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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. Portland tony

    Supposition that there are increasing ranks pagans out there goes against any form of common sense. With the rise of Christian fundamentalism in the US and the spread of Islamic fundamentalism throughout the mid and far east; just where are these pagans hiding? There will always be stories like this ...

    October 31, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • David

      You are thinking proportionally. The author is thinking in absolutist terms.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • Einstürzende Neubauten

      @tony
      They are hiding in plain site. If they are truthful they will be discrimated against, just like agnostics and athiests.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Einstürzende Neubauten

      discriminated*

      October 31, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • Dayster

      Actually the number of pagans IS increasing. And they aren't hiding anywhere, they are right under your nose. But as you probably are expecting them to wear robes, a witch's hat, and upside-down pentacles, of course you won't see them. They are normal people.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Amanda

      In plain sight. Most of us can't reveal our beliefs because we will lose jobs if we do.

      October 31, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • LadyLina

      Christian Fundamentalism isn't as much on the rise as it is getting more airtime because the people in charge can pay for it. In my experience, and this might only be in my area, Pagans typically aren't rich. My philosophy on this is because we won't sell our morals for a high paying job that sucks our souls. We don't work 'for the man' in many instances. We are quiet shopkeepers, or healers. We are gentle people who don't evangelize as for many of us, it's against our beliefs. We quietly talk about our beliefs if you ask and we are comfortable about it. I am in a position to wear my faith proudly in my jewelry and clothing, but not all are. Please check out the latest census on the internet. It will show you our numbers are increasing quickly. For those who identify strictly as Pagans, that increase was 142.8% from 2001 to 2008. Wiccans saw a 155% increase over the same period, and a 4175% increase from 1990 to 2008. On that same report, available at census (dot) gov, there was no category labeled "Christian Fundamentalist", but many of the subgroups under Christian LOST members, including Presbyterian, Episcopal, Lutheran, and Methodist. Please do a bit of research before trying to say something is not possible.

      November 1, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
  2. Silence is Se-xy

    -

    October 31, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  3. BostonG

    Leave them pagans alone. Must you Christian believers have to impose your 'beliefs' on others, and in return marginalize them as lower class/hell-bound people? Just because Jesus is your savior, don't think you're any better than your next door neighbor.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  4. HapHazzard

    Hey you kids! Stop marginalizing my dogma!

    October 31, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • hippypoet

      @HapHazzard... sry about your beliefs but no, you can't do magic... if your so called magic works it has only to do with the power of persuasion. get over it.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      OR get on with it! We're all gonna get laid!

      October 31, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  5. HigherThanThouArt

    The love of the greater number will cool off .. so pagans increase.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  6. LisaDe

    Note to the author Susanne Gargiulo: Shamanism was not and is not a "religion" much less a "pagan" or "non-pagan", it is simply a method or tool that can be used just as consistently to Christianity as to Buddhism. Shamanism historically did not and still does not require any belief or faith in any deity, yet shamanism does not prohibit or forbid faith in any particular deity. There is no credible authority anywhere that says shamanism is a "religion", pagan, pre-Christianity, post Christianity or otherwise. Shamanism is more of a condition, akin to autism or epilepsy, that renders a person more or less perceptive to energy frequencies, hence the "wounded healer" archetypal dynamic. It is a condition that augments perceptive abilities and typically arises as a result of a severe physical and/or mental trauma that was not self inflicted, it is methodology for maneuvering acquired abilities. I would admit that development of perceptive and interpretative abilities might be culturally influenced, and some cultures believe the condition is inherited. But the bottom line is shamanism is a universal pre-Christianity tool and not a religion that anyone can just "convert" to no more than you could convert to being an epileptic or autistic deciding that you want to perceive and get around in the world and beyond it the way they do.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Yeah, you tell 'am. And stuff. Yeah!

      October 31, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  7. waterman

    Doesn't it bother christians and pagans that magic, woo-doo, or prayers never work? Like never? How can you be a "practicing witch" if you can never make things float in air and stuff?

    October 31, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • hippypoet

      i believe you have the witch from bewtiched and the real witch mixed up!

      October 31, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • waterman

      @hippy – what does a real witch do, exactly? Can she do any magic? Anything paranormal?

      October 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Well if I were a witch, I would get naked and slather on generous portions of SPF 50 and worship the ALMIGHT SUN (under Hippypoet's supervision of course. He has the scotch).

      October 31, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Josh

      No, and that's not the point, its about nature, about the individual, It would not hurt you to do some basic research before you jump to comments like that.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • hippypoet

      the idea of witches of the modern day is based on the fact that some of these women and men were outcasts of society and lived normally alone and without help. they learned to use the herbs that grew around area much like that of the shaman of the natives, now we have outcasts who use herbs in specials ways thats not understood by the rest of the village and they also claim do be able to heal the sick...because they had knowledge of natural healing herbs.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • hippypoet

      check out the plant water crest – it truly is a heal all, and grows everywhere. the idea that these people were using magic to do things is just ignorance at its height. there is no such thing as magic – however, there is a universe of balance... balancing acts go back and forth but always find balance.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • HapHazzard

      Yes, real witches can do magick. But all magick is is a psychological trick to create a subconscious receptiveness within the mind. When the object of the magick comes into fruition, then the magick has worked. If not, it just hasn't worked "yet". Some people call it "PRAYING".

      October 31, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      What about the dancing around naked part? When they picked the herbs, were they naked?

      October 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • hippypoet

      @HapHazzard... sry about your beliefs but no, you can't do magic... if your so called magic works it has only to do with the power of persuasion, and normally requires a weak mind to come true..BECAUSE THEY MAKE IT COME TRUE!

      self forefilling prophecy ring a bell.

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

      most from what i hear do the stuff naked to be closer to nature – you were born naked and so thats the way to be in nature. most argue with something around these lines – do animals wear closes, i answer yes, humans do, but of course then mean dogs, cats, horses, and stuff like that – not every animal, just the ones you can find in nature – a.k.a. not humans!

      October 31, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • HapHazzard

      @Hippypoet – Sorry, you didn't understand my post. It's a trick you play on your own mind. Like Praying or Positive Affirmations.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Ed

      @waterman, Prayer does work I have had some answered and if nothing else it makes you feel better

      October 31, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Einstürzende Neubauten

      @Ed
      I am glad you feel better, but prayer does nothing else, except give me the creeps.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Ed

      @Einstürzende Neubauten, sorry it gives you the creeps but I don't think I can help with that. I had a friend who was very ill it looked like he would die. The doctors using medical science didn't think he would live another year. his friends and family prayed for him and it took time but he got better. Now I admit I can not prove the prayer helped, but you can not prove it didn't. If nothing else it helped him and his family have a more positive outlook and that may have helped him heal. I chose to beleive. Albert Einstien said, "you can look at everything in life as if it is a miracle or nothing is." The choice is yours.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • hippypoet

      ed, having a positive at!itude and friends that care helpped him. they gave him a reason to live – much like the stories of the very very old and sick in a coma that won't die until they get seen by a loved one... these are all basically the same story, loved ones give reasons to live....prayer is just a form of showing that you care. It had a lot to do with his recovery but the fact that it was prayer didn't!

      October 31, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      My daughter was raised with pagan virtues and she does not practice witch craft or anything of the sort. She honor's the five elements-earth, wind, fire, sun and water-the things that seem natural to most life. When her sister passed away the ceremony was done as a pagan ceremony...no prayer just lots of love and support...people were given the opportunity to speak and he heard...very laid back and officiated by a pagan priestess.
      I am an Atheist but my daughter's father is pagan. I agreed to a pagan ceremony to keep the peace and out of respect for my ex.
      I believe christians have an issue with paganism because it does not follow one god per say...they worship the earth and all that the earth has to give us (thus the reasoning behind winter solstice/spring solstice; etc). Christians tend to forget that Christmas was once a pagan holiday stolen from them; Easter is another one stolen by the christians.
      This is my opinion but I'd rather see someone worship something real (ie; the earth) than something that has never been evidenced to exist (ie; the christian god).

      October 31, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      @Ed
      You said it yourself, you can't prove it. You are the one that said it. The burden of proof is on you not me. Creepy!!

      October 31, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • Einstürzende Neubauten

      I never said I believed in prayer, so what in the world would I be trying to prove? You make no sense.

      October 31, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • Ed

      @hippypoet, "but the fact that it was prayer didn't"

      everything else you said is without a doubt correct. But this statement can you truely be sure the fact that is was prayer did not help?

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

      @Alien I have no burden of proof and offer no offer the choice to beleive or not beleive is yours. I chose to beleive everyong else should make their own choice either way.

      October 31, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • Ed

      @Alien btw why creepy?

      October 31, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      Careful, folks. Ed will be calling you a git if you try to counter him. Then he'll go all ad hominem again. Just wait.

      October 31, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Ed

      @Einstürzende Neubauten
      I never said you had anything to prove the string was started when watermen said prayer does not help. I gave an example of were it did, nothing more. I commented that it helped you said it gave you the creeps. Why?

      October 31, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Ed

      @Truthprevails, I'm sorry for your lose, Most Christian I know don't have a issue with the Pagan faiths. A few do but most of us respect their right to beleive as they wish.

      October 31, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • Wes

      Ed has lastworditis.

      October 31, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      @Ed
      Prayer gives me the creeps because you are talking to you imaginary friend and would better suited for an asylum than walking around on the loose. You also said somewhere in there, ", but you can not prove it didn't." I don't have to. You are arguing that prayer "does" something. It doesn't. And I totally agree with everything hippy said.

      October 31, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
    • Einstürzende Neubauten

      I agree with the Alien Hole.

      October 31, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • Ed

      @Alien you said you agree with everything Hippy said but that prayer didn't help. But Hippy admitted that the prayer because in the case of my example showed my friend he was care for and helped give him a reason to leave so it did help. He added that it was not because it was prayer that it helped it helped becasue it showed he was cared for. Hippy may be right. I think it was both I may be right. we both could be wrong. I didn't ask you to prove prayer did nothing I simply said you couldn't. Its your opnion it does nothing. That fine you have a right to your opinon. I disagree, Because I disagree you say I hould be in an asylum. Very respectful of someones else's freedom of relegion. If you pray we'll lock you away. As I said it is your right to chose to believe prayer helps or not you've made your choice. I respect that

      October 31, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      @wes
      You were right LOL, Ed has to have the last word. He didn't even say anything new, just had to be last. Oops... uh oh, now I am last....what will Ed do?

      October 31, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
  8. hippypoet

    omg if your a pagan and oct 31 means anything to you then you clear don't understand the holiday for it has nothing to do with the date october 31...never did and never will, execpt by those too stupid to know any better!

    October 31, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Reverend Greenhat

      As a pagan, Samhain is the harvest festival end, which (according to the tradition you follow (much like Christianity, Paganism is made up of hundreds of religions)) would either fall on the first frost, or on the cross quarter between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice, however holidays are hard to always prepare for, especially for us urban dwelling pagans, so since it fell close to Halloween, it was decided to be then to as many could participate. Religions throughout the ages have done this, ever wonder why Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the Spring Equinox? That doesn't sound like a very Christian way to pick a date to have a holiday, does it?

      October 31, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  9. B-Man

    Although the Pagan belief does recognize this day as their New Year and the veil between the living and the dead are the "thinest" the purpose of the costumes, i believe, was left out. The purpose of the costumes is so that the living would scare the dead away should the veil be breached. Going door to door really is a "payment" more or less in that your are paying those at the door to move on by giving candy. Kinda the same scenario of those who believe Vampires exist and in order for a Vampire to enter a residence is to be invited...

    October 31, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Father O'blivion

      Let the Right One In

      October 31, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  10. Kelley

    I am Catholic. I believe what Jesus said...love one another...I accept any person who will accept me. Wether you are catholic, atheist, pagan...we live in this world together...straight, gay, bi...accept those around you...it makes life so much better....black,white,brown....who cares what he is or she is? In the end were all dust....make the best of your life, experience new customs, people, traditions...makes for a much more exciting and full life.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Father O'blivion

      Kelley darlin' you are far too sweet to fit in with the Catholics.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Josh

      If you truly act as you say...you are one in a million, and if all Christians/Catholics were like you the world would be a better place

      October 31, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Father O'blivion

      Amen Joshy my boy, Amen.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  11. Beatrice

    I don't care how people will respond to this. I will not be reading but I will say" This is the most pagan country in the world. This country celebrates "everything" in the book. From Halloween, to Easter to Valentines, to Christmas, etc, etc. The comercialize world sits right here. The spending goes on and on. What is sad is that every single month there is a holiday to go around. Dog holiday, grandfather holiday, secretary, boss, etc etc etc. Everything just to make a buck and spend the dollar. Without naming the immorality that exists in Hollywood. (Just read the Kardash..girl divorcing afte 72 days in a marriage, the Lohan, the Britney. And they export all this stupidity to the rest of the world.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Father O'blivion

      Then why is so damn hard to get a day off??

      October 31, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  12. cnnsucks

    Figures CNN makes its only Halloween article about Pagans instead of children having fun dressing up getting candy.

    Man CNN SUCKS, you libs are worthless.!

    October 31, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Joe

      You do realize The Belief Blog is a collection of articles about belief systems right? It has little to do with candy.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Igor

      At least they didn't report on Jesusween.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Father O'blivion

      @cnnsucks
      Uh....BELIEF BLOG idiot. You are in the wrong area.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  13. Glades2

    I've not been the best Catholic Christian, but even I have heard of the 3 children at Fatmia Portugal, and how in 1917 the Mother of Jesus Christ was permitted to show them a glimpse of hell as a warning to the world for repentance. As the children said, they were terrified at even a momentary sight of what awaits those who continue to defy God – God does not send anyone to hell but for their own defiance of Him. I've spiritually crossed the line more than a few times over the past 20 years and know what kind of spiritual and physical damage that did to me, and know from what I speak – evil is evil and the one responsible for evil seeks to destroy those who choose to follow him into enternal torment! I thank the Lord that He has given me a second chance, though as He knows the suffering done to my life has been terrible. As for this day of "celebration", as the Bible says, the day is a creation of God and solely belongs to Him and that is what I celebrate, not the day mentioned in the article (see Psalms 118:24)...

    October 31, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Joe

      You think that's bad? I watched this movie where these people went into lab where they were testing animals and they tried to let all of the monkeys free. One of the monkeys bit someone and the next thing you knew there was just one guy wandering the streets of London in a hospital robe. Everyone he met tried to eat him until he met these two people living in a convenience store in the subways. The moral of the story is that the future is grim and filled with zombie like people trying to eat you...oh and don't ever get a drop of blood from one of them on you.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Really

      "evil is evil "

      Really? Because based on your book a person who is loving, empathetic, giving, sweet, kind, gentle and has only shown love to the world will go to hell for choosing NOT to believe in your tyrant of a god.

      Your evil is a sick twisted god, who rules his people through fear, love me or suffer the consequences! ! That is not love, that is a tyrant.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Igor

      If veracity of an incredible belief is to be judged by a story told by 3 kids 100 years ago, then you just won the internets. My 9 year old and his friend swore they saw an elf that told them something bad was going to happen. A month later he broke his arm. Certainly now I need to sweep for elfs bearing bad news.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Father O'blivion

      I saw this movie where this lady got bit by a wasp and then turned into a giant wasp-headed killing machine! Man.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • Fookin' Prawn

      I heard about that one time when there was a grilled cheese sandwich with the image of the Virgin Mary on it.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Father O'Blivion
      I think that is prophesied in the Book of Revelation.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Igor
      Elves are fairy tales and you know it.
      Vocalizing incendiary foliage we know to be true, however.
      The Bible says so before the bit about a 7 headed dragon that spews torrents of water, but after the part with the talking snake and magic apple.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Father O'blivion

      @doc
      Well there it is then. See, that is why you should not pi-ss off a witch, what with their magic apples and sleeping spells and what not.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  14. Wow!

    Excellent article! Thanks to CNN for a well researched, non biased article. Love it!

    October 31, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  15. Funny

    Sounds like all those parties at stone henge have come full circle. Can you pray to those things or do you have to kill a cat first to get their attention?

    October 31, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Michael

      So, you only believe in magic when it's practiced by a man named Jesus, huh?

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

      Or Houdini, unless that was the second of coming of Jesus we just missed.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Funny

      You cut me deep shrek! you cut me deep!

      October 31, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Cut me mick! I can't see can't open my eye...

      October 31, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  16. cyberCMDR

    Religions basically involve a lot of hand waving about how beliefs line up (or fail to line up) with reality. When it seems to work, God answered our prayers. When it doesn't, it wasn't God's will. I could pray to a tree and get about the same batting average, but believers only count the times it seems to work and forget/ignore the times it doesn't. This selective viewpoint then only reinforces the delusion, and keeps people convinced. If you really want to understand this universe, study science. It is designed to continually test itself against new facts, so that erroneous ideas get weeded out. Fundamentalists hate this because science points out the facts they want to ignore.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  17. Thomas

    I am a bit surprised that you disregard the billion plus other pagans out there and define paganism to be equivalent with neo-paganism. There are a lot of religions out there that are pagan; but have nothing to do with neo-paganism.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  18. lacoaster

    +1

    October 31, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  19. eyeson

    CNN=Christ Not Needed I love Jesus Christ. I want to live and love as he did.

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

      Excuse me, but your Christ would have loved his neighbors whether or not he could convert them.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      No I believe it stands for "Cable News Network" but that was a very good try. Don't give up ok?

      October 31, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • eyeson

      That is what I believe. We should get together and get a cup of coffee.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • eyeson

      Hi Sheik Yerbouti. Salutations from Cali!

      October 31, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • eyeson

      Jesus commanded that we all love each other. It's not my fault if some people fail to do that. I still can make that happen despite what others do.

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

      eyeson
      "Salutations from Cali!"

      You live in Colombia?!

      October 31, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Rick

      Disappear for 18 years and then wander around the desert with a bunch of guys

      October 31, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  20. Jessica

    As much as I am open to different things and non judgmental of anyone's religious freedoms...I find it interesting that some people find this such a gray area. Deuteronomy clear states the following in Chapter 18:9-13.

    9 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD; because of these same detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. 13 You must be blameless before the LORD your God.

    I don't think Christians mistakenly seem to think this is devil worship, i don't think Pagans worship Satan however they aren't worshiping God almighty which is cause for concern based on the quoted verse. It isn't a gray area. The Bible says no. You don't have to believe the Bible...but saying it is dramatic or wrong to view Paganism as 'wrong'. isn't wrong at all, its exactly what the bible says about it to stay away from it.

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

      Jessica not everyone adheres to a book written by men thousands of years ago about an invisible man in the sky,

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

      Your standard for accepting other faith's is a passage in your faith denouncing them?

      Have you ever heard of a 'fallacy'?

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

      You're an open minded individual. You are not judgmental of other people's beliefs as long as their beliefs are the same as yours.

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

      This does not sound like an open mind to me - the open mind would say live and let live - believe or don't believe - let's just agree to coexist in peace. The open mind would not quote scripture or use this kind if didactic approach to an article that was entirely open-minded.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Sheik Yerbouti

      Sorry Jessica, I must of used that Deuteronomy part for T.P. I ran out earlier and borrowed Christine's bible.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • LadyLina

      Jessica, please look up where these things came from on religious tolerance (dot) org. They have been translated and translated and translated again, and were never meant to mean 'Witches".

      October 31, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Igor

      "Jessica, please look up where these things came from on religious tolerance (dot) org. They have been translated and translated and translated again, and were never meant to mean 'Witches"."

      You mean Jessica's bible wasn't written in English and she doesn't speak Greek or Hebrew? Who knew.

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

      YOUR Bible says no. Based on historical study and understanding of the history of world religions, I consider your Bible to be yet another fable, mixed with tiny scraps of fact, sprinklings of culturally-based protocols, and mythology from other religions. Therefore, WHO CARES if YOUR Bible says no? You might as well tell me that you read it in the Odyssey or Plato's Republic or Mother Goose.

      You practice your beliefs, and we'll leave you alone. Just don't expect anyone to go against THEIR beliefs just because your storybook says so.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • beelzabarber

      "I don't pass judgement...but MY book doesnt recognize those others so they are wrong". Typical Christian. You don't even realize what you are saying. Until God/Jesus/Buddha, whoever actually shows their face and can prove it, you are no more right than anybody.

      October 31, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • Wolf

      In the event you have not been informed or figured it out on your own...the Bible as you know it was not only originally written by men, but further modified at least twice historically in order to make it 'more fit' with the ideologies of those in power. Furthermore, dates were moved in the attempt to squash the attention other religions paid their own holidays and take all eyes toward Christianity. Quite technically, you choose to believe a lie that was told to cover another lie then moved to block an entire group of people that were doing no harm to Christianity or their misguidance, but simply following their hearts in a direction that was not the same. Faith is a widely used term that has little meaning anymore, seeing as people seem to believe just about anything they read...however, ignorance is their downfall and shall be that of all who trust blindly in something that offers no current honesty.
      That said, I do believe Christianity started with a good purpose. However, you may wish to do more research than simply reading an edition (yes, it is an 'edition' as in 'edited' or 'changed') of the Bible and claiming you are aware of all there is to know about religion. I have personally studied over a dozen in attempt to understand and they, singularly or collectively, only make sense when removing the human element or accepting that the changes that were made were to make the powerful more powerful (this, of course, mostly applies to mainstream religions).

      October 31, 2011 at 4:38 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.