more about the Traditions


Beacons For Tara




Here is the Itinerary-

Wed 31st Oct
8pm Lighting of the Beacons of Solidarity based on Ancient Custom.


and the 7th to be confirmed.
Just waiting to know who will be assigned to all. Co ordinating it takes a bit more time than actually having the idea. But it will BE :) I will be sure to let ye know when that has been achieved,

! Calling all Musicians Poets etc to join in, bring your instruments and raise it
up for Tara! ( NO Techno) We have amazing feedback-

Fire pedges recieved from Ireland,

Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Cork, kerry, Offaly, Leitrim, West Meath,
Kildare, Laois, Antrim, Armagh, Waterford, Wexford, Tipp, Monaghan,
Dublin, Meath
and Down, so far.


New Zealand, Canada, UK and Wales, Holland, Germany, Brazil,
USA- California,Colerado, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland,
Massachusetts,New jersy, New Mexico,New York, Pennsylvania, Texas,
Virginia and Washington.

We have even recieved support from one who can only light a candle on a tree stump- grateful!

So, any hill, a Beacon for Tara- go for it :)

Saturday 3rd Nov 6pm

Family event, Torchlit Procession to the Great Banqueting Hall led by
Pipers, Come in Costume ( supported by Macnas) entertainment by
Poets,Musicians including famous Harper Laoise Kelly and Fire Display
Artists. Bring food to share to both events as in times of old.

If you have an idea or would like to contribute please contact

Carmel 0876100771 Emma 0857147745


bog-oak sculpture by David Patton








Friday, October 27, 2006

In Search of Halloween: Myth and Reality


Halloween! It is still a time when ghosts and goblins walk. But once it was a rowdy time for letting loose, for marking the end of the fruitful year and the beginning of winter. A time to howl, to rage, to scream. To raise the dead and frighten the living long into the dark October night and beyond. A time for raising hackles and goose bumps. A time when the cemetery on the hill in every town or village became Mussorgsky's Bald Mountain.

Of all the holidays we observe today, none has a stranger history than Halloween. Yet its obscure past holds the meanings of its curious rites and customs. Called Halloween because it is the eve of All Hallows, or Hallowmass, this holiday marks the beginning of a solemn period in the religious calendar.

Celtic Beginnings
Halloween's roots are shrouded in the mists of history. Born in prehistoric new year observances in Ireland and Scotland, Halloween is about death and people's attempts to understand death and control it. Even today, during this holiday, we joke about death, mock it and fear it. In the Celtic calendar, the first day of the new year was celebrated around the first of November. The Celts called this holiday Samhain (pronounced "Sow-en"), meaning "summer's end."

Two chief characteristics of ancient Celtic Halloweens were the lighting of sacred bonfires and the belief that this was the one night in the year when ghosts wandered about. Interestingly, the festival finds parallels in the seasonal holidays of other cultures and religions, including the Jewish New Year and the autumn festival of Sukkoth. Halfway around the world in India, Hindus celebrate Divali, their five-day New Year holiday, at around the time of Halloween.

For rural dwellers, Samhain marked the beginning of the winter half of the year. Unharvested crops--corn, hay, potatoes, turnips, apples--had to be gathered and stored. Cattle and sheep had to be returned from distant pastures where they had been brought to fatten for the summer. Excess animals and those too weak to withstand the rigors of the hard days ahead were slaughtered. As in many other early cultures, Celtic society was highly structured. In addition to the Druids (the religious intelligentsia), the hierarchy consisted of a warrior aristocracy, outcast Fianna warriors, bards, brehons (lawyers), historians and other specialists, and landholders. Laborers, whether freeborn or slave, were at the bottom of the ladder. To make such a stratification of society tolerable, it was useful to have a time when order and structure were erased, and people could let off steam however briefly. Samhain, which lasted from October 31 to November 2, was such a period.

A Time of No Time
The Druids had a lunar calendar of 13 months of 28 days each, and one day to make 365, from which comes our expression "a year and a day." The day before the extra day was the last day of the old year; the day after was the first day of the new year. Samhain, the day between the years, thus was a special day--literally a time when time stood still. People could act foolishly. Men and women cross-dressed. House gates were unhinged and suspended in trees. Owners found their livestock in neighbors' fields.

Such mischief had a deeper meaning. The Druids believed that during these three days the veil between this world and that of their ancestors became thin. It was a magical time when the dead could revisit the living, and the future could be foretold through divination and prophecy. Rather than being feared, the departed were regarded not as the dead but as living spirits of loved ones. Sources of guidance and inspiration to be honored and feasted, they were seen as repositories of the ancient wisdom of the clan. The new moon (the time when the moon is virtually invisible) determined the timing of Samhain. During the dark of the moon, people believed it was easier to see into the other world.

Fire played an important role in Celtic life. Samhain was one of the four great "fire festivals" of the Celts. On this night all hearth fires in Ireland were extinguished. A new sacred fire was rekindled at Tlachtga, near Athboy in County Meath, 12 miles from the seat of the Irish kings at Tara. Runners bearing torches carried this new flame and relit hearths all over Ireland, symbolizing a fresh start for the new year. In Ireland and Scotland, Samhain was a night for traditional divination games about love or marriage and employing nuts or apples. People also went from house to house during Samhain asking for food and drink. Failure to provide them would result in practical jokes being played on the householder. One popular divination game, "bobbing for apples," called for young unmarried persons to try to bite into an apple floating in a tub of water or hanging from a string. The first person to bite into the apple would be the next person to marry.

Fairies--the "Sidhe" (pronounced "shee"), rather than witches and goblins--dominate Irish folklore. Although invisible, fairies are always about. Not as malevolent as witches, they can play tricks on mortals, although they sometimes are generous and helpful. One never throws dishwater or kitchen slops out of a house without first warning the fairies who might be passing and would resent being drenched.

Pope Boniface IV introduced All Saints Day in the seventh century to honor all the saints. First observed on May 13, it was moved to the first of November in the next century by Pope Gregory III in an effort to supplant Celtic pagan rites with the liturgy of the church. October 31 became All Hallows Eve; November 1, All Saints Day; November 2, All Souls Day, when prayers were to be said for souls in Purgatory. In spite of these formidable surrogates intended to displace the three-day period known as Samhain, the old pagan practices persisted.