By Rev. Sandra Campbell
The first time we celebrated Halloween at my Unity church, it was met with strong disapproval. Some members of the congregation expressed the belief that Halloween stood for dual powers—good and evil—and did not fit into Unity teachings of oneness. Yet despite the dark history of Halloween, there is a spiritual perspective.
As a child, I never gave a second thought to its origin. It was just plain old, unadulterated fun, and I could hardly wait for October 31 to roll around. We used mops, brooms, brown paper bags, pillowcases, and whatever we could gather to create unique costumes. It was a magical time as each of us kids took special pride in the amazing disguises we created from little or nothing.
By looking at Halloween through a spiritual lens, we recognize it as a time to witness the love of God in all of creation and in every experience.
At our family’s Calvary Baptist Church, the adults hosted a “heaven and hell social” on the Saturday before Halloween. We got our fill of homemade chili, vanilla ice cream, and devil’s food cake; bobbed for apples; had costume contests; and played musical chairs. To test our ick factor, we were blindfolded and guided to put our hands into bowls of cooked spaghetti that felt like worms and peeled grapes that we were convinced were eyeballs.
On Halloween, as soon as the sun went down, all the kids in the neighborhood would run from door to door wherever there was a welcoming porch light inviting us to speak the three magic words: trick or treat! The waiting adults seemed as excited as we were as they handed out candy in exchange for our creativity, laughter, and enthusiasm.
A Holiday of Gratitude
It is true that the celebration began as an ancient Celtic tradition with monsters, headless horsemen, and the expected return of the dead, welcome and unwelcome. Yet the name itself means “holy evening.” It was one of many pagan holidays appropriated by the church and became the eve of All Saints’ Day on November 1. The practice of trick-or-treating began as a medieval Christian tradition where the poor visited wealthy homes and offered prayers in exchange for food and beer.
Unlike Halloween centuries ago, in the United States and other countries, Halloween today has the tone of Christian values—love of others, generosity, joy, and thanksgiving. Some cultures celebrate the holiday as a sign of gratitude towards the innovative and brave souls who helped to shape it into the holy celebration it is intended to be. For others is a time of remembrance of and prayers for loved ones who have passed away.
The Divinity in Halloween
Looking at Halloween through a metaphysical lens, I see how it directly aligns with the five universal principles that are the basis of Unity teachings and the 12 powers or divine attributes in each of us that were developed by Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore.
Consider Halloween in the context of the five principles with related scriptures:
1.There is one presence and one power active as my life and in the universe. If the presence of God is everywhere and in everything, then it is also in the celebration of this “holy evening.” As we say in Unity, there is no spot where God is not.
For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.”—Isaiah 41:13
2.God’s divinity is in me and in everyone and everything. No matter what masks or costumes we wear, we cannot hide the innate divinity within ourselves. Halloween reminds us of the unconditional love of God. It shows us that universal love pertains to everyone, no matter how we show up in the many guises of human consciousness.
For God shows no partiality.—Romans 2:11
3.I create my experience by what I choose to think, what I believe, and what I feel. We have the power and freedom to decide for ourselves whether Halloween is a spiritual experience. By letting go of old beliefs, we can affirm that nothing can harm us and there is no need to fear the past or the present. We can choose to celebrate Halloween for its Christian roots.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.—Romans 8:38-39
4.Through prayer and meditation, I connect with God and bring out the good in my life. Prayer has long been a central theme in many Halloween customs. Like the original trick-or-treaters, we bring forth our good through the power of prayer.
But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.—Matthew 6:6
5.By living the Truth I know, I make a difference. As we celebrate the harvest season with gratitude, we acknowledge that only by walking our talk can we experience the abundant blessings of this holy evening.
For we walk by faith, not by sight.—2 Corinthians 5:7
Our Spiritual Powers in Action
When it comes to the 12 powers, our divine inner attributes, Halloween gives us an opportunity to witness them in action.
The power of imagination is evident in the decorations and costumes. The porch lights welcoming trick-or-treaters symbolize life, order, and wisdom.
The excitement of trick-or-treaters calls upon zeal, faith, and love.
The freedom of expression relates to our ability to gain power over our fears; release outdated thoughts, beliefs, and feelings; and acquire a greater understanding of the positive aspects of the holiday.
By recognizing the presence of God in everyone and everything, we acquire the strength to see beyond appearances to the Allness of God and use our will to make choices from divine consciousness.
God’s Love in All Creation
Halloween is still as exciting to me as it was when I was a child. It is one of those rare occasions when I allow my inner child to come out and play. I have unspoken permission from family, friends, and neighbors to get a little crazy.
I spend hours decorating my porch with every movable, scary, and loud thing imaginable. I employ a fog machine, strobe light, motion sensor, creepy crawlies, and characters, underscored by the music of Halloween blasting from beneath a handmade spiderweb.
As unsuspecting would-be ghosts, ghouls, goblins, action figures, and imitation public figures approach, I leap from behind my door dressed in my best witch regalia and let loose with a loud cackle that could wake the dead. My greatest thrill is seeing the reaction of the children, many accompanied by adults, who seem to enjoy the holy evening as much as I do.
From a Christian perspective, Halloween can represent many things. I see it as a reflection of human consciousness, where we may find ourselves hiding behind invisible masks and disguises, trying to avoid our own false beliefs in the ghosts that haunt us, such as fear, shame, guilt, and regret. By looking at Halloween through a spiritual lens, we recognize it as a time to witness the love of God in all of creation and in every experience.
To assist in grasping the spiritual nature of Halloween, I offer the following prayer from The Positive Prayer Wheel:
I take a moment of silence to be with my fear. I am imagining a terrible thing in the darkness of my mind. Is it real? Why do I scare myself so? Spirit of Truth within me, help me to focus my heart on the presence of light, not darkness. I am secure, safe, and surrounded by love right now.