After the transformational shift of the Fall Equinox, as we delve deeper into autumnal feelings, we start to see the world around us shift. Leaves change color, we begin to pile on layers feeling the brisk change in the wind’s breath, and children have excited conversations about Halloween. But when we take a step back from the store-bought candy, tricks or treats, and crafty costumes, it’s easy to see the deeply embedded influence of the natural world around us and its impact on the traditions and customs we enjoy around Halloween.
We see it in the bones decorating yards, the ghosts made out of sheets and the skeleton costumes worn by children. This display of the very structure of our beings mirrors the structures that hold up this Earth, and the continents, mountains and soil that sustain the bones in our bodies.
The veil between the worlds becomes thin with the idea of death playing a central part in the traditions of this holiday. Spending time in graveyards, putting tombstones in the front yard and dressing up as ghosts are all ways we connect with the last stage of life, honoring the cycle that is.
The connection with other-worldly creatures deepens with people dressing up like guardians of the Earth as fairies, witches and gnomes. Costumes reflect our desire to connect with nature; humans transform into wild cats, wolves, dogs, and bumblebees. This costuming is one more way to bring out our innate creativity, connecting us with the essence of life.
Our time in nature transitions from river dips to gentle hikes, crunching leaves along the path. We flock to corn mazes, getting lost in symmetrical towers of the abundance of the Earth’s gifts. We take outings to pumpkin patches collecting the round, robust squash of the season. Cutting them open to carve our creativity into their flesh and forming faces to turn vegetation into jack o'lanterns. What pleasure to scoop out seeds, digging our hands into the guts of this scrumptious squash. We bob for apples submerging ourselves in the element of water, searching for the Earth’s fruits, her natural candy and sweetest treasure.
Eerie trees like sorrowful weeping willows become one of the symbols for our Halloween festivities. We adorn ourselves with wreaths of garlic, warding off vicious vampires and turning beautiful bats into a reminder of these blood-sucking savages. Spooky!
Graceful, wise birds become a common theme in examining the creatures that become symbols of autumn. Cunning crows cultivate a curious spirit in children. Ogling owls with eyes open wide remind us to stay alert and take in our surroundings, letting the beauty of fall saturate our beings.
Black cats become the sidekick for broom-toting witches. While it’s said one shouldn't let these creatures cross your path, you can bet your backside I’ll be giving one a playful pet if it happens to come and say hello.
During Halloween, we make witness to the shift as the extension of our roots sprout through the Earth, enjoying our harvest and the culmination of the Earth’s efforts.
Whether you’re in a city or suburb, farm or forest, the influence of nature in how we celebrate Halloween is apparent. It’s all around us. We invite you to honor this connection by opting for sustainable options when choosing how you celebrate.
Get crafty and create you and your family’s costumes through goodies you find at thrift stores, at home or by swapping with friends. Opt for fresh home-baked goods made from bulk-sourced ingredients versus packaged candies. Encourage your kids (and yourself) to “trick or treat” in nature. Point out the various changes that nature undergoes as we move through fall. Show your little ones how the transition of the seasons changes our environment. Gather the Earth’s gifts - twigs, feathers, stones, bark, and leaves. Use these elements to decorate your home. Celebrate and honor the history of Halloween by minimizing waste, all while getting your creative juices flowing.
This is a time to connect with nature, connect with your family, and connect with other parts of yourself that come out in full force this time of year.