Oct. 31, 2018

Family lore says that when daughter Clare was a wee lass she opened the door to some religious proselytizers and declared: “We’re Druids

but we’re reformed.” Asked what that

means, she said, “We don’t practice human

sacrifice anymore.” She then closed the

door forever on their souls.

Family lore doesn’t tell us what time of year

this occurred, but let’s pretend it was in the

fall to make it a solid Halloween story.

Because Druids are instrumental in

Halloween tradition.

Not much concrete information exists

about the Druids, who were the spiritual

and civic leaders of the ancient Celts. They

have long been associated with human

sacrifice (not proven) and Stonehenge

(doubtful because Stonehenge predates

known Druidism by a couple of thousand

years). But we do know they presided over the festival of Samhain, which the Celts celebrated about halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice, or around Oct. 31 on our calendar. Samhain also marked the end of the old Celtic year and the beginning of the new year. The festival contains many hallmarks of contemporary Halloween.

“At Samhain …, time lost all meaning and the past, present, and future were one,” modern-day Druid Susa Morgan Black writes for
The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids. “The dead, and the denizens of the Other World, walked among the living. It was a time of fairies, ghosts, demons, and witches. Winter itself was the Season of Ghosts, and Samhain is the night of their release from the Underworld. Many people lit bonfires to keep the evil spirits at bay.”

The Celts also dressed in disguises

(costumes) to confuse the spirits and

bobbed for apples, the latter to find one’s

true love.

Pumpkins do not show up in Celtic lore, but

jack-o’-lanterns do. It seems ol’ Jack treed

the devil and made the devil promise not to

take Jack’s soul if Jack let him go, writes

Áine Cain in Business Insider. The devil

agreed and Jack went on to lead a nefarious

life. When he died, heaven rejected him.

Looking for a home, Jack approached the

devil, who stood by his bargain. Miffed that Jack would even consider asking him to go back on his word, the devil threw a hot coal at Jack, who put it in a turnip and carried it around as he looked for somewhere to lay his head.

Therefore, carrying a jack-o’-lantern proves you didn’t recently fall off the turnip truck. And, if you believe that, it proves you have.

Clare is not actually a practicing Druid and, because she’s a non-practicing reformed Druid, has never sacrificed a human entity. But we do enjoy Halloween. Stop by for a treat—or a trick. And, on this day, only Deadheads may proselytize.


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Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications and author of Write It, Speak It: Writing a Speech They’ll APPLAUD! Reach him at Tom@YourConsistentVoice.com.​​

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Don’t Sacrifice the Druids for Halloween Lore