Halloween, the Season of the Witch
The wheel has turned a little bit more and after the Second Harvest, Mabon – the Autumnal Equinox, now it’s time to proceed to the Samhain, aka Halloween. Halloween is a contraction of “All Hallows Eve” whilst Samhain etymologically comes from the Celtic language and actually means “the end of Summer”.
What is Halloween so important for Witches?
Halloween is the time of the year when the Dark half is strongly established and it’s really dominant. The Day has been decreased and the Night grows stronger. Halloween, as every Sabbath, is a time when the veil of other Realms gets thinner and transpassable allowing easier connection with the Spirit World.
The Day of the Dead
Halloween/Samhain in particular is considered the time of the Year when the Realm of the Dead communicates with the Realm of the Living. 31st of October and/or 1st of November are considered the sacred Day(s) of the Dead for many cultures. Dia de los Muertos in Latin America is celebrated to honor their Dead ancestors. They welcome their ancestral spirits to come back and visit them in order to bless them. Families and friends assemble at graveyards offering food and drinks in order to make their ancestors” spirits delightful and receive their blessings. The Celebration of Halloween has its roots in many ancient Traditions and Civilizations.
Halloween made in Egypt?
Maybe it’s stronger and most ancient root is detected in ancient Egypt and the Feast of the Dead. Isia, as the name of the feast is known was a 7-day length feast full of ceremonies, starting probably on October 28 and ending on November 3. During this time of the year the ancient Egyptians honoured the God of the Underworld, Osiris and his wonderful wife Goddess Isis.According to the myth, Osiris brother, Set (Seth) God of the Deserts and Darkness, slaughtered Osiris and threw his parts all over the Sahara desert. Isia celebrated and honored the persistent attempt of Isis to search, find and reassemble Osiris” body and finally Resurrect him (on the 7th day of Isia, Novermber 3rd) using her breast milk and the most powerful Magic the World has ever witnessed!
Dark Magic and Halloween
This time of the year was considered more vulnerable to Dark Magic. According to the Roman Calendar of Philocalus 354AD the Isia were also called the Hillaria of Isis. Egyptians mourned for their beloved God and left oil lamps outside of the house symbolising the remembrance of Osiris, while joining forces with Goddess Isis and assisting her in her quest to resurrect her beloved one.
Aztecs also associated this time of the year with the Dead although for them Death was not considered misfortunate. It was the time to Live in the Physical world. Aztecs honored this day as Miccailhuitontli or Miccail-huitontli dedicated to the Goddess Mictecacihuatl the Lady of Death. The custom of dressing in Halloween Skeleton costumes comes from the celebration of the Goddess which played a major part in the Celebrations during the Day of the Dead.
What about the curving of frightening Pumpkins for Halloween?
This tradition probably passed through the Greeks to the Celts and established this annual habit in Ireland. You see, few centuries ago, the Irish didn’t carve funny pumpkins, but beets and turnips. The story begins somewhere in the Irish countryside where a man named Stingy Jack or Drunk Jack and of course… Jack the Lantern was notoriously known as a great deceiver and trickster. His fame was so great that even the devil learned about him and -of course- wondered to find him and collect his dark soul. When Jack encountered the devil, he convinced him -as a last request- to escort him to the nearest pub so that he could drink his last beer.
When he finished his drink, again, he asked the devil to transform into a silver coin to pay the pub owner. The devil was convinced and Jack took his chance and picked up the coin and put it in his pocket along with a crucifix so that the devil could not turn back. He then bargained his soul for 1 or 10 years (depending on the variation of the story). All variations of the story describe how he tricked the devil (in different ways) however the outline and meaning of the story remains the same. Jack died because of drinking and while devil could not take his soul -because of the bargain- he could neither enter Paradise nor Hell, he ended up roaming between this world and the Netherworld carrying a burning coal inside a turnip.This is why the Irish (and Scottish) carved grotesque faces on potatoes and other vegetables and left them outside of their house. They did it to scare Jack and other malevolent entities. The Irish immigrants found pumpkins much more suitable for carving and so the tradition was established. Of course, another interpretation of the story is that lanterns are being lit to assist wondering souls reach their destination and that forgiveness is always there for those that seek it.
Halloween in Christian Times
Christianity trying to absorb the pagan Vibes of this popular day and transform it to something less dangerous, established a very powerful feast celebrating All Saints Day. It firstly appeared as a day to honor all the Martyrs in the 4th century and after 5 more centuries it included all the Saints. Litanies and Prayers all over the World are being recited so that in in this way the Saints would protect the Living from Dark and Evil spirits and they would keep the Believers from celebrating in a Pagan way.
Making Halloween more magical! Pumpkins The next time you light up a sweet and scary Halloween Pumpkin lamp just bear in mind the true meaning it bears in the ancient Egyptian Tradition. Devote the Pumpkin to Osiris, Isis or other Divine entities and ask for them to send the blessings to the house and all its inhabitants! Let their light welcome Osiris and Isis in your house and bless it!
How to please the Dead
Offerings to the departed Another thing that you can do during Halloween is to honour the spirits of the Dead. Offerings of all sorts are always welcome, however, traditionally red wine (resembling blood and the life force) and milk and honey (for nurture), apples (for nurture and wisdom) or sweets (as a remembrance of the joys of life) were being offered. The offering was done in a ceremonial way by digging up a hole to the Earth, the place where even the ashes of those who have burnt reside and optionally candles where placed around it-each one for the spirit that the Witch wanted to honour. Then the names of the spirits you provide the offering to were spoken (if you are unsure then you can state that “this offering is for all souls that have departed”) and then the offering was made by pouring wine or milk and honey in the hole. When the offering was made and the ceremony ended the candles were left to burn out completely and the hole was covered.
Travelling to the realm of the Dead During Samhain, communication with the Realm of the Dead was established by providing offerings to the departed and by spirit travelling to the Realm of the Dead. This was done in a safe ‘shamanic’ way where the High Priest and High Priestess would lead the remaining members of the coven to the Underworld. All the members of the Circle would sit comfortably or even lay on the floor with the eyes closed, a beating drum would help everyone relax and reconnect with their breath, allowing deeper relaxation. The High Priest and High Priestess would give instructions for visualisation and connection with the Realm of the Dead. Once the connection was established, all members were left in silence to journey and connect with the spirits of the departed and hear their messages.
The connection with the ancestors is a powerful ritual that enables us to connect to our physical ancestors the same way we are connected with them through our DNA. In addition, the Coven members were also connected with their spirit ancestors (who are connected to us through spirit and not through the blood line) and hear their guidance. Once the travelling ended, the High Priest and High Priestess would safely provide instructions on how to reconnect to the Physical World.
Once the journey ended, the participants would share stories over a feast to celebrate the departed. Sharing messages was an important part of the ceremony as every being is connected with each other and the messages received from the Spirit World would paint the broader canvas of the journey and provide the caveat that the Coven may wish to work on during the upcoming months.
Connection with the Otherworld through Dreams and the Shadow During Samhain, as already mentioned, spells and rituals that connected us with the Spirit World were encouraged. One way for this to be accomplished is by working with the subconscious mind. This can be achieved by initially establishing a connection with the ancestors through offerings and receiving messages through dreams. In Greece, God Oniros (the God of Dreams) was invoked for the person to receive clear guidance and messages that were having his/her highest interest at heart. The subconscious mind works with symbols therefore, the dream was recorded the following day and the message was decrypted. The dreamer was the only person believed to be able to decipher the message most accurately. Offerings to God and the messengers were provided on the following day as well.
Another variation of the above is working with the Shadow to bring messages to the person. The Shadow is considered an extension of the physical self and it is believed that can act as a messenger between the physical world and the spirit world.
This can be done in the following way: Before going to bed a single candle was lit in the dark room behind the person. The person addresses his/her own shadow and asks the Shadow to connect with the Other Side, with the Spirits that have the highest interest at heart for the person, and to bring messages during sleep. Once this was done the candle was extinguished and the Shadow was released. The dreamer would go to bed and receive the messages during their sleep. Dream recording and deciphering of the message would take place the following morning. If anything was unclear the ritual was repeated the following night to ask for clarifications. In some traditions, it was believed that the messages were received after the person was awoken, when the Shadow reconnects with the body and the first thoughts in the morning was the actual message that would come from the Spirit World. You can try this and let us know how you prefer to work with your Shadow.
The Halloween is a very powerful day and Magical Recipes Online will infrorm and propose you Spells and Rituals for this wonderful day… Stay tuned to the Free Online Magazine on Witchcraft!