Friday, October 23, 2009

Halloween is secular, dummy! Satanism has lost it's monopoly on a nifty holiday, but that is ok.

The following is an article written for the Examiner website for Orlando's Alternative Religions page.

Many of you will be surprised/disgusted/dubious of the touchy-feely joy joy PC-ness of the piece. You might think I do not mean what I am writing. I do, however. I may not agree with the liberal/white light view of diversity but as a pragmatist I realize diversity IS. I cannot stop or change it, so I might as well find a way to make it palatable. I believe various religions can share their secular portions of their faiths in order to find common ground and create a more harmonious existence for all. I cannot stop the influences around me, but I can find a way to incorporate them in a way that brings me personal joy. Anyway:

Halloween for Christians, Christmas for Satanists, and peace for Americans

Alternative Religions ExaminerYgraine Gidney-Mitchell

We are a diverse people, we like to say. We a multicultural, multiracial, multi and trans gendered and....well, you get it. We have so many differences and Halloween is a holiday that seems to bring out our most divisive qualities.

It is that wonderful time of the year when certain insecure fundamentalist Christians get their panties in a bunch fearing a bag of candy and a Wal-Mart costume will send their kiddies straight to H-E-Double Hockey Sticks. There are the "horror Houses" where children have the crap scared out of them with dramatic human dioramas of AIDs in the making, or slaughterhouse abortions being performed. There are sermons long and short, claiming directly from the pulpit that allowing one's child to partake in this quintessential cultural joy will result in card carrying occultism...and just because it did it to me doesn't mean it happens to everyone!

In the 1980's and 90's I spent all my time educating people who had no desire to be educated about occult and alternative religions. With little more than album cover art that period of time, known to people in my field as The Satanic Panic gave rise to the anti-Halloween industry/movement. *

Seemingly unaware of virtually every human psychological truth, like "forbidden fruit," or Pavlovian conditioning, ministers began a trend designed to scare the youth away from Halloween and all it's evil influences (like candy. Like costuming. Like fresh air. Like exercise. Like community. ) Or they would bore the kids silly.

The churches took a pretty black or white approach. Either there were to be blood soaked nightmare makers, or tedious festivals with little more to distinguish them as Halloween based than earth tones. So...choices:



Craft store leaves, straw, scarecrows and enough apples to decimate an orchard within a family friendly experience to show just how much fun we can all have without resorting to that ancient Satan soaked Halloween thing. Fun. 'lotsa fun. Did anyone see which bag we put the fun in?

'Makes a parent want to die! Even if i wasn't a heathen I'd still want my kids to have that same joyous experience I had as a kid. The ability to transform into another character for the evening was planned months ahead. The choices of who to go with---the naughty kids with eggs and shaving cream, or the kids who's folks allowed them to eat more than a few token pieces of candy when you arrived home? The creepiness when you turned a corner and your eyes had not yet adjusted and the darkness swept over was magic.

What it wasn't was religion.

Pumpkins. Candy. Trick-or-Treat.. Costumes....As a Satanist I'd love to take religious credit for all of this but that would be a lie. The American celebration of Halloween is utterly secular, regardless of what the ancient roots were, or how many generations of dead druids have passed. Sure there are religious aspects and those are practiced in religious situations by members of those religions, but the religious aspects are not what the overall cultural celebration is about.

By clearly understanding the difference between the religious aspects and the secular aspects of the holidays we can find common ground like never before.This point of view benefits Christians as well.

Let's try this:

Christmas trees. Reindeer. Santa. Wreaths. Garland. Lights.....not one of these things is "Christian" per se, but they have become the secular celebration of Christmas.

Oftentimes I am approached by Wiccans or neo-pagans or Satanists who want to launch some sort of campaign to gripe about the separation of Church and State during the holiday season and that we should take issue with Christmas in the schools or tax supported decorations along the local roads and public areas. . WRONG!

Secular expressions BIND a community, not divide it.

We have gotten so uptight that we can't even see the good that comes with diversity we consistently give lip service to. Nothing about a tree and some lights will turn me or my kids into Christians and dressing up as Jack Sparrow and eating sugar until he pukes won't turn little Johnny into a Satanist. What both those things will do, however, is give us common ground as Americans.

I don't want a house or a festival against that. Halloween 2008


Anonymous said...

Halloween is my Christmas, Christmas is my time to stay the Hell away from the retailers.

It's funny, the Catholics I know are hard-core Halloween enthusiasts, due in no small part to their Irish blood which is scientifically proven to predispose them to alcoholism and unrestrained fucking. Hence Catholicism.

Anonymous said...

Correction: Hence the ridiculous proliferation of Catholics.

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