Halloween is quickly approaching, and it's our favourite time of the year at Tragic HQ. Even though we are down here in the southern hemisphere, many of us still like to celebrate the time with the same seasonal, kitsch, and witchy themes that they do in North America and parts of Europe, even though it is the wrong time of year for most of them.
For practicing witches, the additional complication is Beltane, the marking of time around halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. In the northern hemisphere, this time of year is for observance of Samhain, the Gaelic festival that marks the beginning of the darkest period of the year, as well as the end of harvest season. You can read more about Samhain in our article here, but for us this time is actually in May.
As Halloween and Samhain coincide, with Halloween on 31st October and Samhain on 1 November, rituals and traditions for both are tightly entwined to the degree that many witches believe it goes against the seasons to observe Halloween in the northern hemisphere style, when Beltane on the 21st October is a celebration of new life, rather than a thinning of the veil between life and what lies beyond.
There is no singular, prescribed way to practice magick, and my core belief is that intention is everything when practicing rituals or observing important periods on the Wiccan calendar.
Let witches enjoy things
So if you love Halloween for the imagery that comes with the season - bats, spiderwebs, yellowing leaves and pumpkins - have them as fun decorations and not as items that intensify the perception that the nights are darker and the dead are beginning to mingle with the living. Create your own traditions and own way of decorating for the season (or if you're like us, you just take down fewer and fewer every year until your house is just Halloween decor).
Beltane originated as a fire festival at the start of summer, to honour the sun for how it nurtures. In the southern hemisphere, the date occurs on the 21st October, and the time around this period is perfect for cleansing out the ghosts of things better left behind, and focusing on intentions for the new season. The full moon for us in October happens during daylight hours, so is a great occasion to put your crystals out for clearing to imbue with your new intentions, and sit outside on the grass with them, feeling both the lunar and solar effects. Outdoor meditation or tea leaf reading is perfect on these occasions.
Other ways to observe Beltane
Attend a fire festival
Check around your local community boards for Beltane fire festivals, as they are increasingly popular and becoming more accessible, such as this one.
smoke your house
If allowed in your area, a Beltane bonfire (or failing that, a smaller version in a fire pit) can provide powerful smoke and ashes to protect your house in the coming season. If it's not allowed or impractical, smudging your home or making your own smoke/ash bowl with a litle Palo Santo wood in your offering bowl still works fine, as does smudging.
Beltane wouldn't be a celebration without a feast. Prepare offerings for any gods or spirits you acknowledge, and present these before the feast begins. Decorate the table with picked wildflowers and other symbols of spring and summer. The food and drinks should also represent this season, so focus on fresh dishes that do not use many preserved or processed ingredients.