It's not all about freedom and Magick, though -- nor yet about your spookiness being propitiated by candy offerings from your neighbors. Halloween is also a way of confronting fear. I first really saw this aged eleven, Halloween 1966 EV. That was the year they first broadcast the "Peanuts" Halloween special, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" (from which comes our icon)...but it was also the year I moved back to Los Angeles from the middle west, making the abrupt and scary transition from a safe, amiable bedroom community to the mean streets of the Walteria district of Torrance, California. My mom actually warned me that I was probably too old to Trick or Treat that year -- hey, I damn near got beat up for carrying a lunch box, instead of a paper sack, the first day of school! -- and frankly, I wasn't looking for candy: I just wanted to dress up as The Green Hornet and go out being spooky with my friends.
Not that we didn't try for candy, mind you; got some, too. But people kept asking if we weren't a little old for this, so pretty quickly we just roamed the night streets, bein spookay.
As it turned out, though, the streets featured spookier kids than us, that night: in particular a gang of them, who invited us to join them so they could pound us. Deciding flight, however shameful, was the better part of valor (we were three against perhaps seven,* and they were Big Kids), we tried to stroll away...and without warning, pow pop crack, we were struck by hard objects that broke on contact and splattered nasty stuff.
Oh, okay, right. Eggs. We were being egged.
It was awful, and thus ended Trick or Treating for yours truly.
Walteria really was pretty scary, not just on Halloween but year round: random beatings and thefts (I had a 007 attache case stolen from me on the street, minutes after having bought it from a friend, about which nobody seemed able to do a thing); kids (including me) arming themselves with dog chains (because the cops couldn't arrest you for having them, though I don't know how I would have explained needing a dog chain when I had no dog); the occasional zip-gun, manufactured in shop class from the innards of a percolator ("coffee machine," to you younguns, though they were more like self-brewing coffee carafes back then) -- they fired real .22 caliber bullets; "fired," that is, when they didn't simply detonate them, injuring you instead of your enemy.
I stuck to dog chains: among other things, if somebody disarmed you you wouldn't get shot with your own weapon. Then 1968 came along, and I put on love beads (okay, my mom's blue plastic costume necklace, but close enough!) and stopped fighting, man.
Still got slapped on, but only once more. The bully seemed to feel diminished that I was taking the slaps for a Principle.**
(It helped that my dad drove up just then, too -- astonishing me: my parents were divorced, and he'd just unexpectedly come by, and driven to the school hoping to find me. Talk about your magical saves!)
Anyway, you can see there's another side to Halloween: the side that urges proper caution. "Do not raise anything you cannot also put down"...and worse yet, there are normal, quotidian, even mundane evils, that every day do great and ugly harm. So keep up your banishings, O Mage! There is Magick to confront the darkness, but there is also darkness to confront.
Only the dead are safe. It is dangerous to be alive. BOO!
^v^ ^v^ ^v^
Worth it, though. As a long-ago poet friend put it, "a jiggerful worth the pain."
(She was so cool. :) )
To be continued. :D
93 93/93 -- AJ
* I originally wrote "ten." They seemed like ten. Or fifty. ;)
** I later learned some martial arts, by the way, but without the philosophical part. By the time I got good enough that I could really hurt people, if need be, I realized I didn't want to hurt people. Sometimes in blue plastic love beads begin responsibilities, too. :/