A Momentary Diversion to the Dark Side

Oh hello Halloween! In the course of a random rambling conversation recently, I mentioned that Halloween is my favourite of all the festivals. ‘Why,’ asked my companion and gave me a long suspicious look, no doubt imagining that I cavort around Samhain fires, conjuring up spirits and generally indulging in my witchy goth side. Note: it is perfectly possible to be witchy without being goth, and to be goth without being witchy. As it happens, I am neither, I just really like Halloween.

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I like mist clinging mournfully to overwrought Victorian gravestones. I like bats and churchyards and owls. I like the moon to be full and gravely shining down as I stand in the garden at midnight. I like peculiar fungi cropping up out of the ground overnight. I like my Mexican Day of the Dead bunting, and my model of Death cooking eggs. I like giggling in the wrong places at Hammer Horror films (the corsets! the makeup! the involuntary twitching of corpses!) but I’ll run a mile if you show me a modern horror film, or anything with zombies*.

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No, I don’t trick or treat, I don’t throw huge parties, nor relish the opportunity to paint my face green and frighten the neighbour kids. I don’t read the tarot, gaze into a crystal ball or hold seances. Although if you want to do all those things, I’m not going to stand in your way.

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I love Halloween because of the ritual I’ve developed around it, sitting at home, safely full after a good meal, sipping red wine and reading from my favourite gothic novels. Yes, there is a dish of salt by the front door alongside the dish of water, the candles are lit and I’ll think of the people I loved who aren’t here anymore. Sometimes, if it’s been a tricky year, I’ll write something on a piece of paper, then burn it.

“I saw the Count lying within the box upon the earth, some of which the rude falling from the cart had scattered over him. He was deathly pale, just like a waxen image, and the red eyes glares with the horrible vindictive look which I knew too well. As I looked, the eyes saw the sinking sun, and the look of hate in them turned to triumph.” Dracula by Bram Stoker

So, however you choose to celebrate it this year, surrounded by mini sugar-hyped monsters, seriously closeted in a seance or by ignoring the whole damn thing, sitting in the dark and hoping no one rings your doorbell, have a happy Halloween! I’ll see you on the other side.

*Zombies are my irrational phobia and they are bloody everywhere at the moment.

** legend has it that touching the pointing finger of this statue will give you nightmares. Sadly her finger has been broken off for as long as I can remember, so I haven’t been able to test this. And I wouldn’t anyway. Just in case.

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