I’ve been approached by people who look at the pentacle I wear around my neck and cringe. Once, while riding on the Staten Island ferry, a wandering preacher actually stood in front of me, and said, “Did you know that’s a sign of evil?” I almost answered, Did you know that you are a rude bastard?
But I didn’t say such thing. Instead, I told him, “Have you tried reading up on topics you don’t understand, and maybe learning something before you insult other people with your ignorance?” He looked at me with the kind pity that only the most oblivious of the holier than thou brigade can fully express. I shook my head and walk away, thinking, Why is it so easy for people to darken some of life’s brightest things?
Norman Partridge’s introduction to Johnny Halloween: Tales of the Dark Season shows an example: “By then I understood those monsters. I knew their secrets, their strengths and weaknesses. More importantly, they were easy to recognize. But the Zodiac was different. There were no bolts in his neck requiring periodic recharging. He didn’t sleep in a coffin by day, powerless, afraid of the sun. No pentagram marked his palm.”
He equates the pentagram with symbols of monstrous evil. The first time I read his commentary, I wondered why Partridge believed that a pentagram would have given him a clue when it came to the Zodiac Killer’s plans. But, I should have guessed it, for most people are terrified by the things they refuse to understand. There is also the bit about propagating erroneous myths (something Mr. Partridge has done quite effectively throughout his fiction writing): “The Scarecrow peeled plastic wrap and Styrofoam away from the T-bones. He circled the posts, squeezing blood from the meet. Then he crisscrossed the circle, blood dribbling between his gloved fingers as he formed the sign of the pentagram.” Boo! Scare?
And in case the demonization of tangible symbols isn’t enough, he always finds room for the putting a malevolent garb on an entire holiday, or culture, or both: “What Johnny was thinking about was the power that painted hand would hold tonight, on Halloween, when witches and broomsticks and all other crap that goes bump in the night holds sway.”
Whenever I write about this kind of literature, there is always a reader who asks about why I continue reading these stories if I find them offensive and dimwitted. Well, the first answer is that don’t think of them as offensive or dimwitted. I believe they are a reflection of our society’s thinking when it comes to the unknown. Also, they might offer much needed fertile ground for complex discussions (i.e. showing others how pentagrams aren’t evil, and how the horrible witches birthed out of certain authors’ minds are only real to their makers, and how Halloween is scary for some and a time of feasting and sharing for others…
I’m thinking that the next time someone says something about my pentacle not being a thing of good, I will take a moment to explain its parts: the hope of a new moon, shining in the middle of a five-pointed star that signifies balance between Fire, Air, Earth, Water and Spirit. I might even tell them that my pentacle, like a hammer, can be used to break and destroy or to build and fortify. The choice lies within the soul wielding the symbol. I choose to let mine shine ;-)
Thematic Photographic 215: “Shiny.” Why not join, and add your shine to the mix?