31 October 2020 10:40

The Shining Stephen King Stanley Kubrick

When I was younger, I thought all witches were like the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. Green, scary, and evil. Of course, I know now that I was wrong. Witches are all around us, and they look just like you and me. (Don't believe me? Check out these photos.) But while you might imagine that Halloween is the time of year they shine, many witches actually celebrate a different holiday on 31st October.

Sign up to FREE email alerts from RSVPLive - Daily Subscribe Thank you for subscribing See our privacy notice Invalid Email Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone are practicing Wiccans (modern witches) and authors on books covering paganism and witchcraft. Here they talk us through the magic of Halloween and explain how you can harness its power for yourself. "What is it about Halloween that continues to the catch the imagination of every generation? Is it the imagery of ghosts, werewolves and of course, witches? It is of course something much deeper in our unconscious minds.

"Samhain was the new year for the Celtic peoples, with Samhain Eve being the last day of the year. Samhain is a particularly sacred time even today for practising wiccans, the name used today by modern witches who practise it as a religion. It is one of the high festivals marking the change in the power tides or fertility energies of the agricultural year – the change from Autumn to Winter. "It is this seasonal change that gives Halloween its power in our psyche, particularly our deeply instinctive need to survive. At this time we start to prepare for the dark months to come, which in the past was a matter of life and death. Food would become less available, and the change in temperature and weather could make it difficult to survive. "It was a time when the elderly and infirm would often pass into the other world. For this reason it was believed to be a time where the veil between the living and dead was thin. The spirits of the recently dead, as well as your ancestors could come back to give you important messages, before passing on to the otherworld, or the Summerlands as modern witches call it. "Witches focus on welcoming the dead into the circle, a temporarily set-up sacred space. They are then invited to celebrate the change in the year with the the coven or an individual witch. "Being the end of the old year and the beginning of the new, it it believed to be a time when you can start the process of manifesting your future dreams. Communication with ancestors is believed to be an important part of this, asking them for assistance and advice in doing this. Traditional forms of divination are often employed, such as the use of tarot cards or runes to do this. "Witches will also set up an Ancestral Altar at this time of year. Many practising witches will have one of these set up all year round, but special emphasis is placed on them during Samhain. "It may just appear as a space on a side board or cabinet with photos of passed family members and even items that once belonged to them. However, these items, such as maybe grandmother's hair brush or piece of jewellery hold a special place as it is believed they create a direction to the person who has passed to the other side, because they have been in their aura or life-force field. "At Halloween these altars will also be adorned with candles, the ancestors favourite food, and of course their favourite tipple! This is of course something anyone can do at this time of year to welcome their family members back into the home for that one special night."