Recently in Hallowe'en Category

October 27, 2010

Neopaganism as stupid as all other religions: official

Way back when I was young, naïve and Pagan, the pub where we held our local moot used to go out of its way to have appropriately themed beers available when we were in. This was particularly easy in the run up to Hallowe'en, but at other times, Pendle Witches' Brew made regular appearances. And we loved them for it. No doubt if Lost Abbey Witch's Wit had been available then, we'd have made a beeline for it.

But is seems that these days, there are some Pagans out there who seem to think that they need to behave like other religions to get respect, including whingeing and kvetching about the tiniest perceived slight. One practitioner of Delicate Flower Wicca is Vicki Noble, allegedly expert in astrology readings and shamanic healing but not, it seems history. She's objecting to the label featuring a witch being burned at the stake.

Those against the label condemn the image as offensive to practising pagans, and women in general, and argue that it is inappropriate to use a violent historical reference to sell beer.

The problem here is that the past was an incredibly violent place and, in parts of Europe, people accused of witchcraft were tortured and killed by burning them alive. None of them were Wiccan, but that doesn't matter. In a time of increasing religious lunacy, it's always a good idea to draw attention to the atrocities committed in the name of religion, and this is something the brewer understands far better than the fluffy bunnies:

I encourage you to look at all of Lost Abbey's beers and consider them in context. Each of the Lost Abbey beers features a label which depicts a theme of Catholic excess -- good and bad -- on the front, and tells a moral story on the back. (Our founder is a recovering Catholic.)

In the case of Witch's Wit, the back label is a story of the bad consequences of religious intolerance and oppression. The woman on the front is referred to as a healer on the label and accuses the Church of being narrow-minded and violent, threatening the same fate to anyone who would help the woman. The label ends with a note that this beer -- a light, sweet and golden ale -- is brewed in honor of that woman (and all those who died for their convictions).

I'm also intrigued as to why one of the articles cited below keeps mentioning the Helen Duncan case in 1944. Contrary to popular belief, the 1735 Witchcraft Act abolished the crime of Witchcraft on the grounds that it didn't exist. It replaced it with an offence of claiming to have magical powers, which was obviously fraud. It wasn't the law used to execute people in England, where hanging was the method used anyway.

I wonder if my local specialist beer shop has any?

Lost Abbey Witch’s Wit Ale may Change Label Due to Wiccan ProtestsRightJuris, 25th October 2010; Lost Abbey Burning Witch Beer Label Riles WiccansWashington City Paper Blogs, 26th October 2010.

October 16, 2007

Hoary old chestnut evolves legs, wings.

United States: Yet another animal shelter falls victim to the annual urban myth about black cats being adopted for sacrifice at Hallowe'en and has sentenced the poor animals to another month of misery.

Hillside SPCA, Pottsville, prohibits adoptions of black cats now to Nov. 2, fearing the animals could be mistreated in Halloween pranks or worse, be sacrificed in sadistic or occult rituals.

We put a sign up during the month of October prohibiting adoptions, said Sylvia Nabholz, a volunteer and board member with the nonprofit animal shelter off the Gordon Nagle Trail, Route 901.

Although Nabholz said she was not aware of any cruelty incidents specifically involving black cats, the temporary ban on their adoption is a precautionary measure.

...Fortunately, she said, the shelter has not noticed an increase in adoption rates of black cats in the the month before Halloween.

Hillside SPCA nixes adoptions of black cats for HalloweenThe Republican and Herald, 15th October 2007. See also Hoary old chestnutThe Prattle, 25th October 2002; Hoary old chestnut campaigns for vote.The Prattle, 26th October 2003; Warm black pussies.The Prattle, 30th October 2003; That time of year againThe Prattle, 31st October 2006.

October 31, 2006

That time of year again

A quick round-up of seasonal news:

As is usual, the Prattle Towers resident black cat has no fears whatsoever, and plans to spend the entire day and night getting in her regular beauty sleep. She's more bothered by fireworks than witches, the latter being more likely to stop and stroke her.

One final piece of sheer religious bigotry that isn't strictly hallowe'en based, but fits in nicely with all the silliness above: Spring Hill residents scratch heads over headless animalsSt. Petersburg Times:

SPRING HILL - The 666 phone prefix is enough proof for some. For others, it's the nightclub Saints and Sinners, or the scorching sun that can turn summer into a living hell.

But for some, there's another sign of Spring Hill's proximity to the Land of Lucifer: a rash of decapitated animals.

I'm sure there's a coven of witches or devil worshipers around here, said Sandi Bosset, 61, who has been finding headless hens and roosters on her front lawn. These are obvious rites of witchcraft and Satanism.

Over the past few weeks, chickens, quail and goats have been found in trash bins and on the side of the road.

Could this be the work of Santeros? Or Satanists? Or school kids turned psycho?

There are, of course, only three options we need to consider: teenagers, someone in need of care in the mental health system, or a teenager in need of care in the mental health system.

August 2, 2006


A common use of the contact form is to draw my attention to loony fundie sites I might have missed. Very occasionally, and for reasons I cannot begin to fathom, my attention is drawn to loony fundie sites by the loony fundies themselves. Take this missive, which contains a load of stuff from Behold! The Age of Man the Choicemaker by James Baxter. I will only bother with the first part, enough to give you a taste.

The missing element in every human 'solution' is an accurate definition of the creature.

The way we define 'human' determines our view of self, others, relationships, institutions, life, and future. Important? Only the Creator who made us in His own image is qualified to define us accurately. Choose wisely...there are results.

In an effort to diminish the multiple and persistent dangers and abuses which have characterized the affairs of man in his every Age, and to assist in the requisite search for human identity, it is essential to perceive and specify that distinction which naturally and most uniquely defines the human being. Because definitions rule in the minds, behaviors, and institutions of men, we can be confident that delineating and com- municating that quality will assist the process of resolu- tion and the courageous ascension to which man is called. As Americans of the 21st Century, we are oblig- ed and privileged to join our forebears and participate in this continuing paradigm proclamation.

The rest of the message is this incomprehensible article, but surely Hallowe'en 365 Nights-a-Year or "Why un-Believers Can't THINK" would have been a much better choice for us?

September 15, 2005

Mayor apologises for listening to fundies

United States: The mayor of a town near Colorado Springs has apologised to a local Neopagan group after she attempted to ban a fundraiser they'd organised. The attempted ban followed a complaint from a local fundie preacher, and the apology after the mayor received a dressing down from a colleague.

The Secret Garden Coven booked the American Legion Hall in Ramah for a Hallowe'en themed fundraiser for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital on October 29th. Rev. Tim Tucker, of Ramah Baptist Fellowship, asked the town board to block the event, and a meeting was convened last August specifically to discuss the event. At last Tuesday's meeting, board member Nicole Allen, told the mayor exactly what she tought of the council getting involved, and the Mayor issued her apology.

Herrara's apology followed a scolding Tuesday from fellow trustee Nicole Allen, who said she was embarrassed by the board's behavior at the work session, saying it was an attempt to violate the group's civil liberties.

All I can say is we do as a board apologize, Herrara told members of the Secret Garden Coven at Tuesday's meeting. This has never come up before and never will again...

...I believe in the separation of church and state, [Allen] said. I do not believe the town of Ramah had a legal interest and should not have been involved.

I find it sad council members were willing to protest and condemn what they did not understand. This is the first time I've been embarrassed and ashamed of the actions of my fellow board members.

The fundies have vowed to continue their persecution by trying to persuade the American Legion to discriminate against Pagans specifically.

Ramah mayor apologizes to pagans - The Gazette, 15th September 2005.

October 21, 2004

Hallowe'en 'offensive to witches'

United States: A Washington State school district has cancelled Hallowe'en celebrations in case the festival is offensive to Wiccans.

The district said Halloween celebrations and children dressed in Halloween costumes might be offensive to real witches.

Witches with pointy noses and things like that are not respective symbols of the Wiccan religion and so we want to be respectful of that, Hansen said.

The Wiccan, or Pagan, religion is said to be growing in the United States and there are Wiccan groups in Puyallup.

On the district's list of guidelines related to holidays and celebrations is an item that reads: Use of derogatory stereotypes is prohibited, such as the traditional image of a witch, which is offensive to members of the Wiccan religion.

School Says Halloween Disrespectful to Witchesabc News, 21st October 2004.

October 15, 2004

Seasonal Fun

Hallowe'en is fast approaching. Short of ideas for the obligatory pumpkin? Perhaps Extreme Pumpkins can help?

Extreme - Pumpkin carving at its wildest!

At what point did the carving of pumpkins turn into a cute event? When did boys stop carving pumpkins and moms start? Where did we lose touch with one of the years coolest events?

Today we will seize back this ritual. Today is the day we throw away those safe, cute carving tools. Today. We will buy a big, ugly, pumpkin so large one man cannot lift or move it. Today. We will carve that sumbitch into something ugly and plop it on the front porch. October 31st we will light it brightly enough to give visiting children suntans.

Pumpkin carving is reborn.

Welcome to where strange pumpkins, pumpkin patterns, and alternative pumpkin carving techniques are developed and demonstrated for you. Pumpkin carving will never be the same.

(via Making Light's Particles.)

October 30, 2003

Warm black pussies.

United States: The Maryland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has dropped its ban on the adoption of black cats during October. The national American SPCA had stopped advising such a ban two years ago after they uncovered no evidence to support suggestions that black cats were under any additional danger in the run-up to Hallowe'en.

I've been checking with people in (the SPCA's) adoption and animal science departments and no, there hasn't been any instance where a witch ... did anything with these black cats, [Deborah] Sindell said.

There's really no evidence.

The executive director of Washington County Humane Society said that he had not seen a single case of adoption leading to torture during his 30 years' experience, and noted that an ill-doer would have a much better supply of animals to be cruel to: Cats are readily available, free on the street. Those are the ones I'm more concerned about.

An anthropology professor questioned the very basis of the urban legend:

Legend says that a cat caught and killed at Halloween was especially powerful for a voodooist, Stevens said, but witches were said to share their powers with cats.

People who were fearful that the black cat was carrying evil - they might be the ones that mistreat the cat, not the witches themselves, Stevens said.

Ban on black cat adoptions at Halloween droppedCapital News Service, 30th October 2003.

October 28, 2003

Le nettoyage ethnique de Hallowe'en

France: A French fast food chain (surely not a very French thing in itself) has put the Auld Alliance at risk by claiming Hallowe'en is Anglo-Saxon. Flunch has replaced the Scottish and Irish festival with their very own invented Celtic New Year.

Gilleron said the Gallic promotion, which features stores decorated with cardboard druids, was in the spirit of French ancestors. The eve of the Celtic New Year was a big event and would be followed by weeks of parties and banquets.

Customers have so far failed to notice. Asterix Spirit Stems Halloween Invasion - Yahoo! News, 28th October 2003.

Sacred sweets.

The demonic St. Matthew has conducted a quick, not-very-scientific poll of some neighbourhood kids to find out what they think Hallowe'en is about. The answers he got mostly concerned sweeties. Then he goes and falls for a spoof while looking for Christian anti-hallowe'en sites to take the mick out of. Fundamentalist Christianity and Halloween! -, 28th October 2003.

October 27, 2003

Brazilians spot a good excuse to party.

Brazil: Despite the early influence of Scottish and Irish immigrants (the name 'Brazil' comes from a Gaelic legend), Hallowe'en has never really been marked until recently. A rough translation of an article by Sérgio Augusto includes some information about the Brazilian Hallowe'en and where it comes from (complete with obligatory pseudoceltic nonsense):

Brazilians are natural partiers, but the catholic traditions always kept Brazilians from celebrating the arrival of November with the same happiness enjoyed in Carnival times. Mexican tradition allows for this type of carrying on, since they have made Dia de los Muertos (Finados) their most celebrated holiday. Watching them mix the macabre with a carnival feeling is awe-inspiring. Their Mayan and Aztec roots give way to an incredible comfort level with death, allowing them to enjoy eating foods in the shape of skulls. Every November 2nd, Mexicans creep tourists out by their displays of skeletons and death. In the interior of Mexico, there is still the belief that celebrating the dead will bring rain, better crops and increased fertility, and of course, good luck.
With such tradition, Mexicans should really downplay Halloween, since they also have pranks associated with their Day of the Dead festival, when young adults steal fruit, flowers and corn on the evening of November 1st, honoring all the saints. Witches on broomsticks don't mean anything in Mexico. They didn't mean anything here, either, except in Maranhão, where for some odd reason some celebrate Nossa Senhora da Vassoura, who wipes the bad away with a broom. Well, the rest of Brazil is accepting the traditions of All Hallow's Eve, on the night before November 1st, October 31st.

With extreme Protestant groups making headway among Brazil's poor, there is some opposition, of course. Augusto has a low opinion of them, and their propaganda (the example referred to is a Jack Chick comic).

One group of fascists who are against this party are called the Satanic Panic-ers, who distribute pamphlets and have a comic book called Spellbound. In it, Halloween is described as a satanic ritual where children eat poisonous candies and are kidnapped and sacrificed so that their fat can be used to make the candles that go in the jack-o'-lantern, and so on.
Not even the Celts had devils or deities connected to death in their beliefs. There is no proof that the Celts harmed or killed people other than those who committed crimes and sometimes prisoners of war. Sacrifices, inquisitions and pogroms were, as the Vatican itself shamefully admits, Christian inventions. Another fallacy: the Celts never saw a pumpkin, and they knew that human fat is not a good ingredient to make candles.

Halloween in Brazil -, 27th October 2003.

Hallowe'en ethnically-cleansed from Moscow schools

Russia: Education authorites have banned the celebration of Hallowe'en in schools because Schools should celebrate holidays according to the basic values of the Russian culture. It seems that authorities are most worried that the festival acknowledges the existence of death, which is apparantly a bad thing to remind children of.

The very fact that Halloween activities contain religious elements (the cult of death, scoffing at death, personification of death and evil spirits, and so on) contradicts the temporal character of education in the state-run educational institutions and produces a destructive effect upon the psychological, moral and spiritual health of students.

There have been a small number of cases of juvenile delinquents using it as an excuse to do things they would have done anyway. Halloween Banned in Russian Schools - Pravda, 27th October 2003.

October 26, 2003

Hoary old chestnut campaigns for vote.

[A black cat today]United States: Dozens of black cats have been condemned to a miserable Hallowe'en thanks to gullible animal lovers who believe they might be sacrificed by Satanists. Rather than being allowed to join loving homes, the moggies will have to stay in their cages at animal shelters.

We are really cautious. This week and next, we will routinely not adopt them out, said Theresa Williams, director of St. Charles County Humane Services. The concern is that people who don't truly want to be pet owners will want a cat as a seasonal prop, or, as has happened in isolated incidents, get a black or white cat to use in ritual abuse.

Despite its definite tone, Williams admitted her statement had no basis in reality, and local animal protection officials said they had not received any complaints. Another 'expert', Nan Stuart, blamed 'dabblers' in Satanism and claimed:

She said, contrary to what some may think, white cats or white German Shepherds are probably most sought for ritual killings at Halloween. You probably won't hear about many of them, she said. I've investigated cases of it.

If she gave any examples of convictions, which would be in the public record, the newspaper chose not to mention them. Instead they observed, just like the Prattle last year (Hoary old chestnut - Prattle, 25th October 2002), the biggest problem is not witches, or even Satanists, but juvenile delinquents. The only remotely hallowe'en-connected cruelty cases have been teenagers torturing and killing animals in highly unritualistic ways.

When asked whether she feared for her life, Frigg (7), Prattle Alley's resident black cat (pictured above), presented her tummy to be tickled, complained about the diet food and asked to be kept indoors while the kids were messing with fireworks. Some shelters protect black cats at Halloween - St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 25th October 2003.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Hallowe'en category.

Fundies is the previous category.

Heritage is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


About this site
Contact the Prattle
Ego Corner

The Pagan Prattle
c/o P.O. Box 666
Edinburgh EH7 5YW



Creative Commons License
The original material in this weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.