Halloween

Halloween has come around again, and while I have bought the candy and attended to the costumes of my daughters, one of my favorite holidays since childhood has kind of fallen flat for me this year for some unknown reason. Part of it is because I have been so busy that time just escaped me. I didn’t do any decorating, I did not even buy a pumpkin to carve which I have never neglected to do. Don’t mistake me though, the day is a day of shivers and chills and good fun for me. It doesn’t have any particular spiritual significance to me otherwise as I do not celebrate Samhain in my year calendar. Nor do I celebrate the catholic Day of the Dead on November 2 (though I have always been fascinated by its décor and spirit). In many way outside of the spooktacular fun, and the endless rounds of horror movies, Halloween lacks any relevance for me.

In my mind I no longer associate the autumn with the dead and spirits of the next world, as I did during my youth. I have become so entrenched in Hellenismos that my mind is turned towards honoring autumnal gods in thanksgiving. Literally the entire autumn seems like one huge Thanksgiving festival with celebrations honoring the departure of Apollon who brings crops and all life to its maturation for harvest, and again honoring a month later in October in the thanksgiving feast of Pyanepsia. For honoring the blessed gifts of Demeter and Persephone, and those great spiritual gifts of Dionysos (as well as his own harvested sacrifice as he is torn asunder and becomes the very food that sustains us even as Kore, the wheat ear does the same in her marital descent). There is just an overwhelming thanks in everything for the plenty for the year and the food that would sustain us through the winter. In essence, it is about food, both physical food and food for the soul. And while some may argue that this is the perfect reason for celebrating a day of the dead, I just no longer feel it. I would like to note that this doesn’t mean that I find harvest/death/ancestor veneration to be inappropriate, but as I already have an occasion for it, that I feel fits more in my spiritual life, Halloween is just celebrated in my house as a secular monster fun day.

The festival of the dead I honor is at the end of winter, as spring rises, and the lambs are born. Christians have a sense of this too in their Easter celebrations which celebrate the death and the return of life, by resurrection, of their son of god. Dionysos has returned from the underworld, he is again new life as babe, a child and then a youth. Spring has a strong suggestion of a trade of death for life. Persephone rises for the underworld, as does Semele who has been often associated with her. At Thebes and in the Pelopennese Apollon is born, this god who is guardian of cemeteries, this destroyer, prior to the Anthesteria during which Hermes for one night escorts the return of souls to visit their families. In general, for me winter is a season of death, the conclusion of which would be the ultimate celebration of death and the honoring of ancestors who brought life to our entire family lines, and through us they continue in our children and grandchildren etc.

But this doesn’t mean that I don’t love Halloween, even if I do not celebrate it religiously. But that is mostly because I loved to scare myself sillyand have a deep appreciation for  monsters and spooks! 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Halloween

  1. You would think, given both my deep and abiding love for horror movies, and the fact that my religious calender is so very informed by the dark and death aspects of this season, that I would be more into “Halloween”. I’m not. Maybe it’s working retail, maybe it’s the ways in which the holiday seems to begin and end in the merriment et al of humankind without any nod to those that are beyond mortal kind, but Halloween just is meh for me these days. In my mind Samhain (and for us, the Festival of Treats!) is/are distinct from ‘Halloween’, though they correspond.

    I can see easily how your honoring of the dead would happen at different times of the year. When I was trying to incorporated more of the Hellenic holy days into my calendar, it seemed like most of the year held some veneration of the ancestors, and so many of them seemed redundant. I’m much happier now not trying to force them all to fit, but i also love that at some point in the year, *someone* is honoring the ancestors, is remembering the dead. And that’s sorta awesome.

  2. It’s the same for me, Lykeia. In addition, if anything, due to the fact that my biological family is Russian-German, I usually go to the cemetery during Yule and bring a few bottles of schnapps, my ancestors are not into water libations, let us just say ;-). And I need my own bottle because they don’t share. My husband has to drive after he ritual is over.

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