The Eve of the Black Month was begun in 1985
as a way for some friends of mine and myself, who all work on Halloween shows or haunt our
houses, to welcome in the coming month of October and blow off some steam before things
get really busy. It's a tad silly but we started it very impromptu, just kind of winging
it as we went along, and we've always stuck to the same traditions, kind of cementing them
in stone by now. Of course, different chapters in different cities could adapt the
traditions to fit their own needs.
When we started this, I had a running hearse which helped a great deal. In the hour before
midnight on September 30th, I would drive around and pick up each person, one by one.
Everyone who was already in the car would go up to their door and we would ring the bell.
Usually everyone is silent except for maybe some low ominous sounding chanting under their
breath. When the person answers I address them as Brother or Sister followed by their
name. (I, for instance, am Brother Alan.) Then I hand them a black robe (or if we run
short, a long black coat or garment that could pass as a robe along with a piece of black
cloth to use as their hood) which they must put on (we're already wearing ours) and I hand
them a plastic jack-o-lantern. Without a word, we light a candle and put it in their
jack-o-lantern. Then we would all get back in the hearse and go to the next person's
When all are assembled we would go to the last person's house who usually has some sort of
Hallowe'eny environment set up in their backyard. We form a circle around a skull and a
pumpkin and I remind everyone that the skull represents the origins of Halloween and the
fact that it is the holiday of death. The pumpkin represents the holiday that Halloween
has become and the harvest. I play a tape of Big Ben chiming twelve. We refer to this as
ceremonial midnight since we rarely are able to get the timing exactly right.
I welcome in the month of October and say a
few words about what lies in the month ahead. Then we go around the circle and each person
says something about the upcoming month. Then to honor Samhain, the Druid Lord of the Dead
(who admittedly is probably only a distortion by 19th century historians of the FESTIVAL
of Samhain but whom remains a strong symbol to us whether he ever "existed" or
not, we form a single line and walk around one or two city blocks, wearing our black robes
and carrying our lit jack-o-lanterns. The busier a street you can find to do this on, the
more fun it is. When we return, we reform our circle and then I say a few more words and
put on a tape of Danse Macabre. (Our version seque's into a children's version of the same
piece called Halloween Macabre) We all "frolic", i.e. we dance around the
circle, kicking up our heels and singing the silly words to the children's song. (I could
be co-erced into making an Official Eve of the Black Month tape for anyone who's really
We then call the official ceremony to a close
and we put on Halloween music and party with pumpkin pie and a variety of Halloween
treats, all of which are surprisingly easy to find a full month before Hallowe'en. Oh yes,
and you must take a photo of the whole group in their robes with their jack-o-lanterns
before the official ceremony ends.