Many of the pagan traditions regarding the celebration of Halloween are of Celtic origins. But the Celts did not call the celebration Halloween, but rather, it was called the "Feast of Samhain". Some (including myself) have wondered about the origins of this word “Samhain” since there is evidence that bands of wayward Israelites were scattered into this region several thousand years ago. Samhain was one of the major yearly Sabbat’s of the Celts (yes the Celts call these feast days Sabbaths). Six month prior to the feast of Shamain was the feast of Beltain and three months prior to Beltain was Ostara.
It certainly makes sense that since the rebellious house of Israel was spewed from the land of Israel for their idolatrous practices, they would have carried their paganistic beliefs with them. The names Ostara and Beltain is a no brainer as they connect easily to Baal and Ashtoreth ( the god and goddess of the land of Canaan). But what about the word Samhain? Apparently he was a minor god who the Celts remembered through the yearly celebration of visitation of the dead during the fall season. Could this minor god (Samhain) have been related to the prophet Samuel? Regardless of whether he was or not, I thought it would be well to recount the biblical story of Samuel and the witch of Endor to consider things people overlook when they read it. Many in the Christian church believe that the witch actually called up the prophet Samuel from the dead and his spirit was allowed to predict the death of King Saul. Others however recognize that the scriptures teach that the dead have no capacity to visit people after death since the scriptures teach that the dead know nothing and have no memory (See Ecclesiastes 9:5).
But if you look at the story closely, it may be that neither of the two positions people have commonly taken are correct. Note as you read the story in the book of Samuel that King Saul is taking the words and the description given by the Witch at face value “The king said to her, "Don't be afraid. What do you see?" The woman said, "I see a spirit coming up out of the ground" (1 Samuel 28:13). Does Samuel or his men see the spirit come up? No! It is the Witch who is in control throughout the entire event. She is taking advantage of his full trust in her make believe supernatural powers and tampers with the corrupted imagination of the King. But what about all of the marvelous things the “spirit” knew about beforehand about King Saul? There must have been something supernatural going on there right? Actually wrong! Consider the following verse, “But the woman (witch) said to him (Saul) "Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?" (1 Saul 28:9)
You see the woman lived in Israel and was quite familiar with life of King Saul and laws of the Israelites. She would have also been familiar with right and wrong and how right and wrong is connected to the blessings and the curses of Moses. People who are acquainted with the business of spiritualists and mediums know that these types of people are very perceptive and well connected to the things going on in society. People come to them and pay them good money to tell them what they want to hear. So in order to be credible so that word gets around about their predictions, they have to be aware of the happenings within society. Note the following words that the witch “seems” to be conveying to Saul through the dead spirit “The LORD has done what he predicted through me. The LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. Because you did not obey the LORD or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the LORD has done this to you today. The LORD will hand over both Israel and you to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The LORD will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines" (1 Samuel 28:17-19)
Here the witch is repeating to Saul the prophecy of Samuel spoken decades before, something that every soul in Israel had already heard, including the witch of Endor. The witch also knew what was written in the law of Moses concerning warfare and how one who is in compromises with the Law of Moses will fail in everything his sets his hand to. “If you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, then … you will be defeated by your enemies” (Leviticus 26:15-17). It is at this point that the witch acts with human wisdom in order to save her life. Saul could have had a change of heart and regret what he had done by visiting a medium. If he did, it would be logical for him to put the sword to the witch and silence the woman so that no one would ever hear of his misdeed. But since Saul was now under the power of the witch, she was desperate to strengthen him with food and get him out to the battle and die under the curse of God. Look at how desperately she tries to get rid of him, “The woman had a fattened calf at the house, which she butchered at once. She took some flour, kneaded it and baked bread without yeast. Then she set it before Saul and his men, and they ate. That same night they got up and left” (1 Samuel 28:24-25).
Many today are like King Saul, they are easily offended by the clearly spoken word of God because they desire not to believe what it says and shape their lives around it. They may not go as far as consulting with witches to undo the influence of the word, but as they persist in their efforts to discredit it, they will surely find company with those who will tell them what they long to hear. We know that this is a sad feature within our fallen human nature. As we near closer to the end of days, our faith must be founded in the clearly written word of God given to keep us safe upon the pathway of life.