Samhain/Halloween

Samhain, pronounced SAH-win, (Irish for ‘Summer’s End’) is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. Traditionally, it is celebrated from 31 October to 1 November, as the Celtic day began and ended at sunset. Samhain is about halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. At this time of the year, the veil between the worlds is thin. Like indigenous shamans all over the world, Celtic druids and seers were believed to enter the darkness to contact the spirits who dwelled in the hidden realms and brought back wisdom for their people.

Two hills in the Boyne Valley were associated with Samhain in Celtic Ireland, Tlachtga and Tara. Tlachtga was the location of the Great Fire Festival which begun on the eve of Samhain (Halloween). Tara was also associated with Samhain, however it was secondary to Tlachtga in this respect. The entrance passage to the Mound of the Hostages on the Hill of Tara is aligned with the rising sun around Samhain. The Mound of the Hostages is 4,500 to 5000 years old, suggesting that Samhain was celebrated long before the first Celts arrived in Ireland about 2,500 years ago.

Mound of Hostages

According to Wikipedia, Samhain is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and many important events in Irish mythology happen or begin on Samhain. It was the time when cattle were brought back down from the summer pastures and when livestock were slaughtered for the winter. Samhain was seen as a liminal time, when the boundary between this world and the Otherworld could more easily be crossed. This meant the ‘spirits’ or ‘fairies’, could more easily come into our world. It was believed that the fairies needed to be appeased to ensure that the people and their livestock survived the winter. Offerings of food and drink were left outside for them. The souls of the dead were also thought to revisit their homes seeking hospitality. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them. Mumming and guising were part of the festival, and involved people going door-to-door in costume (or in disguise), often reciting verses in exchange for food. The costumes may have been a way of imitating, and disguising oneself from, the fairies.

In the 9th century, Western Christianity shifted the date of All Saints’ Day to 1 November, while 2 November later became All Souls’ Day. Over time, Samhain and All Saints’/All Souls’ merged to create the modern Halloween. Historians have used the name ‘Samhain’ to refer to Gaelic ‘Halloween’ customs up until the 19th century.

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Reluctant Paladin Published on October 3, 2017

All Niall wants is to stay out of trouble at his new school, but Thorin, the school bully, has other ideas. Niall’s grandfather recruits him to help care for Grayson, a tortured dragonet. Niall bonds with Grayson and swears his allegiance to the Tuatha dragon clan. When the bully discovers Niall’s secret dragon scale pendant, he confronts the bully in order to protect a centuries old secret—dragons really do exist!

“Compelling characters in an imaginative setting with lots of excitement and adventure. I loved every page!”—Penny Warner, author of THE CODE BUSTERS CLUB series.

Now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and bookstores everywhere.

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Sneak Peek Reluctant Paladin Cover

Here is a sneak peek of the front cover of my middle-grade spinoff novel, Reluctant Paladin. I am in the final round of proofreading, then plan to publish by October 1.

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Reluctant Paladin is nearing publication

One final pass of editing on my middle-grade novel, Reluctant Paladin while awaiting cover art. This novel is a spin-off from my first fantasy novel, The Keepers of Éire. Reluctant Paladin is a coming of age story that blends modern-day fantasy/adventure with the emotional upheaval of dealing with bullies. Here is my back cover blurb, as of now:
 
All Niall wants is to stay out of trouble at his new school, but Thorin, the school bully, has other ideas. When Niall comes home sporting bruises and asking for money, his grandfather’s suspicions grow, but Niall won’t open up about his troubles. To gain Niall’s trust, his grandfather recruits him to help care for Grayson, a newborn, wingless dragonet—himself a victim of cruelty and prejudice. Niall bonds with the dragonet and swears his allegiance to the Tuatha Dragon Clan. Now he must keep the dragon clan a secret.
 
Thorin struggles to care for his six younger siblings while dealing with the death of his mother and the fallout brought on by his father’s grief. Too young to shoulder the burden, he grows more desperate as his father’s destructive behavior puts the family in jeopardy.
 
Niall endures the taunts and physical harassment until Thorin discovers Niall’s unique pendant. Then he is forced to do what is right: stand up to his fears and confront the bully in order to protect a centuries old secret—dragons really do exist!
 
What do you think? Does this make you want to read the book?
Here I am with my muse, Grayson:20140730-232510-84310383.jpg

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The Celtic Festival of Beltaine

The Celtic Festival of Beltaine which marks the beginning of summer in the ancient Celtic calendar is a Cross Quarter Day, half way between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. While the Beltaine Festival is now associated with May 1st, the actual astronomical date is a number of days later. The festival was marked with the lighting of bonfires and the movement of animals to summer pastures.

In Irish mythology, the beginning of the summer season started with the Fire Festival at Beltaine. Great bonfires would mark a time of purification and transition, heralding in the season in the hope of a good harvest later in the year, and were accompanied with rituals to protect the people from any harm by otherworldly spirits.

In my novel, The Keepers of Éire, the Tuatha dragon clan members renew their sworn oath to protect the land and its inhabitants, and rejuvenate the dragons’ magic by reciting the clan motto: Ni neart go cur le cheile (There is no strength without unity) and flying over the ley lines at the Beltaine Fire Festival on the Hill of Tara. Also, my two protagonists, Christian and Devan, officially pair up with their dragons (Roarke and Dochas, respectively) in a Chosen Ceremony, and end with both humans in great peril. To find out how the story ends, check out The Keepers of Éire.

May you enjoy Beltaine with this image from http://www.irelandcalling.ie

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St. Patrick’s Day Special

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Want to celebrate “being Irish”, even if you’re only Irish for one day? Would you like to get a taste of Éire, but can’t afford the travel expenses?The Keepers of Éire

My debut fantasy novels, The Keepers of Éire  and The Keepers of Éire-YA Edition are set in modern-day Ireland and feature an American woman and an Irishman searching for their destinies and a way to stop a dragon killer. Readers will be transported to the lush, rolling hills, spectacular stone circles, and bustling cities of Ireland. In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, I am offering both Kindle e-books at reduced pricing for one week starting Thursday (3/16). Visit here to get your copy.

Enjoy the read. Let your imagination take flight! Sláinte!

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YA Edition of The Keepers of Éire Now Available

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News Flash:

I have just released a YA (Young Adult) Edition of my first novel, The Keepers of Éire. Same great story, just without the more adult scenes. Print version is now available on Amazon here. The ebook edition will be available shortly.

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