the veils are thin, it was important to dress up in disguise, or to
cross-dress, so as to confuse any spirits or ghosts that might be
about. Also, with its emphasis on death and darkness, this is a really
good time of year to remember those who have passed over in the past
year. This gives rise to another staple of commercial Halloween – the
pumpkin. Originally it would've been a turnip or gourd lantern. Opinion
is divided but it was either to welcome home the spirits of those
recently departed or to ward off evil – maybe both.
This is also
seen as the third and final of the harvest festivals. The feasting at
this time would have involved the culling of the herds. This is where
divination comes in as well. In a primitive farming community, there
were now important decisions to be made. Every animal over-wintered
will need valuable fodder to survive. On the one hand, if you cull too
many now, there may not be a breeding stock left in Spring. On the
other, not culling enough could mean the herd runs out of fodder and
isn't healthy enough to breed from. Aside from the feast, any meat left
over would be smoked, salted and preserved.
This should be a
prevailing attitude over this time, especially if you are working with
an intent. Similar to spring cleaning, it should be a time of deciding
which attitudes and ideas to keep and nuture over the winter and which
have had their time.
For this reason, we tend to celebrate with
good quality steak at this time of year, with something apple based for
dessert. Colours are generally blacks, and indigo. If we use ribbons or
altar cloths, then we use see-through indigo if we can find it, to
represent the veils. Of the existing Halloween symbols, we choose
witches (honouring the Crone), skulls, and skeletons. We try not to let
it become too overly tacky or gory, but instead try to keep it
recognising the dark side, respecting the Crone and acknowledging
death. And of course, we carve pumpkins and take the children trick or
Remember that without the darkness, there would be no
light, without death, no life. This, rather than schlock horror motifs,
is the true message of Halloween. [More...]
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