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The Pagan Mysteries of Halloween: Celebrating the Dark Half of the Year
 
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The Pagan Mysteries of Halloween: Celebrating the Dark Half of the Year [Format Kindle]

Jean Markale

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Descriptions du produit

Présentation de l'éditeur


A comprehensive examination of the rituals and philosophies of the Celtic holiday of Samhain, the inspiration for Halloween.


• Presents the true meaning of this ancient holiday and shows how contemporary observances still faithfully reflect the rituals of pagan ancestors.


• Explains why this holiday, largely confined to the English-speaking world since the advent of Christianity, has spread throughout the rest of Europe over the last two decades.


One of humanity's most enduring myths is that the dead, on certain nights of the year, can leave the Other World and move freely about the land of the living. Every year on October 31, when the children of the world parade through the streets dressed as monsters, skeletons, and witches, they reenact a sacred ceremony whose roots extend to the dawn of time. By receiving gifts of sweets from strangers, the children establish, on a symbolic plane that exceeds their understanding, a fraternal exchange between the visible world and the invisible world. Author Jean Markale meticulously examines the rituals and ceremonies of ancient festivities on this holiday and shows how they still shape the customs of today's celebration. During the night of Samhain, the Celtic precursor of today's holiday, the borders between life and death were no longer regarded as insurmountable barriers. Two-way traffic was temporarily permitted between this world and the Other World, and the wealth and wisdom of the sidhe, or fairy folk, were available to the intrepid individuals who dared to enter their realm. Markale enriches our understanding of how the transition from the light to the dark half of the year was a moment in which time stopped and allowed the participants in the week-long festival to attain a level of consciousness not possible in everyday life, an experience we honor in our modern celebrations of Halloween. 


Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 318 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 160 pages
  • Editeur : Inner Traditions (23 août 2011)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B005IQ662M
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5  12 commentaires
31 internautes sur 36 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 From the viewpoint of an Historian, a Poet and a Philosopher 19 octobre 2004
Par Margaret A. Foster - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Jean Markale is described as a poet, philosopher, historian and storyteller. His field of specialty is pre-Christian and medieval culture and spirituality. He is a very well known French author of over 40 books and is a specialist in Celtic studies at Sorbonne University in Paris.

It is not surprising then that Mr. Markale has written a most profound study of the Celtic celebration of Halloween or Samhain from the perspective of an actual historian and philosopher. The original of this book was first printed in France in 2000 and was translated and brought to the English speaking market in 2001.

I must first congratulate Mr. Graham for his extraordinary translation of this book. Not being fluent in French, I would never have tackled such a volume, but Mr. Graham has preserved, in my opinion, the poetic flavor of Mr. Markale's work. It flows rather than reading dry and halting, like many tomes on this subject.

The book is composed of only four chapters: The Celtic Festival of Samhain, The Fantastic Night, The Festival of All the Saints and The Shadows of Halloween. This is followed by a conclusion. While the number of chapters is small, the content of each is enormous, giving page after page of facts, religious comparisons, philosophies and supporting evidence for the practices of this misunderstood holiday.

I believe the best way to summarize what this book is about is to quote the author from his Conclusion:
"It is a way not of "taming death" as Montaigne said, but of exorcising it by establishing a direct line between before and after, which will display the permanence of life in all its aspects and all its states. This is the appropriate lesson to draw from Samhain and its survivals, whether the Christian All Saint's Day or the folklike manifestations of Halloween."

His book weaves these final thoughts into understanding as he unfolds the various aspects of this philosophy. I will only attempt to outline the book by its chapters, as it is difficult to take any of his material out of context without it suffering. The need to read, meditate and appreciate the written word as presented by Mr. Markale is one of the wonderful plus' of this book. To read it with all the footnotes as well as endnotes intact is to grasp the full appreciation of well researched work that pieces together the myths and stories and history with solid evidence. He creates a very balanced approach to defining what the origins and mysteries of Samhain were how it survived forced evolution and he brings it all into modern day understanding. There is a very extensive bibliography and one worth exploring if you wish to cover this topic further.

The Celtic Festival of Samhain examines the Celtic origins of this holiday. It examines the Celtic calendar, the division of the "Light of the Year" with the "Dark of the Year", compares the myths with evidence derived from recorded stories and histories and supports it with the culture of the Celtic people. He makes good arguments for the holiday occurring at the date assigned it, and then explores the practices or Rituals of the holiday. His conclusions are hard to argue with, as he produces some very strong evidence for his work. There is some wonderful material here, quoted from some common as well as obscure sources, and is both a pleasure to read and easy to understand.

The Fantastic Night explores the actual Celtic practices and meanings of this holiday. This chapter explores the philosophical aspects as evident from Celtic cultural practices. The meanings of "Other Worlds", or how time has no meaning on this occasion, and how this is supported by actual recording of cultural ideas and ideals of the Celtic peoples; all is presented here for you to savor, meditate upon and draw deeper understandings.

The Festival of All the Saints traces the evolving holiday, how it was forced into a mold created by those who failed to understand this holiday but could not remove it from the cultures of the areas. He traces how it was adapted and remade. But it is not a story of destruction but rather how the origins survived, maybe a bit worse for wear, and continued to thrive in spite of change. This is a very good look at the Christianization of the Celtic culture and how it created a very unique presence as "Celtic Christianity" and how it then proceeded to influence the rest of the Christian church.

Finally, in The Shadows of Halloween we see how this holiday has come down to us today, how it has survived the ravages of time and continues to be a time when we remember those things of old and incorporate them into our new. The outward signs are reminders of the old philosophies and beliefs and we cling to them because it sparks recognition of values that are not just Celtic, but universal ideas that cross many cultures.

His conclusions are very philosophical in nature, and are profound in the revelations he makes regarding our perceptions of life, death, time and rebirth. He uses many literary examples of how we have continued, over the course of time, to experience, again and again, the understanding of our basic need to acknowledge death and in the same breath, life. To quote again:
"Everything is contained within the apparent masquerades of Halloween. The sacred is inseparable from the profane, and popular memory, still rebelling against the dominate ideologies, has preserved within its most intimate depths and restored on certain occasions a state of nature that was so dear to the Utopian thinker Jean-Jacques Rousseau -- to wit, outside of time and space, the universal fraternity of beings and things."

Probably the best book on the subject, for its ability to successfully tackle the true meaning and origins of this very often misunderstood and sometimes feared holiday. A must read for anyone not afraid to expand their understanding and give more than a passing thought to the significance of Halloween. boudica
18 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Pagans and Halloween Lovers -- A Book For You! 19 novembre 2002
Par Dan McFist - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
If Halloween is your favorite holiday, then this book is for you! It's a scholarly exploration of the holiday's origins. Because the Pagan Celtics didn't leave many written records, there's not much to go on, but Markale does a plausible and interesting job. According to the author, whose picture on the back cover will cause nightmares, Halloween is descended from the pre-Christian Irish holiday of Samhain.
Samhain, the end of the old year and the beginning of the new, is November 1. It is a time for renewal and the establishment of harmony. If the King had done a good job during the year, his powers were renewed. Legal contracts were also reviewed and renewed, and communal properties were redistributed if necessary to prevent discord. Everyone was required to attend the festivities, regardless of rank or class. Feasting, combined with heavy beer and mead drinking, created an air of joviality and a willingness to let bygones be bygones, preparing for a fresh new year.
Samhain is also a time of spirituality, when a door between our world and the Land of Promise opens, and contact with the Sidh, or fairy people, is possible. The fairy people appear to be the ghosts of the dead, who exist in a parallel world underground and have knowledge of the future. Sometimes they play evil tricks on mortals, but sometimes they provide assistance or convey special powers. Intercourse with them is also possible.
Is this underground world a metaphor for the subconscious? We only know that Samhain is a time of altered consciousness when time itself is compressed or expanded. Hemp and/or magic mushrooms may also have had a ritualistic role.
The Celtic concept of the afterlife differs from the Christian in that there is no punishment for sin, nor special reward for the righteous. It's simply a place where all dead souls go.
The holiday eventually became Christianized and transformed into All Saints Day. When children today collect candy or money on October 31, they would be surprised to learn that they are actually collecting offerings for the dead!
The holiday was implanted into Calvinist Scotland where the author says the people were more "rational" than the Irish Catholics. It was there that the shades of the dead were replaced by youths in masks and costumes. It is also in Scotland where the custom of making lanterns out of hollowed-out vegetables originated.
Eventually the holiday made its way to the New World along with Irish and Scottish immigrants. It eventually spread to French-speaking Canada, and then to France where the holiday has been adopted.
Its success on the Continent "is because the American-Celtic model corresponds perfectly to the latent customs of western Europe, customs smothered or censured for a number of centuries but which were only waiting for an invitation to come back to life."
13 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 full of info. 5 novembre 2001
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Don't let the cheesey "horror" look to the cover fool you. I found it interesting and full of info about the origins of Halloween. Author uses an extensive vocabulary so you might want a dictionary handy. Overall a good read and well worth it.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An Exhaustive Book About Halloween, Originally Called Samhain 20 octobre 2005
Par M. Hart - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Samhain. This is a word that many people are not familiar with today. It is the ancient Celtic name that was transformed (by converts into Christianity centuries ago) into what has become known today as "All Saints' Day", "The Day of the Dead", "All Hallows Eve" or the better known name of Halloween.

The ancient Celtic calendar, as author Jean Markale wrote in his book "The Pagan Mysteries of Halloween: Celebrating the Dark Half of the Year", was divided into two parts: the light half that begins with Beltane and the dark half that begins with Samhain. Originally a lunar calendar, the dates for Beltane and Samhain would shift with the orbit of the moon (similar to the Jewish calendar); but eventually, the two dates became fixed points in the more common solar calendar on May 1 and November 1. Because the Celts regarded a day to begin at sundown, Samhain begins on the eve of November 1, or October 31.

For the Pagan Celts, Samhain was the beginning of the year and was celebrated for several days. Spiritually and symbolically, it was regarded as the time when the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead (which the Celts referred to as the Other World) becomes very thin, allowing people from the land of the living and spirits from the Other World to cross between the two. The Pagan Celts also viewed Samhain (whose celebrations lasted for several days) to be when time was essentially abolished or suspended. This is exemplified in some Celtic stories that Mr. Markale describes where an individual that enters the Other World at Samhain may, to this world, be gone for hundreds of years; but to the individual, perhaps only hours or days have passed. And the converse could also happen: someone who enters the Other World may think he/she is there for a very long time, but may have only been gone for a few minutes, hours or days in this world.

Here to, the concept of birth, death and rebirth comes into play through the symbolism of the cauldron (such as the famous Gundestrup Cauldron), as well as with the mounds that the Celts made throughout Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales and other areas that they inhabited as Mr. Markale accurately describes. Christian missionaries and evangelists who visited these areas (including the famous Saint Patrick), instead of completely eliminating the celebration of Samhain, replaced it with the concept of "All Saints' Day" or "The Day of the Dead". Though the Christian concept of an afterlife (which includes the possibility of punishment for sin) differs greatly from the Celtic one (everyone goes to the same Other World), symbolism such as the cauldron remain intact. Centuries later, children began to wear masks and carry carved out fruit with candles inside (jack o'lanterns) to symbolize the ghosts of the dead.

This is but a very small sample of the exhaustive information that Mr. Markale wrote in what is seemingly a rather short book of less than 160 pages and only four chapters. Some readers may find "The Pagan Mysteries of Halloween: Celebrating the Dark Half of the Year" a little difficult (or dry) because of the amount of information packed within its pages or because of the translation of the book from French into English; but I rate the book overall with a resounding 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about what Halloween is really all about. Mr. Markale also included a lengthy list of footnotes, an extensive bibliography and a very useful index.
12 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Very scary... 29 juin 2004
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
...that anyone could think this book is hard to read. Whoever does must have been home-schooled by Scooby-Doo. There's nothing difficult to grasp in this book, least of all the language. I couldn't find a single word on any page that I had to look up in the dictionary, for Heaven's sake! Although it was written by a formidable scholar with stellar credentials, it is a concisely-written page-turner for readers who are interested in the mythic roots of Halloween, the origins of the Eve of All Souls, the pagan festival of Samhain. The only criticism I have of it is it uses words such as "carnival-like" and "manifestations" a bit too often, an easy oversight to forgive considering it is a translation. Come on kids, if it's a book about how to carve pumpkins you want, you can pick that up at the dollar store.
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