is the thinnest. It is a powerful time for divination and contacting those who have walk these lands before us.
This is the time of the season which the Crone rules. She is one aspect of the Goddess, Crone, Maiden, and Mother. It is She who opens the Western gate for those departed to travel into Summerland. She rules areas of death and regination, occult science, healing, and the wisdom of the ages. She comes in the form of Cerridwen, Hecate, Arianrhod, Persephone, among many others. We use the Crone to assists us in transition from one life to the next, of leaving one level of our existance and entering the next. To bring us into the Womb of the Mother only to assist us in being reborn once again. For it is through Her Wisdom and guidance we learn lessons from experience past and begin life anew from wisdom gained.
Ritual fire on Samhain were lit at the fall of dusk on the sacred hilltops, of ancient times, for the protection of people and land. Today we use fire in our Magic Circle to build a shield of protection and to light the Path for the future. Witches perform rituals, using the Crone’s assistance, to leave behind that which they do not want carry on into the future outdated habits, completion of past relationships insecurities and those thing which do not serve to carry on. Magic is done to better our lives, the lives of those around us, and all connected to the web of life.
It is customary for Witches to dress on Samhain eve, the custume reflect the Witches projection for the upcoming year. It is a festive, joyful time, where we visit friends and share treats stoeries and memories.

The Sacred Veil,
The lyrics to The Sacred Veil are by Charles Anthony Silvestri, a poet whose wife passed away some time ago. Whitacre scored the music. I first heard part of The sacred Veil some time ago at the Wallt Disney Concert Hall during a performance by the Los Angeles Master Chorale. That night, the group performed “You Rise, I Fall,” which turned out to be the eleventh movement out of twelve. It was the first piece writen, though, and it is heartbreakingly beautiful, dealing with Silvestri’s wife’s final moments. The title refers to her ascent into Heaven and his descent into grief, and the music mirrors the labored breathing of the woman. It is hard for me to imagine how Silvestri could have written what he did given how painful it must have been to revisit the worste moment of his life.
The opening movemont of The Sacred Veil is called “The Veil Opens,” and the first lines are, I think, “Whenever there is birth or death,” repeated twice (for a total of three times). The full sentence is “whenever there is birth or death, the sacred veil between the worlds grow thin and open slightly up,” but Whitacre chose to repeat the first six words, and I think what he did was brilliant and demonstrates how powerful the piece will be. If you hear “whenever there is birth or death” you naturally expect the main clause that will follow the subirdinate clause. It’s like saying ” when I was younger”: your listner clearly expects more. Say “whenever there is birth or death” twice, though, and you’ve emphasized the repetition. And Whitacre himself said, say it three times, and the result is almost liturgical. Here is the ful poem though I dont know where the line breaks should be:
Whenever there is birth or death,
The sacred veil between the worlds grow thin
And opens slightly up
Just long enough
For love to slip silent
Either in or out
Of this, our fragile, fleeting world
Whence or whither
A new home waits
And our beloved ones draw near
In rapt anticipation
Or in weary gratitude
They stand
Our loved ones stand close
Right here
Just on the other side of eternity

Whitacre’s point about the liturgical of the repetition made me think that for me, the meaning of Samhain is truely sacred.

April Watson #W94003
CIW Latam A #205
16756 Chino-Corona Rd.
Corona, CA 92880

Categories: April Watson

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