Celebrating Samhain is something of a juggling act for me. My friends, whilst Christian or agnostic mostly, are great fans of modern Halloween celebration. Every year until this year, a grand party (fancy dress mandatory) has been held at E's house, with open door policy, lashings of booze and food and all the tacky and cute spooky decorations you could ever want. I love these parties, and couldn't not go. I'll never forget the time E decided to put "spooky bloody handprints" up her bathroom wall using jam... and found that the stuff stuck so hard she had to scrape back the wallpaper and repaint over it!
Sadly, thanks to certain unidentified local snots deciding to use the party as an opportunity to turn up and nick stuff, no such party will be happening this year. Instead, by friends all want to take the bus to Canterbury (in fancy dress, of course) to visit pubs and generally have a fun night. I've heard of a possible Halloween Crawl of the Dead this year, which should be fun to watch.
But as much fun as Halloween is, this night is also Samhain and for me has spiritual significance. Just as many Christians will engage in the feasting and piles of presents at Christmas, but will still go to church for a round of rousing hymns or at least watch Songs of Praise, I do like to inject a little of the spiritual in with my merry-making.
In recent years I have been fortunate; Samhain has fallen on a weekday, with my friends taking their parties at the weekend before or after the date, but I've no such luck this year. Once again, I was unable to take the day off from work, so only have the evening, which will be taken up with pub visiting. I will, of course, be spending some of my weekend having fun.
So, what to do? How can I inject some Samhain into my Halloween?
I've been looking deeper into my own ways of living as well as exploring the various Pagan paths and find that kitchen, or hedge, witchery most closely describes me, inasmuch as any label or box can hold any person, so I'm not going to be missing out on any grand rituals, and being a solitary witch (or a witch of a coven of 5, including her OH and 3 cats, depending on how you look at it!) I won't be missing out on any coven meetings. I might do a little non-household Magick, however.
In the days leading up to Samhain, I will decorate my house with fallen branches and living things, and fortunately the church ground where I live has some old willow and oak trees that drop branches regularly. The final harvest will be completed; I have some rosehips still ripening on the bushes, and my pepper plants still aren't fully ripe, so these can be brought in and processed. Practice with my tarot, my runes and my pendulum will, I hope, be time well spent.
On the day of Samhain, I will light candles for loved ones recently lost, and those lost long ago but not forgotten, and will spend a little time meditating with my pendulum. To celebrate the God in his aspect as the Horned Man of Winter, my OH will be dressed up as Pan for our night out, complete with hooves and a horned face mask (but no massive genitals; ours will be a PG Pan, at least until we get home!). I wanted to go as the Goddess, but if I dress as her emerging Crone aspect people will merely mistake me for an unfinished generic witch, so will instead emphasis the Harvest aspect of this particular holiday. The cornucopia I made for Mabon will be filled with spooky treats to hand out to friendly revellers.
Over the weekend, with more time to spend, I will bake bread in various shapes, produce chutneys and other preserves and I will try my hand at a little astral projection. I really want to try the doorway ritual, as well.
I would really like more suggestions from fellow solitary Pagans who have been more effective than me at fitting in their spiritual celebrations with their modern day ones. What will everyone else be getting up to?