Friday, October 31, 2008

Ok...sooo...why are we celebrating Halloween again?

It may or may not by now be evident that I have a fascination with the occult and mythology in general [no, i've never had a seance but that is only because i've never found anyone willing to summon spirits with me]. As skeptical as we are we tend to once in a while feel a tinge that there is something lurking beneath the surface of our petty human existence that is not easily seen.

Jamaica, in it's habit of adopting other people's cultures has in recent years seen a drastic increase in the number of people "celebrating" Halloween. Halloween? Are we serious? I have even received word that as we speak certain gated communities, with a majority of "pigmentally-challenged" residents are ensuring that everyone's apartment is stocked full of candy to accommodate the "Trick-or-Treaters".

It all makes me wonder if we understand where the tradition is coming from, and subsequent to this understanding shouldn't we be asking ourselves why the hell we are celebrating a custom that in it's origin welcomed the dead to walk amongst the living?

The origin of Halloween dates back before Christ. The Celtics' mythology taught that with the coming of winter, a season of the dead, came a night in which the spirits of the dead could freely roam about with humans.

During this interval the normal order of the universe is suspended, the barriers between the natural and the supernatural are temporarily removed, the sidh lies open and all divine beings and the spirits of the dead move freely among men and interfere sometimes violently, in their affairs.
(Celtic Mythology, p. 127)

To appease the spirits and the gods that were worshipped, the Celtic people would put out their best food offerings on the doorstep. Celtic priests would also offer sacrifices, animal and human, to the gods to ask for a return of the sun and in hopes that the gods would chase away the evil, frightening spirits. Often, the Celtics would wear dreadful costumes, hoping to fool an evil spirit with the disguise.

I'll admit, this "theory" leaves much to be desired, but in the context of the situation, as the rain continues to fall outside for what is now maybe the fourth day, and children are being kidnapped, raped and mutilated everywhere. Should we really be filling our bodies with various narcotics while wearing costumes that [by the fact of anonymity] just welcome sinister activity?

Then again, this is Jamaica, we're all just looking for another excuse to party aren't we? "No Problem Mon".

Today's Tune:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Danse Macabre

"The Dance of Death" is believed to have it's origin in art; as a genre, a concept wherein death and it's victims are painted in an abysmal waltz toward the grave. The artists are careful to ensure that the victims painted are from all walks of life:

"The dances of death were mostly painted (or more rarely carved) on the outside walls of cloisters, of family vaults, or inside some churches. These frescoes represent an emaciated corpse or a skeleton coupled with a representative of a certain social class. The number of characters and the composition of the dance vary. The dance of death often takes the form of a farandole. Below or above the picture are painted verses by which death addresses its victim. He often talks in a threatening and accusing tone, sometimes also cynic and sarcastic. Then comes the argument of the Man, full of remorse and despair, crying for mercy. But death leads everyone into the dance: from the whole clerical hierarchy (pope, cardinals, bishops, abbots, canons, priests), to every single representative of the laic world (emperors, kings, dukes, counts, knights, doctors, merchants, usurers, robbers, peasants, and even innocent children). Death does not care for the social position, nor for the richness, sex, or age of the people it leads into its dance."

I first became familiar with the Danse when i came across a non-fiction Stephen King book by that title one random evening in a Sangster's Bookstore (I often wander aimlessly in search of a title that will grab me and this was one of these days), the book itself is not of particular importance right now, it is simply the image that has remained embedded in my psyche.

There is the sound of that music outside our doors, and it is getting louder, there was once a time when we would have to strain our ears but he comes for us all, and in ways we could not imagine.

I am not trying to freak anyone out [though this is often the case], but there is something very serious going on here on this little island, and it is the children who are being targeted, "Why?" we all ask, and in turn I respond "Do we really want to know?"

"The Church of Satan is very much in Jamaica, there’s at least one in every parish, and that has been the case for at least 10 years, so it should have multiplied by now", these were the reverberating words of a man of God that sent a sensibility as naive as my own diving back into the ever-expanding world of the big question sign.

The recent upsurge of violent crimes against children in this nation is a serious cause of concern for many and of course with concern comes much speculation.

"It could not have been a teenager that severed the head of 11-year old Ananda Dean", said the woman to my left, but then I reminded her that the mutilated, dismembered AND sodomized body of 11-year-old Aakim Scott was found stuffed in a 100-pound polyethylene bag, with the limbs and head separated from the torso just a week before is said to have been the handy work of FIVE teenagers who have been held in police custody.

"Not a teenager, but a teenager possessed", said the man pointing his finger matter-of-factly.

So while this may raise eyebrows and bore skeptics I decided to consider the possibility; are we now simply in the "season" for satanic ritual, or has the moral decline of the nation simply hit a new low? In essence doesn’t one eventually lead into the other? Is the label "mental illness" simply a cop-out? Or have all the violent schizophrenics just been let out of Bellevue to prey on an unsuspecting and vastly under-informed public?

Philosophically speaking, as a "Christian Nation" it would be contradictory of us to acknowledge the presence/existence of one entity while ignoring that of the other. In essence, God cannot exist without the Devil, it would render the sacred text fictional and society would as a consequence be left without its "moral guide". [The Bible as a tool for social control is an issue I will not discuss today, today we assume that there was indeed a Moses].

I am in a sense ashamed to now be quoting from the "XNews", but really if such issues were to be raised in more "legitimate" publications they would no doubt be frowned upon by those who pay to have their images plastered over the "Something Extra" pages, besides them seh "what nuh go so nearly go so". In their issue "Satan worship on the rise (October 8 - 14)" the writer quotes an unnamed preacher thus:

"I was called to a house the other day where there was a demon possession and I found a statue of the devil in the girl’s bedroom. She lived on her own, and perhaps had been practicing some sort of witchcraft; her parents were very surprised. We live in dangerous times, they found a half a man at the wharf the other day, a young boy was savagely mutilated and butchered like an animal sacrifice, and another young girl was beheaded. These are not normal crimes. People gain power in Satanic churches by making human sacrifices".

It has been long said that the church of Satan engages it's members in what is called "Ritual Abuse", "SRA: Satanic Ritual Abuse", "Ritualistic Abuse", "Sadistic Ritual Abuse", "Cult Related Abuse", etc. Perpetrators are believed to drink the blood and eat the flesh of the victims and engage in sexual abuse. Generational Satanists are believed to sacrifice some of their children and pass on their killing and mutilating rituals to other children. It is not unheard of, and it is far from impossible.

Whatever the cause, the island is in dire need of a serious purging. Have we, in the centuries following the enslavement of our ancestors gotten so close to a God with whom we cannot relate that we are able to poke holes in the image of the white knight and in disillusionment turned to another?

I [in all my Afro-Centricity] call for a return to the tradition of the libation, you'll remember, if you think long and hard enough, when your Granny used to sprinkle rum on the earth before breaking ground, when red strings were tied around the wrists of babies to ward off evil, when the "nine night" was a ritual involving more than just drinking manish water.

The synergy between "pagan" African and Christian rites is fading. The death penalty has not been put into effect in years, despite heavy public approval, though on paper it is very much legal. What is the solution? How do we punish the perpetrators? How do we identify where evil lurks, or when and where it will find it's next victim? I don't know, but I find solace only in the knowledge that one day, the dance will lead them too into the darkness.

Lorna Goodison's poem "Jamaica 1980" left a haunting image in my mind with the lines:

For over all this edenism
hangs the smell of necromancy
and each man eats his brother's flesh....