Monday, October 13, 2014

Keeping the Hallowed in Halloween: It's All about the Devil

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," Samhain 2014 Edition! We're having a little book club talk about a helpful paperback entitled Halloween: What's a Christian To Do? by Steve Russo.

It's always difficult for evangelists to be honest and sincere in their condemnation of Wicca. If they're honest (and they usually are), the only thing they can find to criticize in Wicca is the fact that it promotes other deities over the Christian god. And once you've said, "God is jealous," you've shot your wad on Wicca. It's just not an evil force.

The devil is different.

Our author Mr. Russo quite rightly points out that on Halloween, people dress up like the devil. They decorate their houses with devils. And some people do indeed actively worship the devil on Halloween (and at other times as well).

We've seen these folks at Pagan Pride Days, albeit fewer and fewer as the years progress.

When you've got a pantheon that features an alluring bad boy like Lucifer, you're going to see him get followers. Some people are truly attracted to evil. Evangelists like to lump these people in with Pagans, but Satanists are not Pagans. They are a sect of Christians.

That said, the devil does get trotted out on Halloween. Mr. Russo thinks this is a sure sign that Halloween is a gateway drug to the dark side of The Force. Or some such. Basically, our intrepid author thinks that little kids who don devil costumes are likely to become consumed by the "occult" and wind up slaughtering kittens in pentagrams on the fast track to Hell.

This is a pretty big reach, if you ask me. It's like saying that everyone who is interested in the Titanic is going to wind up trying to sink a big ship in iceberg territory.

When my daughter The Heir was five, she began talking about Halloween in August. She wanted to dress up like a red devil, with horns and a red cape. Once she made that decision, she talked of nothing else for two months. When the kindergarten teacher asked Heir how many sticks in all if she put two sticks with three sticks, Heir replied, "I'm going to be a red devil on Halloween." (Heir promptly got sent to "Developmental Kindergarten," basically a class for kids who think Halloween is more compelling than math.)

Mr. J's mom was a top-notch seamstress, and she made a devil hat with horns out of red satin. She made a satin cape, lined with flannel for a cold night. And she sent pointy-toed red shoes and a pitchfork. When Heir got the package in the mail, she lit up like Chicago on a Saturday night. Red devil! Her dream come true!

I would never embarrass her by scanning the picture of Heir, standing in the back yard, all done up in her devil gear, grinning from ear to ear. But here she is now:

This photo was taken in Romania. She went there not to study vampires as a stop on the highway to Hell, but rather to spend two weeks in an artists' residency. The installation behind her is her contribution to the little village where the residency was held.

Heir grew out of her red devil costume, and she outgrew Christianity before I did. She has a keen sense of morality and an innate goodness that is really inspiring to see.

But I digress.

When I became a Pagan, I threw away all the devil decorations that I had used until that time. I don't think the devil belongs in Halloween. But that's just me. I believe in self-determination. You like red devils? You go!

What I will say is that an interest in a devil costume worn at Halloween does not pave a road to a life of evil. This is fear-mongering. It may sell books to frightened Christian parents, but it's not something we need to take seriously. If your five-year-old is setting the cat's tail on fire, you should worry. If he wants to be a devil on Halloween, fear not! Maybe he just likes red satin.


Anti Kate said...

The red satin issue could be terrifying enough, for the wrong sort of parent!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

LOL @ Anti Kate! Very true.