Most people that celebrate Halloween have absolutely no idea what
they are actually celebrating. Even though approximately 70 percent of
Americans will participate in Halloween festivities once again this
year, the vast majority of them are clueless about the fact that this is
a holiday that is thousands of years old and that has deeply pagan
roots. If you are going to celebrate something, shouldn’t you at least
know what you are celebrating?
Before it was ever known as Halloween, this festival was known as Samhain. According to Wikipedia, Samhain “is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and is known to have pre-Christian roots”.
The ancient Celts believed that Samhain was the time when the veil between the spirit world and our world was lifted and the ghosts of the dead were able to freely mingle with the living.It was also a time to honor the Lord of the Dead known as Bel (note the similarity to Baal) or Chrom.
Almost every major Halloween tradition including the jack-o’-lantern, trick-or-treating and wearing costumes is rooted in ancient Celtic practices. In many areas of early America, Halloween was considered to be so evil that it was banned. But today most Americans don’t even think twice about
To most people these days, Halloween is just a fun time to dress up, eat candy and attend parties. But there are others that take this holiday extremely seriously.
For Wiccans, it is one of the most important times of the year. The following description of Samhain comes from wicca.com…
Samhain, (pronounced SOW-in, SAH-vin, or SAM-hayne) means
“End of Summer”, and is the third and final Harvest. The dark winter
half of the year commences on this Sabbat.
It is generally celebrated on October 31st, but some traditions
prefer November 1st. It is one of the two “spirit-nights” each year, the
other being Beltane. It is a magical interval when the mundane laws of
time and space are temporarily suspended, and the Thin Veil between the
worlds is lifted. Communicating with ancestors and departed loved ones
is easy at this time, for they journey through this world on their way
to the Summerlands. It is a time to study the Dark Mysteries and honor
the Dark Mother and the Dark Father, symbolized by the Crone and her
Originally the “Feast of the Dead” was celebrated in Celtic countries
by leaving food offerings on altars and doorsteps for the “wandering
dead”. Today a lot of practitioners still carry out that tradition.
Single candles were lit and left in a window to help guide the spirits
of ancestors and loved ones home. Extra chairs were set to the table and
around the hearth for the unseen guest. Apples were buried along
roadsides and paths for spirits who were lost or had no descendants to
provide for them. Turnips were hollowed out and carved to look like
protective spirits, for this was a night of magic and chaos. The Wee
Folke became very active, pulling pranks on unsuspecting humans.
Traveling after dark was not advised. People dressed in white (like
ghosts), wore disguises made of straw, or dressed as the opposite gender
in order to fool the Nature spirits.
So how in the world did a pagan festival known as Samhain become the holiday known as “Halloween” that we celebrate today?
Well, in the early seventh century a Catholic Pope known as Gregory
the First decided that the best approach to ensure the continued spread
of Catholicism was to “christianize” existing pagan holidays and practices…
As a result of their efforts to wipe out “pagan holidays, such as Samhain, the Christians succeeded in effecting major transformations in it. In 601 A.D. Pope Gregory the First issued a now famous edict to his missionaries concerning the native beliefs and customs of the peoples he hoped to convert. Rather than try to obliterate native peoples’ customs and beliefs, the pope instructed his missionaries to use them: if a group of people worshipped a tree, rather than cut it down, he advised them to consecrate it to Christ and allow its continued worship.
An existing Catholic festival known as All Saints Day (or All Hallows
Day) was moved to the same time as Samhain. Eventually, All Hallows
Eve became known as “Halloween”, but many of the ancient Celtic
traditions never disappeared.
Most people don’t realize this, but some of these ancient traditions even involved human sacrifice. The following is what occult expert Bill Schnoebelen says the Druids would do at this time of the year…
Druids worshiped the sun god, called by names like Bel
(Ba’al?) or Chrom. On October 31, they believed that he died and went
into the kingdom of the dead, Anwynn. The purpose of Samhain was to
insure his return. Even witches admit this involved human sacrifice.
Both animal and human blood were believed to be needed to resurrect
Bel on Samhain. Human blood was believed to open the gates of Anwynn and released the spirits for a night. Thus, October 31 came to be
associated with ghosts. This is not just history. Samhain is still
celebrated by Pagans and is the most solemn ceremony on their “religious
And of course it is not just Bill Schnoebelen that teaches this. In
fact, the May 1977 edition of National Geographic admitted that Samhain
was a time when “firstborn children were sacrificed”.
So back then it definitely was not the light-hearted holiday that most Americans celebrate today. Other “Halloween traditions” also have their roots in the Druidic practices of the ancient Celts. For example, have you ever wondered where the “Jack-0-Lantern” comes from? Here is more from Schnoebelen…
Here it’s a pumpkin, but in Europe it was often a turnip,
or a skull with a candle in it. This serves two symbols, 1) the lord of
the Dead, a “god” just like a Buddha – in short, an idol. 2) The
fearsome face represented the god, Samhain, who would drive off less
powerful demons that night. The lights in the Jack-o-Lantern symbolize
the “faery fires” or “Will’o the Wisps” which were believed to be the
lost souls flitting through the night. They also hearken back to the
huge Samhain “balefires” which were lit to help conjure back the god
from the darkness.
The traditions of dressing up in costumes and going trick-or-treating
also come from the Druids. The following is an excerpt from an article
For example, among the ancient Druids, “The ghosts that
were thought to throng about the houses of the living were greeted with a
banquet-laden table. At the end of the feast, masked and costumed
villagers representing the souls of the dead paraded to the outskirts of
town leading the ghosts away.”
As already noted, Halloween was thought to be a night when
mischievous and evil spirits roamed freely. As in modern poltergeist
lore, mischievous spirits could play tricks on the living—so it was
advantageous to “hide” from them by wearing costumes. Masks and costumes were worn to either scare away the ghosts or to keep from being
recognized by them:
In Ireland especially, people thought that ghosts and spirit roamed after dark on Halloween. They lit candles or lanterns to keep the spirits away, and if they had to go outside, they wore costumes and masks to frighten the spirits or to keep from being recognized by these unearthly beings.
You may say that “it doesn’t mean that to me”, but even today there
are large numbers of people that take this stuff deadly seriously.
On page 96 of the Satanic Bible, Anton LaVey wrote the following…
“After one’s own birthday, the two major Satanic holidays are Walpurgisnacht (May 1st) and Halloween.”
Most people will never see it, but in dark corners and out of the way
places some incredibly sinister things will take place in America on
Just like for the ancient Celts, there are people out there that truly believe that it is a night to commune with the spirits.
If you are a pagan, you probably already know all of this stuff.
If you are not a pagan, you might want to think twice before you do
things that could potentially open up doorways to the spirit realm.