I spent some time outside tonight and got to enjoy the very beginnings of autumn. This was the first night in a long while that I could be comfortable outside. The bugs aren't as numerous and it's not as humid. It's still getting plenty hot during the day but the summer is just beginning to slow down. I like to think of it as the beginning of the slide into home. The autumn is my favorite time of year; the discomfort of summer eases and, for a while, everything keeps growing. And later, when it really starts to cool down and the trees lose their leaves, it's nearly time for Samhain, probably my favorite holyday. It's always, to me, the most magical time of the year. I don't necessarily always do a ritual on Samhain for various reasons but mostly because I don't always feel the need for ritual; I can already feel the magic and energy and spirits moving around me, through me and everyone near me. All living things are different during the Samhain season, not everyone recognizes it but I'm certain everyone feels it. Some people misunderstand it and therefore fear it, calling Samhain or Hallowe'en "evil", but I confess I don't care. It's doesn't even bother me that the candy industry makes a huge buck on treat-or-treating. It's an American tradition I hope lasts forever.
Every child should have the opportunity to take on different personas with makeup, masks, colored hairspray and costumes and troll their neighborhoods for sweets. Every family should get to decorate their home with fake spider webs and purple lights and freaky music and smoke machines. And pumpkins, let's not forget pumpkins! Even if left uncarved they're still gorgeous. I don't know how many times I've taken a pumpkin or two, a handful of orange, red and brown leaves, thrown them in a basket and enjoyed it for months on end. These are American autumn rituals that everyone should feel free to experience. The magic of this season is hard to pin down. Traditionally this is the time of year when the division between the lands of the living and the other world(s) is at its weakest or thinnest. I honestly don't know about that; I've never seen or experienced anything that would make me think an otherworldly spirit was around, so I can't vouch for that. I just feel different during Samhain; the vibe of every plant, animal and human is different: more vibrant, more aware, more in tune with each other and the natural world. Many pagans consider this to be the end of year, the annual death of the Horned God or Green Man, hence the dying of plant life and the colder temperatures. He will eventually return during the season of Yule as the sun returns after the longest night of the year. But for now, he is still with us and his juices flow in the sap and blood of all living things. Here's hoping for a long, slow, smooth ride.