Washington, DC

Photo by PoPville flickr user Erin

Ed. Note: Better late than never. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to post before Halloween but I still think it’s an interesting message. If you have a PoP-Ed. about a subject of particular import to you please send an email to [email protected] for consideration.

“Dear PoPville,

As Halloween approaches, I implore readers to think about the minority faiths and practices that keep the old spirit of the day alive; the witches.

As one who has been practicing modern day pagan witchcraft for 16 years, I can tell you that Washington DC is home to thousands of us. We look just like you, have families we love, and work in all areas of the District and its suburbs. There are witches who work in our museums, on Capitol Hill, in a plethora of non-profit organizations, and even in the White House. For the witches of Washington DC, there’s no doubt that this place is home.

While most Americans on October 31 are out attending Halloween parties or taking their kids trick-or-treating, the witches of DC gather in parks, fields, and in private homes to celebrate Samhain. Samhain, from a Celtic word meaning “Summer’s End”, is our day to honor our ancestors and all those who have gone before. On Samhain night, my coven of 25 will hold a special Dumb Supper, a tradition where we eat a meal together in silence and memory of the beloved dead. While some might think that modern witches are up to nefarious and frightful deeds on this night, it is truly a holy time that connects us to the ancient ways of the tribal nations of the British Isles.

We ask that while some individuals spread the myth that modern witches hold ill intent, you think about the small but growing religious community that harmful stereotypes affect. We are your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors. While our ways might seem strange, we bring a valuable and important layer to the diversity of America and to our nation’s capital: individuality and a reverence for the communities we share our lives with.

Happy Samhain and happy Halloween!

David Salisbury
High Priest, Coven of the Spiral Moon”


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