Halloween, once known as All-Hallows Eve, is the day when pagan practitioners of earth-based religions gather to pay homage to the passing of the old year into the new. All-Hallows is the Greatest Sabbat, the holiest day of the pagan year. This is the time when the veil between the worlds is thinnest, allowing the dead to walk and capricious entities to slip through to the tangible world and create their personal form of havoc.
In days gone by, food and drink were left on the stoop to deter these otherworldly beings from visiting destruction on innocent citizens. Fruits and vegetables were carved with ghoulish faces and lit from within to scare them away. People wore disguises so they could pass among these shifting forms undisturbed to engage in rituals designed to ensure the fields bursting with crops would not be disturbed and the harvest would be enough to see them through the dark half of the year. Herds were gathered close to homes so they could be shielded by bonfires lit in the fields to push back the shadow-dwellers that lurked about seeking savage delight in any form of mayhem they can devise.
The Mother aspect of the Goddess is at her most bountiful at Samhain (sow-in) her distended belly full of the ripening seeds of life sown in spring and nurtured through summer. The God aspect is at his most virile, roaming the forests and fields in the form of stags with their proud racks defending their right to mate the daintiest does and thereby maintain the strength of the herd.
Mead and wine flow freely as family members prepare to welcome back those who have passed to the Other Side. The more benign creatures of fantasy and fey have their own place settings at a special table so they can freely sup with the phantasms and then guide them back to their resting places when their time of wandering is done.
This is the end of the pagan year, when all things that have gone before are laid to rest. Old grudges are settled, debts are paid in full or forgiven. All things from the foregoing year are put aside to make room for what the new year will bring, be it good or not so good. Pagans believe you get back what you give some by three, others by ten. However one counts it, karma, fate or destiny will always circle round and pay in full.
Halloween has nothing to do with Satan, as most pagans do not even acknowledge the Christian’s fallen angel as the root of mankind’s evil. Satanism is the complete antithesis of earth-based paganism. Paganism is about respecting the Earth and finding balance by tuning in to Her rhythm of life and death, dark and light.
Satanists are hedonistic, arrogant, and selfish, indulging their slightest whim with no regard to anyone or anything. Halloween is the Satanist’s time of greatest gluttony and depravity, when they engage in the most base activities to fulfill their desire for debauchery and anarchy. This is not the pagan way.
The pagan way is to harm none, by word, thought or deed, directly or indirectly, purposely or not. The divine balance must be maintained in all things, or chaos will ensue.
Across the northern hemisphere the wheel of the year turns on Halloween to begin the descent into the time of silence and stillness. Soon the harvest will be in. The fields will lie fallow. The herds will be thinned and food stores will be secured to carry through the “death” of the Mother. She will become the Crone, the one who soothes and comforts the dying Earth and leads Her into slumber. The sun will slowly lose his power until He too fades into another aspect, the Lord of Death, guardian of the Underworld and Keeper of the Dead.
Halloween is the time when the balance can most easily be tipped. On this most-holy day and night, we celebrate the lives we have seen fade away and welcome the crisp breath of autumn that leads us into winter’s chill. The Greatest Sabbat is a time of change and reflection, a time to begin solidifying preparations for the coming frost. It is the time to lay all that passed before to rest and look forward to the quiet of winter before the joyful rebirth of Nature in spring.
By Brandi Tasby