Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mind Body Spirit Odyssey Book Review: A Witch's Halloween

A Witch's Halloween: A Complete Guide to the Magick, Incantations, Recipes, Spells, & Lore
By Gerina Dunwich
Provenance Press
You know there is much more to Halloween than jack ‘o lanterns grinning from windows, plastic bats hanging from rafters, and sticky spray-on spider webs crossing front porches. Halloween is also, of course, more than going trick-or-treating, bobbing for apples in the neighbor’s back yard, or attending a costume party. All of these elements of Halloween can be great fun, but there is meaning behind each one of them, and getting a glimpse into the origins of the holiday as well as the significance of the symbols, can be enlightening, and can enrich Halloween celebrations.
Halloween is probably the holiday with the most obvious pagan past. Gerina Dunwich is a High Priestess of the Old Religion and has authored many books on paganism, so her approach to Halloween is particularly instructive, informative, and insightful. She teaches first about the origin of the holiday, and in doing so, dispels common myths about paganism (or neo-paganism), Wicca, and other earth-based religions. For example, she quickly addresses the persistent belief that the devil has a place in paganism – in fact, paganism does not recognize such a concept. Although the devil is a popular costume at Halloween, it has only been a symbol of the holiday since the advent of Christianity. She explains how established country practices were misunderstood and manipulated, and ultimately, persecuted or banned, and when they could not be, they were altered to fit into the practices of a growing religious movement. Halloween truly comes alive when considering the background information that Dunwich provides. As a holiday, it has a rich history, and has been known by many names that have reflected its development over the years, and within various countries.
In addition to exploring the origins of Halloween, A Witch’s Halloween details fascinating superstitions, recipes, poems, rituals, myths, stories, games, spells, and beliefs, as they have been practiced throughout centuries. There are many that are worth incorporating into a modern celebration of the holiday, and there are also a few that might cause you to raise your eyebrows in surprise!
Tarot has a place in this book, of course. Divination is a fun pastime at Halloween, and for many people it is a meaningful element of their celebrations. Dunwich also explains how tarot might be used for meditation rituals that fit well with the holiday.
The book is written mostly from a witch’s point of view. Readers who already follow a related spiritual path will likely get the most out of the book, but it is certainly quite accessible to those who do not. It is a charming read that will enhance your understanding of this popular holiday.
a recipe from the book:
Samhain Cider
  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 cup apricot brandy
1. In a large pot, combine the apple cider, confectioner's sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. Simmer slowly on low heat for about 15 minutes. Take care that the cider does not boil. Add the apricot brandy and then serve the cider while it is still warm. Refrigerate any leftover cider. Serves 8.
As of this posting, A Witch’s Halloween is on sale at Amazon!

~ Nellie Levine 
Thank you to Nellie Levine for sharing this with us!

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