Ah, one of my favorite days of the year is here. As happens most years, I am trying to incorporate spiritual practice with a chance to party my ass off. Happily, given my spiritual path, these things are not mutually exclusive.
As a quick aside, being a witch at Halloween is a trip. Suddenly, pop culture shines a little spotlight on an otherwise near invisible spiritual path, and local corporate news outlets are likely to run sensationalized stories of [insert cheezy announcer voice here] "a real modern day witch--- more after this break." Chances are good, whatever ends up being portrayed in these bits feels like it has less than nothing to do with me and my spiritual path. It's either these velveeta moments, or, worse-- the ubiquitous unflattering Disney image of witches. You know the one: an old woman with a large crooked nose with wart; probable green skin; black or grey hair with a black pointy hat; and any teeth remaining are likely to be jagged. I mean, enough already. Witches, that is indigenous European earth path following folk, were relentlessly persecuted after the rise of Christianity. Over a 500-year period scores of thousands (at a minimum) of people (primarily women) were accused of witchcraft and executed by the church and state. Like that's not enough? We have to put up with crazy bad media stereotyping, too? I get a bit sick of it.... deny our existence, ridicule us, insult us, force conversions to worship a dead guy on a stick, and if anyone gets too out of line, tell the populace that they are in league with the devil and must be executed. More on the burning times, and their relevancy to current day events in a future post, but for now, I will get back to this blessed Samhain.
This is the time that the veil between the worlds is stretched thinner. This is the time to listen to messages from your ancestors. This is the time to ask those who are on the other side for advice, for guidance.
There are many ways to honor and remember the dead: pour an extra cup of tea / coffee / water in the morning, poor it out while saying the names of those you remember; set an extra place for "unseen friends" at the dinner table tonight; make an altar-- include pictures of those who are disincarnate, flowers, candles, reminders of the elements (water, earth, fire, air), let spirit guide you (literally).
So here's a little confession. I see dead people. Really. Since I was a kid, I have seen and communicated with the dearly departed. During this time of year, I can vouch for the connection coming through much stronger. One thing that I have learned is that anyone who wants to do this, generally can learn how. The most important thing is to be clear in your intention, ground yourself, state that you invite only spirits who wish you well, and be receptive to what you perceive. As with anything, practice helps.
I think that it is crucial to recognize the connections between this world and the next, to honor our connection with the dead and the earth that sustains us. It is important to see ourselves as a part of this very large intergenerational picture, and not this disconnected, disassociative ahistorical entity, with no past, no future and an unsatisfied present.
To that end, considering the challenges we are facing, please consider asking our forebears for advice. As the wheel of the year turns, remember: turning wheels make revolutions. I plan on having some consultation with Emma Goldman, Voltairine De Cleyre, Boudicea, Abbie Hoffman, Judy Bari, and my dad, gran, Uncle Jack, and Jan, too (can't forget about the family).
And in between all that consultation, libation pouring, honoring and connecting, I am going to the BOO BASH! It will be fun, I am working out my costume even now. I heartily encourage everyone to attend-- Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison Ave, $7 with a costume-- and proceeds benefit KBOO. Pretty much a winning situation all around. Check out all information about it here.
Whether you spend this day carving pumpkins (I have carved my best pumpkin *EVER* this year!), eating candy, talking with the dead, constructing the best costume in the world, partying like it's 1999 all over again, or some combination of the above, I wish you the very best as this old year passes. Brightest blessings on us all as we spend the next six weeks incubating the new year to come.
With love and gratitude.