Undoing the Damage - The Origin of Halloween

Tamarack Verrall
Posted November 14, 2020 from Canada

Halloween has recently passed, and for some of us it is one of the holy days, halfway between fall and winter here, halfway between spring and summer, south of the equator. As once again I hear the usual annual laughter and see the ugly characterization of witches each year at this time, I remember my foremothers. It was not so long ago that many of my ancestresses from Europe were tortured and burned as witches. 

I have studied about them, documented most fully by women older than me who did not want what happened to be forgotten, and to point to the ways that women are still persecuted if we look too strong, or speak out about the treatment of women to our next generation of women, our girls. And through the pain I feel such joy in knowing how many strong, unstoppable World Pulse sisters are changing the lives of girls by taking our messages that we are being suppressed because of the world we see is possible, in place, never lost in cultures, in communities that have leadership by the women and girls. 

The persecution of witches in my own heritage went on for centuries. There are arguments about the numbers. We do know that at first it was the wise women who met with women in the woods or who lived in the woods and knew herbs and tinctures that healed, strong leaders, who were thrown on fires or beaten to death. Soon it became any woman accused of breaking some rule, or having any power, or being too outspoken. Women were pressured to report other women even if they were innocent, to save their own lives. 

Men and boys were taught over generations that it was men who were to have certain privileges, to have control over women, to keep most if not all money, property or currency in the hands of men. Outspoken women were forced to wear metal helmets locked over their heads with spikes going into their tongues. It is estimated that 9 million women were tortured and murdered in Europe at this time. One is too many.

This war against women, still obvious as we live constantly faced with physical, psychological and sexual violence, as we are punished for speaking, as we challenge why our world is dominated by men and why women's ideas and accomplishments continue to be hidden and stolen. Why girls are still expected to be subservient. Why girls are being given the message not to trust old women, especially not women who hold onto and speak about our natural power. Each year as Halloween comes and goes I welcome a day that goes back in time, or forward in time to a different calendar and a time in which women were and are again respected and free. 

Now Halloween is a day in which more and more of us know this information, and we have embraced the celebrations that are earth-based, respectful of Mother Nature. As we meet and speak together we honour our ancestresses. We are the daughters of the women who were burned as witches. We are the daughters of those brave enough to speak out before us. We are the sisters who together are here to change the world. We are the women here to listen to the stories of any woman being accused of being a witch today, here to honour her, to undo the mockery and fly together, not one of us ugly, all of us beautiful and full of purpose on Halloween, one of our holy days. 

For a look at the work of Max Dashu, who is a longtime member of World Pulse but with little time to post, here is a link to her work. She has been documenting for half a century. She proves what we know in our bones.

http://www.suppressedhistories.net/events.html

This story was submitted in response to Why I Resist.

Comments 7

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Nini Mappo
Nov 15
Nov 15

Dear Tam,
I had no idea about the origins of Halloween, or even how it took such center stage in the west as to be commercialised. I also wasn't aware of the gross extend of witch trials and executions, and that it was a cover for persecution of women to deny them voice and presence. It makes one celebrate how far women have come, to have them presiding over court sentencing of men for instance. But how much farther they would go, and how swiftly, without the hindrances blocking their advancement in all the different forms.
It was an enlightening piece sis Tam :-)

Tamarack Verrall
Nov 15
Nov 15

Thanks Nini, I am so glad you stopped by to read this. We grew up with only tiny hints at what was done to our foremothers. Many of us have looked deeper to find out more, but Max has dedicated her life to documenting what has been hidden from us. She has gathered such a wealth of important information on what was stolen and twisted, and such solid proof that it was not always this way.

Queen Sheba D Cisse
Nov 15
Nov 15

Greetings my dear sis Tamarack,
How are you doing my dear? What a lovely beautiful picture that caught my attention before I knew it was you. I can most understand that there has been a war against women for centuries in just about every society, civilization globally. Until this very day there are millions of the opposite sex(men of course) still holding on to ignorant stone age beliefs. When you find men or a man who advocates on the behalf of women and girls (which is rare) we shall point them out which I did here on a [email protected] World Pulse some time ago. I have met and sipped tea with many women from Ireland, Scotland, various locations from Europe and we shared our heritage and ways of life positively. I met these women in different locations in the USA. May we pray for the departed souls of the women you speak of, Amin.
May we keep advocating for women worldwide and your story here is very interesting and brings light to what happened in Europe to millions of women for their beliefs practices and GOD giving natural talent and powers.
I encourage you to continue to write more about your heritage and your roots and expose the evil doings of the past to make sure it is never repeated in the future so we may eradicate this mindset and educate especially our male children. Let us not leave it to chance to men to do a woman natural JOB, not that we are male bashing men we are just in fact HAPPY and blessed we are Women of Freedom and Power.
Spreading and celebrating the encouragement of educating all stories, issues and concerns of Women globally. Thanks for writing this story and sharing with us,
sincerely, Mama Queen.

Tamarack Verrall
Nov 15
Nov 15

Hello dear Mama Queen,
How I wish that we could be sitting under a tree together to talk about all this. How good to know that you have sat with women and shared stories about these hidden histories.
I do want to write more, about what was done, what was hidden and the power of sharing what we are discovering together. Finding this information has greatly shaped my understanding of the depth in time and intention to keep us from knowing the ways in which women were and in places still are, respected leaders in societies that did not and do not adhere to this patriarchal dominance. I love that we are building together here, what we know is possible.
Deep sisterhood,
Tam

Queen Sheba D Cisse
Nov 16
Nov 16

Yes my dear, it is a blessing to have engaged with women from all over the world to learn from them.
Your story resonates with me because women need to tell stories that are secretive, hidden, taboo, etc and I have sat amongst many women from Europe and met many in Massachusettes and throughout my travels.
sending hugs to you, xo
Mama Queen

Dawn Arteaga
Nov 20
Nov 20

I have been saving this post to read fully when I had a few moments Tam and I’m so glad I did. I hadn’t thought before of what a gift it is to be able to record our stories - build herstory after so many centuries of silence. And I feel like the last few years have brought an even bigger awakening of the power and importance of women’s stories. I’m grateful to be able to fill my girls’ rooms with books about bold trailblazing women. Thank you for this post Tam. So much love to you.

Tamarack Verrall
Nov 20
Nov 20

Dear Dawn,
I am so glad to know that this touched you, that you have found a quiet moment in your busy life to enjoy it. I was told in high school when I asked why there were no books by or about women, that it was because women had never done anything worthwhile. It is an ongoing journey to discover the lies, the hidden herstories, the ways that women continue to bring forward the truth. We have tremendous herstorians now, but each discovery still shocks me that so much has been suppressed. We are here to change this. So much love back to you, dear Sister.