Riding the Broom

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Samhain Blessings/
Happy Hallowe’en

All Hallow’s Eve (Hallowe’en) is one of the 4 cross-quarter holy days in the solar calendar, marking the midpoint between Equinox and Solstice, the other 3 being Imbolc (beginning of February), Beltane (beginning of May) and Lughnasadh or Lammas (beginning of August).

Or that’s when they are traditionally celebrated at least,. A midpoint between things that happen around the 20th can’t actually be the first of course; the actual midpoint is generally between the 3rd and the 6th. Being someone who is in tune with the rising and falling of energies, I celebrate with ritual at the actual midpoint, but I’m happy to join in the party starting now and continuing on for the rest of the week.

This holy day is the final harvest festival of the year for those of us in the northern hemisphere (joyous Beltane to my friends in the south!!!), and marks a time of slowing down, quiet, and introspection. It’s traditionally been a time to celebrate the abundance of the harvest, but also to take stock of everything so that we save enough to survive the long, hard winter.

As I write this I’m greeting trick-or-treaters at the door. Not many kids are dressed at witches, but a lot of the moms hanging out by the mailbox are. Given the 2021 theme of disinformation and the fact that the one who kept crying “witch hunt!” all the time (eye roll) is finally out of office, I figured it was finally time to address the disinformation and misinformation about witches.

NB: I do not consider myself a witch but a priestess in this lifetime, a distinction that was lost on inquisitors since both honored the Goddess/Gaia/Mother Nature and practiced the healing arts. To me, the difference is one of breadth–being of service beyond the local community is and was the purview of the priestess: holding space for the wholeness of all humans, plants, animals, and natural elements. If you beg to differ, please send me an email.

I’ve been thinking for years–honestly since November of 2015–about doing a channeling/live transmission on this topic. Let me know if you’d love to participate or have access to the recording. If there’s enough interest, I’ll definitely organize it.

The image of the witch that comes down to us through history is that of a hag wearing a pointy hat (a symbol of learning, incidentally–in the 17th C. newly-minted male doctors wore pointy hats, too) and riding a broom. Here’s an example:

Of course, some witches were older and no doubt scary figures because, then as now, they were invisible in a patriarchal world where women’s main usefulness was and still is considered to be giving sexual pleasure to men, even if it’s only in a man’s imagination. Wise older women, because they were not subject to a male gaze, must have seemed like they magically appeared in public places, and this may well have caused civic and religious leaders to wonder how they got around so quickly and invisibly.

As for the story of broom-riding,