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If a Druid Rings the Doorbell

November 7th, 2013

Michael Tortorello, gardening writer for The New York Times has written this nice piece about Druids, Samhain and Sacred Space…

How will you be celebrating Samhain this year? What’s that? You say you won’t be observing the high Druid holiday of the ancient Celts? With all due respect, you’re probably wrong and you probably will.

“Samhain is Halloween; Halloween is Samhain,” said Ellen Evert Hopman, 61, an author, herbalist and Druid priestess and scholar. Irish monks, by most accounts, co-opted the earthy ritual and recast it with strait-laced saints. But the bones of the holiday wouldn’t stay buried.

The first historical record of Samhain, an engraved bronze calendar found in Coligny, France, dates to the first century B.C. The Druids of the British Isles went to ground a few centuries later, after the Romans rode in on chariots and “trashed the place,” Ms. Hopman said. All the same, she said: “There have been people celebrating Samhain in Europe for thousands of years. It never ended. Now it’s coming back with a vengeance, as more and more people turn back to the old ways to honor the Earth.”

The holiday may share its DNA with Halloween, but the two are about as closely related as a toy poodle and a wolf. Where modern Halloween is mercantile, Samhain is magical; where Halloween is juvenile, Samhain is adult. Or try this: You celebrate Halloween by nibbling on candy; you celebrate Samhain by pouring whiskey over a bonfire.

That’s the bottle service this Friday night, when CedarLight Grove celebrates in its parsonage and prayer garden. This house of worship is a clapboard fourplex on a residential street in northeastern Baltimore. Out in the yard, the Druids will circle around their World Tree, a green ash that connects the underworld, the heavens and the mortal realm. The officiants will make offerings at the “well” (here, an enamel bowl: the last thing the yard needs is a mosquito pond). And they will recite bardic tales around the fire…read more


7 Responses to “If a Druid Rings the Doorbell”

  1. Somebody else pointed me to this, and it is a nice piece, and much more appropriate and informative than our local newspaper ( asking local Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders about the role of Satan in Halloweeen.

  2. Toy poodles are very closely related to their wolf ancestors sharing 99.8% of their DNA. Oops!

  3. It’s been documented that the first mention of haloween was around the 9th century and is Christian in origin. Apart from the dates, they have nothing in common

      • Not even that strongly, as from what I’ve read, samhain was more to do with contracts between tribes and people with regards to livestock provisioning for winter (who can buy, pick out and supply animals for food along with grains etc). The provision of animals would involve death through slaughter (ritual or otherwise) so, yes, a link but not to the extent of public perspection today, I would suggest..

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