This time of year is generally known for its celebration of Halloween, also known as Samhain or All Hallows’ Eve. Yet building upon this pagan celebration is All Saints’ Day, followed by All Souls’ Day. As I explain in my blogpost, “The Truth about Halloween,” “...the Catholic Church encouraged syncretism which, in regards Samhain, meant they created All Hallows’ (Saints’) Day (November 1st) and All Souls’ Day (November 2nd) to absorb and counter the evil of All Hallows’ Eve which eventually became Halloween. It was an attempt to let the pagans have their cake and eat it too. It bore mixed results.”
What Is All Souls’ Day?
But what is All Souls’ Day? According to the BBC, All Souls’ Day is:
An opportunity for Roman Catholics and Anglo-Catholic churches to commemorate the faithful departed. They remember and pray for the souls of people who are in Purgatory - the place (or state) in which those who have died atone for their less grave sins before being granted the vision of God in Heaven (called Beatific vision).
This is a very flawed “Christian” celebration and theory for a couple reasons.
1.There is no Scriptural basis for praying for the souls of the dead.
2.There is no Scriptural basis for Purgatory.
3.There is no “new revelation” of the Spirit and Person of God that is not first backed by the written Word of God.
There is no Scriptural basis for praying for the souls of the dead.
Once a person is dead, they are dead. Unless a person is blessed to be resurrected from death by the power of God and returned to life like Jesus’ friend, Lazarus (John 11), then there is no second chance to fix your spiritual state after post-mortem.
It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment… (Hebrews 9:7 KJV)
Thus to teach people that they can wait until after they die to change their afterlife destination would be a misunderstanding or ignorance at best and deceitful at worst.
There is no Scriptural basis for Purgatory.
To a small extent, I could see how one could argue for the existence of Purgatory in the Old Testament context, yet it would still be a misunderstanding. Allow me to explain. Before Jesus died, was buried, and resurrected on the Third Day, Scripture speaks only of Hell (or Sheol) and Abraham’s Bosom. Hell is where all the sinners go after death, period. Abraham’s Bosom was where all of the Old Testament believers went. You can see this illustrated in the story of The Rich Man and the Poor Man, Lazarus.
“There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
“Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’” (Luke 16:19-26)
There is no mention of Heaven or Paradise until Jesus is hanging on the Cross between two robbers, turns the the repentant one and says, “today you will be with Me in Paradise,” (Luke 23:43). There is a Scripture that says, “hell hath enlarged herself” (Isaiah 5:14), thus it is believed that at some point or perhaps over time, Hell took over and expanded into what was once Abraham’s Bosom which had been emptied and all the occupants thereof, happily transported to Heaven. Yet and still, there was no changing of eternal destinies in the Old Testament afterlife. It was still the one place or the other. Notice the Rich Man did not even attempt to ask Father Abraham if he could join the Patriarch in his Bosom, but simply that he could go or send someone to warn his living brothers so they would not end up in Sheol with him (Luke 16:27-31).
There is no “new revelation” of the Spirit and Person of God that is not first backed by the written Word of God.
God cannot and will not send any “new revelations” which contradict His written Word. He would sooner destroy His throne before breaking His Word. Therefore, based on this and with an understanding of the many cultures around the world, it is obvious that the Catholic Church did not derive their All Souls’ Day (or all Saints’ Day, or All Hallows’ Day) from God.
Pagan Customs for the Dead
The origins of All Souls’ Day in European folklore and folk belief are related to customs of ancestor veneration practised worldwide, through events such as the Chinese Ghost Festival, the Japanese Bon Festival, or the Mexican Day of the Dead. The Roman custom was that of the Lemuria.
In Tirol, cakes are left for them on the table and the room kept warm for their comfort. In Brittany, people flock to the cemeteries at nightfall to kneel, bareheaded, at the graves of their loved ones, and to anoint the hollow of the tombstone with holy water or to pour libations of milk on it. At bedtime, the supper is left on the table for the souls.
In Bolivia, many people believe that the dead eat the food that is left out for them. In Brazil people attend a mass or visit the cemetery taking flowers to decorate their relatives’ grave, but no food is involved. (“All Souls Day: Remembering the Souls in Purgatory”)
I would venture to say that many if not most cultures around the world have ancient rites for revering, praying to, and even worshipping the dead. Knowing this, creating Catholic Church-sanctioned holidays such as All Souls’ Day was just another way for the old Roman Church to up their number of converts. Pope Gregory III allowed the pagan peoples converted to maintain a portion of their beliefs, whilst believing that they were yet converting to Christianity. Indeed a great many of the rituals and rites in Catholicism can be traced back to pagany.
So What Really Happens to the Dead?
As aforementioned, we are each to die permanently once, and then comes the Judgment. When a person dies, their soul goes to either Heaven or Hell (hopefully, the former). It does not linger on earth. It does not haunt people or places. It does not become a wraith or any other form of “undead” being. It does not become a demon or an angel or anything in between. And it most certainly does not get born again into a new human body. Once a human spirit, always a human spirit, the same human spirit.
Many who’ve had glimpses of Hell or Heaven, who’ve had near-death experiences often speak of travelling through a tunnel toward light or darkness and torment. These are respective portals to Heaven or Hell. Jacob who would become Israel saw one of these portals to Heaven with angels ascending and descending it (Gen. 28:10-22). We call it his “Ladder,” but it really is more of a spiral shape, like DNA. People have also testified of seeing souls going down toward the center of the earth toward everlasting torments of untold nature. These spirits will never ever return to this earth. This earth. Those who travel the portals to Heaven will eventually come to a new Earth (Rev. 21), but those who travel to Hell will only be transferred to the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:15). Therefore, knowing this, it is impossible that one of our dearly departed loved ones or even a stranger could return to the earth or even send a message to a person on the earth because that connection has been forever severed, accurate dreams and visions being the exception.
The Problem with Mediums, Necromancers & Ouija Boards
Understanding the foundation we’ve laid down up to this point creates an understandable problem with the claims made by mediums, necromancers, and Ouija boards. The first problem is they are forbidden: not as the act of a hateful, angry Deity, but as an act of protection by a loving Parent. When God addresses His people, He commands them saying:
“When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you.” (Deuteronomy 18:9-14)
In the King James Translation, in place of the word medium, it says “a consulter with familiar spirits” and that precisely describes our dilemma. When you consort with the dead, when you visit a medium to speak to them, when you hold a seance or play with Ouija board, when you feel a spirit’s presence in your home or see an otherworldly figure in a forgotten or accursed place, you are not encountering the spirit of a human being, but of a demonic spirit, in this instance also called a familiar spirit. Also called familiars, these spirits are just that: familiar with the human being they were assigned to when he or she was living. It is my personal belief that these are the demonic version of guardian angels.
The Book of Acts provides us with an interesting insight on this. The Apostle Peter had been kidnapped by Herod the Tetrarch, yet an angel busted him out of prison! Once away, he slipped to the house of one of the local Believers to tell them the news.
So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. But they said to her, “You are beside yourself!” Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, “It is his angel.” Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. (Acts 12:12-16)
The disciples believed that Peter’s angel and not Peter himself had visited them because it was a common Jewish belief of the time that angels could take on the appearance of humans (Heb. 13:2). Therefore if God’s angels can do this, Satan’s fallen angels can do this as well. And they do, very often. It is not God’s angels who haunt or inhabit places. They guard, protect, fight, and deliver messages, but they do not make make friends with humans so to speak. They complete their mission, and then they leave. Thus any familiar spirit we encounter will not be from God; it will not be benign, but malevolent.
These familiars are demons, angels of light. They can appear in any form they choose, even as the “Son of God.” They can tell you exactly what you want to hear. They can show you exactly what you want to see, confirm anything you want to believe. This is the business of familiar spirits. And all kind-hearted white witches (psychics, mediums, etc.—and I believe there are many!—are the most deceived because they believe they are doing the work of God or at least doing no harm and helping people, but they are not. They cannot, in the long run, through this “familiar” power. This is what Scripture has to say of these angels of light:
And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. (II Corinthians 11:14-15)
The End of the Matter
We cannot change what our ancestors and dead loved ones have done. Everyone who has passed into the afterlife has had their chance. They have lived their lives and there will be no more time on earth for them. And while we can fondly remember our dearly departed dead, we must remember that they are dead. Now, in the words of J.R.R. Tolkien: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us,” (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring). That’s all we’ll ever get.