The Contemporary New England Witch

The Contemporary New England Witch
Ms Faith

Monday, September 19, 2011

The History of Halloween ~ Part 1 ~ The Celtic Connection

 Good Evening,

Tonight I'll start a series of short discussions covering a vast topic, 'The History of Halloween', that will run over the next few weeks.

The topic of these discussions will be featured in a program by the same name I will be conducting at Manchester Community College on Friday October 21, 2011.  I start the evening's program with the audience eavesdropping  on the Witches of Shakespeare's MacBeth.  Then the program is conducted with a Power Point presentation along with ample opportunity to ask questions. Each person will be given a 'charm' magickal stone to help them connect with loved ones who have passed.  If you would like to enroll for this one night class please go to the bottom of this discussion and click the link to bring you to MCC's Credit Free Continuing Education Division and you can enroll by going through the Fall Catalog. The fee for this class is $20.00 payable to MCC.  If the link does not work, or is not visible, (I'm not the most techy witch in the coven!!) please call 860-512-2800 to register over the phone. Thanks, it would be great to have you in class!

To start our discussion, let's consider Halloween from a bit of a distance shall we? Let's see .  .  .  we've got black cats, ghosts and witches to start. Then we have little hobgoblins dressed like fairy princesses and cowboys demanding candy one evening late in October.  We have superstitions, traditions and imagery that only seems to work this time of year.  The night air is growing chill and the days are growing shorter. We soon are to celebrate the Fall Equinox this week.  Where did the holiday of Halloween come from and how did all the celebration and pageantry of this season come to be?

To answer these questions we need to peer back through time to the land of the ancient Celtic tribes that migrated West from Eastern Europe to eventually settle in the British Isles. The land and culture of the Irish seems to contribute a large part to the modern Halloween tradition. The ancient Celts were governed by their religious rulers, the Druids. The Celtic Sabbat of Samhain pronounced (Sow-en) occurred at the end of October and was a turning point on the Wheel of the Year indicating the last harvest of the growing season. Samhain is Gaelic for November and the holy-day, or holiday, marked the beginning of winter and the month of November.

 The Tor - an ancient mound found in Western Great Britain and has a long and magickal history and was believed to have been used by the ancient Celts and Druids for sacred processionals during Sabbats.

The ancient Celts had many beliefs and many surrounded the death and reincarnation of the human spirit in the human vehicle of the body. They felt that spirits roamed close to humans on the earth and that at certain times of the year, it was easier than others, to communicate with them, as it was believed much knowledge could be gained from the spirit world.

This was the time of the year when the ancients celebrated a 'Day of the Dead' a memorial, remembrance holiday where loved ones who have passed on were remembered, revered and celebrations were held in honor of the dead.  Just about every ancient tribal culture has some sort of 'Day of the Dead' in their cultural history.



Divination, the ability to see what will happen in the future, was a serious business to the Celtic people as well as for the Druids, who were the Priests and religious leaders of the Celts. Divining the future with crystal balls, in pools of water and in flames as well as the cracks that develop in bones placed in the fire are all ancient methods of telling the future. There is belief that the Druid's practiced all of these methods and more.

The Druid's felt that to appease the spirits, offerings needed to be made. At one time in the far, distant past, the Celts did practice human sacrifice. They felt that the offering or gift given to the Gods in gratitude and in return for the life they received from the Gods needed to be significant and worthy. A life for a life.  After time the offerings became less deadly and became symbolic of life i.e. cakes, breads, fruits and nuts, wines, honey and then the burning of candles as votive offerings.


  When early Christianity came on the scene several thousands of years later, the ancient Sabbat of Samhain became renamed and re-dedicated, also to the spirits of the dead but more precisely, November 1st became All-Hallow's Day later renamed All-Saint's Day.  This day was dedicated to the most hallowed, the saintly that were set aside as very special by the early Catholic Church.  The night before in the old English was soon referred to as to the eve of All Hallows. So we have All-Hallow's Eve on October 31st, All Hallow's Day on November 1st and then we have All-Soul's Day for everyone else not special enough for notice the day before and they were honored on November 2nd. The early church took this most sacred of Pagan holy days and made it a three day holiday that featured fasting, praying and sacrificing of earthly pleasures.

 All Saint's Day



There was for many people for many, many years a belief that spirits roamed all over the earth all the time, but were especially fearsome and dangerous after dark. Of course, this speaks to the basic human psyche where what we can't see causes us fear. The dark back then was a serious consideration as light was not readily created and available as it is today.  Candles were costly and cast dim light at best for several hundreds of years until the formulation was evolved and with the addition of wax rather than animal fat,  candles became brighter.  But for centuries the night held fear and danger, in most peoples minds, so anything they could do to alleviate this fear was helpful. Sympathetic magick abounds around Halloween. Sympathetic magick is kind of like saying 'like attracts like'  for instance if you wanted to scare away evil spirits,  you made scary faces at them! What would scare a human should by definition scare a spirit.

And yes, I can see all sorts of arguments for this knowing what we know of magickal principles today, but the ancient people saw simple logic. Scary was scary. So the Irish would carve turnips (not an easy feat, I tell you true!!) with scary faces like our Jack-O'-Lanterns of today and they would also put a candle inside to light them up and they were used as make-shift lanterns to light the way on All Hallow's Eve. 

Eventually the tradition of leaving out 'treats' to appease the spirits became common place. The day of All-Soul's Day celebrated on November 2nd,  over time developed into a tradition where people, beggars at the start, would go 'a-souling' and would beg at people's doorsteps for food and drink.  Soon 'soul cakes' were developed and fed to those coming to the door that day or night. Eventually this past time was taken over by children who would go to doors begging for treats of sweets, cakes and candies.  

The Druid's would also dress in costumes and masks to scare away the evil forces they felt would come close on the eve of All Hallow's Day.  This was a big feast celebration as it was considered the last food harvest of the year and according to tradition the next would be August 1st of the following year! There was much superstition and traditions created around the dark half of the year From November 1st until May 1st the following spring. The dark, the cold, illness, lack of fresh food all succeeded in causing many winter deaths for even the healthiest and strongest tribes that made up the Celtic empire.  

Dressing up as goblins and ghosts became a part of this part of Halloween.  As this tradition grew and evolved the promise of treats to keep the mischievous spirits that roamed the countryside that night from practicing tricks on the innocent became a significant part of our modern Halloween tradition. Soon mischievous spirits became mischievous children and young adults.


 Carved Turnip Jack - O'- Lantern 

 When the Colonists first came to America the Halloween traditions were not followed as the Puritans and then later Protestants were against the Catholic church and their practices and so the celebrations of All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day were not recognized or celebrated until the middle to end of the 19th century (1800's) as immigrants came to America, many from Ireland. They brought with them their varied and colorful customs of celebrating this ancient of holidays.  The Irish may have been traditional but they were also resourceful and smart! They soon realized that carving pumpkins was a whole lot easier than carving rock hard turnips and the pumpkin Jack- O'-Lantern was created.  The pumpkin was also a seasonal staple in Colonial America and many delicious dishes were created during the Colonial period and one tasty seasonal favorite has become pumpkin pie.
 Harvest Pies 

Pumpkin Pie, a seasonal favorite is considered to be an effective love spell for men especially. Ladies if you want to increase and enhance the love you share with a man, feed him pumpkin pie. The ingredients from the pumpkin squash, the cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg, the brown sugar and molasses all have love and lust magickal properties. These work well on men whereas for ladies, yes Pumpkin pie works as a tasty love spell, as does Apple Pie, the apples being distinctly feminine in magickal properties.

Magickal Pumpkin Love Pie

 Burn one red candle while preparing and baking pie.  Then burn another red candle or continue with the same candle while you and your lover share the dessert.


1 ready made, white dough pie crust in the refrigerated section of your local market

1 large can ready pack pumpkin 
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp mace
1 Tbsp molasses

Beat eggs together until well mixed, then brush some of the egg mixture on the inside of the crust and place crust in 400 degree oven for 5 minutes until the egg is dried and crust is sealed.  While crust is baking, mix the rest of the ingredients together with a hand mixer and make sure everything is well incorporated.  Take crust out of oven and let sit for five minutes. Then pour pumpkin mixture into the crust and place in 400 degree oven. As soon as pie is in oven, turn down the heat to 350 and bake for 35 -45 minutes, or until skewer comes out clean.  Allow to cool to room temperature or refrigerate if desired.  Serve with fresh vanilla scented whipped cream and share one slice, with one fork with your sweetie. Each feeding the other and allowing the spell to wash loving, happy energies over you both. The rest is up to you!!







Remember to get outside a bit before the air turns cold. So many things can be done in a couple of months indoors, so schedule outdoor activities and chores while we can still enjoy being out!

Peace and Happiness





   © 2010-2011 Enchantments, LLC Portions of this blog posting may include materials from my book “Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies.” For more information, see www.enchantmentsschool.com or go to the title of tonight's discussion and click, it will link you to my school's website.

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2 comments:

  1. I attended the History of Halloween class last year and enjoyed it so much I was thinking of coming again!

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  2. I really loved this post!! If I can get the money together I would love to take this class!! I am a new follower and very much looking forward to getting to know you! Merry Meet new friend :)

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