Halloween Blogging

Fall is my favorite time of year.

As summer heat gives way to autumn breeze, a mostly unspoken air of mystery arrives. Call it spiritual or primal. Just don’t say its name. I don’t celebrate any other holidays. My festival lasts 32 days, give or take.

There’s a word to know about this season even if I never say it again: liminal. The space between. Between two seasons or between the sacred and profane. The dead and living. The inside and the outside.

As the time approaches, I start planning how I’ll mark the time. This year, like most, I’ve backed my way into it, not quite sure what I’ll do until I’m already in it. Several years, I’ve watched every old monster movie I could get my hands on. Two years ago, I watched a horror movie roughly every day for 45 days.

This is, broadly, what I’m doing this year. 32 days of blogs connected in some way to this season. Maybe not one per each day but I’ll be working on something every day.

I’ve also been thinking about a ritual I can share with others. Something shorter and a little more organized than my 32 day festival. A three day ritual of reconnection with communities. Non-denominational (atheists, even functional materialists, welcome). Those who’ve left us behind, those we’ve lost track of, and parts of ourselves we haven’t let out to play lately.

I’ll share the Why on that tomorrow and I’ll try to share the Whats later in the week.

ETA: Part two!
ETA^2: Festival of Remembrance
ETA^3: Festival of Reconnection


Meetup in Salem?


I’m planning on watching a horror movie every day this month. Might swap out other Halloween related activities some days. I considered blogging/reporting on all of them, but decided I wouldn’t have much to say about some.


Salem, especially the week or so before Halloween, is utterly bonkers but well worth visiting. Especially right now: if you’re local, I highly recommend the exhibit at Salem’s Peabody Essex museum of Kirk Hammett’s monster movie memorabilia.






The hot and the cold. (I’m Canadian. There are certain practical considerations that recommend this season: if we must freeze, at least we can ease into it through some comfortably cool temperatures.)


I really want to go. I took a college course in Salem Witchcraft (I was the only Junior let in, too - this was following my system of choosing classes that filled core curriculum requirements solely by the upper level number and wacky title).I got to read all the original trial testimony, all the legal records and court records, too. I hear the village is really fun and I don’t think it’s too far away from where I am now on Long Island. We were told in class to also visit Danvers if we ever got to visit.


Salem is absolutely worth a visit – it’s lovely and quaint with lots of little cafes and bookshops among the witchy gift shops, and there’s also lots of delightfully corny tourist stuff like the Witch Museum and the Pirate Museum. But there’s also the House of Seven Gables and colonial-era cemeteries. One suggestion, especially during October or weekends, take the train, as parking gets extremely difficult.



For those of us from flyover country, where everything is flat and sprawling, we don’t really understand how hard it is to get to Salem or how small the downtown area actually is. Driving from Boston to Salem can take awhile, especially if everybody and their mother is trying to get to Salem (which they are), and once you get there, it’s tough to find parking.

The good news is, most of everything in Salem worth seeing is all in one place. The museums, the waterfront, the shopping district, the House Of Seven Gables, etc are all in close walking distance of each other.


So cool to hear. Gonna be a fun trip sometime soon.


I’ve got a bunch of stuff going on every weekend leading up to Halloween, so I’m not sure if I can get up there this season, unfortunately.


waves Hi everyone. Here’s entry two. :smiley: Actual stuff tomorrow or Thursday depending. I have to go be social tomorrow.

I have this feeling and maybe it’s not broadly true. I’ve checked with other people and at least a few of the people I’ve talked to feel the same way. A feeling that at least in the west, we’ve lost our rituals but not our need for them. Christmas, harvest festivals (Thanksgiving in America and Canada), and others have all been co-opted by retail sales and holiday specials.

Some folks on the right like to talk about the war on Christmas but Christmas was lost a long time ago. Christians lost Christmas when it was taken over by retailers. Thanksgiving (in the U.S. anyway) was lost when it became the day before Black Friday sales. Our national holidays were lost when restaurants and retailers decided to stay open so all their clientele could visit on their day off. The workers don’t get Labor Day off.

But this isn’t a blog for those days. Even if I wanted to write about them, I’m not the best person to write anything about them. They’re not my holidays.

Halloween, on the other hand, seems to have been a commercial holiday for as long as it’s been celebrated in the U.S. What little of its origins remain in our current celebrations is a faint shadow of what it was originally meant to be. No one lays claim to it anymore unless you’re counting people like me. And we generally don’t count in these discussions.

We have an opportunity to do something with this time that feels like it brings meaning. Something that can fill our need for ritual.

Something to remember and reconcile with those we’ve lost. Something to reconnect with the members of our personal communities we’ve lost touch with. Something to rejuvenate our connection with the parts of ourselves we’ve silenced or forgotten.

And, by request, food!

Stay tuned.

ETA: Festival of Remembrance


I’m going to be the Empress of the Dead.

Not a vampira, but a Persephone-type woman, recently risen from the grave. I’ll have pictures, don’t worry.

AND I GET TO GO TO WORK DRESSED UP! And we get to leave early!


To add to what the others have said, especially if you go in late October, wear comfy shoes and carry a bottle of water or something. While there’s lots of fun stuff in walking distance, you may find yourself standing in line on the sidewalk more than walking. Lines to get into places can stretch down the block.


I have summer SAD, so to me the onset of autumn is welcome on many levels.

I grew up in Florida, where the change of seasons is much more subtle. But it’s about then that one could regularly be outside at night without sweating too much, and I found that very welcoming. Once I was old enough to somewhat independent, I really started appeciating both the season and the night.

I think our society has a deep need for some frivolous absurdity, as opposed to the combination of Very Serious Business and cruel absurdity we normally live under. Halloween as we generally practice it is a taste of that. Thanksgiving is a little too bound up with Serious Tradition and familiy obligation, and of course it has collided, especially recently, with Christmas. Christmas is too complicated and too much – a big mess of capitalism and materialism taken to extremes, nostalgia, generosity, friendship, delight, guilt, beauty, angry pseudo-religious politics, serious religious reflection, stress, and obligation. And other winter solstice holidays tend to get buried under Christmas.

It’s kind of nice to see Dia de Los Muertos coming a little more into general American consciousness along with the costumes and candy, though I’m not sure it’s risen above cute skeletons and folk art in most people’s minds.

To me, the general theme of seasonal change, natural cycles, aging and mortality, our ancestors and lost loved ones, concepts of “the veil between the worlds” being thin and so forth are more likely to arise in my mind while just walking around and contemplating during the season, than on Halloween in particular.


Festival of Remembrance: the ones we’ve left behind

For October 29

This season brings to mind thoughts of ghosts and hauntings. Some of the earliest rituals I know of in this time have to do with appeasing the spirits of relatives and friends who have passed as they cross close to our world in this liminal space of time between solstices.

A compelling regret I often hear about is “I never told them.”

The remembrance festival day is about saying those unsaid things. It’s also a day to acknowledge our losses and make sure we’re facing those losses. Things we’ll never have because it’s too late.

In some cases, you have someone who is alive but who you’re not going to reconnect with the next festival because it’s a bad idea. They’re not dead but they’re dead to you. This festival is for those relationships too.

If you have one specific person you want to remember, focus your activities on them. If you have more than one, try to do an activity for the group.

The ceremony itself should be simple and short. If you have something that belonged to the deceased or a picture of them, make sure you put it up where you can see it. Ahead of the festival, gather favorite foods or drinks of the departed. (For people who have only departed from you, gather food you like but haven’t eaten since you left them behind.)

Make sure you have paper, a pen or pencil, and an envelope.

Festival of Memory.

Spend a few minutes with the object or photo that symbolizes the departed. Connect emotionally with your memory of them. Remember happy times and unhappy times with them.

Then write them a letter. If you’ve had closure with them, write them a letter about how you’re doing now. Things you’d want them to know about your life if you hadn’t talked to them in awhile. If you haven’t had closure, take the time to write the things you wish you’d told them while they were alive (or part of your life). Spend as much time as you need. (If the person you’re remembering is still physically alive, you can and should write about your disappointment in missing out what should have been the positive aspects of that relationship.)

When you’re done, seal the letter in an envelope. Write their name on the envelope and set it aside. Spend a few minutes in contemplation. Place the envelope with their object.

Then it’s time to eat and drink something they would have liked.

Leave the letters up throughout the festival days.

Example 1:

This one is specifically for people who have passed who you had a good relationship with. Please skip to the next one if you need to focus on a permanently broken relationship with someone who is still alive. This part will be a little sucky otherwise.

I’ve practiced most of this at one time or the other, usually in remembrance of my favorite uncle. I’m going to write up a different example using made up details for a relative I also made up.

On a shelf, I put up a mug from her favorite football team and a few other nicknacks that relate to her.

Then I write “Hi aunt. It’s your niece, Eve. It’s been awhile since we’ve talked. I want to thank you again for the things you’ve taught me. I think about you often. Since last time we spoke, I …”

I’ll keep the letter with the mug through the entire three day festival.

At this point, it’s time for food!

Example 2:

This is an example for someone who isn’t dead but who you’ve cut out of your life.

Take a photo or a memento that reminds you of the person and place it on a shelf.

Write, “Hi . It’s . It’s been awhile since we’ve talked. I mourn the relationship we’ll never have. It feels like everywhere I go, people are always saying how supportive their is but we could never have that. It causes me pain …”

Put the letter in front of the memento and stay a moment longer.

Now it’s time for some comfort food.

ETA: Festival of Reconnection


:hugs: We need a less joyful looking hug emoji. :pouting_woman:

I agree. I don’t want to ruin my holiday by turning it into a super serious affair. I definitely have frivolous absurdity planned for October 31st. :smiley:


I’m kinda sad for Halloween this year; it’s the first time since my kid was born that I won’t be taking her trick or treating because she’s going out on her own with her BBF and a few other tweens.


This weekend we haul out the decorations and start fixing up the house. It’s an all-weekend project so I’m not sure if it’ll all get done.

Halloween is a big production around here. Lots of old creepy-looking Victorian houses with lots of generous retirees made my neighborhood a magnet for trick-or-treaters, and a few years back, the paper featured my street as “one of the best places for candy” in the whole city. So now we get literal BUSES full of kids and go through bag after bag of candy every year. The whole neighborhood gets in the spirit and there’s friendly competition for the best costumes and decor.

But my housemates and I look forward to it. We decorate, play creepy music from the windows, and open up the front of the house to display the front hallway, painted and decorated in Haunted Mansion style. When kids stare inside, with that happy-to-be-scared look, it’s all worth it.


I live in the wrong neighborhood. We’re on one of those streets that gets maybe four sets of kids all night and three of them are before sunset.

It kind of works out though. For the last few years, a music software forum where I’m a regular has an auction to benefit the Save The Children Foundation from October 1-31, and things really heat up the night of Halloween, so I spend a lot of my attention there.