For the fanciful child, it’s a dream come true to dress up as a favorite literary character or fairy-tale heroine on Halloween. On one day of the year, children are permitted to indulge their fantasies – both costume and candy – and the streets are filled with small Snow Whites, witches and goblins. But why do we celebrate this “child’s” holiday called Halloween?

Benign as it may now seem to most Americans, Halloween has its roots in ancient, occult religious practices. Donning costumes, playing “trick-or-treat” and displaying jack-o’-lanterns are all carry-overs of pagan traditions. And though our contemporary society would have us believe it is not so, pagan practices – including darker occult rituals – still occur today.

Halloween is a holy day for pagans. This Celtic “new-year’s day,” known to druids as “Samhaine,” is celebrated on Oct. 31. Members of the Wiccan religion – a federally recognized, tax-exempt faith – and Satanists hold the day in the highest regard, performing special, often macabre ceremonies at the midnight hour. According to Paddy Slade’s “Encyclopedia of White Magic: A seasonal guide,” “At Samhaine the veil between our world and the Otherworld is thinnest, and it is thought to be the best time to attract those who have gone before.”

Recognizing the evil behind these pagan “celebrations” of communion with nature and spirits, the Catholic Church moved its All Saints Day from May to Nov. 1. The day was set aside to honor marytred Christians. Protestants soon followed, but the occult symbols and practices of Samhaine are still dominant.

So what’s a parent to do with Halloween? Before making a decision to “go along with the crowd” and celebrate this pagan holiday, I suggest you get informed. As one who was personally involved in the occult, and as a documentary filmmaker, I partnered with Cutting Edge Films to create “Halloween: Trick or treat?” The film uses actual footage of pagan rituals – not recreations – and comments from currently practicing druids and witches to explore Halloween’s origins. It explains the pagan symbolism of trick-or-treating and jack-o’-lanterns, as well as other seemingly harmless “harvest” fun.

In a disturbing yet eye-opening interview included in the video, a former Satanist tells of his experience growing up in a Satanic coven. Now a committed Christian, the gentleman recalls a childhood of fear and sexual abuse. At age 11, he participated in a Halloween-night ceremony in which a young girl was sacrificed on an altar and her blood shared by adult participants. As an adult, Halloween and its “symbols of death,” he says, bring back memories of abuse and horrible images.

This kind of experience is repeated year after year. As a sergeant at the Baldwin Park Police Department in Southern California and a British Parliament member point out, frightening, murderous Satanic practices take place around the world every Halloween. And yet the public dismisses reports of their occurrence, refusing to believe the holiday is anything more than child’s play.

Society has become so desensitized to the occult and its high holiday of Halloween that it has even embraced a remarkably graphic and accurate children’s literary series on the subject. The Harry Potter phenomenon, begun by series author J.K. Rowling of Great Britain, has spread like wildfire. Halloween is a significant day in the series, which is set in Great Britain.

Young Harry’s parents, a witch and wizard renowned for their skill in the craft, were killed on Halloween by the evil sorcerer Voldemort when Harry was just a baby. On attempting to kill the infant, Voldemort was able only to leave a lightning-bolt shaped scar on the boy’s forehead. Having survived the murderous plot, Harry’s scar is a badge of honor in the wizarding world. And at age 11, he sets off to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – his parent’s alma mater.

Potter fans dismiss claims that the fictional boy’s parents were killed on Halloween, saying the book refers only to “Bonfire Night.” However, those familiar with British customs understand the reference and can easily deduce the date of the Potters’ deaths.

At the opening of book one of the seven-part series (four of which have already been published), the wizard world buzzes with the news of the Potters’ deaths. As a result, strange happenings are observed by non-wizard people, known as “Muggles.” The phenomenon is explained away by a Muggle weatherman: “People have been celebrating Bonfire Night early – it’s not until next week, folks.”

Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Night, merges in Britain with the celebration of Halloween. Bonfire Night takes place on Nov. 5 – one week after Americas’ Halloween. (Surely not by coincidence, Nov. 5 is also the royal-premier date of Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter movie in Great Britain.)

“But it’s just harmless fantasy,” say Potter fans – the same justification used by people, including Christians, who celebrate Halloween. But as I touched on above, and as “Halloween: Trick or treat?” explains more thoroughly, Halloween’s “harmless fun” is actually a remnant of occult practices that are still in use today.

The world of sorcery and spells to which Harry Potter belongs is idealized in the book series. As seen in the media and various Internet chat rooms, many children who read the Harry Potter books long to attend Hogwarts, expressing their desire to learn witchcraft and wizardry. But are parents truly aware of the sinister – yes, even evil – characters of Harry’s world?

In book two, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” 17-year-old student Tom Riddle (who is now the grown-up Voldemort) tells Harry about 11-year-old Ginny Weasley. The girl has been possessed by Voldemort out of his selfish desires to own her soul and body. Says Voldemort:

She opened her heart and spilled all her secrets to an invisible stranger … telling me all her pitiful worries and woes … I was patient … sympathetic … kind. … Ginny simply loved me. … I have always been able to charm the people I needed. So Ginny poured out her soul to me, and her soul happened to be exactly what I wanted. … I grew stronger and stronger on a diet of her deepest fears, her darkest secrets. I grew powerful, far more powerful than little Miss Weasley. Powerful enough to start feeding Miss Weasley a few of my secrets, to start pouring a little of my soul back into her …

After the possession, Ginny wrote in her diary “I think I’m losing my memory. There are rooster feathers all over my robes and I don’t know how they got there … I can’t remember what I did on the night of Halloween, but a cat was attacked … There was another attack today and I don’t know where I was … I think I am going mad … I think I am the one attacking everyone …”

And she was. On Halloween, and under the possession of Voldemort, Ginny slaughtered the school rooster. Of course, this is classic demon possession shown through a little 11-year-old’s random and vicious behavior. She looses her memory, kills under the control of a spirit’s instructions, showers her affections and loyalties to the evil Voldemort through her writings, emotions, imaginations, etc.

And we let our children read this for entertainment?

Though Harry Potter fans say the series is only harmless fantasy, and though Halloween is seen merely as a child’s holiday, there is a darker side to both. I urge you to tune out the pressures of friends and neighbors, forget for the moment about school parties and costume selection, set aside your preconceived notions about people who condemn Halloween, and honestly examine the issue for yourself.

Halloween: Trick or Treat?” is available for purchase through the WorldNetDaily store.

Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged,” Caryl Matrisciana’s video documentary examining the Harry Potter phenomenon, is also available at the WorldNetDaily store.

Author and president of Jeremiah Films, Caryl Matrisciana is also a frequent talk-radio guest. Listen to her recent interview on Marlin Maddoux’s

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