The Church of Satan, the first organized church in modern times to be devoted to the figure of Satan, perceives Halloween as an opportunity for the average American to indulge in secret Satanist fantasies. On its website, the church claims that Halloween is “the night when the mundane folk try to reach down inside and touch the ‘darkness’, which for Satanists is a daily mode of existence.” They claim that by dressing in costume, the average American is taking “a brief dip into the pool of the ‘shadow world.’”
In an interview given before he passed away in 1997, Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan, noted that Satanists are thankful for the hidden connection to Halloween.
“I am glad that Christian parents let their children worship the devil at least one night out of the year, LaVey said in an article in Destiny Image. “Welcome to Halloween.”
“We think because we are not performing any demonic rituals or human sacrifices that we are on safe ground,” he wrote. “But did you know that as soon as you dress up, whether you color yourself or put on a costume, the enemy owns you? Because by doing so, you have turned over your legal rights, and you have dedicated yourself and your kids to celebrating the devil’s holiday. You have just made a pact with the enemy, and you are already sacrificing your children spiritually by dressing them up and changing their identity.”
Halloween and the insidious growth of Paganism
As many people are probably aware, stores are already inundated with Halloween-themed displays to market costumes and the bizarre accouterments of what many mistakenly believe is a harmless child-oriented candy fest.
Celebrated around the world Halloween is one of the most popular holidays, as well as one of the oldest. Halloween, also known as “All Hallows’ Eve,” is celebrated on October 31st, the day before All Hallows’ or All Saints Day. All Hallows’ is a Christian festival celebrated in honor of the saints though, today, it is considered a secular celebration unrelated to religion and, as such, its popularity is rising.
Today, it is the second most popular holiday for spending money in the US: Americans shell out $2.5 billion on costumes and an additional $3.5 billion on candy. A recent study showed that fully three-quarters of the costumes are sold for Halloween by October 14. The creepy holiday crosses religious and cultural boundaries with 65% of Americans celebrating.
In Mexico and other Latin American countries, Halloween is called Día de Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, and is celebrated for three days. Families construct an altar in their homes to honor their late family members who, it is believed, return to their earthly homes on Halloween. A feast is prepared with the deceaseds’ favorite dishes for their spirits to enjoy. Food and candy are often made in the shape of skulls and skeletons for the celebration.
Many scholars believe that Halloween was the result of the early Christian Church incorporating the pagan festival of Samhain, one of the four main pagan holidays celebrated by the Celtics who lived in pre-Roman areas of Ireland. The holiday became popular in America in the second half of the nineteenth century with a wave of Irish immigration resulting from the potato famine.
Similar to modern Halloween, Celtic pagans dressed up in costumes on Samhain and lit bonfires. Samhain was seen as a liminal time when the boundary between this world and the spirit world could more easily be crossed. As such, it was an auspicious time for summoning dark spirits to aid in necromancy, communicating with the dead to foretell the future, a practice explicitly prohibited in the Bible.
Let no one be found among you who consigns his son or daughter to the fire, or who is an augur, a soothsayer, a diviner, a sorcerer, one who casts spells, or one who consults ghosts or familiar spirits, or one who inquires of the dead. Deuteronomy 18:10-11
Samhain was celebrated from sundown October 31 to sundown November 1, as the Celtic day began and ended at sunset. People believed that on Samhain, spirits roamed the world, and gifts of food and wine would be left out to appease the spirits. When people left their houses at night, they wore masks so they would be mistaken for fellow ghosts.
It could be that the increasing popularity of Halloween is linked to a corresponding rise in paganism in the U.S., accompanied by an increasing mainstream interest in occult-related activities like astrology, tarot, and spellcasting.
Many Christians are beginning to understand this connection. According to a survey taken by Lifeway Research, 67 percent of pastors suggest that church members take an alternative approach to the holiday, centered around a church event, while eight percent of pastors tell church members to skip the holiday entirely.
Some have mistakenly equated Halloween with the Jewish holiday of Purim, ostensibly because children dress up on Purim and one of the customs on the Jewish holiday is to send gifts of food to friends and neighbors, similar to trick or treat. Because of its clear origins in paganism and its connection with forbidden necromancy, most halachic (Torah law) authorities prohibit observant Jews from participating in Halloween.