Wednesday, May 28, 2008

No Place for Satan

The favorite, and crudest, Fundamentalist accusation against Pagans (and against Witches in particular) is that they worship Satin. It is quite simply not true, and it is astonishing how widely and unthinkingly this blatant lie has been believed.
Worship of the devil would be totally incompatible with the principles of Pagans. Pagans regard evil as an imbalance to be corrected, not as an independant force or entity.
Satan is a creation of Judeo-Christian Dualism, which has replaced the concept of creative polarity with that of good and evil as two independently existing forces at war with each other, instead of regarding evil as a state of imbalance requiring healing action. Dualism has also tended to identify good with the masculine and spirit, and evil with the feminie and with matter.
Jung made a substantial contribution to clear thinking on the levels of the psyche with his definitions of the conscious ego and the personal and collective unconscious, which should be in healthy interaction with each other. Official Christianity, with its fear of the feminie aspect, has always distorted this interaction into a Dualist confrontation between good and evil.
Paganism accepts the jungian view and is grateful to him for providing definitions which make the healthy interaction easier to understand and describe.
Pagans worship the same Ultimate as anyone else, however they may symbolize it. Monotheists, paradoxically, believe in two Ultimates, existing independently and at constant war with each other.
Satanism as a cult is alien to Paganism, which totally rejects it, whatever Fundamentalists and the gutter press claim. It is a negative image of Christianity, and its followers are often merely rejecting their upbringing by a wholesale inversion of parental beliefs, saying "up yours!" to Mom and Dad.
The notorious Black Mass is not a Pagan ritual, it is a Christian heretical blasphemy, a calculated mockery of the Mass by renegade Christians.
We do know of at least one group in Britian which calls itself Satanist, doubtless for initially rebellious reasons, but whose actual practises are above reproach; it will not allow anyone to be harmed, and we find its choice of name unfortunate and misleading. There are also groups which investigate the dark side, with the firm intention of getting natural light and dark in balance, and the names some of them choose may result in their being mistakenly regarded as Satanist.
The Christian image of Satan is a post biblical invention. In the old testament, Satan is a servant of God; his task is to test people's genuineness and ability to resist temptation (the book of Job gives a vivid account of this), and to report back to God accordingly. Not an endearing function, perhaps, but certainly not an evil one. Nor was Satan made into a fallen angel rebelling against his master, until much later.
Horns, throughout the old testament, are not a devilish symbol, but a sign of God given power. This symbol is recalled by the well known Michelangelo statue of Moses in the Vatican, which is equipped with horns.
But during the medieval persecution centuries, the image changed. The church inquistitors knew that Pagans and Witches worshipped a Horned God of Nature, which prompted them to equip Satan with horns so they they could say:
"Witches worship the devil, look, he has the horns to prove it!"
In Christian imagery, Satan is horned to this day, and most people believe mistakenly that he always has been.
Pagans do not believe that Satin exists, so how then can we worship him?
As with Paganism, there are many different forms of Satanism. It is generally accepted that it is divided into two seperate types, Traditional Satanism and Modern Satanism.
The first of these is the traditional anti-Christian Satanist, so loved by Hollywood horror film producers. It is the antithesis of Christianity; holding the notorious Black Mass, profaning all the Christian rites, defiling purity and reading the Lord's Prayer in reverse.
Traditional Satanism was originally a fantasy created by the church to instill fear into the population; later some elements of society adopted it as a rebellion against the Church's harsh laws.
If genuine traditional Satanists do exist, they are very secretive and remain rare.
Another type known as secular humanistic Satanism, is probably the most common, there
most well known orginazation of this category being Anton La Vey's Church of Satan. They do not believe in a personal devil nor in a personal God, but are egocentric in attitude. Their philosophy is devoted to opposing the restrictions and inhibitions forced upon man by the Christian Church.
They hold the Seven Deadly Sins to be virtues rather than vices, and this is echoed in La Vey's Nine Satanic Statements:

1. Satan represents indulgence, instead of abstinence!
2. Satan represents vital existence, instead of sprititual pipe dreams!
3. Satan represents undefiled wisdom, instead of hypocritical self-deceit!
4. Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it, instead of love wasted on ingrates!
5. Satan represents vengeance, instead of turning the other cheek!
6. Satan represents responsibility to the responsible, instead of concern for psychic vampires.
7. Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those who walk on all fours, who, because of his divine spiritual and intellectual development, has become the most vicious animal of all!
8. Satan represents all of those so called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification!
9. Satan has been the best friend the church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years!

We can agree with the ninth statement only; the other eight, apart from being cynical, are all philosophically and theologically flawed.
This form of Satanism remains a rebellion against the church, and only attracts those who are dissatisfied with it. It therefore cannot be considered a true spiritual path.
Recently, Satanic groups like the Church of Satan have been making overtures towards the Pagan movement to support them against Fundamentalist opposition, arguing that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"
We are glad to say that the Pagan movement has rejected this call for alliance; first of all Satanism, whether it likes it or not, has the same theology as Christianity and is not Pagan. It also has a philosophy which is totally alien to Pagan principles, disobeying the Wiccan eithic of "an it harm none".


Princess61470 said...

Very interesting and informative article!