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. Patti

    CNN did a better job of explaining Samhain and paganism than their reader-ship did of understanding it. We will never know true peace in this wold until we can stand next to someone, knowing their spiritual beliefs are in opposition to ours, and accept them as they are without wanting to change them. Fortunately, paganism has no concept of evangelism, so I don't have to convince anyone that they should ditch their current beliefs in favor of mine. I have too much respect for the people I share this planet with to do that anyway. I wish they had the same respect for me.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Carla

      Well said, Patti. i, too, greatly appreciate the enlightened approach CNN took with this article.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • pete

      Dear Patti: Well said. When people get beyond religion and beyond gender and beyond gender preference and stop judging others based on these things what you are left with are energies. Enjoy the Samhain season and the deep look inward towards change in our lives. Good things to you. Pete

      October 31, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Gerrie

      I am a Pagan. Capital P, like Christian is capilized, Jew is capitlized etc. Why is it today that even many Pagans don't even capitalize their religion? But that said, it is refreshing to see a fairly accurate article on CNN. Blessings of Samhain!

      October 31, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • Einstürzende Neubauten

      I am Alien, capital A like Curds and Weigh.

      October 31, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  2. Roro

    It seems most of these posts are for the pagan religion or none at all and I'm trying understand why. Is it just curiosity or the whole "magic" idea? Then the people that don't beleive in any god believe that we are here just because, for no reason at all. At least there is some history proving that Jesus existed. There are so many things to bring up but how abotu something as simple as the thought about why so many countries started using the B.C and A.D abbreviations. How come there were so many "ignorant" people out there willing to live by that around the era? How about the recent discoveries of the Mt. Sinai in the middle east, all described in the bible? All the predictions about israel and the middle east in the bible, things that are taking place now. There are reasons to beleive that the bible is true. The bible also decribes what happens to a person if they are lead away from God. They become proud and boastful and claim that he never existed. What are we reading here folks? These "christians" that judge and don't live by the word of god are not true christians. People need to take the time to read it completely to understand it. However, being a christian doesn't mean we are perfect. We are not perfect but living in Christ and being a true follower of Christ would make your heart want to do good and not sin and judge others or sin against others. We are taught to love our enemies and pray for them and if someone does wrong to you to be good to them no matter what. Some things written in the bible might sound close minded but there is a lot of logic and to me it all makes sense and applies. There are people that call themselves a religion just because they were told by family members that's what they are to say. You never really know and should not have hate for others becasue of religion or any other reason. People need to do their own research with history and see for themselves what the truth is. In my personal experience I was able to see the work of god in my life and there is no way I can deny it. It's easy to forget because we can't actually see him but there can't be another explanation for some things. I was raised Catholic and for a few years I stopped with religion all together and denied god. A couple of years back I have been able to find my way to Christ and am now not a Catholic but a Christian. I don't believe in religion but a relationship with Christ. It has changed my life and has been the best thing to happen to me. I try not to judge others and try to understand where other people are coming from. I do believe that faith in Christ is the right path and hope that others can at least take the time to research and take the time to reflect on their lives and see for themselves.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      Paragraphs Roro....paragraphs.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • Roro

      Sorry I just kept typing lol

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


      You make me sad, Sad because you think you understand what exactly is at play here and you blurt it out with the gli.b dete.rmination of a 9 year old. The whole "co.untries using BC and AD for their calendars"? yeah, that's what we call christian domination where a religion that is able to spread and pervade governments which take posession of countries and colonize others are able to influence how the calander should be. Then we finally set down a global calander and time and what not that everyone abides by, England, the US, Europe (which is all very christian) had the most influence and why we see BC and AD as time periods, and we're also seeing people move towards using BCE and CE specifically because of that reason. There is not a supernatural reason or a spiritual one.

      Second, historical accuracy found in the bible and the bible being accurate are two TOTALLY different things. I can read a lot of historical fiction and show you places, doc.uments, people that existed in that time, it doesn't make the story any more true, ya dig? Prophecies are also easy to make up and fulfill when you are va.gue enough and undrstand human nature. First, how long as there been war and aggression in the middle, how about ALWAYS. Also, define proud and boastful and how that has anything to do with god? I can promise you and I have two different ideas of what that means and one of us or neither of us could be write, but it's va.gue enough for sheeple to point out the bible as being accurate when they hear someone say they are an atheist and then talk about science. Tell me though, do you think an unbleiver like say.... Ghandi was proud or boastful?

      Roro, it's cool you've found jesus, bravo, chat with him all the live long day, though if you start to really hear voices, I urge you to seek help. I also hope that when you go to the polls you don't vote as a christian but as a human, thats all I ask.

      October 31, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  3. eyeson

    I love Jesus Christ. Even if you could prove he is fake, which you can't, he would be a great model of love and I would aspire to be like him.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      I love little puppy dogs. Even if you can prove they are fake, I still love them.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Sumi

      I am only commenting to make you be aware of what a imrsispeve experience my friend\'s child gained browsing your blog. She learned so many details, with the inclusion of how it is like to have an awesome giving heart to get other people really easily know just exactly several hard to do matters. You undoubtedly did more than my expectations. I appreciate you for churning out those precious, trusted, explanatory and also fun tips on your topic to Tanya.

      November 10, 2012 at 3:32 am |
  4. Roman Catholic

    Roman Catholics in South America and many places of the world. we believe that the Souls of the Dead come to visit their loved ones, and we prepare Altars to receive them, with the Cross, other religous images, flowers,the photos of our ancestores , it start at 12 middat of November 1 and we remove them on the 12 at midday.
    We also pray and set their favorite treats on the table.
    Many Roman Catholics and Christians we do not practice Halloween.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      And you left out the part where you are a complete nut job.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • Roro

      The reason I believe the religion of Catholicism was influenced a lot by men is becasue they are taught to live by the bible but then throw out other beliefs such as these. The bible clearly states that we can't communicate with the dead or their souls.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • Really???

      A version of the Apostles creed states that we believe in communion with the saints Roro. Guess what, most saints are (gasp) dead. All Hallows started to be popular centuries ago in Europe. People would imitate evil creature & try to frighten children out of becoming wicked. Traditionally, The Saints drive off the evil spirits on Nov 2, so the celebration of souls (especially the souls of the dead for that year) would not be troubled by them. It is the story of a yearly skirmish between good & evil. The feasts themselves set aside a time to honor the Saints, & pray for the souls of our dead.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  5. Chris Highland

    As a former Christian who used to think of Pagans as "out in the wild" I now appreciate the naturalistic elements and the "wild spirituality" that allows for freethinkers like me. Cherry Hill Seminary is a bright light in education through all the seasons.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      Yes! Now you are talking. Let's get wild, buck naked, all tatted up and dance at the seminary under the light of life giving SUN. I will lather you up with SPF 50 and then you can do me. We are all gonna get laid! I love this religious stuff, or Pagan stuff or whatever it is. Plus you get candy! HEY, just my back Chris.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  6. TG

    When Constantine formed the Catholic (meaning universal) religion on the 4th century C.E., this was when the true religion that Jesus established had now become fully apostate.(meaning to fall away) Halloween was just one of the many pagan celebrations that was "Christianized" by the "church", including acceptance of the "cross".

    In An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E. Vine, he wrote that "by the middle of the 3rd cent. A.D. the churches had either departed from, or had travestied, certain doctrines of the Christian faith. In order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical system pagans were received into the churches apart from regeneration by faith, and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols. Hence the Tau or T, in its most frequent form, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted to stand for the cross of Christ.”(pg 256)

    October 31, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  7. heavyhorse

    The reactions on this board are the main reason so many pagan live thier beliefs secretly especialy in the South..you might tolerate a moslem or a jew but never a pagan. That is why it is hard to know how many of us are out there. The federal gov might rcognize us as a valid religion but no baptist ever will

    October 31, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Mel

      It is very sad but true Heavyhorse, if one of us came out and slandered another relgion like this, it would never be tolerated. But funny thing about us Pagans, we don't feel the need to treat others so unfairly. Accept all, love all, boy we sure are awful aren't we 🙂 happy Samhain!

      October 31, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  8. SaintM

    On the subject of who starts wars: It is men, and men only who start wars. Whether they wanted to shove their patriarchical BS down someone's throat, they wanted someone else's wife, they did not like what someone looks like, or the color of their skin, etc. etc. It is patriarchical religion, and the weaknesses or men or men in power that have driven the agenda of war, with men as the willing warriors. Women have only been it's unwilling sad victims.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • Stanley

      Except that you see women in the photos of lynchings and beating civil rights marchers, there are women suicide bombers, women treat women that behave differently in a horrible manner.

      Women are as bad as men. LOLOL

      October 31, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  9. 11:11

    The Celts also likes to burn captives as a sacrifice as well as some tribes practicing cannibalism. I love the history of my ancestors but have no desire to resurrect the practice of their beliefs.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • LadyLina

      As did the Christians. They continue to burn women and children (in Africa currently) for their beliefs. What's your point?

      October 31, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • Mel

      Yes practices that may have existed hundreds of years ago – how about the early christians that ran around slaughtering people that didn't believe as they did? or better yet those that burned people ALIVE for nothing. ah yes, it's true all religions have had their darkest days, but Neo-pagans – such as Shamins and Wiccans believe in no such practice.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  10. Thinquer

    Reminder to my Christian brothers and sisters who are really trying to live the life, please be kind in your replies here. God make the sun shine on us all. Even once we ourselves did not know the truth, let us not now become arrogant that we finally learned it.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • Igor

      "Reminder to my Christian brothers and sisters who are really trying to live the life, please be kind in your replies here."

      Now that would be a true miracle.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      What is the truth brother?

      October 31, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  11. SouthernBelle

    I have a friend who is a Pagan (Wiccan) and a practicing witch. I have to say, she is not judgemental and believes in bringing no harm to anyone or anything. I, as a Christian, can't say that Christianity believes the same. I see Christians judging and causing harm all the time. Not that I would ever become a Pagan, but I do admire her beliefs and try to live that way myself.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      Why would you want to be a Christian?

      October 31, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • cdimarco

      Christianity states not to judge those who are on the outside (unbelievers), but those within the Body we judge to help sanctify the body of Christ. My mom is a practicing witch, trained by Laurie Cabot. I hear racist junk coming out of her mouth all the time...People are people, nomatter what religion they are. I've found that Christians are just as screwed up as non Christians, and there are all different breeds and walks of life... The difference is that we've chosen to believe God at His Word, He's given us eternal life and the greatest moral example ever to walk the face of the earth, and He'll bless that and continually change us. As a Christian, I may still screw up and sin, but the Holy Spirit has given me a strong desire and ability to change and be more like Jesus. Choosing to worship the creation rather than the creator is just idolotry... Why thank the clay pot for existing rather than thanking the potter for making the clay pot? I just happen to be in love with the One who made all things.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • Mel

      Thank you Southernbelle, as a pagan/wiccan I sincerely appreciate your openness and acceptance of your friend. bless you dear!

      October 31, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Pam

      Question to mel:

      Who do you believe would bless her?

      October 31, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Mel

      Yep I'm done here, way too many rude, negative, unhappy souls on this site. Maybe someday people will stop trying to belittle others and actually share an ounce of the love we hold inside. If you want a lesson on facts of this or any religion and who is who, read a book or google it! Blessed Be!!!

      October 31, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • LadyLina

      Pam: Many Pagans believe that God and Goddess are aspects of the same higher power, and that higher power is the same God as all other religions, no matter what s/he is called. While I can't speak for Mel, when I wish someone blessed, it is through my Goddess, to their God, and down to them, as a measure of respect for their faith, even though my Goddess and their God, in my belief, is the same higher power.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • Pam

      Thank you LadyLina. I was just asking, I wasn't trying to be rude.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Pam

      I have another question. Is there a belief of how creation started or that humans are to just be a part of the natural world?

      October 31, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • fred

      You said "I see Christians judging and causing harm all the time"
      That is because everything Jesus said is true and happens all around us. Jesus blasted the religeous in His time for this hypocritical behavior then we turn right around and do the same thing. That does not mean Jesus or the Bible are false or that Christians are bad. What it means is few people act the way they know they should. There are simple steps to follow if one does then they tend to move towards Christlikeness.
      Christ would tell those commiting $exual imorality to repent and sin no more. He would not condem the person if they turn from their sin.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Marcus

      Fred, you are one sick puppy. Anything that your Jesus is said to have said that was about the future looks so general that one would expect it to happen anyway whether he said it or not. No points for saying bad stuff will happen generally if you can't give a date.

      Show what he said would happen on a specific date down to the day that actually happened (good luck with that), or hush up with your nonsense already.

      October 31, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • LadyLina

      Pam: Depending on what Pagan faith you believe in or practice, there are stories of the beginning of the world. Many of them are very similar to the Adam and Eve story, which was written hundreds, if not thousands of years after the original stories were passed orally from generation to generation. I enjoy your questions and do not take offense to them. 🙂

      November 1, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
  12. cdimarco

    if nature is your god, your god is slowly dying.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      It is not really that slow. Nature, you, me....we are all dying at a fairly rapid pace.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • Julzrael

      If you are limiting your definition of Nature to the Northern Hemisphere, then yes – it "dies" now in the Autumn then resurrects to be reborn in the spring. If you are talking about the planet itself, what a joke, Earth will be here long after we kill ourselves off. But it's a funny thing, Nature doesn't end at the horizon of the Earth. Or don't you believe in a Universe, a Galaxy, and what may contain that? All of it is Nature. And it goes on infinitely, macro- and micro-cosmically, and so it follows that if one believes in Nature as a Divine Being, then there is no end to it. It is the beyond the Alpha and the Omega. It is the Great Lemniscate.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Huh

      And you with her.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • baja

      The Earth is not dying. Sure, we're destroying the life on the planet as it is today but the Earth and nature will be here long after we've destroyed ourselves.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  13. Jacqueline

    Jesus Chrst of Nazareth is Lord, His power is supernatural, forsake all other spirits, Jesus loves you and wants to heal your pain, by His precious blood in Jesus name Amen!

    October 31, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Huh

      Ummm don't you mean the lord and savior Mithra!

      October 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Bob

      The Flying Spaghetti is Lord, His power is super BEER, but don't forsake any other spirits, His Noodliness loves you and wants to heal your hunger, by His precious Pasta in his Bountious name. RAmen!

      See, anyone can spout about their particular deity. But unlike your sick-and-twisted dead-guy-on-a-stick story for which there is no evidence of divinity, we have proof of ours that you can taste.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • john

      FIFY: The Flying Spaghetti Monster is Lord, His power is supernatural, forsake all other spirits, Capt Mosey loves you and wants to heal your pain, by His Noodly Appendage RAmen!

      October 31, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      How can something be supernatural if it exists?

      October 31, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Fookin' Prawn

      @Sheik – I'm pretty sure she was just trying to bless the board and drive off some of the evil that might have gotten on her when she clicked the link.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Kindred Spirit

      Bless you Jacqueline!...the demons are certainly running rampant on this thread!...go figure, they're being celebrated today.

      @ Sheik..."supernatural" not "paranormal"
      Supernatural (Latin: super "above" + natura "nature") is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature. In popular culture and fiction, the supernatural is "whimsically" associated with the paranormal and the occult, this differs from traditional concepts in some religions where divine miracles are considered supernatural.

      October 31, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • fred

      P|ss on you Jacqueline.

      October 31, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  14. John

    For those who don't understand the Christian view (including some/most Christians):

    The Devil (Satan) was the top angel in heven that served God. He got uppity and convinced a third of the agels in heven that they should serve him instead of God. Up to this point God had never been challenged so Satan had never seen his true power. So God whips up on Satan and has the other loyal angels throw the rif-raf out of heven.

    God then sets up earth with the first two humans. Satan still wants to be worshiped so he goes there disguised as a snake and convinces the woman that God does not have her best interest in mind and to do the one thing she is not supposed to do, eat of a certain tree.

    Satan and the other angels now spend a good amount of their time trying to get humans to worship them instead of God. This is where all the other false gods come from, the Greek/Roman gods, the Egyptian gods, the pagan spirits, as well as many others.

    This is why we say that pagans are Devil worshipers. They worship fallen angels that have dressed themselves up as spirits/deities to trick humans into false worship.

    Read "Paradise Lost" for a good fictional story of it.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Igor

      What about Jews who don't share your view of Satan, or Yazidi who literally worship your Satan? Are they all devil worshipers? What if Satan rebelled against God's divine plan because he thought it was unfair for an omnipotent being to torture humans by sending plagues, etc. That would make Satan the good guy, almost a patriot by American standards.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Igor

      As for the whole Tree of Knowledge story, Satan was trying to open Adam's eyes to God's true cruel nature the second Adam made a minor transgression. Imagine if our justice system worked the same way and we punished grandchildren of a petty larcenist?

      October 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Patti

      You don't know enough about paganism to understand that there isn't the concept of "worship" in paganism, it's more like a sense of honor. Not to mention that you're judging one belief system by the paradigms of another- how very convenient. Stick with what you know and leave paganism to those who quietly practice it. We pray for you as our brothers, knowing that not everyone has to believe the same thing. Can you say the same?

      October 31, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • kathy

      Fiction is correct.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • BloomingHere

      You got a good, big cup of the Kool Aid, huh? Just because those are your beliefs, it doesn't make them facts. It's a big, wide world out there with lots of beliefs, and yours are no more true than anyone else's. Stop preaching.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • LadyLina

      John, please do a bit of research here. Most Pagans don't believe in Satan, and many that I know don't believe in an evil being of any form. We are not Satan-worshippers. By stating that we are, you are committing a sin, primarily, 'Thou shalt not lie'.

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

      I know the story of the 'Watchers' and the Fallen, etc. I read alot. I'm curious and don't accept everything I read in the literal sense yet try to gain understanding and wisdom from the real point it is trying to make. Perhaps you should read a little more than your Bible. I do not worship angels – fallen or otherwise. I do not worship any spirit. Yet I am Pagan. I believe in spirit, that everything has one – even stones & plants. Many have not reconciled or refuse to acknowedge the fact that dualism exists in the universe and in themselves. Good & evil, light & dark, etc, etc, etc. Even many religions cannot accept the feminine aspect of deity. I find this ludicris myself. A male giving birth & creating life all on its own? Even Jesus had a mother. And to make Patriarchal religions and the dogma easier to swallow, women have been blamed for all the woes of mankind as well as being those devil worshipping witches that we must exterminate because the wise ones know too much (women were the first farmers & doctors being the gatherers in the hunter/gathering times). They bring forth life and are to be feared – we can't let them know thier own power in the universe. Which does nothing but pit females against males and the gender wars go on. *sigh!* Look for the answers in nature, in science, inside yourself and you will see what magic & the devine are.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Jane Guelle

      I don't believe in the devil or satan, or one god.I believe in harming none. I also believe that the bible is just a history book and Jesus was just a man. I have a right to what I believe just as all christians do. What i find very wrong is having some one try to cram what they believe down my throat.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • HapHazzard

      I've read "The" Bible. I'm pretty sure I didn't see anything in there about Satan or the Devil. What were you reading?

      October 31, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Mel

      Totally loving LadyLina!

      October 31, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • Castiel

      You know nothing of angels.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • BostonG

      That's a nice story. It goes well with Greek mythology tales and Grimm's fairy tales. Makes for a good bedtime story for kids.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Kindred Spirit

      @ HapHazard...you most certainly DID NOT read "The" Bible, unless in your library that'd be "The" Handyman's Bible To The Perfect BBQ...re: your comment of satan or the devil not being mentioned in "The" Bible please feel free to peruse the following info (warning: this is not being CRAMMED DOWN YOUR THROAT!; it is of your free will if you so choose to read):

      Satan, the Devil, is a concept strongly supported by the Bible. Jesus had a lot to say about Satan. From Genesis to Revelation, the Devil is presented as a serious threat.

      In Matthew's Gospel, chapter 13, Jesus preached the parable of the weeds. The Disciples wanted to know what it meant. Jesus had these things to say about the Devil in explaining that teaching: He is the Evil One. He is the enemy. Evil men are his sons. He sows weeds among the wheat. (Matthew 13: 38-39) Matthew also quotes Jesus as saying that Satan has a kingdom (12:26) and another name: Beelzebul (12:28). Later on while Jesus is teaching about the Final Judgement he says: "Away to the eternal fire, which has been prepared for the Devil and his angels". (25:41) Satan has angels with him and eternal fire is his destiny.

      In Luke's Gospel Jesus "saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven". (10:18) He talked about a woman "whom Satan has kept in bonds for eighteen years." (13:16) Jesus told Peter that "Satan has received permission to test all of you." (22:31) Satan needs permission to test us.

      John records Jesus describing the Devil as "the prince of this world" (12:31, 14:30). Jesus said, "You are the children of your father, the Devil, and you want to follow your father's desires. From the very beginning he was a murderer and has never been on the side of truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he is only doing what is natural to him, because he is a liar and the father of all lies." (John 8: 44)

      It is clear from the Gospel accounts that Jesus believed in a literal, real adversary called Satan or Beelzebul. Did the other New Testament writers write about the Devil? Matthew, Mark, Luke and John continued to teach on this subject even when not quoting their Lord. John, who also wrote the Revelation, has a lot to say about how Satan meets his end. He talks about "Satan, that deceived the whole world. He was thrown down to earth, and all his angels with him." (Rev. 12: 9) Michael and his army of angels defeat Satan (the dragon, the ancient serpent) (Rev. 12: 7-9)

      John's reference to the ancient serpent can only mean the serpent in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3: 1-20) The crafty serpent laid the bait and Adam and Eve bit it. The Devil makes an appearance in the Book of Job (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-10) and torments Job. He caused Job's troubles and had God's permission to do it. Satan wanted to make trouble for King David and he "made David decide to take a census" (1 Chronicles 21:1). In the Old Testament too, Satan was real and affected people's lives and their decisions.

      The writers of the New Testament letters also had a great respect for the Devil. Paul wrote in 2nd Corinthians to "keep Satan from getting the upper hand over us" (2Cor. 2:11), "their minds have been kept in the dark by the evil god of this world." (2Cor.4: 4), "Even Satan can disguise himself to look like an angel of light." (2Cor.11: 14)

      In Ephesians, the same apostle declares about Satan, "the ruler of the spiritual powers in space, the spirit who now controls the people who disobey God." (Eph.2: 2) and "Put on all the armor that God gives you, so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil's evil tricks. For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities and cosmic powers of this dark age." (Eph. 6: 11-12)

      James and Peter also wrote about the Devil in their letters. James said "Resist the Devil and he will run away from you." (James 4: 7) Peter wrote "Your enemy, the Devil, roams around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Be firm in your faith and resist him." (1 Peter 5: 8-9)

      According to the whole Bible, there is an adversary called Satan. His presence is consistently mentioned from Genesis to Revelation. He tries to upset God's plans but he seems to be tethered and can only go as far as God allows. Satan has the power to test us and tempt us but we have the option to resist. (See James 4: 7)

      October 31, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • LadyLina

      *curtsies* Thank you, Mel.

      November 1, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  15. Igor

    Say what you want about pagans and Wicca, at least their ideology doesn't state that i will suffer eternal punishment simply because I can't will myself to share their belief. From the marketing standpoint that was a huge mistake.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Juan

      Coming soon, late December, will be myoccult.com 🙂

      October 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • M

      That's because the truth isn't always marketable. If a Christian sees you walking blindfolded towards a cliff, they'll stop you. A pagan would rather let you fall off than make you feel like you're being judged for choosing to blindfold yourself and wander aimlessly.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • virtualgd

      But that does not change the fact if you reject Jesus you will be eternally damned.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • Igor

      "If a Christian sees you walking blindfolded towards a cliff, they'll stop you."

      I know this is supposed to be a metaphor. Ironically, Christian test for a witch was to push a woman off a cliff and if she flew she was a witch.

      "A pagan would rather let you fall off than make you feel like you're being judged for choosing to blindfold yourself and wander aimlessly."

      That's cause pagan's don't automatically assume I don't have a parachute. A christian would just ruin my holiday of spelunking.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  16. kristin

    Nature is my own dazzling god.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Mel

      Blessed Be Kristin!

      October 31, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Julzrael

      Kudos, Kristin, I second that. Gorgeous. Frank Lloyd Wright said "I believe in God, only I spell it Nature".

      October 31, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • LadyLina

      Blessed Be, Kristin and I hope you have a Blessed Samhain!

      October 31, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  17. Religion is for FOOLS.

    I hope you being to enjoy life. I feel sorry for Christians. So lost. So betrayed by their own lies. I do not envy the religious among us. So many lies. So many lies..... I USED TO BE JUST LIKE YOU: RELIGIOUS

    October 31, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • kelsey

      I think YOUR the one decieved.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      staypuft marshmellow man

      October 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • claybigsby

      "I think YOUR the one decieved."

      and i think you need to go back to 3rd grade and study up on your grammar.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • a catholic

      Why are atheists so arrogant?

      October 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • Igor

      "Why are atheists so arrogant?"

      Cause people like you tell us (and everyone else for that matter) that we are to be punished eternally for believing differently. And even if it's not your message, are you better for condoning it? At least we don't think you should be punishyed for believing in nonsense.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      It is more fun that being an idiot.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @a catholic: Because we are most likely correct.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why are atheists so arrogant? Well, who says they are? You see them as arrogant. I see them as simply responding to stupidity and ignorance as deserved. When someone tells you that "your" going to go to hell, I find it hard not to laugh-why would I listen to the ranting of someone who hasn't managed to conquer the basics of the written language to interpret the bible for me, or to judge my actions and beliefs?

      October 31, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  18. hippypoet

    something i have always said : respect is not given, it is earned.

    Religion has not yet earned anything but contempt.
    How many have to die for people to learn that belief in yourself is all thats needed. Isn't that we teach our kids, believe in yourself and anything is possible?

    If you are going to believe in something, at least know the history of what you will base your life on. It may change your point of view on it.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  19. Julzrael

    A well-written article finally giving IMHO a fair representation to what Samhain really is to many of us. Though I, a Wiccan, enjoy the modern trappings of Hallowe'en, I would love to see a resurrection of what it truly celebrates come to the forefront. It is said that the beloved lost ones – deceased family & friends- are closest at this time of year, and this is simply a time to remind them, if they remain, that they are not forgotten, & are still loved. It may be difficult to relate if you have never lost someone you have loved, but if you have...perhaps you know that feeling. It is good to remind ourselves too, that it won't be too long before we join them in whatever the afterlife brings, & that is really only a short period from here to there.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  20. LadyLina

    Dear journalists: Paganism and Pagans are proper nouns, like Jews, Christians, Christianity, and Muslim. We respect your faiths by capitalizing them. Please respect ours. Thank you.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Kindred Spirit

      ...precisely!...that's why I, too, never capitalize anything I cannot respect, such as paganism or satan!!!

      October 31, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • LadyLina

      Wow...Kindred, you sound like you don't have respect for anything. Hopefully you can find it within yourself that there is a difference between respecting something for what it is and belief in it. Until then, blessings.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
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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.