1 November 2008

Halloween rant

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.


  1. I'm kind of with your mum - I dislike it for the Americanisation, for the door-to-door begging for sweets. But my real dislike of Hallowe'en is shallow: I *love* Bonfire night best of all annual celebrations and dislike the way Hallowe'en is taking over ;)

  2. I don't like the commercialisation of Hallowe'en but to me it is just the evening before All Hallows. Each person is different and believes different things, even if they profess the same faith, we all have individual opinions and interpretations of things (including scripture), providing we do no-one any harm then live and let live is my philosophy. We can each interpret scripture differently on each reading, depending on our frame of mind when reading and what we're looking for at the time so I don't like to be told that a set passage means one thing and one alone and anyone else who thinks differently is wrong. I think the same applies to life, we all interpret it differently and react to it differently, it isn't wrong to see or celebrate something differently, it's what makes us all what we are.
    p.s. Sorry for essay

  3. Alison, I do believe that there is a "best" reading, and that there is truth to find. *When* we know enough about how and why and when it was written, who by and who for - and when we apply it to our own situation as far as possible and only ever with a spirit of love, prayer, and common sense...

    When I think I have new understanding though, the only way to ever share that with another person is with total respect. Anything less is fundamentally un-Christ-like. And if I'm not in line with those primary commandments, to love as I am loved, what place am I in to think I can correct someone else?

    Often lacking in humility, but trying,

  4. **sniff sniff**

    Thank you Sarah. As a pagan it is not often that my beliefs are respected or even understood.

    You are a very special lady hon.


  5. Sarah
    I'm not sure whether I phrased myself correctly before (tiredness). I do believe there is truth to find and best interpretations, I just find those that deny us our 'right' (probably not the best word but the only one that's come to me a the moment) to be human, fallible and have different opinions (as God made us) hard to understand. I meant to say that those of extreme belief who will not show the respect of listening to others and say their interpretation is right without explanation are the ones I don't like, when they tell you that you're wrong but don't explain! Sorry if I offended by my lack of clarity, it wasn't my intention.

  6. Oh no, Alison, I wasn't at all offended honey - and if I came across as defensive I repeat that I often myself lack the humility I wish to emulate. ;) (hug)

    The lack of humanity and the insistance that anyone who disagreed with them must be Wrong (with capital letter) was the primary reason I did not fit into our previous church. And finding that precise respect in our current vicar was the reason we stayed even though we don't fit in in other ways. :)

  7. always good to hear some common sence


Penny for your thoughts? :)