Happy New Year!
No, I’m not confused. For witches like me, Halloween — also known as the Sabbat of Samhain — is the beginning of the Wheel of the Year. These are some of the simple ways I’ve celebrated this festival of life, death and rebirth with my family over the years.
1. Invite the ancestors to dinner
This time of year is when the veil between worlds is the thinnest, so it’s a great time to honor our dearly departed with a meal. When our children were younger, we’d give them each a paper plate, and they’d draw things that reminded them of those we’d lost. At suppertime, we’d place the plates in the center of the table, and as we ate, we’d share our memories of people and pets no longer with us. Now that they’re older, we simply set an extra place at the table to symbolically include our loved ones.
2. Decorate your altar
I know the word “altar” conjures all kinds of images, but in my practice (eclectic witch), my altar is simply the place I keep the tools for my spell work. At the moment, that space is the top shelf of my computer desk, and holds candles, stones, an incense burner and my cauldron. This time of year, I like to add fall leaves, acorns, shagbark hickory nuts from our yard and a small pumpkin from the grocery store.
3. Burn your resolutions
How can it be a New Year without resolutions? One of my favorite things to do is to write down something I want to banish from my life (one year it was “eating too much junk food”) and then burn the paper, either in the wood stove (when we had one), chiminea, or with a match and a fireproof container. As the smoke wafts away, I visualize the negative thing disappearing as well.
4. Perform a simple candle divination
You don’t need a fancy Ouija board to get answers. All it takes is a quiet spot, a candle and patience. The divination I use comes from Scott Cunningham’s Earth Power: Techniques of Natural Magic. Light the candle, focus on your question and watch the flame. If the right side burns faster (or the flame flickers to the right), the answer is yes; the left side means no.
Yes, there have been plenty of years that our Samhain dinner was take-out pizza, but occasionally I had my act together and managed a home-cooked meal for post-trick-or-treating. My ideal: beef stew, homemade bread, apple cider and some sort of pumpkin goodie for dessert (our eldest makes a mean Pumpkin Cake).
I hope that however you celebrate, you have a magical time. Bright blessings!
Traci York, wordsmith, witch, G33k