I've said it a dozen plus a hundred times, but I never get tired of saying it: the Hallows season is my favorite season. Every day for me is Halloween, in a deep sense; when part of you- the Other self of you- is awake and living in your awareness, and when it interacts with the human persona who must struggle on this side of the Hedge, you never feel fully comfortable in the glare of the sun. You don't feel fully comfortable with the green and gold of summer, or the office politics, or the cheers of sports fans, or the drone of a television somewhere. It's not until the Great Dark rises in might, and Her emissaries begin flying to and fro in Autumn, that my "season of strength" wakes me up, and makes me feel truly whole.
The Old Way is quite an equalizer among human "spiritual paths"- though it is more of a forest than a path. The Otherness belongs to no one, and to everyone. The only difference between people that you'll find metaphysically important is the degree to which one or the other is aware of the Otherness, and the degree to which they fear it. As a Witch, as a Hedge-Crosser, it is my task to sing the praises of the Dark spaces that seldom feel the light of human conscious awareness. My songs of praise are not all happy songs; the Dark, the Unseen, contains its share of troubling and disturbing things.
Which makes it not much different from the Light, and what is Seen. So why the fear? Because it is home to entities that we don't get to encounter often (if ever) in our sun-draped world. More than that, it is home to everything we don't want to admit to ourselves, about ourselves. It is home to every thing that any person- or any society- ever saw fit to forget.
That we may have forgotten something crucial is more than just a fear, it's a certainty. Forgetting what we never should have forgotten is one of the only real spiritual crimes of any gravity; it is the world-killing sin of the soul and spirit that the true poetry of the world should be halved and thirded in the darkness of oblivion. Because of it, waterfalls of tears were shed this very day, all over the world.
Every year, in my beloved Autumn, when I take to carving gourds and pumpkins, I feel the Oldest Things in the Land stirring stronger than they did before. Two possibilities exist, from my way of seeing: I'm getting more powerful in my ability to engage the sight, or I'm getting closer to dying. Freedom, I say, is being comfortable with any outcome. If I get stronger, so be it. If I get weaker, so be it. If I die (an eventuality at any rate) so be it. I don't imagine what I'll see, at my Death-omen and on my Ghost-road will be too shocking, and this is due to my familiarity with those bizarre and powerful places won from hedge-crossing for years.
The Nature of life beyond the Hedge is such that there are never enough years. Something "over there" can always shock me, and anyone. But I'm at peace with that, too- It's always so vast seeming; I fear some of the things I've seen, but I fear what I've not seen more, like most people. The answer to this quandary is not to try and see everything- an impossibility (in one sense) given the grand design and vast reaches of this world and the Unseen world.
The answer is to escape from wanting to see anything in particular, and to tame the mind so that it doesn't get shocked, regardless of what it sees. There is nothing that will cross before these eyes that is alien to the Great Dark or this Green World. If the world is comfortable with everything, then so must I be- I, a part of this Land, sprung from this Land, due to rot under this Land, one day.
And this season is the time to think about the Rotting Hosts, the throngs of spirits and powers submerged in the Below. They aren't going to be submerged for much longer; in fact, if you know the secret of the Trance, the secret to accessing the Deep World through the flesh of the body itself, you already know how the rotting people aren't terribly far from you to begin with; (terribly close is a better term).
But it isn't terrible. It's the other natural side of life, to be "dead" (so-called). Just as the other side of waking each day is a set number of hours sleeping in the bizarre reaches of the dreamscape, so the other side of life is a phantasmagoria adrift in the most unpredictable sea of forces- the Unseen- a sea which always vitalizes this world and acts as the cauldron from which all good and necessary things come. Get comfortable in your skin, in your life, in your death. What greater gift is there of this season, but peace? Death is a welcome passage to peace, because death makes things whole. Why believe that? Because death is necessary. Necessity is the mother of Wholeness, a Whole thing Herself.
This is an Esoteric Public Service Message delivered to you, from your good fiend Robin, busy hacking away at his new batch of pumpkins, about to boil yams and saffron rice, about to drain a mug of dark ale over a fine roasted bird of some variety. The sky's getting dark. The mornings, evenings, and nights are blessed with a cloak of delicious cold. The trees are raining leaves. When things begin to die, they show a particular sort of beauty that youthful vitality cannot match. This is the beauty of the wise- the witching-beauty, as it were.
People all over this small and foolish town are hanging out horrible scarecrows and dummies of grinning skeletons with scythes- they are hanging big fake black spiders from trees, draping everything with cobwebs, putting out pumpkins, fake tombstones... I appreciate those who get into the spirit of this season. That spirit, however, is far from a quaint and materialistic American shopping spree. That spirit is the spirit that stands behind the true Witching Way.
Fool Pastors and irritating, ignorant "preachers" all over in the deep south denounce Halloween for its pre-Christian connections. They do it here, in my town. Considering the code and veil of fear that covers them, they are right to do so- they feel it; this is more than just another useless, baseless, false thing for them to "preach" about. This is one of the few times a year when the power of something sublime and even ominous comes up from the Great Dark, and raps on the outer doors of the conscious awareness of most people. Even the most dulled simpletons of the world can sometimes feel it, due to its great power. Humans have felt it and loved it and feared it and basked in it since time immemorial.
To it, they gave harvest fruits, to it, they attributed the passage of the dead, coming close. And they were right to do so. Death is the great equalizer, the great revealer of Truth. Truth is the last thing Pastor Smith wants; he doesn't want it in his life, and he certainly doesn't want it near his congregation. He has that "truth" issue covered already with his bible and his churchianity. Anything from the Outside now poses a threat to their contrived and flimsy stability.
And thus it must be. Two choices remain: ride the horse of contrived and flimsy stability all the way to death's dark forest-door, and let the Bone Man tear it out from under you and blast your sanity into dust (and your memories into oblivion) with the Great Revelation, or get that business out of the way now, by sinking down into the newly fallowed earth and becoming a denizen of a world that is not your human own. Die a little before you die; let yourself be Other. Let the Other come; it wants to; if you're sometimes aware of the nostalgia and longing for something you can't identify, the unrest, the draw and allure of the mysterious, chances are, it's "rapping at your chamber door." Open the door. Be free of death's terrors while you still have the chance.
Or maybe not, maybe you won't. Who knows. Maybe this is talk best left to Witch-folk sitting around their Fall fires. I know that surrender to the Other is best done on the wings of sleep; sleep is the nightly rehearsal for death that we all undergo, mostly without realizing we're doing it. Let yourself go into the world. Don't intellectualize it; go on the level of feeling. This red and brown and orange-leaved season is scouring the earth clean of summer's gritty sweat, peeling off a layer of life-force that once covered the deep with impetuosity. Something we all fear, and desire, is getting closer. This is an invitation to natural wisdom, to the Witch-gnosis, to the thing that might complete you.
Or it might ruin you. Again, who knows. I do know that if Fate has preconfigured you to meet the Other, it's going to happen, one way or the other. I know she speaks her strange will through the flesh, heart, desires, and intuition. So start listening. Maybe the best place to start is in the flesh over your own bones, before you sink through the earth's flesh.
Dress up this Hallows. Despise the forces of fear that would take the Hallows from Hallowmas and call it "harvest festival"- this foolishness is just one more attempt to sanitize power and freedom from the world, another attempt to blot out wisdom. Resist. Dress up. Become the Other, in whatever ghoulish or humorous or beautiful form you see fit. Feast. Open your heart to the Powers that flood through the Land and come up from the Deep. For the truly wise, or those suited for wisdom, Autumn is an intimation of a curious immortality.
"Harvest festival", indeed! A harvest of souls, perhaps, and a harvest of entities from the Otherness, some helpful, some longing, some lost, some malevolent... Alas, what use wisdom if it profits not the wise? So profit from this: the only protection you'll need in this season is a black and wild heart. Are you just too lovely and good-hearted to let go and reverse yourself? To be unrestrained? To be daring if you are too cautious? To be a prankster if you normally weep a little for the victims of nasty jokes? Fine, fine. But know this: malevolent things, should one cross your path, will recognize you. Become like them, even a little, and you might pass by unnoticed. Taking the mask of misrule onto yourself in the Hallows is more than just fun and liberating for the stifling persona we have to wear at other times; it's also protective, a camouflage for the spirit-world.
If one of those malevolent things you come across is a human, well, thank the unwisdom of this world that helped them along the path of malevolence. My own personal seasonal malevolence is an act of power, a witching, not a permanent, year-round thing. Actually, I've extended "seasonal malevolence" to include the better part of about half the year, leaving a little malevolence in the bag for when I need it the rest of the time. But I'm sleeping most of the "rest of the time", so that little goblin-seed that I keep is just enough for the dreams of next Hallowmas.
Join me in writing letters to the Hallowed Dead. Use this old charm: Split an apple in two, and write a letter to that dead one you wish to communicate with on a small round of parchment, using Saturnian ink mingled with a dab of blood- then put it between the apple-halves and spear the halves “back into whole” with long, sharpened thin stakes of some Saturnian wood. Bury these messages in a ground that also has graves dug in it- or bury them under the roots of the Elder, the Apple, the Thorn, the Yew, or the Cypress. Thus, the deed is done. And this isn’t just a Hallows letter-writing; do it year-round, if you will.
Happy Hallows Season to my compatriots and kin, all over the world: and especially to the Communion of the Great Dark, my brothers and sisters in the seeding. Be Whole, all of you.