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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Autumn Fair - Fall Beliefs and Traditions


WildTaltos
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Fall has arrived for many people living in the northern hemisphere, and with it comes the beginning of the festive season. Days of thanks-giving and feasting, parades and processions of often obscure symbolism, and even ominous and dark festivals such as "Halloween" characterise the season, with many fascinating beliefs besides regarding the changes of the seasons seen, from animal behaviour to the falling of leaves. Though many are celebrated as an enjoyable day to take off work and get together with family, in traditional agrarian communities, these festivals are centred around the collection of the harvest, an event that often brings much of the community together to celebrate or help.

 

In this discussion, we would like to hear about:

 

What sort of holidays, traditions, or festivals you participate at this time of the year or which you know of but may not participate personally in?

 

Do you have any personal beliefs, superstitions, or stories significant to you regarding the events of Fall?

 

Share and discuss them as well! 

Edited by WildTaltos
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My mom is German and when we were growing up we participated in Fasching but I don't really remember anything about it. I just remember we looked forward to it every year.  And, of course, Halloween, but that was for the candy! LOL!

 

My favorite Fall/Autumn holiday/tradition is Thanksgiving with my family.  The focus is on family and not on gifts, which I really treasure.  I usually make a slow-cook turkey, squash casserole and garlic-cheese biscuits and my mom and dad make the mashed potatoes and gravy. I've made homemade cranberry sauce, as well, but my sister prefers the canned stuff that's more like jello.   :blink:  :wacko:  Oh, and she usually makes green bean casserole.  And let's not forget the pumpkin pie! With lots of homemade whipped cream . . . Okay, now I'm craving pumpkin pie with whipped cream . . . 

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Thanksgiving is my favorite. I normally do the cooking for thanksgiving and this is the only time that I will kick my husband out of the kitchen and do everything myself. Then all the family comes over and we eat till we are stuffed, watch some football, maybe take a nap and just generally enjoy time we don't normally get as a family. 

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  • Club Leader

In our house, we enjoy Thanksgiving as well. We enjoy the family time, but with all our work schedules, it can be hard to find a time to all be together. Sometimes, it just has to be a different day. 

 

And I adore Halloween! I don't have anyone to take Trick-or-Treating this year, but we are going to a party that promises to be epic. 

 

And then, my group of pagan friends are having an Ancestors Ritual early in November, while the veil is still thin. 

Edited by LilyElizabeth
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First off, I want to join some Pagans for something.

 

I celebrate this:

 

sukkot.jpg

 

This year it begins the evening of Sunday, October 16th and ends the evening of October 23.

 

The word Sukkot means "booths" and refers to the temporary dwellings we lived in during the 40n years of wandering in the desert and we give thanks for the fall harvest. Sukkot is also known as "The Season of our Rejoicing," and "Festival of the Ingathering."

 

Customs:

 

Sukkah: The sukkah symbolizes the frail huts in which the Israelites lived during their 40 years of wandering in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt. It also serves to remind Jews of the biblical account of how God protected them, provided for their needs in the wilderness, and by implication, still watches over us today.

Sukkot come in many variations, but there are some guidelines to follow when building them. Two important ones are:

  • sukkah has to have at least three walls. Only one can be an existing wall, like the side of a house. The walls may be constructed of any material, generally canvas, wood or metal. Today, it is possible to buy ready-to-assemble sukkah kits.
  • The roof is to be temporary, covered with loose branches from trees or anything that grows out of the ground, and has been cut off from the ground. According to tradition, this roof covering, s’chach, should give shade and yet allow those in the sukkah to see the stars through the roof at night.

Once the sukkah is built, it is common to decorate it by hanging fruit and decorations.

Lulav and Etrog: Sukkot celebrates the fall harvest, expressed by blessing and waving the lulav and the etrog, symbols of the harvest; by building and decorating a sukkah; and by extending hospitality to friends and family.

The lulav is a combination of date palm, willow and myrtle branches, held together by a woven palm branch. The etrog, or citron, is a lemon-like fruit with a wonderful citrus smell. When reciting the blessing over the lulav andetrog, one should wave them in six directions—north, south, east, west, up, and down. This action symbolizes that God can be found in all directions, not only in one particular place.

The traditional ritual for the lulav and etrog is as follows:

  1. Stand facing east. Place the lulav (with the spine facing you, myrtle on the right and the willows on the left) in your right hand and the etrog in your left hand. Bring your hands together so that the lulav and etrog are side by side.
  2. Next, recite this special blessing: Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu al n'tilat lulav. "Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who has sanctified us through Your mitzvot and ordained the taking of the lulav."
  3. On the first day of the festival, add the Shehecheyanu prayer.
  4. Finally, shake the lulav is shaken in all directions – east, south, west, north, up, and down – while reciting or chanting the words Hodu l'Adonai ki tov ki l'olam chasdo. "Give thanks to God, for God is good, for God's loving-kindness endures forever."

Here is a Sukkah:

 

sukkah2007.jpg

 

Citron/Etrog

 

beceaec0abcc5233a280c9bf193f4f45.jpg   It smells better than a lemon.

 

Branches:

 

lulav.jpg

Edited by Ryrin
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There's some pretty diverse range of celebrations.
 
In my family we have a few different festivals we celebrate. The two main ones are Lughnasadh and Samhain. Lughnasadh is the beginning of fall/end of summer while Samhain is the end of fall/beginning of winter (or more properly the end of time and the beginning of its rebirth). They are both harvest festivals - basically we make a feast of whatever crops have or are being harvested around that time, and we have some games, music and dancing, and perform some rituals. Lughnasadh is three days at the beginning of August and Samhain is divided into the thirds, which means there is three days before the day (or night), three days after, and Samhain itself, end of October/beginning of November. Lughnasadh to me has the feel of most harvest festivals/fairs, mostly light-hearted and bright, but Samhain is somewhat severe and dark.

 

I enjoy Samhain even so - it is still fun, as we still have games and food, but the dancing, music, and ceremonies have a very different tone. I would say it is threatening and empowering all at once, if you have ever had that feeling. Basically in my religion, time is viewed as cyclical and regenerative - it runs down on itself, tending towards dissolution and destruction, but then it is rejuvenated, allowing life to continue, in endless repeatition. Time is most warped and nearest dissolving around the time of Samhain we believe, and the barriers between all the side, or worlds, is down, allowing spirits from other sid to pass easily into our world, so a lot of the ceremonies we have on Samhain deal with acknowledging and taking advantage of this liminal darkness, protecting ourselves from it, and honouring our dead who have gone to other worlds or are now part of the hidden (but at that, time, revealed) things of the world. For me, it is about the promise and possibility of rebirth by returning to the darkness from which we came, finding the wisdom that lies within it, and returning stronger and more dignified for it. 
 
We also celebrate the equinox as another harvest festival, but can probably tell how important I regard it by the amount of time I spend mentioning it.
 
 



  • Stand facing east. Place the lulav (with the spine facing you, myrtle on the right and the willows on the left) in your right hand and the etrog in your left hand. Bring your hands together so that the lulav and etrog are side by side.
  • Next, recite this special blessing: Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu al n'tilat lulav. "Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who has sanctified us through Your mitzvot and ordained the taking of the lulav."
  • On the first day of the festival, add the Shehecheyanu prayer.
  • Finally, shake the lulav is shaken in all directions – east, south, west, north, up, and down – while reciting or chanting the words Hodu l'Adonai ki tov ki l'olam chasdo. "Give thanks to God, for God is good, for God's loving-kindness endures forever."

There are a number of cultures that also acknowledge those directions as something sacred. We have north, east, south, west, up, down, and in addition centre, and the centre is regarded as the most important and the most sacred "direction." When also invoking a god, you start with the north (or east is also appropriate, and technically you are starting with the centre just by being), then you proceed clockwise - south, west, and return to the north, with or without acknowledging up or down. North represents darkness and so as you begin in darkness, that is where you end, though depending on what you are doing, who you are, and who you are invoking, you might stop in the other directions. But you always want to go to the right (clockwise), however you start.

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I'm happy you liked it, Lily.

 

Taltos, I was thinking along that line about the directions but really didn't have any details on other cultures.

 

This is kind of simplistic but here it is:

 

Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.

 

 

Maybe Taltos could tell us about Samhain.

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The order of the directions is interesting... I've never participated in the Lukas ceremony, but I have said the shma before bedtime which references the sukkah, the protection provided us in the wilderness, and it uses a different order in referencing the directions and associates them with the arch angels and with the schinah, or spirit of God, like this -

 

(Hashkivenu)

 

Lie us down, Adonai our God, in peace; and raise us up again, our Ruler, in life.

 

Spread over us Your Sukkah of peace, direct us with Your good counsel, and save us for Your own Name's sake.

 

Shield us; remove from us every enemy, pestilence, sword, famine, and sorrow.

 

Remove all adversaries from before us and from behind us, and shelter us in the shadow of Your wings.

 

For You are our guarding and saving God, yes, a gracious and compassionate God and King.

 

Guard our going out and our coming in for life and peace, now and always!

 

(Special Prayer for Protection at Night)

 

In the name of Adonai the God of Israel:

May the angel Michael be at my right,

and the angel Gabriel be at my left;

and in front of me the angel Uriel,

and behind me the angel Raphael...

and above my head the Sh'khinah (Divine Presence).

 

Always in that order, and it has its own symbolic meaning based on the angels' names.

 

There must be a lot of overlapping symbolism of the sukkah.

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I'm happy you liked it, Lily.

 

Taltos, I was thinking along that line about the directions but really didn't have any details on other cultures.

 

This is kind of simplistic but here it is:

 

Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.

 

 

Maybe Taltos could tell us about Samhain.

 

I gave some vague details about it already in my previous post. Going into more detail with reference to the information you provided, it is one of what can be called bonfire festivals, as one of the most noticeable features and important elements to the rituals are the bonfires. There are basically two major ones (bonfire festivals) every year, one at Samhain, the beginning of winter/end of summer, and one at Bealtaine, beginning of summer/end of winter. Technically it is the end of fall, and Bealtaine is the end of Spring, but it goes off the original division of the year which was only two seasons instead of four, one which was basically just Samh, "hot/bright," and the other Gemh, "cold/dark." The bonfires mean and are many things but ultimately they are meant to bestow power/blessing upon anyone or anything that passes over them or by them (such as fertility), and so at Samhain just like at Bealtaine, anyone who has livestock drives them through the fire and we jump over the fire too. At the end of the festival, you would traditionally take a lit branch from the bonfire and take it home to relight your hearth, but as a lot of my family don't live too close together, it is "alright" (in quotations because I don't think its alright but I am not very strong about it) to take an unlit branch and light it back up once you get home as it might not stay lit on your way back to your home. 

 

As far as ghosts are concerned, that is not so much as a concern as spirits or the Aes sidhe, which is the race of the gods (probably recognise it more readily as faeries). At least to me, it always seemed like the god-people were the greater focus. I personally don't believe in ghosts, as I have never seen anything that couldn't have been just a spirit pretending to be someone who died, but that's speaking for just me. Some are "good" insofar as you can get them to help you, and a lot of them are increasingly malevolent, so a lot of the rituals deal with either getting the good ones to help you and convincing the ones that do harm to go hurt someone else or just go away entirely through sacrifice or a battle ritual. There are definitely a lot of costumes, and all of them are meant to be conducive toward some sort of ritual.

 

As I already mentioned, there are many more spirits and strange things that happen at this time because time is seen as warped, dissolving, and will ultimately renew itself, and with it the usual barriers between worlds are weakened, allowing things that otherwise would not come here in. Magic is more powerful because of this too and that's probably where the old superstition and fear of witches at the time of "Halloween" comes from,  that and magic, darkness, mystery, and death, the mood of the season, are often embodied as a woman's/goddess' domain and power and so there is a lot of special reverence for goddess' at Samhain. Time might be such as a reflection of one of legends, in which the gods fought a battle with the Fomoire on Samhain and though they won, it broke the first world. 

 

Pretty much All Soul's Day was placed on the day of Samhain and Halloween (October 31st) was placed on Samhain night, Oíche Shamhna.

 

Elaborating a bit more on directions, each direction has colours associated with it and it is meant to represent, be, the progression of existence itself. All life springs from darkness, the abyss, the north, which is black, chaotic, "full of many battles;" then in the east, where the sun rises, there is yellow, new warmth and life, ready to learn and live; next is the south, which is red, hot, full of music and the passion and strength of life - pretty much life at its  peak physical strength; then there is the west, which is white and all things divine, where there is wisdom and the land of the gods, and some say that is the end point for those who reach true wisdom or virtue; then finally, it is back to the north, fading, death, dissolution, back into the darkness which you came from. Then at all times is the center, violet or a greenish colour, which is the seat of all experience and being and honour, which is why it is considered of the most importance (you can't experience anything except from the centre) and why it is associated with royalty and authority, and at any time up - blue, the sky, water, the gods above - and down - green, the earth, substance, the gods below - can be indicated as that is the nourishment of life.

Edited by WildTaltos
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For religious Jew, the fall, and specifically the month of Tishrei (pretty late this year, there must have been a leap year recently, cause the high holy days mostly full in October in 2016 instead of September like they usually do), is dense with holidays, holy days. The spiritual year ends and begins in this month. It's sort of a long celebration of the giving of the Torah, of the exodus, of the events on mount Sinai, and of the cyclical spiritual nature of the individual, the community, and the people as a whole.

 

We used to start school in September and be out for holidays for most of the rest of the fall.

 

I copied this from a Jewish cheat sheet of holidays - its long so I'll spoiler it - starting with rosh hashannah, the new year (one of two beginnings of the year, this one more spiritual, the other in Nisan, spring, around Passover and also about the exodus, is about the beginning of the agricultural year in spring and the new lambs and herbs etc,

 

Anyway, this is the outline for Jewish autumn

 

 

Rosh Hashanah

Hebrew name means: Head of the year—idiomatically, New Year.

What's It About? A solemn holiday beginning the calendar year with repentance from sin and the hope of renewal.

Pronounce it: Some say rashashanuh (like it's one word) and some rohsh ha-shah-nah.

When is it: Starts the evening of October 2, 2016, September 20, 2017, September 9, 2018

Foods: Apples and honey, round hallah with raisins, honey cake, pomegranates, pumpkins and other round foods, sweet foods and foods that are gold-colored, like carrots.

Activities: Many Jews who never show up to synagogue the rest of the year go for the marathon of synagogue services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. One special activity that they don't want to miss is the sounding of the shofar, or ram's horn. At home, a special activity is eating apples dipped in honey. Many Jews send New Year's cards for this holiday. Probably the most important activity associated with this holiday comes between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur: trying to repair relationships and make apologies for bad behavior in the previous year.

Symbols of Holiday: The shofar or ram's horn, apples and honey, pomegranates, the Book of Life.

Greeting? You can say Happy New Year, or try the Hebrew version, Shanah Tovah. If you want to give a more complete version of the greeting, try L'shanah tovah tikatevu, May you be inscribed for a good year (in the book of life). Yiddish-speaking Jews say "Gut yontev."

 

 

Yom Kippur

Hebrew name means: Day of Atonement.

What's It About? A fast day of prayer and collective confession.

Pronounce it: Some say yohm kee-poor, and some yohm kipper.

When is it: Starts the evening of October 11, 2016, September 29, 2017, September 18, 2018

Foods: None. It's a fast day! Well, families do have traditions about what to eat when the fast is over, like a dairy meal, but there's nothing universal. Children under age 13 and other people whose health might be harmed don't fast.

Activities: In addition to all the negatives involved in fasting—not eating, not drinking, not washing, not wearing leather, not having sexual relations—there are a lot of things to do on Yom Kippur. Mainly there are a lot of traditional prayers and things to read in the synagogue. For a lot of Jews who aren't very observant, Yom Kippur is special because it's the day they go to memorial services, called Yizkor, to honor dead relatives.

Symbols of Holiday: White clothing, sneakers worn with dress clothes (because of the prohibition on leather).

Greeting? You can say Happy New Year or "have an easy fast." Some say Shanah Tovah, which is Hebrew for Happy New Year. The more targeted greeting for Yom Kippur is Gamar hatimah tovah--a good completion to your inscription in the book of life.

 

 

Sukkot

Hebrew name means: Booths or tabernacles. The singular is sukkah.

What's it about? In ancient times when the Temple stood in Jerusalem, this was a pilgrimage holiday to celebrate the harvest. In our time it still coincides with the harvest.

Pronounce it: Some say sue coat and some say sukkiss.

When is it: Starts the evening of October 16, 2016, October 4, 2017, September 23, 2018

Foods: No specific special food, just more big sumptuous meals.

Activities: Before the holiday, communities and some individual families build a sukkah or hut in the back yard or on the back porch. The sukkah is open to the elements. During the holiday an important activity is eating in the sukkah. There is also a ritual involving blessing and waving the etrog—a citron—and the lulav—a palm branch bound with myrtle and willow.

Symbols of Holiday: The sukkah, the lulav and the etrog.

Greeting? Hag Sameah (Happy holiday) with a heavy gutteral h at the beginning of the first word and the end of the second. Or if you are really sophisticated, Moadim l'simcha, which means "festivals for joy." You may also hear "gut yontev," which is Yiddish for happy holiday.

 

 

Simchat Torah

Hebrew name means: Rejoicing in the Torah.

What's it about? At the end of Sukkot, there is one more holiday to celebrate finishing the reading of the Torah scroll for the year and starting it over again.

Pronounce it: The ch in Simchat is one of those heavy gutteral ones. Some say simchas to-rah instead.

When is it: Some celebrate Shemini Atzeret (Eighth Day of Assembly) and Simchat Torah on two days, and some on one day.

Starts the evening of October 23, 2016 (October 24 if Shemini Atzeret is observed); October 12, 2017 (October 3 if Shemini Atzeret is observed); October 1, 2018 (October 2 if Shemini Atzeret is observed)

Foods: No specific special food, just more big sumptuous meals.

Activities: This is a synagogue holiday with another really long service, but in the middle of it, people get up, process through their building with the scrolls and then dance with them. The more traditional they are, the crazier they get with the dancing. It's also a chance to honor a lot of people by calling them up to make blessings on the Torah, because there is a reading from the end of the scroll—the death of Moses—and another from the beginning--the creation of the world. In some congregations the assembled people unroll the Torah scroll and stand in the middle of the parchment before they start the cycle again.

Symbols of Holiday: The Torah scroll, flags that children carry, dancing people.

Greeting? Hag sameah (Happy holiday) with a heavy gutteral h at the beginning of the first word and the end of the second. Or if you are really sophisticated, Moadim l'simcha, which means "festivals for joy." You may also hear "gut yontev," which is Yiddish for happy holiday.

 

 

 

 

Anyway, we finish reading the Torah and then we start again. We celebrate the new year, accept/acknowledge god as our king, repent our sins to god and more importantly, repent our sins to each other, ask and give forgiveness, and start the year fresh. We start reading the same book from a new perspective every year.

 

I say we but I don't mean me, I mean us, the congregation of Israel. I did all this as required in school and sometimes as an adult, but though I'm no longer observant I still feel myself part of the community as it goes through these cycles.

 

 

Myself, I'll try to talk Mr. Gill into having some thanksgiving even if it's just us, and do the bird feast if we can. And I wish we could give out candy on Halloween but the kids don't really trick or treat anymore so that's a thing of the past now.

Edited by Mrs. Cindy Gill
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