top of page

Happy Halloween: Witches' New Year

It's truly fascinating to dive into the origins of Halloween.

There are many cultures that celebrate a holy day around October 31st - November 2nd, and many of these practices have been active for centuries.

In Christian tradition, "All Hallow's Eve" is the name for the celebration that begins on October 31st at sunset preceding "All Hallow's Day" on November 1st, a day to remember "hallowed" saints. Then November 2nd was called "All Soul's Day," a day to honor all loved ones who have passed.

For thousands of years, peoples in modern-day Mexico have celebrated "Dia de los Muertos" or Day of the Dead, at this time. Ancestors and loved ones who have died are celebrated and honored with festivals and food, dancing and song.

In ancient Sumer, the goddess Inanna was commemorated at this time of year. In ancient Greece, Hecate. Both goddesses are powerful -- even fierce -- feminine deities. In fact, Inanna was called the Queen of Heaven and Hecate the Mother of Witchcraft.

In Celtic pagan tradition, Halloween is called Samhain and is a Cross-Quarter holiday in the Wheel of the Year. It is the midpoint of autumn, halfway between the Autumnal Equinox (Mabon) and the Winter Solstice (Yule). It was known as the Witches' New Year, a time when the veil between our world and that of Spirit is particularly thin.

How fascinating is it that all of these different cultures held celebrations at this time? I believe we can attribute this to the astrological significance of this cross-quarter day. It is when the grip of winter, seemingly distant and gentle at Mabon, becomes stronger. We can no longer look upon winter as a flirtatious possibility that just paints the trees in amber hues and cools our nights and mornings.

Instead, at Halloween, winter is the powerful, fierce, sometimes scary yet imminently wise witch at our doorstep. She is no longer a figment of our imagination but a very real force and she, unlike children on Halloween, does not knock. She comes right in and makes herself at home and we would be wise, in turn, to welcome her.

"Winter's gate. The deepest in, the darkest moon, the fertile void, the waiting womb.

Silence roots, trees unleaf, the land is stripped back to bone, bone-fires on hills, wood smoke at dusk, wet leaves in layers stuck to our boots, the spider, the web, the ancestor bread, a purple candle in the heavy-hung window for our beloved dead returning home.

The night of the shore left behind, the exposed root, the vulnerable wound. The night to be soft with our hearts, protect our scars, gather in close to the welcoming hearth.

The night the night hag rides.

With the land electrified, familiar landmarks resemble ancient sites. We untie from the loom, let the pattern to be lost, slow to stone to speak the truth as hollow bone:

On a bigger arc than our lives will witness, beyond the sideways growing rhizomes of Patriarchy's fake news, beyond faith, deep space, the witches broom nebula, (where wise women have always gone for a brew, always will) is the Unchanging where nothing can stop the final word being Love."

—Debra Hall © Mother Tongue Ink 2021


  • White Facebook Icon
bottom of page