So, Samhain is around the corner and Afro-Punk asked me to write some pieces on it. No problem. Already was on it. Samhain is Halloween and one of the biggest holidays for witches, wiccans and Pagans and personally one of my favorite holidays. It's so nice and spooky and fun! And you get free food from your neighbors, always spiffy. Halloween is a fun holiday but also a holiday filled with a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions. Let's start with the biggest misconceptions: The spells.
Firstly, please do not sacrifice animals on Halloween. It won't work, regardless what you're trying to accomplish and this is the 21st century, Witches such as myself have other, far simplier methods for magick working. I don't sacrifice animals and neither does anyone else I know and I've been practicing Paganism and witchcraft for about ten years now. Again, no sacrificing animals, not necessary. It's cruel to the animal (and illegal). And in case I have to throw this in there: no sacrificing people either. There are other ways to cast effective spells that doesn't involve a bottle of chloroform and a burlap sack. It's cruel to the person (and illegal). No killing, no maiming, no harming. Sign up for the military if that's what you're into.
Now, the spells. What I touched on above is a pretty big stereotype, misconception and a harmful one. People who usually know nothing of magick but watch a lot of movies get this thinking that killing or maiming living things for Halloween will have some spectacular effect that frankly won't happen. From summoning the devil to trying to revive a long dead relationship, there is really no need to take the life of another to make these silly things happen. None. Whatsoever. At all. It doesn't matter how ridiculous or earnest the intention of the spell, sacrifice is not necessary at all. While it is true that sacrifices has happened in Paganism's history and still continues in some pockets of the world, they're done by extremely skilled practitioners and with respect to the animal's life, not some random loser out for serial killer-esque kicks and giggles so again, refrain from doing any harming. No blood.
Since Halloween is associated with magick and spells, that means I could bet dollars to donuts that many people from the everyday dimwit to the well-seasoned witch is attempting some spell of some sort, whether they got the spell from the internet or from a book on witchcraft that very night. Actually, I usually don't since it's like shopping on Black Friday, not my thing, everything is clogged and not interested. I rather terrorize my friends for free snacks or watch It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and The Simpson's Treehouse of Horror, I can cast spells any other time of the year, it's no big deal. Other witches celebrate differently or the same, we're our own individuals.
Next to spells, there's the belief of summoning the dead, usually via Ouija board. Though it is correct that Halloween is the day that the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest, talking to the dead is no simple task. It's too simple for things to go wrong and I would strongly advise against it. I don't mess with Ouija board and neither do any of the witches or occultists I know. This is not to say no one does, but those who do are usually pretty skilled enough to handle anything that could go wrong because despite the honest fact that you could be trying to summon Jimi Hendrix, it's still very possible you could get a demon or some other malevolent spirit. Without proper skill, anything can come through if you don't know what you're doing and most folks don't. Last anyone needs is a destroyed room or haunted house.
Halloween, having its starts in Ireland as Samhain (meaning "Summer's End"), is about the passing of the year and a day of the dead. It was originally the New Year's Eve by the Celtics of the British Isles and France, marking the "death" of the old year and the "birth" of the new year. It was also regarded that the invisible veil between the living and the dead grew to its thinnest point at sundown, thus communication between the worlds is easiest. As written in A Witch's Halloween by Gerina Dunwich, the folklore goes:
"Every Samhain, a deity known as the Lord of the Dead was said to gather together the souls of all men, women and children who had died during the previous year, and had since been confined in the bodies of animals while waiting to enter the underworld. With their sins expiated, they would be set free to begin their journey to the Celtic underworld of Ti-na-n'Og, whose open gates awaited them.
In addition, homesick spirits were free to roam the mortal world and return to their old earthly homes to seek the warmth of the hearth fire and the company of their living kin. Families prepared offerings of fruits and vegetables and hilltop bonfires, which illuminated the night sky with an eerie orange glow and served as a guiding light for the souls of the dead. These fires were kept burning throughout the night to frighten away any evil spirits intended to harm the living."
This is roughly how Witches, Pagans and Wiccans celebrate. It is celebrated as a day of remembrance of those who have passed on or as "The Witches' New Year". This does not mean that we don't have Halloween parties or anything of that nature, we just treat it a little differently than the average person. There are various rituals and divinations that can be done and the best way to go about them is through books. I highly recommend the book <i>A Witch's Halloween by Gerina Dunwich.
That's all the Black Witch for today! Next up: Why you shouldn't use spells found on the internet!
Also, this is the third annual Samhain Pickers where you submit your info and if you win, I do your divination (Tarot, cartomancy, basic natal chart or dream interpretation).
How to submit:
Type of divination
Send to email@example.com with "Samhain Pickers" in the subject line. Winners are picked on Oct 26. Good luck
And there will be a Ustream chat on Halloween at 4:30 PM EST with me! Be there!
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