Local White Witch Kevin Carlyon has offered his take on the origins of Halloween and how some still see it as a serious celebration beyond trick or treat.
He said: “Trick or treat is an American import, as are pumpkins, that has gained more and more popularity each year turning Halloween into a multi million pound industry.
“The actual origins of Halloween go back thousands of years into the Pagan cultures of the British Isles and Northern France and the Celtic festival of Samhain.
“The Celts were essentially a farming and agricultural people and their year was governed by the growing seasons, Samhain marking the end of harvesting and the descent into the dark times of winter. It was believed that October 31 was a time when ghosts of the dead roamed the earth, seeking souls and contacting their loved ones.
“Large bonfires were lit in towns and villages to ward off evil spirits and to illuminate a path for good spirits to return to the mortal plain to visit loved ones.
“The Celts were conquered by the Romans in 43AD who added their own festivals to the pre-existing ones. In the early part of the 5th century other cultures developed in Britain until the rise of Christianity started upon the visit of St Augustine to Kent in 597AD. The Christians set about introducing their own festivals to the British people, interestingly moving their festivities close to or virtually on top of the Pagan ones.
Halloween in the 21st century is still celebrated by modern day Pagans and Witches in Sussex, although you wouldn’t know it as 95% of people involved keep their practices private, some due to their jobs, whose activities as good white witches may be misunderstood by members of the public.
“Nowadays Halloween is more about the young wanting to scare the ‘hell’ out of each other which is fine if well organised.
“Finally the superstition about black cats being evil and unlucky. This was an invention of the Christian Church who claimed that a witch being persecuted or hunted could escape into a cat as their ‘familiar’ and so avoid persecution or death.”
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