Samhain (pronounced sow-in or sah-ween, meaning “summer’s end”) began as a Celtic celebration of the harvest, the end of the old year and beginning of a new one, and a celebration of death many centuries ago. The various rituals during the celebrations were led by the Druids who were the priest class of the Celts. During this time of the year, all livestock were brought in from the summer pastures and crops were harvested in preparation for winter’s arrival when nights became longer.
Celts believed October 31–November 2 was the period when the world of the living and the dead were not separated. It was believed the dead came back to walk the earth to either bless the living or wreak havoc in their lives, depending on what steps the living took to appease the dead. Give the dead a treat and you would be blessed by them and they would return to their graves in peace, but if you provided no treats for them, they would play a mean trick on you like haunting your house indefinitely. This is the origin of modern day trick or treating.
Displaying anything symbolizing death was encouraged this time of the year as a way of welcoming the dead. The main god and goddess commemorated during this pagan festival were Bronach, the goddess of Samhain rituals, and Crom Cruaich, the god of harvest, death, and contact with the dead (necromancy). When the Romans conquered the Celts, they added to some of the heathen rituals of Samhain.
However, after the Roman Empire became the “Holy Roman Empire,” those who converted to the pagan/Christian hybrid system felt uncomfortable about being surrounded by such blatant paganism, but the pressure from pagan family and friends to join in the celebrations was often too tempting for converts. So to ease this peer pressure, Pope Gregory IV moved the celebration of All Saints Day to November 1–right in the middle of the Samhain celebrations. October 31 then became known as All Hallows’ Eve, later shortened to Hallowe’en (the word “hallow” means “blessed” or “sacred”) and November 2 became All Souls’ Day. October 31–November 2 was then renamed the season of Hallowmas with a Roman Catholic mass for each day.
This pope’s move did nothing but lead to pagan symbols being mixed with “Christian” symbols, just like all the other Roman Catholic holidays. Here are more pagan beliefs and rituals celebrated during the Halloween season contrasted to the truth of God’s word:
- Divination. To the Celts, time was circular, not linear. That being the case, they considered this season the best time of the year to look into what the future held for marriage, health, and the weather. Bobbing for apples is a marriage divination ritual to determine how blessed a couple would be. Peeling an apple was a divination ritual for determining how long a person would live. Other forms of divination are encouraged, like palm reading, tarot cards, crystal balls, and tea leaves. Pagans and Satanists still participate in these rituals today and Halloween is one of their high holy days when participation is most common. It is during Samhain that powers of divination are believed to be heightened, so pagans will seek out psychics or if they are psychic they seek to strengthen their power.
- The Lord said to Jeremiah, The prophets prophesy lies…they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. [Jeremiah 14:14]
- Lighting candles, jack-o-lanterns, communicating with and leaving food for the dead (necromancy). This is done as a way of being nice to the spirits to light their way when walking among the living so they will be nice to the living who have lit their candles. Contacting the dead through mediums and ouija boards in seances to find out what the dead want and feeding them are also believed to appease them.
- Jehovah said, There shall not be found among you … a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive [the heathens] out from before thee. [Deuteronomy 18:10-12]
- Reincarnation. Pagans believe Samhain is the time where human souls in animals are released to appear in new bodily forms. This is why there are witches or other pagans who support groups like PETA and are staunch environmentalists who refer to “Mother Earth” or “Mother Nature.” In their minds, animals are equal to humans and everything is a god of some sort and a god is in everything or everyone.
- The Bible clearly states a person has only one life to live (Hebrews 9:27). In Paul’s explanation of Christian resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, he explains that only Christians will come back to life in a bodily form that will live forever, and that bodily form is in no way like an animal or any other form except a spiritual body which is like Christ’s resurrected body. Unbelievers will be resurrected to be judged and then sent to the lake of fire, according to Revelation 20:13-15.
- Human sacrifices. Modern pagans try to sanitize what Druids did in ancient times by denying they sacrificed humans, but Julius Caesar and some historians refer to the sacrifice of humans by Celts. Samhain was one of the main festivals where human sacrifices were made. They lit bonfires, a word created from bones (referring to human bones) and fire. Archaeologists have even dug up mummies in the peat bogs of Ireland that prove humans were sacrificed. Human sacrifices have been rumored or stated to occur among modern black witches and Satanists by those who have defected from such groups. Vampirism also falls in the category of human sacrifice.
- Throughout the Old Testament, God expressed his anger for those who made their children “pass through the fire” to be sacrificed for false gods. He also repeatedly told Israelites not to ingest blood (Leviticus 3:17, 7:27, Deuteronomy 12:23, Psalm 16:4).
There was a time when celebrating Halloween was considered harmless. But with the resurgence of pagan philosophies and rituals in a postmodern world, Halloween can no longer be just dismissed as innocent fun. Our society is being flooded with books, TV shows, and big-screen movies that portray the dark arts and vampirism as something to aspire to or that tell us such activity is normal or ordinary. Just this week the government of the UK once again acknowledged the Druids as a valid religion. The word hallow may be used for this season, but there is nothing hallowed about such celebrations.
Learn not the way of the heathen… For the customs of the people are vain … Jeremiah 10:2, 3
Note: this post is derived from a post I did three years ago entitled “Of divinations and the damned: Halloween’s deceit.” This is an updated and expanded version of that post.
–posted by Harry A. Gaylord–