The inevitable questions and comments come, as they do every year at this time. Ah yes, Halloween. The time when people assume that I decorate my home with all manner of supposed spooky things, dress up as someone other than myself, put children in bubbling cauldrons and party with vampires and werewolves or some such nonsense.
Feeling the same way as I did almost 25 years ago, when I received my calling to practice the Craft, I choose to be open as opposed to deny and hide in the ‘broom closet’. I decided that it wasn’t possible to educate people from in there. So, here I am, still ‘out there’ and educating.
Things have changed over the years. Most for the better, considering how easy it is to find information about things that a person might be curious about and actually find the truth that is out there. However, there are still the misinformed, the superstitious, and those who prefer to believe lies instead of becoming knowledgeable, lest they violate some edict that came via a ‘man of the cloth’.
People who do ask the questions as to my celebrating ‘Halloween’ are usually surprised. I explain that I celebrate Samhain, the last of the three harvest holidays that Witches observe. For me, it’s more about the seasonal dark times that began at the Summer Solstice than it is about scary things, unless you find squash to be terrifying. My husband does, but he will point out a nice pumpkin when he sees one. The quest for a current crop apple continues and I scent Enchanted with cinnamon and clove and relish the icy pinch of Autumn’s fingers upon my cheek that gives me an excuse to flip the switch for an instant perfect flame and embers in the fireplace.
It also might raise an eyebrow or two to find that I consider the images of Witches that are so commonplace, to be very offensive. Green skinned, hooked nosed, toothless ‘hags’ abound and no one even imagines that real practitioners of Witchcraft might have a problem with it. Would a catholic be upset by someone dressed as a priest with an alter boy in tow? A little Hitler going door to door for candy? A KKK member carrying a noose as a prop?
Witchcraft is a Nature based spiritual path, first and foremost. The reality has nothing in common with the world of vampires, zombies and werewolves. Have fun with the fantasy if you want, but please, know the difference.
The Magick that I practice involves the focus and directing of energy. I don’t expect to light a candle with my finger or ‘make’ people do my bidding. I have been asked to put curses on ex-significant others, but that’s not my thing either. People cast spells all the time without conscious intention. Saying the words, “I wish”, “I hope” “I want”…all with an outcome in mind, are in essence, spells. Lighting a candle in church for someone, prayer circles, and the traditional making a ‘wish’ on falling stars or before showering a birthday cake, candles ablaze, with droplets of spittle in an effort to blow them out… I know you’re thinking “why did she have to go there”…did I mention, I’m psychic too.
When I see the image of that Halloween ‘witch’, all in fun, I see the victims of the trials who were tortured and murdered because someone’s admittedly jealous and vengeful deity told them to do it. Women, broken and battered until their skin was bruised and had a green appearance. Noses busted, swollen and twisted. Teeth knocked out, hair ripped from bleeding scalps, their clothes torn to shreds. Witches? No, many were widows who’s land went to the church in the event of their deaths. Practitioners of midwifery and folk medicine that worked, therefore they were suspect of having evil powers.
I can’t help but weep for those times and the victims of prefabricated crimes and yet, I am grateful that I can write this, openly and honestly. Free to meet with others of like mind in broad day light, attend Pagan events, browse for hours in metaphysical shops and answer questions like yours without fear. I wear my pentacle with pride and reverence, as you do your cross or star of David.
After the trick or treaters stop coming, the porch light is turned off, and I have saved the last KitKat bar for myself, I go to my circle in my yard. I celebrate the lives of family and friends who have crossed over, for the veil is believed to be thin on Samhain and their familiar voices may be heard. An empty place is set at the table for them in remembrance of times when meals were shared. Called a ‘silent supper’ the meal is eaten, void of conversation to honor them, and is savored as much as the memories.
As with many things, fantasy is exciting and fun, but temporary. Don’t be afraid to explore the reality that is lasting, deep and sacred. The voice you may hear in the darkness is nothing to fear. It comes from within and will speak words of knowledge and wisdom. Listen intently and welcome it often.
Blessed Samhain, everyone.