To celebrate Samhain, a Wiccan festival that falls on the evening of Oct. 31, Washington, D.C. resident Elizabeth Stephens usually prepares a pot of jambalaya to honor her late grandmother and a plate of roast beef in memory of her parents. She marks the festival with witches and fellow Wiccans, who offer their own dishes as a part of the day’s feast. The table they set becomes patterned with platters that were the favorites of family members and friends.
As a part of the celebration, a black cloth is held above the heads of the attendees and cut with a knife through the center, representing an opening between the spirit and material worlds. After some time has passed, participants encourage the spirits to return to their realm and the cut in the cloth is sewn.
Images of witches being veiled in darkness, casting spells over cauldrons endure, but a new generation of Wiccans and witches have established growing communities in D.C. and across the country.
Like other Wiccans and witches, Stephens has come “out of the broom closet” — a term that refers to publicly revealing one’s beliefs as a Wiccan or witch. They are fighting back against misinformation about Wiccans and witches. (Read more from “Out of the Broom Closet: Witches Coming ‘out’ in DC” HERE)