First of all, everyone must go download and listen to WitchesBrewHaHa’s wickedly awesome Halloween Special, right now. Make sure to subscribe to the podcast too (hosted by the fabu Velma Nightshade) if you haven’t already. By my decree, this episode is considered compulsory Halloween auditory content, so say we all. I don’t care who you are. Pagan. Christian. Atheist. Elf. Go. It’s awesome.
My Favorite Part of Samhain
My favorite part of this season are the changes in nature and weather. The air turns crisp and cold, and there is a uneasy quality exhibited by the flora and fauna. The whole region holds it’s breath in anticipation of winter . . . and something more. Unseen eyes follow your movements in silence; waiting for what is to come. The restless winds clutch at your clothes and the dance of the falling leaves weakens to the ground. It is “Sleepy Hollow” weather; where every dark street and path looks like it could lead to another world. Whether or not I’m planning anything special for the holiday, and I’m usually not, the earth will always don its own magical costume. The Halloween holiday passes me by every year, but the Earth and I have our own party.
I live in mostly-sunny northern California, a Mediterranean climate, and still the typical Halloween atmosphere reaches my front door. There is no other season like this. It whispers to us of something just beyond our senses. Quiet. Unseen. Wicked or not, Something This Way Comes. Only the slightest prickle of awareness reaches our senses beyond the outer effects we see in nature. Just enough of the animal remains in our human bodies to respond to the change.
The Change. That’s a good term for it. I can see why some pagan traditions refer to this as the Witches New Year. This is the time of change. We are called by the trees to join the leaves in their surrender to the cold; the fall into darkness, to be reborn. We are called by the biting winds to fly free, to wander into places beyond our comfort zone. We are called by the soil to dig deep and safe-keep our treasures. We are called by the waters to brave the quiet, the isolation, the dark time. We are called by the hearth-fires to bring-down-the-sun, to warm our inner worlds.
Some say the veil is thinnest this time of year. As such, Halloween is thought to be the best time for divination and communication with the Otherworld. Others say that the dead walk among us, and/or should be honored during this time. All of these aspects of the season refer to that which lies beyond our awareness. Even though it comes every year, there is a rarity to this happening. It is unique among all other times. Sacred. Hallowed time. A threshold like no other.
Personally, I think we have an opportunity to join with nature in the change. After all, costumes are a way we can change our personas. We can also change our rituals, our lives . . . whether for one night, all year, or all time. Halloween has developed into a pageant for our other selves, a celebration of the unseen. We can use it to explore death, fear, and the darkness of our repressed impulses as ghosts, vampires and demons. Or we can explore the other side of our personalities, our secret desires, even our hidden quests for power as princesses, warriors, heroes, and yes, witches! Even those who chose to garb themselves as humorous objects or silly avatars are in on the change. They too become someone, or something, else for an evening of debauchery and anonymity.
Instead of donning a costume this year (which I haven’t done since I was thirteen, so no surprise) I will celebrate this year as a participant in nature’s dark change. Don’t know how exactly yet, but I feel very connected to this concept. I may begin by making a list of changes that need to be made in my life, or other changes that reflect the season (dark, introspective). I could also explore my past and my inhibiting fears so I can better understand my present and forge ahead with my future. I have no idea whether this idea is the right path or not, but I love the thought of joining nature in it’s course through death, birth and rebirth. Death is only a new beginning after all.