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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. pbsat

    Halloween is pure Pagan tradition and celebrating it is part of their rituals. It goes against principles of Christianity.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Quid Malborg in Plano TX

      ...and the Pagans could really care less what the hard-core, hate-filled, misguided fundie think of them or anybody.

      LVE AND LET LIVE BUT HARM NO OTHER.

      LOVE IS THE LAW – LOVE UNDER WILL.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • LittleLordHoseaComethUntoU2Say

      May peace find you CONservative Christian even if it has to chase you down the street.

      Happy Halloween ...BOO!

      October 31, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • MomOf3

      So don't celebrate it! We don't celebrate yours....

      October 31, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Atheist

      "principles of Christianity"?
      You mean hate and intolerance? Killing in the name of the Lord? Well, sign me up!

      October 31, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  2. someoneelse

    I can't wait for the word 'pagan' to include Christianity 🙂 Of course, we'll have the Virgin Mary, warrior princess, on TV.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Quid Malborg in Plano TX

      What about Festivus?

      FESTIVUS FOR THE REST OF US!!!

      October 31, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Quid Malborg in Plano TX

      My reponse was meant for Alexis, in case anyone was wondering.

      CNN POST FAIL

      October 31, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  3. alexis

    I celebrate all Pagen Holidays... christmas ... easter ... etc etc ... funny how christian conservatives put down anything that is not thier own... yet .. christianity .. took all of their beliefs from other religions... i grew up catholic and then was put in to a baptist church as a teen... and then i started to READ real books and found this whole new world of history... MAN has it all wrong.. no religion is "true" because of man and how easy it is to get different meanings by different people... what ever you follow .. besure to be true to yourself

    October 31, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • LittleLordHoseaComethUntoU2Say

      Both conservative and liberal are a fractured mindset that needs to balance itself, true pagans do not have this issue as they share ALL the possibilities. All of my friends are pagan and have varying religious backgrounds but saw the fallacies and set about on their own accord to seek truth outside of dogma. We have discovered that the path to true enlightenment offers many vehicles that lead to the same destination. If your angry then you are on the wrong path to change your level of being.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Rich

      so, you read other books written by MEN to come to your conclusion? LOL

      I love the argument that by simply reading or learning about a different philosophy or theory it proves the original philosophy or theory you believed to be false. A lot of people claim they got "smart" or found "logic", when in reality they're simply believing what some other person told them. Non-Christians love spouting the word "sheep" at believers, yet they miss the fact that they themselves are often "sheep" to their own ideology or beliefs. So much hatred towards Christians while calling them hateful. Hypocrisy! =)

      October 31, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • parvo

      "so, you read other books written by MEN to come to your conclusion? LOL"

      Who do you think wrote the Bible? Jesus?

      October 31, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Quid Malborg in Plano TX

      ******************************************

      What about Festivus?

      FESTIVUS FOR THE REST OF US!!!

      *****************************************

      October 31, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Rich

      @parvo

      The irony is lost on you. You misunderstood the correlation of how other books written by men turned him away from God.

      Was the Bible written by Jesus? No.
      Was the Bible written by men? Yes.....divinely inspired men.

      I don't expect you to believe that, and don't expect you to take it seriously at all. And that's the beauty of free will and free choice. Your beliefs are your own.

      Although, I do find it funny when intollerant folks like you ignore most intelligent discussion and focus on silly assumptions and attempts at wit. ;P

      October 31, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Yo

      "Was the Bible written by men? Yes.....divinely inspired men."

      Really how do you know they were divinely inspired men? Thank you Mithra!

      October 31, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  4. sargeanton

    I don't think these people are any worse than others - just more gullible. Dead people never communicate with anyone on earth. However, demons have an absolute blast impersonating dead people in order to keep living people clinging to their error. Even the Bible warns that this is demonism at its cleverest.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • letsgomets2011(and 2012!)

      Oh no they don't communicate, eh???

      I'm from the school that says the dead never really leave us. I can name too many unexplained incidents that have happened in my own house...and in the homes/abodes/lives of others who have lost a loved one.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Seriously?
      It's demons... no it's ghosts... no it's demons...no

      No, It's probably your imagination.

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

      If you don't believe in that bible what is says will have no impact on you ... just like anything.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • parvo

      Gullible... because they believe it's dead people talking.

      Rather than demons. Which, of course, is the TOTALLY logical and feasible alternative. For non-gullible people.

      ...

      One day in the far future, people will study historical religions from a purely scientific standpoint and will laugh/be horrified at the sheer extent of mental illness amongst the world's current population.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Thor

      Which bible?

      October 31, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Atheist

      I love how Christianity feels that every other belief system on the planet, even the ones that pre-date Christianity by thousands of years, are simply their Christian "demons" fooling the gullible. How very arrogant. Small wonder people are fleeing that mindset.

      October 31, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Satan

      "Hi, I'm your aunt Meg! Worship me! Er, I mean....heh heh.....so, howya been since I died?"

      October 31, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
  5. letsgomets2011(and 2012!)

    Gotta loive the Wiccan/Pagan holidays....not full of commercialized junk and holidays that celebrate nature.

    Blessed Samhein to those who are celebrating in the Northerm Hemisphere; Happy Beltane to those south of the Equator. So mote it be!

    October 31, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  6. Thor

    The only true, verifiable religion is science. Every assumption that the Church and her subordinate churches (baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, etc...) are slowly being proven wrong or deceptive. From the Great Flood to the Shroud of Turin... all disproven by science and determined not so holy pieces of "evidence". The list grows, and when the Church begins to teach the real teachings of science, that we are all on this microdot of life together and must work at any endeavor to learn and dispell ignorance.... then, and only then will we stop wasting our minds and times with gods and burning bushes, and spirits of nature.... and stick to the facts.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • alexis

      i agree with you 100%... but until religion is no long a multi-BILLION dollar scheme... there is no hope...

      October 31, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • sargeanton

      Someday you're going to find out (probably too late) that "science" has been lying to you - especially about evolution, a ridiculous, fantastic scheme for getting rid of the Bible. Every honest scientist today knows FINALLY (through advances in gentic studies) that evolution is impossible. If Darwin were trying to sell his deal for the first time in 20ll, he'd be laughed out of the scientific community. And, by the way, the Biblical flood is the only answer for lost continents and fish fossils on top of the Himalayas. As for the shroud of Turin...you got one out of three right. Of course, it's a fake. The Bible says that Christ was wrapped in TWO separate pieces...not just one.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • Thor

      I always am intrigued by a "factual" article that contains the words....."...everybody knows...." If "everybody" knows, then, why do we need to teach?

      October 31, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Thor

      Sorry.... not "everybody" but..... " ...every scientist knows...." Oh... and yes, let's just forget to find out how those pesky little creatures wound up on the top of the mountains.... let's just be lazy, and assume they were put there by a magical flood!

      October 31, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Thor

      I DO wonder though, which bible? The King James, the International, the Standard, the Dewey, ... or perhaps the Toran, the Koran.....? Should we "get rid" of one by popular vote? Maybe the exhalted Dahli Lama can help? ...the Pope? the Wiccans?

      Thank you for letting me just be myself and you believe in your ghosts and I shall just deal with my demons!

      October 31, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Phillip McGill

      Yes, the "facts" that continue to change in the RELIGION (this part is true, apparently for individuals such as yourself) of science itself. Which cannot manage to figure out whether or not something as mundane as eating eggs is healthful or harmful. I forget, which is it now? Oh well, give it six months, it'll change. Don't be mistaken, I also have the utmost respect, admiration, and appreciation for the pursuit of unadulterated knowledge, which is what science is in its purest form. Or at least it once was. I simply have problems with the reasoning of individuals who think that they are the only ones in possession of this thing called "logic" and in turn believe that they have every right to openly castigate anyone else that doesn't think the same way.

      October 31, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
  7. Believer

    My brother was wiccan for many years... that is, until he faced his own end and realized that this was a religion of no hope beyond death. Thank God he was able to renew his relationship with Yeshua before he passed away. I have no doubt that he has met his Savior face-to-face and is enjoying eternal life in heaven.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Everything in Moderation

      "and realized that this was a religion of no hope beyond death."

      What part of Wicca did he get that idea from? It isn't so.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Nonimus

      And the friend of a friend of my cousin once liked Pepsi until, on their deathbed, they finally realized that Coke is the one true Cola.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Nominous, how wonderful that he was saved! Coke is the One True Cola. All others are impostors! Devils dressed as cola to subvert them.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • parvo

      "Thank God he was able to renew his relationship with Yeshua before he passed away."

      Ahh, religion of convenience, good stuff. Further proof of religion's roots in mankind's selfish and fickle nature.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Douglas

      I'm pretty sure in this analogy Paganism should be Tab or RC Cola to Christianity's Coke. But maybe I'm overthinking this.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Rich

      Hey parvo.... how would a lack of religion create a better world in which selfishness and "fickle" human behavior are non-existent? I see plenty of Atheists spew hatred and intollerance, not only towards "religious" people, but even towards each other.

      See, so many people with your negative views think that a belief in God is a problem, yet fail to acknowledge the positive aspects of Christianity, focusing only on what some misguided and corrupted individuals have done in the past while using the name of Jesus.

      The fact of the matter is we all sin. Conveniently for you, however, in your mind you don't have to be held accountable for your actions. You can be as hate filled and malicious as you like, but no one can say "Oh there goes another Christian being bad again!".

      October 31, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Atheist

      Gotta love the Last Minute Repent Gambit. According to Christianity, just before they hung up Mussolini, all he would have to do is be like, "Excusi, Christo! Many Pardoni!" And he would wind up having lunch with Jeebus, LOL!

      October 31, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  8. Hashim

    For more on this topic of religious belief systems read the novel – king of Bat'ha

    October 31, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  9. Douglas

    "I've tried 'em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball." - Annie Savoy

    This time of year, all adherents of the Church of Baseball must also acknowledge, not without some regret, that there comes a winter. But it's a time to reflect and study the stats and fill in those last gaps in your Topps 2011 collection, a time to ready for rebirth: Spring Training.

    Blessed MLB

    October 31, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Everything in Moderation

      LOL!

      October 31, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Nonimus

      No Bishops, but praise them Cardinals!! 🙂

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

      People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring. – Rogers Hornsby

      October 31, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  10. Kes

    I wish that reporters on paganism would do a bit more research for articles like these. The recognition of four "elements" which are associated with different aspects of an individual person, for example, is by no means universal. Samhain is only celebrated by neo-Celtic pagans, neo-Wiccans, and Wiccan groups, and while some ancient Celtic groups celebrated it as the New Year that often isn't how Samhain is interpreted by the modern groups which celebrate it. I know this can be a complicated topic for people who aren't very familiar with it, but this article paints paganism with a very, very broad brush. It's the equivalent of saying something like, "Christians believe in Jesus and the Pope, and they practice immersion baptism and celebrate St. Martin's Day."

    October 31, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • richunix

      Kea@

      Two thousand years ago multiple religions were the cultural norm. The belief in multiple GODs (the word GOD is taken from the 6th century CE Germanic language) was widely accepted and only varied by type (and special abilities) depending the region you lived in. None of the Bible stories were ever PROVEN (BAR NONE) and they were will written long after the events supposedly happened. The only thing that changed was the names used to describe the GODS, from Sumerian times the supreme God was called “An” when have evolved to the current Christian name “YAHWEH”. To make a finer point the only thing that really changed was the “story teller” . Each story teller went to great lengths improve his or her deity to the reader. Also remember they didn’t have much on the burden or nor was proof really a requirement. These writers create wondrous feats of magic that go beyond the basic physical laws of nature. You find the very same Creation (according to the Sumerian) stories written thousand years earlier, only the name has changed to meet the current popular God in use. Of course when any questioned these stories, the same standard answer “God says so” . But yet the same people will question any other believers of different religious sects like the Jehovah Witness and Mormons and then label them as “whack–jobs” , but they fail to see Christians are no different. The major difference is modern man has proven through scientific exam the laws of nature and how man really works and YES we evolved from lower forms of life and YES Apes are our distance cousin (deal with it).

      I’m not interested in changing anyone beliefs, that is for you to decide. If believing in whatever you wish to believe make you feel better about yourself, please continue. But stop with trying to make these stories sound if they are true. No ONE (BAR NONE) has ever seen any God (outside of the occasional burring bush and always alone), parted the Red Sea or the Jewish Sea of Reeds or even a damn pond or have they ever turned anyone to stone, pillar of salt or into your favorite color. If you ever attempt (and a few have) to use any of the stories mention in the bible as a test of scientific theory and then use them in court for defense, by invoking the angel Satan made me do it, or God said so, then who are you to say “He’s lying”, in short mold the fantasy into your reality.

      To finish, I’m very happy with my life and YES I know I’m going to die as it is very much a part of life. I’m not so vain or fearful about what will happen that I need stories to comfort my fears. I know I will live forever, I can see it every day with the next generation and I sigh with relief, that they will make the world a better place. Enjoy your life, do what you can to make it better, don’t live in fear of unknown.

      Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      Atheism is not a religion nor is it a belief.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Nonny Mouse

      Well at least they got the principles of it right, why paganism is seen as evil, etc. It's too much to expect people not involved to know the intricacies of any one path. I'm just happy it was written in a favorable light to us.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Everything in Moderation

      Sorry, but I disagree, richunix. I've got loads of respect for Atheism. In its truest form (meaning, not followed by somebody who is just mad at a god they DO believe in) it is quite intellectually stimulating. But in the end, it is a belief. Concrete proof of absence is just as elusive as concrete proof of existence. Concrete proof of what occurs after death—beyond the physical, or even including it—is also missing. You cannot know until you die, and then you cannot tell the rest of us—except for some fairly flakey people that nobody seriously believes.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Everything in Moderation

      I hear you, Kes, I wince at the elements thing every time. Good comparison, too.

      It's the equivalent of saying something like, "Christians believe in Jesus and the Pope, and they practice immersion baptism and celebrate St. Martin's Day."

      I think I'm going to quote you from time to time.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  11. Peter Dybing

    It is refreshing to see a well written article about Pagans. Many of us tend to pass on the traditional interviews this time of year as "not devil worshiper" fluff pieces. Perhaps CNN is leading the way in a broader and more serious consideration of our beliefs.

    Well Done,

    Peter Dybing
    First Officer Emerita
    Covenant of the Goddess

    October 31, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Bob

      I, too, thank you CNN for this article. Nice to see an article like this.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  12. Frank Airport

    No wonder all the public school teachers asked for the day off.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  13. hippypoet

    christians are in general an ignorant lot – so no worries folks! infact most organized religions have surprising large amounts of ignorant people...weird i know – here we are thinking that christians are smart, tisk tisk right! ON the other hand, the religions of old taught peace between nature and man, unlike today where most people view nature as anything outside, and therefore separate to us. stupid people will never learn. We humans are animals. we are simply able to talk and problem solve – well most of us anyway!

    October 31, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • LittleLordHoseaComethUntoU2Say

      interesting thoughts as I believe man just like animals are here to be constant gardeners to this planet, to supply it with Co2 and return to its soil adding more fertilizer, our own Earth and Sun are our creators.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • hippypoet

      i am glad to see someone has caught on to our true purpose in life on this planet. And you worded it so nicely too. may the light of the sun be upon your face everyday!

      October 31, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  14. David M

    You talk the dead folks if you want to. I'll stick to the living ones. But how is it that I'm ridiculed for talking to a living Jesus, but you are commended for talking to a dead person??

    October 31, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • parvo

      Living Jesus? What?

      October 31, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Bill

      The article mentions pagans are reluctant to self-identify as pagans. This indicates they are not typically commended. On the other hand, I know plenty of Christians who are not reluctant to identify as Christians because there is not a stigma like there is with the pagans. So don't play the martyr here...

      October 31, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Craig

      "You talk to dead people? Ridiculous! Guffaw! Guffaw! I, like all logical thinking men, know that we must telepathically accept a Jewish man who rose from the dead so we may be spared from an eternity of damnation that is our punishment because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat magic fruit!"

      October 31, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Alejandro

      Living Jesus? So I suppose he'll be bringing the wine to go with Thanksgiving dinner?

      Sorry. I don't mean to ridicule, but your comment just proves how narrow-minded your belief system is. You say it's impossible for people to communicate with the dead at Samhain, but you can talk to a guy who's been dead for over 2000 years?

      October 31, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • david Guldseth

      For Parvo,
      You asked about Jesus being alive. He appeared to over 500 people after his death and this was over a period of days to weeks. These witnesses were reliable, trustworthy, sincere people. Also, to understand that he is alive it is helpful to see him working in other people. When you see love, you are seeing Jesus in someone like when, though you can't see the wind, you see the leaves on a tree moving or feel the wind on your skin, you know that wind is real. We know Jesus is alive then because of the testimony of over 500 people, and because we see and feel him in our lives and in the lives of others who have been enlightened. My prayer is that you would open your heart up and ask Jesus to reveal himself to you and live in you too. I hope this is helpful. D

      October 31, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Everything in Moderation

      You fail your religion when you talk of a living Jesus as if he never died. The whole foundation of Christendom is that Jesus did die and then got back up again. Believe in the "feel him in our lives and in the lives of others who have been enlightened" part, by all means. But don't cut your faith in half by pretending it is not tapping into the same mystery as what others believe in their own way.

      You talk to the dead every time you pray to Jesus. The point of all this is that those who have passed through deaths door are not inanimate, be they resurrected god children or uncle George.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Quid Malborg in Plano TX

      Jesus is still alive? Thought he was killed over 1,900 years ago. I believe that makes him even deader than a doornail (not that doornails can ever be said to have been alive). Please seek help for your delusions.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Oh Really?

      So, let me get this straight. You and your lot still don't have any proof of your claims, yet you continue to want to get a refund on something you say you paid for, right? You make claims of your man made god, man made angels, man made devils, man made hell and all that other rot, yet you cannot offer even the slightest bit of evidence to the contrary.

      Let me sell you a bridge from the US to Hawaii. You can have it either two lanes or four lanes.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  15. LittleLordHoseaComethUntoU2Say

    "to Conservative Christian groups, we are an early warning sign of societal collapse." sounds familiar eh? the ONLY christian was nailed to a cross; being of whole mind and spirit he was not a branch ....but a full tree. Conservatism is harmful to everyone on this planet because it houses fear and retribution to those who do not follow. I wish peace on them as peace is the greatest equalizer to the broken mind. On this day of Change I wish for a change of mind to the haters, may peace find you even if it has to chase you down the street. ....and to the rest of us, CELEBRATE LIFE!

    October 31, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • response to little lord

      You have made several false accusations. I am a conservative Christian. I know hundreds of others. We do not hate others but love the. For example, look at the tone of your email about Christians and conservatives like me (slanderous, untrue, dismissive, prideful, unjust, and probably hateful) and look at the tone of my email to you. It is one of love. It is one of trying to help you to realize truth. I will not isolate you and ask others to join me in that intolerance and then to party. I will try to include you. I will try to enlighten you. As conservative Christians, we love others who have not yet come to the knowledge of the truth. We do not ridicule and isolate or belittle. We share truth in humility in the hope that you will join us as we ask forgiveness for our sins and redemption through the Almighty Creator of you and me and this Universe. To know the one that created you and to live into the life that He created you for is truly a wonderful celebration or party–and all are invited. In love and with sincerity and hope that you will give enlightenment in Jesus Christ as chance. D

      October 31, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Everything in Moderation

      Nicely worded (if a little preachy) but you do not represent enough conservative Christians to be able to make statements like, "We do not hate others but love the[m]."

      There are a LOT of conservative Christians making public stands that are incongruous with this statement.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Duh

      "We do not ridicule and isolate or belittle."

      Try telling that nonsense to a gay christian that wants to marry their partner.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  16. jordan

    The Pagan Religion is one of the oldest surviving Western World Religions.It is far older than Christianity and is at least as old as my Jewish Faith.I have some Pagan friends and have been to a Pagan Wedding.I have not met one of these folks who are bad people.They act and have the same dreams and ideals of any other Westerner I have met.

    October 31, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Thor

      "The" Pagan religion? You mean... ummm .... there is only one?

      October 31, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  17. Rainer Braendlein

    http://www.everythingimportant.org/altarOfZeus/

    October 31, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Vulpes

      So you really believe in Satan and that he actually sits there. Great.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • clay

      Well... I believe in Satan, but I don't think he's actually sitting there... Frankly, I don't see the connection between that throne and Satan, someone's probably just trying to prove some point.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Everything in Moderation

      That's a building, not a throne you blind little sheep! They took the darn building (looted it, whole!) when, like most other Victorian to nearly contemporary archeologists performed their duty to steal cultural artifacts from wherever they could. Those steps descend to a court. The frieze all around it were on OTHER buildings.

      Satan's throne! Stop blindly following everything some guy in a pulpit spouts. Do some extra research on your own before just believing nonsense. Heck, go to the Pergamon in Berlin and take one of their little audio boxes through with you. IT will tell you where this came from and what it is.

      Satan's throne…man, some people are gullible.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  18. Mike

    I thought Wiccans were just just D&D dice rollers who just really wished that magic was real.

    October 31, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • LittleLordHoseaComethUntoU2Say

      its a state of being (or mind if your prefer) that opens you up to more possibilities in life.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  19. bachmanntwit

    Teabaggers are the biggest hypocrites. The only thing they love more than the baby jesus is boinking their cousins.

    October 31, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • UhYeaOk

      I see your meth is wearing off, time for another hit there moron....

      October 31, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • bachmanntwit

      UhYeaOk... better hurry back to your doublewide. NASCAR's on.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Everything in Moderation

      bachmanntwit, you are a troll.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Oh Really?

      Boiking their cousins? Uh, there are references where it was father & daughters, brother & sister, etc in the bible.

      So, in some cases you were exactly right.

      I've always heard incest is best. But then again, the church tries to keep it between the sheets.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  20. Rainer Braendlein

    Throne of Satan

    Revelation 2:12-13: "Pergamos, where Satan's Throne is"

    History

    The Pergamon Altar is a massive structure originally built in the 2nd century BC in the Ancient Greek city of Pergamon (today Bergama in Turkey). The temple was dedicated to the greek god Zeus. The Pergamon Altar was shipped out of the Ottoman Empire from the original excavation site by the German archeological team lead by Carl Humann, and reconstructed in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin in the 19th century, where it can be seen alongside other monumental structures such as the Ishtar Gate from Babylon.

    "Since the deified Augustus had not opposed the founding at Pergamus a temple to himself and the city of Rome." – Tacitus Annals Roman Historian

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

      And your point is what?

      October 31, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Bob

      So your'e saying people who didn't believe in Satan built a temple to worship him?

      Okay, go build a temple to Eris. Don't believe in her? Too bad, you have to do it anyway.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:19 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.