So, when I say “Glamour” here, I’m not necessarily talking about being all visually and fashionably sophisticated…although that could be one definite subset of what I mean…
My line of thinking this morning was prompted last night, while I was busy helping a friend work up a Halloween costume for her young son (to be clear, she did about 99.9999% of the actual work, while I helped clean up and offered moral support and boon companionship…still…). But it occurred to me that the custom of dressing up at Halloween is a bit like people getting societal permission to cast specialized versions of a magic spell called a “glamour” upon themselves.
A “glamour,” then, in the context of this post, would be a sort of tailored illusion that enables a person to appear as something other than what they truly are. In the true sense, a glamour would be cast such that no one but the caster and the wearer of it would be aware of the sorcerous deception (and the caster and the wearer of a given glamour could often be the same person, but this isn’t strictly necessary, either, as one person can in theory cast a glamour on/for another). But so why would you use such a thing…? Well, maybe you want to seduce someone, but you lack the requisite physical appeal…maybe you want to infiltrate some otherwise impenetrable area or facility by posing as someone who actually belongs there…maybe you want to intimidate someone, or fool someone, or maybe you just want to see what it’s like to pass in the world as someone or something that you yourself are not…which brings us back to Halloween…
Now, when talking about Halloween costumes, then of course, sure, pretty much everyone else knows that you’re in costume, and that you’re not really an elf or an astronaut or a robot, or what have you…but my point is that such masquerades may still be good for the soul. Halloween is one of the only times during a distinct calendar year when we’re all in effect given permission by the world around us to assume some guise that’s totally alien to our everyday personae, including dress and other trappings that will be likely to vary wildly from what we would usually employ in presenting ourselves to the cosmos. And as any little kid will tell you, dressing up as something we’re not can be a tremendous amount of fun. I’d go further, though, and offer the notion that it’s also actually rather empowering. It’s no accident that people who consciously try to work magic will often add costuming to the mix, and will don things like robes or hoods or hats, or special jewelry, or maybe take up interesting props, all to enhance their concentration on the tasks at hand, and to more fully harness the energy of anyone and everyone participating…because costuming sets things apart as being special, as being “trans-mundane.”
Part of what I enjoy about things like rave culture and the whole Burning Man scene, myself, is the fact that costume-y clothing is not only acceptable at such events, but is even encouraged and, in a sense, rewarded. Revelers get to sample different ways of being in the world, and in so doing, also contribute greatly to the positive energy of the events. Until such time as society will be totally fine with people going to work in clown suits or fluffy bunny outfits or whatever else strikes their fancy, then getting all costume-y from time to time in a festive way can really feed the soul. It can be restrictive to have a narrow range of personal presentations thrust upon us by our civilization, when the inner children we all still possess remain every bit as fascinated by larger than life, full-colored, cartoony imagery. As “adults,” we can and do squelch our affections for outlandish visuals, but I imagine this can get not only depressing over time, but depending on one’s individual makeup, maybe even downright harmful.
So as Halloween approaches, I’d suggest considering dressing up, even if you don’t have a child in your life demanding that you go trick-or-treating in full costume with them. I suggest it because it’s fun, it offers a break from the sameness of your daily routine, and it permits you to at least briefly get a taste of being some other entity entirely…which can make you appreciative of both that other entity, and also of your own persona — vacations from things can be so helpful in reminding us of what we miss about the familiar!
Halloween: the biggest, most widely subscribed to occasion for casting glamours upon ourselves!! Who and what might you be this year…?