Sacred Halloween

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. As a child, I owned and read almost all of R. L. Stein's Goosebumps books. I loved the spooky scenarios that so often took place on cool Autumn nights. There's something romantic and mystical in the falling leaves, orange glowing jack-o-lanterns, and  red headed Celtic witches.

Halloween is a Christian holiday. The name means "holy evening," and it kicks off a two day commemoration of past saints and ancestors. Despite the modern tendency to emphasize the alleged pagan roots of Halloween, our ancestors celebrated it as a specifically Christian holiday for more than a thousand years. No true memory of a pagan Halloween exists outside theoretical ivory tower historical reconstructions.

The special aura of Halloween rests in it's sacralization of the world. For one special night every year the spiritual and material dimensions experience a closer connection. Our secular modern worldview has converted our cosmos into cold material manipulated by unfeeling logic. The ability of modern neo-pagan Wicca groups to co-opt the holiday, and earn a reputation for authentically celebrating it, arises from their rebellion against materialism through rituals and beliefs that expressly reject the stark division between the physical and spiritual in a way Christians have slowly abandoned over the last two centuries.

The recent rapid growth of occult Halloween celebrations and neo-paganism testify to the failure of secular materialism to replace religion. People would rather LARP fake ancient magical practices than live within a boring descralized world that literally kills the soul.

In the spiritual wasteland of the modern world, Christians have a unique opportunity to fill a need and provide an alternative worldview that spiritualizes creation and gives depth and meaning to human life on earth. Christianity is in retreat because it has continually reconciled itself with the secularization of society. The rise of neo-paganism, identitarianism, and fundamentalism suggest secular materialism is vulnerable. It's already peaked and declined in Russia, and it's not hard to detect signs of its lost vitality in Western nations. People are waking up to the emptiness of Netflix, fast food, and lonely individualism. Consumerism and comfort appear to lead directly to the hatred of life.

Among the easiest and most beautiful forms of rebellion against individualism, materialism, and godlessness is to passionately celebrate Halloween as it was meant to be celebrated. Carve pumpkins and remember why we originally started carving them, go trick-or-treating and physically meet our neighbors, hold Christian vigils to remember the saints who lived this life before us. Perhaps the most important way to celebrate Halloween is to remember that spirits really do work among us, and that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of darkness in this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. We must never stop warning each other that evil spirits still literally haunt our lives.