HALLOWEEN can be about trick-or-treating, lollies and dressing up in spooky costumes, but Lilitu Babalon, who identifies as a witch, usually does things a little differently.
As Halloween originated with Samhain, marking the beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere, she says in the southern hemisphere, spring is the time of year to celebrate Beltane.
Lilitu, who owns pagan shop The Crystal Chalice in Gold Creek, is hosting both a Beltane gathering on the evening of November 1 and, for the first time, a Halloween in Spring community market and fair on Saturday, November 2, with stalls, a kids’ dress up competition and pumpkin carving.
“Beltane marks summer coming closer, celebrating the fertility of the land, and for our ritual we bring red flowers or fruit as offerings to an altar, and share food afterwards,” she says.
“While it’s not usual for southern hemisphere pagans to celebrate Samhain at this time of year, Halloween can be a lot of fun and I like bringing people together.”
Lilitu says that a large part of what she does as a witch is organising community rituals and ceremonies, which tie in with each of the eight pagan festivals in the southern hemisphere’s “wheel of the year”.
The festivals include Lammas on February 2, Mabon, or autumn equinox, on March 21, Samhain on April 30/May 1, Yule or winter solstice on June 21, Imbolc on August 1, Ostara on September 21, Beltane on October 31, and Litha or summer solstice on December 21.
Lilitu also organises psychic fairs, meditation nights, drumming circles and workshops.
“It’s about community building. I’m not attached to the wheel of the year but I work with it for the community aspect,” she says.
“We have a core group of about 10-15 people that come to celebrate the festivals and there’s always a few new faces.
“I want to bring pagans of all ages together, regardless of their beliefs. We keep the rituals short so the kids don’t get bored, and there’s always food afterwards. People become friends. We need this, particularly in Canberra where it’s not easy to meet people.”
Lilitu’s personal focus is on ancient Egyptian paganism, but says that as a whole, paganism includes a lot of different religions.
“Most of them would be about a connection to the earth, being environmentally friendly and honouring the seasons, but everyone has different beliefs,” she says.
“I think there are a lot of misconceptions about what witches are and what magic is, but it’s really simple.
“I see faith as having faith in myself, rather than in some mythical thing. Paganism is just who I am, it’s my belief system. For some, they may not be public about their pagan beliefs at work and don’t want anyone to know. But they can attend events like this and meet like-minded people. I think it’s so important.”
Lilitu knows first-hand how hard it can be to make connections, having moved to Australia from the UK in 1981 with her then-partner.
“There was no internet or Facebook, so you’d find out what was going on from bookshops or the new age shop,” she says.
“I like to be able to provide that point of contact for people.
“I know there are so many who are interested, but may not have friends who are into the same things, and don’t know where to go.”
Halloween in Spring community market and fair, from 10am on Saturday, November 2 in Ginninderra Village, Gold Creek. Beltane community get together, 7pm Friday, November 1. For information call 6241 0799.