Happy Halloween!

This post is definitely rushed. Something more thoughtful to come in the very near future!

Autumn has absolutely bewitched me these past few weeks -- between the trees abloom in their gorgeous reds, rusts, oranges and golds, and the refreshing chill in the air, I've been wishing I could quit my job and somehow get paid just to walk the streets for hours appreciating each beautiful fall day.
red maple
A beautiful maple tree just down the street.

These colorful days also bring the promise of my favorite holiday: Halloween! Well, perhaps Halloween is tied evenly with Christmas and Valentine’s day, all of which are joyful, colorful and fun, were favorites of the Victorians, and involve chocolate. I love Halloween for the costumed trick-or-treaters who roam the neighborhood and pile up at our door with their goody bags waiting for treats, for orange candlelit pumpkins and strings of skull lights glowing in the dark, for bats and ravens, witches, tombstones and grim reapers.
five punkins
We carved six punkins this year! The sixth is perched out of sight on the mantel with a spooky crow. From left to right, the carvers were: Kinnin, Meg, Emilia, Sean, Kenny.
scary punkin crow
Nevermore! Bit blurry, but you get the idea. Kinnin did this one.

Not only is Halloween spooky by design, with its imagery of ghosts and spirits, but this time of year possesses a natural eerieness that my pre-Christian ancestors tuned into long before the holiday evolved into the festive event that we know. The Celtic celebration called Samhain (SOW-in) “is a special time of year and a powerful time for divination," according to Lisa Finander, an editor at Llewellyn.com, “when the veil between the world of the living and the dead is the thinnest, and a time when the communication between these worlds is the strongest.” At Samhain, which literally means “end of summer,” the ancient Celts acknowledged and honored the dead while they marked the end of the seasonal cycle with bonfires and ushered in their new year. Like many Celtic/pagan celebrations, Samhain was co-opted by Christians and turned into the eve of All Hallows or All Saints Day, and All Hallows Evening became Hallowe’en.

The Victorians expanded on the theme of divination and and promoted Halloween rituals -- such as looking in a mirror or eating apples -- as a means for determining one’s romantic fate. Halloween also became yet another opportunity for exchanging their famously whimsical postcards!
"He is your fate ... who's face you've seen ... in the mirror's face ... on Halloween."

"The fates tell by the cards your future destiny ... but if you share an apple
with a heart that's fancy free ... on Halloween at midnight a marriage it will be."

Although All Hallows Eve has already passed, you can still light candles in memory of friends, family members and loyal pets who’ve crossed to the other side of the veil, or to divine your future lover in the lookingglass. The moon is full right now, so go outside and enjoy the calm blue glow it is casting over the clouds and leaf-bare trees on this cool, crisp (in our corner of the midwest, anyway) All Saints night. Maybe you’ll sense something else in the air, too! I hope you had a Happy Samhain/Halloween, and are enjoying the fall colors wherever you are.

Please feel free to leave a comment -- how did you celebrate Halloween this year, or did you celebrate at all? How do you feel during this naturally mysterious time of the season? Share your favorite ways of passing time during these chilly, darkening days of autumn. Or feel free to correct any misinformation you've read above. Anything ... I'd love to hear from you!