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Denverites Discover the Origins of Halloween at Samhain Night Market

The origin of Halloween is rooted in the celebration of the Celtic New Year, called Samhain. Pronounced “sow-in,” the holiday takes place Oct. 31 through Nov. 1, and represents the onset of harvest and winter seasons. Samhain revelers believe the veil between the dead and the living worlds is especially thin during this time, making way for communication between the two sides. 

Among those celebrating the upcoming holiday were attendees of a night market on Oct. 12 at Wheat Ridge store RitualCravt. The shop sells all things spiritual, from tarot cards, jewelry, and devotional spell candles, to plants and crystals. RitualCravt opened on Samhain in 2015, and owners hold the holiday dear. However, this was the shop’s inaugural Samhain night market, which featured a handful of local artist booths in their storefront exhibiting the witchy, the spiritual, and the spooky. The intention of the event was to spotlight local artists and bring the people of Denver together to celebrate Samhain and all the other wide-ranging spiritual beliefs held by the community.

Colorado-based artist Sarai Nissan (“like the car!”) beamed from behind her booth, which was adorned with mystical art in antique frames. Nissan utilizes collage, photography, and illustration in her work, and created her own 78-card Max Ernst-inspired divination tarot deck called the Void Tarot.

“I do little things [for Samhain],” said Nissan. “Sometimes I’ll do little harvest-y things. All of October is kind of a celebration.” 

Nissan’s spiritual beliefs don’t end with Samhain. She described, “I think the universe has an energy—that everything has an energy—and that energy can be transmuted and created. I don’t necessarily believe in a God, but I believe in the universe.”  

Zach Horton, general manager of RitualCravt and lover of all things spiritual since childhood, said he hopes this event opens the minds of visitors to different people and cultures they wouldn’t necessarily have been exposed to previously. 

“It’s a really special time for us to celebrate in the shop,” Horton said. “I hope that [visitors] see art that calls to them.” 

One of the businesses featured at the night market was Cult of the Wild One, run by owner Sarah Scherer, who specializes in art made from dried flowers, woodwork, snake and bat imagery, and anything occult—as long as it isn’t too scary! Scherer described the “smiling faces,” open-mindedness, and gathering of many different forms of spirituality at the night market as being an especially wonderful aspect of the night. 

“I love to celebrate anything that is a practice that other people love, whether it be religion, or witchcraft, or not witchcraft,” Scherer said. “I can see that [Samhain] brings people happiness.” 

A booth for local “one-witch operation” Toil and Trbl, a nano-soapery that sells magical, handmade body care products and twisted ritual candles, was also present at the market. Though they don’t practice Samhain, owner Sam considers themselves to be spiritual and is a dedicated celebrator of spooky season and Día de los Muertos. 

“Spirituality to me is getting in touch with your intuition and your connection with the earth,” Sam said. “This time of year, they say the veil is thinnest, so to have that experience with the spirit inside, and those active spirits that may be within the earth, is meaningful to me.” 

Visitors of the night market and friends Samantha Holcomb, Mac Murray and Kiera Mcintosh all practice and experience spirituality across a spectrum, and celebrate where those experiences connect and diverge. 

“There are so many different kinds of people being brought together here [who are] able to not only celebrate Samhain, but just autumnal spirit in general, and the spooky season, and I like that,” Holcomb said. She practices Wicca, herbalism, and moon magic, and dabbles in crystal work. She described her Samhain practices as prioritizing cleansing her own space to make way for the winter and harvest seasons and having intentionality surrounding gathering the community for celebration. Murray said she “feels very witchy,” and described interfacing with energies in intentional ways, including keeping her space free from energies that feel off.

Kiera Mcintosh’s family is from Scotland, and she holds close “very deep Celtic folklore beliefs and mythologies, and pagan values.” Mcintosh additionally practices tarot and astrology, and, like Holcomb, utilizes crystals in her spiritual practices. 

To her, Samhain means finding her energy and restarting the year in the right headspace. “[It’s about] mindfulness,” Mcintosh said. “Putting all of the capitalist, modern sh*t out of my way.” 

From jewelry, tooth gems and tattoos, to herbs, crystals, Ouija boards and frosted ghost cookies, the range of witchy allure at the night market supplied a platform for the witchiest of Denverites to gather in celebration of Samhain and all things spiritual. 

Horton wants the community to take that mystical and transcendent energy of Samhain and the night market with them as they walk forward through their own spiritual experiences and lives. “A lot of stuff [featured in the night market] is made with intention and magic,” Horton said. “I think a lot of people can feel that when they come in, and I hope that’s what they can leave with.” 

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