As the economic opportunities of this annual tradition are exploited more with every passing year, Halloween has become a time of feasting, fun-filled frights, and fancy-dressed festivities. According to the Indo-European Etymological Dictionaries, the origins of All Hallows’ Eve are commonly held to date back around two thousand years to a pre-Christian Celtic festival known as Samhain, or "Summer’s End," held to acknowledge the passing of the season of summer and the approach of the dark winter months. Samhain, pronounced sow-en or saw-win, was usually celebrated on 31st October or 1st November.
‘From the earliest records, Samhain is seen not simply as a day for the dead but when the dead might reach out to the living.’
But not all of the world shares the view of Halloween as a light-hearted, commercially-driven excuse for a party. In Russia, there have been strong recommendations for the government to restrict Halloween celebrations on the grounds that they promote negative and dangerous behavior.
The head of the Aspect Center think tank and member of the Public Chamber, Georgiy Fyodorov, has led the campaign after pressure from numerous regions of Russia complaining that the festival encourages depraved behavior. Fyodorov has been besieged by tales of drunken youngsters dressed in macabre outfits terrorising neighborhoods, and of horror-themed parties in night clubs that “induce lowly feelings,” and “turn into orgies.” In many areas, the holiday is deemed to be “ideologically and culturally alien to the Russian way of life.”
The campaign has been building for a couple of years: In 2013 a leading representative of the Russian Orthodox Church, Vsevolod Chaplin, called Halloween practices dangerous. "At first, people play with the evil spirit as a joke, but then they begin to play seriously with these things. This leads to serious problems: sickness, sadness, and despair," Chaplin was quoted as saying by the popular news site Lifenews.
Every culture will have their own unique perspective, but is there any evidence to suggest that Halloween really does stir up negative energies?
The Spiritual Science Research Foundation (SSRF), an organisation devoted to helping people worldwide live a more spiritual life, has conducted research into the phenomenon of Halloween from various different perspectives, examining its effects on social behavior, paranormal activity, and other energetic risks. The SSRF base their observations on the basic law of Spiritual science which states that ‘The word, touch, form, taste, smell and its related energy coexist’.
So forms and words associated with God and the Divine will attract divine energy; conversely, their argument against Halloween is based around the fact that the macabre decorations, costumes and other paranormal-phernalia act as an antenna for all such undesirable energies. During the festivities black is the predominant colour worn and used, and the SSRF believe this color has the maximum capacity to attract and transmit negative and distressing frequencies in the environment increasing the risk of attracting possible negative vibrations (ghosts included) by up to 70%. They express concern that children dressed up as magicians, vampires, witches, ghosts, skeletons may attract the actual negative energies they represent.
The SSRF maintain that on Halloween there is an increased risk of possession by earth-bound spirits, and that in places where Halloween is celebrated, the activity of ghosts increases by 30%. They suggest that the week before Halloween should be spent in prayer for protection, and that all Halloween-associated festivities should be avoided.
As a source, the credibility of the SSRF is somewhat in question, and one or two of their articles did give me a little titter: their description and illustration of the common ghost , for example, resembles "Casper The Friendly Ghost’s" rather antisocial cousin! However, some of their ideas highlighting the perils of focusing on negative energies did resonate with me, and certainly Joseph Lawson, of Lawson Paranormal Investigations in Flushing, seems to agree with these potential risks proposed by the SSRF. In a recent interview with Fox News, Lawson stated that " there is an absolutely an increase in paranormal activity during Halloween."
"This is the day that the level between the two worlds–the living and the dead–are the thinnest," he explained." There is a lot of legitimate activity that happens on Halloween."
For the skeptics out there, even local police forces have reported an increase in the amount of hauntings and possessions reported to them. On the eve of Halloween last year, the South Wales Police force in the United Kingdom released a list that documented an increase in supernatural sightings where citizens were so terrorized that they sought police assistance. Last year South Wales Police revealed the force had received three reports of zombies and two of werewolves being spotted in neighbourhoods. There were also two sightings of vampires and six sightings of witches.
Wayne Spurrier is the director of Haunted Happenings, ghost hunting tours the local area. He said: “South Wales is very haunted. We have experienced activity whenever we have held events in Wales. I guess people have to be fairly frightened to call the police but in our experience nobody has ever been hurt by a ghost.
“I explain the presence of a ghost as a repeat of something that happened in the past, an event or movement that is being repeated, that hasn’t gone away.
Exorcisms are dealt with in that area by the Bishop of Monmouth, who is a trained exorcist. He said that his clergymen are used to dealing with property possessions. He said: “When people turn to us for help they’re normally fairly desperate.
“We get people saying ‘we’ve got a ghost, we’ve got poltergeist activity, I feel there’s a presence in my house which I don’t like’ and people get very disturbed.”
So paranormal activity is well-documented and recognised by not only the clergy but law enforcement services too.
The Revd. Canon J. John, an internationally recognised Christian speaker and author of over 50 books, cites several reasons why Halloween is not the harmless, jolly occasion we may have come to perceive it to be.
Though Revd. J.John is writing, as one would expect, from a purely Christian perspective, the points he makes are thought-provoking and weighted with a common sense that transcends all religious denominations. His first point is of the mixed messages that we send to our children when teach them the difference between right and wrong all year, then at Halloween encourage them to celebrate all forms of evil! Also that they should never talk to or accept gifts from strangers, yet on Halloween it is customary for groups of children to knock on the door of strange houses and accept sweets from strangers!
Revd. J. John advises us to be cautious before we trivialise the effects of this festival:
"There are spiritual risks associated with Halloween," he warns." Although all sorts of things get dragged into Halloween these days, its core remains a preoccupation with supernatural evil. The heart of Halloween is the occult: witches, ghosts and spirits. If you are inclined to dismiss this argument then before you do so you might want to do some thinking first."