If there was ever a sabbat for realness, it’s got to be Samhain. The emotional intensity of this time of the year brings forward so many things from the other side, including those zombies in my head. These zombies reach out from across the veil, hungry for parts of my soul. No, Samhain, is not all fun and games, it’s the time when many of us have to deal with the dead and incredible emotional intensity. Samhain can suck for those with zombies to deal with, bringing distress, grief, anxiety and depression.
When I look around at what other writers have to say about Samhain and the general vibe on the internet, it’s like we’ve all got collective avoidance about the intensity of death magick. I’ve written about necromancy and honoring ancestors. There’s Samhain love spell articles to be found. So much about the lighter aspects of this dark time of the year. Yes, calling forth the dead for our personal use, from acting as our servitors to giving us advice, is a lighter shade of the dark emotional power of this sabbat. Putting a spirit into a box to do our beckoning is a bit of parlor-trick witchcraft, although it is often useful. It’s like we’re all avoiding the absolute realness of the sabbat, myself included. I got hit with a big zombie attack this week, reminding me that Samhain is not just a cutesy sabbat.
What I’ve been hearing from many others is that Samhain is far from the rather light and fluffy version that gets so much attention. Everyone wants to summon the dead, but who really wants to deal with them? Those zombies in our heads.
The spirits of Samhain, including Hekate, Persephone and Demeter, call us to get real about the energy of the end of the Witch’s Year. Autumn is the season of death. Ruled by the element of water, it’s the most emotional season. While that thin veil lets us cross over for lighter forms of death witchery, the true magick is to be found in dealing with the things that give us nightmares. Samhain has gotten too cozy. Too much pumpkin spice latte and not enough facing our fears.
Traditionally, this final harvest could make or break survival during the months ahead. While there was celebration, there was also the very real threat of the dark months coming. Another tradition we’ve seemed to forget about is that of women divining their future husband on Samhain. Again, this was about survival. Women needed a successful husband to live. The zombie coming for our ancestors was starvation.
I’ve been especially emotional the past few weeks. The dead seem to be everywhere, from the specter at the end of my driveway to the dead mouse in the shed. What’s really been causing me grief are the zombies in my head. My familial ancestors wouldn’t have approved of my lifestyle let alone me being a witch. Then there’s the Mighty Dead – venerable departed witches, occultists, poets and so on – whose spirits I connect with. While I enjoy the company of most of them, some I don’t welcome. Aleister Crowley, complex genius and complete deviant, ignores my attempts to push him away. We’ve made peace. I’ve agreed to let him participate in the Samhain Séance that I’m leading next Saturday.
To participate in this free live online event, apply to join my group, The Witches’ Realm.
Dealing with the pain associated with the dead is a part of Samhain that we don’t talk enough about. Summoning nasty spirits, zombies, that can eat away at our souls if we don’t know what we are doing with death magick. The family that rejected us. The partners that abused us. My long-ago ancestors that colonized North America. Then there’s the pain of our previous incarnations leaking into this life. If you, like me, were a witch in several lives, you may be experiencing traumatic flashbacks right now. These dead are like zombies, eating away at parts of us that we need to survive. The zombies of my past selves in this life reach out to consume who I am today. Beguiling me with their lies about no longer being desirable. Pure shadow energy coming forward that can destroy us or provide an opportunity for greater understanding and healing. Which will it be?
While Delores O’Riordan’s song Zombie is overtly about the troubles in Ireland, the brilliance of this song is that it also talks about her personal struggle with mental illness. Sadly, she succumbed to her zombies last winter.
“In your headIn your head
Zombie, zombie, zombie, ei, ei
What’s in your head?
In your head”
from “Zombie” by Delores O’Riordan