Happy Festival Of The Imagination!

Over on Twitter (pamelamorris65) and Facebook, I’ve been putting up a daily post about Halloween.  It’s been fun finding out new things about my favorite holiday. This morning I saw a news story about a school that has canceled their Halloween celebration because of its religious overtones. I’ve mixed feeling about that. Part of me says, “Well, that sucks!” Another part says, “I hope they cancel all their Christmas events at that school, too.”  I’ve never labeled myself as being ‘politically correct’ but I do try and not label and judge people based on religion, race, sexual preference, etc. As long as people don’t shove their personal labels in my face or try to jam them down my throat, I really don’t care who you pray to, from whose loins you sprang or what you do in the privacy of your own bedroom with another consenting adult. 

As a kid I never associated Halloween with religion. It was a time to dress up and play pretend with everyone else in the town. It was time to get free candy. That was it. Maybe it’s a good thing that Halloween is finally being recognized as what it really started out as. I’m all for the separation of Church (aka Religion) and State. However, if you are going to do that to Halloween, I think it’s only fair we look at the history of Christmas and Easter and the beliefs from which almost everything about those two holidays grew from, too.  Sorry if I burst some of your bubbles but both have some very Pagan roots.  Be all that as it may, I didn’t intend this to be a post about religion so I’ll cut that vine before it grows any longer.

The first costume I clearly remember was one of those store bought, hard plastic masks with a pull over, pre-printed smock dress. I wanted to be Sleeping Beauty but I guess she wasn’t popular enough and I ended up as Cinderella. My brother, now he was an original, he was a giant, paper mache carrot. Yes, you read that right – a carrot!  Maybe I should have gone as a rabbit. I dunno. He had, and still has, some pretty crazy ideas. A carrot… really?

The next costume I recall was recycled from the previous June’s Kiddie Parade hosted by our volunteer fire department. I was Little Red Riding Hood, complete with Big Bad Wolf. Okay… it was really our sweet and gentle German Sheppard but damn, I was cute! It was during that year I first experienced Halloween Mayhem. I was too little to control the dog myself so my big brother, dressed as the Woodsman, chaperoned myself and the Wolf to the fire station for their Halloween party about two blocks away. Old car tires were burning in the middle of the street. Lines of gasoline had been run across the road and ignited. Glass bottles and pumpkins were smashed everywhere. We trick or treated on our way there, got more candy at the party along with cider, donuts and the apples we bobbed for. I think we won a prize.

Years passed and I soon started making my own costumes. I was a vampire more times than I care to admit. One of my best friends and I dressed up like two of the members from KISS. She was Paul Stanley (on roller skates) and I was Ace Frehley. My dad helped make the platform shoes I wore.  A few years later a different bestie and I were Dracula and his bride. I got to be Dracula. There was a sexy witch in there someplace, too. My final trick or treat costume was the Grim Reaper. I think it snowed that year. I remember wearing a lot of layers under that big, black robe anyway. I was, believe it or not, seventeen when I finally decided I was too old. Now I hear about kids saying they are too old when they are twelve. That makes me sadder than the idea of a school not doing Halloween.

Eventually, I had kids of my own and the fun of Halloween returned in all its glory. I could dress up and go trick or treating again and no one would question it! YEAH! For years we decorated the house in a big way even asking friends to dress up and act as extras in the display. Droves of kids and parents came to the door. Gobs of candy was handed out. Now – my kids are grown. My son will be twenty-three in less than a week and my daughter is twenty. With no grand-babies in the near future, it’s going to be a long time before I get to go trick or treating again.  I am hoping to attend my first Zombie Walk in a couple weeks though.  I can’t help but wonder how many other people have “Participate in a Zombie Walk” on their Bucket List.

You hear a lot about how kids today lack any imagination due to television, video games and the like. If that’s the case, couldn’t Halloween be marketed as a Festival of the Imagination instead? If you could be anything you wanted to be, real or imagined, what would you be? On that one day you could become that thing. Let’s not take away something so valuable to our society, our sense of wonder and fun. Our sense of play is squashed enough as it is once we reach adulthood. We keep saying our kids are growing up too fast and yet we, the adults, are the ones that are making them do it. Taking away Halloween is like taking away part of being a kid. It’s pretend. It’s the one time of year we can maybe, just maybe, all get along regardless of religion, race and sexual orientation. Heck, even Jesus thought we should be more like children.  

Keep the spirit of Halloween alive in your heart. For me, that’s being like a child, playing dress up and pretend.  Don’t let “The Man” take away your sense of fun and wonderment or, most importantly, your fair portion of free candy! 


The Secret To Life Is…

There’s a hash-tag thingy over on Twitter: #TheSecretToLifeIs I added my two cents to which I will tell you my contribution to at the end of this post.

My good friend Lily came over this past Saturday. I don’t get to see her and her husband Pete as much as I’d like. They are one of my most favorite couples. Of all the people I’ve known for more than twenty years, Lily is the one friend that I actually see the most. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t have Facebook. We can’t stay caught up on each other that way. It’s truly a blessing in disguise. We get REAL face time, sitting at the kitchen table noshing on homemade salsa & guacamole with chips and hot tea. It’s always ALWAYS a pleasure to spend time with her. Pity it only happens a few times a year.

We talk about a lot of things, Lily and I – pets, politics, religion, hobbies, work, family and etc. The topic of belief came up this time around. We share a very common belief system, it seems. That’s cool. I don’t find a lot of people that seem to get “God” along the same lines as I do. I’ve truly run the gammut when it comes to religion. I’ve been a Born Again Christian & a Satanist. I’ve been a Pagan & Agnostic. Today I classify myself as Gnostic which would take reams to explain so I will  merely suggest you take a gander over on that link to save me a whole lot of typing time & space.

When I was Christian – boy howdy was I ever Christian – I spent a lot of time wearing crosses and praying in churches and reading the Bible and singing worship songs. When I think back on those times I find it really hard to remember actually BELIEVING in what I was doing. I suppose I must have but somewhere in there I never had that JOY I’d heard so much about. I think deep inside though I simply felt those things: the crosses, the prayer, the Scripture – were just that… things. Maybe I was too young & inexperienced in life to grasp it all.

Let’s make it clear that the Satanic portion of my spiritual journey was very short lived. It was damn scary. You really don’t want t go there kids. ‘Nuff said.

I entered my Pagan path after that. I’d always been fascinated by witches and the like. I did my High School term paper on the different theories behind what had happened at Salem. I’m even a descendant of Rebecca Nurse. She’s like my 7th great grand aunt or some such thing. Yeah, the blood is thin but hey, it’s still fun to be related! I looked into Wicca and other variations of Paganism. None of them truly fit me so I ended up making my own version. It felt right at the time – sorta. But as with the Christian thing and the Satanic thing – this square peg never fit into that round hole. I couldn’t believe in the “power of crystals’ or any of that other stuff. To me the crystal was just a crystal. It didn’t contain any of its own powers but MAYBE it could be used as a focal point for a person’s own energies – much like the Crucifix I used to wear. Like in so many vampire movies, ya know? You have to BELIEVE in the cross for it to work against the Prince of Darkness.

I resigned myself to being a hermit as far as religion was concerned. Little did I know that even that was leading me somewhere else. I may not be seeing it by its technical origins but the word “Hermit” makes me think of “Hermetic” and/or “Hermes.” A few years ago a friend of mine asked if I’d heard of Hermes Trismegistus. I had to admit ignorance. He’d not really say a whole lot about it just told me to few books I might find interesting to look at. Being the research junkie I am and a big fan of the cross referencing of world theologies, I dove right in. And my keen interest in Gnosticism was born.

In as small a nutshell as I can explain we must go back to the beginning of my post and the Secret of Life. Remember the movie ‘Dumbo’ where he had that little feather held so tightly in his trunk? He believed that only while he held that feather, he’d be able to fly. Turned out that wasn’t the case. You don’t need the Feather. You don’t need that Cross, candle or statue. You don’t need that crystal or pentacle. They are just things of the material world. All you need to find and be with God is right there inside you. That is what Gnosticism has taught me.

And so… The Secret To Life Is You Don’t Need That Feather To Fly.