Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of October 31st - November 6th,  2003

Season of the Witch

Columns Archive


  This week many of us will celebrate Halloween, a holiday traditionally associated with death and the occult. According to a radio report heard while driving through the mid-west, Halloween is second only to Christmas in the amount of merchandise sold; but since it is also a holiday which has distinctly pagan roots, we often hear about the problems which this can pose for youngsters who would like to take part in the fun and festivities which occur during this colorful season, but refrain from being exposed to any religiously corrupt practices.

  Time is the relationship of heaven to earth. Where the earth is in its orbit, either on its own axis or as it travels about the Sun, gives us the time of day or year. Most of our holidays derive their spiritual essence from the seasonal correspondence with which they are associated. Hence, both the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox are associated with rebirth and renewal. For instance, before there was Christmas, pagans celebrated a holiday known as the 'Birth of the Unconquerable Sun' on Dec. 25th. That's because the length of day begins to increase from that moment (either midnight on the 24th or sunrise on the 25th depending on where you start), and the light, while still in an infantile stage, starts to gain strength. At the Equinox, light 'triumphs' over darkness by surpassing it in time. The days have finally grown longer than the nights, and so light has overcome darkness. This is resurrection.

  Halloween is related to this process. While 'darkness' triumphed over light on the Autumnal Equinox, it is not until now, at the cross quarter day of autumn that the full power of this energy can be felt in nature. This way of looking at time harkens back to a culture which divided the year into eight (the Equinoxes, Solstices and four cross quarter days), instead of the twelve segments we use now. Astrologically speaking, Scorpio is the time of the year when the life force goes below the surface and contains itself in hibernation, in the roots and boroughs of plants and animals, and in the migration of birds. Major changes are taking place in the natural world as it prepares for the advent of winter. Celestially speaking, Scorpio is said to be the sign which rules sex, death, and the occult. Life at this time of the year is shifting into a survival mode.

Jack O'Lantern

Jack O'Lantern

  In many cultures, the New Year is a time when the future can be told. For the Celts, Halloween was the New Year. It represents the seam where time comes together, neither part of the old or new, when the spirits who have passed away through the year can come back and make one final sojourn on the earth before they are forever barred from returning. The essence of Halloween was originally to welcome back, and at the same time, say a fond farewell to those who have left us. But since so many spirits return on this holiday, not all of them are happy (death is a traumatic passage), and you don't want just anybody being attracted to your bountiful table, so magical buffers are created to scare away those who might not be welcome, in the form of jack-o-lanterns and other scary monsters, to frighten off unwanted disembodied guests.

  Being against Halloween is like being against the spirit of the season. It is simply a holiday which reflects what is happening in nature at this time of the year.