Thursday, November 26, 2009

It's Thanksgiving-Put Your Mask On

I have a long-standing interest in masks and masked ritual, going back to when I helped Evan John Jones with Sacred Mask Sacred Dance.

So consider than on the East Coast a century ago, Thanksgiving (or at least the last Thursday in November), rather than Halloween, was the time for masking and trick-or-treating.

Thanksgiving itself was a sort of irregular, off-and-on holiday until it was deliberately fixed to mark the start of the Christmas shopping season during Franklin Roosevelt's administration.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Organizing Halloween Ritual

I said that I was not going to post any more Halloween items. I take that back. Here is one more.

One decision we've made is to rebuff curious friends who ask to join our Halloween rituals. It seems like half the people I know want to be pagan on Halloween. I have no problem with a little religious tourism. I'm a bit of a spiritual slut. I have never turned down an invitation to a Seder. Bach thundering through a church transports me. But when I see visions of bacchanals dancing in my nonpagan friends' heads, I get a little testy. Certain experiences are too comforting, too sacred to be spectacles. For me, Samhain is one of them.

This is what happens when the news media notice you only one week a year.


Free-Range Kids Have a 'Scary' Halloween

One last Halloween post, and then I'll shut up.

Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry speaks truth to power and rejects the nanny state on October 31.

If you want to see something really scary on Halloween, come to my apartment around 9 p.m.I'm letting my kids eat unwrapped candy.

They can eat any homemade goodies they get, too, and that unholy of unholies: candy where the wrapper is slightly torn. And on the very off chance they get an apple, they can gnaw it to the core, so long as there's not a razor-sized, dripping gash on the side.

There is more. Read the whole thing.


Friday, October 30, 2009

How to Celebrate a Christian Halloween

Writing at First Things, an "interreligious" journal ("inter" as in Catholics and Protestants, maybe), Sally Thomas faces that annual hurdle of the Christian parent: What To Do About Halloween.

How can it be fun and still be doctrinally acceptable? She writes,

Halloween’s emphasis on darkness makes many Christians squeamish, but, to my mind, what my friend observed about the medieval feel of Halloween is more on the money.

I don’t especially encourage my children to dress as scary things for Halloween. We are taught, rightly, to avoid flirting with the occult, and the darkest character any child of mine has ever wanted to be is Darth Vader.

Don't you love that "flirting"? It's right up there with "dabbling," as in "dabbling with witchcraft."

Ducks dabble. Witches ... do other things. But, who knows, maybe "the occult" will kick things up a notch and kiss them back, slip them a little tongue. That Darth Vader costume might be the first step into experiential religion. You never know.

On All Saints’ Day, our parish holds a children’s festival, hugely attended, at which children and adults alike dress as their favorite saints. This year mine will be St. Ursula, St. Walburga, St. Gerard Majella, and St. George. I probably will reprise my last year’s appearance as St. Helena, although the True Cross did keep whacking people every time I turned around.

Watch out for the boy who wants to be St. Sebastian: he's probably gay.

Via Rod Dreher at BeliefNet, where the commenters actually display a wide variety of opinions about the celebration.

There is always the issue of sex with demons to consider as well.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fate Magazine Reanimated

When pre-writing the blog post on dining above the dead (something best done while walking the dogs), I was thinking about how it was perfect for Fate magazine.

Digression 1: Dog-walking is not all that meditative, because Something Always Happens, like this morning when they charged off through nine-inch-deep snow to try to catch some wild turkeys.

Digression 2: If the reporter were on the ball, she would re-write her story for Fate or another magazine. Get paid twice for the same work—that is the secret of freelancing.

So it occurred to me, crossing the gully between the county road and my house on Tuesday night pre-bed dog walk, that I had not seen a copy of Fate since last spring. Had it been sucked into the magazine death pool?

I checked the Web site, however, and it promised a new issue soon.

Editor-in-chief Phyllis Galde tells me, "The July/Aug is at the printer, and we will turn around immediately and get the Sept./Oct. one printed."

She promises an "awesome" new Web site but complained that the Web designer and the printing plant crew were all sick with the flu.

So Fate is reanimated, I hope. I miss it. Where else can you get a good ghost story?

The graphic has nothing to do with the magazine. Just some Halloween cheer. You can get it on a T-shirt.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

He's Got the Halloween Spirit

Isn't this headline appropriate for the season?

Government lawyer fired after caught with stripper in graveyard during lunch break. 

 I wonder if they brought any oils, candles, etc. with them.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Zippy, the Halloween Slug

I have heard of most of these Halloween folk customs.

The one with the slug is new to me, though, but maybe someone in the Pacific Northwest could try it and report.

Meanwhile, Red Witch in Melbourne is in the midst of a Halloween countdown, examining the commercial side of the holiday in Australia. (Some images may be NSFW.)

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gallimaufry with Snow

Snow has been falling all day, and I am working on a lengthy book review, so here are some links:

• Sannion has the best idea for a New Testament zombie novel, and everyone wants him to write it. Already, I would not look at the book of Acts the same again ever.

• Hrafnkell Haraldsson has produced a string of thought-provoking posts, so go read A Heathen's Day.

• Witchdoctor Joe writes on "Samhainophobia Vs Samhainsensationalism."

• The photo is part of our outdoor shrine.

• I have visited England twice but never been to Glastonbury. Still, I keep an eye on its thriving retail scene through this blog.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It's That Time of Year!

Are you ready for the cameras and notepads? It's the time of year when journalists notice the Pagans!

ReligionLink is on the job with story ideas. At least they admit that they are recycling their resource list from 2004. (No, that's not my telephone number anymore, sorry.)

"Oh, my" indeed.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Are You Too Old for Trick-or-Treating?

I was in a state government office today and saw my first office Halloween decorations. It's coming. So read this Metafilter discussion about when you are too old for trick-or-treating.

Lots of great comments, but don't miss np312's! It's the most creative Halloween "trick" I ever heard of.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Gallimaufry with Pumpkins

Since there won't be any on-time Hallows blogging from me this year, here is an early sampler:

¶ Rod Dreher finally sees autumn arrive in northern Texas.

¶ A Halloween column: "Hitchhiking in the Land of the Dead."

¶ A pastor's rant against Halloween, via The Gods Are Bored.

¶ Since I won't be able to take any photos this year, here are some of last year's Day of the Dead altars built by students at Colorado State University-Pueblo. For some reason, the Vlad the Impaler altar has been drawing a lot of Google hits for the past two weeks ...

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Today is Samhain, Really, Unless It's Not

We celebrate the holy day commonly called Samhain not on one day, but on several. In other words, there is no one contemporary Pagan liturgical calendar.

As I write this, the actual moment in the solar cycle is about an hour away, according to Scott Monahan's useful archaeastronomy site. (Scott is also the videographer of the epigraphers arguing for ancient Celtic visits to America: Here is his latest YouTube video.)

So take your choice: the Pagan festival occurs on (1) the night of October 31st, (2) November 1st, (3) the full Moon nearest to November 1st, (4) a weekend night nearest to November 1st, (5) the day or night when the Sun is at 15 degrees of Scorpio in the tropical zodiac, halfway between the fall equinox and the winter solstice (Northern Hemisphere). Number 5 is happening right now.

I wonder if the push for official work-and-school-recognized Pagan holidays will force us to pick one of five choices and live with it.

Recently, an old friend complained in someone's blog comments that our holy day was being "commercialized." I beg to disagree. Let a thousand Spirit World stores open selling plastic tombstones and sexy witch costumes. The popular holiday of Halloween provides a sea in which we swim.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Gallimaufry with Nut Brown Ale

John Barleycorn Reborn is a double CD compilation of dark folk music from the British Isles.

¶ Staying with the British theme: if you see this, you must be in Glastonbury.

¶ Now this is embodied Paganism.

¶ "Sexy witch" Halloween costumes (big this year) require striped stockings. Why is that? The "sluts and slashers" aspect of costuming bothers some Pagans.

¶ Another example of group disfunction?

¶ I missed DOR Day. Next year I won't. (I do wish bloggers would abandon white-on-black type. The only thing more eyestrain-inducing is purple-on-black.)

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Switzerland's Last 'Witch' Exonerated

A Swiss woman executed for witchcraft in 1782 is the subject of a new museum. A new book examines her case and calls for judicial exoneration. From Newsweek's article:

In the hamlet of Mollis, population 3,000, a road the width of a single car was renamed Anna Göldi Way for the 225th anniversary of her death on June 13. In a mansion along the road, on a grassy gated lot, a new permanent exhibition at the local museum details Göldi's ordeal. Just as American schoolchildren read Arthur Miller's McCarthy-era parable "The Crucible," about 17th-century superstition and persecution in Salem, Mass., Swiss children learn of Göldi. Europe too was the stage for accusations of sorcery and the burning of outcasts deemed witches by maniacal courts. The death toll is estimated to have been 50,000 in Europe.

Today, historians trying to explain the flights of anxiety that sparked witch hunts blame everything from high inflation to cyclical poor weather and low crop yields to the tensions of the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation of the day. But the difference, the shame, of the Glarus story is that when Göldi was beheaded with a sword in 1782, 90 years after Salem, Europe should have known better. "Witch" killings on the continent had dropped off precipitously after 1650. Other Swiss cantons, Geneva in 1652 and Zurich in 1701, had long since executed their last alleged witches. Europe was awash with the Enlightenment, and superstition was meant to have ceded to reason. It was, after all, only about 100 years before Le Corbusier and Paul Klee, Louis Chevrolet and Carl Jung, modern Swiss who are today part of our globalized lexicon.

In a semi-related vein, Jason Pitzl-Waters covers an attempted suit against someone's dead witch Halloween display. No, I don't think it's a "hate crime" either (but Senator Clinton's supporters might, since the "witch" is apparently her).

But read the comments and see what you think.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Silly (Halloween) Season Has Started

Just one of these for flavor: Cindy Kaie, self-righteous principal of Kohl Elementary School in Broomfield, Colorado, has decreed "no Halloween party."

In a newsletter sent home to parents, Principal Cindy Kaier wrote that the traditional Halloween party celebrated in classrooms each year will be replaced by a fall party on Friday.

And because the party is focused on fall, not Halloween, children can't wear costumes.

Parents expressed frustration that they weren't included in the decision.

Consult the parents? Whatever for? Are they qualified? Do they have advanced degrees in education?

A Denver-area blogger listened to her on a radio talk show and wrote about "control mania."

I heard part of an interview with this Kohl Elementary School principal on a local radio program this morning. Listening to Principal Cindy Kaier would make any normal person retch -- politically correct drivel, educrat-ese jargon, and a smug "we know best" attitude oozed out of this woman's mouth -- this is precisely why public confidence in public education is deteriorating. How teachers who genuinely want to teach and instill the joy of learning in children can stand to work for a self-approving functionary like this is beyond my understanding.

(And that's coming from a Green Party member, not a Rush Limbaugh clone!)

The article was not exactly clear about the cause of the ban. Does "not leaving anyone out" mean "not offending rabid Christians"? Or what?


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gallimaufry (with horns)

Oberon Zell seems to drive some Pagans around the bend for his fondness for costuming, but who else reinvented unicorns? The original work was done by a Maine wildlife biogist whom Zell acknowledges, W. Franklin Dove, in various articles and a book, Artificial Production of the Fabulous Unicorn:a Modern Interpretation of an Ancient Myth (1936).

¶ I always say that making movies about writers is difficult because the work of writing is not very visual. Margaret Soltan links to an article about movies that are more about writers' egos and screw-ups. I think that I will rent a couple of them.

I would add Almost Famous to the list, mainly for Philip Seymour Hoffman's rants as a real-life character, rock journalist Lester Bangs, which are dead on.

¶ Recently a shut-down Toys 'R Us store in Pueblo that I pass on my way to the university blossomed with new, temporary signage as a Spirit World Halloween Store. I had no idea that there was a Halloween chain store! Or that there was a category for warrior and god costumes. Or that it included "outlaw zombie"--shades of Texarcana.

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