Saturday, September 19, 2015

Halloween is Coming - Thoughts About Worship

We're past Labor Day in the United States, and that means that our media is full of commercials for things occurring in the fall. Primary among these are the new television season beginning next week (new shows - yawn, continuations of older shows - some are OK) and the next holiday - Halloween.

It's almost time for kids to go "Trick or Treat" at your doorway. Sure, there's
still more than a month before Halloween, but if you're making their
costumes, it's time to pull out the fabric and sewing machine. 

For those who are Pagan, Halloween is a seminal holiday - a holiday that is not an equinox or a solstice such as we will celebrate next week when we celebrate the Autumnal Equinox. Most of the mid-seasonal celebrations go on with a wave, a smile, an extra offering on the altar if one is kept, and sometimes a small gathering. But for Halloween the world seems to celebrate.

Carved pumpkins are indicative of Halloween throughout the USA. Why
carve a pumpkin? Well, I suppose it's better than the turnip or
rutabaga of historical records. 

As I was seeing yet another commercial for costumes this morning as I was catching up on my emails and watching the 4:00 am repeat of "Law and Order", it occurred to me that without children embracing Halloween as a nation-wide costume ball, we might be more aware of the longer-held beliefs in the thinning curtain between good and evil that take place at the turning of October into November. After all, All Hallow's Eve is followed by All Souls's Day - the ghosts are driven out by the choral voices at the closest cathedral.

Castles had their gibbets, crossroads had their hanging
trees or frameworks. 

In ancient times, Halloween was a time to avoid places of danger - crossroads, confluences of water, and intersections of ley lines. Criminals were executed at crossroads and, sometimes, their bodies were placed in gibbets or left hanging by the noose to warn others that retribution was swift and harsh in the area. It was a simple "No Trespassing" sign that communicated a message graphically.

The great cathedrals, this one in Lincolnshire, England, were built to
inspire the people to cast their eyes upward towards God. The architecture
draws the eyes upward as well as toward the central altar. 

There were also signs for the other side - the godly side. These were the stained glass windows and arched vaults of the cathedral - raising the eyes of the congregation towards heaven. The liturgy was performed in Latin, a language foreign to most of the peasants in the pews or standing in the wings. It almost placed an aura of magic over the familiar ceremony and also led to a social gap between the priest performing the Mass and those listening to the strange words and not allowed to stand at the altar.

The Pharaoh would walk through the temple columns to
offer his gifts to the god - hoping it would be well received.
When the god turned away from him, the floods wouldn't
come or would be too strong, either way causing famine
in the realm.  

Ceremonies separating those performing religious rites and those attending them seems to have always been present, even back in Egyptian times when Pharaoh brought his offerings to the priests of Amun and the sun entered the Chamber of the God.  I believe worship and the trappings thereof are your personal choice. I choose to keep my celebrations private and personal. If there is a deity, they understand, if there isn't, what do I lose?

Many pagans or individual worshipers following personal pathways will set
up altars. This one is quite nice with the female to the left and the
horned male on the right. Don't look for any altars in my house - I don't have one
of my own. 

So start shopping for that Halloween candy, start dressing the kiddies up as ladybugs, princesses, pirates or their latest superhero fixation, and don't forget to stay away from crossroads in a little more than a month. Such a rambling post, today is. That's what happens when I have a bit of time. Now to find some quick pictures and get going to the gym. Happy weekend to all and don't forget to clean your house to prepare for the Equinox and the Jewish holiday next week.

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