With Samhain just over two weeks away, I've been busy decorating for the New Year's celebration. I'm not big on lots of gaudy hoo-haws strung everywhere, but I did buy several lengthy strands of fairy lights in a vibrant orange and a soft purple. The only trouble is, I wanted them for indoors and I've yet to figure out where to string them. I've tried a few places, and even spent some time wrapping two strands together so the orange and purple could play off one another and they looked lovely all lit up, but I still hated them where I had put them and so after all that fussing, I ended up taking them back down anyways. For now, all those sweet lights are sitting in large snarled piles on my dining room table, looking rather forlorn.
I also bought a strand of tiny jack o' lanterns that light up and that I put on the mantel over the main fireplace in our house, letting them meander where they chose. And with a few of the little pumpkins hanging whimsically off the face of the mantel and with some small sized real pumpkins and a few little skulls, I'm pleased with the way they look. Thank goodness, as it would have been really depressing if I couldn't make anything work to my liking.
I use my sideboard in the dining room for my ancestor altar and today I pulled from my cellar the boxes labeled "Samhain" and began going through the items that I traditionally place on my shrine to those I love- and those I never knew but am bound to by blood- who have passed. Crows, skulls, large paper flowers I made years ago to replace the live flowers traditional to "Day of the Dead" celebrations and which are unattainable in New England at this time of year, candles, items that were personal to some of the people whose photos grace my altar, and more. I usually start to set it up about a week or so before Samhain and take it down on November 2. In the last days leading up to the sabbat I'll add fruit, vegetables and vegetation fresh-cut from the wild.
For me the act of going downstairs, pulling from my cellar the cartons where I store all my Samhain items during the year, bringing them up into the house proper and opening them is much like opening gifts on Christmas morning. I always get a small thrill when I see all these beloved things that have shared with me the passing of the seasons and likewise so many loved ones, and who in their own inanimate way have marked the years I have spent in the Craft. This is my favorite sabbat of the year and I can't wait until it's October 31.
Even if I never find a spot for those damn fairy lights!