Samhain History & Practice in the Satanic,Pagan & Secular Community
Most people know it as Halloween or All Hallows Eve , a time when children and adults dress up as witches,ghosts,vampires,monsters and other creatures of the night and engage in various fun activities
such as parties, festivals and trick or treating.
Most people know ,at least a little bit of the history of Halloween but often the true history is mixed with false information and out right lies . I think it’s important to the satanic and to the pagan communities, for which Halloween ,known to us as Samhain , is one of our most important Sabbots, that the true history and practice of Samhain be made known. Given the large number slanderous books,websites and TV shows authored by Christians ,I feel one more blog about Samhain and the true beauty of this Sabbot is warranted. We must become more open and never ,ever ,allow untruths about us to go unchallenged .
All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Day – falls on October 31st or November 1st.
Originally, All Hallows’ Eve was one of the great fire festivals of Britain at the time of the
Druids. In Scotland it was associated with the time when the vail that divided the living
from the dead was at it’s thinnest. It was believed the souls of the dead could visit the living.
This was not necessarily an evil thing to the Druids and ancient Celts. Keep in mind they didn’t
have the same attitude about the occult or the spirit world as is common in todays Christian
influenced societies of the western world. It was also believed that evil, nonhuman spirits walked
the earth on Samhain and rituals were done to honor the ancestors and ask for their assistance
in the new year . Rituals were also done to ward off the evil spirits and the ancestors were asked to aid in this task as well.
Religious scholars agree that the word Samhain (pronounced “sow-en”) comes from the Gaelic “Samhuin,”
McBain’s Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language says that ‘samhuinn’ (the Scots Gaelic spelling) means ‘summer’s end’…” The Celts observed only two seasons of the year: summer and winter. So, Samhain was celebrated at one of the transitions between these seasons. Various other names for this Greater Sabbat are Third Harvest, Samana, Day of the Dead, Old Hallowmas (Scottish/Celtic), Vigil of Saman, Shadowfest (Strega), and Samhuinn. Also known as All Hallow’s Eve, (that day actually falls on November 7th), and Martinmas (that is celebrated November 11th), Samhain is now generally considered the Witch’s New Year.
Sunset on Samhain is the beginning of the Celtic New Year. It was a harvest festival and a new years celebration,simultaneously. Originally the “Feast of the Dead” was celebrated in Celtic countries by leaving food offerings on altars and doorsteps for the “wandering dead”,not to appease evil spirits.
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.
To ward off the evil spirits,turnips were hollowed out and carved to look like protective spirits . The Wee Folke were thought to be very active on Samhain, 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.
This was the time that the cattle and other livestock were slaughtered for eating in the ensuing winter months. Crops still in the field on Samhain were considered taboo, and left as offerings to the Nature spirits. Bonfires were built, (originally called bone-fires, for after feasting, the bones were thrown in the fire as offerings for healthy and plentiful livestock in the New Year) and stones were marked with peoples names. Then they were thrown into the fire, to be retrieved in the morning. The condition of the retrieved stone foretold of that person’s fortune in the coming year. Hearth fires were also lit from the village bonfire to ensure unity, and the ashes were spread over the harvested fields to protect and bless the land.
Samhain was not a night of evil or a time to caste evil spells ,it was more like Memorial Day and Thanksgiving Day combined. But then along came the Christians and entirely changed the meaning of this once beautiful Sabbat into a joke holiday of begging and vandalism.
Samhain became the Halloween we are familiar with when Christian missionaries attempted to change the religious practices of the Celtic people. In the early centuries of the first millennium A.D., before missionaries such as St. Patrick and St. Columcille converted /tortured them to Christianity,and brand those who refused conversion as evil devil worshipers..
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/exploit. Rather than try to obliterate native peoples’ customs and beliefs, the pope instructed his missionaries to use them: if a group of people worshiped a tree, rather than cut it down, he advised them to consecrate it to Christ and allow its continued worship. Church holy days were purposely set to coincide with native holy days. Christmas, for instance, was assigned the arbitrary date of December 25th because it corresponded with the Pagan mid-winter solstice . Samhain, with its emphasis on the supernatural, was decidedly Pagan. While missionaries identified their holy days with those observed by the Celts, they branded the earlier religion’s supernatural deities as evil, and associated them with the devil. As representatives of the rival religion, Druids were considered evil worshipers of devilish or demonic gods and spirits. The Celtic underworld inevitably became identified with the Christian Hell.
The effects of this policy were to diminish but not totally eradicate the beliefs in the traditional gods. Celtic belief in supernatural creatures persisted, while the church made deliberate attempts to define them as being not merely dangerous, but malicious. Followers of the old religion went into hiding and were branded as witches.
The Christian feast of All Saints was assigned to November 1st. The day honored every Christian saint, especially those that did not otherwise have a special day devoted to them. This feast day was meant to substitute for Samhain, to draw the devotion of the Celtic peoples, and, finally, to replace it forever. That did not happen, but the traditional Celtic deities diminished in status, becoming fairies ,devils,or leprechauns of more recent traditions.
The old beliefs associated with Samhain never died out entirely. The powerful symbolism of the traveling dead was too strong, and perhaps too basic to the human psyche..The church tried again to supplant it with a Christian feast day in the 9th century. This time it established November 2nd as All Souls Day–a day when the living prayed for the souls of all the dead. But, once again, the practice of retaining traditional customs while attempting to redefine them had a sustaining effect: the traditional beliefs and customs lived on, in new guises.
All Saints Day, otherwise known as All Hallows continued the ancient Celtic traditions. The evening prior to the day was the time of the most intense activity, both human and supernatural. People continued to celebrate All Hallows Eve as a time of the wandering dead, but the supernatural beings were now thought to be evil. Christians must have their evil ! All Hallows Eve became Hallow Evening, which became Halloween–an ancient Celtic, pre-Christian New Year’s Day in contemporary dress.
Almost all stories about the origin of Halloween incorrectly state that Samhain was named after the famous Celtic “God of the Dead.” W.J, Bethancourt III has an online essay which traces the God Samhain myth back to the year 1770 when Col. Charles Vallency wrote a 6 volume set of books which attempted to prove that the Irish people once came from Armenia. Samhain as a god was later picked up in a 1827 book by Godfrey Higgins. That book attempted to prove that the Druids originally came from India. The error might have originated in confusion over the name of Samana, an ancient Vedic/Hindu deity. Many religious conservatives who are opposed to Halloween, Druidism, Paganism and Satanism picked up this belief without checking its accuracy, and accepted it as valid. No such God ever existed to the Celts . By the late 1990′s many secular sources such as newspapers and television programs had picked up the error and propagated it widely. It is now a nearly universal belief, particularly among conservative Christians
.Virtually all present Halloween traditions can be traced to the ancient Celtic day of the dead. Halloween is a holiday of many mysterious customs, but each one has a history, or at least a story behind it. The wearing of costumes, for instance, and roaming from door to door demanding treats can be traced to the Celtic period and the first few centuries of the Christian era, when it was thought that the souls of the dead were out and around, along with fairies, witches, and demons. Offerings of food and drink were left out to placate them. As the centuries wore on, people began dressing like these dreadful creatures, performing antics in exchange for food and drink. This practice is called mumming, from which the practice of trick-or-treating evolved.
Halloween also retains some features that go back to the original harvest holiday of Samhain, such as the customs of bobbing for apples and carving vegetables, as well as the fruits, nuts, and spices cider associated with the day.
Today Halloween is becoming once again and adult holiday or masquerade. Their masked antics challenge, mock, tease, and appease the dread forces of the night, of the soul, and of the other world that becomes our world on this night of reversible possibilities, inverted roles, and transcendence. In so doing, they are reaffirming death and its place as a part of life in an exhilarating celebration of a ritualistic and symbolic evening.
For Symbolic Satanists, Samhain is when we honor our ancestors who came before us. If you’ve ever done genealogy research, or if you’ve had a loved one die in the past year, this is the perfect night to celebrate their memory. It’s also a great time for mediation on the victories and failings of the past year and accordingly planning for the future . Of course it’s also a time of fun for us,we’re all about the fun !!!
For theist or Spiritual Satanists and for Pagans/Wiccans
Samhain 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 “End of Summer”, and is the third and final Harvest. The dark winter half of the year commences on this Sabbat. It’s the day when many Wiccans believe that their God dies, later to be reborn. Thus, Samhain is not a God of death; it is actually a yearly observance of the death of a God. Wiccans have attempted to reconstruct the ancient Celtic religion. They include this festival as one of their 8 Sabbats. They do NOT acknowledge the existence of a God of the Dead named Samhain or a similar deity by any other name. Modern-day Druids and other Neopagans also celebrate Samhain as a special day.
Communicating with ancestors and departed loved ones is believed to be 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. Today a lot of practitioners still carry out that tradition.
For Spiritual and Symbolical Satanists and for Pagans and Wiccans, this is a good time for us to look at wrapping up the old and preparing for the new in our lives. Think about the things you did in the last twelve months. Have you left anything unresolved? If so, now is the time to wrap things up. Once you’ve gotten all that unfinished stuff cleared away, and out of your life, then you can begin looking towards the next year.
Happy Samhain to all ,have fun and indulge responsibly .
Hail Satan !
Hail Thy Self !