If you are a witch, Halloween is not just another holiday. For Wiccans, the festival known as “Samhain” is the time when the veil between the living and the dead is the thinnest, and so communication with the other side is the easiest. And as you will see below, it is also the time “when the god dies, to be reborn again on the Winter Solstice”. Many Americans are still very unfamiliar with Wicca, but the truth is that it is rapidly growing in popularity. In fact, it has been projected that Wicca will soon become the third largest “religion” in America after Christianity and Islam. According to the American Religious Identification Survey, the number of self-identified Wiccans in the United States grew from 8,000 in 1990 to 134,000 in 2001 to 342,000 in 2008. The New York Post recently ran an article which stated that some experts have estimated that the number of witches in the U.S. is doubling every 30 months, and that there may now be “8 million undeclared practitioners” of “the craft” in this country.
So needless to say, this is a group of people that is very much growing in numbers and in influence. And of course not all of them believe the exact same things. Among various Wiccan groups there is tremendous variation in doctrine and practice.
One common thread that you will find among many of them, however, is a disdain for “Halloween”. They tend to consider most Halloween traditions to be distorted Christianized versions of ancient pagan practices, and most of them are not really too thrilled with the mixing of the two.
For most Wiccans, the proper name for the day is “Samhain”, and it is a celebration that they take very seriously. The following comes from a piece that was authored by a self-described “modern-day pagan and real-life Wiccan“…
Today, the holiday is still celebrated in the non-standardized, revived witchcraft tradition known as Wicca, and in the even less standardized group known as neo-pagans. In these circles, Halloween is called Samhain (pronunciations vary; I go with Sah-wen). Its significance and celebrations are rooted in traditional, pre-Christian practice, though they are by no means exact replicas.
October 31st is the midway point between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice. As such it is considered the end of the harvest time, when everything has stopped growing and the earth goes back to sleep. On the Wiccan calendar, known as the “wheel of the year” it is also the day when the god dies, to be reborn again on the Winter Solstice. Samhain is therefore the day when the veil between the living and the dead is considered thinnest, and is a time to remember people in our lives who have passed away.
Here is more on what Wiccans believe about Samhain 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 aged Consort.
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 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.
That all sounds very complicated.
So why has Wicca become so explosively popular in America and elsewhere around the world?
Well, there are certainly a lot of factors, but in the end a lot of them are very basic. According to the New York Post, Wicca “is practiced by a growing number of lapsed Christians seeking easy gratification for life’s most pressing needs: sex, hot clothes, relief from rotten marriages.”
That is very sad for me, because as a dedicated Christian it pains me to hear that so many of my brothers and sisters are being pulled from the faith so easily.
But there are those that are going the other direction as well. In fact, the Daily Mail recently profiled one such individual…
A ‘recovering’ witch who says she was deceived by the Wicca religion has revealed why she abandoned the dark arts and returned to Christianity after years of casting spells for her own good fortune.
Selah Ally Tower, who goes by her middle name, joined a coven in her home state of New Jersey after taking a correspondence course in witchcraft in 1989. However, after a decade of casting spells, reading tarot cards, wearing capes and flowing skirts, and enjoying an extramarital affair at the suggestion of her coven’s leaders, a pastor convinced the 58-year-old mother of three give up on witchcraft for good.
Tower has authored two books about her experiences. One is entitled “Taken from the Night: A Witch’s Encounter with God“, and the other is entitled “From the Craft to Christ: The Allure of Witchcraft and the Church’s Response“. Like many people, she was drawn to Wicca because she found that it could produce real results for real needs in her life. Here is more from the Daily Mail…
‘Casting spells, I saw results. Usually, it was like – maybe I needed money or I needed a car. I needed love in my life,’ she said of the allure of witchcraft. ‘It was very selfish. It was all about what I wanted. I was really satisfied with my life.’
When most people watch television or they go to the movies and they hear about “the power of magic”, it isn’t something that they take too seriously.
But for most Wiccans, magic is something that is very real and that has a tremendous amount of power. The following is what Wikipedia has to say about Wiccans and magic…
Many Wiccans believe in magic, a manipulative force exercised through the practice of witchcraft or sorcery. Many Wiccans agree with the definition of magic offered by ceremonial magicians, such as Aleister Crowley, who declared that magic was “the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will”, while another prominent ceremonial magician, MacGregor Mathers stated that it was “the science of the control of the secret forces of nature”. Many Wiccans believe magic to be a law of nature, as yet misunderstood or disregarded by contemporary science, and as such they do not view it as being supernatural, but a part of what Leo Martello calls the “super powers that reside in the natural”. Some Wiccans believe that magic is simply making full use of the five senses in order to achieve surprising results, whilst other Wiccans do not claim to know how magic works, merely believing that it does because they have observed it to be so. Some spell it “magick”, a variation coined by the influential occultist Aleister Crowley, though this spelling is more commonly associated with Crowley’s religion of Thelema than with Wicca.
During ritual practices, which are often staged in a sacred circle, Wiccans cast spells or “workings” intended to bring about real changes in the physical world. Common Wiccan spells include those used for healing, for protection, fertility, or to banish negative influences. Many early Wiccans, such as Alex Sanders, Sybil Leek and Doreen Valiente, referred to their own magic as “white magic“, which contrasted with “black magic“, which they associated with evil and Satanism. Sanders also used the similar terminology of “left hand path” to describe malevolent magic, and “right hand path” to describe magic performed with good intentions; terminology that had originated with the occultist Helena Blavatsky in the 19th century. Some modern Wiccans however have stopped using the white-black magic and left-right hand path dichotomies, arguing for instance that the colour black should not necessarily have any associations with evil.
But even for the vast majority of Americans that are not into Wicca, this time of the year has increasingly become known as a time to focus on “magic”, evil and horror.
For instance, one hot new trend is to photograph little children as they are dressed up to perfectly resemble characters from horror films, and another hot new trend is to hold something called “a blood rave”…
Put on by BBQ Films and tied to the weekend-long ruckus that is NYC Comic Con, the Blood Rave featured a live action performance of scenes from the film, with ticket-buyers encouraged to dress the part of hemoglobin-craving vampires. Also adding to the ambiance was electronic music legends The Crystal Method, who headlined the evening.
But the star attractions were Blade… and all the (fake) blood. Just before midnight, a squadron of technicians suited up with body-mounted sprayers surrounded the crowd and, on cue, soaked the writhing masses with synthetic blood. No leather corset or bare tattooed back was spared as the ravers seethed with fanged glee beneath the crimson rain. For a few hours, it was truly weird and wonderful to see a sea of giddy daywalkers living out fantasy bloodlust.
Approximately 70 percent of all Americans will participate in Halloween festivities once again this year, and they will spend somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 billion dollars celebrating the holiday, and most will believe that it is just a bunch of innocent fun.
But the minority of Americans that take this holiday very, very seriously is growing, and that is not a good thing.
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.”
Halloween is the biggest day of the year for Wiccans, white witches, black witches, Satanists, neo-pagans and occultists of all stripes.
When you participate in traditions and practices that are rooted in that world, you also risk opening up a door for supernatural forces that you do not understand and will not be able to control.
As a Christian, I do not want to have anything to do with Halloween, Samhain or whatever else they may want to call it.
So what about you?
What is your perspective on this holiday?
Please feel free to participate in the discussion by posting a comment below…
(Originally published on End of the American Dream)