By J.A. Coburn
During the time of year when the veil is at its thinnest and the spirits freely walk this, our mortal plane. The air turns crisp, biting and gnawing at the flesh of the unwary. When the sun glows red as blood while retiring early, the moon climbs higher to shine bright and eerie. Clouds skitter across the sky like great hounds pursuing their prey. The time of year when the shadows come to life and the blood runs cold.
This is the time of year when the Haunted house we are all familiar with becomes a most prominent feature in our lives and minds. The haunted house or castle, forest or trail has been with us for several centuries at least and the oldest descriptions hint at this custom being the continuation of a much older tradition itself. This is when we get to test the courage of our young and possibly ourselves.
So why do we do this? Well because it is fun of course! The thrill of the unknown, the what if, the maybe and the unseen!
While we know the spirits are not evil and most are not malevolent, only coming to our realm to teach and remind us of who we are. We find ourselves also acknowledging that maybe just maybe, some are. “Perhaps we might not know the lessons to be taught!”, we might think, beginning to doubt ourselves. “What if that means… oh no! Monsters are real!”.
The monster under the bed coming to devour our soul or to hunt us through the forest like a great wolf stalking its unwary prey! What tricks might they play? Some haven’t been alive for quite some time others may never have been. What could they possibly think a lesson worth teaching is? If they consume me might the lesson be for others who witness my slaughter at the hands of the unseen? Worst of all… what if they come to steal all my candies and cookies and things!
Fear. Fear allows not only the birth of but the growth of courage. This is the true point of the Haunted House. We know the danger is false, yet we all enter with that sense of dread and wonder, that tiny thought of “what if this time it is real?”. We all take count of how many times we jump or give that involuntary shriek of fear mixed with delight. We keep track of who can stride boldly through the darkened corridors or round that corner with confidence only to be jolted with the unexpected causing our spines to clatter to the floor. We laugh and make merry at the fear and unexpected delights of these places where we might test our metal. We congratulate each other for successfully resisting the urge to run or scream or jump out of our skin. We congratulate and honor those who play the part, those who don the likeness of the monsters that drive fear into our hearts for a part well played.
Truly in the end, this time of year is about bringing us together, both the living and the dead. A time when we might all remember. A time for developing and showing our courage not only to ourselves but each other. Many might think this time of year is about fear and tricks and candy. I however would argue this time of year is about family and friends and the courage of giving. The most loving time of the year because all we need to give each other is the most precious of gifts, ourselves.