It is Samhain (Sow-win), otherwise known as The Witch’s New Year.
Today marks the final sabbat of the Witch’s Calander, in which we find the God has withered and died, bringing the end of Summer, and the Goddess now mourns him — a grief so heavy, her sadness will soon bring Winter upon us.
The veil between the physical realm and the spirit realm is at its thinnest today, allowing the powers of divination, communion with spirits and otherworldly entities, and psychic intuition to be at their strongest.
While there is no reason to fear whatever supernatural happenings may take place today, I’ve been pretty nervous and antsy over the last few days leading up to Samhain: I close my eyes to meditate and feel intensely that I am being watched. For weeks now I’ve seen things out the corners of my eyes — outlines, faces, flashes of light, etc. — that vanish upon direct focus. I’ve always been afraid of the dark, but over the last few nights, I’ve obsessively glanced out my windows, fully expecting someone to be staring right back at me.
Maybe I’m just paranoid. Maybe I just have an overactive imagination. But maybe, contact is trying to be made. I honestly can’t be too sure. While I had regular, intense, contact with spirits as a teenager, I feel like any psychic link I may have possessed back then has since been calcified over to an extent. Learning to re-harness my psychic ability is a … New Years Resolution, let’s say. ;P
That’s what I mull over while the rest of Bradford prepares itself for a heavy rainstorm admist the roves of Trick-or-Treaters going door-to-door with lootbags presented like hungry and bottomless maws for an endless sugar high any seratonin-deprived adult could only dream of achieving.
Tonight, I will perform a ritual in honour of my grandparents, Nanny and Pére.
I’m unsure how to properly prepare or what to expect for my first Samhain celebration. I’ve read the articles, watched the Youtube videos, but there’s still a level of nervousness that flows through me in a way that fears completely fucking this thing up.
I love Halloween. It’s my favourite time of the year, going so far to jokingly refer to it as “Goth Christmas”, back when I saw myself as part of that community. Halloween has always been, in theory, a really important day for me.
But when it comes down to brass tacks, I haven’t actually properly celebrated Halloween in maybe a decade, if not more. I always make the promise that I’ll devote October to “31 Days of Halloween”, watching a scary movie every day leading up to the well-kept tradition of watching John Carpenter’s 1978 Halloween. But I can’t think of any year, this year included, where I actually honoured the pledge to do so, outside of watching Halloween on the 31st.
No, instead of honouring any plans to marathon my favourite scary movies or dress up for work, or sit among the headstones at some cemetary on the outskirts of town, I typically backpedal on my plans and instead waste the day away like any other day with anxiety, restlessness, social media-induced time sucks, and overall mental prep for the daunting task that is November’s National Novel Writing Month.
This year marks my first Halloween celebrating as a full-on witch — a practicing witch. I no longer have the excuse to backpedal on plans. Some would say I am religiously obligated to celebrate Halloween, haha!
My altar is currently adorned with photos of my grandparents. My Pére was a carpenter, a talented one at that, who made a career of himself at Beaver Lumber, in Barrie. Adjacent to his photo is one of many hand-carved wooden shoes he’d made. My Nanny was a telephone operator and an avid reader, soaking up anything with a thriller or horror bent to it. Adjacent to Nanny’s photo is her old copy of Joy Fielding’s “Don’t Cry Now”, a pulpy page-turner about a wife’s struggle to survive her homicidal husband.
As meaningful as this ancestral altar is to me, I’m still nervous about performing ritual. I’m nervous about doing enough. I’m nervous about coming across as fake — an imposter.
When I decided to answer the call to become a white witch back in the spring, Beltane was right under my nose. I would have missed it, if not for the knowledge of its precence brought to my attention by the woman I was dating at the time. I’ve fumbled through the sabbats that have come since then, too immersed in my naivety as a fledgling witch and insecurities as an Ex-member of organized religion, to really devote the necessary time and energy to them.
But, then there’s Halloween. A day I’ve always held dear — in theory.
Leading up to today, I was nervous I just might sit back and shrug like I did all the other sabbats.
But I’m not going to.
Celebrating Samhain is important to me. I’m not celebrating for the god or for the goddess, or any amount of religious “obligation”.
I’m celebrating it for me, putting into practice the effort into things that re meaningful and authentic to my needs and desires. This is not something I am used to doing for myself. And I am fully prepared for a battle between my heart and mind to take place. Seasonal depression has hit me in the last couple of weeks, and it always hits hard.
But instead of letting my depression rule me, I need to embrace it as the veil thins. I must allow myself to be present and active with the spiritual forces that have been trying to reach out to me over the last couple of weeks.
I don’t know how tonight will go, but this is the Witch’s New Year. Today marks the death of the things that no longer serve us purpose — and the honouring of those who have come before us as new doors and blessings enter into our lives.
By embracing my seasonal depression and my fear of fucking up whatever means of celebration I intend to partake in tonight, I am allowing these feelings to run their course. In doing so, I shall shed them like snake skin, so that all that is new may glisten and gleam.
While the purpose of Samhain is to honour those who’ve come before us, it’s important to me to recognize the passing of my old self also. There are parts of me, dark and ugly parts, that I still cling to. We all cling to these parts, right? Who I was ten years ago is not who I am today, yet why do I still reflect on that person’s experiences in the context of what I face in the here and now?
As the veil thins, it is time to let go of fear. It is time to let go of restraint. It is time to let go of self spite and enter into a beautiful union of spiritual communion. What lays in wait for us in November is our to make.