Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The truth about the truth about Halloween

For some reason I received the "Heart of Wisdom" newsletter, and of course I spotted "Should Christians Observe Halloween?"

It's just a repeat of the old Pagan bashing, which makes me sad for several reasons. Even though I disagree with Robin in many instances, I haven't read this horrible things on her blog earlier. It's usually just a difference in values and political opinions, but... she usually manages to live up to the Christian ideals. (What are those? You know, the Fruits of the Spirit, and Sermon on the Mount... you could also add the "Love is..."
This time I see is hatred, fear and lies... lies upon lies upon lies. *sigh*

I agree with her on that Christians shouldn't be celebrating ANY Pagan feasts, not Halloween, not Christmas, not Easter, not New Year, how ever Christian it looks. There's a Pagan feast underneath the Christian decoration. But I also think that let everyone celebrate what ever they want. It's not what people celebrate that matters.

I also fully admit that the Celts practiced human sacrifice. A lot of people did. The Celts usually strangled their victim, cut his/her throat and then delivered the sacrifice by burying the person or throwing the person in a river or lake - or marsh. We have found several of those in the marshes.

As far as I know there is no archaeological evidence of any burn offerings... the "wicker man" might just be one of these "war stories" to demonize the enemy, which happens all the time, but I don't know.) Also, I have the understanding that most of these sacrifices happened at spring and midsummer, but, again, don't know.

What I do know is that no living or dead animals or humans were burned in the Samhain fires. Sometimes people threw in BONES of the animals, but usually the fires were mainly a center of the local holiday celebration, like the Mayday bonfires in Sweden and Midsummer bonfires in Finland. It was believed that the smoke from the bonfire could ritually clean you, so people walked by the bonfire - or they made two bonfires, and people walked in between - and sometimes they took their livestock with them, so that they too would be cleansed.

[Now, all these references to the Druids "drinking blood" and "sacrificing virgins" (probably eating babies too) are kind of funny, because the Christians base their whole religion on human sacrifice. Jesus (you remember that story?) was a human being, at least at the moment of his death, because God is immortal... They have this interesting theory of that God sort of used the man Jesus as a hand-puppet, and when it was time for him to die, God removed his hand, and that's why Jesus asks "why did you abandon me?" Anyway, that's what I have been told, and if I have misunderstood something, you are welcome to explain to me in the comments, how I have misunderstood it. Also, Christians eat human flesh and drink human blood every week, at least symbolically, if not physically. (It must be human flesh and blood, as God is incorporeal.) So I really don't understand why they would raise such a ruckus about this... it's a bit like burning the house you live in...]

So far so good. But, the Celts had a wonderful culture and their feats in both metallurgy and architecture are breathtaking. I mean, we admire and praise the Japanese sword makers and believe their art being the topnotch - the Celts did that already long ago. And just think about Newgrange... oh, my Goddess, that building is... simply amazing! The Romans built NOTHING even close to that. Well... Pantheon is pretty amazing too, but it was built thousands of years after Newgrange. Also the Celtic storytelling and music... oh! Again, the Romans have nothing even close to that. Come to think about that... did the Romans have ANYTHING original, or did they steal, borrow and rob everything they had? Even the aqueducts were originally invented in the East Asia. Perhaps the roads... I have to admit they were amazing in adapting and improving everything, and they had an iron will... "I don't care about the mountain and the river. I want the road to go here and here it will go". And it did... And the hunger for power... No wonder Christians are like they are. They inherited it. The Holy Roman Christianity... or Greco-Roman. The Greeks at least invented a lot of stuff, which was then successfully taken and adapted by the Romans. Their philosophy sucked, though. Very chauvinist. No wonder the Christians are like they are. :-D
But enough of that. I promised my husband not to bash Christians.
The main thing is, that Celts were VERY MUCH MORE than Druids and Pagans.

On with the truth about the truth about Halloween.

Halloween doesn't honor Satan. As far as I know, no Gods are being honored at Samhain... To me it's a feast of change of times, turn of the year, seasons, ancestry, old age, family, lineage... even human kind. It's a celebration of death as part of life, acknowledging the fact that we have to remove something from the space to put something else in - people have to die so that people can be born. Otherwise we wouldn't be able to live on this planet.
The seed must "die" so that it can grow into a plant.
We have to "destroy" vegetables, cut them into pieces, boil them, to make food.
We have to kill the pig to get bacon.
We have to cut the flax, and then beat the crap out of it, literally, to get clean, soft fibers that can be spun into yarn and woven into cloth - and then the cloth must be cut so that we can sew it into clothes. And when the clothes are old and worn, they are "dismembered" and cut either into patches or rags, and sewn or woven or braided or something into quilts and rugs, and after they are so worn they cannot be used in the house anymore, they move outside and "warm" animals, cars, tractors, compost or plants in stead. After that they turn into soil IN the compost :-D

There is nothing ugly in death, nothing bad, nothing wrong. The way people die might be ugly, but death itself is always good, kind and gentle. It ends the pain, suffering and misery.
It is not for the people who die we mourn, it is for ourselves. THEY have it good now, they have it fine, but we don't have them anymore. Quotes the raven, nevermore. Never more will I hug you, kiss you, be kissed by you, never more will I laugh with you or cry with you, never again will you comfort me, support me, help me, or let me comfort, support and help you... never more will you open my eyes to new things, never more will you share your insight with me, never more, never more... That is the "horror" of Poe's poem.

I also happen to believe in God, and I believe that God IS the Giver of Life, and nothing, NOTHING, dies without God making it be so. I have read and heard so many stories of people who have been abused so badly they surely should die, but don't, some don't even get any impairment of the abuse they have endured... People have been beaten, shot, dropped from heights, driven over, poisoned, blown up... and they survive. People have survived deathly illnesses and horrible accidents... so I am absolutely certain that if it is not your time, NOTHING will kill you, and if it is, NOTHING will save you.

Samhain is not about glorifying death, or seeking death, or killing as many people as you can, or sacrificing people. It's accepting the facts of life, humbly and gratefully, because who wants to live forever? Tolkien's elves envied humans' mortality, and Highlander would have given anything to be able to leave with his wife... Mortality is a gift, and as all gifts, it should be celebrated.
(Also, I want to point out that just because you are not afraid of death doesn't mean you seek it. Life is just as big a gift too, and should be celebrated as well, and enjoyed, to every last drop of it.)

Halloween isn't a Satanist holiday. Sure, the Satanists celebrate it, and many think it's the height of the year, like many Pagans do, but it's a Pagan holiday, and Pagans are not Satanists. Now, some Satanists are Pagans, and some are not, but I let ReligiousTolerance.org explain it, as they do it better.
The main thing here is that:

Pagan is not synonymous to Satanist.
Pagans don't worship Satan.
Pagan Gods are not Satan.
Pagan traditions are not wicked nor Satanic.

I would love it, if people actually EDUCATED themselves of the different religions before they start telling others what they are and what they are not. Some people seem to think that the mere KNOWING of others and their ways makes you an apostate. *sigh* In reality, the more you KNOW, the more you know the people are the same. Our traditions, habits, ways, beliefs and opinions vary, but in the end we are all human beings. The ancient druids, Satanists, Christians, Pagans, Greeks, Romans, people 5000 years ago and people 5000 years from now, we all feel alike, have a need of spirituality, and share even the same basic values.

A lot of Christians seem to think that everyone who is not worshiping the Christian God worship Satan. I think C.S.Lewis said it well in Narnia's Last Battle. (And this is about the only reason why anyone should read the book.)
"Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then , though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted."

Or like Jesus says in Matthew 7:15-23:  
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do you gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree produces good fruit; but the corrupt tree produces evil fruit. A good tree can't produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn't grow good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will tell me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?' Then I will tell them, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.'"
(which, BTW, is my "favorite Jesus' teaching". Don't much care of the rest.)

I won't believe it really matters if Christians celebrate Halloween or not, because it's not such shallow, insignificant petty details that will matter in the long run. It's whether you are kind and friendly when you celebrate what ever you celebrate, if you help the little ones go "trick-or-treating" with you, if you don't leave anyone behind, if you give when you are asked, even if the asker happens to be dressed like a devil, a ghost or a fairytale figure. It matters if you celebrate what ever you celebrate with love in your heart, and if you are true to God, what ever name or names you use of Her. God will reward "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control", totally in spite of which words I use when I practice these virtues, and these virtues come from God, what ever dogmas I confess.

I won't believe it matters what I call my God, I know She is The One. My God is The God, One and Only, Creator of everything, Giver of Life, omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. I am a monotheist, and there is only one God, one Highest, the Provider, the Protector, the Merciful, the Good, the One Who Is Enough... Calling this God "Satan", "Devil", "idol", "false" or anything but God is ignorant, hateful, offensive, intolerant and unkind.
I am not asking you to worship my God, convert to my faith, or even agree with me. I am asking you to NOT TO EVEN MENTION my God and what you think of Her, unless you can say something kind.

Now, let's continue.

Samhain is not a Celtic God of Death, nor any God.

Samhain probably means "end of summer" or "end of year".  Rosh Hashanah means "head of the year", and "shanah" is in plural. The Jews and Celts share the same idea of the year being composed of two halves, a summer half and a winter half. Both Hebrew and the Celtic languages are Indo-European, and in Sanskrit samā means half-year, year, and summer is of that root, so it's probable that when "Samhain" word was first used, summer and year (or half-year) were the same word.
But enough of etymology. It's not pronounced "Sam Hane", but like "Sow-een". It's a Celtic word, not English.

Samhain is the Celtic New Year. We have the exact same beliefs and traditions when it comes to the Roman New Year's celebration - that is the current, modern, Western traditions - and that is that the New Year is a great time for divination, trying to predict the future, doing some magic for the hope of dreams come true - that's what New Year's Wishes and Resolutions are. First you state what you want, then you pay for it, with the resolution. The resolutions are usually something we don't like doing, so they are in practice sacrifices. "I'll stop smoking", "I'll loose weight", "I'll write 1000 words a day" or what ever. The Celts celebrated their New Year in Autumn - just like the Jews do - and thus all the traditions and superstitions were associated with Samhain.

Jack-o-lanterns are not symbols of fires and torches. They ARE lanterns with a face, "jack". That's the simple and true explanation and origin.
Jack-o-lantern is also another name to marshflames, also called spunkies or punkies, will-o'-the-wisps, corpse candles, friar's lanterns or ignis fatuus (foolish lights). These lights got their name by the belief of that there were mischievous spirits living in the marsh, and they used to fool people with the lights. From far they do look as if there was another human walking with a lantern or candle, and many were lost trying to catch this person, believing to be finding a friend to share the journey in night with.
The Punkie Night (lantern night) is now-a-days celebrated at the last Thursday of October, and it's a tradition when children would take their turnips, swedes or other big roots, carve them into lanterns and walk from home to home asking for light, candle, or pennies singing.
It wasn't unusual for people to make themselves lanterns from a big rutabaga - it wouldn't burn, but it would protect the candle from being blown off. These were decorated with all kinds of patterns, and then someone thought of carving a grinning face on one, and jack-o-lanterns were born. "Jack" is a common word to be used of any old chap, like the knights in playing cards.
There really aren't blooddripping horror stories involving evil in all its forms behind all Pagan habits, you know. Christianity is only some 1000 years old in Europe, and we Europeans actually managed to survive and prosper even before it, and even though it might be very strange for some people, we actually did have a sense of humor already thousand years ago, and thought grinning face lanterns were funny.

Also, these lanterns were placed at the windows and outside to scare the evil spirits, not to invite them in. Everyone knows evil fears light. The friendly spirits weren't bothered by such, and as most of the friendly spirits were actually the family's relatives and loved ones, they were more than welcome inside.
What the Bible actually forbids is SUMMONING the spirits, and CONSULTING with them. It doesn't say anything about having a friendly family gathering, even when some of the members happen to be dead. It doesn't say anything about chatting with the ghosts, if it is the ghosts who seek you up, and not the other way around. It is not forbidden to set another plate for possible guests from beyond the border.
After all, the Jews have this habit too - Prophet Elijah is given a goblet of wine, just in case he'd drop in. They should know what their Holy Scripture says, after all, they have studied it 3 times longer the Christians have, and they are not muddled by all the Pagan influence Christianity has to struggle with.

Frankly, I really don't understand all the fuzz about this. If you truly believe that God is your shield and will protect you against all evil, as long as you let Her, and as long as you keep your part of the deal, then you have nothing to fear, from ANYTHING. The spirits can't touch you, the ghosts cannot harm you, and you don't NEED to talk with them, but there's no need to be impolite and unkind.

Then the idea of the veil between the worlds being thin at this time of the year...  I know that most modern people have no connection to the nature and the natural flow and ebb of time and such things, but I do, and just as I can feel the earth's heart beat under my feet at Midsummer, I can feel the veil between the worlds to get thinner. I can see the connection between me and the past generations as a silver thread. That might be totally irrelevant to the Christians, but it is not to me, neither is it - nor was it - to the millions of people who feel or have felt it too. There is a reason to why the Pagans celebrate the feasts at the time they celebrate them. There were reasons to why the early Christian church had to allow the converted Pagans to keep celebrating these feasts and why they were given a Christian name, significance and symbolism. It is, once again, ignorant, arrogant, intolerant, incompassionate and, frankly, stupid, to try to make the Christians still attached to these feasts by lying and saying things like "God will hate you if you do this!"

At Samhain, the veil isn't just thin, the worlds overlap slightly each other.
Again, I don't expect anyone to believe me, when I say so, but I would appreciate if the people calling themselves Christians would do as their God told them to, and treat my faith and beliefs as they wish their faith and beliefs are treated.
Also, I want to point out that, again, there is nothing in the Bible to refute such an idea.

Pomona is a Roman Goddess of fruits. Pomum means fruit in Latin, not just apple. It probably was the Romans who imported the apple to the Celtic areas of Europe, but apples are associated with all the Pagan Harvest feasts, from Lughnasadh to Samhain, because they are fruits that ripen at this time of the year, not because of Pomona.

Feralia (not Feraila) is celebrated in Spring, not in Autumn, and Pomona is celebrated with Her husband, Vertumnus, the God of seasons, change and plants, on August 13th, so the "Roman feasts" were not blended with the Celtic traditions here. It doesn't matter, though, because both Romans and Celts were Pagans.

"Muck Olla" is not a name of a god either, but a boar. (It would be interesting to know the etymology of that name.) The tradition of begging food in the name of Muck Olla is similar to the New Year's tradition of the Grey Mare (Mari Lwydd) in Wales, or the Scandinavian traditions of "kekripukki", "joulupukki" and "nuuttipukki", in which a person is dressed as a goat or they have a stick with a goat's head covered with white sheet, in the parade. This is just part of wassailing, mumming, guysing, galoshing, or what ever one wishes to call this, and it is just a form of entertainment during the holidays. The earliest references to this is from Middle Ages, but it grew popular in the 18th and 19th century. Mardi Gras is another form of this.
It really isn't a Pagan God worshiping ritual, but a way to have fun in time with no televisions, radios and movies.
But, because it is a Pagan habit and very much connected to Pagan feasts, which, mostly, were times of fertility magic and worshiping Pagan Gods, it might be a good idea for the Modern Christians to stay away from fun like this. After all, they do have the television and internet now-a-days, so there's no need to go trick-or-treating.
About the dressing up from a Pagan point of view:
"Guisers — men in disguise, were prevalent in 16th century in the Scottish countryside. Children going door to door "guising" (or "Galoshin" on the south bank of the lower Clyde) in costumes and masks carrying turnip lanterns, offering entertainment of various sorts in return for food or coins, was traditional in 19th century, and continued well into 20th century. "

"Gaelic custom of wearing costumes and masks, was an attempt to copy the evil spirits or placate them."

"In Scotland the dead were impersonated by young men with masked, veiled or blackened faces, dressed in white."
- From Wikipedia: Samhain

In Finland there's a Christmas tradition of Star Boys, a group of young boys/men dressed in the Three Kings, who go from house to house, play a little act, sing songs and then get some money and sweets as "payment", so you could collect a little group of Pagan kids and write a little play with songs about Samhain time myths and legends, and make "trick-or-treatin'" a bit more meaningful.
Johanna, "the former occultist" is not Michaleson but Michaelsen.
She said: “For a true Christian to participate in the ancient trappings of Halloween is as incongruous as for a committed Satanist coming from blood sacrifices on Christmas Eve to set up a nativity scene in his living room singing Silent Night, Holy Night with sincere devotion to baby Jesus!”
I find the quote funny. The feast called "Christmas" is just as Pagan as Halloween, and a "committed Satanist" performing blood sacrifices on Christmas Eve is as much a Pagan any Christian is. (That is, not at all, if someone has missed my opinion on that question ;-)). Also, if the "committed Satanist" manages to sing with "sincere devotion to baby Jesus", I'd say he's a "closet Christian", and NOT a committed Satanist :-D Anything is possible :-D
(Besides, I'd like to quote Jesus in this too. Matthew 15:11, 17-19. It's not what goes into your mouth, it's not your clothes, it's not where you live, what color curtains you have, which holidays you celebrate, but what comes out of your mouth and what you do and why, when you celebrate your holidays... )

Halloween doesn't involve things God hates.
You don't NEED to divine in Samhain. Some people do.
You don't NEED to do magic and cast spells on Samhain. Some people do.
You don't NEED to worship Pagan Gods. Some people do.
You don't NEED to do ANYTHING you don't want to do.
God doesn't hate the change of seasons, death, spirits or jack-o-lanterns. God made them, like God created EVERYTHING in existence in this world and every other world, and God loves the Creation. Disagree with me? Ok, let's talk about that.)

Also, Halloween doesn't promote witchcraft and sorcery.
Actually, it ridicules witchcraft and sorcery. Just the other day I was complaining about the fact that I cannot wear my witch hat in public now-a-days, because everyone would think it's a COSTUME, and I'm a lunatic. Or if it IS Halloween, when I'm wearing it, people would just assume I'm DRESSED UP AS a witch. Once upon a time the hat was a sign of age and wisdom, and people respected the wearer, even if one thought she was a bit loony. Now it's just silly and funny. Thanks to Halloween.
Halloween has also made vampires, monsters, werewolves, ghosts, skeletons, death and a lot of other such things silly and funny.
No-one REALLY believes in witchcraft. Harry Potter is a fictional character living in a fictional world created after ours. We are all "muggles". (Except I, of course ;-))

Samhain is part of PAGAN SPIRITUALITY.
All witches are not Pagan, all Pagans are not witches, actually the huge majority of Pagan community are not witches. Some witches don't celebrate Samhain, some do. One never knows.
Being Pagan has nothing to do with magic, witchcraft, sorcery, spiritism, interpreting omens and gazing stars. Some Pagans are interested in these things, I included, but a lot of Pagans are not.
To be honest, I have NEVER had any communication with the dead. I don't see them, I don't hear them, I don't know if they exist or not. I assume they do, because so many say they do, the Bible included.
I haven't practiced magic and witchcraft since... uh. I can't even remember when. Even when I practiced it, it didn't involve summoning spirits or harming anyone.
I suppose it's like this with most Pagans and witches, so all these people calling themselves Christians, and screaming about the ABOMINATIONS, are practically just screaming for nothing. Besides... what's it to them what other people do? I trust my God, and if they are right and I am wrong, I'll burn, or something, but that's my business, isn't it? They cannot save me, they cannot push me into the flames, they cannot change one hair in my head black or white. So, may them worry about their own lives and what comes out from their mouths. I'm not Christian, so they don't even have the right to rebuke and discipline me! I really don't get it. But - I'm not Christian.

But, Samhain IS my tradition. *I* am not even violating the Bible by adopting the habits of strangers :-D We Finns just call it Kekri. It means "end of something" and it was traditionally celebrated at some point between Autumn Equinox and Samhain, depending on the end of harvest and autumn works. :-> But, oh well.

I just wish Robin would rewrite the whole thing, and from a TRUE Christian point of view this time. It really isn't ok to "bear false witness" against your fellow human beings, and I really don't care whether these people are Pagans living today, Satanists, or Druids who died long time ago.

BTW, if you want to see evil, go and see Carol Kornacki's videos... (That's the "former witch exposes...") The "lady" is full of hate and lies just flow from her... she bases her authority on that she claims to have been Dianic Wiccan (or something similar, one can't be too sure...) but all her "facts" are just the same old lies Christians have always used against us. She gives me the same feeling in my guts I get from Aleister Crowley, sigil magick, demons and such... a horribly tight, painful knot right in my Solar Plexus... Aggressive, manipulative, arrogant, dominating and madly in love with themselves, these people... Pure evil.

This one is a bit more complicated, again...
On black base two strips of patterned paper, one wider, one narrower, sewn on with sewing machine
On the narrow strip three pockets, in pockets tags with journal box.
On the wide strip first a rectangle of patterned paper, contrasting to the base, and on that a black paper, base for the photo. Paint a small line around the picture with orange, and paint letters.
You could use stamps on pockets, or embellishments, or stickers, or pictures cut out of vintage Halloween cards. Or anything. The tags could be made of vintage cards too.

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