From Samhain to Halloween: The Witch’s New Year

This article was originally published in the October issue of Moon Glow, which you can access here

October 31st marks Halloween, otherwise known as Samhain and the Third Harvest. Most people in America today celebrate Halloween as a secular holiday, with a nod to it’s ancient origins in ghost and ghoulish décor and dress. Samhain is the Celtic New Year originating in Ireland, marking the beginning of the dark half of the year or winter months. This is a time when the veil between our physical world and the spiritual world is thinnest, when ghosts and spirits and other spiritual beings come out to feast and to play. It was customary to light a candle and leave it in your window to help guide your ancestors and benevolent spirits home. People dressed as ghosts and wore scary masks in order to blend in with malevolent spirits and therefore pass the night unscathed. It was common to go to bed early, for even though ancestral spirits were generally benevolent, it was still best to not interact with them. An offering of food was left for the spirits, celebrated today as a Dumb Supper. It is a feast in silence with a portion left for the spirits to obtain their favor and avoid their wrath or bad luck. It’s been postulated that this is where the tradition of trick or treating came from, with children dressing up as ghosts and ghouls and going door to door for an offering of candy (or other foods before candy), and if you don’t have the offering, you receive a trick for the lack of treat!

There was much fear and magic associated with this celebration, as this day marks the descent of the sun into the underworld. Any boundaries or “in between” places were considered dangerous places where you could meet a ghost or the god of the dead. Bridges were avoided, as were graveyards and property boundaries. Boundaries and “in between” places are symbolic of the space between worlds- the spiritual and physical. This half of the year extends from October 31st through the entire winter season. Even the Winter Solstice and Christmas, with the celebrations we enjoy lightheartedly, have their roots in darkness. The sun is essential for life, and winter brings with it much uncertainty and the decay and death of vegetation. Winter fires for individual hearths were lit at this time from a communal fire. The fire in the hearth was never put out during the winter months.

Today, October 31st – November 1st is celebrated among many witches as the Witch’s New Year. We follow the Wheel of the Year and the cycles of nature, celebrating the natural rhythms of life and death. This is a potent day for magic and divination practices, such as tarot readings, oracle readings, runes, or any other form of divination to discover hidden truths and gain guidance. This is also a time where we set out an altar that honors our loved ones who have passed, with photos of them and other memorabilia. I like to leave an offering of a favorite food as well. For my grandpa on my mother’s side, I leave molasses cookies, which I associate very fondly with him. Observing the Feast of the Dead is as way to honor the spirits. It’s also traditional to share some food with the less fortunate, as the physical offering of food for the dead is not eaten by them (it is believed that they consume the spiritual nutrients of the food), but is rather a symbol of good will that should extend to the living.

I Am Not a Lightworker

My work consists of coming face to face with what hides in the shadows of the human heart and soul. With Owl Spirit as my guide I enter into the sacred darkness from which our power and life stems, just as the roots of a tree live and our nourished in the dark soil of the earth, and there I read the omens and symbols that provide revelation for you take with you into the light of the day.

I have no use for the dichotomy of light and dark, as if they are separate things that fight each other, as if one is better than the other. This notion only splinters us into pieces, separating us from ourselves. Light and dark make one whole: as above, so below, as within, so without. Positive and negative are simply poles on a spectrum, not indicative of “good” and “bad.” One is active, one is receptive. Both are powerful and necessary. Just as in our world, in others, malefic beings exist and act along with agents of good will. There is not only light beyond us, but also great darkness. Darkness is essential to growth, it is where we originate- the womb is as dark to us as the ground is to the seed.

Embracing the sacred darkness is seeing in a mirror darkly, it is scrying by the light of the moon for mystical truth. We must give ourselves the space for the passionate truths we emote to come into our understanding without judgment or shame.

The sacred dark is the birth place of the warrior, it is from where ferocity and great protection emerge. It is where wisdom hides, intuition originates, and where our deepest nature directs our actions. It is the earth we live on: a spectre of the divine mind which calls us to recognize the beauty in the dense material reality that connects us with ourselves and with each other.

I work with the chthonic in the underworld learning the wisdom of the way. Deep magic comes from this place of darkness and cannot be known without venturing there.

I am a daughter of the moon, of the great goddess Hecate who with her torch lights the way.

I am not a light worker.

I am a witch.

Halloween Special: Psychic and Tarot Card Readings 

On Samhain (October 31st) from 10AM-2PM, I and my best psychic gal pal Sophia Gold will be giving mini readings at A Beautiful Soul here in Rochester, MN (address on the invitation below).

October 31st is the day that the veil between worlds is lifted. It’s one of the most magical times of the year, and one of the best times to get your cards read or have a psychic reading as well. 

You can get a short tarot reading from me (20 minutes for $25) and/or a short psychic reading from Sophia (15 minutes for $25). 

For shorter readings like this it’s best to have a focus, a question you want answered or a situation you want resolved. You can always come for a general reading too, but if there’s something you want answers on it’s best to tell us up front so we can make sure you get what you need in the time frame for the reading. 

So mark your calendars and come see us! 

October New Moon in Libra Tarot Reading 2017 

For this month’s new moon tarot reading, I’m using The Halloween Tarot by Karin Lee. The October new moon occurs tomorrow at 2:13PM in Libra as we come face to face with ourselves in its shadow. The light is just beginning to dawn again on what we keep hidden underneath, encouraging us to grow something good out of it all. 

Right off the bat we have a Libra lesson about balancing the scales in the 6 of Pumpkins (Pentacles). In the imagery of this deck, the truth of giving out of our own abundance to those who may not be able to do anything for us in return is driven home. 

This new moon offers you the opportunity to consider where you can be more generous with others, and where in your life you can allow others to help you. Take a moment to consider how often you’ve asked for something only to turn it away when it shows up because you don’t want to accept it from someone else. Maybe, it’s time to stop doing that and to let yourself enjoy the gifts from the gods that often come to us through the hands of others. Maybe, it’s also time to let your hands be the hands of the gods to bless others as well. 

The Seven of Ghosts (Cups) form a circle, showing the way we tend to go round and round with our desires, jumping from one thing to the next. You are encouraged this new moon to get in touch with what your heart really wants, and what emotional fulfillment really looks and feels like to you. I also find this image to be heavily symbolic in terms of creating sacred space, or a sacred circle. Carve out space and time in your life for the acknowledgement of the sacred.  

Wrapping up the reading is the Ten of Pumpkins (Pentacles), again assuring us of that Libra balance- our hard work and efforts will be rewarded accordingly. This card heralds the completion of a cycle (which makes sense since Halloween is the last harvest and the beginning of the dark half of the year). We will harvest what we have sown in thought, word, and deed. This is an important reminder when setting new moon intentions as well. Enjoy your rewards, have fun, and celebrate. Settle in to spend some extra time with your loved ones, with gratitude in your heart. 

Blessings to you on this new moon. 🖤

If you would like a short, personalized new moon reading to give you clarity about your path moving forward, visit here

Images featured are from The Halloween Tarot by Karin Lee, illustrated by Kipling West and published by US Games Inc. 

Being a Tarot Reader in Rochester, MN

In my experience giving tarot readings and spiritual guidance sessions, I’ve had more than one person tell me that Rochester needs more services like the ones I offer. I’ve also had more than one friend who offers similar services tell me that they don’t think Rochester is all that hospitable to the kind of work that we do. And I think that what this really highlights, is the disconnect between the public and the many resources available to them.

If I really didn’t think that Rochester was a hospitable place for the work that I do, I would have moved by now. It’s true that I have felt a little more at home in cities like Portland, which is more openly eccentric. However, Rochester has its own particular magic. It’s a city known for healing. And for those who are looking for the kind of services I offer, and the services my friends and colleagues offer, it shouldn’t be so difficult to find. Instead of lamenting the gap, it’s best to consider how to bridge the gap.

I set the intention that the people who are meant to be my clients will find me, and that is how it has been working. I do my best to make sure people know what I have to offer. But aside from me, there are many reiki practitioners, energy healers, and psychics in this city.  There are many alternative spiritual experiences and practices available to learn about and participate in from yoga, meditation groups and drum circles to cacao ceremonies and more. I suppose it’s just a matter of taking notice. Seek and you shall find.

But it’s also a matter, for practitioners, of putting yourself out there. 

The time for hiding is over. I know that many practitioners, and many people interested in these “alternative” services tend to keep it somewhat secret because they don’t think they will be well received or accepted by their friends, neighbors, and peers.

I myself have received more than one sideways glance from people who don’t approve of my work. But here’s the truth about that: I would get that response from some people anywhere I lived/worked, and most importantly: I’m not here for those people. 

I’m here for the people who need my services.

And I don’t believe in hiding.

So let me start:

I’m a witch. I’m a tarot reader. I’m an ordained minister and high priestess. I love my work, I love my clients, and I’m proud of my vocation and unashamed of myself and my interests.

Alright Rochester, your turn. 

Connecting Tarot with Music: Death

Historically one of the most feared cards in the tarot deck, many would say Death is simply misunderstood. Death in a tarot reading rarely means a literal death, usually it’s some sort of transformation and moving on. This is true, but I think it’s worth taking a deeper look than that. 

It’s easy to see this card and immediately gloss over the pain associated with it. We experience many deaths in our lives. Our bodies continuously die and renew on a cellular level, and generally that’s painless until our bodies break down and we eventually, actually, die. We also experience the death of relationships, the death of circumstances, and the death of loved ones. But to see this card and say “oh transformation! Fantastic!” is to miss, often, the deep pain a person is going through at the moment. Transformation, yeah great- except that it’s usually the result of a traumatically purifying (painful) fire. 

When my health was especially bad and I was beginning my journey of healing on my own, my entire life was falling apart on the outside. I had to face my need to rely on others so that I could take care of myself. Fiercely independent, I left home at 17. I didn’t need anyone and I liked it that way. Then, years later, my body said no and I watched that independence crumble, taking with it my ideas of myself, exposing the hidden truths about what I really thought made me valuable and worthy of love. This illness was the death of my view of myself, and the death of a way of living that dishonored me. It ruthlessly stripped me down, taking with it all manner of falsehoods. It took, and it gave. 

When not in the throes of grief, we can more easily recognize death as change. In physical death we change by shedding our corporeal forms. Out with the old, in with the new, whatever the new is. Death is a mysterious door, the night that eventually comes. It has its own secrets to share, its own hidden wonders, its own adventures. Yet we cling, naturally, to life and to what we know. We feel that what we know is safe even if it’s dead and even if we are tortured by it. Sometimes the universe has to pry our hands off of the old life, the old way of being, the old idea of security.

We don’t want to let go even though letting go is what this life is. Hands constantly open, giving and receiving. We let go of the people we love as they leave us in physical form, and we feel as if we are no longer whole. Yet we are. They haven’t left, yet they’re no longer physically present. We must sense them with our hearts now to see that they are still there. 

Years ago a friend of mine died tragically and unexpectedly in a car accident. I was inconsolable. I dreamed he visited me at work, but I was busy, and he was about to leave before I hopped the counter and went to speak with him. He said we should go for a ride, and I asked him, “aren’t you afraid to ride in cars now?” He smiled and said no. As we drove along he told me that he was wasn’t in pain, that I didn’t need to worry. Just before I woke up he hugged me, a warm embrace that felt as though he was physically hugging me again. It felt real- it was real. He was visiting me in spirit form. He’s appeared in my dreams a few times since, often to give me a swift (loving) kick in the ass about something. 

Death is heart-wrenching. In a reading, it’s nonetheless painful even if it heralds something new. It’s presence necessitates extra compassion, extra sensitivity. It requires our attention. It’s not something to run from, it’s something to understand. Look to the earth for wisdom and understanding. 

I chose Enya’s song, “If I Could Be Where You Are” for this card.

Where are you this moment?

Only in my dreams.

You’re missing, but you’re always

A heartbeat from me.

I’m lost now without you,

I don’t know where you are.

I keep watching, I keep hoping,

But time keeps us apart

Is there a way I can find you,

Is there a sign I should know,

Is there a road I could follow

To bring you back home?

Winter lies before me

Now you’re so far away.

In the darkness of my dreaming

The light of you will stay

If I could be close beside you

If I could be where you are

If I could reach out and touch you

And bring you back home

Is there a way I can find you

Is there a sign I should know

Is there a road I can follow

To bring you back home to me

October 2017 Full Moon Oracle Reading

The full moon on Thursday, October 5th is in the sign of Aries. We are also in the month of Libra. Aries is a go-getter and Libra is a planner, so this is a good time to flesh out your goals, especially your short term goals. The Singer of Transfiguration assures you that success is reachable, and in fact either has been reached or will soon be reached. You may experience big changes with this full moon energy. 

Unity reminds you that you are not alone, not even in your success. Make sure to thank the people who have helped you become the person you are today, and who helped you get where you are. The truth that we are all connected is highlighted with this full moon. How can you help others reach their goals? There is enough abundance and success to go around for everyone. Let all sense of competition fade, and let yourself shine. Let your connection to your higher self and higher power guide you. 

Arval Partot points to his throat with a sweet smile, reminding you to use your voice. If you don’t tell others what you need, they can’t help you. Open up your throat chakra with singing and with affirmations repeated aloud. Don’t forget that his little antennae are alight as well- he really hears what others have to say not just with their words, but with their body and aura. You also have this capacity. Be stellar in your communication, and listen well to others for understanding.

The October full moon is a time of healing and releasing. Let go to experience change for the better, trusting that you are supported and cared for, and have courage to share your experiences, truth, and needs with others and to receive theirs as well. 

Brightest blessings to you all 🖤 🌝