It’s Neil Gaiman’s idea: that for Halloween, you give a spooky book to someone. I’m all in favour of this. I may be biased because I write spooky books (www.hopelessmaine.com), but as a Pagan, I also have some relevant opinions about death.
We live in a culture that denies and hides death in normal life while turning it into an entertainment commodity. There is an insane amount of violent death available on our screens. In real life, you won’t see many dead people at all unless you take on a career that brings you into contact with corpses as part of your normal work. (Or you’re a psychopath.)
Creepy books put us in touch with fear and death without pushing those torture-porn buttons. While high levels of horror can leave you a tad cold blooded and desensitised if you aren’t careful, a good creepy read is all about letting small, manageable amounts of fear in. It’s good for your mental wellbeing, good for your soul. We need to talk about death.
People who are death aware do a far better job of living than those who are not. Death makes us focus on life, makes us think about our priorities and causes us to do a much better job of being here. As the saying goes, no one lies on their deathbed wishing they’d spent more time at the office. If we pause to reflect in advance on what we might regret, then when we reach the end of the journey, we might end up with fewer of those.
Hallows actually means sacred. In the Catholic calendar, the 1st November is All Saints Day, All Hallows. Halloween is the evening before All Hallows Day. Somewhere amidst the candy and fancy dress, we need to reclaim the real scariness and sacredness of death and the ancestors.