Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Psychology

Halloween is a celebration of death. Its origins are thought to go back to Greek, Roman, Druid and old Celtic holidays. It is the time of New Year in a sense that the Lord of dead Souls does a yearly review to see who is to be accommodated where. Thus all those souls that were kept in animal bodies could give presents and appeal to the Lord of Dead Souls to be transferred to another body to host them for another year. This is the origin of the expression "trick or treat". Celts call this Lord Shamhna. Romans had Pomona. Apples and walnuts were aspects of Roman celebrations as these were fruits stored for the winter. During Christian times like many other things pagan, there was a need to compete in business and to fill up the churches with those thinking of their dead relatives, or loved ones and to prevent them going elsewhere with their treats. Thus, Catholics have 1st November to celebrate dead. Flowers sellers do very good business around cemeteries on those days in many catholic areas.
Jews also had their Lord of the dead souls. And so did many other people in the world.
As you can see I put up a sexy witch picture with this article. In human psyche there is also hate and hate towards women is called misogyny. Witch in Old Scottish means a wise woman. Many thousands were burnt and their property taken by the church.
Psychologists, social scientists and feminist politicians have put various theories as to the origin of misogyny. One of them is that women give birth and through giving life also determine death of the newborn. Everything that lives has to die. The power of giving birth is thought to give rise to envy and envy to destruction.
Other explanations but not completely separate is that of hostile dependency. Hating those one has to depend on.
Melanie Klein, famous psychoanalyst, wrote that envy was linked with lack of gratitude and that it was constitutional i.e. people were born with it. Treatment for it was to help the envied objects, as it increased the low self-esteem of those who were green with envy.
Halloween is, of course, in essence a denial of death as it essentially propagates the idea that dead are still around and that one can manipulate the Lord of Dead souls by treats (presents).
Today, for many people Halloween means nothing and is just another excuse to have a party and wear costumes. However, primitive human psychology with its fears and denials is still around.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice post, Helen. I hadn't realised that Witch was Old scottish for wise woman.

When I told my story to Peter Redgrove, the Jungian lay analyst in Falmouth in November 1988, he was the only man who actually made me feel good about myself and he said, 'I think you will go through hell and then you will be a wise woman and you will be able to do teh same work I do; on the principle of the wounded healing the wounded'.

Then he said he could do no more for me. It was an inspiration to think that although he thought I was going to suffer I would be able to help someone else one day.

It was not until I read 'The Wise Wound',that I realised what he was saying. Chapter VI is particularly relevant in which Redgrove and his wife Penelope Shuttle argue that modern psychiatric diagnoses imposed on women follow the same forms and diagnostic traditions as those used in the witchhunts: 'Witchhunts: nine million menstrual murders'.

Borderline, histrionic and 'emotionally unstable' personality disorders are al diagnoses of this kind in my view and I find the state we are in where a young woman is allowed to die by doctors to be despicable.

One of the people who really helped me was a 'wise woman' friend of mine in about 1997 who is a solicitor and spent a considerable time persuading me that I was not too stupid to do A levels. I eventually got a first class degree.

I now discover that the professionals knew all along that I was being persecuted and that I was of 'above average intelligence' and articulate but no-one told me. If you are told that you are stupid and worthless from an early age it is very depressing and traumatising.

As far as misogeny goes, it is very interesting that that a Guardian Critic said Redgrove was sometimes unfairly seen as a shaman, an old warlock going crazily on about menstruation compared to his friend Ted Hughes.

Interesting that if you are a man who takes a real interest in women you get misogeny directed at you as well. Crazy to show an interest in understanding women.

As I like to point out to people, look what happened to Sylvia Plath and Aurelia Hughes - one does not want to be judgemental but....