So now what? Is only ever now and now is perfectly what it is.
There were other issues afoot with oncoming winter. One of those relates both to nobles and commoners. The onset of madness was seen as more likely to occur Halloween night, and nights after these people were considered to be away with the fairies as they do still sometimes say in places in Ireland. In their place was a changeling, the strange person no one could relate to and who couldn’t seem to understand much of anything.
One theory is (in Ireland at least) it was brought on by consuming potatoes contaminated with a noxious fungus, and in other places it was perhaps from mouldy rye bread. In the case of the rye bread, the fungus involved creates a chemical that is the precursor for LSD so the afflicted person may have been reporting hallucinations as well as showing signs of bad temper and disorientation.
Part of the reason the dead were not free to return to the world, whenever they wished, is that they owned fealty to the gods. The gods could emerge into the world whenever their duty or inclination called for it, but the dead had to stay at home and attend to their duties. Attending the houses of the gods, or looking after the herds, even attending the gods on their hunts. The gods were the arbiters of justice, so from time to time they were believed to ride out and act against those who failed to respect their ways. Perhaps the explanation for the seemingly arbitrary ups and downs of the ruling class as well as the commoners? This was perhaps the origin of the wild hunt which was commonly viewed as a possible occurrence on this night.
Another role of witches was community organizers. They could marshal the otherwise underestimated commoner class to arrange things to happen to a particularly upsetting person. Possibly just a good scare while they were out hunting, but in more dramatic cases, well… Who doesn’t do what they have to when life depends on it? That’s why the concern over marks on walls, fences or household posts. These symbols were sort of like trail signs, but served to notify those who should understand how the community viewed a person place or thing, and perhaps even what they intended to do about it, thus the church outlawed making marks.
There was a symbol. It looks like a tree or broom in stick figure, and we now see it sometimes upside down in hippy peace symbols, but for a time it was known as the witches foot print. It was also the origin of the notion that fairies might have chicken feet. It also is the source of the symbolism of Baba Yaga’s hut which was said to walk about on chicken feet, and well who is Baba Yaga but the witch crone goddess of death and divination? Even in classical stories she wasn’t thought to kill everyone she meets.
Well, I must away to hand out treats should they come knocking. Till next time friend be well and Happy Halloween.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.