Samhain: The Lore of Halloween

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History

Samhain is a pagan religious festival originating from ancient Celtic spiritual tradition. In modern times, Samhain, a Gaelic word pronounced “sow-win”, is usually celebrated from October 31 to November 1 to welcome in the harvest and usher in the dark half of the year. The barriers between the physical world and the spirit world (the veil) break down during Samhain, allowing more interaction between humans and denizens of the Otherworld.

Ancient Celts marked Samhain as the most significant of the four quarterly fire festivals.  After the harvest work was complete, celebrants joined with Druid priests to light a community fire using a wheel that would cause friction and spark flames. The wheel was considered a representation of the sun and used along with prayers. Cattle were sacrificed, and participants took a flame from the communal bonfire back to their home to relight the hearth.

 

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Christianity attempted to reframe Samhain as a Christian celebration The first attempt was by Pope Boniface in the 5th century. He moved the celebration to May 13 and specified it as a day celebrating saints and martyrs. The fire festivals of October and November, however, did not end with this decree.  In the 9th century, Pope Gregory moved the celebration back to the time of the fire festivals, but declared it All Saints’ Day, on November 1. All Souls’ Day would follow on November 2.

Neither new holiday did away with the pagan aspects of the celebration. October 31 became known as All Hallows Eve, or Halloween, and contained much of the traditional pagan practices. Trick-or-treating derives from ancient Irish and Scottish practices in the nights leading up to Samhain. In Ireland, mumming was the practice of putting on costumes, going door-to-door and singing songs to the dead. Cakes were given as payment.

Wicca Today

A broad revival of Samhain resembling its traditional pagan form began in the 1980’s.  Wicca celebration of Samhain run the gamut from the traditional fire ceremonies to celebrations that embrace many aspects of modern Halloween, as well as activities related to honoring nature or ancestors.  Wiccans look at Samhain as the passing of the year, and incorporate common Wiccan traditions into the celebration.

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Celtic Deconstructionists Today

Samhain is often called Oiche Shamnhna and celebrates the mating between Tuatha de Danaan gods Dagda and River Unis. They celebrate by placing juniper decorations around their homes and creating an altar for the dead where a feast is held in honor of deceased loved ones.

Sources:

  • History.com
  • BBC
  • “The Pagan Mysteries of Halloween,” By Jean Markale
  • “Samhain: Rituals, Recipes and Lore for Halloween,” By Diana Rajchel.

Ancient Egyptian Religion Overview

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Ancient Egyptian Religion Overview:

~ The religion of Ancient Egypt lasted for more than 3,000 years, and was polytheistic, meaning there were a multitude of deities, who were believed to reside within and control the forces of nature.

~ Formal religious practice centered on the pharaoh, or ruler, of Egypt, who was believed to be divine, and acted as intermediary between the people and the gods. His role was to sustain the gods so that they could maintain order in the universe.

~ The Egyptian universe centered on Ma’at, which has several meanings in English, including truth, justice and order. It was fixed and eternal; without it the world would fall apart.

~ The most important myth was of Osiris and Isis. The divine ruler Osiris was murdered by Set (god of chaos), then resurrected by his sister and wife Isis to conceive an heir, Horus. Osiris then became the ruler of the dead, while Horus eventually avenged his father and became king.

~ Egyptians were very concerned about the fate of their souls after death. They believed ka (life-force) left the body upon death and needed to be fed. Ba, or personal spirituality, remained in the body. The goal was to unite ka and ba to create akh.

~ Artistic depictions of gods were not literal representations, as their true nature was considered mysterious. However, symbolic imagery was used to indicate this nature.

~ Temples were the state’s method of sustaining the gods, since their physical images were housed and cared for; temples were not a place for the average person to worship.

Certain animals were worshipped and mummified as representatives of gods.

~ Oracles were used by all classes.

Lilith

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In Jewish folklore, Lilith was thought to be Adam’s first wife in Eden. She refused to be subservient to him and left the garden. She “coupled” with the archangel Samael and became a demon of the night.

(John Collier painting)

#FolkloreThursday #Lilith #JewishFolklore

Homer’s Odyssey Extract

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According to the BBC, the oldest known extract from Homer’s Odyssey has been found on a clay tablet, found in Olympia Greece and dated “to Roman times” (better dating is impending). The extract “contains 13 verses from the Odyssey’s 14th Rhapsody, in which Odysseus addresses his lifelong friend Eumaeus.” It will be interesting to compare this to other extracts to see how well an orally transmitted work was reproduced in writing. Here’s part of the tablet:

#Homer #TheOdyssey

List of Deaths in the Iliad

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List of deaths in the Illiad:
Antilochus (Greek) kills Echepolus (Trojan) (spear in the head) (4.529)
Agenor (Trojan) kills Elephenor (Greek) (spear in the side) (4.543)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Simoeisius (Trojan) (speared in the nipple) (4.549)
Antiphus (Trojan) kills Leucus (Greek) (speared in the groin) (4.569)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Democoön (Trojan) (spear through the head) (4.579)
Peirous (Trojan) kills Diores (Greek) (hit with a rock, then speared in the gut) (4.598)
Thoas (Greek) kills Peirous (Trojan) (spear in the chest, sword in the gut) (4.608)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Phegeus (Trojan) (spear in the chest) (5.19)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Odius (Trojan) (spear in the back) (5.42)
Idomeneus (Greek) kills Phaestus (spear in the shoulder) (5.48)
Menelaus (Greek) kills Scamandrius (spear in the back) (5.54)
Meriones (Greek) kills Phereclus (Trojan) (spear in the buttock) (5.66)
Meges (Greek) kills Pedaeus (Greek) (spear in the neck) (5.78)
Eurypylus (Greek) kills Hypsenor (Trojan) (arm cut off) (5.86)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Astynous (Trojan) (spear in the chest) (5.164)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Hypeiron (Trojan) (sword in the collar bone) (5.165)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Abas (Trojan) (5.170)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Polyidus (Trojan) (5.170)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Xanthus (Trojan) (5.174)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Thoon (Trojan) (5.174)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Echemmon (Trojan) (5.182)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Chromius (Trojan) (5.182)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Pandarus (Trojan) (spear in the nose) (5.346)
Diomedes (Greek) wounds Aeneas (Trojan) with a rock (5.359)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Deicoon (Trojan), spear in the stomach (5.630)
Aeneas (Trojan) kills Crethon (Greek)
Aeneas (Trojan) kills Orsilochus (Greek)
Menelaus (Greek) kills Phlaemenes (Trojan), spear in the collar bone (5.675)
Antilochus (Greek) kills Mydon (Trojan), sword in the head, stomped by his horses (5.680)
Hector (Trojan) kills Menesthes (Greek) (5.714)
Hector (Trojan) kills Anchialus (Greek) (5.714)
Ajax son of Telamon kills Amphion (Trojan), spear in the gut (5.717)
Sarpedon (Trojan) kills Tlepolemus (Greek), spear in the neck (5.764)
Tlepolemus (Greek) wounds Sarpedon (Trojan) spear in the thigh (5.764)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Cocranus (Trojan) (5.783)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Alastor (Trojan) (5.783)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Chromius (Trojan) (5.783)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Alcandrus (Trojan) (5.784)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Halius (Trojan) (5.784)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Noemon (Trojan) (5.784)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Prytanis (Trojan) (5.784)
Hector (Trojan) kills Teuthras (Greek) (5.811)
Hector (Trojan) kills Orestes (Greek) (5.811)
Hector (Trojan) kills Trechus (Greek) (5.812)
Hector (Trojan) kills Oenomaus (Greek) (5.812)
Hector (Trojan) kills Helenus (Greek) (5.813)
Hector (Trojan) kills Oresbius (Greek) (5.813)
Ares kills Periphas (Greek) (5.970)
Diomedes wounds Ares in the gut (5.980)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Acamas (Trojan), spear in the head (6.9)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Axylus (Trojan) (6.14)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Calesius (Trojan) (6.20)
Euryalus (Greek) kills Dresus (Trojan) (6.23)
Euryalus (Greek) kills Opheltius (Trojan) (6.23)
Euryalus (Greek) kills Aesepus (Trojan) (6.24)
Euryalus (Greek) kills Pedasus (Trojan) (6.24)
Polypoetes (Greek) kills Astyalus (Trojan) (6.33)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Pidytes (Trojan), with his spear (6.34)
Teucer (Greek) kills Aretaon (Trojan) (6.35)
Antilochus (Greek) kills Ableros (Trojan), with his spear (6.35)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Elatus (Trojan) (6.38)
Leitus (Greek) kills Phylacus (Trojan) (6.41)
Eurypylus (Greek) kills Melanthus (6.42)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Adrestus (Trojan), spear in the side (6.76)
Paris (Trojan) kills Menesthius (Greek) (7.8)
Hector (Trojan) kills Eioneus (Greek), spear in the neck (7.11)
Glaucus (Trojan) kills Iphinous (Greek), spear in the shoulder (7.13)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Eniopeus (Trojan), spear in the chest (8.138)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Agelaos (Trojan), spear in the back (8.300)
Teucer (Greek) kills Orsilochos (Trojan), with an arrow (8.321)
Teucer (Greek) kills Ormenus (Trojan), with an arrow (8.321)
Teucer (Greek) kills Ophelestes (Trojan), with an arrow (8.321)
Teucer (Greek) kills Daitor (Trojan), with an arrow (8.322)
Teucer (Greek) kills Chromius (Trojan), with an arrow (8.322)
Teucer (Greek) kills Lycophontes (Trojan), with an arrrow (8.322)
Teucer (Greek) kills Amopaon (Trojan), with an arrow (8.323)
Teucer (Greek) kills Melanippus (Trojan), with an arrow (8.323)
Teucer (Greek) kills Gorgythion (Trojan), with an arrow (8.353)
Teucer (Greek) kills Archeptolemos (Trojan), with an arrow (8.363)
Hector (Trojan) wounds Teucer (Greek), with a rock (8.380)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Dolon (Trojan), sword across the neck (10.546)
Diomedes (Greek) kills twelve sleeping Thracian soldiers (10.579) (includes Rhesus)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Bienor (Trojan) (11.99)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Oileus (Trojan), spear in the head, (11.103)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Isus (Trojan), spear in the chest (11.109)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Antiphus (Trojan), sword in the head (11.120)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Peisander (Trojan), spear in the chest (11.160)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Hippolochus (Trojan), sword cuts off his head (11.165)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Iphidamas T), sword in the neck (11.270)
Coön (Trojan) wounds Agamemnon (Greek), spear in the arm (11.288)
Agamemnon (Greek) kills Coön (Trojan), spear in the side (11.295)
Hector (Trojan) kills Asaeus (Greek) (11.341)
Hector (Trojan) kills Autonous (Greek) (11.341)
Hector (Trojan) kills Opites (Greek) (11.341)
Hector (Trojan) kills Dolops (Greek) (11.342)
Hector (Trojan) kills Opheltius (Greek) (11.324)
Hector (Trojan) kills Agelaus (Greek) (11.325)
Hector (Trojan) kills Aesymnus (Greek) (11.325)
Hector (Trojan) kills Orus (Greek) (11.343)
Hector (Trojan) kills Hipponous (Greek) (11.325)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Thymbraeus (Trojan), spear in the chest (11.364)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Molion (Trojan) (11.366)
Diomedes (Greek) kills two sons of Merops (Trojan) (11.375)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Hippodamas (Trojan) (11.381)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Hypeirochus (Trojan) (11.381)
Diomedes (Greek) kills Agastrophus (Trojan), spear in the hip (11.384)
Paris (Trojan) wounds Diomedes (Greek), arrow in the foot (11.430)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Deïopites (Trojan) (11.479)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Thoön (Trojan) (11.481)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Ennomus (Greek) (11.481)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Chersidamas (Trojan), spear in the groin (11.481)
Odyssues (Greek) kills Charops (Trojan) (11.485)
Odysseus (Greek) kills Socus (Trojan), spear in the back (11.506)
Socus (Trojan) wounds Odysseus (Greek), spear in the ribs (11.493)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Doryclus (Trojan) (11.552)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Pandocus (Trojan) (11.553)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Lysander (Trojan) (11.554)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Pyrasus (Trojan) (11.554)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Pylantes (Trojan) (11.554)
Eurypylus (Greek) kills Apisaon (Trojan), spear in the liver (11.650)
Polypoetes (Greek) kills Damasus (Trojan), spear through the cheek (12.190);
Polypoetes (Greek) kills Pylon (Trojan) (12.194)
Polypoetes (Greek) kills Ormenus (Trojan) (12.194)
Leonteus (Greek) kills Hippomachus, spear in the stomach (12.196)
Leonteus (Greek) kills Antiphates (Trojan), struck with a sword (12.198)
Leonteus (Greek) kills Menon (Trojan) (12.201)
Leonteus (Greek) kills Iamenus (Trojan) (12.201)
Leonteus (Greek) kills Orestes (Trojan) (12.201)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Epicles (Trojan), rock in the skull (12.416)
Teucer (Greek) wounds Glaucus (Trojan), arrow in the arm (12.425)
Sarpedon (Trojan) kills Alcmaon (Greek), spear in the body (12.434)
Teucer (Greek) kills Imbrius (Trojan), spear in the ear (13.198)
Hector (Trojan) kills Amphimachus (Greek), spear in the chest (13.227)
Idomeneus (Greek) kills Othryoneus (Trojan), spear in the gut, (13.439 ff)
Idomeneus (Greek) kills Asius (Trojan), spear in the neck (13.472)
Antilochus (Greek) kills Asius’ charioteer, spear in the gut (13.482)
Deïphobus (Trojan) kills Hypsenor (Greek), spear in the liver (13.488) (wounded?)
Idomeneus (Greek) kills Alcathous (Trojan), spear in the chest (13.514 ff)
Idomeneus (Greek) kills Oenomaus (Trojan), spear in the stomach (13.608)
Deïphobus (Trojan) kills Ascalaphus (Greek), spear in the shoulder (13.621)
Meriones (Greek) wounds Deïphobus (Trojan) spear in the arm (13.634)
Aeneas (Trojan) kills Aphareus (Greek), spear in the throat (13.647)
Antilochus (Greek) kills Thoön (Greek), spear in the back) (13.652).
Meriones (Greek) kills Adamas (Trojan), spear in the testicles (13.677).
Helenus (Trojan) kills Deïpyrus (Greek), sword on the head (13.687)
Menelaus (Greek) wounds Helenus (Trojan), spear in the hand (13.705)
Menelaus (Greek) kills Peisander (Trojan), sword in the head (13.731)
Meriones (Greek) kills Harpalion (Trojan), arrow in the buttock (13.776)
Paris (Trojan) kills Euchenor (Greek), arrow in the jaw (13.800)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) hits Hector (Trojan) with a rock (14.477)
Ajax son of Oileus (Greek) kills Satnius (Trojan), spear in the side (14.517)
Polydamas (Trojan) kills Prothoënor (Greek), spear in the shoulder (14.525)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Archelochus, spear in the neck (14.540)
Acamas (Trojan) kills Promachus (Greek), spear (14.555)
Peneleus (Greek) kills Ilioneus (Trojan), spear in the eye (14.570)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Hyrtius (14.597)
Meriones (Greek) kills Morys (14.601)
Meriones (Greek) kills Hippotion (14.601)
Teucer (Greek) kills Prothoön (Trojan) (14.602)
Teucer (Greek) kills Periphetes (Trojan) (14.602)
Menelaus (Greek) kills Hyperenor (Trojan), spear in the side (14.603)
Phalces (Trojan) killed (death not mentioned but armor stripped) (14.600)
Mermerus (Trojan) killed (death not mentioned but armor stripped) (14.600)
Hector (Trojan) kills Stichius (Greek) (15.389)
Hector (Trojan) kills Aresilaus (Greek) (15.389)
Aeneas (Trojan) kills Medon (Greek) (15.392)
Aeneas (Trojan) kills Iasus (Greek) (15.392)
Polydamas (Trojan) kills Mecistus (Greek) (15.399)
Polites (Trojan) kills Echius (Greek) (15.400)
Agenor (Trojan) kills Clonius (15.401)
Paris (Trojan) kills Deïochus (Greek), spear through the back (15.402)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Caletor (Trojan), spear in the chest (15.491)
Hector (Trojan) kills Lycophron (Greek) spear in the head (15.503)
Teucer (Greek) kills Cleitus (Greek), arrow in the back of the neck (15.521)
Hector (Trojan) kills Schedius (Greek) (15.607)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Laodamas (Trojan) (15.608)
Polydamas (Trojan) kills Otus (Greek) (15.610)
Meges (Greek) kills Croesmus (Trojan), spear in the chest (15.616)
Menelaus (Greek) kills Dolops (Trojan), speared in the back (15.636)
Antilochus (Greek) kills Melanippus (Trojan), spear in the chest (15.675)
Hector (Trojan) kills Periphetes (Greek), spear in the chest (15.744)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Pyraechmes (Trojan), spear in the shoulder (16.339)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Areilycus (Trojan), spear in the thigh (16.361)
Menelaus (Greek) kills Thoas (Trojan), spear in the chest (16.365)
Meges (Greek) kills Amphiclus (Trojan), spear in the leg (16.367)
Antilochus (Greek) kills Atymnius (Trojan), spear in the side (16.372)
Thrasymedes (Greek) kills Maris (Trojan), spear in the shoulder (16.377)
Ajax son of Oileus (Greek) kills Cleobulus (Trojan), sword in the neck (16.386)
Peneleus (Greek) kills Lyco (Greek), sword in the neck (16.395)
Meriones (Greek) kills Acamas (Trojan), spear in the shoulder (16.399)
Idomeneus (Greek) kills Erymas (Trojan), spear in the mouth (16.403)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Pronous (Trojan), spear in the chest (16.464)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Thestor (Trojan), spear in the head (16.477)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Erylaus (Trojan), rock on the head (16.479)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Erymas (Trojan) (16.484)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Amphoterus (Trojan) (16.484)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Epaltes (Trojan) (16.484)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Tlepolemus (Trojan) (16.485)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Echius (Trojan) (16.485)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Pyris (Trojan) (16.486)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Ipheus (Trojan) (16.486)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Euippus (Trojan) (16.486)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Polymelus (Trojan) (16.486)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Thrasymedes (Trojan), spear in the gut (16.542)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Sarpedon (Trojan), spear in the chest (16.559)
Hector (Trojan) kills Epeigeus (Greek), rock on the head (16.666)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Sthenelaus (Trojan), rock on the head (16.682)
Glaucus (Trojan) kills Bathycles (Greek), spear in the chest (16.691)
Meriones (Greek) kills Laogonus (Trojan), spear in the jaw (16.702)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Adrestus (Trojan) (16.808)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Autonous (Trojan) (16.809)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Echeclus (Trojan) (16.809)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Perimus (Trojan) (16.809)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Epistor (Trojan) (16.810)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Melanippus (Trojan) (16.810)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Elasus (Trojan) (16.811)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Mulius (Trojan) (16.811)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Pylantes (Trojan) (16.811)
Patroclus (Greek) kills Cebriones (Trojan), rock in the head (16.859)
Hector (Trojan) kills Patroclus (Greek) (16.993)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Hippothous (Trojan), spear in the head (17.377)
Hector (Trojan) kills Scedius (Greek), spear in the collar (17.393)
Ajax son of Telamon (Greek) kills Phorcys (Trojan), spear in the gut (17.399)
Aeneas (Trojan) kills Leocritus (Greek), (17.439);
Lycomedes (Greek) kills Apisaon (Trojan) (17.443)
Automedon (Greek) kills Aretus (Trojan), spear in the gut (17.636)
Menelaus (Trojan) kills Podes (Trojan), spear in the stomach (17.704)
Hector (Trojan) kills Coeranus (Greek), spear in the head (17.744)
Achilles (Greek) kills Iphition (Trojan), spear in the head (20.463)
Achilles (Greek) kills Demoleon (Trojan), spear in the head (20.476)
Achilles (Greek) kills Hippodamas (Trojan), spear in the back (20.480)
Achilles (Greek) kills Polydorus (Trojan), spear in the back (20.488)
Achilles (Greek) kills Dryops (Trojan), spear in the knee, sword thrust (20.546)
Achilles (Greek) kills Demouchos (Trojan) spear thrust (20.548).
Achilles (Greek) kills Laogonus (Trojan), spear thrust (20.551)
Achilles (Greek) kills Dardanus (Trojan), sword thrust (20.551)
Achilles (Greek) kills Tros (Trojan), sword in the liver (20.555)
Achilles (Greek) kills Mulius (Trojan), spear in the head (20.567)
Achilles (Greek) kills Echeclus (Trojan), sword on the head (20.569)
Achilles (Greek) kills Deucalion (Trojan), sword in the neck (20.573)
Achilles (Greek) kills Rhigmus (Trojan), spear in the gut (20.581)
Achilles (Greek) kills Areithous (Trojan), spear in the back (20.586)
Achilles (Greek) kills Lycaon (Trojan), sword in the neck (21.138)
Achilles (Greek) kills Asteropaeus (Trojan), sword in the stomach (21.215)
Achilles (Greek) kills Thersilochus (Trojan) (21.249)
Achilles (Greek) kills Mydon (Trojan) (21.249)
Achilles (Greek) kills Astypylus (Trojan) (21.250)
Achilles (Greek) kills Mnesus (Trojan) (21.250)
Achilles (Greek) kills Thrasius (Trojan) (21.250)
Achilles (Greek) kills Aenius (Trojan) (21.250)
Achilles (Greek) kills Ophelestes (Trojan) (21.251)
Achilles (Greek) kills Hector (Trojan), spear through the throat (22.410)