Last October, Paranormal Haven posted this piece Heather and I (Christopher) had penned that described ‘Halloween’ through the eyes of some of our characters. I use the apostrophes because Halloween as we know it didn’t exist. Each character mentioned (Sitara, Marcus, Maire, and Julien) was from a different time and culture, so each one celebrated a different holiday during this time of year. Well, I thought I would brush the dust off that little bit of writing and re-post it. Now, discover how these four characters celebrated the October through November holidays when they were mortals.
नमस्ते Namastē Hello, I am Sitara, daughter of Nasid, who is Persian, and Devayani, who is Indian, and I am from Shiraz, Persia (565 CE), at least that is where my grandfather lived, although I spent so little time there. I wish to tell you a little about दीपावली Dīpāvalī, the Festival of Lights – part of a month-long festival commemorating the return of Lord Rama, along with Sita and Lakshmana, from his 14-year-long exile and his vanquishing of the demon-king Ravana – which my family and I would celebrate around the middle of October to the middle of November, even when we traveled to sell our wares.
Each day of the festival has its own name… for example, Dhanteras, NarakaChaturdasi, Amavasya, which is when Dīpāvalī occurs, Kartika Shudda Padyami, and Bhai Dooj… and on each day, we would celebrate one of our Gods or Goddesses triumphing over evil. I remember fondly my mother telling me the story on Naraka Chaturdasi of how Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama vanquished the demon Naraka. I miss my mother, my father, my brothers, and my sister. Still, I hold fond memories of our celebrations during Dīpāvalī.
On the night of Dīpāvalī, we would light small clay lamps filled with oil, place them around our tent, and leave them lit all night in order to help cleanse the tent and make the Goddess Lakshimi feel welcome. Mother would also insist that we clean our home each night and wear new clothes. One year, father had bought these strange, small roles of paper with string out one end, which he had procured from a trader far to the east. Sarid, one of my brothers, sneaked one of these… things… from my father and showed it to me. I urged him to put it back, but he insisted on trying to look inside it. So, Sarid held the object close to one of the lamps to see what the paper contained, but then the object caught fire. He tossed it away from the tent, and then it exploded in a burst of light and sound. My father and mother rushed over to see what had happened, but neither Sarid nor I were injured. My mother then took the remaining objects and soaked them in the water basin. Father never bought such trinkets again. The following Bhai Dooj, Sarid apologized for scaring me, and I forgave him.
Salve, I am Marcus Galerius Primus Helvetticus, ex Praetor of Gaul and ex general of the VII Legion under Gaius Julius Caesar during the end of the Roman Republic. While my senatorial-class family did not celebrate the holy days of the common plebs and slaves, as a tribunus laticlavius in the legions, I became fond of the Ludi Victoriae Sullanae, or the Victory Games of Sulla, in honor of the Goddess Victoria. The presiding legatus legionis would hold games where senior officers, centurions, and the lower ranks could fight one another in unarmed combat without fear of reprisal due to rank. Many of my men would challenge me, but most of those men would call pax, or truce, after a good fight. However, a few primi ordines managed to defeat me, and as a reward, I promoted them to primus pilus, or first-spear centurion.
I celebrated my favorite Ludi Victoriae Sullanae following the defeat of the Suebi in the Year of the Consulship of Piso and Gabinius (58 BCE), which is when Caesar himself promoted me to Praetor and bestowed upon me the victory agnomina of “Helvetticus” for my many victories against the Helvetti and the Suebi. He even chose me to fight him in single combat on the field of Victory… what a great honor. Of course, I let him win, but we fought like bulls over a cow in heat, until I lowered my guard a little, allowing him to strike my face. Still, it was a glorious day… one of my fondest memories from my mortal life.
Fó Día. I am Máire Ní Conghal, formerly chieftain of Béal Átha an Fheadha, and I would like to tell you about a special time of year for me and for others who follow the old ways… before the Roman Church came and told my ancestors they had to be Christians. My father the chieftain, before he was killed, my aunt Sive, my uncle Fergus, and many others had to practice our beliefs in secret, since the Church sought to “save” us from ourselves.
Between the end of Deirdreadh Fómhair (October) and the beginning of Mí na Samhna (November), we would sneak off to a druid grove, usually my aunt and uncle’s, to celebrate Samain (Samhain), the end of the harvest and of the lighter half of the year. We would camp out around the grove for several days and celebrate, day and night, or at least until we dropped from exhaustion or drink. We would light a bonfire in the middle of the grove and then dance around it to cleanse us, and the grove, of evil. We would also bring our cattle into the circle, walking them around the bonfire to rid them of maladies and evil spirits, and then cast the bones of slaughtered livestock into the flames.
Samain is a wonderful and magical time of year when the veil between this world and the Tir Na Nóg grows thin. We would invite our ancestors, the Tuatha de Danann, and the fae to join in our celebration. During one of these nights (551 CE), which I remember well, Seanán, a boy my father fostered, played a trick on me that caused me great embarrassment, but it turned out to be the spark to our relationship. At the ripe age of twelve winters, I was fast approaching the age where I could marry, but all of the boys were afraid of me. I was the girl who had not been kissed, since any boy who tried to kiss me against my will found himself with a bruised nose or bloody lip. You see, my father taught me to fight like a boy, and I would not let a boy kiss me who I felt unworthy… and none seemed worthy enough to me.
So, during this particular Samain night, Seanán said he saw a fae run into the woods, and he bade me to follow him, so I did. The trees were so thick that I could not see stars or the light of the moon, and I began to suspect that Seanán couldn’t see well either. Soon, however, I lost sight of him. When I turned around, I could not see my path back to the grove. The wind blew strong that night, and so the sounds of the celebration circled around, making it difficult for me to follow them home. So, here I stood, alone in a dark wood, when I felt something furry push me. At first, I thought it was a bear and I screamed, but I then turned to face the furry entity and realized it was Seanán, who wore fur mitts. I felt safe with him near me, so I hugged him. Then, without realizing it, I kissed him… or he kissed me… well, the moment was so breathtaking that who kissed who was but a trivial matter.
Anyhow, all would have been well with that evening, but then Seanán just had to tickle me. Little did I know that the adults by this point were already heading our way after my scream, so when Seanán started tickling me, he caused me to cackle and snort uncontrollably. When the adults arrived, Aidan of the Uí Briúin, one of the boys I beat up for trying to kiss me, accompanied them. Aidan pointed at me and yelled Banbh, which means little piglet, and started to laugh. Many of the adults laughed as well. Thus, it was a night of great embarrassment… the night I earned the nickname I have long tried to quash, but Marcus still manages to brave calling me that. However, despite the embarrassment, I fell in love with Seanán on that fateful Samain night, and Aidan lost another tooth to my fists.
Salve. I am Julien de Divio. As a mortal, I was formerly a homme d’armes of the gens d’armes (gendarme) and later Inspector General of the Gendarme of his Imperial Majesty Karl der Große (801 CE). Of course, long before that, I was the third son in a noble family, and I lived in our house in Vézelay with my brothers Reginald and Aldabert, my mother Heloise, and my twin sister Lirienne. My father died before I was born, so my eldest brother, Reginald, assumed the role of head of the household, although mother truly ran the home.
As adults, Reginald, the soldier, and Aldabert, the scholarly priest, would often leave from the spring through the end of autumn to serve their duties to Kingdom and Church, leaving mother, Lirienne, and I home alone with our servants for months on end. Of course, neither Reginald nor Aldabert were aware of our mother’s heretical beliefs, and their absence gave her the opportunity to hold Pagan ceremonies with other women of nobility.
For most ceremonies, mother forbade me from coming outside while the group of women, their daughters, and my sister performed rituals, but afterwards, mother always held a private ceremony with me, teaching me about my ancestors and those who once dwelled in these lands, as well as the beliefs both held. However, for Samonios, which occurs around the end of October through the beginning of November, mother would invite me to celebrate with them. It was not a celebration of my Frankish ancestors, but mother seemed to favor the beliefs of the Gauls over the conquering Franks. When I grew older, I understood why. This was their land, and they, the Gauls… or perhaps their ancestors… had built the grove and the circle of small stones within. Mother once confided in me that she had talked my… father… Gundovald into building a house here, near the grove and away from town, after she had discovered the overgrown grove on one of her forays into the countryside surrounding Vézelay. Ah, but I digress.
Returning to the subject of, Samonios, for three days and nights in the grove, we would drink, dance around a bonfire, and call to the spirit realm for them to join us. We would invite the Gods and Goddesses of the Gauls, the unseen creatures, and our ancestors to join us in our celebration. Mother had explained once that Samonios was very similar to what the ancient Irish celebrated… Samain, I believe, but it too became largely pushed out by the conquering Romans and their Church.
One Samain, my brothers came home unexpectedly and were shocked to see my mother, along with a group of women, girls, and me, dancing naked in the grove around the bonfire. While the women and girls dashed for their clothes and began hastily dressing, Aldabert wailed that all of us were inviting damnation on the Kingdom and that Satan held a special place for women who cavorted in the nude. Reginald launched into a tirade of how this embarrassment may cause the King to strip the family of its holdings for hosting such a blasphemous gathering. Mother asked everyone to wait while she calmly dragged Reginald and Aldabert to the house. After a few minutes, mother came back and told us to continue the ceremony… that everything had been taken care of.
Neither my brothers nor my mother ever spoke of this event to anyone… not even to me. While I do not know what she said, my mother must have put the fear of many Gods and Goddesses into their hearts, overwhelming their one.