Friday, October 9, 2015

Dragsholm Castle and the Ghosts Who Chose to Stay...

Near Copenhagen, on the islet by the draugh (or small stretch of land), proudly stands the Castle known as Dragsholm. Peder Sunesen, the Bishop of Roskilde erected the original fortress during the 12th century, but the imposing structure has changed many times since its first medieval design. 

Dragsholm Castle in Winter, by Niels Elgaard Larsen

As one might imagine, over the centuries, the castle served as a home to a variety of noblemen and kings. Then from the 14th to the 15th century, Dragsholm became a prison to men of no small reputation, such as the last Catholic Bishop in Roskilde. Joachim Rønnow, a former owner, was imprisoned within her walls. So was the 4th Earl of Bothwell, the third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. We also have Ejler Brockenhuus, deemed a raving lunatic…but was he really?

The castle now serves as a hotel, and if you’re thinking of booking a reservation any time soon, you might prepare yourself for encountering a few things from the past during your stay. No, I’m not talking about the antiques. I’m talking about those who call Dragsholm Castle home and have called it home for centuries.

Monday, October 5, 2015

All Hallow's Eve approaches....

We call the event Halloween, the Irish, Samhain, or La Samon. The Druids referred to it as Feast of the Sun, one of four ‘Fire Festivals’. They celebrated this festival on the first day of November. But since the ancient Celts marked their days from sundown to sundown, All Hallow’s Eve began with the setting of the sun on October 31st. 

The Fire Festival... The Druids built the only permissible fire on this particular day. Those who needed a hearth fire (and that included just about everyone) had to obtain a start from the sacred burning alters of the Druids, for a donation or a fee of course. After all, a Druid has to do what a Druid has to do to survive.

To the Romans, the time was called the Feralia and set aside for sacrifices, oblations, and prayers. This celebration, adopted by the Church in Rome, was a day to honor the dead and bring them peace. Originally held in February, the church moved the observance to November 1st.

Calan Gaeaf is the Welsh name for the first day of winter. They call the eve of Calan Gaeaf, Nos Calan Gaeaf. At this time, spirits converge upon the land. Those honest in heart will avoid churchyards, stiles, and crossroads, as they believe these are the places spirits gather.