Happy Halloween: Strange Folklore For The Year’s Scariest Night

Photo by olia danilevich on Pexels.com

The tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating treats.

The Origin of Witches

Early witches were people who practiced witchcraft, using magic spells and calling upon spirits for help or to bring about change. Most witches were thought to be pagans doing the Devil’s work. Many, however, were simply natural healers or so-called “wise women” whose choice of profession was misunderstood.

The Witch Of Bridge Street by Keith Evans is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0
Photo by Joy Marino on Pexels.com

It’s unclear exactly when witches came on the historical scene, but one of the earliest records of a witch is in the Bible in the book of 1 Samuel, thought be written between 931 B.C. and 721 B.C. It tells the story of when King Saul sought the Witch of Endor to summon the dead prophet Samuel’s spirit to help him defeat the Philistine army.

Massachusetts wasn’t the first of the 13 colonies to obsess about witches, though. In Windsor, Connecticut in 1647, Alse Young was the first person in America executed for witchcraft. Before Connecticut’s final witch trial took place in 1697, forty-six people were accused of witchcraft in that state and 11 were put to death for the crime.

Origins of Black Cat Superstitions

The connections between humans and cats can be traced back to some of the world’s earliest civilizations, most notably, ancient Egypt, where cats were considered divine symbols. Cats also made an appearance in Greek mythology, specifically Hecate, goddess of magic, sorcery, the moon and witchcraft, was described as having a cat as both a pet and a familiar (a supernatural creature that assists a witch, according to European folklore).

Satan in the Garden of Eden by Zorba the Geek is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

Satanism is a modern, largely non-theistic religion based on literary, artistic and philosophical interpretations of the central figure of evil. It wasn’t until the 1960s that an official Satanic church was formed by Anton LaVey. The popular image of Satan is a horned, red, demonic human figure with a pointy tail and sometimes hooves. To Christians, sinners are sent to his domain—hell—after death. Hell is described as an underground world dominated by fire and Sadistic demons under Satan’s command. Satan’s first appearance wasn’t in Christianity. He began as the Zoroastrian Devil figure of Angra Mainyu or Ahriman, which opposed the Zoroastrian creator god and tempted humans. Satan is later portrayed in Jewish Kabbalism, which presents him as a demon who lives in a demonic realm.

The Satanic Bible

Lavey’s Satanic Bible was published in 1969, bringing together Lavey’s personal mix of black magic and occult concepts, secular philosophy and rationalism and anti-Christian ridicule into essays stressing human autonomy and self-determination in the face of an indifferent universe. The Satanic Bible gave the church a national reputation and served as a strong vehicle for its significant growth. The Satanic bible is divided into four books, namely, “The Book of Satan,” “The Book of Lucifer,” “The Book of Belial,” and finally “The Book of Leviathan.” It is generally believed that LaVey obtained this hierarchy from “The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage,” in which the above four demons are said to be the chiefs of hell. Each book addresses a different principle of Satanism and serves a unique purpose within the book as a whole.

Names for the Devil 

Some biblical scholars, however, claim Lucifer isn’t a proper name but a descriptive phrase meaning “morning star.” Still, the name stuck and the Devil is often referred to as Lucifer.

Names for the Devil are numerous: Besides Lucifer, he may be referred to as the Prince of Darkness, Beelzebub, Mephistopheles, Baphomet, Lord of the Flies, the Antichrist, Father of Lies, Moloch or simply Satan.

The book of Ezekiel includes another Biblical passage Christians refer to as proof of the Devil’s existence. It admonishes the greedy King of Tyre but also refers to the king as a cherub who was once in the Garden of Eden. As a result, some Bible translators believe the King of Tyre was a personification of the Devil.

The Morris Clown (2) – sign, High Street, Bampton, Oxon by P L Chadwick is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

History of Clowns

From the beginning of recorded history, there have always been men and women who could make others laugh. 5000 years ago, ancient Egyptians used African Pygmies, known as Dangas to amuse the Royal Families. China used clowns, called YuSze, to keep Ch’in Shih Huang-ti entertained as he oversaw the construction of the Great Wall of China. An estimated 20-30% of the entire population is afraid, to a certain degree, of clowns. Extreme cases of clown fear have an actual phobia called Coulrophobia. Panic attacks, difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, and nausea are all signs of Coulrophobia. But why? What makes these painted face pranksters menacing to so many? Is what’s hiding behind that makeup? Could it be the many scary clown movies that have left an impression on us from our youth? Is it the sadness that often accompanies the person behind the makeup? Is it all the examples of mean or murderous clowns in pop culture? There are plenty to be afraid of.

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