Holidays I wanted to share to joy of my nephew being a unicorn for Halloween without the judgment/comments on gender norms. I hope this okay here. It gives me second-hand joy.
Witches with children: if you are buying makeup gifts for children this holiday season please do not purchase "play makeup", "makeup" marketed to children, or "makeup" found in the toy section. These are sold as toys and therefore not regulated by the FDA for ingredient safety the way beauty products are. You can get brand like Elf, Wet N Wild, and LA Girl at the dollar store. Please buy your children real makeup this holiday season.
No matter what happens, I'll be here vibing good vibes for all y'all
I am absolutely LOVING this trans witch party we’ve been having. I hope this becomes tradition! Absolutely makes my day to see the outfits made and excitement held. Please keep them coming!!
I don’t celebrate thanksgiving because of the harms done to indigenous people
Holidays Everyone’s comments were so lovely on last year’s Halloween photo. It’s not as witchy, but I thought you might enjoy this year’s too.
Holidays TIL that “Carol of the Bells” was a Christianized version of a Ukrainian chant for prosperitytiktok.com
Hey witches! I was told you would all appreciate this.
I live in a moderately sized rural town in New Zealand. There's an eye-watering 23 churches in the area. Halloween is catching on a bit more here in NZ and, of course, the Christians have had a thing or two to say about the completely harmless holiday.
Enter me: A single woman with no kids who LOVES Halloween and wants to do... something.
I'm disabled and don't get much income, but saved up to buy a bunch of lollies. I dressed up in a very friendly-looking witch costume I made and walked around downtown with my bucket full of lollies, handing them out to children and adults. I walked into shops as well and offered everyone a sweet. I went through 2 full buckets.
The reaction from everyone I met was excitement, enthusiasm, kindness, and frivolity. Everyone was polite if they didn't want any (bar 1 old lady). The whole experience was a success.
I posted a thank you to the town's community page after I got home, letting everyone know they would likely see me again next year. Everyone had positive things to say and people said they would be looking out for me next Halloween.
Some Christians decided to chime in with "shameful" or "beware everyone" or "evil" but were swiftly put in their place by everyone else and when I woke up this morning, the nasty comments were gone.
I did receive a couple (nonviolent) threatening messages to the flavour of "you're going to burn in hell for all eternity if you keep this up", to which I simply replied "see you next year 😀" and blocked them. I've spent too much of my life repressed by Christianity. These bitches can't hold me back from my favourite holiday! 🎃
Hello WvP Coven:
This Thursday is observed as Thanksgiving in the United States. As members of WvP, intersectionality is one of our core values, though we know that many people will still have obligations to observe the holiday with family. Even if these family gatherings are strictly family-oriented, and even if the revised history of the day is not mentioned in any way, it can be deeply uncomfortable and upsetting for those of us who know the harm that revisionism has done. These celebrations can also be traumatic for our members and friends with Indigenous heritage. Thanksgiving Day has alternatively been observed as a National Day of Mourning since 1970. The following day is Black Friday, a frenzy of consumerism, which can distract further from anti-colonial messaging.
As such, we think it important to provide resources to members who would like to learn about and support the Indigenous populations who were – and still are – on the land that has been occupied for hundreds of years. Below are links for education, organizations and initiatives to support, and lists of shops run by Indigenous artisans. Please explore them, contribute where you can, and boost their visibility where you are able.
Please also feel free to add links to other sites or compilation threads in the comments.
Be well, be kind, and take good care.
First, here is the most comprehensive map I know of for people to find whose land they are currently living on. It appears to include tribes that are not yet recognized by state or federal governments, which is impressive. You can use this to look up, learn about, and donate directly to that tribe. https://native-land.ca/
Orgs and Resources:
- Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two Spirit (MMIWG2S) - https://www.csvanw.org/mmiw/
- Jingle Dress Project for Healing and Unity: https://tapahe.com/jingle-dress-project.html
- International Indigenous Youth Council: https://indigenousyouth.org/
- Wampanoag Language Reclamation Project: https://www.wlrp.org/
- 7000 Languages (free online language preservation courses): https://www.7000.org/
- Emergency Relief and Shelter Assistance for Elders and Disabled on Reservations: http://www.nativepartnership.org/site/PageServer?pagename=pwna_materialservices_emergency
- Adopt-A-Native-Elder: https://anelder.org/
- Rocky Ridge Market (purchase baskets of food and supplies for reservation elders): https://www.rockyridgemarket.com/
Food Sovereignty Initiatives:
Shops by Indigenous Creators:
- Ioway Bee Farm - Iowa Tribe-Owned Apiary: https://iowaybeefarm.com/
- First Nations Native Arts Holiday Shopping Guide: https://www.firstnations.org/ShopNative/?utm_campaign=Year+End+Native+Arts
- Beyond Buckskin’s Buy Native List: http://www.beyondbuckskin.com/p/buy-native.html
Hi lovelies! Long story short, I left organized religion last year and decided to no longer celebrate Christmas (Christ's Mass...) as it no longer aligns with my beliefs and lifestyle, whether it be celebrated in the religious way (celebrating Jesus' birth) or the secular way (stories about Santa and practice of excessive/obsessive consumerism and focus on materialism). Last year I began building my own practices and traditions. I learned about the winter solstice and I strongly align with the idea of merry making to bring light to the darkest night of the year and celebrate the return of the sun. I felt somewhat lost trying to navigate the new territory, but had a nice evening that included a hearty dinner, trying a mulled cider recipe, a bonfire, some time of quiet contemplation and writing, cutting up bits of paper to write down affirmations/mantras/quotes to help encourage me through the coming year, and hand painting a candle with suns that I burned through the night to welcome the return of the sun (I burned three- a white one for cleansing and leaving the past behind, a green to represent growth in the new year, and a red to represent keeping joy present in my life). I'm still working on building my own practices and ways of celebrating the solstice and yuletide, and will probably take the time from the 21st to the 1st off of work to do some introspection, meditation, spend time with nature and take time to purge my house of more material belongings that are burdensome. I'm also thinking about setting up a yule altar and maybe incorporating some cleansing/wishing rituals but that's very new to me and I'm not sure how to go about it. I would love to hear what some of your ways of celebrating/practicing are during this season, and suggestions on how to use the 12 days I will have. ❤️
Hello Witches, I find myself in need of advice. (sorry if I got the flair wrong!)
As my fellow American witches know, tomorrow is a day of feast to 'give thanks'. Regardless of anyone's personal beliefs, and despite my own, I will be having family over for a meal.
My problem is that my older brother is Very Catholic. Several other family members are not, but still seem to find that religion when it comes to holidays. He will want to 'say grace' before the meal.
Every time this happens I'm tempted to quote the great Mal Reynolds when Book asked him if he minded him saying grace ... "Only if you say it out loud." But I recognize that's pretty rude, even if it is rude of him to make this assumption in MY home. I don't really have a blessing I say before meals, I just don't think his god had anything to do with the meal I've prepared. It feels petty to say anything, but this also ends up being a source of anxiety for me.
Do any of you have suggestions for how to handle this? The kind of suggestions I'm looking for include (but are not limited to): Sincere, kind, rude, funny, obnoxious, and anything in between. Tell us what worked for you, what didn't, and by all means share your anecdotes about how it all went sideways!
What’s everyone doing to celebrate? I think I may pickup some apples after work to make a fresh apple pie.
Was thinking about doing a simmer pot as well!!
Welcome to the latest sabbat informational post! Throughout the year, we will be posting up these threads to share general information about the next upcoming sabbat so WvP's witches, new and old, can prepare for the holiday. These posts will contain basic information about the holiday and open up the floor for further questions or discussion.
For our Southern Hemisphere witches, the next holiday is Beltane, the beginning of the Light half of the year, and its celebrations traditionally fall on November 1st. For more information, check out our earlier Beltane post!
Special Note About Halloween & Samhain:
For the sake of this post, I'm going to assume that WvP's witches are familiar with the basic principles of the modern Halloween and that it is derived from a conglomeration of older, pagan rituals from around Samhain. After all, Halloween is a pretty basic cultural concept at this point, having spread itself globally via media and the internet to places where it was barely heard of even a decade ago.
As such, I'm not going to be talking about Halloween and its connections with Samhain at all in this post. Samhain itself is, after all, a very important witch's holiday in its own right and deserves its proper consideration by itself aside from its current popular holiday connections. If there's interest, I could put together another post (later, after Samhain) that goes a bit more in-depth about particular aspects of Samhain and how they're related to modern Halloween celebrations. But this post as it is will certainly be long enough on its own, I assure you!
💀👻🎃 Samhain - October 31 💀👻🎃
What and When is Samhain?
Samhain (pronounced SAH-win or SOW-in) is one of the eight sabbats of the modern pagan Wheel of the Year. It is one of the "greater sabbats", falling approximately halfway between an equinox and a solstice. The others are Imbolc (mid-Winter), Beltane (mid-Spring), and Lughnasadh (mid-Summer). Samhain also has extra importance due to being the beginning of the Celtic New Year.
In the northern hemisphere, Samhain falls on November 1st, but it is an almost universal practice to celebrate it beginning at sunset of October 31st. According to the original Celtic calendar, days begin at sunset, and because Samhain is such an important holiday, this sunset starting time stuck around longer than it has for other holidays.
Samhain: History, Connections, and Modern Practice
In historic Gaelic tradition, the year was split into two halves, the dark half and the light half. The dark half of the year began on Samhain, and following the tradition of dates starting with darkness, Samhain also marks the beginning of the New Year as well. It was celebrated throughout Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man, and similar celebrations were also seen in Wales and parts of England. Based on historical records, we can tell that the original festival likely lasted for more than a single day, with estimates going as high as a full seven days (three days before and after Samhain, plus the day itself).
Samhain is a liminal time when the veil to the Otherworld is thin, and such it is a perfect time to venerate ancestors and the dead. The fair folk are also more active at this time, as are other spirits and entities. Much was done to both honour the dead and the spirits and other entities, and also to protect one's self from them. Some of these practices included leaving out a "silent" supper for the dead, mumming and disguising to hide from spirits (or collect food on their behalf), sacrificing livestock that would not have survived the winter, or otherwise leaving food or other offerings and sacrifices.
Another benefit of the thinning veil is that Samhain is the perfect time for divination of all sorts. Traditionally, this was primarily done in and around the Samhain bonfire. One Scottish ritual involved placing stones in ash around the fire and seeing if any were misplaced by morning. Apples and hazelnuts were also often used in divination rituals with apples, in particular, having a strong connection to the dead and being at the height of ripeness.
As you might expect from such an important holiday, Samhain also crops up frequently in Celtic myths and legends. In some cases, such as with the Nemedians in the Lebor Gabála Érenn, Samhain was a time of great sacrifice and may have been used symbolically to represent the harshness of the winter months. Later on, Samhain marks the start of the Second Battle of Mag Tuired when the Tuatha Dé Danann finally defeats the Fomorians, and finally, Finn McCool defeats Áillen on Samhain, ending his 23-year cyclic fiery destruction of Tara.
Samhain is connected to a few different locations in Ireland, such as Oweynagat ("cave of cats") in Rathcroghan, or Tlachtga ("hill of ward") in the Boyne Valley. The Hill of Tara has an especially notable connection at the Mound of Hostages, as the entrance passage is aligned with the sunrise during the astrological time period around Samhain.
Many deities also have connections to the holiday or various aspects of it. In Celtic Mythology, we have The Morrígan and The Dagda (via their encounter before the Second Battle of Mag Tuired), and Tlachtga (a deity or druidess who gave her name to the hill mentioned above). In Scotland, the Cailleach begins her rule. In Wiccan tradition, Samhain marks the death of the Horned God (don't worry, he'll be reborn during Yule) and the Goddess is strongest in her Crone phase. Other deities from traditions around the world are also connected to this time, such as Persephone whose primary myth also involves a split between the dark and light halves of the year, Gwyn ap Nudd the Brythonic psychopomp and King of the Otherworld, or any other deity associated with Death or Darkness.
As Samhain traditions have managed to survive into the current times so well, modern witches have a wealth of information to pull from for Samhain rituals and celebrations. Although the livestock- and harvest-related aspects of the holiday are less important to us, we can all appreciate and make use of the thinning of the veil, and taking time out of our lives to honour our ancestors, other dead, and all the fairies and spirits and other denizens of the Otherworld that are at their strongest during this time of year.
Honouring our ancestors and other dead spirits is one the most important aspects of Samhain and something almost every witch will try to take time to do in some shape or form during this time. One of the simplest and most common ways to do this is to make an extra meal during Samhain and leave it at an empty space at your dining table, to offer the food for any ancestors who wish to visit during this time. Many witches may also visit graveyards, both of known ancestors, or to otherwise honour the forgotten dead who may not have anyone else to visit.
Additionally, just like our ancestors did, now is the perfect time for witches of all ages, knowledge, and skill to brush up on their divination. It's a perfect time to start learning a new divination technique or hone an existing one. Pick up a deck of tarot cards or a pendulum. If you have no talent or inclination towards divination on your own, you may wish to hire a small business witch to do a reading for you.
Aside from traditional Celtic celebrations, many other cultures around the world have their own ways to honour the dead and the coming winter. One of the most well-known examples of this is the Mexican Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), which was itself based on earlier Aztec festivals honouring Mictēcacihuātl, "Lady of the Dead". Check out the Festival of the Dead page on Wikipedia for a more comprehensive listing of other autumnal, death- and ancestry-related festivals. Especially when honouring ancestors, you may wish to include aspects of some customs they might have known during their lives.
One other pagan aspect of this time of year that I'd like to touch on quick is the Wild Hunt. Chasing the pre-Christian history of the Wild Hunt is far beyond the scope of this post, but it has roots through much of western Europe and is connected to many of the same deities and themes that are so prevalent with Samhain as well, as autumn gets deeper, the dark gets darker, and the spirits become more restless and powerful. Some practitioners of different types of European paganism like to incorporate aspects of the Wild Hunt into their devotions and rituals for this time of year.
Check out our section below for some more specific ideas and examples of ways to celebrate Samhain with yourself, or maybe even a few (properly distanced) family or friends.
As a part of the Wheel of the Year, Samhain follows Mabon, and the beginning of the Dark Half of the year is starting. By now, everything should be harvested and the cattle should be brought to their winter pastures. It is a time to reflect on and honour the dead, and prepare ourselves mentally, physically, and spiritually for the long, cold, dark winter coming up ahead.
If you look at the sabbats as a reflection of the self, Samhain is the beginning and the end. It is a time to reflect on the accomplishments of the past year and to begin looking ahead to what is coming. Mother nature will come alive again in spring, and in the meantime, we need to get right with ourselves, each other, and the world, to set us up for the best chance of success when we begin to sprout again in a few months. Think about what long-term goals and intentions you'd like to work on and take the initial steps toward planning them out.
Symbols: Skulls/Skeletons, Ghosts, Jack-o-Lanterns, Brooms, Cauldrons, Acorns/Nuts
Colours: Black, White, Purple, Orange, Red
Plants/Herbs: Oak, Rowan, Hazel, Rosemary, Mint, Calendula, Sage, Wormwood
Foods: Apples, Pumpkins/Gourds, Nuts, Turnips, Breads, Soul Cakes
Simple rituals and ways to celebrate Samhain include:
- Honour your ancestors and any other dead you personally wish to honour. This may include visiting graves, hosting a silent supper, or perhaps following some specific cultural traditions as part of a Festival of the Dead or other Ancestor Veneration. This is a personal thing, so do what works best for you.
- Honour the Forgotten Dead, those who have no one else to remember them. You may wish to follow a ritual, by yourself or with others, or perhaps something more low-key would suit you, like visiting an old graveyard and speaking to any spirits who may be near.
- Build a ritual bonfire, a great way to celebrate and stay warm while social-distantly visiting with family and friends. One popular Samhain bonfire ritual is to write something you wish to discard on a bay leaf or piece of paper and symbolically burn it in the fire while thinking of a positive thing with which you'd like to replace it.
- Perform a divination technique to make the most of the thinning veil. Seances, ouija boards, and other "direct" spiritual communication is popular during this time, or you may prefer something more concrete such as tarot or casting runes. If you've been drawn to divination but not started, now is a great time to give it a whirl! Or you might like to support a small business witch to do a reading for you.
- Setup, clean, and/or refresh your altar for Samhain. Check here or over at tumblr if you'd like ideas or inspiration.
- If you want something a bit more old school than the traditional jack-o-lantern, try making your very own turnip head!
- Make an ancestral altar or shrine with physical mementos of loved ones. This doubles as a great space to make any further ancestral offerings during the season. Remember, you don't only have to only your blood kin, but any others who have passed on can be honoured.
- If you're not sure what to offer the dead, bake a batch of Soul Cakes.
- Cook some other Samhain-inspired goodies to unleash your inner Kitchen Witch; here are some suggestions. Freshest is bestest!
- Perform a Samhain seasonal rite/ritual. Here is a good example of a solitary Samhain ritual, for practicing witches without a coven. This is an example of a simple group ritual that can be customized to fit your needs. This post also contains some nice seasonal spells, rituals, crafts, and rites.
- Perform an ancestor-related ritual or ceremony. This page contains a number of simple examples to build off of.
- If you're celebrating Samhain with children, find some ways to include them in the holiday, such as by making some child-friendly Samhain crafts.
- You can also try your hand at another traditional Irish craft, the Parshell Cross, which is very similar to a rowan cross.
- Celebrate by eating and cooking with seasonal produce.
Tips for New and/or Broom Closet Witches
Samhain can be an intimidating holiday for a new witch, especially one with a religious family and/or one still in the broom closet in any respect. On one hand, the massive pop culture explosion of Halloween has brought death and spookiness into the mainstream for October, and it's easy to blend in. On the other hand, that same popularity can make it difficult to separate out and enjoy the more spiritual aspects of the holiday. Further, there are a great many misconceptions in the general public about witches and Samhain that can make things particularly uncomfortable.
That said, one of the most important things about Samhain is also the simplest and easiest to do in your own personal way, whatever that is: honouring the dead. Visit a cemetery, look at pictures, leave out an offering of food, think, remember. There are so many ways to honour and connect with those who have gone before, and everyone can do this in their own way. It's also a good way to help come to terms with our own mortality.
In more fun news, this is the perfect time for witches of all types to have fun buying "seasonal" products for year-round use. Halloween is perfect for finding lots of witchy, gothy, spooky stuff for altars or deity veneration, jewelry, or even just going full a e s t h e t i c and decorating your space however you like.
Witchy seasonal baking is also in full swing this time of year, and everything pumpkin is super in season, so dig right in! Apples, nuts, dense breads, corn, these are all great foodstuffs that are seasonably appropriate and can be used in a variety of dishes, pastries, drinks, or anything you'd like. Closeted witches may find themselves extra clumsy this time of year, "dropping" food on the floor can't be eaten any longer and must be disposed of (a decent way to disguise offerings, if done in moderation).
Much of the importance of the Wheel of the Year is to really incorporate yourself with nature and the earth's yearly cycles. For most of the temperate, northern part of the world, autumn is definitely in full swing, and some places are already seeing snow flurries. Enjoy the changing colours of the leaves and the brisk freshness of the air during a forest walk, if you can. Now is a great time to spot mushrooms, gather acorns and rowan berries, and to enjoy the stillness of mother nature going to sleep. How are the animals and plants in your neighbourhood preparing for the coming winter? What do you still need to prepare yourself for the coming cold and dark?
Feel free to ask any questions you might have below or otherwise use this post for discussion about Samhain (northern witches) or Beltane (southern witches)!
Special thanks to Einmariya for research, content, & dedication to holidays. 💗🎃