Even now this landscape is assembling.
The hills darken. The oxen
sleep in their blue yoke,
the fields having been
picked clean, the sheaves
bound evenly and piled at the roadside
among cinquefoil, as the toothed moon rises:
This is the barrenness
of harvest or pestilence.
And the wife leaning out the window
with her hand extended, as in payment,
and the seeds
distinct, gold, calling
Come here, little one
And the soul creeps out of the tree.
All Hallows by LOUISE GLÜCK
Once, I bought a book on the Gaelic traditions of Samhain. A friend at that time remarked, “Oh my God. Are you becoming a witch or something?” I think about this every time someone tells me that she (because in my experience it has always been a female) doesn’t celebrate Halloween because of its Pagan roots. This fear disguised as avoidance reminds me of all the mothers who are afraid their daughters will come to hang out with girls who have “body piercings and dyed hair.” And yes, in the last month I have heard those exact words from three different moms. How about the over-achievers who already have a twenty-two point life plan? These are the hooligans that give me nightmares!!
So to my friends who do not celebrate Halloween or care to understand Paganism,
If you’re afraid you will “catch” Paganism, it might have something to do with how you came to whatever religion you’re involved in now. If you made it to a certain set of beliefs or a faith community by way of contagion, you may want to take a study break and learn more about what you’re praising. And while you’re at it, study up on what you’re condemning. (Maybe start here. Or if you’re even shorter on time, here.) Spoiler alert: Where do you think that Christmas tree came from?
In doing your research, I hope you will get a really good look at what it means to “hallow.” Especially on this thin space kind of day (another idea we Christians took complete credit for, BTW.) I hope you’ll see that Pagans and Wiccans and Witches are not a tribe of freaks who worship Satan (and have dyed hair and body piercings.) I hope you’ll see that some of us, good Christian folk, are participating in this kind of worship every day as we over-consume and hide our addictions while loudly shaming others. And maybe it’s a long shot but I hope you’ll come to own that these traditions are not something catching but a major part of the Christian DNA. So in others words, we already caught it.
Along with these hopes, I wish you all a Blessed Samhain and/or Happy Halloween.