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Rest in Peace

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Nobody over the age of twenty is much afraid of Halloween, not nowadays. We treat it with endless irony. Our pumpkin heads no longer drive back the dark and the cold; their grins are cheery. However, our jokey version of confronting the growing cold and darkness as the death of the year approaches draws on far older and genuinely more frightening stories and customs that date from a time when death seemed ever present.The jack-o’-lantern as a trickster replicates the Gaelic lands’ fascination with the severed heads of enemies and also of sacrifices. The Gaelic tribes, according to Julius Caesar, who fought several wars with them, enjoyed sacrificing any captive that fell into their hands to the gods. They also displayed the heads of those they had killed as apotropaic figures- figures so scary that they drive back the scary - around their settlements. Houses once required a foundation sacrifice, to ensure the security of the building. Even in modern times in England, cats have been wal...

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