The season of Samhain is upon us and what would Samhain and Halloween be without pumpkins? Do you know the origin of the jack-o-lantern? It actually comes from Irish myth and legend (as does much of our modern day Halloween) and we can use it to help deepen our Samhain practice especially as it comes to working with our Wee Witchlings!


There are actually a few different versions of the myth of the jack-o-lantern, but they’re actually recent enough that they are peppered unfortunately with mentions of Satan. (Insert pagan eye-roll here.) BUT, history is history and I promise the story so here it is:There are actually a few different versions of the myth of the jack-o-lantern, but they’re actually recent enough that they are peppered unfortunately with mentions of Satan. (Insert pagan eye-roll here.) BUT, history is history and I promise the story so here it is:

There are actually a few different versions of the myth of the jack-o-lantern, but they’re actually recent enough that they are peppered unfortunately with mentions of Satan. (Insert pagan eye-roll here.) BUT, history is history and I promise the story so here it is:


The story goes that Jack (sometimes also called “Stingy” Jack) invited the “Devil” to go have a drink, but as his name suggests, he didn’t want to actually pay for it so he begged the Devil, who can shapeshift into any guise he prefers in this story, to turn into a coin to pay. However, when the Devil finally agreed, Jack chose to keep the coin for himself instead and tucked it away into his pocket where he also kept a silver cross which bound the Devil into the shape of the coin and left him there for a full year. Jack finally release the devil, by bargaining with him that the Devil would leave him alone for another year and, when Jack died, that the Devil would not claim his soul for Hell. After that year was up Jack tricked the devil yet again by having him climb into a fruit tree and inscribing a cross on the tree trunk so the devil could not get down. This time, Jack bargained for TEN years of peace from the Devil for his release and shortly after Jack passed away. God was not inclined to allow a character as unsavory as Stingy Jack into heaven and the Devil of course wouldn’t take him either, but by way of revenge gave Jack a burning coal to navigate his purgatory. Stingy Jack put the coal into a turnip and used it at a lantern and has been roaming the Earth ever since becoming Jack-o-Lantern. -
d1ozdqx-a4f21ad1-b44b-4a16-b2ed-da3d442d5ba6.jpg

The story goes that Jack (sometimes also called “Stingy” Jack) invited the “Devil” to go have a drink, but as his name suggests, he didn’t want to actually pay for it so he begged the Devil, who can shapeshift into any guise he prefers in this story, to turn into a coin to pay. However, when the Devil finally agreed, Jack chose to keep the coin for himself instead and tucked it away into his pocket where he also kept a silver cross which bound the Devil into the shape of the coin and left him there for a full year. Jack finally release the devil, by bargaining with him that the Devil would leave him alone for another year and, when Jack died, that the Devil would not claim his soul for Hell.

After that year was up Jack tricked the devil yet again by having him climb into a fruit tree and inscribing a cross on the tree trunk so the devil could not get down. This time, Jack bargained for TEN years of peace from the Devil for his release and shortly after Jack passed away. God was not inclined to allow a character as unsavory as Stingy Jack into heaven and the Devil of course wouldn’t take him either, but by way of revenge gave Jack a burning coal to navigate his purgatory. Stingy Jack put the coal into a turnip and used it at a lantern and has been roaming the Earth ever since becoming Jack-o-Lantern.

Since then the practice of carving jack-o-lanterns in various vegetables have become a seasonal tradition. The Ancient Celts believed at certain time of the year the veil between our world and the Spirit World was thinner than usual making it possible for the spirits of the dead to roam the Earth. In the Old World, these were ancestral spirits to honor and venerate. With the onset of Christianity (which had clearly happened by the time this myth came into being) any specter or spirit was suspected of sinister intentions and treated accordingly. They feared visitation by spirits and began to use jack-o-lanterns with frightening expressions carved into them as a way to scare off wayward, evil spirits — much in the same way scarecrows are intended to scare away birds.


As modern-day Pagans, we know that the spirits that cross over at this time of year are rarely malicious and often own own ancestors will visit us if we pay homage to them. We don’t want to scare them off with jack-o-lanterns, but rather ward off the spirits that perhaps are not well-intentioned and how can we do that? Well, instead of scary faces, why not protection symbols! It can be super easy to create your own jack-o—lanterns templates to carve any image that you want onto your pumpkin face. -

As modern-day Pagans, we know that the spirits that cross over at this time of year are rarely malicious and often own own ancestors will visit us if we pay homage to them. We don’t want to scare them off with jack-o-lanterns, but rather ward off the spirits that perhaps are not well-intentioned and how can we do that? Well, instead of scary faces, why not protection symbols! It can be super easy to create your own jack-o—lanterns templates to carve any image that you want onto your pumpkin face.

Here are some symbol suggestions (click on the linked text for a version of the symbol you can download to create your template!):

  • A Pentacle – The five-pointed start is a protection symbol which represents the five elements (Air, Fire, Water, Earth, and Spirit) plus generally considered the symbol of choice for Wicca/Witchcraft. You can just tell your neighbors you’re a huge “Supernatural” fan if you’re worried about people talking. LOL

  • A Triquetra – This Celtic symbol has been adopted by Christianity as a symbol of the Holy Trinity, but started as a symbol for the triple goddess and is also a symbol of protection.

  • Hecate’s Wheel – This symbols is a fair bit more complex BUT this symbols is said to represent the cycle of birth, death, and renewal and is considered protective for devotees of Hecate.

  • Eye of Horus – Especially sacred to those practicing Kemetic paganism and super fancy-looking!

  • Hamsa – The palm with an eye in the center is said to ward off the “evil” eye, especially in Middle Easter culture and belief.


Of course some of these stencil-type images may need to be slightly altered to make them pumpkin-friendly, but once you print them out they are easy to edit! (Need to resize it to fit your pumpkin? Try this super easy web-based image resizing website!) - You can a couple even fancier Pagan-specific pumpkin carving templates (like the one pictured at right) HERE!
8461010.jpg

Of course some of these stencil-type images may need to be slightly altered to make them pumpkin-friendly, but once you print them out they are easy to edit! (Need to resize it to fit your pumpkin? Try this super easy web-based image resizing website!)

You can a couple even fancier Pagan-specific pumpkin carving templates (like the one pictured at right) HERE!

Do you carve pumpkins with YOUR wee witchlings? What sorts of designs do YOU usually carve? Tell me about it in the comments below!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: