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.