Monday, October 31, 2016
Samhain, or festival of the Dead, means Summer's end. It is a celebration of the end of the harvest and the start of the coldest half of the year. It is also the beginning of the spiritual new year. And perhaps the one marker of the year which resonates with me most.
Time, as we mark it now, is an illusion upon which we agree for the sake of the smooth running of the cultural world as we know it. It was first needed in a formal state for navigation of ships. To determine longitude and latitude you needed a compass and time. Universal time. Greenwich Mean Time and time zones. And Daylight Savings Time proves it is a fairy tale. But agreement in that story told by idiots allows planes to take off and land continents away per a schedule.
The Universe, however, goes by its own schedule, which we are told slips and slides some. Adjusting to those variances causes calendar adjustments now and then. Most recently to the Gregorian Calendar introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. It was a correction to the previously used Julian Calendar. It was originally undertaken not to correct for a 0.0002% error which resulted in an 11 minute annual error to the the solar year but to keep Easter near the Spring Equinox.
In 1852 you went to bed on the evening of September 2nd and woke up on the morning of September 14th. People rioted in the streets because of those lost days of their lives. And while this historic deletion of eleven days on the calendar was done for the sake of Christian holidays it cemented the concept of time per astronomical events followed in many pagan or earth beliefs. There is now talk of another adjustment to modern marking of time. The earth has slowed in its rotation and orbit. Even the Boxing Day Tsunami reportedly effected time by minute amounts.
So to single out tomorrow as the end of Summer and the beginning of the coldest part of the year is abstract at best. We are prone today to call Winter Solstice as the beginning of winter but some say it is now the middle of winter really. Samhain as the beginning of the spiritual year is as true as Lady's Day being the beginning of the Catholic New Year before the Gregorian Calendar.