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DUSTIN LUCA/Staff photoSandra Mariah Wright, general manager of Hex and Omen in downtown Salem, adjusts the audio on her laptop as she participates in an event on a video conferencing platform Thursday afternoon.

DUSTIN LUCA/Staff photoSandra Mariah Wright, general manager of Hex and Omen in downtown Salem, adjusts the audio on her laptop as she participates in an event on a video conferencing platform Thursday afternoon.

DUSTIN LUCA/Staff photoSandra Mariah Wright, general manager of Hex and Omen in downtown Salem, adjusts the audio on her laptop as she participates in an event on a video conferencing platform Thursday afternoon.

DUSTIN LUCA/Staff photoSandra Mariah Wright, general manager of Hex and Omen in downtown Salem, adjusts the audio on her laptop as she participates in an event on a video conferencing platform Thursday afternoon.

SALEM — Saturday night will be a magical one for the witch community, even if it’s going to play out from a distance.

While city leaders have been bracing for what are expected to be large crowds, despite the pandemic, in downtown Salem this Saturday to celebrate Halloween, regional witches have been preparing too for their new year festivities, which this year coincides with a blue moon. The holiday is Samhain, pronounced sow-en, and it begins Halloween night and carries over into Nov. 1.

“The full moon, that’s the time when witches gather,” said Christian Day, a well-known Salem witch, owner of Hex and Omen downtown, and organizer of several October events each year. “(October) is a month that amplifies the witch’s power, because there are two full moons in that month. This being the second one, our power is even greater. Now, you multiply that with Halloween, or Samhain, a time when the spirit world is closer to us.”

As revelers flock in droves to Salem each Halloween night, witches do as well. Circles pop up frequently, the most notable organized by Day and his partner Brian Cain on Salem Common. Another annual tradition has witches walking with runic symbols and candles — in recent years, they’ve been LED candles for safety — from downtown Salem to Gallows Hill, a site strongly connected to Salem Witch Trails lore.

“On that most mysterious night when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, the Salem Witches gather on Salem Common — as was done on hilltops of old, for a ceremony to honor our loved ones who have crossed over into the spirit world,” reads Day’s Samhain event listing for 2021. “This time was known to the ancient Celts as Samhain, or Summer’s end for, as nature began to die, so too it was believed, that the spirits of the dead roam the lands seeking old friends among the living.”

But such events are hard to pull off under the COVID-19 pandemic. That creates a struggle for many, because Samhain only falls on a full moon once every 19 years, according to Old Farmer’s Almanac.

“We all have to make sacrifices for the safety of the community, and for witches who are tasked with guiding and protecting the world with magic, it’s part of our mission to ensure the safety and prosperity of our community,” Day said. “We all have to find our best way to continue to survive this, to get to the other side. That’s the real mantra — to get to the other side.”

Many witch communities have sought ways to carry on with their own practices and traditions from a distance, according to Lauren Devora, a local witch, author and tarot reader. Devora is also a “solitary” witch, meaning she practices on her own.

“COVID has made everything impossible to do in person and be safe doing that, especially with public events,” Devora said. “Every coven is going to treat it differently, and each path is going to treat it differently.”

In light of this, many covens have found a routine in digital practices, according to Sandra Mariah Wright, general manager of Hex and Omen.

“Witches have been meeting virtually for rituals and other connections since this all started, since the beginning of the shutdown,” Wright said. “Leanne (Marrama, a psychic at Hex) and I were doing a virtual meeting of witches every morning.”

And that’s what will continue in big ways for this year’s Samhain. In fact, Day argued, it must play out given the circumstances.

“The Sabbath itself is a solar festival, and you also have a lunar event happening at the same time,â???? he said. “If you were ever going to put some magic into this world, to heal it and to protect it, and to ask your ancestors to help you heal it and protect it, this is the time to do it. If you were ever, ever, ever going to attempt a bit of magic, this is the night.”

That’s even possible for those who don’t have a tradition or are looking to dabble in magic on Saturday night, according to Devora.

“Ancestry veneration — some people call it ancestor worship, reconnecting with your ancestors — is such an important part of Samhain practice,â???? she said. “It’s also something you can easily do by yourself or quarantining with your family, (by) having an ancestor altar with photos of your beloved dead, mementos that remind you of them, an offeringLighting a candle is a really important part of the process.”

In lieu of the witches circle on the Common, Day and Cain are running a “trick-or-trick meet and greet” on the video conferencing platform Zoom. HausWitch on Washington Street, another major player in the local witch community, is running a ticketed moon circle through its digital coven.

“This full moon is going to be very important,â???? she said. “If you’re just starting out or just tipping your toe in, or maybe you don’t identify as a witch but like its practices, Samhain is about ancestor honoring, passing through the veil and allowing them back into your homeThat’s probably the easiest and most effective practice to do at Samhain, because it’s in alignment with what the holiday is all about.”

To take part in the free Trick or Treat Meet and Greet with Christian Day and Brian Cain, visit FestivalOfTheDead.com.

To connect with local witch Lauren Devora on ancestor veneration, contact her via her Instagram handle @willwrite4coffee. Devora also suggested visiting the Witch City Witches podcast at WitchCityWitches.com, which includes an episode featuring Devora.

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Source: https://www.salemnews.com/news/local_news/once-in-a-blue-moon/article_5aa929d5-c5d7-5482-9084-7f8bd9973388.html

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