Guest Blogger Todd Crawford: Origins of The Black Season

You can imagine how thrilled to pieces I was when Todd Crawford made the offer to appear on my blog. He is a writer who holds his own, and at the same time he was more than willing to make any changes per my suggestion, though I had none. How can you make a suggestion upon perfection?

I was quite surprised by all of the kind things Todd had to say about me. It was very flattering to say the least! I adored this piece from start to finish, and as a lover of all things Halloween, it really kept my attention. Also, scroll to the bottom if you would like to find the official Todd Crawford links. Listed are the links to his new Youtube channel, Facebook Fan Page, and links where you can purchase his books.

Thank you, Todd, for allowing me the privilige of featuring your writing here.

~JC

Origins of The Black Season

Typically I save my Thank You’s, personal messages, and other formalities for the end of my analyses, but to mark the special occasion I’m going to start things off a little differently this time around. In fact, I’ve made it a personal goal to make everything about my month this calendar around a little different than any year past, but that’s another topic for another post (which has already been made in the format of a video by the time this shall have be “live”). Before we get all professional on this I’m going to give you readers and followers (Joslyn’s as well as my own) some insight into the conception of this holiday treat. In any case, the prompt of this article does not begin until the next paragraph, so feel free to skip my ramblings in favour of what you surely came here to read up on. A very short while back, I was feeling utterly dejected about the futility of what was then this coming month (October 2012, for you archivists out there) and how it would never live up to that of last year, especially with that having been the host of the first book signing I have ever attended (I refer to it as my own, but only in the context that the memories of it belong to me.) on a ritual walk which I try to perform nightly for two or more hours. Things since then have gone quite far downhill, leading me to this modern spleen, as Alexander Pope would have it, making it quite easy to reach my hand into any bushel flourished over the last year and pluck my daily excuse for not being happy or productive. It was on this monotonous journey traced time and time again over the map of Clarion that a Newtonian epiphany shone down upon me in the form of a brilliant ray of light. Things don’t have to be this way; this absolute voice of reason spoke to me in my moment of clarity. You don’t have to remain a slave to your former days; your best have yet to come. It commanded me to rush home, even more quickly than Charlie Bucket and to contact the names listed upon the address of my Golden Ticket querying of fun, seasonal promotions. Having recently reposted my history of the vampyre mythos, titled “Bloodlines,” and being so enthusiastic/supportive of that, Joslyn Corvis was at the top of my list. I don’t know each and every one of you readers here, (heck, I’d be surprised if I knew more than two of you!) or how aware you are of the rigorous scheduling involved in these guest posts, interviews, or any other blog event, but typically in my experience with bloggers, promoters, and authors is that these things are all set in stone at least one month ahead of time, leaving little-to-no room for walk-ins such as myself unless some cancellation occurs, Golden Ticket or no. Joslyn, on the other hand, was more than willing to put up with my impulsive query to make this guest post, much to my surprise. Even knowing Joslyn to be an altruistic, kind person, I was surprised that she didn’t reject my offer, and then chastise me for my hurried, excitable proposition about writing “something” for Halloween. She just made it happen. For all of these things I thank her, and I thank you all for giving me this time (whether I am worthy of your time is up to you, but your consideration is much appreciated) by reading my informative, personal history of Halloween. I hope that you all have a magickal, memorable holiday. (Well, except Lee Porterfield. I hope yours sucks.) I look forward to one that would be worthy of taking a vacation from Neverland to visit.

Halloween, as half of the four major religious holidays have, began as a Pagan celebration of the seasonal equinox (when the sun is neither away or directed towards the Earth, making it parallel to the globe’s equinox; the source of the other half of Pagan holidays would be the solstice, when the sun is either at its highest or lowest point in relation to the Earth). The Pagans, not to be confused with Wiccan or Neo-Pagan groups of today, were polytheistic tribal societies that populated Europe during the Iron Age. One may be familiar with gods such as Taranis, the god of thunder, or as we modern folks might know him as: Thor (literally making him the oldest member of The Avengers team), which are rooted in classical Pagan beliefs. Being an agricultural society, the seasonal changes were a major factor in their lives (much more so than simply having to put windshield wipers on their boats). The approaching of Winter (the season which Pagans believed to be the season from which the Earth began), or any other season for that matter, was truly something to be acknowledged. Samhain (later known as “Halloween”) was the season which the spirits of the dead travel on to the netherworld, and more so than any other time period they were an active factor in the lives of the mortals. Tributes such as bonfires, produce, and animal sacrifices (again, not to be confused with Neo-Pagan traditions of modern times, I assure you) were offered to the disembodied in order to preoccupy them until their spirits were at rest in the afterlife.

Following suit with other spiritual holidays, the original event of Samhain soon came to an end after Christian missionaries caught wind of this “season of the dead” business. As one is inclined to assume, (rightfully so in this case) anything associated with Pagan religions was considered blasphemous to the Christians, and must be done away with. As efforts of simply vanquishing the festivities did not prove as fruitful as his people had hoped, Pope Gregory The First had the brilliant idea of converting these Pagan rituals into Christian celebrations just as they intended to persuade the Pagans into the concepts of their religion. This, as we all probably could have guessed, paid off in spades. Those who remained faithful to their beliefs were persecuted as witches and cast into hiding, marking the origin of the term “Druids,” as well as that of the “Season of the Witch” (and you kids thought that Halloween III was the first recorded instance of its use)! Halloween itself is derived from the term “All Hallows Eve,” which soon translated to “Hallow Evening,” and finally “Hallowe’en.” (For a more in-depth recital of this history, check the source listed below from which I fact-checked this document. What is recorded here was merely meant to give a sufficient understanding of the backstory of the season.)

Just as the Celtic tradition fell prey to Christianity, all traces left of morality were soon forfeit upon the eve of Capitalism and what we now have today was born: a consumerist holiday ripe with candy, costumes, and late night Horror marathons. And I, for one, loved it as a child! It was around this time that I was presented with many classic icons of fright that have haunted my mind for years to come such as Michael Myers, Pennywise the Clown (otherwise referred to as “IT”), and Marlon Wayans’ afro in the original Scary Movies. The culmination of this obsession with the macabre accumulated in my 9th Grade year when I watched over one hundred holiday-themed films in the month of October, topping it off by watching the four Phantasm movies (let’s get moving on that fifth, Coscarilli and Co.!) and the entire A Nightmare on Elm Street series (starring Robert Englund, none of that remake nonsense). The next two years it was spent with high school friends who held no interest in the Horror genre, which is perfectly fine. I realized during this time that Halloween isn’t about being frightened, or who watches the most Horror movies, but rather enchantment. I used the comparison to Peter Pan earlier, and I think that is the most appropriate example out there, as left-wing (or the right, I don’t care, whichever the goblins are on) as it may be. The Black Season, my third book, and what I consider to be a “narrative anthology” was titled in part after the Autumnal season, in fact. The book debuted the weekend before Halloween, and had very Horror-esque themes to it (a dramatic inversion of martyrdom and also “Hansel & Gretel”, to name a few). What began as a superficial title meant to reflect my favourite time of year later became an introspection of my own state of mind, The Black Season itself representing a long period of time I spent depressed and how with the passing of this allegoric season, I could return to my former creative self. I think that really encapsulates what the “season of the witch” means to me, expressing yourself creatively in ways typically viewed as unacceptable and finding the fantastic in the literal world (rather than the literary). Perhaps spirits and demons don’t make visitations at this time of year, but that doesn’t make it any less grotesque. My challenge for those of you participating in Halloween this year is to become something that you never thought you could be, if only for this one Eve. I don’t care if you achieve it by putting on a mask, make-up, or just by indulging in a side of yourself kept locked away for a long time (please, nothing violent). I think that by taking this challenge up, we may find that whatever it is inside of us all that we are afraid of is actually quite delightful!

For those of you who would like a more thorough examination of the beginnings of Hallowe’en, I recommend this page, from which I fact-checked everything included in this document (aside from personal statements, of course):
http://inventors.about.com/od/sstartinventions/a/Samhain.htm

Author Bio:
“Todd Crawford is the author of the independently published novels a Clockwork in the Stars, The Final Gospels, and The Black Season. Born in Mercer County, PA, on February 16th, 1994, he is currently attending Clarion University of Pennsylvania. His writing style is recognized as descriptive, cynically honest yet whimsical. His works obsess over the geography of the human mind, existentialism juxtaposed with the politically religious, and nature hearkening back to the Romantic era of literature. He first published a Clockwork in the Stars through Lulu publishing, but released his latter works under the CreateSpace banner before reissuing Clockwork with his new label. Although his only currently released works have been of the literary outlet, he has indulged in other orientations of Art such as music (having composed a companion piece for his novel, The Final Gospels), film (having adapted his novella, Brighter, into a short film), and comic books. Crawford is currently working on his third (traditionally structured) novel, The Pilgrimage, an abstract commentary of politics as he is browsing agents to market the release.He enjoys and seeks collaborative opportunities with other authors such as his good friend Joslyn!”

Links:

My short story, “The Eraser” on the Amazon Kindle:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Eraser-Black-Season-ebook/dp/B007RGZ9W4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343274168&sr=8-1&keywords=todd+crawford+the+eraser

“Brighter” on the Amazon Kindle:
http://www.amazon.com/Brighter-Constellations-ebook/dp/B007WYGK42/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1344320113&sr=1-1&keywords=todd+crawford+Brighter

My novel, a Clockwork in the Stars on the Amazon Kindle:
http://www.amazon.com/A-Clockwork-Stars-Constellations-ebook/dp/B002E1A6P2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1343274217&sr=1-1&keywords=todd+crawford+a+clockwork+in+the+stars

A Clockwork in the Stars in paperback:
https://www.createspace.com/3680266

“Just another Star” on the Amazon Kindle:
http://www.amazon.com/Just-another-Star-Constellations-ebook/dp/B003VYBG50/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1344319986&sr=1-1&keywords=todd+crawford+just+another+star

The Final Gospels in paperback:
https://www.createspace.com/3518480

My anthological novel, The Black Season in paperback print:
https://www.createspace.com/3688627

My (new) official YouTube channel:
http://www.youtube.com/user/ToddCrawfordBooks

And of course, and finally, the link to my “professional” Facebook page:
www.facebook.com/ToddCrawfordBooks

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