MYTH*ING LINKS
An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links to Mythologies,
Fairy Tales & Folklore, Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions
by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
SAMHAIN,
Halloween,
& the Day of the dead

Author's Note
This season was the beginning of the New Year (and winter) in many rural areas of Europe.  The actual time of transition, from sundown on Samhain to sundown the following day, was a "thin place" in the Celtic world, a place between-the-worlds where deep insights could pass more easily to those who were open to them.  In addition to inspiration, through the portals could also pass beings of wisdom, fun, and play (and some of these played rough, requiring common sense and real caution on the part of mortals).

Christianity would declare that these creatures of "otherness" were evil, but that only reveals how clumsy is the relationship between the West's monotheism and much older, archetypal realms of the "imaginal."  The creative impulse is inherent in life.  In humans, only when it is repressed by too many narrow minds full of rigid "do's and don't's" does it rebel and re-direct its power into malice and violence.  At its worst, monotheism impoverishes the creative juices within us, demonizing them, closing us off from multi-dimensional realms all around us.  Then we wonder why children use guns in schools which have been starved of the imaginal by the forced withdrawal of the arts, theatre, and music.

In this season of Samhain, we are reminded of other wondrous worlds existing side by side with our own, and we are invited to play, laugh, don disguises, delight in small miracles of human friendship, use common sense, and free our hearts to explore who and what we truly are.

Warmly,

Kathleen

FYI: on my Current Autumn Greetings page you'll find links to sites that overlap with Samhain, running from September through November.

Samhain Fires
[From Mara Freeman's site at Celtic Spirit -- see  below]

http://www.geomancy.org/astronomy/quarter-cross-quarter/samhain/index.html:
[Added 10/24/02, updated 9/28/04 & 10/27/07]

From the UK comes Sig Lonegren's fine essay on Samhain:
(Note: his fine essays for other Cross Quarter days will be found elsewhere on my site.)
...While all of these Cross Quarter Days are all Fire Festivals, I feel each of the Celtic Cross Quarter Days is also associated with one of the four elements for the purposes of scrying. At Imbolc one looks at a bowl of Water to scry the future. Beltane is the time to look in to the Fire and burning embers to ruminate about the past. Lughnasad/Lammas uses a bowl of Earth to look at the now. The element of Samhain is Air. The veil to the other side is so thin at this time that you can see the spirits in the Air.  You don't need any scrying tools! Use the intuitive skills you already have inside. Be sure to use protection if you plan to scry at this time. You can do this by surrounding yourself with Love. Only Love may enter. All else will be turned away....

...So as this Samhain approaches, what is ending in you? What do you have inside that it is time to let go of? No healing is complete until you get beyond recovery. Use Samhain to take the thirteenth step: Transformation. In the Tarot, the thirteenth card of the Major Arcana is Death, and it is ruled by Scorpio. Samhain occurs in Scorpio. The card of Death doesn't necessarily mean physical death (though it can mean that), but more productively, it can be seen as an inevitable heavy change or transformation. Something old must be gotten rid of to make room for something new to be able to come in. Use the magic of this time to say good-bye to an old habit or addiction, an old relationship, or anything else it is time to leave behind.

At the same time, be ready to plant the seeds of the new. What would you like to become involved with? A new type of job?  A more meaningful spiritual path? A better way of relating with your partner? While something old is gone, also use the energies of Samhain to plant the seeds of the new.

Lonegren looks at many other aspects of this season as well: its history, the role of the Crone Goddess, a special apple-bobbing divination practice, and much more.
http://www.celticspirit.org/samhain.htm: [Link updated 9/7/06]
[Added 10/11/00]: This lovely page of Samhain's history and lore comes from author and ritualist, Mara Freeman (a frequent contributor to the journal, Parabola).  She also includes several divinitory practices involving stones, apples, a mirror, and candles.  In addition, she explains why apples are so intimately connected with this season:
...At the heart of the Celtic Otherworld grows an apple tree whose fruit has magical properties. Old sagas tell of heroes crossing the western sea to find this wondrous country, known in Ireland as Emhain Abhlach, (Evan Avlach) and in Britain, Avalon. At Samhain, the apple harvest is in, and old hearthside games, such as apple-bobbing, called apple-dookin’ in Scotland, reflect the journey across water to obtain the magic apple....


Found on Facebook 10/30/11: artist not named

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%81lfabl%C3%B3t:
[Added 10/30/11]:  I just found this interesting Wikipedia page tonight -- it's about a pagan Scandinavian tradition celebrated at this time of the year. It is focused on the eleves, who are said to have close connections to the ancestors. Here is how the page opens:
The Álfablót or the Elven sacrifice was a pagan Scandinavian sacrifice to the elves towards the end of autumn, when the crops had been harvested and the animals were most fat.[1] Unlike the great blóts at Uppsala and Mære, the álfablót was a local celebration at the homesteads and they were mainly administered by the lady of the household.[2] Nothing is known about the particular rites because they were surrounded by secrecy and strangers were not welcome to the homesteads during the celebrations.[2] However, since the elves were collective powers with a close connection to ancestors and fertility, it is possible that the álfablót concerned ancestor worship and the life force of the family....
http://www.sacred-texts.com/bos/bos036.htm
          [Link updated 10/23/02; changed from "dead" Geocities site to Sacred Texts 10/30/10]
[Added 10/11/00]: This is "All Hallow's Eve," a warm, lively essay by Mike Nichols, who has been writing on pagan themes for more than a quarter of a century.  About Samhain (Celtic New Year's Eve):
...Not that the holiday was Celtic only.  In fact, it is startling how many ancient and unconnected cultures (the Egyptians and pre-Spanish Mexicans, for example) celebrated this as a festival of the dead. But the majority of our modern traditions can be traced to the British Isles....

...The ancient Celtic view of time...is cyclical. And in this framework, New Year's Eve represents a point outside of time, when the natural order of the universe dissolves back into primordial chaos, preparatory to re- establishing itself in a new order.  Thus, Samhain is a night that exists outside of time and hence it may be used to view any other point in time. At no other holiday is a tarot card reading, crystal reading, or tea-leaf reading so likely to succeed....

Nichols explains why Christianity's concept of linear time has such a difficult time with oracles and divination; along the way, he offers several divinitory practices -- and also gives fascinating data on the possible origins of apple-bobbing and jack-o-lanterns.  [Note: you'll need to hit "Close" or otherwise disable the Geocities pop-up ad.  Don't worry -- it's obvious & easy to do this.]

28 September 2004: Nichols' page is sometimes overwhelmed with traffic September-October so here are two backup links for his essay:
http://www.sacred-texts.com/bos/bos036.htm
http://www.spiritualitea.com/sabbats/samhain.shtml

When Oracles Speak
[Added 10/15/00]: Appropriately, on Friday the 13th, October 2000, a wise and luminous book was launched by Quest Books: When Oracles Speak, by Dianne Skafte, Ph.D., an expert on the ancient history and lore of oracles.  If you're intrigued by what Mike Nichols (see preceding link) and others on my page write about oracles in conjunction with Samhain / Halloween, and if you're interested in getting a richer background on the topic of oracles in general, don't miss this site with excerpts from her book (a link is provided to her book -- I've read it and highly recommend it: my review of it for amazon.com can be reached through the link).  On the opening page, the author offers an excerpt from one of her childhood experiences with divination.  An additional excerpt on practical oracular "exercises" is promised in the very near future.  [Also see directly below...]
Oracles of Earth -- The Deep Below
[Added 10/15/00]: Again from Dr. Dianne Skafte comes this longer, Halloween-related, and fascinating excerpt on necromancy (the ancient practice of consulting one's dead ancestors).  FYI: Dr. Skafte is a longtime friend and colleague of mine.  She is a most engaging writer, a skilled psychotherapist, and an extraordinary woman who knows firsthand the mysterious realms of which she writes.  She writes with grace, providing suitable warnings of potential pitfalls but, overall, creating a friendly, respectful atmosphere in which one feels safe to explore these deeply sacred realms.
http://www.irelandforvisitors.com/articles/samhain.htm: [Link updated 10/23/02]
[Annotation completely revised 10/23/02]: Suzanne Barrett did the Ireland page for about.com for over four years before she and three hundred other wonderful about.com hosts were axed in late September 2001 by a shortsighted management.  One of the lost pages from Suzanne's site was her illustrated essay on Samhain in Ireland --- my link to it went dead a year ago.

Suzanne, however, has now created her own website, Ireland for Visitors, and this month she's restored her original about.com essay on the Irish celebration of Sahmain.  Here's a passage:

...Ancient lore explains Winter in the story of the old woman goddess, Cailleach, who struck the ground with her hammer, and made it hard until Imbolc. It is the time when Celts believed the gates to the otherworld were opened and they could communicate with the dead. Later, in the Christian era the festival has been reassigned to the Feast of All Saints, however, many of the customs surrounding it concern this understanding of the accessibility to the dead at this time....
This is an excellent, evocative overview, enriched by the author's photos and hypertext.
http://web.archive.org/web/20101130161224/http://wicca.com/celtic/akasha/samhainlore.htm: [Updated 10/30/11]
This is another overview of Celtic lore and traditions regarding Samhain, this time from The Celtic Connection's Akasha.  She includes data on Samhain's symbols, herbs, foods, incense, colors, and stones.
http://www.loc.gov/folklife/halloween.html
       [Added 10/24/02]
From the Library of Congress comes "Halloween: The Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows," a fine 1982 essay by Jack Santino. Here are two excerpts:
...All Saints Day, otherwise known as All Hallows (hallowed means sanctified or holy), continued the ancient Celtic traditions.  The evening prior to the day was the time of the most intense activity, both human and supernatural. People continued to celebrate All Hallows Eve as a time of the wandering dead, but the supernatural beings were now thought to be evil. The folk continued to propitiate those spirits (and their masked impersonators) by setting out gifts of food and drink. Subsequently, All Hallows Eve became Hallow Evening, which became Hallowe'en--an ancient Celtic, pre-Christian New Year's Day in contemporary dress....

...Virtually all present Halloween traditions can be traced to the ancient Celtic day of the dead. Halloween is a holiday of many mysterious customs, but each one has a history, or at least a story behind it. The wearing of costumes, for instance, and roaming from door to door demanding treats can be traced to the Celtic period and the first few centuries of the Christian era, when it was thought that the souls of the dead were out and around, along with fairies, witches, and demons. Offerings of food and drink were left out to placate them. As the centuries wore on, people began dressing like these dreadful creatures, performing antics in exchange for food and drink. This practice is called mumming, from which the practice of trick-or-treating evolved. To this day, witches, ghosts, and skeleton figures of the dead are among the favorite disguises. Halloween also retains some features that harken back to the original harvest holiday of Samhain, such as the customs of bobbing for apples and carving vegetables, as well as the fruits, nuts, and spices cider associated with the day....


Moving Between the Worlds
[Source unknown]
http://web.archive.org/web/20101130160452/http://wicca.com/celtic/akasha/samhainrit.htm: [Updated 10/30/11]
This is a deep and thoughtful ritual for one's dead and one's living.  It has been skillfully adapted by Akasha Ap Emrys for the Celtic Connection (see above).
http://www.witchvox.com/holidays/samhain/1031_lore_door.html
From Wren Walker at The Witches' Voice comes "The Lore of the Door," a very different ritual for Samhain, this one focusing on the season as the "door," or threshold, between the realms.  The exercises involve active imagination and are designed for solitaries, not groups (the author provides suitable disclaimers about safety).
http://www.gardenofwords.com/craft/samhain_meditation.html: [Updated 13 October 2004]
[Added 10/11/00 -- annotation expanded 10/13/04]: From Frances Donovan at about.com(see below) comes a lovely, simple, evocative guided meditation that you can do on your own for Halloween.  Since the frame displaying it doesn't load on all browsers, I'm quoting it here -- but you should still visit Frances' page for her fine introduction to this meditation:
I want to leave you with a meditation that you can perform at home, in a quiet space. If you have a an altar, I suggest you do it there.

First, relax your body. Do this by first concentrating on your breath, and then on a line of relaxation that moves up your body and spills over, until you are completely relaxed.

Go back to your breath. Go inside your breathing. Inside, you will find a dark wood, with most of the leaves already fallen from the trees. It is a dark, moonless night. You can hardly see. It is cold, and you do not have a coat. You move through the trees shivering, frightened of the dark, until you come to a clearing.

In it is a cheery house, and a garden that has just been cleared of the last fruits of the summer. You knock on the door, and a woman answers. She is not ancient, but her face has begun to sag.

She brightens when she sees you, and invites you in.

She is the Crone, and she has something to tell you, something about the year that has passed and the year that is before you. Listen to her.

What does she say to you?


Russia's Crone-Goddess, Baba Yaga, with her magical mortar, pestle, & broom
(Russian lacquer box courtesy of  Sunbirds---
also see my Baba Yaga page)
http://www.salemtarot.com/archive/samhain.html: [Updated from last year's 2 messy web archive links: 10/29/09]

     The handsome Salem Tarot offers this 1996 essay by Christina Aubin on the lore and meaning of
     Samhain and the Celtic Feast of the Dead.  The focus is on the fact that this is the ancient time of the
     Crone Goddesses, with their promise of re-birth at the Winter Solstice (the focus on wise crones, of
     course, shifted to witches in more recent times):

This is the time of the season which the Crone rules. She is one aspect of the triple Goddess, made up of Crone, Maiden, and Mother. It is She who opens the Western gate for those who have departed to travel into Summerland. She rules areas of death and regeneration, occult sciences, healing, and the wisdom of the ages. She comes in the form of Cerridwen, Hecate, Arianrhod, and Persephone, among many others. We use the Crone to assist us in transition from one life to the next, leaving one level of our existence and entering the next. This brings us into the Womb of the Mother to assist us in being reborn once again. For it is through Her Wisdom and guidance we learn lessons from experience past and begin life anew from the wisdom gained....
          Note: this site also offers a free, on-line, 3-card tarot reading [updated 29 October2009].  If you click on this link,
          have your question in heart and mind, thoughtfully, before you click on the reading's next
          link; then "feel" for the right moment, because the web-technology will randomly, or as
          C.G. Jung would say, "synchronistically," select a past, present, & future card the moment
          you click on that next link.

http://www.witchvox.com/holidays/samhain/1031_blessing2001.html

[Added 10/23/02]: Written post-9/11 in autumn 2001, this is a Samhain blessing by Christina Aubin for The Witches' Voice -- it's different from her above essay, but it's also a fine piece of work.  She combines the Northern Hemisphere's Samhain with the Southern Hemisphere's Beltane and mines the deeper implications of this union-of-opposites:
...Yet while we begin our swift decline into the shadows of the year -- the southern hemisphere begins her rapid ascent into summer's grand illumination. Reminding us once again that through the shadows we must go -- to emerge once more in the luminous gaze of life. Life is a never-ending process, spiraling through life, into death, into life once more -- each spiral, the refinement of being, as individuals, as groups, as a collective. Even in death we find the seeds of life, in sorrow the seeds of joy, in pain the seeds of delight, in remembrance the seeds of knowledge.

Hand in hand life walks with death, as summer walks with winter, as the north journeys with the south, neither one separate and yet not unified, neither occurring without its counter. In hand with our northern Samhain is southern Beltane, which speaks to remind us that in the hand of death we will find life -- without one there cannot be the other....

http://www.users.on.net/arachne/seasons.html
[Added 10/30/02]:. As noted in the above link, in the Southern Hemisphere this season is the beginning of spring and Margaret RainbowWeb, a cyber-friend of mine in Australia, has created a sensitive, eloquent page that also applies to autumntide.  I especially love what she does with the theme of roses, both in her writing and in her photography.  Since her current page will disappear as the seasons again turn in a few weeks, I am taking the liberty of including her entire wonderful little essay here:
It is not easy this year to experience the joys of Spring. A waning Moon, unremitting drought, and constant news of fresh tragedies from all around the world, are more resonant of Samhain than late Spring and early Summer.  Yet, in spite of the lack of rain, and many people's extravagance with, and lack of reverence for, our Sister Water, somehow the roses seem to have surpassed themselves this year.  Roses are in fact amazingly tough, and and if not 'coddled' will put on a brave show with no artifical watering. Some of the loveliest specimens are derived from varieties found in the remote, and often arid places of the earth.

The approaching Dark Moon, on November 5th. encourages deep contemplation and mindfulness, from which, as from the roots of the wild rose, grow the tough thorny stems which enable endurance, so that in the fullness of time the fragrant beauty of the flowers can gladden our hearts.  Whatever our personal tragedies, however searing our pain, it is a fact that that which we call 'Good' will always balance out that which we call 'Evil' - though it seldom seems that way, except in hindsight.

If we are willing to endure, and to continue to grow, then our spirits will eventually, like the roses, bloom with beauty and fragrance, bringing refreshment and healing to those travelling the remote and arid places of the soul.

[28 September 2004]:  FYI -- this "Seasons" link changes 8 times a year -- usually only a few days before the approaching season.  Thus, you may find that it's still about the September equinox until just before Samhain/Halloween.  Keep checking back -- Margaret's essays are always worth waiting for.
http://www.users.on.net/~arachne/Wheel.html
[Added 28 September 2004]:  This is Margaret RainbowWeb's handsomely illustrated "Wheel of the Year" page for those living in the Southern Hemisphere (FYI: the Celtic-style "wheel" is available for sale).
http://www.zyalia.com/samhain.html [Updated 9/28/04 -- had been a dead link since 10/23/02.]
[Added an excerpt 9/28/04]:  This brief, sensitive essay is by "Zyalia, the crone" -- it focuses more closely on the loneliness, death and chaos of this Samhain season -- but also on hope:
...The time between Samhain and Yule is the time of the Crone, the Dagda, Calleach, Morrigu, powerful, dark and wise... imposing and compelling at once. The cycle remains faithful to nature's laws: to all that lives, comes death. While some threads are long seeming and others cut short, in the end, we all enter the eternal cauldron.  Just when the dark seems all powerful, the Goddess begins life anew at Yule, with the rebirth of our fledgling Sun, God of light and warmth....
Myth*ing Links' Okana/Zaduszki Rescued Page[Created 30 October 2010 since it's vanished even from Web Archive]
http://web.archive.org/web/20050303213323/www.witchvox.com/lx/dt_lx.html?a=usny&id=13840:[Update:10/29/09]
http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usny&c=words&id=4842
http://www.okana.org/zaduszki.html: [Link updated 10/23/02 & 10/27/07]
From Okana of Okana's Web in Canada comes this thoughtful, content-rich essay on Poland's "Zaduszki: The Day of the Dead." There is much here that resonates with other European Earth-based traditions -- and much that is different (e.g., this season does not mark the beginning of the New Year as it does in so many other traditions -- instead, the New Year begins with Yule).  I especially enjoyed what Okana wrote on beggars, animal-friends, beeswax, and dreams. [Added 10/30/10]: Here, for example, is her insightful passage on beggars:
Beggars, in old society, played an important part in the faith-life of the community. Most often, people were beggars not because they didn't feel like working or settling down, but because they were.... special, touched lightly by the hand of the divine. It was said that they, more than most, talked to the spirits, and connected with the souls. It is my opinion, shared by few, that this tradition arose around those individuals who were the nomad types, the (for want of a better term here) saintly folk, and around those as well that were "different". Not necessarily different in their appearance, which by virtue of being alone and without a home was naturally disheveled, but different in the sense of being less worldly, less preoccupied with the material plane, those for whom talking to the Mother was an accepted everyday occurrence, those who heard voices and saw spirits. Shamanic? Perhaps.
Further, I was intrigued to learn that what we call "Indian Summer" (my favorite season) is called Babie lato, "Crone's Summer," in Poland:
... that short period of warmer weather after the first killing frost, has long since departed. Bright scarlet and orange speckles the trees, where even the slightest whisper of a breeze now sends them into flight....
Okana's writing is both strong and lyrical and her essay is well worth reading.

Baba Yaga, Russia's powerful Crone-Goddess, flying through the autumn skies
(Russian lacquer box courtesy of  Sunbirds---
also see my Baba Yaga page)

http://web.archive.org/web/20070806213926/web.utah.edu/planetarium/CQHalloween.html: [Updated 10/30/08]
[10/30/11: NOTE: click on “impatient.”]

[Added 10/11/00]: "The Origin of Halloween Comes Out of the Sky" by Von Del Chamberlain, whose essays also appear frequently among my seasonal pages, takes a look at the astronomical origins of Halloween:
...So, let's focus on the cross-quarter date that we are approaching right now, the one between autumnal equinox and winter solstice. The Celts called it Samhain (pronounced sah-win), "summer's end." As the beginning of the cold part of the year, they thought of this as a dangerous time, a seam in the annual cycle when stitches might snap, ripping the fabric of reality to let in elements of chaos. This was the Celtic new-years eve, celebrated on the last day of October. They brought their cattle out of pastures into shelter, then celebrated with a great fire festival to encourage the dimming Sun not to vanish...

...At the root of all of this is the fact that Earth, gliding in its orbit, had reached the place where we notice the diminishing energy from the Sun onto our part of the world. Thus, the origin of this cross-quarter celebration comes down from the sky....

Along the way you'll encounter much history and lore, including jack-o-lanterns originally made from turnips.

Winter Came Early This Year
(Painting © Susanne Iles at DracoBlu -- used with her kind permission;
as of 10/30/10 it is no longer shown on her site; update 10/30/11: it's now here.)

http://www.schooloftheseasons.com/hallowmas.html: [URL updated 10/23/02]

[Added 10/16/99]: This is Waverly Fitzgerald's informative essay on Halloween and cross-cultural Days of the Dead.  She includes history, lore, several wonderful rituals, divination, and much more.  A list of her references is provided at the end -- a much appreciated scholarly touch.

She's one of my favorites and I have many links to her work in my seasonal pages.  I love her eye for lore and strange pieces of data -- for example:

...There are some obvious reasons why this place on the Wheel of the Year is associated with death. The sun is approaching its nadir, the leaves are falling from trees, the death and decay in the natural world remind us of our own mortality. Martinmas, November 11th, was the traditional time for slaughtering the cattle, sheep and pigs which could not be maintained during the winter. The Welsh called November the month of Slaughter while the Saxons called it the Month of Blood....
Waverly then skillfully balances the death and blood with a delicious sense of life, the other face of death.  As the ancients understood so well, each is the source of the other, which is the gentle focus of a ritual she offers from Starhawk.  There are rich nuances here, and depth, and wonder.
http://www.gardenofwords.com/craft/samhain.html: [Updated 13 October 2004]
[Annotation updated 13 October 2004]:  This is Frances Donovan's illustrated essay, "Samhain, the Pagan New Year" (as the always reliable, former pagan/wiccan guide at about.com, her pages appear often on my website -- see above for her Samhain guided meditation).  Her site is, as usual, lively, intelligent, insightful.  Here's an excerpt from her conclusion:
...At Samhain the God is journeying into the underworld (remember Persephone and Demeter?), a journey that ends when he is reborn at Yule, the Winter Solstice. The Goddess is in her in her crone phase at this time of year, which explains all the images of the "old hag" witch.

In years past, I've celebrated Samhain publicly, privately, with a coven, and as a solitary. There is no wrong way to celebrate this holiday -- except perhaps to let it go by without thinking of it at all.

http://www.godweb.org/halloween.htm: [New link found 9 September 2006 with the help of the current About.com "Christianity" guide, Mary Fairchild, who put me in touch with Rev. Henderson]
 http://christianity.about.com/library/weekly/blhalloweenc.htm [Added 10/24/02; dead link by c. 2005]
Following up on the preceding link, this is an interesting and intelligent debate between Presbyterian minister, Charles P. Henderson, and pagan, Kirsten Power, on the meanings of Halloween. It began with Henderson's essay, "Halloween: Holiday in Need of Renovation." Here are a few excerpts:
... We have lost the deeper meaning of this season! Halloween is neither childish, nor frivolous.... Halloween, in many countries, and in much of the church, has always involved good works, providing food for the poor was part of the earliest tradition. In Europe, special Halloween cakes, made of breaded dough, called "Soul food" were given to the children of the city, particularly the poor children. It was a feed the hungry program with a lot of extra fun and excitement thrown in. Collecting for UNICEF or what have you is right in line with the oldest traditions of Halloween....

...There is a need to honor those who have gone before us. In fact, anthropologists tell us that one of the very first things that distinguishes human life is this propensity for remembering the dead. At the most basic level of all, caring for the bones of the dead. Perhaps not so weird when you think about it. For the people who cared for their dead were equally concerned about the living, and the yet unborn. What shall be the fate of the next generation? How will the decisions we make now effect those who come after us? These are questions well worth pondering on Halloween, or any other night. And if this rather frivolous, and sometimes destructive holiday can become the occasion for pondering such question as these, then Halloween will have endured exactly the "house-cleaning" that it needs. And all of us will be the better for it.

In response, reacting to what she saw as inaccuracies in what Henderson had written about pagan celebrations of Samhain, Kirsten Power wrote "Misconceptions about Halloween" and Henderson, respecting her viewpoints, published it on his page (there is a link to it at the end of his own essay). I like much of her essay but I think she misunderstood Henderson's intent -- far from criticizing pagan beliefs, he was actually looking at more recent "mainstream" excesses connected with Halloween (e.g., frivolous vandalism) and re-framing contemporary, non-pagan attitudes along more positive lines. Nevertheless, Power's essay brings in some new themes and experiences that I found worthwhile. Here are a few excerpts:
...Samhain is an intensely personal and introspective holiday.  For me, it symbolizes fortuity, an opportunity to give glory to those people close to me who have died in the last year or before.  I speak directly to those people I love. I tell them how much I miss them, how much I will miss them and how much they brought to my life. Then I breathe, focus and let them go. Laurie Cabot says, "Samhain is a time for change and a time to look to the future."(p.13) It should be heartening, not frightening to see that people are using this time of year to let go and go on with life.  I think that the phrase, "let be and let live" would be appropriate here....

...The ancient Celts were merely following their religious beliefs and dressing as the god or elemental spirit they felt was most appropriate to the ceremony.  It is the Catholic church that supports alms and donations to their churches.  That is to say, personally I have never entered a pagan gathering, feast or church and found myself standing in front of an offering box....

...I separate Halloween from Samhain.  I loved Halloween when I was a child.  I still do.  But this commercialized attempt at mass marketing is not Samhain and never was.  The pagan celebration I attend each year and the offering I make on my altar are completely separate....


Baba Yaga sweeping the autumn clouds & winds
as she rides in her own "spaceship": a mortar & pestle
(Russian lacquer box courtesy of  Sunbirds---
also see my Baba Yaga page)
http://www.wgbh.org/programs/Sound--Spirit-226/episodes/Ghosts-5066: [Link updated 10/30/11-- FYI:  WGBH's Sound and Spirit went off the air in June 2010. WGBH has now archived all programs on its website. This is the new link for this one.]
http://web.archive.org/web/20080206002258rn_1/www.wgbh.org/pages/pri/spirit/shows/039links.html:
[Link updated 9/30/04; moved to Web Archive 10/29/09]
[Added 10/16/99 and updated 9/30/04]: Program 343: Week of October 25, 1998:  Ghosts:  this page on GHOSTS comes from "Sound and Spirit," a weekly series of radio programs exploring the human spirit through ideas and music.  Hosted by Ellen Kushner, it's produced by WGBH Radio Boston for PRI, Public Radio International.  Each program is carefully researched, in part by using data from appropriate websites.  Afterwards, these web sources are put on line for the general public.

The above link contains the websites used for GHOSTS.  They include Halloween, Mexico's Day of the Dead, and Japan's Bon Festival In the Halloween material, they attempt an interesting balance -- there's a Ben & Jerry's Halloween Page, several good pagan sites, academic ones, and also Pat Robertson's 700 Club's views on Halloween (the spookiness here isn't only in the subject matter).

[FYI -- if you click HERE and scroll down past many fascinating offerings to "Ghosts," you'll be able to listen to the entire program; you'll also find links to a Halloween  bibliography, great recipes, etc -- transcripts are no longer available online but can be ordered. Note 10/30/11: link not currently working.]
http://ancienthistory.about.com/sitesearch.htm?q=ghosts&SUName=ancienthistory: [Link updated 10/30/11]
http://ancienthistory.about.com/homework/ancienthistory/library/weekly/aa092998.htm: [Link updated 10/10/00]
[Site added 10/16/99]:From about.com's resourceful Ancient/Classical History guide, N. S. Gill, comes this fascinating page on "Ghost Stories" -- but with a difference -- her ghost stories come from ancient literature: the Epic of Gilgamesh, and excerpts from Homer, Vergil, Ovid, and Pliny; she also looks at Rome's ghostly Lares.
http://paranormal.about.com/library/blstories06.htm: [Updated 10/27/07]
[Added 10/23/02]:This is a site with fine links (briefly annotated) to a very large collection of ghost stories, ghost-hunting, & ghost towns.  It's a good place to browse.
http://goeasteurope.about.com/od/draculainromania/Dracula_in_Romania_Dracula_Travel_in_Romania.htm: [10/30/11: the above new link now goes directly to Dracula links -- unclear if it's the same one as the original text from 2000, so I'm keeping that one too {below}.]
http://goeasteurope.about.com/od/romania/Romania_Travel.htm:[Updated 10/27/07 -- my Links Elf tells me this is a better link, even though Bill Biega is no longer mentioned]
[Added 25 September, 2006]:Here's a rough copy of the original text, but not all its links work: http://web.archive.org/web/20001215183200/http://goeasteurope.about.com/travel/goeasteurope/library/weekly/aa101900.htm: [10/30/11: NOTE: click on “impatient.”]
[Added 10/29/00]:This is "Dracula -- the Real Story" from Bill Biega, the Eastern Europe guide at about.com. The illustrated site also provides links to maps, related sites, and even Bram Stoker's complete text. Here is how it opens:
Dracula is a fictional character created in 1897 by the British writer Bram Stoker. His book gave great popularity to the idea of blood drinking vampires. However, the principal character is based on an actual historical figure, a Romanian prince who lived in the second half of the 15th century -- 50 years before Columbus discovered the New World....
Here's a page, the Real Dracula, from a new about.com guide, Kerry Kubilius (unfortunately, I can't explore it because about.com links have started crashing my Netscape browser). The full text of Bram Stoker’s Dracula can be found here: http://www.literature.org/authors/stoker-bram/dracula/. Also see my Myth*ing Link's Romania page.
http://paranormal.about.com/science/paranormal/library/weekly/aa102300a.htm
[Added 10/29/00]: This page on "Halloween Monsters" is from Stephen Wagner, the Paranormal Phenomena guide at about.com.  He looks at vampires (see link directly above), Frankenstein, werewolves, mummies, and more.  Many great links to related topics.
http://www.halloweenstudiotour.com
[Added 10/30/09]: Recommended a few weeks ago by one of my writer-friends, Marlene, this is the Halloween Studio Tour's "Trick or Treat" page. As Marlene wrote me earlier this month:
I thought you might get a kick out of this website, if your ISP allows you to visit it -- she's amassed quite a bit of information about Halloween traditions as well as set up a display of Halloween bears by some really wonderful bear artists.
My ISP is fine, although I use a dial-up modem so everything is very slow!  My computer, however, usually balks at anything too high tech.  To my surprise, it had no problems with this one and I found the site really quite delightful. It's an engaging series of pages from American as well as international artists who specialize in Halloween themes. The site's "treasure map" features special effects and many animated "critters" (like the cool walking pumpkin below).  I explored at random and found an office lunchroom's party page with a spider theme and plates full of truly yukky/yummy treats (including brazil nuts cleverly hand-carved into little skulls)! It's here, if you want a sneak peek (I think I found it by clicking on the map's lower skull candleholder): http://pages.total.net/~weric/trick_or_treat/party.htm

Here is what the "hostess-artist" writes in her promo:

Have fun, be sure to finish the whole tour by visiting all the amazing participating artists, get clues for the "creaking door prize" and see lots of Hallowe'en ideas! It's all to help "Bat Conservation International", and I hope you'll consider donating to this worthy cause!
I echo the "Have fun" part -- and support the bats as well! [Animation from this site]
..http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/index.htm:
And:http://www.worldwidewords.org/topicalwords/index.htm:
[10/27/07: Unfortunately, Quinion has changed his site from: http://www.quinion.com/words/articles/bump.htm:to something too high tech for me to access.  I do hate it when people do this!  My Links-Elf, however, tells me that the above 2 new links work and cover what the old one once did. I'm keeping my original annotation since I can't visit these pages myself]:
[Pre-2007 annotation]: This is "GHOULIES AND GHOSTIES: Things that go bump in the night," a funny and wonderfully erudite essay by England's Michael B. Quinion (who contributes frequently to such publications as the Oxford English Dictionary and various Cassell's dictionaries).  He looks at Halloween in England, tracing its name, and then exploring the etymologies of many "ghostly" terms: e.g., goblins, vampires, ghouls, zombie, wicca, and wizard.  His overall website is called "World Wide Words: Exploring the English Language" -- here's a link to his index of articles: http://www.quinion.com/words/articles/index.htm
-- and if you love to browse through etymologies on brisk autumn nights, here is his general index of words: http://www.quinion.com/words/genindex.htm[10/30/08: dead link -- try this one instead]: http://www.quinion.com/
http://web.archive.org/web/20070916000225/http://www.darklinks.com/dhauntworld.html:
[Now available only on Web Archive  -- link updated 10/30/10].........[10/30/11: NOTE: click on “impatient.”]
[Added 10/29/00]: This is a page of many unannotated links to international Halloween customs.  The page begins with links for the Day of the Dead (many in Spanish -- also see my own page, below) and then continues with international Halloween sites, including those in French, German, and Norwegian.  The parent page is "Haunted Houses and Halloween" -- if you click on the link at the bottom of the site's page, you'll find a ton of topics and more Halloween links.
http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/pumpkins/history.html
[Added 10/10/00]: From the University of Illinois Extension comes this tiny, but charming, page on the history of pumpkins -- the word, the pie, and the associations.
http://www.pumpkinnook.com/
[Added 10/23/02]: Finally, this is "Pumpkin Nook: The Internet Shrine and Library for Pumpkins" -- a funny, terrific site on everything you ever wanted to know about pumpkins, including Current News, Shopping, How to Grow (links include how to get organic seeds), Giant Pumpkins, Community, Fun and Games, Facts/Education, Cookbook, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Kid Stuff, & a search engine.  On a personal note, I've long been trying to find a recipe for the delicious pumpkin soup my grandmother used to make -- I found two recipes here that I can play with: by subtracting the broth & some of the veggies, I think I can probably come up with something closer than I've ever found before.  So I love this site <smile>.
FYI: on my Current Autumn Greetings& Lore Page are more pumpkin links.

A pumpkin with a shimmering aura
Used by permission of Salem Tarot Page

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SAMHAIN BOOKS
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...Shadows on Samhain is a first novel by my witty, smart friend and former graduate student, Dr. Druscilla French. She intends it to be the first in a series of eight "Wheel of the Year" novels involving characters from the same large, contemporary, extended Colorado family, all of whom still retain fascinating vestiges of the abilities, gifts, strengths, quirks, and "magic" they've somehow carried over from earlier incarnations on Mount Olympus. This makes for some amusing "inside jokes" along with necessary name-changes -- e.g., Artemis is still Artemis but her brother Apollo is now Atticus (or Uncle At); Hecate is now the powerful, sensible, wonderfully earthy Cate; Medusa, once headless, is now Mattie, rather disoriented in her personal life, but a brilliant attorney when she pulls herself together and fights for the wronged; her winged horse-son Pegasus is now a galloping, hyperactive teenaged boy named PZ; Chrysaor, the original human-brother of Pegasus, is now Chrys, PZ's charming, savvy twin sister.

You don't have to be interested in Greek mythology, however, to appreciate this fine novel.  Most of the book is a real page-turner (the only exceptions being portions of Cate's Samhain party in chapters 9 and 11 in which some untidy "plot-holes" appear concerning the troubling absence of a young waitress, gentle Flora -- but if that's a first novel's only real problem, you definitely have a winner!).

French creates strong, likaeble characters, especially her women. The ritual Samhain elements are creative and evocative -- really well done and clearly emerging out of the author's own decades of ritual experience. Her descriptions of Colorado nature and wildlife in the Rockies are exquisite, seemingly effortless, like Japanese sumi-e paintings. Towards the end, there are scenes of great beauty that are also simultaneously laugh-out-loud hilarious.  She has perfect pitch with her Olympians but, still more impressively, she also has it when it comes to capturing the cramped inner world of fundamentalist militia members, whose vengeful anger threatens the world of Cate and her extended family.

The novel has underlying threads of deep kindness and balance, even when it comes to French's treatment of the fundamentalists, whose lives, sometimes chillingly ruthless, but also unexpectedly poignant, come across vividly. Above all, Cate and her family are real people with real weaknesses as well as strengths. They are exuberantly earthy, sensual, caring, and, like the best of deities (former or otherwise), still totally committed to values that serve humanity as well as the natural world around us. I greatly look forward to the next novel, which will be set at the next Celtic Sabbat on the Year's great Wheel: Winter Solstice.

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<< My Closing Note >>
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As this page has shown, traditions of a Day of the Dead stretch across Europe (and into most areas colonized by Europeans in both hemispheres).  Since this page is specifically linked to one of eight sacred Sabbats found among pagan Europeans, I have focused on their own death traditions. However, another very ancient Day of the Dead is also known in the NewWorld, especially in Mexico.  It pre-dates the arrival of the Spanish, although Christian customs would later merge with pre-Columbian. It should be noted that despite all the skulls and skeletons associated with this day in Mexico, there is nothing macabre or morbid about El Dia de los Muertos -- it is a time of great festivity.  For more, here is a special page I have created for this day:

el dia de los muertos

And finally, on November 2nd, there is "All Soul's Day and the Wild Horde" from Waverly Fitzgerald -- a fine essay on the "Wild Hordes" of Odin and Herne [also see my Nordic/Teutonic page].   Here's the link:  http://www.schooloftheseasons.com/allsouls.html

Other Related Mything Links Pages:
To Autumn Equinox Greetings & Lore

To Winter Greetings & Lore

To Eastern & Western Europe: Nature-Based Ways

To the Wheel of the Year
Note: if you're wondering what people in the Southern Hemisphere do at this time of the year, a number of links to Australia will tell you.
To Common Themes: DEVIC WEATHER-WORKING: Introduction
(An experimental on-going ritual in cyberspace)

© 1999-2011 Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.

Page created in the wee hours of 1 September 1999;
wrote text & began links 2 September 1999;
All links, unless noted, completed and page published 5-6 September 1999.
***
Latest updates:
17 October 1999.
20 August 2000; 10 October 2000: checked all links; 11, 15, 16, 19, 29, & 31 October 2000; 4, 9 November 2000;
9 July 2001 (Ned.3.0);
9 October 2001: due to heavy traffic, had to suspend page; 13 October 2001: page back up!
16 October 2001 (optimized bkgd + some images, but they came out ruined; had to restore).
23 October 2002: checked all links, updating where necessary & greatly helped by the able assistance of Jane Strong;
I also added a few new ungrokked links.  30 October 2002: grokked those URLs added 10/24 + tonight.
[FYI: never updated this page in 2003 as too swamped doing entries for Encyclopedia of Mythology in UK.]
28-30 September 2004: checked & updated the page's links --
my special thanks to Michaela Oldfield who pre-checked the page for me and tracked down long-missing broken links.
13 October 2004: updated Frances Donovan's 2 links.
21-22 November 2004, 3am: deleted pre-election Kerry link at top of page;
moved 2 November All Souls Day/Wild Hordes from Yuletide page to here, where it should have been all along.
4 October 2005: added Wild Divine promo; never updated links -- too much traffic once Oct. starts!
7 September 2006: began link-updates early based on Michaela's fine sleuthing, especially on Dracula;
e-mailed several sources to locate further updates. 25 September 2006: page is now updated for this year!
11 December 2006: updated WD link.
4 April 2007: added small Ireland tour ad for a year. [2008: They renewed for a 2nd year.]
22 October 2007: added Mo Show link.
27 October 2007: completed links update, thanks to Michaela, the Links-Elf.
2 & 3 August 2008: added another sponsor (costumes) for a year;
removed 2007 Mo Show link; reformatted Updates.
30 October 2008: updated two broken links and deleted a third on haunted houses that no longer exists.

28 April 2009: deleted chocolate ad (see 4 April 2007 entry).  The company, FYD ("Follow Your Dreams") that booked the ad didn't respond to my renewal request this year, which seemed odd, since they renewed right away last year.  I googled FYD today, found only one link, which did not go to them, and discovered that they're running a scam to get pages rated higher in google searches, or something.  Makes no sense to me but I want no part in a scam.  I am now removing all 7 ads on 7 different pages of mine.
29 October 2009: updated a handful of links, thanks to my Links-Elf.
30 October 2009: added a new & charming "animated Halloween Tour" link that Marlene sent me;
also a Books section at the end.
14 November 2009: made minor changes to my review of Drucie's novel so it'll match what I have on amazon.

30 October 2010: did links update, thanks to Michaela's sleuthing -- only 3 updates needed this year.  In addition, Okana's essay on Zaduszki has now vanished even from Web Archive, but Michaela saved the text from the original & I've now given it a new page on Myth*ing Links.

30 October 2011: did links update, again thanks to Michaela's sleuthing -- c. 10 updates needed this year. I also added a new link from Wikipedia on honoring the elves in Scandinavia at this time of the year.  Added new artwork above it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Above is a link to Journey to Wild Divine -- meditative, yet exciting, biofeedback-based video games.  Through my friend Jean Houston, who does beautiful voice-overs at the beginning of the first 2 games, I became the Mythology/Religion/Psychology consultant on game-2, "Wisdom Quest." I also wrote the novella/journal-style Companion Guide for the 2nd game.  The new owners are no longer offering the $10 PDF download of this Companion Guide but if you are interested in a copy, just contact me directly: jenks7ATacdDOTnet (substitute the appropriate symbols for "at" and "dot"). I love the first two games and highly recommend them.  The third game, "Healing Rhythms," is a series of exquisite settings in which to learn relaxation techniques from Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra, heart-expert Dean Ornish, Joan Borysenko, and others. I just received my copy and look forward to exploring familiar landscapes (taken from the first two games) in new, healing,  peaceful contexts.