Opinion piece by Bernie Bell
I’m angered/saddened/ annoyed by what Halloween has become in popular culture. The whole ‘boogy-boo’ idea, is against what I know of those who have passed. Just because a person is dead, they don’t immediately become ….horrific. If they were horrid in life, they are likely to be horrid in death, until/if they learn to be otherwise. Otherwise, they’re pretty much as they were, maybe having learnt a bit along the way from this life. Mostly the same person, some even having found themselves again, after losing themself while in the persona they had, whilst in their last life here. Either way, the same basic nature – for good or ill – while learning, learning, learning.
I dislike both how the original meaning, has been perverted by popular culture, and also, this modern business of trick or treat rather than marking a celebration of a time of change, of life passing and renewed life, which is what it means, to me.
When I was a child, and a young person, we used to bob for apples, and have little parties, in our houses. Echoing something of the ’old ways’. The whole ‘trick or treat’ thing is an American import, which has got completely out of hand in recent years.
Trick or treat, didn’t used to be so bad. When I lived in Wales, the local children would call round, and I would give them sweeties. The ‘tricks’, didn’t really come into it. One year, a group of children knocked at my door and when I opened it, they all shouted, “Trick or treat or smelly feet!” Then, a little voice from the back piped up “It’s all-right Bernie, don’t be scared, it’s me, Hannah.” Then another one, admired my ‘Bat’ door-knocker – all very amiable and friendly – part of the fun of the evening. Now, it appears to be seen as licence to cause havoc.
To our Pagan friends, it’s known as Samhain, and, as I understand it, the focus is on looking back at your life, and life in general, looking at life as it is now, and looking ahead to what’s, possibly, to come. It’s not just one night ( Halloween), but more a time of year.
A few years ago, A lot of stuff, went on, around what’s called Halloween, for me, which gave me a stronger awareness of what this time of year, is about. Even what I found myself doing, in the garden, fitted, though I wasn’t really aware of it. We’d had the meadow, strimmed and mown, and ‘put to bed’ for the winter, just waiting to burst into life again. I’d been planting daffodils like nobody’s business, daffodils, little bits of sunshine that they are. We went to the Rendall Harvest Home – end of the harvest, end of the ‘light’ time of year, going into the ‘dark’ time of year. Only dark, in terms of shortage of light, nothing else ‘dark’ about it, at all, a wonderful time. For a few weeks, I’d found myself going out just as the light goes, and wandering around the garden, and just standing and looking around me, at how all the different places and pieces of the garden and landscape, fit together. Taking in the feel of it, the light, the smells, the sounds, watching all the birds, wheeling about. Brilliant. It’s all there, for those who keep their eyes and ears and senses open, all six of them!
Thing is, also, the festivals are often seen as Celtic, whereas, often, what I was feeling, felt like it went way, way, back, before the Celts, same times of year, same significant day, or days, but the folk then, would have called them something different. I just go with the flow, go with what’s happening, don’t worry about putting names on it. I just work with it, and see what comes out of it, and through it, in this case, a greater understanding, for me, of the time of year. And it’s all still fermenting away, there, in the land and the sky and the sea, and the people, and the critters, it’s all still going on, and a good thing too, it’s always done so, and, if it stopped, where would we be?
Times of our life, and Times of Life.
Oh dear, I don’t even know why I’m going to do this, but, I am……….here goes:-
I can’t answer Andy Mitchell on the ‘Orkney News’ Facebook page, as I don’t do Facebook, so – I’ll answer you here, Andy.
This piece of writing was placed in ‘The Orkney News’, as an opinion piece – that’s what it is, my view, my opinion. We have clashed over this before – am I not allowed my opinion, as you are allowed yours?
My friends husband used to say, defiantly, to me “I don’t believe in life after death,” then glare at me ,significantly. My answer was, that he’ll find out, when he dies, as will we all, either way. Simple as that.
I have nothing to prove. I was, once again, writing of my own thoughts and experiences. You have nothing to prove, either. What will be, will be, whatever you or I think about…….anything.
And, finally – why are you so incensed about my use of the word ‘Critter’? I looked it up, and, yes, the dictionary definition is that it’s “US and Canadian. Early 19th century”.
So, I suppose I’m ‘Americanised’ by using that word. Once again, my opinion, is that that is a good word to use – to me, it represents all the….critters, scurrying about, inhabiting a place.
My nick-name for one of my friends is…Critter, because she is a critter! It’s a fitting name for her. As it happens, she’s also American.
That a word, or actions, are new, and/or from another place, isn’t something I automatically object to – that would be a vey limited way to look at life, it’s when something comes in and changes a way of life in what I see as a detrimental way, that I object. Ask any one who has been frightened by the ‘trick or treaters’ , and see what answer you get from them. For that matter, ask the Police, who constantly warn against the placing of objects in roads on Halloween, and other dangerous goings-on.
I don’t damn all things American or new, but I do object to what has happened to Halloween. That’s my opinion.
Andy Mitchell is annoyed with me, again, on the ‘Orkney News’ Facebook page. So , I’m going to state my case, here, again. One of the things I like about ‘The Orkney News’, is that Fiona (G) presents many different views and approaches, and people can discuss them. Reasonable discussion, is always welcome.
If what I say annoys you so much – you don’t have to read it!
Here’s something I wrote to someone I know, who works very much with reason and facts, but who also likes to have exchanges with someone who has a different approach in some ways – me. We disagree, but we get along well. It is possible to do so.
This turned up today when I was checking my old emails for something else.
Here it is………….
“As to what you say re. people who “convince themselves about things by means other than strictly rational”……..You can probably guess my reaction to that! Facts, being rational, are very good things, but….there simply are more things in heaven and earth, Euan, than can be ‘explained’ by either of those things. Or, that’s my way of seeing it. The facts, taking a rational approach, can illuminate or elucidate what we experience, but…….there are still, simply, so many things which are just there, pretty much in-explicable, and, as long as they are good things, helpful things, I don’t worry too much about explaining them. But that’s just my way. It works for me, so I go with it. I talk, with great confidence, of what I know, but also acknowledge, what I don’t know! And always point out, that it is just my way of seeing and responding to what’s around me. We need to present our views with confidence, or they won’t be listened to.
The difference is, when folk present things which aren’t really, actually their views, at all. They’re just presenting the world with what they think the world will accept, or what they think will get them most notice or influence. That’s when the “talking bollocks with confidence”, is so annoying, and potentially so harmful. People tell people what they think they want to hear, or what they think it will benefit them, personally, most, to tell them, not what is their perception of what actually is. ”
I write of my perception of how things are.
In my response to you, I may have come across as aggressive – that wasn’t my intention. I tend to express myself strongly.
I will continue to send things to Fiona (G) , and she will continue to choose what she wants to publish, and, presumably, folk will continue to read them – some will agree, some won’t. So it goes.
Meanwhile, I would like to develop a thicker skin, but doubt that happening, this late in the day.
I love this essay. Thank you
Once again, Cath – you are very welcome!
It really does feel good when someone sees what I’m hoping to get across.