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CHLow: Dark/Light Neopaganism

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.pagan,talk.religion.misc,alt.religion.christian,alt.satanism
From: (Felis Uncia)
Subject: Re: CHLow: Dark/Light Neopaganism (Was Re: Dark roygbiv Light)
Date: Fri, 29 Dec 1995 05:03:33 GMT

nagasiva ( wrote:
: [from alt.pagan.magick: Clifford Low ]

: In article <4bce2j$> Lorax/TOKUS,
: writes:

: >Neopagans, on the whole (especially those with any experience) tend to
: >reject the moral notions of 'good' and 'evil'.  Neopagans are painted
: >into the 'evil' side of conservative Christian moralisms *regardless*
: >of whether Satanism (by any form) is included within it.  In fact, most
: >conservative Christians define 'Satanism' to be anything that is not
: >their own religion.  So what?  Neopaganism does not take Christianity
: >as its guide for definitions, and the two religious movements are not
: >even completely separate (as many Christian Witches or Christ-worshipping
: >pagans will attest).

I have to disagree concerning one element of this statement.  Neopagans 
frequently do _not_ reject the moral notions of 'good and evil', but 
embrace them wholeheartedly, albeit in a slightly altered and/or 
relabeled form.  The (rather meaningless) phrase "for the good of all" is 
frequently used in Neopagan ritual as an attempt to avoid the 
possibillity of doing 'harm' or 'ill'.  This, IMO, is indicative of a 
general acceptance of the 'good/evil' dualism inherent in Christianity.  
Lip service may be paid to 'the darker aspects', or 'death as a part of 
life', but it is my experience that Neopagans, in general, are _not_ 
comfortable with such issues, and prefer to avoid them, entirely if 
possible.  (e.g., the dearth of Pagan funerals, although we _are_ 
beginning to see a few these days.)

: The bottom line is that Satanism and Neopaganism have strong links
: relating to the concept of evil. Neither accept the Christian definition
: of evil, nor do they identify with it unquestioningly. Both identify with
: some things Christianity considers wicked, but not others. They have self
: created systems of value which are geared towards plutting humans in the
: most empowering position, and seek to reverse the abuses of religion.
: Both are supposed revisions of past religions which included barbarous
: qualities; these qualities are looked at fondly, but are not considered
: desirable for people who today want to avoid persecution and jail time. 

Nits aside, that would seem to be an accurate summation, yes.

: Satanism makes a better effort at negating the Christian perspective in
: the individual. 

Is negation necessarily prefferable to modification?

: In far too many cases, Neopagans are reinventing Christianity, by 
: giving it more lattitude and gelding Jesus and the Saints, turning them 
: into dead gods which cannot harm and, well, in my opinion, do anything 
: else very well either. 

Dead Gods?  No, I think not.  'Gentled'?  (i.e., 'gelded') Without 
question.  The Neopagan community (with exceptions,) has decided it prefers 
its Gods tame, adorable, and non-threatening.  Frequently they are remade 
into lovable, cartoon-like characters.  The Neopagans have, in fact, 
pretty much set themselves above their Gods, and choose to dictate what 
these Gods may or may not do, and set standards of proper interaction for 
them, (i.e., create kinder, gentler, safer deities,) while superficially 
claiming to stand in awe of them and serve them unquestioningly.  The 
Gods of the Neopagans are used to fetch and carry (love, prosperity, 
'protection', and all manner of desirable things), provide emotional 
support to distraught Neopagans, and provide both justification ("I had 
to do it.  The LADY told me to.  Therefore, you can't criticize me.") and 
convenient scapegoats (from "Coyote _made_ me do it" to "I left it up to 
the Gods as to whether the spell would work or not, so if someone's 
pissed about it, they have to be pissed at the Gods, _not_ me.") for 
their behaviour.  They are frequently treated more as pets than 
Superhumans.  This may be, in large part, why they're 'kept alive' so to 

: Satanism reverses the Christian system and stands it on it's head in 
: some respects- the individual frees themself from the JudeoChristian 
: system because both sides seem absurd. The religion which is used from 
: that point forward may be superficially inverse JudeoChristian, but 
: it's content (ideally) is paganic- possibly more paganic, earthy, 
: practical and healthy than what paganism offers.

From what I've seen of modern Satanism, it would seem to be hardly less 
stodgy than Neopaganism.  OTOH, it may be somewhat more honest, depending 
upon the practitioner.  (I've seen several Satanists cop to 'using' 
Satan, as it were, but few Neopagans (including the ones most obviously 
doing so).  [I'll be pilloried for this, naturally, but I _do_ think my 
comments on the matter are far more accurate than I'd like them to be.]

: Thus, it can be argued that Neopaganism is simply a watered-down version
: of Satanism. I think there is a lot of truth to that statement.

Hm.  Pretzels.  Given the drift of both religions toward structure and 
dogmatization, along with using a comparison to Christianity as the 
measurement for many of their core beliefs, it could be argued that both are 
attempts at revised Christianity (i.e. 'watered-down' versions) as well.  
I'm not certain either statement is necessarily correct.  I would, 
however, agree that they seem to share many of the same goals, and that 
Satanism is, at least superficially, the more extreme of the two.

: ># Here's the trap.  If pagan's include satanism as part of the pagan
: ># spectrum, then, by association, we must also include Christianity.  
: >
: >I don't agree, though I see your reasoning.  Christianity is a huge
: >religious edifice which preceded Neopaganism and thus could not be
: >contained within it.  Satanism (esp of a more organized and non-
: >Christian sort) could easily fit within Neopaganism if the styles
: >of worship or common values remained true.  There are too many
: >differing values promoted by the Christian community at present to
: >reconcile it with Neopaganism (nature, sexuality, ethics, etc.).

: Many neopagans revere beings who Christian consider Satan or demons in
: disguise, such as Pan, Astarte, & Lilith. Actually, Lilith was always a
: demon, so any pagans revering her are demon worshippers, while Satanists
: generally are not.

  That'll make them spit their morning coffee, for certain.  ;)

Where _does_ baphomet fall into this, anyhow?  Simply curious....

: Satan is a mythic figure just like any other. If you include him, you
: don't automatically become a Satanist. You can include Erzulie without
: being a Voudonist, nor a Catholic. And so on.

Excellent point.  Dianic Wiccans frequently exclude the Wiccan Horned 
God, but are acccepted as Wiccan, nontheless.

: ># In order for satanism to be, it needs its adversary, Christ; without
: ># Christ, Satan as an entity looses meaning and becomes a two
: ># dimensional figure, looses the adverserial aspect, and concepts such
: ># as Hell becomes absurd and needless.  Therefore, for satanism to
: ># remain satanism, it must have christ as part of its process.  

: See Karl's statement. Also, Satan is in religions other than
: Christianity- Judaism, Islam and the Yoruban-syncretic religions as Exu.
: The dualism is much harder to argue there, or at least much different.

I'd be interested in reading more on this.  Might you care to expound?

: ># ...the Dark cannot, from  a pagan expression, be stanistic.  
: >
: >That would depend entirely what you mean by 'satanistic'.  Given your
: >previously ideas on this, I agree with you, yet I think you'd better 
: >open your eyes.

: For Satanists, Mr. Scary Bad Guy (Satan) is the Darkness given form. He
: is not necessarily malign. Christianity thinks the darkness is malign.

Rather similar to the Neopagan view of the Horned God as lord of death, 
'wild things' (e.g., one's "animal" nature,) and the unknown (abyss?).  
(ObAP - Yes, I _know_ these opinions are not universal.  They _are_ 
fairly common, nontheless.)  

: They also think the world was created in seven days and that the sun
: rotates around the earth. Silly lemmings.

Oh, indeed.  Our Neopagan worldview is _much_ more sensible.  *giggle!*

: >Well, this is the common notion and I think it is a leftover from your
: >(admitted) Christian upbringing.  It results in stupidity like 
: >'black/harmful' and 'white/beneficent' magick.  When paired with 
: >morality and ethics, this is harmful to us all.

: I am working on a system which focuses on white, black, red, blue,
: yellow, green, orange, and purple energies/spiritualities/magics as
: equals. It seems to encompass the diversity of coherent spiritualities
: out there better than black and white. It's a system to simplify the
: reality, which is that the coherent spiritual varieties are vast in
: number, if not innumerable.

When might we expect to hear more on this?  I'm fascinated.

: >Here is your fundamental and leftover bias as I see it:
: >
: >
: >I think you may wish to get over it.

: What about gods of war, like Tyr and Athena? Guess they're evil. 

Er no.  They're Gods, which makes it all justified.  You see, they're 
_reallly_ just clearing away that which has to be cleared to provide for 
new growth, so you see, it's all _really_ positive, and not harmful at 
all, except to those that are mamed and die horribly, but that's probably 
due more to bad Karma on their part than anything else, so they probably 
deserve it, but it's all about growth and rebirth, really, and has 
nothing at all to do with evil or darkness.  That's just nonsense for 
Christians and simpletons....  *Retch.*

Neopagan pretzels, anyone?

OTOH, I've seen this sort of rationalization engaged in by 
self-proclaimed Satanists, in order to assert that Satan isn't evil at 
all, just a rebel, but the _good_ kind of rebel, who only has the best 
interests of all in mind....

Seems none of us care for the pettyness, falibillity and egoism 
traditionally found in pantheons before the Christians gave us their 
omnicient, omnipotent, all-compassionate tyrant.

: I am pro scary destruction. 

Destruction _is_ scary, especially when it's coming at _you_.

: It tends to make the folks who can't deal with real life and real 
: spirituality reach for their clawless toothless child-proof-cap not 
: really real like you and me real teddy bear "gods"...

On the contrary.  Teddy bear Gods _are_ a way of dealing with life.  It's 
called, among other things, "denial".

: and procede to make utter fools of themselves.

*shrug*  Who doesn't?

: -CHL

---Ounce (Felis uncia)

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