Halloween comes out of a rich tradition in the Celtic world in which the religion was one very much of the natural, physical world. In that world, ghosts, goblins etc. were feared, and certain observances were undertaken to keep the dead, well…dead. Such as going out in scary costumes to scare them back into their tombs. Over time Halloween absorbed other-worldly entities from other cultures such as werewolves and zombies.
Hinduism is to this day very much attuned to the lunar and solar calendar, and Divinity is still seen in all of the physical world. But overall the way of experiencing God in our modern world has become very internal, esoteric and individual, as I think the Hindu mystics, the Rishis intended. To a large extent, the general public does not believe in, or profess to believe in ghosts or demons. Certainly not zombies, werewolves, vampires or any other character portrayed by Lon Cheney, Bela Lugosi or Boris Karloff in the movies. These are not the “ghouls” that haunt our world today. For that matter, today’s horror movies are taking more of a “societal ills” approach such as psychopathy, terrorism, etc. Think of the “Saw” series, for one example.
I have a feeling the horror movie genre will develop along these esoteric lines as time goes by. Because we all know what we fear. And it is not without. When it comes down to it, our fears originate within. We may fear a psychopath but the root of those evils comes from within that person, and therefore could very well be a part of all of us.
And so, on Halloween, I wonder if it will one day become commonplace to see trick-or-treaters dressed not as Frankenstein’s monster, or Dracula or Honey Boo-Boo, but as rage, confusion, lust, insecurity, greed, infidelity, depression, and certainly delusion and ego.
I think some of our customary costumes tend to reflect these very vices to begin with. Lust for example comes to mind. Halloween is the only day on which women go out dressed in an outlandishly sexy fashion just for the hell of it. And insecurity? Halloween is certainly the only day any of us, men or women, will go out looking as ugly and disheveled as we often feel on the inside.
Hard to say how the other “vices” would be portrayed in costume form. But just as ritual leads to religion leads to faith leads to enlightenment, I think fear of the ghouls of the unknown universe has developed into fear of, and need to know just what is the root of the evil we see in our world. And I think we are coming to terms with the fact that each of us plays a part.