Tradition, Superstition & Fascination

31 10 2011

Halloween is an annual celebration, but just what is it actually a celebration of? And how did this peculiar custom originate? The origin of Halloween possibly lies in the traditions of the Celtic people.  In celebration of the recently completed harvest, Celts would give offerings of food to the Gods. They often went from door to door to collect food to donate to their deities. Also, young Celts would ask the townspeople for kindling and wood, and take it to top of the hill for the Samhain bonfire. These are two of the possible origins of present day “trick or treating.” The Celts believed that the veil between this world and the next was thinnest at this time of year. Friends and relatives who had died would often return, with their souls inhabiting an animal – often a black cat. Black cats have remained a symbol of Halloween down to the present time. Samhain was a fire festival. Sacred bonfires were lit on the tops of hills in honor of the Gods. The townspeople would take an ember from the bonfire to their home and re-light the fire in their family hearth. The ember would usually be carried in a holder – often a turnip or gourd. They felt nervous about walking home in the dark; they were afraid of evil spirits. So they dressed up in costumes and carved scary faces in their ember holders. They hoped that the spirits would be frightened and not bother them. Today we see people dress in costume for celebration, and we see faces carved in pumpkins for festive decoration.

Halloween was originally called All Hallows’ Eve which means the evening before All Saints’ Day. “Hallow” is an Old English word for “saint”. This was shortened toHallowe’en and finally to Halloween.  All Saints’ Day was created by Pope Boniface IV in the 7th century CE. There were so many saints by this time that there were not enough days in the year to accommodate them. So, All Saints’ Day was to recognize the saints who were without their own day, and to celebrate saints that the Church had failed to recognize.  All Souls’ Day was created for NOV-2 to honor faithful Christians who had died but were not saints. The three days from OCT-31 to NOV-2 was given the name Hallow Tide. This may have been done in order to distract Christians from celebrating Samhain. ( For full definition of Samhain:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samhain . )

The custom of Halloween was brought to America in the 1840’s by Irish immigrants fleeing their country’s potato famine. Halloween has since become a major folk holiday in the US and Canada. “Trick or Treaters” go from door to door and collect candies, apples and other goodies. Hallmark Cards reports that 65% of Americans will decorate their homes and offices for Halloween. This percentage is exceeded only by Christmas. Halloween is the holiday when the most candy is sold; it is second only to Christmas in total sales. North Americans spend over $20 million on Halloween candies yearly. Halloween also is the third-largest party occasion next to Christmas and New Year’s Eve. So, although some cults may have adopted Halloween as their favorite “holiday,” the day itself did not grow out of evil practices. It grew out of the rituals of Celtic celebrations, and out of Medieval prayer rituals of Europeans. After all, the day itself is only as evil as one cares to make it.

Most of us are familiar with common Halloween traditions like trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, and dressing in costume but there are some ancient traditions I thought might be fun to explore that you may not be familiar with from around the world.

The first one I’d like to mention is one I remember reading about as a child and always wanting to attempt, but being too much of a skeptic or pessimist I’ve yet to try it.  This is the less famous “trick” where a woman is supposed to stand before a mirror at the stroke of midnight and bite into an apple.  The reflection of her future husband was supposed to appear in the mirror or the reflection of a skull, which would signify that she would die an old maid.  In writing this, I saw several versions of this “tradition” but this is the one I remember best from my mother’s tales as a child. Unfortunately, I was unable to find it’s orgin.

Barmback is a custom with Irish roots as well.  Barmback is a type of raisin bread that can be served year round, but on Halloween certain objects are traditionally baked into the bread: a pea, a stick, a coin, some cloth and a ring.  Each object carries significance so if you got a piece of break holding one of these objects, you would know your fortune.  The pea means you will not be getting married in the next year while the ring, of course, means that you would.  The stick signifies an unhappy marriage, the cloth signifies bad finances and the coin signifies wealth is headed your way.

In Whales, families would practice the tradition of Coelcerth. For Coelcerth, a family would build a fire and write their names on stones surrounding the fire.  If they woke in the morning to find that a person’s stone was missing, this meant the person would die in the next year!

Bonfires are very common on Halloween and derived from several traditions worldwide.  One tradition (with European roots) incorporated into the bonfire celebrations that I found interesting is once again used for the ladies to learn who their future husband would be.  The tradition has the ladies cut a lock of their hair and toss it into the fire, and that evening as they slept and their hair burned their future husband was to be revealed to them in their dreams.

Latin Americans commemorate the holiday with a 3-day celebration that begins on October 31.  The celebration is designed to honor the dead whom, they believe, return to their Earthly homes during this period.  Many families construct altars to the dead in their homes to honor deceased relatives and decorate it with candy, flowers, photos and samples of the deceased favorite foods, drinks and water.  Often a wash basin and towel are also left at the altar so the spirit can wash up before indulging in the feast.

Spell to attract a particular lover

You will need:

a lock of his/her hair, a personal belonging of his/hers or a clear photo of their face (though hair works best)

One pink rose,

Ground Vanilla pods

Dried Avocado

Ginger

Jasmine oil

One red or violet candle inscribed with the love Rune 3X’s

A few drops of (your) blood

Red cloth

Red paper

By the light of the candle, grind up the Avocado with the Vanilla pods and the Ginger… when it is a fine powder, add 5 drops of blood, and as you drop each drop say these words: *Note: face the appropriate direction.* ‘Spirit of the South, ancient one of fire and passion, with this drop of blood I call you to bring my lover to me.’ ‘Spirit of the West, ancient one of water and peace ,with this drop of blood I call you to bring my lover to me.’ ‘Spirit of the North, ancient one of earth and fertility, with this drop of blood I call you to bring my lover to me.’ ‘Spirit of the east, ancient one of air and strength, with this drop of blood I call you to bring my lover to me.’ ‘Akasha, the spirit element of all, with this drop of blood I call you to combine the powers called forth, and bind my lover’s spirit to mine.’ ‘So mote it be!’ Using the new paste, draw the love Rune 3X’s (3 times) on the piece of red paper and empower it, wait for it to dry, and then fold the paper in half. Take the rose and smear on any remaining paste. Place the rose in the red cloth and annoint with Jasmine oil. Now, using the red candle set fire to it, and put it in a bowl until it has gone out. Grind up any lumps left in the ash or remove any stubborn bits, then put the ash into the folded paper and put it in an envelope, seal the envelope with a blob of wax from the candle, and get it to the object of your affections however you can.

 

Spell for Luck

You will need:

Ground/fresh cinnamon

Green candle

Pennies (number in the amount of your birthdate, for instance if your birthday is October 31st you will need 31 pennies)

Burn the green candle surrounded by the pennies.  Chant as the candle burns “Let fortuned winds blow my way.  All that’s evil please allay.  All that’s good and all that’s bane give in turn but for my gain.”  Meditate, focusing on the pennies and repeating this chant until you feel the pennies are charged with positive energy.  On the first following Thursday, dispose of the pennies.  If you keep them, the spell will work opposite.  It is best to give the pennies away as a gift, but dispose of them however you can.

 

Well, I was also going to post a spell about revenge but after reading them they were all pretty scary and I started feeling guilty so I decided I’d leave you with just these two and one last one that I made up for you, but I’m pretty sure it will work.

 

Spell for fun on Halloween

You will need:

Your favorite adult beverages

Your favorite things to eat

Your favorite friends

Your favorite Horror movies

Your favorite music

Your house

Mix above ingredients beginning at dusk on Halloween.  Chant throughout the night “Let’s Party”.  Continue process until you run out of supplies.  Have fun & be safe!

 

 

 

 

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