November is my favorite month. I love the fall rains. The chill in the air that means it’s hoodie & scarf season. Wearing my doc martins and making sure everyone knows they’re vegan because that is the kind of person I am. The chaos of Halloween in Salem has come to an end, we’re getting closer to longer days with more sunshine. And – of course – Thanksgiving.
Many modern pagan witches celebrate a day of thanks around the autumnal equinox – thanking the gods and goddesses for the harvest during Mabon. I happen to celebrate both Mabon & Secular Thanksgiving. The first Thanksgiving in 1637 was started right here in Massachusetts to celebrate the return of colonial hunters, but what we don’t often talk about is the fact that during that hunting trip, the colonists murdered 700 Pequot people. It wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th century that the Pilgrims and the Thanksgiving holiday were used to teach children about “American freedom and how to be good citizens”.
Personally, I want to reclaim the day: I want to celebrate what we have in this moment (a safe, warm home, a wonderful family, food that is safe to eat) but at the same time right our ancestors wrongs by recognizing our American history for what it was (colonizers stealing the homes of and murdering the people living on this land). It may seem impossible to have these two thoughts at the same time, but this Pisces fish can assure you the duality is possible.
Here are five witchy ways to celebrate Thanksgiving in a modern way that helps us celebrate the love and warmth of the day while also calling attention to our colonial history:
5. Step Outside Your Coven
It’s not always easy, but listening is an essential part of any conversation. Family gatherings can sometimes lead to tricky conversations. Politics, family drama, annoying relatives – I’ve heard so many horror stories. Make time to listen. Don’t sit there thinking about your retort about why they are wrong… Welcome the conversation. Grow your understanding. Learn.
4. Make Like a Hedge Witch & Leave
My favorite part of my witchy life is honoring nature. From tending to my rose bush and lavender plants to getting lost in the woods – I love getting my hands dirty and letting my mind go while I’m surrounded by trees, flowers, and plants. Get outside and notice nature around you. Do you live in New England? Look for the handful of leaves that are holding on to their trees. Notice what is still green. Is it raining? Thank the universe for blessing the earth with rain to grow future harvests. Be grateful.
3. Adopt (David) Bowie the Turkey
I’ve been (mostly) vegetarian since I was 12. Consuming a mostly plant based diet is a magical way for me to honor nature and our planet. Food should be a passion. You should love what you eat and it should make your body feel positive and happy.
Whether or not a vegetarian diet is for you, one way you can create more balance in the universe is by shopping locally. Is there a farm close to home where you can purchase your green beans for casserole? Can you meet the cows whose milk created the cheese for your scalloped potatoes?
Don’t live near a farm? Combat the abuses of factor farming by adopting a turkey from Farm Sanctuary. They even have a little guy named Bowie and I want him to come live with me. Think Poe’d like a feathered brother?
2. Channel your Inner Kitchen Witch
Whether your Thanksgiving is vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, turkeyified, or whatever else you decide, common spices can add magic to any meal. By using spell magic (setting intentions) while you cook, you can bring magic into your table setting and abundance for your loved ones. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Basil: prosperity, peace, protection
- Bay: wisdom, divination
- Cinnamon: healing, protection, energy
- Clove: protection, purification, healing
- Marjoram: protection, happiness, love, and joy, particularly in family environments
1. Honor America’s History: Support Native People
Much of the history of the First People is seen through a white lens. Fight this:
- find ways seek out Native authors, artists, and businesses.
- avoid cultural appropriation.
- teach the true history of the day to students in your life.
- LISTEN to those around you; respect their stories, their understandings even if it is uncomfortable – encouraging an environment of the “other” only leads to more hatred and misunderstandings.
The International Indian Treaty Council is an organization of Indigenous Peoples from North, Central, South America, the Caribbean and the Pacific working for the Sovereignty and Self Determination of Indigenous Peoples and the recognition and protection of Indigenous Rights, Treaties, Traditional Cultures and Sacred Lands. Show them some love.