Friday, October 29, 2010

In the Spirit of Halloween – Guest Post by Cate Masters

Halloween's my second favorite holiday. Its traditions and mystery intrigued me when I was a girl, and even moreso now. Halloween legends, superstitions, myths and beliefs provide an endless wealth of story material.

According to legend, All Hallow's Eve is the one night of the year when the barrier between two worlds of the living and the dead dissolves, allowing visitors from The Other Side. I wove that notion into my Halloween-themed novella, One Soul for Sale, available digitally from Eternal Press: and in print from Amazon: Check my blog at to learn how you can win a copy.

Here are some of the spookier superstitions and beliefs about Halloween and souls:

According to an old saying, if a candle's flame goes out on Halloween, then a ghost is visiting you.

If you see a spider on Halloween, it could be the spirit of a dead loved one looking out for you.

Ancients believed ghosts could be weighed down, so used tombstones to keep them in place.

Because some believed spirits could only travel in a straight line, mazes found at the entrance to many ancient tombs may have been intended to keep the spirit of the dead from returning to the world.

Some people believed that a person's soul remained for 24 hours after death. Members of the family, or friends of the deceased, often sat with the body of their loved one to prevent the devil from stealing the soul.

If a dead person’s eyes are left open, he’ll find someone to take with him.

If you touch a loved one who has died, you won’t dream about them.

If you look at your shadow in the moonlight on All Hallows Eve, death will find you.

Thunder following a funeral means that the dead person's soul has reached heaven.

If you see an owl diving on Halloween night, it's coming to take your soul away.

Originally, adults dressed up in furs, masks and cloaks to hide from mischievous spirits who might be looking for them.

Likewise with collecting treats – children went from door to door to collect soul cakes on Halloween, and said a prayer for the dead after receiving food. Others put out food to appease evil spirits and feed any dead who might visit. By 1900, it was all for fun.

One Soul for Sale is a fun read, too. Reviews described it as “outstanding,” a “riveting read… I couldn’t stop until I hit the last page.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Madelyn gazes out the window, adrift as a leaf. “Everything’s on a downhill slide – work, dating, all of it. Sometimes I think I have to sell my soul to get what I really want in life.”

“Well, that’s easy – put it on uBuy.” Gwen shakes her cup to stir up sugar from the bottom.

“You’re such a comedian.” Madelyn reinforces Gwen’s dream at every opportunity. Her friend reciprocates by being Madelyn’s best cheerleader for her art, though lately, her sketches are as uninspired as the rest of her life.

“I try my best.” Gwen’s been revising her standup act for months, perfecting it so she can one day actually perform before a crowd at a comedy club rather than open mike night. Or in front of her bedroom mirror.

Their meager salaries don’t allow for luxury, so neither is a stranger to the allure of uBuy, and both feed their addiction to the site daily. Madelyn finds designer clothing bargains while Gwen goes for vintage. Besides supplementing their wardrobes, Madelyn and Gwen love uBuy for its oddities. The odder an item is, the more appeal it has. Madelyn’s desktop swaying, ukele-strumming hula-skirted Gumby is testament to this. Gwen collects memorabilia of famous comedians; Groucho Marx is a favorite.

On that level, Gwen’s offhand suggestion appeals to Madelyn. “I should list my soul, just for kicks. To see what response I’d get.” People have sold stranger things. Maybe some cute guy would buy it, and who knows where that might lead. She’s already tried online dating, though. Cyberspace, she found, is not a good place to meet strangers.

The notion is erased from Madelyn’s mind by the sight of a stunning man on the sidewalk. Standing by the newspaper vending box, he checks his watch. His dark features are set off by his black shirt, black sport coat and black slacks. He’s so perfect, he looks out of context with his surroundings. When he looks at her, shock waves rumble through her nervous system like an oncoming storm. A rush of heat engulfs her.

“Madelyn? Hey, what’s wrong with you.” Gwen’s voice is distant, as if it comes through a tunnel.

She snaps her attention back to her friend. “Nothing.” In truth, Madelyn knew her universe had just shifted.

Cate Masters writes fantasy/paranormal, historical, contemporary and speculative fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling, I did not want to put it down,” “such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story,” and “the author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story refreshing to read.” The proud mom of three adult children, she currently lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband, Lily the dog, their dictator-like cat, Chairman Maiow, and dozens of characters inhabiting her imagination. Visit Cate online at, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.


Dating Coach said...

Never knew so many superstitions are linked to Halloween, Thanks Anne

Cate Masters said...

Hi Anne, Thanks so much for having me here today!
I'm so excited that One Soul for Sale is an EPIC finalist, one of four of my stories that finaled! Woo hoo!

Debra St. John said...


Congrats on all of your EPIC finals. It's so fun to "rub elbows" with such an amazingly talented author!

Thanks for sharing the Halloween superstitions.

Cate Masters said...

You're so sweet Debra, thank you so much! I'm grateful to know such talented authors too.