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
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
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, 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.
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,
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
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
spirit animals: of owl, black cat, bat, wolf, raven, griffin,
dragon, squirrel, fox, stag, spider,
the evening, bonfires to light the night to light the way
for the ancestors and greet them with music, singing, dancing, and
your month of Samhain be Blessed and full of many ancestral
visits my darlings …
Goddess of the Cosmos, Queen of the Faeries,
Mistress of the
Dragons, Lady of the Mist
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