05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Halloween, or Who doesn't love a fate worse than death?

All Hallows Eve: when the worlds of the living and the dead collide.  These days, Halloween is more about candy and costumes than communing with the dead. But the real reason we wear scary masks and carve faces into pumpkins? To keep angry ghosts at bay. It's a ritual designed to keep the dead where they belong. We're quick, they're dead, and they want what we've got.

The old Irish tale of Jack of the Lantern – as in, Jack o' Lantern, the face in the pumpkin? – tells that cunning Jack, a thief and a conman, tricked the Devil into promising not to take Jack's soul at his death. But then Jack dies, and he's too sinful to go to Heaven. So Jack has nowhere to go. And now he's endlessly wandering the earth, looking for the place where lost souls go, lighting his way with an ember from the flames of Hell that will never, ever go out. A gift from the Devil, who thinks Jack's fate a fine joke, thanks very much, and that'll teach you to mess with me.

It's the old cautionary tale of the curse of immortality. Plucky Jack learned the oldest lesson in the book: cheat death at your peril. Walking the earth forever, finding no resting place, denied not only life, but the peace of dying… it's a fate worse than death.

In paranormal romance, we LOVE this :) We can't resist a lost soul. Our immortal vampires are outsiders, stuck forever in time while the world rushes on by. Fallen angels, too, cast out from heaven, cursed to walk the earth in that eternal in-between place, neither damned nor saved. Demons, who can never be good, no matter how hard they want to.

It's a heartbreaking, desperately romantic notion. But what I love most about cursed-to-walk-the-earth stories? The cursee has a choice. You can give up, and wallow in your own misery for eternity. Or you can get up, find a purpose, and get on with it, even if it seems hopeless.

That's what's cool about Jack of the Lantern – he doesn't give up. He doesn't curl up in a beanbag and cry into his beer. He picks up his lantern, and walks on, looking for the place where lost souls go. Because one day, just maybe, he'll find it.

Because raging against the darkness is better than flickering out. You'll never cheat fate if you don't try—and isn't that what the Devil's counting on?

So this year, when Halloween comes and we’re celebrating another year in the land of the living, light a pumpkin for plucky Jack, who walks on, no matter what. And pick up a nice juicy lost-soul, cursed-to-walk-the-earth, fate-worse-than-death paranormal romance to celebrate!


Shobhan Bantwal said...

What an interesting post! I didn't know a thing about Jack's story. Thanks for sharing it, Erica.

And yes, lost souls (sad yet romantic) provide such great fodder for paranormal stories.

Sarah Raplee said...

This story was new to me,too! Thanks for sharing.

Lost Soul stories do have a pumpkin-full of appeal, don't they?

Enjoyed your post, Erica.

Erica Hayes said...

Did someone say pumpkins? Mmm, pumpkins...

Diana Mcc. said...

Great post, Erica! I'm one of those readers who love paranormal. Especially when the lost soul can redeem his or her self. and of course, find love!

Judith Ashley said...

I'd heard bits and pieces of Jack's story but not in as much detail as you've told it. I hadn't been going to do a pumpkin this year (I know heresy) but after reading your post, I think I might.

Pippa Jay said...

I've finally written a Halloween story, and had much fun reading up information about the holiday and its older origins. Thanks for sharing Jack's story.