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30 Oct 2007 18:32 - 11 Jun 2010 03:37 #8629 by Anora^una_Ilorn
Halloween/Samhein was created by Anora^una_Ilorn

It’s that time again, where our children and all future adults go around looking for candy from strangers. But what started it; there are many beliefs of what Halloween originally was. It has gone threw a very long transformation from when it started in those old days to where it is now.

Today Halloween is a day of celebration for children more then anything but it is also a time that adults have to be something else, to show off something more then they normally would and maybe even to be who or what they truly are or want to be. Costumes are a huge part to many trick-or-treaters in America. In Scotland the guisers (not called trick-or-treater) go door to door singing song and reciting poems to earn their treat which is not always candy. In England Halloween seems to be more of a nuisance and many don’t want trick-or-treaters (or guisers) around and will not put out decorations in hopes to deter them, of course the participants that do want to give treats will decorate. As for America, we all like to dress up, and we all love candy, lol, j/k. Many countries have their own practices and customs, far to many to go into great depth here.
Food is now a big part of Halloween also, when one thinks of Halloween one thinks of pumpkin pies and candy apples, but that is not the only food.
Candy Corn
Roasted pumpkin seeds
Candy (of course)
Most kinds of snacks
The modern Halloween has been pretty simplified and not very in depth. But the religious aspects continue today. One of the most common is the Mexican Dia De Los Muertos, The day of the dead. This is a day when those who have been departed are honored and can pass from purgatory to heaven. It was originally and in some places still is held on November the 2nd.
In the UK this holiday is actually called Samhain (sow-heen). It is not only a holiday and time of celebration but also the time when one may communicate with the dead for the veil between worlds is thinnest. This is also the belief of many pagan religions. In Wicca it is common to have séances and divination since it is believed that the dead have great insight that we alive do not. Many pagans have various practices, including Satanist (yes they too are considered pagan, we must accept the ‘bad’ along with the ‘good’).

It is believe that Ireland is the origin of Halloween, where it is believed that this day was New Years Eve in which November 1st was the New Year. Druids and many people in the country would have a variety of festivals, celebrations, and rituals. Samhain was such a big day that a few deities have been associated with it, The Morrighan is one such deity, I believe.
The reason why so many people dress up today is because in older times it was believed that the dead would come back and cause trouble and play pranks and even take children with them when they left in the morning so costumes were to literally trick the dead into leaving the children, and who ever wore a costume, alone so nothing would happen to them.

I truly wish that I could go into greater depth but that might take my entire life to get everything together. This was just a bit to understand better some of the reason we do what we do during this most ancient holiday.
Last edit: 11 Jun 2010 03:37 by . Reason: t

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30 Oct 2007 21:48 #8634 by Anora^una_Ilorn
Replied by Anora^una_Ilorn on topic Halloween/Samhein
A Brief History of Hallowe'en

Author: Christina Aubin [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: October 28th. 2007
Times Viewed: 156,746

The Celtic peoples called the time between Samhain (pronounced \"SOW-in\" in Ireland, SOW-een in Wales, \"SAV-en\" in Scotland or even \"SAM-haine\" in non Gaelic speaking countries) and Brigid's Day \"the period of little sun.\" Thus, Samhain is often named the \"Last Harvest\" or \"Summer's End\".

While almost all Celtic based traditions recognize this Holiday as the end of the \"old\" year, some groups do not celebrate the coming of the \"new year\" until Yule. Some consider the time between Samhain and Yule as a time which does not even exist on the Earthly plane. The \"time which is no time\" was considered in the \"old days\" to be both very magickal and very dangerous. So even today, we celebrate this Holiday with a mixture of joyous celebration and 'spine tingling\" reverence.

The Samhain Holiday begins at sundown on October 31st. The nightide was always a time to be wary of walking alone in the countryside. So much more on this Night when the veils between the worlds of humans and spirits was at its thinnest. Traditional lore speaks of the dead returning to visit their kin and the doors to the Lands of the Sidhe (pronounced \"shee\") or Faery Realm being opened.

\"The Feast of the Dead\" (\"Fleadh nan Mairbh\") is laid out by many to welcome these otherworldly visitors and gain their favor for the coming year. Many folks leave milk and cakes (\"Bannock Samhain\" ) outside their door on Samhain Eve or set a place at their table for their ancestors who may want to join in the celebrations with their kin and family.

Some Witches use a chant at the beginning of the Feast to welcome their ancestors.

One of these, for example goes like this:

And so it is, we gather again,
The feast of our dead to begin.
Our Ancients, our Ancestors we invite, Come!
And follow the setting of the sun.

Whom do we call? We call them by name
(Name your ancestor that you wish want to welcome.)

The Ancients have come! Here with us stand
Where ever the country, where ever the land
They leave us not, to travel alone;
Flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone!

Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Great be their Power!
Past ones and present-at this very hour!

Welcome within are the dead who are kin,
Feast here with us and rest here within
Our hearth is your hearth and welcome to thee;
Old tales to tell and new visions to see!

It is also customary to light a new candle for the \"new year\". This ritual harkens back to the days when Samhain was one of only two days- the other being Beltaine-when it was considered correct to extinguish the \"hearth fire\" and then to re-light it. If your fire failed at any other time of the year, it was thought to be very bad luck indeed.

Upon the rekindling of the fire in the morning, this blessing was often said:

We Call Upon The Sacred Three:
To Save... To Shield... To Surround
The Hearth... The House... The Household
This Night, Each Night, Every Night.!

Many Witches of the Old Ways, actually celebrate \"two\" Samhains or Halloweens (Yes, some older traditions DO use the term \"halloween\"!). The \"Old\" date for Samhain occurs when the sun has reached 15 degrees Scorpio. (As a side note, the Catholic Church has \"borrowed\" this same day to celebrate the holiday of \"Martinmas\".) So if you follow this Way, you can always celebrate the \"party aspect\" with your friends on one date and the \"worship\" part with your kin on the other.

Article is from Witchvox.com
by Christina Aubin

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30 Oct 2007 21:50 #8635 by Anora^una_Ilorn
Replied by Anora^una_Ilorn on topic Halloween/Samhein
Samhain's History
Samhain (pronounced Sow-en), dates back to the ancient Celts who lived 2,000 years ago. Contrary to what some believe, is not a celebration of a Celtic god of the dead. Instead, it is a Celtic word meaning \"summer's end.\" The Celts, like many other cultures, saw the dark of the day or year as the beginning and not the end of the seasonal cycle. Thus their days began at sunset, not sun rise and the wheel of the year begins at summers end; Samhain. The Celts were a pastoral people as opposed to an agricultural people. The end of summer was significant to them because it meant the time of year when the structure of their lives changed radically. The cattle were brought down from the summer pastures in the hills and the people were gathered into the houses for the long winter nights of story-telling and handicrafts.

Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. Fires were lit to honor the descending sun god. On the eve of Samhain, the gates of the Abyss were unlocked and spirits from below flew free. Human souls that had been trapped in the bodies of animals were released by the Lord of the Dead and sent to their new incarnations.

In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, early Celts built massive bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. These sacred fires were a big part of the cleansing of the old year and a method to prepare for the coming new year. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit the fires in their homes with torches from the sacred bonfire. These home fires were to help protect them during the coming winter.

The Romans began to conquer the Celtic territories. By A.D. 43 they had succeeded in claiming the majority of the Celtic lands. They ruled for approximately four hundred years combining or influencing many Celtic traditional celebrations with their own. Two Roman holidays were merged with Samhain.
Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead.
Pomona's Day of Honoring, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of \"bobbing\" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

Samhain to Halloween
With the coming of Christianity in the 800s AD, the early Church in England tried to Christianize the old Celtic festivals. Pope Boniface IV designated the 1st of November as \"All Saints Day,\" honoring saints and martyrs. He also decreed October 31 as \"All Hallows Eve\" and eventually Hallow'een. Scholars today widely accept that the Pope was attempting to replace the earlier Celtic pagan festival with a church-sanctioned holiday. As this Christian holiday spread, the name evolved as well. Also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day). 200 years later, in 1000 AD, the church made November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It is celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls' day, are called Hallowmas.

Halloween Traditions
\"Trick-or-treating\" is a modern American tradition that probably finds it's roots in the early All Souls' Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called \"soul cakes\" in return for their promise to pray for the family's dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as \"going a-souling\" was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.

\"Dressing up\" for Halloween gets it roots from dressing up around the sacred bonfire during the original Celtic festival. Some suggest, this practice originates from England, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world on Halloween. People thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes, so to avoid being recognized people would wear masks after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. In addition, these early English people, would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter or cause harm to their homes.

As European came to America, they brought their varied Halloween traditions with them. Celebration of Halloween in colonial times was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies. As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups, as well as the American Indians, meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included \"play parties,\" public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other's fortunes, dance, and sing. Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, America entered an age of mysticism. What was more often termed spiritualism. Metaphysical groups and clubs began to spring up throughout the Golden Age and the wealthier set of Americans. At the same time, America was welcoming a new group of immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland's potato famine of 1846. This new cultural influence brought with it a melding of Irish and English traditions, and a new Americans culture was born. People began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today's \"trick-or-treat\" tradition. Young women believed that, on Halloween, they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings, or mirrors.

In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers, than about ghosts, pranks, and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season, and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything \"frightening\" or \"grotesque\" out of Halloween celebrations. Because of their efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated.

Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6.9 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country's second largest commercial holiday.

Samhain Traditions
To pagans the world over, November 1st, still marks the beginning of the New Year. To Witches and Pagans, Samhain is the Festival of the Dead, and for many, it is the most important Sabbat (Holiday) of the year. Although the Feast of the Dead forms a major part of most Pagan celebrations on this eve, and at Samhain voluntary communications are expected and hoped for. The departed are never harassed, and their presence is never commanded. The spirits of the dead are, however, ritually invited to attend the Sabbat and to be present within the Circle.

The colors of this Sabbat are black and orange. Black to represent the time of darkness after the death of the God (who is represented by fire and the sun) during an earlier sabbat, and the waning of light during the day. Orange represents the awaiting of the dawn during Yule (Dec. 21st to Jan. 1st) when the God is reborn.

Jack-o-lanterns originated from the custom of lighting candles for the dead to follow as they walk the earth. Treats also originated from an old custom of leaving cookies and other foods out for those relatives to enjoy as they shared this one night of feasting. The 'trick' portion of \"Trick or Treat\" was an invention of the Christians. The tricks were supposedly caused by the dead who didn't receive a treat of food left for them when they arrived.

Some ideas for a Samhain Celebration:
Bob for apples. There were many divination practices associated with Samhain, many of which dealt with marriage, health, and the weather. Ducking for apples was a marriage divination based on the belief that the first to bite into an apple would be the first to marry in the coming year. This is similar to the wedding tradition of the throwing of the bride's bouquet for women and her garter for men.
Apple peeling was another type of divination to determine how long one's life would be. The longer the unbroken peel, the longer the life of the one peeling it the rind
Carve jack-o-lanterns to light the way for the spirits who walk during this night.
Finish any incomplete projects and pay off lingering bills (if possible) to close out the old year and begin the new year afresh.
Set aside some time for scrying or other form of divination. Or if you don't divine yourself, get a reading.
Leave food out for the birds and other wild animals.
Put pictures of ancestors who have passed on your altar or festival table. Light a special candle for them, to show them the way to return and celebrate with you.
Visit the graves of your ancestors or, if this isn't possible, the nearest cemetery. Be still there, and listen for the voices of those who have passed.
Leave offerings of food and drink for them, and for the animals.
Tell ancestral stories and tales around the fire, or at the dinner table.
Have a mask-making ceremony in which you create masks to represent your ancestry.

Article from www.paganspath.com/magik/samhain-history.htm

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31 Oct 2007 00:50 #8641 by Justice
Replied by Justice on topic Halloween/Samhein
Super informative. You did an awesome job with posting this and researching it. Thank you very much!

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31 Oct 2007 22:16 #8693 by Jon
Replied by Jon on topic Halloween/Samhein
Thank you for this insightful article, which shows that Halloeewn is more than comercialism, horror films and trick-a-treat.

The author of the TOTJO simple and solemn oath, the liturgy book, holy days, the FAQ and the Canon Law. Ordinant of GM Mark and Master Jestor.

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