For as long as I can remember this day has been my favorite day of the year. I remember being a wee little one, doing my best to finish dinner, and my mother insisting on my finishing a few pages in a book as I was just learning to read. I think I was about 4 years old. Not yet started school. I seem to recall it was a book about Pat and his pet pig.
The sun had begun to set and I could already hear other kids wandering the neighborhood with shouts of “Trick or treat!”
I was desperate to finish my meal, chewing was an option. I just wanted to get ready and head out to go join all the fun.
The neighborhood I grew up in had tons of kids and most of the neighborhood participated in one of the best nights of the year. There was usually at least one elaborate “haunted house” on each of the streets within our housing tract. Parents were out with their kids drinking coffee while watching their young ones gleefully knocking on doors and shouting the universal holiday greeting. Trick or treat… hmmm, to be honest, I don’t recall ever doing any tricks to folks that didn’t participate.
Life was grand back then.
For the last 23 years I have lived in the same place and have never once received a trick or treater. Granted, I live in a gated community, and there aren’t many children here. I will also admit, during that time my perspective has shifted as well. I spend it with the more spiritual side of the holiday and its ancient roots.
In my home I keep a large ancestor altar, right in the middle of my living room. You simply can’t miss it! On it are photos of family and friends who have passed on, as well as a large collection of crystal skulls and various mementos. Each year more photos get added as more loved ones pass on. This is also a working altar, so if spells or energy work is needed to be done, this is where I am most likely to do it.
I feel a need to explain that this is not necessarily a typical practice of Wicca. The altar I keep is simply something I’ve always felt a need to do. And the skulls are used mainly for their energy, but I personally enjoy their shape.
At some point I seem to recall hearing something about there being 3 kinds of death. 1) physical death, 2) death of the spirit, and 3) the day when no one remembers you. Being remembered, long after your death, brings a type of immortality. The idea that after you die and no one remembers you seems so sad to me. So I do my best not to forget my friends and family who’ve passed on and by keeping the altar in the main living space they are remembered and included in our day to day lives.
Despite this day being my favorite of the year it’s tinged with sadness as it’s also the 2 year anniversary of the day I lost my only pregnancy. I spent the entire afternoon in the ER. It was an awful day. It was a bit early to tell, but we had the impression we were expecting a son. We had already decided on the name “Henry” for him. So in memory of him, I placed a pair of baby socks we’d purchased just weeks before on the altar. They were little Frankenstein socks; seasonal as well as a connection to his father who has an affinity to Frankenstein and old Hollywood monsters.
Adding to that misfortune, this year is a bit less bright as I had to put my “first-born son”, BigBoy kitty, to sleep, after a long battle with medical ailments, just over a month ago. BBk was born in my bathroom; I actually assisted in his birth – hence the “first-born son” title. He was my best bud, and he made quite an impression on anyone whoever met him. They knew him well at the vets and spoke quite lovingly of him whenever we came in. One of the hospitals even made a donation in his name to an organization that helps injured animals.
This year things feel a bit off, and my mood is far more somber than celebratory. Today I chose to stay home alone. I lit candles and incense on the altar, sang to my mother and children, and tonight I’m spending time with my loved ones… while The Addams Family movie plays on tv for our entertainment. Well… at least two of my cats are watching right now. Not sure about everyone else.
So as the wheel turns, bringing the dark times of the year to us once again, and the veil thins so our loved ones are just a bit closer, I wish each of you a Blessed Samhain and a Happy Halloween!
This is a classic American spiritual folk song that may have originated in the early 19th century and I have heard many artists cover, but I really enjoy Ed Sheeran’s version. He’s changed the lyrics a bit and the entire song is just his voice, music and all.
Ed Sheeran – Wayfaring Stranger