Tales of All Hallows’ Eve, Halloween
by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Excerpt from the Introduction:
One Fall day, when I was a student at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, a small party of my closest friends and I undertook to go out in the twilight fast falling, and see what we might see of the opening in the Earth’s crust where every sort of noxious, evil, malevolent creature was waiting to come forward and populate the night scene with doom and despair.We found ourselves in a small village, not a soul on the street, not a soul to be seen… but in one place: the cemetery. The cemetery was heavily overgrown with vegetation, heavy moss, and strangulating plants. The very aura of the place made us want to cross ourselves and implore “I beg of Thee, O Sweet Jesus, that at the hour of my death, Thou wilt show me mercy.”
There was something lurid about this place of the dead. And then we saw it. On an overturned tombstone, bright with creepers, this message: “Not Dead But Sleepeth”. At once, we felt sure that that was a message for us to retire as quickly as possible back to the haunts of man, who craves the congregation of our still quick neighbors.
I have never forgotten that day, the haunted aspect, the omnivorous plants, the overturned tombstones, and the frightful possibilities which we saw clearly might emanate from such a place where death stands forth each Halloween and the aspect for all is frightening.
This is Halloween, and this, my book, is composed of stories that make it all explicable. Halloween is an acknowledgment that evil exists, and that evil is daily in confrontation with God and the Cosmos. Thus, each All Hallows’ Eve, October 31st, the door to Hell swings open on rusty hinges releasing a terrible smell of burning flesh and brimstone, Prince Lucifer’s luxurious perfume.
The doors to Hell swing open, bit by bit releasing the unlimited number of sad and woebegone creatures packed within 364 days a year, and released to carry on their noxious work. It must be done before midnight of the next day. And so smart people stay locked behind closed shutters, holding hands, singing psalms, and praying to God Almighty for relief, mercy, and absolution. For if the Devil is around this night, God is surely around as well.
All Hallows’ Eve, most fervently celebrated by the Celtic peoples of Europe, is an indication that the great war between good and evil, between God and the Devil, is not finished yet. God ascends in triumph for all but 24 hours of the year. In these 24 hours, every transgression, every sin, every malevolence, is not only imaginable, but visiting your neighborhood to see who could be wooed to attend the macabre dances of Prince Lucifer, where burning flesh is the prevalent scent, because fire is the prevalent instrument.
We of course wish to think nothing on this terrible event which comes to call so many, and returns no one at all. Their motto: “Not Dead, But Sleepeth”. And they wake up with a vengeance and a purpose on All Hallows’ Eve.
This book offers five Halloween tales, each of which is intended to take you into this curious holiday, where the real meaning has been filtered out, leaving nothing besides sugar and delusion.
We start with the way Halloween was when I was growing up as a boy in Illinois, 60 years ago and more. In my role as a cultural historian, writer of many articles and books about human behavior and its various manifestations, I felt it my bounden duty to publish this story and show you what Halloween was like in bygone America.
The next tale deals with Ichabod Crane, a famous American character from Washington Irving and the Hudson Valley School of Literature. It makes Halloween come alive, although most of it is actually dead.
The next article deals with the quintessential Halloween fruit (yes, fruit), pumpkins. This tale takes you deep into the whys and wherefores of pumpkins, which come into this world with a clear objective: to frighten us to death when they are turned by deft carving into jack-o-lanterns, the fruit of our bizarre imaginations, and the pumpkins’ ability to portray them. Kicking a pumpkin to death is technically akin to “Get thee behind me, Satan”. Thus, those vandals who disrupt our coy holiday motifs may actually be doing God’s work. It’s a thought.
We carry on into the matter of witches. The Bible is very clear on the matter of witches and all types of sorcery:
“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 18:9-12)
One aspect of Halloween which we wish not to consider is the matter of witches and their related colleagues in the black arts. We do not wish to believe what our ancestors so fervently believed… that witches are certainly here, that they communicate with the Devil, and are the handmaidens of his dark hours and purposes.
Finally, we end on a lighter note. It was not my intention to include this article, but Kris McNamara, my helper, said “Of course you must address the issue of candy. What do you think Halloween means to most people in the neighborhood and the nation. It means your God-given right to stuff yourself.”
Think for a moment, of who benefits from the candy avalanche in your neighborhood. Dentists cheer. Candy companies hold riotous parties on Halloween night, when profits zoom. People making flimsy costumes that mock evil, and make it seem it is a matter of children, when in fact it is a life or death matter for everyone.
So candy sweetens the brimstone, and perfumes the fire of flesh. Oh yes, I forgot to tell you… the Devil owns 100% of the stock in every chocolate and candy company around the world. He sells the costumes. He even charters the dentists, whose enamels are so easily chipped by the excessive intake of fructose.
So who is the Number One beneficiary of All Hallows’ Eve? Prince Lucifer. Remember, Lucifer was God’s right hand man before he was banished from Heaven, and he left with every skill he ever had, including making sure that no one is really frightened by his works, when in point of fact, they should be on their knees begging for mercy.
You see, Lucifer is a clever public relations executive. He wants maximum dollars for minimum work… a true entrepreneur. If he came out and ordered his gruesome minions to frighten the entire population, he would not be able to maintain his comfortable, lucrative occupation.
Who sweetens the candy? Lucifer. Who designs the fetching wrappers, which catch your eye? Lucifer. Who puts the children on the streets to collar as much deleterious sweetness as quickly as possible? Lucifer, of course. So now today, I tell you this: this is Lucifer’s day, and whatever you do, look carefully at every label. His expansive inventiveness will be apparent in everything pertaining to this long-standing tradition called All Hallows’ Eve, Halloween.
And when the crevice in the Earth, which opened to release the ghouls, begins to close on rusty hinges, you may be sure that all the loot that Satan has cleverly amassed in such a short time is on its way to its final destination… the bottomless coffers of Prince Lucifer.
“Our God, our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come” (from the hymn “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past ” by Isaac Watts. 1719).
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This version is performed by Westminster Abbey.
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