One of our favorite Halloween traditions is carving a jack-o’-lantern. Jack-o’-lanterns were originally meant to mimic the will-o’-the-wisp: a ghostly light, like a lantern, that floats through swamps and bogs tricking travelers off the dry path and getting them lost in the marshes. Folks thought the lights were otherworldly, a lure used by a spirit, faerie, witch, or ghost that haunts the swamp. All over the world, from Ireland to Finland, Bangladesh, and Brazil, folks told tales that the ghostly lights were either a danger that would lure you to get lost or even drown in swamp areas, or that they marked where treasure was buried (since the lights move around, the latter idea still lead to the former outcome).
Jack-o’-lanterns are a great example of the spirit of Halloween, as they are both a depiction of the frightening spirits roaming the dark nights and meant to ward off those same spirits. Isn’t that what we are doing on Halloween? Embracing and embodying the scary things that go bump in the night, but also facing those fears with laughter, merriment, creativity, and communal celebration. The act of carving a pumpkin is not just deliciously messy and an excuse to make tasty salted pumpkin seeds. It is also an act, a physical gesture, that shows while you can’t know what the future holds, nor can you control it, you do have some say in how you respond to it. You are not powerless. You don’t have to just be afraid. You will get your hands dirty, you will be creative, and you will face whatever is coming.
This week procure yourself a pumpkin, get creative, and post a pic at #hagstonejournal #hsjhalloween
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