‘Punked

Every year for Halloween, my office allows everyone the chance to get into costume & let there freak flag fly.

This year, I spent some time working on mine.





I made the hat, out of bits & pieces I purchased from a local craft store, but I bought the rest if my costume.

Here is the finished product this morning!

It was surprisingly comfortable for most of the day…but by the end, I was ready to burn my high-heeled boots & corset in effigy. 

I won’t, but the thought was there…

Happy Halloween & Blessed Samhain to all!

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The Reason for the Season

Samhain.  All Hallow’s Eve.  Halloween.

Each of these names mean something different to everyone you speak to.  And the legends, stories, and mythology come from many different sources and histories.

Some you talk to, will say it’s all about the costumes and the candy.  Some will say that it’s about decorating your house with ghoulish images, and about setting up scary scenes for people that come calling.  Others will say it’s all about spooky movies, and hiding behind corners to pop out and frighten your friends. 

There are a lot of different ideas about the holiday found at the end of October.

And so, I’m here to tell you about my reason for the season.

Yes, I love the costumes, the candy, the decorations filled with spiders, bats, ghosts, skeletons, and other creepy things.  I love the spooky, scary movies and the rest of it.

But, when you get right down to the whole feel of the month of October, and the actual night of Samhain… something changes for me.

In the Wiccan faith, and in fact, over many of the Pagan beliefs, there is a consensus that the veil between the living and the dead is thin at this time of year.  That those on the other side of this barrier have the opportunity during this season to come to our side a little more freely, with a stronger sense of purpose and energy.  They have greater access to the living, and can speak to us, bringing us signs of their presence.

More magickal spells are done at this time of the year, I believe, than any other.  Partly, I think, because of the heightened awareness people have of the possibilities of what magick can do, with all the attention that paganism get.  Witches play such a huge role at this time of year, due to the media hype, that they get asked at this time of year more than any other for spells. 

But the strongest magicks are those that deal with honoring those who have passed before us.  Seances, which I personally will not do, just for personal reasons, are popular during this season.  I don’t believe that the spirits need a seance to manifest during this time, and to hold one… well, I feel that it’s disrespectful to those spirits who wish to remain at rest, as it more or less pulls them from the other realm to speak to and interact with this one.  Leave those at peace, in their peace.  And those that wish to cross over, temporarily, will do so in their own time and manner, without our interference.

Divination, the use of tarot cards, pendulums, runes, palm reading, etc., is done more at this time of year, as well.  The reason for this is that many people believe that it is spirits from the other side that bring these messages of the future for the person getting the reading.  I, personally, believe that the messages come from within the person being read, not from an outside source, but their own belief that Halloween allows this to be a stronger, clearer reading, opens them up more to this form of fortune telling, so it works better, because they believe it will.

In essence, the outward trappings of Halloween are fun.  I’ll be the first to throw on a creepy costume and traipse around behind my children for trick-or-treating, or simply to get into the spirit of the season for those that come knocking at my door.

But the reason for the season… for me… is to honor those who went before.

 And that, I do privately.  Quietly.  With dignity, respect, and love.

May Spirit light your way, and guide you home through the darkness.

Ghosts of Halloween Past

Snapshot: Halloween Costumes

Image by robot_zombie_monkey via Flickr

I’ve always loved Halloween.  Ever since I was a little kid, and my brother and I would take off with our best friends (who also happened to be brother and sister) and run all over town to trick-or-treat.  We lived in Iowa at the time, and it was always warm enough there to just wear our costumes for the candy raid. 

One year, we even had a song that we sang for people that gave us candy.

We were the frickin’ geek squad.

When we moved to North Dakota, however, that all changed.  North Dakota, if you don’t already know is COLD in October.  This morning when I got up it was 33 degrees.  And Halloween, traditionally, falls about the same time as the first snow of the year. 

Imagine, finding the perfect costume for Halloween, just what you’d been looking for, in just the right size – and having to put on a freaking snowsuit underneath it.  It doesn’t matter what the costume looked like before you put it on – after the snowsuit, it all looks like either the Michelin Man, or the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.  Either way?  Not a flattering look.

Or, you could be a total rebel, and just wear the costume.  By it’s thin poly-blend self.  In 30 degree weather, or less.  At night.  In the snow.

If I end up at the ER on halloween, I want it to be for a raging stomach-ache from too much candy, not from hypothermia or frost bite.  Thanks.

Of course, since my kids have always lived in North Dakota, and rarely get to know the joy of dressing light for Halloween, they’re used to the “run for it” routine.

Here are some pictures from Halloweens past. 

The Lion "Queen"

 

Rapunzel, and her Prince Ken Charming

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Grouchy Old Lady and Fairy Princess

 
 

Again with Fairy Princess, and the Grim Reaper.1

Friday Filosophy.2 10/29/10

So in my own “Gemini-split-personality” way, I’ve split this holiday into two distinct and separate things.

Halloween, as I’ve already explained is more about the kids, the costumes, the candy.

Samhain, however, is more about the unseen, the unexplained.

I was asked this year if I was going to be doing a public ritual to celebrate the holiday.  I told the ones asking that I keep Samhain as a “family” night, and that it is a private celebration.  I normally do the “kids, kandy and kostume” thing early on in the evening, but once that is over, and the kids are all tucked safely in their beds, this is when the real Spirit of Samhain takes over for me.

Samhain is, for me, a quiet celebration.  It’s a night when the veil between the worlds is so thin, that you can almost, but not quite, see through to the other side.  Spirits of loved ones passed over can cross back and share space with you, sometimes talking, sometimes simply being together again. 

It’s a time to sit in the dark, in the quiet stillness, and gaze into the flickering candlelight, letting yourself go, stretching your spirit out, communing with the Goddess and God.  It’s a turning point on the Wheel of the Year, signaling a return to darkness and introspection.

It’s a night to take stock of what you’ve accomplished over the year, “count the harvest”, so to speak, and prepare for the winter to come.  Time to plan, to accomplish that which can be accomplished, to set aside that which must wait, and to dream of what can be.

And it’s a time to be silent.  As though Nature holds its breath, just for a moment, and all is suspended, poised for the Wheel to begin turning again, when dawn breaks.

Paranormal Activities

As we draw down to the last few days before Samhain/Halloween, I thought I’d tell about the resident ghost we had in our house when we moved in.

June, 2000:  We closed on our house in late June, on our 1-yr. wedding anniversary, no less.  That same night, I decided to go up to the house to vacuum and get the rooms ready for us to start moving in the next day.  I went up there armed only with the vacuum and my headphones.

Just for a little back story:  Before we moved in, the house had only been empty for a few months.  The previous owners were an elderly couple, the husband a minor local television celebrity.  He’d been the “ag” guy on one of the news channels for more years than I’ve lived in North Dakota, and was known for his very distinctive voice.  Gravelly and deep, with a certain Scandinavian/North Dakota  accent, you knew this man with your eyes closed just by that voice.  He’d passed away from cancer in December of 1999, and his wife followed just a few months after, we were told, from a broken heart.  She simply couldn’t continue on without him.  They had raised their children in this house, loved, lived, and had passed over from here.  Both of them choosing to “die with dignity” at home.  Both, as we found out later, had passed away in the living room.  Ironic, that.

None of the stories deterred us from buying the house, we loved it from the moment we walked in, and had to make our offer right away. 

Well, that night, I drove up to the house, in the evening gloom, and locked all the doors behind me.  We didn’t know the neighborhood, and I was going to be listening to music with a loud vacuum running.  Didn’t want any “curious neighbors” just popping in to say “hi”. 

I started out in the master bedroom, Metallica jammed as loud as I could stand, when I heard a distinct and dinstinctive voice in my ear.

“What are you doing in my house?”

My heart threatened to jump out of my chest as I ripped off the headphones and spun around.

“Hello?”  I called out, checking to see if someone had found another way in.  I actually opened every interior door in the house, upstairs and down, looking to see if someone was playing a prank.  No one was there but me.

When I finally decided that I was probably hearing things, I turned the music in my headphones back on, and went back to my vacuuming.  Different band, different song.

Same result.

“What are you doing in my house?”  reverberated in my ear, as though someone was standing right next to me, talking loudly right in my ear.

It was at this point that I realized who I was hearing.  And the lightbulb in my head lit.

Tuesday Theology

I am not normally a person that spouts about my religion a lot.  I have my own views on what I believe, and I never expect anyone else to follow, or subscribe to the same.  What works for me, and keeps my faith chugging along will probably not work for the woman that sits next to me at work, or my children, my husband, or anyone else on the planet.  So, what I’m going to talk about today is strictly my own viewpoint.

As we get closer to Samhain (Halloween), the veil between this world and the next gets very thin, allowing us to interact with the other side, and allowing them to slide back and forth, visiting.  It’s a mysterious, powerful, spiritual time of year for me, and for many Pagans.  This subject is on my mind this year for more than one reason.

Reincarnation.

My nephew and I were discussing reincarnation the other night on the phone.  He’d been having some disturbing recurring dreams, and was looking for my insight, or at least some comforting words to help explain. 

He was dreaming about his mother, who passed away in 2009.  He was talking to her, as were others in our family, and he couldn’t understand how we could all be talking, hugging, etc.   She would turn and  tell him that she was alive and well, not dead at all – and what was his problem? 

He was confused, in the dream, and woke up disoriented and jumbled.  It had been bothering him, as this dream would not seem to go away, but would come again and again, night after night.  So, I told him what I believe.

I believe that, when our souls are young, they root themselves in the Summerland (the pagan version of “Heaven”) like an anchor.  This is the whole of our being, all of our experiences, everything we see, feel, learn, know is tied here for all time.

When we are ready for something “new”, we send out a portion of this consciousness, and we “incarnate” into a human form of our own choosing.  We decide what we want to learn about, rather like choosing college courses, and a map is laid out for us.  We then are “Born” into this incarnation, all the while being tethered like a balloon to that anchor in the Summerland.

We go through the experiences that are on our road map of life, learning the lessons we chose, and at the end, when our time here is done, the balloon “pops”, we pass over the veil once more, and end up back at our Soul Anchor to process what we’ve seen, heard, felt, learned. 

This, I told my nephew, would allow him to interact with his mother’s “Soul Anchor” and allow her to have been reincarnated into a new life.  I believe that she has returned for her next life of choice. 

As for me, next time on “The Life is Right”, I hope to be able to continue helping people.  But I guess I won’t know that till I see what courses are offered.  I know that death is not the end, and I’m content to wait my turn.  I’ve still got a lot to do here and now.

The Wedding Witch

This year has been full of ups and downs for me and my family.  But one of the major ups for me has been my weddings.  I just had another wedding that I officiated at yesterday, and it was lovely.  I wanted to share some pictures with you.

This is the altar area of the church.  Everything in this church is made of wood, and you will not find one nail showing.  The broom laid at the threshold was moved down during the ceremony so that the happy couple could “jump the broom” at the end, signifying the beginning of their new life, and their new household.

After the ceremony, the happy couple stepped outside for pictures, and I was able to capture a candid moment, just the two of them, smiling into one another’s faces.

I wish I’d been able to get more pictures, but alas, as the minister performing the ceremony, that precludes picture-taking.

(Whipping out your Blackberry during the service is considered a little tactless, I guess)

The day was perfect, with sunshine and  80 degree temps, which for North Dakota in October is almost unheard of.  It must have been fate.

After the couple and the guests departed from the church, and I was standing alone in the altar area, finishing up the paperwork, I had to catch this on film.

The light that shone in from the front door was stunning, and turned the whole inside of the church into honey-colored light.  Motes of dust filtered like gold dust down from the ceiling, and the smell of the sun-warmed wood was heavenly.

I am honored that they chose me to perform their ceremony.  It always makes me feel blessed to be able to give something back to my community.  And this is a special honor, being able to help a couple start a new life together.

And yes, the couple are pagan, but they chose a mixture of non-denominational ceremony, with just a couple of pagan traditions (handfasting and jumping the broom) thrown in. 

P.S.  Later the same evening, I received a message that a friend of a friend needed someone to perform a wedding ceremony on Halloween.    They ran into difficulties finding anyone willing to do the ceremony on that day (?) and my friend told them to ask me.  I’m talking to them on Wednesday evening, and we’ll see! 

If I end up doing this one, that’ll be 3 – in the first year that I’ve told people I’m willing to do them!  Word has really travelled fast!