It's the cool, smokey month of October and I'm in love. I'm counting down each day until my favorite night of the year: All Hallows Eve. Since I can remember, I've loved Halloween. Now, I know you've heard that before, but I am absolutely crazy over it. To prove it, my goal is to coax every reader of this article do something to celebrate.
The feeling usually begins simmering for me in late August when there's one or two crisp, cool days mixed in amongst the usual heat. That's when I crank up one of my classical-music-mixed-with-creepy-sounds CDs and start planning what to wear Halloween night. The anticipation is fueled by the sound of fallen leaves crunching wonderfully underfoot. Magazines bring out their Halloween issues, boasting decadent cakes, cookies, and cupcakes decorated with spiders, pumpkins, skeletons and little, pointed-hat-witches. Then comes the delight of heading to the mall and suddenly seeing racks of costumes, masks, candles, lights, and makeup neat and tidy before people have started rummaging through them.
Halloween just makes me feel good. Most everyone seems to lighten up around this time. I'm no longer pestered for my "strange" metaphysical interests. Instead I'm asked to whip up costume ideas, apply makeup, share my Halloween recipes or decorating ideas, and make just one more of my shrunken apple head dolls. All those who thought it childish before suddenly delight in having their runes or cards read. The curious allow themselves to use this time of year to indulge.
All Hallow's Eve, as with other holidays, is a perfect time for feasting. Yet this year it falls a few nights after the full moon. Karri Ann Allrich offers up ideas to accommodate this in her book Cooking By Moonlight. Allrich says the full moon is great for eating "anything chocolate," but the waning moon is a time to finish leftovers. So why not tuck into a bag (or bags depending on how brave your waistline is) of miniature chocolate bars a couple of days early? Then make all the dishes hiding in your fridge and freezer a buffet, and give away that last bit of candy to trick or treaters, cleaning away the old.
Or, if you already have a squeaky clean fridge, tackle making some homemade goodies. One of my favorite treats to make is "Candied Love Apples" from Silver RavenWolf's book Halloween! Just that heady, succulent scent of apples brings the holiday instantly to mind. And what more appropriate homemade confection for Halloween? A sweet treat to bring more love into your life.
To head back in time and bring back the Celtic flavor with you, check out Joanne Asala's recipe for mead in her book Celtic Folklore Cooking. I really admire the idea of serving favorite foods of relatives who have passed on to honor and celebrate them. Certainly someone amongst our ancestors undoubtedly enjoyed mead once. Get outside in the yard, enjoy a fire (if you have a safe fire pit), dress up however the mood strikes you. Also try displaying your buffet of food on a long wooden table, turn on your favorite music, then dance, eat, drink, and be merry!
I'm all for decorating the outside of your house to delight trick or treaters, or simply to give visual pleasure to those driving or walking past. Yes it is campy. Yes some purists will point out the stereotype of witches is left to flourish here. And they're right. At the same time, I would hope that even the most serious of Wiccans have enough playfulness in their hearts to throw themselves into the enchanting silliness of it all. Halloween as it is celebrated in North America is—in the world scheme of things—like a trip to Las Vegas, or Mardi Gras. It's campy, yes, but so much fun. And just dark enough to make you take it a bit seriously ...
Since I was a toddler, I've always dressed as something for Halloween until about ten years ago when I just started dressing as a more fantastic version of myself. That's when Halloween really took hold of me. I wasn't disguising myself anymore. It's the time of year where I can really indulge myself, and get to feel especially "witchy." The veil between the worlds does become gossamer sheer on Halloween. I can feel it shiver over my skin.
As a child I stumbled upon my sister's old record collection, which included two records of Halloween stories, music, and chilling sounds. Several times before the big night arrived, I could be found scaring myself silly listening to them on a rickety, portable turntable in the dark. The slight scratchy sound to the records just added more creepy feelings to their original intent.
One of the simplest, but most effective ways to celebrate Halloween is to get a few people together, light candles, and tell your spookiest stories. It seems so many people have at least one "I don't believe in ghosts, but this one time I think I saw one," stories. Just saying these aloud in a small group can bring out the most amazing eerie feelings.
I feel Halloween is a very powerful time to do spells as it is so final—being the Wiccan New Year's Eve. This year, Samhain is during the waning moon, so I would concentrate on spells which clear obstacles, sever ties, and sweep your life clean. A favorite spell of mine is the following from Silver RavenWolf.
You will need :
Seven days before Halloween hollow out the pumpkins. Write your name on the bottom of one pumpkin, and the other person's name (or troubling situation) on the other. Sprinkle all the pepper, and salt, in the other person's pumpkin. Vent both pumpkins with a small, carved design. Set the tops in an open, plastic bag in the fridge. Set the pumpkins 3 inches apart on your altar, hold your hands over them. Say: "Pumpkin light, witches' fright, send (the situation, or person) away this night." Keep repeating until your hands tingle or feel warm. Put a tea light in each, and burn for one hour.
Each night, change the candles, move the pumpkins another inch apart, repeating the charm. On Halloween at midnight let the candles burn until 3 am, put them out, and close up the pumpkins with their lids. Bury each pumpkin across a river, creek, or railroad crossing from each other. Throw the spent candles into a dumpster, away from your house. If the pumpkins collapse in a few days you don't need to continue, just do the final disposal of pumpkins.
All single people out there could try this well-known trick for divining your future mate's first initial. Peel an apple in one, long piece at midnight on Halloween. Then toss it over your left shoulder, or into a bowl of water. Study the shape until you can recognize a letter. There's your answer! Supposedly this must be done at that specific time to work.
To set the mood in your house on the big night, you could try a fragrant mix I came up with that reminds me instantly of Halloween in a dark forest. Take a clean spray bottle, pour in one cup of spring or filtered water, then add 3 drops patchouli oil, 10 drops sandalwood oil, 2 drops of vanilla for sweetness, and 5 drops of clary sage. Cap bottle, shake, and spray into air lightly.
No matter how you spend your Halloween, Samhain, All Hallow's Eve, make it just a little bit wickedly witchy.