Many people can relate to the 'witch' in October. When the leaves change color, the air becomes crisp and Halloween is just around the corner. I've created this blog as a doorway into the life of a real witch who lives in New England, year round. An insiders look behind the creaky door of the haunted house of my life, where I am a witch 24/7 - 365. My name is Faith McCann and I will be writing a new post weekly. I hope you like my work.
The Contemporary New England Witch
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Halloween Decorating and Party Planning Part 1
Harvest Greetings all!!
I like to get a bit of an earlier start on Halloween decorating than this, but where has the month gone? Really, if you know, please share! O.K. I'll admit it, just between you and I. I've always considered myself the Wiccan Martha Stewart!! Do I love to celebrate the seasons with holiday decorating and party planning!! But really, what witch doesn't? Am I right?
So, I am determined this weekend to dedicate myself to decorating and bringing a sense of the eerie to my front yard. My euonymus bushes are obligingly turning red for me, these small leaved bushes are also called burning bush, and the indigenous peoples called them the Wahoo bush,. I like that name. You just want to say Wahoo! Go ahead say it, nobody’s listening. The perennials are starting to die down in the gardens, which sent me on my mum hunting mission yesterday searching for color in the bright orange pumpkins and splashes of showy purple, yellows and russet mums.
I like to use plastic cauldrons I find at the party store, black plastic, the heavier the better, to decorate my yard. I keep them outside year round, but of course . . . I would, I think a few black cauldrons decorates a witches cottage just nicely. Don’t you?
Weight them down with some play sand from a building supply store and set them around your gardens. They make a great place to set a pot of pretty fall flowers. They also add an inexpensive witchy touch to your décor.
I like to put tiny fairy lights in purples and reds strung amongst my bushes outside, and I have a big cauldron, (you can get very large plastic ones also at the party store, but only around this time of year?) that I put out by the walk where the little tricksters will come begging for candy and treats the last night in October. I place outdoor light sockets with a stake to secure to the ground, equipped with red, yellow and orange light bulbs underneath the cauldron.
Then cover the lights up with twigs and small branches and arrange until you end up with a lovely safe ‘fire’ under the cauldron. Plan to get a few pounds of dry ice, Halloween night, to throw bits into the cauldron, throughout the evening to create steam and excitement and before you know it, you’re a witch stirring her cauldron.
Of course for this to work properly, you need to suspend the cauldron, either on a tripod or some sort of stand over the twigs/light set up, This small tableau with a few mums around looks very witchy during the day, and absolutely spooky after dark.
The night of Halloween I ‘prepare the stew’ shortly before the tricksters come around by putting rubber rats, spiders, eye balls, snakes and all sorts of goodies into the water. I get a long set of tongs that serves to stir my witches brew and to pull out the rubber ‘stew pieces’.
When children come up, I’m stirring, cackling and muttering to myself. Reciting some of William Shakespeare’s more fun parts of his plays, Macbeth’s one of my favorites. I love “ Double, double, toil and trouble, Fire burn and cauldron bubble . . . . .
They shout trick or treat and think that’s all it takes to rid a witch of her candy. Humph!! Silly children. After ignoring their queries for trick or treat, I pull out a rubber rat or maybe a tasty rubber eye ball from the inside of the cauldron and then seeing the children, jump a bit and look surprised to see them.
I ignore the plaintive trick or treat pleas and ask instead if they would enjoy some eyeball stew or monkey brain soup. Perhaps some rat tartar? Said as I pull out a fat, black rubber rat by its long whip tail. The ewwwwwws and resounding noooooo’s from the little girls is always in perfect harmony to the delighted grins and excited yessss’s from the little boys. Little boys will always puff out their chests and say “Yes, I’ll try some of whatever gross thing you’re offering”. Bravely calling my bluff! Tricky monkeys!
When this happens I inevitably find that the rat is not quite cooked enough and instead I am forced to give them some candy pouches that the fairies left behind. Nothing a witch would want, nor do I need to have in the house, and the children are always happy to help take it off my hands.
I do try to spy the age and tender sensibilities of the kids as they approach the house, and with some little ones I lose the wavering voice and cackle and just smile and hand out the candy, because I don’t enjoy scaring children. I want them to leave the little tableau I’ve created out front, that of a witches garden and cottage, with a happy feeling, maybe curious and intrigued and wanting to come back again the next year.
I don’t decorate with Frankenstein's or Draculas, my décor is less campy B movie set and more of walking onto the property of an old witches cottage some where in Colonial America. The witches’ cottage of the fairy tales. I always felt that in the fairy tales we grew up with the witch wasn’t necessarily evil, but more misunderstood. An independent, hard working woman, falsely accused and not allowed proper legal representation. A terrible case of rumor and slander at best! Of course, the opinions stated here are . . . mine.
I like the ‘traditional’ image of the witch this time of the year, as an older woman with wisdom, knowledge, the knower of mysteries and with the experiences of her life proudly displayed on her face. I don’t think ugliness, black teeth and warts are necessary, they just seek to scare and prejudice. But the witch’s maladies as an elderly woman, often depicted with a hook nose and hump back is thought by some anthropologists to represent the results of a diet which was lacking in necessary nutrition. It speaks to a time in our history as women. So my depicting ‘the hag’ is not meant as an insult or nor do I consider it disrespectful, but by taking on the visage of an ancient archetype it helps me appreciate and embrace temporarily a time which will come soon enough in this life.
After the little ones are done tricking me out of treats that night, I record the count of tricksters and note it on a little chart I started almost 30 years ago. Then we have a fun evening with Halloween party food. Sometimes its just the two of us, other times we invite a few people and we always have snacks and treats for dinner that night.
I’ve celebrated Halloween for years just as I described it to you above. Then in 2004 I stopped. I had started my business Enchantments and we started having events at the store during this night and we couldn’t figure out a way for me to be in two places at once. That’s a bit of advanced magick I’m still working on!
The Witches Balls we’ve held every Halloween night the past 6 years have attracted less people than my front door does children on that same night. I’ve also heard from neighbors and some of the children from the past Halloween nights that they miss the ‘real witch’ setting up shop on the street that night. I have dearly missed it also.
So I used those statistics this year to give me an excuse and a reason to go back to what makes me happy. It’s really a night to celebrate the young and the excitement of the evening. It’s not a night I want to think about business or profits and loss. As a businessperson I tried that, thinking it was necessary, that it would hurt my business if I didn’t do something marketing-wise on that night. Well, I live and learn anew everyday.
This year I’m going back to what makes me really happy, the looks of happiness, joy, curiosity and glee on the faces of little monsters, princesses and super heroes that bravely leave their parents at the curb and approach the ‘real witch’ who is stirring the cauldron, all for the unspoken promise of a candy reward for their courage.
We only can go trick or treating for a scant few years as a child before we’re too old and it’s just embarrassing and a little weird. So a strong energy this night is the energy of the young. The other energy is the energy of the ancestors, which we’ll discuss at another time this month. Having both the young and old energies abounding on this night makes it a special night indeed.
Its my hope the trick or treating children this year, will remember Halloween fondly as they grow up and have their own children. That they will remember Halloween can be and should be fun and exciting, mysterious and just a little spooky! Also, regardless of religious belief or affiliation, as these are only of concern to adults, remember that Halloween is a holiday for children everywhere. Or should be.
Thanks for spending this time with me, I had fun!
Tomorrow we’ll discuss some of the better known symbols of Halloween and their origins. “Black cats, bats, cauldrons and pointy hats”
(c) 2010 Enchantments, LLC
Portions of this blog may contain material from my book "Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies" For more information see www.enchantmentsschool.com