Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hey Ho for Halloween!

Halloween is my favorite time of year. For years when I wrestled with questions of religion and spirituality and sought clarity on what made meaning for me, Halloween stood out as a holiday I could fully and whole heartedly embrace with no uncertainty or feelings of discomfort. Halloween does not invoke the sort of stress that other holidays seem to call forth for me.

Halloween is all fun. Dress up and go out and play with the crunch of leaves underfoot and darkness everywhere.

I had the good fortune of living in San Francisco's Mission District for four years in my young and carefree days and experienced the celebration of the dead, with The Day of the Dead celebrations, procession and rooms. This deepened my passion for Halloween and created a bridge from my Catholic upbringing to the beliefs and values I embraced. It was empowering and awakening for me along with Z. Budapest's Spiral Dances for women at Halloween.  

Twenty years later as a parent, I bring aspects of these celebrations to my children whose ages span from seven to fifteen.

Some favorite songs:


Who are the witches? Where do they come from?
Maybe your great, great grandmother was one.
Witches are wise, wise, women, they say,
There's a little witch in every woman today, 
There's a little witch in every woman today, 

Witches knew all about flowers and trees
How to use the bark and the roots and the leaves,
When people grew weary from hardworking days,
Witches made them feel better in so many ways

Repeat chorus

Women had babies and witches were there,
To help and to feed them and give them some care,
And witches knew stories of how life began,
Don't you wish you could be one, well maybe you can......

Repeat chorus

Some people thought that the witches were bad,
Some people were scared of the power they had,
The power to give and to heal and to care,
Is not something to fear, it's a treasure to share.

Repeat chorus

A fingerplay:
Five little witches sitting on the gate,
The first one said, " oh my it's getting late,"
The second one said, "Halloween is in the air,"
The third one said, "let us take to the air"
The fourth one said,  "when I finish my brew,"
The fifth one said, "my black cat comes too "

The night wind whispered whooooo, whoooo
So they put on the hats
And flew into the air, 
Singing all together, 
Hall-o-ween is here!

A Song:
Hey ho for Halloween!
When all the witches are to be seen.
Some in black and some in green,
Hey ho for Halloween!

Hey ho for Halloween!

In 1973, Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English wrote Women, Witches and Nurses: A History of Women Healers , online and at Amazon. It is well worth the read, still timely and sheds light on healing, medicine, the role of women and the divine feminine.



  1. Thank you for the wonderful Halloween History and inspiration. So happy to have the song, and the article is a great read. Lovely story too!

  2. Thank you for the kind words Danielle! I wrestle with the witches of the brothers Grimm, the Hansel and Gretel witch and fear of the feminine power, that it is going to devour all who come near it, the power of the feminine, its life giving, life nurturing, healing aspects, perhaps the evil witch is the shadow of the wise Sophia, the sacred feminine out of balance.....? Halloween seems like a good time for some consious awareness of our story and our ancestors story.

  3. thank you for such a wonderful post- we often sing the witches song in circles of women- particularly in regaining our birthing power. Today we are making soul cakes, lighting a fire, trick or treating and telling stories of our ancestors- Happy Halloween!

  4. Perhaps we belong to the same coven...

    great post!

    Namaste, Nicole

  5. Hi Lisa,

    What a timely post. My DD, almost 14, was asking me yesterday what had caused the loss of power of women. She had a hard time believing that they were once the center of religion and healing for communities, but was eager to hear more. I will teach her this song and maybe we'll read the book together. I have a feeling this will be the beginning of powerful lessons for our family.



  6. Oh I am so glad to hear this Angela!

    You know the ancient city of Catal Hayuk ( in modern Turkey) was very much woman focal and peaceful. Lots of figurines of voluptuous women dug up there.

    In Ephesus (also in Turkey) great statues of Artemis, said to be unpossed by man and goddess, protector of childbirth, are found, here's a link of them:Çatalhöyük and there is Susun Weed who talks to the plants and listens and is very wise in the way of healing:

    and then there is Barbara McClintock who listened to corn kernels and won the Nobel prize for her break throughs in science:

    and there is the work of Lynn Mikel Brown who through interviews with girls looks at how they lose their voice, their knowing in adolescence:

    Hope this is along the lines of what you are seeking.


  7. Another great resource for the power question for women, mothers and daughters (fathers, brothers, sons too) is the facebook page Red Tents in Every Neighborhood.



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