Cylch Blodeuwedd

Druidic Grove in North-West Wales

Notes on Calan Gaeaf

by gillian - October 4th, 2012.
Filed under: Wheel of the Year. Tagged as: .

The Calends of Winter

Samhain: “summer’s end”

Unique opportunity to reflect on previous year, it’s gifts and tribulations, for we have much to be grateful for, it having been filled with experiences that enrich the spirit, however seemingly positive or negative. It allows us the unique opportunity to honour those experiences and integrate them into our development.

A time to take stock of what has come to fruition over the past year; of what has ended – what is good and bad about it – and learn from both.

A time to settle debts.

A time to make a final reckoning of what has been lost. To honour and give thanks for the time that has been shared. To make final goodbyes so that both the living and the dead can move on in their respective worlds.

The Earth Energies in the guise of the Crone move across the land, stripping it to it’s bare bones, harrowing the ground in readiness for what will come. For before birth must come death, before light must come darkness, before movement must come stillness.

This festival coincides with the end of the agricultural year; the last of the crops brought in (usually apples), and the slaughter of the animals before winter. Celtic legend has it that the crops must be harvested and brought in by this day since anything left out in the fields belongs to the cailleach. She is the Hag/Crone embodied in the last sheaf of grain that sickle-bearing reapers ritually severed from the earth and preserved inside the cottage until the next planting. (Therefore capturing the spirit until the time came to release it back out the following spring, rejuvenated and re-energised as the young vigorous Maiden.)

Although this time celebrates the end of the agricultural cycle, the end of the cycle is not death itself (that should be more the focus of the harvest at Lammas and the Autumn Equinox), it celebrates the state of being dead. Calan Gaeaf is not a celebration of death but about the dead.

The Wild Hunt with the Hounds of Annwn (hell/underworld) collect up the souls of those departed in the previous twelve months and take them through the gates into the Underworld – down into Cerridwen’s cauldron.

This is the time when the veils which separate the worlds grow thin; when the physical realm and other levels of existence draw closer and intermix.

This also includes elemental and fairy involvement as well as interference from astral levels which naturally leads to lots of chaos and mischief! At this time these spirits were able to approach humanity and ask for gifts. People dressed up as “spirits” to hid from the real wandering spirits and fool them into thinking they were not mortal/human, also knocking on doors and demanding favours. (One origin of trick or treating).

In Wales the tailless black sow Hwch Ddu Gwta rules at this time, connected with styles and other structures which define a boundary or crossing – and persues those who dare to be out of doors on this night.

Nos Calan Gaeaf is the “night between nights” – the perilous border between realities – and the

black sow occupies a similar state, never actually seen, only in shadows, guarding syles, bridges, stepping stones… those liminal places of magic and enchantment, neither on the ground, in water or in air. She is the guardian of the great cauldron that lies within the halls of the Goddess and the vehicle that provides the only means of getting there – death. She is now seen as synonymous with Cerridwen, but there is no real evidence for this – she is one of the dark goddesses in her right.

At Calan Gaeaf we have a magical death of time itself – the season of consulting the dead – and is among the most primitive ceremonies know to humanity.. Those who have passed over can return and we can ask for guidance, comfort and even prophesy.

Those in this world can look into the depths of timelessness itself.

In Brief:

  1. A time of endings and settling up.

  2. A time to give thanks and true appreciation for all that the previous year has brought you.

  3. A time to honour the recent dead and let them go.

  4. A time to remember and honour those long gone, especially your own ancestors or those of particular importance and significance to you.

  5. A time to prepare for and begin your own personal regeneration.

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