Friday, October 25, 2013

Guest Post by Inanna Arthen - Have Yourself an Old-Fashioned Halloween

Have Yourself an Old-Fashioned Halloween

Halloween was always my favorite holiday when I was a kid (way back in the 1960s)—even more than Christmas. Back then, it was a very child-focused holiday, with a few exceptions. My parents hosted a Halloween costume party that I will never forget. One of their male friends came as Little Bo Peep (my first experience seeing a straight guy in drag!), while my dad borrowed a theatre costume and dressed as a very authentic Henry VIII. But the day was really for the young. I looked forward to trick or treating all year long. Our costumes were homemade—only the tiniest tots wore the printed-jammies-and-plastic-mask costumes from the dime store.

When I became a serious Pagan, Halloween turned into Samhain and a sacred holiday for me. I continued carving Jack o’lanterns and dressing up to answer the door. But for twenty-five years I’ve lived on a country road too lonely and dangerous for trick or treating, and my observance of the holiday has been a very private one. In the meantime, Halloween as a social and cultural event has exploded in the United States. Evangelical Christians deplore “the glorification of evil and the occult” in vain. Halloween is big business, to the tune of $8 billion a year for candy, costumes, decorations and events. It’s the grown-ups who decorate their houses and yards and wear the costumes now, both often far more explicitly gruesome and macabre than anything from my youth.

If you don’t celebrate October 31 as a religious holiday (either Pagan Samhain or the Christian “All Hallows”), you may enjoy all the brilliant and technological festivities. You can buy Halloween lights in multiple colors and styles, and professional quality costumes and make-up. Elaborate yard displays include life-size ghosts, monsters and skeletons, or huge inflatable and/or animated figures (my neighbors have a giant spider on their porch roof right now that looks like it should be chasing Frodo through Cirith Ungol). But what if you fall somewhere between these two poles? Maybe you’d like to try some of the old-fashioned, quieter traditions for celebrating the day. Here are a few things you can do:

Carve a Turnip Jack o’ lantern.
The original Jack o’ lantern predates the introduction of the pumpkin to Europe from the Americas, where it was domesticated and cultivated by the Native tribes. The earliest such “punkie lights” were made from large root vegetables like turnips, rutabagas and mangel-wurzels. You can buy the big rutabagas in many grocery stores, often waxed to keep them from drying out.

The first time I tried making a “turnip light,” I was surprised at how easy it was. All you need is a large metal spoon with a sharp edge. Slice the top off the rutabaga and start scooping out the inside flesh a little at a time. As you work down into the core, start scooping to the sides. You want to hollow out the rutabaga until the sides are between a half inch to a quarter inch thick. Make a “floor” at the bottom that can hold a tea light candle (or you can use a battery-powered Jack o’ lantern light or a small flashlight) When your rutabaga is completely hollowed out, carve it the same way you would a pumpkin.

Try Out Some Fortune-Telling.
Reading the future was a common tradition for a number of holidays, including New Year’s Eve, May Day and Midsummer Day. But there are more fortune-telling customs around Halloween than any other day. Many of them sought predictions on who would die in the coming twelve months, but many asked about love and marriage. A young girl would sit before a mirror with her hair unbound at midnight on Halloween. By the light of a single candle, she would eat an apple slowly and comb her hair, waiting to see the shadowy image of her future husband appear over her shoulder.

You could try reading the cards or any other divination method you know. The Ouija Board has acquired an undeservedly negative reputation, but you can make a “talking board,” the Victorian parlor game on which the Ouija Board is based. All you need is a large sheet of smooth paper on which you’ve written the letters of the alphabet, numerals, and any symbols or words you wish (“yes” and “no” help speed things along). Then you need a small flat, or flat-bottomed, object that will slide easily over the paper. The Victorians used an inverted wine glass (short stem, wide mouth and base). A large coin like a silver dollar also works well. To operate the talking board, two or more people rest the tips of their fingers on the slider very lightly. It can take a while for the board to come to life—it should start with the slider moving in broad, sweeping circles. When it stops, ask a question.

Speak to the Spirits.
Traditionally, Halloween was the old Celtic New Year and the beginning of winter. That made it a “threshold” holiday when different dimensions or planes of reality overlapped, and beings not usually seen in our world could enter. This might include the Fae, spirits of the dead, deities, elementals, and to Christians, angels or devils. Dressing up in masks and costumes (or “guising”) as these beings was a way of confusing them or warding off the harm they might do.

But Halloween was often a solemn time of communing with these spirits. You could set a “dumb supper” or empty place setting at your dinner table for them, or leave a lighted candle with food and drink by the hearth (if you have one) or on the doorstep. People sometimes sat before a mirror hoping to glimpse a lost loved one, or placed a memento under their pillows and made a wish to speak to the departed in their dreams. Pagans create “ancestor altars” with photos and small belongings of deceased family members, while Christians remember their beloved dead in their prayers.

Make Something Out of Blackberries.
The last blackberries of the year must be eaten before Halloween night—after that, anything left in the fields belongs to the “pwca” (or Pooka), a dark and sinister spirit shaped like an animal. Bake a blackberry tart or squeeze the juice for a deep red drink.

Bob for Apples.
Apples are a sacred fruit in many cultures, and autumn is their time of year. Bobbing for apples is one of the oldest and most common of Halloween games. An apple is floated in a large tub of water and the contestants have to try and retrieve the apple with their teeth. In a variation, you can hang the apple from a string—the winner is the first who manages to take a good bite out of it. The winner must eat the whole apple after the game ends, and supposedly will gain the gift of second sight.

Candy apples—dipped in candy syrup, caramel or another sweet coating and often rolled in nuts—are one of the earliest Halloween “treats.”

These and other traditional customs are less expensive and gaudy than animatronic zombies or cakes shaped to look like severed body parts. When you revive them, you’re connecting with your forebears who practiced them in simpler times. That connection with those who have passed on is the “true meaning of Halloween.” But whatever you do to celebrate, have a fun, safe and spooky October 31!


Inanna Arthen (Vyrdolak) is an artist, speaker and author of The Vampires of New England Series: Mortal Touch (2007), The Longer the Fall (2010), and All the Shadows of the Rainbow (September 30, 2013). Book 4 is currently in progress. Inanna is a lifelong scholar of vampire folklore, fiction and fact, and runs By Light Unseen Media (, an independent press dedicated to publishing vampire fiction and nonfiction. She is a member of Broad Universe, New England Horror Writers, Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and Independent Publishers of New England (IPNE). She holds an M.Div degree from Harvard and is an outspoken advocate for the Pagan and LGBTQ communities. She is minister of the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Winchendon, MA. Her professional website is

Purchase All the Shadows of the Rainbow HERE.

By Light Unseen Media
The Vampires of New England Series


Vanessa Morgan said...

Great post. Inspiring to do something different on Halloween than just eating pumpkins and watching horror movies.

Aurian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aurian said...

What a great post Inanna, thank you very much. I enjoyed reading it.

风骚达哥 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
柯云 said...

air jordan femme
kate spade outlet
coach outlet
coach outlet
ray ban sunglasses
louis vuitton outlet
oakley outlet
toms shoes outlet online
nike trainers men
nike roshe run
polo outlet
coach outlet
nike sb janoski
jordan shoes
louis vuitton handbags
toms shoes outlet
oakley sunglasses
michael kors outlet online
nike roshe run mens
cheap air jordans
michael kors outlet
louis vuitton handbags
adidas uk
louis vuitton outlet
nike blazers uk
kate spade handbags
adidas nmd
asics shoes for women
christian louboutin sale
tory burch sandals
ralph lauren outlet
louis vuitton outlet online
louis vuitton outlet stores
timberland boots
michael kors outlet clearance
ladies cartier watches
juicy couture
true religion outlet

dong dong23 said...

christian louboutin shoes
michael kors handbags
dallas mavericks jerseys
kate spade
ugg uk
ralph lauren clearance
uggs on sale
nike air max
cheap oakley sunglasses
canada goose jackets
uggs on sale
tommy hilfiger outlet
coach outlet
lebron james shoes 12
kevin durant shoes
nike outlet
prada outlet
michael kors outlet
cheap oakley sunglasses
louis vuitton outlet
michael kors outlet clearance
louboutin pas cher
toms shoes
coach outlet
jordan 11
kate spade
canada goose
oakley sunglasses wholesale
canada goose outlet
louis vuitton outlet
cheap jerseys
los angeles clippers jerseys
boston celtics jerseys
michael kors outlet clearance
oakley sunglasses wholesale
ugg outlet
adidas nmd
new england patriots jerseys
abercrombie kids
louis vuitton bags

dong dong23 said...

nhl jerseys wholesale
mlb jerseys wholesale
true religion outlet
oakley sunglasses sale
polo ralph lauren shirts
adidas predator
oakley sunglasses outlet
beats by dre headphones
kate spade handbags
converse sneakers

Minniegba Hartmanqlx said...

Una primera chaqueta de la liga de camisetas de futbol fútbol nacional de buena fe no camisetas de futbol comprar era de baja calidad. A decir verdad, Camisetas Baratas De Futbol usted puede conseguirlos como un sombrero de entrenamiento profesional que también le ofrece ser encontrado. Probablemente pagará una costosa etiqueta de precio de compra en la mayoría de las boutiques del mundo real, por lo que si el precio de comprar una chaqueta Camisetas Baratas De Futbol de fútbol real es un agravante, le gustaría pasar un tiempo en línea. Siempre hay muchas opciones y recomendaciones, si alguien mira que se detecta una muy buena primera web de sombrero de fútbol americano a un costo posiblemente pueda competir con una buena versión sintética, una cercana en espera,

linlin huang said...

Michael Kors Handbags On Sale,
You can find Michael Kors handbags in many department stores around the country.
Michael Kors Purses Outlet,
They are being seen all over the place.
Michael Kors Bags On Sale,
There are so many fabulous handbags to fall in love with.
MK Handbags,
To find these amazing handbags you can also shop online for all your Michael Kors products.

王炸 said...

Michael Kors handbags can now be found on many discounted sites for fractions of retail prices. The best option for individuals wanting to own Michael Kors handbags is to shop at online discount stores. A great place to shop for these luxury bags is eBay.
Friendly Links: Michael Kors Handbags Sale Clearance | Michael Kors Outlet Store

hanlong ou said...

Michael Kors Handbags Sale Clearance can be found in many different places unlike other luxury handbags.
Michael Kors Outlet Online are great for any occasion.
Michael Kors Factory Outlet is perfect for those who like to carry fashion bags.
Michael Kors Bags Outlet are always great to own when you need a bag to go with everything.
Michael Kors Outlet Online is so universal that it could appeal to everyone.

王炸 said...

Bolsos Michael Kors Outlet
Bolsos Michael Kors Outlet
Bolsos Michael Kors Baratos
Michael Kors Stockholm
Michael Kors Stockholm
Michael Kors Rea

mkbags said...

Siempre habrá una razón por la cual podrán comprar Bolsas Michael Kors Precios de los minoristas en línea. Los compradores de hoy que estén interesados en comprar Michael Kors Rebajas podrán descubrir cómo pueden obtener los mejores resultados que siempre quisieron simplemente haciendo ruido con lo mejor de Bolsos Michael Kors Outlet que ofrecen más allá de precios asequibles.

Dessutom med så många alternativ att välja mellan, har det blivit praktiskt taget omöjligt för köpare att ta reda på hur de kan köpa Designer Michael Kors Väska Rea online utan att behöva investera för mycket pengar eller tid i scouting den lokala marknaden som annars skulle tyckas omöjligt att göra först . En riktig äkta Michael Kors Rea skulle kunna ge dig tillbaka tusentals dollar och det är något som de flesta inte har råd med. Du kan faktiskt köpa Michael Kors Plånbok online.

Maintenant, la question se pose de savoir si vous pouvez réellement trouver en ligne authentique Longchamp Soldes bon marché qui sont vraiment authentiques et la réponse est oui, vous pouvez! Un des sites les mieux notés et les plus populaires pour localiser le Sac A Main Longchamp en ligne parfait pour votre collection personnelle est eBay. Rappelez-vous, juste parce que vous êtes en mesure de magasiner en ligne Sac À Main Longchamp sur eBay à des prix incroyablement bas ne signifie pas qu'ils sont faux ou de qualité bon marché.

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...