‘...Echoes fade and memories die:
Autumn frosts have slain July.’
The name is derived from the Roman word ‘Octo’ which translated means ‘eight’. October was the eight month of the Roman calendar after March. As part of the seasonal calendar October is the time of the ‘Blood Moon’ according to Pagan beliefs, and the period described as the ‘Moon of the Changing Season’ by Black Elk (Black Elk Speaks, Neihardt).
October was also known as:
‘Wynmaand’ (Wine month / Time of vintage)
‘Teo-monath’ (Tenth month)
‘Winter-fylleth’ (Winter full moon)
This is a time when the Celtic year, ‘Lammas’, draws to a close and the people prepared for the harshness and impending darkness of ‘Samhain’. The circle of the year was closing, and the sense of death and life ever present. The Druid belief in the soul being taken after death to the west across the water in a ship mad of white crystal to the island of the blessed, as described by Kenneth McLeod in The Road of the Isles, was one to be hoped for, should the winter prove too much, rather than the fire ship to the land of the damned. The Celtic ritual of drawing a protective circle around the body by stretching out the right hand, with a pointed forefinger whilst describing the path of the circle towards the sun was believed to provide protection from darkness.
At this time, perhaps more than any other, according to the Celtic and pagan calendar, the natural and the supernatural were greatly enhanced, with many rituals taking place such as All Hallow’s Eve (31 October) grew closer. The belief in the need to prepare against the closing darker forces was essential and be seen in all forms, in visual glyphs and paintings, decoration, and in the timing of the ritual itself. The oral tradition was perhaps the strongest of all the forms in many ancient belief systems, especially amongst Druid or Aboriginal peoples, evident in the many stories, rhymes and songs, traditions and rituals. The harsh winter, the darkness, was something to be feared, as not everyone who had enjoyed the summer, sown and harvested, would make it through the winter either due to illness or starvation. The oral tradition brought an understanding of each other, of bird and beast, of plant and tree, of Creation and the spiritual world. It cemented communities through its teachings, information not stored simply for amusement but as a daily way of life.
One such rural belief (UK) which reflects the seasonal awareness of the approach of Samhain is that blackberries (See Mystical WWW Plants for more folklore information) should not be picked after 11 October, (old Michaelmas Day) as it was thought that this was when the Devil was believed to have fallen into a thicket of blackberries and cursed the thorns (See Mystical WWW Trees for more folklore information). Negative forces were believed to be stronger in the darkness, so with daylight limited, all portents were to be heeded, from adorning the inside of the home and land with a vast array of objects (both natural and man-made), to watching the movement of the weather and creatures. To ignore the interpretation of an omen was to ignore experience, not just of the immediate, but of generations.
‘The Horned One steps forward
bringing darkness, and the end of the year.’
As part of the astrological calendar, October has many associations. This is the month of the house of Libra (September 23 - October 23) and the house of Scorpio (24 October - November 22).
Libra is the seventh sign of the zodiac symbolised as ‘The Scales of Justice’. In ancient times Libra was closely associated with Scorpio, as it was believed they were as one, the scales being held between the claws, being known as the ‘Claws of the Scorpion’. Perhaps this is why also Libra has been associated with the arts which is a Scorpion trait. The Libra is highly skilled at how the individual can affect and be affected by the many roles within society. Hence comes an ability to be define roles and also to produce considered opinions, although a Libra can be judgmental at times. Views are truthful which means that they can also be controversial and once a decision has been made Libra is difficult to budge. Trying to rush a Libra into making a decision is not advised as the result could be extremely unfortunate, even spelling calamity for all concerned as time is something for Libra to control and therefore highly important.
‘Venus’ is the ruling planet of Libra and openly shows in the attention to detail spent by Libra on appearance and the need to surround themselves with things which they feel to be of beauty. In Roman mythology Venus was also known as the ‘Morning Star of War’, and the ‘Evening Star of Harlotry and Love’. Venus was the daughter of ‘Jupiter’ and ‘Dione’ and had many aspects. She was revered as a ‘Goddess of Nature’ encouraging the flowers and fruits to be plentiful in the spring, hence the varied colours, plants and trees that are associated with Libra. The qualities of Libra are seen to be a strong sense of justice, fairness, diplomacy, engaging charm, stamina and mediation. On the negative side Libra does have a tendency to be a little lazy, to procrastinate which may be a result of enjoying the pleasures of life. The sixth phase of the journey of the Sun is experienced here, that of the adult who has settled comfortably into life and is beginning to reflect on what has been and what is to come in the latter stages of life. Libra is a cardinal and positive air sign associated with the statements ‘I weigh’, ‘I search for balance and harmony’ and‘You and I together’.It rules the kidneys and lower back. Libra has many floral associations, with the Blackberry, Bluebell, Cabbage Rose, Dahlia, Daisy, Grapevine, Ivy, Lilac, berry fruits and most spices (See Mystical WWW Plants, & Language of Flowers). Libra is further associated with Ash, Aspen, and the Black and the White Poplar (See Mystical WWW Trees). Colours associated with Libra are the primary colours including pale blue, midnight blue, pale green, lemon, shocking pink and pale yellow. The main stone associated with Libra is the Opal, whilst the main stone associated with the month of September is the Sapphire (See Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Rhymes & Time - Language of Gems).Lucky number is six, lucky day Friday (See Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Days of the Week). Metal associated is copper.
‘She generally gave herself very good advice,
(though she seldom followed it).’
Scorpio is the eighth sign of the zodiac symbolised in four forms: the ‘eagle’, the ‘phoenix’, the ‘lizard’ and the ‘Scorpion’ and is often poorly mistaken for being a sign that can think of little else but physical passion. Yet Scorpio is a truly mystical sign and can transcend far beyond the physical realm to depths often left wanting in others. In ancient times we know that Scorpio and Libra were linked, believed to be as one form, when the scales were held between the claws, in the ‘Claws of the Scorpion’. Hence the desire for truth through examining all the available evidence and more is a powerful Scorpion trait, always supported with a sense of cautious investigation. The claws and scales indicated the power to preserve or destroy.
The ancient ruling planet of Scorpio was ‘Mars’, the ‘God of War’, associated with aggression and wrath, seen as tempestuous with explosive energetic outbursts. ‘Mars’, father of ‘Romulus’and ‘Remus’, had ‘Venus’ as his mistress and a sister-wife ‘Bellona’. This ancient ruler perhaps gives some insight into why the sign is much maligned.
‘Pluto’ is now the ruling planet of Scorpio, symbolising the beginning of life and its end, creation and destruction most patently described in the life-forces of the earthquake, the volcano and subsequent explosive force. Yet it must then be remembered that Pluto also symbolises life after death, the resurrection. In Roman mythology, Pluto was seen to be the ‘Guardian of the Underworld’, known to the ancient Greeks as ‘Hades’. In ancient Greek mythology the hunter ‘Orion’ was stung by the scorpion after boasting of his prowess, that he could kill any animal. ‘Hera’ secretly commanded the scorpion to act and subsequently raised Scorpio to the Heavens, known as ‘Scorpius’. The qualities of Scorpio are seen to be magnetism, mystical intensity, dependability, indulgent, probing, defensive, changeable and secretive (Hera connection), On the negative side Scorpio can be self-destructive, seen as serious with a desire to control, especially in love. The symbol of the Scorpion is inextricably linked to Creation myths, more specifically the creation of man and woman, and their subsequent fall (the sting in the tail). The eighth phase of the journey of the Sun is experienced here, that of the middle aged adult determined to succeed in their abilities. Scorpio is a fixed and negative water sign associated with the statements ‘I control’, ‘I experience all things’ and ‘I know’. It rules the generative system. Scorpio has many floral associations, with the Hemlock, Ivy, Leeks, Onions, Black Poppy, Reeds, strong tasting root vegetables (See Mystical WWW Plants, & Language of Flowers). Scorpio is further associated with Thorn Apple, Blackthorn, Hawthorn (See Mystical WWW Trees). Colours associated with Scorpio are black, charcoal grey, maroon, blood red and dark red. The main stone associated with Scorpio is the Topaz, whilst the main stone associated with the month of October is the Opal (See Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Rhymes & Time - Language of Gems).Lucky number is nine, lucky day Tuesday (See Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Days of the Week). Metal associated is Plutonium.
‘The question is...which is to be master - that’s all.’
‘Consider anything only don’t cry...’
First week in October
West Highlands & Hebrides, Scotland : Sites chosen each year : ‘National Gaelic Mod’
First Sunday in October
St. Mary at Hill, Eastcheap, London, England : Traditional ‘Costermongers' Harvest Festival’.
First Monday in October
King's Norton, Warwickshire, England : Traditional ‘Mop Fair’.
First Thursday, Friday, Saturday in October
Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England : Traditional ‘Goose Fair’ and fun fair rides.
About a fortnight around October 31
Antrobus and Comberbach, Cheshire, England : Traditional ‘Soul-Caking Play’, a part of Mumming. (For further information see Mystical WWW Arts : Drama, Mumming).
Last Thursday of the month
Hinton St. George, Somerset, England : Traditional ‘Punky Night’ Celebrations.
Sikh holiday and festival : (1997 October 30, 1998 October 19).
Unlucky October Dates
4. 6. 16. 24.
According to the English historian Richard Grafton these certain dates of the month were unlucky as published in the ‘Manual’ in 1565. Days throughout the year were identified and of course could have related to any day of the week. The date was the most important point to consider. The work was reputed to have some credence with support given by astronomers of the day. Exactly why these dates are unlucky is unclear today but by looking at the calendar of days an idea of the major occurrences can be seen.