Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Different World

I wanted to do this post last year, and the year before, but I have always been busy. This year I'm making time (even though I have other things I'm supposed to be writing about).
When I was younger October was one of my favorite months of the year. In early October all the trees are in their final, colorful hurrah, with golds, reds, and yellows adorning them in sprays of leaves about to fall, like shooting stars exploding from the trunks of trees, still a bit of green at the base turning to yellow, gold, and then flaming red as the leaves trailed away from the trunk. In the fields the harvest is heavily underway, mornings are cold, days are brisk, and the sunsets are beautiful as the occasional storm clouds gather and the sun sets them afire. The urge to ready for winter is overwhelming, and the animals everywhere, gathering, foraging, and generally not as shy as usual, distracted from their fear of humans by ripe grains, heavy laden grasses, bushes, and trees. People are infected as well, making sure hearth and home is ready for winter. Animals raised for August fairs have been sent to the butchers and home grown meat is done aging and the smell of it cooking brings children in from playing in the leaves. Hunting season is here and wild game is hanging in the yard, assuring food for the winter.
As the month progresses the leaves fall, gathering in piles to temping for any kid to pass up. The wood stove fills the air with the homey scent of woodsmoke, and warms the home through the frequently colder nights. In the stores piles of round pumpkins sit next to colorful apples, the last of the season and sweet from the cold. Multicolored Indian corn sits next to decorative and eatable gourds and squashes of all shapes, colors, textures, and sizes. At the end of the month there was the first snow fall, which, where I grew up, always came before the end of October. I'm sure it helps that its also my birth month (Oct 4Th) but to me October is hard to beat.
When I was young October meant other things as well. No one is born a Christian, they are reborn. While some people are born into Christian families, I was not. My mother came to the Lord when I was about 6, my father, brother, and I followed when I was 9. Before I was 9 the last week of October also meant costumes, candy, and trick-or-treating. Now you see Halloween decorations starting to go up in some stores in September, but then, it seemed at least, that Halloween really only popped up on people's radars about October 20Th. Even when we were little it wasn't that big of a deal, we weren't one of 'those' families that went Halloween crazy. We went dressed up for school with our classmates, went trick-or-treating, and ate enough candy to put a hummingbird into a diabetic coma.
For a few years after we became Christians we still 'dabbled' in it, dressing up for class and some years going to the school's Halloween carnival, which was more about trying to hit the principal in the face with a cream pie than it was about the small 'haunted' house set up in the corner. And there was never any big discussion about us not going trick-or-treating, once we were Christians, children or not, it was just apparent to us that Halloween was not your typical holiday. There was never a fight, my brother and I never felt pressured or commanded to not participate in those first few years, it just seemed natural. But I wouldn't say right then that we were really anti-Halloween, it just seemed somehow wrong for us to celebrate it, I don't know that any of us could have really explained it those first couple of years. Then something happened.
Our church had a Halloween meeting, it was mostly for grown-ups, but my parents never tried to 'hide' us from the world, so we all went. The main part of the night was taken up with a video from the "Occult Invasion" series about Halloween. (I can't remember if its called Occult Invasion: Halloween or Occult Invasion: Trick or Treat, I own it but its currently buried along with the rest of our stuff still packed from the move) It went over real life, first hand accounts of how Halloween isn't just some fun, frighteningly funny, family-friendly, good-time holiday. It spoke to current and ex wiccans, satanists, general occultists, druids, witches etc who talked about how, to them, Halloween was a high festival, a solemn part of their religion that included various practices. And that's all very interesting, but the part that has stuck with me all these years later, that hit us all that night, that made me find and purchase the video myself as an adult, was the segment on how serious crimes, many to children, are overlooked or not believed by authorities and the general public because the general public refuses to believe that such things happen. Halloween, after all, is about children dressing up in costumes, adults trying to scare themselves with ghoulish hunted houses, parties, and scary movies, and some 'harmless' adolescent pranks. Its about cartoonish witches on brooms, creepy ghouls, fake spiderwebs, and sheet-draped ghosts that go 'boo'! Things like ritual abuse, animal and human torture and sacrifice, murder, pagan orgies, and black magic are for horror movies and books, not real life. And if a bloody diaper turns up in the woods on Nov 1st its obviously some sick high-school prank, not proof that some group sacrificed a baby.
But in this video were testimonies from the people who had been intimately involved in such things. There were also handouts passed out that night with further statistics and testimonies. Three stories still stand out most vividly in my mind. A child (now an adult) in the UK who approached a police man in a public square and told him that she had been molested and raped by her family's coven (who called themselves 'witches' not 'wiccans') during their Halloween celebration as part of her introduction into their 'priesthood'. He didn't believe her and there was no follow up. A woman recounting how she ran from her satanic coven when they asked her to bear that years sacrificial baby. Apparently in that satanic group female members would conceive, carry, and bear a baby without seeing a doctor or official so that the baby would be born 'off the books' so to speak. That way, when they were sacrificed on Halloween, which they celebrated as 'Satan's birthday', no one would know the baby was missing, no one would expect a murder because no one expected a life. According to the information provided that night (and that I've seen many times since), the practice isn't uncommon. Finally, the one that made the most impact upon me, was the man, now a Christian, who recounted his ascension to the hereditary priesthood within the satanic occult group he had been born into. When he was a child, a few days before Halloween, he and a girl were taken to a van and kept there until Halloween, repeatedly sexually assaulted by their adult 'keeper' and made to have sex with each other as well. On Halloween night they were separated and when the soon-to-be boy priest was brought before the group, the girl was bound on the alter. The head priest slit her throat, and the boy was given some of her blood, collected in a ritual chalice, to drink.
The reason why this one stuck with me was not actually the extreme detail or graphic nature of it. I, even at the time, was familiar enough with what 'sacrifice' meant that I had a perfectly good understanding of what 'human sacrifice' may or may not include. The graphic detail of his recount hit me no harder, realistically, than did any other story of human torture and/or sacrifice. What struck me, and stays with me to this day, was what he said afterwards. He said that he feels betrayed by society, that every year at Halloween he feels victimized again, betrayed by a society that pretends Halloween is nothing but fun and games, that promotes it to children and uses the 'ghoulish' nature of it to sell costumes, candy, and trinkets. He feels that the real Halloween, a night of pain, death, and occult/pagan religious ceremonies, is being hidden from the world by the 'secular' acceptance of Halloween. He asked that we not participate, that we not help society and businesses to keep victims silent by covering up what Halloween really means to so many people.
There was no discussion that I remember, no long talk about what we should or should not do. We just knew that we had found why it felt wrong to celebrate Halloween, and we haven't participated in any part of it since. Its not just that man's story that troubles me every time I see a Halloween decoration, its not just that I know somewhere out there on Halloween night someone, probably many someones will die, be brutalized, or raped, and that the promoting of it as a 'family friendly' holiday will help to silence their voices, its also what that 'family friendly' holiday has become in the last few years.
When I was young I remember cartoonish witches, sheet draped ghosts, childish depictions of ghouls and goblins, bloodless mummies, fake cobwebs, and grinning pumpkins. Haunted houses or horror houses were places where adolescents shrieked in girly voices over brief frights and grown-ups giggled and teased each over startled jumps and couples found an excuse to cling to each other. Costume stores were filled with row upon row of cute kids costumes, smiling pumpkins, flamboyant pirates, cute puppies, princesses and princes, and cartoon characters. And, in general, stores started advertising and decorating for Halloween in mid October.
Now many stores start October 1st, some in late September. Costume stores are filled with row after row of costumes for adults, most sexually suggestive, some overtly or even pornographically sexual. Those that aren't are in a section so grotesquely violent or graphically gory that many stores post signs so that parents don't accidentally take their children in those areas. And those children's costumes? Regulated to a single wall usually, and no longer are the majority of them cute and harmless. Prostitutes, pimps, geisha, villains from t.v., movies, and cartoons, vampires, gory ghouls, demons, 'sexy' demons, and even Jack the Ripper for boys and Lizzie Borden for girls now fill the wall where ladybugs, princesses, Tom Sawyers, and He-Man costumes once stood. In the haunted houses, instead of Igor-like evil scientists with bowls of spaghetti intestines, there are movie-quality horrors. Upright pigs, splattered in dripping gore with mouths of sharpened tusks twisted in demonic glee, butcher human remains so real looking they could be mistaken for such in a photo. Horror movie quality corpses hang from spikes and chains, trashing even in death as they are electrocuted, or, even worse, scream with wide eyes and blood dripped wounds as they are torn slowly apart. Grotesque semblances of the human body are twisted, stabbed, and broken on torture devices that make the Inquisition look campy. Instead of a robed figure leaping out, hands dripping red jell-o, to raise a startle, a demonic witch flies down from the ceiling holding a gory knife, blood spilling from ragged teeth, mouth open in an insane scream, and her torso raggedly ending at the ribcage. White bones peak and purple-red ichor drips from tattered and molded clothing. Instead of people getting frights, leaving the haunted house laughing and giggling, haunted houses now have paramedics on sight, ambulances on call, to treat those who have panic attacks while inside, even heart attacks aren't unheard of in today's day and age.
The pretense of civility grows increasingly thin in regards to Halloween. The demonic is celebrated, the horrific laughed at, and the more realistically gory and grotesque something can be made the better people like it. It is more and more a holiday for adults. Children now trick-or-treat in daylight, their parents too afraid to let them out past dark for all the violent adolescent pranks now pulled, for fear they will see the adult crowd come out in all their terrifying 'glory' once dark descends. Other children, their parents oblivious, cry and hide their face at horrific store displays. Instead of campy 'Scooby Doo' Halloween specials t.v. stations run uncensored horror films, specials on medieval torture, or profile how Hollywood special effects are being used in this years 'all new' haunted house.
There is still no acknowledgement for the real dangers, the real people who are brutalized on Halloween night, but people now delight in the most graphic of brutalized 'entertainment'. Movies like Seven, Saw (in all its sequeled gory), and the Rob Zombie 'Halloween' reboot drench the watcher in the most horrific representation of the darkest parts of the human mind; all with sickeningly realistic visions of torture and torment that many theaters and movie rental stores make no attempt to actually restrict to the R audience (over 17). Children whose ages have not yet hit double digits are able to see these fantasies that could only come from the worst demonically-induced nightmares.
Now this is were we come to the title of the post 'a different world'. The average person looks at Halloween and sees make-believe. 'Demons' are borrowed from myths, 'witches' from historical misunderstandings, 'monsters' from nightmares, 'goblins' from medieval superstition, and those accounts of ritualized torture, abuse, rape, or sacrifice are just someones idea of sensationalism, false memories fueled by nightmares and rumors, or, at worst, singular occurrences carried out by people like the Dalmers, but probably nothing more than an urban legend, brushed off and given dark life on Halloween night.
I look and see real demons, spiritual powers capable of possession and destruction of those who call to them in ignorance or jest. I look and see real witches, who will be chanting to powers they don't understand, laying in orgies to build their strength, and sacrificing animals to work dark blood curses on those that have angered them in the past year. Where the world sees cute ghosts I see a very real spirit world full of demons who would love to appear as a dead loved one to lead people astray. Where the world sees superstition I see real reason to fear. I look and see candy covering blood, costumes covering wickedness, manufactured fright covering mortal fear. Halloween is not fun, its not family friendly, its not some party to play dress-up. Many people laugh, mock, scorn, but the world the Biblical Christian lives in is full of dangers, powers, and consequences that the secular world rarely, if ever, see, acknowledge, or believe. And those dangers, those powers, those consequences are real everyday, but on Halloween society itself, with all its mocking unbelief, gives these things so much more power, so many more opportunities on Halloween with their play acting and pretend to reach into their 'safe' little lives and destroy them. I can not look at a child dressed as a sorcerer out to trick-or-treat without wondering if that child will, in all innocence, call upon some power in play that will be more than happy to respond in real. I can't look at a teenager, dressed up like some gory corpse on their way to a graveyard to try to contact the spirits with a ouiji board without wondering what they will contact, wondering if they will be the same person tomorrow, or be indwelt by something they foolishly thought either didn't exist or they could control with a ring of salt and a white candle. I can't look at an adult, on their way to a party where they will get drunk and/or stoned likely while listening or watching something truly demonic or playing some Halloween 'party' game that 'pretends' to call upon the ghosts of past murderers or victims, without wondering if a demon will take the opportunity of a drugged out mind to make itself at home.
The world sees Halloween as a safe time to pretend, to revel in a darkness they won't admit even exists, to play at violence, depravity, and horror. I see Halloween as a terrifyingly dangerous time, when the minions of darkness revel in the minds of the unwitting, when the darkest elements of pagan and occult societies will actively invite real violence, depravity, and horror into their midst, when the only sane thing to do is hide from the storm, praying that all the non-Christians you know will still be in full control of their own minds come dawn, that all those children and babies about to be destroyed will leave their bodies to find themselves in God's presence, and all the adults whose lives will be taken repented in their last moments, that those whose lives will be ruined by horror and violence will eventually find healing, and those who ruin, will have their eyes opened so that they may find forgiveness and atonement.
For those of you reading from my world, can you, knowing what is true, truly feel comfortable participating at all in Halloween. For those of you from the other world, can you even imagine the difference? Can you look, this Halloween, from a different perspective and perhaps see the world of which I speak, can you allow God to open your eyes to the light, so that you can see the dark? Because the really scary part isn't that Christians see demons, see that people are generally bad (even if they might wish to do good), see this world of souls, possessions, spirits, and eternal consequences, its that the secular world, which has turned its back on the spiritual world and believe only in the material, who believe themselves safe in the physical world of flesh and blood, where people are generally good, who live in the 'here and now' where consequences rarely exists and, when they do, are fleeting at best, is the world of make believe. No more real, solid, or safe than the make believe worlds of children, oblivious to all the trials and dangers they will face as they grown to adulthood.


Blogger Jespren said...

If anyone is familiar with a source outside of the Occult Invasion video series that details any of the examples used in this blog I would welcome the source. I am confident enough in my memory to relate them, but I no longer have the source material to loan out or verify with sceptics. Thank you.

8:09 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I will have to reread there, there is a lot of information.

8:20 PM  
Blogger LadyLeslie said...

Have you ever considered doing an alternative celebration around the same time? Something life-affirming, positive, and spiritual?

Hmmm . . . I'm going to Google alternatives, and see if there's anything interesting out there for people who don't want to support Halloween.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Jespren said...

Some people celibrate 'reformation day' in memory of martin luther nailing his treaties to the door of the local catholic church thus sparking the reformation, but I am unaware of a secular alternative for people who aren't christians. (Sorry for the improper capitalization, the keypad I'm on right now won't let me capitalize on command.)

1:02 PM  
Blogger Jespren said...

I do know where my Occult Invasion vhs is for anyone local to me who would want to borrow it.

2:35 PM  

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