Archive for the ‘wicca’ Tag

Llewellyn Magick Blog: Satan and Paganism – Should Wicca Go To Hell?   4 comments

Greetings Readers!

 

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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.

 

Read the Rest at:  http://www.llewellyn.com/blog/2016/02/satan-and-paganism-should-wicca-go-to-hell/

Posted March 2, 2016 by kheph777 in llewellyn blog, social commentary

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The WMT and Wicca   9 comments

Greetings fellow Pagans!

I was recently invited to give a lecture on “ceremonial magick” to a local group of second degree Wiccans.  After accepting the invitation, I took some time to consider what direction such a lecture should take.  What about ceremonial magick would interest them, and how could I present it in a manner to which they could relate?

The answer came quickly enough: I would give them a condensed history lesson about the Western Mystery Tradition – covering the development of Hermeticism, the Hebrew and later Christian Qabalah, Rosicrucianism, Masonry, the Golden Dawn and Thelema.  Finally, all of this would culminate in a discussion about the rise of Wicca and its interrelationship with all of the above.

In the lecture, I pointed out the influence of the Golden Dawn in Wicca’s magickal methods – such as circle castings, pentagrams, Watchtower guardians, the four Elements, etc. I discussed the impact of Regardie’s publication of ‘The Golden Dawn’ on mid-twentieth century occultism (Neo-paganism included).  And I even discussed Gerald Gardner’s association with Thelema – drawing much from my old Thelemic Origins of Wicca essay.

Overall, I’d call the event a resounding success, and it looks like I’m going to have to come up with some ideas for a future lecture for the same group.  😉

Meanwhile, in the days since the event I have discovered there is something in the air about this subject.  I just received the latest edition of Hermetic Virtues Magazine, and wouldn’t you know it included a wonderful essay by Peregrin Wildoak entitled The Influence of the Golden Dawn in Wicca.  I have been wanting to write that very essay for many years – but it looks like Peregrin beat me to it, and did it better than I would have done.  😉  I forwarded a copy to the Wiccan priestess who organized my lecture, so she could offer it as “further reading” to her students.  (I also recommend you get a copy of the latest Hermetic Virtues to check it out!)

I sent a message to Peregrin, offering my kudos and asking if he had ever read my Thelemic Origins… essay.  He said he had indeed read it, and even brought it up in a related lecture he had given:  The Influence of Aleister Crowley on the Development of Wicca.  Let me quote his reply here:

Hi Aaron,
thanks for this 🙂

Yes, I read your very interesting article…and politely disagreed with its central thesis in another recent lecture 🙂  Would love a counter argument if you wish 🙂

That certainly piqued my interest.  I doubted he disagreed with my premise of a Thelemic influence upon the development of Wicca.  So I read his essay to find his specific point of dissent.  I discovered a quote from my essay in a section entitled Myth Number 3 – Wicca as an Outer Court to the OTO or a Thelemic Vehicle:

“I’ve come to understand that Gerald Gardner intended from the very beginning for Wicca to be a largely Thelemic system.”

Having read the entire article, I think I understand where Preegrin disagrees with my statement.  The above quote could be taken in one of two ways:  Either I understand Wicca was intended as an organizational Thelemeic  (that is, OTO) vehicle, or that it was a philosophical Thelemic vehicle.

In fact, I meant the latter.  I am not among those who have suspected Wicca was intended as an outer court to the OTO, or even an “OTO for the masses.”  Instead, my view is that Wicca was (to an extent) built upon Thelemic philosophy.

Of course, Peregrin also disagrees with that premise – and to prove it he cites several departures from (or in some cases the absence of) Thelemic philosophy in the Wiccan religion.  And he is correct – such departures and absences do exist, and he does a fine job of pointing them out.

However, to play devil’s advocate, I would also point out that Thelema was intended to be a highly individualized philosophy.  Are not those who dissect the Book of the Law and nit-pick specific points of Thelemic philosophy supposed to be “centers of pestilence”?  Is it not the one cardinal rule of Thelema that one should follow his own True Will no matter what?  Given this nature of the system, I don’t find it so hard to believe that Gerald Gardner felt at liberty to take Wicca in directions that might conflict with any of Crowley’s writings.

Still, I will admit my statement that Wicca was intended as “a Thelemic system” might have been over-stating the case to some extent.  (That essay was one of my earliest pieces, and not an example of my best writing.)  I certainly don’t view Wicca as just Thelema with Neo-pagan overlay.

However, the influence of Thelema and its philosophies upon Gardner cannot be denied.  (Nor, to be fair, does Peregrin attempt to deny them in his essay.)  I see more of Thelema in Wicca than the mere “fleshing out of sparse material” that Gardner claimed it to be.  I believe Gardner’s occultism was heavily Crowley-influenced – first through Crowley’s published writings, then during Gardner’s time with the OTO – and that this formed the foundation upon which Wicca was ultimately constructed. (Much in the manner that Thelema is founded upon Golden Dawn principles, while it is not “Golden Dawn” in and of itself.)

Though, it is true that Gardner was taking Wicca in directions that often left the greater Thelemic system behind, and that Doreen Valiente took it even further afield.  I suspect the apparent disagreement between me and Peregrim Wildoak on this issue is largely one of semantics.

LVX
Aaron

Posted April 3, 2013 by kheph777 in paganism

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