All Hallows Eve
On the advent of the 31st of October in the spirit of all the festivities and cultural norms we celebrate in the United States, it’s a good time to examine the historic landscape of the holiday we simply call Halloween.
As many people are traditionally aware, Halloween marks the feast of All Hallows Eve, the traditional Christian holiday to remember passed saints and the dead; however, it sits on top of a much older celebration from a faith not as lost as many would believe.
October 31st is also the feast of Samhain, and ancient Gaelic festival practiced by those known as Witches or Wiccae in the Gaelic tongue.
The ancient tradition begins the Pagan new year, the first of four great fire festivals celebrated in the ancient traditions. Though modern witches differ greatly from their ancient counterparts, many celebrate this sacred time.
Samhain is known for being the time when the Veil of the Spirits is at it’s weakest. This allows witches to commune with the dead and ancestral spirits, celebrating with their loved ones and tapping into the primordial energy of the ancient spirits of old. Many witches try to use divination, trance, and ritual to offer thanks and commune with these spirits. The tradition of bobbing for apples has its roots in ancient divination practices of old.
Being one of the four fire festivals, Samhain is a time when witches gather to celebrate. Many believe the Horned God sacrifices himself to nourish the land in the coming dark of the year and his consort the Great Goddess.
There are not many cultures which observe the great bonfires, but some places in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales there continue to be large gatherings with brilliant bonfires that celebrate the occasion. In modern times, witches gather in small groups by small fires or lanterns which have offerings placed around them to honor their ancestors. More traditional offerings of salt and honey along with wine can be given, or just about anything the spirits would enjoy. These offerings are typically left out for the night and then later buried in honor of the dead.
There was a time when the Christian iteration of Halloween helped to demonize Witches, many people attributing the evening to demons and fowl spirits which could be hidden from by wearing elaborate masks, hence the tradition of trick-or-treat. Pagans however used to make effigies of the gods and loved ones in order to make them feel welcome to the presence of their kin again for this great night of celebration.
For many, October 31st is a fun day to dress up and have a great party with friends, but for some, for those who believe in the Olde Ways, it is a time to celebrate with the living and the dead and give thanks to the Great God and Goddess from which we all came and to which we must all return.
In antiquity, it was believed that if the fire festivals were not celebrated, then Earth would cease to move and no one would continue to the realms beyond. It is in that great tradition that Witches meet every year on Samhain to honor their past and welcome their future.
Bryce B. Summers is a psychologist who earned his Ph.D. from the University of Houston. He’s presently employed at the Dallas Veteran Affairs Medical Center. Bryce is the author of the Young Adult Dark Fantasy (Sci-Fi) series AMEN to ROT, a story that pits young people against a sinister force, but also takes a look at learning what your capable of accomplishing when facing impossible challenges. The novel Nyte God will conclude this series and will be available in 2015.
Be on the look out for a ROTVILLE, a Sci-Fi Thriller (Horror) that will be published by DAMNATION BOOKS and be available in 2015. A story about an experiment gone awry, they wanted to create the perfect soldier, but instead, a hero was born…
Also be on the look for FRESH MEAT, a Paranormal (Horror with Multicultural & Gay Themes) and is about a sociopathic’s inner journey from evil to salvation.
Bryce is also a blog writer for the Human Rights Campaign.