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What you didn’t know about Halloween….

 

 

Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III (731–741) later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13 to November 1. By the 9th century the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted the older Celtic rites. In 1000 A.D., the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It is widely believed today that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. All Souls Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

Celebration of Halloween was extremely limited in colonial New England because of the rigid Protestant belief systems there. Halloween was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies. As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups as well as the American Indians meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included “play parties,” public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing. Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland’s potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. Young women believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors.

In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” or “grotesque” out of Halloween celebrations. Because of these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday.

The American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.

The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.

Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends. For these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and along the side of the road and lit candles to help loved ones find their way back to the spirit world. Today’s Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too. We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into cats. We try not to walk under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may have come from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that triangles were sacred; it also may have something to do with the fact that walking under a leaning ladder tends to be fairly unsafe. And around Halloween, especially, we try to avoid breaking mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt.

But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today’s trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead. In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday—with luck, by next Halloween—be married. In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it. In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl’s future husband. (In some versions of this legend, confusingly, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.) Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night she would dream about her future husband. Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands’ faces. Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.

Of course, whether we’re asking for romantic advice or trying to avoid seven years of bad luck, each one of these Halloween superstitions relies on the good will of the very same “spirits” whose presence the early Celts felt so keenly.

History

The Real Meaning of Easter

The best way to understand the real meaning of Easter would be from Jesus. The real meaning is a three word answer … the new covenant.

The New Covenant

Jesus had come in town for the Passover celebratrion and was getting ready to be betrayed by one of the disciples, publicly humiliated and mocked, beaten beyond recognition, and hung on a cross to die, when he made his special request for his followers to remember that He gave his body for us and poured out his blood as a sacrifice for us. The heart of Easter lies in his words, “the new covenant between God and his people.”

In Luke 22 we get a picture of the night before his death:

When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table. Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come.” He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you. Luke 22:14-20

Passover and the New Covenant

Since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, people were destined to be separated from God because of their sin. God’s Spirit rested on the Patriarchs of our faith, but was not poured out on the masses. The Holy of Holies was the innermost and most sacred part of the tablernacle and ordinary people of faith would never get to have access to this place where God’s Presence could be found. We were hopeless in our sins and distanced from God.

People of faith offered up animal sacrifices according to the laws given to Moses to ask God to forgive their sins and have mercy on them. Bulls, goats, and lambs each had their significance. But the lamb had special meaning because it was lamb’s blood the Israelites painted on their doorposts to avoid death on the night of Passover. (Exodus 12:11-13)

God gave Moses and Aaron specific instructions on how to honor God with annual Passover celebrations. Lamb is the pinnacle of the Passover meal. The lambs were to be spotless and even lived with the families for several days before they were sacrificed, adding to the understanding that the ultimate sacrifice was close to the hearts of those whose sins were atoned for. All of the many interesting details of celebrating Passover have significant meaning that point to the ultimate Passover lamb – Jesus Christ – a sinless God-man who lived among the people for a season.

What is the real meaning of Easter? In John 1:29, as he sees Jesus approaching, John the Baptist announces to the crowd around him, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

He knew that Jesus was the son of God, the long awaited Messiah, the one whom God’s prophets had promised to save mankind from their sins and to give them a deep heartfelt relationship with God the Father. The new covenant would be an everlasting covenant. (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Jeremiah 32:39-42, Isaiah 55:3) Jesus, our sacrificial lamb, our Savior, our God, our Redeemer – he laid down his life as our sacrificial lamb to pay for our sins. When he rose from the dead three days later, he gave victory over eternal separation from God (death) to all who put their faith and trust in him. That is the new covenant – everlasting life spent with God through faith in all that Jesus Christ has done and continues to do.

Bible Verses

All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son. And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. (1 John 5:10-12, NLT)

“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3b-4, KJV)

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9, NLT)

Prayer

Father God, there is sometimes controversy about how, when, and what to call the remembrance of the greatest day in history – the day Jesus Christ, your beloved son, rose from the dead and brought the gift of your forgiveness and eternal life to all who would like to receive it – the new covenant. Please pour out your Holy Spirit on all who believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and put us on our knees before you with thankful hearts for your great love for us. You, oh God, have given us victory over sin and death, and the promise of never leaving us or forsaking us for eternity. Help us to be the body of Christ, the church, united in awe of how you saved our unworthy souls … your body and your blood as a sacrifice for us. Help us to bring this message to all who will listen. Help us to love like you love. Thank you forever! Amen.

Sweet Dreams – why do we dream of people who have passed away?

 

Hi everyone, I have received many messages from people who have been experiencing dreams about loved ones who have passed away.
Many tell me that their loved ones are children again, or much younger and happier than they were when they passed.
Others say they dream of a parent sitting or standing beside them.
Pets can also vividly appear in our dreams.

To dream of a loved one who has passed away is a blessing.
There is so much about the universe and beyond that we are yet to discover. The afterlife remains our biggest mystery, and not until our own final moment on Earth will we ever know what happens next.
Yet despite this mystery, our subconscious is able to keep precious memories alive through our dreams. We are so lucky to receive vivid reminders of those we have loved and lost as we sleep.
After death are we younger, happier, more free in spirit?
Parents standing or sitting by our side….are they still watching over us, supporting us through their dream presence as we sleep?

It is a comfort to know that despite our loss of a loved one, we can at times, as we sleep, feel their presence and know that somehow their memory and spirit lives on within us. Somehow they are still with us, and for just a moment, the physical connection is brought back to life.
Is this a sign that love is eternal?
Life goes on, and we cry many tears for those we lose.
Feel blessed when you dream of a loved one who has passed away. It could truly be the most beautiful miracle of all.

Sweet Dreams x     https://www.facebook.com/dreamsanalysis/

Learning how to Bounce! Resiliency : What is it? Why it matters.

 

 

 

Michael H Ballard Canada

Resiliency is starting to gather more attention. Personal resilience helps us stay healthier, do better in school, have happier relationships, experience more joy  and do better in our jobs. Family resilience also offers that and makes for better neighbours and safer communities. Resilience in the workplace helps with staff engagement and retention. The benefits of creating, having and nurturing a personal, family, organizational and community culture of resilience is very valuable.

But, what is it? Resilience is our ability to “bounce back” from adversity. Life’s BIGStuff events that we all have happen to us eventually. Death in the family, loss of a job, divorce, poor performance at work or school, chronic illness, having your house burn down you get the picture.

Resiliency is a set of key factors we can all use to assist us stay safer and move forward and often create more successful outcomes.  There are two major parts to Resiliency. Inner and outer resilience. Inner resilience includes the beliefs you hold to be true,  your problem solving skills, and the goals you’ve set for yourself. Outer resilience includes the values of the community you live in, teams you’ve built around yourself, the education you have, the support you have from family to name just  a few.

So how do we get more? Well to further develop and deepen our inner resiliency a key place to start includes: –  Our self control. Moderation is a very powerful factor in being resilient. Our resistance to temptation, our restraint to over doing things is a great place to start. Key skills to help us manage our inner world include: Diaphragm Breathing and Meditative Walking.  More on this in a future column.

To further develop our outer resiliency developing and deepening trusting relationships with people who treat us with respect, sharing time with others that have high expectations of us and them of us are powerful places to help us deepen and widen our ability to thrive. Setting boundaries and expectations with others politely and clearly make a difference.

Resiliency is a life long process. A key to me is that we have to set boundaries and  expectations of our self and with others.  Being resilient offers up life as a life long adventure.  It helps us stretch into life’s BIGStuff moments and issues keeping us safer and happier and often offering us much better outcomes.

So until next time, Imagine Yourself with more Resiliency for Life.

How do we deepen our Resilience?

Resilience, Resiliency, Positive, Positivity, Positive Imperative, Michael Ballard
By virtue of the fact you’re reading this tells me you have resiliency. A key question is how do we deepen, and widen our capacity to thrive?
 imagesFalsehoods and Lies – These can wear us down and hurt us, as like the half truths they are not all accurate.

  • Indicating that we’re what? Very Tall? Short?
  • Never mind the 79 – 197 hours your practiced,

Michael H Ballard is a SME – Subject Matter Expert on Resiliency. He consults and trains with individuals and groups, organizations and communities on how to develop and deepen their resiliency.

 Let’s start at the beginning.

A key component of being resilient is our ability to understand, manage and nurture our self-definition. What is self-definition you ask? Good question. 

Self Definition is a compilation of how we’ve knowingly and unknowingly defined ourselves based on many variables. These include our race, colour, creed, gender, physical traits, IQ, EQ, how we where parented, our health  extended family, neighbourhood, workplace, educational levels attained, the media, community and country to name just a few.
Where  should we start?
Let us start with you considering this concept about Self Definition.
If there was a picture of you in the dictionary; not just any dictionary but one that is confidential and only you can see. Your dictionary only! Now, let us take a trip inside this confidential dictionary to see what you’ll discover and uncover.
First realize that there are three key types of items and memories stored here.
The first are the truths about us. However some of the things we think are the truth in time are not always 100% accurate.
half truth, half lie, truth, positive, positivity, positive imperative, Michael Ballard
Half Truths – Half Falsehoods
~ These are beliefs about us that can confuse and misdirect us as we lack clarity because of them. I.e. You’re just like your (Place name here) and will never do well in math. When in fact perhaps you’re not going to be a Engineer, or a Physicist, yet could do very well as a business professional using business math.
What to do about these three categories?
Well, several years back I mentored a young gentleman who’d lived on the street for ten years. After several deep and meaty conversations he shared the phrase “Fearless moral inventory”. Great phrase. I’d suggest a slightly gentler approach. Consider something along the lines of a “Deep and wide honest inventory of how have I defined myself to date? Then, what should be adjusted? Added? Thrown out?
It is a process so it will not just happen over night. However if we have the courage to understand that we took years to get this way than real change can often happen in hours, days and weeks. If we keep practicing. The road to mastery is one built on excellence not perfection.

Positive, Positive Thinking, Positive Mind, Positive, Positivity, Positive Imperative

No where to be seen between Positive and Negative thoughts, half truths are the neutral way of thinking that is also negative.
So, how do these three key types of files in our private and confidential internal dictionary show up?
Generally people have them there as positive, negative and half-truths.
Words
I.e.
–          Stupid – Oh don’t be so stupid!
–          Amazing – It is amazing how you do that so well.
Phrases
I.e. –          You’re just like your …
Under weight? Over weight? Smart? Stupid?
Incredibly good looking?
–          You’re so lucky
the lessons you took and the mentor you had. You lucky? Not a chance. Luck favours the prepared. You prepared. You gained some mastery!
Pictures I.e. Images burnt into our brain of a very upbeat or very negative time.
Use caution of reviewing our failures and mistakes. Over time we run the risk of programming ourselves for more failures and mistakes.
Positive Imperative Positive thinking negative thinking
Mini movies and sound tracks
I.e. They play over and over and over again if we give them permission. They become burnt into our brain of a very upbeat or very negative time. They can influence our mood, our relationships our happiness and our success.
Replaced the negative ones with new ones. Write a new script! Act it out in the privacy of your bedroom or Living room.
 We need to stay vigilant against a society that works on a negative asset basis. We’re consistently feed messages that if we just “wore the right clothes, drove a certain car, lived in a certain area, attended a certain school, we’d be smarter, more successful and more likeable. All not true of course. Yet the cosmetics, fashion industry and many others do quite well with that pitch. Not that a new piece of clothing is not a good thing. Just not a replacement of the homework we all should be doing.
Well with over 80% of what we think and are told framed in the negative it is no wonder we have “issues” around resiliency. Feeling comfortable in our own skin and managing our Self Definition is a very powerful first step. Foundational work some of us would say.
So nothing like the present to start to walk the talk about resiliency.

What area of your Self Definition will you work on today? The time is now to take this on and start to build and rid of what blocks you as you house clean.

 

Resiliant Michael