Friday

Of spirits and unseen forces

What comes to mind when you think of holloween? Pumpkin carvings, scary costumes, ghosts stories, haunted houses, colors of orange and green and spider webs, witches and their brooms. These are some of my thoughts when I think of holloween, and there's the children trick or treating and basket full of candies and sweet delights. But do you know the christian connection?

Growing up in the Philippines, hallow's eve is not quite celebrated just like how they celebrate here in the US, atleast that's the case in my hometown. There might be some holloween parties, were kids wear costumes and try scary tricks and games. But that's about it.I never associated pumpkins with holloween until I moved here in the US. Pumpkins were just considered vegetables. Nothing significant about them then. But hallow's eve then was believed to be the night that the spirits of the dead comes out and mingles with the living. That was the belief that I heard growing up and it probaly is still the belief of most folks where I come from. As a kid I was even afraid to go out on hallow's eve, not only becasue I am afraid of ghosts roaming around but also a lot of people are doing scary pranks and tricks.
You might go out walking on the streets and all of a sudden someone behind the bushes jumps out and scare the life out of you. My highschool classmates would do that, or they hide behind the bushes and prey on unsuspecting person, whatever trick they can come up with.

The most celebrated part really is the "All souls' day" atleast to the Catholics. They visit the graves of their loved ones, clean and offer prayers, put flowers and candles and priests come and bless the graves with holy water. And being a Catholic, I shared this practice of going to the graves. It seems fun at that time especially when your whole family and friends are doing it. It's almost like a picnic on top of the grave.

I have never experienced seeing a ghost so I remain skeptical. But I am very curious about the paranormal and the supernatural. I was watching "Psychic Detectives" on Discovery channel and it is unbelievable how these psychics can see through visions and vibrations, whatever it is they call energy. It is amazing. I have heard of people who can communicate with the dead, I have never seen it firsthand though. I believe some people are gifted that way. It's just hard to just believe anybody without proven authenticity since some people could just be using tricks for decieving purposes.

Like the idea of "mangkukulam" in the Philippines. I have never seen or experienced it first hand so I can't say I believe it. It's all from stories that were passed along by word of mouth. Even in books we read about witches and magic powers of the dark and the idea of black magic and white magic. What I do know is that there are really people who can inflict evil and pain to other people. I just don't know how they do it and I remain a curious observer. Magic and rituals and spells, I still wonder about them. And there's voodoo. We lived in New Orleans for two years and this voodoo thing still remains a point of my curiousity. I have not seen anybody perform, it was just stories. I had the opportunity to go one of the ghost tours around the French quarter, our guide told us ghost stories as we moved along places of ghosts sighting and his stories combined with historical references. It was a bit spooky, it was dark and all these ghost stories probably got into my head. It was fun though plus we learned a bit of the French Quarter's history even some of the buildings that are still standing at present, well atleast those that were not damaged by the hurricane.

I can still remember as a child I heard a lot of superstitious beliefs that as I look back to them now, doesn't make sense. My family lives a small town in the Northern Philippines. It seems that superstitious beliefs are sometimes regional, depending what part of the country you come from. Well, I grew up hearing my grandparents and even my parents talk about how the hoot of an owl as a bad omen. We lived near the woods and we sometimes hear owls hooting. According to my grandparents, who are very superstitious, when the owl hoots at night, it is a sign it's about to collect a soul. So whoever's house the owl is facing, someone in that family dies. Now, isn't that a very scary thought. So, I grew up, being scared of the hooting of owls. One cool night, we were living in Macon at that time. We lifted our windows to let the cool air in. We had screens, so we didn't worry about bugs. We also opened our bathroom window. In the middle of the night I woke up to use the restroom and while I was sitting down on the bowl, an owl came hooting right by our window. I jump out of my skin with horror. I was horrified to get back to bed and I didn't want to wake up my husband. But I did tell him the next day and he was laughing. Now as I think about it, it makes me laugh. There are still some superstitious beliefs left in me. It's almost like believing what the elders say about things without question, but when I grew up I began to question the scientific explanations of things. I admit that I have witnessed some things that really happenned without scientific explanations and so they are categorized as supernatural. And I believe there are things that happens that cannot simply be defined by reasoning and yet they do happen.

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