10/30/2011 archive

Samhain: The Thinning Of The Veil

Samhain is one of the eight festivals of the Wiccan/Pagan Wheel of the Years that is celebrated as the new year with the final harvest of the season. It is considered by most practitioners of the craft to be the most important of the eight Sabats and one of the four fire festivals, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh. Beginning at sundown on October 31 and continuing through the next day, fires are lit and kept burning to recognize the shortening of days and the coming of winter’s long cold nights.

Many of the traditions practiced in the US have come from Ireland, Scotland and Whales. The carving of gourds and pumpkins used as lanterns, the wearing of costumes and masks, dancing, poetry and songs, as well as some traditional foods and games can be traced back to medieval times and pre-Christian times.

Two Roman festivals became incorporated with Samhain – ‘Feralia’, when the Romans commemorated the passing of the dead, and ‘Pomona’, when the Roman goddess of fruit and trees was honoured. The Halloween tradition of bobbing for apples is thought to derive from the ancient links with the Roman fruit goddess, Pomona, and a Druidical rite associated with water.

It is also the time of the year that we reflect and honor our ancestors and especially those who have departed since last Samhain. According to Celtic lore, Samhain is a time when the boundaries between the world of the living and the world of the dead become thinner, allowing spirits and other supernatural entities to pass between the worlds to socialize with humans. The fires and the candles burning in western windows are believed to help guide the spirits of the departed to the Summerlands. Like all Wiccan festivals, Samhain celebrates Nature’s cycle of death and renewal, a time when the Celts acknowledged the beginning and ending of all things in life and nature. Samhain marked the end of harvest and the beginning of the New Celtic Year. The first month of the Celtic year was Samonios – ‘Seed Fall’.

The Catholic church attempted to replace the Pagan festival with All Saints’ or All Hallows’ day, followed by All Souls’ Day, on November 2nd. The eve became known as: All Saints’ Eve, All Hallows’ Eve, or Hallowe’en. All Saints’ Day is said to be the day when souls walked the Earth. In early Christian tradition souls were released from purgatory on All Hallow’s Eve for 48 hours.

We decorate our homes with candles, gourds and dried leaves. Meals are traditionally lots of veggies, fruit, nuts and breads served with wine, cider and hearty beer. We make a hearty stew that is served with a whole grained bread and deserts made with apples, carrots and pumpkin. One of the sweet breads that is traditionally served is barmbrack, an old Irish tradition. The bread is baked with various objects and was used as a sort of fortune-telling game. In the barmbrack were: a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a small coin (originally a silver sixpence) and a ring. Each item, when received in the slice, was supposed to carry a meaning to the person concerned: the pea, the person would not marry that year; the stick, “to beat one’s wife with”, would have an unhappy marriage or continually be in disputes; the cloth or rag, would have bad luck or be poor; the coin, would enjoy good fortune or be rich; and the ring, would be wed within the year. Today, the bread usually contains a ring and a coin.

What ever you believe or not, Samhain has meaning for us all since the Wheel turns for all of us. So light a fire or a candle and dance with us as the Veil Thins.

The Veil Is Getting

As I went out walking this fall afternoon,

I heard a wisper wispering.

I heard a wisper wispering,

Upon this fine fall day…

As I went out walking this fall afternoon,

I heard a laugh a’laughing.

I heard a laugh a’laughing,

Upon this fine fall day…

I heard this wisper and I wondered,

I heard this laugh and then I knew.

The time is getting near my friends,

The time that I hold dear my friends,

The veil is getting thin my friends,

And strange things will pass through.

Blessed be.

Rant of the Week: Stephen Colbert

War on Halloween – Costume Swapping & Jesus Ween

Planet huggers turn America’s Almond Joy into almond shame, and a Christian group in Texas hands out Bibles instead of candy.

On This Day In History October 30

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

October 30 is the 303rd day of the year (304th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 62 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1938, Orson Welles scares the nation.

The War of the Worlds was an episode of the American radio drama anthology series Mercury Theatre on the Air. It was performed as a Halloween episode of the series on October 30, 1938 and aired over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network. Directed and narrated by Orson Welles, the episode was an adaptation of H. G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds.

The first two thirds of the 60-minute broadcast were presented as a series of simulated “news bulletins”, which suggested to many listeners that an actual alien invasion by Martians was currently in progress. Compounding the issue was the fact that the Mercury Theatre on the Air was a ‘sustaining show’ (it ran without commercial breaks), thus adding to the program’s quality of realism. Although there were sensationalist accounts in the press about a supposed panic in response to the broadcast, the precise extent of listener response has been debated. In the days following the adaptation, however, there was widespread outrage. The program’s news-bulletin format was decried as cruelly deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the perpetrators of the broadcast, but the episode secured Orson Welles’ fame.

Power and Internet

At least temporarily.

I apologize to Formula One fans, cable is still out and I won’t spoil the 3 pm repeat if you happen to have it.

Much worse than predicted, many lines down and people not living as close to vital government installations as I do (tomorrow is the last day to get your property taxes to Town Hall) may have to wait until Wednesday.

Fortunate for me having just gotten the roof back on I was not looking forward to replacing the plumbing (burst pipes).

I hope all my readers are experiencing a similar speedy recovery.

Occupy Wall St. Livestream: Day 44

Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at livestream.com


The resistance continues at Liberty Square, with free pizza 😉

“I don’t know how to fix this but I know it’s wrong.” ~ Unknown Author

Occupy Wall Street NYC now has a web site for its General Assembly  with up dates and information. Very informative and user friendly. It has information about events, a bulletin board, groups and minutes of the GA meetings.

NYC General Assembly #OccupyWallStreet

Keep Wall Street Occupied

A fast, easy, free, and non-violent way to drive the big banks out of their greedy little minds is sitting in your mailbox right now. You just don’t know it yet.

One of the comments suggested that this is a way of supporting the US Postal Service which might keep thousands of postal workers off the unemployment line.

joanneleon, a friend, proved the needed transcript

Snowstorm tests resolve of NY Wall St protesters

New York protesters hunker down in snow-covered tents

NEW YORK, Oct 29 (Reuters) – A rare snowstorm tested the resolve of anti-Wall Street protesters camped out in a New York City park on Saturday as police in Nashville detained dozens of demonstrators during an eviction from a city plaza.

A day after New York authorities confiscated generators from the Occupy Wall Street movement against economic inequality, hundreds of protesters struggled to stay warm and dry after more than an inch of snow fell in the city with temperatures forecast to drop to freezing overnight.

Buffeted by strong winds, protesters hunkered down in snow-covered tents in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, where the movement first set up camp six weeks ago, sparking dozens of similar occupations in city parks across the United States.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with Christiane Amanpour: Guests are Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachman (R-MI) and Microsoft co-founder and chairman Bill Gates.

The roundtable will be occupied by ABC’s George Will and Cokie Roberts, National Journal Editorial Director Ron Brownstein, former Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey.

No comment

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Bob Schieffer sits down for a one-on-one interview with Republican presidential contender Herman Cain.

The Chris Matthews Show: This week’s guests Andrea Mitchell, NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Bob Woodward, The Washington Post Associate Editor, Katty Kay, BBC Washington Correspondent and John Heilemann, New York Magazine National Political Correspondent.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: The main guest is president’s 2008 campaign manager, now White House Senior Adviser, David Plouffe.

Joining the roundtable are author of new biography on the late Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson, author of the new book “The Time of Our Lives,” NBC News Special Correspondent, Tom Brokaw, former Governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm, and Republican strategist, Mike Murphy.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Senior Obama Campaign Strategist David Axelrod is an exclusive guest and another with Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. Roundtable guests are veteran reporters Florida’s Adam Smith, Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson and South Carolina’s Gina Smith.

In a special segment Ellen Davis from the National Retail Federation will discuss the inpact of Halloween on the economy.

You can go back to bed now

Allison Kilkenny: Police Disguise Protest Sabotage As Public Safety

The Occupy movements, in addition to being some of the most important activist movements to come along in the United States in several decades, have helped underscore several societal crises. For example, the failure of the establishment media and the rise of the beltway pundit class, the disappearance of public space, and also vanishing civil liberties, to name only a few.

Occupy has also served as a reminder of the ever-present police state, which rather than acting to “serve and protect,” oftentimes crushes and suppresses freedom of expression.  We’ve witnessed this in obvious, overt, batshit crazy behavior like police using horses to stampede into a Times Square crowd, and when Oakland police turned their city into a war zone. But there are subtler, far sneakier ways so-called public servants such as firefighters and the police, and by extension city officials, use the law as a weapon, or a convenient scapegoat, to control a rebellious faction of the population.

Michael Weisbrot: Obama Administration Escalates Confrontation With Iran: Why?

The Obama administration announced two weeks ago that a bumbling Iranian-American used car salesman had conspired with a U.S. government agent posing as a representative of Mexican drug cartels, to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington. This brought highly skeptical reactions from experts here across the political spectrum.  

But even if some of this tale turns out to be true, the handling of such accusations is inherently political. For example, the U.S.  government’s 9/11 commission investigated the links between the attackers and the Saudi ruling family, but refused to make public the results of that investigation. The reason is obvious: there is dirt there and Washington doesn’t want to create friction with a key ally. And keep in mind that this is about complicity with an attack on American soil that killed 3000 people.

Robert Fisk: What the Killing of Gaddafi Means to Syria

Two days before Gaddafi was murdered, I was reading the morning newspapers in Beirut and discovered a remarkable story on most front pages.

At the time, the mad ex-emperor of Libya was still hiding in Sirte, but there was this quotation by the US Secretary of State, La Clinton, speaking in Tripoli itself. “We hope he can be captured or killed soon,” she said, “so that you don’t have to fear him any longer.” This was so extraordinary that I underlined La Clinton’s words and clipped the article from one of the front pages. (My archives are on paper.) “We hope he can be captured or killed soon.” Then bingo. Nato bombs his runaway convoy and the old boy is hauled wounded from a sewage pipe and done away with.

Now in an age when America routinely assassinates its enemies, La Clinton’s words were remarkable because they at last acknowledged the truth. Normally, the State Department or the White House churned out the usual nonsense about how Gaddafi or Bin Laden or whoever must be “brought to justice” – and we all know what that means. But this week, the whole business turned much darker. Asked about his personal reaction, Obama the Good said that no one wanted to meet such an end, but that Gaddafi’s death should be a lesson “to all dictators around the world”. And we all knew what that meant. Principally, the message was to Bashar al-Assad of Syria. Maybe, ran the subtext, they would meet the same sticky end.

Amy Dean: Occupy Wall Street and America’s Democratic Tradition

I was recently talking with some friends who work at the Chicago Board of Trade. Hearing the opinions voiced by Occupy Wall Street protesters, the traders agreed that they’d seen disturbing changes within their industry. While they might have written off criticisms 15 years ago, they’ve since watched the financial sector become more and more based on speculative gambling-with people trying to make profits by moving money around rather than by supporting real economic activity. To a surprising degree, my friends were willing to consent that the system has grown bankrupt. Yet, while they share some of the activists’ criticisms, they don’t like the street protests and are doubtful that the occupations will help our democracy.

I have been sympathetic to their concerns, but I ultimately disagree with their assessment of the protests’ importance. Occupy Wall Street is rooted in a deep tension in American life. In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville illuminated how the conflict between equality and liberty is at the center of the American political drama. That we are now having an open and spirited debate about the optimal balance between these two values is a crucial, and welcome, development.

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Protesters, police clash in Denver, face off in Nashville

 Incidents come amid a week of police crackdowns around the country

msnbc.com news services

DENVER – The simmering tension near the Colorado Capitol escalated dramatically Saturday with more than a dozen arrests and authorities firing rounds of pellets filled with pepper spray at supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The clash came as Occupy Wall Street protesters and state officials in Tennessee squared off for a third consecutive night, even though a local judge has refused to jail demonstrators who have been arrested.

In Denver, officers in riot gear moved late in the day into a park where protesters were attempting to establish an encampment, hauling off demonstrators just hours after a standoff at the Capitol steps degenerated into a fight that ended in a cloud of Mace and pepper spray.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Syria’s Assad warns of ‘earthquake’ if west intervenes

Spain’s town hall meltdown

Al-Shabaab target Mogadishu AU military base

Can Super Mario Save the Day for Europe?

Thailand floods: Bangkok flood defenses are holding