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by Dr Leo Ruickbie

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Hallowe'en / Halloween

What is Hallowe'en (Halloween)? Witchology.com explains the history, traditions and superstitions, from the origins of Hallowe'en in the Celtic Samhain to the traditional spells of Hallowe'en:

Hallowe'en / Halloween

Known as Hallowe'en (UK spelling), Halloween (US spelling), or Samhain, the 31st of October is a traditional Pagan holy day and Witches' Sabbath. Explore the following links to find out more about this magical time of year.
Hallowe'en Contents

Hallowe'en Interview

Kate Whiting talks to a witchcraft expert to find out more about the original pagan festival and how you can recreate a more traditional Halloween.
Hallowe'en Interview

Origins of Hallowe'en

Hallowe'en, All Hallows, or All Hallows' Eve, this is an ancient Pagan holy day, corrupted by Christians. Find out how they did it and why.
Origins of Hallowe'en

What is Samhain?

Samhain is the Celtic New Year. It means "Summer's End". Traditions differ, but it is usually pronounced...
What is Samhain

Hallowe'en Spells

Hallowe'en is undoubtedly the most magical time of the year in many people's minds, but do you know what special, seasonal spells are traditionally cast? This time of year requires a certain sort of magic.
Hallowe'en Spells and Magic

A Wiccan Hallowe'en

"Eko, eko, Azarak... Dread Lord of the Shadows..." How do Wiccans celebrate Hallowe'en? Do they even call it Hallowe'en?
A Wiccan Hallowe'en

Hallowe'en Misinformation

Samhain is not the Celtic God of Death. Hallowe'en is not a festival of evil. These and other common misunderstandings explained, and misinformation refuted.
Hallowe'en Misinformation

Hallowe'en Traditions

What are the origins of "Trick or Treat"? Dressing up, love oracles, pumpkins, Jack-O-Lanterns and footsteps of the dead... Find out more about the old folk traditions of Hallowe'en.
Hallowe'en Traditions

Hallowe'en Near You

Want to go to a Hallowe'en party or a Samhain ritual? The Witchology event guide brings together the spookiest destinations across the world. Find out where the nearest magical Hallowe'en event to you is with one click here.
Hallowe'en Events Guide

Hallowe'en on the Internet

What are the hot search trends this Hallowe'en (Halloween)? Read our report to find out who's typing what into Google for 31 October.
Hallowe'en on the Internet

Hallowe'en Gift Ideas

It's Hallowe'en and I don't have a thing to wear? Need some seasonal gift ideas? You won't find these unique designs in the shops.
Hallowe'en Gifts

Hallowe'en in Your Inbox

Don't have time to read all of this now? Want a copy to read later? Add your email to our mailing list and we'll send you this page and all the Hallowe'en (Halloween) information on the Witchology.com website.

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Free Hallowe'en Downloads

History of Hallowe'en
Find out about the history and meaning of Hallowe'en (Halloween) and Samhain. Based on a Press Association interview with Dr Leo Ruickbie in 2008.
Download pdf (540kb)

Hallowe'en / Halloween Spells
Hallowe'en is traditionally a time of spells and magic. Learn more about these old seasonal charms and modern Wiccan spellcraft for Samhain.
Download gif (352kb)
Download pdf (461kb)
More free downloads

Books for Hallowe'en:

History of Witchcraft BookOpen Source WiccaHistories of the Barbarians
Beowulf

Witchcraft to Go:


Gods of the Underworld Cards

Click here for more designs

Halloween and Samhain at Witchology Hallowe'en / Halloween / Samhain

Known as Hallowe'en (UK spelling), Halloween (US spelling), or Samhain, the 31st of October is a traditional Pagan holy day and Witches' Sabbath. Explore the following links to find out more about this magical time of year.

The Celtic Festival of Samhain

The Celtic New Year

Introduction

The Celts counted their days from sundown to sundown and hence what we call the 'eve,' i.e. the time before, of this festival was the beginning of it. For the Celtic peoples of Europe there were only two seasons, Summer and Winter, and October the 31st marked the time of Summer's End, akin to our modern New Year's Eve—'Samhain' means Summer's End. It was a time when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was at its thinnest, a time for honouring the departed and seeing into the future. The Celts celebrated the slaughter of livestock for the coming winter and called upon the gods to protect and restore the sun.

How is Samhain pronounced?

Modern Pagans pronounce Samhain as sow-ain, or sometimes sow-in, but historically there were many regional variation. In Scotland they said sav-en, in Ireland sow-in, and in Wales sow-een.

Celtic Samhain Mythology

Several important events are connected with Samhain in Celtic mythology. On Samhain the Nemedians captured the Tower of Glass from the Fomorians, an ugly and misshapen race, often thought to personify evil. It was on Samhain that the Tuatha De Danann vanquished the Ormors. And it was on Samhain that Pwyll won his wife Rhiannon from his rival Gwawl.

Other Cultures

Many other cultures celebrate this time as a festival of the dead from ancient Egypt to pre-conquest Mexico. The Anglo-Saxon tribes that invaded Britain called this time of year 'need-fire.' They lit bonfires to magically endow the sun with the strength to survive the winter. Such bonfire customs survive in Great Britain, but have been moved to the 5th of November and associated with the burning in effigy of Guy Fawkes.

Christian Beliefs

In an ingenious perversion of the truth Christians have persuaded themselves that witches held their sabbats around the time of the high Christian festivals in evil mockery of their faith. In actual fact the Christian church strategically planted its arbitrary festivals on Pagan holy days to subvert them.

Why Hallowe'en?

All Hallows' Eve is the evening before the Christian festival of All Saints Day, otherwise known as All Hallows. The word hallows is from Old English halig, a holy man. It was originally held on the 1st of May, but in 834 the Christian church moved it to the 1st of November. It is held to celebrate Pope Boniface IV's desecration of the Pantheon at Rome in 610. The Pantheon was originally a Pagan temple dedicated to all the gods of the Romans.

Hallowe'en or Samhain?

The modern Witchcraft religion of Wicca originally celebrated the 31st of October as the November Eve Sabbat. However, enlightened by modern research into the Celts many of today's Witches and Wiccans prefer to use the old name Samhain to mark this time of year. Yet older Witchcraft groups that claim an hereditary or traditional origin continue to use the name of Hallowe'en.

Further Reading

More Hallowe'en from Witchology.com

Hallowe'en (Halloween) in Your Inbox

Don't have time to read all of this now? Want a copy to read later? Add your email to our mailing list and we'll send you this page and all the Hallowe'en (Halloween) information on the Witchology.com website.

Find out more about our mailing list

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