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full circle
by robert a. melos
pop culture

A long time ago, before I became a practicing eclectic Pagan, I had a very different view of the holiday season. I refer to the holiday season, meaning Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now, as an adult, and a Pagan, I know Halloween as Samhain (pronounced sow-en), and Christmas as the Winter Solstice. There is no Pagan holiday for Thanksgiving, but any time people come together in laughter and festivity it is a celebration to the Goddess.

However, to a child the holiday season means one thing. Fun. I still remember looking forward to Halloween, to dressing up and going from house to house around my neighborhood knocking on doors and demanding candy. Now I loved Christmas, as a spoiled only child, and Thanksgiving was great because of the food, but Halloween, back in the day, was the best.

As a young child my costumes didn't have much thought put into them. In fact, I remember most of my very early costumes were the kind made out of nylon with either a super hero or a cartoon figure drawn on them, and a plastic mask with an elastic string fastened to each side which you slipped on over your face to become Superman, or Batman, or Woody Woodpecker. Those were the costumes purchased for six dollars at Woolworth's or Corvettes, because my mother really wasn't all that creative when it came to sewing and making costumes.

The creative costumes came when I was a bit older and the mother of one of my friend's was a seamstress who turned Halloween into real homemade costumes. I remember her son and I dressing as Martians, one of us was all in blue, and one all in green, including matching face makeup. We won third prize that year in our town's Halloween parade, which was held in the grade school gymnasium.

The following year his mother turned me into Uncle Sam, and his younger sister into Betsy Ross, earning us first prize at the parade. Of course that was the Bicentennial year, and amazingly enough we were the only two who opted for the patriotic theme. Alas the creativity came to an end as I entered high school, and was of course much too grown up to consider dressing up. At least, dressing up very much.

High school was the time when Halloween meant going to my closet, or my father's closet, and finding the oldest, most worn clothing, tearing them in a few places, putting on some wax makeup of black or brown and becoming a bum, or a zombie bum if you added drops of red blood makeup around your mouth or eyes. Some of my friends went for the sheet with holes cut out for eyes, and became ghosts, but we didn't have any white sheets and I thought a ghost with a floral pattern or Scooby Doo would look really stupid.

Toward senior year I did get a wave of creativity again, when one of my friends held a Halloween Bash in his parent's basement. On that occasion I again turned to my friend's mother the seamstress, who turned me into Gandolf the Wizard. She had all but retired, as her son too found the creativity not to his liking and opted for the zombie bum costume more often than not. Her daughter had graduated from ballerinas and princesses to hookers and 1950s television housewives, which was less creative and more of a raid her mother's closet thing. At least for the housewife costume. The hooker costume was taken from her own closet, and she told her mother it was supposed to be Madonna.

After high school I pretty much stopped acknowledging Halloween, no longer looking forward to going out and demanding candy, and dressing up in crazy costumes for parties with friends. College offered toga Halloween parties, and basic keggers with the imagination of a newt where costumes were concerned. The object at that point had become seeing who could guzzle the most beer, which was not the same as seeing who could garner the most candy.

The older I got the more I thought Halloween was a thing of the past, especially once I discovered Paganism. Halloween became the solemn New Year for my Pagan life, or so I thought it would become a solemn holiday, spent in contemplation of the previous year, and planning for the coming one, but it was not to be so.

After choosing to follow my Pagan spiritual path, I discovered a local group which holds open full moon circles. Not a coven in the true sense of the word, since a coven consists of 13 people and some circles have upwards of 50 people in attendance. Some of the core group who host the circles do have a coven, but they worship separately from the open circles. More importantly, they like to celebrate Samhain by dressing up in costumes and partying all night.

These parties have themes, changing each year, ranging from come as your favorite deity to Chinese Zodiac, to dead movie stars (we do count Elvis as dead, but only for this theme party, the rest of the time he's alive and abducted by aliens). So Halloween has, like the pagan belief in a circle of life, been reborn for me. And to top it off, they always give out plenty of candy at the parties.

I find I still enjoy putting on a costume, gathering with good friends, and chowing down chocolate, popcorn, candy corn, apple cider, and donuts. I don't get the same feeling of excitement I did when I was a kid, and I now know there is a deeper, more spiritual meaning to the holiday, but for a few moments each year I stop and remember all the fun I did have and think about all the fun I still can and will have, and I'm very content with things to be the way they are.

What more could I ask from any holiday?

Happy Samhain!


Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

more about robert a. melos


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daniel castro
10.23.02 @ 8:05p

Have you ever heard of the band "Samhain"? More likely than not, but worth a listen.

robert melos
10.23.02 @ 10:36p

True, I haven't heard of them, but I'll do a web search.

adam kraemer
10.24.02 @ 10:42a

So it's a celebration to the Goddess every time my family gets together? The Goddess needs help.


robert melos
10.24.02 @ 11:36p

The Goddess will accept any gathering of joy, mirth, and/or sex, as a celebration. She's just a slut for attention of any kind.

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