Thousands of years ago, the pagans considered most of the Halloween symbols that are commonly associated with witches and wizards or evil entities to be sacred. When Christianity adopted Halloween as one of their own festivals, they started interpreting these symbols as signs of wickedness, devil or associated to Satanism, so that people turn away from paganism and its practices. We are discussing some of these symbols that are still used on Halloween, but the legends of their origin are faded by dust of time. Explore the article to know about the traditional Halloween symbols.
Symbols of Halloween
Egyptians considered cats sacred and their Goddess Bast was considered the divine Mother of all cats. This Goddess was believed to live in the city of Bubastis, which was also considered sacred and was well known for its elaborate festivals and joyous festivities. Greek Goddess resembling Bast was known as Artemis, while the Roman Goddess with similar traits was known as Diana. In the Middle Ages, Diana was thought to be the Queen of Witches and thus, cats were thought to be related to witchcraft and considered as common pets of the witches. Today, cats have become one of the popular emblems of Halloween and black cat is often associated with misfortune and ill omens.
In the ancient ages, Egyptians often used masks to impersonate their deities. Their art included elaborate masks that cover the entire face of the wearer, who were believed to embody the deities and divinities and anyone who wearing such a mask was believed to manifest these pagan deities in human form. Mask was known in Teutonic as 'Grim', which was also a common part of the names of the deities. In Medieval ages, Christian churches forbade wearing of masks, to avoid such practices, but people continued to wear them on pagan festivals and the celebrations adopted in Christianity, such as Halloween and Carnivals.
Owl represents the Wise Woman of the village, also known as cunning healer and Herb mother or Crone of the village. It had once been associated with myriad forms of Goddess of Wisdom and Mortality, such as Athene, Anath, Blodeuwedd, Lilith, Minerva and Mari (the Goddess having eyes like an owl and who seems to stare). Mari could take the shape of the owl at will too. Today, owls are associated with witches, especially at Halloween. Harry Potter's world created by J. K. Rowling also portrays owls being the pets of witches and wizards and used by them as means of communication.
In English Witchcraft, it is believed that the ceremony of Cakes and Wine is a must after every meeting, where the high priestess distributes crescent or triangle-shaped small cakes and biscuits to the communion. As recently as in the 20th century, people from rural Scotland used to bake triangular cakes for Halloween and the woman who baked these cakes were called 'the Bride.' Next year, an old woman known as 'Caillech' or 'Auld Wife', who was believed to be an incarnation of the Crone, replaced the Bride in baking these magical cakes.