With so many wild parties going on tonight, it’s easy to forget that Halloween originates from the ancient festival of Samhain, celebrated by the Celts 2,000 years ago. Before their new year on November 1, they thought the boundary between the living and dead would deteriorate and ghosts could appear on Earth. So, how do today’s pagans and occultists view the holiday as it’s celebrated today? We asked some of them to find out.
MOLLY BURKETT, a member of Moon Church in Bushwick and tarot card reader at Catland, calls herself an “art witch.” She practices magic in the occult arts and is creating her first original Tarot deck. She charges $60 per hour of tarot card reading.
Do you celebrate? Yes and No—it’s more introspective for me. I make it more of an independent night. I don’t take it that seriously. It is something that has been woven into our society. I used to dress up as a witch every year from age 7 to 12.
Should others? Everyone should be free to do as they feel. Catland is a welcome space whether you are a true believer or just curious.
Do you get more business? Yes. I am very busy. Everyone is more curious about things. As the year ends, it draws people in.
KEVIN PELRINE, along with Darcey Leonard, founded the House of Screwball and the Tarot Society in Bushwick. He often does tarot and palm readings at Catland. He says he follows the religion of the Church of Screwball.
Do you celebrate? Every day is Halloween.
Should others? If you don’t celebrate Halloween, we don’t want to know you.
Do you get more business? The veil is thinnest this time of year.
PAUL SELIG is a playwriting professor at NYU, director of the MFA Creative Writing program at Goddard College, and works as a channel and psychic. He “hears” for his clients, giving them information about relationships in their lives. The author of three books, he charges $300 per hour for a private reading.
Do you celebrate? I enjoy it, but in a spiritual way as opposed to how society treats it. I think it has become a festival more than anything else.
Do you get more business? I make it a point to not work on Halloween night. People don’t have the right mindsets.
J.J. BRINE is the founder of Vector Gallery on the Lower East Side. We’ve been there before. The gallery showcases his artwork—portraits of Charles Manson, shiny wallpaper, hanging disco balls, and glitter covering the floor. He is a Satanist but also a Vectorist (a new religion he has founded). Brine says, “The Devil and the Lord embodies all things.” He also uses music to channel the spirit world. Brine often wears a flower crown no matter where he goes. He says that on Halloween his style is more acceptable.
Do you celebrate? I don’t especially celebrate Halloween. It’s not a very big deal to me.
Should others? It’s silly to isolate one day a year.
Do you get more business? I don’t see that correlation, no.
ALEXANDRA DEFACIO is a spirit medium and founder of Green Star Wellness, a center for physical and spiritual healing, in the Flatiron District right next to Madison Square Park. She believes in the power of the mind. She says, “When you get out of your body and into your heart, and know what it feels like to be healthy or successful, it will happen.”
Do you celebrate? I think it’s different. My father passed away five years ago on Halloween night so it went away for me. It is more spiritual now.
Do you get more business? It is picking up now because during the holidays and at the end of the year more people need body therapy and detox. With too much food in their body, they come more often.
Is it easier to connect to spirits? It can attract more because more people are thinking the same. People are more open-minded during this time.
LEAF CHANG is the owner of Gnostic Tattoo in Bushwick. Chang says he practices “mother worship,” the worship of Mother Earth. This also means that he absorbs all traditions and religions at the same time. He helps his customers understand the meanings for all his tattoos, which are sometimes esoteric and otherworldly symbols or skulls.
Do you celebrate? This is my holiday. There are lots of events in the city and no holiday depression.
Do you get more business? There are definitely more people around Halloween. We have a deal on Halloween-themed tattoos. Any tattoo is $31, for October 31, and larger ones are $66, representing the evil numbers.