For Wiccan followers, Halloween is sacred time

Lake County News-Sun/October 28, 2006
By Jim Newton

For some, Halloween -- with roots going back to ancient harvest rituals -- runs deeper than bobbing for apples and carving pumpkins.For those practicing the Wicca religion, Halloween is one of eight holy days throughout the year and is known as Samhain.

"It's the third in a triad of harvest festivals. Preparing for winter and the dark months ahead," said Adam Holtzinger, owner of the Sacred Earth store in downtown Antioch. It is also a time of remembering ancestors and lighting a candle for them, he said.Holtzinger has been practicing Wicca most of his life. Technically, males following Wiccan practices are known as Wicca; females are known as Wicce. Holtzinger likes to keep it more simple.

"I generally tell people that I'm a witch," he said.Wicca is based on the changes of seasons and how they affect your life, Holtzinger said. The holidays are the two solstices and equinoxes and the four cross-quarter days.

Wiccans generally pray to deities similar to more mainstream religions. The male and female divinities are known as Lady and Lord or Great Mother and Great Father, he said.

"We worship higher parties like any other benevolent faith," Holtzinger said.Some of the stereotypical depictions of witches are rooted in truth, others, obviously, are not.

"A lot of us are not crazy about the green-faced, wart-nosed hags that pass for witches. I know a lot of witches and never saw one with green skin," he said. "But sometimes the holiday opens the doors for discussion."Wiccans do use ceremonial brooms as a tool of purification for rituals, and wands capped with crystals on the ends are used to divert and direct energy, he said. Black mirrors made from volcanic glass are used as a focal point for gazing and meditation and are symbolically a connection with the other world.

"This time of year the veil between worlds is said to be very thin," he said.The pentagon is a powerful symbol of Wicca, representing what Holtzinger said are the five elements -- spirit, earth, air, fire and water.

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