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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. tammihartley

    Such a shame... you don't have to believe what we believe. You don't have to like us. You can think we have totally lost our ever-loving minds. You can think we're ignorant, because I can assure you that a real practicing witch will have give two cents about your opinion of her/him. But I will never understand — why the hatred?

    ~Blessings to you all~

    October 31, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • tammihartley

      *will not give two cents about your opinion*

      October 31, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Ironically, Christians are pretty big on hatred of anyone different. It's kind of their thing. A bit like daleks really.

      October 31, 2013 at 11:05 am |
      • fujoshigate

        More like Cybermen than Daleks. "You will become like us, or you will be deleted." 😉

        October 31, 2013 at 11:20 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Thanks for giving me an excuse to post this again:

        Man is the predilect object of Creation and the entire Universe exists as it does simply to have us in it.

        The Universe only appears to be billions of years old because The Creator willed it thus.

        God is anthropocentric – it says here right on the label.

        The rest of the universe, oh so simple and boring compared to humanity, is simply window dressing – God really concentrated when making The Earth as opposed to, say – the Andromeda galaxy.

        You see, when God was creating the Earth he placed it in a time dilation bubble in order to give it the attention it needed.

        This is how we see light from distant galaxies – they are, relativistically speaking, billions of years old – but thanks to God's chronoton singularity, we are only a few thousand years old.

        God bestowed certain seemingly normal objects with chronoton field generation capability, like Moses' staff and Noah's ark.

        How else did the seas part or the ark able to support two of every animal despite it's physical dimensions?

        In recent studies, credible theologians have revealed that the physical dimensions of Noah's Ark were actually much, much smaller than those depicted in the Bible. They theorize that the source texts were modified to be more believable as nobody would be able to imagine all life on Earth fitting into a box no bigger than a phone booth.

        The oral histories of a small, reclusive sect of ultra-orthodox Jews say that the Ark made a "Vworrrp Vworrrrp" sound before it gradually faded from sight. Stone tablets retrieved from this same sect show that the name "Noah" is actually an ancient Hebrew word from a long lost dialect that translates to "Healer".

        They also found evidence that Moses' staff was really a small, hand held device about the size of a pen that emitted a high pitched squeal and glowing green light. "Staff" also appears to be a mistranslation. The original word was "screwdriver".

        Leviticus is full of rules of conduct for the Hebrew people, but there was one particular passage that caused so much confusion and strife at the Nicene Council that they elected to omit it from the Bible.

        Scraps of that ancient text were found in the same cave as the Dead Sea Scrolls but have yet to be publically released. The text seems to be proclamations from a long forgotten prophet, but there is little context to make any sense of them.

        Thus far, scholars have translated: "run", "don't blink", and a thoroughly confusing psalm praising the virtues of decorative neckwear.

        October 31, 2013 at 11:55 am |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Noah Who?

          October 31, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  2. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Happy "Christians complain about someone other than atheists and Muslims on the Belief Blog" day everyone!

    October 31, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • ME II

      +1

      October 31, 2013 at 11:01 am |
  3. Flynn

    It would be like putting on blackface if all of the black people had decided to not be black anymore and changed their genetic code many centuries ago, then people in the 1950s decided it would be neat to be black again and began wearing blackface and invented rituals they imagined black people might have practiced. Look up the History section on the Wicca page at Wikipedia.

    October 31, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • ME II

      Huh?
      Not sure the race card really applies here.

      October 31, 2013 at 11:05 am |
      • Flynn

        A person in the article compared celebrating Halloween with white people wearing blackface. It totally applies.

        October 31, 2013 at 11:06 am |
        • ripleymm

          no, seriously IT's NOT. as everyone has pointed out, WICCAN is a 20th century religion (like scientology, Cheondoism, andEckankar) and every "religion" has it's opposition and persecution that they go through. i see naughty nuns and priests ALL THE TIME on halloween, and you don't see the Holy See all up in arms. the comparison to black face is apples and oranges.

          October 31, 2013 at 11:36 am |
        • ME II

          My apologies, I missed that reference. You are correct.

          October 31, 2013 at 11:36 am |
  4. jill

    Science says survival of the fittest. No reason to keep the weak around. Science says destroy them. Atheists like that. Science says. Hitler too

    October 31, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • truthprevails1

      An education is a useful thing, might we suggest you get one?

      October 31, 2013 at 11:01 am |
    • ME II

      @jill
      "Science says survival of the fittest. "

      No, it doesn't. Science does not make judgments, just describes how things work.
      Additionally, it is generally 'survival of the best adapted' not the fittest. Case in point, it was the small weak warm-blooded mammals that survived the events that wiped out the dinosaurs.

      October 31, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • Topher

      Probably would have been more fitting to say evolution says survival of the fittest. Not science, But then science and evolution don't go together, either.

      October 31, 2013 at 11:19 am |
      • ME II

        @Topher,
        " But then science and evolution don't go together, either."

        The Nation Academies of Science would disagree:

        "Although the scientific debate about evolution was settled more than 100 years ago, organized opposition to teaching the concept in U.S. science classrooms has been ongoing for decades. Religious groups and others continue to challenge school districts despite a steady acc[]umulation of research that clearly points to evolution as the central organizing principle in biology."
        (http://www.nationalacademies.org/about/advice/evolution/index.html)

        October 31, 2013 at 11:34 am |
      • Topher

        How does the National Academies of Science believe evolution is testable and repeatable?

        Can they demonstrate a change in kinds?

        Can they explain where the additional genetic information comes from to make it work ... especially when we only see a loss of information?

        October 31, 2013 at 11:40 am |
      • ME II

        @Topher,
        "How does the National Academies of Science believe evolution is testable and repeatable?"

        Just a few highlights...

        The search and finding of Tiktaalik is an example of a prediction from Evolution and Geology that was testable and tested and passed. (http://tiktaalik.uchicago.edu/searching4Tik.html)

        Lenski's e.coli experiment is a verifiable evolution experiment. (http://myxo.css.msu.edu/ecoli/)

        The prediction of the fusion of two chromosomes present in the Human genetic makeup was tested and passed when Human Chromsome-2 was found. (http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/chromosome/2)

        "Can they demonstrate a change in kinds?"

        1) "kind" is not a scientific term
        2) evolution does not happen above the species level, i.e. there will never be a single transition between two genuses (sp?) or families. While there may be transitional forms that represent an individual species between two genuses, families, or higher, that particular organism represents only one single species.

        "Can they explain where the additional genetic information comes from to make it work ... especially when we only see a loss of information?"

        New genetic information is produces in many way, such as, duplcation, transcription errors, transpositions, etc. (http://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/origins-of-new-genes-and-pseudogenes-835)

        October 31, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
        • ME II

          < – "New genetic information is produce[d] in many way[s],"

          October 31, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • ripleymm

      no, charles darwin did. what article are you commenting on? it certainly isn't this one.

      October 31, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • Susan StoHelit

      In point of fact, science says none of that.

      Perhaps you should learn what something is, before you comment about it?

      October 31, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
  5. greekgodess

    I I ran into some Bacchus followers at a bar in Chicago during the last Bear`s game.

    October 31, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • ripleymm

      see, folks, now THAT was funny...

      October 31, 2013 at 11:46 am |
  6. Topher

    Happy Reformation Day/National Evangelism Day everyone!

    October 31, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • lol??

      What's that??

      October 31, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • truthprevails1

      Just out of curiosity here, when babe is in this world, are you going to allow him/her to partake of the fun of trick or treating?

      October 31, 2013 at 10:55 am |
      • Topher

        Absolutely. I love Halloween. It's pouring here right now, so I'm praying it clears up. My only rule for my little one as far as Halloween costumes is that it can't be something that celebrates evil.

        October 31, 2013 at 10:57 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Fair enough.

          October 31, 2013 at 11:00 am |
        • Charm Quark

          I would also rule out an altar boy costume.

          October 31, 2013 at 11:00 am |
        • Topher

          I'm a Baptist. We don't have alter boys.

          October 31, 2013 at 11:02 am |
        • Madtown

          So you won't let your child dress as Snooky? I'd say that's a good idea.

          October 31, 2013 at 11:17 am |
        • Topher

          Ha! Definitely not! Snoopy maybe.

          October 31, 2013 at 11:20 am |
        • Madtown

          Typo, I meant "Snooki". I'm actually glad I'm not really very familiar with the details of that person!

          October 31, 2013 at 11:20 am |
        • Susan StoHelit

          First year of halloween is so much fun – they've got some great baby costumes. The worst part is picking only one – and making sure they don't outgrow it by the time the day arrives.

          October 31, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • lol??

      "reformed"
      occurs 1 time in 1 verse in the KJV

      "Lev 26:23 And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me;"

      "Lev 26:24 Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins."

      October 31, 2013 at 11:04 am |
      • Topher

        What does that have to do with anything? Reformation Day has to do with THE Reformation — whether Christians split away from the Catholics.

        October 31, 2013 at 11:17 am |
        • Topher

          * where

          October 31, 2013 at 11:21 am |
        • ripleymm

          wow, another smart one. catholics ARE christians. it's the split off of the Protestants from the Catholics.

          October 31, 2013 at 11:44 am |
        • Topher

          ripleymm

          "catholics ARE christians."

          No. They aren't just another denomination, they are a different religion all together.

          "it's the split off of the Protestants from the Catholics."

          Fair enough. Doesn't change what I said above, however.

          October 31, 2013 at 11:49 am |
        • ripleymm

          " they are a different religion all together."
          NO THEY ARE NOT. The Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with 1.2 billion members. the Protestants, Lutherans, Calvanists, and Free christians all split off of that same church. that didn't change the fact that the catholic church IS CHRISTIAN. not muslim, buddhist, hindu, rastafari or anything else.

          October 31, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
        • Madtown

          Ripley, you must be new here. It's pointless to question Topher. Topher knows all. Topher can answer any question posed here. Topher knows far more than any scientist. Topher knows exactly how God thinks, feels, acts. Topher has a direct line to the mind of God. If you have any questions, Topher has the correct answer.

          October 31, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
        • ?

          ripleymm
          Madtown is of course right. Topher knows everything because he read it in the bible and will not except any other knowledge that goes against his beliefs. Topher comes on this site daily to try and convince his young earth Baptist viewpoint is the only truth despite all the evidence against it. You would soon find conversing with Topher to be futile.

          October 31, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
        • ripleymm

          ah, a hell-bent troll. gotcha, thanks guys. not used to trolls. i just saw this crap article and thought; "what a bunch of PMS-riddled hyperbole!" – then i looked at the comments -oops!

          October 31, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
        • Madtown

          Hey Ripley, no I don't think he's a troll, I think he really believes everything he posts! That's why it's so entertaining. Enjoy!

          October 31, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
        • ripleymm

          awesome.

          October 31, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
  7. Charm Quark

    I once had a housekeeper that I had to fire. Turns out she was a Mambo (priestess) don't really know what powers she had but she certainly made my belongings disappear.

    October 31, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • ripleymm

      wow. you just took racist to a whole new level...

      October 31, 2013 at 11:05 am |
  8. MomofaMarine

    Yikes. Intolerant and downright nasty people are not fictional. What a shame; so much hate.

    October 31, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • GAW

      John Gabriel was right. Google it.

      October 31, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • lol??

      Zero tolerance Blossomed out of the gang culture at the Frankfurt School. Blame Bloom, a late Bloomer and Baby Bloomer.

      October 31, 2013 at 10:51 am |
  9. peter225

    All religions should be equally ridiculed as they are all absurd. Sorry, weotches, that's you too.

    October 31, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • Jan

      Being able to laugh at ourselves, including when it means laughing at how our most passionate beliefs can look from the outside, is part of being balanced & sane, happy & reasonably (but never completely) rational.

      October 31, 2013 at 11:02 am |
  10. LP

    Very interesting. I dont understand why anyone would look down on them for what they believe in...just because I dont believe the same doesnt mean they are wrong.

    October 31, 2013 at 10:44 am |
    • Jake

      Seriously? You don't think it's reasonable to look down on people who believe in unicorns or santa claus? I certainly look down on people who believe in things that are completely delusional and rightly so.

      October 31, 2013 at 10:46 am |
      • ripleymm

        no, actually that just makes you an elitist dork.
        of course, you don't believe in completely delusional things like love, self assurence, hope, or dreams.
        too bad, that's so sad – and shallow.

        October 31, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
      • Susan StoHelit

        I'm an atheist, I don't believe in looking down on those who believe what I think is ridiculous.

        I believe what I do, based on my experiences, knowledge and logic. Others do the same – if you saw a unicorn, personally, you'd believe in it. Many who believe in god think they've had personal contact with god – if you believe that, you'd be delusional to deny what you know.

        All I ask is that everyone lets everyone be, let others believe what they do, you believe what you do, so long as you don't try to force your beliefs on others, or discriminate or hurt others from your beliefs, no problem.

        October 31, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
  11. RavenWolf

    I myself am Wiccan. And its not all just spells and all the other crappy stereo types. Its really a more peaceful, harmonious and more balanced way of which you look at life. its all the natural elements being brought together to promote oneness with the divine and all that exists in nature. no we are not a cult, we dont sacrafice animals, we dont consort with demons or the devil. "harm none" is one of our laws. we also dont force others to join our beliefs. the practice of Wicca actually is probably one of the oldest still practiced religions in the world. so the next time anyone insults a wiccan, know your facts first. we may be misunderstood but we are NOT evil. thats all i have to say, Blessed Be.

    October 31, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • OhReally

      Well said. Merry Samhain!

      October 31, 2013 at 10:44 am |
    • MarylandBill

      Wicca was invented in the 20th century.

      October 31, 2013 at 10:53 am |
      • Cerridwen

        I am a natural witch from a VERY long line of witches. "Wicca" is a modern adaptation of what we of the "Old Religion" have practiced in Celtic Europe and the Isles for many thousands of years. If you are of European ancestry, your family practiced many if not all of our rituals before the invasion of Christianity into Europe and the Isles. Just because the Old Religion has been revived and is becoming more widespread among the masses does not make it any less valid. We are grateful to the Goddesses and Gods, our creators and revere, admire and love the beauty that they created. Our message is one of love, peace and tolerance. Blessed be and peace and love to all.

        October 31, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  12. greekgodess

    Once in a fifth grade classroom, I was called a witch. When I responded with a,"How did you know? I do cast spells." Utter silence! I loved it! What happened to our beliefs of religious tolerance? I am a practicing Christian, and I do know an intelligent wiccan.

    October 31, 2013 at 10:35 am |
  13. Carl

    Thank G0d CNN has brought this mockery of witchcraft to our attention! I shall begin a campaign immediately to ban the little children in my neighborhood from dressing up. By the way, gotta love the "traditional" beer bottle in the pointy hat/altar photo!

    October 31, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • ripleymm

      yeah, CNN happy HOLIDAYS.

      October 31, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  14. joke

    Just consider yourself lucky that you aren't still burned.

    Go get some help for yourself and some meds

    October 31, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • susanpub

      Seriously?

      October 31, 2013 at 10:48 am |
  15. MarylandBill

    Wicca is a religion that was invented in the 20th century; the negative stereotypes of witches and witchcraft goes back many centuries. Sorry, you don't get to appropriate a name for yourself that already has a negative connotation and then complain because people still hold that negative view. And lets be honest, there is no real evidence to suggest that any modern pagan group is anything other than a new movement (i.e., they are either new religions or reconstructions of old religions, not long existing underground religions coming out of the shadows).

    October 31, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The Priesthood of Crom has existed in the shadows for countless centuries, quietly spreading His tidings of wrath to all mankind.
      May you have a Cromly blessed day in which you crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentations of the women.
      Amen.

      October 31, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • ME II

      "Sorry, you don't get to appropriate a name for yourself that already has a negative connotation and then complain because people still hold that negative view."

      If they are following the beliefs and practices of ancient pagans who were called witches, then why can't they claim the ti[]tle, not there is any universally accepted definition.

      October 31, 2013 at 10:30 am |
      • MarylandBill

        Wicca is not ancient paganism. Its beliefs were developed in the 20th century. Further, in the past, the vast majority of pagans were not witches. When paganism (which in ancient terms essentially was synonymous with any one of a number of polytheistic religions) was practiced, only those who were thought to be able to work magic were thought of as witches and even then, they were regarded as dangerous.

        So lets see, Wicca (and neopaganism in general) are about 100 years old (or less), the idea of witches goes back thousands of years. The view of witches being dangerous also goes back 1000s of years (Though the particular notion that all witches are evil is really a product of the 14th and 15th centuries). So sorry, adopting the name witches and then complaining because people hold negative stereotypes is about as smart as adopting the name cannibal and then complaining because people think you eat people.

        October 31, 2013 at 10:46 am |
        • ME II

          "the beliefs and practices of [some] ancient pagans"

          Better?

          October 31, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • jimi

      How blessed you must feel being all wise

      October 31, 2013 at 10:44 am |
  16. joke

    “Witches are not fictional creatures"
    bwahahahaha

    These people have some serious issues.

    October 31, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • susanpub

      Seriously?

      October 31, 2013 at 10:56 am |
  17. Baron von Skidmarck

    The woman in the article is clearly suffering from mental health issues.

    October 31, 2013 at 10:16 am |
  18. Betty

    No. No. No. What a HORRIBLE article. OMG please get an actual Witch or Pagan to write an article concerning Witches and Pagans, because most of us don't CARE about green witches with warts-if anything it's amusing that people don't realize we live right next door to them and they can't tell because we lack those trademarks of what they think a witch looks like. Dressing up was not an intent to mimic dead ancestors either, it was to scare away worse things that come through when the veil is thin between worlds. It was a harvest festival time of year as well, with bonfires and feasting before everyone was shut up from bad weather. The process of handing out treats was started by Christians who tried to appropriate Samhain into All Saints Day, it's not a Pagan thing at all. But still, it's a fun time, and traditions change. At least it's still mostly *ours* and was never fully assimilated like Yule and Eostre.

    October 31, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • Betty

      And btw, wth is "traditional witch garb"? My garb usually consists of jeans and a tshirt, not funny hats and robes. This ain't Hogwarts, people.

      October 31, 2013 at 10:16 am |
      • Elizabeth

        Merry meet.
        I have to admit I wear mostly black, dresses, jeans whatever, but hey, I look good in black 🙂

        October 31, 2013 at 10:23 am |
        • Betty

          Maybe we *should* take up robes, they look comfortable. 🙂 Merry Samhain!

          October 31, 2013 at 10:39 am |
        • Laurie

          Blessed be, Elizabeth - it's nice to hear a voice of sanity among the ignorant and fear-aggressive. What's the big deal? It's not like wiccans are ringing your doorbell and proselytizing. Btw, I wear black because I look good in it, too! 🙂

          October 31, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Please tell me you don't actually believe that there is an interdimensional "veil" that weakens at certain times of the year...

      October 31, 2013 at 10:17 am |
      • Elizabeth

        She did say it WAS to scare away....

        And why, if it was a belief, would it be any different than the widely held belief that there is a heaven and a hell.?

        October 31, 2013 at 10:22 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          It wouldn't be any different.
          Angels, demons, heaven hell, ghosts, goblins, leprechauns, cherubim, seraphim, vampires, poltergeist, fairies – many people have believed in them and yet not a single shred of verifiable proof has ever been offered.

          October 31, 2013 at 10:27 am |
      • Betty

        No I don't, but that was the "traditional" belief, just like another religion I know of that insisted women sacrifice doves at temple if they were menstruating. If someone is going to write about historical culture they need to get it right.

        October 31, 2013 at 10:37 am |
      • Katy

        Dont many of you believe in a invisible man that made the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th? An invisible man that claims to love you so dearly but on many occassions (as stated in the story book called the bible which was written by men) killed so many off like he was Adolf hitler in WW2? And your crack pot theories sound any more believable?

        October 31, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • kungfujellyfishattacks

      Thank you for replying. You sound mature & reasonable, and very well adjusted. The whole notion of "persecution" so many Wiccans (and followers of pretty much other religion practiced in the USA) have is laughable. Somebody wearing a costume you find silly is NOT persecution. They shouldn't be marginalizing the horrific reality of TRUE religious persecution that happens in other countries. That is just not cool.

      October 31, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • lol??

      lol??
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      No True Witchman argument??

      October 31, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • Susan StoHelit

      CNN wants the controversy, so they have to pick someone who is going to clash with other people's views.

      October 31, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
  19. GAW

    Looks like SeaTigr is dressing as a troll for Halloween.

    October 31, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • SeaTigr

      How 'bout I just punch your lights out?

      October 31, 2013 at 10:14 am |
      • OhReally

        Well aren't you just the loving Christian, threatening physical violence? Nice.

        October 31, 2013 at 10:40 am |
  20. Julie Cochrane

    I've been Wiccan since 1988. It took me a long time to learn really good ways to deal with people unfamiliar with the religion in a way that minimized hostility from the occasional ignorant individual. When I first converted, I felt like the ambassador for my faith and that I had to explain what we believe to everyone who asked me. That got old after a few years, and I realized that a lot of the people who entered those discussions with me were not only trying to proselytize, they took my engaging in the discussion as me trying to proselytize them.

    Now, I say something along the line of, "Look, I used to explain the details of my religion, but after a few hundred explanations, I'm tired. There are plenty of books out there if you're interested. Cosmologically, I've got a lot in common with the Hindus, philosophically I have a fair bit in common with Buddhists and Taoists, and ethically and morally our primary principles are a lot like the Judeo-Christian Golden Rule. Magic? Think of it as mostly prayer with props–the props aren't strictly necessary, but they help focus the mind. That's an oversimplification, and if you ask three Wiccans what we believe you'll get six answers, but please, if you have more questions than that, there are plenty of books out there."

    I find when I don't make a big deal of my religion to others, they usually don't make a big deal of it back at me.

    That isn't meant to say the discrimination others face isn't real, serious, and relevant. I choose to live in a major metropolitan area where the hateful "isms" of all varieties are at a minimum. When I deal with folks from more insular places, I make a point of expressing sympathy for cases in which their own religion faces what they feel are constraints on their own free exercise. If they point blank get down to why I am in my religion, I point blank say: "It's a matter of conscience. It's not about the goodies, it's about doing what I believe is right."

    The hard core supporters of other religions, when they see I'm a principled person of conscience, generally urge me to keep reading their book, because they're sure that a principled person of conscience will eventually "see the light." I make a point of respecting *them* as principled people of conscience.

    And that's how I go from scary dabbler in the occult to fellow principled person of conscience.

    Someone who might cast a hex on your cat is scary. Someone who deeply cares about conscience and doing the right thing is a good neighbor.

    October 31, 2013 at 10:10 am |
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About this blog

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.