Coping: With the History of Halloween

It happens Monday night, so be ready for it. Here in the Outback of East Texas we have never had even a single trick-or-treater come by and that’s just fine with us.

This is a special year for Halloween, too, because there are elections…which means Monday won’t be the scariest day of the year by a good bit.

There are some special aspects of the day that we should review, a day that might has well have been proclaimed by the corn syrup refining industry and the dental practitioners.

Origins of Halloween are suspected to date back to 15,380 years ago when, as some crypto-archeologists have reconstructed it, earth was hit by comet fragments that did the world in, touching off a minor Ice Age in the process.

More to the point, where the multiple comet fragments landed it threw up so much debris, massive boulders, and carved our so much damage from the shock waves, that recently-buried people in cemeteries of the time were heaved back out of the Earth.

It is the most widely celebrated period of the year when you slice it from a trans-cultural perspective.

Somewhere in there, buried because we don’t like to admit that even Christianity is an imperial religion, local faith and “spirit healers” of Europe were “assimilated.” It was done through a series of purges that resulted in a familiar ploy of aggressive religions (which hate competition): convert of be killed.

This disease, based on different is bad and must be rooted out and killed, was not kept our of America, either. There are names of victims written on museum documents in Salem, Massachusetts.

The Smithsonian Institution website reveals that:

“The Salem witch trials occurred in colonial Massachusetts between 1692 and 1693. More than 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft—the Devil’s magic—and 20 were executed. Eventually, the colony admitted the trials were a mistake and compensated the families of those convicted. Since then, the story of the trials has become synonymous with paranoia and injustice, and it continues to beguile the popular imagination more than 300 years later.”

Estimates of the death toll are higher; it is still not fashionable in America to admit to the full breadth and width of our own shameful behavior. If you doubt me, ask a Native American how things really work.

For the most part, the people killed were thought to have ties to Wicca, a collection of practices that might be lumped in as local shamans and healers who relied on natural remedies and who had taken the time to explore the use of various herbs both for recreation and healing.

Just as there are good and bad Christians, there were good and bad Wiccans. But much of the “boil, boil, trouble and toil…” popularized in anti-Wiccan literature was made up or at least seriously misunderstood.

Years ago, I met with a Wiccan coven up in the Pacific Northwest that raised herbal teas on the eastern slopes of the Cascades, not far from Lake Chelan and Wenatchee. Their leader, a pleasant enough fellow named “Richard” explained that the “flying” that witches were accused of came from brewing up batches of natural psychotropics. In some cases, the herbal brew was applied to genitals for absorption, and yes, with a broomstick. So his group believed (and still practiced) in the mid 1970’s. That’s where the flying and broomsticks arose.

That, in itself, might not have led to the banishing of “witch-crafts” by an imperial religion which Christianity was at the time. Instead it was their believe that the stuff of “spirit” is not only distributed to humans alone and that all items can have a “spirit” about them.

To be sure, ask an experienced mountain climber and you will hear reverent discussion of “The Mountain” and it’s spirit. Native Americans hold to some pantheistic views as well, realizing that there is a “spirit” of an eagle, a bear, a snake, a deer, and what have-you. But all under the Providence of a Great Spirit.

I’ve done a fair bit of readings of history and I don’t find warfare between Wiccans and others, but this was likely their undoing in a sense. Recall that religions seem to go through purifications internally (and lean toward expansionism and conquest beginning around their 1,300 year anniversary and lasting perhaps 500 years. We note there is another major global religion is coming up on 1,300 years and is definitely into the militant expansionist mode.

Back to point, the holiday is often called Samhain (Samuin) after the Celtic summer’s end festival, but it also rolls up the Roman Romona goddess of fruit and harvest, the Roman Feralia commemoration of the debt, and of course the “All Hallows” / “All Saint’s Day” which follows Halloween Eve.

Let’s now take our deepened understanding of imperial religion, how cosmic disaster on the planet is the biggest holiday of shared social memory as we prepare for a bit of “Soul Cake”:

“A soul cake is a small round cake which is traditionally made for All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day to commemorate the dead in the Christian tradition. The cakes, often simply referred to as souls, are given out to soulers (mainly consisting of children and the poor) who go from door to door during the days of Allhallowtide singing and saying prayers “for the souls of the givers and their friends”.The practice in England dates to the medieval period, and was continued there until the 1930s, by both Protestant and Catholic Christians. The practice of giving and eating soul cakes continues in some countries today, such as Portugal (where it is known as Pão-por-Deus),[6] and in other countries, it is seen as the origin of the practice of trick-or-treating.[7] In Lancashire and in the North-east of England they are also known as Harcakes. In the United States, some churches, during Allhallowtide, have invited people to come receive sweets from them and have offered “pray for the souls of their friends, relatives or even pets” as they do so.”

This, my friend, brings me to one of the better and lesser known back stories behind the folk-rock group Peter Paul and Mary’s “A Soalin…”

(This is at for those with popups blocked.

For those of us who have studied comparative religions it is a reminder of many things, not the least of which is that we are very, very small eyes through which the Universe beholds itself and knows it is Divine.

Changes Coming

Don’t freak out, but a change of look to UrbanSurvival should show up Monday. Chris Tyreman up at, who is one of the best graphics designers I know (in addition to brilliantly sorting out archaic bits of biblical history and finding the Self Define Hebrew that makes recapture of original Scripture possible) has done us a fine new logo.

So drop by Monday for sure – and I will try to have it all rolled over Sunday.

Thank you for visiting, write when you get rich – and enjoy the Soul Cakes. recipe here ‘em here, btw.

4 thoughts on “Coping: With the History of Halloween”

  1. George – thank you for the ‘Peter, Paul and Mary’ song – that was one of my favorites!

    Fans of the works of Charles Dickens know how desperate life could be during the 1800’s England . . . and for the more historically minded, there are some ‘groundbreaking’ monographs written during the actual time period (by I believe, Mayhew (?).) ‘Jack the Ripper’ took advantage of the situation . . .

      • Possibly, though the depravity of the ‘criminal class’ of the time would have given any modern murderer a run for their money . . . (not counting gun crimes – guns being a ‘buffer’ between the victim and the criminal, making the act more impersonal.)

  2. “explained that the “flying” that witches were accused of came from brewing up batches of natural psychotropics. In some cases, the herbal brew was applied to genitals for absorption, and yes, with a broomstick. So his group believed (and still practiced) in the mid 1970’s. That’s where the flying and broomsticks arose.”

    Now that is something I had never heard before..I Learn something new every day..
    thank you for that interesting tid bit I love learning things like that.

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