Thursday, February 25, 2010

Those Most Troubling Points of Darkness - Part 4b

This is part four - the second half - of a four part series taken from my long article, “Are Witches Dupes of Satan”, which I wrote as a response to a book published by my ex-high priest, Bill Schnoebelen. The book was entitled “Wicca; Satan’s Little White Lie,” and it has bedeviled the witchcraft community ever since it was first published by Chick publications. This is the fourth part, which discusses and analyzes Bill’s book, particularly those accusations that are most difficult to explain to outsiders and most troubling.

Bill says in his book, “If it quacks like a Satanic duck, then it is a Satanic duck!” - and he is referring to several characteristics of Witchcraft that would seem to lend a little credence to his accusations. We, who are practitioners of the new earth based religions, know that we don’t worship Satan, but we also know that aspects of our mysteries appear to be shrouded in darkness and that they take place in an underworld, the Lord of which, seems to bear a superficial resemblance to the Christian Devil. The Horned God as the Lord of Darkness, whose emblem is the inverted pentagram, seems to be a simulacrum of the Devil, despite whatever spin we might want to give him. He appears as a man and goat joined into a composite creature, who is animal, man and also a god, and although this is an archaic image of proto-man that is older than recorded history. It is also a new image for a new God. The animal-man-god is an archetype for a higher than normal state of human consciousness, called by Ken Wilber, the centauric state of conscious development - signifying the mind state of the Body-Mind (Sanscrit - Tanamana).

The Horned God is also represented as the cycle of living, dying, and being-reborn-again aspect of the Deity that sympathizes and identifies with the ephemeral condition of all life, which is within and beyond life, emerging as the transcendental Spirit. Thus the God of the Witches is both old and archaic, but also very new and emblematic of the coming age of (truly) spiritual  humanity, (as opposed to religious humanity - our current phase). We have become ourselves an image of God. We must discover this image and know it as the source of spirit within us.

The images and meanings that I have presented above about the Horned God would seem to represent something altogether different than what we know about Satan, the Christian Devil. And that is only the beginning of the differences between Christian Evil and Neopagan Mysteries. It’s the difference between those who fear and avoid the darkness and those who cautiously learn to master it. This act requires some courage and even daring, a very centauric quality.

Everyone who is even moderately spiritual knows that the highest state of being is empowered by love and that hatred, anger and violence are the destructive forces that negate and dispel all forms of conscious union. The Horned God represents the heroic, mortal and immortal quest of all humankind, the quest for the source of our spirit and its awakening and revelation through us. The centauric aspect of God is represented as the sacrament of life itself, fully blessed and fully lived in the bliss of eternal love. And that is the God of the Witches!

In the underworld, where all the mysteries take place, we encounter the divine Mysticon, and through it, we are initiated (transformed) and return to the world of light, reborn and regenerated. The cycle of light and darkness are the transformations that occur in our life, but our darkening times are not to be confused with times of despair and dissolution, nor do they obscure any guilt or malfeasance. As we progress through life, we alternately open and close ourselves to the world around us. The times of opening up are times of light and the times of closing off are the times of darkness. It is only in the times of darkness, when we are closed off from the outside world, that we may experience the mysteries of our own soul and spirit. And also, it is an error to remain in the darkness, for we must enter into the light and translate our newly acquired wisdom into life affirmations and aspirations.

The underworld ordeal is only half of the equation, since it requires an entrance into the world of light and love to complete it. The cycles of conscious evolution are easily stimulated by the cycles of nature, the light and dark phases of the Moon and the stations and seasons of the Sun. So it is that physical life itself initiates us, and our spiritual connection with the Absolute guides us to that ultimate and great event; where the Goddess as archetypal woman and the God as archetypal man join together in the sacred union that expresses the Union of All Being - the origin of all Divine Emanations (as the Qabbalists would say). The eternal cycle of light and darkness in the spiritual and physical domains becomes like the House of God. It is the symbolic Temple of the Human Spirit and all things perceived and realized within it are the dreams of the gods. It is astonishing to me that anyone could ever consider such a domain as this one composed exclusively of evil and sin. Such a mental bias boggles the mind! But then knowledge has always been the enemy of religious fanaticism. So the taint of evil is removed from the underworld where the mysteries are revealed!

The inverted pentagram, depicting the face of the goat, has long been associated with Satanism, and indeed, it was used as the emblem of the Church of Satan. The name Leviathan (actually a demonized Tiamat, the World as Goddess) is emblazoned on the emblem. Lurking within the symbolism is the visage of the Templar God, Baphomet. There is undoubtably an overlap between what would be considered Christian Satanism and another discipline, Chthonic Paganism. There is a striking difference between them, although to the eyes of a Christian, the differences are subtle. It’s far easier to lump them all together as being Satanic.

The Christian Devil is not an ancient deity that goes back to the beginning of time, as Elaine Pagels has demonstrated quite ably in her book, “The Origins of Satan.” The concept of the Devil as adversary to God has evolved over the last two millennia. Only Islam and Hasidic Judaism share this theological concept with Christianity. Bill states that the Devil is as old as time itself and he points to what he calls the oldest book in the Hebrew Bible, which is the Book of Job, to reinforce his arguments. Bill places the age of the Book of Job at 1,500 B.C.E., but this is quite absurd and very poor scholarship, for the Book of Job has been dated to no later than the 6th century B.C.E., during the time of the Babylonian captivity. Bill is off by a mere millennia, as are a lot of his arguments.

According to scholars, the Devil evolved from an angel who acted as the tempter and tester of mankind and was an instrument of God, not an adversary. It was not until Judaism was exposed to the dualism of Persian Zoroastrianism that the concept of fallen angels, powerful daemons and the Devil began to be developed into a by-product of the Hebrew religion. Nowhere in the Hebrew scriptures is the concept of Satan as a deadly adversary of God supported, since God is one and indivisible. In Islam, Satan is seen as the great trivializer, a being who is comically depicted as always trying to ape God, and who does a poor job of it; so he is consigned to engaging in minor mischief. It would be a grave error to give too much importance or power to Satan in the various practices of Islam. Only in Christianity is the Devil given so much importance and power. His role has been the primary justification for the incarnation of Jesus and the bestowal of the powers of the Holy Ghost, to cast out demons who are sent against humanity by the Devil. Yet there is even a false Christ, known as the Anti-Christ, who forces the final conflict between evil and good, which is the Apocalypse of the Book of Revelations.

But the forces of evil are always at a great disadvantage and the scales are tipped considerably to the side of God, since he is considered omnipotent and omniscient and incapable of being defeated. One has to wonder why there is even a character like Satan to defy and antagonize the one true God, unless God himself had made it so, creating and deploying the Devil like some amusing side story to keep the common crowd interested in the evolving narrative of the Gospels. It is without any doubt that those who actually give homage and worship to Satan must also be engaged in the eternal dialectic of good and evil within the context of Christianity, since the concept of Satan as imperfect adversary only exists in Christianity. It could only be the seduction of perversity that would cause anyone to ally themselves with a being and a force that was so obviously going to be defeated, and whose works are easily overturned by the faithful and by the will of God. Only a Christian could find any value in worshiping the Devil in this manner, and then, usually hedging his bets with forgiveness and absolution before death makes a present of his soul to the Evil One. This is a reoccurring theme in Christian stories depicting the plight of individuals who are tempted by Satan.

To us pagans or witches, such a context of beliefs and theology about the Devil would be meaningless, since we don’t subscribe to the dual world view of Christianity and we don’t believe in a unified force of evil. How we interpret the world from a spiritual stand-point represents how we operate in that world.

One could deduce that all of the evil perpetuated in the world comes from a common source, which would be supernatural and embodied in an almost godlike being, acting against the authority of God and the common good. One could also deduce that evil in the world is perpetuated by humanity, not as a unified whole, but as isolated chaotic instances of mankind’s ignorance and brutality; the animal aspect of humanity without the quality of the god aspect to enlighten and ennoble it.

The Devil is an immortal angelic being who has fallen from grace and acts as God’s adversary. The Horned God is not immortal, since he dies and is reborn each year and represents the life of the land. These two beings could not represent two more different aspects of godhead, and so we must consider them as distinct and part of two completely different theologies and world-views.

Christianity has used their definition of the Devil as a kind of scape goat, placing all the dark aspects of their Deity, including the mysteries, into the hands of the adversary of God. In this fashion, they have made their highest deity the principle source of all good and light and taken from him any blame for the evils of the world. So the God of the Christians is the God of light, love and compassion; the Devil is the repository of all that is gross, dark and negative. This is quite different than Chthonic Paganism.

Chthonic Paganism is the realization of the dark side of the deity as an aspect of the mysteries. It consists of the transformations and the power of death itself, the cessation of all life, but also the amplification of the domain of spirit. In Neopaganism and Witchcraft, there is no need to split the deity into light and dark, good and evil, since all of these represent the common cycle of human existence. So to the Neopagan, the deities are the source of light and darkness, life and death; but humanity and also the chaotic nature of chance (fate) take the blame for accidents and human engineered calamities. There is no evil entity driving these cataclysms, only the folly and tragedy of human existence. Since there is no Devil in Neopaganism and Witchcraft, the concept of deity is not split between light and darkness, so there is a possibility for such an adherent to experience the unified aspect of the Deity, which would be impossible in protestant Christianity.

Also, since we believe in the immanent aspect of the Deity, we are also not barred from merging our own minds and spirits with that of the Gods. However, the Christian Devil is also a convenient device that keeps Christians from getting too close to their deities, and acts as a profound divisive power that allows some to claim that they are saved while condemning others as unbelievers and unredeemed, planting the seeds of fear that urges religious conversion and persecution. We who follow the earth based spiritual traditions have no need for such a device, since we are content to live in peace with our neighbors, who may or may not share our faith. We don’t seek to change the world and we don’t proselytize our faith. We believe in a world of plurality, so we see deities everywhere and use tolerance and compassion to guide our dealings with others who worship differently. Therefore, to us, either all religions are correct or none of them are correct, since they all seem to stem from a common experience of the spiritual dimensions of consciousness.

We should also write a small paragraph to dismiss the analogies between Lucifer, the Devil and the Solar God of the Witches, which appear many times in Bill’s book and represents one of his primary theses. He has stated that Witches and Nepagans worship a solar deity called Lucifer, who is really the Devil. It is easy to cast this aspersion on the followers of Wicca before a Christian audience, who use the name Lucifer as an alternative to the name Satan, although once again, they are not even remotely the same being.

The name Lucifer is a Latin appellation, which means Light-Bearer (Latin - lucifer), and is a title given to Helios-Apollo, the Sun God of the Greeks and the Romans, as well as an appellation of the Morning Star, Venus. How this name came to be confused with the Devil is an interesting tale, but it is based on an error of translation. The source of this mistranslation is found in the book of Isaiah, who poetically describes the fall of a great prince (Isa. 14:12-15), as a euphemism for the day star, son of the dawn, who is cast from heaven. The word luminous falling star was translated from Hebrew into Latin (of the Vulgate), as Lucifer, so this appellation became the name of Satan, who was cast down from heaven after failing in his rebellion against God. However, Isaiah never meant to confuse the fall of an arrogant prince, filled with his own self importance, with something of greater theological importance, such as the fall of the Devil.

Ever since that translation error, Lucifer has become another name for Satan, but we can see the error and the misuse of this appellation. All of the Witches I have met use the name Lugh to name their solar god or some other Celtic or pagan variation, and I have never met any witches or neopagans who have used the name Lucifer for their solar deity. Micheael Bertiaux used the name, so do a lot of Theosophists, who have corrected the translation error and use it in its literal definition as Light Bearer. Michael also used it to classify Satanists who were more progressive and Promethean in their philosophy, calling them Luciferians. Bill also uses this term in his book, but he is unable to really stick the name Lucifer to the practicing witches of his tradition (we used the name Lugh), so his entire argument about this name, that it is the “smoking gun” or proof that witches worship the devil, is completely erroneous.

The final and most disturbing theological argument that Bill uses in his book is that we who have converted to earth based spiritual traditions from various forms of Christianity are still subject to its rules and judgements, irregardless of our present faith and beliefs. This, of course, is based upon the supposition that Evangelical Christianity is the only true faith. If one has not declared Jesus Christ as his true savior, then that person is destined to a final spiritual perdition.

It appears that Bill’s numerous previous conversions do not affect him in any way, since he is now on the one true spiritual path. Yet there is a great flaw in this argument. On the one hand a person may convert to Evangelical Christianity, all other previous faiths that one might have followed before are wiped out and they do not cause any kind of adverse judgement on that individual. On the other hand, if one converts to another faith, particularly non-Christian, then one is in grave error, but even so, according to Bill that conversion doesn’t count. We are either followers of the one true faith (and saved), or we are damned to perdition. Once again, Bill has to have it both ways! His conversion is valid and mine is invalid because I did not convert to the one true faith. Of course, we have dealt with this issue previously and it’s ridiculous to even consider Bill’s flawed argument that his faith is the only one that is correct and true.

So we need to examine his logic that conversion wipes the spiritual slate clean. If we accept this logic, then not only are conversions to Witchcraft and Neopaganism valid, but so is Bill’s conversion. So we can say with confidence that all conversions are valid, from one religion to another. This would mean that Bill cannot be judged as an apostate and oath-breaker in regards to Wicca, since he is no longer a witch. It would also mean that we can’t be judged as apostate Christians, since we are no longer following the Christian faith.

However, we can judge Bill for the spreading of lies and the instigating of hatred between followers of his own branch of Christianity, and those of us who are following the earth based spiritual traditions. Bill is also spreading lies about Mormonism, Catholicism, Masonry, and other various legitimate systems of the occult. For these crimes against us, we can judge him most harshly; for we have not in any manner either attacked Bill and his faith, nor have we spread lies about him and his religious practices. Yet Bill attacks a great many people and their faiths in a premeditated and vicious manner. Bill uses the false logic that his faith is the correct one. Even when using lies to condemn us, he is not perjuring himself, since to combat the Devil, all methods and tactics are reasonable.

We have proven that this logic is egregiously in error, so can question the nature of Bill’s faith, his truthfulness or lack thereof, and the motives that drove him to persecute us. We have shown that his motives are quite selfish, since they are wholly about his own self aggrandizement, that Bill aggressively seeks power, authority and wealth within his community. This is all done at the expense of a people who represent a small harmless minority, who at one time were his spiritual peers. Bill has shown that he is not only grossly distorting the truth, but he is also helping to create divisions in our spiritually heterogeneous society. This alone is a great and terrible act of spiritual treason. The fact that these dubious works are also materially rewarding for him, makes Bill and his business partners seem like an evil force of selfish callousness infecting our society. Perhaps the public should look for Satan hiding amongst the money, power and greed in Bill Schnoebelen’s With One Accord Ministry. 

To be continued....

Frater Barrabbas


  1. Laughs! When i was with my first group we got many a laugh out of that satanic duck line.

  2. @Frater POS - folks have told me that the whole line of Devil Ducks that you can buy was inspired by Bill's phrase used in his book. I doubt that he even knows about it.