Winter swoons into spring, spring sings into summer, summer chants toward the beginning of autumn. It is a primal tone that has deep intention and thrust. The shift from summer to fall is powerfully dynamic. Our eyes go from seeing the lush colors of flowers and gardens to the stunning last vision the leaves show against the muted fall sky. it is both stark and enchanting. The contrast is extraordinary and daunting. This beauty is nature’s incantation that brings us toward the winter. But first…to the pumpkin patch!
Okay, so here it is. My favorite time of year. The summer has ended. The month-long Jewish High Holidays, which begin with Rosh Hashanah and end with Succot, have ended, I like them both, but they each leave me exhausted. The heat wilts me and my garden. Keeping it perky and producing is an endless watering task. The High Holidays are spiritually vast, but also physically draining from the cooking, the clergy work and inner work that the month calls for,
By the time all of this is over I just want to curl up with a piece of challah and tea and watch, oh, I don’t know, maybe a Halloween movie? A nice one, not horror, although ‘Shadow of the Vampire’ is a favorite, but so is ‘Practical Magic’, and of course ‘Hocus Pocus’. Oh, and then there is ‘I Married a Witch’ and ‘Bell, Book and Candle’. Can you see where I am going with this?
So now, I sit amongst my favorite decorations of the year. They transport me. Bring out the invite that makes the invisible visible. My glittery shoes, bats and cauldrons add a layer to the air that makes way for guests of a more non-corporeal nature.This is my Wiccan succah.(a temporary structure that is built during Succot that is our home of faith and spirit. This is a connection and remembrance of the ‘homes’ that Jews built when we made a yearly pilgrimage to the ancient Temple in Jerusalem during the holiday of Succot.)
During the days when we are in the succah, we call in a different set of ancestors each night. On Halloween, or Samhain, we also call in our ancestors, friends and whomever else is flying about, to spend some time with us. The veil between the worlds is open for both of these holidays at a time when the earth is transitioning to a seemingly more dormant state. But really, it is all there, if we open ourselves to this ‘unseen realm’ and feel its movement and power.
The spirit of Samhain has become a cultural reality in spite of its commercialism and its plethora of horrendous sex-up-anything costumes. People come together to host Halloween fun for the kiddies and themselves. Okay, so perhaps this is because it is no longer considered wise to let children roam around town after dark looking for candy; but this reality has opened like a skeletal hand rising from the dirt of a grave pointing us toward community turf to celebration together.
And oh, yes, back to the costumes. I do not don too much of a holiday costume, as I am in costume all year, so to speak; but I am not a costume curmudgeon. I will help anyone fancy up, and once my vampire costuming skills won first place in a competition.
I love the way that Halloween garb can be an expression of ideas, concerns, hopes and dreams. Some are witty, some are beautiful, and some are touchingly poignant. I usually wait with light-hearted breath to see what will be parading around, but with what is going on in the world right now, this year my breath will be holding more stalwart apprehension than gleeful anticipation.
I suspect that this year I will look out from under my seasonally pointy and wide rimmed hat with one eye. The other eye, you may presume is looking for the nearest bar, er I mean, tea room. Nope, I do mean bar. I can have one bourbon and not fall off my broom, right?
NOTE: I wrote this before the massacre in Pittsburgh. Is any humor appropriate today? Should I have saved this for next year and offered a tone like my Charlottesville article? If I have offended anyone by not only writing about yesterday, I apologize; but I am a Jew and I am a Wiccan, and I will be open and proud about both, although I am surely a double-whammy target for some hateful f*** out there. So I will not hide. I will not hide.