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Friday, December 1, 2023

Phoenix Riting!

It’s All Hallow’s Eve, or Hallowe’en, or Samhain, or the Day of the Dead, choose your label. In many cultures, on this night the veils thin and the dead, spirits, ghosts, ghouls, are freed to walk the earth. Back in the day, Hallowe’en was a potent and magical time on Hornby. Yes, Hallowe’en used to be different. At the big adult Hallowe’en parties at the Hall, everybody came costumed and most stayed in character. It was a break from normal, a journey into archetypal realms where we could forget ourselves and open up to inspiration from other realms.


For example, I recall Hallowe’en of 1994. I costumed myself in a black-and-silver checked outfit with silver and abstract face paint. Letting my artistic instincts guide me, I had no thought of what I was supposed to ‘be’. The question didn’t occur to me until I was finished, when I looked in the mirror and wondered, what am I? An art piece? Or? I heard a voice in my head whispering, “Greetings. I am an exchange student from the Pleiades. What species are you?”

That became my character. I went to the dance at the Hall and immersed myself in my role. Creatures of unknown species swarmed the space and my visitor was curious about them, she had been sent to Earth to learn, after all. First of all, she was shocked to discover that starfish are not the dominant species on our planet, as her people believed.


She introduced herself to many thus: “Greetings. I am an exchange student from the Pleiades. What species are you?” The answers were all in character and fascinating, hilarious, insightful. The conversation that stands out in my memory was a three way exchange between my visitor, the Pope and Wednesday Addams. The Pope was very interested in the spiritual traditions of my visitor’s home planet. Wednesday was more interested in how we might taste.


She (my visitor) was the first of her species, a despised inferior race, to to achieve the honour of being a foreign exchange student. She was disappointed to learn that she was not visiting a starfish community. She spent quite a while explaining how their light outlines the continents of earth, and how impressive it is that they live only in the places of power, where the sea meets land subject to the tides. She felt it was a mark of her inferiority that she was merely the guest of a human. It seems we are viewed by her people as an invasive parasite rather than the highly evolved apex species we see ourselves to be. It was humbling.


Did I make it all up? Of course I did. That’s how creativity works. But creativity is a power, and when a room full of people are all exercising their creative powers at once, on the night when the veils thin and possibilities expand, strange and illuminating things can happen. Since the turn of the millennium, possibilities seem to be shrinking on the magical end of the spectrum as they expand on the technological end. This trend can only go so far before the pendulum begins to swing back in the direction of weird, however.


We used to have incredible elaborate Hallowe’en parties at the Hall, where everybody worked hard to make a magical and scary experience for the kids of all ages. They were elaborately decorated, with games, a haunted house, all sorts of things. One year (post-millennium) I was asked to be a fortune teller. I was set up a little cave, draped with hangings, where I did simplified readings for the littles. There I was disheartened to discover the cynicism and worldliness of the modern child. I had brought a handcrafted fairy doll to role play with the kids, as I had not so many years before when my own kids were young, only to have nearly all of these miniature sophisticates–four and five year olds, most of them– inform me that they knew perfectly well that fairies aren’t real, don’t be silly. How sad.


I blame the internet, and I hope for the pendulum to swing back. Bring back the magic, the madness, the weird and strange, at least for Hallowe’en. I hope yours has been super weird and spooky. I’ll be going out to watch the fireworks and see if I can spot any new species, but probably going as myself, weird and strange as I already am. If Hallowe’en parties happened this year, I did not hear about them. (Note for next year: please invite me to your party!)


That’s what I think! What do you think? email me at phoenixonhornby@gmail.com

Author: TIG

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