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HALLOWEEN!


       You might think, that by being Pagan, my family wouldn’t participate in the “normal” traditions of the Americanized Halloween. We call it Samhain, but for this story, I’ll refer to it as Halloween. We do with fervor. In fact, we embrace it. Why not? Its roots are deep in our own traditions. From dressing up in costumes to trick or treating.

When we were small, there wasn’t the money to spend on costumes. My mom would go to Kresge’s and buy each of us one of those awful plastic face masks. She would then go through old clothes and fashion a costume to match the mask. Most of the time, it was so cold, you had to wear your winter coat over it because you’d freeze otherwise.

Those masks were the worst. I’m sure some of you remember those. You could barely breathe in them and your nose, mouth and chin would sweat like crazy. Let’s not even talk about seeing out of the damn things. You had to lift them up as you walked along to see where you were going because there was no way to see but straight forward and that was if you were lucky. Leaving them on was a safety hazard!

People back then, didn’t decorate like they do today. Our outside decorations were 3 pumpkins. One for each of us. Dad would take us to pick them out. We would spend what I’m sure seemed like hours choosing the perfect one. That night, after supper, Dad would get his knife out as we gathered around the news papered covered kitchen table. He’d cut the opening in the top and place each one in front of us. We’d dig right in, gleefully pulling out the seeds and “guts”. 

Once the pumpkins were as clean as we could get them with our small hands, we’d finish cleaning them out with large tablespoons. Scraping the inner walls to be sure nothing was left but a smooth interior. Then each of us would draw out the face we wanted on the pumpkin. Mom, who was an artist, would draw it on the pumpkin and Dad would carefully carve it out. Mom would then put a candle in each one. We’d ceremoniously take them outside and choose where they would go. Dad would light the candles inside and we would stand back and admire them.

There was an excitement in the air the whole month of October. We would count down the days to Halloween. When the big night finally arrived, we’d get dressed up in our costumes. Dad would drive us around and we would fill our decorated pillowcases with goodies. Many of them were homemade too. About 3 years in a row it seemed, either my brother or sister would get sick and as the eldest, I would have to carry their pillowcase too and ask for an extra treat for the one remaining at home.

Once we got home, of course the pillowcases were emptied on the living room floor and we sorted our treats. Trades were made, who liked this or that and of course trying to sneak your favorite from someone else when they weren’t looking. This was easy when my siblings were young, as they grew older, more difficult. All black licorice went to Dad. He loved the stuff and we’d share our candy corn with him. He had a “sweet tooth” and he would get in the fun too by pretending to steal our candy too.

This was also a time when Dad would sit in his chair and tell of his boyhood Halloweens. We’d sit at his feet munching on popcorn balls or candied apples and listen. Tales of tipping over outhouses, a failed attempt at putting a wagon on top of a barn and various other pranks that he pulled as a young teen. He’d laugh as he told these tales and we’d laugh too. Our Mom would tell him not to put ideas in our heads. He’d laugh at her and we’d laugh with him. She’d had to laugh too, how could she not?

Once I reached the age of being too old to trick or treat, it fell to me to take my brother and sister out trick or treating. At first, I wasn’t too crazy about this. Everyone else my age would be out having fun, not hauling their little brothers and sisters around the neighborhood trick-n-treating. Then I remembered my Dad’s tales of Halloween pranks. I prepared carefully for weeks ahead. Sneaking toilet paper one roll at a time out of the house and hiding it in a safe place outside so it wouldn’t get wet. Giving my allowance to a friend to buy some firecrackers for me. An egg here and there was placed with the toilet paper.

The week before Halloween night I asked if I could have a friend stay overnight. Permission was granted. That night, we got ready quickly. My costume was a simple one. I asked my Dad if I could wear his Army jacket. He chuckled and gave me permission. I needed to be ready before my sister and brother so I could go out and fill the deep pockets of Dad’s jacket with my stolen goods. If done in front of my sister, she might tattle to my Mom and then my plans would be spoiled. The last item needed was a couple bars of soap that I slipped into my pocket before going outside.

My friend and I laughed as we walked along with our pockets bulging with eggs, soap, firecrackers in a plastic baggie and two rolls of toilet paper. As my sister and brother went from house to house, we decorated the trees and mailboxes with toilet paper. We weren’t sure what we were going to do with the eggs, knowing that they were bad for car paint; that was out of the question. I trusted that when the time came, we would know what to do with them. Here and there, a lit firecracker would go off.

At one house, as my sister and brother walked up the steep driveway, there was a car parked next to it. I got my bar of soap out and began to write on the window while talking to my friend. I wasn’t really paying attention at first, when I finally looked at the car window, I realized that there was a man sitting in the car watching me! I screamed with fright scaring my friend who screamed even louder. The two of us took off running as if the gates of hell had opened on us and all its demons were on our tail, completely forgetting my siblings; who were running behind us yelling to wait up. 

When we stopped out of breath, we began laughing. The man didn’t come after us. I suspect we either scared him as bad as he scared us with our screaming or, he figured we learned our lesson just from the fright he gave us. I’m not sure, but I could swear I hear him laughing as we cut out of there. 

We decided that tossing an egg or two in the air as celebration and letting them land on the road was a clever idea. Sliding my hand into my pocket I felt a wet gooey substance. Oh no! In our rush to get away from a non-existent pursuer, the unprotected eggs smashed in my pocket! Every single one of them! Not only that, but they had seeped into the baggie with the firecrackers and soaked them as well rendering them useless. 

At first, we were hugely disappointed, but then the hilarity of it struck us and we laughed even harder. The trick was on us! We continued to take my sister and brother around the rest of the night. Using up our toilet paper here and there. And you can bet, if we went to soap a car window, we checked to make sure no one was inside first! 

I must tell you, there is a prank we pulled that night that I can’t share. Not because I don’t want to. It’s just that the statute of limitations hasn’t run out yet. At least, I’m pretty sure that it hasn’t. It was glorious, but just to be safe, I better keep it to myself. Besides, what’s Halloween without a little mystery?

 


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Samhain beannaithe!

 

Samhain, the Celtic Pagan New Year, is also known as Spirit Night, is the most sacred of the Pagan/Witch calendar. This night the veil thins and those from the Otherworld can connect with us here on Earth easily. They may walk among us once again. 

To celebrate this day of Ancestors, decorate your altar and home in marigolds, cypress, ferns, pumpkins, heather, nuts, hazel, sage, apples, oak leaves, calendula, gourds, mugwort, pine cones, rue, grapevines, wormwood.

Traditional foods are root vegetables, apples, pork roast, colcannon, squash, pies, nut breads, cinnamon, corn, rosemary, sage, turnips. With cider, mead, mulled wine, as beverages. Season the food with the herbs you’ve grown.

Incenses to burn are benzoin, copal, rosemary, sandalwood, heliotrope, mint, nutmeg, and sweetgrass.

The colors of Samhain are: Black, orange, brown, gold, scarlet, deep purple, green, grey, white, silver, for the candles. 

Crystals that help connect with the season are: Jet, obsidian, onyx, smokey quartz, carnelian, bloodstone, clear crystal

Honor the spirit animals:  of owl, black cat, bat, wolf, raven, griffin, dragon, squirrel, fox, stag, spider,  

In the evening, bonfires to light the night to light the way for the ancestors and greet them with music, singing, dancing, and storytelling.

 May your month of Samhain be Blessed and full of many ancestral visits my darlings …

Wildly Yours,

Wild Thing

Goddess of the Cosmos, Queen of the Faeries, Mistress of the Dragons, Lady of the Mist

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