In Scotland, jack-o’-lanterns were originally fashioned from the thick
stem of a cabbage plant. They were called “kail-runt torches’ and were
used in the same way as turnips in Ireland. Their protective powers are
reflected in the lines from a traditional Halloween song from Scotland:
“Hallowe’en a nicht o’ tine (night of fire),
A can’le (candle) in a custock (cabbage stem),
A how kit neep wi’ glowerin’ een (A turnip lantern with glowing eyes),
To fleg baith (scare both) witch and warlock.”
Modern witches often use jack-o’-lanterns as Samhain altar decorations.
One is placed at each cardinal point of the magic circle and lit at the
start of a Samhain ritual to symbolize each of the four ancient
elements: Air, Fire, water, and Earth. They also serve as a beacon of
light to welcome the spirits of all deceased loved ones who return to
the world of the living on Halloween night.