“It’s okay to be weird”—an idea so accepted in contemporary culture that “keep-[insert city]-weird” bumper stickers are in cities across the country. Sometimes, it’s easier to give others the wiggle room not to follow the herd and be truly unique. Do you give yourself the same acceptance as you give others? Halloween, by its very essence, is a ripe time to embrace personal peculiarities, eccentricities, and everything that makes you who you are.
Origins and Rituals Keep Us Going
Originally called “Samhain,” a Celtic harvest celebration, then “All Hallows’ Eve,” today we know the holiday as Halloween. European immigrants brought this celebration to the Americas with ghost stories, parties, and autumn-themed food.
Some of these rituals have survived the evolution of this ancient observance. For those of us that live in urban areas, we don’t share a deep connection to harvest time like past civilizations, but what remains is equally important—we have autumn rituals.
Whether you like this time of year or not, it can be beneficial to carve out new space for personal expression and acceptance in the fall. You don’t have to be pagan or religiously connected to Halloween to appreciate what this time of year has to offer.
As humans, we crave rituals. Celebrating the roots of cultural existence gives a sense of purpose and validity. It’s what we need to feel fulfillment, according to Teddy Prout of Humanists UK.
“The need for ritual is innate. It is born of a deep need to articulate times of profound experience and transition, and is an essential part of what makes, and keeps, us human.”—Teddy Prout, Director of Community Services at Humanists UK.
According to anthropologists, rituals were initially a response to anxiety, and they are more prevalent during times of trouble and uncertainty. It helps our brains cope with stressors when we have ritualized, routine activities that simultaneously give us meaning while distracting us.
We naturally try to forecast life, but when the state of the world or our lives don’t meet expectations, it causes stress. Turning to rituals for solace is innate. Studies even prove that rituals reduce anxiety.
“We are one” is a shared idea throughout many religions and belief systems. This isn’t a cliche; it’s a concept that caters to how we function as humans. Ceremonies give us a unison focus and an opportunity to feel a sense of togetherness.
What Are Your Favorite Fall Rituals?
Costumes and jack-o’-lanterns illuminate just a few of the many ways that we can express ourselves around Halloween. Even small, seemingly insignificant annual fall activities are rituals. A trip to an orchard or even getting clothes out for colder weather are small ceremonies that give life meaning. No matter how seemingly minuscule or weird you think they are, embrace these rituals as self-care if they keep you healthy and happy.
Exploring the Shadow Self: Our True Dark Sides
Famed psychologist Carl Jung devoted his work to understanding the notion of the Shadow Self. He examined the interplay between personas that we share with everyone else and our true inner selves. His work led to the idea that repressing your Shadow Self is counterproductive to self-love. Getting to know different sides of yourself, even if it scares you, can enrich your life.
“I think we all have a dark side if we're truly honest with ourselves. If we don't acknowledge it, then it's just a predator waiting to attack in the darkest moments.”―Emilyann Allen, best-selling author.
Your dark side could even be an untapped source of strength. Some of the world’s leading minds were not just masters at their craft; they were good at being weird. For example, “Daily Rituals: How Artists Think” by Mason Currey is a fascinating book about famous people’s daily habits and rituals, none of which are traditionally “normal.” It’s a fun read that’s a testament to how embracing your weird or Shadow Self can be self-affirming.
The Moon: Much More Than a Halloween Decoration
You can look to the sky for another conduit to fall rituals or discovering your Shadow Self. The moon accompanies cobwebs, witches, and everything else we associate with this holiday, but there’s more to our interplanetary neighbor than just being the inspiration for Halloween decorations.
The tides change because of the moon. As humans, we are up to 60% water and are also subject to changes in the moon’s cycle. A study published this year in ScienceAdvances, confirms that the moon does affect sleep, which is remarkably influential to your mental well-being.
Our sleep patterns ebb and flow with the moon’s cycles as well, but experts don’t entirely know why. Learning more about the moon’s cycles could give you some insights into your sleep patterns. Fall can be a busy time of year, and sleep is critical for your health.
A Season for Everyone
Many cultures outside the US offer introspective ways to enjoy this time of year while embracing the darker sides of life. Wabi-sabi is a Japanese concept that roughly translates to accepting and enjoying imperfections and the beauty of aging. English does not have a direct translation for wabi-sabi, but Autumn presents ways to appreciate this sentiment in nature and ourselves.
The changing leaves give autumn its iconic appeal—a practice in finding beauty in death. Soon those leaves’ earthy elegance will give way to winter, drying, falling, and decomposing. It would be absurd to hold it against the leaves for their annual process. Like people, leaves are a part of nature’s cycle. It’s healthy to be patient with imperfections, aging, and your own seasonality of change.
This holiday transitioned from honoring the dead to today’s candy-filled fun, an evolution that mirrors how everyone can go from darkness into light sometimes. Accepting the weird parts of your personality, your Shadow Self, or practicing wabi-sabi in life this Halloween isn’t about succumbing to negativity. It’s about understanding the dichotomies and contrasts that are intrinsic to the human experience.
Check out our Autumn Equinox blog to learn more about seasonal-focused health and wellness for the fall.