And have no fellowship with the
unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For
it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever
doth make manifest is light.
(Prove) what is acceptable unto the Lord.
arrival of autumn comes along our annual October 31st observation of Halloween. Across the Tennessee Valley, we'll
see the trappings of Halloween found in settings as diverse as the halls of
middle schools to the interior cubicles of telemarketing offices and everywhere
in between. Communities across our region will hold festive "block
parties" complete with games and activities for young and old, social
service organizations will host "haunted houses" aimed at scaring the
daylights out of visitors who are led through them, and brightly costumed
children will make their annual evening visitations to neighborhoods and trailer
parks in city and countryside for their "trick or treating" candy
harvests. For our community, by and large, it would seem that Halloween is just
another harmless season of celebration and party-going.
The dominant theme of Halloween's draw is, of
course, directly related to the morbidly supernatural, sufficiently sanitized
for popular consumption. Costumes of witches and demons will be worn in
abundance, paper cut-out bats and ghosts decorate restaurants and businesses,
and carved "jack-o-lantern" pumpkins will be found alight on many a
doorstep across the Valley. Thousands of people - many of them professing
Christians - will engage in a hearty embracing of the evening with little thought as to the underlying significance of what they are doing.
Few can deny awareness of Halloween's undeniably yet
inexplicably dark, even frightening overtones, but fewer seem to even care. We
believe that if these same folks knew what they were involving themselves in, they
might think twice about dabbling with our annual cultural infatuation with the
is this "dark side" and why should we speak of it in such dire terms?
The answer to that question is one few Halloween fun-seekers want to grapple
with, yet the truth remains. Unknown to most people, the underlying
essence of our celebrations of Halloween is based upon modern Wiccan interpretations of pre-Christian paganism and
involve occultic rites and practices that Christians should have no
dealings with. Why should involvement with such activities be avoided by those
who make even the most nominal confession of faith in Christianity? In this article, we urge you to consider this point and its
The Essence of Halloween: The Pagan Feast Of Samhain
The term "pagan" is often thrown loosely around by
most people, who use the word often in a very negative sense, as a label applied
to a person or a belief supposedly devoid of any redeeming virtue or decency.
There are many who would sharply disagree with this definition of the term and have
embraced it as one that describes their deepest spiritual and cultural passions.
These folks proudly call themselves pagans and are more often than not
actually quite decent people with family lives, responsible positions on
their jobs and who just simply happen to have embraced a spirituality that is
entirely different from Christianity. This is a very important distinction that
must be kept in mind when considering who pagans are. Two pagan authors, Dan and Pauline
Campanelli have concisely described - in terms very open to no little interpretation
and debate by other pagans - what paganism in general essentially
As Pagans, we believe that: All of nature is a manifestation
of Divinity or the Creative Forces, and that everything in Nature has a spirit.
These Divine Creative Forces can be perceived as a pantheon of Gods and
Goddesses. As everything in Nature has its complement, so must it be with the
Gods, a polarity of male and female, spirit and matter, God and Goddess. As
Nature proceeds in the cycles of the season, so must we be born to die and be
born again. And that by actively participating in these natural cycles through
ritual, we can attune ourselves to the Creative Forces that flow through us, to
live happy, creative and productive lives, for our own benefit, and that of the
planet. The simplest way to do this is to celebrate the seasons of the years
according to the ancient Pagan traditions of our ancestors ..(1)
As we can see, paganism is a spirituality based upon a belief in
many gods and goddesses (this is called polytheism) and upon man's
essential union with them as a manifestation of their divinity (this is called pantheism).
This divinity has both male and female aspects, and both are revealed
in both nature and the passage of seasonal time. Man is seen as a vital part of
the energy that these gods and goddesses supposedly originate and that interaction
by ritual and experience with these "creative
forces" is to bring about personal prosperity and empowerment as well as global transformation.
The emphasis on the polytheistic versus pantheistic views of divinity in pagan
thought may differ widely but these generally are seen as compatible with one
Obviously this is radically unlike Christian belief in many ways. This is a generic definition of the pagan worldview, which is found
in many belief systems around the world from Native American spirituality to the
many schools of Hindu religious practice. These beliefs were generally shared in
particular with the ancient Celts, peoples of ancient western Europe that were
guided by a priestly class called the Druids. The Druids served as
advisers to Celtic rulers, led them
into ritual communion with their own gods and goddesses, and preserved their mythology and
learning, much of which was quite sophisticated. Many of the contemporary Wiccan
(witchcraft) community fully embrace many of these foundational pagan teachings,
as well as a host of other pagan traditions from the ancient world.
it is from these Druidic traditions that the observation of a Celtic festival
called Samhain (pronounced sah-win) originated, one that affects us to this day.
It was observed over three nights in the fall season across the ancient Celtic
regions and involved prayers, offerings and ritual
magic that sought contact with the Celtic deities, as well as attempts to divine
the future and commune with the spirits of ancestors. The festival,
orchestrated by Druid priests, was a series of ceremonies clearly aimed at
invoking and tapping into supernatural inspiration and power. Through their
casting of spells, induced dream states and sacrificial offerings at sacred
hilltops with blazing bonfires, we can see that the Druids made Samhain an
earnest time of search for contact with their gods and goddesses, a vital part
of pagan thought and practice (2).
The ancient Celtic pagan religion began to decline early in the
first century A.D. when the military conquests of the region by the Roman Empire
under Julius Caesar disrupted the Celtic culture with occupying Roman legions
and control. With the advent of Christian missions (under the leadership of men
like Patrick and Columba) in the next four centuries,
the decline isharply intensified as Christian conversions of Celts and Druids who
had preserved the "old ways" escalated. By the fifth century A.D.,
Christianity clearly was the dominant spirituality in the Celtic regions,
particularly in the British Isles, but observation of various aspects of Druidic
tradition stubbornly endured. The festivals of Samhain were one of these. Many
converted Celts saw no reason to discontinue participation in them, and
continued to mix the old Druidic traditions with their newfound Christianity.
This came about primarily because the Christian Church failed to disciple
their new converts regarding God's command to honor Him alone and to forsake
pagan god and goddess worship. This lamentable failure has always been a thorn in the side of
the Church throughout history, and continues to this day globally.
It was made even worse in the eighth century when a decision was made by Pope Gregory IV
that attempted to sanctify the season: he established the celebration of All
Hallowed Evening (on October 31) followed by All Saints Day (on November 1) as a
means to both honor the martyrs of the Church and assert its' authority. This
led to the establishment of a Middle Age custom of celebrating "All
Hallows" with parades of parishioners dressed as saints, angels, devils and other church
icons around the churchyard and then through town. It was a compromise, and a
serious one with major implications for our day. Over
time, the condensed term of "Halloween" became the most popular form
used to identify the evening celebrations. And while most of the pagan religious aspects
of Samhain were largely discontinued, some of their elements were preserved by
the Celtic peoples in their folklore that continued to be handed down among them
for hundreds of years. Irish emigrants to American soil brought
along with them their distinctive traditions, which included some of the
practices that were found in Samhain. These practices were imported into
American popular culture by the mid 1800's and used to celebrate Halloween. It
is these practices that are based purely upon pagan spirituality that we now wish to
Pagan Occultism In Halloween
The term occult literally means "hidden" in
Latin: it is refers to the secret wisdom or knowledge about supernatural powers
and the spirit world that man can acquire so as to use them for his benefit.
Exploration of the occult has been a habitual fascination and even way of life
for mankind for thousands of years. Occultic systems of thought widely differ in
their outward appearance, but they all share a common bond, that being the
practice of techniques many pagans would call magick. These are performed
to access the powers of the supernatural or to commune with the spirit world. As we have said, many schools of witchcraft and other pagan
traditions fully identify with this sort of occultic practice: certainly, the
manner in which the Campanellis have
described it is a good example. They have shown us that preserved elements of Druidic tradition about Samhain were
freely re-interpreted and practiced by the newer Wiccan and neo-pagan movements
around the turn of the century, complete with its emphasis upon necromancy,
divination and community festivity.
The Church's attempt to sanctify the feast by renaming it "All
Hallowed Evening" (or Halloween) and adjusting its' focus was irrelevant to
both pagans and Wiccans who simply ignored the effort to re-establish the purely
pagan essence of the time. To them, Halloween is an actual religious
holiday that is central to the practice of their beliefs. Renewed attention to
Samhain (however reinterpreted) by the pagan and Wiccan communities is their
attempt to maintain a distinctive continuity and connection with the pagan past
so as to preserve their faith for the future.
And Samhain's pagan elements of Druidic tradition hold a
profound spiritual significance yet are
freely - if not ignorantly - entered into by many a non-pagan at this time of year.
Millions of people across the United States and thousands here in the
Tennessee Valley will involve themselves in Halloween activities that were
originally intended to literally invoke pagan gods and goddesses, spirits of the
dead, and to even invite some form of literal possession by them to receive
revelations and guidance. So the following commentary of the Campanellis on the significance of these
pagan elements is quite revealing and show us how Halloween is viewed by
many a pagan:
The Wearing Of Masks - "The purpose of wearing a
mask in most primitive religious traditions is to
make a spiritual connection with the deity or the Nature Spirit represented
by the mask. ... The mask would then have a spirit or magickal power of its
own .. it seems like the most natural thing, to use masking as a part of the
Samhain Sabbat. .. That the practice of masked dancing is still today
associated with Samhain, the time when the veil between the living and the
spirits of of the dead is very thin, suggests that in some
way the masked dancers were trying to contact the spirits of the slain
and hunted animals. .. Though much of this has been lost or temporarily
forgotten, there is still much about the tradition costumes worn by children
today that tells us Halloween is a celebration of the spirits."
The Jack O Lantern - "The pumpkin, an American
vegetable, certainly symbolizes the season; but it is the candle inside the
pumpkin that is of magickal importance. The candle flame represents not only
the element of Fire, but also the white light of pure spirit. .. It has
become traditional among many Pagans to mark the four quarters of the
Samhain Circle with Jack-O-Lanterns, but it might also be in keeping with
the season to light one white candle in a Jack-O-Lantern placed in a
window or on a front porch as a beacon to the spirits. .. In Japan .. paper
lanterns are hung at gardens to welcome home the spirits of the deceased. In
Egypt, candles are lit in cemetaries to guide the spirits of the dead back
.. and in Ireland candles are lit in cottage windows to welcome home the
ghosts of the dead."
Contact With The Dead (Necromancy) - "At this
time of year, the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is very
thin. As the old Pagan year draws to a close, it is time to receive messages
from those who had gone before .. Necromancy is technically the raising of
the dead for the purpose of learning the future from them. Spirits can
contact us directly, conveying messages to us telepathically, or in rare
cases, controlling the physical body and the vocal chords. This type of
necromancy is the focus of Spiritualism and is believed to come from the
deceased. But any message from the spirits is welcome .. There is much
wisdom to be gained from contact with spirits. .. These two elements,
contact with the spirit world and divining the future, are as much a part of
Halloween celebrations today as they were during the earliest shamanic
beginnings of the Pagan religion."
Divination - "There are a number of devices that
might be used for the purpose of contacting spiritual entities, such
as the Ouija board ..
and the pendulum and the alphabet board .. Our personal preference is the
wine glass, which, like the Ouija board, can be worked by quite a number of
people at one time, thereby making self-delusion a bit more difficult .. In
more recent times, a variety of games and objects for predicting the future
on Halloween night have been developed and mass produced. .. To people who
have developed the ability to scry, images of the future might appear in a
mirror, a bowl of water, a crystal ball or the polished blade of a
sword. .. Probably the most popular object for scrying with
among Wiccans is the cauldron,, another symbol of the Goddess."
Dark Clothing Of Witches - "The black clothing
of the Halloween Witch represents not "the powers of darkness," as
followers of the new religion would have people believe, but that great
luminary of the night, the Moon, in its waning phase. The waning phase of
the Moon, of course, represents the Crone aspect of the Triple Goddess ..
These three Goddesses preside over life, at the end of which each individual
spirit bids farewell to the realm of the Goddess and crosses the threshold
into the realm of the Horned God of Death and that which comes thereafter.
Samhain represents this threshold separating the dark half of the Wheel of
the Year, presided over by the Horned One, from the light half presided over
by the Goddess." (3)
"Trick-Or-Treating" - "Trick-or-treating originated in Ireland when on the eve of Samhain, people
would go house to house looking for food contributions to Muck Olla. The group was led by a man in a white robe with a horse-head mask. After
him walked young men blowing cow horns. They would stop at each house recite some verses that told the farmer that his prosperity was due
to Muck Olla and if he wishes to prosper he should make a contribution to the spirit.
.. people in costumes and masks went begging from farm to farm, reciting verses that
described the damage that spirits would do to a farmer's house or barn if the farmer refused to give something. This is not unlike the American way
of trick- or-treating, in which we sometimes recite the verse,
'Trick-or-treat, smell my feet. Give me something good to eat!' It is assumed that a
practical joke will be played on an unwilling neighbor." (4) While
the identity of a Celtic deity named "Muck Olla" is in serious
question (we don't have any evidence that the Druids identified any god by
this name), the practice of trick-or-treating is what we are focusing on.
The practice of making offerings of some sort to Celtic deities is what
contemporary children's visitations to homes on Halloween is largely based
It often amuses pagans and Wiccans to see many people around
them who would never think of involvement with witchcraft or paganism any other
time of the year jump head first into Halloween
participation. For they
are fully aware of Samhain's ancient spiritual roots and nature of the popular Halloween activities that so many ignorantly
engage in. It is quite clear in considering these facts that Halloween truly is a holiday based upon
ancient pagan spirituality and that it is alive and well as seen in the
diligence which many pagans and Wiccans put forth in observing it as a
holy day, as one of the "Great Sabbats" of their religion, even if it
is a freely reinterpreted version of the ancient reality. And it is indirectly reaffirmed by the uninformed attention the non-pagan
culture bestows upon it, even if distorted by commercialism, sensationalism and
sanitized adoption of morbid motifs (death, ghosts, monsters and
the generally macabre). Indeed, Halloween is great seasonal business for pumpkin
farmers, occult book sales, costume manufacturers and so many other sectors of
our national economy from Hollywood to candy makers that this affirmation and
subsidizing of the pagan worldview is guaranteed to continue indefinitely. Much
of the business of costume rentals by adults comes during the Halloween season
who want to make Halloween simply another excuse for partying tinged with an
occultism they can play with.
And while pagans meet and observe Samhain according to whatever perspective they hold, in many a party or private gathering thousands of people
will test the waters of the occult by dabbling in "party games" that
directly involve the kinds of practices we have spoken of. Ouija boards,
candleburning rituals, and seances will be the experiments of choice in many a
den or bedroom. Most people - young and old - do so "in fun" to amuse
themselves, but many others will often go along with it out of curiosity, even
wonderment. And then there will be those who will enter into it in serious
earnestness and who do so seeking answers, power and direction. For many of
these persons, for the first time in their lives on Halloween, they will make
contacts with powers beyond their ability to understand or control and will find
themselves inexorably drawn into deeper involvement with the occult as time goes
For many people, this begs the question: "So
To these folks, dabbling with the occult is no worse than
anything else. To make anything of this, in their eyes, is to make a big
deal over nothing at all. The occult to them is just another exotic playground
for free spirits to explore, no more dangerous than going to a rave, whitewater
rafting or cruising
the Web in chat rooms. Kids, grandmothers and all kinds of people should freely
toy with such stuff as long as they don't go "over the edge."
Anyway, if something really was to come of it, certainly it could be useful the same
way a good tip on the stock market could be. It could be even be empowering,
enlightening, even sublime. Getting
uptight about such a harmless thing like necromancy can only be seen as a "fundy"
tantrum of narrow minded intolerance. So many people see absolutely
nothing wrong with our cultural infatuation with Halloween for this
and many other reasons.
If someone's experimentation with the supernatural was nothing
more than an absorbing pastime or a series of metaphysical parlor tricks it
certainly would be foolish to get upset over them. However, that is not
the case; the occult is a reality that cannot be toyed with, and the spiritual
stakes for all who do are far too high to ignore. What are these realities? What
are the consequences? Why do so many Christians strongly oppose Halloween?
Should you really be involved in any way with Halloween?
We will pursue these questions in in our concluding
article: to access it, click here.
(1) Pauline Campanelli, Ancient
Ways, p. xv
(2) Tadhg MacCrossan, The Truth
About The Druids, pp. 14 - 15
(3) Campanelli, ibid, 164-190.
This interesting link
is part of the curricula used in the University of Idaho's
College of Education, a link that actually gives a detailed lesson plan for
teachers-in-training on how to introduce Children to the significance of