Pagan rituals seem complicated, perhaps just because they are less familiar than receiving the eucharist or hiding the afikomen. It is suggested that Hallowe'en be celebrated by leaving a door open so the friendly dead can come visit, then putting apples and hazelnuts in a cauldron, invoking the blessings of the Celtic New Year, prophesying the coming twelvemonth, and blessing the living, the dead, and the yet-to-be-born.

Along with casting a circle, propitiating the elements, and speaking the prescribed (or spontaneous) words, this is a lot to remember. A little web research into this ancient festival (with the door open, sure) seems almost as dedicated, no? Here are a few things I've rooted up about Samhain (apparently pronounced "Sown," rhymes with "gown"), the Festival of the Dead, when the Lord of Misrule and the Crone Wisewoman dish out tricks and visions.

The Great Wheel "Samhain is the festival of the dead and is also known as Hallows, or AllHallow's Eve. It is the Witches New Year.The veil between the worlds of the living and of the dead are thin. It is a time to honor the ancestors and to honor the Lady of Death Herself. Samhain is the feast of The Dark Goddess, She who claims all living as her children. It is the death of the Year. There is a profound stillness that occurs between Samhain and Yule, when the Golden Solstice Child is born."

Hallow's Eve Musings by Karri Ann Allrich "As the year’s Wheel once again turns our harvest into winter, our spiritual focus shifts inward. Our journey moves us away from the territory of daylight into the realm of shadows. October can be cold and windy here on the New England shore. The Celtic New Year, known as Samhain, is a deliciously dark and witchy time, rich with seasonal delights that stir the soul. Autumn leaves have turned with the magic of the Crone's alchemy - gold, orange and scarlet. Fall rain has swept the beaches bare. Pitch black crows gather in murders and scour the fields of mowed sunflowers. The trees at dusk sway and beckon those who dare to enter the dark woods of childhood. Autumn's joys are bittersweet. The early dark floods many of us with an undertow of loss. Emotions feel intensified, fed by energies dark and unknown. This is Shadow territory. And we are in the thick of it."

Rae Beth, author of The Wiccan Path, writes:

"Try standing under a Yew tree and saying,

Part the veils
between the worlds.
Open doors in hollow hills.
Let the mounds be emptying.
Let the spirits dance and sing.
Let the wild communion bring
a freedom, wisdom,
love, healing.

A good time for this would be twilight on October 31st, or, for those with very strong nerves, midnight.”

Finally, there is the all important element of CANDY. After much thought in the "Hallowe'en Headquarters" aisle at the supermarket, we opted for mini Reese's peanut butter cups and a bag of "Fun Size" Three Musketeers. Some little kid dressed like a bee took most of my Three Musketeers. I called her honey in a sarcastic manner, as in "You took all my Three Musketeers HONEY." Fortunately I had stashed some around the kitchen first. This hearkens back to the ancient Hallowe'en ritual of feasting on the best of everything before the season of cold and want and the root cellar takes hold. "Eat the best, store the rest."

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