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For some Wiccans, Halloween can be a real witch
Trey Capnerhurst, a traditional witch, performs a naming ceremony by the altar in her backyard in Alberta.
October 30th, 2013
03:32 PM ET

For some Wiccans, Halloween can be a real witch

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) -  Like lots of people, when October 31 rolls around, Trey Capnerhurst dons a pointy hat and doles out candy to children who darken the door of her cottage in Alberta.

But she’s not celebrating Halloween. In fact, she kind of hates it.

Capnerhurst says she’s a real, flesh-and-blood witch, and Halloween stereotypes of witches as broom-riding hags drive her a bit batty.

“Witches are not fictional creatures,” the 45-year-old wrote in a recent article on WitchVox.com.

“We are not werewolves or Frankenstein monsters. We do not have green skin, and only some of us have warts.”

Warts or not, many witches say they have mixed feelings about Halloween.

Some look forward to the day when witchcraft is front and center and no one looks askance at big black hats. Others complain that the holiday reinforces negative stereotypes of witches as evil outliers who boil children in black cauldrons.

Capnerhurst falls into the latter camp.

Hanging up witch decorations at Halloween is no better than wearing blackface costumes or taking a slur, like “Redskins,” as the name of your football team, she says.

“Unless one actually is a witch, dressing up as stereotypical witches is bigotry,” Capnerhurst said.

In June, the wife and mother of two started her own church for “traditional” witches called Disir, an old Norse word meaning “matron deities,” she says.

(Capnerhurst draws a distinction between “traditional” witches, like her, who were born into the religion, and Wiccans, most of whom are converts.)

Most Wiccans identify as witches, and they form the largest branch of the burgeoning neo-pagan movement, said Helen A. Berger, a sociologist who specializes in the study of contemporary Paganism and witchcraft at Brandeis University.

A 2008 survey counted about 342,000 Wiccans in the United States and nearly as many who identify simply as “pagans,” a significant increase from the last American Religious Identification Survey, taken in 2001.

Three-quarters of American Wiccans are women, according to Berger.

“It’s harder to train male Wiccans,” Capnerhurst said with a cheery sigh. “Most men just aren’t going to sweep the kitchen and think about sweeping out the bad energy.”

The faith is fiercely individualistic. Although there are umbrella groups like Wisconsin-based Circle Sanctuary, most Wiccans practice their own blends of witchcraft.

After centuries of persecution in Europe and colonial America, modern witches still bear a sharp suspicion of authority. The rede, or ethical statement at the core of Wicca, is: Harm none and do as you will.

Despite the rising popularity of their faith, many Wiccans remain “in the broom closet,” fearful of losing their jobs, their families or their reputations, said Berger and other experts.

Trey Capnerhurst in her traditional witch garb.

Capnerhurst said she was “outed” in 2005 while running as the Green Party’s candidate for local office. A reporter noted the pentacle - a five-pointed star often mistaken as a satanic symbol - hanging around her neck.

“I kind of became the poster girl for paganism,” Capnerhurst said.

But the notoriety came at a cost.

Neighbors have threatened to burn down the house she shares with her family, Capnerhurst says. She’s lost jobs. And people keep asking her whether the “Blair Witch Project,” the 1999 horror movie, is real.

“I’m like, What the frick! No!”

Raising her 12-year-old daughter, Maenwen, as a witch is not easy either, Capnerhurst says, especially around this time of year, when just about every classroom turns into a coven of construction-paper crones and black cats.

In the United States, Circle Sanctuary has founded the Lady Liberty League to advocate for Wiccans' religious freedom and to fight discrimination.

Unlike Capnerhurst, however, some witches see Halloween as a treat, not a trick.

“Considering that I usually slap on a pointy hat at this time of year (and I have a black cat too), I’m fine with the image of the Halloween witch,” wrote Jen McConnel, a poet, novelist and Wiccan from North Carolina, in an e-mail.

“Even though the word ‘witch ‘ is loaded, I have embraced it,” McConnel said, “but it is only one of many hats I wear (pun intended).”

McConnel says she enjoys the yearly confluence of Halloween with Samhain, an ancient Celtic festival that marks the end of the harvest and winter’s coming darkness.

It’s a time when the veil between the living and the dead grows thin, according to Wiccan theology, and spirits can easily cross the divide.

Many Wiccans hold “dumb suppers,” to which they invite deceased ancestors, making sure to prepare their favorite foods, said Jeanet Lewis, a witch who lives in Northern Virginia.

“It’s a meditative, silent meal,” Lewis said.

Other witches light memorial candles and cast spells for the new year.

What do witches wish for? The same things as everyone else, apparently.

“Health, wealth and love,” Capnerhurst said with a laugh. “Every single spell falls into one of those three categories.”

Even though she dislikes Halloween, Capnerhurst has found a way to blend it with her own sacred days, Samhain.

According to some historians, at this time of year, as the days grow darker, ancient Celts would don costumes as stand-ins for deceased spirits, going door-to-door and performing tricks in exchange for treats.

Capnerhurst prefers to see the children who come to her door on October 31 as a re-enactment of that ritual.

“I’m doing my ritual and they get candy,” she said. “Everybody wins!”

And even though she bristles at the thought that some neighbors might abhor her religion, Capnerhurst tries to take it all in good cheer.

As October 31 approaches each year, she places a sign on her lawn that reads, "This House Practices Safe Hex."

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Discrimination • Halloween • Holidays • Neopaganism • Paganism • Persecution • Prejudice

soundoff (2,335 Responses)
  1. Belarius Marek

    Excuse me, but Wiccans are NOT witches. Witches follow an old faith deep rooted in the land. Wiccans follow a faith made up by a SDM devote in the 50's. Not that I have anything against Wiccans, per se.. However, they attempt to hijack a practice held close by many families with their roots deep in the red thread of their ancestral origins. We revere All Hallows. And commune with those that have gone on before and make up our flesh and blood that ties us to the old ways. So please, do not equate one of our great observances with the play acting of a bunch of Christian lite's... Thank you.

    October 30, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • nightmagick

      Actually all Wiccans are Witches but not all Witches are Wiccans. Just like all Wiccans are Pagans but not all Pagans are Wiccans. Witches practice Witchcraft and any true Wiccan knows they are a Witch even though they may not chose to label themselves as Witches. If you want to learn about Wicca or Paganism let me know. I can teach!

      October 30, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
      • Belarius Marek

        Wong. Wiccans have taken the name and glossed it over with airy fairy clap trap. I need no teaching from Chrisitan wannabes.

        October 30, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
        • nightmagick

          You can gloss it over all you want but under all that gloss you're still a Witch whether you want to accept it or not.

          October 30, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
        • LadyLina

          I'm sorry, but I'm a Witch with Wiccan roots, and while you may think you have the copyright on the term Witch, that simply isn't true. And Wiccas aren't even remotely close to Christians. Seriously...where to you people come up with this stuff?

          October 30, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
      • Jennifer

        I would like to.

        October 30, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
        • nightmagick

          Well the question I ask everyone before hand is Why do you want to learn?

          October 30, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
      • Heathen

        All blueberries are blue, but not all blue berries are blueberries.

        October 31, 2013 at 9:20 am |
      • Berina

        Actually not all Wiccans are witches, only the ones that practice magic.

        October 31, 2013 at 11:23 am |
      • Lanthiriel

        Sorry you are wrong. One can be Wiccan without being a witch. Wicca is a religion; ie a set of beliefs and practices concerning deity. Witchcraft is a skill/craft. One can believe in the Wiccan beliefs and never cast a single spell or practice any sort of witchcraft.
        Hit the books before offering to teach anyone please!

        October 31, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • Not a witch, but I know a few...

      That was my basic problem with this. I fully understand her sentiment, and feeling picked on a bit by the stereotypes... but...

      The images she refers to actually predate her religion. Wicca is a 20th century reconstruction of old faiths. It's fully modern. Gardner was 50's, and I think he had some claim to a lineage going to the.. 30's?

      It's less than 100 years old.

      The fictional Halloween witch stereotype... actually predates it. So I can see why she would be upset, but this is historical revisionism. The green skin broom riding witch from the Wizard of Oz predates this religion. So why should they come in AFTER that and say 'this is all wrong and you can't do it anymore'?

      This is not at ALL like blackface. For a parallel, imagine I create, or recreate a religion that finds... hats offensive. Baseball caps, fedoras etc. Then I start complaining about people wearing hats around me because it offends my religion? That just doesn't make sense to me.

      btw, many novice Wiccans are unaware of this since many authors in the field gloss over the fact that this was all put together a few decades ago as a reflection of what it was centuries ago. In fact many actively deceive their readers by implying or outright saying it's a centuries old tradition while doing nothing but quoting Gardner and what was created in the 50's.

      October 30, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
      • Not a witch, but I know a few...

        btw, I have no problem with Wicca, and know and have known many Wiccans. My problem is with historic revisionism.

        October 30, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • Magister

      I agree with you partially. Wicca is made up, but these claims of "witches" holding some kind of succession is unfounded. The Catholic Church did a VERY good job of ensuring there was no such trace after the 7th century. Paganism is dead. The only real Pagan faith I've seen is Nordic, since they kept up their traditions even after Baptism. In fact, to this day ministers in Norway and Iceland had best know the Runes or they're a laughing stock.

      October 30, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
      • Dave

        'Pagan' doesn't actually mean anything. It's a christian insult for any religion not theirs. There is no tie or connection between the 'pagan' religions other than being hated by christians.

        Oh, and I've cast a few runes in my day.... 😉

        October 30, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
        • Dave

          And I should be clear, in modern times it has come to mean a collection of religions and beliefs etc. But what is and isn't 'pagan' is completely arbitrary and the origins of the word should be offensive to so called pagans today. It was synonymous with 'heathen' or 'infidel'

          Can you imagine the reaction if people said something like 'Wicca, which is one of the infidel religions...'?

          October 31, 2013 at 12:14 am |
    • Cap'nRita

      Your arrogant and intolerant diatribe put you closer to being Christian than any I've read thus far. Please, center yourself and consider your words more carefully.

      October 31, 2013 at 1:07 am |
      • Cap'nRita

        Well shoot! The above was intended for Belarius Malek.

        October 31, 2013 at 1:10 am |
    • Liz

      It's all a bunch of bull, anyway. lol Whatever you call it, it's all a big, fat ball of make-belief.

      October 31, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
  2. A Witch in Time

    Boil boil boil
    A cinder burns a clock wheel turns
    Drink the swill upchuck at will
    You all shall live and have your fill
    Curse the witch and dig a ditch
    Bury your bones beneath the loam
    Breath again when daylight reigns
    If you will return the swill
    Make of this what you will

    October 30, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • this sounds evil

      not sure what this means, but it sounds bad

      October 30, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
    • Marc...

      Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.
      Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin'd.
      Harpier cries:—'tis time! 'tis time!
      Round about the caldron go;

      In the poison'd entrails throw.—
      Toad, that under cold stone,
      Days and nights has thirty-one;
      Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
      Boil thou first i' the charmed pot!

      Double, double toil and trouble;
      Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

      Fillet of a fenny snake,
      In the caldron boil and bake;
      Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
      Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
      Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
      Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing,—
      For a charm of powerful trouble,
      Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

      Double, double toil and trouble;
      Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

      Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf;
      Witches' mummy; maw and gulf
      Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark;
      Root of hemlock digg'd i the dark;
      Liver of blaspheming Jew;
      Gall of goat, and slips of yew
      Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse;
      Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips;
      Finger of birth-strangled babe
      Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,—
      Make the gruel thick and slab:
      Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
      For the ingrediants of our caldron.

      Double, double toil and trouble;
      Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

      Cool it with a baboon's blood,
      Then the charm is firm and good.

      October 31, 2013 at 8:37 am |
      • Elizabeth

        Gotta love Shakespeare

        October 31, 2013 at 10:27 am |
  3. are122

    Maybe for the holiday they can get on their brooms and fly away. Like my ex-wife.

    October 30, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • Boomerang

      @are122,

      Was this an arranged marriage? If not, YOU obviously chose her... and you are dissing yourself by dissing her.

      October 31, 2013 at 12:47 am |
      • Ardith

        You know, you are so right about that. It's about honoring choices I think. I said the same thing to our Dad when he dissed my brother's wife. I said he chose her and what is important is that you respect his feelings and his choice if you care about him. By the way, Bright Blessings to all you earth loving, recycling Wiccans out there and have a happy year.

        October 31, 2013 at 4:07 am |
  4. Steven Gold

    More 'magic' mumbo jumbo.
    #shrug
    as long as they don't try to force it on others directly or indirectly.

    October 30, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • berryrat

      I'm a Wiccan. We don't try to recruit or convert like some other religions. You have to decide on your own, without invitation, if you wish to become a Wiccan.

      October 31, 2013 at 12:38 am |
      • Elizabeth

        Indeed. Actually the entire concept of "raising" a wiccan upsets me a bit personally.
        Wicca doesn't prosthelytize. I have nieces who came to me to learn and I taught them,
        however my own daughters haven't chosen a road yet so I keep my practices to myself.
        If we "raise" wiccans we are no different than the other religions with their from birth training/indoctrination.

        October 31, 2013 at 10:31 am |
        • Crone

          Elizabeth, I agree. I didn't share with my path openly with my children until they came to me. Now grown, my daughter is a practicing witch (non wiccan) and my son a Christian. Each now have their own daughter. My granddaughters are very young 2 and 3 however both display a gift toward the craft. Both of my children want me to help their daughters develop those gifts. I'm not certain how to go about that without influencing their path. Any ideas are welcome.

          Blessed be

          October 31, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
        • Susan StoHelit

          Crone – atheists consider this issue a fair bit too. While I'd never push my beliefs on my kids, and they learn about what religions believe – at the same time, I'm not ashamed of my beliefs, and to hide them, to not talk about it, means that they'd hear mostly about Christianity, and nothing about atheism – which might as well be "raising" a christian.

          Let kids learn what you believe, if they wish, let them know what you believe and what others do, so their choice can be balanced, not weighted between your silence and the loud voices of the majority around you.

          October 31, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • FreeFall

      For the most part, Wiccans believe that Wicca, or any religion really, is something that a person should find their own path to, rather than being recruited or converted. If you have to be coerced to the path, it doesn't mean anything.

      October 31, 2013 at 7:03 am |
  5. snowboarder

    real witches are about as believable as real Christians.

    October 30, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • berryrat

      You are free to believe as you wish. Speaking for myself as a Wiccan, I am not insulted by your belief or lack thereof. Unlike Christians, I have no desire or duty to convert you to my religion. May you live in peace.

      October 31, 2013 at 12:55 am |
  6. meki60

    Pelosi is the star of this article, Thursday is your night Nancy

    October 30, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
  7. Cadillacjoe

    Has anyone reached Christine O'Donnell for comment?

    October 30, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
  8. HenryMiller

    "Harm none and do as you will."

    Libertarians!

    October 30, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • Guest

      If it harm none,do as you would. If it harm some,do as you should.

      October 30, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
  9. kamarasune

    How odd... I don't see the atheist falling all over themselves attacking the wiccan faith....

    October 30, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • HenryMiller

      So far as I know, the Wiccans aren't trying to insert Wiccan into laws that affect everyone.

      October 30, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • BDC

      I'm an atheist and think this is plenty silly, people just arbitrarily assimilating the term 'witch' to refer to themselves. Whoever compares the green skinned, wart-wearing witch to 'bigotry akin to redskins' is an idiot who arbitrarily put herself into a category and then falsely claims it belongs to her when in reality it belongs to no one.

      October 30, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
      • Taylor Woodall

        I will pray for you, repent the end is near my friend.

        October 31, 2013 at 6:59 am |
        • You should look into it..

          Now that is funny... repent... how about "WAKE UP"

          October 31, 2013 at 7:42 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I can go all year without hearing about Wiccans, they don't force their faith in every facet of daily life, they generally keep their supersti.tion to themselves....hint, hint.

      October 30, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • sam stone.

      when the wiccans start attempting to deny others their civil rights, you will

      October 31, 2013 at 12:34 am |
      • berryrat

        Wiccans, like myself, live by the rede – If it harms none, do as you will. That means we cannot take away your rights because that would be doing harm. We don't want to convert you. We don't care if you are not Wiccan. We only want to be to worship in peace. May peace be with you.

        October 31, 2013 at 1:00 am |
    • Susan StoHelit

      They aren't trying to push their faith on me, nor into our laws.

      I don't believe what they think is real, but it seems benign, and isn't being pushed on me or my kids, I've no issues. I don't have a problem with Christians either, when they believe that their religion is their private choice, rather than something they wish to use to write our nation's laws.

      Make laws that all marriages must follow wiccan rules, and then I've a problem with them.

      October 31, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
  10. Sean Lynch

    Let us pray to the divine things beyond understanding;
    Let us seek knowledge based in evidence that all humanity can test and agree upon.
    In the peace of agreement and understanding let us manage our resources for the well-being of all creatures.
    -the "Let us pray..." part is optional and intended to include those who can't do math or understand science.

    October 30, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • P_To_C

      How do you explain all the mathematical geniuses and Noble Prize winning scientists who happen to be Christian and say "Let us pray"? Are you just pretending they don't exist? Do you expect all of us to pretend with you, or do you want to talk about reality???

      October 30, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
      • saggyroy

        Has anyone received a Nobel prize for creation science yet? Just asking.

        October 30, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
        • P_To_C

          Dr. Brian Josephson(Nobel prize for Physics, 1973);Dr. Richard
          Smalley(Nobel prize for Chemistry,1996);Abdus Salam (1926-1996),1979
          Nobel Prize in Physics;Sir John Eccles(1903-1997),Nobel Prize for
          Physiology/Medicine in 1963;Ernst Boris Chain(1906-1979),1945 Nobel
          Prize in Medicine&Physiology;Wolfgang Pauli(1900-1958),Nobel Prize
          for Physics in 1945;Guglielmo Marconi(1874–1937),1909 Nobel Prize in
          Physics,Charles Townes,1964 Nobel Prize in Physics&Baptist Preacher. All of these people were Creationists 🙂

          October 30, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
        • Sean Lynch

          Where is the Nobel prize in geology for finding evidence of the great flood in genesis that covered the surface of the earth from sea level to over 29 thousand feet less than ten thousand years ago?
          Where is the Nobel prize in physics for explaining where all that water came from and then disappeared to?
          Where is the Nobel prize in Biology for finding that all species complete as they are today radiated from a single geographical point to every continent in the last ten thousand years?
          Where is the Nobel prize in cosmology for discovery of evidence of deity?

          October 30, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
        • Pffft

          Has anyone received a Nobel prize for atheist science yet? Just asking.

          October 30, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
      • Sean Lynch

        Childhood core programming based upon misinformation and cultural tradition is difficult overcome.
        I assume reality exists and the laws of physics are constant throughout the universe and time.
        There is no evidence of deity in nature, and none is required to explain nature. Regardless of opinion or belief; reality is what it is.
        Your belief or my lack of belief does not change Reality any more than intercessory prayer impacts medical outcomes.
        One thing is for sure, religion divides, segregates and in the case of creationists is the proponent of ignorance. This is harmful to humanity. Science unites, religion divides.

        October 30, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
        • Pffft

          Atheists demonstrate division, small-mindedness and ignorance on this board all the time. Perhaps you mean people in general are like that, not just ones that follow a religion. A lot of scientific breakthroughs have come from the mind of religious people. Look at the founder of the big bang theory: a devout Catholic priest.

          October 30, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
        • Sean Lynch

          You speak of the father of the big bang; Belgian priest Georges Lemaître. All are welcome to participate in science regardless of personal belief. This is not true of religion. Consider the creationist Sy Ten Bruggencate who will not allow atheists to participate in bible studies.
          [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=By3ijuxkxDg&w=640&h=390]
          Atheists do study the bible, it's a fascinating part of our shared heritage and gives us insight into cultures of the dim past. Some churches are open to atheists.
          Modern religious people have faith because they want to have faith and their faith isn't threatened by those who lack belief. For them "church" is an open social forum.

          I recall studying the bible with a Christian friend and he had very interesting insights into the story of Samson and Delila. Studying all mythology is fun. But you can study mythology all you want and it won't lead to a better understanding of how things work nature. Religion is not a methodology of discovery of understanding of nature. Science is.
          When religion usurps the role of science and gives widely accepted false explanations for what we observe in nature -then we have a problem in our society. That's why atheists are coming out of the closets to join modern theologians to rebuke fundamentalist creationists.
          Everyone is concerned when children can't compete because they shun science.
          It will be the fundamentalists that deny cosmology, geology and biology that turn people away from religion – not atheists.
          Religions divide, science unites.

          October 30, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
        • AE

          “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

          –Albert Einstein

          October 30, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
        • Sean Lynch

          Consider if that is all Einstein said, would Einstein be great?
          Einstein will be remembered for his contributions to science, not his thoughts on religion.

          October 30, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
        • AE

          How did you get your "11:09pm" post to post between the 2 "10:00pm-ish" posts?

          Are you a witch?

          October 30, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
        • Sean Lynch

          AE: Using wordpress to reply instead of replying to the blog comments.
          However, we know the wordpress operated blogs are full of mysterious issues and random forces which might as well be witchcraft.

          October 30, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
        • Lanthiriel

          Science unites??? LOL Obviously you haven't been in a room with scientists who hold opposing views/theories!

          October 31, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
        • Sean Lynch

          But I have been in such a room where theory is debated. Arguments fly with passion! I've even been around when a scientist concedes his hypothesis is in error. Ultimately it is understood that disputes are resolved by considering the evidence. When it comes to funding...that's a different kind of fight.

          November 1, 2013 at 2:16 am |
  11. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    As long as deep down they know it is make-believe, I'm sure it's ok.

    October 30, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • saggyroy

      As long as they don't try to teach Wicca in public schools.

      October 30, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
      • Saide

        No religion of any kind should be taught in public schools.

        October 30, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
        • veritas

          The only religion that should be taught in public schools is the FSM. It is the only provable god there is. And praise the cheese makers for they are holy....for I have seen him and praise be to the noodle....

          October 30, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
        • cielo62

          veritas~ RAMEN!

          October 30, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
        • berryrat

          I'm a Wiccan. I agree. We live in a country where we are free to embrace the religion we choose (or none at all). School is a place for learning reading, writing, and math. The halls of government are not a church.

          Unlike some religions, we adjust your believes when science present new information rather than trying to adjust science to fit our belief.

          October 31, 2013 at 1:16 am |
      • nightmagick

        Then they better stop teaching all other religions too. To be honest Wicca is a branch off of Paganism. The oldest Religion to the World. Predating Christianity, Judaism and Islam by 10's of thousands of years. To worship, love and protect the planet from which we come is not bad. Nor believing that everything we do good or bad is our actions alone and not some made up evil being.

        October 30, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
        • veritas

          I need to correct you....FSM start prior to the big bang...which then created the reality of cheese followed by man...for the gods of pasta needed the cheese to be whole....and thus...the goddess of Parmesania ,,,the cheese goddess..was born....

          October 30, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
        • nightmagick

          I love it!

          October 30, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
        • Dave

          Paganism may be old... but modern Wicca isn't. 1950's.

          That's not to say there weren't Witches in antiquity. And modern Wicca is an attempt to revive the old ways. But I am yet to meet a Wiccan that can point to anything they've learned, or any book that can't be traced back to Cunningham or Gardner. Every book is derivative of that, and that goes back no further than 1951.

          October 30, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
        • nightmagick

          Well, I have some work from before them tracing back to Aleister Crowley and before.

          October 30, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
        • Dave

          Gardner was definitely influenced by Crowley, but the ol' Beastie was definitely NOT a wiccan. So that does nothing to make the tradition 'older'.

          Even the 'if it harm none, do as thou wilt' is derivative of the Crowley/Thelemic 'Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. Love is the law, love under will'

          I don't deny the influence, but that is borrowing from a non-wiccan source.

          October 31, 2013 at 12:51 am |
        • Sean

          Ásatrú was taken from the Eddas in Iceland. Which are around 800 years old.

          October 31, 2013 at 8:26 am |
        • G to the T

          Error – "Paganism" is not the name of a religion. It is a collective term referring to all of the polytheistic religions that existed around the same time as the birth of Christianity (think "gentile" in Hebrew). While considered offensive to some because of it's negative use in Christian writings, in academic terms, it carries no such baggage.

          October 31, 2013 at 11:23 am |
        • a non-believer

          I suppose that is true Sean. For that matter, any of the old grimoires can predate too... lemegeton, key of solomon etc.

          But I am still going argue, hitting up known published medieval books common to many esoteric traditions does not push what is called Wicca today any earlier than the '50's

          October 31, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
      • cielo62

        OK. I'll refrain, as long as I'm not forced to put up with christianity in my classroom, either.

        October 30, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
    • Elizabeth

      It's entirely as make believe as any other religion or any other belief period as belief is inherent to our minds and cannot by any scientific method be proven "real".
      But if it makes us feel better and we harm no one with it, why would anyone care if I walk around wearing a black dress in a conical hat? Weirder things can be seen daily on city streets.....

      October 31, 2013 at 10:35 am |
  12. Kimberly

    Observer, when you are AE again, would u ask her to explain her thoughts on hell?

    October 30, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • Akira

      Observer isn't AE. Neither are women.

      October 30, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
  13. ME

    Last night on "Trust me I'm a game show host" a Christian preacher was the contestant. On the last question, Michael Ian Black who is one of the hosts, said if you get this one wrong, there is no God. Sure enough, the pastor got the $20,000 correct. Thereby, proving of God does exist once and for all.

    October 30, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • Answer

      Absolutely pathetic.

      October 30, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
      • Dream Catcher

        What did Jonsey say to Duddits while running from Mr. Gray?
        "I told you there was no such thing as Stephen King!!!"

        October 30, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
      • ME

        What? Why?

        October 30, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
        • Alias

          Because he had to spend $1000 to remove one lie.

          October 30, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
        • Bender Bending Rodriguez

          Spending $1000 to find out definitively that God exists sounds like a bargain to me.

          October 30, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • Akira

      Obviously a prosperity preacher.

      October 30, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
      • Bender Bending Rodriguez

        How would you know?

        October 30, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
  14. Andrea

    I feel sorry for this lady in the article. Nobody should have to hide their religion. Nobody should get fired because of their religion. That's wrong.

    Sometimes I feel like the only person on earth who doesn't give a flip who or what someone prays too.

    October 30, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • dashifen

      Not everyone hides - or lives "in the broom closet" to use the phrase common within the community. I, for example, have always been pretty open about my Pagan faith. But, I've been privileged to live in areas where people haven't seemed to be too worried about to whom their neighbors are praying.

      October 30, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
      • Elizabeth

        Same here. It helps to live in Northern New England.

        October 31, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • Akira

      "Sometimes I feel like the only person on earth who doesn’t give a flip who or what someone prays too."

      I'm with you; who cares?
      Just live your life and let others live theirs. So much ado about nothing, IMO.

      October 30, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • saggyroy

      Or hide their non-religion.

      October 30, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
  15. Reality # 2

    "Starhawk: The Pagan (Wiccan) Pat Robertson
    By Brian Carnell – September 21, 2005

    "Earlier this month, I mentioned my disdain for pagan activist Starhawk. But I did not appreciate just how nutty she is until my wife directed me to Starhawk’s A Pagan Response to Katrina.
    "
    September 21, 2005

    The article is bizarre through-and-through, but the highlight is the Pat Robertson moment,

    "The forms and names we put on Goddesses, Gods, and Powers help translate those forces into terms our human minds can grasp. And so the Yoruba based traditions that originate in West Africa have given the name ‘Oya’ to the whirlwind, the hurricane, to those great powers of sudden change and destruction. Santeria, candomble, luc-umi, voudoun, all include Oya in some form as a major orisha, a Great Power. Offerings are made to her, ceremonies done in her behalf, priestesses dance themselves into trance possession so that she can communicate with directly with the human community.

    No city in the U.S. has more practi-tioners of these traditions than New Orleans. On the night the hurricane was due to hit, I made a ritual with a small group of friends to support the spiritual efforts that I knew were being made by priestesses of Oya all over the country. We were in Crawford, Texas, at Camp Casey, where Gold Star mother Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Itaq, camped near Bush’s ranch to confront Bush with the painful reality of the deaths his policies have caused. Many of the supporters there were from New Orleans, worried about their homes, their friends and families. The overall culture of the camp was very Christian—we found no natural opening for public Pagan ritual, although a number of people did indicate to me quietly that they were ‘one of us.’ But our little group gathered by the roadside, cast a circle, chanted and prayed.

    We prayed, speaking personally in the way humans do: “ Please, Mama, we know what a mess we’ve made, but if there is any way to mitigate the death and the destruction, to lessen it slightly, please do.” That same night Christians were praying and Orisha priestesses were ‘working’ Oya, and the hurricane did shift its course, slightly, and lessened its force, down to a Category Four.

    And New Orleans survived. Not without loss, and death, but without the massive flooding and destruction that was feared. We all breathed a sigh of relief."

    Robertson, of course, infamously claimed that through prayer he prevented Hurricane Gloria from striking Florida in 1985. In contrast, Starhawk’s accomplishments seem a bit underwhelming."

    October 30, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  16. I love Halloween

    I love Halloween loved it since I was a kid. I wouldn't give it up for anything but I can kind of see the people dressing up as axe murders and chainsaw killers is not the good part about it. Otherwise great holiday and I think we should all get a day off.

    October 30, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
  17. Brother Maynard

    "Many Wiccans hold “dumb suppers,” to which they invite deceased ancestors ... "
    I'm curious ... how many Xtians believe that these deceased ancestors actually show up for the "dumb supper" ?
    If not ... Why?

    October 30, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • Doris

      Oh goodness. Sounds like the Mormons should get in on this activity to actually try to ask people is they want to be Baptized by proxy.

      October 30, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • berryrat

      I can't speak for others. I'm a Wiccan and hold no such belief. If you are a computer geek, you may understand me when I say Wicca is an 'open source' religion. You may make of it as you will. Peace be with you.

      October 31, 2013 at 1:23 am |
      • Sean Lynch

        I'm a geek! With regard to open source beliefs...science is "open source" as long as you have access to the journals.
        Dynamic models of understanding are preferred.

        October 31, 2013 at 1:36 am |
  18. Alias

    Right. Asking your god to make your electricity work is fine. So is eating his flesh.
    However, casting spells is just silly.
    Th funny part isthe way theists criticize each other and atheists for not seeing the truth.

    October 30, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • I love Halloween

      Criticism kind of sucks out loud over all. Nobody seems to think about how boring it would be if we were all the same.

      October 30, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
      • Sean Lynch

        Criticism of ideologies which deny science and disseminate misinformation is valid if the survival of our biosphere and species depends on humanity accepting science. I'm a scientist and very concerned that the same folks who don't accept evolution believe the message the misinformation industry promotes; that climate change is just a hoax or that there is some controversy with the science. It's going to take all of us to address the coming problems. We'll need scientists and engineers and willing bright minds able to do the math.

        October 31, 2013 at 2:04 am |
    • berryrat

      Not all witches are Wiccans. Not all Wiccans cast spells. Still we do not look to suppress the free will of others to believe as they wish. Blessed be you.

      October 31, 2013 at 1:26 am |
  19. Lawrence of Arabia

    I celebrate October 31 by dressing up as Martin Luther and taping copies of the 95 thesis to the doors of my local Catholic churches.

    October 30, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      🙂

      October 30, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      I do the same, but it's with pages from "The Origin of Species" – it sends the fundies a running.

      October 30, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
  20. Reality # 2

    Mocking Wicca and Paganism?

    Spells, curses, covens, black magic, witches, voodooing dolls, hoodooing the results, shadow books, maypoles,
    god(s) and goddess(es), Gerald Gardner et al??

    Never!!!!

    October 30, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • dashifen

      Careful: not all people lump the Afro-Caribbean religions (e.g. Haitian Vodou, Santeria, etc.) in with Paganism. Some do, some don't so it's not a hard rule, but I think (heavy emphasis on think) that most do not. Even if you do considering them Pagan, they're not Wiccan.

      October 30, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
      • Dave

        Pagan was simply a pejorative word used by christians to refer to non-christians. Like Infidel or heretic... or a mean version of 'gentile' in Judaism. It simply means 'not us'. So Followers of Zeus were pagans. Witches were Pagans. And African religions, from which voodoo/santeria are derived... also Pagan. There is no link or connection between the Pagan religions. It just means 'not us' from christians with a nasty connotation. Truthfully, Pagans should be offended at being called Pagans. It's a christian insult.

        October 30, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
        • AK

          Actually, Pagan is derived from the Latin word to describe rustic/ country. Originally, it referred to the people who were practicing religions tangent to the main religion at Rome, i.e., the people who lived out in the country and kept shrines to whatever local god they wanted, rather than the major Pantheon, which had become mostly a political tool by that time. True, when Christians claimed the word, they made it apply to a slightly larger group of people (pretty much all of whom were European), but it was not quite the same as the Jewish "gentile." Some Christians nowadays who don't understand what it means incorrectly apply it that way sometimes, but that's not what it means.

          October 31, 2013 at 11:01 am |
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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.