Deities (and Associated Religions) commonly associated with Satan(ism)
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Last Updated: 22 October 2013
Some claim that Christians invented devil worship and the concept of the 'devil'. This is a popular notion amongst Neo-Pagans and LaVey Satanists. However, it is not quite correct, as what they probably mean is the concept of Satan from the Christian New Testament, in effect 'created' the idea of a deity called Satan.
There are numerous references to Satan and the Devil in the New Testament. John 8:44 describes 'Satan' as being the 'father of all lies'. There is some debate as to whether Jesus, being raised in the Jewish faith, and following the books of the Old Testament, believed in a literal, central, evil 'Satan' figure or not. However, the mainstream view is that he did. One can only go by what the gospels say, and they are not 100% consistent in their use of terminology of 'the devil', 'devils' and so on.
The book of Job in the KJV Old Testament mentions 'Satan' in chapters 1 and 2, implying he is an angel or judge. The OT or Tanakh is the central book of Judaism, which is also used by Christians in addition to the New Testament. Judaism was first formed roughly 2000 years before Christ. There is a concept of Satan in Judaism, but not of a Devil. The concept of The Satan (aka HaSaTan or Ha-satan) used in the OT or Torah is in terms of a prosecuting attorney, who is not a deity and has no power unless given by the judge God himself. Ha-satan asks permission from God before he can act. Ha-satan is a servant of God whose job it is to test humankind. References to this role of 'Satan' can be found in the following passages: Job 2:3-6, Zechariah 3:1-2, Psalm 109:6-7 and Isaiah 45:5-7.
The serpent in the Garden of Eden, in the book of Genesis, is regarded by Judaism to be just a snake, albeit one that could talk! The serpent is not equated by Jews to being the 'devil'. It is however often interpreted by Christians as being Satan, although this is never actually stated in the OT. Gnostics regard the serpent as being the Gnostic Goddess Sophia, which Luciferian Gnosticism associates with being Lucifer. Baphomet is a kabbalistic cipher for the Gnostic Goddess Sophia.
Perhaps the myth of the snake being a representation of the devil was enhanced by the legacy of Vlad III, Pinrce of Wallachia, in the 15th Century, aka Vlad the Impaler. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vlad_III
Vlad III was the inspiration for Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula, associating Transylvania with the occult thereafter.
Gnosticism and Neo-Platonism used the concept of an 'evil' creator God, who created an imperfect world full of suffering. This God was in stark contrast to the benevolent and mysterious God, who was the true God. Gnosticism predated Christianity by several hundred years. Neo-Platonism emerged in the 3rd Century AD. Neo-Platonism was a fusion of Eastern mysticism, for example Buddhism, with Platonism.
Zoroastrianism uses the concept of good and evil deities (dualism), and makes a marked break from other religions of the time. One of the popular strains within Zoroastrianism considers (the representation of) evil (Ahriman) to have been a creation of the good God (Ahura Mazda), that subsequently turned from God and became his adversary. Ahriman has close to the same powers as God, and he opposes all of God’s works—truth, justice, beauty, light—with his own distortions—lie, injustice, ugliness, darkness. Zoroastrianism was formed somewhere between 1200 and 1500 BC by the prophet Zoroaster in the area of Afghanistan and Iran.
Islam has a concept of the Devil, known as 'Iblis'. Islam was first founded some 600 years after Christianity. The worship of a single dark God has been going on pre-Christ and pre-Mohammed, e.g. the Gnostic Demiurge, and can be traced to ancient Egypt and Judaism, if not earlier.
It is clear that the Catholic Church had a major influence on the perception of Theistic Satanism and Devil Worshipping in the 15th and 17th Centuries, with the publication of The Witches' Hammer, and the Compendium Maleficarum, which led to widespread fear of devil worshipping in the general population in Europe, fears about what 'devil worshippers' did (e.g. abuse children) and a large number of witch burnings subsequently. It described Satan in the image of the Greek pagan deity Pan (horned, goat-headed, cloven hooven deity). This fear still persists today to a large extent, and people still associate Satanists with child abuse. There is still a perception in the public that anyone involved in the occult is a 'devil worshipper' (in particular Christians), which may or may not literally be true in a spiritual sense. Whilst the number of Satanists involved in child abuse is no doubt extremely small, this activity does exist. However, whether it is statistically equivalent to the numbers of child abusers and paedophile rings of other faiths and inclinations is another matter.
The earliest admissions of Satan worship or Satanism were probably extracted under torture during the Witch Trials. Probably the first instances of actual 'Satanic' literature were Catholic propaganda pieces, of 'Satanic' rituals, in the same way that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was created in 1903 in the Russian Empire, a forgery, purporting to be a manifesto of Jewish global domination, to encourage public feeling and create motivation for a racist backlash. These inverted Catholic rituals were later transformed around the time of the French Revolution into practices of operating magical groups, that were most likely atheistic in nature and aligned with the Enlightenment, free thought and possibly even radical materialism (pre-Ayan Rand, i.e. anti-royalist and religion, and for free market and science). These groups perhaps used them as a form of artistic and anti-religious oppression expression. It is hard to exactly say what these groups were about.
One can view, evil deities in various religions in three different forms. As a 'devil', as described above; as a trickster; and as evil spirits. The examples above (excluding the Judaic view of Satan as a judge of God) are of the former. The latter two types are discussed by a Gerhard Wohlberg.
So, these are the three models: the single devil as God’s main adversary, the trickster, and the multitude of evil spirits. To which one does Hinduism subscribe? The answer is the third one, but with a twist. In Hinduism there is no single devil as there is in the Western monotheistic religions. Since there is no single God, neither can there be a single adversary to God. Instead, there are many evil spirits, but there are also superior evil beings. Indian religions, including Hinduism as well as Buddhism and Jainism, espouse a universe populated by many spirit beings. There are the spirits that live on the lowest rungs of the cosmos in hell; there are the hungry ghosts that roam the earth; there are the many spirits that indwell homes, rice fields, and forests. But then there are also the mighty devil-gods, called the asuras, who have great power.'
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Devil or Devils:
There is some debate and confusion over the concept of the Devil in Christianity. In some parts of the canonical gospels of the New Testament, the text refers to a devil entering into a person. And in some places as a person being 'a devil' - meaning an evil person? Or a person influenced or entered into by the 'devil'? e.g. John 6: 70-71 (KJV) states:
70: Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?
71: He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.
In other parts the text refers to 'devils' in the plural (e.g. Legion), presumably meaning evil spirits or demons in the plural. In other sections the text refers to 'the' devil. This mixed usage of the term 'devil' may confuse the reader. Is the term 'devil' thus taken to mean a demon or evil spirit in one context and the Satan in the next. The usage of 'Satan' in the New Testament appears to refer to the fallen angel Satan rather than just a demon or evil spirit, although one cannot be 100% sure. Satan or 'the devil' is often used to refer to evil spirits in general who are assumed by some to be under the 'command' of a central evil entity or demon or fallen angel.
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In Revelations, references are made to a beast or beasts. Some interpreters have linked this 'beast' in Revelations with a variety of historical figures, e.g. the Roman Emperor Nero, the Roman Emperor Caligula and even the Pope Benedict.
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Judaism, and the Old Testament uses the concept of fallen angels, but relies on them to a much lesser extent than the New Testament. In Judaism, only human kind have freewill, no other creature has the ability to differentiate between good and evil and to make a choice on what path to go. Angels are said to have no freewill but are sent to earth to perform a single task.
Judaism does have an angelology that includes angels and what one might term 'demons'. However, they are reputed to be extensions of God's will. The angels (and especially demons) are a much, much smaller part of Jewish theology than in the Christian tradition. The purpose of the demons, which are delineated only in Kabbalistic texts, is an attempt to understand the nature of evil. They supposedly come out of, rather than cause, evil. In Judaism there is therefore no need to cast out of demons or the concept of demonic possession.
Kabballistic texts such as the Zohar mention fallen or 'evil' angels. The notable examples are Uzza and Azazel, who provided the evil prophet Bilaam with valuable information. Whether these in some sense were performing the 'will of God' is a matter of debate! Modern Theistic Satanists believe Azazel to be the embodiment of Satan.
Of the books of the New Testament, Ezekiel 28:13-16 is often quoted by Christians as being evidence of Satan being a fallen angel. However, this is perhaps an interpreted or implied meaning, and there is no mention of the 'devil' or 'Satan' in these verses. A discussion on this point can be found at the link below.
There are various indirect references in the New Testament to fallen angels, but the most direct reference can be found in the book of Revelation 12:4-9, where the 'devil' and 'Satan' are mentioned.
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The context in which 'Lucifer' is mentioned in the Old Testament is probably not in the role of 'the Devil'. e.g. Isaiah 14:12. (KJV): 'How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!'
The articles below examine the translation of Isaiah 14:12. The first article examines other references in the NT for Satan and how they associate Satan with lighting and light, and examines Isaiah's use of Lucifer, which is most likely to actually symbolically refer to the Babylonian deity morning star that is not able to help the rogue Babylonian king, and not actually the Devil himself.
It is alleged in the Latin Vulgate, in 2 Peter 1:19 and Revelation 22:16, 'Lucifer' is used to refer to Jesus Christ. The KJV uses the terms 'day star' and 'morning star' in these passages respectively.
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The books 1 John and 2 John of the New Testament mention the 'antichrist'. Many Christians and indeed non-Christians have taken this term to refer to a mythical 'son of Satan' figure, who will come to bring destruction on the world. Perhaps this is an interpretation of the 'beast' from the Book of Revelation, which is either describing the 'Devil' or is describing a Roman ruler. The notion of the 'Son of Satan' has spread in popular culture and through movies such as The Omen. However, this is a misinterpretation of what the Bible actually means. There is no single 'antichrist' as such in the Biblical sense. The term simply means someone who is against Christ. They are anti-Christianity and anti-Christ (assuming modern Christianity reflects what Jesus actually taught). They do not have to literally even belief in 'the devil', worship 'the devil' or even be the 'son of the Devil'. It is a term that early Christians used to label those Roman rulers and others who were against Christians in general. It has however been used gratuitously in horror films and novels in another context entirely. The Qur'an predicts that an 'Antichrist' will come (being a Devil figure) and that Jesus will return and come down from Heaven and kill this Antichrist.
In Matthew 24:14-15, Jesus is discussing the end times and states the following.
 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
Some interpret this as meaning the coming of the 'Antichrist'. However, if we look at Daniel's reference to the 'abomination of desolation', then it seems to refer to the historical figure, the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV, aka Antiochus Epiphanes.
If we consider the context of Matthew 24, Jesus is discussing the end times, the end of the world, the chaos, destruction and debauchery and false teachings before Jesus comes again. In verse 15 onwards, he talks about the 'abomination of desolation' - is this really however the 'Antichrist'? If one follows this concept of a single Antichrist, there cannot be multiple throughout history presumably. Is Jesus merely stating that amidst the chaos, destruction and false teachings, it will happen again that an agressive ruler or tyrant will come to the Jewish Temple (which has not officially been discovered or rebuilt as yet) and defile it as Antiochus once did? Jesus does not however suggest that this one figure is the 'Devil' incarnate, nor that he will necessarily unite all the forces of darkness against God and mankind. To make the jump to him being the single 'Antichrist' type figure implied by Revelations (a set of visions or dreams of one of the Apostles (allegedly) and often interpreted metaphorically by Christians) is another step in the logic, and not something Jesus actually stated explicitly. It could be argued that the figure in Revelations is also an allegory for Nero, another historical figure.
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References to what we can assume is 'Hell' in the New Testament gospels include phrases such as 'furnace of fire' or 'outer darkness, with a weeping and gnashing of teeth.' These references are not explicitly described as 'Hell' and are used in Jesus' parables, and may well be metaphoric in some sense (separation from God, being tormented by one's self hatred, worry and fears, or one's ego, or perhaps being tortured by evil spirits/demons or the 'devil' himself) Other religions such as Buddhism use the concept of self-torture after death depending on spiritually ascended (or not) one is.
The modern view of Hell is very much influenced by that pictured in Dante 's Inferno. The Divine Comedy was written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and his death in 1321. Not exactly a Biblical source!
Eugene Delacroix, The Barque of Dante, 1822, (oil on canvas, 189 x 246 cm), Louvre, Paris:
This built up on the early views of Hell being linked with images of abysses, pits, lava, fire, volcanos, perhaps built upon earlier pagan views of the Underworld, the place of the dead; and the belief that heaven is up and hell is 'down', and as the Earth has molten lava beneath the surface, and hell being 'hot', then this picture seemed to satisfy early Christians.
Erta Ale, in Ethiopia, the oldest lava lake in the world is believed by local tribemen to be the gateway to 'Hell'.
There are explicit references to hell in the Old and New Testaments, as being a low and firey place or pit. However the meaing is very different.
In the OT, the Hebrew Sheol is translated as meaning 'grave' or 'pit'. The Septuagint (the oldest Hebrew Bible, i.e. OT) translates Sheol as Hades. Hades is not generally intended to be a place of eternal damnation in the Christian sense, but a (temporary) resting place of the dead (all dead souls including 'good' and 'bad') or the place where the wicked await (temporary?) damnation. The OT does not however link Hell with Satan or with a fallen angel, whereas the NT does. Judaism does not have the same concept of Hell as Christianity.
The Jewish 'Hell' is known as Gehanna (a.k.a. Gehenna) and is more a form of purgatory, a temporary place of cleansing for souls. It is the abode of the damned in the afterlife in Jewish and Christian eschatology (the doctrine of last things). Named in the New Testament in Greek form (from the Hebrew Ge Hinnom, meaning valley of Hinnom), Gehenna originally was a valley west and south of Jerusalem where children were burned as sacrifices to the Ammonite god Moloch by the Israelites. Gehenna also lends its name to the Islamic Hell 'Jahannam'. In Jahannam, Muslims are eventually forgiven whereas non-Muslims are not.
Gehanna is fairly well defined in rabbinic literature. It is sometimes translated as "hell", but one should note that the Christian view of hell differs greatly from the classical Jewish view. In Judaism, Gehinom while certainly a terribly unpleasant place or state is not hell. The overwhelming majority of rabbinic thought maintains that souls are not tortured in gehinom forever; the longest that one can be there is said to be twelve months, with extremely rare exception. This is the reason that even when in mourning for near relatives, Jews will not recite mourner's kaddish for longer than an eleven month period. Gehinom is considered a spiritual forge where the soul is purified for its eventual ascent to Gan Eden ("Garden of Eden").
In the OT, Hell is also used to describe physical death.
Below are excerpts from the OT that seem to suggest that Hell is a place for all the dead, good and bad, and that souls are delivered from hell unto the Lord.
2 Samuel 22:6:
The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.
For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.
The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.
The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.
Proverbs 23:14: 'Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.
If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
The following passages are slightly ambiguous, and could either be interpreted in the sense that God wishes to kill the wicked or in the Christian sense of sending the evil only to hell (but non-specific about duration).
The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.
Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.
In Babylonian mythology, the underworld or place of all the dead was known as Kurnugia. In Mesopotamian mythology it is known as Irkalla. The queen of the underworld was Ereshkigal, 'great lady under earth'.
According to Babylonian mythology, Inanna (Ishtar), the goddess of heaven and earth, and the sister of Ereshkigal, descended into the the underworld, Irkalla, in the pursuit of knowledge - to understand the depths of the spiritual world in which she reigned. This is perhaps a pre-Jungian metaphor for the process of personal growth by exploring one's 'shadow', known as Individuation.
Inanna and Ereshkigal are considered by some to be one and the same, different aspects of the same goddess. Ereshkigal is perhaps the aspect of Inanna that did not receive love and nurturing and was bitter and hostile. Upon descending into Irkalla (a.k.a. Inanna's Descent), Inanna was killed by Ereshkigal. Unsuccessful individuation perhaps!
Another figure that briefly visited the underworld to gain wisdom was the Babylonian hero Gilgamesh.
The term Irkalla was also used to describe Ereshkigal, the goddess of the underworld, as well as the underworld itself, in the same way the Greek mythological term Hades is used to describe both the underworld (the abode of the god Hades) and also the god of the dead, Hades.
Hades is depicted below.
Source: Aviad Bublil.
'In Christian theology, the term hades refers to the abode of the dead or Sheol (also Hell), where the dead await Judgment Day either at peace or in torment.
Like other first-century Jews literate in Greek, early Christians used the Greek word Hades to translate the Hebrew word Sheol. Thus, in Acts 2:27, the Hebrew phrase in Psalm 16:10 appears in the form: "you will not abandon my soul to Hades." Death and Hades are repeatedly associated in the Book of Revelation.
The ancient Christian Churches hold that a final universal judgement will be pronounced on all human beings when soul and body are reunited in the resurrection of the dead.
The following excerpts from the New Testament (NT) seem to reinforce the NT Christian view that hell is a place where the wicked are sent for eternal damnation.
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
The following NT passages seem to imply Hell is another word for physical death (in the OT sense).
I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
The following passages seem to suggest that the dead either go straight to heaven or straight to hell.
Luke 23: 42-43:
 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
The following NT passages could be interpreted to mean Hell in the OT sense of a resting place for all dead who are all punished to varying degrees before being reunited with God; or in the sense that all dead go to Hell to await final/last judgement prior to either eternal damnation or going to heaven.
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
2 Peter 2:4:
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
One could therefore conclude that the New Testament, the Biblical basis for mainstream Christian thought, seems to suggest that the Christian Hell is not a place for all dead souls, but for those that are to be punished - the suggestion being that souls that are destined to be with the Father at death go straight there.
Catholicism uses the concept of Purgatory as a temporary place where all souls go, for punishment, prior to their final destination in Heaven or Hell. This would be similar to the Jewish concept of Gehenna if it were not for the possibility of going to Hell afterwards. Purgatory has no Biblical basis in this context and is not a belief shared by Protestants.
Clearly the concepts of Hell, Hades, Sheol, Gehanna are somewhat confused between the New and Old Testaments. Is it correct to reinterpret the Old Testament in terms of the intended meaning of the New Testament? Followers of Judaism may not necessarily agree! Presumably if there was a major problem with the concept of Satan and Gehanna or Sheol in the Scriptures, Jesus would have clearly pointed it out, rather than making indirect references to it (in passing) in his teachings?
Other non-Biblical concepts replacing 'hell' have arisen in Christianity, which clearly must have different concepts regarding the 'devil', 'evil spirits' and demonology. These include:
Conditional Immortality, or Conditionalism is the belief that man is mortal and that immortality is given only by God, i.e. when one dies, God may give us eternal life in 'heaven', or we will just cease to exist rather than go to a formal Hell. This doctrine is in opposition to the generally accepted notion of the immortality of the soul. Conditionalism has grown in acceptance by the Eastern Orthodox Church and Evangelicalism. It is often associated with Annihilationism.
Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
The concept of Hell has historically been used by the church as a form of negative motivation (fear of going to hell) to encourage adherence in the general population to Christian moral codes of behaviour, and to prevent losses of religious subjects.
I watched a play at an evangelical church in London in 1996 and it was like the TV show Casualty, a few people were pictured, discussing religion, then one person would be in a sudden fatal accident (almost comical) and either go to heaven or hell. This would repeat endlessly and the devil was portrayed in a very nasty way. At the end of the play, young kinds were invite to give their lives to God to avoid hell. A huge mass of small children in the audience congregated by the stage, all looking really worried.
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Christians associate a number of historical (often pagan) deities with being 'The Devil'. These may a number of Egyptian, Roman and Greek pagan Gods, and others, including Ba'al, Set, Aten the Sun God, Lucifer, Pan and many others. Please see the link below for a 'complete' list and related historical analysis.
Some of these Gods have been historically seen as different aspects of the Supreme Being. Ironically, some Christians and Satanists are both panentheists and monists. The reason for much of the debate on the subject as to whether a deity being worshipped is in fact Satan or not results in the fact that the followers of the deities in question do not see their chosen God as the Biblical definition of Satan, with the relationship to the Hebrew God and Jesus. We examine below some of the deities commonly associated with being 'Satan', and examine the cultural origin of the deity and those that use the deity in their belief system. It should be noted that whilst there may well be links between the various deities and Theistic or indeed LaVey Satanism, this may be a later historical meaning and association, not something that was conceptually part of the religions of the time. Some of the religions or groups are not necessarily associated with the Church of Satan even if the Church of Satan itself used them for inspiration. Indeed there are many other types of Left Hand Path group besides the Church of Satan. Christians have a track record of labelling and condemning anything non-Christian and especially pagan as being Satanic. Other religions have done the same in the past with their rivals, perhaps in a bid to keep from losing followers to their competitors.
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The worship of Aten, for example, in Ancient Egypt approximately 3500 years ago, is regarded as one of the first monotheistic religions. It was short lived, and fizzled out, on account of the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Akhenaten's obsession with demonstrative sacrifices of food, and insistance on having his people build a new city, resulting in starvation and ill health of his city. Whilst monotheistic, he elevated his and his wife's status as near God-like, and the human representatives of Aten on earth. Having forced Eyptians to break with tradition and worship this particular deity, and caused huge suffering as part of his religious revolution, they tried to erase him from history after his death. It is claimed by some that Psalm 104: 20-30 is actually based on a poem by Akhenaten to Aten, a declaration of love for his God, but was appropriated by Christians and used in a Christian context.
It could be argued that Aten was not the 'Devil' as such, but just one of the pagan Gods that the ancient Egyptians worshipped, that happened to be the enforced flavour of the month for a while in Egypt.
The Sun God has been worshipped in various forms throughout history and pre-history, and the exact practices and beliefs of course vary slightly.
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Lucifer is the word meaning 'light bearer' (from lux, lucis, "light", and ferre, "to bear, bring"), a Roman astrological term for the "Morning Star" the planet Venus. The word Lucifer was the translation of the Septuagint Greek heosphoros, ("dawn-bearer"; cf. Greek phosphoros, "light-bearer"; itself the translation of the Hebrew Helel ben Shahar, Son of Dawn), used by Jerome in the Vulgate, having mythologically the same meaning as Prometheus who brought fire to humanity.
Below is a 2nd-century sculpture of the moon goddess Selene accompanied by Hesperus and Phosphorus: the corresponding Latin names are Luna, Vesper and Lucifer.
One form of phosphorus (white phosphorus) emits a faint glow upon exposure to oxygen (hence its Greek derivation and the Latin 'light-bearer', meaning the planet Venus as Hesperus or "Morning Star").
Two illustrations of Lucifer (as Satan) by Gustave Doré's for the 17th Century work Paradise Lost by John Milton, are shown below. These drawings may well have contributed in part to today's notion of Lucifer being Satan and a fallen angel.
A statue of one of twelve Lucifers on the (Catholic) Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc in Olomouc (Czech Republic), built in the 18th Century, is shown below.
Source: Michal Manas.
A statue of Lucifer, by Guillaume Geefs (Cathedral of St. Paul, Liège, Belgium), from the 19th Century, is shown below. It may well have been inspired by Gustave Doré's illustrations.
Source: Luc Viator
Clearly the depiction and concept of Lucifer has changed dramatically over the millennia, from the Roman era to the pseudo-Christian vision of the last three centuries.
The Sigil of Lucifer, used by Theistic Satanists and some Luciferians and Gnostic Luciferians, is shown below.
Before we examine the deities and religions around Lucifer, let us first examine the Biblical references to 'Lucifer'.
The context in which 'Lucifer' is mentioned in the Old Testament is probably not in the role of 'the Devil'. e.g. Isaiah 14:12. (KJV):
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
The articles below examine the translation of Isaiah 14:12. The first article examines other references in the NT for Satan and how they associate Satan with lighting and light, and examines Isaiah's use of Lucifer, which is most likely to actually symbolically refer to the Babylonian deity morning star that is not able to help the rogue Babylonian king, and not actually the Devil himself.
The link below explains how the use of Lucifer here was a mistranslation by Jerome who finished The Latin Vulgate Bible in 405 AD. He mistranslated the word 'Heylel' to mean 'Lucifer'. Heylel is claimed to be derived from the root word 'halal' which is used 165 times in the OT, and translated in a number of different, often contradictory ways, but certainly with no reference to 'Satan' or a Babylonian God.
It is alleged in the Latin Vulgate, in 2 Peter 1:19 and Revelation 22:16, 'Lucifer' is used to refer to Jesus Christ. The KJV uses the terms 'day star' and 'morning star' in these passages respectively. The KJV is quoted below, where Jesus is referred to as the 'morning star'.
I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
2 Peter 1:19:
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. 25: But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. 26: And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. 28: And I will give him the morning star.
29: He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Lucifer is known as the 'God of Morning Light', the bringer of illumination, wisdom and knowledge, etc. and has its origins with the Roman God Venus. There are many types of Luciferianism so it is easy to confuse them. This section aims to explain the difference between the Luciferian Sects. Historically speaking, there is no direct connection between the Roman God Venus and Luciferianism as it exists today. Most Luciferian Sects do not recognise Jesus Christ with the exception of Gnostic Luciferianism and those historical followers of Saint Lucifer (Lucifer Calaritanu). Strictly speaking, Gnostic Luciferianism recognises the Gnostic Jesus as opposed to the New Testament Christian view of Jesus. Also Gnostic Luciferianism differs from all other forms of Luciferianism in that it regards the creator of the world and indeed Universe as Demiurge, whereas other types of Luciferianism usually associate this with the main deity they worship (e.g. the Grand Architect of the Universe and purveyor of wisdom). Gnostic Luciferians may also surprise some Christians as much of what they say appears almost identical to that of Gnostic Christianity or progressive Christianity. Clearly it depends on context and at other times Gnostic Luciferians may also sound like Satanists.
Luciferianism is often identified as an auxiliary of Satanism, due to the popular identification of Lucifer with Satan. Some Luciferians accept this identification or consider Lucifer as the light bearer aspect of Satan, or even as equivalent to Satan, and thus could properly be called Theistic Satanists. Others reject it, arguing that Lucifer is a more positive ideal than Satan. They are inspired by the ancient myths of Egypt, Rome and Greece, Gnosticism and/or traditional Western occultism.
The term Lucifer is often used interchangeably with Satan by most modern Christians and also the general public, although this has not always been the case. Some elements of Orthodox Christianity perhaps associated Lucifer with 'Satan before the fall', i.e. the angel Satan. However the term Lucifer was not universally understood in this context. It is more likely it became associated with Satan through a misinterpretation of the context in which it is mentioned in the King James Bible (as described above). As Bishop (later Saint) Lucifer's name attests (see below), Lucifer was not yet associated with 'Satan' in the 4th century.
Below we shall examine the different types of Luciferianism, to provide a better and deeper understanding of this area for the unfamiliar.
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The term 'Luciferians' is was used to describe a Schismatic Christian group named after Lucifer Calaritanus, Bishop of Cagliari, Sardinia in the late 4th century. He was made a saint, Saint Lucifer. The movement was linked to the complex political machinations involving the emperor Constantius II and Pope Liberius. Lucifer was a staunch ultra-orthodox opponent of Arius (founder of Arianism - the philosophy opposed to the Trinity) - Arius was declared a heretic by Orthodox Christianity. The Luciferian movement died out early in the 5th century. All that we ascertain of Bishop Lucifer's views derive from the anti-Luciferian polemic of Jerome in the form of a dialogue, Altercatio Luciferiani et orthodoxi ("Altercation of the Luciferian and the orthodox"). Mentioning St Lucifer in this context is perhaps an anomaly as these Luciferians really have nothing whatsoever to do with Traditional and Modern Luciferianism except for the fact that for St Lucifer's name - he could just as well have been called Michael and it would have had no impact on his ideas or followers (mostl likely). The name 'Lucifer' at this time did not appear to have any 'Satanic' connotations.
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Traditional Luciferianism was a (heretical) pantheistic thirteenth-century German sect which held that Lucifer should be worshiped as the ruler of the material world. This concept of the material world as Lucifer's domain was, most likely, taken from Catholic Christian doctrine and his titles in the (presumably Latin Vulgate) Bible as 'the god of this world' in 2 Corinthians 4:4 and 'lord of this world' in John 12:31. The KJV version is shown below.
John 12:31 (KJV):
Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
2 Corinthians 4:4 (KJV):
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
Presumably this Sect regarded Jesus as a false messiah, although this is speculation and I do not have any further information on this.
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Lucifer is the God described by the famous Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, Albert Pike, in the Scottish Rite book Morals and Dogma.
In the Instructions to the 23 Supreme Councils of the World, July 14, 1889, Albert Pike was recorded by A.C. De La Rive in La Femme et l'Enfant dans la FrancMaconnerie Universelle on page 588 as having said that Freemasonry in its purest form should embody the Luceferian Doctrine and that Lucifer was the real God, not Adonay. Adonay is the Hebrew word for Lord, used to describe either the Hebrew God 'Yaweh' or Jesus Christ.
In a letter dated 15 August 1871, addressed to Grand Master Guiseppie Mazzini 33° (Archives British Museum, London, England), Albert Pike wrote that atheism and nihilism shall destroy theism (Christianity) and civilisation, unleashing bloody terror.
Other quotes from Morals and Dogma about Jesus can be found at the links below. Pike regarded Jesus at most to be a man, and accused him of being an atheist, a blasphemer, the god Hercules, the founder of a religion of hate etc.
An extract from Albert Pike's Morals and Dogma book is shown at the link below, containing references to the Greek God Prometheus.
Some classically-educated Freemasons and those inspired by their work claim to use 'Luciferian' in the scholarly sense of 'bringing enlightenment', invoking the Greek deity Prometheus. Whether these individuals were Gnostic Luciferians or just Prometheus worshippers is not certain. The implication from Albert Pike's writings in general is that he was some manner of polytheist, interested in Egyptian mysticism, with a particular anti-Christian reactionary stance. Whilst literal interpretation of his words might assume he was referring to Lucifer as a literal deity, like Adonay, those who are familiar with Pike's works would interpret this metaphorically, meaning Lucifer as a reflection of the light of the self and the light of Wisdom. Whether he was viewing the 'Grand Architect' as being the 'God' he hated or not is unclear. He used Baphomet as a symbol of resistance against Chrsitianity so perhaps Lucifer was used in the same way. Pro-Catholic polemicists linked such masonic usage with Sects whom they believe were worshipping Lucifer, which they believed have had persistent groups of followers since the Middle Ages.
In Greek mythology, Prometheus (in Ancient Greek meaning "forethought") is a Titan known for his wily intelligence, who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals for their use. His myth has been treated by a number of ancient sources, in which Prometheus is credited with (or blamed for) playing a pivotal role in the early history of humankind. Prometheus is associated with technology and science, embodying some qualities of the Theistic Satan. However, Prometheus is not generally worshipping by Theistic Satanists or pagans, but is worshipped by some modern Gnostic Luciferans.
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Modern Luciferianism is a similar theology to Traditional Luciferianism, usually modelled on a panentheistic view of Lucifer as being all encompassing essence of the Universe (an essence or God that pervades the Universe, but which makes up each person, each person having the potential to become 'God' or 'a God'). The lines between Modern Luciferianism and Gnostic Luciferianism are often somewhat blurred. Some examples of Modern Luciferian groups are listed below.
Luciferianism is the product of 'religious engineering', which sociologist William Sims Bainbridge defines as "the conscious, systematic, skilled creation of a new religion" in his book New Religions, Science, and Secularization".
Helena Blavatsky, the founder of the Theosophical Society (Theosophy), established an occult magazine entitled 'Lucifer' in London in 1887.
The Church of Lucifer:
The Church of Lucifer, a Modern Luciferian organization, which views Lucifer as a symbol of the never-ending quest for wisdom and a force of and behind particular aspects of nature, has been active for since the late 1980s in the USA and to a lesser extent internationally. Founded by the late Rev. Robert Stills and passed on to Frederick Nagash, the Church of Lucifer is currently administered by Rev. Frederick Nagash, Rev. Satrinah Nagash and Rev. Maskim Xul. The organization encourages the study of several ancient cultures to learn its wisdom and incorporate that into the Luciferian's own repertoire. The Twin Goats symbol of the Church of Lucifer is shown above, incorporating the normally Theistic Satanic inverted pentagram. Are the goats supposed to represent the deity Baphomet? Or is there anothe significance? The Lucifer that is worshipped here is conceptually similar to that of Theistic Satanists, although it is perhaps less 'dark' in nature, and Luciferians deny any direction connection with Satan. The two are regarded as separate entities. These Luciferians are however as anti-Christian (anti-Jesus) as Theistic Satanists. The Church of Lucifer is allied to the First Church of Satan, the Theistic Satanic organisation.
A list of FAQs about Luciferianism and the COL can be found at the link below. Nagash denies that the COL is a mixture of Left and Right-Hand Paths and that such a concept is to create a diametrically opposed and contradictory anti-religion. Perhaps this is a reference to or dig at some of the Gnostic Luciferian groups that are less narrow minded or more heterogenous, drawing on different religions for inspiration. The COL is opposed to all religions. Nagash believes that Luciferianism is a very old philosophy, based on Greco-Roman and Egyptian mystical traditions, whereas he views LaVey Satanism and Wicca as modern 'religions', the latter being reconstructionist.
An article 'Luciferianism: The Scales of Balance and Justice' by Rev. Frederick Nagash can be read at the link below.
A compilation of various articles by Nagash can be found at the link below. Some of it reads similarly to the subject headings in LaVey's Satanic Bible. The article Secrets to Successful Magick can be found on page 54-55.
The Children of the Black Rose:
The Children of the Black Rose, aka Church Lucifer, are a long-time Luciferian order who view Lucifer as a Supreme being encompassing all; "everything and nothing." The illustration of Lucifer taken from the Church Lucifer web site is shown above, presumably similar in concept/image to Eliphas Levi's Baphomet.
The originator of the Children of the Black Rose is Father Nate Leved, author of The Seven Scrolls of the Black Rose. The book was published in 2002, and can be viewed for free on line. His writings date back presumably to 1988.
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Gnostic Luciferianism is quite different (in theory) to all other forms of Luciferianism discussed in this section, and as such, have been moved to it's own dedicated page, entitled Gnostic Luciferianism and Bestian Gnosticism. Those that come under the Gnostic Luciferian umbrella and associate with related groups are often not actually literal Gnostics, and some are just 'modern' Luciferians, pagans and Satanists wanting a little more than just hedonism.
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Church of Azazel:
Theistic Satanism, for example, the Church of Azazel, believes Lucifer to be the light bearing aspect of the deity Satan.
The Church of Azazel recognises the 'occult' version of Satan, e.g. that worshipped by Luciferans, or Lucifer-of-Sophia (based on the Gnostic Goddess Sophia), which is similar in concept or identical to Lucifer. Theistic Satanists regard Lucifer as bringer of occult wisdom, and whom they insist is distinct from Satan, it makes sense to regard their "Lucifer" as an entity distinct from Satan - despite similarities. We see their "Lucifer" as a spirit who specializes in inspiring esoteric religions and philosophies, whereas we see Satan/Azazel as more multi-faceted entity, one who draws people's attention to the material plane as well as to the occult realms, and who encourages people to take care of themselves on a material level.
The Church of Azazel believes Azazel (Sayan) to be Satan. Azazel is an enigmatic name from the Hebrew scriptures and Apocrypha, where the name is used interchangeably with Rameel and Gadriel. Azazel is used as the name of one of the evil 'fallen' angels in the Kabbalah. The word's first appearance is in Leviticus 16, where a goat is designated "for Azazel" and outcast in the desert as part of Yom Kippur.
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LaVey Satanism refers to Lucifer in the Satanic Bible. There is a book of Lucifer in the Satanic Bible (atheistic of course!) which links Lucifer to LaVey Satanism. LaVey Satanists presumably claim to use it in a symbolic or Hermetic sense.
LaVey Satanism is examined in depth in the Church of Satan page.
The Cathars were a Gnostic inspired Christian section of 13th and 14th century France who were persecuted by the Spanish Inquisition. They still exist today (in a revivalist form?)
The Cathar Cross is a double cross symbol on top of an Ouroboros symbol. It is distinct from the Cathar Yellow Cross which looks like a yellow crucifix.
The Cathar Cross is said to have first been used by the Knights Templar, as a Gnostic symbol, although some claim that its origins predated that of Christ, for which there is little evidence for as far as I am aware. The Cathar Cross is shown in the picture below.
About.com defines it as the alchemical symbol for sulphur, analogous to the human soul, containing both masculine, hot and dry qualities as well as feminine, cool and moist qualities.
It is known by some as the 'Lucifer Cross'. Some associate the alchemical symbol for sulphur with brimstone and the Christian idea of 'Hell'. Anton LaVey used it in the Satanic Bible, on page 13, at the top of the Nine Satanic Statements page. IT is not used by Aestheteka, but this tangent is merely discussing the Cathars and their relationship to modern Satanism.
The Cathars believed Lucifer/Satan to be Demiurge, the deity who ruled over the physical realm and enslaved humanity, and Jesus being the source of divine light, of God (akin to Monad). The Cathars used contemporary Christian terminology to describe a Gnostic cosmology. It is therefore ironic that modern Luciferians consider it to be a symbol for Lucifer, being the light bearer, and God as being the enslaver, i.e. Demiurge; and for modern LaVey Satanists to think of it as a representation of Satan and Satanic illumination. This is the exact opposite of the meanings that the Cathars associated with God, Lucifer and Satan. Conceptually of course they are not THAT different (at least in Gnostic Luciferian terms). However the irony should not be lost on us.
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Anthroposophy is a spiritual philosophy based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner (25 February 1861 - 30 March 1925) which postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world accessible to direct experience through inner development Ñ more specifically through cultivating conscientiously a form of thinking independent of sensory experience. In its investigations of the spiritual world, anthroposophy aims to attain the precision and clarity of natural science's investigations of the physical world. Whether this is a sufficient basis for anthroposophy to be considered a spiritual science has been a matter of controversy.
Anthroposophical ideas have been applied practically in areas including Steiner/Waldorf education, special education (most prominently the Camphill movement), biodynamic agriculture, anthroposophical medicine, and the arts. The Anthroposophical Society has its international center at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland.'
Lucifer and Ahriman were regarded by Steiner as forces pulling on humanity in two opposite directions, Lucifer inspiring intellectual development and spirituality (of paganism), and Ahriman inspiring nationalism, materialism, war and greed. Steiner regarded Lucifer as a being of light who was incarnated as a human being 3,000 years before Christ.
Steiner, Rudolf. The Ahrimanic Deception
Perhaps Lucifer and Ahriman can be seen as the two different aspects of the character of the Christian view of Satan, as the fallen angel.
The implementation of the Waldorf curriculum -- an educational philosophy related to the New Age religion "Anthroposophy" -- in some California public schools, has stirred up controversy as opponents say its use violates the U.S. Constitution:
There are clearly parallels between Anthroposophy and Helena Blavatsky's Theosophy, for example, in its concept of an Atlantean utopia, it's concept of reincarnation and also of the psychic abilities connected with reading the Akashic Record, but perhaps with a stronger Christian influence. Ironically, Steiner was the head of an Ordo Templi Orientis order, the organisation created by Aleister Crowley to embody his Thelema philosophy/occult religion. There is no record of him having been a freemason and he disliked Freemasonry's male bias, believing that the 'occult power of women' should moderate the male masonic excesses. Steiner was actually targetted by far right extremists in Germany, most likely belonging to the Thule Society.
It appears that Steiner gradually diverged from Theodor Reuss, the head of another OTO order around 1906.
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The Process Church of The Final Judgement:
This 'church' was founded in the 1960s by Robert DeGrimston and Mary Anne MacLean, as a splinter group from the Church of Scientology.The group acknowledged Jesus, Jehovah, Lucifer and Satan, in a somewhat different manner to Gnostic Luciferianism but similar in many respects of embracing light and dark aspects - however instead of seeking Gnosis and escaping the 'cyclic prison of physical existence' of the Gnostic theology, it instead embraces the Christian concept of the final judgement and the afterlife. The Process Church defined Lucifer in the following manner.
Charles Manson was said to have been heavily inspired by the philosophy of the church. He saw himself as one of the beasts in the Book of Revelation.
The Process Church has also been connected by some to the CIA's mind control programme MK Ultra.
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From the Pagan perspective, Lucifer is a title meaning light-bringer, and has been applied to many deities, in the same way as many properties of nature or emotions have been equated to be Gods in the Roman, Greek and Egyptian pagan religions. For Roman Reconstructionist Pagans, Diana Lucifera - also called Diana Lucina - is the Goddess of the moon in her aspect as the star of the morning, the bearer of light, who heralds the arrival of dawn (the Roman statue pictured above). The idea of a Pagan cult worshipping a brother-and-sister pair of deities named Lucifer and Diana comes from Charles Godfrey Leland's 1899 book 'Aradia: The Gospel of the Witches', a text often associated with the revival of neo-paganism (chiefly Wicca). Leland claimed to have made contact with a woman named Maddelena, who was an initiate of a surviving Italo-Etruscan witch cult 'La Vecchia Religione' (The Witch Religion) or 'Stregheria' (Sorcery) that worshipped Lucifer, Diana, and their daughter Aradia. Leland's work has been generally dismissed as bunk by academics since no-one has ever been able to successfully prove the existance of such a cult which predates Leland's text and/or the existance of Maddelena, or any similar individual who may have used a pseudonym. This of course has not stopped neo-pagans from basing a tradition on his writings or claiming they have an initiatory line stretching back in time to ancient times; and in other cases, reinventing dark ages paganism of Northern Europe, which had a Nordic slant and was associated with illiteracy and warrior life, which was in opposite to the organised Roman pagan culture, later to become Christian, but basically still embody the same values; or giving ancient Gods and religions a post-enlightenment and politically correct slant and context, and making them wholesome and Christianised in some of their values to be acceptable for the modern middle classes and ecologically minded 'rebels'.
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Feri Witch Tradition:
Many of the more influential occultists, including H.P. Blavatsky in the 19th century and the Feri Witch tradition in the 20th, have had an explicitly 'Luciferian' aspect and component to their belief systems.
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Lucifer, meaning 'light', has given way to a variety of Scientific Terminology such as 'Luciferin' and 'Luciferase', which are light-emitting pigments and enzymes respectively.
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Set is the Egyptian God, of the desert, storms and Chaos. Set is one of many Gods worshipped by (some of) the ancient Egyptians. Each representing one quality of the whole. This is a concept that has re-appeared in other religions and myths every since, most notably in Neoplatonism and Hermeticism.
The Theistic Satanic church The Temple of Set (ToS), associates the deity Set with Satan, and this use of 'Set' is considered a modern association. The Temple of Set, and Setians in general, consider Set, the Eyptian God, to be the real dark Lord behind the name Satan. Setians use the same symbol of Satanism, that is, the inverted pentagram.
The ToS was a break-away group from the Church of Satan (CoS), created in 1975 by High Priest Michael Aquino, 'after Anton LaVey had offended many of its [CoS] members by turning The Church of Satan into a tool for his personal expression and financial income.'
One commentator has described it thus: 'The ToS was part of the CoS and broke away - mainly because many wanted to really explore the darkness - and there were those who knew first hand of these primal forces and wanted to call them into action, the CoS was attempting to cultivate a non-spiritual approach and did not want any part of it. Thats when the those who wanted real magic left. The CoS is nothing more than a carnival act and theraputic psychodrama at the most - the ToS are the authentic "satanists".'
In the 1950s Anton LaVey formed a group called the Order of the Trapezoid, which later evolved into the governing body of the Church of Satan. From 1975 (?) onwards, this Order became a sub group of The Temple of Set. The Order of the Trapezoid describes itself as 'A Chivalric Order of Knighthood Dedicated to the Prince of Darkness and the Black Flame.'
Eric Kauschen is the current Grandmaster of the Order of the Trapezoid.
The history of the symbolism with the O.Tr. is discussed on the order's web site below, including references to Wewelsburg Castle.
Dubious allegations of sympathy with the Nazis and obsession with Nazi occultism are discussed on the Satanism and the Far Right page.
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Ba'al, for example, was an God worshipped in ancient Carthage. The Carthaginians' Baal worship is mentioned in the Old Testament - referred to as 'Baal' and 'Baal-zebub'. The name Ba'al has also been associated with a number of other Gods, including the Roman God, Saturn. There is a book of Beleil in the Satanic Bible (atheistic of course!) which links Ba'al to LaVey Satanism. Theistic Satanism, for example, the Church of Azazel (who define Azazel as Satan), believes Belial (i.e. Beliel, Ba'al) to refer to the down-to-earth and practical side of Satan.
A bronze figurine of Baal, right arm raised is shown below, dating to 14th-12th centuries, found in Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit).
The demon Bael, from Collin de Plancy's Dictionnaire Infernal (1862) is shown below.
Beelzebub as depicted in Collin de Plancy's Dictionnaire Infernal (Paris, 1825) is shown below.
Various Roman Gods have been associated with being Satan, including Saturn and Venus. The Greek and Roman Gods were part of the respective Greek and Roman pagan mythos.
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Ishtar is the Assyrian and Babylonian counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna and to the cognate northwest Semitic goddess Astarte. Anunit, Atarsamain and Esther are alternative names for Ishtar. Ishtar is a goddess of fertility, love, and war. In the Babylonian pantheon, she 'was the divine personification of the planet Venus' (the planet often associated with Lucifer). Ishtar a Goddess worshipped by Wiccans and other neo-pagans, and is said to represent Mother Earth, as all ancient 'Goddesses' are said to be aspects of the Goddess (i.e. Mother Earth). The detail of the Ishtar-Gate : a lion, symbol of the goddess Ishtar - is shown above.
Joseph Campbell, a more recent popularizer of mythology, equates Ishtar, Inanna, and Aphrodite, and he draws a parallel between the violent yet loving Hindu goddess Kali, the Egyptian goddess Isis who nurses Horus, and the Babylonian goddess Ishtar who nurses the god Tammuz.'
The deity pairs is a concept that is common to both Babylonian mythology (Marduk slaying Tiamat into two pieces, creating both heaven and earth), and Egyptian mythology and the Ogdoad.
This concept is also seen in the Aeons of Gnosticism.
Ishtar/Astarte is also revered by many modern Theistic Satanists, probably because 'Astaroth' is a high-ranking demon according to various well-known grimoires. Ishtar is not revered as the white-light (Luciferian) Goddess of the white magic Wiccans, but as the more multi-faceted Goddess revered by the other Wiccans, the Goddess of natural forces here on Earth, 'Mother Nature' in all Her aspects, both beautiful and fierce.
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Above is the painting Lilith (1892), by John Collier.
Lilith is a mythological female Mesopotamian storm demon associated with wind and was thought to be a bearer of disease, illness, and death. The figure of Lilith first appeared in a class of wind and storm demons or spirits as Lilitu, in Sumer, circa 3000 BC. Many scholars place the origin of the phonetic name 'Lilith' at somewhere around 700 BC. In medieval Jewish demonology, Lilith was considered to be the a night demon, the Queen of the demons, the wife of Satan/Samael, and the mother of succubi. and as a screech owl in the KJV. She is also apocryphally the first wife of Adam.
Since the 1970s, Lilith has attracted many worshippers, including both Theistic Satanists, Neo-Pagans and even ethnically Jewish feminists, often now being associated with vampires (very fashionable these days for some reason!)
The vast majority of Lilith's worshippers are not Satanists. Yet they celebrate a medieval myth of Lilith that is remarkably similar to the Islamic myth of Satan/Iblis. Lilith and the Islamic Satan were both said to have disobeyed God in the exact same way, namely by refusing to bow down before Adam. Today, Lilith is seen by many as a feminist role model. Her worshippers today also associate Her with sexuality and sexual freedom, especially nonreproductive sex and various traditionally forbidden forms of sexuality. www.theisticsatanism.com/CoAz/belief/risingGods.html#Lilith
The Church of Satan incorporates Lilith in her kabbalistic (also qabalistic) Zohar role as the wife of Samael (Satan). Here, she is featured in the symbol of the church, the Baphomet sigil. This pentagram was first published by Stanislas de Guaita in La Clef de la Magie Noire in 1897.
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In some Gnostic texts, Samael is the name used to described Demiurge, the 'blind one'.
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Baphomet is a name of a deity of unknown origin. The name Baphomet traces back to the end of the Crusades, when the medieval order of the Knights Templar was suppressed by King Philip IV of France. On Friday, October 13, 1307, King Philip had many French Templars simultaneously arrested, and then tortured into confessions. The name Baphomet comes up in several of these confessions, in reference to an idol of some type that the Templars were said to have been worshipping. The description of the object changed from confession to confession. Some Templars denied any knowledge of it. Others, under torture, described it as being either a severed head, a cat, or a head with three faces. 'Gargoyles' from Templar churches are shown below (the first from Lanleff, the second and third from St Merri). Did these 'gargoyles inspire Eliphas Levi? Or were these gargoyles actually depictions of Baphomet? Was Levi merely depicting Baphomet as he had been traditionally known? Or is it a 'coincidence'?
Source: Gargoyle sculpture from Templar Shrine, Unknown Photographer and location.
Some modern scholars believe the name was an Old French corruption and misspelling of the name Mahomet (Muhammad). However, it is unlikely that the Knights Templar, having fought with Muslims for many years, were going to worship Mohammed, a prophet, which is something Muslims do not even do. In the 19th Century, Jewish occult author Eliphas Levi drew an image of Baphomet as a 'Sabbatic Goat' deity (seen above), which was later associated with being the Baphomet of the Templars by many. This image was incorporated into the Waite Tarot deck as the Devil card. Aleister Crowley was fascinated by this image of Baphomet, and linked him to the Roman deity Harpocrates, and incorporated him into his Thelema religion.
Some speculation exists as to whether Eliphas Levi was in fact influenced by these gargoyles and his naming the figure Baphomet came only in the 19th century, rather than the concept or name existing at the time of the Templars. This is perhaps more plausible than the other way around.
The Knights Templar were considered by Anton LeVay to have contributed some symbolism and methodology to modern Satanism, but not so much in the way of teachings and theology. Anton LaVey includes reference to the Knights Templar in the introduction to The Satanic Bible.
We will probably never know exactly what the Knights Templar got up to behind closed doors, and to what extent they embraced other religions or occult or mystical practices. Much is made of the fact that they embraced occult and gnostic philosophies and this is the reason for their persecution. It is known that they did have contact with Cathar communities (the French Gnostic sect), and indeed many Cathars joined the Templars, as they saw them as an alternative source of power to the Catholic Church. It is likely that many Cathar beliefs were integrated in some capacity into those of various Templar groups. However, it is much more likely that the Templars were persecuted and had their assets seized because they had become too powerful and too rich, and were considered a threat by the monarchs and Catholic Church of the time, being somewhat independent as an organisation. They had accumulated vast sums of wealth over many years by acting as guards to protect travelling pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem, which had been recently captured by the Catholic Crusaders from Muslim territory, with acts of genocide on both sides. The Templars were nominally Catholic Christians, but their war-like approach was hardly in keeping with the Bible, in the same way that the spirit of the Crusades was not either. They were essentially protecting/profiteering from Christian tourists visiting annexed land. Over time they build up a network of Castles, in both Europe and also in the Middle East. The Templars were in no way hedonistic occultists, in the way that The Hellfire Club, LaVey Satanists or Crowley's Thelema followers were, and were sworn to a life of celebacy. Only a small percentage of the members of the Knights Templar were actually warrior knights, most having domestic type roles within the castles and domains that they controlled. Rose tinted views of the Templars are clearly not really very realistic and are highly speculative at best.
Albert Pike is quoted in op. cit., p. 734, teaching of the 28th Degree, referring to Baphomet as the Holy Spirit! Some argue that Pike used the modern view of Baphomet as an anti-Christian symbol. About Baphomet he says 'The Gnostics held that it [universal agent] composed the igneous [pertaining to fire] body of the Holy Spirit, and it was adored in the secret rites of the Sabbat or the Temple under the hieroglyphic figure of Baphomet or the hermaphroditic goat of Mendes .' Some modern Luciferians and Satanists consider Pike's definition of Baphomet to represent Satan.
Albert Pike wore a symbol of Baphomet around his neck.
This the same symbol he used next to his name.
This was similar to the symbol used often on his 33rd degree masonic notepaper.
This alleged 33rd degree notepaper symbol was identical to that used by Aleister Crowley as the Thelemic X symbol for Baphomet.
Below is an article about the history of the deity Baphomet, on the Blood of the Moon Gnostic-Voudon Temple blog site by a friend of mine:
Baphomet is the deity often associated with 'Left-Hand Path' occult movements of the last two centuries.
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Above is a 2nd Century Roman copy (found in Pompei) of a 100BC Greek statue (attributed to Heliodorus) of Pan teaching his eromenos, the shepherd Daphnis, to play the panpipes.
Pan is a Greek deity, originally worshipped in the Arcadia area of ancient Greece. Pan is the half-goat 'herdsman' deity, often associated with playing the flute, and is the God of fertility and shepherds, as well as music; and also representing fear and dread to an extent. Pan no doubt influenced the concept of the oldest of Roman deities, Faunus, the di indigetes, who was a good spirit of the forest, plains, and fields. It is likely that the demonized images of the incubus, and the goat's head, horns and cloven hooves of Satan, depicted in much Christian literature and art, were taken from the images of the Pan. The Witches' Hammer no doubt took its inspiration from Pan when describing Satan.
The painting Pan, by Mikhail Vrubel (1900) is shown below.
The modern version of Pan worshipped by Wiccans is not really the same deity as the Greek Pan. The neo-pagan Pan is the Lord of the Woods, the Horned God, representative of the wild (animals and forests) and is probably an amalgamation of qualities of several ancient Gods. Wiccans in general tend to chiefly worship the Goddess, or mother nature, whilst also worshipping the Horned God as her counterpart, in a balanced 'yin and yang' manner (Dianic Wica diverging from this balance). Other deities, representing other qualities, are also worshipped, but probably to a slightly lesser extent.
Theistic Satans acknowledge that many of the qualities of the neo-pagan Pan are synonymous with Satan, they also credit other qualities to Satan such as science, technology and the human 'will'.
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Above is the painting Ungeheuer Leviathan, Behemoth und Ziz Bibelillustration by Ulm, 1238.
Above is a drawing of Leviathan, often found in Grimoires.
Above is the painting "Destruction of Leviathan" from 1865, engraving by Gustave Doré.
iled") is a 'Biblical sea monster referred to in the Old Testament (Psalm 74:13-14; Job 41; Isaiah 27:1). The word leviathan has become synonymous with any large sea monster or creature. In the novel Moby-Dick it refers to great whales, and in Modern Hebrew, it means simply "whale".'
The Christian interpretation of Leviathan is often considered to be a demon or monster associated with Satan or the Devil, and is regarded by some to be the same as the monster Rahab (Isaiah 51:9).
The Gnostic Luciferian (but in actuality Polytheistic Satanic) Order of Phosphorus regards Leviathan as the coiling Dragon or crooked serpent, which is the dreaming mind.
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Marduk slaying Tiamat is pictured in the above.
Tiamat is often regarded as an 'evil' deity, with Marduk being the 'good' Babylonian deity counterpart. Perhaps in this role, Tiamat represents a Christian interpretation of the Devil. The cult of Marduk existed from approximately 1500 BC. Marduk was associated by the Romans with the planet Jupiter.
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Worship of Tiamat may have begun with the Cult of Nammu (Sumerian cult).
'In Sumerian mythology, Nammu (more properly Namma) is the Sumerian creation goddess. If the Babylonian creation myth Enûma Elish is based on a Sumerian myth, which seems likely, Nammu is the Sumerian goddess of the primeval sea that gave birth to An (heaven) and Ki (earth) and the first gods. She was probably the first personification of the constellation which the Babylonians later called Tiamat and the Greeks called Cetus and represented the Apsu, the fresh water ocean which the Sumerians believed lay beneath the earth, the source of life-giving water and fertility in a country with almost no rainfall. She is attended by seven minor goddesses. Nammu bore An a son, Enki. She and her Enki created mankind as assistants for the gods. She moulded clay collected and brought it to life, thus creating mankind.'
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Enki, the son of Nammu, is the Sumeran deity whose name literally means Lord of the Earth. Enki was later known as Ea in Babylonian mythology. Enki was originally chief god of the city of Eridu. He was the deity of crafts, water, intelligence and creation. He is the champion of mankind. Perhaps there are parallels to the concept of Prometheus or (non-Biblical view of) Satan. Enki is shown above, wearing the horned crown. Some forms of Gnostic Luciferianism, such as Bestian Gnosticism, regards Enki as a Lucifer, but does not worship him. Many Theistic Satanists today worship Enki, including the now largely Neo-Nazi Satanist group Joy of Satan Ministries.
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Prometheus is regarded by most Gnostic Luciferians as a Lucifer or Aeon, and there are some parallels to the (non-Biblical) concept of Satanic intelligence.
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Deities - General Comments
Christians did not first create the concept of 'The Devil', the evil God or the dark Lord. It has been a recurrent theme in other religions albeit usually focussing on the 'destroyer' aspects, as one force of many in nature. The big question for many Christians is whether the various (predominantly pagan) deities that are commonly associated with Satan (by Christians) are actually this perceived 'evil Satan' or not. Clearly the nature of these Gods is different to the Hebew God and they are not referring to the Hebrew God. Depending on which God one is talking about, there is often a great deal of overlap, as described above. For those entertaining the notion of the Christian Devil, one can only really say for sure in all cases by studying closely the nature of the religions around each God, and how it feels in a spiritual sense, and what other religions it feels most spiritually akin to. Perhaps one can liken it to comparing the God of Islam, Judaism and Christianity as being the same God - some will argue that it is one and the same, but worshipped in different ways and perceived according to slightly different sets of belief systems. Others will argue that they are clearly not the same, and that one is the true God and the others are either false Gods or perverted interpretations of the same God. So perhaps similar approaches could be adopted to the Gods that are associated by Christians with Satan. Some argue it is narrow minded to call other monotheists wrong (e.g. a Christian calling a Muslim wrong, or a Catholic calling a Protestant a 'false' Christian', etc.), but that it is a different culture's way of perceiving the same God. Perhaps the same is true of other ancient religions.
Satanism as it exists today, in both its 'Modern' (LaVey or Atheistic) and 'Traditional' (Theistic) forms, is heavily influenced by ancient Egyptian and Sumerian mysticism and deities, as well as nihilism, hedonism, capitalism, and modern occultism. The philosophical differences between other reconstructionists, say pagans, and Satanists and indeed other occultists is in execution and the spirit in which it is engaged in. There is a large amount of overlap. For more information on this concept, please see the Left Hand Path page. So whilst the deities discussed above are equated with being the Christian version of 'Satan', i.e. the Devil, they are also regarded by many Satanists as being representations of 'Satan', i.e. the archetype or actual deity as an aspect of Satan, or literally Satan.
One could argue that Theistic Satanism is in fact just a form of dark paganism. If one venerates and worships different 'aspects' of Satan, being represented by different named Gods, i.e. Ba'al or Lucifer, then surely in some sense this is almost identical to actually worshipping these as separate, unconnected, but 'dark' entities as a dark pagan would? This is probably why there is considerable common ground between dark pagans and Theistic Satans, and indeed, many Theistic Satans consider themselves as polytheists rather than monotheists or panentheists.
Theistic Satans argue that 'Satan' puts ideas and dark thoughts into their minds as a form of questioning, to keep one 'real', giving people a choice of dark deeds which they may or may not choose to actually follow (but presenting options, as 'freedom'), and constantly questioning one's environment, as a form of wisdom. However, one could argue that by that very nature, 'Satan' should also put positive and good natured thoughts into people's minds, and use positive questioning, as employed by psychotherapists and NLP practitioners! But does this actually happen? Or is it focussed on the 'dark' side, the negative side? Is the ratio of positive and enlightening to dark and critical an equal 50/50 split?! Without conscious effort, negative thoughts greatly outnumber positive thoughts. Is it easier to be critical and negative or creative, empowering and positive? Clearly the latter. With many people, the negative thoughts come out as default. Is having thoughts of jealousy, revenge, getting one's own back, punishing someone for an 'injustice', inadequacy or depression empowering or providing us with wisdom, and giving us more sound choices? Sometimes an individual may have momentary thoughts of violence and retribution, even rape and murder, that pass in a split second or matter of seconds. Are such thoughts providing us with useful options and allowing us to question our environment? Or is our mind just a runaway train full of chaotic thoughts, pulling in different directions, according to the various core beliefs we have about ourselves and our environment, both positive and negative? Is such 'questioning' just a result of conditioning, instigated by other people's fears, or those thoughts we are conditioned to associate with certain situations? Are such 'questioning' thoughts an effect of the negative core beliefs and addictive thought patterns and pattern of focus of the conscious mind, manifesting themselves in ways that we can feel powerful and good about ourselves (as our belief system does not allow us to feel good about ourselves in normal 'operation')? Putting someone down may make us feel temporarily better about ourselves, but in the long term, it is not going to work! It is often easier to feel empowered or in control by destroying something rather than creating something. Destructive thoughts come much easier than creative ones, and do not threaten the ego or require the addictive negative patterns of the ego to take a back seat or to be controlled in any way.
If one is looking for people who formally declared themselves as 'Satanists' prior to 1966, then of course they may well be few and far between. It is likely that in Western Industrial societies, society as a whole was not ready for such declarations and for formal 'Satanic' churches, which the rebelliousness, bohemian and free thinking approach of the 1960s enabled. It is likely that if Anton LaVey had wanted to form the CoS before the 1960s, it would not have taken off in the same manner. Society was much more controlled in spiritual terms prior to this. The CoS no doubt laid the ground for the launch of other Theistic Satanic churches. It is most likely that Satanism or worship or a 'Devil' or dark Lord in the literal sense existed behind closed doors and within secret societies and also within the inner circles of certain major Christian religious institutions, behind closed doors. One may find circumstantial evidence and witness statements for this on the internet or elsewhere.
It is likely that many people who call themselves Satanists today are in fact worshipping the Biblical concept of Satan - because of cultural conditioning of the notions of the 'Devil'. Such people may include certain teenagers and rock stars, who feel they are 'hard' and 'evil' if they make this claim or association. Few traditional Theistic Satanists have this concept of a Biblical Satan, and are not quite the same as these other Satanists, who are often more in the public eye. As stated elsewhere, those who worship a Biblical Satan believe in Jesus and God, but choose to worship their polar opposite, whereas many traditional Theistic Satanists do not believe in the existance of Jesus or God, or downplay their importance and position relative to Satan.
It could be argued that in some sense the Satan of the New Testament and of Theistic Satanism is a collective term for dark spirits, the concept used in certain religions. Perhaps in this sense paganism can be associated with Satanism. That is not necessarily putting a value judgement on 'dark spirits'. Indeed, those doctrines that worship the 'devil', reject the concept of the Hebrew God being the true God or existing at all, in which case Theistic Satanism never required Christianity or other monotheistic religions to exist in the first place. Whether you believe that some or all of these different names refer to the same thing is the real issue here. Are all the pagan Gods of historical faiths real? Or are they often describing a smaller number of entities or 'demons'? Or aspects of a smaller number of entities or 'demons'? Or are they describing perceived (real or false) spiritual aspects of the natural world they see around them? Or are they worshipping aspects of Satan? Or perhaps a mixture of both God and Satan (i.e. aspects of 'goodness'/God and aspects of Satan)? So perhaps pagans (e.g. Wiccans) and/or certain other monotheists (e.g. Luciferans, Rosicrucians, Thelemists or even Christians who dabble in New Age or Occult practices) are worshipping the same God as Christians, but also are worshipping/institutionalising the 'darker' or 'ego' side in some sense (interpreted as Satan in this context)? Or is this worshipping of the 'Devil' or dark force just the worship of a collection of 'demons'? So perhaps they are worshipping certain aspects of God and also certain practices are using the power of certain demons? Perhaps even there is no Satan or pagan Gods, but that one is in fact worshipping the dark side of one's ego (or 'dark' aspects of one's own psyche in a Jungian sense). Or perhaps one could interpret it as a balance of suppressing the ego and embodying the spirit of love versus the celebration of the ego through various more egotistical practices. Clearly, if one believes that one is worshipping both the 'good' (i.e. selfless) and 'bad' (self), whatever they might be, then the worshipping the bad will affect one's ability to really connect with the good in the same way as another who worships or embraces the 'bad' to a lesser extent. It could be argued that the vast majority of Christians serve themselves in many aspects of their lives anyway, and so are not really embodying the spirit of the teachings of Jesus (a large proportion of the followers of any religion are going to be hypocites of varying degrees) - but that the embodiment of embracing the ego is not (usually) formally institutionalised in worship or their religious belief system, but is just a result of conflict of values or not embracing the religion to that full an extent. Of course, it is up to the individual to what extent they want to adopt a set of values and what they do, and it is not up to others to judge their 'performance' or consistency.
Ultimately, it comes down to how much Theistic Satanism draws on past pagan and old panentheistic religions and practices, and it is clear that there is a very heavy reliance on these other Gods and Deities. So there is a relationship between many of them and Satan, it is just a matter of how much and in what manner. See the section above on Freemasonry and occultism. The way to decide for yourself is to examine the concepts, symbols and beliefs around each of these 'allegedly different' entities and religions. Remember the CoS law of being mindful of historical orthodoxies and not making incorrect historical statements!
Is the occult in general a power trip for the ego? A confusion between the Self and the Ego? A sense of being intoxicated with the ego and with self-power? That is psychologically unhealthy? Or is it a genuine and valid method for self-improvement and self-actualisation? Clearly some people will regard all occult practices in an extremely negative light. Others may however see that it depends on the context and the spirit in which it is practised and the application and methodology. Others may totally dismiss this negative view of the occult. Clearly what goes around comes around, if you are aware of the psychological and spiritual effect or not, the rough and the smooth.
One could argue that in the above examples that the modern sects that have arisen that claim to worship or venerate these deities have very little to do with the historical and original concepts of these deities, in the ancient Greek, Roman or Eyptian contexts. Some are clearly more guilty of this than others! Does this reduce their credibility? Does this matter? Or is it a refinement? Or merely an appropriation and change in interpretation? Who is to say what is the 'right way' to perceive these deities and their meaning.
A guide to Neo-Paganism can be found on the Pagan Federation International's web site below.
Neo-Paganism is also defined on Wikipedia at the link below. It is wide ranging term describing a variety of traditions, including Wicca, Neo-Druidism, New Age Nature Worship (often a syncretic mixture of folklore and different pagan traditions), Renaissance Occultism and Hermetic (Ceremonial) magical traditions, ethnic mysticism (e.g. Ariosophy) and Reconstructionism. It may also draw on central American Shamanism. Neo-Paganism is often a syncretic mixture of polytheistic and spiritualist beliefs and practices.
Pagan and neo-pagan deities tend to centre around either emotional states or aspects of the planet earth and natural environment. If one looks at the universe as a whole, then this may perhaps put such concepts into perspective and make them seem like crude human interpretations of the immediate physical and emotional environments surrounding them and not really representative of the vast expanse of the cosmos, the nature of matter in different parts of the universe, and perhaps indeed life on other worlds. The pagan or neo-pagan view then seems a little 'small' and earth centric, a product of human perception and one's environment rather than reflecting universal constants, the complexity of the nature of matter and energy, and any spiritual essence that pervades the entire universe. Perhaps some deities are beyond their comprehension because they are by definition not human and do not experience human emotions or states of being, have no fleshy requirements etc. Does it all seem too 'neat and convenient'? Can it all really be literal?
Following on from this argument, if God created the universe and all the life in the universe, then does this mean that any extraterrestrial life that has never known Jesus will not know eternal life? Well, if one follows the Bible literally, then yes. However, one could argue that alien life forms have their own 'Christ Consciousness' in some form or other, perhaps not in name. Or perhaps they are subject to a vastly different array of emotions, but share some aspects of our human 'kinship altruism' which is a basis for social cohesion and faith of some sort. Of course, Christianity is as earth-centric as many forms of paganism, and probably more 'human centric' than most other religions. However, if one simply regards God in the pantheistic or panentheistic sense, that we are small parts of God, as all life is, then there is no need to be anything 'centric'.
One could argue that ascribing fixed personal traits to a particular deity (whether Pan or Jehovah) is not really very realistic. Why should a deity have such a crude and undeveloped personality? And keep this same mode for all eternity, like some kind of circus act, for occult practitioners to use for their own titillation and when they feel like using them for whatever reason or purpose? If humans can develop their personality in many directions to become balanced over time, then surely a deity can manage this, as it will exist throughout all eternity (allegedly) and is not limited by the neuro-associative programming of the physical and electrical brain? However perhaps this is an example of anthropomorphic expectations of what a deity could be. The idea of an anthropomorphic entity that answers all prayers directed to it is a little far fetched in some respects. For Allah/Jehovah this could be billions of prayers every day. God must be in some way at least a panentheistic essence from this perspective. One might even argue that the person praying is merely using visualisation and emotional intensity to create focus, humility and to reach certain parts of their subconscious. The prayer perhaps then is answered by the self.
One could also take the view that if a Left-Hand Path practitioner wishes to ally himself to a diety, why should that deity be interested in him? If one were to anthropomorphise that deity to having a similar LHP philosophy or archetype to the practitioner that the practitioner is seeking to invoke in himself and nurture. If a deity is compelled to interact with a practitioner, then presumably the level of respect or genuine interest will be further reduced!
If one views a deity as an archetype rather than a literal being, then of course it makes more sense, that one can draw on a particular trait or archetype depending on the occasion, as part of an invocation/banishing rite or ritual. From that standpoint one is tapping into that side of one's character or an archetypical quality that one wants to reinforce in one's or manifest in oneself at a given time. Some occultists take the view that an invocation/banishing rite has no effect on a deity whatsoever, but it has an effect on the practitioner. The practitioner taps into certain states of mind through the ceremony of occult ritual, to access that archetype, for personal development or ceremonial or pleasurable reasons, and in a sense it is completely independent of the supposed deity that is being invoked. If occult rites have their desired effect, then it could be considered inconsequential as to whether the actual deities referenced in them exist or not. Others might argue the exact opposite!
The use of archetypes for visualisation purposes is one reason why occultists and neo-pagans and followers of the Left-Hand Path pick mysterious names for themselves, often drawing on daemonology, as their 'handle' or name serves as an archetype that they wish to be associated with or try to embody in themselves, or perhaps symbolic self-deification, as they believe themselves to be like a certain deity or daemon. A little like a NLP practitioner calling himself 'Mr Excellent'!
If this is what 'atheists' are doing when engaging in occult ritual, e.g. LaVey Satanists of the Church of Satan, then on some level, are they able to achieve the same end by stripping out all the 'metaphor' from their magical rites, to remove all references to historical pagan deities and Cthulu, and the antithetical knee-jerk psychodrama (the 'deprogramming), and just leave in all the literal psychological parts, the actual connection to the subconscious using visualisation of an archetypical quality, calling it by its psychological name 'joy', 'malice' or whatever, with no 'deity references'? Would it still work? What would be left? NLP? Would Satanists be prepared to do this? Probably not, as there is clearly some titillation or pleasure gained from something 'naughty' or 'dark' or 'occult' for many that are attracted to Satanism for this reason. Some occult practitioners, in particular Chaos Magicians, may choose to strip out what they consider excessive ceremony from their rituals to condense them down to the bare minimum to achieve the desired effect. Those of this philosophy believe that much of esotericism has in built 'vagueness' in it to create the ambience of sanctity, mystery and power, but in the process perhaps introducing to much subjectivity in its meaning and reducing the overall effectiveness of the core goal of the rite in question.
Many occultists argue that a ritual is a necessity, as it focuses the mind on a specific subject, in a similar manner to meditation, visualisation or mantra, but most probably different subject matter. Ritual is therefore considered a useful means to an end for those that are not able to concentrate their 'Will' without any preparation. Some individuals may be able to concentrate their will 'at will', and Grigori Rasputin, the controversial Christian healer, mystic and adviser to the Russian royal family (who believed one should repeatedly sin in order to be redeemed, reflected in his heavy drinking and womanising, and perhaps gross manipulation of the Russian royalty) is reputed to have had this ability. Perhaps many monotheists and healers have this ability also, as they are in contact with their sense of Will or divinity, without the practice of ritual. Some occultists compare the need for ritual with the need for fasting, cleansing and ceremony in other religions to focus the mind.
One could also argue that NLP was created out of a study of the mechanisms of the occult, and Hermeticism in particular, and indeed many occultists regard the Law of Attraction (visualisation) as a form of magic. These techniques were perhaps in a sense 'de-occultised' and the psychological tools were genericised for use by the general population, irrespective of religious belief - whereby one could use these techniques within the context of one's own religion or to 'insert' the appropriate God in oneself, to suit. The founders of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, co-authored the 1975 books The Structure of Magic and The Structure of Magic II, which defined the fundamentals of NLP.
One could view the perception by practitioners of occult ritual, both theist and atheis, that rites work and are an effective tool in personal development, concentration and changing one's state of mind, that either they indeed have nothing to do with the deities referenced in them, and they are merely working with the subconscious and visualisations and representations of an archetype, or that they are dependent on the literal existence of the deity, and that they are communicating with a daemon or deity, whether they acknowledge it or not. Perhaps it is a little of both.
However, if a deity was a literal entity then surely a deity would evolve over time and grow up and become more rounded, having become 'bored' of always being a certain way. Perhaps 'boredom' then is ironically a modern human trait that is not present in deities. Surely representing a certain human emotion or quality from the limited human experience is too 'human-centric' and Gods by definition would of course have a much higher level of consciousness? Is expecting a personality or character trait not very anthropomorphic? Surely we have absolutely no idea of what a deity really is and what it is to be a deity? That is presumably why a deity is a deity? The concepts or archetypes behind deities have evolved throughout history, often when they are transplanted from one culture to another (when the donor culture changes or dies out) and take on new cultural meanings. This can be seen in Roman mythology drawing on Greek deities. It can also be seen in neo-pagan religions and reconstructionist neo-pagans. Occult authors such as Eliphas Levi have also served to change perceptions of certain deities, e.g. Baphomet.
Some pagan religions and philosophies (and philosophers and occults) adopt the view that a deity can appear in human form, or that certain people one meets are in fact deities, or house a deity. They regard the concept of a deity being so remote, unattainable or intangible as unappealing as it divorces the individual too much from the deity itself. This is perhaps in keeping with the Greco-Roman view of deities, that adopt human form to interact with mortals (or perhaps a form of metaphor within agnostic atheist occultism); and also with the Left-Hand Path view that all people are Gods or have the potential to become Gods (i.e. self-deification); and also with the monotheistic Christian view of Jesus, a deity in human form, and also the polytheistic religion Hinduism. Other monotheistic religions however reject the idea that the divine can manifest itself literally in human form, for example Judaism and Islam.
One could use the same argument for the idea of a single, universal God (with a rounded and highly evolved nature). This is one argument for panentheism (or indeed atheism). However, monotheistic concepts of God, although usually representing 'good', belie a much wider set of characteristics and sense of wisdom. God in that sense really is God, as he has had eternity to become wise. If one reaches such a high level of consciousness, one could argue that returning to low levels for his own titillation would not be something that he would do. One could argue that being spirit only, there is no requirement for such earthy and fleshy emotions and pursuits. Man was indeed supposed to be made in God's image, with the potential for higher consciousness, and the free will whether to chose this or not.
However, from my experience of friends and acquaintances, and from the observations of a close associate, who had hung around in various internet forums for pagans and Satanists (internet forum members could be argued to be slightly 'strange' anyway). We have both found that the level of ego is probably higher with Satanists in general, and slightly less so with pagans and witches. Pagans tend to be more concerned for the environment, for green causes, anarchy and social equality than their Satanic counterparts. However, it is clear that pagans in general, that we have come across and known, are far from 'ego-free', and do tend to display some rather gratuitously childish characteristics to varying degrees, reluctant to forgive and forget and turn the other cheek (desire for revenge or tit for tat), aggression, knee-jerk reactions to perceived 'threats' or disliked events or situations around them, moodiness, self-hatred, selfishness (the world owes me a living), wanting a buzz kind of mindset (entertain me, rather than make an effort to entertain yourself), an externalisation of their own personal problems (projected onto the world around them), unwilling to help one's 'neighbour', lacking appreciation or gratitude, reducing things to the lowest common denominator (often a result of drug use), knee jerk anti-establishment and anti-Christian, and a need to fulfil desires and addictions slavishly.
The majority of pagans that I have known have been psychologically dependent on dope and other psychedelic drugs, and often alcohol. These issues seem to afflict Satanists of course, perhaps to a greater degree, and amongst those who use drugs, coke and alcohol are probably the drugs of choice. These observations are of course subjective and depedent on the individual encountered to varying degrees. One may not necessarily regard any of these as bad qualities however, but as reflections of a 'free individual'. One could argue that the belief system and philosophy of that individual should in some respect be liberating and make the person more emotionally mature, wise and balanced, and ultimately make the person feel happy and glad to be alive. Whichever belief system or religion he chooses. Maybe one should check out what the 'other side' or what others of different cultures are doing!
Modern pagans could be considered to view historical pagan religions through rose-tinted spectacles, and be slightly borgeois about their faiths. Ancient pagan religions of Ancient Eygpt, Rome and Greece were hardly humanitarian in nature and their respective cultures were quite barbaric. That is not to say that modern culture is free from barbarism - indeed it could be argued that the barbarism is more indirect and hidden away from the average 'consumer', however society, driven by consumers, is responsible for a variety of moral problems, nationally and internationally. If one considers non-reconstructionist pagan religions that still persist today, for example those in the Amazon Basin, these cultures do not represent a 'Garden of Eden' idealism by any means, but are very self-destructive and populations are decimated by tribal war and excessive drug taking on behalf of the shamans who drive themselves half mad and who are slaves to the spirits/deities/demons they worship who drive them to attack other members of their tribe or attack other tribes. The average age of a Yanomamo is 22! Clearly the average life expectancy is not very high. Anthropological theory holds that such cultures are just different and should be preserved, but one's moral sense may perhaps tell one otherwise. That is not to say that replacing such indigenous cultures with an environmentally unsound, selfish, unhealthy, soulless and mindless consumer society is a good idea. Indeed, since the discovery of gold in the 1970s, thousands of miners have streamed into Yanomami territory, decimating native populations with diseases such as measles, influenza and tuberculosis.
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