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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in halloween

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Mystical Cat Halloween

I don't know about all of you, but I have had many black cats in my life. The last one who was a furry family member lasted to the ripe old age of 22! Bootsie was a sweetheart—so gentle, so loving—a true gift to be a part of of our lives for so long. Many times when we adopt a pet, it is believed that they choose us, as much as we choose them. I believe that to be true.

Feline Friendships

That certainly has been the case for my dear longtime friend, Mary Domhan. If anyone is a cat whisperer, she's the one. She has the power to tame ferals, and cats always seem to find her. In my Halloween podcast episode (number 36) for "Women Who Howl at the Moon," I talk to her at length about her artwork and new Edgy Cat Designs website. If you are a lover of all things feline, you will delight in the cards, art prints, and stickers she has a available. If you're shopping for a cat lover friend, I have no doubt you will find it at her website!

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Season of Samhain Reflections

So I saw a meme recently with a close-up of the infamous Wicked Witch of the West from the original “Wizard of Oz” classic film. It read, “You call it September, I call it October Eve.” Of course I shared it immediately—what Halloween fiend wouldn’t? I have found that I spend the better part of September in anticipation and excitement of what’s to come right on the next page of the calendar corner. I mentally prepare, I scout out fun local events happening and mark the ones that I’d like to attend as “interested.” In many cases, I pencil in all the things I want to do, books I want to read, movies I want to watch (and in many cases rewatch as an annual ritual) all over my Llewellyn Witches’ Datebook. I’m truly a kid at heart when it comes to this time of year—as I’m sure many of you are—and I hope to be until my dying day. In fact, when I was earning my journalism degree and one of our early semester assignments was to write our own obituary, I imagined that I would be found watching scary movies on the 31st.

October Eve Ritual

Next September 2023, why not start your own, “October Eve” ritual? Haul out all of your favorite decorations (I always like to add a few new ones each year, too) and take your time putting them up and hanging them just so. Play some spooky music as your soundtrack as you do so. Sip some nice fall wine and enjoy the experience as a sensual/sensuous one. You may want to do this the night before October 1st, two nights before October 1st, or heck, as early as you want in September, whatever floats your ghost ship! You might want to mix it up and put different decorations in different rooms or create different arrangements each year. I tend to be a traditionalist like my dear grandmother was and put the same pieces in the same spots annually. I even have themed rooms for the types of decorations: Kitchen witches, black cat back bedroom, vampire bat bathroom, you get the idea. If you’re lucky enough to have a home with a nice front yard and love to go all out with your transformation theme, by all means, go for it. Nothing makes the majority of your Halloween fan neighbors more delighted than driving or walking by a wickedly clever front yard and house display all season long.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs



Let's face it: modern Yule has undergone a thorough Christmasization.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, mind you, just a fact. Still, when we scrape away the encrusted barnacles from the ship of Yule—when we look, for instance, at the extended Winter Solstice celebrations of the Kalasha of what is now northwestern Pakistan, the last Indo-European-speaking people to have practiced their traditional religion continuously since ancient times—what emerges is revealed as something both strange and familiar beyond telling.

The same may be said for Samhain, now thoroughly reshaped by its proximity to Halloween, and by the Christian festivals of All Saints' and All Souls' Days.

When, however, we look at Samhain as it used to be—Samhain as recorded in the old lore—a new-old landscape emerges before us, a land both familiar and strange.

That is what makes the following little poem so remarkable. On the face of it—until you get to the last stanza, anyway—there's little that seems to be about Samhain at all. (Oh, but look deeper, my friend!)

Even more remarkable is the fact that this enumeration of the essentials of Samhain-ness is not, in fact, ancient, but a modern poem: an excerpt from a longer poem, “Fionn's Migrations,” in Martin Shaw and Tony Hoagland's 2020 Cinderbiter: Celtic Poems.

Listen, now.


Samhain Is the Name of the Season

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 History of Jack-O'-Lanterns | Merriam-Webster

 Nine Schools of Thought


When is Samhain?

As one would expect, authorities disagree.


Stuffy (also: Traditionalist) School

Samhain begins at sundown on October 31, the First of the Three Nights of Samhain.

Hey: if the Gregorian calendar was good enough for the ancestors, it's good enough for me.


Old School

Old Samhain comes on 11-12 November.

Hey, if the Julian calendar was good enough for the ancestors, it's good enough for me.

I suppose you're one of those neo-pagans?


Old Craft

Do you maybe mean All Hallows? Or, better, All Saints?

Protective coloration, dude. It's all about protective coloration.


Slapdash School

It's Samhain whenever the coven has time to get together.

Usually this means the Saturday closest to Halloween, but if it's December 3 instead, tough.

What the f*ck is the “Three Nights of Samhain”?


Purist (also: Astronomical) School

Samhain falls at the precise midpoint between astronomical Autumn Equinox and astronomical Winter Solstice.

Hey: if astronomical precision was good enough for the ancestors, it's good enough for me.

“Three Nights of Samhain”? Did you perhaps by any chance mean the Trinox Samoni?


American Trendy School

Samhain = Halloween (or, as true Trendies would insist, Hallowe'en). Samhain begins at midnight on October 30, and ends at midnight on October 31.

That means that the Eve of Samhain is actually October 30.

Well, that's what they say.


American Commercial School

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Why I Celebrate American Halloween

While a lot of Wiccans and other Pagans are celebrating Samhain, and some Heathen and Asatru groups celebrate Winterfyllith or Winter-Finding, I'm celebrating an old-fashioned American Halloween, participating with the neighbors on my street in the community ritual of decorating and giving away candy to costumed children. This is the first year I've done Halloween while my household includes a non-heathen pagan, but she is into American Halloween too, replicating the kind of Halloween we both remember from our childhoods.

The Asatru group Freya's Folk in San Francisco has been holding a Winterfyllith celebration for many years. They used to belong to the Ring of Troth, and when that organization split into The Troth and the American Vinland Association, they went with the AVA. I used to attend campout festivals held by that group back when I lived in California, but their Winterfyllith celebration wasn't an overnight so I didn't go to that one.

I personally celebrate seasonal changes that relate to the actual bioregion and climate in which I live, which is the Mojave Desert, so around the beginning of fall my kindred celebrates Rainbow Season, the end of the monsoon season. The first winter frost here usually coincides with Yule so that's when we celebrate the onset of winter here. My kindred, American Celebration Kindred, celebrates both heathen holidays and American holidays like Halloween.

As I did last year, I'm giving away candy from my driveway instead of having kids come to the door. I did that last year as a pandemic precaution, but I'm going to keep doing it because I like it better this way, and so does my cat. (Happy doesn't like strangers, so lots of strangers coming to the door is not on his list of favorite pastimes.) I like this better because when my neighbors and I all have tables outside we end up visiting with each other between groups of children, going to each others' tables like vendors at a slow fair. I also like this better because I get to see the costumes more, since I can see them as the kids walk up the street rather than only seeing them for a few seconds while we're trying to interact and complete the ritual phrases ("Trick or treat!") and actions (giving candy.) As I've been doing for the two decades I've lived in this house, I decorate around a different theme each year. One year it was moons and stars, one year it was Vikings, etc. This year's theme is fire. I'm hauling out the portable firepit and having a bonfire on my driveway, and toasting marshmallows.

One of the main functions of a culture's holiday celebrations is to bring a community together in shared ritual. American Halloween does that for the community of my street and neighborhood. By tradition, adults with homes participate in the decorating and giving half of the ritual, while children traditionally dress as the ghosts and monsters and fairies that arrive with the thinning of the veil between worlds on this night, enacting a propitiation of the dead and of otherworldly beings.

Now modern children often dress as heroes or other aspirational figures in addition to the fae, spectres, undead. For what is a hero but a monster who has chosen actions according to a personal moral code that aligns with society's in some way? Recently while shopping for candy to give away I noticed a child size Spiderman suit hanging forlornly on an otherwise bare rack, like the husk of a spider's victim still hanging in its web. It waited for a child who wished to dress as a boy whose hands turned into spider butts. Is this not monstrous? Is this metamorphosis any less a horror than Gregor Samsa's?

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Cool! This year my housemate carved a pumpkin. It's shortly going to be a present for the gnome a.k.a. compost. Her grandson came
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I handed out candy this evening as well. I find it comforting that children still go around trick or treating just like I did whe
Sabbat of Samhain – October 31st All Hallow’s Eve

Halloween stems from the grand tradition of the Celtic New Year. What started as a folk festival celebrated by small groups in rural areas has come to be the second largest holiday of today. There are multitudinous reasonsincluding modern marketingbut I think it satisfies a basic human need, to let your “wild side” out, to be free and more connected with the ancient ways. This is the time when the veil between worlds is thinnest and you can commune with the other side, with elders and the spirit world. It is important to honor the ancestors during this major sabbat and acknowledge what transpired in the passing year as well as set intentions for the coming year.


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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
I'd Like to Live in Halloweentown

So I'm pulling out all the stops this blog and referencing every entry I've written here to date about the truly most wonderful time of year: Samhain/Halloween! I had a close group of fellow pumpkin holiday enthusiasts over last weekend and the powerful positive female energy that flowed throughout the night was incredible. We played great music, crafted tiny spell jars, decorated skull sugar cookies, and even laughed ourselves silly over a witch hat ring toss game. Whether you choose to have a small, masked gathering with your favorite zombies or perhaps honor your ancestors ala Día de los Muertos , there are a multitude of ways to celebrate this weekend. Hosting a traditional Dumb Supper for lost loved ones is a favored activity of local Milwaukee legend Stonie Rivera. Truth be told, I know in my heart I will never be able to top my October 31st spent in Dracula country on the Tours of Terror folks' Transylvania trip. That's a cherished memory that will stay with me forever, and ever, and ever...

Dreams and Tarot Tossing

Be sure to pay special attention to dreams of departed loved ones right now. Chances are good that they may be trying to communicate an important message to you via your dreams. Record the messages and feelings you're left with in your journal for further consideration and meditation. This is the ideal time of year for channeling your witchy side with some divination and imagination. I always find shuffling the tarot cards and seeing what insights they have to share enlightening. They often bring a sharp clarity to complex situations and questions on your mind. I'm still enjoying using "The Witches' Wisdom Tarot," a deck created by my first "Women Who Howl at the Moon" podcast guest, Phyllis Currott. These cards are so rich and multi-layered in their meanings, guidance, and magickal intentions.

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