My apologies for the lateness of this post. Normally we aim to get these up first thing on Thursdays; this last couple of weeks was a bit busy with getting some serious organising and moving about of things at home. Moving one older desk out to storage, a newer one in, and getting my own desk a level or two closer to something I can keep sorted on the daily. Steps forward on stuff I’ve been meaning to do for a long time; the neurospicy obstacles that previously got in the way, thankfully now no longer quite as daunting.
However, that’s not what I’m here about today, because gorramit, ‘tis the season to be spooky!
You heard me right. Here comes Sandy Claws. I’m scheming of a frightful Samhain. Deck the haunts with heads and bodies. Yeah, I particularly enjoy Halloween. Always have.
I have a few vague recollections of the way the history of the night was introduced to me while growing up. First, the phase of “Dress up in a costume and get candy” at that age when that was about all of the halloween that I could fathom. Then, the evolution of being informed that the reason for dressing up that way was to frighten spirits that would be roaming about that evening nicknamed All Hallows Eve. Learning much later in life that the origins of the event are deeply rooted in traditions such as the Celtic Samhain or the Norse Alfablot. Eventually arriving at the main gist of these traditions, seeming to hold to the idea that this is the time of year when the veil ‘twixt the planes most runs thin.
With my younger mind being presented this new premise, the question was raised of how exactly could someone make each of those leaps distancing from origination.
The time of harvest, in its cycle of birth and growth to death to life renewed from one year to the next, was deemed symbolic of and drew attention to that coil to which was subject not merely the mortal, but other forces as well. Growing up in a part of the US that actually had four seasons (let’s face it, Phoenix has only two, those being “warm” and “hell” with a tiny bit of monsoon sprinkled in randomly), I was already quite well acquainted with this natural cycle, and it just made sense that all things were bound to it in one manner or another. Even the budding scientist in me saw how it upheld the laws of conservation of energy. Something lives, passes, breaks down, and promotes new life.
The thing I noticed at that time is that everyone seemed to have a different view about what happens when one dies; even those within the same belief system or cultural group may differ ever so slightly. This leads to traditions that include opening a window so that souls of family members might be able to retrieve the soul of the recently departed, holding a wake or vigil to protect the deceased from evil spirits, and holidays that venerate close ones we’ve lost with altars, a table setting at an seemingly unoccupied chair at daily gatherings, lighting a candle at church.
These traditions which we create help us process Passing. Perhaps it’s to honor loved ones with whom we wish had that one more moment, to not feel so alone in their absence, or maybe to comfort ourselves in that those traditions will recall us as well after our time has come.
As such, it’s with this in mind that I go not-so-quietly, but embracingly, into this dark night. I hold memories of those I miss, watch as others keep or build their own traditions, and take no small amount of joy in making sure the trick-or-treaters get their fair share of the bounty. And yes, cooler costumes help the odds a bit.
So, with only a couple weeks left until the spookiest night, let me know: What’s our favorite memories or part of Halloween? I’m dying to hear from you!
P.S. Fa La La La La, La La La Ho-WOOOOOoooooooooo!