Happy Samhain!

Well, I’m glad to see you all survived the night! I myself had a minor run in with a few flesh eating zombies, but other than that, the night was uneventful hehe. (No, I’m not in that photo…I just stumbled upon it on Flickr, and thought I’d share 🙂 )

samhain.jpg Halloween has been weird for me as an adult. I don’t have kids, and I’m too old to do the candy thing on my own. For the last almost 15 years now, I’ve lived in a building where we get no trick-or-treaters also, so I don’t even get to give the candy away. And then there were my army years, which I have gone into detail about recently at the old blog…where I started getting into Wicca. I hesitate to even mention this, as so many people immediately write off Wiccans as a) insane, b) harmless but nutty, c) irrational and into the occult, d) heretics. While I no longer consider myself a Wiccan, it did influence my life, and I am still sympathetic to their world view. Back then (1984-1986ish), it just got really tiresome answering all of the idiotic questions I got from people about it. No, we’re not Satanists. No, we’re not Christians either. No, we don’t engage in human sacrifice…in fact most Wiccans would have been horrified at the thought of any kind of animal sacrifice; heck many of them are Vegetarians or Vegans, and some would question the morality of eating vegetables, seeing as they were living things and all hehe. I myself was briefly a vegetarian, but I loved hamburgers way too much to give them up it turned out. Nowadays while I still eat meat and see nothing immoral about it, I tend to eat a lot less meat than most of my friends.



samhain2.jpg How did I get into Wicca? Well looking back through the mists of time hehe, it probably went back to those haunted houses we threw for Halloween. Wicca has absolutely nothing to do with any of that, but that’s probably where I went off on a tangent and discovered it. I know I was in the library looking for a book on the Tarot when I did tarot readings that one year. And I know I found a book of “spells” that I got out, also for use during the haunted house. It never occured to me that these things were “real”, these were just props. But while in the library, I stumbled upon the book Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler. It was a no-nonsense account of what nature religions were all about, and it chronicled Margot’s own discovery of a rebirth of these religions in the US. I also read Starhawk’s Spiral Dance at about the same time. There were a number of other books I ended up reading during high-school…mostly snuck into the house, to avoid my step-father’s inevitable freak out and scream-a-thon hehe; let’s just say it’s not one of those things he would have understood lol. I ended up taking away a mishmash of ideas about Wicca and paganism from these books though. 1) These folks are harmless, 2) Being more connected with the Planet is not really a bad idea at all, 3) In spite of being more open-minded on pretty much everything, Wiccans could be quite superstitious about various things, and 4) Their hostility toward Christianity was a little over the top.

I’m not going to dwell on paganism/Wicca/magick, but I did want to mention that this is one of the things I was getting more into while in San Angelo. And after I had my own room (after it had been vacated by the Shawl Guy hehe), I actually had time to do a few rituals. These were the typical bare-bones type ritual that appears in every basic Wicca book. I had no ritual tools…and would not have assembled a set of them anyway, being in the military and having people inspecting my room periodically. Though technically obscure religions were protected in the military under the UCMJ, it is a very hostile environment for any religion except the Christian ones. samhain32.jpgSo I bought and burned incense, but stuffed towels under my door to keep the smell from getting out into the common area hehe…I doubt if my flatmates would have cared, but I wasn’t going to take any chances and open myself up to unnecessary harassment by the military authorities…while it wasn’t Basic Training, it was still Training. And I followed the advice of one of the books: do the ritual with what you have! If you don’t have an athame, use a butter knife. If you don’t have a pentacle, use a plate. And etc. So there I was with my paper plate, and my plastic knife, trying to have a religious experience hehe. But after having “holied the holy water” in my grandfather’s church years before, I must say it didn’t seem that odd. Ritual was basically the practicioner putting themselves into a light trance, and getting in touch with nature. Which made Christian ritual seem bizarre by comparison to me at the time. In Christian ritual, the priest is doing his thing, but the congregation just sits there bored watching, trying to impress their neighbors with their fancy clothes, chatting, passing out business cards, etc. And then they get preached at for an hour. The two experiences were dramatically different. The notion of actually doing the ritual, as opposed to wearing uncomfortable clothes and watching someone else perform the ritual was very appealing to me. Every practicioner is essentially a Priest.

altar.jpg So at any rate, this is why Halloween started being odd for me…as November 1st is celebrated as a pagan holiday. The night before is not spent getting drunk with friends, or playing dress up, or even indulging in scary haunted houses. It’s spent honoring the earth, and commemorating your beloved family and friends who have passed on. (In many Spanish cultures, like Mexico, they also celebrate November 1st as Día de los Muertos). Imagine how odd it would be for a Christian to get dressed up in weird costumes and get drunk at a party on Easter Sunday hehe…that’s what it would have been like for me to celebrate Halloween that way. Nowadays I no longer think of myself as a “pagan”, but the party thing on Halloween is something I’ve never gotten back into the habit of. I did get to hand out candy this year though at a work event, where several hundred people brought their kids in in costume. We decorated the whole area around the outside of the building in a Halloween theme, and it was a lot of fun. I’ll leave the reader with a link to Beliefnet, which is truly a wonderful resource for unbiased information about all religions. (The link goes to the earth-based religion page). They even have a little quiz which will tell you what religion is most in line with your beliefs…pretty cool!

~ by dagoril on November 1, 2006.

One Response to “Happy Samhain!”

  1. Hey, welcome to the neighborhood! I did NOT know blogger was a GOP propaganda machine, that must be why it was so unreliable. I’m still learning my way around WordPress too. This’ll be fun.

    Off to update my blogroll now…

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