There seems to be more fascination with Halloween with each succeeding year. Much of this is due to simple commercial exploitation. For many retailers, it is now the third most lucrative event of the year.
But for the increasing numbers of people following the various resurgences of paganism, there is a more serious significance. According to this BBC article, Samhain is for pagans one of the most important religious festivals, a time when the barriers between the physical world and the spiritual are at their thinnest.
Spirits are invoked, and witches bid farewell to the goddess of light, and welcome the god who will reign over the months of darkness.
Spells might be made, and potions mixed, for healing, or to bring money or happiness.
Paganism has a high regard for women, in contrast to the perceived discrimination against women found in mainstream religions. The pagan goddesses are regarded as just as powerful as the gods, if not more so.
Paganism also has a high regard for nature, tending to personify it as ‘mother earth’.
One branch of paganism – the Druid Network – has recently been given the status of a religion by the Charities Commission. This is on account of Druidism’s worship of a supreme entity, its set of coherent practices, and its beneficent moral code.
But paganism values individual freedom in both belief and behaviour. Tony Jameson, bard of the Dolmen Grove, a group of Dorset Druids, says:-
We’ve come to a time, after thousands of years of dogmatic religion… for human beings to take hold of their spirit and become free. Free themselves of all the dogma, of all the rules and regulations, and let the conscience grow on its own.
Much of what happens on Halloween may be fairly innocent, if silly and misplaced, fun. But there can be no doubt that in the resurgence of paganism there is not only a radical denial of the unique revelation of God in Jesus Christ, but also an invocation of spirits other than the Holy Spirit. No wonder if some of those spirits are starting to feel more at home in our society.