Real Origins of Halloween discusses the history of Halloween,
the origins of trick-or-treating, reasons behind some of the
symbols of the season, and why the holiday is well worth keeping
and celebrating. Previous versions of this essay specifically
contrasted the historical evidence with the absurd claims and
urban legends used in most anti-Halloween propaganda. I have
now put those latter materials into this separate essay, Halloween
Errors and Lies, since it seems that many people have never
seen or heard these fearmongering tales and could not understand
why I would spend so much space discussing them within an historical
essay. If you have heard them, read on to find out just how badly
you have been deceived by holy hucksters.
This is a work of amateur scholarship.
If you wish to quote me in an academic environment, you may wish
to first verify my statements by consulting the books linked
within my text. A more formal Bibliography will appear in a future
book, Some Truths About Halloween.
In discussing the many false ideas that
some folks have about Halloween, Im going to frequently
refer to Fundamentalists in general and Christian
Fundamentalists in particular. If my usages are unclear, you
may wish to read some of my other essays, including Understanding
the Religious Reich (about the Christian Coalition and other
theocratic movements), A
Call to Arms (about the similar dangers represented by all
forms of Fundamentalism), and Anti-Christianity
and Who-Hates-Who? (about religious biases).
For information about the specific topic
of Witchcraft, consider obtaining my book, Bonewits's
Essential Guide to Witchcraft and Wicca.
Satanic Panic over Halloween
Every year in October, some folks begin shouting that Neopagans must
be stopped from celebrating Halloween, which they
describe as a Satanic holiday. Many Christian Fundamentalists
say loudly and publically that we Druids, Witches and other Neopagans
kidnap children, sacrifice babies, poison or boobytrap Halloween
treats, drink blood, and hold orgies at Halloween. As W. J. Bethancourt
puts it, These opinions are backed up with some rather
unusual and very frightening fantasies masquerading as historical
Anti-Halloween propagandists use these claims to disrupt or
prevent our religious rites, slander our beliefs, and blaspheme
our deities, despite the total lack of evidence to support them:
- Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including
Bureau of Investigation, have never found even one example
of a Satanic cult human sacrifice. What
they do occasionally find are budding psychopaths killing small
animals in what a psychiatrist would call a ritualistic
manner. As that link just cited puts it, FBI expert K.
J. Lanning defines a satanic murder as one committed by
two or more individuals who rationally plan the crime and whose
primary motivation is to fulfill a prescribed satanic ritual
calling for the murder. Using this definition he has been
unable to identify even one documented satanic murder in the
- Similarly, the urban legends about Satanic cults looking
to kidnap blond blue-eyed children for sacrifice (presumably
by evil non-Aryans) reveal more about racism than
crime in America because here, too, there is not a single
real incident recorded by law enforcement agencies.
- All those stories of poisoned candy and razor blades in apples
which some Christian Fundamentalists would have
us believe is how modern Witches and Druids now sacrifice
kids turn out to be more urban legends with zero law
enforcement backing see Curses!
Broiled Again!: The Hottest Urban Legends Going,
by noted folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand for details.
- Claims are made that the ASPCA reports the evidence
of animal mutilation and destruction is ten times more available
on the week preceeding and the weekend following Halloween.
Ive been unable to get the ASPCA to back this up. Apparently,
some pounds and animal control facilities may not adopt out black
kittens to scary-looking teenagers just before Halloween, but
the evidence on which they base these policies is unclear. It
may just be another urban legend based on teenaged sociopaths
killing animals in years past. See Wren Walkers article
Panic and Black Cats for details.
- The urban legend of Baby-Killing,
Blood-Drinking, Incestously-Orgiastic, Evil-Doers has been
around a long time in fact, its been passed down
for 2,500 years and used against one religion after another
including the early Christians!
- Supposed physical
evidence to support all this nonsense is either completely
absent or quickly vanishes once closely examined by law enforcement
- The modern authors of various books promoting these slanders
have repeatedly been proven by Evangelical Christian journalists
to be frauds and con-artists milking the Fundamentalist
market. See also Kerr Cuhulain's brilliant book on Fundamentalist
Hunts: Out of the Broom Closet at Amazon.com
for details on dozens of the worst liars.
- In thirty years of my attending Samhain/Halloween rites,
and discussing them with other Neopagans, not one of them
has included an orgy darn it!
You can visit the Satanic
Ritual Abuse page maintained by the Ontario Consultants on
Religious Tolerance for details on these psychotic fantasies
and the findings of various reputable researchers. A good book
on how urban legends have become entwined with American Halloween
traditions is Halloween
and Other Festivals of Death and Life, edited
by Jack Santino.
Perhaps the best book written on the topic of the Evil Satanic
Conspiracy silliness so far is Satanic
Panic, by sociologist Dr. Jeffrey Victor. The publishers
card catalog description for this work sums it up well:
Again and again we are told by journalists, police,
and fundamentalists that there exists a secret network
of criminal fanatics, worshippers of Satan, who are responsible
for kidnapping, human sacrifice, sexual abuse and torture of
children, drug-dealing, mutilation of animals, desecration of
churches and cemeteries, pornography, heavy metal lyrics, and
cannibalism. This popular tale is almost entirely without foundation,
but the legend continues to gather momentum, in the teeth of
evidence and good sense. Networks of child advocates,
credulous or self-serving social workers, instant-expert police
officers, and unscrupulous ministers of religion help to spread
the panic, along with fabricated survivors memoirs passed
off as true accounts, and irresponsible broadcast investigations.
A classic witch-hunt, comparable to those of medieval Europe,
is under way. Innocent victims are smeared and railroaded. Satanic
Panic uncovers the truth behind the satanic cult hysteria,
and exposes the roots of this malignant mythology, showing in
detail how unsubstantiated rumor becomes transformed into publicly-accepted
Bashers and Bigots
People with poor self-images always want to inflate the power
and evilness of their real or imagined opponents. After all,
if theres a Gigantic Global Satanic Conspiracy to
defeat the Forces of Goodness, the people believing in
it can think of themselves as fighting on the side of the
angels, instead of as the pathetic, demon-obsessed, xenophobes
that they really are. Of course, my pointing out that these folks
are bigots will make them claim that Im Christian-bashing,
so they can retain their precious sense of victimhood. Dont
think they have one? Consider these words from Pat Robertson,
then head of the theocratic Christian Coalition:
Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal
America is now doing to the evangelical Christians. It's no different.
It is the same thing. It is happening all over again. It is the
Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media and the homosexuals
who want to destroy the Christians. Wholesale abuse and discrimination
and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today.
More terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history.
Granted, this is the same jerk who agreed with Jerry Falwells
claim that the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 were the
fault of Pagans, feminists, gays, and the A.C.L.U., still his
words deserve analysis.
Robertson equates the loss of American Christianitys
special political and social privileges with the Jewish Holocaust
of World War II. Oddly enough, I havent noticed Fundamentalists
being herded into concentration camps by Democrats in Congress,
nor any of the media (liberal or conservative) calling for their
execution, nor any gay or lesbian organizations bombing Fundamentalist
churches. Yet I have seen Fundamentalist Christians (1)
trying to take over Congress through illegal and dishonest stealth
campaigns, (2) spending millions to prevent accurate science,
history and safe sex from being taught in public schools, (3)
organizing Christian Militias to overthrow the American government
through domestic terrorism, and (4) gleefully murdering people
whom they thought were homosexuals or abortion doctors.
More terrible than anything suffered by any minority
in history? Tell it to the millions of Jews, Gypsies, Jehovahs
Witnnesses, occultists, and homosexuals who were murdered by
Hitler; the millions of political dissenters executed by Stalin;
the tens of thousands of supposed Witches tortured, raped and
murdered by the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches; or the
tens of thousands of political liberals and moderates who were
killed by American-trained Death Squads in Central and South
America. Not being allowed to shove your theology down the throats
of schoolchildren, or to take center stage at City Council meetings,
doesnt even come close to what other minorities
have suffered over the millenia much of it at the hands
of Fundamentalists and other True Believers.
I find it outrageous that racist, sexist, and creedist groups
in current (or former) political power have managed to twist
the term bashing away from its original meaning of
members of minority groups being physically beaten and killed
to instead mean themselves being verbally criticised.
I am not engaging in bashing of any sort by saying or writing
that Fundamentalism is a twisted, bigoted, and dangerous approach
to any belief system, as the events of September 11, 2001 made
all too horrifically clear to Americans. See my essay, A
Call to Arms for details.
|Vocabulary Note: Ive spent years trying to come up with appropriate
cross-religious terminology to use to refer to particular religious
phenomena. Fundamentalist is the best term Ive
been able to find to use as shorthand for ultra-conservative,
rigidly dualist, deliberately ignorant, force approving, religious
fanatic/extremist. It at least has the advantage that most
English speakers already know it and many of them use it this
way, much to the annoyance of some who call themselves Fundamentalist.
Mainstream theologians and religious studies professors have
not been forthcoming with alternate terminology, perhaps because
of their own academic or theological agendas/fashions/limits.
I am very much open to suggestions for other terms that will
cover this complex but distinctive spiritual/religious dysfunction.
However, if youd prefer a more neutral discussion of
Christian Beliefs about Halloween, you can visit the website
of the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Their essay
Christians View Non-Christian Religions is also quite good,
as are most of their materials on their huge website.
By the way, if youre interested in seeing just what
idiots real Satanists are, you can read My
Satanic Adventure and The
Enemies of Our Enemies elsewhere on my website (or read the
raving egomaniacal flamewars on the Usenet newsgroup alt.satanism).
Now, however, lets focus on the Fundamentalists weird
fantasies about Halloween.
Evil Ancient Druids and Old Sam Hain
You will often read in the hate literature published by Fundamentalists
(such as the infamous tracts and comic books which one
Baptist minister told me were Christian pornography
from multimillionaire publisher Jack Chick) that, Samhain
was the Celtic God of the Dead, worshipped by the Druids with
dreadful bloody sacrifices at Halloween. Chick embroiders
this error in a tract called The Trick and a fullsized
comic book called, Spellbound? (a panel of which
is shown here.)
Chick describes Ancient Evil Druids going from castle-door-to-door
seeking virgin princesses to rape and sacrifice. These comic
book villians would leave carved pumpkins with candles (made
from human fat!) in them for those who cooperated, and
arrange demonic assassinations for those who refused to give
them what they wanted.This, according to Mr. Chick, is supposed
to be the true origin of trick or treating
of course he also publishes tracts insisting that Catholics arent
Christians, that all non-Christians are Devil-worshippers, and
that the entire rock-and-roll record industry is run by Satanists
who cast a curse on every record before its released! (Can
you imagine the logistics nightmare?)
Chick actively encourages his customers to buy
his tracts by the thousands and to hand them out to innocent
children on Halloween. For a description of many of his bizarre,
bigoted, sick, and paranoid tracts, see Kerr
Cuhulains discussion of Chick and his work. As he says,
This may seem silly stuff to many of you readers and it
would be if it werent for the fact that so many people
take these publications seriously. Chicks business has
thrived for decades and his tracts are available in 100 different
languages. Chick has distributors in England, South Africa, Australia,
New Zealand, Canada, and Germany. Police officers have used these
tracts as a resource
Lets look at a few historical facts related to Chicks
paranoid fantasies about Halloween:
Druidism in Ireland and the British Isles was wiped out by
Christianity long before anyone was building medieval
castles with princesses in them.
- Virginity simply wasnt as important to European Paleopagans
as some would assume except for occasional political purposes
and was certainly a condition that Celtic women had little
difficulty removing in pre-Christian days.
- Since half of the Paleopagan Druid caste were women,
its highly unlikely that these historically strong and
assertive Celtic women would have allowed their husbands, fathers
and sons to get away with raping and murdering women of any
caste whether virgins or not!
- Theres a distinct lack of historical or archeological
evidence that the ancient Druids ever sacrificed anyone
other than criminals, prisoners-of-war, or volunteers
if them. The human sacrifices called missions,
inquisitions, crusades, and pograms,
however, have killed innocent men, women and children by the
millions and this is very well documented by mainstream
- The pumpkin is a New World plant that never grew in Europe
until modern times, so it couldnt have been used
to make jack-o-lanterns by the Druids. Human fat (Im told
by a biologist) would make a lousy candle fuel even if anyone
were psychotic enough to try. Apparently turnips were
used to make lanterns in Ireland and Scotland, but these were
not the plants that Americans know as turnips. One
correspondant told me, a turnip to the Scots /Irish is
not what the English would call a turnip. Rather than being white
and purple skinned, it is yellow and purple and is known to the
English as a swede. They are between half a foot
and a foot in diameter. These are harder to carve than
pumpkins, which is probably why Irish immigrants to North America
switched to using the latter, but still easier to carve than
the roots the Americans and British call turnips.
Im unaware of any historical references to the turnips
being used as jack-o-lanterns in Ireland until modern times,
or of turnip-lamps being used in the Paleopagan Celtic territories
where the Druids once worshipped.
- Theres zero evidence that the ancient Druids
or their congregants ever dressed in identity-hiding costumes
or engaged in ritualized begging at harvest time. Its possible,
but by no means certain, that this was a Paleopagan custom. As
for the dark medieval monks robes depicted by Chick in
his comics, since the ancient Druids considered white their caste
color and brown or black the color associated with the servant
caste, they probably wouldnt have been caught, you should
pardon the expression, dead in them!
- According to the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance,
in an essay called The
Myth of Samhain: Celtic God of the Dead, both Neopagans and
Christians have been wrong on this topic: There is some
evidence that there really was an obscure, little known
character named Samain or Sawan who played a very minor role
in Celtic mythology. He was a mortal whose main claim to fame
was that Balor of the Evil Eye stole his magical cow. He is rarely
mentioned in Celtic mythology; his existence is little known,
even among Celtic historians. However,
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 (emphasis added).
- Major dictionaries of Celtic Languages dont mention
any Samhain deity either: McBains
Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language says
that samhuinn (the Scots Gaelic spelling) means Hallow-tide
(or sacred time), and that it probably came from
roots meaning summers end; with a possible
derivation from the annual assembly at Tara every November 1st.
School Gaelic Dictionary defines it simply as Hallowtide.
I have several Irish/English dictionaries in my home, and they
all say that samhain or La Samhna (to
use the Irish spellings) is the first of November, or the month
of November, or Hallowtide/Halloween.
But where do Chick and other Fundamentalists get their
weird beliefs about Halloween? One correspondant asked me, How
can these things never happen if so many people preach that it
Where would Christians get these ideas if they werent
fact? The short answer, of course, is that preachers are
people and (1) all people make mistakes, (2) some people are
ignorant, and (3) others just tell lies. After all, lots of people
used to believe that the Earth was flat and that the sun moved
around the Earth. The Church quoted scriptures to prove
these beliefs and burned early scientists at the stake for disagreeing.
Yet merely saying, Theyre lying to you, though
true, can easily be thrown back into our own faces, if its
only a matter of one groups word against anothers
(assuming neither group can get away with silencing the other).
A more useful answer, one with the weight of solid academic research
behind it, will take us a bit more time.
The sources of information that Fundamentalists use are extremely
- A work of nasty anti-Catholic propaganda written in 1873
and filled with hundreds of historical, linguistic, mythological,
and other errors that only a Fundamentalist could believe, called
Babylons or the Papal Worship, by Alexander Hislop
(this book is especially popular with Jack Chick);
- An even older work, The
Celtic Druids, by Godfrey Higgins, published in 1827,
filled with almost as many mistakes as Hislops book;
- Decades-old editions of encyclopedias which simply quote
Hislop or Higgins;
- Sermons, books and broadcasts by Ex-Grand-High-Druid-Witch
experts on the occult all of whom turn out to be
phonies and often criminals as well; and
- Decades of sermons by ministers repeating unquestioningly
the statements made by other preachers before them.
An essay called Halloween:
Myths, Monsters & Devils, by W.J. Bethancourt III, contains
a superb and detailed analysis of Fundamentalists literature
on the topic (his Bibliography page should not be skipped either).
His essay says, among many other interesting things:
As for Samhain or Saman being the
lord of the dead, this is a gross fallacy that seems
to have been perpetuated in the late 18th and 19th centuries
CE. I have found it in Higgins (first published in 1827, and
trying to prove the Druids emigrated to Ireland from India!)
where he quotes a Col. Charles Vallency (later a General, who
was trying to prove that the Irish were decended from the inhabitants
of Armenia!!!) Higgins also refers to an author named Pictet,
who gives this name as that of a god, associating the word with
sabhan, (which word I cannot find in any Gaelic dictionary
at my disposal) and trying for a connection with Bal-sab,
to prove a Sun god and Biblical association.
The full title of Higgins book (leaving out the solid
capital letters) is: The Celtic Druids; or, An Attempt to
shew, that the Druids were the priests of oriental colonies who
emigrated from India, and were the introducers of the first or
Cadmean system of letters, and the builders of Stonehenge, of
Carnac, and of other cyclopean works, in Asia and Europe.
Browsing through the facsimile 1829 edition of Higgins
book (published by Kessinger Publishing, LLC, Kila MT), it quickly
becomes clear that the Honorable Godfrey Higgins, Esq. while
astute enough to notice the similarities between the Sanscrit,
Latin and Irish languages, was working without the tools or knowledge
of those disciplines which were to become known as linguistics,
anthropology, archeology, or indeed any modern social or physical
science. He made up for his ignorance with an obsession to reconcile
what he knew of Celtic languages, cultures and history with Semitic
languages, cultures and (the Christian Bibles version of)
history. The results, despite his prescient guesses about what
would someday be known as the Indo-European languages and the
common Indo-European clergy caste, are so far off the mark about
almost every subject he touched upon, as to appear pathetic to
even the most charitible modern scholar.
Pardon me if the following seems a long digression, but the
influence of this authors book has been so long lasting
and so pernicious to the reputations of the ancient Druids, and
of Halloween, that its reasonable to quote several key
paragraphs. Here, set in underlined type to distinguish
it from real scholarship, or my own opinions, is what Higgins
has to say about Samhan or Bal-Sab in Chapter V,
Click here to order it from Amazon.com
To learn what ancient Celtic religions were really
The God Samhan is placed by M. Pictet [of
Geneva, a learned friend of the authors] at the head
of his double series, with the following explanation: Samhan
eadhon Ceisil, eadhon Giolla; Samhan, that is to say the
evil spirit, (Satan,) that is to say, the Serviteur.
Samhan appears to have been one of the Gods, the most revered,
in Ireland. An annual solemnity was instituted to his honour,
which is yet celebrated on the evening of the first day of November;
which yet at this day is called the Oidhche Samhna, or
the night of Samhan.
This solemnity was consecrated by the Druids, to the intercession
of the living for the souls of those who had died the
year preceding, or in the current year. For, according to their
doctrine, Samhan called before him these souls, and passed
them to the mansions of the blessed, or returned them to a re-existence
here, as a punishment for their crimes. He was also called Bal-Sab
or Lord of Death. It was probably this epithet which induced
the commentator to call Samhan by the name of Ceisil,
which, in modern Irish, means devil.
Samhan was also the Sun, or rather the image of the sun.
This word is found in many Semitic languages: in Arabic, Schams,
the sun; Hebrew, sms; Chaldean, smsa; Syrian, Schemscho;
in Pehlvi, Schemsia; in Sanscrit, Hamsa, the sun.
The Sun was the first object of worship of all the Heathens,
either as Creator, or as an emblem or Shekinah of the Divinity.
The attributes of Samhan seem at first contradictory, but they
are not unusual amongst the Heathen Gods. With the Greeks, Dionysos,
the good Demiurge, is identified with Hades. In Egypt, Osiris
was the Lord of death; with the Scandinavians, Odin, the God
beneficent, was, at the same time, king of the infernal regions.
This deity was above all others whom we have named [in the preceding
sections], but he was below the supreme being Baal. If Samhan
were the Sun, as we see he was, he answers to Mithra of the Persians,
who was the middle link between Oromasdes and Arimanius
between the Creator and the Destroyer, and was called the preserver.
Schelling says, the Irish doctrine was, that souls did
not descend to the severe Zeus, (Pluto, the Jupiter of the Styx,)
but that they ascended to the merciful Osiris. Such is the meaning
of the Irish Samhan, who is a merciful judge, not deciding by
his caprice, but holding his power from the God Supreme, of whom
he is the image. In all this is a curious mixture of physical
and moral doctrines.
I will leave as an exercise for the reader to count all the
outright mistakes and obvious lapses in logic. That some Fundamentalist
Christians should, to this very day, use such an abysmal example
of obsolete scholarship he thought Irish was a dialect
of Hebrew, and the Celts descendents of Moses! as a primary
source for their anti-Halloween propaganda, shows just how desperate
As I discuss at great length in The
Real Origins of Halloween, the truth about trick or treating
is a far cry from the horrific images conjured by
Fundamentalists, (as in this Chick Publications tract The
Trick). Rather than an ancient Satanic plot to kill or
corrupt children, the American tradition of trick or treating
is a modern custom invented by town councils, schoolboards
and parents in the 1930s to keep their kids out of trouble.
The great poisoned treats scare trotted out every year and exploited
by Mr. Chick is, however, just another
urban legend. Almost every actual example of booby-trapped
Halloween treats has turned out to be a murder plot by a relative,
not a malicious act by strangers.
One Christian mother told me that even though she now understands
more about the origins of Halloween, she is still reluctant to
let her kids celebrate it, as she put it, because, People
today are totally unconcerned and disrespectful of the value
of life and safety of others. Regardless of personal religion,
selfishness and cruelty have no place in society, but has been
allowed all the same. (Yes, that includes the Fundamentalist
crowds). Perhaps this is why the other 1930s parental solution
of supervised parties has continued to grow in popularity even
as after-dark trick-or-treating has dwindled.
One Christian teenager told me:
Probably the thing that makes Halloween so different is not
that people act far differently (some minor increases in vandalism
and rabble-rousing), but rather that it is so simply accepted.
What makes my peers decide to egg somebodys house on Halloween
rather than another day? The fact that it is accepted and almost
anticipated. And so they join the bandwagon, fearing less repercussions
because of the viable defense, Hey, anybody
couldve done it all those weirdos out and everything.
How many Satanists go trick-or-treating vs. the number of high
school kids smashing pumpkins? Common sense speaks for itself.
I would personally say if Halloween is to survive as a non-controversial
institution, we need to first clean up the simple and obvious
criminal element. Without that, many so-called Christians would
lose their leg to stand on. However, and I hope you agree, we
(meaning the Biblically-based Chrisitian community vs. subscribers
to other faiths) could discuss the underlying spiritual issues
without the argument of increased criminal activity (supposedly
incited by Pagans) twisting the issue. Besides its easier
to discuss things coherently when your house isnt TPed
in the dark and youre looking for a scapegoat.
Is Halloween an appropriate holiday for Christians to celebrate?
I suppose that depends on which kind of Christians are asking.
Conservative Christians, who often place far more emphasis on
(the parts they like of) the Old Testament, than
they do on (the parts they dont like of) the New
Testament, can simply point to the genuinely traditional
Halloween customs of divination and communication with otherworldly
spirits and dead ancestors, and say these activities are forbidden
to them. Liberal Christians, who usually pay more attention to
(the parts they like of) the New than to (the parts
they dont like of) the Old Testament, may come
to different conclusions. Moderate Christians, of course, will
be caught in the middle as usual. But no one, regardless of religion,
should need to bear false witness (that is to say,
tell lies) about Halloween, Neopagans, or indeed any other
religious topic, in order to make a spiritual decision for him-
or herself, or their children the only people for whom
they may have the right to make that decision.
By the way, heres a useful tip for haunted house organizers
from Michael Ward of Theatronics Engineering:
As an theatrical consultant I have spent over 20 years
helping people build dark attractions (so named because
they are in the dark). In that time I have been involved in raising
over 5 million dollars for causes such as Jerrys Kids (M.S.),
Special Olympics, Prevent Blindness, Make a Wish, Campus Life
(Christian Youth Group), Jay Cees, and two high schools. Amid
this rampage of evil doing, I have been approached many times
by protestors and preachers who have tried to drive away our
customers (thus driving down our charitable donations). I have
tried to argue and debate, I have even tried to be polite and
ask that they leave. Calling the law sometimes worked if we had
any claim to the land we were on.
But I found the #1 solution. When they show up and start handing
out fliers, I proudly proclaim that the fliers and comic books
are worth $1.00 off at the door. It doesnt cost the house
much because the group usually stops giving them out right away.
But they are usually besieged by the customers for the books.
Every time they pack up and leave quickly.
Spiritual Warriors or Curse Casters?
Some of the Fundamentalists (as well as other conservative
Christians) spend Halloween engaging in what they call spiritual
warfare against local Neopagans. While for some Christians
this phrase (at least on Halloween) refers only to saying prayers
for peace, protection, safety and for Gods influence,
as one correspondent told me, to others spiritual warfare means
saying imprecatory psalms and praying for the destruction
of all of us folks they think are Evil Incarnate. Oddly enough,
when members of competing religions are accused of doing such
things, the process is labeled casting curses or
evil black magic by these very same Christians!
Dont believe it? Heres a quote (minus the all-caps
shouting) from an email I received a couple of years ago:
just keep your mouth shut! and dont ever
try again to make those web pages!
You better erase your
web pages as soon as possible otherwise you will be sick to death
within two month. Two month! Remember this!
Since Im still alive, we know that this one illiterate
spiritual warrior was sorely disappointed. Of course,
so was the one who promised to pray me to death the year before
I get a half a dozen emails every year now, challenging me to
battle them on the astral plane and promising to destroy me and
all other Neopagans, Druids, Witches, etc., in the name of Jesus.
Funny how there are more of us every year, despite the spiritual
warriors and their supposedly inevitable victory over all
of us Heathen
Ive received many emails from various liberal, moderate,
and conservative Christians, including ministers, concerning
their reactions to earlier versions of this essay. More often
than not, they are horrified at the liberties their Fundamentalist
brethren have taken with both historical truth and Christian
theology, and have assured me that, not all Christians
are like those lunatics.
If there are some of you reading this (or hearing it broadcast)
who consider yourselves to be Christian Fundamentalists, but
who do not approve of the behavior or words of those Ive
described here as representing Fundamentalism, I suggest you
try doing one or more of the following:
- admonish your brethren rather than myself
- meditate upon what it is about Fundamentalism that makes
it so easy to slide into anger, hatred, fear, and deceit in the
name of Jesus (or Yahweh or Allah)
- consider changing your personal religious label to something
- speak out in public against your fellow Christians who misrepresent
their personal hatred and fear as the only real Christianity.
Dont bother complaining to us Pagans weve
already heard every lame excuse in your Book. Witches, Druids,
and other Neopagans are not responsible for some Christian Fundamentalists
bizarre fantasies of who and what they think we are. We will
no longer let them get away with committing or advocating hate
crimes against us and then whining that theyre
the ones being persecuted because were allowed
to exist and to celebrate our own holy days according to our
Other Christians may join the mother who told me, I
choose to believe the Bible principals verbatim, but I do not
agree with everything my church leaders tell me as addendums.
I require solid evidence. I hope this essay, in conjunction
Real Origins of Halloween, has provided just that kind
of evidence. Christian leaders are, of course, free to discourage
their followers from celebrating holidays that make them nervous
or which they consider incompatible with their beliefs. However,
in a time when Fundamentalist terrorists seek to destroy the
very freedom of religion that has made America great, perhaps
those pastors should also mention to their flocks that Christian
preachers have no right to bear false witness against their neighbors,
even if it will fill their churches and their bank accounts.