Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Pagan perspective on Halloween

In "Samhain and what it is," Pagan writer Theresa Chaze writes about her frustrations with "fundamentalist Christians" who attack her holiday. After describing an encounter with a seven-year old Christian trick-or-treater, she writes, "Which brings me to my rant. I was talking to some of the neighborhood girls. I asked them how they were going to dress for Halloween. One told me that she was going to dress as a belly dancer and was going to a Hallelujah Party. I bit my tongue and smiled. I just find it amazing how hypocritical the parents are. They change the name and think it will suddenly stop making it Pagan. A duck is a duck whether or not you call it a swan. October 31 is the Pagan holiday Samhain, no matter what you call it."

You Call It Hallowe'en... We Call It Samhain
Full article above. Here is an excerpt:
It is an important holiday for us. Witches are diverse, and practice a variety of traditions. Many of us use this time to practice forms of divination (such as tarot or runes). Many Witches also perform rituals to honor the dead; and may invite their deceased loved ones to visit for a time, if they choose. This is not a "seance" in the usual sense of the word; Witches extend an invitation, rather than summoning the dead, and we believe the world of the dead is very close to this one. So on Samhain, and again on Beltane (May 1st), when the veil between the worlds is thin, we attempt to travel between those worlds. This is done through meditation, visualization, and astral projection. Because Witches acknowledge human existence as part of a cycle of life, death and rebirth, Samhain is a time to reflect on our mortality, and to confront our fears of dying."

A couple of my own thoughts:
First, one might ask, "Why are you getting so up in the air over all this Halloween stuff? God is more powerful than anything." That's the point. Because He is more powerful, we should operate in awe of Him and His sovereign judgment to come over the activities of our lives. We are Christians, not Pagans. It is important to warn fellow believers that participating in the celebration of Halloween is a pagan activity. I am not addressing or condemning non-Christians' participating in Halloween/Samhain. I am warning those who name the name of Jesus Christ. Celebrating a pagan holiday is not becoming of a Christian. It is not what a church should be involved in. It is certainly not what pastors should encourage their people to be involved in. It is a pagan rite which has nothing to do with Christianity and is irredeemable by Christianity.

Second, you cannot say you are redeeming a holiday when you are celebrating it the same way the pagans do. Nothing is being redeemed. It is being celebrated and joined. There has been no viable Christian meaning attached to October 31/November 1. If we really celebrated the lives of the saints as All Souls Day November 1 calls for, that would be a redemption. If we celebrated the 95 Theses being nailed to the door in Wittenberg, that would be a redemption of the day. But instead, we participate in Druidistic forms with no redeemed meaning.

At least Constantine redeemed the festival of Saturnalia on December 25 and instituted the celebration of Jesus' birth. He successfully attempted to redeem the pagan celebration by creating new meanings for old forms. So today, a Christmas tree is a symbol of Christ's everlasting life, not an idol from German witchcraft. Even Santa Claus is simply a modern corruption of the celebration of the life of St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker, one of the greatest intercessors of all church history. Easter, a day to celebrate the fertility gods, has been redeemed with new meanings to old forms in its replacement with the glorious Resurrection of Christ Jesus.

Christmas has been redeemed. Easter has been redeemed. Halloween has not been redeemed. It is still celebrated as a day for the dark world, and its forms still represent darkness. Halloween cannot be redeemed. There is nothing holy about the day. There is nothing inherent in its meanings which can be attached to Christianity. There is nothing redemptive in any of its forms or meanings. It is folly to claim to redeem the day.

If our problem is that we don't want our children to miss out on the fun, we can give them bags of candy. We can buy or make them costumes to wear all year. We do not celebrate Ramadan because we are Christians and not Muslims. We do not celebrate Deepavali because we are Christians and not Hindus. We should teach our children that we do not celebrate Halloween because we are Christians and not pagans. We should teach our children not to celebrate a day when other children their age are being sacrificed at altars of demons. The early church would have had no problem seeing the issue here, and neither do Christians in cultures that are only one or two generations removed from witchcraft and paganism. Why are we Westerners so blind to spiritual reality?

These are our family's convictions based on Scripture, and we don't force them on anyone else. We also appreciate the respect not to have Halloween forced on us as if something is wrong with us and we are mean to our kids if we don't celebrate an unredeemed day. However, we are often treated as the weaker brother and disdained as "holier than thou" and a backward anachronism because we are not interested in celebrating the familiar spirits of our British heritage.

It is foolish for any Christian to participate in Halloween, and it is dangerous for any Christian leader to encourage other Christians to participate in such sin or berate those whose convictions lead them to abstain.

"... have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." [Ephesians 5:11]

"For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?" [2 Corinthians 6:14, 15]

Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God. The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so. [Deuteronomy 18:10-14]

Following are more examples of what witches say about the nature of Halloween and how it is not a Christian holiday. If pagans themselves say this about their own holiday, why should Christians want to celebrate it? In fact, note that some seem to assume that those of other religions would not participate in their pagan celebration.

Hallows Eve: The Season of the Witch and the Six Turnings for the Dark Master of Elfhame
"Christians love the white Christ. Muslims love Allah. Buddhist devotees of Kuan Yin love her dearly. What about we of the Old Faith? What is the nature of our Relationship with the Great Spirits that gave us birth, life, and who encircle us in ever-new images? What about the Dark Master who becomes powerful in the Winter? He rides the land with his Yell-Hounds, hunting for lost souls, and the old legends tell us that it was a lethal danger to be caught in the nighted countryside alone when the Horned Master's Hunt rode by. And his Lady? The Queen of the Dead, whose embraces and kisses are death and mourning? The pale faced, red-lipped ghastly Mother who is circled by the groaning and cackling dead? Can we love such beings as these? How should we relate to them? These are all good questions, questions that the season of Hallows affords us a good chance to consider."

Samhain vs Halloween - Are We Losing Our Traditions' Meanings?
This witch is concerned that Halloween is getting too negative and dark:Such a thought occurred to me when I was buying my pumpkin. Why do we carve them to look evil? Surely negativity is attracted by negativity?" And believers in Jesus Christ and their churches are ignorantly flinging themselves wholesale into this dark holiday that is darkening by the year.

Reflections on Samhain
Celearwen from Arizona is concerned that political correctness is taking the real meaning out of Halloween. Excerpt:"What’s next? Banning the holiday entirely, and replacing it with a politically correct fall festival-type event that still generates the same revenue, but has none of the ‘excessive, icky, gore’ that we’ve all become used to? We’ve already politically corrected Christmas until it is ‘squeaky-clean’ and we have continually over the years portrayed angels as cute, adorable little children who would never hurt us."

"With the great weight this day holds for so many of us, and the misconceptions still held by many others, I would love to see my local news stations just do an interview with a Witch/Pagan/Heathen about what Samhain really means and not about how so-and-so’s decorations look too scary to his/her little children. (Those same parents will possibly be the ones who will insist that their Christmas decorations of the holy family and Wise Men could not possibly offend anyone. Two-faced, is it not?)"

Samhain in the Shadow of Halloween
Samhain (pronounced sow-en) is, for Witches and Pagans, a High Holy Day, a great Sabbath. It is an honored day shown in the turning of the Great Wheel. Samhain is celebrated on October 31st -Nov 1st. It marks the end of Summer and the beginning of Winter. The name may be changed, but whether you call it Samhain, Halloween, Day of the Dead, Shadow Feast, All Hallows Eve, Old Hallowmas, All Souls Day, Last Harvest, etc., Samhain is a day of celebration. The Goddess offers a sad farewell to the God. We know that He will once again be reborn of the Goddess and the cycle will continue. In this time of reflection, may we remember and honor the Ancients who have gone on before us."

Halloween Witch: Halloween is a special time for this witch.An Interfaith SamhainA shamanic witch and a Baptist minister celebrate Halloween together in northern California. The ignorance exhibited here is multiplied throughout Christian churches through Trunk or Treats, Halloween carnivals, and the like.