Guest Author - Elizabeth Bissette
For the ancient Celts, November 1 was New Years' day and was considered the first day of winter. In ancient Rome, it considered not the eleventh but the ninth month, (where we get the name - from Novem, meaning nine in Latin). The month is associated in many traditions with banshees, spirits and other beings who exist between our world and the 'Otherworld', (whatever you may take that to be). Gods and Goddesses associated with November in general include Astarte, Calleach, Cerridwen, Circe, Cybele, Freyja, Hathor, Hel, Holda, The Horned God (Lug in Celtic tradition), Kali, Maman, Nepthys and Sekhmet.
Now lets celebrate:
A festival was held in honor of the ancient Celtic Crone-Goddess, Reign of the Old Woman Cailleach, (Calledonia in Scotland). It was speculated by Graves that Cailleach was related to the Irish Scathach and Norse Skadi. In Europe of the Middle Ages, she morphed into the Black Queen of a paradise in the West.
Also on November 1, Romans held a festival called Pomona, in honor of the harvest-Goddess of fruit bearing plants. The festiaval marked the end of the growing season.
The Day of the Dead is also celebrated on November 1 in Latin America and Spain, with offerings of food to honor the spirits of deceased loved ones. Family and friends gather together for small parties where they talk about those who have passed on.
The Festival of Woden (Odin), in his aspect as God of the dead was held. Rituals focused on disguise, the sacred wild horse, (the winter mare of Callieach), and plays depicting the sacred mysteries of life, death and re-birth.
This became All Souls' Day after the Island of Britain was Christianized, (following much war and strong resistance to departure from Druidic traditions), 998 A.D. A ritual of ancient origin called Soul-Caking survived in some parts into the 19th cenury. Children would beg forcakes through their villages in return for praying for the souls of the dead. Originally it was a symbol of respect and rememberance of ancestors, (as the above-described Day of the Dead is now).
Beware: according to folklore, if you marry on this day you are sure to meet misfortune, illness, divorce and/or an untimely demise. Yikes! Could just be a leftover of making ancient fertility/sacred marriage rituals look bad, or maybe the ancients held the superstition themselves, I'm not sure.
In Celtic tradition, this day was traditionally the one in which new plans were initiated.
The last day of the Isia, an annual festival celebrating the rebirth, (not in a reincarnation but in a rising from the dead sense), of Osiris via the milk of Isis also falls on this day. takes place on this day in Egypt. The sotry of his death at the hands of his brother Set, the mourning of Isis and a drama of the battle between her son Horus and Set was re-enacted. Images of Osiris, made of paste and grain were cultivated until barley sprouted from them and they were then sent down teh Nile with candles as part of a planting ceremony.
The still celebrated festival of Guy Fawkes Day in England recalls a Pagan festival held to honor the Lord of Death, (similar to that of Odin above, perhaps a confusion of the two or perhaps celebrated on different days in different sections of the island). It is a night of mischief, with bonfires and practical jokes, reminiscant of the original festival, (which undoubtedly was more sinister than the one we find today, involving actual death. I believe the one to be sacrificed was allowed to play whatever pranks, or do whatever else he chose. It's also similar/has a common point of origin in our April Fools Day.
A ritual with ancient, Druidic roots takes place still in Shebbear, England, where young men turn a large red rock called the Devil's Boulder over. Legend holds that it was flung into the village square by the Devil himself, (more likely the Celtic horned god of the forest and hunt). The action is said to invoke ancient magic and to ensure that the village will have peace and plenty in the, (in the ancient days), new year.
In ancient Babaylon, this day celebrated the birth of the Dragon Goddess Tiamat, another creation/destruction myth.
In ancient Greece, this was the Night of Hecate, when a fire festival was held to honor her. This was generally held on a 3 way cross-road, where food was left as an offering to her.
In the Hawaiian Islands, the ancient God Lono is honored on this day with a Harvest Festival. Another festival, the Makahiki festival also takes place in Hawaii on the 7th.
In Hati, ancesteral spirits and houshold Gods are honored on this day with offerings of yams to ensure a good harvest in the upcoming year.
In Japan, the kitchen fire Goddess Hettsui No Kami, who protects and provides for people with harvested food is honored with a Shinto festival, Fuigo Matsuri.
In Thailand, a wish ritual is performed on this day. Boats are made of banana peels and lotus leaves and filled with candles and offerings to the Gods, like flowers, incense and coins. Wishes are made when the boats are placed in the water. It is said if the candles keep burning until they're out of sight, the wish will come true, (but you have to keep your wish a secret!)
November 10 - Old November Eve
The ancient Scottish festival of Old November Eve was held on this date. The Goddess of the Hunt, Nicnevin honored with prayers and feasts. It was believed that she rode through the air with her entourage, (the wild hunt/ghost riders in the sky) between 9 and 10 at night and sometimes even made herself visible to mortals in other forms.
Old November Day (See above) and a day when the Celtic Sidhe faries, (believed to be evil), were appeased and honoured in a festival known as the Lunantshees.
The annual feast of Vinalia, in honor of the God of wine, women, song and a whole lot of fun, (and some gruesomeness), was also held on this day in ancient Greece.
Jupiter, Minerva and Juno, were all honored with an annual festival on this date in ancient Rome.
This, the thirteenth day after Samhain, was considered a day of darkness, evil, and misfortune in Medieval times, (which means it could have actually been a good, powerful day in ancient times or that it remained the same as pagan traditions were slow to fade). On this day the dead and other spirits were beleived to be easily summonned to assist in magic.
Again beware: folklore holds that if you're born on this day and its' a Friday, you'll have the evil eye. Yikes!
The Druids held the Feast of the Musicians on this date, which honored their Gods of music. Songs were sung around a bonfire as offerings were cast into the flames. (Sounds like fun.)
On this day in India, children receive blessings at the temples from their Goddesses: Befana, Mayauel, Rumina, and Surabhi.
Schichi-Go-San, a ritual for good health that is hundreds of years old, is performed on this date in Shinto shrines in Japan for children ages three, five and seven. After the ceremony, tehy are given blessed candy that is decorated with symbols of good luck.
This is the Hindu New Year and a Festival of Lights is celebrated, with candles lit to honor Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, prosperity, and sexual pleasures. People decorate their homes with ancient good-luck designs called kolams.
This is the day that the last of three annual festivals of death is observed in parts of China. Paper clothing and money with the names of ancestors in the spirit world written on them are burned as offerings.
Ardvi, Mother of the Stars, a Persian Goddess is honored with a festival called Ardvi Sura, held under the night sky and celebrated in Soutwestern Asia since ancient times.
Ancient people believed that the first stranger you met dressed in black on this day was a warlock and avoided looking directly in the eyes of such a person for fear of bewitchment.
In Hawaii, the harvest season began and rituals of thanksgiving to the God Lono are held.
An ancient Mayan festival of celebration lasting several days and nights, honoring the God Kukulcan began on this date in ancient times.
This day was also sacred to the Gods Chang'O, Damballah, Quetzalcoatl, and Tammuz.
An ancient Saxon feast in honor of the wizard-blacksmith was held on this date. The ritual continues in the guise of an English festival of Saint Clement (the patron of ironworkers).
The Shinjosai Festival, Konohana-Hime, a rice harvest festival, is held on this date in Japan, dedicated to the granddaughter Goddess of the solar deity Amaterasu.
On the full moon of November, Baba Yaga, crone goddess of old Russia was honored with a feast day. Now reduced to a wicked witch, (well, reduced to that some time ago, you can find her in fairy tales), she was once a primary diety.