3 Simovane / November 2nd: Feast of Darkfire
This feast day is in honor of the Dark or Great Mother. We usually refer to Her as the Great Mother, Dea Matrona, because the title of Dark Mother tends to raise images of a Kali like figure whom we dare not approach or an image of a Chthonic goddess. In reality, the term ‘Dark’ simply means that She is that aspect of the Holy Mother Who is Source and Unknowable. This is why She is also known, in our Faith, as the Veiled Origin of Eternity and as the Dark beyond the light and the Light beyond the Darkness, She Who Is.
I have always loved the way the Holy Mother is defined by those who have had Near Death Experiences. They often describe their experience of the Holy Mother as a Shimmering, Luminous, Knowing, Dark Light full of warmth. It is pure black often with velvety tinges of dark purple. A source of strength. Sanctuary. The Womb of Creation. The Core of all Being. A shimmering darkness, peaceful, wonderful, bliss-filled Which imparts knowledge.
For Clan Jana households, this is an holy day. The Rite of Gifts or Great Liturgy of Dea is usually celebrated and may include meaningful rituals such as a bonnie-fire, camp fire, hearth fire or even a symbolic cauldron fire depending upon what is available to each household.
Sophia Ruth has, again, contributed many wonderful rites for this holy day:
(In the British Isles) besom brooms were made and were used to ritually sweep over the door steps and sweep up the fallen leaves up for a bonnie fire.
The besom is used as this time both practically and symbolically. It sweeps away the last of the Autumn leaves, but is also used ritually to sweep out the old, to clean and clear away old energy, creating space for the new. Traditionally besoms are made from birch twigs – the birch is associated with purification and renewal.
You can make a besom at this time of year by gathering a large bundle of birch twigs tied together. Drive a broom handle into the middle of the bundle – ideally hazel or ash.”
Each person wrote their faults on pieces of paper and threw them into the bonnie fire. These would rise up in the smoke to Dea to help us overcome.
“The tradition of a bonfire celebration (for Samhain) lasted longer in some rural areas than in others. At Fortingall in Perthshire, a fire was held on a Bronze Age burial mound until the early part of the 20th century. The local community danced around the fire while it was in full blaze, and then returned home for traditional Halloween games. This took place on the 11th of November, the time of Halloween (Samhain) in the old calendar.”
“In some areas it was customary to throw a stone with a personal mark on it into the ashes of the fire. These had to be retrieved to ensure luck for the coming year.”
“After the festival they re-lit the fires in their homes from the sacred bonfire to help protect them, as well as keep them warm during the winter months.”
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/paganism/holydays/samhain.shtml (Thank you, Sophia Ruth.)
This is a day of purification and fire is known to be symbolically purifying. Fire, unlike the other elements, does not exist in a natural state. Its physical form can only take place by consuming some other element. Fire is the transformer, converting the energy of other objects into other forms: heat, light, ash, and smoke. (1) And so we understand it to be representative of our own inner transformation.
Incense and the smoke from certain herbs are known to be purifying. Smudging oneself and household with sage is known to be both purifying and cleansing. Add purifying herbs or incense to the bonnie-fire such as benzoin, cedar, coal rosemary, sage, thistle, thyme, valerian and vervain are part of a rite of purification. We undertake this with great solemnity and contemplation, after which, we may celebrate with a bonnie fire dance in celebration of She Who both purges and renews.
On this day, we consume foods which are indigo, purple, black and other dark foods. In fact, nutritionists are realizing that black foods are higher in antioxidants than green! In fact, “black foods have more antioxidants than light-colored foods because of their high pigment content,” says Cy Lee, Ph.D., a professor of food chemistry at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Can’t find one of these deep-hued superfoods at your local supermarket? Try natural-foods stores and ethnic groceries.
It’s a scientifically-proven fact that the darker the food, the higher the antioxidant level. Antioxidants are to the body, the way rust-proof works on a car – they have the ability to mop up free radicals and keep you looking younger, longer. Thus, dark foods with a purple pigment, such as purple onions, concord grapes, purple cabbage, black mission figs, prunes and blackberries, are known for having amazing healing powers.
The purple pigment in all of these fruits and vegetables contain flavonoids, including resveratrol, which can help decrease blood pressure. Resveratrol helps relax the arterial walls, decreases the pressure in the arteries and allows better circulation. Produce with purple hues contain a variety of polyphenols that can reduce the inflammatory response in the body. In my book Meals That Heal Inflammation, I outline how inflammation is at the root of all major diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and immune dysfunction. (4)
Here is a list of food items we might include:
Tamari (soy sauce) (3)
Black Flax Seed
Black Sesame Seeds
Purple (Red) Onions
Purple Green Beans
May Our Lady bless you,
Blessed is She.