As the Wheel Turns to the dark of the year
May you connect with your loved ones far and near,
Feast on candy, pumpkins, and witch’s brew,
And see into your future what’s best for you.
On blessed Samhain when the spirits soar
May you heed the wisdom of myth and lore
See the Goddess as the wise, cauldron stiring Crone
To know life’s mysteries of dust and bone.
And may you gain all good things you desire
Forget and forgive the muck and the mire
Health, wealth, love and wisdom to thee
Blessed Samhain, so mote it be!
© Ariadne Woods
Samhain, Halloween, the Day of the Dead, oh my! This season is marked by lots of holidays dedicated to the last harvest and the honoring of the dead. For modern witches, Wiccans, and some Pagans, we embrace these days as more than just an excuse to get dressed up and eat a lot of candy (although that’s fun too). Try to take time for deliberate spiritual practices before the Wheel of the Year comes to a close.
- Movie Marathon: Practical Magic, The Craft, even a couple of early episodes of Charmed. Check out some witchy role models in popular culture. And then don’t forget to finish off the evening with It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!
- Divination: The veil between the worlds is thinner at this point of the year. It is a good time to break out the black scrying mirror and tarot cards. If you have no experience in this area and have a little extra cash, consider findingr a reputable psychic and paying them a visit.
- A Wishing Tree: As this is the witches’ new year, it is a good time to think about what you want to happen in the coming months. Try to find a dozen or so candle lanterns that you can easily hang from a tree (or a bush or if need be place them around your home). Before placing the candles in the holders, carve a symbol of a wish into it. When you light it, the wish will be released.
- A Feast (and a Dead Supper): Sometime in the next week I will post some food ideas. But in the mean time, there is no harm in munching on a little Halloween candy as a snack! Make sure to leave some for your ancestors.
- Get Out in the Last Few Warm Days of the Year: Enjoy these days because in a few weeks the leaves will be gathered and the Earth will be settled for a long winter. Also, I am originally from a rural community where this time of year is all about corn mazes and pumpkin picking. If these activities exist near your home, take full advantage.
- Pumpkin Carving: If you are sick of carving faces into your Jack-O-Lantern, there are plenty of great templates online. Consider Hecate, the Green Man, pentacles, triple moons, and ancestor spirits as inspiration.
- Family Time: As this is the time of remembering the ancestors, take some time to hang out with your loved ones just to relax and have fun.
© Ariadne Woods
It might be a radical thought but while Halloween certainly has its roots in the Celtic festival neo-Pagans call Samhain, they are not necessarily the same holiday. According to Starhawk in Circle Round, Samhain represents both the festival of the dead and the beginning of the new year. It is a serious holiday full of remembrance and reverence. The veil between the spirt world and our own is said to be the thinnest, so people take measures to protect themselves from evil spirits and to divine wisdom from ancestors. In the twentieth-first century context, Halloween is a fall festival of mischief. At least in my household growing up, it marked the beginning of the holiday season (we have a lot of November and December birthdays in the family, my own included!). It involved elaborate costumes and pounds of candy.
From my perspective these two wonderful holidays are Janus-faced qualities and represent a greater duality. While I tend to separate them in my own practice, they are a good example of the idea that there are many different sides to the same thing.
© Ariadne Woods