Monday, December 27, 2010
Celtic New Year
Happy Holidays everyone. I hope you all have a Happy New Year. I write Celtic romances and the New Year celebration, called Samhain, was as important to the ancient Celts as New Years is to us. Even more so as the long cold days of winter were dangerous to ancient man and the Samhain rituals helped keep them in the gods and goddesses’ favor, increasing the tribe’s chance of survival. Here’s a New Year excerpt from my brand new release a Paranormal/ Erotica/ Romance The Wolf and The Druidess
“Yes, Druidess. It is the best new year celebration ever.” The young woman’s freckled face beamed.
“It is, isn’t it?” Seren sighed as she envisioned sitting with the ghost of her mother and sharing the feast. “Will you gather treats for me, I am off to visit my mam’scairn for Samhain?“ Her throat tightened. Seren’s father had died in battle with the Silures, when she was young, leaving her mother to care for her.
Today, ten months after her mother’s death, she would sup with, talk to, and spend time with her again.
“We have oat cakes, druidess and fresh, juicy apples.” A maiden with long nut-brown hair handed her a wicker basket.
Seren peeked inside at the shiny red apples, crispy oat cakes, plump black pudding links, fat turnips, wild carrots, and handfuls of roasted hazelnuts.
“Druidess, tell me, do you have someone special to couple with around the bonfire this night?”
“No, I need to bring this fare to my mother.” Seren shrugged. She would like to share this night with a handsome man, but as the druidess her days were full with serving the tribe. With little time to kindle a romance, she longed for love, but mayhap it was not meant to be. “What of you?”
“Yes, I will spend the eve with Hywell. He and I shall hand-fast soon.”
“Blessings upon you. He is a good man, a brave warrior.” Seren pulled the white hood of her druid robe over her head. “I need to hasten to my mother’s cairn. Happy Samhain to you.”
“And you, Druidess, as well.” The young woman’s mouth curled up into a bright smile. “Here, for your trek into the dark woods.”
Seren took the lit torch from the freckle-faced maiden. With the basket looped through her arm and a firebrand in hand, she set out for the forest.
And here’s a Samhain or New Year excerpt from my Celtic/Paranormal/Romance, Druid Bride:
As a yearly tribute to the dead, the New Year’s feast insured the gods saw the tribe through the hard winter. It had to be perfect, and it fell on her shoulders. Not to mention, she’d never put on a Samhain feast alone. Sulwen and Rhys always did it, and she merely helped. She began to relax, taking deep breaths as she strolled to the pasture where the cattle grazed. Tanwen walked through the herd and selected the cows to slaughter for the fire festival.
Then, she headed to the chief’s wheelhouse. “Good morning, Ciniatha. Have you chosen the nine maidens to cook the feast?”
“Yes, we just came from the garden. Come see.”
Though too busy to take the time to squeeze and smell the fruits and vegetables, Tanwen deemed they looked ripe. The bright, red apples appeared sweet and juicy, and the oblong, yellowish, purple-capped turnips were fat and sure to be crisp and filling.
Tanwen’s nose wiggled at the strong smell of the long, green leeks. “You’ve done well. I can tell this is the best of the harvest.”
“And taste this.” Ciniatha held out a spoon of yellow butter.
Tanwen glanced to the corner where two maidens pumped wooden churns. She dipped her finger into the spoon of butter and popped it into her mouth. So creamy and sweet. Rich. “It is good enough for the gods.” After licking her finger, she ran her tongue over her lips to get every dab. “Delicious.”
As she inhaled the mellow scent of fresh baked bread, she imagined the taste of a soft, warm slice with the soft butter. She had to leave before she started eating the food intended for the feast.
“I see all is well here.” She smiled at the chief’s wife. “There will be plenty of bread for the visiting spirits.” Tanwen turned to leave.
Ciniatha called after her. “Did you see Brude today?”
“Yes, he’s hunting boar for the feast. Now that we have caught each other, we have no time to spend together. There are feasts and battles, but after Samhain, there should be more time for us.”
“You have much to do. You are a druid. And rest assured, I have the fare for the feast well in hand.” She flashed a sweet smile at Tanwen. “Calach and I welcome you into the family. My son is making a wise choice.”
“My thanks.” She reached out and hugged Ciniatha, though Brude was still on her mind. Did he still feel that way? He seemed so disappointed about the hunt. She released her mother–to-be by marriage, smiled, then turned and continued the many tasks she’d set aside for that day.
After she ate the evening meal that Huctia brewed over the central fire of her wheelhouse, Tanwen laid on her pallet. Exhausted, she fell into a heavy sleep.
Of course us modern day folk like to party at New Year’s Eve too. So here’s a partying excerpt from The Wolf and the Druidess as the ancient Celts bring in their New Year.
After the nine warriors had made many a trek up the hill, a bonfire towered before Seren. Chief Neithon handed her a firebrand to light it. The bard of the tribe came forward with harp in hand and strummed a lilting tune as the fire roared in a bright blaze.
Seren raised her hands high, twirling and chanting. “Fire sparks, veil parts, ancestors come near, feast, dance, sing with us here. Great powers abound. Circle comes round. All hail Samhain.”
The roar of the blaze, the cheering crowd, and the magic of Samhain rushed through her like an inferno. Seren slipped off her white gold-speckled robe, which had been woven by her mother and was the last gift from her before she died. Seren longed to see her once more. She tossed the garment to one of the women
to hold for her.
One of the nine maidens, Elund, beat the goatskin drum in a savage rhythm. Seren’s skin felt as hot as the fire as she moved in a swaying motion. Needing to bare her body for the gods, she danced to, she untied her hemp belt and her plaid skirt dropped to the dirt. She yanked her red tunic off and threw it down. The haunting twitter of the pipes and the ethereal tone of the harp joined the bodhran in the jubilant song of Samhain.
I wish each of you a happy and prosperous New Year.
Happy New Year,