Halloween is quickly approaching! For Wiccans, witches, and neo-pagans, Saturday and Sunday mark Samhain, and the last full moon of October.
Samhain, pronounced sow-en, dates back to pagan Celtic traditions and practices. It is believed that the barriers between this world and the next break down, if only for a little while, allowing us to interact with the dead and the creatures of the beyond. Folks celebrated by building a big fire in their village, and leaving out offerings to the creatures that crossed over so they would not be taken.
Nowadays, celebrations are a little less community based, probably because paganism is frowned upon, for the most part. You are still encouraged to participate with your fellows, but there are solitary practices you can take up as well.
With Halloween on the horizon, what better way to spend this quarantined holiday than to watch some scary movies?
Now, I am generally a very strong advocate for gorey, B-rated slasher films, but considering this is an occult themed opinion section, I will leave those to Nerd Factor or Watch With Me. No, this week I have some witch movie recommendations.
Halloweentown and Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge might seem like kid’s movies, and they are. However, they were our kid’s movies, the ones we grew up with. Marnie Piper is the granddaughter of Aggie Cromwell, a weird woman to say the least. One night, Marnie and her brother follow their grandmother onto a mysterious bus and end up in a spooky place called Halloweentown. Chaos ensues. This is a good watch for something light and nostalgic, and a quick movie at that.
For the past two weeks, or just about, I have been in Texas for personal reasons. It reminds me a lot of Florida, with the weather and all, but dryer.
While staying in Texas, my friends and I booked an AirBnB. Now, I have stayed in some certified haunted places, including a hotel, onboard a ship, and a renovated farmhouse in Stuart’s Draft that my mother insists is not haunted.
Last week I talked about how definitely haunted Maine is, everywhere, but I did not expect to have the same opinion for Texas. For one, it is much sunnier here. There has not been a single cloudy day, and the temperature is in the 90’s, where Maine was rather overcast and cold in comparison. What Texas has that Maine does not, however, is a history of war.
It is officially Spooky Season! While winter is my favorite season, there is something about a warm drink, a nip in the air, and the turning trees that gets me.
This past weekend, my boyfriend and I drove up to Maine for a wedding. During the 14 hour trip, the trees went from Virginia’s just starting to turn to New York’s autumn prime.
We also passed through a bunch of small towns, the kind that are void of life after 8 p.m. and that are stuffed to the brim with local businesses. I love the houses and, even though I am no longer Christian, I love the churches too. The look of something old, that has been taken care of this long, just gets me.
Recently, I have been asked a lot if my kitten, Cozzy, is my familiar. The short answer is no, and the long answer is something that I had to look into.
Familiars, classically, are a witch’s pet that helps out with their spells and other workings. In Harry Potter, they were owls, cats, or toads. In A Discovery of Witches, there was a dragon familiar, a golem familiar, and a cran familiar. Yet another book, A Secret History of Witches, had familiars that were cats, horses, and foxes.
As the spooky season descends upon us, and with Mabon behind us, it should be about time to think about cleansing. The next full moon is Oct. 1 and that is the perfect time to clean your space and start fresh.
First of all, crystals are a great way to cleanse your space. Selenite, charged by the moon, is a great cleanser. Hematite will ward off bad energy. Black Tourmaline is a spiritual protector. Amethyst also has protecting properties. There are tons of crystals out there, and all of them have their own properties. Do some research, find one you like, and go get it.
Mabon is one of the eight pagan/Wiccan sabbats, which means they are holidays that witches celebrate. Mabon itself celebrates the end of summer on the autumnal equinox, and it is considered the mid-harvest festival.
For this particular article, I decided to do some research, and landed on the Boston Public Library (BPL). According to them, Mabon is far from the first harvest festival. “In the 1700s, the Bavarians began a festival that starts in the last week of September. They called this festival Oktoberfest.”
The website continued, “Many cultures see the second harvest (after the first harvest Lammas) and equinox as a time for giving thanks. This time of year is when farmers know how well their summer crops did, and how well fed their animals have become.”
The word alchemy just makes me think of fancy chemistry. To my understanding, that is all it really was: chemistry before we had the word. Imagine, using chemicals to change something into something else. It is fascinating, is it not?
Most people who have heard of alchemy probably relate it to something like magic. Witchcraft, if you will. The problem therein is that alchemists were revered as scientists, while witches were set ablaze for fun. Alchemy nowadays might be magic, but then, it was just experiments so the scientist may live forever, or what have you.
Back to my regularly scheduled opinions, this week I wanted to talk about the Freemasons. I think everyone and their mother has heard of the freemasons, or at least seen their symbol around: stickers, carved into headstones, put on buildings.
But what are the freemasons? What do they do? And why does a secret society feel the need to put their symbol all over the world?
According to Britannica, Freemasonry is a “secret fraternal order of Free and Accepted Masons,” and is considered the “largest worldwide secret society.” That seems a bit ironic, being the largest secret society that has articles all over the place, but I digress. It is a Eurocentric society, started within the British Empire and then spread to all the different countries they conquered. There are also about six million members worldwide.
I have a list of things that I want to write an opinion piece about. Is this one of them? No, but I thought I would get back to that list next week, so stay tuned.
Instead, today, I wanted to talk about superstitions.
Recently, I adopted a black cat from the Lynchburg Humane Society. He is two months old, and I have named him Cosmic Creepers (or Cozzy for short) after the black cat from Bedknobs and Broomsticks. It was one of my favorite movies when I was growing up and VHS was still a thing.
I know I am not alone when I say I feel heavy. Not in the physical sense, but emotionally and spiritually, I just feel…too much.
I believe it is a sign of the times. There is so much happening in the world right now, so much to despair over. And it can be very difficult to process these emotions, to try to find a way to lessen the load.
I know it has been a week since diving into Aleister Crowley, but this week I wanted to talk about an organization he was in for a brief time, and an organization that influenced the creator of Wicca, Gerald Brosseau Gardner. That organization is the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
First off, what in the world is the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn? The answer to that question is an odd one, for sure. According to the New World Encyclopedia, the Hermetic Order was a “magical order of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which practiced various forms of theurgy and spiritual occultism.” Basically, it was a group of people who met up in a religious context and did spooky stuff.
Continuing on my path of Pagan exploration, I want to talk about Aleister Crowley this week. For fans of Supernatural, Crowley should sound familiar as the King of Hell for a few seasons. For fans of the spooky, Crowley has another, not-so-different meaning.
According to Britannica, Edward Alexander Crowley was born on Oct. 12, 1875, in England. His father was an evangelist, and they do not mention his mother, which I think is highly rude of them, but I digress.
This week, I decided to do a little research, because someone asked me what the difference between Wicca and Witchcraft was, and I did not know the answer. A quick Google search gave me 14 million results, but of course I only clicked on the first three.
From what I can understand, most people use Wicca and Witchcraft interchangeably, because they are both a form of Paganism. So, in comparison, it is like Christianity. You have the umbrella of Christianity, but you also have the similar branches of Christianity, like Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, et cetera.