Most are familiar with Dia De Los Muertos tradition, when loved ones are honored with food, grave decorations and altars. It is believed that during this time the “veil is thin.” That means: the boundary between the spirit world and ours is diminished, thus allowing departed family members to revisit their loved ones.
Similarly to those who celebrate Dia De Los Muertos, many witches also use Samhain to honor the dead.
Jessica Jewett identifies as a pagan in the Celtic tradition, and mixes those practices with American folk magick.
“Samhain is our most sacred time of year because it’s a time to honor our dead and our more distant ancestors,” she says. “Activities at this time of year include keeping an ancestral altar with items from your family members that have passed away in order to honor their lives and spirits.
“Other altar items include candles, pumpkins, the colors orange, brown, black and so on. Usually on Halloween night or the closest full moon to then, there is a big feast that includes a place set for any unexpected guest, which is like a euphemism for setting a place for the dead. In my family, we leave one of the windows open with a candle in it to lead our loved ones home from the Otherworld [the afterlife].”
Solemn as it may seem for them to spend such energy reflecting on people who have died, spellcasters reassure that it’s not a miserable thing but often a celebration, and the customs surrounding it may look familiar. For instance, pumpkins are kind of a big deal during this time, and not solely as a decoration.
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Witch Miranda Scott is the owner of Cleveland modern witch shop and a personal favorite haunt for those at AP called Coven. She and her daughter stock up on pumpkins this time of year, for a special reason. “We…carve them a few days before Halloween, and we leave them lit all night,” she reveals. “They light the way for our ancestors, and the element of fire keeps bad spirits from entering our home.”
And when welcomed spirits pay their visit to her house (which is all-black, by the way. How dope is that?), they’re greeted by burning candles and a lovely personal touch at her altar. “I buy my mom cherry Jolly Ranchers, because those were her favorite, and my dad always liked [Caramel Creams],” she says.
DOING NORMAL HALLOWEEN SHIT
We have yet to meet a decent human being who doesn’t like Halloween, so of course, practitioners of magic are in on the fun like the rest of us. As we’ve established, many Halloween activities come from the celebration of Samhain, so outwardly, they probably look exactly the same.
Miller hands out treats to the “kiddies,” as she says, and Scott, who has a child of her own, does all the typical fall things such as apple picking and decorating her front yard.
“We buy an entire cart full of candy to hand out to the kids, we give out prizes and set up an entire haunted cemetery in the front yard along with people in place to scare the kids and adults,” Scott says.
On the spookier side, Woods manages a haunted house and plans to use witchcraft to boost a little extra positivity. “Since I do work in a haunted house I plan to charge the crystals I carry with celinite before I go into work the night of Halloween to increase the positive intentions I am holding toward my haunted house I manage and its actors,” she says.
So, if you want to celebrate Halloween like a witch, keep doing what you’re doing. Unbeknownst to you, you’re already partaking in a celebration derived from a long history of magical tradition.
Note: Some names in this story have been changed due to privacy concerns.