Halloween: A Celebration of Spooky
Halloween appears to have a different meaning for me. I rather like my interpretation of the event better than any of the others I have encountered.
I was taught that Halloween was a very, very old ritual practice of rural people’s attempts to protect their fields and food from the unknown. It was believed that “light” – “daylight” was the major source of safety and knowledge. So large bonfires were lit and gourd lanterns were placed around the fields to keep evil – unsafe things away from the fields and bless the land for future success. The fields were harvested and exposed at this time of year – vulnerable.
Thus we are talking about FEAR, and the stories and legacies built around the unknown – the things that are feeling “dark” and “mysterious”.
FEAR = a fantasized experience appearing real.
When I was a child we made our costumes and learned a riddle, song or poem and set out with our friends to stir up the fear in our adult community, which would in turn listen to our trick and then soothe our concerns by giving us treats of homemade delights, popcorn balls, cookies, caramel apples, and spider drops; they would assuage our fears.
As we got older there were more “nasty” spirits loose in our neighborhood and we were the deposit grounds for 150-160 children who were driven into the neighborhood for candy and left garbage and TP all over and made it impossible for us to feel safe. We stopped trick or treating and just stood at the open door and passed out individually wrapped candies until we ran out.
The day after Halloween we did not celebrate the Day of the Dead or All Saints Day, my parents had gone to church services, but we talked about our fears and our relatives who had died and we let go of our fears and made plans for our living the next round and we had a time of prayer for the lessons given us by our fears and learned by our experiences.
My experience seems to be similar to the Jewish Celebrations of Purim and Rosh Hashanah and by adding a UNICEF box to my Halloween adventures I truly felt I was part of the larger community, had lots of meaning assigned to my actions and relieved so many of my childhood fears and worries through the practice.
I had cleaned up my act and could start fresh and new – feeling safe and secure. (And I would not be on Santa’s naughty list!)
Now I find myself feeling as though not many adults have a sense of meaning attached to the event. It is all about another chance to be “Peter Pan” and never grow up. It is another opportunity to avoid our fears and reality and to dress up and be something else – escape and not embrace.
I got dressed up and I felt like it was a really good costume for me as I pursue my goal of being the healthiest I have even been in my life, by next August, and I went to a party where I met some new folks and shared good conversation. I will be here on the big night to open the door to few who still wander about in the night (and often the rain) and I am making out a check to help the poor and needy. The big task I have set forth for myself is making a list of things that I am afraid of and healing myself of that worry and fear; working on letting go and allowing myself to find safety.
I do feel like the fear mongering of the news media and the election ads are truly interfering with people’s ability to feel safe. I am hoping the ghosts and goblins of financial collapse and negative ad campaigns celebrating greed and imperialism will be tricked into rational solutions and the evil spirited folks will be banished making way for value, deeper meanings, and community safety.
It seems to me without working on the whole – embracing the whole event and ritual, Halloween has little purpose or significance other than masking feelings and understandings. It feels like it inhibits community growth and communications. It just seems to have lost its community spirit for me, and I just enjoy the kid’s love of dressing up and their imaginations – though store bought costumes and “stuff” makes it different too?
So what do you think is the meaning of Halloween and when do you feel like you have really celebrated? How do you embrace the dark and your fears? What costume did you choose?