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The Mass Media

Wiccan Traditions for Halloween

Halloween just passed and people geared up for candy, parties, and costumes. But there are some people who geared up for different types of festivities on Halloween. For centuries, pagans and witches have come together on Halloween, or Samhain (sow-in) as Wiccans call it, to celebrate the biggest holiday on the Wiccan calendar, the Wiccan new year. Wiccans, like me, are modern pagans who believe in respecting nature and the divine workings behind it. Wicca started in the early 20th century in England by Gerald Gardner, but has roots in pre-Christian England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. Modern-day witches believe in the respect of nature and taking the consequence of their actions, basically what goes around comes around. Most Wiccans worship a pantheon of gods and goddesses, like the Greek pantheon or the Norse pantheon, with a god and goddess at the center that they place on a personal altar. Wiccans believe in a goddess and god as a manifestation of the Divine, and the two represent the masculine and feminine of the entire universe. A lot of the worship that Wiccans practice is spell work that combines chants and prayers with herbal remedies, crystals, candles, and spending a lot of time in nature. Many Wiccans follow a Golden Rule that is similar to “treat others the way you want to be treated,” but for Wiccans it’s “and harm ye none, do what ye will.”  In short, it means to be aware of your actions that are both good and bad. Wiccans also believe in what is called the Rule of Three which means that whatever a person does, good and bad, will return to them in threefold. In latent terms, it really means karma.   

Wiccans are very peaceful and are nothing like what the movies depict them to be. For one, being able to change hair or eye color, or being able to create a storm with a spell isn’t real. The spells that Wiccans do are more like prayers and knowing how to use natural remedies. Wicca doesn’t have a specific set of ruleschurches or anything like organized religion has. The path that Wiccans follow depends on what the Wiccan’s individual beliefs and what they choose to follow. Many Wiccans who share the same beliefs come together as a group and form a coven, and they celebrate holidays together and other occasions.  

One of the holidays that Wiccans celebrate is Samhain, or Halloween, which Wiccans call the Wiccan New Year. To celebrate Samhain is very similar to celebrating Halloween like anybody else, only for Wiccans it holds a more spiritual meaning. Wiccans have an altar that they use for their spells and everyday uses, but on Samhain an altar is made for their ancestors. Similar to the Latin and South American traditions of building an altar for Dios de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, Wiccans build an altar to their ancestors and lay out food, such as bread or apples, for them because in their beliefs the veil between the living and the dead is the weakest on Halloween, and the spirits of loved ones and spirits in general can return to earth. 

Many other Wiccans also have personal rituals and traditions that they perform on Halloween. One such tradition, that I want to try this year personally, is apple resolutions. Apple resolutions are much like New Year’s resolutions, only instead of just making the promise to oneself, an apple is used. The apple must be cut in half and all of one’s bad habits or illnesses should be poured into it. In modern Wicca, a person writes down all of one’s bad habits and things they want to change on a piece of paper and places the paper inside the cut apple. After putting the apple back together with toothpicks, the last step is to then bury the apple to symbolize the burying of all the bad intentions that you want to get rid of. 

Wiccans also do a lot of divination on Halloween. Since it is the biggest holiday for Wiccans, it is also a great time to use divination tools like tarot cards and pendulums to connect with oneself and one’s ancestors. Tarot cards are a great tool to use on Halloween, as it can give one a way to connect back with oneself: performing a simple three-card spread for past, present, and future or performing a more complicated spread to be more specific about connecting with oneself. Pendulums are different and take a lot more focus and patience. It can get finicky when trying to decipher messages from a pendulum, but is totally worth it. Working with a pendulum for divination is a great tool for connecting with the divine to find guidance and gain advice.  

Halloween is a time for connecting back with nature, and all that nature has done for us. It’s a time to let things go and start fresh. To make things new, and let bad things go, to start fresh as fall falls away and winter begins.