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When the plastic pumpkins appear at the drug store and one may purchase bags of fake cobwebs, our thoughts turn away from the middle harvest and the groaning board of the feasting tables and we peer down the six-week-long trail to the new year.

The Hallowe'en decorations come down from the closet in the guest room and we dream of the perfect scary/beautiful/cool costume.

And we are faced with some of the hardest parts of Samhain preparation. Not all Pagans who honor Samhain do this part and I'm not sure where this notion originated--if it is old or modern or (as with most of what we do) an inspired combination of both.

From Mabon to Samhain, it is wise to look back through the year and think about the places where your actions and intentions were less than admirable. Did you lie, steal, say damaging things about someone else that were overblown or simply untrue?

Then you'll have some work to do this season after you've gotten the Hallowe'en decorations in place--you can make a list and start making amends.

I like to think this is older, tribal wisdom. If a group of people is planning to spend the winter together, in close quarters--it is wise to cool any simmering resentments before the going gets rough.

This is about being honest first with yourself and then with other people and that can be tricky stuff. And I find it is a never-ending job of work. I pick the people I have most dishonored and suck up my courage and speak to them. It usually ends with the person barely remembering the incident or simply thanking me for saying my part in it.

And that's a good feeling. The old adage of letting bygones be bygones has an interesting history and I offer you this website (which is very helpful) as you make up your list of who you wronged this year and choose the ones with whom you can set things right.

Going into the Final Harvest with a cleared mind is a blessing to you and to your Ancestors and the Dead. Finding the courage to admit your smallness is no mean feat and I find it serves me throughout the year.

Try letting bygones be truly gone and see if it lightens your load and makes your journey to the Deeping Time less fraught.

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H. Byron Ballard is a ritualist, teacher, speaker and writer. She has taught at Sacred Space Conference, Pagan Unity Festival, Southeast Her essays are featured in several anthologies, including “Birthed from Scorched Hearts“ (Fulcrum Press), “Christmas Presence“ (Catawba Press), “Women’s Voices in Magic” (Megalithica Books), “Into the Great Below” and “Skalded Apples” (both from Asphodel Press.) Her book Staubs and Ditchwater: an Introduction to Hillfolks Hoodoo (Silver Rings Press) debuted in June 2012. Byron is currently at work on Earth Works: Eight Ceremonies for a Changing Planet. Contact her at,


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