The Mortals had decorated for their Halloween. Their pumpkins were carved, and the candy was purchased in large amounts. They put pictures of monsters, vampires, and ghouls on their windows and doors. And to make things worse, they had statues of witches in their displays. Witches find the cut and paste replicas of their faces resolutely repulsive.
To the Witches, their Sabat they call Samhain was coming. It is a serious event. There was much to be done before the gathering and Witches’ Ball. A meeting was called for all the Witches and Warlocks on the organizational committee to attend. They had chosen their yearly event to be held at Nymph Lake in Colorado’s splendid Rocky Mountains. October 31st would be cold enough, and perhaps snow would lay upon the ground and keep the Mortals away. The sacred lake had become problematic since it had become part of a National Park. This year they were committed to resolving its overcrowded and overuse issues, with the biggest dilemma being a statewide fire-ban. The Coven would be able to cleanse the area on the full moon of Samhain.
Three Older Witches flew in on their broomsticks, looking like they may want to incite fear and intimidation upon their landing. Witch Blaise led the way, shooting sparks from the whisk. At one point, it appeared she would light herself on fire if she didn’t try harder to harness her anger. She looked somewhat like she was planning a missile strike. Witch Hazel and Witch Fern followed her, trying hard not to be observed.
Young Luna Herron saw them flying above her. They all were heading to Sally’s Diner in Estes, where the planning committee would meet up tonight to ensure the annual Northern Colo Witches Ball goes off without incident. Luna whispered, “really” under her lips as she watched Blaise pop a wheelie on her broom. Then she just shook her head, flipping her long blonde braids on her back.
Luna had just graduated from the University of Colorado. Her Dad, one of Colorado’s only Sorcerors who holds a Senate seat, was exceptionally proud of his Witch Daughter. So much so, he bought her the cute little lime green Fiat she was driving for her efforts. She now had a Bachelor’s in Poly-Psy. He was crossing his fingers that she would go for her Masters. Her bumper sticker had the words –earth, air, fire, water, and spirit all in pink with old fashioned flower power type flowers all around. She had never set on a committee before.
Senator Cyril Herron ran on the slogan,
“A good-aligned warlock is a grim and fearsome enemy of evil!”
For his non-magical constituents, he changed out the word Warlock to Candidate. In his mind, they were one and the same. Both typically cast spells to harm or manipulate their enemies through television commercials. He couldn’t break away to make the planning meeting, so he named his daughter to take his place. Luna was thrilled!
Two reasonably young male magic-users were heading to the Committee Meeting too. Driving his customized Camping Van, Tommy Rifle, gave his friend, Vance Myers, a ride as they talked about Dungeons and Dragons while they rode up the mountain from Lyons to Estes Park.
Tommy said, “You know your game is unlikely to go past level 6, right? Personally, I think Warlock is arguably a better choice.”
Vance replied, trying to sound just as well versed as his more experienced friend, “No way, Brother, Sorcerer is typically the better choice. If you get in one fight most days and two wars some days, as is common in a lot of more story-driven campaigns, a Sorcerer will have vastly more output and utility than a Warlock."
They both agreed to disagree.
When they pulled into their parking space, they both laughed at Blaise fully dressed in her Black Witches outfit. pointy hat and long black dress. “Geez, I thought Witches gave that stuff up after the Wizard of Oz,” said Tommy. He was wearing his Flannel Vest and Hiking Boots like always.
But what about the Bonfire? Traditions call for a Bonfire. What to do about that? Vice President Warlock and recently elected chairman to the Witches committee, Julian Bellows pondered. He paced back and forth and with his thoughts racing. He was thinking: A sempiternal person is unchanging and ingrained. Witches are such Persons. Witchcraft’s rules are somewhat uncompromising, and austere Crones had ruled with a rigidly puritanical outlook for ages. There is a much-needed fire ban in Colorado, and while Witches are not Mortals, we will need to consent to logical thinking. A Witch’s Ball without a Bonfire will be a hard sale.
Still, he put it atop the new business for the organization committee’s meeting tonight.
Julian Bellows had a sensible demeanor for a Warlock. He was downright likable in the way that he always chose to have the Colorado Coven #1313 board meetings be held in the banquet room at Sally’s Diner so he could enjoy a freshly baked Cinnamon roll and cup of hot cocoa after the meeting. This way of thinking scratched the stubbornness of the elder Witches a bit. But the amenable nature of the younger Witches and Warlocks enjoyed it very much.
Chair-Warlock Bellows served as Vice President to Greta Krackleman’s Presidency of this Rocky Mountain Chapter of Witches. It would be his vote that broke any ties if one should pop up. President Krackleman named the members to sit on the planning committee herself. Purposely choosing 12 Witches and Warlocks who reflected different views. The younger members tended to lean towards a liberal outlook when it came to Mortal interaction. While the Elders’ sageness would uphold the devote traditionalism. It is what a good Witches’ value is based on.
In his private conversations with Greta, Julian always thought she hoped to end the cronyism with which many of the Coven’s appointments had been tainted. He agreed.
Julian Bellows arrived early to prepare the table for the meeting. He placed individual agenda lists and a pencil on the table on each of the thirteen placemats. While being sensible in most aspects, the conscience Warlock liked to do everything old school and allowed no cellphones or tablets at the table. Only living 100 or so years, he was the right choice for the position. Young enough to know current events and old enough to know the dangers of their unique Witchcraft community.
As a tall, handsome man with a dark complexion who had a polished mannerism, he had the popularity vote. Many of the younger members had never witnessed Bellow’s soft-spoken middle-aged mannerisms. The middle-aged factor of the Estes Park Coven usually had deep lines on their foreheads and a growl in their voice. They found him refreshing and pleasant and were happy he would have the 13th vote. He called the meeting to order.
“Hear ye hear ye, ladies and gentlemen, lads and lasses, witchy-poo’s and warlock-who’s” The strictness of the meeting lightened up, and a few members chuckled. Chairman Bellows continued, “Organizing the big event is our job, crew! Let’s get with it, plan it all out! After we are through, we get to “get with it” with the hot chocolate; what do you say?”
Just then, Elder member Blaise Contrarian stood up and interrupted in a pugnacious fashion, “Pardon me, Mr. Bellows, but our plans have always been organized with the utmost care deeply ingrained in our tradition.” Then she cackled as a mighty Crone might do, “The bonfire and dance must precede our communion with the dead. It’s always been that way. So this is written, so shall it be done.”
Blaise had reached her elder status in the Coven, always being quite contrary to popular thinking. She was a stately gray-haired old woman whose face had grown hard. Her eyes were large and sludgy green. Blaise never smiled and considered any laughter in the community as blasphemous. Her mouth had hardened into a frown that made her look like an aggressive fish. In her way of thinking, there was no room for any Witches who weren’t wicked.
Young Warlock Vance Myers set with his hand flailing as if he were still in a high school class. Chair Bellows pointed at him and gave him the floor.
Vance began in a very soft-spoken voice that no one could hear. Blaise yelled out with an undermining tone while raising her crooked wand, “Speak up deary, we can’t hear you! And I’m overwhelmingly sure we all want to hear what a Toad like you wants to say.”
“Stop that, stop that now!” Chair Bellows said while looking Blaise straight in the eye. “If you turn young Vance into a Toad, I will have you removed from the Witches Committee and never again let you have any influence amongst our court. Do you understand?”
He pointed again at Vance so he could continue.
This time Vance stood up timidly but with a knowledge of his generation. He spoke, “As the youngest member of this committee, I would like to say I want no part in anything that would harm the natural beauty of Nymph Lake. While hiking up there last summer, I noticed many Beetle Killed trees in the area. The Mortals, Goblins, and the Gnomes have a Fire ban in place because of the extreme drought our State is suffering from. I would like to see us Witches do the same. Why not give everyone a battery-operated LED flashlight that gives off the appearance of a flame. Just saying?” He said while shrugging his skinny shoulders.
Young Witch Luna chimed in, “I think that is a great idea, and I would like to ask for a vote on it” she looked around for agreement.
“I second it,” said Hazel Phelp, who generally said nothing. Blaise scowled at her as if she was a traitor.
Luna continued, “You know our rituals and even the mere mention of Witchcraft creates Phasmophobia amongst the uncharmed population of Mortals.
“Phasmophobia is poppycock, maiden!” Blaise yowled as she scolded Luna. “Mind your elders, girly. Witches are not ghosts unless we are dead. And we certainly are not like Vampires and come back as undead. Just because we can speak to the dead does
not mean we are inhabitants in graveyards.”
Chair-Warlock Bellows pounded his gavel and at the top of his low voice said, “Get your terminology correct ladies, the term that prejudice mortals suffer from is Wiccaphobia, a phobia that means the fear of Witchcraft. Not all unfounded, I must remind you. Now I will uphold the request for a vote. Please use the pencils in front of you and simply write yes or no to a bonfire this year on the corner of your sheets of paper and then fold it over and pass it forward. Do not put your name on it.”
Before the committee started writing, 289-year-old Agnese Cauldrona started tapping her cane on the floor in a rhythmic motion. And in a weak but witchly voice, she slowly noted, “We brought the prejudices on ourselves, you know. I remember when Wiccaphobia was once a societal norm throughout much of Christian Europe. Here too, in the United States. All over the World, for that matter. Just because we are much longer lived than a Mortal. We give them these notions by continually making ourselves different. Mortals fear those things they know nothing about. An attitude adjustment may be all we need to brighten our future.”
Luna clutched Agnese’s hand and stood holding her old and frail body up and added,” Why not refer to Samhain as Halloween when speaking to them. Invite them to our festival and show them we mean no harm. There is no need to tell them that we mark the beginning of the year’s dark half. Several mortals have a grip on the importance of the autumn equinox and the winter solstice already. They are Earth dwellers just like us and follow the course of the monocycle too.”
The other young Witches applauded while most of the Crones set with their long-pointed noses in the air, scours on their faces, and their disagreement shown in the way their arms were crossed against their cold and unchanging bodies.
A ravage of chatter flew across the meeting table.
Chair-Warlock Bellows felt the meeting was out of control. He pounded his gavel again, this time harder. Before he spoke, he cleared his voice. “Look what you made me do.” He said while he rubbed his hand in a caring fashion across his place on the table that belonged to Sally’s diner. “I banged this dang thing on Sally’s table because I wanted order not to damage this fine piece of furniture,” he continued sternly. “Now, Vote!”
Julian Bellows took the stack of twelve papers, all with a corner bent, and read the yes and no votes aloud. “One for, one against and another against.” He neatly stacked them in two piles. “Another for and one more. Let’s see, we have three for and two against” He came to the next piece of paper that had its vote written in the smallest scribe. “My goodness, I must put on my glasses for this,” he did and read “No.” The next three votes were for followed by three more against.
Forlornly he said, “Now we are tied. And it will be my thirteenth vote that decides. The committee’s Elders and Oldish members demand a contingency plan that ensures the Coven holds tight to old values. While Luna’s Youngish group wants to loosen our restrictions on the Mortal world. It’s an age-old dilemma now, isn’t it?” He shook his head and put one hand on his chin in a pondering way, “And here I am in the middle, making a decision that must serve the traditional Samhain and incorporate a little change into everyone’s Halloween. Pardon the pun, but it’s somewhat lunacy for a Warlock to feel like the old Pope in Rome, but I do.”
He then stood up and walked towards the back door. “I’m going outside to ponder my vote. When I return, I expect silence. Do you hear me, silence!” The Elders set with a bewildered cross look while the younger Witches, and a significant number of younger Warlocks, smiled at Bellows’ bravery to take a firm hand to the contrary group.
He was only gone for about five minutes. The cold Colorado evening and his ongoing personal need to do the right thing made his come in with his vote of “no” to the bonfire but with stipulations. “I will ask the President to please note that our vote this year is not an amendment to our by-laws but only a conscientious vote to our circumstance. It will be upheld this year and this year only. However, I am highly in favor of battery-operated LED lights as an ongoing tradition, but then again, that’s just me”.
Everyone smiled and took it exceptionally well, knowing that it was a ruling for this year only. The Elders accepted a decision not cast in stone and gave the youth a hope that their voices would be heard. Next up was this year’s color scheme, and everyone agreed without debate on Black and Orange.
The hot cocoa and cinnamon rolls were delicious.