Samhain and the Origins of Our Modern Halloween

Tanner Eliot
The Paw Print

The Halloween festivities have come and gone, but the holiday had a very unique origin.
Halloween’s history comes out of the Gaelic culture. Halloween was known as Samhain, which is a Celtic jubilee that praises the end of the harvest season.
The Celtic Pagans was a time period that they used to get ready for the winter.
The original belief was that on Oct. 31, the borders between the worlds of the living and dead would come together, causing the dead to roam the living world for one single night.
One thing that is symbolized with Halloween is witches and witchcraft. Up and until the 14th century, witches were actually socially acceptable in the European culture.
They were seen as simple skilled herbalist, this was before the era of doctors. The bark off of willow trees was used for pain relief and fever. Muscle cramps were cured by celery roots. Parsley was used for miscarriage and ivy was used to relieve asthma. All of these are natural plants found within nature used for straight natural cures.
However, the art of brewing could also be used for a somewhat questionable cause. Coming out of the typical European Toad, Bufotoxin, is a cardiac poison. When Bufotoxin is mixed with Tetrodoxin (which disrupts the communication of the brain) from the puffer fish, it causes a coma.
Tetrodoxin is 500 times more deadly then cyanide. Hundreds of years ago, people could not determine a difference between coma and the death state. It would create quiet a scare when someone would dig up the assumed-to-be-dead individual and he was in fact quite alive.
The disease of ergot poisoning has come to be the main factor in the Salem Witch Trials. The ergot poison was found in mostly grains and ryes, its’ effects were manic behavior, hallucinating, throwing up, twitching, severe pain, as well as feeling as if you are burning.
One of the main molecules of Ergotism is Ergotamine. This molecule is used to treat severe headaches. An overdose of Ergotamine can cause effects of hallucination and even abortion if consumed while pregnant.
The other molecule of Ergotism is Ergovine, which is illegal in the United Kingdom. Ergovine is used in the production of the drug Lysergic acid diethylamide, otherwise known as LSD.
It is been found in history that the witch was not the one who gave the individuals the ergo poisoning. However, the witch was always the crutch to fall back on for persecution.
The biggest time of persecution was in the Reformation period in North America and Europe. Between 40,000 and 60,00 witches were killed due to their practice, which was not socially acceptable at the time.
A modern example of prosecution of witches (not persecution) was found in 2009 in Saudi Arabia. One hundred and eight-teen individuals were arrested for using the Book of Allah in an unfashionable manor.
In 2006, a dead woman in Saudi Arabia was beheaded for the practice of sorcery and casting of spells. In 2007, a Sudanese male was put to death after casting a spell that was meant to bring back together divorced couples. is powered by WordPress µ | Spam prevention powered by Akismet