BY ED FELIEN
Our ancient mothers and fathers spent a lot of time looking at the sun and the moon.
They marked when the sun would be highest in the sky and when it would be lowest. They noted the days halfway between the darkness and the light, and they made up stories to remind themselves of the importance of those days, and they named the times: winter, spring, summer and fall.
And halfway through fall, as a reminder of winter, spirits rise from the earth to remind us of our own mortality.
Halloween is the descendant of Samhain, the ancient Celtic ritual that celebrated the end of the harvest and the beginning of winter by three days of drinking mead. Mead is made from fermented honey and rye flour. LSD is made from the ergot fungus of rye flour. This alcoholic and probably psychedelic drink transported the people of the community into an altered state, and, for those three days, they all believed there was open communication between the living and the dead.
Today, this solemn remembrance of the dead is commemorated in caricature. Little ghosts and gremlins and mummies come to your door to remind you of a yawning grave, and you buy them off with a piece of candy. And the thoughts of death are banished by the gift of a small chocolate bar. Some no longer observe even this small ritual, but leave candy in a bowl outside their door, thus avoiding any contact with the notion of the inevitability of death.