When this collection of essays on Halloween was initially written in 1997,
almost all Halloween web sites by conservative Christians had gross inaccuracies. Very few authors based their
writing on primary sources. Instead, they used secondary, conservative Christian
writings filled with errors. Some of the most popular
That Samhain was a Celtic God of the Dead.
That Druids and Wiccans -- both ancient and modern -- engage in human sacrifice.
In recent years, some conservative Christians have begun to write much more accurate essays about
Halloween, Wiccan and other Neopagan traditions. Neopaganism is
treated as a collection of non-Christian religions that are unique faith
groups in their own right, rather
than as a group of anti-Christian religions. Many of the non-historical beliefs have
been dropped. This type of writing has become more common among conservative Christians. However, its existence
bodes well for the future.
Two essays are analyzed below.
Rafael Martiniz is the director of the Tennessee Valley Bible Students
Association and its "Spirit Watch" web site. His essay is titled: "Halloween:
Treat or Trick?" 1
Introduction: He describes the common belief that Halloween is "just
another harmless season of celebration and party-going."
Halloween's source: He writes: "the underlying essence of our
celebrations of Halloween is based upon modern Wiccan interpretations of
pre-Christian paganism..." Most historians would probably disagree
with this belief. One reason is that Halloween has
been in existence a lot longer than Wicca. Wicca and modern-day
Halloween activities are very separate traditions, the former religious and the
latter secular. Both are vaguely linked to
ancient, Celtic, pre-Christian practices.
The situation is similar to the
belief among some conservative Christians about believers in the theory of evolution
-- that the latter believe that humans were descendent from apes. This is an often repeated
error even now -- a century after the death of Charles Darwin. Scientists generally believe that humans and apes had a common
ancestor. They believe that humans did not get their DNA from apes.
Rather, human and ape DNA can be traced back to an ancient animal from
which they have both descended.
Wicca: Although he has not established that modern-day
Halloween practices were derived from Wicca or from another Neopagan tradition,
he tackles Wiccan and Paganism for much of the remainder of his essay:
The Occult: He states that Halloween involves: "...occultic rites
and practices that Christians should have no dealings with." Some
might argue that it is no longer accurate to include Wicca under the catchall term of
"Occultic." In Occultic
religions, pastimes, and other activities, knowledge is kept secret from the public
and only released to initiates in small quantities during a lengthy
training session. That may have been true
in the early decades of Wicca, within its more tightly structured
traditions such as Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca. However, much of
modern day Wicca is eclectic in nature. Beliefs and practices are
generally shared at Pagan festivals. Full descriptions of most traditions can be obtained
from books which are sold in any large book store. There is a growing realization that Wicca and
other forms of Paganism are simply ordinary religions, like Christianity,
Islam, and Judaism. Thus, casual involvement by a Christian in Wiccan
activities (e.g. watching a public Pagan solstice ritual) would be as harmless as taking
a tour of a Mosque or Synagogue.
Deity: Martiniz describes Paganism as being based on both:
Polytheism in which followers believe in multiple deities, and
Pantheism in which believers see every existing entity (humans, animals, etc.) as a part of
Others might argue that Wicca and other Neopagan traditions are based on either:
Monotheism, because believers ultimately recognize only one supreme,
genderless deity, sometimes called "The All," or "The One,"
Henotheism, because believers recognize a single deity, of whom gods and goddesses (or the Goddess
and her Consort) are viewed as different aspects of that supreme deity.
History: Martiniz accurately describes Druidism; Celtic
practices; the Celtic end-of-the-warm-season festival "Samhain;"
and adoption of festival into Christianity by the early Church.
Ritual: He differentiates between Christianity and Paganism in
the area of ritual. But it might be argued that differences are not that
great. Both religions create sacred space and invoke deity during their
rituals. They both
frequently attempt to change the future: Christians do this via prayer; Pagans via magick.
Symbols: The main point of his essayis a perceived linkage between Pagan rituals and secular
Pagans, on rare occasions, use masks during rituals. Children
sometimes wear masks with their Halloween costumes.
Candles are often used in Pagan rituals. At Halloween, people
sometimes place candles inside Jack-O-Lanterns.
Some Pagans wearing black clothing because black is the color that
they associate with life. (White, the color of bones, is associated with
death.) Some children wear dark clothing at Halloween, although it is not
recommended for safety reasons.
He also cites two Pagan rituals which appear to have no corresponding secular Halloween rituals:
Necromacy (contact with the dead).
Divining the future.
He likens trick-or-treating with Muck Olla who was referred to by another
Christian web site as an alleged "early
Druid deity." 2 Still another Christian web site refers to
Muck Olla as a Celtic sun god. 3 "Muck" is in reality a type of mythical
boogie-man from Yorkshire in England. His name is grounded in old folk stories; he never
existed as a Druidic deity. Martiniz notes that in ancient times, there
was an implied threat that if the home owner didn't dispense candy to the
children, that they would experience misfortune. This he compares to the modern Halloween
ritual where the kids come to the door asking for candies.
The question posed by Martiniz' "Halloween:
Treat or Trick?" essay is whether a child's Halloween mask, or a
candle in a Jack-O-Lantern are directly linked to ancient Pagan ritual. Or
are they just a harmless mask and candle. Is the activity of a child, whose
only concern is getting candy at a front door, somehow linked to to the
practice of satisfying an ancient Celtic God centuries ago?
If the children's activities are considered to be linked to Paganism,
then one must logically tackle Christmas next.
The Christmas tree, yule log, mistletoe, ivy, Santa Claus, the exchange of presents, the choice
of DEC-25, and other traditions are all traceable back to ancient Pagan
customs. They too would have to go.
Bob and Gretchen Passantino:
The Passantinos lead Answers in Action a "dynamic non-profit,
evangelical, Christian organization based in Costa Mesa, California, which
trains individuals to think logically and reasonably about all things." They
have published an essay, copyrighted 1990, titled: "What about
The first two-thirds of the essay deals accurately with:
Public perceptions about Halloween.
The acceptance of the Celtic festival of Samhain into Roman
Catholicism as All Saints Day, and into Protestant Christianity as
The traditions of Pagan Celtic festival of Samhain; Wicca is not
mentioned in their essay.
The source of Halloween customs, which they explain are derived from
ancient Paganism -- not modern-day Wicca.
This material is followed by the clarification of some false rumors:
That Halloween is the most important Satanic day of celebration; the
most important day is actually the Satanist's own birthday.
Satanic crime occurs rarely, and largely consists of vandalism and
rowdy behavior. They imply that the perpetrators are generally teens.
Satanists don't search out "Christian virgins" to rape.
Occasionally, a sociopath will commit a crime and blame it on
Satanism. (The "Devil made me do it" defense.) But the
prime motivation is their mental illness.