It is a huge party day across many lands,....filled with costumes, carved glowing pumpkins, parades, haunted houses, spooky hay rides, block parties, sweet treats handed out by friends, family and neighbors. Fear and silliness are sublimely mixed together on this mystical and eerie day........but where did it come from?
This story goes way back, ( 3,000 years).....so light a scented candle, get yourself a snack and find some place very comfortable,.......it is time to read the spooky evolution of Halloween!
It all begins on the magnificently beautiful, emerald island of Ireland, where the Celtic tribes actually believed they could be in two worlds on this one particular night, within our calender year. The veil of world of life, and the world of death was thought to be very thin,........thin enough that the departed spirits of loved ones could walk our plane of existence and be seen,.... felt,....... and heard by the living.
Halloween has done a great deal of morphing, to become what it is today. Hundreds of years before Jesus Christ, the Celts (a tribe of warriors) who called Northern France and the British Isles home, started the whole ball rolling.
The community they started relied heavily upon Mother Earth and her bounty for their survival and they lived their lives in fear of what would happen,.... if they were unable to sustain the cold, dark winter months ahead. The priests , known as Druids, were implored to pray for the very mortality of the people. The most important day of prayer in the entire year, was the last day of harvest,......the day before the fright of winter was to arrive. It was known as Samhain (pronounced Sow-in),.....this is in the Gaelic language, and it means,...."November."
Anytime there was a dramatic shift, such as dawn, dusk, seasonal change, eclipses, these were all considered very mystic, and the Celts place much significance upon them.
On Samhin Night, rituals developed to pacify the angry and terrifying spirits that would take to the earth,.... along with the gentle and loving spirits. Parades of people would form and march to the edge of their community, where gifts of sweets and food were deposited, in an effort to redirect the angry souls away from their homes.
It may have taken 3,000 years,.....but this parade inevitably became what we call "Trick-or- Treating" today.
The Gods controlled the bright ball of warm fire in the sky,......according to the Celts, and when the days became smaller, they created large fires on Earth, (now known as the fall harvest bonfire). This fiery tribute to the great Gods, was a desperate effort to persuade them to give back the warmth and life giving essence of the sun.
Another alarming ritual to take place on this day was the blood sacrifice of living animals. With a great passion to give back to the living Earth,.....the poor creature was thrown upon the enormous bonfire. This is deeply disturbing,.
(and in no way, shape or form acceptable)......although,.... at the time they believed they were being polite to the inscrutable forces which gave them the breath of life,.......by giving a vital creature back. The blackened innards of the unfortunate spirited life, were then read (in the same manner of reading tea leaves) by the high priest, as he attempted to relay to the gathering crowd who would live and who would die in the coming year.
The stories of the people who were to die were carried like wild fire throughout the villages,..... and as they were repeatedly relayed year in and year out, it became an important part of the tradition of Samhain Night. Many believe this was the basis for the famous ghost stories of today.
The mysterious stone protrusions found all over Ireland are referred to as "Fairy Mounds" and the Celts believed the creatures that dwelt within them would emerge from their subterranean homes on Samhain Night and roam the Earth freely.
Flash forward to modern times where the trick-or treaters dress up as these magical fairies and spirits of both benevolent and malevolent kind,....and proceed to roam their neighborhoods in search of sweet treats.
The "tricks" that were occasionally preformed by the living, represented the evil earth bound souls of the world beyond, that were known to bother the living in an mischievous and supernatural way.
Samhain Night has managed to give us all of the basic factors found in our Halloween traditions of today.
Moving further into the evolution of Halloween we find ourselves in Rome,... where they were having a celebration of their own known as "Pomona." On November 1st, a mystical night of celebration took place as an act of worship to the Goddess of fruit and gardens,...(who it is said, was responsible for the magnificent blossoming of food bearing trees)..... known as Pomona. The word Pomona comes from the Latin word Pomum,.........which means "fruit." A bountiful display of produce such as nuts and apples, would be laid out to express gratitude to the Goddess. It is believed the Halloween tradition of apple bobbing derives from the lavish display given out, during the Roman celebration of Pomona.
(Want to see Pomona? You can find her still standing tall, in the park directly in front of the Plaza Hotel in New York City.)
Time moves ever forward in this Earthly 3-D world and when Rome overpowered the vast majority of Europe,......... the traditions of Samhain and Pomona came together. Gratitude for the bountiful harvest,.......and the preoccupation with death, (associated with the great fear of winter change),......... were merged into one.
As Christianity began to emerge,.....all things Pagan became adverse. Believing in anything other than Christianity became the work of the Devil,....and therefor had to be crushed.
One of the biggest steps in this movement came from the Pagan Emperor of Rome, Constantine,...who while on a battle field,.....claimed to clearly see Jesus Christ appear before him. Constantine immediately became a Christian and in 325 he summoned the council of Nicaea, which brought fourth the Christian Doctrine,....and ordered missionaries to travel far and near and convert all souls who were not yet Christian.
The missionaries were having an exceedingly hard time steering the people away from their old traditions,......so in the year 600, Pope Gregory The First, devised a plan to sanctify the existing Pagan traditions into Christianity. Rather than destroy what the people were accustomed to,......the missionaries were told to sanctify and bless the proceedings by concentrating it to Christ.
By the time the eight century rolled around the Christian church was weary of struggling against the Pagan rituals, so Pope Gregory The Third turned the most consequential day of the year,.....Samhain,.......into "All Saints Day,"........which starts at 12:01 AM on November the 1st.
This new Christian holy day was to pay homage to all the saints that did not already have a specific day of their own. Another name for All Saints Day, is All Hallows Day. Hallow meaning to bless or sanctify. The eve before Saints Day became known as All Hallows Evening,.....then morphed through slurs in pronunciation into Halloween.
Despite the church's best efforts,.......the people continued to dress up in primitive costumes and make offerings to the departed,...in this great calendar time of change. The only change the church managed to have was the name. The "Samhain Night" was now known as "Halloween Night."
The church continued on with it's effort to take this powerful day for the holy and in the tenth century,..... November 2nd was renamed "All Souls Day",.........a day to remember all who had passed over into the next world, within the last year. This is in fact a direct relation back to Samhain.
The church feared witches,....especially at the Samhain time of year. Witch is derived from the word "Wicca",.......meaning the wise one. These women were seen as free spirited, nonconforming, dominant, wise, and worked with the forces of nature. The male dominated church had a deep desire to malign the sacred feminine. The worship of the female form, the givers of life, the Goddesses of bounty,......had to come to an end.
Any intelligent and powerful woman who understood medicine, the therapeutic benefits of certain plants, the energies of the universe, or assisted in the birth of a child was now being hunted down by the church and put through mind bogglingly horrid tortures and death. It became open season on the knowledgeable, non-submissive woman.
A woman who was labeled a "witch" by the church,.......was said to be the Devil's hand maiden and was depicted in drawings as utterly heinous while riding a broom through the air. Hate of strong, smart women ran rapid.
In 1486 a book was published by Pope Innocent the VIII, stating witchcraft was linked directly to the Devil,......and as such the Pagan religion should now be outlawed. The male dominated church used this book and the inventions of Pope Innocent the VIII to burn alive the much envied feminine form,... that had been worshiped for so long.
This largely fictitious book called the Malleus Maleficarum (meaning Witches Hammer) was copied and sent out to every Bishop. The manuscript stated UNBELIEF in witchcraft is considered heresy! It went on to further state that women are more likely to be witches, than men because,......" The female sex is more concerned with things of the flesh than men." (Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous and untrue in all of your live?)
This man is a real character,......it seems his major thoughts in life deliberated around finding ways to get more money. This insatiable greed would be the cause for numerous Papal Bulls to be issued,.......demanding the burning of people and the seizing of their family assets. Most that were grabbed and taken in to be murdered by the church were women. Preferably women of wealth.
Other crimes that Innocent committed to get his hands on more money,... involved the sale of Cardinal hats to the children of wealthy families,......in exchange for a prize winning marriage for one of his many illegitimate children,.......of which he had at least 16!
It is amazing to know that a human who is so incredibly flawed,.......and yes,......quite evil,......would order the deaths of so many women. Innocent's deceit went so far,....as to create imaginary titles, out of thin air,......then quietly sell them off to the highest bidder. Money,......money,.......money. Of course he also gave away lavish gifts to those who were in his favor,........what were they you ask? Human slaves. The Holy Pope Innocent VIII gave away living human beings!
When the female form became so vilified by the Pope,......many of other religions followed suit,.....and it was all based on the imagined insanity and pure greed of this evil man.
Even the heroine Joan of Arc was found guilty of witchcraft,.....and burned at the stake.
The black cat that is associated with Halloween, came from the belief that anything that is active in the night must be of the Devil .(Simply outrageous.) Pagan woman who were close with nature, usually had companion animals, so when the woman was termed a witch by an accuser, any companion pet was dammed with her. The pet was said to contain the woman's soul. These shocking beliefs and accusations are understood today to be absolute baloney. We know that companion pets are spirited creatures that give tremendous love and provide joy in people's lives and simply because something is nocturnal does NOT mean it is of the Devil.
Another animal now associated with Halloween is the bat. During the rituals that took place during this time, massive fires were ablaze,......attracting insects to the light display. Bats feast upon insects and could be seen swooping down to get an easy meal,....so this simple association landed the bat into one of Halloween's iconic symbols.
Every culture around the world has given Halloween their own flavor. In Mexico a festival is celebrated on All Soul's Day, called the,....... "Day of the Dead."
Christian and Pagan principles are joined together on this special day, and it is accepted and relished by the people. Food is brought to the graveyard, where love ones will sit upon the grave of the departed and share a meal with one another. Images of skeletons and ghosts are made into treats and the atmosphere begins to look much like the Halloween celebrated in the United States.
In 1517 the church was beginning to fracture by it's very own people. Martin Luther,... a well known christian figure, put forth a thesis known as the Protestant Reformation. This piece of work forever changed Christianity and it also changed what we now know as Halloween, in the process. Rejected in the Reformation was every figure that went between humans and the God in Heaven. This list included the rejection of all Popes, Saints, and Priests.
Out with the dirty bath water, went the Saints followed by All Saint's Day and All Hallows Eve. So popular was All Hallows Eve,.......that even the Reformation could not get rid of it. In fact,.... Halloween became a theme that was used by the Protestants against the Catholics.
A perfect example of this tug of war between the religions starts out on November 5th, 1605. A Catholic gentleman named Guido Fawkes was arrested by authorities for attempting to blow up the mostly Protestant House of Lords with barrels of gunpowder that had been smuggled into the basement. King James I was the primary target (and yes,....it is the very same King James that came up with his own bible.) The anger stemmed from the slight against Catholics in the position of power, and the fact that the Queen,.....a woman,.........sat and ruled (continues to rule to this day) as Supreme Head of the Church of England. Since that time, Guido Fawkes Night has become a very prominent holiday, where an effigy of Mr. Fawkes is burned and fireworks light up the night. Since Halloween and Guido Fawkes Night are so close together, they are celebrated simultaneously. Once again, Halloween reappears on the scene.
The Puritans who settled in England's Colony,.... America refused to celebrate Halloween, considering it to be too Pagan AND TOO CATHOLIC in it's origin. The Protestants actually believed the Church of England to be too Catholic.
The year 1692 was witness to a horrendous crescendo in the Salem Witch Trials. Twenty people were murdered in this religious frenzy,.....nineteen by hanging and one who was pressed to his demise, by the piling of rocks upon his prone body.
In other areas of America which had a large Catholic population, the Halloween holiday seemed to flourish and Virginia became the birth place for what is now known as American Halloween.
Parties sprang up complete with sweets, fruit spreads, bobbing for apples, spooky stories of the dead, and of course spooky costumes. A belief in the spirit world, is what insures that Halloween will always be celebrated.
The games involving divination, which go back to the Druid Priests are played during this time period also. Women in the early colonies would look for the face of their future husband, in foods that were prepared in a fire.
In the 1800's Halloween parties were called " Play Parties" and they were wildly relished for their harmless, fun antics.
In later years, the Irish arrived in America in large numbers, bringing with them customs that are well loved to this very day. Nothing is more adored than the funny grinning face of the Halloween pumpkin,......which started out as a turnip in Irish households. Americans jumped at the idea of the silly Jack-O-Lantern,.....but found it much easier to carve a face into a large orange pumpkin and it has easily become the most celebrated image of Halloween.
By the time the twentieth century rolled around,.....children were taking over this very adult holiday,.....but with children dressing up and going out,.....pranks became the order of the day. An example of this mayhem would be in 1930's New York, where 1,000 windows were broken on Halloween,......along with a plethora of street lights throughout the city. Police officers and civilians would actually die in stunts involving vandalism and crashing into mischievous barriers.
Children taking over the holiday,......resulted in complete loss of control. The random destruction, purposeful fires set in cities, the opening of gates on farm property resulting in animal loss, derailment of street cars, the piling of junk on neighbors roof tops.......had to be stopped.
The children had to be redirected, ......and fast. The first town to rise to the occasion was Anoka, Minnesota,......which rolled out the first civic Halloween parade and became known as the Halloween Capitol of the World. Anoka managed to very smartly reign in the chaos by giving the youth something fun and innocent to do instead.
Halloween activies were cancelled across the country during the 1940's,... due to the war and limited resources. The frivolous pursuit of dressing up and getting candy was halted,......however once the war was over Halloween was back on the schedule. Every city wanted to keep the kids busy and entertained,.....so community parties sprang up. A favorite was to have the kids dress up, attend the town party where prizes would be awarded for the best costumes. The winners were to be announced on the local radio station, exactly 30 minutes after the party was officially over. This ensured the kids returned home to listen to the winners of the numerous prizes.
However,..... it was not long before evil minds with idle time would mobilized once again,... to ravage yet another city. Black clouds would come billowing up behind those with putrid plans, to dampen the now innocent fun of Halloween.
The 1970's-1980's bore witness to appalling destruction, in the form of furious fires set by large groups of vandals on Halloween Night in,..... Detroit, Michigan.
Thousands of buildings were set ablaze and complete ruination was broadcast on televisions across the land,....in a night they entitled, "Devil's Night."
People, businesses, the local government, were all in fear of this wicked insanity that was running amok. It completely devastated the community as people and corporations pulled out of the area,......leaving homes and industry vacant. Much needed jobs became hard to find, as no company in their right mind wanted to be in an region that had completely lost control over it's youth.
Then came the rumors of razor blades in apples and poison in candy that terrified parents. This resulted in parents taking the candy in to be x-rayed before letting their children eat any of the bounty. The children who did died of poisoning, did not receive the tampered with candy from strangers,.......but it was shockingly given to them by their own family members. The razors that were discovered did not kill any of the children, but the outraged public now changed how their kids obtained the sweet treats. Children would now only go to friends, family and trusted individuals during trick-or-treating times, giving the family much needed peace of mind.
Horror movies on Halloween have spawned the idea that it is in fact an evil day. It couldn't be further from the truth. What started out as a day for the dead and a need to survive the winter,......became an innocent fun filled party time for adults and kids alike. Halloween has had it's ups and downs with rotten people, who have had evil intent in their hearts, to cause destruction and mayhem,........but it is not long before the putrid behavior is contained,......stopped and set back to harmless delight.
Today's Pagans invite in their departed loved ones,... during the night of Samhain. Fire, prayer and the symbol of a bountiful harvest, (the apple) are used by the coven. The apple is the most associated with the Goddess,.....as when it is cut, the shape of a star is clearly seen in the placement of the seeds. Male and female energy is equally respected in the ancient religion of Ireland. Traditional, male dominated religion is rejected, which has caused the church in some areas to once again take up battle with the Pagan beliefs.
Some of these Christian groups are calling Halloween the Devil's holiday and have created anti- Halloween films to show their congregation. Other Christian churches have created their own haunted houses, called Halloween Hell Houses,.....that seem to be filled with modern day sinners that become subject to punishments for their deeds against the church,........ or for the controversial decision to have an abortion.
The overwhelming populous of people will continue to celebrate Halloween, in an innocent and fun filled way, without one fleeting thought of any religion,......or of any type of dark witchcraft.
Billions are spent each year by every walk of life out to have a fantasy filled exciting time, on Halloween. The monumental majority of American homes will decorate for this spooky holiday and almost every single child goes trick-or-treating.
Halloween has once again become an adult holiday, because the children of yesterday have become the adults of today,.....and their fond memories of All Hallows Eve remain intact. Going out to commercial haunted houses for the thrill, costume parties, pumpkin carving get togethers, attending and partaking in parades is certainly here to stay.
One of the most amazing spectacles you will ever see, takes place in Greenwich Village, New York. Thousand upon thousands of people from around the globe gather together in the most outrageous costumes and take to the street. It is a sight you will never forget.
If your intent is about innocent fun and thrills,..... then Halloween remains innocuous.
If your intent is dark and evil,.......then it really doesn't matter what day of the year it is,...for this is a reflection of your character.