I love Halloween. I love the cool evenings that grow strong with the early dying sun. I love the pumpkins and the loose leaf litter made crisp by falling humidity. I love the flirtation with magic. With true magic.
Sometimes coming of age is described as the letting go of magical ideas. At least for me, it has been more about learning where magic truly lies.
Not in spells cast by green faced crones. Not shot from mangled wands. Not shouted by gray haired wizards to towering beasts across cavernous divides, but made, instead, by the imaginings of our beautiful, wonderful human minds.
There is magic created by the grandmother baking cookies. It lies not just in the chemistry of caramelization, but also in the practiced movements of her hands, the years of knowledge she has amassed in fussing with her stove, selecting her preferred flour, in the songs she sings as she moves about her kitchen.
And there is magic in Halloween. Perhaps not the magic we feared as children, of the ghost that haunts the second floor of the empty house down the street or the greedy goblins that wait for us in the yawning sewer grates, but instead in how we put it all together. Halloween does not exist without us. It lives and dies by our will and action. It is brought to life by our creative conjurings.
There is magic in the imagination that pulls from the wide world of possibility a single costume idea: Sugar Skull Vader. There is magic in the extreme human cooperation involved in the setting up, stocking, and running of the costume shop that will sell a $13 plastic Vader mask for just two months and then disappear until the same time next year. There is magic in the artist that can see what else that mask can become, and then pulls out her drawer of acrylic paints, makes a selection of her favorite candy colors, and begins the hard work of creation.
And there is magic in the process of painting. The water cup, half full. The paper towels folded just so. The laying out of brushes. One for lining, one for stippling, one for filling everything in. The palette loaded with dollops of paint that bleed into one another and merge.
And when it is done, there is magic in the holiday itself. In the ways we collect together and celebrate our creativity. It the little chocolates and the kettle corn we pass around and devour. In how we try out different ways of being, and the next day, return to the lives we have always known, as though the day of magic never was, only to be returned to the same time the next year, when we will find new things to imagine, to create, to try on for just one day. Again and again.
This sugar skull Vader mask was painted freehand using a selection of Craft Smart acrylic craft paints and a basic Vader mask, which can be found (at least in California) at Spirit Halloween.