When the Season of the Witch Beckons, Let Tradition Be Your Guide
From burying apples and recharging tools to ancestral rituals, use Halloween traditions to prepare yourself for the season of the witch.
When it comes to Halloween, there’s a bounty of reasons why witches revel in the oncoming autumnal chill, and why they can begin to feel at peace and in control again. The air buzzes with just a little more magic and spirituality. That matters far more than the holiday decorations in every store.
Almost every culture has at one time celebrated the thinning of the veil between this mortal world and the next. However, it’s from the ancient traditions of Samhain that the Halloween we know and love today gets its roots. Ancient Celts celebrated the coming of the new year and the ending of the harvest season by building massive bonfires, dressing in costumes, and offering gifts to the dead who returned to visit on the night of October 31.
Though Halloween has changed a lot since then, many modern-day witches and Pagans still celebrate Samhain in similar ways to their ancestors. When the Season of the Witch approaches, take advantage of the energy in the air.
Taking Time to Refresh Your Energy
Because this time of year caters so well to those who dwell between the land of the living and the dead, there’s no better time to ensure everything you keep to boost your spiritual energy is refreshed and rejuvenated for the year to come.
Fortifying my pentagram wreath for the year ahead
- You may want to cleanse and charge crystals that have absorbed a little more than they can bear throughout the year.
- You may also wish to fix up any other sigils, furniture, wall hangings, etc., that you keep near you for protection or more.
- Take some time to prune your houseplants, throw out clutter that only gathers dust, and physically/spiritually cleanse the home or apartment you live in.
Samhain is a time known for bringing in less-than-welcome spirits, so it’s important that you take steps to ensure your space’s defenses are up and as fortified as possible. Not only will it have an effect on the space itself, but also on you and your own mindset.
This is also the perfect time to create more totems and other familiar objects to keep near you, since your energy should be at its peak. For example, last year I constructed my pentagram wreath in the picture above using pinecones, dried flowers, twine, and bones. It’s seen better days, but I know that this time of year is the best time to fix it up again. It will absorb some of the TLC and more that I’m putting into it.
Whether it’s Halloween wreaths or any other wall hanging appropriate for all times of year, sometimes a little visual reminder is enough to keep negativity at bay.
Remembering the Deceased and Making Offerings
When the Season of the Witch beckons you may decide to host a silent Day of the Dead dinner, or something a little more rambunctious to honour lost loved ones and welcome them back across the veil for a memorable night together. While these dinners are traditionally spent in silence, if your invited relatives returning for a night aren’t much for seriousness, something a little more rowdy would be just as fine.
You can also honour the spirits of beloved deceased pets, as I’ve done here with my dear heart Peaches
Start with the usual things you would do to throw a killer housewarming party, and then spice it up with themes and decor that will be welcoming to your spiritual invitees. Keep in mind, though you’re going to need a little planning ahead — especially if you live in an urban area, or a space without much wiggle room, like an apartment.
The Ancient Tradition of Burning Bonfires
If you’re lucky enough to host a bonfire burning in your backyard, it’s said in Celtic tradition that hopping over the flames will bring luck (whereas falling into the flames is probably the start of bad luck).
If you have no bonfire, you can leap over a candle or incense plume, or leave them to burn overnight in a window.
If you can’t build a large bonfire because of where you live, using candles, a fireplace, or something else more portable will work just fine; the spirits aren’t too picky, and it’s the thought that counts. Even just leaving a single candle burning overnight in a window is said to help guide spirits back home, so chances are they’re less worried about a big show of fire and more about not getting lost.
Burying Apples and Fruit
When the Celts were conquered by the Romans, Samhain was soon absorbed into one of their already existing holidays honoring Pomona, the Roman goddess of apples. It’s speculated that this is where the modern day game of bobbing for apples came from. Pomona is also likely to be the reason many Pagans will bury apples as offerings on Samhain.
Feeding hungry, passing spirits doesn’t have to be just apples, though. Also consider pomegranates, berries, nuts, and other seasonal foods. Particularly if you’re expecting someone in particular, feel free to bury whatever you think they’d be most excited to eat back on this side of the veil.
The veil is so thin during witch season, and there’s no better time to communicate with those on the other side. Doing so comes with its own risks.
Only undertake such activity if you’re aware of the possibility of less-than-friendly spirits sneaking through. Whether you make connections through ouija boards, tarot readings, séances, or meditation, the most important thing is that you keep yourself safe!
A few other rituals to consider, courtesy of Gaia.com:
- Nature walk/meditation
- Ancestral altars
- Visiting the cemetery
- Practicing divination
- Evoking the help of divine entities
Embracing the Season of the Witch
Whether or not you’re a practicing Pagan, Wiccan, or another strain that stills performs rituals and feels the power of All Hallow’s Eve and the season of the witch, it’s hard to deny that there certainly is a certain magic – a certain power in the air – around autumn or fall.
There’s a reason so much mayhem and mischief centers around Halloween, like the myths surrounding poisoned candy and an increase in house fires — and it’s not just because of the pranks and costumes.
With the thinning of the veil, the invitation of the dead back into the land of the living, and the negative hitchhikers that tag along, is it any surprise so many cultures around the world have some sort of harvest-time festival to ward them all off? Is it any wonder that still today in our technological, scientific-based world, people still comment on and feel the energy of new spirits emerging back into the mortal plane?
All photos © Kelsey Morgan, 2017.