Halloween. Witches and broomsticks. Pumpkins and vampires. Dressing up, throwing eggs, eating loads of sweets. That’s what it means these days. But what does it really mean? Let’s pretend we’re listening in on year 7 of Seabourne County School, Room 33: Miss Arkwright, 1C’s form tutor is addressing the class where Oz Chambers and his friends are discussing Halloween….
“Now some of you I’m sure will have celebrated Halloween. But I wonder how many of you know its real meaning?”
“All Hallow’s eve, miss?” volunteered Marcus Skyrme whose arm seemed to be permanently held up in the air whenever a teacher asked a question.
“Yes indeed, Marcus.” Miss Arkwright wrote the word Samhain on the board and pointed at it with her felt tipped pen. “Our Celtic ancestors celebrated Sow-ein–and please make note of the pronunciation–their New Year’s Eve, on October 31, which was then tidied up into All Hallows’ Eve by the Christian church in the 11th century–”
Jenks’ voice piped up from the back. “Do you believe in ghosts miss?”
Miss Arkwright frowned. Jenks sidetracking tactics were well known to all the teachers and were usually trodden on unceremoniously, but on this occasion she clearly decided that it was a fair question.
“I believe that there are more things in the world than can be explained by our common understanding, if that’s what you mean, Lee”
“Yeah, but what about actual ghosts,” Jenks said and then added theatrically, “you know, woooooooo.”
Half the class laughed. For one horrible moment, Oz wondered if Jenks knew about what had happened in the orphanage and he glanced over at Ellie who was looking puzzled too. But then Oz saw Jenks’ mock innocent expression and knew he was simply winding Miss Arkwright up. She cleared her throat to ensure silence before continuing. “Well, literature gives us different interpretations. Some great writers believe that ghosts are the spirits of dead people yet to pass, spirits who are unaware of their deaths. Then there are those who favour the “herald” theory which suggests that ghosts most often bring messages of comfort to their loved ones to say that they are well and happy, and not to grieve for them. They visit with the express purpose of helping the living cope with their loss. “
“So they’re not always nasty miss?” asked Tracy Roper.
“Not always. Unless they’re poltergeists of course. And they can be very nasty, able to move furniture and even harm the living. Because of that poltergeists are considered by some to be demonic in nature.”
The class had gone very quiet.
Wouldn’t it be nice, after the Trick or Treating, to curl up with a scary book and escape….
The Obsidian Pebble will soon be available in paperback….come back and find out when. Or just email me. Go on, you know you want to.