Thursday, October 31, 2013

There is a Ghost . . .

Today is Halloween, which here in the U.S. has become a horrendous commercial spectacle. This despite the fact that the day has roots in the Catholic celebrations of November 1, “All Hollows Day” (or “All Saints Day”) and November 2, “All Souls Day.”

Deeper still . . . elements of Halloween developed from a pagan holy day, the ancient Celtic feast of Samhain (pronounced sow-in), which was the eve of the new year. It was a time when it was believed the veil between this world and the next was at its thinnest, and people and spirits could “cross over,” could pass back and forth between the two worlds. Huge bonfires were lit on hilltops – some say to frighten away evil spirits; others, to warm the souls of the departed. Perhaps both.

Personally, I like to gather up all these names, origins, meanings, and dates and speak simply of Hallowtide, and emphasize the transformative power, the witch power, the time calls to mind.

And so to mark Hallowtide this year at The Wild Reed, I share Marianne Faithfull's haunting song, "There is a Ghost," accompanied by an artful video by Christina Bon.

There is a ghost, and it goes out
On the land, on the land
It's lifted up, it feels and floats
On many hands, on many hands

Oh, my lover, oh, my lover
Never was there another
Where has my lover man gone?

There is a dream you've had before
And forgotten many times, so many times
When you remember who I am, just call
When you remember who I am . . .

There is a tree and its leaves have gone
For what it's seen, it stands alone

Oh, my lover, oh, my lover
Go now, go now find another
Where has my lover man gone?

Away, away . . . across the land
Across the land
Across the land . . .

– Marianne Faithfull
(from the 2004 album Before the Poison)

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Halloween Thoughts
A Hallowtide Reflection
The Signal Man – A Ghost Story by Charles Dickens
Halloween Hijinks
Irene Monroe on Halloween as "America's Gay Holiday"
All You Holy Men and Women
Photo of the Day – October 31, 2012

Related Off-site Links:
If a Druid Rings the Doorbell – Michael Tortorello (New York Times, October 30, 2013).
Halloween Was So Much WEIRDer Back Then: Creepy and Disturbing Vintage Halloween PhotosWeird Tales Magazine (October 26, 2013).
A Ghost Story – from George Orwell? – Danny Heitman (Christian Science Monitor, October 30, 2013).
Five Christian Theologies Scarier Than Halloween – Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite (The Washington Post, October 28, 2013).

Image: Michael J. Bayly.


Terry Nelson said...

Halloween is so over the top now days. When I was little, adults rarely got involved - I think my age group refused to grow up and made it a National holiday.

I like the idea of Hallowtide. Having been in retail I always think of it as the beginning of the holidays.

Michael J. Bayly said...

I'm with you, Terry!

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.