As another Halloween passes, I find myself thinking about the curious symbols of this holiday: hay bales and haunted houses, witches on broomsticks, black cats and plump pumpkins. What an odd festival, celebrating the confluence of harvest and darkness, a holiday that evolved from our desire to appease spirits we feared would haunt us on long winter nights.
It is a time when I find myself brooding about the darker side of my own nature.
I have been thinking about how important it is to acknowledge the truly bad aspects of my character and how to go about reining them in. For instance:
My inner pumpkin: A little roundness is wonderful, but I don’t want to turn into a giant squash. My pumpkin needs to be put on a diet. The first step is giving away the mountain of candy that the trick or treaters did not take. This includes the secret stash of Reese’s and Snickers in the freezer.
My ghosts: Yes, reverie is very Proustian and poetic. However, on most days I find myself so distracted by memories or anxiety about the future that I cannot pay attention to what is right in front of me. I know that sages say the present is all we ever have but clearly I have not bought into this. I have too many ghosts clouding my boundaries and beckoning me to time travel. I must practice my present-moment awareness. The opera is a great place for this. I will go to something long and Wagnerian and see how many minutes it takes for me to start thinking about picking up my laundry.
The Witch In Me: OK, I admit it. She is in there and wants to get out. It does no good to color and brush my hair or wear happy pastels. The more I refuse to admit that she’s my alter ego, the more likely she is to pop up at an awkward time and squawk irrationally at my child, fire off a diabolical email or give the evil eye to jogging strollers, leaf blowers, drivers making left turns while texting and other provocateurs.
The good news about the witch is this: she is, as Jung explained, a manifestation of the Great Mother archetype. She is not only capable of menace but also of beneficence. The inner sorceress is not only the sinister spirit who glares grumpily at passers by but also the Good Witch who can create magic in the doorway at Halloween with a costume, decorations and a basket of premium chocolate brands. The witch is female creative energy. She is the life force. Maybe I don’t want to steal her look or learn her secrets of anger management. But I’m going to make peace with her. I definitely want to have her energy and imagination, her spellbinding charm, on my side.