As you may be well aware, tomorrow is that most holy and ancient holiday of the Celtic calendar – Samhain.
While our modern technology tells us what time it is, and that such-and-such is the date, to our ancestors, the time was known by the slant of Sun, the Moon and stars, the activities of birds and animals, the rise and fall of crops. They knew by scent, touch, sound, sight, and a feeling in the bones.
All this season is the time of the final harvest, and we now cross the threshold of the cross-quarter between Autumn Equinox and the stillness and deep night of Winter Solstice. Throughout this season, the whisper of the Mighty Dead grows closer to us, and the ancient ones call out in our dreams and our hearts.
This is a day to pause and reflect, for on this day in 1985, the American House and Senate dropped the “Helms amendment,” which would have barred the IRS from granting tax-exempt status to groups that promote Witchcraft.
I wonder if we could have gotten that amendment dropped in today’s political climate.
And on this day in 1998, the Vatican took responsibility for the Inquisition and apologized to the Jews for one of the most monstrous eras in human history. (They have never yet apologized to Witches or Pagans).
At Samhain especially, we remember all the millions of men, women and children who were robbed, tortured, and murdered in the name of Jesus Christ.
Most were not practicing anything resembling Witchcraft, but had status or owned property that others wished to acquire. Or else they were midwives, healers, and the most grievous crime of all – old, alone, and female.
As my friend Lynn Hayes posts today, “The women that some now call ‘Witches’ were the wise women – the ones who understood the mysteries of the stars, the ones with an affinity to the healing powers of plants…the ones who helped to heal the sick and comfort the wounded. The ones whose power came directly from nature and bypassed the power structures of the Church and were therefore dangerous.
“’History is written by the winners,’ and therefore most of us were never told these tales of the brave and wise women and men that were healers of souls and teachers of the spirit.
“Instead, we were fed stories of evil Witches and devil-worshipping Pagans that were meant to frighten the masses into toeing the line of the political and religious establishment.”
Make no mistake. Those powers are still sniffing around and would be very happy to shut down your local metaphysical store, and ban your rituals, and send you to prison or worse if your beliefs conflict with theirs.
Let us never forget The Burning Times. Today, on the eve of Samhain, let us remember those who perished during those centuries of terror and slaughter. And if you claim the heritage of Witch, if you dare, reveal who you are, to show we will never again be isolated, demonized, or have our power as citizens stolen.
Most of all, regardless of your spiritual faith, let us all honor those who perished by vowing to stop the creeping fundamentalist bigotry and tyranny that grows, even now, in our own halls of government today.