It's a dreary, cool and overcast day here on East Mountain and across the Ozark region. There's rain coming in and it looks as though it could arrive just about any time now. The nearby maples are beginning to display their autumn colors, which stand out in sharp contrast against a gray and bleak afternoon sky. Days such as this are the true harbingers of an impending Halloween, for they not only impose upon us visual images of a deepening autumn, but they conjure up from within emotions, impressions and feelings of a different nature; this, even as they inspire visions of jack o' lanterns glowing on porches, witches flying in front of a full moon on their broomsticks and discarnate entities roaming the darkened countryside. Preparations for All Hallows Eve are indeed under way!
My witch friend (shown here) had her short photo-op yesterday and has now taken her rightful place swinging from the a long hanging tree branch in front of the cottage. It's a place where, after months of confinement indoors, she can behold the colorful spectacle beginning to unfold inside and around the cemeteries while she hovers and casts devious spells into the autumn breezes. Rather than linger alone, she is joined by her vampire friend who, clad in cloak and top hat, will lie in wait each night in hopes that some passerby--prey if you will, might draw too close and unwittingly, provide sustenance to this most thirsty of creatures. On the other side of the cottage remains the Guardian, who quite ghoulish in his own right, stands constant vigil against possible disturbances from the North, which might otherwise upset the eerie quiet surrounding these burial grounds.
For me, putting some of my ghoulish friends outside in advance of All Hallows Eve is a long standing tradition. I just love it when I can add a bit more creepy ambiance to my outdoor surroundings. Still, this is just one of my Halloween customs. Here are a few more:
Fire: It used to be that I would build a small camp fire and sit by it for awhile on All Hallows Eve. In Celtic lore Samhain marks not only the time when the veil between the worlds is the thinnest, but also the beginning of that which was once referred to as the long darkness, the time of year when nights are longest. The ancient Celts kept fires burning throughout the night while thanking the God/Goddess for providing sunlight and plenty during the year. While I haven't built a camp fire in recent years, I maintain my fire tradition by keeping a candle burning in my jack o' lantern throughout the night and while home, a candle burning on a desk or table.
At the coffee shop: At the shop where I do a lot of my coffee drinking, one of the offerings at this time of year is a flavor called punkin pie. It's a bit spicey, aromatic, and is really has a pumpkin-like taste--a treat I look forward to when October rolls around.
Going to the entertainment district: Every year I enjoy going down to Dickson Street to see everyone dressed in costume. It can really be a sight to behold and from time to time, the strip becomes an absolute freak show. With growth taking place at the local university and more students in town during the school year, our entertainment district is becoming noisier and more rowdy than it used to be. So, I've been shying away from there somewhat in recent years. Quite simply it's just not my scene anymore, but who knows? A renewed visit is in order. Regardless, I do like to go out, at least to my local pub and favorite hangout, where lots of people show up in costume.
Gothing up: I consider Halloween to be more than just one night. To me, it's a season of sorts, which depending upon the weather, fall colors and overall feel might last for a week or two. During this time, which extends into the Day of the Dead, I tend to goth up a bit more creatively than usual. You know the routine; black nail polish, vampire shirts or my Reaper's Bride shirt, a personal favorite. Since I don't generally dress in costume, gothing up works quite nicely for me.
Cemetery: I make it a point to visit the small Walker Cemetery, which is situated to the side of my driveway. I'm not saying that it's all that creepy there or anything, but it has more of the types of stones and monuments that figure in Halloween imagery. It's always nice to spend a few minutes there, communing with the spirits of the past.
Halloween Stores: In my opinion, it wouldn't be Halloween without visiting stores catering to the holiday. I've already made my pilgrimage once this season, and might do so again. Often, I return on the day after, when all of the items I coveted but didn't want to pay the price for the first time around, are offered at a 50 percent discount.
Eating the Children's Candy: This is a good one! Every year, I buy some candy--just in case some trick or treaters come by while I'm still at home. Yet, in all the years that I've lived here by the cemeteries on East Mountain, not one child in costume has ever knocked on my door. It seems that passing by the cemeteries through the Halloween darkness is too unnerving for them. I've known this for a long time now, and really don't expect anyone to come by. Still, I buy the chocolate bars--just in case. So, when the kids don't show up, I get all the candy! Isn't that a bit of evil scheming on my part?
Music: Let's face it; considering my love of doom metal and such, I listen to pretty creepy music all year long. Still, there's some dark ambient and neoclassical dark wave that I especially enjoy listening to on the nights leading up to All Hallows Eve. It's music that conjures up images in my mind and greatly increases my appreciation for this time of year. That said, no Halloween is complete without listening to Type O Negative's Bloody Kisses. I'm referring to the song as opposed to the entire album, which goes by the same name. I consider Bloody Kisses my Halloween theme song and for me at least, it's oh so Goth!
There you have it! Now you know my personal Halloween traditions. So how about you? Would you care to sharel any of yours?