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Samantha Evans describes a spirit board in her Pagan and Wiccan supply store, Apples, Brooms and Cauldrons. | (Dan Jackson/The Citizen)

For some, Halloween more than costumes, candy


For most, Halloween is a time to dress up, attend parties and consume copious amounts of candy. The time of zombies, frights and creepiness has turned into a billion-dollar industry.

But for some, the time around Halloween has deep-rooted spiritual meaning. For Christians who follow the liturgical calender, Nov. 1 is All Saints Day. And Pagans and Wiccans celebrate Samhain (pronounced Sow-in) Oct. 31.

For both faiths, the time around Halloween is a time to remember the dead, those who have gone before.

Father Nicholas Melo, who pastors the St. Thomas Church in Southington, said All Saints Day is one of the Holy Days of Obligation, one of the days Catholics are obligated to attend mass. The day remembers the saints not included in the liturgical calender, and it’s a way to “remember those that have gone before us and give us example of how to live our lives,” Melo said.

The next day, Catholic churches celebrate All Souls Day, a time to remember those who have died. Melo said All Souls is a time to remember the deaths of people close to the worshipers, members of the family or members of the local congregation.

“We’ll remember them by name,” Melo said, and a bell will toll.

Melo said different ethnic communities have variation on how they celebrate All Souls Day. For example, Polish and Italian Catholics will accompany All Souls as a feast day, as a time of celebration.

“It’s an important time in their spiritual lives,” Melo said.

Samantha Evans operates the Pagan and Wiccan supply store Apples, Brooms and Cauldrons in Plainville. The self-described witch said Samhain is the most important holy day on the pagan calender. It is also the start of the new year for the faith.

Evans said the veil between the physical world and the spiritual realm “becomes practically nonexistent” at midnight of Nov. 1. During that time, Evans and her coven gather to commune with the spirits of those who have died.

The group starts the celebration at 10 p.m on Halloween. They decorate an alter with pumpkins and a fire is lit.

Evan’s coven gathers wearing natural fiber, black clothing. She does not perform the ceremony in the nude, or skyclad as some pagan do, because “It’s not from the original, pagan path.” Instead, she said the group dresses in black as remembrance to the time pagans had to hide from witch hunters.

The coven will then step over burning sage to cleanse themselves and one person casts a circle of energy that takes the group to the Astral Plane, “to a place that is not a place and a time that there is no time,” Evans said.

The in between place is neither physical nor spiritual, but a half-way point where the coven will meet with the spirits.

After guardians are called to protect the circle, each person celebrating Samhain will go up to Evans and give her the name of a person they want to contact. They will also bring a memento of the individual to put on the alter.

“I’ll call the spirit of that individual and ring a bell to let them know that the spirit is here,” Evans said.

Evans said she has never had a spirit not respond to her call.

“Sometimes I had to call a couple times, but I’ve never had it not respond.”

After the spirits are called, the group with gather around a fire to commune with their called spirit in their mind.

Once Evans believes enough time has passed, she’ll invite the spirits to a “Dumb supper,” where the coven eats a meal with the spirits in silence, still communing with the spirits. A chair is left open for the spirits, and the spirits eat the essence of the food set before them, Evans said. Afterwards, the plate of food is taken outside where it is offered to the earth.

“Not only are we communing with the spirits that were called in, we are also respecting the people that have passed before us.”

When asked about her opinion of modern Halloween celebration, Evans replied, “I think it’s all about the almighty dollar.”



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