From the Llewellyn Magick Blog, February 29, 2016:
So when it rains it pours—even if it’s raining fire and brimstone! Just a few months ago, at the Florida Pagan Gathering, I gave one of the most unique lectures I have ever given. It was called, “Why are Satan, Hell, and Demons in the Grimoires?” […]
It was, hands-down, my most well-attended lecture in some time, and everyone had a blast. We explored subject matter that is usually considered entirely taboo, even for Pagans (maybe especially for Pagans—read on), yet the entire crowd was engaged and eager to learn the obscure history of chthonic occultism. […]
Apparently, it was simply time to Satan in the Neopagan communities—and Satan it has! First, we have this bold article written by Pat Mosley, asking whether or not Satan should be invited (back??) into modern Paganism. It has created something of a storm; in part via a bunch of blog responses (either for or against) such as this one, this one, and even this guy over here (though he’s always going on about this very subject). And, perhaps it is needless to say, it has also created a ton of quite emotional comments and responses.
You should certainly go read Mr. Mosley’s article, but I can sum up his argument here: The figure of Satan is not purely a Christian invention, it is merely their version of the Pagan Horned God (drawn largely from imagery associated with Pan, and I’ll add drawn from Hades as well). He also points out that Satanists and Pagans haven’t always been at odds with one another, and in fact once freely associated—that is, until Neopaganism became a growing public movement, and it became necessary to distance ourselves from Satanism and any kind of satanic imagery. In 1974, the (now-defunct) Council of American Witches published their Principles of Wiccan Belief that states: “We do not accept the concept of absolute evil, nor do we worship any entity known as ‘Satan’ or ‘the Devil,’ as defined by Christian tradition.”
He points out (rightly so) that many Pagans took the low-road during the dark days of the “Satanic Panic” (a period in the 1970s and 80s where perfectly grown people believed, en mass, that Satanists had established child abuse rings in day care centers around the entire globe). Satanists are easy targets for accusations of crime, and of course any wannabe occultist who kills someone and gets caught is proclaimed a Satanist. And while the Satanic Panic was in full swing (and, really, even before and afterward), Neopagans have been quick to declare “We aren’t those dirty evil Satanists! That’s them over there! Get em!” It is a part of our history that should rightfully make all Pagans ashamed, because Satanists have never been what Christians or the media pretends they are. We should be pointing that out, instead of pointing fingers.
Yet, as Mosley also rightly points out, it was probably necessary to distance Wicca and Neopaganism from Satanism in the public eye, especially when the feces was flying over “Satanic ritual abuse.” Jobs, homes, and families were being lost or broken over Paganism and witchcraft—even as late as the 1990s. You all have The Craft, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and, most especially, Harry Potter to thank for the fact that you can (in most places) safely wear your Pentagram in public and call yourself a Witch. In previous decades, that simply wasn’t the case. Even I once lost a job because someone saw my Pentagram and decided they didn’t like it—and that was many years after the Satanism thing had been forgotten.
So, here we are in the post-Potter future, and Mr. Mosley wants to know if it’s really necessary to distance ourselves from Satan and Satanism any longer.