October 31 a Fertile Day for Witches.--On Hallowe'en teachers and parents encourage, and children indulge their whole hearts and minds in celebrating this event. Doubtless very few teachers, certainly not very many parents, and hardly any youngsters know anything about the feast they thus celebrate. If it was originally a pagan rite, are we but little different--or can we throw it off next year, and forget it forever?
All of them go to no end of trouble to cut out black cats, witches, and by their fantastic dress, mock a day that the educators have told us they will "banish from the schools!" Well, why don't they?
Some tell us that the way it is celebrated today is just a "mockery" of the past! What is the point in it? Many of the silly things of today are "mockeries of the past." In the midst of all this tom-foolery there are some children who get "notions" about witches and superstitions that they will never forget to their dying day.
If they were never to hear of these things, they, when they arrive at manhood and womanhood, especially parenthood, would never need, nor could they transmit these foolish ideas to their off-spring. We have all too many games and friendly arguments, started "all in fun," ending in disaster. We have seen little tots scared almost stiff at fantastic false-faces; what good can come from these festivals?
Thoughts of witches and the like, whether referred to in the Bible, or in ordinary conversation, are not always taken too lightly, even on festive occasions.
Whistling in the dark, for instance, is one form of driving away fear; denial of witches by some may be an outward and spoken manifestation of non-belief, but our people do not always tell, or act, the truth, and the reader knows this only too well.
One may observe this on Easter and Christmas, when we deliberately make up characters--legendary--for those occasions--so that we all know that much which is told to children is not true--and it is safe to say that many things the children tell their folks--are short of the truth! If little white lies are justifiable on those occasions, are they not suitable on other occasions. And what about the black ones?
Fears Come Easy to Children.--Fear, as of thunder and lightning, may be acquired in the natural course of life, but youngsters too often get such fears from solicitous, or nervous, and superstitious parents, generally the mother, who is the nearest thing on earth to being a Diety that any child can have.
Fear, as of things in the dark, when one is alone, is as old as Jewish, or even pagan history. Where two or more are together in the dark, witches cannot do any harm! In this idea we see the birth of "misery loves company."
The demand of youngsters that some one "turn on the light," or "light a lamp, or candle," before they enter a dark room, is just as much a terror to those of today as it was in the author's day. Some of us demanded that a light be allowed to burn all night. What could we be afraid of, except "evil spirits" in the dark? We weren't afraid of "angels!" A fear of "something in the dark," is almost universal!
Modern Hallowe'en Witches.--Now witches, in the flesh, or in the spirit, are always out to do harm, or so it would appear. Take youngsters, or grown-ups around the time of Hallowe'en; they can write on walls, windows, automobiles, and sidewalks, and the words they spell out are rarely used by nice people (in public).
Much property is damaged, some carted away to be found weeks later; men and women get drunk, and celebrate orgies not unlike the eve of Mayday in England and Scotland, a century ago, or festivals in ancient Rome.
None of the devilment of this season is at all necessary, so one has the right to feel that "witches" do live and cause all kinds of trouble; they rarely are caught. They may be only embryos now, but give them time, they'll grow--and their off-spring annoy others! And the school system helps, aids and abets!
Physicians Uphold "Pow Wow" Doctors.--Science may claim to stand on its own feet, and may agree with the history of past ages in certain cases, but there must be a parting of the ways sooner or later, if science attempts to destroy some of the fondest pets of the Christian civilization.
Even the medical profession took a hand in the matter recently when some of their learned authorities upheld the psychology that certain practices of the humble "pow wow" doctor have virtues that cannot be attained by either physician or priest!
Educators perhaps fail to appreciate the wisdom of Horace, who says: "Mingle a little folly with thy wisdom." They think (or do they?) that a child can play with fire, and, if burned, learn to stay away from fires. But "witches" and their kind are different kinds of fire. These children ought to grow up to be men and women--but how many of them do? How many of our adult population pass through life with 'teenage minds? If you want statistics on this, read the reports resulting from conscriptions for military service.
It is not our purpose to suggest to school authorities that they cease their attempts to discredit witches and the like; rather, it shows them what we think they have confronting them. But between "hex" and "sex" problems, we believe that the latter is the big job, and one they will have trouble to solve, if you gather what we mean.
When I was a child . . . I spake, understood, and thought as a child . . . but when I became a man . . . when I became a man . . . I put away childish things (I Cor. 13:11). When do boys become men . . . when do they forget the things they learned in their formative years? Do they forget . . . and cast them aside? . . . they do not! They pass them along to their sons and daughters . . . and they, in turn, to their sons and daughters . . . the superstitions and hexerei . . . and parts of the Ten Commandments . . . and the golden rule . . . whatever it may be . . . as they have for thousands of years . . . and when they grow up they will use modern science for what it will bring them in dollars and cents . . . but not as a rule to their faith and guide to their actions . . .
Who can look back over the years and say . . . "on that date I became a man!" . . . or, "then I became a woman!"