For a couple months up to Halloween, all you have to do is walk into a store and you are confronted with pumpkin everything, jack-o'-lantern themed and pumpkin spice alike! Especially in North America, we seem to have a love for these bright orange winter squashes and automatically associate them with the autumn season. But why are pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns so connected to Halloween?
History of Jack-O'-Lanterns
Samhain is the Celtic name for the fire festival celebrated on the same day as the modern Halloween. There are many connections between the two, including pumpkins. The theory is that the Irish first used turnips to carve scary faces that would drive off evil spirits while guiding wandering souls by lighting a candle inside. Once they immigrated to North America, pumpkins were abundant and much easier to carve, causing the tradition to adapt to the surroundings. Pumpkins are a fruit (yes fruit, not a vegetable!) native to North America, but now are found all around the world, especially during the autumn months.
The name for jack-o'-lanterns most likely came from the legend of Old Jack, a man said to be so evil both heaven and hell rejected him. But the devil took pity on him and tossed a glowing ember into Jack’s hollowed-out turnip. So on Halloween night, when the veil is thin, he is said to wander the roads with his turnip lantern lit with a smoldering coal from the fires of hell.
Most pagans and neopagans believe that the material world and the spiritual world are separated by a metaphorical curtain called a “veil” that only some spirits can pass through with difficulty, but at certain times of year, such as Samhain, that veil grows thin and is easier to pass through. In the Wiccan tradition, it is thought that the goddess visits the dying god at this time beyond the veil, the door she opens being the entry point for spirits to cross over into our mortal realm. That is why Samhain is associated with making connections with deceased loved ones who have departed to the spiritual plane. But other more malevolent spirits can also pass through with ease, so protection magick is also important during this time.
Protection Spell in a Pumpkin
Did you know that pumpkins will protect other plants from unwanted pests? The leaves are prickly and also provide shade, keeping the soil moist. This is one reason why pumpkins might have come to be associated with protection. We will be doing a protection spell that will ward off any spirits that might want to cause harm but also guide the harmless, wandering spirits on their way back to the spirit world, drawing from the tradition of lighting a candle in the window. This spell will combine sigil magick and candle magick with a pumpkin and protective spices!
Cut the top off your pumpkin and clean it out so you are left with a hollow pumpkin. This is where you’ll be doing your spell. Think of it kind of like a jar spell, except inside a pumpkin!
Sketch out your sigil for protection on the pumpkin in a bubble-letter-type font so you can carve it into the pumpkin later. If you don’t have your own personal set of sigils yet, read my article All About Sigil Crafting to learn how you can make your own and why you would want to do it.
Carve your sigil or another protective symbol into the pumpkin as if you were carving a jack-o'-lantern so that light can shine through when you put the candle inside.
Once the pumpkin is carved to your liking, begin mixing up your spice blend to lay the base for your spell. You can find these all ground as cooking spices that are probably already on your spice rack! Or if you have the resources available, you can use whole spices if you prefer how that looks. If you mix it up with ground spices, you can even set some aside and use the remainder to flavor your pumpkin spice and other autumnal treats!
Protection Spice Mix
Blended together, these spices create a quick and active powerful protective field that not only repels negativity, but attacks it before it can cross. Imagine it as a spiritual wall of protection with an electric fence around it that zaps intruders so they are unable to attempt to scale the wall. That’s the kind of energy this protective spice mix gives off!
Now, sprinkle the bottom of your hollowed out pumpkin with this spice mix and set a candle on top. I recommend using a black tealight candle, such as the Armor Herbal Alchemy Spell Candle since it is already empowered with a layer of protection that will amplify your working. This way, it is already in its own container and you have less of a risk of anything inside the pumpkin catching fire. A battery operated candle can work just as well however, if it is windy or dry where you live and you are worried about fires.
After dark, light your candle inside your protective pumpkin lantern and set it outside your door. If you used a real candle, you may choose to try your hand at some pyromancy, scrying by gazing at the candle flame before you do this. Then, you can say your blessing of choice, or program your pumpkin lantern to protect you and guide the wandering spirits back home beyond the veil.
Wishing you all a beautiful Samhain!
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