Welcome to this very special edition of my blog – my first ever Halloween Edition! I am so pleased to have you share with us about the origins of this holiday and tell us more about your newest release! So, let me get out of the way and hand you the proverbial microphone.
The Celtic Origins of Halloween
by Ariella Moon
Centuries ago the Celtic people in Ireland, northern France, Scotland, and Wales celebrated Samhain. The Halloween traditions we enjoy today evolved from this pre-Christian festival.
Samhain (SOW-in, SAH-win, or SAH-ween), celebrated on November 1, marked the end of summer and the beginning of the Celtic year. The veil between realms was thinnest, and the souls of those who had died during the past year traveled into the Otherworld. But the portal worked both ways. Ancestors and other spirits from the Otherworld, and fairies from fairy mounds and realms, could cross into the human world.
The Celts disguised themselves in animal skin costumes to a drive back the spirits. They left food offerings to appease the ghosts and fay. Bonfires were lit to deflect unwanted spirits and to light the way for departing souls.
In 601 A.D. Pope Gregory the First issued an edict directing missionaries to no longer directly try to obliterate native beliefs and customs. Instead, his followers were instructed to overlay Christian beliefs. Wells sacred to the goddess Brigid became wells dedicated to Saint Brigit. The festival for the goddess Oestra became Easter. Jesus’s birthday was switched to coincide with the winter solstice. The list goes on. Then in the 9th century A.D., the Church tried to subsume Samhain with All Saints Day/All Hallows. All Hallow’s Eve incorporated the Celtic belief in high supernatural activity and the thinning of the veil between worlds. But the Church claimed the Celtic Otherworld was the Christian Hell, and demonized spirits, witches, the Celtic horned (antlered) god Cerrunous, and fairies as well as the Celtic priests, the druids. All Hallow’s Eve became Halloween.
The druids followed an oral tradition, so it is difficult to know when mumming began. Mummers, people disguised as the demonized folk, would perform antics and threaten more mischief (tricks). Villagers would appease them with food (treats). The first written record of mumming dates to December 1296. The midwinter tradition of mumming continues today in the British Isles.
In 1000 A.D. the Catholic Church designated November 2nd (Samhain) as All Soul’s Day. In England, the poor would visit the wealthy and promise to pray for the wealthy people’s deceased kin in exchange for soul cakes. Later, children would take up the task of souling for treats or coins.
21st Century witches and other pagans celebrate Samhain on October 31 or November 1st or 2nd. Samhain marks the Witches’ New Year. An altar is created to honor the souls of the Beloved Dead — humans and pets. The altar includes photos and mementos of those who died during the last year. Candles and Jack-o’-lanterns light the spirits’ path to the Otherworld. The names of the Beloved Dead are spoken out loud, releasing souls that have lingered, so they can move on.
Through these centuries old traditions of honoring the dead, helping spirits to the Otherworld, dressing up in costumes and begging door-to-door for treats, the Celtic origins of Halloween continue.
Copyright 2016 Ariella Moon
The Teen Wytche Saga currently consists of four sweet teen paranormal romances. The first two books, Spell Check and Spell Struck, take place around or during Halloween.
In the Teen Wytche Saga, a shape-shifting spell book upends the life of each girl who possesses it. Passed among a group of disparate teens, the rebellious book morphs into a new system of magic as it aligns or opposes the girl entrusted to safeguard it. Fans of historical romances will especially enjoy the fourth book in the series, Spell For Sophia, in which teens tumble through time. Readers are plunged into the often frightening history of New Orleans.
Historical Romance and magic? What a neat mix! What was the inspiration for Spell for Sophia?
My daughter has been the inspiration for all of my Young Adult novels. As she grew from a six-year-old advanced reader in search of an age appropriate big book, to a young woman navigating the world on her own, she continues to be my inspiration. For our most recent birthdays, we took a mother/daughter trip to Harry Potter World in Orlando, Florida. The magic and love of reading and writing did not fall far from the tree!
What fun! When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
In the sixth grade I won a national essay contest. The die was cast! But I also wanted to become a shaman, a dream that eventually came true. Most of my closest friends are witches or shamans, enabling me to infuse my books with real magic.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Way too long! It takes me a full year or more to write historical novels, and about nine months for my contemporary series.
Historical novels do require a bit of research, don’t they? Do you have any current projects your working on? Care to share?
I am finishing up The Viking Mist, the second novel in my Two Realms Trilogy. This sequel to The Beltane Escape, takes place in Fairy, medieval Scotland, and Viking times. Fenella, the young, kidnapped Thaness of Thorburn, returns, as does Talfryn, the half-Viking/half-fairy, and Edward, Fenella’s betrothed, and the son of her kidnapper.
Again, thanks so much, Ariella, for being on the blog today. Thank you for your insights and for your time.
Spell for Sophia
Sophia Perez-Hidalgo survival depends upon her mastering magic and the supernatural before her lawless parents and their vengeful boss catch up to her. How far must she flee to escape them forever? Sophia runs until she out of stolen money, thenate delivers her into the arms of Louisiana teen Shiloh Breaux Martine, and his grand-mre, a voodoo priestess living deep in the bayou. Breaux knows Sophia is trouble but hel travel through time, battle zombies, and risk his bright future to protect her. While Ainslie, best friend extraordinaire, will jeopardize her sanity to find and aid Sophia. When friendship, magic, and love are not enough, Sophia will have to save herself. But first, she must believe she worth saving.
More About Ariella
Ariella Moon draws upon her experiences as a shaman to create magical Young Adult fiction. The Teen Wytche Saga is a series of sweet contemporary paranormal romances. Her Two Realms Trilogy is a Fairy and medieval Scotland fantasy adventure series. She lives a nearly normal life doting on her extraordinary daughter, two shamelessly spoiled dogs, and a media-shy dragon.
Connect with Ariella and Her Books