OK another rant. Yeah, you should be expecting ranting from me in my current state (ie still full of cold and related tummy bug, PLUS hyperemesis and starting to be spacey from the deydration - but I can still rant, OK?).
I am really truly freaked out by the reactions of my friends and family to Halloween. Incomprehensibly irritated and frustrated. There's my dad and his wife, who if I'm really honest, seem actually scared by the festival. They go to a church where they have a "light party" for the children and don't mention Halloween at all. The Lord only knows I'd probably be excommunicated for calling it Samhain (no, wait, they *already* kicked me out for marrying against my parent's wishes!). ;)
My mum is more sensible, but simply doesn't celebrate. It has nothing to do with her traditions, and as far as she's concerned any worry she has is directed more against the Americanised excesses of sweet eating and unsuitable-film-watching that will mean the kids she teaches come back to term acting a little wild.
Friends with children have similar reactions to my Dad (and they aren't all Christians). They worries about walking their children past shops with halloween displays. They don't mention the celebration at all in fact. They worry that mention of monsters and ghosts etc will frighten their child. As if the problem was the dark heart of the festival itself rather than idiots getting carried away.
What is Samhain really about? In some cultures and faiths there IS a belief that the walls between the worlds become thin. But my pagan friends don't "dabble in the occult", they celebrate and worship the powers of Mother Earth, they live lightly with her and are peaceful and gentle people. Most of them think it downright rude to attempt to disturb the spirits of the dead at this time, and at most will light a candle and say a prayer of thanks and remembrance. They don't worship the darkness, only acknowledge it exists. So why is paganism and witchcraft so feared? Doesn't perfect love cast out fear?
On how we marked the darkening of the year and the drawing in of winter, later. Just a question for the Christian parents reading this blog. Do we teach our children to fear darkness, or even revel in it as forbidden? Or do we take a little wisdom from others, and acknowledge it, and pass on to our families that we have nothing to fear and that the great movement of the seasons is a cycle designed to remind us year after year that the light returns, and is returning soon.
And do we re-confirm to those who have often suffered from our lack of understanding that we have no intention of trying to understand? Or do we stand alongside them at the turning of the seasons and say, there is enough similar between us that I do not reject you even where I disagree with you. We are all human, and we are all equal.