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White: Embrace the spirit of the season

With Halloween on the horizon, it’s as good a time as any to get in touch spiritually.
Image by Shalom Berhane
According to some local shop owners and workers, the Midwest has one of the largest Pagan communities outside of Salem, Oregon.

Leaves have turned, and carved pumpkins decorate yards. Halloween is just around the corner, but, for some, this holiday is a little deeper than spooky costumes and free candy.

The origins of Halloween are closely related to that of Samhain (pronounced SAH-win), a Pagan holiday of the Celtic people celebrating the end of harvest season and a transition into the colder season.

Jake Ryan — known as J. Ryan locally — is a tarot card reader and spiritual consultant at The Eye in Minneapolis. The walls of The Eye are filled with assorted crystals, herbs, candles and books to guide the uninitiated through their spiritual journey. After passing through a curtain of beads, you find Ryan’s room. There, at a small table in front of a shelf of crystal balls and other assorted mystical goodies, he performs his readings.

“Samhain is essentially the new year,” Ryan, a practitioner of Slavic Witchcraft, said. “It’s supposed to be very spiritual in that the veil is thinnest in this time of year.”

The veil he referenced is thought of as a barrier between the living and the spirit world. In the fall months, it is said to be at its thinnest, allowing for more crossover between the two. This plays a part in the obsession with ghosts and ghouls during Halloween.

Ryan said the Minneapolis area has one of the biggest Pagan communities outside of Salem, Oregon.

“The Midwest is crawling with Witches,” Ryan said. “What we do here is foster community to come together under the umbrella of Witchcraft or Paganism.”

Often, when discussing Witchcraft or less conventional versions of spirituality, people get very hung up on magic and spellcraft. While that can be a large part of how people express themselves spiritually, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

“There are certainly people who are enchanted by the magic element of things,” Ryan said. “But when you are in a reading, in a session or seeing a ritual, there’s something about community spirituality and coming together that feels innately powerful and impactful.”

Community plays a huge part in everything in life. To have that support in a venture to explore yourself and your spiritual beliefs is truly invaluable.

A huge draw to the Pagan and Witch communities is a disillusionment or a dissatisfaction with religion, Ryan said. “A lot of folks come to Witchcraft or Pagan practices because of religious trauma,” he said. “They are looking for answers that more deeply resonate with themselves.”

Anna Gleason works at Magus Books in Minneapolis, a bookstore and herb shop that specializes in the spiritual. A huge step someone can take to get in touch with their spirituality is meditating on their intentions and working to bring them toward realization, Gleason, who describes herself as an eclectic witch, said.

“Meditation is a part of all religion, even in prayer,” she said.

Finding spirituality outside of organized religion can be individually rewarding. Instead of following your family’s path, you’re finding your own form of spirituality.

Heather Kraemer is the manager at Awakenings, a metaphysical shop in Minneapolis.

“The biggest thing to remember is nobody’s word is law,” Kraemer said. “It’s your job to find what works for you, what resonates. It’s totally in your hands.”

Herbs, candles and crystals are a huge draw to these stores. Even searching for these spiritual supplies can be therapeutic.

“Typically the things that call to you, that you keep going back to … those are typically the ones that have chosen you back,” Kraemer said of the spiritual objects that can be found in her store.

Whether the different candles and crystals found at Awakenings actively choose you and connect with you on a metaphysical level is up for debate. What isn’t up for debate is the connection that can be achieved in these communities, whether it is with those around you or a deeper connection with the self.

Sage leaves under your pillow may not make your dreams come true, and sprinkling cinnamon outside your door may not protect your home, but the magic from the communities of witchcraft and Paganism comes from the connections built within them.

The search for some kind of greater power to connect to is a universal one. Those who can find it within themselves and the people around them are truly lucky.

These hubs of spirituality often hold community events, like Psychic Sunday at The Eye. Psychic Sunday is a community Samhain celebration, complete with shopping and tarot reading. Their next Psychic Sunday will be held Oct. 30.

You don’t have to start brewing potions, burning sage leaves or setting curses to explore your spirituality. The veil is thinning after all, so why not get in touch with your spiritual side?

Get in the holiday spirit, meditate a bit and see what connection you can find within yourself to the world around you. If you’re feeling up to it, maybe even try to find some connection with the world beyond.

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