As mentioned before, I love Autumn. In Michigan, leaves turn gold, red, orange and brown; layering the ground in color as the trees prepare for Winter. Crisp air chills the skin and I cannot help but feel a frisson of excitement. Why? Halloween magic approacheth!
Halloween Magic Allows People To Explore Hidden Interests
Halloween is a secular holiday. We all know that to be true. What is Halloween magic? For me, it is the opportunity for children and adults to explore interests otherwise hidden throughout the rest of the year. A space for “spooky” to become acceptable. And let’s face it. Many people see Witches, Wiccans, Druids, Heathens, Pagans, Mediums, Diviners, et al., as spooky. But October is the Season of the Witch! What better time in the year is there to share who we are than Halloween? Which is why I take umbrage with those who make false claims about Witches and candy, btw!)
As a child, dressing up in a homemade costume (ghost, fortune-teller or witch–no surprises there) gave expression to that which fascinated me. For me, a Halloween costume was more than pretend as, just for a few hours on October 31st, I “embodied” those interests or people. Not that I wanted to become a ghost (I wasn’t suicidal), but being able to “talk” to them? Sure.
Afterall, I’d been having experiences with spirit beings from the age of six. But I didn’t understand words such as “clairsentience” or “mediumship” as a young child. As an adult, I now see how dressing as a ghost on Halloween allowed me to express feelings about those experiences in an abstract sort of way. Dressing as a Witch, let me indulge an interest in witchcraft (not that I knew anything about real Witches at the time but I did make my own conical black hat) without recrimination. In my experience, when a child picks out or makes their own costume (rather than the parents), there could be more being said than the casual observer might suspect. Or they may just want to be a superhero.
Halloween Magic Opens Broom-Closet Doors For Awhile
During Halloween, there is the benefit of everything spooky being on open display! Black cats, spiders, skeletons and other oddities become socially acceptable and start appearing on store shelves in late July or early August. Television programs and movies with Halloween or spooky themes run around the clock on some cable networks.
Corn Mazes, Haunted Houses, and Pumpkin Patches abound. Pumpkin Spice “everything” can be found in coffee shops, restaurants and grocery stores. People begin decorating their homes to the extreme and flooding social media platforms with Halloween themed memes. Orange, black, purple and green are seen everywhere.
As a child and adult, Halloween gave me permission to come out of the shadows. When I first began my journey in the Craft everything I did as a Witch had to be hidden. The same is true for for many Pagans and magickal practitioners. Previously, I’ve mentioned that a large number of our podcast listeners must keep their spiritual/magickal practice private for a variety of reasons.
For a witch or pagan who may be closeted, Halloween is one of the times of the year they can step out of the broom-closet for a short time. They can create a “stealth” Samhain altar honoring ancestors. They can decorate their house with skulls, black candles and watch Hocus Pocus to their hearts content if they want. Very few people will notice or even care because October is all all about this secular holiday. So, my advice is to embrace Halloween as Witches and Pagans for the community celebration it is! Have fun with it and let your neighbors know that being a little “spooky” isn’t so bad afterall.
A Bit of Halloween Magic(k)
As a Witch, the celebration of Halloween is just as important to me as Samhain (honoring those departed and communing with ancestors, deities, and other spirit beings). Power grows throughout October, as well as a noticeable thinning of the Veil and Samhain is an important observance of those things. Having fun with Halloween or even doing a bit of magick, however, does not negate from the more solemn experience that is Samhain (which I will write about in a future blog post).
As a child I believed in the power of the Jack-o-Lantern, which my mother and I carved each October 31st, to protect our home from unwanted or scary spirits. Interesting, when you consider how many other spirits I interacted with on the regular. This belief did not come from my parents or as a story told to me at school. Jack-o-Lanterns as guardians has simply been something I’ve held to be true. And it’s old (intuitive) magick in the lore as well. Therefore, every Halloween, I carve a pumpkin or two (Ode helps me), empowered to stand as additional protection, glowing sentinels in the night from dusk until midnight, and then dark watchers until dawn. So, I thought I’d share the ritual/spell with you here.
Jack-o-Lantern Sentinel Ritual and Spell
You will need:
A medium sized pumpkin (or several)
Carving tools (kitchen knives work best)
Permanent Marker (for designing the face)
Spoon (for removing seeds)
6-hour tea light candle(s)
This ritual/spell is to be done on October 31st (not the day or two before). Ask the spirit of the pumpkin to be your ally in its transformation (I have found them always willing) into a Jack-o-Lantern. Take the permanent marker and use it to create a face (scary, silly, happy–doesn’t matter), and focus your intention on its purpose as a sentinel/guardian for the night. Once you’ve created the face, hold the pumpkin in your hands. Envision it’s light shining into the night, providing a glow of protection surrounding your home.
Using a knife, cut around the stem (leaving plenty of room for your hand to be able to get in there) and remove it. Set the top aside. With the spoon (or your hands) scoop out the inside of the pumpkin until clean. Save the pumpkin seeds to roast and enjoy later! Then using a sharp knife, carve the face of the Jack-o-Lantern by following the pattern created with the marker. Do this with joy, whether by yourself or as a family with children (be watchful with the sharp objects!). Have fun! Once you’ve carved the pumpkin, replace the top with stem.
Place the Jack-o-Lantern on the steps of your home, on the front porch (patio, balcony, etc) or in a window with a street view. At dusk, put the tealight candle in the pumpkin and light it. Speak an incantation if it feels appropriate. The Jack-o-Lantern knows its job and will act as a guardian for the night, regardless. Check on the candle throughout the evening (if for some reason it goes out, re-light or replace it). Don’t leave the candle burning unsupervised.
**Personal note: Several years ago, I didn’t have a long-burning candle for my pumpkin and I didn’t have a replacement. As usual, I lit the candle at dusk, expecting it to go out early. However, every time I checked, the candle was burning. The average burn time for the tealight I used was two and a half hours. That candle burned until midnight.**