Tag Archives: guising

Wands, Broomsticks and Dragons

I don’t like Halloween!Samhain

(There I said it)

Possibly because, scary masks completely freak me out (I went to see one of the Nightmare on Elm Street films years ago (and yes, I know it’s tame compared to the vileness that we see these days) but it still scared the heebie-jeebies out of me to the extent I had to sleep with the light on, and have my giant teddy bear in the bed with me – and yes, I was over 18!!)

But also because where I live we have had some trouble in the past with ‘charming young people’ (note, the hint of sarcasm) terrorising the neighbourhood, vandalising property and so on. (I know, and in the ‘burbs as well!)

These days it’s lights off and pretend not to be home.

And finally, because gruesomeness seems to have taken over a seemingly innocent ancient festival.

On Halloween, I took SC to a Samhain festival, from which Halloween has its origins.

Samhain is the Celtic festival held on the 31st October, which marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter – which some people say also marked the start of the Celtic New Year.

Like Beltane (held on May Day) it is a time when spirits and souls of the dead can move from the otherworld to this one – and where Halloween has taken off is from the ‘guising’ part of the festival where people went from door-to-door in costume reciting verse in return for food.

But I digress.

Since this is the one day in the year when creatures can move between worlds we had to help protect a village from a fierce dragon who had come from the other world, and send him packing.

This involved making wands from willow. As someone who would like to be more ‘crafty’ than she is I surprised myself with my wand-making abilities, although I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be suitable for any student at Hogwarts!

We (SC & I) were shown how to shape the willow and fix it so we had a wand with a ‘sort-of’ star-shaped top. Then we got to decorate it with wool (they didn’t have sequins in those days!) – although there was some very ‘Celtic’ sparkly, luminescent curly wire. I must admit I went for the sparkle darlings! Ashamed? Nope – sparkle is essential! 😉

Then we had to make a broomstick to  shake at the naughty pixies and goblins to send them packing.

We had a good stab at it – but I don’t think it’s very good for flying. I made the handle too short and quite frankly it would not be sturdy enough to take a fairy, let alone me! Shame, because I quite fancied pretending to be a witch with a cat “and a very tall hat, and long ginger hair which she wore in a plait….as they sat on their broomstick and flew through the wind” – so there is definitely not room on the broom for me!!

Think I’ll just buy myself a proper broomstick – if nothing else it will help clear all the leaves that have dropped in the garden – which is amazing since we don’t have any trees!

We left worries and wishes in the Celtic chief’s cauldron, followed dragon footprints round the woods to his den, and then went through the haunted forest, where the high wizard gave a magical protection spell to give us safe passage.

At the end of the day we followed the torches through the forest, banging the drums as we went and watched the “Chief” send a flaming arrow into the Wicker Man, over which were scattered our worries and wishes, to welcome in the Winter.

Definitely nothing pagan about it (as some people are led to believe – that, from what I understand, is just the ‘spin’ the early church gave it – so ‘spinning’ is not a new thing!) There was no devil worshipping or sacrificing anything at any altar.

We had the most amazing time – and, more importantly heaps of fun 😉

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