Halloween isn’t about candy and costumes for modern-day pagans – witches mark Halloween with reflections on death as well as magic

But for members of the minority religion of Wicca and witchcraft, part of contemporary paganism, Halloween has never been primarily a children’s holiday. As a sociologist doing research on contemporary pagans for over 30 years, I have observed how it is marked as a sacred day known as Samhain in which death is celebrated.

This Halloween they might have something to teach us – both about the acceptance of death and staying safe.

The new year

Although a minority religion, contemporary paganism is growing in popularity. There are anywhere from 1 million to 2 million people practicing paganism in the United States. This number is more than the number of Presbyterians, a traditional Protestant sect.

Wiccans and witches, terms often used interchangeably, view nature as sacred. For them, the Earth is the goddess or her body. Wiccans often sit under a particular tree or at a particular river to feel one with the divine. For this reason, most rituals are often held outdoors. …

By Helen A. Berger – Brandeis University

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