Feeling safe is one of the most basic human needs. We look for refuge and shelter, and we usually find it at the threshold of our home. We learn from feng shui that our entryway should be embracing and welcoming as the place where we find support when we transition from the toils of the outdoor world to the enveloping comfort of indoor life.
In October this safe haven suddenly feels haunted. Halloween unleashes a vast array of sensorial experiences and intensifies the dance of opposites. In spectacular displays of symbols and hidden meanings, our front yards turn into spooky trails of sha qi where skeletons rattle, ghoulish skulls stare with sunken eyes, ghosts flutter in the breeze, witches straddle their brooms, and spiders stretch their web over windows and shrubs.
What happened to the usually pleasing and welcoming ambiance feng shui recommends for the front entrance? It’s a season of opposites, the yin and yang of contrasts in bright orange and black, connection and communication versus something hidden and sinister, the mysterious knock on the door for the yin and yang of trick or treat. The various disguises have textures that are tempting to touch and feel. The sweet odors of chocolate and caramel trail the costumed troupes. What happened to safety, we wonder. The open door and the treat are again symbols of refuge and shelter, as well as replenishment of the stash for the long winter season ahead.
Halloween, our annual holiday of ghosts and goblins, has a long history of celebrations and connotations dating back to Celtic, Pagan and early Christian traditions. It marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the darker half of the year.
It was seen as a time when the door to the Otherworld opened enough for the souls of the dead, and other beings such as fairies, to come into our world. The souls of the dead were said to revisit their homes on Halloween. Feasts were held, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend, and a place was set for them at the table.
Early Christians believed that just before “All Souls Day” the dead would appear one more time to get even for injustices committed during their sojourn on earth. People took steps to protect themselves from harmful spirits, therefore our symbols and traditions are designed to scare them away. Costumes are meant to be a disguise from being found by revenge-seeking spirits. Spiders are among the many haunting symbols and images meant to be scary and off-putting.
If Halloween is destroying our expectations of good feng shui, perhaps we can also turn to feng shui for making Halloween a more meaningful and worthy experience by pressing the reset button in our brain with five tips for a happy Halloween and by using all the basic principles.
1. Support the excitement of your children and help them create their own fanciful costumes. Help them develop an idea and then apply their own skills in executing their project. (Wood = growth, decision-making, motivation; Water = mystery, disguise)
2. Try to offer safely wrapped and sealed treats that have healthy ingredients. (Earth = nurturing, feeding, support)
3. Dispense measured portions and discourage greedy hoarding and grabbing little hands. (Metal = control, protocol)
4. Understand the yin and yang of extremes and add lights to disperse darkness. (Fire = illumination)
5. Turn sha qi into mindfulness, and celebrate Halloween as a feast of the senses.