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Why I'm so Fond of Halloween



Halloween holds a special place in my heart. And it's not just because I'm a weirdo who really likes all things spooky, creepy, and decidedly paranormal. It's a day (or night) with a lot of spiritual and historical import - at least for a witch with ancestor ties to Ireland.

What we know today as a spooky night of frolic for kids (or an excuse to get absolutely "graveyard smashed" on a weeknight - in costume) has its roots in a much more somber observance. And since this information has been floating around the internet in some iteration or another, I'm gonna hazard a guess that most of you, dear readers, have at least read the name Samhain (pronounced sow-en, soh-een, or sha-vin, respectively) or heard tell of its pagan origins.



"Autumn has arrived, and with it comes the advent of Samhain, a Gaelic holiday celebrated by Pagans and Wiccans, which is the year's third and final harvest festival. ... Rituals surrounding Samhain include bonfires, healing, dancing, thanksgiving, and honoring of the dead. - Huffington Post"



Halloween definitely has roots in pre-Christian Europe and many of the traditions that live on today are derived from those practiced by the early Celts, primarily those in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Before pumpkins, folks carved up turnips as lanterns to scare away evil spirits and to light the way for their ancestors to visit. The concept of leaving out or offering candy stems from leaving offerings to passing spirits on Samhain so no mischief would befall you in the night. Trick-or-treating is much more enjoyable than souling - going about asking for donations of food for the poor (a practice the Christian church initially disliked, but eventually accepted).

But Samhain was also considered the final harvest festival for the year and the beginning of winter. It was a time of somber reflection, being thankful for what one had, and honoring those that had come before and passed through the veil.

Divination was a pastime for some folks and often involved apples, fire, or mirrors - young girls would try to divine if they would be married in the next year or who their husband would be.

But I digress....you can read all about this from more academically sourced material than this blog.

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Even before I became a bonafide, card-carrying member of the witchy community, something about Halloween always felt so much more magical to me than any other time of the year. As if the whole world was holding its breath, waiting for something amazing to happen (or the slasher outside the closet door to eventually amble away) - Halloween night has the feel of being a liminal point.

Where anything's possible, if you're brave enough to will it into being.

Which makes sense, since I now know that this is one of the few times a year when the veil between the living world and the realm of the dead is thin enough for all sorts of ghoulies to waltz on over (and maybe we can peek beyond, too?).

It is the one time of year that I can really go all-out indulging myself in macabre luxury and no one bats an eye. If I show up to work donning a gothic rosary with my standard issue blazer, no big deal. If my lipstick's a little dark, people compliment my new look. I don't get the uneasy side-eye from fellow transit riders if I'm blithely reading a tome about Lizzie Borden (I'm on team Lizzie is Innocent!) and suddenly all the skulls I keep around my dwelling are "festive" instead of unsettling. I can be myself just a little more fully with a little less backlash and that's WONDERFUL.

Around Halloween, it's trendy to be witchy and goth. Everything comes in black with a smattering of pointy ears and tarot cards.

Am I a little bitter that the same people who ooh and aah over black lipstick in October are the same people looking down their noses at the full-time Goth ladies? Sure. Who wouldn't be. No one likes a hypocrite after all.

But they and I find common ground in our love for seasonal goodies - namely the pumpkin spiced variety.

I adore dressing up too - costumes are great fun and allow you to express little pieces of yourself that don't get to come out and play very often. Or, you can assume a whole new identity and let that confidence move you in unexpected ways. Channel your inner Vampira or let the spirit of Bast take you on a feline adventure through your next Halloween rave. Remember when I said anything was possible?

Halloween is the perfect time to set aside the forced cheerfulness of the day-to-day mundane and let ourselves ponder the darker natures of human existence. Whether we cheer when the token blonde gets axed in our favorite slasher flick or ponder the justification of a ghostly entity seeking vengeance on those who wronged them, we can safely explore our own darker natures and accept our whole selves.

We can also reconnect with our inner child, scaring ourselves silly with things we know deep down aren't truly malevolent or evil (black cats and witches, I'm siding with you) - and enjoy a guiltless night of too many sweets and nostalgia. I, for one, really enjoy wearing black cat knee socks and devouring a pile of Kit Kat bars, don't you?


Is Halloween your favorite holiday or something else? What do you like or dislike most about it? Tell me in the comments below!

Comments

  1. I love the traditions of Halloween and find the modern spooky stuff fun. I always fear my uptight English relations will come back to yell at me, though!

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