John Charming has been fighting the forces of darkness for a long time – a very long time. So you could say that he’s something of an expert on the subject. So before going out tonight, check out these helpful Pro-Tips.
Okay, so imagine that it’s the seventh century. It’s late October although they probably have a different name for that month in your village of Sucksalot, but however your calendar works, it’s that time of year when crops are dying and families are slaughtering and salting livestock so that they’ll have enough meat to survive the winter. There are no antibiotics except for a few plants with mild anti-septic qualities and maybe a few poultices whose ingredients include boiled urine, so now that flu and pneumonia seasons are coming around, villagers are dropping like pants at a Vegas convention. Death is everywhere, literally and symbolically. Souls are travelling through doorways between the physical world and the spirit world a lot more frequently, and this makes it easier for metaphysical predators from the other side to slip through.
So what do you do? Containment and appeasement rituals. You sacrifice some of your slaughtered cattle and toss their bones in the fire so that beings who can’t physically digest the food can still mingle with its essence. Your local priest leads crowds of children dressed like spirits from house to house to collect donations for the dead. You hollow out turnips or pumpkins and carve scary faces into them and light fires in their center because this is symbolic of life surrounded by death, of light surviving in the darkness.
That’s the origin of Halloween. Lighting a candle in the darkness and praying for survival.
So how can we 21st century denizens protect ourselves on a holiday that is traditionally the supernatural world’s equivalent of an office party? Well, common sense rules like staying in well-lit areas and keeping crowds around you still apply. The truth is, on this particular holiday it’s not about protection so much as deflection. You’re never going to make yourself invincible – but you can make yourself less attractive. For the spirit world, Halloween is a smorgasbord. You don’t want to be the banana pudding with vanilla wafers crumbled in, you want to be the pickled fish that probably should have gotten tossed out a day ago.
With that in mind, here are a few basic pointers.
Tip 1: BE GOOD FOR GOODNESS SAKE
It isn’t Santa Claus that’s coming to town, it’s spirits that can’t let go because they have unresolved issues. We’re talking anger management, self-loathing, greed, selfishness, or revenge fantasy type issues. The kind of souls who populate that train station between our life and the life that comes after are basically like the worst ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend that you’ve ever had. And one of the key principles of magic is that like is attracted to like. So on a purely pragmatic level, it might make sense to invite someone who doesn’t run very fast to come with your group so that you can leave that person behind to distract pursuers if things go to hell, but you know what? That kind of thinking is messed up, and not all threats are physical. That kind of thinking will cause beings looking for weak or evil minds to come knocking on your mental door. By the same reasoning, this is a season where the worst types of cunning folk come looking for harvest sacrifices, and it’s not the best time to be a virgin. So on one level, becoming unchaste might be logical, but you also don’t want to do anything that’s going to damage your self-esteem too close to D-Day. There’s a line where being practical is good, but being ruthless and selfish are counter-productive.
Or to quote Austin Powers, “Oh, Behave!” Read the rest of this entry »