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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.

Pumpkins for Peace

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?

11 Responses to “Halloween: A Celebration of Spooky”

  1. Davina Says:

    Hi Patricia. I appreciate the choices you are making in how you will be celebrating Halloween. This year I have noticed more commercialization regarding Halloween that doesn’t appeal to me. However, I enjoy seeing the kids in their costumes parading down the street and watching their excitement.

    Great analogy around asking how we deal with the dark and our fears. I stop, take a breath, observe to see what is there and then charge into it. :-) Sometimes it takes some time before I make my move though. That is not always the best thing to do! It’s like pulling off a band aid real slow.

    Davinas last blog post..Awakening To A Balanced Life

  2. Vered - MomGrind Says:

    This was fascinating, Patricia. I never even realized Halloween had a meaning! To me it’s just about my kids wearing costumes and eating too much candy.

  3. Jannie Says:

    fantasized experience appearing real, that’s a new one one me. It works well, but of course htere are thng we reallyshould fesar- on-coming buses, drug pushers, wild animals, etc.

    I admire your givingness for the holiday! Most commendable.

    I thought it was some old pagan celebration?

    We had the best times as kids, running through fields, soaping up windows, just being wild. Best times ever.

    Oh, Vered hasn’t been to my newest post yet. Run, girl, run!!

    Jannies last blog post..Like a bord on a wire, 1

  4. Patricia Says:

    Wow, I come home and find three nice comments on my post, Thank you all and Happy Halloween.

    Davina – Oh! I can never pull a band aid off slowly, just the thought of it makes my mouth go dry. One of the things my daughters learned at Martial Arts lessons was the different feelings you get when the fears are real or imagined. The one I remember most is the feeling like a fire truck/emergency vehicle is coming up behind you and the sirens are going – that feeling in the pit of the stomach is one in which you should move away from quickly and with a practiced plan. You should act and not hesitate. Thank you for your kind words.

    Vered – oh it is of ancient history and has many, many rituals associated with it. Then too, it has a ton of mythology hung on it’s coat tails and more contemporary fear heaped on top of that by the religious “right”. In some spots of the world it is a ticking time bomb of controversy.

    Jannie,
    I think running through the fields and being wild is more the way folks were intended to celebrate this spirit fest and scare away all the evil and spells of doom and drought. I just grew up with it being more about fear, harvest, death, darkness and a time of good connection and conversation. It was a time to feel safe as we came home to roost in doors for the winter.

    Patricias last blog post..Halloween: A Celebration of Spooky

  5. Dot Says:

    That was an interesting, thoughtful post.

    When I was growing up, we lived on a very long dead-end street, and all the families were the parents of baby boomers. All the kids knew each other, and we had a great time dressing up and collecting huge amounts of candy. There were very few pranks.

    I knew of the connection between Halloween and Samhain, but not of the rest. How I deal with fears? Talk them over with a trusted friend.

    Dots last blog post..Non-Haiku Monday

  6. Patricia Says:

    Dot,
    I was thrilled to find your comments here and learn of your traditions and wow I hunted everywhere to find the name Samhain as I was writing – I just knew it would turn up – just in time.Thank you

    I always have to vice my fears outloud and when it is to a friend how much better is that? When I keep them inside my head they just swarm into hives of worry.

    How are you feeling? I got 11 hours of straight sleep last night and wow I think I finally turned the corner…thinking about you.

  7. Jannie Says:

    BTW, are those 5 pumpkins at the top ones you carved??

    Jannies last blog post..a blip

  8. Patricia Says:

    Jannie,
    The five pumpkins were carved by daughter #2 in Michigan in grad school. Thought they were great additions. Thank you for asking

  9. Jannie Says:

    She is really talented. I’m going to have a go at carving tonight. Not hoping for anything quite as great as what your daughter # 2 did, but I’m sure my Kelly will appreciate anything.

    Jannies last blog post..A Jannie by any other name…

  10. Patricia Says:

    Yes, she is talented….I remember one teacher at a conference saying to us – please set up an art center in your home for the kids to have freedom to explore. My whole house is an art center, all vegetables and fruits are open to carving! and bread art, and fabric art, and blog art, and animation…one bedroom was covered in all the different frogs!

    I am the non artistic one – I work at painting with words and keeping pumpkin seeds off the floor…it is rather quiet with them all gone, but we are going to have a talent fest for Christmas rather than gifts – this should be quite a blow out!

    Patricias last blog post..I Do Not Know Anything Different

  11. Quinn Says:

    Hey thanks Janine!