Cow Milk and the Halloween Fixation

The 19th-century movement of people from farm to city was the beginning of our modern separation from nature and natural processes. Many people don’t know where their milk comes from, and when they find out, their reaction is disgust. And that’s not even to consider the pot roast, the hamburger, or the breakfast bacon.

We’re closer to mud than our waking life ever allows us to acknowledge, and there’s nothing in our culture to remind us of this truth. Separate from food, we are separate from nature’s way– which is also our way– of life and death.

And so our culture that denies mud and death is, ironically, a culture that fears death inordinately. Halloween has become, for some, a ritual enactment of mastery over what is dimly felt as the horror and nothingness of death. Halloween taken to that level becomes a false ritual in a false religion, because the truth is that we are not masters over death. Rather, we are creatures who live by eating, and who die at a time we do not choose.

(I am prompted to think also of what our culture has done to Christmas. That birth had a lot of death in it– death we don’t want to see. More on that in December….)

The authentic religious alternative to the illusion of control and mastery over death, is trust and abandonment: the giving away of the ego-self to a Higher Power. False religion props up the ego-self and defends against death; authentic religion, of whatever kind, calls us to lose ourselves in order to find ourselves, more fully. That’s how nature works: life leading to death; and death leading to life.

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4 thoughts on “Cow Milk and the Halloween Fixation

  1. Modern Judeo-Christian leaders over decades past has only themselves to blame for pushing to co-opt the earth-centered pagan traditions of people in the western world. Halloween has been cleansed of its true Wiccan origins: a remembrance of the dead –those who have gone before us, out of this earthly life. Halloween is a time of prayer and reverence for many non-Christians. Lights in the pumpkin, bonfires, treats for the “spirits” who lurk at this time of year all mean something other than commercial celebration. It is fitting to reflect on the passing of the true ritual of Halloween and the importance death plays in life here on Earth. But I wonder how many of us talk to our children of Samhain, the veil between the worlds and the Celtic fire festivals of old. The truth is not often on our lips these days it appears. Perhaps it is only appropriate to ask, “Of what are we afraid?
    Peace.

    • I don’t think the quarrel is between pagans and Christians on this one; I think it’s between a connection with life in its fullness, and disconnection. I wouldn’t locate the disconnection in Christianity, but in (if I may speak in shorthand) the false promises of control, unending prosperity, and human perfectibility– in other words, in discredited but still attractive notions of Progress. This is what I mean by false religion.

      • Agreed, there should be no quarrel between the faiths. We all need to work together going forward. Indeed, unending prosperity tends to be a deity who so many of us worship routinely and without much second thought. True peace and serenity is rarely found walking the material path. But courage to begin upon the road less traveled seems harder and harder to muster these days …

  2. Pingback: Pagans and Christians, Unite! « Religion in the Balance

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