Happy Halloween Y'all & Hail Witches!
I love this time of year for many reasons.
One, it's not sweltering outside. We really don't have autumn in Louisiana, the weather kinda slides from steaming summer to a muggy wet chill (although it's dropping from high 70s to 30s today). The trees don't turn colors, either, unless you count the bald cypress turning burnt orange sometime around Thanksgiving. But, hey, it's not 95 and usually the hurricanes have slacked off, so we're happy!
Second, I love fall stuff. You know, pumpkins, gourds as centerpieces and fall-colored sweaters. I'm the first one on the block to hang up my wreath made of pinecones and I put up my Halloween tree, too (see photo at right).
And then there's Halloween. I write a mystery series involving ghosts, not to mention my non-fiction collection of ghostly tales, "Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana," so you know I love All Hallow's Eve. I bypass the gore and skeletons, skip the zombie movies, and head straight for the ghosts, black cats and witches.
Good witches, mind you.
My main character in my mystery series finds out that her long lineage of witchy DNA may be the reason she talks to ghosts. But we're not talking hags on brooms putting evil spells on children here. When I decided that Viola had witchcraft in her family, I did a lot of research — and discovered a long and fascinating history about the women who were called witches, and those who do so today.
Phyllis Curott, for instance. She's a Wiccan Priestess but you won't find her murmuring incantations over a boiling vat of newt. The best-selling author claims that the word "witch" dates back to around 500 AD England, a title that denotes “wise one, healer, midwife, shamon.” Around 1600 women were accused of being in league with the devil with hundreds burned at the stake for being nothing more than healers, women in touch with nature and the divine.
Curott explained that a witch — historic or modern — is someone who lives in harmony with nature. There is no part of Mother Earth that isn't a part of us, Curott said, adding that everything we need is within and all around us, including a divine spirit.
Finding yourself in the presence of the sacred, whatever you choose that to be, changes everything, she said. Finding the sacred within yourself changes you.
“That’s what a witch is," she concluded. "A witch is someone who speaks truth to power and women have a lot of power.”
In case you wondered where these items of Halloween come from, cauldrons were the pots women used to brew herbs for healing, brooms a woman's sacred piece of housekeeping. Potions were teas and salves for healing.
Still looking for some magic?
"Live in harmony with nature and you’ll live in harmony with the Divine," Curott says. "That’s when the magic begins."
If you want more, Viola learns to get in touch with her witchy self in my latest book, "Give Up the Ghost." It's a great read for All Hallows Eve.