Saturday, October 31, 2009

Foulkes celebrates the Gaelic festival of Oidhche Shamhna

Rumours have it that Jambo peer George Foulkes has been seen traipsin the streets of Edinbugger with his auld pal Jack McConnell who in celebration of Oidhche Shamhna/ Halloween has dressed himself up as 'an ex Worst Minister'. Foulkes himself has been chappin doors, claiming to be a 'Socialist Lord', singing 'The Sash' and asking folk if he can have their nuts.

This comes on the same day that the Catholic Church has announced to the world that Halloween is 'Anti-Christian'. Foulkes and New Labour have responded with a press-release issued to them by their new Unionist allies, the Orange Order, in which they claim that the Pope himself is the 'Anti-Christ'. Elsewhere, ordinary people will ignore the nonsense of both the Vatican and Orange Order and celebrate this auld pagan Gaelic festival by having a laugh.

Oidhche Shamhna (Samhain's Eve) marked the end of summer and beginning of winter in the ancient Gaelic calendar. It was thought that at this time, the 'door' between our world and the world of the dead would be opened slightly, allowing for spirits and other creatures to sample the other side. This obviously was in pre-enlightenment days. However, science and reason have still to reach some quarters and i don't just mean the scaremongers, bigots and outright nutters of the Vatican and Orange Order who still peddle an altogether more sinister fantasy. We still have 'mystical Celts' who actually believe in sithichean, troichean, taibhsean, bocain, manaidhean, eich-uisge and other mythological supernatural beings from Gaelic tradition. These mystics and boolshitters are happy to use science in the form of the Internet to propagate their delusion and sales-pitches though funnily enough, few of them actually seem to be 'Celts' in the sense that they speak a Celtic tongue.

One such place is the 'Tir na nOg Holistic Centre' which despite being in Scotland, uses the Irish Gaelic for it's name. It is celebrating 'Samhain' (which simply means November to modern Gaels) with a firewalking session. Well-off mystics who possess more money than sense (and probably an accent that is more Cambridge than Carlabhagh) will have to part with £60 for the privilege though.

As they say... "A ceremonial fire will be lit and carefully tended as the group spends the evening in activities which will strengthen the sense of connection to ancestral lines, bring into focus the hopes and dreams waiting to be realised, and identify and break through fears or blocks standing in the way of those dreams. The evening’s main event, walking on red hot coals, will be a symbolic moment of incredible power - firewalking is a metaphor for all those moments in life when we have a choice..."

Curiously enough, traditional pagan sacrifice and blood-letting seems to have escaped transition into modern 'Celtic' celebrations.

Choice? Well, i certainly don't choose to be fleeced by charlatans whose idea of 'Celtic' is some mystical otherworld which probably never existed. And, if it did exist, there's probably a good reason why our ancestors stopped throwing rowan berries at water-horses - i.e. they eventually realised that such creatures don't fkn exist!

This all reminds me of Sharon MacDonald's excellent, 'Reimagining Culture', an academic study of a real Celtic community in Skye. In it, MacDonald talks of the White Settlers who came to northern Skye expecting to experience a Celtic paradise a la Tir nan Og. Instead, they found to their disgust crofters who drove tractors and shell-suited youths who spoke Gaelic amongst each other and laughed when the Settlers entered the local shop. Worse than that, the Celtic locals were so blinded by modern technology that they refused to share their knowledge of local fairies and keening at wakes.

So, this Oidhche Shamhna, the only spirits I'll be meeting will bear names like Ardbeg, Inchgower and Laphroaig.

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