As part of the introduction for tonight’s show, HEARTPOUNDERS: Halloween Tales of Horror, I’ve be delving into some ancient history. Albion, the old name for England, which means “the white land” (probably because of the chalk cliffs of Dover), when Julius Caesar arrived to conquer it, was a pagan land. People believed in nature spirits, living in a land of mostly forests. This was centuries before the Vatican sent its missionaries to convert the druidical people living there to Christianity.
Caesar wrote about the druids, the priests of the time. They believed that mistletoe was magical, since it lived in clusters on oak tree branches without any visible root systems. They built giant wicker cages in which they burned alive slaves and enemies during a harvest celebration called Samhain. Modern witches still celebrate Samhain. “Witch” derives from the same root words as “wicker”, “wicked”, “willow” and other words, which in their day referred to the ability to use natural herbs to heal (willow contains salicylic acid, otherwise known as aspirin).
When the leaves fell and the darkness of winter approached, Celtic people believed that the boundary between the living and the invisible forces beyond the grave thinned out. Every manner of ghost, goblin and bogie was able to cross over into the world. Rituals to keep them at bay were held at this time of year.
Fast forward to today. Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve (during the later Christianization of the British Isles by Vatican prelates, they did their best to stamp out this night of primitive beliefs by declaring it sacred, or “hallowed”) has proven to be a tough root to pull out. In America at least, this ancient rite is still animated by parties, costumes and monsters.
Tonight’s show of very scary stories with music begins at 7 pm at the Riverwalk Music Bar in Nashua, NH. It’s not meant for children.
Music is on 12-string guitars, Celtic harp and alto recorder.