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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. Starfyre

    As much as we resent being demonized by Christians, we shouldn't do the same to them. Worse, to attack them when there hasn't yet been an attack is rather anticipatory. Just as we want acceptance, it's hypocritical to deny it to others, even if we disagree with their philosophy.

    I'm one of the first to correct misconceptions, but I also realize that some Christians (not all) try to convert me out of a sense of concern for my soul. I always am gentle with them, but firm in my stance that my faith is just as valid as theirs.

    I am a Dianic Wiccan and practice Druidcraft.

    October 31, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Logic

      While I don't believe in any religion, I do appreciate that yours has a history of pacifism and does not have a history of forced conversion. Also what the christians have done to your religion, and to paeganism, is disgraceful. Demonizing you all for centuries through religious imagery (devil's pitchfork and ram's horns – symbols of the farmer, in addition to flat out murdering paegans in various holy wars).

      If more religions were like yours I wouldn't have such a problem with them.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • dewed

      "I do appreciate that yours has a history of pacifism and does not have a history of forced conversion"

      Oh, that's rich. I suppose all those bogmen found in the British Isles with bound wrists and slit throats died peacefully!

      October 31, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  2. Hypatia

    Christians don't care what other religions think of them. Therefore I see absolutely no reason why pagans should care what Chistians think of them. After all, the entire globe is nothing but potential dupes to evangelise to the Xians.

    October 31, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Patti

      Christians have a history of killing pagans. Unfortunately, I have to care a little bit what they think.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Roro

      Unfortunately, those aren't true Christians.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • SabrinaMBowen

      Why do Pagan's care what Christians think? Because we have to live side by side with them, work with and for them, send our children to school with them and for the most part live in a country run by them. When they believe we are their equals, we have less chance of being discriminated, hurt or worse.

      October 31, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  3. Thorne

    Well written article. As a practicing pagan it's always nice to see some well thought out responses. We abhor proselytizing so it is sometimes difficult to know how to answer questions without crossing that line.
    Blessed Be!

    October 31, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  4. hippypoet

    josh, your an idiot – and as for the day in question – it just falls in the time span of the festival not truly having anything to do with it nor does it represent the holiday. the festival normally a week or longer.

    October 31, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  5. Matt

    Anything you need to know about pagans could be learned from watching THE WICKER MAN (1973). Eee gads!

    October 31, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Hypatia

      Are you having a snow day and worried you won't be able to trick or treat, little man?

      October 31, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Matt

      That response makes absolutely no sense.

      October 31, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Starfyre

      Mainstream media is not an acceptable form of acquiring knowledge; it would akin to saying 'anything you want to know about Catholicism can be found by watching the Borgias". Sensationalism is a poor replacement for intellectualism.

      October 31, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • NickB5

      The idea of the "wickerman" style of sacrifice as I understand it came from the writings of Julius Caesar during his campaign against the ancient Gauls in what is now France. He claimed that prisoners and animals were loaded into a giant wicker man and then it was set ablaze as a sacrifice to their ancient gods. Essentially it was sensationalized propaganda to drum up support for his war of conquest as the prisoners in question were most likely Roman soldiers. He wrote similar pieces about every people he conquered and in truth it was hypocritical as the Romans were every bit a barbaric, cruel and sadistic as any other people they came in contact with if not more so.
      I suppose we should be thankful you at least pointed to the first Wickerman movie rather than that terrible remake with Nick Cage.

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

      Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not troll faiths older than mine own, that were largely co-opted to create thine mythology.

      October 31, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  6. Josh

    Thank you Erica

    October 31, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  7. John B

    That time of year again? I'm getting sick and tired of this. Once a year all the Democratic kids in my neighborhood line up at our door with their hands out. They always want more... more... more. Now I have to go borrow more money I don't have so I can buy THEM candy. When are these children going to figure out that if you can't afford candy it is your own fault? Talk about class warfare. They want to take MY candy and give it to those who haven't worked a single day for it.

    Beetle Juice 2012!!!!

    October 31, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • nightlight

      It is the secular conservatives, holding onto the memories of a lost youth, who keep the trick or treat tradition alive in their mostly-white suburban enclaves. The religious right wing, naturally, condemn it as devil worship. As usual, conservatives are their own worst enemies. The real mystery is why someone whose situation in life makes him concerned about the cost of halloween candy could possibly support the party and agenda of the wealthy.

      October 31, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • SFTony525

      There is a cheapskate afoot!

      October 31, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • MumsToo

      Wow, I hope that's sarcasm. If not, nobody said you had to turn on your porch light and participate.

      October 31, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • John B

      Alright...just in case the "Beetlejuice 2012" didn't make you realize I was just joking....

      I WAS JUST JOKING.

      October 31, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Everything in Moderation

      I thought it was funny.

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

      John B, you rock. I laughed. 🙂

      October 31, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  8. us1776

    What we need are economic systems that live in balance with nature.

    That reward protection of the environment.

    Until that happens the human race will continue on its destructive course toward extinction.

    .

    October 31, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  9. Carla

    A Blessed and Happy Samhain to all likeminded souls. It's good to see a fairly accurate description of this special day.

    October 31, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  10. paul

    I have searched the Bible and I've failed to find any commands to celebrate the birth of Christ and no mention at all of a holiday or holy day called Christmas. What's going on?

    October 31, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • Starfyre

      Yule began as a religious festival that fell on the Winter Solstice, and celebrated the passing of the longest night, as the days of winter were giving way to the Sun King's realm, and returning fertility to the world. It's argued by scholars that Jesus was born in March, but Yule was selected to be the date of his birth, in order to assimilate the pagans by giving them a similar celebration on the same day of their own.

      Since it arguably has its roots in Germany, I believe (and someone correct me if I'm wrong, please) it's more associated with Heathenism, or Asatru.

      October 31, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • sockpuppet

      I'm not sure what brilliant point you are trying to make-no christian ever claims that it is a command to celebrate christmas, or that it is even Biblical

      October 31, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Starfyre

      Actually, Sockpuppet, I was addressing the historical aspect of the religion and how it became associated with Christianity. Thank you for the "brilliant" compliment, though. However, it's not brilliant insomuch that it's history.

      However, if it was meant to be sarcastic (I don't want to assume), then I must ask – too many big words?

      October 31, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • sockpuppet

      hey, Satr, I wasn't addressing you, but you must be brilliant too if you couldn't understand that my comment was a reply to the first poster

      October 31, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Starfyre

      Ah – misconstrued. I apologize.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  11. Luis Wu

    Paganism, Christianity, Bhuddism, Shintoism, Hinduism, etc. etc. etc. Ancient mythology with no relationship whatever to reality. I'll never understand why so many people belive in invisible, supernatural beings in the sky. It's really pathetic.

    October 31, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • Bob

      No, sorry, Pagans don't believe in a supernatural being that lives in the sky. It IS the sky.
      and the earth. and the stars. and us.

      October 31, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Luis Wu

      Bob – Believing that your ancestors are still around in another "dimension" or whatever is believing in invisible, supernatural beings.

      October 31, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • MumsToo

      I don't believe that my ancestors are still around. I do believe that it is good to honor and remember those loved ones who have passed away. It is good to remember the past and where we came from. That way we can remember where we're going in the future and why.

      October 31, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Thorne

      Excellent response Mums.
      Luis – It isn't about invisible this or that or ancestors in a different realm. I respect your atheism but don't claim to understand my belief system without a little more study. It just makes you look like a jerk.

      October 31, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • PJ Smith

      Luis, mythology has everything to do with modern living; it is reflected in all of the work you do, in the politics of the day which governs your citizenship, and in the entertainment you view to escape from the rest of it. But let's assume that you are a strict atheist....you still believe in invisible power, right? Electricity, radio waves, microwaves, etc? And you believe in science, right? You know that current physical science holds that energy cannot be either destroyed or created, that it can only change form. Tell me, how is that any different than a religious person believing that the energy racing around your brain (just a collective of little electrical impulses that they call your 'soul') doesn't disappear when you die? That energy is still around somewhere. And in some ways it lives on with those we physically contact in our lives. Believe it or not, I do not know one single person who hasn't in the course of their lives experienced deja vu, or weren't thinking about a specific person whom they hadn't spoken to in a long time, only to have that person call them. I don't pretend to understand those occurrences, but I do know that there is something there that defies our current understanding. I'm not saying you have to bow down to it, but you'd be a fool to staunchly deny that there's something we don't know about.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Fred

      Your pathetic. Hounding people because of their belief that do no harm to you. Why take or break something that brings others a since of happiness, or that helps them overcome hardship. If believing that there is no higher power makes you feel better about your insignificant life then by all means dont believe. Just leave the rest of the world out of it.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • Leaf on the Wind

      Luis, it is because we think, because we reason and (most of us, I'd like to think) understand logic, that we as a species always question the purpose or meaning of life in general. Throughout human history, the lives of most have been short and hard. A belief that something better comes after death can be very comforting. The neo-pagan belief that the devine is in all of us and in everything from the sky on down harms no one and nothing, so why go out of your way to belittle it? I'm an atheist myself, but at least I can see it with some empathy and understanding.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  12. Tcat

    just a note: Wicca was invented in the 60's so any claims that they are an ancient religion is false. As for paganism what we actually know about what they worshiped is minimal at best so any claims to be following that religion are also dubious.

    October 31, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • Erica

      One can call themselves pagan if they wish, as Pagan is basically considered to be anything not Abrahamic in nature. And for those that worship spirits, elements, and ancient gods... well, they certainly qualify for the label, don't they?

      It doesn't matter if they follow the traditions of ancient cultures... what matters is their intent. Much like for any Christian – It is not necessary to go to church every sunday, nor to listen to a preacher. What matters is your relationship to God, no matter how you decide to best have said relationship.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Most modern Pagans acknowledge that what we know of ancient religions and how they practiced is based largely on speculation based on the artifacts left behind, and what we practice today is at least, to some degree, based on our interpretation of that and what "feels right" to us.

      Only those who have not really studied their faith will tell you that they practice exactly as ancient priests did.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Jimtanker

      Wow, that is a truly false statement.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Gary

      Really? You have a degree in Theology? History? I have both, so I'm not sure exactly where you are basing your information from but try buying a new book...

      October 31, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • myweightinwords

      And, to be fair to those of my faith fellows who follow the revival of the Greek and Roman ancient ways, there is actually a lot of information available on the practices of those religions. In the writings of some of their historians are also reflections on the faiths of other cultures. My original statement was mostly directed at my own branch of faith, those of us who are working at revitalizing Celtic and such faiths. The Norse have a pretty good history and lots of information surviving.

      If nothing else, we have myths to study and personal family information (for those of us who come from families who kept such information). Physical evidence is a little harder to come by.

      I really need more coffee...this weekend was killer.

      October 31, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • PJ Smith

      Amen Times Ten, Brother!!

      I mean, it's not like they have this leather bound tome that is really a small portion of an edited version of the approximate story told by potentially sketchy characters over 1,000 year period.

      Oh. Wait.....

      Nevermind.

      //sarcasm off.

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

      "As for paganism what we actually know about what they worshiped is minimal at best so any claims to be following that religion are also dubious." - That is a mostly false statement. For some pagan groups we know very little, others we know things from the historical text.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • Been there, done that

      Actually, the modern wiccan movement can be dated to 1951 with the publication of Gerald Gardner's "Witchcraft Today". Some elements are ancient, some are modern.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  13. El Kababa

    The Wiccans and Pagans that I know are the most harmless and sweetest of mortals. Unlike Christians, they are not hateful and vengeful. It is a sweet and harmless philosophy.

    I personally consider myself to be a Christian Atheist. That is, I believe in the Christian values: that all men and women are brothers and sisters; that it is our duty to help the weak, the sick, the poor, the young, the old, the pregnant, the oppressed, and the downtrodden; and that we should treat one another exactly as we ourselves would like to be treated.

    I don't believe in Yahweh, God, Christ, the Holy Ghost, Satan or any other invisible, inaudible, immaterial beings. Ergo Christian Atheist. But if you don't want to be a Christian Atheist, then I think Modern Paganism is a good second choice.

    October 31, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Neeneko

      Eh, I have found Pagans follow the 'equal distribution of jerks' rule... they have just as many jerks and immoral clods as Christianity, but their lack of mainstream power makes them a bit more harmless. Within specific groups though they can be a real issue though.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Luis Wu

      Yaweh was originally a Caananite god I believe. He was a member of the council of El or "Elohim". He was but one of 70 or so gods in the pantheon. He wasn't even the head god. He was the god of volcanoes. Not until Abraham came along and latched onto him as his "personal" god did he somehow make the transition to the almighty and only god of everything.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Erica

      Neen – you would be correct. The pagan faiths have their jerks, to be sure. But since the pagan faiths tend to be relatively quiet, news-wise, it is more difficult to spot our jerks.

      I think this is one of the big differences, culturally. Christian jerks tend to be loud and obnoxious, because that is how you are a jerk in Christianity. In Paganism, being a jerk and recognized as one outside of your own community is more difficult... but we have them.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • If horses had Gods their Gods would be horses

      Loved your post, well thought out & honest, we need more folks like you on these forums. Eventhough I know that Christians "take" credit for "Christian values" I truly detest them "getting" credit for those values since they are not Christian in nature, they are simply human societal values that change as society changes & have evolved over the entire course of human existence.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • JohnQuest

      El Kababa, the morals and values you mentioned are universal, they would be true no matter the faith or lack of faith. I'm just a non believer with no religious undertone. I believe in the same universal truths that you and most other sane well adjusted person do.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • nightlight

      If you hold the Christian values you list, then you are a true Christian. The ethics of Jesus are his message. Almost everything else was added later.

      October 31, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • sockpuppet

      you people really have a lack of knowledge regarding world religions and ethics if you think those christian ideals are "universal"....as a matter of fact, many cultures ABHOR and reject their poor, sick, weak. There are clear class systems all over the world that delineate the upper classes or castes from the lower. Women are regarded as less than human. You really all have no idea how much christianity has influenced western civilation

      October 31, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Rich

      To call yourself a "Christian Atheist" is contradictory. A Christian by definition must believe in Christ. Considering you specifically denied the existence of Christ, you can only call yourself an Atheist. You may be a "good" Atheist, but it doesn't change the fact that you believe in nothing.

      Also, it amazes me when people say all Christians are hateful and violent. There are just as many (in fact MORE) hateful and violent people in the world who are atheist or pagan. I see more hatred directed AT Christians from those groups than from true Christians directed at others. It's sad how many hypocrites there are.

      October 31, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • SUNNY

      Well your not a Christian if you don't believe in Jesus Christ. Christianty is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. It's unfortunate that the leaders of the church had to twist and add their falsities to the realities of the teachings of Jesus.

      October 31, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Mike

      Sounds like you are a secular humanist, then. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_humanism

      October 31, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  14. Bron Taylor

    Michael York's book Pagan Theology is an excellent entre to understanding contemporary paganism. For a sense of how diverse Paganism is, and Paganism-resembling spiritualities are, see Bron Taylor's Dark Green Religion, which is introduced at http://www.brontaylor.com

    October 31, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  15. If horses had Gods their Gods would be horses

    The Christian church has as much to do with current Halloween rituals as Paganism does. The early church used it as a recruitment technique then turned it against non christians as evil. The Christian church is evil genius.

    October 31, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  16. Reasonably

    Pagans don't follow the Julian calendar.

    October 31, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  17. buddget

    What?? No bible nuts with their idiotic comments. Boy they are dropping the ball on this one.

    October 31, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  18. hippypoet

    when the last pumpkin finishes off, when the first leaves start to turn, when the weather at night bites at your skin, you know its time to begin, the harvest festival is now untill the food and drink be gone, all the night be lite by fire's song, let the fair folk dance and sing for they rule this time of merriement and take your soul if you do wrong!

    old harvest song

    October 31, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Loriel

      Very cool!

      October 31, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  19. AGuest9

    Just different dogma.

    October 31, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • Erica

      The only dogma any pagan follows is dogma they agree to. They do not condemn other paths, simply ascribe to their own in a way they see fit. What one path follows does not pertain to the paths of others. A coven (group) of pagans may agree to set down some rules, and that becomes their 'dogma'... but those same rules do not apply to a completely different set of people.

      There is no overarching set of 'rules' that all pagans follow, up to and including the Rede. Many agree that the Rede is a fine piece of work, but not all pagans agree to it.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  20. hippypoet

    if the date of oct 31 means anything to any pagan then that pagan is a moron!

    October 31, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • Josh

      Did you read the article?

      October 31, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Erica

      October 31st means something to paganism because it comes AFTER the harvest season but before Winter truly sets in. In other words... it is the time between life and death, slumber and wakeful conscious. It is when the seasons change from a season of 'easy' living into one of hardship.

      The veil becomes thin, the ancestors can be spoken to and knowingly respected. It is the pagan 'new year'. If you did any research at all, you would realize it is no more moronic to be 'holy' to pagans than Christmas is to Christians. In fact, at least Paganism has logic surrounding its holy days, compared to a faith that STOLE their holy days and twisted them from PAGAN cultures.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • Jamie

      @ Hippypoet - if you believe that, you must not be a pagan.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Josh

      Thank you Erica, also Hippypoet is a troll on many of the belief blog articles.

      October 31, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Hypatia

      No honey, you're the moron. Go play with a zombie and try not to get goo in your hair. Happy Samhain.

      October 31, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • hippypoet

      josh, your an idiot – and as for the day in question – it just falls in the time span of the festival not truly having anything to do with it nor does it represent the holiday. the festival normally a week or longer..

      October 31, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • hippypoet

      just to clear it up .... the long festival was made into a weekend thing then a single day... and it was placed at the end of the month so it was still in the span of real festival time and easy to rememeber for all the non followers so they could celebrate it too, afterall it is a festival of food and drink!

      October 31, 2011 at 11:05 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.