Witches, Christians, Pagans, and Halloween: Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, October 12, 2021 0 comments


by Chad Koons

In Witches, Christians, and Pagans, and Halloween: Part 1, I went into the Samhain/Halloween connection and the deity behind Halloween, Cerridwen. Now, let’s take a detailed look into the traditions and symbolisms within the holiday, as well as a real-life Elder Witch’s perspective.

Cultural Tradition and Symbolism

“Yeah, but I don’t celebrate Samhain, I celebrate Halloween!” This is commonly the type of comment I’ll receive after someone reads my research on the matter. Let’s do a comparison and see how different (or similar) the two are.

* On Samhain, faces were carved into pumpkins and gourds which were placed around the perimeter of the home or in the openings of the home such as windows or doors. Candles were placed inside of them to act as a guide for the spirits walking past the home.

- On Halloween… we carve faces into pumpkins which are placed around the perimeter of the home or in windows or doorways. We place candles inside of them. This is exactly the Samhain practice. The next time you see a “Jack-O’-Lantern,” remember what it means.

* On Samhain, candles are lit inside of the home as a means of guiding the spirits from outside to inside the house. Once inside the home, dinner parties are then hosted for these spirits (who are believed to be “spirit guides” or dead relatives) for the purpose of appeasing and thanking them. Eating together with the spirits is an invitation for the spirit’s guidance over the next year.

- On Halloween… candles are lit inside the home and in windows. We gather inside of homes for spooky themed Halloween parties where we eat together. Now you know where these traditions come from.

* On Samhain, fires are lit. These are intended to be magical fires used in witchcraft and divination. Spells are performed around these fires, along with stories of spirits, ghosts, gods, and goddesses. The fires are danced around, eaten by, and are the hub of celebration.

- On Halloween… fires are lit, and we have parties around these fires where we celebrate and tell spooky stories. Have you ever had bonfires with ghost stories during a Halloween party? These are not some random practices; the idea was born during Samhain.

* On Samhain, there was (and still is) decoration of the home, a creation of an altar, meditation on what it means to live in spirit, and get this… activities for family and children.

- On Halloween… we decorate our homes, think about ghosts and the supernatural, and we create and hold activities for families and children. Communities, schools, and even our churches are eager to host these Halloween activities! Our families are celebrating Samhain and we don’t even know it.

* On Samhain, spirits were thought to walk the villages and treats were offered on the thresholds of homes. These spirits were called the “Aos si” (pronounced “ees-shee”). They were ancestral spirits (ghosts), spirits of nature, malevolent spirits, or even gods or goddesses. These spirits were sinister at worst and tricksters at best, therefore the occupants of the villages needed to appease them somehow. The villagers offered fruits, sweet baked goods, or nuts upon their doorsteps in attempts to appease the Aos si. It was believed that the spirits would accept the sweets as an offering. If a home did not offer a sweet treat, however, then the Aos si would either harm the house, harm the occupants, curse the home, or play a trick on the people in some way.

Because of this supernatural activity, it was believed unsafe to travel at night during Samhain. Therefore people would dress in disguise (called “guising” or “mumming“) and imitate the Aos si. These disguised people would then go house to house just as the Aos si did. They would stand upon the doorstep of the home and recite a pagan song or phrase. The occupants of the homes were then expected to provide these people with the same food or sweets that were offered to the Aos si. If the house did not hand out a treat, then the people in disguise would imitate the Aos si by playing a trick upon the house.

- On Halloween… we follow this same pattern. We dress in disguise while going door to door, presenting the occupant with a choice: give us a treat or we will play a trick on you. Here it is, folks, the Samhain practice of disguise and collecting treats or threatening a trick has turned into our modern-day Trick or Treat. Now you know what it means.

* On Samhain, death and fear of harm are the driving forces. Spirits of the dead are thought to enter the world of the living during Samhain, since the veil between worlds is believed to be at its thinnest. Ghosts, malevolent spirits, and even other supernatural beings such as gods and goddesses are believed to seep through into our natural world to interact with humans. Motivated by fear, people needed to find ways to welcome, appease, or blend in with these spirits in order to avoid harm or death.

- On Halloween… we are driven by these same forces. The imagery of fear, death, and bodily harm are everywhere. This is why we see haunted houses, ghosts, monsters, witches, and the undead throughout Halloween. Have you ever wondered why Halloween is full of fear and the glorification of death? Halloween is full of fear and death because Samhain is. We even follow the same pagan practice of surrounding ourselves with this imagery. We welcome it and blend in with it the same as the pagans did (and still do). Halloween and Samhain are two different names for the same thing.

The Samhain celebration and practice is exactly what our modern culture continues to express in Halloween. Samhain hasn’t changed, it just wears a Halloween mask.

A Witch’s Perspective

The vast majority of the pagan and witchcraft community equate Samhain with Halloween. But don’t take my word for it, hear it from the source. Here’s what a leading witch has to say on the matter.

The following is an excerpt from a book entitled Sabbats: A Witch’s Approach to Living the Old Ways by Edain McCoy. Edain is an elder in the Wiccan tradition and priestess of Brighid. Edain drops some historical truth on the subject, as well. Some will cry out, “Halloween is not Samhain, Halloween is just a silly holiday!” Sorry to burst your bubble, but this Elder Witch disagrees:

Samhain is popularly known today as “Halloween,” a contraction of the words “Hallowed Evening.” It retains much of the original form and meaning it had long ago in Celtic lands, despite the efforts of the church to turn it into an observance of feasting and prayer for their vast pantheon of saints. The church began by calling it the Feast Day of St. Michael, but the old Samhain holiday proved to be too potent a drawing card for one lone saint to combat. So it was renamed the “eve of all saints”, or “All hallows eve” precedes All saints Day. But even after all this effort, so much Samhain practice and lore remained within the popular culture.

Edain does a good job at explaining a couple of key points.
First, that Samhain is known today as Halloween. Yes, they are the same.
Secondly, that the church tried to redeem this Pagan holiday and subsequently failed.

Leave it to a real-life elder witch to, shall we say, “boil it down” for us (pun intended). Samhain is alive and well today, thinly masquerading as Halloween, and the church cannot redeem it.

Conclusion

At the end of my research, I found myself at a loss for words. I was shocked, perplexed, and quite honestly feeling a like I needed a spiritual shower. Sometimes the truth is much more horrid than fiction.

So what would I do with Halloween? What would I have my children do with Halloween? The evidence was quite compelling, and I could no longer ignore it. Halloween would no longer enchant me, and it most certainly would not be permitted to seduce my children. We cut it off. As a Christian parent, I cannot stand before the Lord knowing that I allowed my children to participate in a pagan holiday. It would seem that witches, Christians, and pagans do not mix.

Now that you know the truth, you have a decision to make – a decision that not only impacts your life, but the lives of your children. What will you do with Halloween?

Finally, I leave you with these words…
“Have nothing to do with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather EXPOSE them.” – Apostle Paul, Ephesians 5:11.

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