Saturday, October 30, 2010

Chapter 7--- All Hallow's Part 1


Dear Ms. Q,

No matter what it’s called it really is the end of the year, the true end of the cycle of quietude, rebirth, growth, and harvesting back to quietude and to give thanks. That is what a real witch’s year is all about.

Unfortunately with the type of work that people do now a days it’s hard to follow that type of year. Many jobs are now so go-go-go, but if you do not stop to listen and feel the witches year, you will lose contact with all of nature and all that is natural.

Now my Granny was of Portuguese decent, and when she grew up kids did not go around in costumes at night---back then there was no street lighting, but because of the Christian influence in Portugal some things changed and in the major cities of Portugal there appears to be some sort of celebration with the children for Halloween, a celebration that “immigrated” to Portugal.

Originally the idea of honoring the dead was done on the eve of April 30, what they would call Dia Das Bruxas or Day of the Witches, with May 1 being All Saints day, which was to celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of summer. It in the Old Catholic Calendar it was the original All Saints Day, but the Catholic Church in the 6th century transferred it to co-inside with the Celtic Samhain.

Back in my Granny’s day, the celebration focused on Nov 1 All Saints day, and both Portugal and Kauai being warmish countries, it would not be uncomfortable to go to the cemeteries and spend the day “visiting” those family members who were buried there, usually after going to Mass, then there would a Festa or Celebration as this was a Holiday that would stand on it’s own. In small villages during the day little children not in costume would go door to door and ask “Doce ou Travessura” (Sweets or Tricks), some parts of Portugal would call it getting "God's Bread" and what the children would get would be small little cakes, nuts, apples, candy was not heard of and if it did exist was the property of the very rich.

When Granny came here to the United States she saw what the focus was for Halloween, still being a witch in the Catholic tradition she and her mother felt comfortable expanding the ritual, since going to the Cemetery here would be a very cold and chilly experience.

She saw how on Oct 31 it was a night for children, the church still celebrated All Saints and All Souls day (Nov 1 and 2 respectively) so she saw how a ritual could encompass everything.

She knew it was important to remember the dead, the ancestors if you will, so since many times it might rain on All Souls Day and there was always the fear of coming down with a cold paying a visit to clean the headstones and graves at the cemetery, she created an Altar, much like the Hispanic population create a Day of the Dead altar, she didn’t realize that she was duplicating a Hispanic tradition but it felt right,

On Halloween night just before midnight she would place a row of candles at the bottom of the steps of the front of the house one on each step, leading right up to the front door, she’d have the door open and the lights on and then she would light the candles starting at the bottom and invite first all the children who had passed away into spirit, then the adults, and then the angles and Saints to partake of the food offerings that were on the ancestor Altar, she at first used white candles with a dark or black ribbon tied around them, sometimes she would buy some ribbon and dye it black, later when they started making black ribbon and black candles she would use these.

At dinner and at the All Souls Day feast she would have a plate set aside and filled with the foods for the spirits of the departed to partake of and a small bowl of candies, M and M’s always worked well.

On All Souls day, at midnight between Nov 2 and 3, Granny then would put out candles but this time they would be white, from the front door to the bottom of the steps to lead down to the side walk, and they would be lit, Granny then would walk through the entire house with a lit white candle, and all the house lights would be out, and ask all the spirits of the family members visiting that it was time to leave and to follow her, she then went to the first candle at the front door and lit it, then down the steps lighting each successive candle and at each candle she would thank the spirits for visiting and for them to follow the light back to Heaven.

Now this could be hard if it was raining but usually the candles at the front door and on the porch leading to the top two steps were usually dry and it would be just enough to do the ritual. This had to be done by midnight so that by the 12 chiming of the clock all the spirits needed to leave, Prayers were then said for the repose of those spirits, and then the candles were snuffed out starting at the door and going down the steps,

Granny also made sure that the lights inside the house were out so that the only light would be from the candles. So the spirits had to follow the light out. So it would be black candles to invite them in and white candles to have them leave.

Now this is what Granny would do, there is much more that I will have in another part of this Chapter.

Your Assignment…. for Halloween….Have Fun! Be safe. Then on All Souls Day, say prayers for those family members and Friends who have passed on into spirit, give something to Charity. Study the weather see what the season around you is like, and see that it is the end of the Harvest season and now is a season of Thanks.

Blessings, Ms. Q.

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