Halloween – The Secularization of the Pagan
Halloween, that most secular of days, has become a time for adult parties, candies, and Hollywood ghosts and goblins. A safely scary, “ending of daylight savings time,” festival. It is a holiday of candy. The day on which the largest amount of candy is sold in the United States.
Just as we have a secularized Christianity at Christmas – the Happy Holidays which we celebrate without reference to the “Reason for the Season” – Halloween echoes pre-Christian and Neo-Pagan rituals – without a real connection to the earth or that troubling notion of the sacred.
This is not to say that having fun is not a good excuse. However, the focus on the fun excuses any obligation to enter into the mysteries of religion. The witch on her broomstick, the bed sheet with eyes that we call a ghost, the iconic “happy face” on the hollowed out pumpkin, evoke no real connection with the earth and the spiritual powers of nature. There is no shaman, no calling down of the spirits and ecstatic dance, no trances induced by ritual fasting and drumming.
The Celtic New Year’s holiday is not a fall harvest festival in an urban culture in which 2% of the people produce enough food and fiber for the rest. The days are getting shorter in the northern climes. It is still 3 weeks to that least commercial of holidays – Thanksgiving.
For all of our talk about spirituality, whether traditional or New Age, our cultural manifestation of these ancient festivals shows very little of the spiritual, whether Christian or Pagan. Our focus is not on the transcendent – the totally other. Nor is it on the immanent – the divine fire within. We are becalmed in a world with little dimensionality. And we wonder why everything seems flat, gray, and listless!