a puritan's blog

O God, stamp eternity on my eyeballs…

THE ORIGINS OF HALLOWEEN

Come with me to the south of Britain; it is cool, late autumn, and the time is 300 years before the birth of Jesus. The Celtic
civilization is in full flower. The people are thoroughly pagan,
worshipping many gods, and are ruled in a sense by kings; but
the real power is in the hands of the Druids, a secret priestly society which
rules by terror and by sorcery. When the king becomes too old to lead in
battle or to father children, they sacrifice him to the gods, cutting his body
cavity open while he is still alive and using his internal organs for divination
and other magic. (From National Geographic, Vol. 151, No.5.)
Spiritual darkness covers the land, overshadowing every aspect of the
people’s lives. But now the darkness is thicker still, and more threatening,
for it is October 31st, the festival of Samhain, the Festival of Death.
The Druids go from house to house dressed in peculiar robes with mysterious
magical markings (their costumes), heads covered, silent as death,
they appear. Each has, slung over his shoulder on a cord, a large, hollowed-
out turnip with an oil lamp burning inside. Carved into the side of the
hollow turnip is a hideous face, the likeness of the demon spirit that dwells
inside (the origins of our modern-day Jack’o Lanterns).
The Druid spokesman demands certain foods. If the people comply, they
pass on in silence; if their demands are not met, the people and their home
are cursed with trouble, sickness and death (the origins of our modern-day
“Trick or Treat”).
The hillside fires roar skyward, summoning and guiding the spirits of the
wicked dead. Cats screech and howl (the Druids believe them to be reincarnations
of the wicked dead, possessed with supernatural knowledge
and power). It is a night of sickening terror.
As the midnight hour approaches, the madness increases, human sacrifices
are ripped open, hearts torn out still beating; the viscera are spilled in
the dust to be used for divination. The sacrifices are thrown into the fires,
celebrants dancing and screaming around them.
On the hilltops, fires have died down, nothing remaining but ashes and
the bones of the sacrifices. The people call them “bonefires” (bonfires), and
avoid going too near, for the smell of death and the presence of evil still
hang heavily there.
This is where our modern-day Halloween comes from! —Tom C. McHenry

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Until His return

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