Here’s my secret with Halloween: I used to practice witchcraft. If anyone asked whether or not I was a witch, my response was no because I didn’t study the full year (to be a Wiccan you had to dedicate a whole year so that you were taught all the holidays, and it was somewhat acceptable to teach yourself but best to have a teacher). My aunt was almost religious about the holiday, though not in the same way that I was. Hers was the house that should be winning best decorated for Halloween, and she purged her décor one year because she knew some of it was haunted, but she wasn’t sure what (some of the spirits she was okay with, she figured they weren’t harmful or they would have tried something). She loaned me her Sylvia Brown books and invited me to do astral projections and supported my hobby of reading cards and palms.
Back when I lived with my mother, I had chronic migraines, as far back as I can remember, complaining about headaches even in elementary school. (I was amazed to hear that there were people who had never had a headache before. I’m still not sure if I believe it, so if you are such a person, please comment.) One day she shared with me her wariness of my occult studies and told me to stop for a year. I was so annoyed with her for it, but she must have forgotten because I was back at it a few months later.
Now I think she might have been on to something. One day I burned all my books. All of them, and I didn’t spare the cards. I burned my Necronomicon, my diaries I’d written in Rune, my incense, my dried herbs, my spell books, even Harry Potter. I figured, what the hell, if it makes no difference I can start my collection back up. It’s just stuff. I got most of it on discount or for free in the first place.
Since then, I’ve bought back nothing. In fact, I go the extra mile to avoid it. Part of it is that yes, the headaches actually did go away. Edward thinks that moving out of my mom’s relieved the stress, and I won’t deny it as a factor. I consider myself to be a skeptic, even of my own beliefs (if this weren’t true I wouldn’t have destroyed my own belongings). But I also try to come up with tangible reasons for why things are as they are, because they’re much easier to explain and more likely to be listened to than metaphysical explanations. So if you don’t want to believe that Harry Potter opens the way for the devil to get his foot in your door, then consider that maybe it distracts from things that are better worth your focus. Why practice telekinesis when you can learn to knit? (Really, what are you going to do bending spoons? Think about it, you can’t do much.) I was also annoyed that nothing magical made sense. I would compare different practices and belief sets and things would overlap, but weren’t parallel. For example, some calendars follow the classic 12 zodiac, some want to weasel in 13. Some consider the zodiac to be annual, some monthly, some count the sun and moon as planets, some count Pluto. Even in a magical world I had no control, more often than not my spells didn’t work or, most often, had some weird spiritual backfire. But another thing I learned was that, be it mind-over-matter or spiritual baggage, I felt better turning my back on it.
I hope that this prologue communicates a little more clearly my disdain for Halloween. Did you hear about the woman who died on a fence? They thought she was decoration. Someone argued with me, “If it was close to Christmas and you see some bum on the street with a beard doing good deeds, people are going to mistake him for Jesus.” I offered a better analogy while discrediting his argument in one go, pointing out that if someone happens to be dressed in red and have a white beard it would indeed be understandable for someone to mistake him for a character famous for charity and generosity. However, that is a pleasant mistake to make as compared to calling a corpse a prop, and I didn’t like living in a society that would be so readily accepting of such gore.
Another factor of Halloween I find distasteful is the commercialism of it. I think it’s silly to slap on the words “scary”, “frightful”, “spooktastic”, “terrifying”, “boo” on wrappers and post boards and commercials. These are words that aren’t used or are used in genuinely sinister settings (without the bright colors and bubbly shapes, of course). And the money our country wastes on this stuff! And the most easily explained ‘point’ of it? An excuse to start the holiday feasting with empty carbs. I’m also influenced by the book Miss Minimalist, and am considering all the stuff and where it goes the rest of the year if you store it in the back of your closet, or the rest of its existence if you don’t. Don’t worry, I’m rethinking Christmas, too.