Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Origins of All Hallows

Halloween. As a child, I thought it was simply an opportunity to put on a costume and eat too much candy. It was simply a fun holiday -- nothing more. But now, as an adult, I wonder... What is behind the mask? What is hidden in the shadows?

 Photo by Leanne Dyck

It's natural to be fearful of what we don't know. But there's only one way to gain understanding. So, bravely, my friend, let us venture in...
Because they were farmers, Celts worshiped Baal, the powerful sun god who made crops grow. But Baal had power only half the year, and come the end of October, the winter god began his six-month reign. He was the Prince of Darkness. He was the Lord of the Dead. He was the god who killed crops and brought cold, black nights. His name was Samhain, or Summer's End... November 1...marked the end of autumn and the start of winter, so that's when Celts held their ancient harvest festival of Samhain. It was a supernatural time when barriers between them and the underworld vanished. Of all the nights of the year, sunset October 31 to sunrise the next morning was most feared. Evil spirits summoned by the Lord of the Dead where everywhere... To drive the evil spirits away. Celts gathered together around blazing bonfires. (p. 20-21)
-my favourite quote from Hangman (gory horror) by Michael Slade (the father - daughter writing team of Jay and Rebecca Clark)

Photo by Leanne Dyck
The deity most commonly worshiped by the ancient Canaanite people. Baal was a god of fertility and also of storms. The Hebrew word baal simply means "lord" and is often used to mean owner, master, husband or even man... In Canaanite mythology, Baal was part of an extended pantheon... According to the myth, Baal gained his preeminence in Canaanite worship by overcoming forces that sought to destroy the equilibrium and security of the world... In the Bible, Baal is seen as a rival to Israel's God. Not surprisingly, nearly every reference to Baal in the Scriptures is negative, bearing witness of the harsh fact that the Israelities were continually attracted to his worship. (p. 51)

-Reader's Digest's Who's Who in the Bible:  An Illustrated Biographical Dictionary 

Photo by Leanne Dyck

At Samhain (October 31), the Wicca say farewell to the God. This is a temporary farewell. He isn't wrapped in eternal darkness, but readies to be reborn of the Goddess at Yule.
Samhain, also known as November Eve, Feast of the Dead, Feast of Apples, Hallows, and All Hallows, once marked the time of sacrifice. In some places this was the time when animals were slaughtered to ensure food throughout the depths of winter. The God -- identified with the animals --fell as well to ensure our continuing existence.
Samhain is a time of reflection, of looking back over the last year, of coming to terms with the one phenomenon of life over which we have no control -- death. The Wicca feel that on this night the separation between the physical and spiritual realities is thin. Wiccans remember their ancestors and all those who have gone before. (p. 70 - 71)

-Wicca:  A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham 

Much thanks to my friend Terrill Welch 
for taking this photo of Bim and I
Please visit Terrill's website
to learn more about her visual art

Next post:  How do to increase your word count
I have over twenty submissions currently in publishers' slush piles. If you want to know how I did that, be sure to read my next post.

Sharing my author journey...

After a very productive Spring/Summer, I've entered a creative lull. It's not that I'm not working. It's not that I don't have plans. (In fact, I am working in dribs and drabs on four writing projects.) It's just 

nothing is demanding my attention. Lulls aren't easy for me. I'm feeling a loss. But I try to remind myself that this stage is necessary. Establishing a writing career is a journey. During every lengthy journey it is necessary to re-fuel. So I'm taking time to be introspective and time to build inspiration. Re-fueling is important work. Equally important, I would argue, as writing.


letscutthecrap said...

Interesting post about the Celts beliefs.

More power to you on your writing journey.

Leanne Dyck said...

Thank you, Tess. More power is exactly what I need. : )

Laurie Buchanan said...

Leanne — I can't believe how much I learned reading this post. Most of all, though, I enjoyed the photograph that Terrill took of you and your four-pawed furry companion!

Leanne Dyck said...

Thank you, Laurie. She is a kind and talented photographer. And it was a fun day. But she had to remind me not to hide behind Bim. He's the photogenic one. : )