It’s that time of year, folks! That wonderfully-mysterious, and to some – fearful, time of year!
A time of the growing cold, shorter daylight, and a time of spooky mysteries and sordid mirth. It is a time of reflection and introspection about the passing year. It is a time one is reminded of the cycles of the year, from Life to Death. It is the time of the final harvests and letting fallow, the once productive land, for its long Winter slumber. It is in these next few months, that Nature tucks into bed, the Earth’s creatures for their quiet solace, and Winter peacefulness.
It is also that time of year that irrational fears and fear-mongering begin to pick up steam and prominence, in our supposedly “civilized” societies.
I see this every single year, from many different places on the web, and in day-to-day conversations – where the “boogeyman” of Halloween and occult mysticism raises the fearful specter of malevolence in the hearts and minds of many. The churches of the White Light, and of the “saved” canvassing the neighborhoods and warning of impending evils and malevolence all because it is Halloween. The constant chants of “The Blood Moon” having ominous overtones to the predominantly-Christian and/or Catholic societies. It is also that time of year, where needless and baseless fears of “The Old Ways” are preached against and pushed to the edges of insanity and the apocalyptic mindset. Even many of the “truth-seeker” websites and blogs chime in on their disdain and fear of “the occult”.
Interesting that, even though there is a constant chorus of supposed ritual child-sacrifices and other such hegemonious and odious acts being perpetrated across the land, there is very little actual proof that this is indeed as widespread as it is conflated. It has been investigated and even data compiled to reflect that these concerning kinds of acts are actually not anywhere as widespread in the general community, as the churches and their clergies have made them out to be. This is not to deny that any sort of thing may indeed be going on, it is just not as prevalent in our societies as it is made out to be. This even has the backing of years’ worth of federal investigative inquiry, by the FBI and other federal agencies who accumulate such crime statistics. Yet, the annual “fear-fest” continues onward, unabated, from the pulpits across America and most of the Western World.
My perspectives on Halloween, and its meanings.
Since my beginning of the adventures into the Pagan mindset, and my attempt at getting back to the roots of my ancestors’ core beliefs and practices, I have learned a great deal about the “other side of the story”, in concerns with these various changes of the seasons, and their often underappreciated and misunderstood celebrations surrounding them. I was even asked by a couple of friends the other day, about a few things on “Halloween” and if the Druids performed sacrificial rites of blood-sacrifices and even sacrificed children in these rites. I was more than happy to tell them that most of what they were told about these celebrations, seasonal rites, and such – were bogus and very misinformed – all thanks to the “church” and its habit of turning people into fearful wrecks about these things they do not understand.
So, when I saw the beautiful Moon out this evening, I noticed that it was merely a day away from reaching the height of its Lunar Cycle ( the “Full Moon” ) and remembered that this particular moon is often referred to as the “Blood Moon”. Now, much of the hyper Christian, Catholic, Jewish, and even Islamic faiths are usually fed the whole round of fear and loathing for this time of year, and what it supposedly represents. So, please let me help set the record straight, for those who are willing to open their minds and hearts – and actually LEARN SOMETHING different.
How is it that Halloween is associated with Death?
Halloween is a very interesting and also very sacred time of year to some. To some, it is very much like a “Memorial Day” in which folks are to honor and pay their respects to their departed ancestors and loved ones. Whether we refer to it as Halloween, All-Hallows-Eve, Samhain, Dia de los Muertos ( “Day of the Dead” ), or whatever similarities to them, it is that point in the Sun’s cycle that places it centered in between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice. This is the point where the Sun’s appearance in the skies is still decreasing in amount (IE: the ever-shortening daylight) and the nights steadily grow longer. To some, it represents the end of their calendar year. To some others, it may still represent the final harvests of the season (in the Northern Hemisphere – especially towards the High-North, there are usually frosty conditions that preclude any further growth in plant life).
Halloween is representative of Death in the basis that all the plants, insects, etc. around you are towards the end of their cycles (or lives, in some cases). One sees the leaves fall from the trees. After all, those leaves are no longer needed by the trees, as they are beginning their Winter slumber. So, the leaves die off and are shed. Once they become part of the Earth, they become recycled back into the soils so that next years’ growth can come in and be fed by the then-decaying leaves. Nature is very fastidious about recycling and reusing those discontinued parts and pieces that have died off. It is a classic example of the Death of something being necessary for something else to be born, reborn, or awaken, and be able to assume its new Life and liveliness – from the proverbial ashes of the departed old. Whereas Spring, on the very opposite side of the year is about rebirth and renewal, the Fall is about Death and decay so that the Spring “renewal” becomes possible.
Where the term, “Blood Moon”, actually came from.
The occurring Full Moon in this month is referred to as “The Blood Moon”, NOT because of any ill-conceived and horrible ritual slayings of children and other people as the “churches” of today insist, but because it is that time of year that many agrarian households began thinning their herds and flocks. With the coming long Winter months, and the fact that many of their animals (like sheep, cows, goats, and other animals that fed as well as clothed them), were brought into their barns (the Northern nights did get very cold in those areas), this also meant a limited amount of space for feed. If one had only enough feed to guarantee for about ten animals of a sort, then the extra populations (from the Spring breeding and such) would create a questionable burden on whether the stored feed would be able to feed all of their animals over the Winter. So, the stronger, more able animals were usually spared (for next years’ breeding, etc.) and the excess numbers were culled. Usually this meant that those animals that were to be slaughtered, would also provide for meats on the table, and hides and such for clothing, beds, and whatever other usable parts could be fashioned, used, sold, or whatever. Hence, the term “Blood Moon” simply meant, “That time of year, where we would select which animals were going to be kept alive for next year, as opposed to those that were going to be slaughtered and used to feed the family during the Winter.”
From what one gentleman once told me about the final harvests, usually, once the harvests were done, anything left behind was left to Nature’s “other children”, so that they could feed themselves on what we left. This was taken to mean, “Give some back to the Earth that first gave to you.” Some cultures even went as far as to plow the fields one last time, so as to till the reminder of the stubble, etc. back into the soils. This would help the soils break down the leftovers a bit quicker, and allow the Winter frost-actions to help out in the breakdown process. So generally, if you have an herb garden, or any kind of garden, it may be a great time to take what is left of your “compostables”, and till them under the soil, so that your garden gets a good chance to convert those organic leftovers into food for the coming Spring.
This Pagan form of a “Memorial Day”.
Earlier in this post, I mentioned that Halloween was often associated with Death, and also a time when some ancient cultures commemorated and honored their dead. Because many of the early Pagans understood that Death was as much a part of existence as was Life, they also understood that Death was always at hand because of Life. They understood that Nature was not only about Life and living, it was also about death and dying. They understood the cycles that all living things, including man, must go through as a natural progression. So they were less likely to have the abhorrent and paralyzing fear of death, that today’s “churchified” societies do. They saw no sense in spending an entire life fearing what is an imminent eventuality; Death.
Being that this was a time of year that reminded them of the cycles of Nature, and that this time of year was the end of the cycles for most of Nature’s creatures, this also reminded them of their own mortality, and what they have experienced and done with their lives so far. It was also a time to reflect on the many lessons that their departed elders and ancestors taught them, when they were growing up. It was a time to pay tribute to those ancestors who taught them, “The Ways of Life”, and helped them to begin understanding the world around them. Many of the ancient cultures revered their departed ancestors with very solemn services, rites, ceremonies, etc. while others may have celebrated life on behalf of what they learned from their departed elders. So, there are many different ways that this time of year was celebrated and revered, just as there are as many different traditions, cultures, and customs in existence.
One very common practice that seems to have been embraced by many of the neo-pagan and wiccan groups, is the “dumb-supper” rite. This is basically a rite celebrated usually at home or in the home of others, if not at some formalized location that provides the necessary space to conduct a fully-performed ritual or ceremony. Once the main parts of the ritual or ceremony is done (but the ritual or ceremony, itself, may actually not yet be concluded), the group sits down together at a feast where at least one placement at the table is left vacant, but with a plate and glass or cup served anyway. This was to symbolize the “missing” or departed. It was also in honor of the departed in that they were still thought of at that evening’s meal. Some attendees may have even given a little portion from their plates to the “dumb-supper” placement, before seating themselves down to eat. This was regarded as “offering some of their first-fruits”, in honors to the departed. Once the supper was concluded, the final remaining supper at the table was usually blessed, on behalf of the departed, and buried somewhere, ceremoniously or perhaps given to the wilds (not always recommended, though) and in deepest respects.
The perfect time for Divination and “Fortune-Telling”.
Well. It is a proven fact, that Halloween seems to be one of the most favored times of year for doing such things as fortune-telling, readings, Ouija Boards, Tarot, crystal ball gazing, and of course, Seances! I have personally been hired, a time or two, do some of my Rune Readings for folks at private Halloween parties (one in which landed me a hefty parking ticket! Grrrrr!) The belief behind this “psychically-prone” time of year was that, “the veil between the worlds was at its thinnest”. The thought behind this is that it would be easiest to communicate with the Spirits of the departed and other spirits that inhabited the “other world(s)” during this time. This may be true to some, or may be just another “ism” to cash in on, by those who usually do their best business this time of year. However, it is well worth considering the fact that it is still a very fun time of year.
I noticed that Seances are VERY popular among enthusiasts, especially at this time of year. Perhaps one of the most mysterious and least understood arts in spirituality, it is still very popular to the point that many have built a fairly reliable business model in conducting Seances for groups, large and small. October has historically been the best time for some to experience a Seance session. A well-conducted session, with the right environment and the right “mindset”, can accomplish many very interesting experiences for all of those in attendance.
Some more interesting thoughts about Halloween.
This was also a thought with many of the ancient cultures who believed that evil spirits, as well as good spirits, would or could most easily manifest themselves around their homes and communities. This being perhaps one of the reasons for the masks and Jack-O-Lanterns catching on as a “tradition” or custom. There are many different explanations as to where “Trick-or-Treat” came from. One of the more common aspects explained by some, is that it had to do with dealing with and defending against the onslaught of the tricks and deeds of “evil or malevolent spirits”. It was believed that if one placed scary-looking totems outside their doors and around their homes, that these totems would provide for protection of the homes by scaring away the malevolent spirits. This is perhaps one of the sources of ideas for garden Gnomes and Gargoyles as not only decorative, but also useful “guardian statuary”.
Some cultures believed that to protect their otherwise defenseless children, they would dress their children in dark clothing (to supposedly hide them in the darkness of night), and have them wear scary-looking masks so that the malevolent spirits could not tell they where human children. Interesting that the child’s game of “Trick-or-Treat”, may have had something to do with the prankish nature of some of the children, by attempting scare their unwary neighbors. Such must have become a very enduring tradition, if not a very profitable one for the children, as they saw an easy mark to “extort” treats from their surprised neighborhoods. So, this may or may not be THE explanation of how it all started, but it is a fun thing to contemplate when exploring the historical roots of such a tradition. It is just such as huge shame, that one must be very careful when he/she lets the children engage in a very old pasttime, in this modern age – as there are countless examples of children getting very severely injured and even poisoned by those who are so malevolent in their treatment of the neighborhood children abound. What was once a very fun filled evening of activity for the young children, often gifted with some very special treats too, has turned into another nightmare of dangers when parents are not careful enough – in an increasingly hostile world.
Some more thoughts on Ritual Abuse activities and other not-so-kindly acts.
Though I sounded a bit dismissive of such, earlier in this post, I did NOT rule out that such kinds of activities did not happen at all. In fact, I know they DO happen in some circles and would like to give a few thoughts of mine on this.
First, the common problem I have, that is often the case with ignorance to the facts as well as missing the mark of commonsense, is that when such activities are found to have happened – It gets blamed on the “occult” in general. That, and the whole of the pagan community gets a black-eye when any mention of ritual abuse is found or known to be happening. This is just plain wrong and ignorant. Any genuine Pagan, who truly respects and reveres the Laws of Nature should already know that “ALL life is to be respected and revered”, including human life. ALL life has value in the Natural world, regardless what mankind (or those supposed “leaders” thereof) think and believe. This has been one of my biggest heartaches about today’s “revealed religions” and their “churches”: Their continued belief that Nature is corrupt, and mankind is born “broken” – only to be fixable by swearing absolute, unquestioning fealty to THEIR particular God(s).
Second, The problem of ritual abuse should see the blame placed squarely upon those who commit these horrendous acts and/or those who supported or otherwise condoned those acts! The rest of the pagan community, or any other spirituality-leaning group(s) did not commit these acts, nor do very many of them condone such acts – regardless if done in a ritual or ceremony or NOT. The ritual killing of an innocent life, purely for the act of killing it, is WRONG and a WASTE of a life that could have been suitable for more productive purposes. I would rather do my own workings with my animal companions alive, well, and similarly enjoying the experiences as I do. There are much more favorable energies to be had with them as magical partners in the living, than as dead as a log. My belief is, “that if you intend to kill an animal for something, better it be either for its own good (like if it is about to die a painful death, naturally) or if you intend to use it for food, clothing, tools, or whatever righteous use for its remains.” – If I kill an animal for a specific need or use, I will make damned sure that it is properly thanked and respected for the life it once led, and the gift of life that it “gives” me. – This was how the ancients also felt about Nature’s Sacred Gifts.
Third, I am very well aware that there ARE certain groups who DO INDEED engage in and practice these ritual abuses, all in the supposed name of “spirituality”. These kinds of groups usually have members who have a very warped and convoluted way of view the world, and the things living within it. These kinds of folks are usually the kind who have very little respect for any life that they do not physically control, YET – that is. Usually, these kinds of folks are also the type who feel they have the world that belongs to them, and only them. They are usually the type who control large estates and perhaps even control entire industries and societies. To them, these mysterious and horrid things they engage in, serve the purpose of maintaining an aura of fear among the populace, and keep the people fearful of venturing into any area they are not cordially invited to. (Sounds like much of the so-called “elites” in their manipulations of the public!)
Perhaps the biggest reason why the pagans and other new-age groups catch so much flack, not only from the “churches” and their clergies, but also from the political systems too. These kinds of activities are very effective in keeping the public’s fear alive and well. Of course, Fear is one of the most effective tools in a tyrant’s toolbox of tricks. Therefore, that leaves something of a responsibility of educating the masses, to the more decent and honorable pagan and new-age communities. It should be considered our part to inform and educate the public that we are not of “them” (the elit-ists), and “they” are not of us! A truly enlightened public has no need of fear of the unknown, because a truly enlightened public would conceivably know most of what has been effectively kept from them, all these years.
So, to the folks who spend their “special Summer break” at what is called Bohemian Grove: “YOU are not like the rest of us pagans! YOU are just a bunch of evil folks who dare to use OUR sacred arts for your sick pleasures! – SHAME on ALL OF YOU!!!”
So, this Halloween, All-Hallows-Eve, Samhain, Dia de los Muertos, or whatever name you have for this time of year – How about we all come together and reclaim the lost honors due these Holy Days – and teach our people the right things about them??? Maybe this is the way to demystify them, and remove all doubt and resulting fear of them. Let’s put the churches’ “Fear-Mongering Machines” and the corrupt elit-ists’ mindgames out of business, shall we???
We can all do it with Peace, Love, and Light in our Beings!
” Be Blessed, Always and Muchly! ”
– Rev. Dragon’s Eye
Founder, Temple of The Ancient Dragons