This post is about Halloween as opposed to Samhain, but as they are more than a little intertwined temporally, thematically and in my own mind and emotions; as well as in the popular and Pagan cultures… I am not all that worried about it.
As a Witch, I have some very mixed feelings about Halloween…
On the one hand it delights and amuses me that Halloween is becoming such a widely decorated and celebrated holiday (at least in the U.S.). I delight in my memories of Halloween’s of my childhood. The costumes and the trick-or-treating. The delicious agony of waiting till sun-down to go trick or treating. The excitement and fun of a school Halloween Carnival, the cheesy games, the cake-walk, the haunted house and the costume contests and the home-made food booths.
I’d like to digress for a moment, as I often do, to mention a fading tradition of the U.S. Halloween experience, the Halloween Parades at school where classes would take turns parading through classes in their costumes! I used to love those, in the few school years where I was going to schools that still did them they were a big, big deal. Sometimes you’d have one costume for the School Parade and a whole other one for your actual trick-or-treating. Good times, good times. (sigh)
Another long-lost part of Halloween that I can just remember is getting home-made treats in your trick-or-treating. Paranoia, some of it sadly justified, of malicious trick-or-treat tampering has killed this fondly remembered tradition from Halloween’s long ago.
Now, back to our post, and the dreaded other hand…
I despair of the fact that the all-out-gross-out has become such a bloody and gory part of Halloween. Now I realize that a certain blood-‘n-gutsy-ness has always been a part of Halloween. It is an undeniable part of it’s ghoulish charm. I am not sure of this blood soaked gore is, in part, a reaction to the anti-Halloween movement of the 1970’s and 80’s; or how it relates to the increasing fascination with blood and gore shock-em Horror films of the same period. I just know that this trend depresses me. It just seems to me that gore and gross has really began to overwhelm the spooky and fun charm of the Holiday.
There has always been a sense of the limenal-time to Halloween as social and personal barriers are lowered or transformed and folks let their (sometimes rather naughty) inner-child out to play dress up at costume parties. There is also a sense of wonder as we accept the uncanny, if even briefly, into our lives with ghost-stories and fortunetelling and masquerade’s. This time between times when, in beliefs ancient and modern, the walls between the worlds were thin and spirits walk amongst us has always held a sense of power and wonder and mystery for me. Even as archeology begins to let go of the idea that the ancient Celts celebrated the new year at Samhain, it will remain a spiritual New Years, because it is a turning point. A treasured night-time journey between the worlds of the mundane and the fantastic.
Is this, truly, a more jaded age that we require more visceral thrills to throw us into Halloween’s liminal state? Or do you agree with me that Halloween can regain it’s Spooktacular aura once more?
I’ve been longing for some old-fashioned spooky fun in the last week or so. Perhaps I’ll go bobbing for apples or carve a Jack O’lantern. In the meantime I’ll be browsing through a few of my Favorite Halloween links and contemplating a fabulous old-fashioned Halloween.
If any of you can suggest further links, especially to old-fashioned Halloween costumes and decor, please post a comment and share!
Old-Fashioned, or just plain geek-tacular Halloween links…
The Vintage Halloween Website ~ This wonderful website is full of vintage collectibles and party suggestions, it is related to a Vintage Halloween Store website, and sadly lacks a lot of the how-to info I crave for my own edification and enjoyment, but this site is a useful ideas resource if your a bit arts & crafty minded!
Dragonfly Design Studio ~ This online store presents a wide number of antiques and reproductions that could help supply an old fashioned Halloween part, and provide some cool ideas.
Spookshows.com ~ Is one man’s website of resources and links for the Halloween lover. If has information, and links and some great images!
Halloween Lantern’s ~ This is a sales website where a crafter sellser her original and reproduction Halloween Lantern’s and light screens. Some great images, items and links…
The Monster Page of Halloween Project Links ~ Is a comprehensive do-it-yourself list of Halloween related projects, most of them are more Haunted House (or front yard) than old-fashioned, but it appealse to much to my inner geek not to include!
Allen’s Halloween Page ~ One mans chronicles of his own Haunted fron yard projects for Halloween. Included instructions and links to a variety of resources. Again, my inner geek was drooling…
Sexy Witch ~ A (NSFW) blog whose author Red Witch seeks out images of sexy witches for her own edification and as an antidote to the vile hag them common in many depictions. The party noise-maker image at the top of this post was culled from this site.
Thrill The World ~ An annual event that seeks to get increasing numbers of folks to do the dance from the Thriller video by Michael Jackson. They set a new world record in 2007 in Toronto. (this link gets bonus points for not only being Halloween fun & weirdness, but 80’s fun and weirdness, ah the surreal days of my youth…..)