So Halloween is almost upon us. Late October is here and with it autumn and its falling leaves and a dying year. This was a special time of year for our ancestors; fall had a power it today lacks. We don’t have to worry about surviving the winter, most of us. We don’t have to worry about stocking enough food or wood because we can drive down the street and get groceries and just turn up a dial to get heat. Life is relatively easy.
Nor do most of us live off the land or experience its cycles. Harvest festivals have little place in the urban environment. But the old ways die hard, as do old beliefs. Christianity has co-opted many old Pagan beliefs over its 2000 year history, including, notably, Christmas, but also Easter and, of course, Halloween. These associations can become problematic for fundamentalists. While vehemently denying any Pagan right to stolen Christmas, fundamentalists are eager to dissociate themselves from Halloween, originally a Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced sow-an or sow-in).
As H.R. Ellis-Davidson points out (Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe, 1988) Samhain marked the beginning of winter, and was a day on which the doors to the Otherworld were open. None of this necessitates evil, unless you believe dead people are evil. The Celts, it must be remembered, had no conception of the Christian “Satan”. Samhain marked (and meant, literally it is thought), “end of summer.” The dead would cross over to visit the living and the living would go into burial mounds to visit the dead. It was a dangerous, but not an evil time. It was a feast because the animals that could not be kept through winter were slaughtered and eaten. Pragmatism was very much a part of polytheistic religions, whereas doctrine and dogma were largely unknown in religions that were centered around not belief, but cultic acts. And this was a time when spirits were not seen as necessarily inimical but could be helpful to a largely agricultural society.
Enter Mission America’s Linda Harvey, who was caught the other day by Right Wing Watch attacking Halloween on her radio show, where she claimed that it is not “loyal to Jesus to participate in the event” and that “it isn’t appropriate for the bride of Christ to observe a holiday founded on the priorities of our spiritual enemy.” Christianity’s invented enemy, Paganism, as I have pointed out here repeatedly, including everyone who doesn’t think or believe like Harvey and her cohorts. It is not only real actual Pagans like yours truly she objects to, but secularists, atheists, and all others who fail to heed the fundamentalist warnings about their god’s jealous wrath.
Watch the video from Right Wing Watch:
Harvey: Everyone thinks Halloween is harmless fun but just for a second, let’s look at from God’s perspective, at least from what He’s told us in His word. We’ve been taught not to worship or bow down to or in any way acknowledge any other gods. But Halloween is built around just exactly that. Behind the costumes and candy is a rebellious flirtation with fallen angels and deceptive spirits, and this definitely does not honor God. Where are these other spirits and gods you ask? Well, Halloween is all about fortune telling, magic, Ouija board, witches, it’s really hard to get away from all this. It’s definitely spiritual and that spirituality is not from our Lord.
So even if your child doesn’t directly participate in these activities, I think we’d be less than honest not to admit that yes it’s a huge part of Halloween. Dressing your child in a clown costume and going door-to-door may seem innocuous but your child has learned the following: blend in and don’t make waves. In those waves at some point in your child’s life will be all the dark elements we just mentioned and more. But the problem is your child will, by that time, have learned from you that Halloween is fun and no problem.
In my agnostic life before I knew the Lord, I loved Halloween. And even after I first became a believer, I had no intention of giving it up – I didn’t want to be a weird fundamentalist. But when I researched the origins and current celebration of Halloween, I was convicted in my heart and it boiled down to this: is it loyal to Jesus to participate in this event? If you’re married, it’s not appropriate to date someone other than your spouse and it isn’t appropriate for the bride of Christ to observe a holiday founded on the priorities of our spiritual enemy.
I suppose it’s fine if people want to avoid Halloween; it’s a free country after all. But from a Pagan perspective those gods and spirits are there nonetheless. But what Harvey needs to understand is that some of us might not wish to be exposed to her religion either, a religion she is always eager to push onto the rest of us. Being a polytheist, of course, I accept the fact of her god’s existence (since all gods by necessity exist) but that doesn’t mean he’s my god, or that I want anything to do with him or with followers of his like Linda Harvey. And inserting Satan is, of course, purely a Christian choice and has nothing to do with what Halloween was originally about, since for Pagan folk Satan did not, and does not, exist.
She may see the gods of polytheism as “dark” but for Pagans, there is more reason to fear the one god than the many, for it’s the “one” on whose behalf centuries of persecutions, inquisitions, holy wars, and witch hunts have taken place, and it is his followers who have done their level best to stamp out any alternative to the “one” and killed millions in the process. And is a process Harvey has not denounced or spoken in opposition to; we can only assume she approves of this dark history and her utterances show she more than embraces the same hate and intolerance that birthed it. If we want to look for dark spirits, we need look no further than that, and Linda Harvey is more frightening than any spirit you might meet the night of October 31st.