It is that time of year, high autumn, with the emblazoned oranges cascading upon the tree lines, carved pumpkins checkering the streets and yards of American homes. All of the store isles, featuring costumes of frightening ghosts and skeletons. We venture out to enjoy the pumpkin patches, haunted houses, costume parties and more the Halloween season is the first of our holiday celebrations. Yet by comparison Halloween is far different from the other holidays in tradition and practice. Its origins in Celtic and Gaelic traditions to honor the dead. Modernly for Halloween we maintain the deathly focus when we parade as any number of frightening and decrepit beings. Typically we nurture great distance from gore and death, often we are not as playful as our spirit may like for us to be. On Halloween we pay homage to our inner opposite. We display skeletons and zombies, we participate in ghost walks and haunted houses. During this very special time of year we allow to emerge these typically unconscious impulses towards fascination of the eternal sleep, blood and guts. It is a truth that just as we are composed of loving, caring, and altruistic impulses, our minds are also teeming with darkness, impulses of aggressive and sexual natures yet many of us may bury those considerations sometimes leading to unhealthy behaviors and feelings. For ourselves as well as the collective thinking and being of our American civilization it is vital to contemplate that which is normally distant from our minds, It was Carl Jung who said “I would rather be whole than good.”
Beyond the candy corn, Halloween provides the chance to glorify our inner shadows. For example, it is widely known that many women sport a “sexy______ costume.” Jenna Marbles does many skits on this, the librarian may masquerade as a bondage queen, and the conservative mother of two flaunts herself as sexy midcentury fairy. On this evening those of us who may be quite conservative in dress and sensual expression are allowing ourselves to accentuate a different part on our inner world, the sexy seductress. The seductress which may lay dormant during most of the other 364 days of the year, yet on the night of tricks and treats she will shed her skin and prevail. It doesn’t end with the sexy costumes, consider too the pocket protector wearing accountant, he may usually be quite shy but not for Halloween, he spends months in preparation for the night when he will become a cinema worthy zombie, complete with protruding eyeballs and missing limbs. What an excitement for him, to become the master of death and also to be in touch with that part of himself which enjoys the spotlight and fascinated attention of admiring costume party goers. Yet another great example of nurturing the inner opposite is Heidi Klum’s award winning 2013 costume where she disguises herself as a very old woman. I would speculate that it provides a certain sense of victory over aging for the stunning supermodel to create her own ancient self and don it proudly. There may be a part of her which is able to lessen some anxiety about the process of becoming older by being the master of it, at least for that night.
So perhaps before casting aside the costume wearing process as childish fun maybe we should all think again, after all, doesn’t everyone love candy treats? By practicing that which we have been doing for the last couple hundred years and allowing creativity to flow deep into our mind’s eye as we entertain the thought of what part of our inner being is often unexpressed? What do we loathe? What do we admire, what by expression can lead us towards wholeness? What will we be for Halloween??? Don’t let the skeletons and ghosts catch you! BWHAHAHAAHAHAHA!
In great fun and love, Happy Halloween!
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Nicole Monteleone MA, LPC, NCC
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Avenue Pittsburgh Pa 15233 Suite 100