Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Samhain Tidings

As a virtual ghost around here the last number of months, I decided to scratch out some sign that while perhaps not sentient, I am still alive and not boycotting the sweat and blood work of DJ!.  I thought perhaps today might be the most appropriate; plus I'm huddling in a corner over a hot rock.

I confess I retreated from participation in blogging because I was feeling extremely disappointed in myself for not being able to add more than the intermittent beep of 'me too' and deciding I needed to concentrate on my individual existence before I got too despondent at not being able to be persuasively constructive in a year that wore out good people fighting so long and so hard on unrelentingly grating societal chodery.  The fact Ms Fern and Ms DeBee can keep digging and monitoring and going is a testimony to their determination and durability.  I seem best suited to donating pennies to progressive causes and not being a bystander in my own circle.  First world problems, eh?

I will try to see if I can find anything out there to bring to the DJ! table, even if only as a publicizer of other hard work.

Speaking of geekery...(smoooooth segue)

In the ancient calendar of the Celtic cultures of Europe, in the days of the world before a fairly powerful variant of the now many splintered sects of Christians declared the world hadn't existed (neat trick that, mead and beer being around before the planet, but hey, priorities neh?), the harvest festival of Samhain (Sauwhen) was the start of the new year, marking the first/dark half of the next annual cycle of their world.  It was such an important cultural occasion, that when the new imperial religion of Rome rolled up to the northlands, even with full state backing, the church fathers couldn't stomp it out and instead opted for rewriting what it meant.

There are times it strikes me that the church fathers were the greatest wave of altverse fanfic writers *evah*. Their 'fanon' overtook original local canon and buried it time and again.  Of course, it always helps when the rewriters have the ability to punish anyone referencing 'original paradigm' material.  Who can blame them? It's extremely inconveniencing when someone brings up annoying and contradictory facts to the official narrative.

One can see this in action even today, made worse by video recording and internet expansion.  Theocratic and secular authoritarian venues, and their various blends, have to work harder to overcome exposure of their unevidenced stands.

There is one aspect of Samhain that was alluded to by DJ! a few days back.  In comment to that post, I think there is also revelation in wearing costumes and masks, something known from the days of human birth of imagination and 'civilized' by the Greeks in the dawn of theatre.

It's been well studied that we are visual animals focused on faces and tempers of our own kind.  It's been well studied that we are instinctively dependent on 'parental' authority to guide our decisional heuristics when we are children learning to survive.  We can carry the comforts of our externally defined roles into adulthood, unquestioned until we are pushed outside that comfort, until we see that what we decide, as individuals and groups, can be looked at anew with a simple shift of awareness.  To be aware that costumes and masks exist outside the bounds of the Globe theater and within the bounds of the globe.

To willingly wear a mask and costume, to alter a state of expectations, it can be terrifying and exhilarating, expanding and discovery.  That is the lesson of Samhain and Halloween's determinedly secular celebrations.  To unwillingly wear a mask of expectations defined by others, because they can't or won't accept the truth of you beneath the expectations, or the evidence of harm such expectations levy, that also is a lesson of Halloween.

To all those privileged and at peace this holiday, masked and unmasked, bind together in the universal power of this end to harvest and the dark start of a new year.

Candy! Chocolate! Candy!


deBeauxOs said...

What a spectacular return to live blogging, Niles!

Evidently, rumours of your demise were exaggerated.

Beijing York said...

Welcome back, Niles! I often feel like a member of the virtual peanut gallery :-)

Anonymous said...

Our Samhain this year was a three day affair....first a public costume party with no religious content (unless one counts tarot card readings), to explore the bit of wildness of masks and costumes; then the usual annual rites at the Labyrinth for the men and women killed at war in the last years on the next night; and finally the family rites of recognition of the last year's struggles and triumphs and plans for the coming years building.

fern hill said...

Yay! Niles is back!

JJ said...

NILES! :) :) :)

deBeauxOs said...

Niles, are you on Twitter?

You should be.

Niles said...

I ain't gotta klew how thet newfangled tweeter palaver works no how

JJ said...

Aw come on Niles, if an Old Fart like me could figure it out then surely you can.

Don't be shy! The Twittersphere needs you :D :p

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