Tag Archives: Halloween

The Halloween Hypothesis

Exploring the Celebration of Being

Halloween is, for many, their favorite holiday. I must admit, it still has a magical allure for me as well. The masquerade, the merriment, the comradery of children going from house to house, the sweetness of doors being opened; confections being proffered, the prospect of manageable mischief and dancing amid a riot of fall colors, roasted pumpkin seeds, and monster movies…    It is a holiday that, in our lifetime, has been inextricably linked to childhood, with all of its abandonment and wonder.

Perhaps, our fascination with this celebration goes much deeper on a subconscious level. Halloween beckons to us to enter into our imaginations with the purpose of exploring aspects of ourselves that we may keep hidden away.

During the year, we become so fully engaged in the business of propagating ourselves and worrying about our various concerns, that we may not even take the time to have fun with who we are capable of being. We also tend to define ourselves by our affiliations. We identify with our religious or philosophical beliefs, our political parties, our businesses, our careers, our accomplishments. All of these, contain aspects, but by no means are, the totality of our Being.

As a child, or even as an adult, we long to know what it feels like to be more than we perceive ourselves to be. The chance to be royalty, a superhero, or a ninja, builds up our self-esteem in unique ways.

The darker aspect of Halloween playfully allows us to explore the shadow parts of ourselves with an air of acceptance. It is as if we are saying to ourselves, “Can you love me as a villain, a ghoul, or… a hot dog?”

Surely, we are all capable of being scary, ugly, mean and horrible. Maybe, the social permission to represent ourselves in a no holds barred fashion, could act as a repression release so that, even on a subconscious level, we can air out the forbidden attic to dance freely with all of ourselves.

Even the worst aspects of ourselves are only slivers of who we are. The truth is, all of us are a nexus of a universe expanding internally and externally. We are unique interlinking particles and waves vibrating across 11 dimensions and more. If we really had any real inkling of the vastness of our true Being, we would not have to consign ourselves to the pigeon holes we might place ourselves into on a daily basis.

The pointy hat, I am trying to uphold here, is that we are more than we allow ourselves to be and getting the chance to play is liberating.

So, whether you celebrate, shun, are indifferent, or ignore this holiday, I hope you find a way to trick yourself into the treat of the fullness of your Being.

“Well, if you want to sing out, sing out. And if you want to be free, be free. ‘Cause there’s a million things to be You know that there are.”- Cat Stevens

Making friends with the monsters

Finding pathos for the suffering creature within.

Dr. Frankenstein

“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” -Edgar Allan Poe

“There are four questions of value in life, Don Octavio. What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same. Only love… Love will find a way through paths where wolves fear to prey.”- Lord Byron

As Human beings, we have been given access to and are a part of the expansion of the universe, our potential is godlike, we rise, we grasp, we even gain glimpses of the infinite. Still, the one thing we cannot control and that happens to us all is death. It is the great leveler and it drives us. It stirs in us like a phantasm, it dances with us, it calls to us. It causes us to build empires, to reach for the stars. It stirs our longing to create poetry and songs to court it, to postpone it, to live after it.  The true dancers are augmented by it and live before it. But the mad scientists in us long to create something that will defy it. Because love ones are lost, the captain Nemo in us arises to take revenge on all of the war machines that rob others of their loved ones, blind to the irony of this destruction. The poet William Blake said Eternity is in love with the productions of time.  We are all part of the grand play and because we long for the light behind the veil, we are fascinated by the shadow play rippling on its surface.

Our fascination calls to us from the Mountains of Madness* to procure something unexplained, something beyond our mortal frame. We long to face our fear- to see and feel beyond it, to be assured, even beyond faith that there is something more than the terrible treadmill emptying into the void.

Yet Friedrich Nietzsche said, “If you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” The void can appear to be an abyss instead of an invitation to recognize our identity beyond form. If one clings too tightly to this mortal coil, the inevitability of shuffling off can lead to despair or worse to a rage that leads to malevolence. Nietzsche also said, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.”

My Uncle Jeff said when he was a boy, he would make friends with all the monsters so they wouldn’t get him.

On a Saturday night while my folks were out, I would arrange all of my stuffed animals on the couch so they could see the TV and watch Creature Features with me. I too made friends with the monsters. My favorite universal classics however, had elements of pathos in them. It was when Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer said to Esmerelda the gypsy, “You ask me why I saved you? Oh, I tried to carry you off, and the next day you gave me a drink of water and little pity,” that I knew we were all capable of being monsters and heroes.


Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein monster echoed this understanding 145 years before I was born, “I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other… I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous.”


Many of the classic monster movies offered insight and compassion for the monsters inside us, thrust into life and yearning for love’s absorption.  One of my favorites was The Wolfman.  Maria Ouspenskaya, playing Maleva, the gypsy, alone had the ability to transform poor Laurence Talbot back from his wolf form while the moon was full because of the empathy she had for his suffering.

Maleva and the Wolfman

Maleva:The way you walked was thorny through no fault of your own, but as the rain enters the soil, the river enters the sea, so tears run to a predestined end. Now you will have peace for eternity.”

Because my father was a radio man, he was able to introduce me to the host of Creature Features. At the time, it felt like I was meeting Abraham Lincoln. I thought my dad was the coolest guy in the universe for knowing him. Looking back, I realize that the hosts of these shows were our link to movies that would open the door to exploring the unknown, the chance to make peace with our monsters.

The cool ghoul pioneer host Zacherley passed away at 98.  He not only had a laugh to rival Phyllis Diller but he was important enough to leave us, not in January or a month where he might have been overlooked, but right before Halloween.


Long live Zacherley and those who get us to recognize that our abyss isn’t all that terrible. It can be laughed at; it can become a part of the firmament that inspires and thrills us at night.

Zacherley archives:


Zacherley on Mike Douglas:


May your All Hallows Eve be merry and dance within your void!

*- a reference to HP Lovecraft’s book At the Mountains of Madness

Treats for the Tricksters

Today is historically known as All Souls Day, so let’s play some Otis Redding, Nina Simone and Marvin Gaye to honor the dead baby!
I hope you had a happy Samhain (pronounced sow-en), or you may call it All Hallows Eve or the young Halloween, (as opposed to the ol’ Halloween).  Stemming from a Gaelic celebration marking the start of Winter, the holiday’s original treats were offerings for relatives who had died and whose ghosts might have enjoyed some wine, bread and other goodies.  Children started dressing up as the ghosts to mess with the adults and thus the pranksters created the tricks.
While Halloween is sometimes frowned upon as too dark, demonic or not wholesome, I personally think it is healthy to treat our inner trickster at least once a year.  The trickster is a vital part of our human psyche.  There has to be something within us that gets us to lighten up and tear down the walls we have built around our beliefs.  “Normalcy is a fallacy!”  is a battle cry my friends and I have often employed in our revels.
There are famous tricksters that we revere as being part of our established reality.  Ben Franklin, for example, used to slip articles under the door of his brother’s newspapers written by a window named Silence Dogood. He would also slip made up verses into his bible and read them to folks he thought were pompous. These folks would often pretend like they recognized the ‘scriptures’ he read.  
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
– Mark Twain
“Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out alive.”Bugs Bunny
One of my favorite tricksters is Hafiz of Shiraz, who was always exasperating the fundamentalists of his day. Ironically, my favorite renditions of Hafiz poetry are written by Daniel Ladinsky, who is a trickster in that he published renditions that capture the essence of the poetry rather than direct translations. This exasperates ‘serious’ scholars.  Here are a few renditions for you:
Retire In The Alps
The great religions are the ships,
poets the lifeboats.
Every sane person I know has
jumped overboard!
Hafiz, it is good for business,
isn’t it? 
 but I would rather retire in the Alps!
I Had a Legitimate Excuse
I had a legitimate excuse for not going to the
mosque and temple to pray.
It was because love is so wild in me I might
break the fragile glass cage that all religions
are made of.
And… since Julia and I have been binging on audio books by Terry Pratchett as we gig along, (the ones narrated by Stephen Briggs are our favorites), let’s have a quote from Granny Weatherwax, a wise trickster and witch:
“…And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.
“It’s a lot more complicated than that . . .”
“No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.”
– Granny Weatherwax from Carpe Jugulum
*   *   *
 Ben as prankster
Let us trick ourselves into being more humane and savoring the sweetness of life.