Monday, October 27, 2014

The Wheel of the Year - Samhain

As visitors to the Museum will know, we have in our collection a lovely object called the Wheel of the Year (seen above).  This is a large wooden disc painted with scenes representing the various festivals of the year. Painted by Vivienne Shanley on disc made by Mark Highland.  We also display in the window of the Museum some seasonal texts which explore and celebrate the different times of year.  At the moment, the text in the Museum window is on Samhain and it reads:

Halloween (Samhain)
31st October

Samhain is the most important of the cross quarter days celebrated by witches.

It marks the beginning of winter, and is the eve of the Celtic New Year. On this night the Veil between the Worlds of life and death is at its most thin, and the ancestors return to feast and celebrate with their living kin.

Of all the old pagan festivals, it is the most popular. Children dress up as ghosts and witches and spooky fun is enjoyed by all. The origin of Trick or Treat may be to do with the Lord of Misrule, as boundaries dissolve mischievous spirits play havoc on mortals.

The Christian Church calls it All Hallows Eve or All Souls Eve. In the Midlands Soul Cakes were baked and parties of “soulers” would go from house to house begging for these cakes in memory of the dead.

Celebrate Samhain by honouring the return of the Dark, for within it are the seeds of rebirth. Send love and blessings to those of your family and friends who are dead for tonight they are near.

Also spare a thought for the women and men killed as witches during the times of persecution.

The picture below is an old Museum postcard from a painting by Vivienne Shanley entitled 'Samhain Witch'.

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