True confessions, autumn edition

As an Episcopalian, I sometimes felt guilty that I was High Church and secretly attracted to a lot of things about Roman Catholicism. Papal authority, however, wasn’t one of those things, so I stayed in the Episcopal Church.

As a druid, I always felt guilty that I wasn’t attracted to Brigid. I had no devotion to this goddess that everyone in druidry seemed to love. Imbolc was All About Brigid for most people, and that just didn’t work for me. I have since learned that you cannot force devotion; it either comes or it doesn’t, and sometimes all attempts to cultivate it will fail.

As a pagan generally, I always feel guilty around this time of year because, well, because I’m not crazy about Halloween.


I love autumn. I love cooler weather, leaves falling, wearing my tweed cape, hot chai latte, pumpkins and other gourdage. And I don’t hate Halloween. I don’t have any objections to it on a religious basis. I adore The Nightmare Before Christmas. I have watched It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown religiously for as long as I can remember. (I think I like it even better than A Charlie Brown Christmas.)

I just seem to be missing a certain appreciation for The Spooky, for that whole complex of skeletons, bats, black cats, tombstones, cobwebs, dressing up. Once or twice a year, I can watch a horror movie and be really, genuinely frightened. The Blair Witch Project did a number on me because it was filmed in my neck of the woods (haha); for about two weeks after I saw it, I was scared of the city trees in their little wells of dirt, because they were the same trees I saw in the movie. Quarantine was utterly terrifying. If you have a chance, rent The Tingler from Netflix. Vincent Price will make you laugh and scream simultaneously. I may bring myself to see Crimson Peak in the cinema in a few weeks, because Tom Hiddleston.

Maybe there’s a gap in my psyche where the spooky ought to be, between cute or funny and outright frightening. Bats are cute. No, really, go look at pictures on Tumblr, they are. They’re fuzzy wee mammals who mostly eat fruit or bugs and sometimes nectar. Cemeteries are quiet boring places where you go with your grandmother to lay flowers. I’ve been in a number of places that were said to be haunted, but I’ve never encountered a ghost. As for costuming, I usually say on Halloween that I’m dressed as a normal person. Very few people seem to get the joke.

(One of these days, I’m going to dress up as a cockatiel, to amuse my bird.)

So, there it is. I’m a bad pagan, I guess, because I don’t care for Halloween. But that’s okay. You all enjoy yourselves. I’m waiting for Yule.


To Vertumnus in Autumn

Ave, Vertumne! Hail, turner of the wheel!
Now as the nights grow longer than the days,
grant us a full harvest, fruits and vegetables
for our larder, root vegetables for warm soups,
apples to sweeten pork. Now as our days grow
shorter, grant us autumn colors, bronze and red,
orange and gold, yellow and brown, in leaf and
pumpkin and mushroom. Now as we look
toward winter, let us take care for ourselves,
let us take care of one another, like you and
Pomona. O Vertumnus, turner of the seasons,
shepherd us safely into winter.

Some signs that Lughnasad is, indeed, the beginning of fall

  • Leaves are beginning to turn brown and fall.
  • Birds’ feathers are falling, too: Many birds moult in fall, after the summer breeding season.
  • I am craving hot tea again. I recommend Upton Tea for those who like a loose-leaf brew.
  • Something in the air feels different.
  • My acupuncturist says it’s fall.
  • If students in the U.S. are going Back to School, it must be fall.