“Men say that in this midnight hour,
The disembodied have power
To wander as it liketh them,
By wizard oak and fairy stream.” ~ William Motherwell, from “Moonlight and Moonshine”
How was your Nos Calan Gaeaf (or Halloween, or Hallow’s Eve)? Centuries ago Nos Calan (or Galan) Gaeaf was an Ysbrydnos, or spirit night.
Mine was slow, only a dozen or so kiddies out and about in my neighborhood, no evil spirits. Olivia was adorable in her ladybug costume. She seemed to want to keep her candy pumpkin empty, however. Alexis brought her by at the end of the evening, so they were both tired.
Wonder how many of those who were out realized their guising was an ancient tradition? Anyway . . .
A comment by Leah in NC referencing my 10/30 post led me to search for a bit more on the Black Sow and other Samhain traditions. Here is what I found:
In Wales, 1 November, the first day of winter, was called Calan Gaeaf. Much of the frightful aspect that we associate with Halloween arose from Galan Gaeaf traditions. The image of Y Hwch Ddu Gwta, a black sow without a tail, accompanied by a headless woman, that would together roam the countryside, terrified everyone on Galan Gaeaf when the best place to be was inside your house in front of a roaring fire. The tradition of Coelcerth involved building fires and placing name stones:
From Lunatic Outpost: “Home, home, let each try to be first. May the tail-less black sow take the hindmost” (Celtic chant for Samhain)
Before dawn, huge bonfires were lit on the hillsides, often two or three within sight of each other. It was a great honor to have your bonfire burn longest and great pains were taken to keep them alight. While apples and potatoes were thrown into the fires for roasting, the watchers would dance around or leap through the flames for good luck. Stones were thrown into the fire; then, when the flames died down, everyone would run for home to escape the clutches of the Hwch ddu gwta. The next morning, at daybreak, searchers would try to find their stones. Those who succeeded would be guaranteed good luck for the coming year. If you could not find your stone, then bad luck or even death would follow.
And here is more on hazelnuts: “Hazel nuts were also used in matrimonial divination. Two groups of “Sweetheart” hazel nuts were placed within the hearth fire; one group was marked with the names of the village’s eligible maidens, and the other with the eligible bachelors. As the nuts popped, the names of the pairs were romantically linked. On a more somber note, people sometimes placed a hazelnut with their initials on them in the hearth fire. If the nuts were missing the next morning, the unlucky person would not survive the year. Hazel is a sacred tree in Irish and Scottish mythology. In Ireland, nine hazel trees grew around the Well of Segais, where the sacred Salmon lived. This was the source of all wisdom. Using hazel nuts at Samhain availed seers of that sacred wisdom.”
Now on to Friday leftovers . . .
I dare you not to smile . . .
Look what’s coming in November . . .
Remember when people used chalk?
Perspective in time: NASA engineers prepare a PowerPoint slide in 1961.
And finally, a wonderful smack down of Kanye of the West from French bakers (as posted on Today Entertainment):
Regarding Croissants in “I am a God”
Association of French Bakers
900 Rue Vielle du Temple
To Monsieur Kanye West:
Congratulations on the birth of your daughter, Nord! This is a truly auspicious time for you — and so it is with great sadness that we must lodge a formal complaint against the song “I am a God” from your new album “Yeezus.”
Our organization represents bakers across France, many of whom have taken great offense at this particular rhyming couplet:
In a French-ass restaurant
Hurry up with my damn croissants
Assuming you, as a man of means, dine exclusively at high-end restaurants and boulangeries during your voyages to Paris, it could not be possible that the delay of your “damn” croissants originated from slow service. And certainly, you are not a man to be satisfied with pre-made croissants from the baked goods case reheated and tossed out on a small platter. No — you had demanded your croissants freshly baked, to be delivered to your table straight out of the oven piping hot.
And it was with great joy you ordered croissants — not crêpes or brioches — because only croissants can proudly claim that exquisite combination of flaky crust and a succulent center. The croissant is dignified — not vulgar like a piece of toast, simply popped into a mechanical device to be browned. No — the croissant is born of tender care and craftsmanship. Bakers must carefully layer the dough, paint on perfect proportions of butter, and then roll and fold this trembling croissant embryo with the precision of a Japanese origami master.
This process, as you can understand, takes much time. And we implore the patience of all those who order croissants. You may be familiar with the famous French expression, “A great croissant is worth waiting a lifetime for.” We know you are a busy man, M. West, but we believe that your patience for croissants will always be rewarded.
We could easily let this water pass under the bridge, as they say, but we take your lyrics very seriously. From the other lines in the song, we have come to understand that you may in fact be a “God.” Yet if this were the case — and we, of course, take you at your word — we wonder why you do not more frequently employ your omnipotence to change time and space to better suit your own personal whims. For us mere mortals, we must wait the time required for the croissant to come to perfect fruition, but as a deity, you can surely alter the bread’s molecular structure faster than the speed of light, no? And with your omniscience, perhaps you have something to teach us about the perfect croissant. We await your guidance and insights.
We appreciate your continued patronage of French culture. (Your frequent references to menage perhaps speak an interest in the structure of the French household?) We hope from the deepest recesses of our hearts, however, that in the future you give croissants the time they need to fully mature before you partake. With that, we say, adieu. And our member Louis Malpass from Le Havre wants you to know that he loves “Black Skinhead.”
Association of French Bakers
- Samhain: Halloween’s Predecessor (camulusgreenheart.wordpress.com)
- November 1 is the Celtic feast of Samhain (rjegrad.wordpress.com)