A Homegrown Halloween
Five years ago a tradition began here at Earthaven, the tales of which are likely to be told for generations to come. This alternative to Halloween is an annual tradition now. Mana McLeod, resident and creator, calls it The Elementals Walk.
Mana drew inspiration for the walk from her alternative education in the Netherlands, where theater is deeply valued. She recalls one particular event in elementary school that sparked it all. There were theater pieces scattered throughout the woods. Fast forward more than thirty years, that spark is a full-on flame once a year for Mana’s two boys and the 25 other children in the village.
The Elementals Walk has evolved from its modest beginnings with a few parents and some characters. These days, it’s more like a production (though mostly done behind the scenes to keep the magic alive).
Five staple characters grace the night, with a small team of other individuals who set up luminaries to light the path. There’s the Earth Troll, Water Fairy, Fire Spirit, and Air Weaver, each with its own flare.
The character known as Grizelda creates the backdrop for the whole evening, which begins with her mysterious emergence as the children huddle in anticipation. With her scarlet finery, box lantern, and scroll, she is the keeper of the story of how the elementals came to be. Grizelda’s calm, steady presence ushers the kids into an otherworldly realm, where they stay mesmerized for two hours.
The Elementals Walk is quite the contrast to the Halloween of our larger culture. The children stay connected to their bodies, to their gratitude, and to mystery in a way that feeds more than their appetite for candy.