Ah, it's that wonderful time of the year when Witches are suddenly in vogue. A vast array of bewitching-themed items can be found in every store across the land. Houses and shops are decorated with orange lights, fall leaves, blooming mums, colorful gourds, pumpkins, and scarecrows. Oh, and of course, ghosts, Witches, and screeching black cats. In all the excitement of decorating and preparing for the sabbat, it is easy to forget that often the most practical and magical of items are to be found very affordably, courtesy of good old Mother Nature. This Halloween why not keep things simple? For your celebrations, consider the seasonal trimmings that are to be found within nature's bounty.
Why the focus on natural items? Because this popular holiday is one of the major sabbats of our earth religion. So as we celebrate the earth and her cycles and seasons, it makes much more sense to work with earthy and natural accessories. Plus, it helps to keep us connected to nature. Much of our Samhain/Halloween folklore comes from fruits, flowers, and such. So why not fly with this idea and see what we can conjure up for your Halloween festivities?
Halloween just wouldn't be the same without the supernatural flicker of jack-o'-lanterns. There is something about those carved and glowing pumpkin faces that put us in a festive mood. The jack-o'-lantern was a Celtic custom, though the ancient people originally used a hollowed turnip or cabbage to make their lanterns. These lanterns were a handy way to light their path home after the community bonfires on Samhain night. An ember was dropped inside the hollowed-out cabbage or turnip, so the vegetable was thick enough to illuminate, but not burn.
This marked a time when the veil between our world and the world of the spirit was thin. So faces were carved in the turnip lanterns to frighten away angry ghosts or spirits that were thought to be wandering about looking for trouble. Years later when the Irish, Scots, and English immigrants arrived in the New World, the pumpkin became an ideal choice to replace the turnip. It was in season, readily available, and a gorgeous harvest color. Plus, this fruit was large, inexpensive, and very easy to carve.
This Halloween, why not use the jack-o'-lantern as it was originally intended? To scare away evil and to frighten off negativity. Those flickering faces can do more than just serve as a beacon for the neighborhood trick-or-treaters. The jack-o-lantern can also be put to good practical magic use in your Samhain/Halloween festivities.
Here is a fun jack-o'-lantern spell to ward your property. First prep your pumpkins. Scoop and clean out the pumpkins. Then carve your jack-o'-lantern into any expression or bewitching pattern that you desire. Afterward, arrange the pumpkins in a place of prominence. Perhaps they can flank your front door, or line your walkway. Have the jack-o'-lanterns march up your front steps, tuck them inside of planters or arrange them across an old bench or hay bale. Once you have the pumpkins in place, add a few tea lights in the bottoms of the pumpkins. When dusk falls, light all the candles in your pumpkins. Repeat this Halloween jack-o'-lantern charm as you go along:
See this pumpkin all glowing gold?
Protection for my home it holds.
Frighten off evil and turn back, negativity.
This spell is cast, by the magic of All Hallow's Eve.
When the last of your jack-o'-lanterns is lit, close the spell with these lines:
By all the powers of three times three,
As I will it, then so must it be.
A Chrysanthemum Spell to Ward Off Ghosts
These big, bold, spicy blossoms add glorious color and fragrance to many a yard or container this time of year. Chrysanthemums are probably one of the most unsung flowers when it comes to magic, because they are so common. Chrysanthemums (Dendranthema hybrids) are affectionately known as today as "mums." The name of this flower comes from the Greek words "chrysos," meaning gold, and "anthos," meaning flower. In ancient times, Greeks would wear garlands of chrysanthemums to keep away those dreaded "evil spirits."
For the modern, practical Witch, the mum is a fabulous, protective fall flower that wards the home and keeps away wandering ghosts. Since these flowers are available in a wide range of jewel-toned colors, you can also match the color of the mum to specialize your Halloween spellwork. Red mums mean, "I love you." White signifies "truth," yellow means "happiness," and the gold tones are employed for protection (just like the Romans once did). For the other available jewel tones, I would go with "energy and bounty" for the orange mum, and a "happy hearth and home" for the bronze colors. The amethyst-colored mum could be added to spells worked to promote "power and protection."
These flowers do pack quite a protective punch, and since they are readily available in the fall months, why not work with the seasonal magic already inherent within these flowers? Here is a chrysanthemum charm for you to perform on Halloween. Choose whichever color you think would match your intention and add a few blossoms to a vase. Or just bless the mums that are already growing in the yard. Happy spell casting.
A flower fascination I spin on this Halloween night.
Keep spooks and specters far away, repel bad luck from my sight.
Hear my words, and let the magic flow, both hither and yon
This spell will last, and ward my home, until the break of dawn.
Close the flower fascination with:
By the magic of Halloween, as I will it, so must it be.
An Apple Spell for Love Divination
The apple is sacred to the Roman goddess Pomona. Pomona was the keeper of the apple orchards and she traveled the land with her pruning knife tending to and caring for all the apple trees. Pomona was an independent soul, but she eventually found love with a very determined young man named Vertumnus. Working with apples in your Halloween spells and charms makes good magical sense. Apples are both a fruit of love and a fruit of wisdom. Inside the apple is the star of knowledge, and of course slicing an apple horizontally will reveal the Witches' star hidden within.
Considering the folkloric significance of this fruit, it's not surprising that in the old days, young women believed that on Halloween night they could divine the name of their future husband by reading apple parings. To perform the old apple peel trick, you must pare an apple in an unbroken chain and then flip the apple peel over your shoulder and into a previously placed pot or cauldron of water. The peel will unfurl in the water, taking the shape of the first letter, of the first name, of your true love. Try this Halloween night spell to go along with your love apple divination:
Apple peel, apple peel, let's you and I play a game,
Take the shape, of the first letter, of my true love's name.
By the mystery of love, and the magic of Halloween,
With the help of Pomona, now make your symbol clear to me.
May your Halloween be an enchanted one, filled with the colors and scents of this most bewitching season. Arrange multi-colored leaves around your home. Plant some colorful mums in your garden and allow their natural energies to ward your property. Display your jack-o'-lanterns with Pagan pride, and set a bowl full of bright gold and red apples in the kitchen to inspire love and wisdom. Let the bounty that nature has to offer us inspire your natural and practical magic. My best wishes for a soulful Samhain and of course, a Happy Halloween!
Excerpted from Llewellyn's 2008 Magical Almanac. Click here for current-year calendars and almanacs.