Halloween is NOT the Devil’s Holiday

Posted: October 26, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

 

Halloween – or Samhain, as I like to call it – is just around the corner.  The signs are all there.  Trees are dropping leaves of gold and red and yellow; the morning air is crisp; the weatherman threatens frost; and there are long aisles at the stores filled with bagged candy, cider-scented candles, and skeletons dangling overhead draped in wispy cloth.  This is my favorite season of the year, not because of the kids dressed in cute ladybug costumes or scary Frankenstein suits, and not because of the hours and hours of great horror and sci fi flicks on television (although, admittedly, I enjoy those).  Samhain for me is more of a spiritual time.  Unfortunately, it’s also a time – more than any other, I think – when I am more personally aware of the incredible amount of hate and ignorance that exists in religious communities.

My values and beliefs are now primarily Buddhist but, as a practicing pagan for several years, I came to love the rituals that we celebrated around the Wheel of the Year.  Samhain, as the most important, was also my favorite, and I’ve continued to celebrate it, along with Yule and, occasionally, Ostara.  Sometimes, I attend a formal Samhain ritual, but more often than not these days I simply observe the day privately.  Samhain observations vary greatly for pagans, depending on how they were raised and what types of groups they have been involved with.  Because this is both a time meant originally for observing summer’s end and the harvest, I like to spend some time out-of-doors on this day.  I also see this day as another sort of ending, as a time to put old habits and worries and troubles to bed and start anew, much like most people do at the New Year on January 1st. Finally, Samhain is believed to be a time of the year when the veil between the living and the dead is the thinnest and when communication (in whatever form) is the most possible. Part of the ritual on Samhain is to honor ancestors and those who have died in the previous year.  I spend this day, whenever possible, visiting the cemetery or, in some other way, remembering those family and friends who have died.

This time of year always sparks a lot of conversation and controversy among people who believe that Halloween is directly linked to the devil or to Satanic worship.  That, of course, extends to the belief that pagans are “devil-worshippers.”  I used to think it was just silly.  I mean, I knew better.  I understood the history and I understood what a “pagan” was.  Then…I got angry.  And I continue to be angry on some level.  Because people are spreading misinformation and propagating hate.

I read an article on the Christian Broadcasting Network entitled, “Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?” by Elliott Watson.

http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/OnlineDiscipleship/Halloween/halloween_Watt05.aspx

The author, in his attempt to educate his readers about Wicca, claims, “The Celtic belief of spirits being released is current, along with the worship of Samhain (the lord of death) – both are promoted as something to embrace on that day.”   Samhain is not “the lord of death.”  It is in fact, the name of the festival celebrated on November 1 by the Gaels.  It’s been traced back to a couple of different words, including November and summer.  And I’m not sure what Mr. Watson is talking about, but I’d sure like to sit down with him and chat with him about it.

Why do I think that this kind of misinformation – which is rampant in posts on social media and all over the internet, as well as in Christian literature and among social discourse – leads to the propagation of hate?

I’ve personally seen it.  I was a practicing pagan and others in my community – good, caring, kind, loving people – had to be walked to their cars by the police because pagans were being targeted for violence by a group in the area because they didn’t understand.  They thought pagans were evil. So, to combat the “evil,” they committed assault and battery and property destruction, and threatened worse.

I am still struggling with the actions and words of hate and intolerance from folks that profess to come from a loving and gentle tradition.  I hear these words over and over again, some subtle and coated in a critical kindness.  At the facility where we were initially welcomed and practiced openly as pagans, we were made to feel unsafe and marginalized by some who used unkind speech and veiled threats to remind us of our place.   I see this in social media every day.  I see it in newspapers, on internet news sites, everywhere I look.  I’m writing here about Halloween and paganism, but it spills over into so many other things in our world.

I can tell you, unequivocally, I do not – nor have I EVER – worshipped Satan.  And neither do any of my pagan friends (and I have a whole bunch).  He belongs to the Christian belief system.  And, contrary to what some people think, just because Christians believe in something, doesn’t mean it exists for everybody.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s