Finally, the time of the end of the old and beginning of the new cycle has arrived. A celebration of a tradition that has survived adversary and those who are supposed to oppose it celebrate it indirectly through evolving traditions. Great fires will be lit heralding the new age and ritually cleansing the land. Sweet treats will be made or bought and used in traditional activities and feasting. Even Chritianity conceded and let the days remain as a celebration and rememberance of our dear departed. The Sídhe wander the land taking offering to quench their thirst for revenge or leave a wake of mischief to lay note that all is not forgotten. Trick or treat anyone? Carving a vegetable to ward off those who seek you harm and lighting a candle in front of photographs of those who passed before you.
In Ireland, as well as the celebration of the end of harvest (October as Gaeilge is Deireadh Fómhair or End of Harvest),it is the anniversary of many. From the annual tribute of the Neméd to the Fomór , the fatefull battle of the Tower of Conrág, the Fire of Rememberance of the 3 sons of the powerful Tlagtha who died giving birth to them, the 1st and 2nd battles of Moy Turadh to the defeat of the grandson of an Dagda by Fionn MacCumhail at Tara. There are many others. The door of the House of Donn open allowing visits of ancestors to their homes for a brief period and the 4 of the Tuatha Dé who stayed behind after the banishment, wander the nights wreaking trouble and strife upon households of the bloodline of Mil unless an offering is left for them and sate the appetite of an Púca. According to the ‘Flight of Diarmuid and Gráinne’ from the Óisín Cycle, more peaceful of the Sídhe will wage a rivalry with the Mil bloodline in a friendly game of hurling. All of the aforemented survive in some shape or form today. The Old Ways are always remembered.
This year is different however, with the pandemic. Ireland is in a national lockdown and we cannot travel beyond 5km unless it is for work reasons or essential shopping and cannot have large gatherings in public or at home. We do have to protect one another. And to add to it, there is currently a storm outside, but as I am writing this piece, dawn is breaking and the rain has stopped as well as the clouds parting to offer a great view of the approaching dawn. I can’t go up to the Knocknacoille Stone Circle. Many of us cannot travel to our personal places of ritual decompression but does it matter. The Gods and Goddesses are archetypes of Nature and are always around us. We can perform our own personal ritual decompressions at home either solitary or online if you wish to take part in a large ceremony. It is a time for celebrating the end of Harvest and remembering your loved ones. Perform your decompressions solemnly and enjoy the festivities that you create. Carve your vegetable produce of choice and leave it lit with the offering for an Púca. Light a candle, place it before your cherished photographs with a food offering. Remember those loved ones fondly. Celebrate the day with your family. Bob for apples or wear blindfolds and try to bite the hanging apple. Have a feast of treats with them. Leave out bags of treats for the naughty little Sídhe who come a knocking on your gate or before your door. Recount the legends of old to the young. It is both a time for serious reflection and also fun and games.
Beannachtaí Laisir Mhór na Samhna agus an timthriall nua ar gach duine. Seán Ó Tuama.