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For growing ranks of pagans, October 31 means a lot more than Halloween
A pagan altar constructed for Samhain, the pagan new year, which is October 31.
October 31st, 2011
09:54 AM ET

For growing ranks of pagans, October 31 means a lot more than Halloween

By Susanne Gargiulo, Special to CNN

As pumpkins, witches and faux cobwebs have taken over much of North America for Halloween, Clare Slaney-Davis is preparing an October 31 feast that some would consider much spookier, with table settings for her grandparents, a great-aunt and other relatives who have passed away.

As she and her living guests eat, they'll share stories and memories of loved ones they've lost.

The Christian debate over Halloween

Slaney-Davis, who is based in London, isn't preparing the feast for Halloween. Instead, she and pagans around the world are celebrating Samhain, the beginning of the pagan new year, a night when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is believed to be the thinnest of any time during the year.

That's why it's a night devoted to ancestors. "We honor them, and we recognize that we don't live in a world of people who are merely dead or alive," says Slaney-Davis, 46. "Ancestors are central to us."

Along with the Catholic holiday All Saints' Day, Samhain is considered an ancient forerunner of Halloween. Samhain began as a Celtic celebration marking the end of harvest and the beginning of winter's hardship.

Today, pagans play down the Halloween-Samhain connection. But the growing popularity of the pagan new year in Europe and North America is part of what many experts say is a global revival of paganism.

Slaney-Davis, who trained as a witch and a druid, says her religion has nothing to do with ghosts and ghouls. "To me, being a pagan means being in divine balance with nature and being responsible for my actions," she says. "I understand that my behavior has an effect on people I don't even know exist. It is not a theology of perfection but one of belonging."

Over-the-top jack-o'-lanterns

But it is a theology that's gaining ground. According to the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey, the number of members of "other religions" or "new religious movements," categories that include pagans, more than doubled between 1990 and 2008, to 2.8 million.

The survey, conducted byTrinity College in Connecticut, reported that the numbers of Wiccans and neo-pagans had also doubled in that time.

Contemporary pagan religions like Wicca and druidism are considered neo-pagan movements.

"(Paganism) is one of the fastest growing religions in the world," says Michael York, a retired religious scholar from Bath Spa University in the UK. "True numbers are impossible to come by because many people are wary to admit they are pagan, and reliable statistics just don't exist."

Movies that scare the people who scare us

While paganism covers a range of individual religious groups, including Wicca, druidism, and shamanism, they're bound by some common denominators, such as roots in ancient, pre-Christian beliefs, and their view of nature and the whole physical world as sacred.

"In traditional religions you have a conflict between God and nature," says York. "But for pagans, nature becomes the truest expression of the divine."

That, he says, is a big reason why paganism is seeing a revival: "If nothing else, because of the impending destruction of our environment, and our focus on finding a way to live in balance with nature."

Another key pagan belief is the freedom for each person to determine his or her own way to and view of the divine. "Paganism doesn't put restrictions on what you can and cannot believe," says Jason Pitzl-Waters, co-founder of the Pagan Newswire Collective and the pagan blog The Wild Hunt. "It grows out of an ethos that there isn't just one sacred way to understand the world."

But that lack of dogma has become something of a stumbling block for the movement. "Because paganism is very individual, it creates the problem of not having a unified voice, because nobody speaks for the movement as a whole," says York.

Another problem pagans face is one of image: For centuries, including during the Roman Catholic inquisition, pagans were denounced as heretics and devil-worshippers.

"One of our greatest challenges is to overcome the hostility of groups that still see us as evil," says Pitzl-Waters. "To some conservative Christian groups, we are an early warning sign of societal collapse."

Just last week, an opinion column in The Christian Post, an online newspaper, warned that the "dark festival" of Samhain is an invitation to the devil. The column said that "even though you don't consciously call upon Satan, his demons are nevertheless present any time a Wiccan goes through a spiritual door by using magic." It calls on Wiccans to ask forgiveness for their sins and to turn to Jesus.

"Part of what is scary for conservative religions is that as a pagan, I consider myself part of the divine," says Holli S. Emore, executive director at South Carolina's Cherry Hill Seminary, which has one of the world's first graduate-level programs for pagan ministry. "That means God lives in me, and that is blasphemous to some. To me, it's a big responsibility to do good and act right."

Scholars say that the neo-pagan view of God being everywhere and in everything is not a foreign idea on the global religious stage. "Much of modern paganism looks to older religions like Shinto, Hinduism and indigenous religions, which see spirit in everything," says Jenny Blain, senior lecturer in sociology at Sheffield Hallam University in England and author of several books on paganism.

"If you add all those to modern paganism, that is a considerable part of the world that does not live with traditional Abrahamic views," she says.

There are signs that paganism is gaining some acceptance in the nonpagan world. For the first time last year, the government of Britain recognized druidism, an ancient pagan belief system, as a religion.

"People either see paganism as dangerous or as a joke," says Pitzl-Waters. "But it is a serious global movement. Paganism has arrived as a world religion. It's not just a bunch of counterculture types playing witchcraft games."

That said, traditional witchcraft rituals, like gathering in circles and uttering spells, have an important place in modern paganism, which further unsettles more traditional religious believers.

"Because Christianity is more conservative, anything seen as supernatural or magic automatically becomes of the devil," says York. "Because of that dichotomy, paganism is automatically seen as satanic."

"People fear what they don't understand," says Emore. "But spells are basically prayers with props. What we call magic is the intentional use of power to achieve change, and just like with prayer, what you are doing is tapping into an inner resource. Gathering in a circle and acknowledging the four elements is nothing new this is something Native Americans and many ancient nature-based religious people did as well."

For neo-pagans, the four elements  earth, air, water and fire  are closely linked to their view of a sacred planet. "The attributes associated with each element become tools in our meditation and in practices such as spells," says Emore. "Water is associated with emotions and intuition, air with intellect and communications, earth with foundation and stability, and fire with passion and action."

To York, paganism's ancient rituals also help bring a sense of enchantment back into life.

"The ancients had a sense of the magical, but with Christianity came a diminishment," he says. "The magical was denied, everything became inanimate, and from a pagan perspective we lost our connection with the sacred. I think we are rediscovering that now."

"Pagans understand there comes a winter, which is a time to ready for rebirth," York says. "For us, the last 2000 years has been the pagan winter."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Halloween • Paganism • Uncategorized

soundoff (1,367 Responses)
  1. Rainer Braendlein

    The Book of Revelation was probably drafted, when Domitian (51-96 a. D.) was Emperor of the Roman Empire. John, the originator of the Revelation, mentions the Throne of Satan in Pergamon (today Bergama in Turkey).

    The successors of Domitian Trajan and Hadrian were worshipped like the pagan god Zeus (Jupiter in Roman language). That can be proved by historical science. Possibly also Domitian, who lived a little earlier than Trajan, had yet been worshipped by the pagan Greeks and Romans like Zeus or Jupiter.

    A lot of Christians were murdered by Domitian, because the refused to adore him as a God. Thus, Domitian was obsessed by Satan himself. The famous ancient city of Pergamon was a center of pagan adoration of Zeus or the Roman Emperor. Hence, John had to praise the Christian Romans and Greeks of Pergamon that they had not adored Zeus or the Emperor or Satan like their pagan fellow citizens. The Christians of Pergamon kept their faith and adored Jesus Christ as Lord and God:

    Revelation 2:

    12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; 13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      Why would you take a conversation between people that are using real fact and interject the Bible in to it?

      October 31, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • LittleLordHoseaComethUntoU2Say

      good thing books are written by man and not by god(s), image how impossible it would be to understand eh?

      October 31, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • FollowIAM

      you cant be a wiccan and christian, the bible clearly state you cant serve two masters, true Christians live for Jesus, and nothing else and know this to be a false doctrine of Satan

      October 31, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • ChihuahuaPirate

      You must be one of those nutty conservative ignorant types I mentioned in my post.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • FollowIAM

      no im not i just Love Jesus with my heart and i spread His good news (Gospel), the world is the way it is right now because of sin and its hate for God, Jesus died for yall, gave us eternal life and its free, id take that any day over anything in this world

      October 31, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • LittleLordHoseaComethUntoU2Say

      My friends and I are all pagans yet we fully believe the teachings of Jesus who was totally misunderstood by his followers just as much as he was misunderstood by his murderers. He is still misunderstood to this day, this is why the Bible states: "Many will be called but few chosen" Yes you can follow Christ and be a Pagan at the same time.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • FollowIAM

      @little lord, you say you follow Jesus, thats great, but do you have a true relationship with him?

      October 31, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • LittleLordHoseaComethUntoU2Say

      FollowIAM Not in the same way you do. He's not my savior if that's your question, however he is one of my many and most favorite teachers. Christianity was created following his death, I'm not sure he would have approved how his message is interpreted. He spoke to mankind in parable and straight forward after the Resurrection (if you read the Gnostic texts) and in both cases his disciples never understood him. Eastern psychology (GI Gurdjieff of the 4th way) helps us to understand the esoteric Jesus and using this as a basis to interpret him makes more sense to us. I say us because traditional christian are pretty much stuck in the exoteric teaching and beholding to the church to be the direct advocate (Catholics) but even protestants churches want the seat of power. You'll find your lord and savior is strong among all peoples of the world and their beliefs. I'll answer the possible future question no I don't follow the King James version The recently re-discovered "Codex Sinaiticus" supersedes all versions since it was written 1600 years ago, and closer to his death.

      October 31, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  2. LittleLordHoseaComethUntoU2Say

    Peace to you all on a day of miracles and infinite possibility.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  3. J.W

    I don't know too much about Wicca. I wonder if you can be Wiccan and Christian at the same time.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • tah

      No

      October 31, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • LittleLordHoseaComethUntoU2Say

      Yes, we're all things possible and unto the judgement of others "all things impossible".

      October 31, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • American Rebel

      You can be whatever you want. It's all make believe any ways.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • CrazyOwlLady

      There are those who claim to be "Christian Wiccans" but it seems impossible to me. After all, Wicca acknowledges two deities, the Lord and Lady (Goddess and God), while Christianity acknowledges only a single male Deity and also states that "No one comes to the father but through the son" - in other words you don't get an eternal life unless you believe in Jesus.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Liz

      Most Christians would say NO, most Wiccans would say YES.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Krista

      A lot of Christians would say no, but if you define Christian as someone who follows the teachings of Jesus, then yeah, I think you could be both or at least incorporate both into your own personal belief system. Technically everyone has a personal system of beliefs.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      I have met several Wiccans who call themselves Christian Wiccan's. My understanding is that it is a cross of only new testiment accounts of Jesus and his actions crossed with Wicca (Earth friendly) idea's. Where the exact crossover between the two occurs I believe is very individual.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • J.W

      Maybe God is married, but he just does all the work.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • J.W

      Maybe I should just google Christian Wicca and see what I find. Maybe there is a specific way that the two come together.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • FollowIAM

      you cant be a wiccan and christian, the bible clearly state you cant serve two masters, true Christians live for Jesus, and nothing else and know this to be a false doctrine of Satan, the two can never come together, ever, you cant walk with Jesus while holding Satan's hand

      October 31, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • LittleLordHoseaComethUntoU2Say

      GI Gurdjieff and Ouspensky's pyscological commentaries explain how the mind works and because we are a dynamic set of personalities that switch at any time we are identified then "the many can be the one" ....this is the root of mankind's unnecessary suffering because modern medical practice defines that as a impossible but treatable condition, ...but this is how we work.... lest we become fixed, inflexible, not forward moving much like conservative thinking.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • Krista

      @FollowIAM It's your belief that they would be "following two masters", but that doesn't make it correct. To many pagans the divine is the divine. It's often split personifications of various type to make it more personal and easier to interact with but many think of it as multiple faces of the same divinity.

      The fact is that your belief that your religion is the correct / true one, doesn't make it true.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • FollowIAM

      @krista, any true follower of Jesus, will tell you the same thing, that's the problem today with most Christians they think they can follow Jesus and go to clubs on the weekends, get drunk, etc, follow Christ is dying to self daily, Jesus clearly stated that you have to pick up your cross daily to follow Him, in other words He knew that this would be a struggle for His true followers in this day with so many distractions, im not on here to tell anyone that they are wrong, but to show them the truth and that truth is Jesus

      October 31, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • J.W

      I don't believe that they follow Satan.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • LittleLordHoseaComethUntoU2Say

      unfortunately FollowIAM is embroiled in religious dogma that the church infests the impressionable with, when the answer is simple, do the right thing for yourself only after outwardly considering others FIRST. move forward 2 spaces.

      October 31, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  4. Mohammad

    Allah Akbar! There is only one true God and LORD of man! the LORD of Abraham, Ishmael, and Issac.
    Destruction and hellfire await the People of the Book who will not honor the covenant (supernatural contract) of El Shaddai . No idolatry- period! Paganism (idolatry) always devalues human life and leads to human sacrifice (abortion). It is written (EX 22:17,LEV 18:21, Du 13:13) that destruction and doom will come to nations that practice paganism. Apostasy is fatal.
    Islam is knocking on your front door-wake up! Time to repent America and Europe.
    Holy Quran Surah 9:5
    "And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful."

    October 31, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Patriot

      Oh, your rant is just so silly. Think for yourself Moh., and not what some old nationalistic book tells you. This nonsense just proves how archaic and beligerant the Abrahamic faiths are.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • FollowIAM

      Allah isnt real, But Jesus is

      October 31, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Duh

      "Allah isnt real, But Jesus is"

      So was Santa Claus but doesn't mean any of them are a god.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • American Rebel

      Allah akbar, Isn't that what they say before they slit the throat of an innocent man? Or just right before they explode themselves in a busy civilian market? Those words are the true words of hate, violence and ignorance. God is great... Only when he serves your means.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Reallyl?

      Dude..... You are proving Islam to be a violent religion.;.. KILL THE INFIDELS IS WHAT YOU JUST SAID.

      Hateful speech from a hateful religion

      October 31, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • FollowIAM

      Jesus is God, and He lives and one day He will return soon, Stay blessed

      October 31, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • dan

      There you go CNN. Now, you got it from the mouth of a Muslim. Your peacefull religion...

      "And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful." Holy Quran Surah 9:5

      October 31, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Fookin' Prawn

      Bleh.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Mohammad

      We have all the oil-so we get all your money, over $1 billion USD per day! The west is dying . Muslims have 8.5 children per family. Muslims will own this planet in 100 years. Keep on killing your children and buying pet food.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • ChihuahuaPirate

      Having grown up in a Muslim country, I find that Islam is just as nutty as any other religion. After all, the Muslims I saw cut their heads open to "let the devil out". It might have been ok if you just follow the Quran and not the stupid Sunna, but you had to polute the religion just like everyone else on the planet and you lost all the good in it. Religion kills more people every year than anything I can think of. Get over it and get out of the dark ages.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  5. Fnord

    Christianity is losing ground, mainly due to its own intolerance and confrontational evangelism. Ignorance of history and social issues also play an important role. Most significant is the hierarchical structure of most Christian churches. I do not mean the priest-bishop-cardinal aspect, but the outsider-sinner-born again aspect, wherein those who are "Born Again" look down on the rest of the world from their lofty stations and attempt to impose their own distorted moralities on lesser folk while passing the harshest of judgments on those of us who can think for ourselves.

    And before anyone goes off on an "America was founded on Christian values" rant, need I point out that two of the Christian values this country was founded on are Slavery and the Subjugation of Women?

    Blessed Be!

    October 31, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • tah

      sorry you feel this way – looks like you probably had a bad experience with some "church people". Most "born again" people realize they/we are sinners and are flawed – we live in a fallen world (e.g., slavery, women's rights, etc...). The most important thing is your relationship with God through his son.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      Any one who has worshiped the Goddess has felt the overbearing oppression and discriminatory actions and words of Christians. You have to look no further than "in god we trust" or " the Pledge of allegence to see how far Christians have pushed them selves in to Americas ideology. I can on any given day hear references to the Christian God and openly claimed as "the only god". I do not believe it nor do I argue against it because of the fear Christians have created in the Circles of Pagan's who will be pushed out of jobs, ostracized from society and basically treated very poorly if we speak up too much in a public way.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Fnord

      Most important to realize is that Christianity is a sham, and that those who practice it are merely looking for a means to feel superior and condescending to others ... such as when they apologize for my feelings and not for their own actions ...

      October 31, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • ChihuahuaPirate

      You'll say that God has a son who was conceived through supernatural means, but you want to down everyone else's supernatural belief systems?

      October 31, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • dan

      Get a grip guys don't just talk from imagination and hate. Judeo/Christian values are rulling this country if you don't like them move to Arab countries, China, India or other countries who are more tolerant with the stuff you are struiggeling with. Or make a country with your own idiology.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  6. Witchy Woman

    The Christian church seems to me to be too exclusionary. God loved us all...except that gay person over there, who could be Jesus in disguise, you just never know. Wicca welcomes everyone. And how can a religion with the sole tenet of "Harm None" be evil? I didn't just wake up one morning and decide to be a Wiccan. I did my research and spoke with Wiccans, who were very kind in addressing my curiosity. And if it's true that God made the earth, then the Christian better be darn happy the Wiccans are here looking after it, because I don't see any Christians doing that! They can start by maybe having a not so full quiver. You never know. The next Wiccan you meet could be Jesus in disquise. Will you say hello, or will you condemn him?

    October 31, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Krista

      Excellent post. Thank you

      October 31, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • tah

      If Jesus was disguised as a wiccan – I would tell him he needs Jesus.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      Blessed Be

      October 31, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • FollowIAM

      ^ what tah said, seriously God's grace is so abundant, do you people hear yourself mocking Him and blasphemous ways towards Him, Jesus is love and He came and died for all of you on this board even those that believe He is an imaginary man in the sky. Ask Him to reveal himself to you and im positive He will

      October 31, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @FollowIAM,
      "...do you people hear yourself mocking Him and blasphemous ways towards Him..."
      Do you understand that your claims about Jesus may be blasphemous to Pagans and Wiccans?

      October 31, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • FollowIAM

      @Nonimus i would rather sound blasphemous to a pagan or wiccan then to Jesus my Lord and savior

      October 31, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Nonimus

      FollowIAM
      "i would rather sound blasphemous to a pagan or wiccan then to Jesus my Lord and savior"
      I see. So you probably understand why other people pay more attention to their own beliefs than yours. Excellent, thank you for understanding.

      October 31, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Really???

      If you look into the area, history & social time frame of a given religion it gives us clues to the reasons behind different practices. For instance in ancient times communities could become inbred easily causing genetic maladies. That made it important for every male to pass on his genetic code. Surviving as a genetically healthy population was the beginning purpose for it. Religion does evolve, sometimes not as swiftly as we like but it does. It will evolve again to reflect a crowded planet & become more welcoming of alternatives.

      October 31, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
  7. icedawg

    21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. Romans 1:21-25

    October 31, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • CrazyOwlLady

      "And so thus the people, having been made free by their knowledge of light and of darkness, frolicked through the forests and fields, casting off their Christian bonds and enjoying the bodies given to them by their Creator(s)." - Book of COL, verse 13.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  8. Colin

    "Because Christianity is more conservative, anything seen as supernatural or magic automatically becomes of the devil," says York. "Because of that dichotomy, paganism is automatically seen as satanic."

    You've got to love that. Just look at some of the magic garbage that Christians believe – an immortal being that created the entire Universe, but who still simultaneously watches all 7 billion humans 24 hours a day and even reads their minds. This god impreganted a virgin with himself to give birth to himself, so he coud sacrifice himself to himself to forgive an original sin we now all know never happened.

    Whan we die, we actually don't – we live happily ever after with this god, unless we have been bad, then he will burn us for all eternity – and he loves us.

    Dark ages nonsense – every bit as absurd as paganism.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Jen

      You're not looking far enough. You don't get sent to hell because you're bad. You get sent for not acknowledging the God who created you. It actually makes very good sense. If you ignore Joe your whole life and tell everyone you're not associated with him it's a given that when Joe wins the lottery he's not going to buy you a car. God offers you eternity and if you choose it, you get it. If you choose not to then you choose your own path.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Rick

      Jen: So, as religion is largely culturally driven, a person in another culture who is taught by his or her parents what the "right" religion is will be tortured forever for not accepting the god of another culture? This makes sense to you?

      October 31, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • CrazyOwlLady

      So if I believe in the Xtian god, he'll buy me a car?

      October 31, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Krista

      Jen, I personally don't think that the people who work for me who may ignore the work I've done and don't appreciate me at all, or maybe don't even know me, should burn in hell, and I don't even "love" them as God supposedly loves us all.

      There's no reason why anyone should believe Christianity over any other religion. We choose what we want to believe. There's nothing that validates one religion over another, as nothing can be proved.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  9. bachmanntwit

    You'll never see pagans wandering around trailer parks like you do the teabaggers and birthers.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • tah

      You're right – pagans just wander around national parks sacrificing animals.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Al

      It's too bad there are no Democrats in trailer parks.....then I could have countered this joke.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Krista

      @tah the sacrifice of animals was a jewish and christian tradition. Those groups that do that sort of thing now days are "satanists" which are again a branch of the christian religion. Pagans don't believe in Satan.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  10. LittleLordHoseaComethUntoU2Say

    I find it amazing that on this forum I've seen many people/words of understanding and less hate. I guess haters cannot offer a real sense of meaning to their spewing thought.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Al

      Thats because if a Christian comes on here arguing full of hate, then it proves the article right.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Answer

      It's always the christians that come off as hateful. They need hate – hate all other religions because they always think they are the ones who are right. It's always a laugh to hear them say so too.

      Christians are all hypocrites to the core – they do not want anyone to believe any other religion except their garbage.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  11. Barefoot Girl

    As hard as I try to see the beauty in the fall season - I really hate it (and winter too). Gold and orange don't do it for me, and I loathe the cold - brisk... schmisk.

    I'm looking forward to spring and summer...

    October 31, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • LittleLordHoseaComethUntoU2Say

      without it you wouldn't rejoice the coming of spring, its by the shear dichotomy that we have eyes to see rebirth and it also lets us know this is how life works .... there's no such thing as a final death only transformation. but I get you.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  12. Alejandro

    Is there a reason that Christians have to invade every thread that has to do with another religion? I don't see pagans seeking out threads about Christmas to yell about yule or Mithra or to say, "Your beliefs are all wrong- only MINE are right!" Get a grip, people. A difference of beliefs isn't a crime.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • steelerguin

      I don't know what stories you are reading, but on CNN.com Christianity is always commented on by those who hate it usually in a very derogatory and condescending way

      October 31, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Ikester

      You don't? I see stories on Christian beliefs all the time hijacked by people mocking and putting down Christians. If I had a dime for every time I've read an article on someone professing their Christian beliefs and someone commented about the "flying spaghetti monster", I could retire. I usually just laugh at it because of the hypocrisy of demanding that Christians be tolerant of others beliefs, yet it's OK to not be tolerant of Christian beliefs. Then I just move on, they have a right to post what they want.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • MomOf3

      But if christians had their way, it would be a crime...

      October 31, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Ikester

      No, this Christian would not have it be a crime, don't lump all Christians into one. You've made a judgment on all Christians because of experience with one mindset within the Christian community. We get criticized if we take such an approach, but it's OK for you?

      Think what you want and write what you want, it's your right, you do have free will.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @steelerguin,
      ... and heaven forbid that the be the first to "take the high road;" it is all about the "eye for an eye" part and not the "love thy enemy" part, after all.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Nonimus

      <– ... and heaven forbid that the Christian be the first....

      October 31, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  13. Julie

    ttony, worldly things as sinful or petty, not earthly things. Satan told Jesus, "All the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them will I give you, because they are mine to give, if you will bow down and worship me." No mention of nature, Satan had only worldly things to offer.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  14. Anakaraya

    I love Wicca. It truly speaks to me with most of their beliefs. *sigh* I wish we could go back to the days where multiple religions coincided without anyone fighting over it. But unfortunately thats not possible is it?

    October 31, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • JoeG

      Not until people stop denouncing us as satanic (Satan was a Christian invention, by the way) and start seeing us as a spiritual people who want to worship in peace.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Christina

      Just wait for the Rapture to come...

      October 31, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  15. AutumnFire

    I would like to clear up one misconception of the Christian belief that Paganism is Satanic: Christians, Satan is Lucifer. He is a fallen angel mentioned in your holy book, The Bible. Since Pagans are not Christian, we do not follow your holy book. Satan/Lucifer is a Christian concept. Yes, we can believe and see evil, but most of us do NOT worship it. I don't presume to know what the Satanists prefer, but it would seem to me that since they are worshipping Satan, that THEY are the ones who are an offshoot of Christianity. Go chase after them and leave us alone. Better yet, welcome us in friendship and we will gladly do the same to you. Please stop relying on Hollywood for your information about us!

    October 31, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Brad

      Careful, your asking christians to think, thinking is the devils way!! Gods way is to stay stupid and just nod your head yes to whatever the noisy head at the pulpet says.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  16. uriel2013

    The problem with modern forms of "paganism" (a term created by Jews and Christians to label polythestic practices) is that it has no real history or pedigree. A large portion of the cultures these people are emulating were illiterate and didn't write down anything of their beliefs or rituals; we have some myths, but that's it. Most of it is either constructed to be packaged and sold to a specific audience, or are the imaginings of bored old men that were looking for something to do or validation for their questionable tastes.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Rich

      I agree with uriel,

      neo-paganism isn't evil, its stupid. How can you believe in something that was made up the past century? I don't understand how people can pick and choose what they want in their religion. Its values and rituals may appeal to you, but that doesn't make it any less fake.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Brad

      Way to spread ignorance while pretending not to demonize people of other faith.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • MomOf3

      christianity isn't evil, its stupid. How can you believe in something that was made up two millenia ago? I don't understand how people can pick and choose what they want in their religion. Its values and rituals may appeal to you, but that doesn't make it any less fake.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Krista

      Polytheism has a longer pedigree than monotheism. Monotheism is a relatively new concept. Oh, and btw, not all pagans are polytheistic

      October 31, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  17. Deborah DeVane

    Thank you for an excellent article, well researched and well written. I am a Celtic Pagan and it's both relief and refreshing to see our faith presented in an accurate light as opposed to the hysterical, fear mongering babblings of some TV evangelist yammering on about a 'witches hat being a cone of power – the pointy part" and how we worship our great god 'Samhain". My husband and I about fell off the couch years ago when we heard some female preacher actually say that. We quit laughing at her we realized that she was serious. Monotheistic religions, particular the three associated with Abraham, need to take a chill pill and understand that there's is not the ONLY path to God nor the only accurate view of the world. Thanks again CNN for accurately portraying my religion at this time of mass hysteria by the 'satan is under every rock and around every corner' bunch. Blessed Samhain to All. May you have an easy winter season and wonderful new year.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Renee

      And a Blessed Samhain to you and I wish you well in the new year!

      October 31, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • MomOf3

      Blessed Samhain to you, too! :)

      October 31, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • CrazyOwlLady

      A blessed Samhain and new year to you too, Deborah.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  18. bachmanntwit

    Do pagans "pray away the gay" ? Someone better tell Marcus Bachmann.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  19. amandawhiting

    I am respectfull to all beliefs whether or not I agree with them because that was how I was raised. I grew up in a Christian family but I did not fit in with church activities and found I had a natural caling to the Pagan faith as I felt closer to nature and to animals. Of course when I was little and did my rituals and said my incantations I did not know what I was doing it just came to me natural and my dad dismissed it as me bieng cute I think he new but he did not want to have to explain to me what I was doing and we lived in rural Kansas where the bible belt is very strong so he said I was just playing. Once I got older and met other Wiccans and did my research I found out that I was not playing and I was actaully practicing. I have chosen my faith and although some especailly my mother and future in-laws were not happy with it. They know I respect thier beliefs and they respect mine

    October 31, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Julie

      Jesus had no respect for other religions.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Leaf on the Wind

      Do they truly respect your beliefs, or just tolerate them because they love you? There's a big difference.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • MomOf3

      @ Julie:

      "Jesus had no respect for other religions."

      Does that mean that jesus wouldn't respect christianity, because jesus was a Jew.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Krista

      @Julie Jesus was a Jew and wasn't trying to form a new faith. By your own statement he'd have no respect for Christianity

      October 31, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  20. Julie

    "In traditional religions you have a conflict between God and nature," says York. "But for pagans, nature becomes the truest expression of the divine."

    Traditional religions (I'm guessing Christianity) have a conflict between God and nature??????? What on earth does that mean? Since when has God been in conflict with his own creation? God never asked anyone to destroy the environment.

    He certainly pulled that statement out of his.....

    October 31, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Nonny Mouse

      Julie, in Christianity you are not supposed to be 'of' the world. As a mortal human in the physical world you are corrupt and separate from your deity. In paganism we are all part of the world, and the world itself is divine.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • ttony21

      Well traditional religions, such as Christianity or even the pagan faith of the ancient Greeks, tend to put forth the idea of human superiority. The idea that humans are the most superior of all God's creation and thus rule over the rest of the animal kingdom. A lot of neopagans think differently. They believe that even though we are the dominant species (dominant in the sense of having no predators in our natural environment), we have to find balance with nature to sustain all of God's great creation. Of course that feeling is not exclusive to pagans, and you'll find plenty of Christians who feel that way. But a Christian or Muslim or Jew will almost always tell you that humans are the superior beings on this planet, because that's what their holy books say. Christians tend to think of earthly things as sinful or petty, and that we should all strive to be closer to God, hence once could say there's a conflict between God and nature.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Julie

      Nonny Mouse, we are truly not of the world, because all that is in the world is not of God. But that refers to the world, government, war, money, etc....not trees and clean rivers...those are the earth. "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof..." I have never seen a single verse in the bible that shows any disrespect for the beautiful natural creations in the earth.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • JoeG

      Then why are so many Christian republicans against environmental regulations? The candidates chirping the loudest about their Christian faith are also the loudest about scaling back environmental regulations, favoring business and money, the biggest false idol, over the planet, God's greatest creation and one more vital to our own survival than anything.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Julie,
      Not sure about 'disrespect', but there are certainly many things in nature that are described as "unclean," not to mention things described in the Bible that are inaccurate. Personally, I would consider inaccuracies to be disrespectful, at least in the given context.

      @JoeG,
      I think you misunderstand, many conservative Christians that don't want environmental regulations, (which, by the way, are not all conservatives, not all Christians, nor all those who don't want environmental regulations) don't acknowledge the ability of man to impact God's nature and/or believe that ultimately God controls all and what man does "to nature" ultimately won't matter. At least that is my understanding.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Jen

      They didn't do a good job explaining it. But I think that in the process of you know trying to convert people to Christianity, something was lost. It should never be God vs. nature. I think that Christians put it to our ancestors that you cannot serve 2 ideas-your old beliefs and God. I think that you serve God by respecting nature.Both work together.

      I am Catholic and I like some of the new age stuff (not the wicca stuff). I find the belief systems wonderful.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.