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> A Brief History Of Halloween, or a brief intoduction to Samhain
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barddas 
Posted: 06-Oct-2003, 10:44 AM
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History of Halloween

Samhain- pronounced SAW- ain, or ane



The history of Halloween begins with the ancient Celtic religious celebration of Samhain (summer's end). One of the two greatest Druidic festivals (Beltane is the other), Samhain marked the end of the light half of the year and the beginning of the dark half.

Samhain is the Celtic new year celebration. Beginning on the evening of October 31 (the Celts counted their days from sunset to sunset, just as the bible does), the festival would last three days (perhaps longer).

As with other holidays of the Celtic year, October 31 marked a mystical time when the usual barriers between our world and the Otherworld thinned and stretched allowing contact between human beings and the fairy folk and/or the spirits of the dead.

Many of the celebratory elements, such as playing pranks, originated in the notion that at this time the world was turned inside out prompting people to act with abandon against the usual social strictures.

Fire is a central element in all the Druidic celebrations. All hearthfires were put out and new fires lit from the great bonfires. In Scotland, men lit torches in the bonfires and circled their homes and lands with them to obtain protection for the coming year.

Later, Christian elements came into play, as All Hallows' Day (all Saints' Day) and All Souls' Day contributed their own unique traditions to the core, such as trick or treating (collecting "soul cakes" on All Souls' Day) and dressing up in frightening costumes as protection against evil spirits.

At no time, either in the druid religion nor in the Christian, was Halloween history connected with the devil or devil worship. Modern satanists have appropriated a holiday that is not their own.

Once Halloween (name corrupted from All Hallows' Eve) came to America from Ireland and Scotland, other cultures have added their own elements to the modern American celebration - vampire lore, werewolves, etc.

I found this on heartoscotland.com
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RavenWing 
Posted: 06-Oct-2003, 10:48 AM
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You are a step ahead of me. I was about to start a Samhain discussion thread. Thanks!


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barddas 
Posted: 06-Oct-2003, 10:53 AM
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That's what I'm here for m'dear.... wink.gif

So who wants to start the discussion... which does run thru the death topic as well....Mary? thumbs_up.gif
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RavenWing 
Posted: 06-Oct-2003, 10:55 AM
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Go right ahead. I am getting some of my references together for general reading on the subject.
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Elspeth 
Posted: 06-Oct-2003, 11:08 AM
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Did other peoples or nationalities have a similiar type of celebration, or are the roots of Halloween completely Celtic?


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barddas 
Posted: 06-Oct-2003, 12:21 PM
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Everything I have ever read give credit to the Celts, for the begining of what is now halloween. I have read that other cultures had celebrations as well. ( like the Norse and other northen tribes) But, crdit is given to the Celts.



It has been documented that the Romans adopted the Celtic practices as their own. But in the first century AD, Samhain was assimilated into celebrations of some of the other Roman traditions that took place in October, such as their day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, which might explain the origin of our modern tradition of bobbing for apples on Halloween.


From some sources I have read the custom of Halloween was brought to America in the 1840's by Irish immigrants fleeing their country's potato famine. At that time, the favorite pranks in New England included tipping over outhouses and unhinging fence gates. Which was normally done the night before Halloween, what has become known as devils night, hell night, cabbage night...and so on....

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maryellen 
Posted: 06-Oct-2003, 08:21 PM
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Samhain was the name of the Druid god of the dead. The Druids were a religious order amongst the Celts. On this day (October 31), they would try to appease their lord of death.
On October 31, black-cloaked Druids bearing torches would go door to door to select humans for their New Year's sacrifice to the Lord of the Dead. In return for the child or infant, they would leave a hollowed turnip with candle light shining through the carved face

The belief was that on the eve of the Celtic New Year (which for them was October 31), the souls of the dead people roamed the land of the living. The Devil, spirits and witches were also believed to be moving about and at the height of their power.
If you look at the list of satanic holidays, you will find Halloween is one of their biggest holidays. Not necessarily the Christian satan- just dark powers. Which are glorified on Halloween night.



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Posted: 07-Oct-2003, 08:53 AM
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QUOTE (Witchvox.com)
October 31st, commonly called Hallowe'en, is associated with many customs, some of them mysterious, some light-hearted, some of them downright odd. Why do we bob for apples, carve pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns, and tell ghost stories on this night? Why do children go door-to-door asking for candy, dressed in fantastical costumes? How is Hallowe'en connected to All Soul's Day, celebrated by some Christian denominations on November 1st? And what is the significance of this holiday for modern-day Witches?

A Brief History of Hallowe'en
by Peg Aloi


Hallowe'en has its origins in the British Isles. While the modern tradition of trick or treat developed in the U. S., it too is based on folk customs brought to this country with Irish immigrants after 1840. Since ancient times in Ireland, Scotland, and England, October 31st has been celebrated as a feast for the dead, and also the day that marks the new year. Mexico observes a Day of the Dead on this day, as do other world cultures. In Scotland, the Gaelic word "Samhain" (pronounced "SAW-win" or "SAW-vane") means literally "summer's end."

Other names for this holiday include: All Hallows Eve ("hallow" means "sanctify"); Hallowtide; Hallowmass; Hallows; The Day of the Dead; All Soul's Night; All Saints' Day (both on November 1st).
For early Europeans, this time of the year marked the beginning of the cold, lean months to come; the flocks were brought in from the fields to live in sheds until spring. Some animals were slaughtered, and the meat preserved to provide food for winter. The last gathering of crops was known as "Harvest Home, " celebrated with fairs and festivals.

In addition to its agriculture significance, the ancient Celts also saw Samhain as a very spiritual time. Because October 31 lies exactly between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice, it is theorized that ancient peoples, with their reliance on astrology, thought it was a very potent time for magic and communion with spirits. The "veil between the worlds" of the living and the dead was said to be at its thinnest on this day; so the dead were invited to return to feast with their loved ones; welcomed in from the cold, much as the animals were brought inside. Ancient customs range from placing food out for dead ancestors, to performing rituals for communicating with those who had passed over.

Communion with the dead was thought to be the work of witches and sorcerers, although the common folk thought nothing of it. Because the rise of the Church led to growing suspicion of the pagan ways of country dwellers, Samhain also became associated with witches, black cats ("familiars" or animal friends), bats (night creatures), ghosts and other "spooky" things...the stereotype of the old hag riding the broomstick is simply a caricature; fairy tales have exploited this image for centuries.

Divination of the future was also commonly practiced at this magically-potent time; since it was also the Celtic New Year, people focused on their desires for the coming year. Certain traditions, such as bobbing for apples, roasting nuts in the fire, and baking cakes which contained tokens of luck, are actually ancient methods of telling fortunes.


So What About Those Jack-O-Lanterns?

Other old traditions have survived to this day; lanterns carved out of pumpkins and turnips were used to provide light on a night when huge bonfires were lit, and all households let their fires go out so they could be rekindled from this new fire; this was believed to be good luck for all households. The name "Jack-O-Lantern" means "Jack of the Lantern, " and comes from an old Irish tale. Jack was a man who could enter neither heaven nor hell and was condemned to wander through the night with only a candle in a turnip for light. Or so goes the legend...

But such folk names were commonly given to nature spirits, like the "Jack in the Green, " or to plants believed to possess magical properties, like "John O' Dreams, " or "Jack in the Pulpit." Irish fairy lore is full of such references. Since candles placed in hollowed-out pumpkins or turnips (commonly grown for food and abundant at this time of year) would produce flickering flames, especially on cold nights in October, this phenomenon may have led to the association of spirits with the lanterns; and this in turn may have led to the tradition of carving scary faces on them. It is an old legend that candle flames which flicker on Samhain night are being touched by the spirits of dead ancestors, or "ghosts."


Okay, What about the Candy?

"Trick or treat" as it is practiced in the U. S. is a complex custom believed to derive from several Samhain traditions, as well as being unique to this country. Since Irish immigrants were predominantly Catholic, they were more likely to observe All Soul's Day. But Ireland's folk traditions die hard, and the old ways of Samhain were remembered. The old tradition of going door to door asking for donations of money or food for the New Year's feast, was carried over to the U. S. from the British Isles. Hogmanay was celebrated January 1st in rural Scotland, and there are records of a "trick or treat" type of custom; curses would be invoked on those who did not give generously; while those who did give from their hearts were blessed and praised. Hence, the notion of "trick or treat" was born (although this greeting was not commonly used until the 1930's in the U. S.). The wearing of costumes is an ancient practice; villagers would dress as ghosts, to escort the spirits of the dead to the outskirts of the town, at the end of the night's celebration.

By the 1920's, "trick or treat" became a way of letting off steam for those urban poor living in crowded conditions. Innocent acts of vandalism (soaping windows, etc.) gave way to violent, cruel acts. Organizations like the Boy Scouts tried to organize ways for this holiday to become safe and fun; they started the practice of encouraging "good" children to visit shops and homes asking for treats, so as to prevent criminal acts. These "beggar's nights" became very popular and have evolved to what we know as Hallowe'en today.


What Do Modern Witches Do at Hallowe'en?

It is an important holiday for us. Witches are diverse, and practice a variety of traditions. Many of us use this time to practice forms of divination (such as tarot or runes). Many Witches also perform rituals to honor the dead; and may invite their deceased loved ones to visit for a time, if they choose. This is not a "seance" in the usual sense of the word; Witches extend an invitation, rather than summoning the dead, and we believe the world of the dead is very close to this one. So on Samhain, and again on Beltane (May 1st), when the veil between the worlds is thin, we attempt to travel between those worlds. This is done through meditation, visualization, and astral projection. Because Witches acknowledge human existence as part of a cycle of life, death and rebirth, Samhain is a time to reflect on our mortality, and to confront our fears of dying.

Some Witches look on Samhain as a time to prepare for the long, dark months of winter, a time of introspection and drawing inward. They may bid goodbye to the summer with one last celebratory rite. They may have harvest feasts, with vegetables and fruits they have grown, or home-brewed cider or mead. They may give thanks for what they have, projecting for abundance through the winter. Still others may celebrate with costume parties, enjoying treats and good times with friends. There are as many ways of observing Samhain as there are Witches in the world!


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RavenWing 
Posted: 07-Oct-2003, 08:58 AM
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QUOTE (maryellen @ Oct 7 2003, 02:21 AM)
Samhain was the name of the Druid god of the dead. The Druids were a religious order amongst the Celts. On this day (October 31), they would try to appease their lord of death.
On October 31, black-cloaked Druids bearing torches would go door to door to select humans for their New Year's sacrifice to the Lord of the Dead. In return for the child or infant, they would leave a hollowed turnip with candle light shining through the carved face

The belief was that on the eve of the Celtic New Year (which for them was October 31), the souls of the dead people roamed the land of the living. The Devil, spirits and witches were also believed to be moving about and at the height of their power.
If you look at the list of satanic holidays, you will find Halloween is one of their biggest holidays.  Not necessarily the Christian satan- just dark powers.  Which are glorified on Halloween night.



PLEASE READ THIS:


QUOTE (religioustolerance.org)
Identifying Samhain as a Celtic Death God is one of the most tenacious errors associated with Halloween.

Almost all stories about the origin of Halloween correctly state that Halloween had its origins among the ancient Celts and is based on their "Feast of Samhain." But many contemporary Christian authors which are critical of Halloween, Druidism, and/or Wicca have stated that Samhain was named after the famous Celtic "God of the Dead." No such God ever existed. By the late 1990's many secular sources such as newspapers and television programs had picked up the error and propagated it widely.

Was/is Samhain a Celtic God?
The answer is a definite yes and no:

YES. He did exist. Many Neopagan and secular sources are probably wrong. As As Isaac Bonewits writes: "Major dictionaries of Celtic Languages don't mention any 'Samhain' deity..." 8 However, there is some evidence that there really was an obscure, little known character named Samain or Sawan who played the role of a very minor hero in Celtic mythology. His main claim to fame was that Balor of the Evil Eye stole his magical cow. His existence is little known, even among Celtic historians.
NO. Many conservative Christian and secular sources are definitely wrong; there is/was no Celtic God of the Dead. The Great God Samhain appears to have been invented in the 18th century, as a God of the Dead before the ancient Celtic people and their religion were studied by historians and archeologists. 

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. 

Samhain is pronounced "sow-in" (where "ow" rhymes with "cow"). Samhain is Irish Gaelic for the month of November. Samhuin is Scottish Gaelic for All Hallows, NOV-1.

There are many sources supporting the conclusion that Samhain refers to the festival, not a God of the Dead. They come from Celtic, Druidic, Irish, and Wiccan individuals and groups:

Wiccan web site "Brightest Blessings" mentions:
"Samhain (October 31), most often recognized as our New Year, is also called Ancestor Night. It represented the final harvest, when the crops were safely stored for the coming Winter. As the veil between the worlds of life and death is thin on this night, we take this time to remember our beloved 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. 9 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. Bethancourt comments:
"With modern research, archaeology and the study of the Indo-European migrations, these conclusions can be seen as the complete errors they were..."

Later, he writes: " 'Samhain' is the name of the holiday. There is no evidence of any god or demon named 'Samhain,' 'Samain,' 'Sam Hane,' or however you want to vary the spelling."

Rowan Moonstone, a Wiccan, comments:
"I've spent several years trying to trace the "Great God Samhain" and I have YET to find seminal sources for the same. The first reference seems to be from Col. Vallency in the 1700s and then Lady Wilde in her book 'Mystic Charms and Superstitions' advances the 'Samhain, lord of the dead' theory. Vallency, of course was before the work done on Celtic religion in either literature or archaeology." 12

The Irish English Dictionary, published by the Irish Texts Society, defines Samhain as follows:
"Samhain, All Hallowtide, the feast of the dead in Pagan and Christian times, signalizing the close of harvest and the initiation of the winter season, lasting till May, during which troops (esp. the Fiann) were quartered." 13

The Scottish Gaelis Dictionary similarly defines Samhain as:
"Hallowtide. The Feast of All Soula. Sam + Fuin = end of summer." 14

J.C. Cooper, author of The Dictionary of Festivals identifies Samhain as:

"Samhain or Samhuinn: (Celtic). 31 October, Eve of 1 November, was the beginning of the Celtic year, the beginning of the season of cold, dearth and darkness." 19

Wiccans have attempted to reconstruct the ancient Celtic religion. They include this festival as one of their 8 Sabbaths (seasonal days of celebration). 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. 



Meaning of Samhain according to most conservative Christians:
The belief that Samhain is a Celtic God of the Dead is near universal among conservative Christian ministries, authors and web sites. They rarely cite references. This is unfortunate, because it would greatly simplify the job of tracing the myth of Samhain as a God:

In 1989, Johanna Michaelsen wrote a book opposing the New Age, Humanism and Wicca. It is titled "Your Child and the Occult" 4 She writes:
"The Feast of Samhain was a fearsome night, a dreaded night, a night in which great bonfires were lit to Samana the Lord of Death, the dark Aryan god who was known as the Grim Reaper, the leader of the ancestral Ghosts."

The Watchman Fellowship Inc is a conservative Christian counter-cult group which attempts to raise public concern over religious groups whose theological teachings deviate from orthodox Christianity. Lately, they have also been expressing concern about the dangers of inter-religious dialog. They seem to imply that belief in Baal, a Middle Eastern deity, made it all the way into Celtic lands. They assert:
"It [Halloween] was at this time of the year that Baal, the Celtic god of Spring and Summer, ended his reign. It was also when the Lord of the Dead, Samhain, began his reign."

David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam serial killer, converted to conservative Christianity after his trial and incarceration. He has claimed that he was simply a lookout for an evil Satanic cult who actually performed the murders. He further states that "Sam" in "Son of Sam" comes from the name of the Celtic God of the Dead, Samhain, which he pronounced "Sam-hane." His story is suspect because:  He mispronounced Samhain.
Samhain is not a Celtic God.
Samhain is not a Satanic deity either.
The police investigators are convinced that he was a lone killer, not a member of a group.


David Porter, author of "Hallowe'en: Treat or Trick?," comments:

"The Celtic New Year festival was known as the celebration of Samhain, the Lord of the Dead."


John Ankerbert & John Weldon have written a series of pamphlets that are among the best works by conservative Christian authors for the general public. They make extensive use of footnotes and exhibit careful research of their topic. 17 Apparently they were faced with a conflict with respect to Samhain - whether:  to follow the findings of historians and archaeologists, and admit that Samhain is simply the name of the festival, or
to support previous Christian authors and refer to Samhain as the Druidic God of the Dead even though there is no archeological evidence to support that conclusion.

They compromised by stating:


"...400 names of Celtic gods are known...'Samhain' as the specific name of the Lord of Death is uncertain, but it is possible that the Lord of Death was the chief druidic deity. We'll follow the lead of several other authors and call him Samhain."

This is a strange comment, because they must have been aware that there is no mention in the historical record of a major Celtic God called Samhain. Thus is it most improbable that Samhain would be the chief Druidic deity, and have gone so long undetected.

On the other hand there are conservative Christians who follow the lead of archeological and religious research. Richard Bucher from a Massachusetts congregation of the Lutheran church - Missouri Synod writes: 16
"Nothing in the extant literature or in the archaeological finds supports the notion that there ever existed a god of the dead known as Samam (sometimes spelled, 'Samhain,' pronounced 'sow -en'), though hundreds of gods' names are known. Rather, Saman or Samhain is the name of the festival itself. It means "summer's end" and merely referred to the end of one year and the beginning of the new.




Meaning of Samhain according to secular sources:
Most newspapers and other secular sources appear to be following conservative Christian thought, rather than academic research. Two examples are:

Lee Carr wrote the text for a web site "Halloweenies...For kids not meanies." 5 She writes:

"Druids would feast and build huge bonfires to celebrate the Sun God, and thank him for the food that the land produced. The next day, November 1st, was the Celtic New Year, and it was believed that on this day the souls of all dead people would gather together. Therefore, on Halloween, the Celts would also honor the God of the Dead, Samhain."

Scottish Radiance writes about Samhain: 7

"The Celtics believed, that during the winter, the sun god was taken prisoner by Samhain, the Lord of the Dead and Prince of Darkness...On the eve before their new year (October 31), it was believed that Samhain called together all the dead people."



Gods named Sam...:
There appear to be many, mostly male, deities which had names starting with "Sam." None were Celtic. However, the similarity in their names to Samhain might have contributed to the confusion:

Samael was a name in Hebrew for an accuser and a member of God's inner council in charge of dirty deeds
Samana, "the leveler" is the name of an Aryan God of Death (a.k.a. Yama,   Sradhadeva, Antaka, or Kritanta) according to the ancient Veda scriptures of          Hinduism.  
Samas was the Sun God of the northern Semites
Sams was the Sun Goddess of southern Semites
Shamash was the Sun God and God of righteousness, law and divination of the Assyrians and Babylonians



Another Celtic "God": Muck Olla
Muck Olla surfaces in some conservative Christian sources as an alleged "early Druid [sic] deity." 10 Another web site refers to Muck Olla as a Celtic sun god. 15 Muck (if we can be so familiar as to refer to a God by his first name) is in reality a type of mythical boogie-man from Yorkshire in England. His name is grounded in old folk stories; he never existed as a Druidic God.



References:
Broceliande, "Wheel of the Year," at: http://www.triplemoon.com/wheel.html
"Brightest Blessings," at: http://www.no-exit-studios.demon.co.uk/sabbats.htm
http://nashville.citysearch.com/E/F/NASTN/0000/16/11/
Johanna Michaelsen, "Your Child and the Occult: Like Lambs to the Slaughter," Harvest House, Eugene OR, (1989), Page 185.
Lee Carr, "Halloweenies...For kids not meanies," at: http://nashville.citysearch.com/E/F/NASTN/0000/16/11/
J. & S. Farrar, "Eight Sabbats for Witches," Phoenix Publishing, Custer, WA (1981), Page 121
Scottish Radiance, "The Story of Halloween,"  at: http://www.scottishradiance.com/halstory.htm
Isaac Bonowits, "The Real Origins of Halloween 3.9.7" at: http://www.neopagan.net/Halloween.HTML
W.J. Bethancourt III, "Halloween, Myths, Monsters and Devils," at:  http://www.illusions.com/halloween/ A superb site.
Mrs. Gloria Phillips, "Halloween: What It Is From A Christian Perspective," at: http://www.webzonecom.com/ccn/cults/issu37.txt
The Watchman Fellowship at: http://www.watchman.org/
Rowan Moonstone, "The Origins of Halloween" at: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/6696/rowan.htm
Patrick Dineen, "An Irish English Dictionary" (Dublin, 1927), Page 937 Quoted in 12
Malcolm MacLennan, "A Pronouncing and Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language" (Aberdeen, 1979), Page 279. Quoted in 12
David L. Brown, "The Dark Side of Halloween", LOGOS Communication Consortium, at: http://www.execpc.com/~dlbrown/logos/halloween.html
Richard Bucher, "Can Christians Celebrate Halloween" at: http://www.ultranet.com/~tlclcms/canhall1.htm
J. Ankerberg & J. Weldon, "The Facts on Halloween: What Christians Need to Know," Harvest House, Eugene OR (1996), Page 6.
David Porter, "Hallowe'en: Treat or Trick?," Monarch, Tunbridge Wells, UK (1993), Page 24.
J.C. Cooper, "The Dictionary of Festivals," (1995), Thorsons, London, UK, Page 189-190.


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barddas 
Posted: 07-Oct-2003, 09:53 AM
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Samhain- Celtic (Irish, Scottish, Welsh) festival (pronounced SAH-wun, or possibly SAH-vun), a medieval Gaelic word meaning "summer's end."
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barddas 
Posted: 07-Oct-2003, 10:01 AM
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QUOTE (maryellen @ Oct 6 2003, 10:21 PM)
Samhain was the name of the Druid god of the dead. The Druids were a religious order amongst the Celts. On this day (October 31), they would try to appease their lord of death.
On October 31, black-cloaked Druids bearing torches would go door to door to select humans for their New Year's sacrifice to the Lord of the Dead. In return for the child or infant, they would leave a hollowed turnip with candle light shining through the carved face

The belief was that on the eve of the Celtic New Year (which for them was October 31), the souls of the dead people roamed the land of the living. The Devil, spirits and witches were also believed to be moving about and at the height of their power.
If you look at the list of satanic holidays, you will find Halloween is one of their biggest holidays. Not necessarily the Christian satan- just dark powers. Which are glorified on Halloween night.

Where did you get this information ????

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Posted: 07-Oct-2003, 10:04 AM
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This is how Wiccans and pagans in general are seen as evil. We are not devil worshippers. Most of us don't even believe in the Christian Devil.



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maryellen 
Posted: 07-Oct-2003, 04:44 PM
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I didn't say anything about devil worshipping. I was discussing Halloween.
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barddas 
Posted: 07-Oct-2003, 06:55 PM
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QUOTE (maryellen @ Oct 6 2003, 10:21 PM)
If you look at the list of satanic holidays, you will find Halloween is one of their biggest holidays. Not necessarily the Christian satan- just dark powers. Which are glorified on Halloween night.

I think Mary was just clarifing... that's all.. wink.gif
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Posted: 07-Oct-2003, 07:09 PM
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Don't you that question the celebration of this pagan holiday think that we don't know what we are celebrating and "who" is involved in the celebration? God of the Dead? Never heard of one in what I believe. DO you also question the Jewish New Year or the Chinese New Year?

The celebration of harvest and the begining of a new season has it's roots in all religions.

How soon you seem to forget that most religious holidays have their roots in Celtic and Pagan traditions.

Chritmas trees - Germanic festival of light and Druid concideration of trees.
Easter - the rights of Celtic spring.
The yule log is of Celtic tradition.
Miseltoe is of Nordic origins.

I could go on but I think my point is made.


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