Tuesday, May 03, 2005

My Halloween Paradigm Shift

I researched the Druids and Samhain for an English course in college and got totally turned off by Halloween. It grossed me out. All the telling of the future by reading entrails, yuck! My family won't be doing that type of thing! Thinking that a gourd with a face cut into it could ward off demons, silly! We are not a superstitious family! Humans have such imaginations! I wanted to avoid Halloween just because of the associations and hints of the various cultures that contributed to its existence.

My "anthropology of magic witchcraft and religion" course had pretty much grossed me out too! I learned some things in that course I really wish I hadn't. We learned a little about the origins and history of Halloween and the rumors or reasons as to why we believe what we do about, say, witches. I can't even tell you some of the things that I learned, it would insult you. I want to tell you.... about why..... anyway.... let's just say we won't.... do that.... in this house... So, we didn't participate in any Halloween activities for 11 YEARS!

I went to "Fall Festivals" just because I felt really weird and paranoid sitting in a dark house with porch lights off, hiding from children....

Then, as I was researching it again I realized what we do for Halloween in America is NOTHING like all those things I detested. I remember how innocent it was. How excitedly we would look through my pumpkin! We really water it all down and poke fun at much of the detestable things. Our version of Halloween is meaningless and maybe insulting to a real Druid or Celt. And our portrayal of witches: that's an insult to real wiccans and they have often complained about it! Real witches don't have green skin, wear all black, or have a big nose. Real witches don't ride on brooms, which by the way, is totally impossible, laugh like a drunken Granny, or make bubbling stew in a black cauldron. So, Halloween is actually poking fun at all of those things for which we avoid Halloween! Does that make sense? Just my thoughts as I look back on my morphing opinions on Halloween. I guess I've had a Halloween paradigm shift!

As a child, I associated the scary costumes with Halloween and not with "evil." Evil was something else. Anytime I saw something scary: a witch or a ghost, I associated it with Halloween - pretend. I knew scary costumes could be made by a human, purchased in a store, and worn by anyone. As an adult I know that real Evil is something that you can't see. Real evil is the twice convicted child molester down the street who is actually a handsome young man. Real evil is not as easy to spot as a scary costume. The only costume that evil wears would look attractive, religious, pious, and moral. Otherwise, you would see it for what it is and not be tempted by it or fearful of it.

Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve. -Roger Lewin

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