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We saw this card last month, but here she is again. While it’s true that the word “witch” had a negative connotation for centuries, now she is usually seen as a force for change and the power each person has to make change for his or herself.

Currently, I’m reading Alice Hoffman’s Magic Lessons, which is a second prequel to her well-known book (and movie) Practical Magic. Once again, her stories remind me that the ability to manifest change in one’s life – and to help others make change in theirs – is one of the most significant powers of a witch. Claim it for yourself.

Blessings and have a lovely weekend!

THE WITCH – The earthly weaver of the worlds

Earth, Air, Fire, Water
A woman lovely, a woman strange
Weaver of the worlds, moon’s daughter
Witch: The catalyst for change

Witches have had bad PR for a couple of millennia now. Originally the healers or cunning women of the village, the very word “witch” is believed to come from the Celtic word “wicce” meaning weaver or wise.** When the new religion of Christianity spread through the land, the custodians of the old Pagan ways, in part witches, were labeled as evil and – as we know from history – persecuted. They were driven underground (or under the night sky) into the shadows of misunderstanding and darkness.

However, for the purpose of Halloween, let’s look at witches as the weavers of magic and change. Through spells and rituals and even through herbal recipes (yes, often brewed in a cauldron), they weave the powers of this world and the next in synergy to solve problems and heal.

Holding the Witch card means that you can weave your own change throughout life and that magic indeed is afoot! You must understand that you have power and it is real. It may also indicate that others may be threatened by your developing personal power and that they may not appreciate or like the changes in you as you grow. Be prepared for this and do not be discouraged. New friends and better opportunities will be attracted instead.

The Halloween Oracle by author Stacey Demarco and artist Jimmy Manton

** This is the oracle author’s view. The etymology of the word “witch” is actually much more complicated than this, and debate goes on about it. I suggest looking it up in the Online Etymology Dictionary and historical sources.

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More now than ever, we need time dedicated to play and having fun. It helps deal with the stresses of everyday life, which have increased for most of us this year. We may have to be more creative than normal to accomplish this, but it is worth the effort.

Blessings!

TRICK-OR-TREAT – Mischief and play

Stalking and stomping
Eyes shining and begging baskets
Faces and bodies
that are no longer ours
Laughing, skeletons and candy caskets

Trick-or-treating is such a fun thing to do, is it not? Yet, why do we trick-or-treat?

Ancient peoples understood that there were both mischievous and perhaps nasty spirits wandering around at nightfall at Halloween as well as happier, more benevolent spirits. They thought that if they dressed as spirits themselves (or other frightening creatures) then they would not be recognized as human and attacked. The idea of causing a little chaos as one of these “spirits” was part of the imitation (and the enjoyment) of thenight. The practice in medieval Britain was aptly called “souling.”

Today, trick-or-treating is a huge event. We spend much time, money, and effort dressing up as our scariest creatures and this has even extended to dressing up as our favorite celebrities and other pop culture idols. Instead of traditional candy apples and barmbrack, we give out a mind-boggling variety of candy. It matters not – the idea of frightening away death and darkness still stands.

I believe that the modern trick-or-treating also unites communities by introducing our families and friends to those around us in a non-threatening and joyful way. Many of us do not know our neighbors – even those who live next door – and Halloween gives us an excuse not to be so reserved and extend our boundaries.

Should you receive the Trick-or-Treat card in your divination, it may well be a time to examine your own life. You don’t have to be a child to let go and have some playtime and you can extend the fun to others. Sometimes we are afraid to make mistakes and play is one way to alleviate the pressure that we sometimes place on ourselves to get everything perfect every time. Alternatively, it is worth knowing that there is a balance between manipulation and mischief – the former is not pleasant and the other has at its core a sense of irreverent fun.

The Halloween Oracle by author Stacey Demarco and artist Jimmy Manton

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It’s never a bad idea to consider your community and whether you need to give it more energy or to change it a bit. Community is what supports us when we need it, but you have to supportive to those in your community too – it’s a two-way street.

Also, perhaps you have outgrown some of those you’ve built your community around; it’s not a bad thing to move on from negative people or those who aren’t maturing or moving forward in life as you might be. Admittedly, it can be hard to make these changes, but it opens up time and room for those who will make a better community for you and your family.

Blessings!

SPIDER – Community and web weaving

She spins her silk alone
In the dark with hope of collection
Sticky with dreams,
Weaving the worlds
A wide web of connection

Masses of sticky spider webs make any Halloween decorations complete. The idea of a haunted house covered in the “artwork” of a big, hairy spider is classic horror. Even those of us who appreciate our eight-legged friends still hurriedly brush off those stealthy webs if we run into them in the dark!

Although most spiders are not venomous, humans have an innate fear of them. Perhaps it’s the fangs or the poison. Perhaps it’s all those legs and the way they move. Perhaps it’s where they live – often in dark, hidden places – or the way our Western, popular culture has demonized them by making them giant, fierce, and man-eating! Some cultures though revere the spider in very positive ways. In many Native American traditions, for example, the spider is the creature that gives birth to all other animals and sustains the web of life. The Goddess Spider Grandmother (and there is also a Spider Woman) is a key deity that brings wisdom, safety, and communication to all the tribes. She created and wove all the stars in the sky and makes soft webs for those that are troubled to rest upon and be supported by.

Spiders’ webs can be seen as a symbol of connection, not necessarily entrapment. There is a fine line sometimes between a family or community supporting us and controlling is. This card looks at this discernment. It also suggests you review the way you communicate with the wider community, at work, or generally with others and take steps to improve this or do it slightly differently. It also indicates that there needs to be a balance between what you do for yourself and what you do for others . . . if we give too much to the outside, our strength diminishes and we cannot weave the supporting web for ourselves.

The Halloween Oracle by author Stacey Demarco and artist Jimmy Manton

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This is timely for our family as we will be setting up our Beloved Dead Altar this week. Taking time to remember those who came before us is helpful with mourning, ancestral healing, and inspiring us to be the kind of ancestor people will want to remember and honor.

THE LAMP – Remembrance

I light a single candle
Within a lamp for you
A single flame in the darkness
That reflects my heart so true.

While it is a tradition to carve a jack-o-lantern to scare away the spirits, it was an older tradition still to light a candle or a lamp on Halloween night and leave it at the window as a loving guide for those who have passed.

Both as a symbol of remembrance and also as a kind of “leaving the lights on” for those who may wish to come home, the lamp was left on to illuminate the night and perhaps even the sadness that was felt because of the passing.

This card reminds us that it is a positive thing to remember those who have passed by celebrating their life rather than mourning their death. For those with whom we did not have an easy relationship or even those we did not like, leave us with valuable lessons. Sometimes, we learn more from our nemesis than we do from our friends and so the darkness can illuminate our strengths and our true values so that we can live them ore clearly and fully.

The Halloween Oracle by author Stacey Demarco and artist Jimmy Manton

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We think of our muscles and flesh as what gives us strength, but in reality the skeleton that lies beneath all that is the structure that gives us the core of our strength and movement. As a metaphor, it works well to remind us that we have strength within us that we do not see everyday. We can face the world – and ourselves (which can often be more difficult) – as long as we remember that there is true strength within us.

Blessings and have a great Monday!

SKELETON – Strength

On the outside is flesh
On the inside is bone
There is strength in vulnerability
In power we have grown

Halloween is a scary festival. It is meant to frighten. We are meant to feel the release of being pleasantly scared. We trick-or-treat even though we know that someone may surprise us, we watch horror films knowing they will scare us, we even dress as skeletons who have no flesh at all and their bones are there for all to see! In short, we show our vulnerability at Halloween and our strength in facing our fears too.

There is incredible strength in showing vulnerability. It can often be the bravest course of action and the most frightening. More often than not, it is a powerful catalyst for person growth even though we may not be able to perceive that at the time.

By showing our true selves and displaying some balanced vulnerability, we can seek and receive greater understanding from others. By admitting that we are wrong or that we don’t have the solution when we are expected to, we leave more room to turn things around faster. By asking for help and support rather than acting as martyrs and feeling resentful shows strength and wisdom, not weakness.

Should the Skeleton card bring itself to your attention, dare to show strength and vulnerability if that is what you really feel. Shame, pride, or embarrassment are heft burdens that need not be carried through the darkest of nights.

The Halloween Oracle by author Stacy Demarco and artist Jimmy Manton

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We saw this card not too long ago, so we may need a reminder of how we are expending our energy. Is there someone demanding too much of it from you? Are you not doing the things you need to do to recharge (admittedly, it is difficult right now for extroverts to charge safely)? Remember that this time of year is partially about preparing for the darkest time of year – make sure not to ignore the emotional aspect of this.

Blessings and have a great weekend!

VAMPIRE – Emotional Intelligence

The deepest, the coldest
The evening of the blood
The hole never filled
The longing like a flood

While there are almost uncountable examples of vampires in literature, movies, and games, somehow the archetype of the blood-hunting, night-stalking, and somewhat elegant creature keeps being reinvented to seduce yet another generation.

Although the beautiful and somewhat desirable vampire form doesn’t really begin to enter the public consciousness until the mid-1800s, the idea of a human feeding upon the very stuff of life is much older. The Egyptians, Sumerians, Indians and the Balkan people all have mythos containing vampire-like creatures.

The vampire is an interesting figure because it is both horrifying and desirable. Having someone want us so much that they desire to be that closely linked with us does feel good – until we realize there is nothing much left of us to give.

Most of us have heard of the concept of emotional vampirism – the idea that people feed off our energy and our goodwill and take advantage of us through manipulation and their incessant neediness.

Should the Vampire card appear in your reading, it may indicate that you are being drained in this way and the time has come for stronger boundaries. We need to be very aware of what gives us energy in our lives and what takes it away. We should be aware of needing people to need us and why we invite people like this into our homes, workplaces, and lives, if indeed we have them around us. Developing the emotional intelligence without ourselves helps us defend against this kind of emotional and psychic attack and enables us to foster healthy equal relationships of all kinds.

The Halloween Oracle by author Stacey Demarco and artist Jimmy Manton

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Good Thursday! I hope the day finds you well and ready to discover or rediscover some talents you have hidden away. Grab the key and unlock your potential – even if its just for something you enjoy yourself.

Blessings!

NIGHTSONG – Hidden talents

A ruby red bird singing
In the darkness full of sound
Like an unopened present
Ribbons still bound.

A bird singing at night is an unusual occurrence and those birds who are known as “singers of the darkness” are almost always considered sacred – or frightening! From the operatic nightingale to the hooting owl, hearing a bird that you cannot see weaving its magic through the night sky has captivated humans for millennia.

In the past, at Halloween time, a night that the veil between the worlds was said to be at its thinnest, these night birds were considered either omens or messengers of the gods. Depending on the culture, their voices were perceived as good luck and a positive validation or, alternatively, a warning about continuing on a certain pathway. In some mythology, the night bird was able to direct us toward discovering our talents and true purpose – a kind of guide in the darkness leading us to the dawn.

Should this beautiful but shy bird sing to you by appearing during your divination, know that you must unwrap the present of yourself. Look! Some of the gifts within you remain unopened. The time has come to step into your true potential and claim all possibilities for yourself. There is no more time to waste. No more excuses!

The Halloween Oracle by author Stacey Demarco and artist Jimmy Manton

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This lady represents some things that have very much been the cause of contention in some places lately. Why is it so hard to accept someone who is different from us? Though many say they do not see color (or religion or sexual orientation), the fact is that many of us do struggle to not label people and treat them as an equal human. Let’s keep working on it, shall we?

Blessings!

LADY DE LOS MUERTOS – Acceptance & Equality

Pale, you step out of the night
In red lace,
Full flowers upon your crown. 
You bring the beauty to death
The equality and joy
Of the underground

The iconic lady of death, with a pale skull-like face, zombie eyes and rich red funeral flowers in her hair has become one of the most recognizable symbols of Halloween and the Mexican Day of the Dead, El Dia de los Muertos.

The original model for this flamboyant lady of death can be traced back to the ancient Aztec goddess Mictecacihuatl. As time went on, the figure remained balanced between beauty and horror, and morphed into the Lady of the Dead and eventually into the more modern graphic figure of “Catrina.” It is also reported that the identity of the original “Catrina” was bawsed on women who were very rich and had everything they wanted in this life. Yet, death takes everyone, equally, so it was a reminder that no matter how beautiful, rich, popular, or famous you were – in the end, death takes all.

The Mexican culture has a long-standing history of “laughing at death” and seeing it as just another aspect of life. In some ways, death is the last taboo in many Western cultures. We tend to hide away our dying and some of us may never even see the body of someone who has passed in our whole lives, but this was a much more common occurrence in the past.

Acknowledging that death is a natural process that will enter everyone’s life at some time and that perhaps, until then, choosing to be life affirming takes away much of the fear. Take a light approach to a situation initially and it may work out better. If you are holding on to something that does not serve you any longer – in particular materials things – simplify and let go.

The Halloween Oracle by author Stacey Demarco and artist Jimmy Manton

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Sometimes, our lives can get on a joyless cycle of work and responsibility. We must find time – especially NOW – to find joy and peace in everyday moments. Play with the kids or pets, watch a comedy, take a walk in a garden, play a game online with friends – find something that brings you joy so life doesn’t become a circle of dull monotony.

Blessings!

I stand here,
I am where I am,
Fully alive and present
Stress is a sham

Besides the “HOOOOOOO” of a not-so-scary trick-or-treating ghost on Halloween evening, one of the most common sounds you’ll hear is laughter. There is so much joy at Halloween and it can be one of the most fun nights of the year if we allow that into our lives.

We lead busy lives: whether we are studying, running a household, have a demanding job, or all of them at once, it seems there is little time for us to stop, be present, and enjoy exactly where we are at this time. It has been said that the first step of real change is stopping and acknowledging that we actually need change. While sometimes we might feel that there is little to feel happy about and much to change, we can always feel grateful for something right now – and there is power in that position.

It is time to find the joy in this moment and to find that joy more often. Should this card come up in your divination, it heralds arrival of more happiness and profound joy into your life. It is a good omen!

Actively seek pleasure and build in more of the things that give you personal joy and laughter in your life. After all, we build in appointments for the dentist, so why not for our own pleasure?

The Halloween Oracle by author Stacey Demarco and artist Jimmy Manton

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Our family enjoyed an autumn retreat at a state park in the Ozark area this weekend. We were long overdue for a getaway like this, and I’m feeling refreshed and stronger than I have in a long time after a couple good hikes. It was definitely a change of pace that we needed!

Speaking of change (yes, horrid segue), we saw this card suggesting change less than a month ago, but perhaps some of us didn’t get the message?

MUMMY – “Change”

The sand in his mouth
The bandage wound
Jealous of the living
Eternal life bound

The ancient Egyptians took death very seriously. Death was not seen as many of us see it – a finality to be dreaded – but as just the beginning of a new life and often eternal life, in a better place, the “afterlife.”

The practice of honoring and preserving the body through a complex process of mummification was central to ancient Egyptian culture. This was not just a physical embalming process but a carefully enacted ritual process that ensured preservation in the next world. Many other cultures also mummified their dead including the Incas, the Argentineans, the Maori, and many cultures of the Torres Straight Islands.

In our modern horror genres, the mummy has become an icon. From early horror writing at the turn of the century to the very popular films The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, the plot normally revolves around the mummy returning to life and cursing and hunting down the living. The discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tombs and other long-hidden Egyptian treasures in the 1920s in particular sparked an explosion in mummy-related films and literature.

Should you pull the moaning Mummy card from the deck, know that change is inevitable and that no matter how hard you try, things will not be preserved exactly the same way. The card also indicates that this change will be for the better. The endings, the closed doors, the barriers? This is just a healthy pause and and an indication that a change of tactics is needed. You are not cursed – you have just developed a pattern. You can take control and change.

The Halloween Oracle by author Stacey Demarco and artists Jimmy Manton

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