By Deb Avery
When exactly did Halloween begin? It depends on whom you ask.
Many countries and cultures the world over celebrate a day (or night) in honor of the dead. Some say the first celebration, known as the night when the veil between the spirit world thins, was of Scottish/Celtic origin many, many centuries ago.
However, I have a feeling that in some way shape or form this night of honor—this sometimes frightful night of spirits walking among us—has been going on for millennial.
The custom of wearing masks began in Ireland.
It was a Celtic ritual designed to scare away travelers from the next world who had crossed over into this one. They also thought it could hide the identity of anyone looking to escape the visitation of those who might be out for justice or revenge. And lastly, if all else failed, some of the masks were designed to help them blend in with those who had crossed over.
We’ve all watched the traditional movies of Halloween. We’ve all either been entertained or frightened by the antics of the ghosts, ghouls and goblins. But how many of these stories are real and how many are merely the tales of Hollywood spun purely for our entertainment?
Ghost stories are prevalent the world over. Some cultures accept them without reservations, others are highly skeptical with some completely convinced it’s all rubbish.
That again, depends upon whom you ask.
For those who have witnessed the unexplained, the paranormal/mystical explanation may seem the only answer. Despite a lot of ridicule from others, they hold onto their belief in things outside of the realm of human knowledge. Of course, over the years some things that were once unexplained have now been found to have logical, scientific reasons for being or happening.
But what about those things for which an explanation is simply not forthcoming?
I can only answer for myself, as others can only speak for themselves and their experiences. But in my many years of walking this earth I have found many times when logic and scientific explanations simply do not solve the mystery of an experience.
Some of these experiences have been helpful and even uplifting, such as losing a pearl earring several years ago. They were my favorites—I kept the one I still had left in a box on top of my bookcase. A few days ago searching for something else entirely, I took the box down. When I saw the one and only earring inside I felt a deep longing for the missing one.
Finding the item I was searching for, I placed the box back upon the shelf, left the room for a few minutes and returned. I have a coverlet on my bed with hues of rich burgundy, brown and green. There, in plain sight, enhanced by the deep burgundy of the coverlet, lay a pearl earring. Of course I assumed I had merely laid it there for some reason and reached for the box to return it to its proper place.
But as I opened the box, there was the other pearl earring I had been keeping lying in its usual compartment. I looked back at the perfectly matched earring in my hand, then back again to the one resting in the box.
There is no logical explanation.
The earring has been missing for many years—long before I had purchased the coverlet.
I would like to think that a kind spirit found and returned the earring, but I have no clue, no proof—nothing—only a feeling of gratitude and relief about the whole thing. An overall postive experience.
There have been many of these occurrences in my lifetime. There have also been a few of the more intense and frightening experiences as well.
After a period of reading and studying about the witch hunts in America and abroad one night (also near the time of Halloween), I had a cup of tea and a small snack before turning in to sleep. I was not anxious or overly upset about anything I had read, but it had brought up a lot of questions to my inquiring mind.
Was there such a thing as a force of evil in the world? Or was this force (if even there was one indeed) neutral and it was the one connecting to this force that used it for good or evil? And certainly it was those who partook of the torturing, burning and hanging of the innocents who were using their power for evil and not the wise country woman—or man—who used herbs and wildflowers to help the sick and needy. It was as I lay there in bed contemplating this and other things, with my comfy blanket lying at my feet by the open window, that all hell broke loose.
The quiet fall night was interrupted with what I can only describe as hoarse shrieks! The outside, wooden walls of my bedroom sounded as though they were receiving a thrashing from a hundred tree branches! Home alone at the time and almost frozen with terror I did what any strong, courageous and brave warrior woman would have done. Shaking, I covered my head and cowered in the sheets, waiting for the onslaught to subside.
Eventually it did. And much sooner than it seemed, I’m sure. As to what had happened, I still don’t know. And even though to this day it hasn’t been replicated, there have been other strange and frightening occurrences. Was there a logical explanation? Not a thing that I can think of. I’m not one to give in to flights of fantasy. I simply felt that something had wanted my attention, or at least I had hoped that was all it wanted.
Perhaps my feelings of distress had found matching energies that manifested into the noises I had heard. Or perhaps I myself had tapped into that force and had scared myself. Again, no evidence and no logical explanation.
So, if you were to ask my opinion on Samhain/Halloween I would tell you, yes—there is definitely something to the old stories, legends and customs. That’s the thing with legends and ancient customs, there is always some truth behind them. As to how much has been fabricated over the years and how much truth remains, well, we can never be sure, can we?
For me, I have a healthy respect for all things mystical. And I will honor the spirits of the dead on Halloween/Samhain.
Perhaps you would like to join me in that ancient custom?
Editor: Dana Gornall