Copyright © 1999 Silver Ravenwolf
Scholars are currently tussling over the origin of masks and costumes. Some feel that these fun forays into fantasy were worn to scare off things that screech in the night, where others are firmly entrenched in the ideology that costumes and masks brought the individual wearer closer to the spirit world by creating a sympathetic energy between themselves and the natural world. Regardless of the reasoning, costumes and masks pop up frequently when studying the roots and growth of Halloween. Today, parents and children alike vie for the right to parade around town, dressed in their favorite fantasy finery. (In the sixties our parents only did that behind closed doors at the neighbor's Halloween party, unless, of course, there was a parade nearby that you could use as an excuse.) Today, in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, moms work months before the Harvest Parade to concoct magnificent costumes for the kid dies (and themselves), while dads work diligently in their garages trying to come up with the miniature float that will win the grand prize. National Theme Productions, a costume rental agency, reports that in 1980, one in every four adults aged eighteen to forty wore a costume and that sixty percent of their rentals were adult oriented. Price does not seem to be a problem as we circle the millennium, and adults are willing to pay over $150 for rentals or costume purchases related to the holiday, let alone the cash used for cards, food, and decorations.
Wearing masks and costumes has traveled from Celtic mythos into present-day Halloween practices in America and the Day of the Dead practices in Mexico and South America. Like house-begging, the religious impact that originally created these customs has taken a back seat in the modern American holiday, almost to the point of total anonymity. To the modern American, Halloween has become a holiday to role play in their favorite disguise and become whomever they desire. Its only rivalry is in boxed role-playing games and an even bigger competition, the Internet, where every day can provide a psychological escape in mental costuming. But neither of these has the hands-on creativity and the competition we experience when designing the best Halloween costume ever.
Today's Halloween costumes fulfill the human need to live out a fantasy where there are no consequences. Dr. Steven Alter, a practicing clinical psychologist and an Adelphi University psychology professor, states that "wearing a mask allows us to experience another aspect of our identity without shaking the true identity that we normally use:' This may indicate why Halloween costumes have become so enticing to American adults.
This Short Guide to Masks and Costumes,
plus much more, can be found here:
by Silver Ravenwolf
Witches' hats and harvest moon
Ghosts that dance to haunted tune
Apples, goodies, food galore
Halloween has this and more!
Just where did the autumn gaiety begin? Let Silver RavenWolf guide you through the cobwebby corners of time to uncover the history behind Halloween. Honor the spirit of this hallowed harvest holiday with:
* Halloween magick: Prosperity Pumpkin Spell, Corn Husk Dolly, Solitary Harvest Moon Ritual
* Magickal goodies: Candied Love Apples, Witches' Brew, Sugar Snakes in Graveyard Dust
* Halloween myths and superstitions: Black cats, scarecrows, pitchforks, witches, ghosts, and haints
* Divination: Circle of Ashes and Stones, Magick Mirrors, Apple, Pumpkin Seed, and Water Divination
* Rituals to Honor the Dead: The Dumb Supper, Samhain Fire, Soul Lights, Spirit Rattles and Spirit Bowls
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