By now, most people recognize that the major Christian holidays we celebrate around the US (and the world) generally have roots in deeper, sometimes darker, more occult-like traditions. It’s a well-known fact now that the Christian Church wanted to deter people from celebrating ‘pagan’, ‘occult’, or other traditional activities, so church-approved holidays and events were placed over iconic days of the past to ensure that the ‘correct’ type of celebrations were being had. For instance, Halloween goes back to the roots of the Gaelic Celebration of Samhain. Easter was originally tied to fertility festivals, and the list goes on. But what about Thanksgiving? While not exactly a religious holiday of any kind, most historians now believe that the story of Pilgrims and Native Americans getting along and breaking bread was a bit of a stretch, especially considering the widespread disease, pain, and despair settlers brought forth upon the Natives.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Thanksgiving as much as the rest, and having a time to appreciate, spread gratitude, and say thanks is a great thing to do. I think any time to celebrate should be taken, especially in today’s wild world, and any chance to spread joy should be embraced. But, I think it’s also fascinating and interesting (if nothing else) to discuss the albeit small yet fascinating ties that American Thanksgiving has to the hidden occult world.
The first initial origins of Thanksgiving are thought to come from the English Festival called “Harvest Home” or “Ingathering” which is still celebrated today in few isolated regions. Participates sing, dance, decorate the village, symbolically depict the murder of the grain spirits, and expel the devil from their land. Honestly, it was a celebration of the harvest and a way to ‘protect’ the crops through the winter, very similar to the idea of Samhain. While definitely not pagan, many more extreme religious groups claim that this was still heretic and pagan in nature, despite it denouncing the devil. Even still, it became quickly non mainstream and was practiced both more scarcely and more secretly until it was turned into an occult practice by the real definition of the word, meaning ‘hidden’.
The Church combined what they called ‘days of Thanksgiving’ (a time to give thanks and celebrate what God has given people, which was not associated with a specific date or season like the Harvest Homes was) with the ‘Harvest Home’ celebrations to create a more church-sanctioned and approved event. Thus, a more modern variation of Thanksgiving was born.
It’s also important to mention the Cornucopia in this talk, as it’s become a symbol of Thanksgiving as well as the harvest, overall. If you don’t know, the Cornucopia is that curved basket symbol overflowing with pumpkins, grapes, and other produce. It’s the main symbol people generally associate with the holiday. The Cornucopia dates back to Greek Mythology as a symbol of the harvest and prosperity, giving it ties to ancient religions. Two myths discuss the creation of the Cornucopia, one being Baby Zeus accidentally breaking off the horn of a goat that nursed him, which provided him with unlimited nourishment from the horn. The second came from Hercules who broke the horn of Achelous during a battle. Regardless, its meaning to the ancient Greeks was the same, bountiful harvest and prosperity. People also believe the Vikings drank from their horns as a symbol mimicking the mythological cornucopia and the prosperity it would provide them.
All in all, for a holiday without much religious ties, Thanksgiving still contains a small hidden symbol and a few nods to the ancient celebrations of the old world. This day, like most others, ties back into the occult practices of the old world, even if just barely so.