When the Walls Are Thin, and the Doors are Open

My Wiccan Father-in-Law once described me as the most Pagan Christian he knows, which I take as a complement.  I believe Doctor Nitobe was right when he said “I believe that God hath made a testament which maybe called “old” with every people and nation,—Gentile or Jew, Christian or Heathen.”  I’m also a disciple of C. S. Lewis, who called himself a converted pagan in a nation of apostate Puritans, and a student of the Irish church, whose roots grow in soil fertilized by the Druids.  And from them do we get the ancient festival of Samhain.

It’s pagan origins and sinister aspect tend to put Halloween out of favor with a lot of Christians, though we’ve seemingly come to terms with the pagan history of Easter and Christmas.  We spent the 80s, some of us, seeing the Devil under every bush and a sinister Illuminati-backed coven around every corner.  Our approach to All Hallow’s Eve was defined by fear, fear of things that turned out not to actually be real.

Here’s what is real.  The Earth spins ’round the Sun on the course God charted for it, and here’s the place in that spinning cycle where the year is dying.  The folk of old believed that this was the time where the walls of reality got thin, on the knife-edge between seasons, when there stopped being a division between this world and the world beyond.  Thus the dead are with us still, and spiritual forces good and bad can make their presence known.  For this reason, I think, the Church chose this time to celebrate the Feast of All Saints, whose Eve was said to be the time the darker powers had their leashes loosened.

As a Christian, I believe all is subordinate to God, and I believe we should fear no darkness if that’s where our faith is.  For that reason, I say even the dourest Puritan shouldn’t fear Halloween.  And, as this isn’t the Massachusetts Bay Colony, those Puritans should refrain from shoving their long noses in and trying to ruin other folks’ fun.  For the rest of us, though, it’s worth remembering that this is a time where the reality beyond the material can be readily felt, a mystical time where the imagined is real and the spiritual is palpable.  It’s the time of remembering the dead, who still haunt us, and acknowledging the darkness, which has no mastery over us.  The time to change our faces, to be free for good or ill in another form.  It’s the season of imagination, fantasy, and magic.

We can, I think, take one night of the year to acknowledge that we all have grinning skulls and dancing skelet0ns under our skins.

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