All Hallows Eve, Halloween, Samhain, All Hallows, Spirit Night, Hallow E'en, Saven - long before the rise of the
Roman Empire or the birth of Christ, this celebrated time was in existence. If we count the 4,000 years before
Christ and the 2,000 plus years after, we span a time when traditions were not recorded, they were passed along
verbally until present time when there are so many written words about everything, who knows what is true and
what is someone’s imagination.
6,000 years is a long time to tell and retell traditions and secrets without having them extremely changed and
distorted. We can only take our beliefs on faith and follow what we feel is right and true for us. What I’m writing
here has been taken from various sources and describes what the authors faith, right and true feelings tell them. I
am also inserting what my faith, right and true feelings tell me. You may make of it what you want, what your
faith, right and true feelings tell you. For anything to survive, more or less intact, for that long is nothing short of
a miracle or should I say magick? Think for a minute about the times and what was going on during them –
through the tides of human passion, war, famine and religious persecution - it boggles the mind.
As Silver Ravenwolf says in her book Halloween, tribal people split their year in half the only way they knew
how. In the spring they would send their domesticated animals out to graze on the open land. The warming sun
heated the earth and the growing vegetation gave the animals food to eat. This is celebrated as Beltane and
considered the light half of the year. The second half, the dark half of the year, when the tribes brought the
animals back to their enclosures because they knew the earth was preparing for her long sleep, is celebrated as
They would celebrate the changing of the seasons with bonfires and dancing. Maybe they built their fires to match
the heat of the sun. It seems as if fire has always meant a lot to people, it provides warmth, lights up the dark
night and no matter what the culture, it often represents an aspect of the divine.
The basis for the Samhain celebration and traditions are attributed to the Celts. They were pastoral (raised
animals), had a religion and the festival they celebrated at this time of year was a harvest festival which lasted
approximately three days. Along with this sabbat, the Celts also celebrated three other fire festivals. Today we
call them Samhain, Yule, Beltane and Lughnasadh. Four days of Germanic origin – the solstices and the
equinoxes – crept into the cultures at some point.
Samhain is the summer’s end festival and it is the Celtic New Year (it is also the Wiccan New Year) the themes of
which are celebrating the dead and divining for the future. The Celts believed Samhain and Beltane represented
mystical fissures in time that allowed the living access to the land of the dead. As their religious system grew, so
did their beliefs involving human afterlife and the care of the dead. They disposed of human remains on the
funeral pyre and the sacred fire. This spiritual practice was practical since disposing of the remains by fire
helped keep the spread of disease in check and prevented grave robbing.
The Celts had no concept of heaven or hell and they did not fear their dead. They had a custom of leaving food at
the table as a gesture of welcoming those departed. With "visits" from those beyond the land of the living, the
idea arose that information on past or future events could be divined in conjunction with Samhain. It was believed
that the dead could assist the living and in turn, by doing a good deed for them, they would be rewarded and
helped in the elevation process of the afterlife.
The Celts didn't believe in demons or devils but they did believe in the faery folk who were thought to inhabit the
land of the dead or the land of in-between and they would peek out once in a while to associate with humans on a
very limited basis. Elves weren't regarded as evil but were very dangerous to mess with. The faeries were
thought to be resentful of humans for taking their land and making them inhabit the in-between. Some were
considered hostile and because time and space could be crossed on Samhain, they were said to roam the
countryside, creating mischief, thus the cause of scary stuff associated with Halloween. The mischief was caused
by living, breathing humans of course and accepted by the Celts as a release before the onset of a long gloomy
winter. Practical jokes were acceptable especially when walking in the woods in the middle of the night.
A lot of cultures and religions followed the practice of setting aside a day for the dead. The Festival of Souls,
called Obon or Bon, is celebrated in Japan on July 13 (lunar calendar) or August 15 (solar calendar). In Mexico
the El Dia de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead is celebrated between October 27 and November 2. The
Chinese celebrate Chin Ming or Tomb Sweeping Day, which falls on April 5 or 6, depending on their calendar and
has been a practice since 3700 BC. The Philippines recognize All Saint's Day with a fiesta and in Germany the
Walpurgis falls on April 30. These are not the only cultures that practice this type of celebration recognizing those
that have passed on.
Skipping over a large part of history that is not as clear as we would like since it wasn't written down or preserved
in any way, I want to tell about the rise of Christianity and how it tried to crush all other religions in its path.
Rome had a big part in this but it took another three hundred years to get a foothold. The Romans had a harvest
festival called the Festival of Pomona, celebrated on November 1st which they introduced to the Celtic people.
Pomona was the goddess of the orchards and the harvest. Since this covered the same general period as Samhain,
the Celts didn't have a problem blending the two holidays together.
Romans and Celts inhabited the same scattered villages in much of the old Celtic world allowing for the survival
of the ancient harvest festival Samhain. Around two hundred years later, Constantine the Great declared the
Roman Empire a Christian one and closed the door on the Celtic religion and the fate of Samhain was sealed. The
Celtic religious structure deteriorated as the Romans systematically murdered priests and priestesses to get
them out of the way of the Roman order of things.
As Christianity spread across Europe the church officials had a few problems with the Celts not wanting to give up
their holidays or their folk practices. They didn't want to throw out traditions ingrained in their family and social
structure for hundreds of years. To persuade the Celts to become Christians the church officials made certain
adjustments like changing Yule to Christmas, Ostara to Easter and Samhain to All Hallows Eve.
To put a little scare into the new Christians, the clergy taught the peasants that the faeries were really demons
and devils and their beloved dead were ghosts and ghouls. The early Christians mistakenly associated the Celtic
land of the dead with the Christian concept of hell creating evil that had no basis in fact and totally rooted in fear.
If what they tried didn't work they expanded on it, making faeries into angels who were not on the side of God or
the Devil and were condemned to walk the earth and scare everyone until Judgement Day. To further help their
ideas along, the early Christians taught the area peasants that their Lord of the Underworld was Satan which was
ridiculous since the two mythos had nothing in common.
The Celts were not stupid people but they reveled in superstition and the early Christian missionaries used this to
their advantage. Where Samhain once centered on activities to honor the Gods for the harvest, prepare for the
winter months by asking for protection and welcome the spirits of their loved ones, the Christians turned it into a
time of decomposing corpses, demons trying to take their souls and hell fires waiting to consume unsuspecting
peasants. The early Catholic Church thought if they made the holiday frightening enough the Celts would do
away with it. When this didn't work the church used the holiday to their advantage, again, and taught the peasants
that if they didn't pay their taxes and give hefty donations, the evil mythos the church created would destroy the
unfaithful. When church and state demand you believe something or die, thats a good reason to believe it.
It's time to mention Witches now since this is our holiday, our very special holiday. It is thought the Craft grew
out of the dissemination of the Druid caste which opened the magickal practices up to the common individual
letting it spread among the many and drawing information from mystery tradition all over the world. WitchCraft
today means "Craft of the Wise" and has developed into a religion of its own, basically due to the misinformation
spewed forth by the early Christian Church and the persecution campaign they mounted to eradicate the ancient
Pagan religious structure. Some modern Witches believe the word Witch means "to bend" and was applied to
sorcery and healing even during the reign of the Druidic caste without a negative or positive connotation.
The patriarchal concept didn't begin with the early Christians but was created by the Romans. Roman women
were considered no more than slaves, even though the Goddesses of that culture were revered, their human
counterparts didn't have such freedom. This type of treatment was difficult for the Celtic women to accept
especially since the Celts believed in and practiced equality. When the Christian clergy declared women second
class citizens and forced the idea on the peasants, it didn't go over very well. With the peasants ignoring the
Christian clergy things turned nasty. The early Christian clergy and their followers used mass murder and torture
to convenience the peasants their way was the right way. They killed Witches and Witches were women.
Celtic women were the heads of their families and although the Celts accepted Christianity at first, they didn't
want to give up their family traditions or their lifestyle. To control this situation the church dictated anyone not
following their rules were evil and this meant Witches were evil. Since Samhain, being their New Year, was the
primary festival of the Celts and very important to them, the church determined Samhain was evil. This is where
the association of Witches and Halloween was born. The churches declaration of Halloween as evil has carried
over with some Christians through present day
Now we have arrived at The Burning Times. Whether it is acknowledged or not, almost every religion known
today belongs to the women. Not that women are better than men but by studying ancient religions from all over
the world it is found that most of these structures honored both women and men and allowed women to have high
station within the hierarchy. Divinity was also seen as both male and female with women encouraged to do the
work of the religion. This didn't apply to Christianity which was a thoroughly male-opinionated structure taken
from the Roman practices of the day.
Christ did not support male dominance and spoke against it. His disciples, however, saw nothing wrong with the
way things were and used Christs teaching to keep in step with the Roman belief that women should remain
secluded in the home. If a Roman woman was unfaithful to her husband she would be banished. A Roman man did
not have to remain faithful to his wife, as long as he was with a registered prostitute. So, the patriarchal society
and the disregard of women did not start with the Christians, they simply copied the practices of the Roman
Another practice of the Romans was slave trade, killing men and taking women and children. Christ didn't believe
in slaves but those Christians who followed him saw nothing wrong with it, so the slave trade continued. Another
thing the Christians adopted from the Roman Empire was setting the man as head of the household with total rule.
Christians of today have little idea how much of the New Testament is based not on Christ's beliefs but on Roman
thought and how they ruled.
Several of the disciples and their followers took advantage of Christ's death and shaped the new religion to their
own purposes and now the stage is set for the heinous crimes perpetrated by church and state in the centuries
that followed. As much as we humans would like to believe that evil in the world is the responsibility of mythical
beings, worming their way through our society, making us do horrible things to each other, that is not the case.
Humans create the evil in the world but not wanting to take the responsibility for what they do, they fall back on
doing what the Christian Church chose to do, lay the blame on the church created Satan.
During the Dark Ages the church, wanting to gain both power and property, began eradicating the Pagans and
wise women by first devaluing women. One way was by teaching that women had no souls so they could not be
important. The next step was to make women inhuman and then incite the superstitious peasants against them. If
someone is inhuman then there are no concerns about killing them.
Then the Christian Church set out to make the Pagan belief system their own. It was easier to make the Pagan
traditions Christian than it would have been getting the Pagan community to give up their traditions. The Yule log,
Christmas tree, gargoyles to guard churches, the Easter bunny were all customs the church adopted to keep the
people happy. They even took the Pagan Gods and Goddesses and made them saints! One example is St. Brigit.
Historians believe that about 1.5 million women and children were murdered by the Witch Finders,
"The Burning Times".
The Canon Episcopi was written by the church in the eighth century declaring Witches were an illusion but they
also created The Inquisition. The leaders dismissed the Canon Episcopi and began their persecution of innocent
people across Europe with the full sanction of the church. This took place primarily during the 15th through 17th
centuries and by the time these fanatics were through, the female population had dropped alarmingly and almost
no wise women or local healers had survived. This is where a lot of our history was lost, where our practices and
traditions were lost, lost along with the women the Christian Church murdered under the guise of faith.
When King James decided to re-write the bible, the wording "Thou shalt not suffer a poisoner to live." was
changed to "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.". Men of the Inquisition controlled all aspects of what took
place at that time, even to the point of changing passages in the Bible to suit their own purposes and eliminate
any responsibility for their own evil. A great factor in the fate of the church and the impact on Samhain and
Pagan religions happened in November 1215 when the Pope opened the Lateran Council and decided to create
the papal courts to dispense justice and taking power away from the local lords and kings preventing them from
meddling in church business and law.
Historians believe that during the 18th century, the population began to think about what was happening and quit
going along with it just to keep the peace. This was the beginning of the Age of Reason. In 1722, the last
documented Witch burning in the British Isles took place in Scotland with the execution of Janet Horne. In 1736,
WitchCraft was no longer an offense punishable by death in England and Scotland. Occasional burnings and
hangings involving suspected Witches still took place into the 20th century. In 1952 the English government
repealed the last of the WitchCraft laws, meaning it was no longer a crime to practice the religion of WitchCraft in
Today in the United States, Wicca or WitchCraft is considered a viable religion and not a cult. The U.S Army
personnel are permitted to claim Wicca as their choice of religion on their dog tags but of course there are those
religious fanatics who are trying to force the military to discriminate against the Wiccan religion. We are still
fighting for our religious rights even to the death. Take the case of Roberta Stewart whose husband Sgt. Patrick
Stewart was killed in Afghanistan on September 25th 2005 when the helicopter he was in was shot down. He
was a follower of Wicca, which the Department of Veterans Affairs does not recognize and prohibits on veterans'
headstones in military cemeteries. Nevada Attorney General's Office finally concluded federal officials have no
authority over state veteran's cemeteries and a Pentagram has been approved for placement on his memorial
plaque. The VA still hasn't determined if a Wiccan symbol can go on his headstone as of yet but with the power of
the Goddess, hopefully this will happen in time.
For complete information on Samhain or Halloween, read Silver Ravenwolf's book Halloween published by
|This site was established in 2005 and is created with Yahoo! Sitebuilder (2.6-J). Content and Publication is the sole responsibility of Odess Moondragon HP,
the self proclaimed Witch of Witchita! Copyright 2005 to infinity. Everything on this site has been taken from the internet, books, magazines, my
imagination and inspiration from the Goddess. If you are owner of any content and can prove copyright, contact me and I will remove it from my site, but
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are at your own risk for the outcome. By entering this site you are agreeing that I will not be held responsible for any magickal backlashes you create in your
practice of magick. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments, critiques, suggestions, etc. I would love to hear from you!
Last updated 10-20-10.
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What Strange Sights I See
I've never seen a mouse so tall
or a cat carrying a paper bag.
A ghost that can't walk through walls
or such nice clothes for a hag.
They yell and scream at each other
and wave their hands as they run down the street.
I look at the calendar and say "Oh, yeah!"
It's time for Trick or Treat."
by Odess Moondragon
|The VA has agreed to add the Wiccan emblem of belief to its approved list and The VA web site has
already included the Pentacle. Click on the link below to go to the VA web site and view the addition of
the Pentacle to their list of emblems. A great many people were involved in making this happen. We are
all grateful for their hard work and continued efforts to make things right for all members of the military.
Click here for the link to the VA website listing of approved emblems for military head stones