Writer’s Block: Bewitched, Not Bothered

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By Corinne Wnek

It’s the Boo season again and has been since the last hot dog of summer came off the grill on Labor Day. Since that time, we have been bombarded with jack-o-lanterns, black cats, ghosts, wicked witches and an assortment of ghouls and other characters worthy of Halloween madness. I know that I’m probably in the minority here, but I love Halloween.

When my husband and I were planning our wedding 26 years ago this week, we chose late October when nature is at her most colorful and the mystical specter of Halloween, a few days later, meant magic was everywhere.  This is the time of druids, fairies, goblins, headless horsemen and other-worldly creatures that only exist in the imagination. Maybe.

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It is well documented that more supernatural occurrences happen at this time of the year than at any other. This might be because of the connection to All Souls’ Day on Nov. 1 when souls of the dead would prepare to travel to their next destination.  We have the ancient Celts of Scotland, Britain and Ireland to thank for this.

The Celts celebrated Samhain, pronounced, ‘so win’, an ancient but sacred festival marked on October 31. It was thought that on this day, ghosts, both good and bad, could most easily pass from the ‘other world’ to our world. Good spirits were welcomed into the home with sweet treats. Disguises, or costumes, were often worn to trick unholy spirits and send them away, lest some evil should befall that home.

Trick-or-treating has its origins in the Old English practice of the poor begging for food in exchange for prayers they would offer for the dead. In the evening, bonfires were lit to give light to the darkness in case an evil spirit decided to overstay its welcome. Many did.

So, this past weekend I hosted a Halloween party for adults. Among us are teachers, managers,   accountants, repairmen, correction officers, nurses, senior citizens and even a doctor in training. But there is something about this time of the year that is very forgiving of otherwise mature adults who allow themselves the opportunity to take on an alter ego.

Suddenly, my quiet, live-and-let-live husband becomes Count Dracula, Prince of Darkness. Now, while some of the magic may have gone out of the marriage after twenty-six years, Halloween has a way of bringing it back with a vengeance.

My 86-year-old mother was an eighties rocker, ala Joan Jett, complete with long wig, cigarette and guitar. And then there was that gesture Joanie was famous for just to prove how hard a rocker she was.  In polite society we refer to it as ‘flipping the bird’.  Let’s just say my mother nailed her character.

My daughter was the Mona Lisa, an aunt was cat woman, my 78-years-young uncle, a jailbird, followed by an assortment of clowns, Bob Marley wannabees, ghoulish monsters, cartoon characters, the biggest ballerina you ever saw, the Mario brothers and a Scottish highlander, me. So there we were, 30 adults of all ages and all of us losing ourselves in the fantasy of Halloween, autumn’s answer to Margaritaville.

Sometimes escape is necessary. Halloween brings out our inner child for those of us who forgot to remember that it’s still there. Maybe it spooks us and shifts our imagination into high gear. Maybe for a few days in October, we find ourselves checking under the bed at night, keeping an extra nightlight on or wondering if that strange light swirling at the foot of our bed is a visitor from beyond the grave who has a message for us.

If it is a ghost, I’m sure he’s just urging you to get into the spirit of things and have a happy Halloween!


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