The practice of intercepting diabolical correspondence was made famous by C.S. Lewis, who published under the title The Screwtape Letters a collection of missives from the demon Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood. The publication (by humans) of diabolical correspondence actually has its roots in earlier centuries; an example can be found in Letters from Hell, a series of epistles from a damned soul, collected and published by Valdemar Adolph Thisted in the nineteenth century. The following letter—or email, to be precise—purports to be from the demon Turnspike to his colleague Goreflak. Due to the sensitive nature of the material in this email, TMTF cannot release further information concerning the method by which it was obtained.*
My dear Goreflak,
Your ignorance is appalling. When I read your last email I could not help but cringe at your evaluation of the holiday the humans call Halloween. It is not an occasion for supernatural activity, as you seem to think—at least not typically. You young devils are all the same, eager for sensational witchcraft and spectacular sinfulness, when our most effective work is much subtler.
We seldom use human-possession or dark magic anymore. Have you failed to see the problem of manifesting our power in supernatural ways? Imagine for a moment that you are an atheist in America. What would you think if you witnessed a table lift itself in the air and spin around, or a demon-possessed person speaking in a tongue? It would be dashed hard to remain an atheist!
We were able to get away with sensational displays of power in antiquity because pagans readily acknowledged the existence of the supernatural. But in these days, when faith of any kind is becoming less common, to commit ourselves to any sort of overt supernatural activity is to give ourselves away.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that we have forgotten Halloween. By no means! My dear devil, Halloween is one of our great triumphs.
First, we have made the humans numb to the very idea of the darker side of the supernatural. They dress up as witches and go begging for candy; they make ghosts out of tissue paper; they bake cookies in the shape of vampires. Every kind of ghoul and devil, from the foulest phantom of their imaginations to the evilest demon of our own kind, is made innocent, even cute, by the holiday of Halloween.
Second, we have managed to eclipse All Saints’ Day. This wretched holiday was before your time, my dear devil, so you are probably unfamiliar with it. All Saints’ Day was a celebration of the Enemy’s most valuable servants, those vile men and women known vulgarly as saints, whose lives were abhorrent to Our Father Below. Year after year the Enemy’s people celebrated dangerous fools like Paul and Augustine and Patrick, until we could no longer allow it. We began to exaggerate Halloween, the day before All Saints’ Day, in an effort to draw attention from the Enemy’s saints to the specters of our own kind. We were utterly successful. The saints of All Saints’ Day are largely forgotten, while the monsters and demons of Halloween are celebrated year after year.
Third, and finally, Halloween has become a celebration of consumerism and commercialism: two behaviors Our Father encourages among the humans. Millions of dollars are spent on candy and decorations and all the multifarious paraphernalia associated with the holiday. Halloween has also become an occasion for horror movies, Our Father’s contribution to the medium the humans call filmmaking. Some of the films released around Halloween are quite delicious. Nothing amuses me quite like watching humans be ripped apart in the Saw films.
You asked in your last email whether there were anything inherently evil in Halloween. The answer, I regret to inform you, is no. Many humans celebrate the holiday—costumes, candy, decorations and all—and manage to enjoy precisely those things we dislike: innocent fun, loving fellowship and benevolent generosity. Halloween is, however, a holiday more easily twisted to our purposes than, let us say, Christmas. (We are making excellent progress with Christmas, but I will save my thoughts upon the subject for another email.) Do not assume Halloween automatically corrupts human beings, my dear devil. It is up to you to make sure it does.
On an unrelated note, I am very glad the Head of our department has finally authorized use of the Internet for correspondence between demons. Emails are so much more convenient than parchment and blood.
I trust you are making good progress with your Patient, and expect a full report as soon as possible.
Your affectionate colleague,
*For the record: This email is completely fictitious, as are The Screwtape Letters and Letters from Hell. Demons do not really send emails; at least, not of that we know.