I am Trying to Save Money and It is Hard

Spending Fast | Whisper  Howl  #spendingfast #saving #whisperandhowl #bujo #bulletjournal

In the last couple of years, I’ve realized the utter necessity of saving money. I have kept up a budget for nearly 2 years; have maintained an Emergency Savings fund at around $1000; and I’ve finally got an IRA. These things are all very empowering and have definitely reduced some money-stress. A good witch should be in control of her finances! However, I have not  been able to increase my general savings or save up for any items or experiences I crave, such as an overseas trip or a harmonium. Since my position (and hours, and pay) was reduced to part time in October, I’ve been trying to earn a few extra bucks here and there while searching for full time work in my field. I’ve also been using my credit card much more often than I’d like–I’d love to never use it at all–and utilizing my Emergency Savings fund for Important Things like rent and utilities, when needed.

In December it occurred to me that I should cut way down on my spending, which to be fair was already moderate, and work on building my savings and setting money aside for goals like travel. To that end, I’ve been attempting a Spending Fast. I say attempting because so far, I’m not great at it. Actually, I’m not doing a Spending Fast so much as I am trying to live within my significantly reduced means.

Enter the Spending Fast, created by Anna from And Then We Saved, which as you can imagine is a blog about saving money. She used the system to pay off debt. I just need to get through. I do think, though, that it’s easier to save with a plan (saying “I’m on a Spending Fast!” feels nicer than “I’m broke.”) and that if I can do this then I actually could pay off this new credit card debt and possibly (gasp!) save some money.

The system is simple:

Don’t spend money on anything that you don’t categorize as a Need. If you look at her list, you can see that she used fantastic resolve in eliminating “wants.” My list, however, includes such “needs” as sewing classes, which I love more than anything and refuse to give up (plus I’d lose my spot, which I waited to get for a whole year!) and Netflix (justifiable since it saves me money on going out, I SWEAR). I’m also not giving up acupuncture. Nope.

See why I’m not great at this?

Some things are harder to give up than others. “Specialty food items” could be like, half my grocery budget if you consider my dietary restrictions and my penchant for expensive pickles. Fortunately, I developed a taste for kitchari last summer and lentils are cheap. It’s tough for me to avoid buying art supplies and fabric, but I stocked up on fabrics in advance and people have been giving me their old stashes (thank you!).

I’m basically coming in at the exact amount I’m making without adding anything to my normal budget categories such as “Mad Money” (for miscellaneous things), “Entertainment” and “Miscellaneous Personal” (for cosmetics, toiletries, candles, etc). I’m trying really hard not to buy “Books and Magazines” and to make all my “Gifts” from materials I already have (like that fabric stash). I am really interested, though, in trying to keep to this very low budget once I do find that elusive full time job, or more part time work. When my resources increase, can I apply that extra cash to my debt and savings?

I did an okay job of Fasting in December, but January was harder. I did not do well. I spent a lot of money on eating out and going to bars, which I don’t usually do. I got a new job (!) and bought myself some presents to celebrate (oops). For February, I should make a little more money because of my tax return and some extra babysitting gigs, but I also have a work trip to NYC and I went ahead and budgeted for dining out, which is inevitable, and added a little money to my Entertainment and Mad Money categories. I’d rather be realistic than pretend I’m Fasting and end up way over budget.

My plan now is to really, truly start paying off my credit card debt and building my savings from March 1st onward. I set some goals, which will help. It seems like my astrological forecast for this year has a lot to do with money and resources, too. I’m excited to finally save some money (and maybe take a big trip!). I’m going to buckle down, I swear. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Winter Capsule Wardrobe!

I’m back! I took an unintentionally long break from writing and I have returned to my desk with lots of ideas, my new Bullet Journal, some photos and a cup of Emergen-C (grown-up Koolaid). I intend on posting regularly from now on, starting with my WINTER CAPSULE!

Winter Capsule Wardrobe! on Whisper & Howl #whisper& howl #winter #capsule #wardrobe #fashion

I did the process a little differently this time. I did not fill out the Un-Fancy Wardrobe Planner. I did a little bit of Colette’s Wardrobe Architect, mostly pinning inspirational photos. Actually, I did sort of a hybrid of these 2 tools, which I will develop into a helpful guide for future use. Mostly, though, I just went through my closet and sorted out my cold-weather clothes and pushed the warmer-weather clothes to the back of the closet. There were several dresses in there that I had forgotten about and have worked into my wardrobe. I also have extensive sewing plans, which will add several very wearable pieces. Here’s a list of what I’ve got:

Finally, my Winter Capsule Wardrobe! on Whisper & Howl #whisper&howl #capsule #wardrobe #winter #fashion

This wardrobe developed organically from what I already own. I added 6 sweaters: a long dark green cardigan, a cozy red sweater, a yellow one (my favorite accent color), all new; 2 oversized men’s sweaters from the local thrift store, and a fisherman’s sweater than I bought for my Dad in Ireland years ago and have claimed as my own. I also bought 2 pairs of flannel-lined leggings which I am counting as tights/underwear rather than wardrobe items, but which are really wonderful and snuggly, and some new socks. The socks are Kirkland Signature from Costco, which the internet tells me are made by Wigwam and are an amazing deal.

For silhouettes, I am into skinny jeans with big sweaters, ankle boots and warm socks; shift dresses or fitted skirts with over-sized sweaters, leggings or tights, socks and ankle boots; and circle skirts or fit-and-flare dresses with cropped sweaters or jackets, tights/leggings, socks and ankle boots. I’ve been wearing the same GAP ankle boots every day and they are definitely going to fall apart this year. I will be replacing them with a nicer model in the Fall. I have 2 cropped sweatshirts on my sewing list, which I will talk more about in another post.

Obsessed with my ankle boots | Winter Capsule Wardrobe on Whisper & Howl #winter #capsule #wardrobe #fashion #ankle #boots

I’ll collect some outfit photos as the Winter wears on. I may have to deviate from capsule wardrobe “rules” of only buying items once a season, in order to snag some Bean or duck boots if I can find a good pair on eBay. It’s going to be a wet winter and if I’m going to keep up my ankle boot streak, I will need something sturdier.

So, that’s it! For Spring, I’ll share more of my process. I’m pretty sure I won’t be buying anything, since I got so much new stuff last Spring and since sewing is way more fun than shopping.

Have you started a capsule yet? What are your Winter go-to pieces? 

Years

Goodbye, 2015. You were a great nasty beast of a Teacher. Thank you for all of your lessons.

Hi, 2016. I am so happy to meet you! If you could take it easy on the real heavy shit, that would be nice.

Love to you both!

Full Witch Reading List

Books to blow your Beautiful minds

Full Witch Reading List | Whisper & Howl #readinglist #fullwitch #whisper&howl #self-care #greenbeauty #sacredfeminine #tarot #astrology

Over the years, I’ve amassed a collection of poignant, insightful, lovely and enlightening books that have led me down the Full Witch path. I’ve created a list of some of the best books on topics from sacred feminism to green beauty. I am linking to them on Goodreads rather than Amazon, to encourage you to seek them out in small, local new and used bookstores or your public library. I will continue to update this list as my mind is blown by new reads.

The Sacred Feminine

And of course, sacred feminism.

YOGA and Other Wisdom

Astrology

Self-Care

This is a category that would be called Self-Help if that particular heading didn’t hold strange and sad connotations. These books are manuals for self-love, empowerment, compassion and power. Most follow a format I find incredibly useful: personal stories, examples from clients/friends, tactics and techniques. All have changed my life in a powerful, positive way.

Green Beauty and Natural Health

Tarot and Other Oracles

 

 

DIY Miracle Grains

Treat Yourself to this DIY for soft, radiant skin

Oh, December! I have never had holiday stress until this year, and it is hitting me HARD. This is the first holiday season I’ve had without my Dad. It’s a huge time for my close, loving family, with Thanksgiving (traditionally a feast at our homestead, prepared by Dad), and Dad’s and my littlest sister’s birthdays book-ending Christmas. This season has deepened my sense of loss and heartache even as I am grateful for my family, friends, and the long nights that provide time for the rest I so badly need. It’s also a time when I have spent loads of money on gifts for others and myself as well as on going out with visiting friends. This year, however, I am especially money-poor. I’ve decided to do a Spending Fast at least for December, meaning I spend money on absolutely nothing that isn’t a need (as defined by me–details in a later post).

What this all means is that I am desperate for rest and rejuvenation, preferably of the spa treatment type, and that I must use the resources I already have and be creative with gifts and everything else this month.

So it is a very good thing that I have a cabinet full of ingredients for DIY skincare! I recently had some ladies over to make our own bath products and tried making and using Miracle Grains for the first time. This weekend, treat yourself to an easy at-home facial using this wonderful DIY beauty product. Miracle Grains has only 6 ingredients, is simple to make, and keeps well. It smells wonderful and feels delightfully different. Whip up a big batch and package it in little jars as gifts for friends–or keep it all for yourself!

Miracle Grains DIY | Whisper & Howl #diybeauty #naturalbeauty #diy #spa #whisperandhowl

This recipe will create a batch of dry “grains” that can be mixed with water, honey and/or rosewater to create a facial scrub/cleanser, or left on for several minutes as a face mask. I’ve used it both ways and love it. I recommend mixing the paste in a small bowl, as it is hard to do it in your hands! For an extra luxurious treatment, paint the mixture on your face and leave it to dry. The brush on your face feels magical. As a mask, this would be lovely to use after a steam facial!

Miracle Grains 

(Recipe from Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstar)

Ingredients

• 1 cup oats, finely ground
• 2 cups white clay
• 1/4 cup almonds, finely ground
• 1/8 cup lavender flowers, finely ground
• 1/8 cup rose petals, finely ground

1. Combine all the ingredients and mix well. An electric spice or coffee grinder works well for the oats, lavender and rose petals. I had almond meal on hand from Trader Joe’s. For convenience, store a weeks’ worth of the grains in a container next to the sink, but keep the remainder in the refrigerator or other cool place to preserve their freshness.  A spice jar with a shaker top also works well as a storage container.

2. To use, mix 1–2 teaspoons of the cleansing grains with enough water to make a paste. Gently massage onto your face. Rinse off with warm water after washing, or leave on as a mask until dry and then rinse. Follow up with a toner and face cream or moisturizer for radiant, healthy skin.

I’m going on a mini-silent retreat this weekend while I undertake Advanced Yoga Teacher Training. What are your plans for this first weekend in December?

Unpacking Embodiment

Unpacking Embodiment | thoughts on body issues at Whisper & Howl #whisperandhowl #bodyissues #fullwitch #tarot

I did a Tarot spread last night with these questions:

  1. What is coming forth now?
  2. What is trying to come forth?
  3. How can I get out of my own way (so it can come forth)?

I was surprised by the cards I got, which were:

  1. Judgement
  2. 5 of Cups
  3. Knight of Swords

Roughly, this means that ideas/feelings/issues/etc from the past, possibly that have already been “dealt with” are coming forth; that I will feel disappointed and there will be a need for self-forgiveness; and that the energy will be swift, or perhaps that I should just deal with it swiftly.

I had no idea when I went to bed what this meant, but in my dreams (which I can’t really remember), there was something about “unpacking” and I woke up thinking “I need to unpack this,” and then when I really really woke up I thought: BODY ISSUES.

This is me, unpacking.

I’ve said recently I don’t have “body issues,” and that is mostly true (inasmuch as anyone can not have them). Mostly, I just decided that I don’t have time for that shit. I see pictures of myself from times in my life when I actively did not appreciate or like my body or the way I looked, and I always looked fine–or even great!–and I decided that I am not going to waste time or energy feeling shitty because of the way I think that I might appear to others.

Because that’s it, really, isn’t it? It’s not about how we look to ourselves. Generally, outside of badly lit photos, I think I look beautiful. I am more comfortable in my body than ever. I like and feel good in my wardrobe, I don’t much care about sizes, and I’m healthier than I’ve been in a long time. I am more in tune with my body and what it feels and needs than ever before. And yet…

I’ve been feeling lonely lately. When I feel lonely, I think about why I am alone. Now, I truly know in my soul that:

  1. I am not alone. There are many people who love and support me, and who think I am wonderful. I am filled with love for my friends and family and with the love they show me.
  2. There is someone out there for me…we just haven’t met yet. And might not for years. But I know he’s there.
  3. I sincerely don’t have the energy to get involved with anyone right now, even though I would enjoy some flirting and attention and all that comes along with that. I don’t think I’ve kissed anyone in at least a year.

Of course, that is just a disclaimer, because I certainly find myself doing the WHY ME?! What is wrong with ME?! Thing. Mostly I just remember that my astrologer told me I have a “strong relational path,” remind myself that I haven’t met the right person, and go about my lovely life. But I always have the underlying, miserable, nagging thought that I’m just not pretty enough. Or not thin enough. There are other things I can spiral into but this one is just so easy. It’s my go-to self-loathing statement.

Why do I feel this way? I want to say that I am a perfectly average, well-dressed, pretty woman, but that doesn’t matter at all. Everyone deserves love! It is out there for everyone. Saying those things about myself inherently implies that I deserve love because I do fit into a standard of beauty, albeit not the super model standard, or the manic pixie dreamgirl standard, or the bookish hipster standard (all of whom, incidentally, are thin and beautiful and have perfect bangs and work out a lot or don’t need to work out and can eat anything they want and are genetically blessed). I want to say, there are plenty of unattractive people who are happily loved!–but that, too, acknowledges this standard and somehow defends its existence by naming it.

My point, I think, is that I still equate deserving love with fitting a patriarchal standard of beauty and womanhood (or girlhood, if I’m honest. There’s not a lot of room for women in patriarchy.). Even if I know the standard is bullshit. Even if I want to crush the patriarchy. Even if I sincerely believe that every single human on this earth deserves love regardless of any physical factors. Even if I do think I’m pretty swell and look beautiful most of the time and even if I don’t really give a shit what other people think about what I look like because I do have some confidence in my own looks. When the loneliness hits, it needs justification, and “not pretty enough” is it. Also “not thin enough.”

There’s a lot I want to say here about the Divine Feminine and Shakti and embodiment. I don’t know if I can get it all out. I am starting to feel embodied. I don’t think most of us do. I think we have bodies-as-containers, bodies that allow us to get through our days and hold our minds. I don’t think most of us truly inhabit our bodies, these wonderfully creative, active, sensual, loving, feeling vessels for our souls. Instead, we objectify ourselves. We view our bodies as status symbols. Like having a fancy car, important job, expensive clothes, and diamond rings, we use our bodies to fit into a hierarchy. We fulfill the standards of beauty to signify our worth.

Bodies are messy. They get dirty. They are beautiful and magical and challenging and perfect. They are loaded with all of our emotional past, our karma, our shaktis, muscle memory, energetic memory. They hurt because we hurt. I want to be more embodied. I want to truly live, breathe, love, move, create, and BE in my body, with my body. I don’t want to think, “I’m not enough.” I want to know deep in my soul that I am exactly enough, that I always have been and always will be. I’ll meet someone one day who agrees and we can be enough together.

Crush the patriarchy.

 

Have a Full Witch Weekend: November 20-22

We’re experiencing unseasonably warm weather in the Ol’ North State, with highs yesterday in the 70s and today in the 60s. There’s nothing unusual about this but it does make dressing complicated. I remember Thanksgivings past playing touch football in shorts and tshirts, or shivering in wool sweaters and coats. It’s always a toss-up. So, while I won’t put this in my official list below, as that would be redundant, I do want to suggest that you spend lots of time outdoors while this warm spell lasts. Soak up that Vitamin D before it’s too late! It’s a good weekend for raking leaves, hiking, running around with the dogs, throwing a Frisbee, or anything that gets you outside and sweating. Or sitting and reading. Whatever. Just go outside!

Here are a few other things you can do to have a solid weekend:

Follow the Stars | Have a Full Witch Weekend with Whisper & Howl #whisper&howl #weekend #fullwitch #weekend #astrology #stars

Follow the Stars

Dive into astrology this weekend (or dip in a toe) and make a decision based on the stars! The current cosmology is as good a reason as any to set a deadline or start date for a new project, make a date for a solitary ritual or gathering of friends, begin a journey or end a trial. I do this sometimes when I just need a nudge towards creating a deadline or getting a start, or if I need to hold off on making a decision. Sometimes not doing anything is the best decision. My point is, if you need to do or not do something but are having trouble, use the stars as a guide. Many cultures use astrology to determine auspicious dates and schedule around them. Give it a try! I’m not saying you have to make huge life decisions this way, but one little thing. Trust me. It’s fun.

Here are some of my favorite astrology sites:

Chani Nicholas

The Astrotwins

The New Paradigm Astrology Cooperative

 

Support Local Farmers

Is there a Farmers Market in your town? If not, you should probably move. If so, grace it with your presence! The Farmers Market is a great place to connect with the people who tend the earth and provide you and yours with sustenance, energy, beauty and flavor. I usually bring $20-40 in cash and spend it all. Sometimes I don’t have a lot of veggies on my list so I get to buy some flowers, tea, jam, coffee, or plants. I like to walk around and check out the options before I settle on any particular vendor.

The Farmers Market is also a great place to get clean meat. If you’re a meat-eater, you should strongly consider getting as much meat as possible from local, organic farmers who give their animals lots of space and healthy feed. If the beef you eat has eaten corn or soy, you are eating corn or soy. You want to consume meat from animals who have been treated well, in the most natural environment possible. Or, don’t eat meat!

Whatever you do, take some time to talk to the farmers and those who are tending the stalls. Learn about what they do and thank them.

 

Sleep In

I know I will.

Doing anything special this weekend? Anything Thanksgiving-y? 

 

 

 

Becoming a Morning Person: The Hard Choice

Becoming a Morning Person | Whisper & Howl | #whisper&howl #morning #sadhana #habits #willpower

Oh, is that what sunrise is?

I think it’s time to revisit my quest to become a Morning Person. It seems that my problem lies not in establishing a routine, having the right alarm clock, or lack of desire. My issue, which is applies to so many more things that this particular trial, is in making a choice.

I had a really good stretch of waking up at 7:30 and doing some ayurvedic cleansing practices, cooking breakfast, doing yoga and mantra, showering etc etc. It felt really nice to have this extra time to myself and I felt prepared for my day, relaxed and easy rather than already behind schedule, frantic and stressed. Those feelings were nice. I like them. I’d like to have that again.

Then, my Dad died. It has been much harder to get out of bed. This is not because I feel depressed or am overcome by sobbing (although the sobbing and anxiety has definitely popped up and I have taken a few mental health days here and there). I haven’t really analyzed what is driving me to hit the snooze alarm until now.

I spent this past weekend in Advanced Yoga Teacher Training studying the Bhagavad Gita. This is a text about karma, which means action. We discussed (and will continue to discuss, intensively) sadhana, or practice. Sadhana consists of the wonderful things we do in our daily yoga practice, including asana (the physical movement), mantra, self-study, meditation, and more. In order to develop a steady sadhana, one has to do it every day. This is…hard.

It’s hard to do something every day! It’s easy to get excited about a practice, especially one like asana that makes you feel fantastic. It’s tempting to dive into a practice whole-heartedly and with commitment. It is much, much harder to sustain a practice. It gets old. It gets stale, Excuses are made, alternative acts performed. We skip days. The practice falls away.

This is what I see happening time and again with my morning routine (and my sadhana, but that’s a different story). It’s not that I have grand plans for what to do with the extra time each morning. I don’t know if it would help to have a plan. What is hard for me is making the hard decision every day.

I love lazing in bed. I think my bed is divine. It’s soft, cozy, comfortable, and safe. I feel safe and nurtured and warm when I’m in bed. When I leave bed, I feel the rush of time, the pressure of commitments, the weight of emotions. I need nurturing, safety, support and comfort in my life. It is difficult to make the choice to climb out of the sweet womb of my bed into the chilly, harsh world–even on days when I wake up feeling great. Even when I am excited to go wherever it is I have to be. Even when it is a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

So, how do I make that choice? What will help me?

Here’s what I’m thinking.

1. Just do it

Oh, gods, that sounds terrible.

We talked this weekend about developing will. I’d never really thought of will as something to be developed. I thought, you either have it or you don’t. My willpower is weak, I thought. I’m just not born with the sort of willpower that creates successful, Type A, morning people.

This is not actually true. What I happen to be weaker in is will development, which I may have just made up. Now I’m thinking that I lack the willpower to develop will. That’s just a rabbit hole of thoughts that I am not trying to climb down right now.

Anyway, how do you develop will? By doing the thing you need to do. By doing it every day. By making the hard choice even though it is hard. By making the hard choice because it is hard. The things that are the best for us aren’t always the easiest. I’ve been told these things become easier with the doing. You get used to making the choice and to the wonderful consequences of making that choice. That’s what they say, anyway (“they” being my teachers and maybe also Lord Krishna).

2. find alternative ways to satisfy needs

I was just typing “making a plan doesn’t work for me,” but I think that’s a little lie. Making a plan may very well work wonders for me if I can just make the hard choice. I don’t, however, think that the plan will help me make the choice. I can review my lovely plans for morning time in my head for many minutes while I lie under my comforter and still choose to snooze for 10 minutes (6 times in a row, which really is not very healthy). But…it could also be that I’ve been going about this the wrong way.

Making a plan has been about finding things that I think would be great to do in the morning, like go for a run, do sadhana, and journal. These are, of course, totally great things, but are there better things?

Let’s look at my list of needs: comfort, support, safety, and nurturing. I also need order and relaxation (as opposed to being rushed, scattered and stressed). Some of those needs are satisfied by lounging as long as possible in the morning, but that behavior also helps to create the feelings of rushing and stress and scattered brain which I do not like at all. Are there alternative practices I can do in the morning that make me feel the way I want to (warm, comforted, rested, and safe)? Am I willing to find out if there are, and to create a lovely morning routine that would fulfill my needs? Could I use these practices as further incentive to make the hard choice, knowing that I can continue to feel lovely outside of my down-filled heaven?

I think so. I hope so. I’m going to try.

Do you have habits that required consistent practice in making a hard choice? Is there one in particular that you feel gave you strength to make more hard choices? 

 

Have a Full Witch Weekend: Sweater Weather

I realized that all of the weekend posts I am going to make from now on could be summed up as “Put on a sweater. Do something cozy.” I’ll try and be more specific, but honestly if that’s all you do this weekend (and every weekend until Spring), you’ll probably be pretty happy.

Here are a few things to try this weekend that don’t require, but should include, sweaters:

Read a Book | Have a Full Witch Weekend: Sweater Weather, at Whisper & Howl #weekend #fullwitch #books

Read a book

The whole thing.

When is the last time you curled up with a blanket and a cup of hot something, ideally wearing your favorite sweater, and spent an entire day with a book? If your answer is yesterday or last week or even last month then congratulations. We are probably soul mates. What kind of sweater were you wearing? I hope it was cashmere, for optimal snuggling with our books. You should do it again this weekend. I’m available.

If your answer is not so recent, then take the opportunity afforded by this foggy early November weather and grab a book and get to it. Find a comfy chair at home or in your favorite coffee shop, the one that looks like your weird grandpa’s living room, the one that has mismatched comfy chairs and stacks of eccentric magazines and knick knacks and is attached to a record store (I’m talking about you, Soma), and curl up in it. The coziness is almost as important as the book–maybe more important, if you’re going to commit to a whole day of getting in touch with your literary side. Do you have a cable knit blanket? Maybe you should get one. Consider it an investment in your happiness.

What book should you read? That one that’s been sitting on your shelf, looking at you imploringly, for a year. That book that you’ve been meaning to start but you know that once you do, you will fall into a rabbit hole of words from which you won’t emerge for hours. That is the one. Don’t have a book on hand? Try the library. Try any of the 99 books that author Anthony Burgess insists you absolutely must read. Ask your friends. Ask Goodreads.

Devote yourself to the magic of words. Get swept away. Don’t come up for air until you’re done and your life has been forever altered by the power of a good book.

 

Perform a Random Act of Kindness

Make your roommate a cup of tea before she asks. Leave a love note in your sweetheart’s (sweater) pocket. Ask your coworker how he’s doing. Send a postcard to a friend who lives in another state. Call your mom and tell her you love her. Buy someone lunch. Make a donation.

Be sweet, because you can.

 

Spend time with an animal

Animals are basically sentient sweaters, right? If you have one, give him some extra love this weekend. Get those belly rubs you both adore. Bake some fancy dog/cat treats. Gaze at your fish, sing to your birds. Spend an extra hour in bed with your little love. If you don’t have one, find one! Visit a friend and play with her new kitten. Volunteer at a shelter or animal-centric nonprofit. Connect with your (domesticated) animal nature this weekend.

It’s good for both of you.

 

Bundle up, snuggle up, and have a beautiful, foggy November weekend!

What’s your favorite thing about sweater weather?

 

 

 

Have a Full Witch Weekend: All Hallow’s Eve Edition

Have a Full Witch Weekend: All Hallow's Eve Edition, at Whisper & Howl #halloween #fullwitch #weekend

Happy Halloweeeeeeeeen!

I’ve always loved Halloween. I sported some fantastic homemade costumes as a kid: Statue of Liberty, gypsy, prairie girl (complete with bonnets). As a young adult, my hits included Velma from Scooby Doo (a group effort), an excellent (if I do say so myself) babydoll, and a very conceptual tornado. As I’ve gotten older, though, the holiday has lost some of its buzz for me. I don’t love binge-drinking. I don’t have a gang to do group costumes with. I try to avoid sugar. I hate the traffic to and from parties and the clusterfuckery of bars on Halloween. I want something better, something more…wholesome?

I’ve seen Hocus Pocus at least 23 times. I have always wanted that New England Halloween thing where all the houses are decked out and there are local tales of evil witches and the cemetary has a crypt. Now that I’m older, I want that party where all the adults wear elaborate costumes and dance (all night, because they are cursed, of course) and there’s an awesome bluesy band and presumably good booze.

I also want to do all the kid stuff. I can’t do that, of course, but I want to borrow a kid for the season at least. I want to go to pumpkin patches and costume parades and trick-or-treating and school Fall Festivals and all the family-friendly events that you really can’t do if you don’t have a kid.

Anyway. I want something new for Halloween. I don’t know exactly what that is, but this year it involves the road trip I advocated last weekend. I’m heading to Asheville to have a spook out with my witchy friend Kara. Plans include a burlesque, a Sleepy Hollow puppet show, and possible a seance. Here are some suggestions for things to bring some witch to your weekend:

Honor Your Ancestors

This is really pertinent to me right now, since I lost my Dad to cancer a little over a month ago. I want to emphasize that I am neither Pagan nor Catholic and do not want to diminish the religious holidays of Samhain, Dio de los Muertos, or All Saint’s Day. I do really love the idea, though, of taking time out to honor those who have passed with celebration and remembrance. I am also interested in experiencing a Samhain ritual as part of my full witch explorations. Here are some suggestions of simple activities you can do this weekend to honor those who have gone before us (borrowed from the lovely website Circle Sanctuary):

  • Ancestors Altar. Gather photographs, heirlooms, and other mementos of deceased family, friends, and companion creatures. Arrange them on a table, dresser, or other surface, along with several votive candles. Kindle the candles in their memory as you call out their names and express well wishes. Thank them for being part of your life. Sit quietly and pay attention to what you experience. Note any messages you receive in your journal. (Read Creating an Altar for more ideas.)
  • Feast of the Dead. Prepare a Samhain dinner. Include a place setting at your table or at a nearby altar for the Dead. Add an offering of a bit of each beverage being consumed to the cup at that place setting, and to the plate, add a bit of each food served. Invite your ancestors and other deceased loved ones to come and dine with you. To have this as a Samhain Dumb Supper experience, dine in silence. After the feast, place the contents of the plate and cup for the Dead outdoors in a natural location as an offering for the Dead.
  • Ancestor Stories. Learn about family history. Contact one or more older relatives and ask them to share memories of family members now dead. Record them in some way and later write accounts of what they share. Give thanks. Share what you learned and have written with another family member or friend. Add names of those you learned about and wish to honor to your Ancestors Altar.
  • Cemetery Visit. Visit and tend the gravesite of a loved one at a cemetery. Call to mind memories and consider ways the loved one continues to live on within you. Place an offering there such as fresh flowers, dried herbs, or a libation of water.

 

Walk in the Woods | Have a Full Witch Halloween Weekend with Whisper & Howl #fullwitch #weekend #halloween

Walk in the Woods

This weekend marks the end of summer (that’s what the word “samhain” means) and the beginning of the colder weather. Make a point to spend some time in the great outdoors this weekend and enjoy the harvest season. Throw on some plaid flannel, wooly socks, boots and a knit cap. Recreate all those wonderful photos of hip young adults in sweaters, walking through the woods. Take a hike. Sit on your porch with a pumpkin chai. Rake leaves, or gather them to make a wreath. Build a bonfire. Celebrate the season and connect with nature.

Go outside and stay there.

 

Listen to Halloween Music

Like, nonstop. You’ve got like 48 hours so make it count!  I’ve had Werewolf Bar Mitzvah stuck in my head for months and now I can play it on repeat without feeling unseasonable.

Here’s a Spotify playlist I made last year for my occasional radio show, The Friday Night Mixtape on WCOM FM. There are a lot of spooky instrumental songs mixed in there to add a really creepy ambiance to your car or home. Honestly, I’ve been listening to this since September.

 

Do you have any Halloween traditions or rituals of your own?