Witches, Demons and the Devil: A Modern View

witchesI’m writing this late on a Halloween night when witches, demons and the Devil are said to visit. They apparently come to bring their evil into our homes. This ‘take’ on 31st October has become a popular fantasy.

Yet it’s all based on a historical perspective that oppresses women. Though not a lot of people know or think about that. I also find that most people are unaware of the earlier tradition around this time of the year. It’s a time of ending. The harvest is over and Winter awaits. During the dark time of the year planting and harvesting take a back seat to waiting for the darkness to lift once more. The Celtic festival of Samhain, held on this day, is marking the start of a New Year. A new cycle. In celebrating the ending of the harvest it also honoured those who had died too. Unfortunately the traditions that arose from Samhain crossed swords with the Catholic church in the Middle Ages and the stories of witches were born.

During the Middle Ages thousands of women were tortured and executed because they were said to be witches. I struggle to read the voices in historical records because there is so much cruelty. Women were chattels to be kept in their place. So what better way to deal with an outspoken woman that to accuse her of conjuring demons or the Devil. In a sense I feel very little has actually changed. What we now have is a muddle of commercialised folk-lore where women are still portrayed as the baddies. I feel that the karmic energy of those times is still a vibrant thread right now. A past life as a witch can surface for anyone. Still affecting patterns in this current life.

Karmic patterns take a lot of shifting. Is this why someone who portrayed a witch in a TV series was the one to speak about the sexual abuse of women in Hollywood? Are witches still being persecuted today for being vocal women?

I loved letting my daughter join in trick or treating. She loved dressing up. And still does. I loved being able to approach a new cycle of energy by beginning a period of rest. I still do. And am being made to rest too. But I also recognised that by taking part in a commercial Halloween I was joining in the continued victimisation of women. And I definitely don’t want to do that. I am a ‘Me Too’ woman. So I want to step back from celebrating the death of witches. These women died from the exercise of evil. But it was the evil made by men. Not by a Devil tempting them to wrong doing. There is another reason I want to step back. I don’t feel the need to terrorise myself so that I feel fear.

All of the horror industry is based on the idea of creating fear. Dredging up the dark part of a human mind and sharing it with everyone. I lost my taste for horror movies when I began to realise that all I was doing was being a battery to generate fear. Fear is what keeps women oppressed. The fear that we have no voice or value. Or the fear of our ability to create life. And most of all, especially to the churches, fear of the power of the Divine Mother. Together with that karmic thread of fear about witches there is a cocktail of energy washing over every woman that is enough to make the strongest of us feel weak. Tired. Exhausted. Ready to give up and give in.

It’s time to reclaim witches. I want to identify with their strength. These were wyse women. Women who stood a little outside their communities and spoke as they found.

I would like to see a Halloween celebration of strong, powerful, creative women. As I’m sure that many of these women would have been serving their communities as healers and midwives. I believe these women were beautiful, handsome and fearless. Each in their own way. The aspect of a toothless old crone is a cartoonish portrayal of women who had learned all they needed to know of life by the births and deaths around which their lives centred. I would like to see many more Glinda The Good witches taking part in Halloween. Spreading their kindly and helpful magic to promote positive images of witches.

Finally, all the movies and books portray the return of bad spirits on Halloween. Actually my experience is completely different. My Guides and loved ones are always closer at this time. They come to show me that our worlds are separated by the thinest of energy boundaries. If I sit quietly and pay attention I can spend a few precious moments on their side of the divide. Surrounded by their love I can confirm for myself the existence of an Afterlife. It’s a reminder for me that after this cycle ends there will be a new beginning. In a place where oppression has ended and where I can be valued for being me.

Wyse witches are still with us. Positive and inspirational women who hope to lead the global community of women in rejecting oppression in all its forms. I live with the hope that my daughter’s daughter’s children can celebrate a positive Samhain celebration that places the creativity of women at the forefront of Halloween.

Day 708 of my blogging challenge

Into Darkness: Samhain Reflections

img_2295It’s the 31st October. The day we know as Halloween or All Hallows’ Eve. However, it’s also called Samhain. This title relates back into Celtic times and possibly before. So why does it matter now?

The tradition observed on Samhain relates to celebrating the end of the harvest. It’s the time of stopping the work on the land and settling in for the Winter months. It’s a time of hearth and home with the hope of enough harvest goodness to sustain the family through the fallow months. Animals are gathered in close. Preparations are being made for the coming Spring planting. But the bulk of the year’s work has stopped. It is a time of growing darkness. I love this sense of rest and reflection. The idea that I collect my harvest from my work with time to plan for my next year. It’s also part of the tradition that at this time the divisions between this and the other worlds are thin.

Two of our key human questions seem to be where did we come from and where do we go. I am often asked to explain about the life we live between human lives. Samhain is one of the times when those questions can be explored a little more. I know that the energy barriers between the dimensions (to put it in the terminology of my time) are ‘thinner’ than normal. If I choose to, I can step in a little closer to the other worlds and explore. What I am exploring relates to the eternal cycle of life and death and rebirth. Our ancestors knew and understood that cycle. After all it was played out for them every year in their connection to the land and growing things.

When we recognise that there is this underlying process going on I know that what we achieve becomes more significant. What legacy do we leave behind for others? Or even ourselves when we are reborn?

That’s where I feel that the celebration of Samhain can remind us to think of a differnt approach to life. Not one where time is linear and events are fixed. But where there is a state of potential, of fluid time and that anything is possible. For if I access the edges of other dimensions then my reality is not the only one. My parents aren’t dead and gone forever. There are other energy flows that are available to me. The world of the Spirits can come close and send back it’s messages of love and comfort. No wonder we have the Greek myth of Persephone as a way of explaining the interconnection between two worlds as well. When I connect into these other energies what do I receive?

I believe that Samhain is a time when greater amounts of love and healing can be transferred into this world. The Spirits who meet us at the border between the worlds remind us that love is an eternal energy. It doesn’t fade or diminish. Our loved ones in Spirit can join us by the fire and share in our achievements, our losses and our reflections. They can encourage us to look forward to the return of the light. To new days full of opportunities. Their quiet comfort can bring us healing. Have I been working myself too hard? Did all my planting bring me a good crop? Have I done enough to provide for those I care for? Their answer is always yes.

If I recognise that I have done well in some things I can forgive myself for having done less well in others. I can use the dark days to review and revise what I do next.

The darkness is a welcome break. Because it’s not completely dark during the day. I also have the gift of firelight (electricity nowadays) to show me fresh possibilities. I love gazing into the fire. That’s because my mind conjures up wonderful pictures. I can create as I will. The pressure to hurry up and get on with things is gone. I can be fruitfully idle. What a wonderful moment to have. This day of celebration is opening my mind to all sorts of things. How amazing that my ancestors knew all of this. And how appropriate that I share the dark and light of this day with them.

Day 351 of my blogging challenge.