Welcome to the Witchiest Sabbath, everyone! It’s been another hell of a year, and it’s hard to get my mind around the fact that it is already Hallows season again. 2020 seemed to take forever, but 2021 has just flown by.
As I write, torrential rain pours blessedly on the parched land of California. We’re in a drought and desperately need this, but it’s a Class 5 atmospheric river storm (only 10 have ever been recorded here) and there is widespread local flooding. Famine or feast, it seems. My partner Nemea and I are in pretty dire financial straits right now, but today, in a cozy little place with food in my belly and the sound of rain on the roof, I feel blessed and wealthy.
And at least our wildfire season is over for the year.
Like so many Pagan folks at this time of year, I have been a busy bee. Contemplating death. Doing death prep by updating my Death documents packet. Settling into Eerie Month with seasonal movies like The Others, The Gift, and Practical Magic. Figuring out how we’re going to decorate the outside of our place; reworking the seasonal elements of my Focus to reflect this time of year. Getting ready for next weekend, when my ritual circle, Dark Sun, will celebrate 30 years together with our 31st Hallows ritual—and our first non-virtual Hallows since COVID came along.
In short, between searching for work and working on my next Atheopaganism book and all the things I do currently in Atheopaganism, I’ve been doing All The Things to make this Hallows as deep, meaningful and enjoyable as possible.
The sheer scale of the pandemic—deaths from which are now approaching 5 million worldwide—makes the annual Feast of the Dead even more impactful than ever, and as I start thinking about our upcoming ritual it’s overwhelming even to think about trying to address it somehow. Yet we must–we are in the midst of a great tragedy, and cannot shrink from confronting it.
I have traditions at Hallows. On Halloween day, I always take a walk in my local Victorian cemetery, enjoying the fall colors and the worn headstones, the ambiance of sorrow and antiquity. I gather a sprig of yew from a tree there, to dry on my Underworld Focus for a year before being used to light the Hallows ritual fire for Dark Sun. Then it’s home to dress up and prepare for little costumed extortionists to arrive at my door.
The storm has blown over now. It’s crisp and bright this morning with autumn colors and the sounds of birds, who must be delighted at the worms rising from the ground after all that water.
I was writing about Hallows traditions. Dark Sun has a ritual we do every year, a walk to the Land of the Dead, where we speak to those we have lost and leave things we no longer want to keep with us before we return to the our ritual circle, light a fire and share wine, pomegranates and chocolate, singing and celebrating being alive. Then we go inside and eat a feast.
It’s a pretty simple ritual, but a profound one and the fact that we have been doing it for so long reinforces its sacred nature.
The activities I’ve listed in this post add up to a pretty extensive list, and you shouldn’t feel that you’re “not doing enough” if you don’t put as much effort into the Sabbath as I do. Everyone’s circumstances, available time and energy and motivation vary. But one thing that is wonderful about this season is that it gives us permission to be childlike again, with our morbid fascinations and dress-up, as well as to confront and contemplate the very real fact of our inevitable mortality.
I hope your Hallows season is rich with meaning and enjoyment. May your voyage into the Darkness be a good one.
Shown: Underworld Focus 2021