Cyberspace as haunted as any place on Earth 

Well, it's time again for the tooth decay industry to make another billion. Time for frat boys to rationalize succumbing to the urge to dress up as women. And time for Elvira to flaunt her ample bosom in television ads for watered-down beer.

Yes, it's Halloween, American style.

Despite such widespread commercialization, it turns out that a large number of us still believe in disembodied souls, zombies and the like -- those unexplained figments which prompted the ancient Celts and other cultures to call forth their ancestral spirits for a little post post-mortem party.

Of course, these superstitions, if you will, are augmented by such popular pap as the X-Files and late night shows fixated on supernatural phenomenon. Moreover, the World Wide Web hops and writhes with chat groups and sites dedicated to the paranormal -- which, come to think of it, makes sense.

Cyberspace is something of a spirit world itself; a place where disembodied characters of all stripe give voice to urges both dark and light. In many ways, the nether world of the Net is as much a receptacle for the goblins of the human mind as our dreams. So, without further ado, let's turn to the places where ghoulish celebrants can explore the various and sundry meanings of All Hallow's Eve.

Dedicated to believers -- and changing the minds of the skeptics -- http://members.aol.com/DWWaldron/chrome.html provides a place to review personal accounts of various sightings, as well as a richly developed nomenclature of the Undead. Meanwhile, if you're concerned that your dead Uncle Willy may still be hanging around, rattling chains and such, it may be prudent to bury him online.

I'm talking here about a cyber-headstone, purchasable for the one-time only low price of seven bucks (Visa or personal check accepted). Go inter the old goat at http://www.interlog.com/~cemetery/.

Then again, if your problem is not too many ghosts in your life, but not enough of a paranormal presence, The Witches League of Public Awareness can help. The site www.celtic-crow.com/basics/dedication.html is a swell primer for those interested in dabbling in Darke and Lighte Magickes.

Of course, maybe the benevolent, nature-loving sprites are too tame for your tastes. In this case, I encourage you to visit (and join!) the Church of Satan at www.satannet.com. Confused as to what the fun that is Satanism really entails? The "Nine Satanic Statements" should clear it up, and they're available at hem.passagen.se/baphomet/satanism.html.

OK, I've really frightened you now. Perhaps we should venture back to the lighter side of Halloween. How about some funny little Halloween carols? Sing along to such favorites as "Over the Graveyard" ("and through the woods...") and "Humphrey the Blue-Nosed Pumpkin" at www.night.net/halloween/halloween-carols.html-ssi.

Or learn how to make such Halloween cuisine as Edible Eye- balls and Spider Cake at www.night.net/halloween/desserts.html-ssi. Yum.

Halloween just wouldn't be the same without those disembodied heads known as Jack-o-Lanterns. A fellow named Steve Frey thinks Jack-o-Lanterns are pretty great, and he has created www.jack-o-lantern.com to help us all with our carving techniques, answer common questions, and provide tips on pickling your pumpkin. Frey also reminds us: "Remember, carving lanterns isn't just for pumpkins. Check out our melon carving section for fun all summer long!"

Oh, and what to wear -- luckily, www.halloweencostume.com sells Skull Warrior, Rotting Corpse, Chewbacca, Nun, Cop, Maid and Prisoner garb. It may be a bit late for this year, but make a note of it for next. The site boasts over 1,000 different costumes and accessories, all of which you can order online via a secure server. They even have a prosthetic bloody screwdriver you can ram into your head!

Finally, if you're deeply into the spirit, I refer you to Haunted Halloween Links at www.banzai-net.com/acidburn/hauntedlinks.html, a huge clearinghouse of things related to this time of year, including ol' Michael Meyers (he of Halloween celluloid bloodshed fame), haunted house links and spooky ghost story pages that guarantee fun for the whole crew. www.halloween.com provides a similar list.

These sites are just a sampling of those which can put you in touch with the ghosts in your machine.

Of course, there are horror movie discussion groups, scary comic sites and the like. These things remind us that candy isn't the only thing up for grabs this time of year. And by creating these sorts of virtual communities, the Net links traditions of the past, such as witchcraft and spirit worship, with the cyber-practices of the future.

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