Almost everyone knows what Halloween is, but not everyone understands how Wiccans observe and celebrate October 31st or that we know it as something else.
For the general public, Halloween is about costumes, parties, candy, and everything fun and spooky. What most don’t think about is where it comes from. Sure, some are willing to admit the connection to the ancient harvest, but that’s in relation to the Christianized version.
I’ll use a memorable scene from the beloved 1993 Halloween film Hocus Pocus. Allison (Vinessa Shaw) explains to Max (Omri Katz) that the holiday more than a seasonal excuse for candy companies to profit off the general public:
“..It’s the one night of the year when the spirits of the dead can return to Earth.”Shaw, Vinessa. Hocus Pocus. 1993.
Likewise, it’s when Pagans celebrate their own loved ones who have passed on; however, for us, this is called Samhain.
The evening of October 31st aka Samhain (pronounced sah-win) is the New Year for witches. The veil between our world and the spirit world is at its thinnest.
My official Pagan journey began around October 31st 2003 at age fifteen. A previous interest in witchcraft had returned and Mother Isis found me; therefore, for me, each Samhain marks another year that I have been in a relationship with the Goddess.
As mentioned, we reconnect with those in our lives who have passed: Friends, family members, pets, and so on. We ask them to visit with us for a while. We honor them and ask for their advice for the upcoming year. Witches in covens participate in a group setting while solitary practitioners, like myself, can do rituals alone. I have done both.
As someone with atheist family members and friends, it’s acceptable to see this as a form of meditation. Personally, when I perform this ritual, it does not feel like a meditation. It feels like I am with the person or people who have passed on. It is especially helpful when going through something difficult that year because confusion and fear are lifted, even when the answers are hard to accept.
For years, the concept of Halloween always made me angry. Whenever a stranger wished me a “Happy Halloween” I wanted to correct them by saying, “Samhain.” I yearned for that look of confusion on their faces, hoping it would inspire them to do some research. I have always known this wouldn’t be a likely outcome. Most people do not take the time to understand things that they do not already know; unless, they find it will benefit themselves, too.
One of the causes of my previous anger towards society was that while everyone does acknowledge that this is a holiday, they’ll never accept witches as equals or learn that it’s originally our holiday.
Fellow Pagans have told me what a waste of energy this is. Eventually, I accepted that reality and decided to embrace the fun of Halloween, and channel my energy elsewhere. It can’t be up to me to educate the entire world on the hypocrisy of the holiday system because of the plagiarism done centuries ago.
I may write an essay explaining each holiday and their pagan origins, but doing so here would go off-topic.
Spending years becoming so angry at the ignorance surrounding this holiday has been damaging in multiple ways. Considering how sensitive the energy is around this time, with the veil between the worlds at its thinnest, it’s easier to be swept up in the negativity.
See what I did there? Witches and brooms. Swept? No? Okay! Enough with the corny pagan jokes.
One way to cleanse the negative energy is by burning a Sage smudge stick. I don’t mind mentioning Sage, since it is so incredibly common.
Years ago, after one of the times I attended a Witches Ball, my house became frightening. No, plates didn’t smash and doors didn’t shut by themselves. No, this had nothing to do with some satanic character. It was a strong sensation and an energy that I could feel. It was negative energy that needed to be banished, and it was.
Halloween Feline Problems
It’s worth mentioning how disturbing it is to learn that, year after year, cats are being harmed on this holiday; especially, black ones. Witches are not the culprits. I do not know who these monsters are, but the Wiccan morality is “An it harm none, do as ye will.”
Harm to animals is a big “no no.”
Animals are beautiful and sacred creatures to be honored and treated with respect. It takes an abusive person who lacks empathy to do such a thing. Lastly, as a Pagan who has researched LaVeyan Satanism, I can say that these Satanists are not involved, either. Regardless of which group(s) is responsible, please keep your pets inside on this holiday!
No Wrong Path
There is no singular way to be a Pagan; therefore, my anger over the years has been a waste. It was mostly as a defense against so much misconception; however, if there is no specific way to be a Pagan, then there should be no specific way to celebrate the holiday. So, who cares if people celebrate Halloween or Samhain?
My only wish is that people will eventually want to learn the truth about it. My fear is that people will be ignorant and prefer to remain so, but since I can’t control others, there is no point in spending so much energy being upset about it.
Whatever you choose to celebrate, I hope that you do so in a safe manner and harm none, including yourself.