We are now in my favourite season. Even though my sun flowers are finally out, the trees are losing their leaves, blackberries line the hedgerows and that earthy magic smell clings to the evening air. My Dad claimed he could smell snow, I can smell autumn.

Halloween memories of growing up in Consett are carving turnips, playing apple bobbing and my mam letting me decorate the house. I still own decorations from those younger years, and back in the 80s and 90s we made everything from ghosts to chains with anything we could get our hands on.

Time marches on and Halloween like Christmas has become a little lost in mass production and over commercialised, but the older festivals have had new waves of interest as people become more aware and want to help Mother Earth. We are turning back to ancient practices such as yoga, reiki, meditation, crystals etc to help our wellbeing.

Paganism has earned itself a revival, so when you are celebrating Halloween on the 31st October much of what we do is touching on the old Celtic festival of Samhain. The word simply means ‘summer’s end’ for in Celtic times there was only two seasons summer and winter. Samhain marked the Celtic new year and as the veil was thin between the dead and living, it was a perfect festival to honour our ancestors and remember all those we have lost. It was known as the Festival Of The Dead for a good reason. Play traditional games, but on a more serious note use the energy of that night for divination from the tarot to runes, asking questions and guidance.

Dress an area to place pictures and even belongings to both humans and pets who have passed. Carve pumpkins/jack o’ lanterns and light candles to guide spirits on their way. Have a meal with food inspired by autumn, anything with apple as in tradition a fruit of the dead, bannocks/singin’ hinny traditional to the north east and soul cakes are a suggestion. Decorate the dinner table to reflect the season with foliage and flowers, handmade wreaths and garlands can be dressed with even herbs and ribbons. Embrace the magic of the season even if it’s only to light a single candle, remember there is no light without darkness and everything is a balance, that was the true heart of the ‘old festivals’.

Bright blessings, Deborah Maudlin

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