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Samhain: A Time for Introspection---and Activism
For A Religion So Opposed to Paganism, You Sure Stole a Lot of Our Stuff!
The Dark Half of the Year
The Halloween Witch: Sense of Humor or Sense of Ire
Ah...To Be A Witch...
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Anti-Witch Bigotry: Still As Popular and Deadly As Ever
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A Summer Solstice Primer
The Oak King and the Holly King Revisited
Winter: A Joyous Holiday Season
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Witches Lost in Halloween
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The Celtic Origins of Samhain
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Yule...and Saturnalia Smurf Hats
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Yuletide Thoughts, Life and Death
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The Promise of the Harvest
A Midsummer Labyrinth Walk…Winding the Way Back Home
The Summer Solstice: A Time for Awakening
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The Halloween Witch: Sense of Humor or Sense of Ire
Article ID: 13600
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: October 25th. 2009
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This time of year is my favorite, always has been. Even before I became a Real Life Witch™ (That’s a bit o’ sarcasm there folks… you’re supposed to laugh) I was enamored of the spirit of October and the fun of the autumn revelry.
Here in the Midwest, we get the glorious views of colorful deciduous trees whose leaves run the spectrum from burnished golds, school-bus yellows, vivid orange, fiery red, copper, dusty plum and tobacco browns. The satisfying crunch of falling into a freshly raked pile of fallen leaves on your lawn. The distinct smell of them as they're burned and turned into the soil with the rest of the compost for next year's garden.
And then, there's Hallowe'en.
For me, it was never about the candy. That was always a secondary benefit, surprising as that may seem given my penchant for sweets. For me, this holiday was always about two things -- dressing up and being involved in a scare. Whether you were the one doing the scare or the one who fell victim was hardly the point.
It was a childish prank, a juvenile way of confronting mortality and proving one's bravery or cleverness, depending upon which side of the "scarer v scaree" equation you were on. Or going to commercial haunted houses with animatronics, fog machines, props and actors dressed like all every horror movie you'd ever seen. The singular act of overcoming the invasion of personal comfort-zones by something so hideous and nightmarish getting right in your face. The heart-pounding adrenaline rush, the resistance to the human-animal's built-in fight-or-flight defense mechanism.
The confrontation with "death" and yet living to tell the tale, laughingly and with dares for your friends.
Funny how that segues nicely with what I know today as a Real Life Witch™. That death is part of a renewable cycle that we all eventually face, and yet, we live again to tell the tale. To exist after the experience, hopefully wiser and more adept at navigating the world in the future.
So yes, as an adult today, I love to hand out treats to the kids in costumes. I think it is terrific to decorate my house like a haunted mausoleum or a creature-feature castle for a few weeks in October.
And I like dressing up as the public version of what a witch looks like, with pointy hat, striped stockings and carrying a cauldron filled with Snickers and rubber snakes. It gives me a big ol' grin to ride around the block a few times astride my broomstick, seemingly floating above the street (amazing what a long skirt and some black rollerblades will do for onlookers) .
It is all in the spirit of marking the passing of the tides of life-death-rebirth as I know it. And if this is how the rest of the community finds the lesson palatable, who am I to dissuade the message for the medium.
So that is why also around this time of year, the media likes to find "token witches" to interview, splash with a heaping helping of sensationalism and ooga-booga, and parade before all the goodly normal folks as the social anomalies they think we are. And that we sometimes truly are.
I’m old enough to remember seeing Sybil Leek on talk shows back-in-the-day...or more recently, the “reality show” featuring the likes of Fiona Horne, on cable a few years ago.
Goodness knows we've had various “spokespeople” in the newspapers ---some aptly speaking about our spirituality and others who were outlandish nutters I’d rather not say I’m remotely affiliated with by any stretch of the imagination.
We’ve had witches shown doing rituals and spells in "documentary films" put out by Discovery Channel or National Geographic, some giving good evidence for the legitimacy of our religion and some edited to make us look like we’re playing elaborate dress-up games and enacting ooga-booga skits.
All through October, you can see evidence of witches and their 'harmless vs. nefarious' ilk on the airwaves, in podcasts, printed in the press with photos of us holding "protests" or marching in "pride days" that leave us open to scrutiny by the average citizen….not to mention our fellow brothers and sisters of the greater pagan community who often have comments of their own.
Perhaps it comes with maturity... or the overwhelming sense of no longer getting my panties in a twist about stupidity...but I'm not one of those witches who gets all bent out of shape and tweaked off at the theatrical green faced hags in commercial Halloween displays or the time-honored cardboard cut-outs of black-clad old ladies astride broomsticks. There are more important "injustices" in the world over which to protest and increase my blood pressure.
Guess what? It hardly wrinkles my non-warty nose to see those silly fake effigies of witches crashed into trees or half-imbedded into the front lawn because said witch had a miscalculation her landing skills.
I think it is funny. Damn funny. And why not?
A long time ago, I'd learned to grown a spine AND a funny bone about such things. I don't get offended when folks decide to decorate their homes, offices or the classrooms at school with silly depictions of cackling hags dancing 'round cauldrons. I don't consider it to be an effrontery to my delicate religious sensibility to take these figures and make them into something comical and quaint.
Heck, I even get a kick out of the Laurie Cabots and Kevin Carlyons of the world with all of their outlandishly overdressed personas and penchant for photo ops. Let them have their 'psychopompous' moments in front of the cameras. Why should what they do have any bearing on me” Why would their presence in the world send me spinning off my own spiritual course with the Gods?
From The Wizard of Oz's Elpheba to Hermione Grainger to Samantha Stevens...who cares? It is all in good fun. And if you can't do the whole MIRTH with your REVERENCE, then maybe this isn't your cup o' mugwort tea after all.
I guess I find it rather annoying (and somewhat humorous too) when I hear witchy folks doing the old song and dance complaint about how the depiction of the Halloween Witch is a defamation of our religion.
While I do recognize that the caricature most folks recognize in October's seasonal decor is an extrapolated throwback to a less open-minded time, I also don't believe its enduring fictionalization is doing us any real harm. WE know who and what we are, what we believe.
If anything, I've found citing the Halloween hags with their green faces and cackling laughter presents the perfect lead-in to discuss the concerns of and disabuse the ignorance of well-meaning folks who simply don't understand the validity and beauty of our path. It is an easy, non-threatening way to contrast the fact from the fiction, comparing the countless fairytales and modern Hollywood to the reality of our spirituality.
And besides, I do like my striped tights and pointy hat.
If this is how I can best get my conversational "foot in the door" and gain an opportunity to share some truth along with some Snickers bars in my neighborhood, then I'm happy to grab my broomstick and go for it.
Copyright: Article contents © "Albiana" (M.F.S.) 2009; All legal and karmic retribution will be employed, to the fullest extent, against any who think to steal the intellectual property of others. May the Gods preserve the Craft!
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