Sunday, October 21, 2012

Halloween Bash...Robert Dunbar and the Season of the Witch

Robert Dunbar an incredibly unique voice in the horror genre shares his thoughts on Halloween

“Must be the season of the witch.”
~ Donavan Leitch

            Wise up. It’s not about the candy corn.
            Halloween is as political as a brick through the windshield of a cop car.
            We have always been at war. First the Romans marched, then authoritarian religious armies – pious and intolerant – slaughtered, burned, and assimilated in their footsteps. What else could you call it but war?
            Adherents may have been tortured and maimed. Priestesses may have been put to the sword and temples sacked. But the old beliefs won’t stay buried. Even now, they lurk just beneath the sanitized, homogenized surface, ready to claw their way up. Once a year, the prevailing culture acknowledges this fact … without ever admitting what it is that’s being acknowledged.
            Neat trick. Never mind.
            The wild grace does not fade.            Jack-o-lanterns still burn as brightly as any heretic. Hags cackle, and skeletons cavort. But don’t be afraid. It’s all in fun.
            Isn’t it? Listen for the cries of “Satanism!” According to so many sectors of the community, this day represents a challenge, even an outrage. In many circles, Halloween is still referred to as “the gay holiday,” and this alone offers effrontery to the status quo. Dissidents have perished on the rack for less. Much less.
            This is not just war. It’s history.
            And which side writes the history books?
            The name Halloween is a corruption of All Hallows Eve, one of many calendar events grafted onto pagan celebrations, in this case Samhain. (Doesn’t it always come down to power? Stealing the old gods and turning them into saints and angels, even erecting shrines to them, has proved to be an excellent means of establishing control.) Wiccans still consider Samhain – the day when the spirit world and the mortal world make contact – the highest of holy days. As celebrated in the queer world, Halloween becomes a transgressive festival: flagrantly unorthodox, a night of revels for the most marginally accepted (and often brutally oppressed) citizens. All Hallows Eve leads into All Saints Day – a cattle call of mythological personae, traditionally including figures like Saint Demetra and Saint Mercurius, supposed martyrs adapted from the Roman gods Demeter and Mercury, themselves based on the Greek gods Ceres and Hermes. This list includes Saint George (and his dragon), Saint Christopher (a giant), and Saint Valentine (Cupid/Eros) as well as  celestial hosts of others, so many in fact that early Protestant reformers could attack All Hallows Eve for being both Pagan and Papist. Another neat trick.
            Then as now, propaganda and superstition remain potent weapons. Witches rarely burned alone, and never because they possessed magical powers. (The very word “faggot” refers to kindling.) However meager their possessions, every heretic rendered to ash owned something to be commandeered by church and state. If one sought true cause for outrage, one need look no further.
            And the war never ends. Bats flap. Phantoms moan.
            No, it’s not about the candy corn. Everything is politics. It’s all about power. And the battle is mostly fought with different weapons now. (Voter suppression, anyone?) This Halloween take a stand, and do something revolutionary. Heave a brick for all of us.
            Just be sure to wear a mask.

ROBERT DUNBAR is the author of the novels THE PINES and THE SHORE and WILLY, the novella WOOD and the short story collection MARTYRS & MONSTERS. He was also the editor for the anthology SHADOWS, SUPERNATURAL TALES BY MASTERS OF MODERN LITERATURE. Dunbar's books have been extremely well-received by the critics, and he's been called "the catalyst for the new literary movement in horror." Yet dark literature has only recently become the principal focus of Dunbar's career. Both his mainstream fiction and his poetry have appeared in respected literary journals, and several of his plays have been produced. Dunbar has also written for television and has appeared as a guest on a variety of programs. For more information, visit his site at
Praise for books by Robert Dunbar:

"Unique ... highly recommended."
~ Midwest Book Review
"A tour-de-force."
~ Shroud Magazine
~ Dark Scribe Magazine

"Impressive ... completely and utterly engrossing."
~ The Lambda Literary Foundation
"Substantial amounts of panache and poetic insight."
~ Cemetery Dance Magazine
"Sure to satisfy lovers of both horror and literary fiction."
~ Shroud Magazine

"Not only a superb thriller but a masterpiece of literature."
~ Delaware Valley Magazine
"Dark, foreboding, menacing, eerie ... seductive."
~ The Philadelphia Inquirer
"This is the way great horror should be written."
~ Hellnotes

"Intense and wholly original."
~ Dark Scribe Magazine
"An instant classic."
~ Nights & Weekends
"Literary and atmospheric ... be prepared to be entertained."
~ Horror World

"Literary horror at its best."
"Mesmerizing ... unnerving."
"A dark literary masterpiece."
"Honest-to-God terrifying."
~In Wood Robert Dunabr has creates an eerie setting that you can almost reach out and touch populated by well-constructed characters and events.  While the creature reveal didn’t work for me personally I would still recommend this novella.   
~M.R. Gott

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