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.