I have always loved Halloween and the time of year that accompanies it. I have many fond childhood memories of costumes made by my grandmother, and trick-or-treating with my younger sisters. I remember as a child gazing up at the night sky, feeling the magic in the air, and feeling the dark sky gaze back at me. There was some unexplainable strangeness that hung in the air during this time of year that left me enchanted. Now that I am older, working a full time instructing job, and finishing my bachelor’s degree there isn’t a lot of time to do all of the festive fall activities that I would like to. These days I am lucky if I get a pumpkin carved and make it to a farmer’s market.
When October 1st arrives I feel like I should jump on the bandwagon with everyone else, and celebrate Halloween all month long. As a witch and academic, the holy days of Samhain and All Hallows are also of importance so I feel doubly responsible to be extra “witchy” this time of year. I wish that there was some awesome group ritual in my home town that I could attend, and I have often thought of starting a group myself, but that isn’t something that exists here yet, and is something I plan on organizing after I am finished with school. As I get older the things that used to excite me about this holiday hold a nostalgic appeal, but not the same mystery they once did. The dark décor and smell of decaying leaves will always bring back memories of watching Hocus Pocus and going to the local haunted houses with my friends, but the true wonder in this time of year lies in the unseen.
For me, October marks the beginning of the Season of the Witch, but it doesn’t really start until All Hallows Eve. From now until the Winter Solstice the veil is at its thinnest, and is the most optimum time for traveling the ghost roads and reaching out to loved ones past. It is also the time to honor those who have walked the Crooked Path before us, both named and unnamed. This year I did not do any elaborate rituals to mark the occasion of Halloween night and celebrate the Celtic Samhain festival. I find it ironic that we are following the date of a Christianized holiday on October 31st, although there is some evidence that the Celts observed Samhain around this time as well, the modern calendar that we are basing this on is of Christian design. For example, the “pre-Julian” calendars of Rome were based on lunar cycles. Tribal people such as the Celts and Germans followed the seasonal changes and astronomical cycles in observance of their holy days. Respectively, Samhain doesn’t have to be isolated by one single day, but is a period of time dictated by the energetic shifts in the cosmos. The fires of Samhain open the gate to the Underworld, which remains open until the Winter Solstice when the Lord of the Dead returns with the newly dead.
This simple offering I made consisted of a pumpkin that I carved specifically as an offering to the spirits of the land, and any wandering spirits passing by so that they may be guided by its light. I put out offerings of black beans, pumpkin seeds and apple cider. I don’t have any relatives that have passed away to honor specifically so I make sure to recognize those who don’t have anyone to remember them. I honor both the Mighty Dead and the Forgotten Dead.