I wrote this poem last year as a welcome to Samhain as well as to the rain.
Samhain (SA-win) is an ancient Irish festival, a precursor to today’s Halloween.
The ancient Irish regarded the 24 hours from sunset October 31st to sunset November 1st as the beginning of the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the dark half of the year (a day was seen as beginning at sunset among the Celts of the British Islands). It was regarded as the one time of the year when the spirits of the dead could return to earth; the boundary between the world of the living and the world of the dead was not clearly defined at this time and thus the dead and the living could easily cross from one world to the other.
As the spirits of dead enemies could return just as easily as the spirits of dead family and friends, offerings of food and drink were left out to placate them; feasts were held, and places set for the dead. Donning costumes or disguises to avoid said enemy spirits became a ritual of going door-to-door and reciting verses in exchange for food.
Bonfires (which had cleansing and protective powers), divination rituals (such as predicting who would be next to marry), and games were a major part of the festival and often involved nuts and apples, which were delicacies as well as highly important symbolically.
I keep hoping that the spirits of those whom I have lost in the last fifteen years will make their presence known to me, somehow!
|Fàilte dhan dh’Fhrasachd na h-Oidhche Shamhna||Hail to the Rain of Samhain Night|
Tha ‘n frasachd air ar ruidheachd ‘nis, mu dheireadh The rain has reached us now, at long
Thall, thig a’ chobhair Mhanannan dhuinn, ‘na thràth Last, the favor of Manannan comes to us, in time
Airson na h-Oidhche-Shamhna, leis na anman For the Night of Samhain, with the souls
Nam marbh ri teachd… Of the dead to come…
Cho fionnar ‘s ùr ‘tha h-uile fo’n so-bholadh So cool and fresh that everything is under the fragrance
Na frasachd phrìseil, tiodhlac iongantach deas Of the precious rain, a wonderous gift ready
Mus am Fèill Shamhna, ‘chur ‘nar cuimhne nach eil Before Samhain, to remind us that it is not
A’ chrìoch na Beatha… The end of Life…
‘Nis, fad ‘s gun leighis mi gum bi deas mise Now, as I heal may ready I be
Airson na spioradan nam marbh, caraid For the spirits of the dead, friend
No nàmhaid, is gun aithnich sinn, mi iad Or foe, and may I, we recognize them
‘San oidhch’ seo ‘n iongnaidh… In this night of wonder…
A-nochd, tha fosgailte na bratan eadar Tonight, the curtains are opened between
Na saoghlan fad ‘s gun crìochnaich bliadhn’ eile The worlds as another year ends
‘S gun tòisich bliadhn’ eile, ‘s itealaichidh And another year begins, and the lights
Na soillsean anman… Of souls fly…
A Bhrìghde, Dhian Cecht, gun leighis Sibhse O Brigid, Dian Cecht, may You heal
Ar Màthair, Danu, is a h-uile dhinn anns Our Mother, Danu, and all of us in the
A’ bhliadhna ri teachd, ged brodaidh fhathast Year to come, although the Morrigan
A’ Mhorrìgan sinn… Provokes us yet…
Le ur toil, ‘mhuinntir ghràdhaich, tillibh dhuinn, dhomh If you please, beloved ones, return to us, to me
No seallaibh dhuinn ur làthaireachd, Sheanmhairean, Or make your presence known to us, Grandmothers,
Sheanairean, is ur bràithrean ‘s peathraichean, Sheoc, Grandfathers, and your brothers and sisters, Jack,
‘S a bheathaichean ghràidh…! And beloved animals…!
‘San tràth seo na mòr-thiormachd is mì-chinnte, In this time of terrible drought and uncertainty,
Gun aithnich mi na h-anman sin mo mhuinntir, May I recognize the spirits of my people,
Gun aithnich sinn a’ chobhair Bhrìghde, Àine, May we know the favor of Brigid, of Àine,
Gun leighis uile… May all heal…