H A L L O W E ' E N
A FESTIVAL OF LOST MEANINGS
ALVIN BOYD KUHN, PH.D.
* Electronically typed and edited by Juan Schoch for educational research purposes. This notice is not to be removed. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be greatly indebted to the individual who can put me in touch with the Estate of Dr. Alvin Boyd Kuhn and/or any of the following: A. B. Kuhnís graduation address at Chambersburg Academy "The Lyre of Orpheus", A. B. Kuhnís unpublished autobiography, The Mighty Symbol of the Horizon, Nature as Symbol, The Rebellion of the Angels, The Ark and the Deluge, The True Meaning of Genesis, The Law of the Two Truths, At Sixes and Sevens, Adam Old and New, The Real and the Actual, Immortality: YesóBut How?, The Mummy Speaks at Last, Symbolism of the Four Elements, Rudolph Steiner's "Mystery of Golgotha", Krishnamurti and Theosophy.
I also would welcome any contact with someone who has any letters of Kuhn or has any personal knowledge of him. Thank you.
Recently (January 15, 2005) I was contacted by a 15 year old student of Upton High (state and city to be determined) who wanted to interview me in regards to the life of Sir Francis Bacon (Lord Verulam). The interview was conducted and this student asked me if there was anything else. This is what I relayed:
There is a nationally and worldwide known issue of a disabled person in my state (Florida) who is being subjected to attempted murder. Her name is Theresa Marie Schindler-Schiavo. The courts say that she is in a Persistent Vegetative State when in fact she is not, they lie. Videos were shown on CNN during a live feed that prove she is not comatose. She sits up in a chair. Her husband who lives with another woman for over 9 years and who has two children with this woman is trying to say that Theresa wants to die when in fact he has been denying her rehabilitation and therapy so that she can have her own voice and be back on to the road to her recovery. He has been with several women since he caused Theresa's incident and this is his latest live-in concubine who is in collusion with him to make Theresa dead. His attorneys are attempting to accomplish a heinous starvation/dehydration death on her for the third time. One of his attorneys wrote a book in which he talks about tearing out peoples feeding tubes and says he speaks to them by "soul speak" asking them if they want to die and they tell him along the lines "Yes, I want to die! Please kill me." The Hospice of the Florida Suncoast is holding her hostage for over 4 years. This feeding tube yanker attorney was chairman of the board of this hospice. This is the worst case of domestic terrorism happening in our country right now. While we are off in other countries helping helpless and disabled people the government has been remiss to save a human life from terrorism here in my state. There is a cover-up of mass proportions and I have the evidence on a CD to prove it. This message is to you and all of your classmates and teachers who may be reading this. Please contact others if you know of others who care to stop this murder. Perhaps you, or others, including activist friends, know people who have the power to stop what is happening here in my state or bring greater attention to what is going on. Contact me at email@example.com or call me at 407-925-4141 and I will get whatever information you may need. Help me and others to stop the return of Nazi T4 days in Florida, the rest of the United States of America and the world. We must take a stand and make our voices heard.
"They became fools, and changed the glory of the incorrup-
tible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds,
and four-footed beasts, and creeping
H A L L O W E ' E N
A FESTIVAL OF LOST MEANINGS
AUTUMN'S MYSTERIOUS REVEL
The large Merriam Webster's dictionary gives the definition of Hallowe'en (spelled Halloween) as "the evening preceding All Saints' Day; the eve of October 31. In many countries Halloween is traditionally devoted to merrymaking, with playful ceremonies and charms to discover future husbands and wives." Nothing more.
It is not unwarrantable to predict that the time is not far distant when a world of more enlightened intelligence will be able to look back upon the present age, particularly in the Western area of civilization, and label it as the epoch in which the people celebrated a series of religious festivals around the cycle of the year in nearly total ignorance of their true significance. Certainly, whether or not this be the future's judgment on our present state of semantic nescience, it is to be presumed that if the departed souls of the Sages of antiquity are in any wise in position to gaze down the corridors of history from their day to ours, they must register uncomprehending dismay at the sight of our ghastly misconception and utterly travestied motives in our commemoration of the great annual festivals their dramatic genius instituted round the year. They must stand
agape at the sight of our mechanical parade of "holidays" and the completely distorted spirit and elan with which we go through the perfunctory observance of one after the other in total miscomprehension of the original inspiration and signification of each in turn. It must afflict them with consternation to see how in the case of every one of the cardinal festivals a true sense of the meaning to be dramatized by the occasion has been overlaid by some outer, some material or superficial reference that retains or conveys not the remotest relevance to the primal message.
While the divagation from the basic meaning is egregious in every instance, it has perhaps swung most outrageously far from prime character in the case of our Hallowe'en observance, falling annually on the night of October 31. So profoundly is this true that one risks little in possible misstatement in venturing the assertion that none of the millions of revelers on that riotous night has the faintest real idea of the significance of his carousal, or any idea that approaches within a country mile of the original intent of the occasion. It is quite doubtful if one in ten thousand even ventures a random guess as to why he goes out in the street of town or village in grotesque disguise. He does it from the sheer force of custom. He hardly bothers even to wonder why, because he knows nobody is going to ask him about it. The meaning does not concern him, because society for ages has ordained it that way, and it comes with the force and sanction of something established under the unchallengeable authority of immemorial custom. If there is perhaps a mite of idle curiosity about it, his wonder is fully satisfied by the reflection that somewhere away
back in past history it had its origin in some meaningful situation, and now it is enough to know that it goes on by the automatism of habit and tradition. Under the sweep of conventional mores it comes each year to give him, if he is still in the fling of youthful urges, an evening of semi-wild license, embroidered with the possibility of interesting adventure. It is at any rate one evening when at least a partial escape can be made from the restraints of rigid canons of moral conduct and a suppressed original elemental tendency can be freely indulged. And this vaguely felt native urge to wildness, if he but realized it, is the one link, though mostly all unconscious, still remaining between his psyche and the primordial esoteric significance of the jubilation on October 31.
The Hallowe'en rollicking is not generally regarded as of major significance at all comparable with that of Christmas or Easter. Yet it can be affirmed that, as it was originally conceived and formulated, it was rated fully as important as these others. As a matter of fact it stood as one of the four cardinal festivals of the entire year, embodying the significance of one of the four cardinal points of the zodiac, -- the two equinoxes and the two solstices -- and these four were considered the greatest of all the ritual occasions in the year's round. It differs widely in character from all other observances, having come to be regarded more as a secular festival than one of religion. Festivals generally are designed to commemorate something of positive value or of universal import, and therefore take on the aura of solemnity. Mostly they deal with events of epic or national importance or of profound religious significance. On the
contrary, Hallowe'en gives vent to a spirit of quite opposite cast, expressing frivolity, license, mischief. Outwardly it stands at the very opposite pole from the serious or the sacred. Because of its seemingly light and purely sportive character it has, as said, not been evaluated as of first importance. Little do its wild celebrants realize that its truly profound significance inheres in precisely this seemingly bizarre and outlandish element of its observance.
But long established customs do not take their rise out of nothing, nor out of wayward random impulses. So we must ask: why the wild revel? Why the free fling in buffoonery, in rough horse-play, in wanton, if limited destructiveness, in the ludicrous and the grotesque? Why the freedom to indulge in sexual suggestiveness? Why the temporary let-down in moral restraint? Why the wearing of masks? What can be the hidden import of the general community turning out and acting like an untamed animal for one night in the year? Why the candle shining through the grinning features of a pumpkin, or the apple in a tub of water? Why the witch riding the skies on a broomstick? Why the haunting revelry of imps and sprites and the stealthy prowling of Satan himself? And why all this on the last night of October? Has it no more pertinent significance than that it has grown out of a natural revolt against the restraints of established moral and social decencies and sanctities in general mores? Has it arisen as a revolt against the inhibitions of conventional norms, as a sort of desperate resolve on the part of civilized society to indulge for one night in the year in an escape into freedom of action behind a mask of anonymity? Surely its roots of origin run deeper
into the ground of human life and nature than that. How deeply they penetrate into the common soil of our being will be a revelation to the present world, which has lost all connection with the primal ancient sources of its traditional mores and its great annual ceremonials. We continue to go through the outward forms of these rituals, almost totally oblivious of their meaning. So far from feeding the natural hunger of our collective psyche on the rich food of sublime import in these formalities which our spiritual health demands (minds and souls must be nourished with proper nutriment as well as bodies), we are near to starving them on the dead outer husks of former semantic constructions of sublime truth. The form survives, the meaning is lost. One might say that Hallowe'en continues to be staged for the sheer fun and devilry of it. All the while the world of culture is famished for the meat of living power implicit in the stirring frolic of this night.
MAN A QUATERNARY BEING
The festival, it might be said, carries one-fourth of the symbolic representation of human life as depicted in the great zodiacal figure or graph devised by the sapient genius of ancient Sages. The zodiac (from the Greek word zodion, "a little animal") was a semantic diagram of amazing ingenuity and comprehensiveness, to portray the successive stages and salient features of man's evolution in the scale of expanding being. A basic twelve steps in progress, or twelve segments of an eventually complete divinization of his nature were the integral divisions of the graph. But as these twelve were to be generated as the outcome of a trinitarian subdivision of each of four grades or levels of the human consciousness, namely sensation, emotion, thought and spiritual genius, the twelve differentiations were clustered in four groups of three members each, cutting the zodiacal circle of houses into the four quadrants. The boundaries were the lines cutting the circle at the two solstices and the two equinoxes, giving us the equal-armed cross in the circle. The yearly dates of these points were the twenty-first (or twenty-second) of June (summer solstice), of September (autumn equinox), of December (winter solstice) and of March (spring equinox).
What has been largely lost out of present astrological study is the fact that the zodiac was to serve as a pictorial or semantic representation of the evolution of man's divine soul as it swung round the repeated cycles of life
in many incarnations on the earth. If his evolution was to be consummated by the development and final unification of the twelve composite facets of divine faculty through the total experience acquired in the run of the cycles, the process involved the generation of the four grades of consciousness, each in threefold organization. What the blueprint indicated then at the four "corners" of the zodiac was the generation successively of sensation, the first grade or form of consciousness, at the September point; of emotion at the December point; of mind at March; and of spirit grade at the consummation of the round at June. Since the little sun of fiery conscious potential in man was of kindred essence with the conscious power behind the sun itself, its cycle of rotation was made in copy of the solar orb's annual round. As the design was intended to register it, the soul was conceived in germinal state at the June station, was integrated in a material organism at the September date, was quickened to life after virtual "death" under the incubus of body at December, and was raised to a new growth in a fresh cycle beginning at March, under Easter symbolism.
September 21, then, marks the date at which in the significance of zodiacal language the unit of fiery spiritual essence, an emanation of creative Mind from the supreme Deity which is to be the divine soul of man, descending from the heights of noumenal activity toward manifestation in matter, crosses the line from pure mind force into union with a grade of matter that, being attuned to its vibration, it can mold into an instrument of expression of its potential capabilities of life and consciousness. In more concise form of statement it there
enters embodiment in physical forms; it incarnates. The fundamental import of a great religious ceremonial set for the autumn of the year would be involved in the meaning that goes with the core doctrine of the Incarnation. Hallowe'en is par excellence the ritualization of the Incarnation.
But, it will be remonstrated, Hallowe'en does not fall on September 21 or reasonably near it. It comes forty days after that date. How can it be relevant to the import of September 21? The interval of the forty days between the fall equinox and October 31 holds the answer to the question.
The number forty is, as any Bible
reader will know, almost omnipresent in the Scriptures. It occurs sixty-four
times in the Old Testament. Along with seven, ten and twelve, it is one of the
basic numerological keys to the recondite meaning and the cryptic methodology
of Bible writing. From certain fundamental data in the realm of nature it had
come in the ancient days, in the esoteric language of symbolism, to connote the
period of time that the egg, or seed of life, was immersed or incubated in
matter before "hatching" or germinating to make the start of a new
cycle. A seed has to go into the ground and "die" in order to
generate a new living organism for a new cycle of life. Forty days were
calculated as the time the wheat grains sown in the waters standing over the
fields at the inundation of the
symbol of the dark interval preceding the dawn of a new life cycle.
It was therefore used in semantic science to intimate the involvement of soul or spirit in material embodiment, and thus came to represent the whole life cycle itself. For a cycle, or at any rate the manifest arc of it, is just that period in which soul entity is involved in matter. It would dramatize the whole duration of any cycle of birth, growth, maturation, decay and death, the entire span from birth to death. The ancient genius for festival ordination succeeded in introducing at least four periods of forty days into the round of the year. Taking the interval between September 21 and October 31 as the first of these, a second one is the period between Christmas on December 25 and February 2, the ancient Candlemas Day, or the festival of the Purification of the Virgin from the corruption of a mortal birth. The third dates from forty days before Easter to Easter morn, the Christian Lent. A fourth runs from Easter, taken as the spring equinox date of March 21, to the first of May, which latter date was of great prominence throughout all ancient traditional ritualism. It is probable that several other periods running from the first of a month to the tenth of the next month were taken as festival epochs.
The "Holy Night" or "Hallowed Even" was therefore set for the fortieth day following the autumn equinox, with the signification that the soul entered incarnation (Latin carno means "flesh") on September 21, ran its cycle of evolution over its forty days of "incubation" or embodiment in the soil of human life and on October 31 culminated its progress at the end in its final
glorification in the hallowed state of incipient godhood. It entered the cycle as the soul of a mortal human being and emerged at the end in the blessed ranks of the gods. The forty days typified the entire cycle. The thirty-first of October virtually symbolizes, therefore, in a smaller cycle the same meaning that Easter dramatizes in a cycle of six months, starting at September 21, or what Easter symbolizes at the end of Lent. The soul in both cycles comes to its beatification at the forty days' end.
As a matter of significant fact, the glorified end date of this forty-day festival really falls on the day following Hallowe'en, November first. This day is for the autumn precisely what May first is for the spring in semantic relevance, and the two days are just six months apart, each forty days after the equinox event. November first has borne the festival name of All Saints' Day, or All Soul's Day. Obviously it intimates the idea of the day when all souls become "saints," or are divinely sanctified, that is, perfected as divine beings or gods. It connotes the final apotheosization of the human when it is divinized, when from man it becomes god. Hallowe'en is thus properly envisaged as the "Eve" of All Saints' Day.
So Hallowe'en was dated to come on the night before November 1 because it was intended to represent the natural-man development antecedent and preparatory to the burgeoning out of the spiritual flower on the following day, and all this was in strict accord with the sagacious design of the ancient theurgists, the initiates in the wisdom lore of a primeval revelation, who by this stratagem of dramatic genius fixed on the eve before the
chief festival a night of preparation for the main action of the morrow. It went by the name (Greek) of parasceve, meaning "eve of preparation;" or proeortia, "in advance of the going out."
It shrouds no deeper mystery than that if one is going on a journey on a certain day, one would spend the eve before in packing and other preparation. It might be said that the parasceve almost meant this "packing of the baggage on the eve of the journey." But the meaning runs deeper into the esoteric realm than any mere physical reference. It was not a merely physical pilgrimage that the soul was preparing to begin on November 1. All these festivals dramatize stages, aspects, processes of human evolution, and their meaning is not to be considered as apprehended until it is brought into reference to some vital facet of this evolution.
THE HEYDAY OF THE ANIMAL
So what is there in this sphere of
relevance that can come in as a stage antecedent or initial to the climactic
flowering of man's divine nature? Obviously it is just the physical bodily
development that, as the John Baptist of the Gospels, must precede and prepare
the way for the outburst of the spiritual-man consummation by laying the
physical foundations for it. Spiritual evolution is impossible unless there is
first built up the material or organic instrumentalities to implement its
manifestations. "That was not first which is spiritual," says
So it is the first, the animal stage of our unfoldment that Hallowe'en vividly portrays, and the day of glorification of all souls follows to crown this physical podium of human life with the beautiful statue of spiritual man. This day of consummation closes out the incubation period and the forty-day cycle ends with the climactic dramatization of both the antecedent parasceve and the ultimate divine culmination in a two-phased grand finale. It is significant also that while All Soul's Day is set as a daytime observance, Hallowe'en is a night celebration. In the creation process night pre-
cedes day, as, says the Bible, God brought forth light out of the darkness of primordial night. The nocturnal character of Hallowe'en also arises from the symbolism of the soul's immersion in matter during the preparatory stage as being its nighttime experience. In body the soul sits or gropes in material darkness until the turn of the cycle brings the dawn of the spiritual day, when it is awakened out of its dreamy condition in the shadows of unreality into the bright day of its full vision of truth.
Hallowe'en has also been designated in some traditions
as the All Fools' Night. The connection of this denomination with the
ceremonial is involved in a measure of obscurity. Yet there is a specific
significance in what the word "fool" connotes in reference to the
soul's incarnation. For we have other indications of it in the medieval
personage, the jester or court fool in every baron's castle, as well as in the
odd fact that the Number I card in the symbolic collection called the Tarot
cards is designated the Fool. Also we have the poet's observation that all
human life is marked with folly: "What fools we mortals be!"
So the term obviously carries some intimation of deeper import. It must be seen
to have a measure of esoteric reference in the reflection that the soul, when
in bodily incarnation, is cut off from the full light of truth and wisdom, and
therefore lives under the dominion of demoniac powers, which, as presented so
clearly in the allegory of Job's divinely sanctioned tormenting at the hands of
the imps of darkness and evil, are given tutelary control over the infant deity
in man during its incubation and incipient stages of growth.
the soul is in the unawakened state of its childhood, corresponding to the ungerminated state of the seed, it is under the supervision of tutors and guardians and in servitude to the elements (indeed in several passages "elementals") of the earth and the air, though it is at the same time (potentially) "Lord of all."
Thus the characterization of the soul in its bodily life as the "fool" carries deep philosophical import. It was a most profound doctrine of the sapient Greek philosophy that when the soul descends "from on high" into the realm of sense and generation, "she" loses her clearer perspective of all real values in the life of consciousness and is precipitated into every sort of incertitude and finds her vision of "whole natures" distracted and diffracted into distorted pictures of reality, her proper focus of vision and understanding all confused by the wayward attractions of sense, passion and ignorance. In this wretched condition caused by her loss of divine faculty, she gropes blindly in the darkness of nescience, and perpetrates all manner of folly.
The first Tarot card, called "The Fool," pictures the soul as a blooming carefree youth striding gaily forth in such position that his next step will send him plunging over the brink of a sheer precipice. This is the soul in the upper world ready to descend into incarnation. Perhaps it is only in the cryptic intimations of ancient occult science that the soul is given the appellation of fool, pointing to the folly of leaving heaven for the hardships of earth. For often this recondite methodology disguised its true purport by symbol or character of a nature suggestive of the very opposite idea to the one
intended to be conveyed to the initiated. It is known that to some degree this science deliberately put out truths under what have been called "blinds," in order to safeguard precious and dangerous knowledge from the unworthy. In this case it seems obvious that the arcane wisdom promulgators were not openly designing to give to the world the teaching that the soul is guilty of folly for leaving heaven to gain its evolutionary experience on earth. For if the soul remained forever in the world of spirit, it would only perpetuate its static condition. If it is destined under the Cycle of Necessity to take further steps in growth, it had to be transplanted in successive lives on earth. "Unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die," said Jesus, "it abideth alone. But if it die it bringeth forth much fruit." Hardly has it been seen that this statement is the absolute confirmation of the necessity and the naturalness of the "fall" of the soul into this dark underworld of matter and the flesh, where alone it can ground itself for a new cycle of growth. This is the law of the cosmos, and the soul commits no folly (as religion has so universally imputed to her) in obeying its ordinances. Yet, in the understood sense of the word, it does commit her to a long experience of trial and "temptation" in her bodily life, in which her blundering course of trial and error engages her in much "folly."
It must not be overlooked that we have April 1 featured as an All Fools' Day. The motive for setting it in the spring is readily seen. If the autumn began the incarnational period of "folly," the spring would end it six months later. If the symbolism were properly understood, it might be considered as appropriate to date the
feature at the end as well as at the beginning of the period in which the Fool had his fling.
This function of the "fool" character is more boldly presented in the personage of the medieval castle fool or jester. It seems indubitable that the custom of maintaining this odd actor in the social scheme arose out of the milieu of ancient representative typism of the religious drama. As in the duality of the human constitution there were the two forces of the universal polarity, the natural and the spiritual, the bodily and the divinely intellectual, the human and the celestial, and the higher unable to evolve its capacities apart from polarized attachment to the lower, it seems clear that the idea was carried into the system of society in the institution of the castle fool. He was a person of acknowledged privilege, even in his folly. He was, in deeper sense, placed there to serve as the foil, the goading force, the thorn in the flesh, the tempter and the prodder of the Lord of the castle. He was to be the latter's alter ego, his human counterpart and secondary self, to keep the Lord under stress and pressure to maintain his true place of headship. It does not strain the imagery unduly to put it that the jester was kept in the medieval household to make a "fool" out of the baron, who of course in the type-drama represented the higher soul self. The court fool went with the Lord as the body with its animal instincts goes with the soul.
Astonishing material confirming the elucidation is brought to light in data encountered in research. We discover that the typical ancient ritual features two principal characters, a hero and a buffoon. These two share
many adventures together and live on terms of the greatest familiarity, -- quite naturally, since they live together in the same body! Here we have the soundest reason for the special privilege accorded the fool to jest at the expense of the castle baron. For the god and the irresponsible joker were made bed-fellows in the same hostelry. And to crown it all, we read that "fools were considered sacred on the seventh day." One is driven to conjecture as to what infinite tragedy has afflicted human life in the large as the result of the ingrained religious infatuation that only the soul of man is "sacred," while the body is held as foul, as base and worthy only of being crucified in the interests of the spirit. The animal "fool" at any rate comes into the recognition of his sacred function on his "seventh day."
Still another designation for Hallowe'en was in old English history Nutcracker Night. The symbolic relevance embodied in the term would not seem to be too difficult to resolve. It has already been elucidated that the soul enters body at the September date of the year's cycle, and it can enter it only as seed of its future growth. The commonest form of seed in the vegetable kingdom is the nut. Once planted in the soil of human life, the evolutionary task of the divine potential is to crack open the shell and bring out the kernel for the purposes of new growth. Hence the figure of nut-cracking.
And what amazing and enlightening significance lives for our dull intellection in the analogy of the vegetable seed with the soul-seed! We plant the hard nut of a walnut or a hickory tree in the ground. To open out a way for the life-germ in the kernel to burst forth, nature
must crack open, or rot away the outer shell.
This outer covering, the ark which houses it during the dissolution of its
parent tree, must die away. And as it dies, the life innate in the kernel
begins to increase. So it is with the divine soul encased in the womb of man's
outer physical "shell."
Related in the general context of the autumn memorials to Hallowe'en is the name given to the September equinoctial date, -- Michaelmas. Four of the seven "Angels of the Presence," the primordial archangels, were allotted to the four cardinal stations of the cross in the zodiac: Gabriel, Raphael, Michael and Uriel. The station of Michael was at the autumn equinox. Hallowe'en then fell forty days after Michaelmas. Gerald Massey, the greatest of all Egyptologists, traces the name Michael to the Egyptian Makhu, the god holding the balance on the zodiacal horizon line, and the Hebrew word for God, El, or Makhu-el, the Lord of the Balance, one of the titles given to the Christ deity holding the balance between soul and body in man's constitution.
THE GODS IN REVEL
It is thus intimated to us that the prime motif of Hallowe'en is revelry, in the wilder spirit of animal sportiveness. It requires a more penetrating philosophical insight, however, to discern the deeper involvements and the revealing appropriateness of this phase of the festival's meaning. It is inwoven in the context of the principles of the arcane wisdom of old.
The prime datum, of course, is the sheer fact that the ceremonial celebrates the entry of our units of soul into their animal bodies here on earth. It is the festival of the "in-fleshing" of units of spiritual essence, the incarnation. The Latin carno is "flesh." The divine emanations of cosmic mind, uttered by the "voice of God," are what St. John calls the Word, the Logos, and this Logos becomes "fleshed," that is, the active ensouling and creative principle is embodied in fleshly forms. Massey with great insistence asserts that the Egyptian word for the mummy, which, as type of that which lives forever even in its "death" in matter, is Karast, is undoubtedly the origin of the Greek Christos and the English Christ. Perhaps this cannot be categorically established as correct. Yet it would meet every demand of symbolic consistency if its claims to this honor were exhaustively examined.
A most interesting and suggestive word that derives from carno, flesh, contributes grist to our mill of elucidation. This is the word "carnival." The dictionary states
that it originally sprang from the "putting
away of meat" in Roman Catholic countries,
The gist of the meaning of "carnival" at any rate is the note of revelry carried to wild excess, and as the dictionary has it, "merrymaking, especially of an indecorous character." But the axial idea embodied in the word must definitely be the giving of free rein to the instincts and impulses of the "flesh," the indulgence in carnality. The second part of the word is given as deriving from the Latin levare, "to lift, to elevate." So that instead of connoting originally the "putting away of meat," it might with more directness have been intended to signify the "exhaltation of the flesh." For this in effect is precisely what the celebration became. It was carnality given vent in "carnivality."
For a grasp of the basic elements of the celebration's appropriateness, it is necessary to emphasize the item
that is the central axis about which the whole meaning revolves. This is the fact that the human body is the product of the evolution of animal life, that it is in and of itself, just the highly developed animal. Plato defines man as through intellect a god, but through body an animal. Ancient mythology and Scriptural writings represent the interrelationship between the Heroes, the divine beings who come to earth, and the various animals they all have to meet, combat and slay. The only animals connoted by these myths and allegories are these animal bodies into which the god-souls effect entry. This item is one of the pointed keys whose loss in the early centuries plunged all interpretative effort into obscurity and error.
A few Scriptural references to the animal nature of man may profitably be introduced. The allegory of Daniel thrown into the lion's den can at once be seen as the soul's imprisonment in animal body, for in incarnation the spark of divinity is "cribbed, cabined and confined" in the "den of the animal. In Marks' Gospel (I:13) one verse condenses the entire story of the Temptation. Prefacing that Jesus was led by the spirit into the wilderness forty days to be tempted of Satan, the narrative covers in six words the entire content of the experience, after which "angels ministered unto him." And what are these six words? "And was with the wild beasts." Here is conclusive evidence that the Temptation was just a poetic graph for the incarnation. All the temptation that soul ever meets arises from the side of the body in which it has taken up its lifetime habitation.
From the apocryphal Epistle to the Romans of Ignatius we take a most revealing verse. The dramatized
Christ is speaking, and says: "For I am the wheat of God, and I shall be ground between the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ." The Christ has said that we must eat his very body, to become immortal. And we, the human entities, are those wild beasts between whose teeth the divine essence within us is being constantly ground. Yet that divine essence is the bread of life on which we feed.
In the Book of Ezekiel, speaking to the souls he is about to dispatch to this nether world, God says: "I will fill the wild beasts of the earth with thee." "The underworld awaits thy coming," he declared elsewhere. And before his soul-children migrated to earth, there were none but animals here to receive such royal visitants.
A Chinese legend says that the
infant prince, son of the king, was thrown out into the pig-yard and left to
the mercy of the swine, which, however, saved him. The library of mythology
abounds in legends of heroes who were cast out in the wilds but were nurtured
by animals. Jesus was himself born in a stable among the animals. In the basic
But the material that most cogently
connects the incarnation with the Hallowe'en motif of
rough and sportive animal behavior is found in the fourth chapter of the Book
of Daniel. Interpreting the dream of
uchadnezzar, the prophet of the Lord revealed that the
king (always typing the divine soul) should be driven out from among men, his
dwelling should be with the beasts of the field, he should eat grass like cattle,
he should be drenched with the dews of heaven (indicating nighttime, the
universal glyph for incarnation), until "seven years" passed over him
(the glyph for a completed cycle) and he learned that the Most High ruled over
the kingdom of men. A later verse tells of the fulfilment
of the dream: the king was driven out from among men, and did eat grass
like oxen, his body was wet with the dews of heaven, his
hair grew like eagles' feathers and his nails like the claws of a bird. As
sanity forbids our taking this as veridical personal history of the man
Nebuchadnezzar--and certainly there is no evidence of its having happened to
this king--we have here one of the most positive proofs of the allegorical
character of Biblical literature. But the most pointed item in this allegory is
the statement that "an animal's mind shall be given unto him," which
is latter followed by the statement that "his
mind became like the mind of an animal." It was to take the transforming
experience of the whole cycle (of seven years) to enable the king, the soul, to
do just what Plato asserts it must do to recover the memory of its lost
intellectual Paradise. For the Daniel paralogue
states that when the experience was over, the king announced that
"my reason returned unto me." We lose the paradisical
consciousness when our souls leave heaven for earth. We live in an animal's
body (Isaiah says: "We live in darkness like the dead.") and
in the early stages of this lower world existence we exercise an animal's grade
of mind. We will regain
Here indeed is found the Hallowe'en motif and spirit. Our souls have taken lodgment in the bodies of animals, and in the first stages they have no other awareness or knowledge than that they are just the animal creatures with the animal mind. Our behavior in this long inceptive period of the incubation ordeal is purely that of ourselves acting like animals. Our real divine nature at that epoch is shrouded in oblivion,--Plato's great doctrine of the "loss of divine memory." It lies deeply submerged under the animal grade of mind which occupies the open field of consciousness. Only later, and only completely at the end of the cycle, will it have been awakened and developed its latent powers to full spiritual rulership of the life. Hallowe'en is designed to commemorate our sensual activity, our grade of animal-mindedness which in this earthly existence foreruns the birth of the spirit. That is the core of the festival's recondite meaning.
No passage that has been encountered in much study seems to picture with adequate clarity and vividness the basic evolutionary situation as does a citation from the works of the great Neoplatonic philosopher Plotinus. Commenting on the mental metamorphosis superinduced by the soul's migration from heaven to earth, he writes:
"They began to revel in free will; they indulged in their
own movement; they took the wrong path. Then it was
that they lost the knowledge that they sprang from that
divine order. They no longer had a true vision of the Sup-
reme or of themselves. Smitten with longing for the lower,
rapt in love of it, they grew to depend upon it; so they
broke away as far as they were able."
Forgetting that they were princelings of the heavenly kingdom, now enwrapped in the
coats of animal skin, their divine potential reduced if not smothered by the
deadening blanket of the body's sensuous life, they took themselves to be the
physical creatures they outwardly were. And as outer form shapes itself over
the likeness of the inward soul that pours itself out through it, it was not
long until animal propensity transformed the environing body into the animal
The exposition could run into great elaboration. As there are many kinds of animals, with each giving a different expression of brutish propensity, the reveling throngs in city streets are at liberty to exhibit a wide variety of antics. What is to be understood and weirdly felt in the scene is the sense of a being potentially of god stature glaring out through the eyes and features of an animal, a god grimacing like a beast. And all of this is most appropriate to introduce the next and most impressive and meaningful particular of the Hallowe'en drama.
THE MASK OF THE PERSONALITY
This prominent feature is the mask behind which all revelers hide their identity. Hardly have we ever caught even the shadow of the light that is hidden behind this enigmatic symbol. From it we gleam a new revelation, one which incontrovertibly corroborates the thesis of interpretation here advanced.
What is disclosed to us, as the
outstanding item of the revelry, is the spectacle of humans masquerading in
the outer features and habiliments of an animal. In addition to being a
carnival, Hallowe'en is par excellence a masquerade.
Human features are overlaid and hidden behind the outer clothing of an
animal. For, let us make no mistake about this, those masks and those
masquerading costumes were originally the heads and hides of animals.
The author had conceived that this must be so considerably in advance of his
finding confirmation of the fact. That came in further research. It was found
that participants in the Mithraic Mysteries wore
animal masks. But much direct testimony to the fact was encountered in a most
valuable work, The Hero: A Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama, by Lord
Raglan (Oxford University Press,
"The incarnation of the divine soul in man's animal
body is the basis of all the legends of the sorcerer's turning
the hero or his men into animals, or their disguising them-
selves as animals. The animal mask of Hallowe'en is the
survival and replica of the same thing, for the masks were
originally the hides of animals! The prominence given this
phase of the drama's meaning is attested by what Raglan
writes (p. 261). He says that a prominent feature of every
type of traditional narrative is the man in animal form, or
the animal that can speak."
This must be so because there is but one central theme to the drama of human life, viz. the interrelated history of the two components of man's life, soul and body, god and animal.
Hallowe'en is the masquerade ball of the ego-soul in man. He is a (potential) god, yet here he is cavorting in the disguise of the beast. And this is not mere histrionic fantasy, but the actual truth of the situation in which he finds himself. His heavenly Father has sent him forth out of the celestial palace to don the habiliments of a race of lower beings and be the monitors, verily the gods of these creatures.
The young god, comely and radiant in the first bloom of his youth before the animal brutishness has marred his visage and contorted his beauty into coarseness, soon registers the contortions of his features in forms of ugliness. This element of the interpretation was so pronounced in the ancient purview of the incarnational drama that it became distinguished as the doctrine of the god's "disfigurement." The impingement of the beastly nature upon the impressible consciousness of the young god distorted the latter's features into painful deformity. So prominent indeed was this aspect of the semantic delineation that when the Christian movement in the early centuries transmogrified the spiritual drama into the personal biography of the man Jesus, one party
in the Church strongly contended that in bodily appearance the Nazarene was an ugly, deformed, wizened and decrepit little old man! (The evidence for this is to be found in Lundy's valuable old work, Monumental Christianity.) Isaiah in chapter 52 depicts this facet of meaning:
"His visage was so marred, more than any man, and his
form more than the sons of men; disfigured till he seemed
a man no more, deformed out of the semblance of a man."
Again we read: "He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is
no beauty that we should desire him." In one striking picturization of the
god in this condition, the wisdom of old
And perhaps nobody has ever more pointedly told us the cosmic necessity for the descent of these units of potential godhood into the lair of the beasts than has Thomas Taylor, profound expositor of the Greek philosophers. He writes:
"Without this participation of intellect in the lowest
department of corporeal life, nothing but the irrational
soul and a brutal life would subsist in the dark and fluctua-
ting abode of the body."
The animal races ("three genera of mortals" Plato in the Timaeus calls them), which could progress by the natural biological impetus to the levels of sensation and feeling (of pleasure and pain), could advance no further up the ladder without receiving from above the implantation of the germ of mind in their organic constitution. To effect the polarization of the negative forces of sense and emotion with the positive energies of mind and spirit (the union of earth and water with air and fire) God sent forth his sons, "only-begotten" of mind, not of matter, and germinally linked their spiritual potential with the physical nature of the lower beings, to lead them over the gap between sense and mind and be in effect their "gods." "You shall be their gods and they shall be your people," he promised them.
MAN'S TWO VOICES
But it is when we come to examine
the etymological as well as the philosophical significations of the mask that
we gain a wondrous new vision of the festival's profounder import. The path of
this luminous understanding runs back to the Latin word for "mask." A
veritable flash of illumination floods in upon us when we find that this word
is persona. It is composed of per, "through," and sonum, "sound." When in
human race. The god, enjoying, as Plotinus shows so clearly, the opportunity to indulge in the free activity of creative will in his own right and in his own domain, felt "in his blood" the delight of adventure in the exercise of his new powers and glowed with eagerness to try his constructive efforts upon the plastic nature of matter. For the Father had put him in charge of a small kingdom of cosmos, a miniature world, made over the image of higher worlds, so that when he became proficient in its rulership he could be given dominion over larger universes. It was inevitable that, still in his callow youth, untried and ignorant, impetuous, inexperienced and inexpert, he would run wild in his wielding of the powers in the body he was to rule. The Greek myth of Phaeton, son of Apollo, rashly essaying to drive the sun-chariot of his father across the sky and letting it get out of hand, so that the Sun-God had to strike him down to save the world, is a variant graph of the same conception. It is no derogation of the theological presupposition underlying this delineation of evolutionary process that the youthful god in man's nature had to indulge in a veritable revel of license in his use of the powers of the body which is the kingdom he is given to rule. Otherwise we must ask how he would ever learn their power and master the art of bringing them under his control for their true function in the upward movement which carries both him and them forward to grander being.
As he took the reins of directive rulership in his hands and whipped up the fiery seeds of the physical chariot he must learn to drive, he became familiar with their capabilities and their power, saw how they could be exploited for high service and at any rate took keen note of the outcome of his efforts. It was in this way
that his rioting with them brought a return to invaluable benefit to himself. For it is out of reflection upon the consequences of our acts that mind is born. And only when mind assumes full direction of the soul's employment of the life forces will the still higher birth of spirit be brought to pass. Even the fool's folly becomes in the end, through the pain that follows it, life's appointed schoolmaster, our pedagogue in growth. Out of our wildest orgies eventually emerge the principles of wisdom. Our reason returns unto us.
For when the ripening powers of thought begin to take clear note of the consequences of "wasting our substance in riotous living," mind comes forward and exerts its sovereign prerogative in the way of opposing its mandates to the wild surges of the animal propensities. For now mind knows that the sense and the emotions have a beneficent role in the order, for the proper playing of which they must be kept in leash, to be exercised in due and not inordinate measure and proportion, as the Greeks have so well taught.
Here, then, begins the great Battle of Armageddon, the inner conflict between soul and sense in man's conscious life. The lower forces, like wild horses, are strong and rampant. The god himself is eager to ride them to sensational adventure. Even the Bible asserts that he "rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race." He is in his youth and the conquest of life in its red morning glow beguiles him on.
But the conflict grows grim and tense as mind begins to impose a checkrein upon the native energies of the animal. And the battle rages on, as again and again the balance between the god's evolving mind and the con-
trolled forces of the body is upset and must be reestablished. Inharmony, internal strife fills the temple of the body and racks the peace of both contenders. The strong powers of the sense life refuse stubbornly to take the bit or obey the reins.
In this phase of the subject we are browsing in the field into which modern psychology, more particularly psychoanalysis, has moved in its search for the springs of human motive. Here, as spirit in its growing discernment and deepening wisdom tightens the reins on sensuality, the animal soul, finding its automatisms and customary fling of gratifications summarily inhibited, sets up disturbances of violent nature. The sense life operates under the law of the subconscious; its activities are automatic, once the consciousness at that level is fixated in their grooves. When opposed, balked or denied altogether, there is a damming up of forces that create insufferable pressures and rend the unity of life. Here is the spring-source of neuroses, psychopathic disturbances, frustrations and conflicts of every sort. The higher soul, on its part, will not too long abide submissively the body's obdurate ignorance of its needs for the proper conditions of growth. So the mighty war of the polar opposites goes--shall we say?--merrily on. Now the animal, the dragon, again the divine infant, gains the upper hand. The child Hercules is pictured as grappling with the two great serpents that come up out of the sea and seek to strangle him in his cradle. David, the youth, slays his Goliath by implanting a stone, universal ancient arcane symbol of the divine unit of mind, in the center of the giant's forehead. Evolution slays the old first Adam, the sense nature, by developing the power of mind. For the ancients pictured mind as the
serpent-charmer, the magician that puts the dragon to sleep and lets the imprisoned maiden of soul escape from his vile cave.
When medical science speaks of a balanced mind, or an unbalanced one, it seems not to have in view any definite force in relation to which it is in or out of balance. We are left to assume that it is evenly and harmoniously balanced with itself, or with the forces that flow through it. There need not be this indefiniteness. The duality that is basic to all life tells us with what element or force it must be balanced. It must equilibrate its working with the bodily energies of animal consciousness, that is, with sense and emotional desire. Against these the soul does battle with its weapons, mind and spiritual will. These higher faculties are not to crush, but to control, order and utilize the two lower forces to promote the interests of both sides. The balance is between soul and sense. The conflict is not to terminate in the victory of the one and the destruction of the other. It is going to eventuate in the wedding of the two when they have learned to like each other well enough to harmonize their opposing forces in equilibrium and stabilization in complementary fulfilment of the functions of both. All polar opposition is to be consummated in the union of the two, out of which is to be generated the birth of their progeny, the glorified Christ-in-man. All new values are born, as the German philosopher Hegel so brilliantly has formulated it, out of the tension of opposites. And long ago the Greek philosopher Heraclitus asserted that "war is the father of all things," meaning that all things have their birth in the pangs of stress and strain, the opposition of attraction and repulsion.
It is perhaps permissible to say that our Hallowe'en is the modern vestigial survival of the great ancient Roman festival of the Saturnalia. The date of the modern celebration does not match that of the Roman holiday, which came on December 17. But in general character the two bear close resemblance to each other. In the Roman version there was riot and revelry, masks, license, even to the union of the sexes, and buffoonery. A quotation given by the Christian historian Epiphanius (regarded as a very unreliable purveyor of the truth) from the Codex Marcianus, states that Christ was born on the sixth of January, thirteen days after the winter solstice, which, the passage affirms, the Greeks--whom he calls Idolaters--celebrate on the twenty-fifth day of December with a festival which is called Saturnalia by the Romans, Kronia by the Egyptians and Kikellia by the Alexandrians. The passage dates the twenty-fifth as the day when the "division takes place which is the solstice," and that the Christ, born then, was "incarnated among men" on January sixth, thirteen days thereafter. The thirteen days were ordained, it is stated, in the cosmic plan from the fact that "it needs must have been that this should be a figure of our Lord Jesus Christ himself and of his twelve disciples, who made up the number of the thirteen days of the increase of light." It seems pertinent to say here that what "needs must have been" is just the product of folly and a travesty of truth that result whenever structures of symbolism and allegory are put into the hopper of credulous literalism and are ground out into the pan of alleged history.
If standard reference books date the Saturnalia on December 17, and churchly documents like this Codex Marcianus place it on December 25, it seems evident that, since most festivals of ancient provenance were holidays covering periods of days, three, seven or ten predominantly, there is the greatest likelihood that the Saturnalia was a seven-day festival matching very closely the structure of the Christian Passion Week. That is to say, it was set to bring seven days (really eight) before a date that would bring its climactic significance to a final head on a day that was itself the date of axial movement. The date in the case was December 25, and that was fixed to fall three days after the true day of the winter solstice, December 22, by the insertion of the three symbolic days so often added to the central date to typify the period of incubation of spirit in matter before new birth. (Fuller elucidation of this methodology is to be found in the author's major works.) In esoteric purview a seven-day festival graphed most aptly the whole form-structure of creation "in seven days." And it was customary to date the beginning of the festal seven days ahead of what would be the climactic day that would appropriately crown the whole week with a glorious finale.
But deeper research into the forms of ancient festivals reveals a singular and very meaningful datum that appears to have been completely lost out of modern religious or scholarly ken. This is the baffling fact that nearly all festivals running seven days were carried on an extra, or eighth day, called by the ancient Jews an azaret, or added day, a "morrow after the Sabbath," and by the Greeks an epibda. What seems to have been the esoteric
motif of this schematism was the fact that a septave was conceived to carry human evolution over the terrain of one full plane or level of conscious development, yet to round out the cycle it was considered necessary to add one more day, on which, symbolically, the current of life that had completed one sevenfold grade of being would be safely launched on the first rung of the next higher grade or scale above it, ready to begin its seven-step progress thereon. This may be seen on any piano, where one complete tonal expression embraces the seven keys plus the eighth, which rounds out the octave. The fact that we call each group of seven keys an octave hints at the recondite purport behind the "added" eighth day. Several ancient festivals began on a Sabbath and ended on the next Sabbath, thus rounding out a complete cycle, in addition to placing the life impulse in position to begin its next cycle above.
So then a seven-day period that would be crowned in its final spiritual significance with an azaret, or eighth day, and ordained to terminate on December 25 would have to be set to begin on December 17. There otherwise seems to be no astrological schematism that would make December 17 a day of direct significance per se, unless it be that so many festal occasions in the old Jewish dispensation fell on the seventh day of the tenth month, giving sheer numerical importance to the number seventeen.
It was a common feature of the Roman Saturnalia that masters exchanged places with their slaves, even appointing one of them to reign as king, in full actual authority, for the duration of the holiday. Further
study reveals that many celebrations of New Year's Day in many lands were featured by the exchange of positions between king and a subject, marked even by exchange of attire, the king donning the slave's habiliments and the latter being royally outfitted and crowned. All this, appropriate to the import of New Year's Day, when ends an old period and begins a new, rings out an old regime to ring in a new, has its reflection still in Hallowe'en in the exchange between the god in the human castle and the castle fool. The god permits the fool to reign and revel for the night. And the man dons and disports himself in the fool's attire.
But the matter of the exchange of clothing is preserved in a slightly varied form in our celebration through the arrangement of the wearing of suits of two different colors, divided down the middle. Here is another item of basic reference. It typifies the very relevant fact that man's nature is dually compounded and dually divided, soul and body, god and animal. He is two elements, two grades of conscious being, and the divided suit denotes this duality. That is, he is such when his soul is in the period of incarnation, and it is not to be forgotten that Hallowe'en is the festival of the incarnation. A most pertinent background of this aspect of the celebration is found in the philosophy which Plato expounded in the Symposium, where he elaborates the theory that the soul of man, as itself dual, splits as it were into two halves, one embodied in a male, the other in a female body, so that the affinity drives the two to seek and unite with each other in earthly life. It proclaimed the philosophy of twin souls, or affinities.
But a sententious statement, from which indeed the Greek philosopher almost certainly inherited the idea, is found in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, virtually proclaiming the same theory, in the sentence: "The soul makes its journey through Amenta in the two halves of sex." (Amenta is the Egyptian "underworld," which, however, is no dark limbo lying below our earth, but that good earth itself, "under" as lying below the heaven world.) There is little ground of authority in all ancient philosophy for crediting the thesis that a soul is or can be itself split in two, with one part masculine and the other feminine. What is back of Plato's romantic spiritual rhapsodizing and what is the real sense of the Egyptian statement is doubtless the truth that original primordial essence out of which all things emerge to manifest in the dual expression of spirit and matter splits apart (as the first verse of Genesis affirms) into the polarity, so that a unit of soul, which must itself be indivisible--as attested by its character as "individual"--must naturally seek and aim to unite itself with its congenial material organism, which it indeed "marries" by entering its very womb and impregnating it for fecundity. Often the body is spoken of as the "wife" of the soul. And every god in the Hindu pantheon was united with his sakti, or material force through which alone he could exercise his creative function. Always it seems necessary to revise the aberrations of popular misunderstanding of basic elements in traditional inheritances and restore lost primal meaning to empty forms.
The eventual union of the two selves, or two natures in man was undoubtedly prominent in the mental context of the significance of the Saturnalia. For the human
action that would directly dramatize this union was indeed all too prominently in evidence in the ancient carnival in honor of the god Saturn. Indeed the celebration tended always to run to sexual excess. Sheer and sublime cosmic principle, which became a fundamentally true conception in the philosophical abstract, all too readily became the plausible motivation to carry it out in physical actuality. Especially when in incarnation the body was for long the king over the soul, the motive to give free rein to the body's instincts ran strongly toward expressing itself in sexual union. One statement concerning the Saturnalia tells us that "copulations did much abound." The same tendency was found running to gross excess in the early centuries in the celebration of the Christian festival of love, called the Agape. This word is the Greek name for the love that is not of the flesh, but in its fullest sense divine or spiritual love. Yet in the meetings of the early Christian sectaries, held at one time mostly in the cemeteries at night, the excesses ran to such proportions that the Church heads were constrained finally to interdict the gatherings altogether.
Perhaps it is the fainter reflection of this realistic dramatization of the love-and-union motive that is still to be noted in the form and spirit of liberty and license which does prevail strongly in the Hallowe'en carnival. The mask, affording anonymity, provides an added incentive to personal approach and suggestive familiarity. And such familiarity is less resented. The bars are definitely let down. Much ancient tradition held that this was the night that Satan and his hosts were free and on the prowl, so that the occasion is colored a bit darkly
with the suggestion that evil is in the air and has license to work its deviltry.
But how much of the profounder theological esotericism was basic in determining the form which the ceremonial took it is difficult to say. One finds without exception in diligent research that all these ordinances of old time sprang from, and embodied in symbolic or dramatic form the most recondite and abstruse conceptions which the highest genius of mankind held as to the reality and the meaning of life and the world. We can turn to St. Paul's Epistles and find that he unequivocally set forth the thesis that the soul, resident in the spiritual spheres before incarnation, was not "under the law," and was untainted by sin. But when the "command" came home to it and brought it down to earth, there it came under the law of the flesh and the seductions of carnality, and from the side of the body "sin sprang to life" (Romans 7) and lured the deity down to his spiritual "death." He directly states that the cosmic command (improperly translated "commandment") that transferred him from the dreamy bliss of heaven to the open life in body meant spiritual "death" to him. This agrees, too, with Plotinus' statement that the young deities ran amuck in wild libertinism when given control of the body, and had not yet learned to ride and tame this spirited steed. How clearly this facet of a true theology is mirrored in the hilarity of our Hallowe'en!
THE THREE WITCHES
But Hallowe'en is witches' night" also. It seems definitely that this eerie character of the witch, who plays so prominent a role in the festival's "witchery," is one of those dramatis personae of arcane mystery representation that is to be, so to say, read in reverse meaning. Outwardly of an unbeautiful aspect and character, aged, semi-evil in influence, the character is probably not at all on the negative or sinister side, but on the contrary personalized the divine soul itself. It may be said that she is the god in disguise, the deity masquerading in what the ancient sages denominated the "feminine phase" of the soul's life. Matter was universally typified as feminine, as indeed it has to be, seeing that it performs the mother function in all living creation. So that when the soul, charactered as masculine always, descends and clothes itself in material body, it is allegorized as having turned feminine. It has put on its earth-mother's robes.
That the witch, however, is intrinsically masculine is to a degree proved by the derivation and etymology of the word. It is from the same stem of Anglo-Saxon background which gives the German wissen, "to know," and our words wit, wizard, wise and others. Here is a clue that can not be ignored or slighted. The personation represents the knowledge constituent in man's being, and this can not be aligned with the body. It must go with the soul. And Soul is masculine.
In Shakespeare's Macbeth the poet, who was steeped in esoteric lore, gives us the eerie scene of the three witches dancing around the fire burning under the cauldron of hellish brew, a steaming, seething concoction of all things connected with dark night and dark moon. These poetize the animal or natural ingredients which nature has thrown together to consummate the human being. But around the fire dance the three witches, and it seems indubitable that they represent the three component elements of the knowing principle in man, which in Hindu terms are Atma-Buddhi-Manas, but in English are spirit-soul-mind. The godhead was always given as trinitarian. And man himself embodies a divine Trinity in exact replica of the cosmic Trinity. And what a vivid representation of our human life this scene draws! In us the dark sinister forces and elements of the lower bodily life are stewing in a ferment, are seething in constant agitation, as sense and emotion embroil us in the heat of their hot blood and passion. All the while the triform soul circles round and round, in cycle after cycle, as incarnation brings it again and again down to flit about the bodily fires of lust and sensuous life.
But we are told that the witch comes riding through the skies on a broomstick. Symbolism probably has a deep message for us in this device of semantic fancy, since it would seem to mean that the knowing principle, which all Scripture says does "come down out of heaven," was the gift of the divine fire of the gods to mortals (the Promethean "fire") and was itself emblemed by the element of air. All words for spirit, soul and mind in nearly all languages are the same as for air, wind or breath, as anima, pneuma, spiritus,--the latter from
Latin spiro, "to breathe." Man spiritual is composed of the essences typed by fire and air, the natural man by those typed by water and earth. And we can well think that the knowledge principle could be depicted as coming down from heaven to make a clean sweep of all the noxious impurities of the carnal nature. Knowledge is ultimately the only broom that will sweep out the psychological muck and dirt of the animal obsession. If this is not the basic meaning intended in the witch-and-broom item, the recondite reference of the construction must be "occult" indeed. That mind is the agency indicated as sweeping out, cleansing, purging the filth and rubbish of the animal self is evidenced universally in the literature of the ancient wisdom. One of the twelve labors of Hercules was the job of cleansing the Augean stables.
And when the witch rides the skies the moon is shining down upon her. Ah! the moon! Her pale light is the very aura of witchery. And what is her contribution to the semantic play? It might be suggestive enough to answer that in giving vent to the carnal impulses the soul goes "lunatic" (Latin: luna, "the moon") for this one night. She is bewitched by the moonlight. For she is seduced by the witchcraft of the body. And this body, says the tomes of ancient occult knowledge, was generated from the astral sheath developed in a physical existence of beings on the moon! Plutarch, one of the last of the ancient esotericists, tells us that man derived his physical body from the earth, his mental body from Venus, his spirit body from the sun, but his emotion body from the moon. And over it as a matrix man's physical body was formed of earthy material. It is lunar influence that affects the two lower bodies, avers the arcane astrological science; it is solar influence that dominates the two upper bodies, the mental and the spiritual. But when soul migrates from heaven to earth she comes first predominantly under the lunar forces, which bestir in the body the fires of sense and emotion.
And now we have another and again a reverse intimation of the symbolism of witchery. It is remarkable how the significance of the chief symbols of ancient semantic art operate, so to say, in both directions. They can be applied, with directions reversed, to both the higher and the lower segments of our constitution. The symbol
of intoxication, for instance, can have apt reference to the divine mania (as Plato terms it) of spiritual exaltation; likewise it can typify the befuddlement of spirit by the strength of the lower appetencies. One can be intoxicated either by soul or by sense. Each can intoxicate the other, but of course in a different plane. So it is with witchery. The soul can work its charm on the body; at a different level the body can enchant the spirit. And it does so in the very fashion depicted by the Hallowe'en frenzy. Only it is not then a "fine frenzy flowing," but a gross and coarse one. Yet the soul succumbs to its seduction, for ultimate evolutionary gains.
In ancient times it was Hecate who was the queen of the Saturnalian revels. She is the most conspicuous and dominant of the several goddess of the moon. The lunar deities, always feminine, were represented as triform, or with three faces. Or the lunar power was apportioned to three goddesses, Diana-Hecate-Lucina. In one mode of interpretation the triplicity was based on the fact that each member of the spiritual triad of spirit-soul-mind that was to be incorporated in humanity would have to be mated with his "wife," or sakti.
But Hecate's number was six. Her very nature is from the Greek word 'ex (hex), meaning six. One may not always be certain of some of the significations carried by numbers in the ancient hermetic methodology, but it would appear that the basic connotation of this number six has positive reference to the whole world of manifestation, the lower world,--if it is really legitimate to put it in the inferior position and rating in the scale. There are two and possibly more fundamental considerations
that were determinative in giving six its significance in the relations associated with it. The most massive one is that six is the number of sides or faces to a cube, which figure is ineluctably the type of all existential form in the world of three dimensions. If the physical world be the lower world, in distinction from the spiritual realm, then its representative number must be six. Any solid object must be viewed as having the possibility of extension in six directions, perpendicular to its six faces. Six would therefore stand as the number of the world of manifested objective existence.
The second potent factor is that this world is generated and completed in six stages of formative activity. A seventh is to follow, but this is not an additional day of creative work, for God finished the physical creation on the sixth "day." Therefore it is that Philo asks who can fittingly celebrate the glory and majesty of the number six. He calls it "the festal day of all the earth." And again he rhapsodizes over it as "the virgin among numbers, the motherless nature, most akin to the monad and the beginning." He says that after God had completed the physical creation "according to the perfect nature of the number six," he hallowed the following day as "the birthday of the world."
Six is then the number marking the completion of the material universe, which, in the truest sense of the word, is not completed until its material formation is crowned with its spiritual diadem of glory of consciousness, the work of the seventh stage. Six gives to the world its physical objectification, which is but the woody stem,--to use a figure--on which the lovely flower of
divine being is to burgeon forth. As
Hence out of contrast with seven, six takes on the hues of incompleteness, of insufficiency, defect, lack, darkness and all aspects opposite to the glorification of consciousness. It is the number of the world and of life as yet unillumined. It is the numerical sign of the nether world of darkness, of spiritual benightedness, which is the region in the universe denominated hell, hades, sheol (Hebrew) and Amenta (Egyptian). It is the number of that underworld into which all the mythological heroes, themselves personifications of divine soul, descend to wage their battle with "the elements of the world," "the powers of darkness," the imps of Satan and the gates of hell. Had theology preserved the knowledge that the underworld of mythology and the hell of the creeds were just this our own lovely world, the counsels of sane understanding would have prevailed in the Western milieu instead of the maunderings of folly.
One might say that six thus becomes the numerical symbol of the incarnation of deity in matter. We have seen it equate inerrantly the material world, the feminine, night, and we shall see its relation to water. Next we shall see its surprising connection with sex. This is what we should expect, since it is only when the soul is buried down in body (which is seven eighths water!) that the full polarity of sex is manifest. "In heaven there is neither marriage nor given in marriage." The
soul there is described as sexless, more or less
androgynous, epicene. It is only when incarnation has completely segregated the
opposite ends of the polarity in separate physical embodiments that the magic
potency of the sex attraction is generated. So six brings the
divine unit down into the region of sex. The surprise that awaits us is
that the word "sex" is virtually the word "six." Some one
has wittily said that it has struck sex o'clock in the world. (A magazine rack
would seem to indicate it.) He spoke doubtless more aptly than he suspected.
How insistently does
THE WITCHING HOUR
With hex being the Greek word for "six," and six being virtually synonymous with sex, the witch being the noetic or mind principle masquerading in its "feminine phase," one may be prepared to learn without too great astonishment that the German word for "witch" is Hex, and for "witchcraft" Hexerei. It does not inordinately stretch the fitness of sense if one were to say that when the soul is "sixed" it is "sexed" and "hexed," i.e., bewitched, using a word in colloquial vogue. For the Greek "six" is the German "witch," Hex. It is so often in the lost roots of language that the true links of ideas that cryptically connect elements in the meaningful constructions of ancient semantic art are to be found. Even our dictionaries in many instances fail to trace words to their real sources. In this case they do not tell us that the root of hex (and probably of sex, as "h" and "s" interchange thousands of times) is the ancient hieroglyphic Egyptian word for "magician," hekau.
But there is much more that concerns us with Hecate, the moon goddess whose name is "six." And general mythicism itself has hardly in any lucid manner told us of the interrelated connotations of the moon and its pale witching light, much less why specifically the moon is so prominent a hieroglyph of Hallowe'en. And here shines forth from the dark night of human unintelligence the moon ray of hidden wisdom indeed, for those who will not obdurately persist in scorning the conceptual genius of ancient sages. Instruction, those wise ones knew, gleamed forth for the brain of man from every object and phenomenon in nature. So it was from nature, which can not utter an untrue syllable, that the per-
spicacious minds of the theurgists of old time drew their logoi, their noetic principles of truth. And how oracularly did the wan light of the moon bespeak to them the sermon of that other and brighter light, now reduced to but a faint dim glow by its burial under the cover of the body, which our divine souls from a world of sun-radiance above would bring into our lives!
As one studies the positions and aspects of sun and moon over the period of a lunar revolution of twenty-eight days, it becomes almost a conviction that God structuralized the scenic effects to poetize in beautiful form the analogous relation of the sunlight of our inner spiritual divinity to our lower and purely human "moonlight" grade of intelligence. Genesis says that God fixed two lights in the firmament to illumine the earth, the great light to rule by day, the lesser light by night. When one grasps the chief figure under which ancient sapiency depicted the soul's time of incarnation, not as its daytime, but its nighttime--it being then submerged in the darkness of a body of earth and water, poetized as a dungeon, cave or dark underworld--one will for the first time sense the beauty of the poetic, but entirely real, picturization of moonlight as the symbol of the soul's mighty light of the sun when that light is dimmed and obscured by its having to shine out in our life through the medium or the mask of our physical organism. Moonlight is the sun's own light, but relayed to us only by reflection from the body of the moon. The analogy of this with our divine light is perfect, when applied to our situation. The soul is itself a portion, a fragment, a ray of the light of our higher divine sun of intellect radiating out from cosmic Mind itself. But though it is that very light that lighteth every man that
cometh into the world, it can not shine on us directly. In a remarkable little allegorical graph found in the Book of Exodus God informs us that as his glory comes close to us he will place his hand over our eyes, so that we will not be blinded by its overpowering strength, and when he shall have passed, we will be able to gaze safely upon his hinder part. If the frontal aspect of God is blazing glory of spirit, then the hinder side is matter. And in all arcane science the sun symbolized spirit and the moon matter. So it is matter that shields our feeble vision from the ineffable and unbearable splendor of spiritual light. Are we surprised, then, to find that our Scriptures tell us that "the Lord God is a sun and a shield"? And again how marvelously nature follows the poetism here! For we can not gaze into the light of the sun by day, but may safely look into the face of the moon at night!
Clearly natural typism
here teaches us that in the "nighttime" of our incarnation the light
of the spirit can not impact upon us directly, but reaches us only through the
medium of brain and mind, only as reflected from the plane surface of human
consciousness. The sun's light comes to us by night reflected from the moon;
the soul's greater light likewise comes to us here in body reflected from or
transmitted through the more opaque texture of the physical organism, which, as
has been noted, derives its nature from an evolution on the moon. All religion
asseverates that in the heaven world souls bask in the great undimmed light of
God's effulgence. Equally they assent to the assumption that
in the flesh they are cut off from direct incidence or vision of the
celestial light. "We live in darkness like the dead," says Isaiah.
"Now we see through a glass darkly," cries
will transmit or reflect a portion at least of a light that falls upon it. This glass, this mirror is the mind, the power of human intelligence which man can burnish until it conveys a clearer and sharper image of the true divine radiance of divine thought that falls upon it from the Sun of Truth above. In its reduced form it is the moonlight reflection of our diviner genius symboled by the sun.
And this is the moonlight of Hecate, light reflected from God himself. It is our heavenly radiance of soul power, but now dimmed by its medium of transmission through the flesh. Though we are removed from God when imprisoned in body, his illumination still reaches us, diminished in measure and brilliance by reflection from the moon element in our nature.
It may not be inappropriate to cite here a sentence from an unpublished work of the author anent the Hecate influence:
"This light that stands in close relation to man's life in
in the darkness of incarnation is Hecate; the moon-spirit, the
light-by-night, the half-obscured, half-dimmed, half-
deceiving uncertain light of man's purely human intelli-
gence; that reflected light of higher divine radiance that is
bedimmed and subdued as it tries to shine in the murky
mists of human sense and emotion that arise, like the mist
that arose out of the ground in Genesis, from the lower
marshes of the body's instincts, to water the whole face of
the adamah" (ground).
It can not fail to strike one as a thing most impressive that, as it is discerned in this analogy, the light of man's human intelligence is indeed and in verity the reflection of God's own omniscient Mind-light. But our vision of it is not clear. Under the obscuration of our ignorance and mental darkness it is reduced to the halflight of moonlight.
THE SPELL OF HECATE
Throughout all religious mythology there rings that continuous note of man's haunting dread of the Hecate influence, his fear of the dark night, his shuddering affright at the appearance of ghosts, that for all their unsubstantiality are the more terrifying because of their shadowy, indistinct and unknown character; and all the spectral and eerie awesomeness of the night. In the semi-darkness of his mind sober reason is undermined by uncertainty and nameless terror strikes the soul. Darkness robs us of our keen faculties by which we guard our safety. And these vague apprehensions are the exact analogue of the very real loss of vision and consequent bewilderment and trepidation which overwhelm our balance when we are thrust down into the bristling shades of the underworld. For down here the clear outlines and forms of truth are blotted out or blurred and grotesquely distorted amid the surging mists of sensuality and passion.
A frequent item introduced in the run of witchcraft and sorcery in world tradition was the rite of Hecate worship which was enacted at of a full moon night at a country cross-roads, or at three cross-roads. Often it was the custom to set up at the middle point of the crossing roads an effigy of the enemy or the object of a projected witch-spell. Here enters the symbol of the cross, to emblemize that in this "night-life" of the soul, the two elements of spirit and matter cross each other. And the effigy would well depict the human, who is in a way of considering it, just the outer unreal straw-man, or effigy, of the divine man within.
Hecate is closely connected with Hermes as conductor of the dead through the darkness of the underworld.
She is accompanied by the souls of the dead, who are not ghosts, but souls deadened, as Virgil puts it, by mortal bodies and members subject to death. She held the keys of death and hell and the pit of the abyss. In this office she was called Kleidophorus, Bearer of the Key, and a Festival of the Key was dedicated to her, in which she was prayerfully entreated to open the gates of the pit to let the "dead"--the living on earth in "death" of soul--return to life above.
But she was again the triform deity; goddess of the moon in heaven; goddess of souls in the dark underworld of death and hell; and goddess of the sea. This accounts for her being pictured as a goddess with three faces. She aided Zeus in his battle with the giants, which was won on the sixth day. Beside the three heads, she is given six arms and feet. Her daughter Scylla by Apollo (union of sun and moon!) had six heads. Hecate's day, the sixth, was considered unfavorable for plants, but good for the birth of males, not of girls. She was the patroness of those who go to sea and of those who fish. Fish were offered in her worship on Friday, the sixth day. Personifications of her in other goddesses, such particularly as Atergatis and Semiramis, were actually dubbed "Fish-Mothers." She is goddess of the sea by virtue of the fact that as she rules over the lower or moon element in human life, she must have power over the body, which is itself-seven-eighths water.
A scholiast in Euripides says that the moon of three days is called Selene; of six days Artemis (Diana); of fifteen days Hecate. This determines Hecate as the goddess of the full moon, as this came on the fifteenth lunar day. However, her function embraced as well the features that were adumbrated by the three dark days of the
moon. The fact of her union with the great solar deity Apollo unmistakeably identifies her as the moon at the full, for then sun and moon are "married" in glory, although they are considered as being married again at the dark day of the lunar cycle, and their conjunction then is taken as their copulation.
Again the witchery exercised by the moonlight upon lovers is a demonstration of nature's magical influence and stands as a vindication and redemption of much profound mythical romanticism from imputed childishness of primitive minds. It might be analyzed as the mystic sense in two souls of their awareness of their instinctive need and longing for union of the two forces of their polarity. The paleness of the moonlight almost audibly speaks to them of their groping alone in the semi-darkness of mortal life and renders them sensible of their yearning to find the solace and joy of union. It hints in a deep psychological way at the feeling that love is the light that can illumine their darkness.
Whether it was a custom derived from the ancient past or an extraneous and gratuitous feature introduced adventitiously later, the illuminated "pumpkin face" can be seen to have pertinent symbolic meaning. It is a vegetable, standing for the natural element in man, and the cut-in features of eyes, nose and mouth make it representative of human life. It therefore graphs the life of humanity at its human level, a living natural organism with a light of intelligence glowing in side his head. It is quite closely matched by the allegory connected with Gideon in his war with the Midianites in the Book of Judges. Choosing three hundred volunteers, he bade them mold clay pitchers, placing a candle inside each. When the battle was joined in the darkness
these men were to dash down their pitchers to the ground as the enemy drew near. At the sight of so much light suddenly released by the shattering of the pitchers, the host of the Midianites turned and fled in terror. So the pumpkin head can betoken for our thought the presence of a great light that shines out through our dark features even in this "dark night of the world."
The origin likewise of the trick of "bobbing apples" in a tub of water is obscure, yet can yield meaning when its symbolic analogues are scanned. The apple has stood in symbolism as the fruit of the tree of life and knowledge in the garden of the world. It is the fruit of the seed of that divine essence that is the soul of humanity. And always water typifies life in the body, which is mostly composed of that element. The apple floating in water is at once the emblem of the soul flung into the water of incarnate life and thus undergoing a "baptism," but not sinking down to be overwhelmed in its depths. The Scriptures carry out this poetism in the "miracle" of Jesus walking on the water and not sinking. Man is not able to redeem his apple-soul out of its submerged condition with his physical strength, his hands. For it is not physical power that is to save the soul from sinking down into elemental life; it is mind alone that can save it out of the "water" of sense. So the prescribed task is to lift it with the head, that is, with the mouth that can speak the words of wisdom and love that can save it.
There would not seem to be any profoundly hidden meaning to the noisy character of the celebration. Noise naturally, or at least inevitably goes with revelry. The discussion has so far not brought in one of the names prominently given to the Saturnalia in the early days in some nations. It was called the Hilaria. It was definitely the Feast of Hilarity.
THE UNHOLY RIFT
This open character of spontaneous mischief and rollicking license, as the chief motif of the religious festival, can inspire some sombre reflections upon the glaring contrast it presents with the tone of our modern religion. While not all religious worship today can be said to be of the ultra-serious or solemn type, nevertheless hardly anywhere now could a ritual so unreservedly featuring sensual liberty and unbridling the animal impulses even only symbolically, be ceremonialized in our day. So far has the pendulum of reaction swung in the other direction that most religious sentiment at present openly condemns and severely rebukes anything tending to give free play to the purely human side of our natures. In dour mood and in solemn mien religion today exhorts its devotees to beware the snares of the wily tempter who is ever watchful to seduce us away from holiness through the enticements of worldly pleasure. In spite of this heavy blanket of pietism we of course still do celebrate the Hallowe'en, and the Mardi Gras gives a great southern city its annual fling of jollity in the profane spirit. But these occasions are not considered to be even remotely religious ceremonials. They are held to be purely secular fun and entertainment, a social feature. And orthodox religious sentimentality frowns on them.
When religion lost touch with its ancient esoteric bases, which permitted worship to include reference to the physical side of man's duality, and thus made place,
by virtue of its integrated relation to spirit, for the function of the body, it was inevitably led to stamp the odium of evil upon all the purely physical part of our life. With the accentuation of value placed exclusively upon the spiritual, all bodily expression, particularly in the hedonistic direction, had to be banned as worldly, sensual, devilish. One must keep oneself unspotted from the world. This trend reached the limit of its extreme development when it decreed that not only pleasures accruing from sense expression, but all pleasure was religiously sinful per se. Piety had so far swept the field that severity and austerity were the supreme marks of true religion. In spite of the Bible's own statement that "a merry heart doeth good like a medicine," religion had ousted gaiety from any legitimate place in the life of devotion. Such frivolities as dancing, card playing and the theater were ostracized from the sancta of religion.
All this becomes the more strange in view of the historical fact that religious worship, ceremonialism and ritual were quite certainly a development from the ancient Mystery theatricals of the pre-Christian day; that chanting and hymn-singing grew out of the choral dances or tribal incantations; and that the regular pack of playing cards is a modern version of an original pictorially symbolic system of spiritual representations of the principles of soul-body relationship or of elements of consciousness, such as the well-known collection of the Tarot cards of the Bohemians. Even modern games, such predominantly as chess and cribbage, were structuralized in the pattern of number values found to subsist in the divine creation of the world.
It is the likely truth that the segregation by religion of secular and profane interests and affairs from the area of the divine, sacred and holy has been close to the most disastrous error in human cultural procedure. It is a grave question whether, in first reading its own definition into the terms "sacred" and "holy," and making that definition synonymous with its own determination of values, organic religion has not perpetrated an aberration of the most calamitous character. When the religious mind detached spiritual culture and science from the interests of the physical and denounced the latter as "of the devil," it committed the uncritically credulous masses of mankind to a grievous and perilous schizophrenia. And this severance, this illegitimate divorce, this setting in hostility to each other the two characters in human life that are basically--though in polarity--one, and in fact are destined to "marry" to generate the Christ-in-man, John Dewey has pronounced the most disastrous of all enmities. It has sundered the psychological unity of the human mind; it has cleft the integrity of consciousness; it has divided the house of the human spirit against itself. And with what fatal results in foul unbrotherliness, in the clashing of narrow bigotries, in the reign of fanatical superstition, in the fiendishness of persecution, war and carnage, all in the name of the Holy Spirit, one may with sickened heart read in the annals of Western history.
Truly enough, spirit and flesh are set in polar "opposition" to each other. But all theology went tragically awry when in a degenerate age of philosophical decay, it came to the shallow conclusion that, because the two were in positive-negative counterbalance with each
other, they were therefore ranged as opponents in the field of values, enemies in the battle of good and evil. This disposition of forces in the conflict gave ground for the supposition that the good must triumph by destroying the evil antagonist. Here was the baneful miscarriage of the mental faculty in the religious domain. Sense and sanity should never have lost the balance of knowledge that the opposition, the "enmity" if you will, was that of male and female, husband and wife, not that of man and his enemy. It was to be grasped as the opposition of function in a cosmic device for the beneficence of life; not the opposition of positive good and its evil thwarting.
The tradition that demons of all grades were let loose to work havoc on the night of Hallowe'en simply bespeaks the free activity of the forces of the negative pole in the duality. The stress and strain that is to be consummated in marriage could not be waged efficaciously if one party was free and the hands of the other tied. "Satan" must be allowed to have his go at God's most righteous servant Job. The bodily impulses, instincts and propensities, which religion has eternally insisted must be mercilessly crushed down, must have their development since they are to be controlled and utilized in the service of the spirit in the end. But in the early stages of the incarnational embroilment they long run rampant over the undeveloped reason and intelligence and their untamed fling in free riot gave ancient sagacity the basis of the night of Saturnalia. It is the free and irresponsible stage of the spirit's youth as he moves forward to the task of becoming co-creator with his heavenly Father. He is intoxicated with the glorious
joie de vivre and the esprit d' aventure. According to the arcane teachings of the past he had rebelled against the "inane passivity" and "morbid inactivity" in the purely ideal life in the heaven world, and longed for the chance to exercise his latent forces and faculties in self-conscious creative activity in concrete existence. God is described as exercising his creative powers for the sake of Lila, the pleasure, the delight, the play, sport and recreation of gods as of men. Made in his image and likeness, his Sons likewise, and the more eagerly for their youthfulness, plunge into the work of physical creation with eager zest. As Plotinus said, they reveled in free will, ran wild, overspent their forces, plunged into excess in wrong directions. The light that Hecate furnished them was pale and wan, too feeble to enable them to see clearly the right paths. But in the morning would come Apollo's radiant sun in full intellectual power of knowledge and wisdom, and the night of sinister and eerie ghostliness would turn into the morn of the glorification of All Souls.