The Contemporary New England Witch

The Contemporary New England Witch
Author Ms.Faith

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Ways you can Celebrate Halloween like a Witch

Greetings My Witchy Readers!

My wands & pentacles!!  I can't thank you all enough for the wonderful comments, and really sweet thoughts and words that have been sent my way!

Tonight I am going to get a bit somber. And real, as always.  As a witch, if you are "out of the broom closet" as some like to say, meaning you are okay with people knowing you follow this path, you tend to run into a lot of people who assume all sorts of things about you come Halloween.

We hear everything from "well of course you will dress up as a witch for Halloween" to "being a witch all year why would you dress up as a witch for Halloween"? , To "You must hate that kids trick and treat for candy on Halloween, as it really is a witches holiday!" to the assumption we will all be at some far away Witches Ball and of course we all know one another. Of course.

Even some who do not want to pass assumptions do so by their very demeanor, as one such woman came into the store and did not want to assume she knew what witches did on Halloween, so practically leaning over the counter in her excitement she very excitedly started asking "So what do you do at Halloween?! It must be the biggest Holiday of the year, isn't it? It is the most important Holiday for witches right!? So how do you celebrate? What will you dress up as?" and I mentioned it is a special holiday but all 8 of our holidays were special to us. Her face looked a bit crestfallen because she did not really want to hear that, and I knew she did not want to hear the truth. I also won't lie. It is not a 'happy' celebration for many of us as much as a day and night to remember our loved ones who have passed on. A day and night of reflection, sometimes regret and memories. A time we exist not only in the present but also in the past.

The truth you say? Yes, and it has little to do with any of the above questions.  I always dress as a fashionable witchy woman, no matter the day. On Samhain eve (Halloween) I may wear a more formal outfit. But I don't wear costumes.

Samhain is our Day of the Dead, or Memorial Day.  I do spend the day decorating the out of doors and make the front yard like a spooky witches' cottage and then enjoy the children coming trick or treating. That is a tradition which I truly enjoy then afterwards no party, just a simple dinner and a late night small ritual on a special altar set to honor the ancestors.  It is also a night of reflection, what has been set aside, specifically what no longer serves you beneficially in this life, from harmful people, to bad habits, to anything that diminishes your inner light.

What is important about an ancestor altar is not what your religious or spiritual beliefs may be, but what represents your ancestors.  Many times cultural threads stretch through the decades and can connect you in this way.  Of course photos of any ancestors, or loved ones, friends, family members who have passed away is always acceptable. Pieces of their special items, small items of jewelry, or a special items of theirs is good too.

It is traditional for many to place a small plate of food on the altar and a chalice or cup of drink and this food is for the spirits of the loved ones on the other side. You can place a bowl of fava beans on the altar or a bowl of fava bean soup especially if there is any Italian ancestry,  noodles or Babcia bread on the altar if your ancestry is Polish. A glass of beer if there is Germany heritage or even if the loved one who had passed had a fancy for beer. Now, it is vital that no one touch, eat or drink the food and drink placed for the spirits of the loved ones. You choose what you wish to place for your loved ones on the other side, as you know them or your culture and family best.

 A chair, not to be sat in, may also be placed near the altar. Placing a black or purple ribbon across the chair from the top corner of the back to the corner of the seat crossing over the body of the chair so no one could sit, is a passive way to let people know this chair is for the spirits. You may also wish to place a small pillow in the seat of the chair and place a picture of your ancestor on the pillow.

Playing a favorite type of music, spraying a favorite perfume, even burning a bit of a favorite pipe tobacco of a loved one can help make that special connection that will bring them to you during this most special time of the year.

One thing, you may choose to do, as so many are choosing these days to not have a conventional burial and be buried in a cemetery so many people have no final resting place. This means to the family left behind there is no place to go and honor them and remember them. This is most important, and as the old traditions get put aside during these modern times I have seen the inner discord among people who have no sense of closure, no sense of peace, no sense of finality when it comes to their loved ones who have passed.  This is found in a "final resting place" and lacking that, an ancestral altar will take that place and provide this for those left behind.

So, I recommend for people having issues in this regard, to construct in their home somewhere a small ancestor altar. It can be a shelf, a small niche built in the wall, a small side table even a glass hutch. A wall collection of photos with a small table beneath can be an ancestor shrine.

This is so important as those left behind need that millenia old tradition of going to pay respect to the memories of those who we love and miss. And having a family altar or shrine within the home actually goes back much farther than having personal individual graves. For centuries many graves were merely "borrowed" for a year, up to a few decades, and when there was nothing left but bones then they were removed and placed in large depositories such as the catacombs beneath Paris France. This was not unique to Paris. All throughout the history of mankind there have been more bodies that have no permanent grave to this day than those that do.

But throughout the centuries, not having a cemetery to go to, to pay respects to loved ones who have passed, was not an issue because everyone had a family shrine in their home. The Greeks, Romans,  Egyptians, it was a common thing and so much so it was one of the first things banished and forbidden when the Catholics took power and started the unification of the Catholic church in Europe which forbid just about everything when it came to personal worship.

But it is perfectly appropriate today to bring back the concept of an ancestor altar or a personal family shrine to have in your home to remember your loved ones. No need to go to a distant cemetery where their spirits are not there anyway. Having a personal family shrine dedicated to your ancestors goes back well over a  few thousand years. This was how so many people in so many cultures worshiped long before the first Christians built the first churches.

It is a myth that people had no religion or did not worship or have any structured, organized religions before the early Christians. There were hundreds of religions if not more before then, and now we have 4,200 recognized religions on the face of the earth as of this day. And these are religions that are not simply private based but have a public aspect.

Now having detailed a bit of what I do on Samhain eve, that is not saying all witches are staying home, passing out candy and having a quiet night with their ghosts. Some do go to Witches Balls, some work as our holidays, though sacred and as religious to us as anyone's religious holidays are not considered serious, especially this one.  It's hard to blame employers as they initially see adults dressed in costume, wearing fake blood, with various weapons sticking out of body parts by some and then others ask for the day off as it is a "religious" holiday. The confusion is easy to understand.

I could go over the history of Halloween and the reasons behind the costumes and why we celebrate with such fervor today, but that is not what this article is about. If you are interested in knowing more about "The History of Halloween" I do have a 2 hour class, by the same name,  on this upcoming October 26th, a Friday night at 6 pm at Manchester Community College.  The class is $20 per person and is course number CRN 31562 located in the Great Path building in GPA Room GP139. The lights go off and the show starts at 6 pm sharp.

You can call the phone in registration at MCC and pay over the phone for the class. You can call the phone in registration number # 860-515-3232 between 8:30-4:30 Mon-Fri  they accept M/C, Visa, Discover and Amex. They say to leave a detailed message if staff is busy.

The class at MCC is filling up quickly so if interested, be sure to call and pay for your seat as soon as possible!

© 2010-2018 Faith M. McCann. Portions of this blog posting may include materials from my book “Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies.” For more information, see or go to the title of tonight's discussion and click, it will link you to my school's website. Please note that the copying and/or further distribution of this work without express written permission is prohibited. 

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