Bide The Wiccan Law Ye Must,
In Perfect Love, In Perfect Trust.
Eight Words The Wiccan Rede Fulfill:
An Ye Harm None, Do As Ye Will.
And Ever Mind The Rule Of Three:
What Ye Send Out, Comes Back To Thee.
Follow This With Mind And Heart,
And Merry Ye Meet, And Merry Ye Part.
Oh there you are come gather around this friendly balefire. Don’t the flames smell absolutely wonderful, burning brightly with the woods of apple, oak and ash and scented with fresh branches of lavender , wild sage and rosemary? It’s a beautiful evening , cool and crisp and I’ve laid bales of fragrant fresh hay all around where we can sit. The waxing crescent moon is hanging by a silvery thread in the sky and the woods are quiet, except for the disconcerting sense that we are not alone. I’ve brought homemade ale which is laced with nutmeg , fresh honey and apples. The tureen is filled with steaming hot pumpkin soup, laced with curry and cumin and the last of the season’s sweet corn is roasting by the edges of the fire waiting to be drenched in the melted butter that has been laced with the disarmingly sexual flavor of black truffles and salt.
Because it’s Halloween, I have to have candy corn and homemade spicy caramel apples!
The winds are stirring tonight and if you listen carefully they will tell you anything that you need to know. Take a deep breath, notice the smells that come to you. Yes, we are in the deep woods and there are the familiar sounds of animals curling in the brush and the smells of wet leaves, rutting deer and apples . The animal that is me is also aware of fragrances that don’t belong. Sweet smells that I don’t recognize, strange skin scents and pungent , decaying smells that make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck . An owl flies past silently as they are prone to do, wings strong and the shriek of it’s prey breaks the still night. It is all part of the great dance among the strands of the web of life. Tonight is All Hallows eve and the veil between the worlds is so very thin. It’s true, you are closer to the dead tonight than any other time of the year. Dead ancestors, dead dreams, I know that for many the mysterious end to that which we call life is truly frightening, but I’ve always thought the latter to be much scarier. My mother whose memory I honor tonight used to tell me that those who are afraid to die are instead truly terrified to live. I remember once kissing a man and knowing immediately that his soul was dead. His cruel lips pulled the air from my lungs, his fairly vampiric essence flooded my veins and in that instant I knew. I ran away fast, scared for my very life. There is no smell on earth more putrid than the scent of the living dead. It’s not a scent I’ve ever forgotten. Sometimes by the time you’ve figured it out it’s too late. Sometimes you have to die a bit yourself before you learn the lesson.
Halloween is a special time for me....it’s the time of year that I simply stop and remember everything and especially in this year which has been filled with unexpected endings I feel the need for pause. Samhain or as you’ll know it , “Halloween”, is the Wiccan New Year and I am a witch. I really do believe in magic. Halloween is my time for deep reflection and divination, the time to honor endings and a time for us all to cast powerful new wishes. Tonight we’ll look to the night sky to dream of peace and a prosperous world. Our creed is to harm none, we are the keepers of the earths secrets. For years we’ve been the healers, the herbalists and the perfumers who walk unnoticed among you. We tend the gardens. We mix the potions that make life just a bit more interesting. For years we’ve lived cloaked in secrecy, afraid to be known.
Please don’t be afraid and be filled with the knowing that there is no magic without love and don’t be fooled. We are all capable of bewitching, some of us just come by it a bit more naturally then others. The very nature of magic is enchanting. The true nature of enchantment is sweet fun. Yes we witches are mischievous, but it’s born from a deep need to celebrate life. This is the one time of year when the beginning and end of the wheel of life meet, so you can hardly blame us for wanting to have a bit of fun! We love to dress up, all that black is simply good for a bit of mysterious, good-natured fun. I for one cannot resist a flowing cape of any kind or deep smoky black eyeliner worn like Kim Novak in the classic movie, Bell, Book and Candle and I have to wear velvet as much as possible. I use my makeup to cast a spell of seduction and power or sometimes to be invisible. I adore talismans of all kinds, crystals and gems and I stuff my pockets with acorns and pennies, rocks and feathers that I cannot resist picking up for unexplained reasons. I have an almost unnatural love of cats. In the playful words of my favorite movie “Practical Magic” lies what I believe to be a simple truth, ” that there is a little witch in every woman”. I believe that there’s a little witch in every man too, I’m married to one. I found the only man in the world that I couldn’t control and then I married him. He enchanted me the instant I saw him, I’ve been incredibly spellbound by him for almost 30 years. He lets me tempt him over and over again with the most delightfully fragrant potions, he in turn entices me to believe that I am the most beautiful woman alive. By now all of you know just how much I love perfume and I use it abundantly like we all do, to bring about a mood, to cast a spell, to enchant, to allure, to weave a story. Tonight I’m wearing Annick Goutal’s very sexy , very witchy Mandragore , a scent which my husband adores. I love it’s strangely metallic, almost bloody yet warm blend of bergamot, black pepper and spearmint layered with boxwood, sage , pink peppercorn, star anise and ginger. The musky , sexual allure of Mandragore comes from the alchemical presence of the European mandrake which has been used for centuries as a powerful narcotic and an aphrodisiac, as well as to promote fertility and cure impotence. It’s perfect for an evening such as this one where we are playing with all of our senses.
Yes, sometimes I think that people are afraid of witches simply because our very nature is bestial, sensual and earthy. No, I will not steal your husband or seduce your son. Be warned though , I may flirt with them a bit and I’ll probably flirt with you too. I can’t help myself, I love to tease and provoke using inspiration as my wand and love as my muse. As a delicious southern enchantress I know is fond of telling her husband, “Darlin, I don’t care where you get your appetite as long as you come home to eat”. I don’t mean you any harm and my wish for you is unbridled passion and joy. Magic for me is happiness, playfulness and tenderness. It’s about knowing that there are some things that you can control and many things that you can’t. It’s about acceptance and taking care of others as you would want to be cared for yourself. It’s about living powerfully with all in the world , not being afraid to see all that the world has to offer. It’s about being at peace with the duelistic nature of creativity and destruction. It’s about creating your own reality, not waiting for it or someone else to create you.
So dance with me for a bit, come find your inner witch. For you I’ve brought a sterling mug filled with my favorite brew. Be careful it’s very very hot. It’s made from steaming milk and fragrant dark chocolate, agave nectar, allspice, cinnamon, a touch of vanilla for passion and a lusty shot of tequila to enable you see between the worlds.
Sip it slowly , savor it’s smoky aroma and tell me, What would you like to create this year?
Annick Goutal Mandragore can be found at Saks Fifth Avenue
Photograph of Mandragore from www.annickgoutal.com. Painting by John William Waterhouse