Thursday, October 15, 2009

Samhainophobia Vs Samhainsensationalism

This is a picture I took of a house in my neighborhood. I walk by here almost morning every when my dog walks me. This Monk statue is always in the current season of fashion. Bunny ears for Easter, a summer hat till near Mabon, this Conical, then a Santa cap and a party hat on new years eve. I love my neighbors.

Yesterday Jason of The Wild Hunt wrote this article about Samhainophobia, and how the media is using this new angle to sensationalize Halloween. But I don't think it's new, but rather re-used. Regardless, "it" seems to manifest every year in some form.

My mother warned me about becoming successful, she said you could tell when you begin to become successful, because people will start to attack you. She said people will tell you that your can't do it, even people who you thought were friends will go after you. She was right.

She said some people don't want you to succeed because they want to be first and you are competition. Others don't want you to succeed, because they can't. But the worst ones are the lazy ones. They wait till there's a crowd and go after you publicly. They wait, letting you do all the hard work of getting somewhere we'll call "successful" and then jump on your back once all the work is done. Then they gain attention by simply apposing you publicity. She was right again.

This is why people go after Halloween, to get their ten minutes of fame. Easy money. And Halloween is a safe target too, Halloween does not defend itself or file a law suit against you for slander, so you can say whatever you want about it. My favorite are the ones who say "I know because I used to be one of them..." Well that's all I needed to hear, preach to me brother... and go ahead and make some stuff up to really hype it up, lets get everyone wound up nice and tight. Fear and Guilt makes for big business.

But I see the complete opposite thing happening at the other end, everyone is a Witch this month. And they all pour on a few extra helpings of *Mystique* because Halloween is the most holy sacred spiritual divine day of the year when the Vail between the living and the dead is soooooo thin that it's almost dangerous.... but they can't answer a single question about factual Samhain. Sigh.

But as I said before, things are changing. The tide of social acceptability has changed. When I first moved here a few years ago my children were not given "excused absences" for a few days of the year that we kept them home, but last year that changed. Last year my daughters came to me with big grins on their faces and asked if they could stay home since Halloween was a holiday.

Hmmm that's a good question.... "but why should you? What are we celebrating on Halloween? Why do we call it Samhain? What language is Samhain? And what does it mean?" I sat back closed my eyes and enjoyed the silence. Later I provided a pile of books and told told them each to do a lengthy report on the Sabbat. They stayed home, all of them. The two older ones read their reports to the two younger ones and we sat a talked about it for a long time while we made crafts and decorations.

My wife is Mexican and she is the only member of her family who still practices El Día de los Muertos, so after the book reports we all pick up the family pumpkin, go to the cemetery and decorate the grave of her Grandmother in the traditional style. We clean the grave marker and decorate the rose bush growing there with bright pastel colored skulls and skeletons, burning a little incense and leaving small offerings. The pumpkin is there and we ask for a blessing as we take it home to carve.

It's my right as man of the house to carve the pumpkin, but more importantly to count the seeds. I clean them and bake them a bit before I count and recount them a third time. The seeds are placed in a glass mason jar and placed on display accompanied by a small pad of paper, pen and another jar containing folded bits a paper. Every one stares long and hard trying to guesstimate how many seed there are. Because everyone wants to be this years coveted "Pumpkin Seed Prophet". For the honor, for the glory and for first prize, because there is no second.

Everyone brings a nice framed picture of someone who has passed, usually a Grandfather, Great Grandmother or someone who just left us too soon. We greet and hug, they show us the photo and there is a silence, a smile and a nod. The photo is taken out to the Altar and a special place is arranged in honor. Decorated with do-dads and bobbles, a lighter or pocket watch. Cigarettes and small flight bottles are common, every family had that one who lived a lot.

There is a story that is told, and a song that is sung, and there are a few parts that are private and a few words that must be left there where they were spoken. They are no longer for the living. Each one of us take our turn introducing the person in the picture, we tell their story, we remember them, and they live on.

Trick or Treat.


olekesbbq said...

I think this is my favorite holiday ya know.

Tracy said...

My kid's school hosts something called "Alladay" which is a celebration of different cultural holidays. As yet, there are no Wicca/Pagan holidays represented despite the fact that last year I came out as the Unofficial Witch of Ridgewood. Ridgewood isn't the type of place that even likes to acknowledge that there might be someone who practices Witchcraft living in their Village, no less publicly admit it, so I guess it's a step in the right direction.

I told my kids that I was going to write to the Superintendent to point out what I'm certain had to be an oversight in there "Alladay" program. I think they found the thought of me doing so even more frightening than Halloween!

By the Way, love the Monk!