Thursday, October 31, 1901: Page 8, column 6


Halloween

"Hallowe'en", the Night of October 31st, stands in close conjunction with the Pleiades or the Constellation of the Seven Sisters and the pagan rituals of the Druids. On the pre-Reformation calendar the last day of October was designated "All Hallows Eve" and the 2nd of November "All Saints Day", culminating in a three-day celebration for the dead, beginning in the evening and ruled in olden times by the Constellation of the Seven Sisters. The legend has it that on this night the shadows of those who have died in the previous year travel to the West to stand in judgment before the god of death. November 1st was a night full of mystery for the Druids in which the rebuilding of the world was celebrated. A horrid ritual was associated with this event. The Druid nuns at this time of the year had to tear down and rebuild the roof of their temple as a symbol of the destruction and renewal of the world. If any one of them let part of the new material for the roof fall by the wayside as she was carrying her burden, she was lost. Her traveling companions would grasp her with fanatical rage and tear her to pieces. Scarcely a year went by without the need to make this terrible sacrifice. On the same night the Druids would extinguish the holy fire thereby signaling that all other fires and lights be extinguished and the deep darkness of night would prevail throughout the land. The residual traces of this practice are to be found in the lighting of torches, fires or candles on Halloween. This ceremony doesn't just go back to the old Druids. In almost every portion of the world and in various periods in history death festivals have been celebrated. According to oral traditions these celebrations were usually associated with some great calamity with which the people of the past came in contact and which was directly attributed to the Constellation of the Seven Sisters. One such festival was found among the old Persians, who called the month of November the "Angel of Death"; similar ceremonies were found among the Hindus, and in Egypt, Australia and the island groups in the Pacific Ocean. It has been suggested that the Japanese Lantern Festival may also have originated out of similar circumstances. The calamity which humanity encountered could ostensibly come in the form of a great flood which befell them. As the famous French astronomer Flammarion tells us, the festivals, seasons, calendars and measurements of year-cycles for many peoples were regulated by the ascension and zenith of the Pleiades and its association with the supernatural character of Halloween night is merely the residue of the superstitions of earlier times. Over the course of time however "Hallowe'en" has taken on a celebratory splendor despite its mysterious origins. The roasting of apples and nuts, which takes place on "Hallowe'en" and during which the crackling of the ashes is said to deliver prophetic messages, may also have come from portions of the old ceremony and to this day serve the purpose of bringing about smiles and laughter. In the Highlands of Scotland and the hills of Wales many age-old rituals are still practiced and in England as here Halloween is still celebrated. Apples and nuts, hanging from strings or floating in washtubs, and candles, which burn the fingers of the inattentive, play a major role in the festivities. Beloved children parade outside in costumes, which unfortunately all too often take on an irrepressible character. Halloween is an especially significant evening for certain suffering souls. The timid and the uncertain allow themselves to be deceived by various symbols. Some say that the omens portended on Halloween are infallible.