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HomeThe Tree The Real Origins of Halloween 1 of 2


The Real Origins of Halloween 1 of 2

Erin

(Note from Daven:  I would like to thank Isaac Bonewits for his wonderful essay that encompasses this most important of our holidays.  Long time readers of my website will know that I had another version of this on my site, and I want to tell you that this is the updated version.  Hope it is as informative to you as it was to me.)

The Real Origins of Halloween

Page #1 of 2

Version 3.7, copyright  1997, 2000 c.e.
by Isaac Bonewits

Preface

Halloween OnlineI’ve received a number of emails from various liberal, moderate, and conservative Christians, including two dozen clergypeople, concerning their reactions to earlier versions of this essay. More often than not, they are horrified at the liberties their Fundamentalist brethren have taken with both historical truth and Christian theology, and have asked me to please not think that all Christians, “are like those lunatics.” So in the interests of not alienating those open-minded Christians who may not yet be aware of the duplicity and malice of many of their supposed co-religionists, I’ve edited this to make clearer the distinctions between mainstream Christians (with whom I still have many polytheological differences) and their (dare I say it?) demonically obsessed brothers and sisters. If there are some readers who consider themselves to be Christian Fundamentalists, but who do not approve of the behavior or words of those described herein, I suggest that they admonish their brethren, rather than myself, and that they meditate upon what it is about Fundamentalism that makes it so easy to slide into anger, hatred and deceit in the name of Jesus (or Yahweh or Allah or Science, for that matter).

Satanic Panic Over Halloween

Every year at this time, some folks begin shouting that Neopagans must be “stopped” from celebrating our New Year’s Day, which they describe as a “Satanic” holiday. Some Christian Fundamentalists say loudly and publicly that we Druids, Witches and other Neopagans kidnap children, sacrifice babies, poison or booby trap Halloween treats, drink blood, and hold orgies at Halloween. They use these claims to disrupt or prevent our religious rites, slander our beliefs, and blaspheme our deities, despite the total lack of evidence to support them:

  • Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, have never found even one example of a “Satanic cult human sacrifice.” What they do occasionally find are budding psychopaths killing small animals in what a psychiatrist would call a “ritualistic” manner.
  • Similarly, the urban legends about “Satanic cults looking to kidnap blond blue-eyed children for sacrifice” (presumably by evil “non-Aryans”) reveal more about racism than crime in America because here, too, there is not a single real incident recorded by law enforcement agencies.
  • All those stories of poisoned candy and razor blades in apples — which some Christian Fundamentalists would have us believe is how modern Witches and Druids now “sacrifice” kids — turn out to be more urban legends with zero law enforcement backing — see Curses! Broiled Again! : The Hottest Urban Legends Going, by noted folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand for details.
  • Claims are made that “the ASPCA reports the evidence of animal mutilation and destruction is ten times more available on the week preceding and the weekend following Halloween.” I’ve been unable to get the ASPCA to back this up. Apparently, some pounds and animal control facilities may not adopt out black kittens to punk/goth/scary-looking teenagers just before Halloween, but the evidence on which they base these policies is unclear. It may just be another urban legend based on teenaged sociopaths killing animals in years past.
  • The urban legend of Baby-Killing, Blood-Drinking, Incestously-Orgiastic, Evil-Doers has been around a long time — in fact, it’s been passed down for 2,500 years and used against one religion after another — including the early Christians!
  • Supposed physical evidence to support this nonsense is either completely absent or quickly vanishes once closely examined by law enforcement experts.
  • The modern authors of various books promoting these slanders have repeatedly been proven — by Evangelical Christian journalists — to be frauds and con-artists milking the Fundamentalist market.
  • In thirty years of my attending Samhain/Halloween rites, and discussing them with other Neopagans, not one of them has included an orgy — darn it!

You can visit the Satanic Ritual Abuse page maintained by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance for details on these psychotic fantasies and the findings of various reputable researchers. A good book on how urban legends have become entwined with American Halloween traditions is Halloween and Other Festivals of Death and Life, edited by Jack Santino.

Perhaps the best book written on the topic of the Evil Satanic Conspiracy silliness so far is Satanic Panic, by sociologist Dr. Jeffrey Victor. The publisher’s card catalog description for this work sums it up well:

Again and again we are told — by journalists, police, and fundamentalists — that there exists a secret network of criminal fanatics, worshippers of Satan, who are responsible for kidnapping, human sacrifice, sexual abuse and torture of children, drug-dealing, mutilation of animals, desecration of churches and cemeteries, pornography, heavy metal lyrics, and cannibalism. This popular tale is almost entirely without foundation, but the legend continues to gather momentum, in the teeth of evidence and good sense. Networks of “child advocates,” credulous or self-serving social workers, instant-expert police officers, and unscrupulous ministers of religion help to spread the panic, along with fabricated survivors’ memoirs passed off as true accounts, and irresponsible broadcast “investigations.” A classic witch-hunt, comparable to those of medieval Europe, is under way. Innocent victims are smeared and railroaded. Satanic Panic uncovers the truth behind the satanic cult hysteria, and exposes the roots of this malignant mythology, showing in detail how unsubstantiated rumor becomes transformed into publicly-accepted “fact.”

Bashers and Bigots

People with poor self-images always want to inflate the power and evilness of their real or imagined opponents. After all, if there’s a Gigantic Global Satanic Conspiracy® to defeat the Forces of Goodness,® the people believing in it can think of themselves as “fighting on the side of the angels,” instead of as the pathetic, demon-obsessed, xenophobes that they really are. Of course, my pointing out that these folks are bigots will make them claim that I’m “Christian-bashing,” so they can retain their precious sense of victimhood. I find it very annoying that many racist, sexist and creedist groups in current (or former) power have managed to twist the term “bashing” away from its original reference to “members of minority groups being physically beaten and killed” to instead mean “themselves being verbally criticized,” and I refuse to capitulate to this linguistic hijacking. However, I’m going to steal Dr. Victor’s term for the rest of this essay, and refer to these extremists as Satanic Panickers, in order to distinguish them from other Christian Fundamentalists who may not be quite as nasty towards those of us who belong to minority belief systems.

If you’d prefer a more neutral discussion of Evangelical Christian Beliefs about Halloween, you can visit the website of the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Their essay on How Christians View Non-Christian Religions is also quite good, as are most of their materials on their huge website.

Those who still think after reading this essay and others on this site, that I’m only saying what I’m saying because I’m, “filled with hatred for Christ and Christianity,” as several correspondents have informed me, may read my short discussion of “Anti-Christianity” and Who-Hates-Who? elsewhere on this site. Denouncing professional (and amateur) inquisitors for their deceitful propaganda and hate-mongering, doesn’t mean that I hate them and “therefore” all of Christianity — frankly my attitude is one more of pity than anything else. I’ve received many emails from Christians, including a dozen ministers, who say that they don’t like the Satanic Panickers any more than I do.

By the way, if you’re interested in seeing just what idiots “real” Satanists are, you can read My Satanic Adventure and The Enemies of Our Enemies elsewhere on this website (or read the raving egomaniacal flamewars on the Usenet newsgroup “alt.satanism”). Just like some of their Christian Fundamentalist brethren, they also call me a “basher” and a “bigot,” — one Satanist online denounced me as an “anti-Satanic, anti-white, communist, fascist pig.” I must be doing something right! Apparently I’m a terrible person, since I’m unimpressed by their Christian Dualism in drag. Now, however, let’s focus on the Satanic Panickers’ weird fantasies about Halloween.

Evil Ancient Druids and old Sam Hain

You will often read in the hate literature published by Satanic Panickers (such as the infamous tracts and comic books — which one Baptist minister told me were “Christian pornography” — from multimillionaire publisher Jack Chick) that, “Samhain was the Celtic God of the Dead, worshipped by the Druids with dreadful bloody sacrifices at Halloween.” Chick embroiders this error in a tract called “The Trick” and a full-sized comic book called, “Spellbound?” (a panel of which is shown here.)

Chick describes Ancient Evil Druids going from castle-door-to-door seeking virgin princesses to rape and sacrifice. These comic book villains would leave carved pumpkins with candles (“made from human fat!”) in them for those who cooperated, and arrange demonic assassinations for those who refused to give them what they wanted. This, according to Mr. Chick, is supposed to be the “true” origin of trick or treating — of course he also publishes tracts insisting that Catholics aren’t Christians, that all non-Christians are Devil-worshippers, and that the entire rock-and-roll record industry is run by Satanists who cast a curse on every record before it’s released! (Can you imagine the logistics nightmare of trying to get a group together to curse even one new album in a hundred, out of the thousands released every year, let alone all of them?)

Let’s look at a few historical facts:

  • Paleopagan Druidism in Ireland and the British Isles was wiped out by Christianity long before anyone was building medieval castles with “princesses” in them.
  • Virginity simply wasn’t as important to European Paleopagans as some would assume — except for occasional political purposes — and was certainly a condition that lusty Celtic women then as now had little problem removing in pre-Christian days.
  • Since half of the Paleopagan Druid caste were women, it’s highly unlikely that these historically strong and assertive Celtic women would have allowed their husbands, fathers and sons to get away with raping and murdering women of any caste on a regular basis — whether virgins or not!
  • There’s a distinct lack of historical or archeological evidence that the ancient Druids ever sacrificed anyone other than criminals, prisoners-of-war, or volunteers — if them. The human sacrifices called “missions,” “inquisitions,” “crusades,” and “pogroms,” however, have killed innocent men, women and children by the millions — and this is very well proven by mainstream historians.
  • The pumpkin is a New World plant that never grew in Europe until modern times, so it couldn’t have been used to make jack-o-lanterns by the Druids. Human fat (I’m told by a biologist) would make a lousy candle fuel even if anyone were psychotic enough to try. Apparently turnips were used to make lanterns in Ireland and Scotland, but these were not the plants that Americans know as “turnips.” One correspondent told me, “a turnip to the Scots /Irish is not what the English would call a turnip. Rather than being white and purple skinned, it is yellow and purple and is known to the English as a ‘swede.’ They are about between half a foot and a foot in diameter.” These are harder to carve than pumpkins, which is probably why Irish immigrants to North America switched to using the latter, but still easier to carve than the roots the Americans and British call “turnips.” I’m unaware of any historical references to the turnips being used as jack-o-lanterns in Ireland until modern times, or of turnip-lamps being used in the Paleopagan Celtic territories where the Druids once worshipped.
  • There’s zero evidence that the ancient Druids or their congregants ever dressed in costume or engaged in ritualized begging at harvest time. It’s possible, but by no means certain, that this was a Paleopagan custom. (see later in this essay for medieval and modern customs of this). As for the dark medieval monks’ robes depicted by Chick in his comics, since the ancient Druids considered white their caste color and brown or black the color associated with the servant caste, they probably wouldn’t have been caught, you should pardon the expression, “dead” in them!
  • There is no historical or archeological evidence of any Celtic deity, of the dead or any other topic, named “Samhain.” We know the names of some 350 Celtic deities from all over Europe and the Celtic Isles, and “Old Sam Hain” ain’t one of ‘em.
  • Major dictionaries of Celtic Languages don’t mention any “Samhain” deity either: McBain’s Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language says that “samhuinn” (the Scots Gaelic spelling) means “Hallow-tide” (the holiday), probably from roots meaning “summer’s end;” with a possible derivation from the annual assembly at Tara every November 1st. MacFarlane’s School Gaelic Dictionary defines it simply as “Hallowtide.” I have several Irish/English dictionaries in my home, and they all say that “samhain” or “La Samhna” (to use the Irish spellings) is the first of November, or the month of November, or “Hallowtide/Halloween.”

So where do Satanic Panickers get their weird beliefs about Halloween? One correspondent asked me, “How can these things never happen if so many people preach that it does? … Where would Christians get these ideas if they weren’t fact?” The short answer, of course, is that preachers are people and (1) all people make mistakes, (2) some people are ignorant, and (3) others just tell lies. After all, lots of people used to believe that the Earth was flat and that the sun moved around the Earth,. The Church quoted scriptures to “prove” these beliefs and burned early scientists at the stake for disagreeing. Yet merely saying, “They’re lying to you,” though true, can easily be thrown back into our own faces, if it’s only a matter of one group’s word against another (assuming neither group can get away with silencing the other). A more useful answer, one with the weight of solid academic research behind it, will take us a bit more time.

The sources of information that Satanic Panickers use are few: (1) books written over a century ago, especially Two Babylons or the Papal Worship, a work of anti-Catholic propaganda written in 1873 by Alexander Hislop, and a book by a man named Godfrey Higgins, The Celtic Druids, published in 1827; (2) decades-old editions of encyclopedias which simply quote Hislop or Higgins; (3) sermons, books and broadcasts by so-called “Ex-Grand-High-Druid-Witch experts” on the occult — all of whom turn out to be phonies and often criminals as well; and (4) decades of sermons by pastors repeating unquestioningly the statements made by other pastors before them.

An essay called Halloween: Myths, Monsters & Devils, by W.J. Bethancourt III, contains a superb and detailed analysis of Satanic Panickers’ literature on the topic (his Bibliography page should not be skipped either). His essay says, among many other interesting things:

As for “Samhain” or “Saman” being the ‘lord of the dead,’ this is a gross fallacy that seems to have been perpetuated in the late 18th and 19th centuries CE. I have found it in Higgins (first published in 1827, and trying to prove the Druids emigrated to Ireland from India!) where he quotes a Col. Charles Vallency (later a General, who was trying to prove that the Irish were decended from the inhabitants of Armenia!!!) Higgins also refers to an author named “Pictet,” who gives this name as that of a god, associating the word with “sabhan,” (which word I cannot find in any Gaelic dictionary at mydisposal) and trying for a connection with “Bal-sab,” to prove a Sun god and Biblical association.

The full title of Higgins’ book (leaving out the solid capital letters) is: The Celtic Druids; or, An Attempt to shew, that the Druids were the priests of oriental colonies who emigrated from India, and were the introducers of the first or Cadmean system of letters, and the builders of Stonehenge, of Carnac, and of other cyclopean works, in Asia and Europe. Browsing through the facsimile 1829 edition of Higgins’ book (published by Kessinger Publishing, LLC, Kila MT), it quickly becomes clear that the Honorable Godfrey Higgins, Esq. while astute enough to notice the similarities between the Sanscrit, Latin and Irish languages, was working without the tools or knowledge of those disciplines which were to become known as linguistics, anthropology, archeology, or indeed any modern social or physical science. He made up for his ignorance with an obsession to reconcile what he knew of Celtic languages, cultures and history with Semetic languages, cultures and (the Christian Bible’s version of) history. The results, despite his prescient guesses about what would someday be known as the Indo-European languages and the common Indo-European clergy caste, are so far off the mark about almost every subject he touched upon, as to appear pathetic to even the most charitible modern scholar.

Pardon me if the following seems a long digression, but the influence of this author’s book has been so long lasting and so pernicious to the reputations of the ancient Druids, and of Halloween, that it’s reasonable to quote several key paragraphs. Here, set in light brown type to distinguish it from real scholarship, or my own opinions, is what Higgins has to say about “Samhan or Bal-Sab” in Chapter V, Section XVII:

The God Samhan is placed by M. Pictet ["of Geneva, a learned friend of the author's"] at the head of his double series, withthe following explanation: Samhan eadhon Ceisil, eadhon Giolla; Samhan, that is to say the evil spirit, (Satan,) that is to say, the Serviteur.

Samhan appears to have been one of the Gods, the most revered, in Ireland. An annual solemnity was instituted to his honour, which is yet celebrated on the evening of the first day of November; which yet at this day is called the Oidhche Samhna, or the night of Samhan.

This solemnity was consecrated by the Druids, to the intercession of the living for the souls of those who had died the year preceding, or in the current year. For, according to their doctrine, Samhan called before him these souls, and passed them to the mansions of the blessed, or returned them to a re-existence here, as a punishment for their crimes. He was also called Bal-Sab or Lord of Death. It was probably this epithet which induced the commentator to call Samhan by the name of Ceisil, which, in modern Irish, means devil.

Samhan was also the Sun, or rather the image of the sun. This word is found in many Semitic languages: in Arabic, Schams, the sun; Hebrew, sms; Chaldean, smsa; Syrian, Schemscho; in Pehlvi, Schemsia; in Sanscrit, Hamsa, the sun. The Sun was the first object of worship of all the Heathens, either as Creator, or as an emblem or Shekinah of the Divinity. The attributes of Samhan seem at first contradictory, but they are not unusual amongst the Heathen Gods. With the Greeks, Dionysos, the good Demiurge, is identified with Hades. In Egypt, Osiris was the Lord of death; with the Scandinavians, Odin, the God beneficent, was, at the same time, king of the infernal regions. This deity was above all others whom we have named [in the preceding sections], but he was below the supreme being Baal. If Samhan were the Sun, as we see he was, he answers to Mithra of the Persians, who was the middle link between Oromasdes and Arimanius — between the Creator and the Destroyer, and was called the preserver.

Schelling says, the Irish doctrine was, that souls did not descend to the severe Zeus, (Pluto, the Jupiter of the Styx,) but that they ascended to the merciful Osiris. Such is the meaning of the Irish Samhan, who is a merciful judge, not deciding by his caprice, but holding his power from the God Supreme, of whom he is the image. In all this is a curious mixture of physical and moral doctrines.

I will leave as an exercise for the reader to count all the outright mistakes and obvious lapses in logic. That some Fundamentalist Christians should, to this very day, use such an abyssmal example of obsolete scholarship — he thought Irish was a dialect of Hebrew, and the Celts descendents of Moses for crying out loud! — as a primary source for their anti-Halloween propaganda, shows just how desperate they are.

For the real origins of Halloween customs and the identity of “Samhain,” we have to look a great deal deeper than Christian comic books, 19th century fantasies/speculations, or Sunday morning sermons to investigate the Paleopagan and Neopagan Celtic and Germanic calendars.


The Ancient Celtic Fire Festivals

There were four Major High Days celebrated by the Paleopagan Druids throughout the Celtic territories: Samhain, Oimelc, Beltane & Lughnasadh (in the Irish spellings). Four additional High Days (Winter Solstice or “Midwinter,” Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice or “Midsummer,” and Fall Equinox), which are based on Germanic or other Indo-European cultures, are also celebrated in the NeoPagan Druid calendar, along with others based on mainstream holidays (visit the linked essay for details).

The most common practice for the calculation of Samhain, Oimelc, Beltane & Lughnasadh has been, for the last several centuries, to use the civil calendar days or eves of November 1st, February 1st, May 1st and August 1st, respectively. You can see the just-cited essay for other methods used by Neopagans today, however, since we have conflicting evidence on how the Paleopagan Druids calculated these dates, modern Neopagans just use whichever method is most convenient. This means, of course, that we aren’t all doing anything uniformly on any given night, which fits perfectly with the NeoPagan saying that, “organizing Pagans is like herding cats.” It doesn’t match the Evil Conspiracy theories about us — which have us all marching to a strict drumbeat in perfect Satanic unison — at all.

These four major holy days are traditionally referred to as “fire festivals” because to the ancient Celts, as with all the Indo-European Paleopagans, fire was a physical symbol of divinity, holiness, truth, and beauty. Whether in Ireland or India, among the Germans or the Hittites, sacred fires were kindled on every important religious occasion. To this very day, among Eastern and Western Catholics, you can’t have a satisfying ritual without a few candles being lit — of course, the Satanic Panickers consider them Heathen too!

Samhain or “Samhuinn” is pronounced “sow-” (as in female pig) “-en” — not “Sam Hain” — because “mh” in the middle of an Irish word is a “w” sound. It’s known in Modern Irish as Lá Samhna, in Welsh as Nos Galen-gaeof (that is, the Night of the Winter Calends), and in Manx as Laa Houney (Hollantide Day), Sauin or Souney. Samhain is the most important of the fire festivals, because (according to most Celtic scholars) it marks the Celtic New Year. Around the same time, the Celt’s Indo-European cousins in India celebrate Divali, which has some similar themes and customs. Samhain was the original festival that eventually became “All Saints’ Day” in the Western Christian calendar (Eastern Christians continued to celebrate All Saints’ Day in the spring, as the Roman Christians had originally). Since the Celts, like many cultures, started every day at sunset of the night before, this became the “evening” of “All Hallows” (“hallowed” = “holy” = “saint”) which was eventually contracted into “Hallow-e’en” or the modern “Halloween.”

Among other things, Samhain is the beginning of the Winter Half of the Year (the seasons of Geimredh & Earrach) and is known as “the Day Between Years.” It appears that to the Celts the year, like the day, began with its dark half. Interestingly, in India the mid-April festival of Rath Yatra begins their New Year and the summer season, possibly echoing an older idea that the year should begin with its brighter half. (There’s also an Indian festival in late January or early February to honor the goddess Sarasvati, who as matron deity of the arts and learning can be seen as a nearly direct equivilent to Brid/Bridget, the Irish goddess and later saint whose annual festival occurs in early February.)

The day before Samhain is the last day of the old year and the day after Samhain is the first day of the new year. Being “between years,” it is considered a very magical time, when the dead walk among the living and the veils between past, present and future may be lifted in prophecy and divination.

Many important mythological events are said to have occured on that day. It was on a Samhain that the Nemedians captured the terrible Tower of Glass built by the evil Formorians; that the Tuatha De Danann later defeated the Formors once and for all; that Pwyll won his wife Rhiannon from Gwawl; and that many other events of a dramatic or prophetic nature in Celtic myth happened. Many of these events had to do with the temporary victory of the forces of darkness over those of light, signaling the beginning of the cold and dark half of the year.

There is some evidence to indicate that three days were spent celebrating this festival. Philip Carr-Gomm, Chosen Chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, speaking of both Paleopagan and Mesopagan Druids in England, had this to say about it in his Elements of the Druid Tradition:

Samhuinn, from 31 October to 2 November was a time of no-time. Celtic society, like all early societies, was highly structured and organised, everyone knew their place. But to allow that order to be psychologically comfortable, the Celts knew that there had to be a time when order and structure were abolished, when chaos could reign. And Samhuinn, was such a time. Time was abolished for the three days of this festival and people did crazy things, men dressed as women and women as men. Farmers’ gates were unhinged and left in ditches, peoples’ horses were moved to different fields, and children would knock on neighbours’ doors for food and treats in a way that we still find today, in a watered-down way, in the custom of trick-or-treating on Hallowe’en.

But behind this apparent lunacy, lay a deeper meaning. The Druids knew that these three days had a special quality about them. The veil between this world and the World of the Ancestors was drawn aside on these nights, and for those who were prepared, journeys could be made in safety to the ‘other side’. The Druid rites, therefore, were concerned with making contact with the spirits of the departed, who were seen as sources of guidance and inspiration rather than as sources of dread. The dark moon, the time when no moon can be seen in the sky, was the phase of the moon which ruled this time, because it represents a time in which our mortal sight needs to be obscured in order for us to see into the other worlds.

The dead are honoured and feasted, not as the dead, but as the living spirits of loved ones and of guardians who hold the root-wisdom of the tribe. With the coming of Christianity, this festival was turned into Hallowe’en (31 October), All Hallows [All Saints Day] (1 November), and [All Souls Day] (2 November). Here we can see most clearly the way in which Christianity built on the Pagan foundations it found rooted in these isles. Not only does the purpose of the festival match with the earlier one, but even the unusual length of the festival is the same.

The Christian Church was unable to get the people to stop celebrating this holiday, so they simply sprinkled a little holy water on it and gave it new names, as they did with other Paleopagan holidays and customs. This was a form of calendrical imperialism, co-opting Paleopagan sacred times, as they had Paleopagan sacred places (most if not all of the great cathedrals of Europe were built on top of earlier Paleopagan shrines and sacred groves, wells, etc.). So when Satanic Panickers come to your local school board and try to get Halloween removed from the public schools because “it’s a Pagan holiday,” they are perfectly correct. Of course, Valentine’s Day/Lupercalia, Easter/Eostre, and Christmas/Yule also have many Paleopagan elements associated with their dating and/or symbols, as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and others have pointed out for decades. So if we decide to rid the public schools of all holidays that have Pagan aspects to them, there won’t be many left for the kids to enjoy.

I find it amusing that American teens and preteens seem to have instinctively expanded their seasonal celebrations to add another night before Halloween, one on which they commit various acts of harmless (or unfortunately not) vandalism, including pranks on neighbors. If we assume that All Saints Day was invented to co-opt the central day of Samhain and was associated originally with the Gods and Goddesses of the Celts, and All Souls Day was supposed to co-opt the worship of the Ancestors, then the modern “Cabbage Night,” “Hell Night” (boy does that push the Satanic Panickers’ buttons!), or simply “Mischief Night” (which used to be April 30th — the night before May Day — in Germany, and is the 5th of December or Krampus Tag in Austria) would correspond to a celebration of the often mischievous Nature Spirits or Sidhe. This then nicely covers the Indo-European pattern of the “Three Kindreds” of Deities, Ancestors, and Nature Spirits.

Click HERE for Page Two.

Copyright © 1974, 1999 c.e., Isaac Bonewits. This text file may be freely distributed on the Net, provided that no editing is done, the version number is retained and this notice is included. If you would like to be on the author’s personal mailing/phone list for upcoming publications, lectures, song albums, and appearances, send your snailmail and/or your email address to him at PO Box 1021, Nyack, NY, USA 10960-1021 or via email to “ibonewits@neopagan.net” .
(P. E.) Isaac Bonewits, Adr.Em./ADF
ibonewits@neopagan.net
Snailmail: P.O. Box 372, Warwick, NY, 10990-0372
Copyright © 1999 c.e., Isaac Bonewits
Most recently updated: October 24, 1999 c.e.
This page’s URL is “http://www.neopagan.net/Halloween-Origins.html”
My Homepage URL is “http://www.neopagan.net/”

Shameless Plug!!

If you’ve enjoyed reading this essay and think the information is worth having on the Net, please consider purchasing copies of my books, my music tapes, or my audio and video talk tapes. They all make lovely Yule or birthday gifts for the Neopagans on your shopping lists… Or, you could just send money! <G> Seriously, keeping this website up and having the time to keep it current costs me both time and money, resources my physical disability makes scarce.

Originally posted 2009-11-03 18:59:39. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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3 Responses to “The Real Origins of Halloween 1 of 2”

  1. Heather says:

    I just finished writing an essay on Samhain, and I find the traditions and rituals associated with it fascinating. I was also surprised to learn that people still celebrate it today. Christian fundamentalists must realize that Halloween is just as much Pagan as it is Christian in origin. Yes, the original celebration was Pagan, but what about All Souls Day? It is hardly different at all from Samhain in its purpose, and occurs at the same time of year as Halloween.

  2. David says:

    Just got directed to your page. Pleased to see you rubbishing the Chick’s of this world. Not so pleased to see you citing scholarship which is not an awful lot better than that which you criticise

    In particular, you quote Philip Carr-Gomm at great length. Now you rightly point out that Higgins is basing his ideas on out-of date scholarship – I would also point out that he gives no primary sources for his “information”. However, your source in fact does not better. As far as I know, virtually nothing he claims about Samhain is any better supported by primary source evidence than Higgins’ diatribe.

    Perhaps you know better and could post some references to the primary (i.e. early – say before c 1000 AD) source for Carr-Gomm’s ideas? Good luck (you’ll need it :-) )

    • Erin Erin says:

      Might I also point out that this article is written by Isaac Bonewits and I have reposted it by permission? For more revisions, I would suggest mentioning all this to his estate. ;-)

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