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Paganism/Satanism )

To: alt.religion.wicca,alt.pagan,alt.satanism,alt.magick.tyagi,alt.religion,talk.religion.misc,talk.religion.newage,alt.christnet,alt.religion.christian
From: (nocTifer)
Subject: Re: Paganism/Satanism (was Paganism, what is it? ( ...))
Date: 13 Jun 1996 10:50:12 -0700

49960612 AA1 (Stephen R. Figgins):
[re: 'pagan' = 'nonchristian']
|Okay, that is a very textbook definition of Pagan.  

upon this comment you based a great deal of response, and with good reason.
most Neopagans haven't thought very carefully about what religion is, how
their activities constitute religion, or especially what other religions
might be.  we receive a jumble of information and have difficulties
knowing what is right and wrong, whether there should be absolute rights
or wrongs, if we like society the way it is or if we want it to be some-
thing else but we're not sure what, etc., etc.  it can get quite complex,
especially living in today's world.

|>-And finally, to all those who say that paganism and satanism are 
|>similar, I agree and disagree.

|You have already said that satanism IS pagan.  Are "paganism" and
|"pagan" somehow referring to different groups of people?  

yes, this is a common combination of terms and comes from twin sources
of pop-wicca and anthropologists/historians.  something is 'pagan'
if it is not Christian (as this is what Christians say).  something
is 'paganism' if it is part of 'our religion', now that we've decided
we are one and yet we still haven't set many restrictions on what this
can and can't include.

some Neopagans favor animal sacrifice by priests and priestesses, some
only for ritual consumption, others find sacrifice at all to be repugnant,
or feel that it should not harm any being or come from antagonistic energies.
some are quite eclectic and some are very particular about what they want
to be associated with. 

and it is this: association, which is probably very greatly at issue.  the
fear reaction from identifying with certain key terms can be immense,
especially if there is an institution behind them (or one building a 
chimaera to frighten us and turn us against ourselves and each other) 

it sounds like Satanism (the chimaera).  it is Christianity (the institution).
 it rots the very soul of religion just as organized religion is an oxy-moron.

|>We are on seemingly too opposite poles when it comes to morals 
|>concerning magick and religion.  This, I believe, we all can agree.

|Is there some set of pagan morals?  

the "pagan morals" to which you refer do not in actuality exist.  there
are broad-reaching ethical behaviors observed by Neopagans, yet there
is also the laws of the herd, and of the wild, and of society, and these
don't always coincide.

most Neopagans strike me as pacifist natural mystics who favor active
ecological platforms (as 'Green Party') and capitalist regimes through 
their lifestyle (white, middle-class American).

in essence, as with most religions Neopagans appear to set humans on
top of the heap in relation to themselves, demonstrating again that as a 
whole we have yet to deal with our problems effectively (this reason is 
given as to why alien species won't contact us -- we're too dangerous
at this stage of development: CATERPILLAR-LEMMINGS (eating up the planet
and destined to mass-extinction through mutual violation).

|Satanic morals must be at least a part of pagan morals, because you 
|have already said they were pagan.

no, you're mixing up the terms (don't mind that they are already mixed
up to begin with ;>).  Neopagan morals are different from Satanic morals
because most pagans do not wish to 'harm' others (this is the newage
pop-political mindtrap).

|Buddhist morals by your same definition are also pagan morals.  

they are pagan morals in that they are not Christian, but they are
not pagan as in (Neo)paganism, the religion.  that is how I hear it.
two inflections, one a generated caricature in the negative, the 
second a fabricated 20th-century phenomenon initiated largely on
account of the repeal of witch laws in England in 1950's and '60s.

|>Please post back whether you agree with is or disagree.  If we 
|>seem to have a majority agree, the next time this thread comes up (It 
|>came up last year), we can just FAQ the parties involved.

beautiful!!!!!  you illustrate PRECISELY how 'FAQ's are used to shut
people up. ;>  if everyone agrees, then we make a 'FAQ' and that tells
us what is 'true' about it.  in other words, we're using a reference
file as a knowledge set.  this is science in action.  the challenge is
when we come upon people who have different knowledge sets (FAQs) and
you wish to compare and contrast.  this system appears to be limited in
that in most cases the participants don't want a diversity of opinion
presented within them.  typically this results in discussion chill.

|There seems to be some body of relgions out there that are considered 
|to belong to a group often refered to as Paganism.  

I'd call it Neopaganism and it is a body of eclectics using ceremonial
structures to worship the gods through means which change and grow,
sometimes incorporating magic(k), often utilizing traditional symbols
and structures to effect desired changes in vision and, if possible,
with the power of the spell.

|Much like the many branches of Christianity are a part of a group of 
|religions thought of as Christianity.  

it is very much like this.  if you ask a batch of Christians whether a
Presbyterian was a Christian you will get 4 different answers.  they 
define their enemies for them and utilize a special language to designate
this, an etymological antagonism factor present within many religious
organizations (especially the more pervasive and/or dangerous).

|You seem to go with the dictionary definition of paganism, (not Judaism, 
|not Christianity, not Muslim) but then your words seem to say that there 
|is some group of religions you think of as Paganism, 

that is correct.  the dictionaries don't yet recognize the modern revival
traditions (attempting to recreate what they imagine of pre-Christian
rites and perpetuating a fantastic mystery tradition in the process)

|which is distinguished from other religions, 

most of them believe this, yes, though I don't see how this can be
maintained except through tradition (a northern European preference
in regards divinities, for example) and legislation (an almost
impossible task, one which divides families)

|[does] Satanism that group of pagan religions which you are 
|thinking of as Paganism?  

yes, you have the question being discussed now completely.  the
question is whether things *called* Satanism may be included within
Neopaganism, and it brings to the discussion the LIMITATIONS of
Neopaganism, something which quite a few apparently disagree about

|Your answer, appears to be no, that although there are similarities, 
|our moral values separate us from each other.  

that is what many Neopagans will tell you, yes, though they are usually
of Christian background and have not yet learned to let people define
their religion from within rather than attempt to generalize from rumor.

|(I am not convinced that our morals are so dissimilar, but I don't want 
|to turn this into a discussion of Satanic morals.)

the difference would appear to turn around violence and when this is
acceptable.  many Neopagans are Wiccans and accept what is called 'the
Wiccan Rede' as a guideline and in some cases as a rule which forbids 
them to harm.  those who have thought about this more deeply of course
interpret this to mean aggression or coercion.  where to draw the lines
in assessing these conditions and their effects on identification with
Neopaganism (by whatever name you choose) is the heart of the debate.

|...Neo-Paganism.  ...does have boundaries beyond just "non-Christian."  
|Those boundaries right now are not very well defined.  Most Pagans go 
|by a kind of "it feels like paganism" criteria.  

yes, you are familiar with the mindset.  it travels through religious
communities when we are new and/or involve group practice in some way
(which we may not understand for years yet identify with well before this).

|...people who have read Luisah Teish's book Jamblaya can see how Voudon 
|can be very much like Paganism.  

of course.  I think she was very familiar with the Neopagan community, if
not an active member.  I hope others with more knowledge of her relation
will speak on her behalf as I am an unreliable source on her works.

|Is Haitian Voodoo just too dark for us to accept?  How about Hinduism?  
|Is Hinduism part of that group we think of as Paganism?  How about Shintoism?

I think alot of Neopagans would say that if you want to do those religions
then that is fine, and if they have their own name and identity, then that
is great too, but it is not part of Neopaganism (i.e. it is only 'pagan'
in that it is nonChristian), not officially.  unless the religions which
you mention agree to the type of eclectic erotic frolic which many Neopagans
enjoy in their religion and are agreed to the limitations set up at the 
community events (the battle lines) then you would have a hard time calling
yourselves 'Neopagan'.  I'm sure that the description of what 'Neopagan'
consists changes across the globe, but I'm pretty sure alot of it was
inspired by Crowley and Gardner and Valiente and others less specialised.

|I think Paganism is a different religious movement, one that only
|really started rolling about 20 years ago.  It has a way of taking
|world mythologies and sewing them together into ritual.  Some pagans
|hold to a particular tradition others do not.  Paganism as a new
|religious movement draws from other religions for its rituals and this
|blurs the distinction between what is pagan and what is not.  

you and I have a similar experience of what I call 'Neopaganism'.
have you attended many rites and corresponded with people regarding
practical forms and liturgies?

|For instance, if you read "lilith" magazine you can get a glimpse at how
|when Judaism meets Femminism it can develop into a very pagan religion.  

I'm unsure that there is a precise boundary between Judaism and Neopaganism,
except perhaps as defined by specific groups, like Church of All Worlds, or
Covenant of the Goddess or Circle.

|It would be possible to be a pagan with a Jewish tradition,
|celebrating Jewish holidays, calling on Jewish deities, but all with a
|new perspective of what a deity is, and how we interact with them.
|You could be a pagan with a Buddhist tradition, and invoke different
|Boddhisatva's in each of the four directions.  You could be a pagan
|with an Egyptian tradition, or a Hindu tradition.

of course the religious may ask you if you are really connecting with
their deities or if you are 'just playing at it' or 'making things up'.
the same may be asked of any religious. ;>

|In each of these cases, the seed religion is interpreted in a new way,
|worshipped in a different way.  You wouldn't just pray to Adonai, you
|might invoke him!  You might draw Kwan Yin down on yourself and begin
|"aspecting" her/him.  As the priest in the movie The Sorceress says,
|Dog saints and Mother Trees!  This is Paganism!"

precisely, and within it I hope that there is some focus upon values
which I associate with Neopaganism; namely freedom of religion and
the deep value for wild nature (Satan, most Neopagans associate him 
with Pan or Cernunnos, if any at all)

|I don't think we will come to a conclusion as to what defines Paganism.  

we can when it involves certain communities and covenants.

|In fact, many people are drawn to Paganism because of its lack of 
|definition.  But there are definitions, even if we don't
|express them directly.  There is a hidden definition of Paganism.

those who seek the freedom to do what they want are given permission
by most Neopagan communities, likely recommending specific local
authorities in the case of questions or before doing anything too
difficult or dangerous to mind or body.  it depends alot on the
local culture, I'd imagine and what it could sustain.

|Maybe it would be easier to express what paganism isn't. 

it is worth a try, at least. :>

|Paganism [NOT] "Christ is the only way to salvation!"
|Paganism [NOT] one-true-wayism.  
|Paganism [NOT] everyone sitting in pews facing a lecturer, 
|Paganism [NOT] endless discussions about the nature of the universe 
| (although we think that is fun!)  

with these I think most Neopagans would cheerfully agree, though I'm
unsure they'd all be willing to limit the latter two too much if it
floated people's boats and they could do it somewhere else quietly.

|Paganism is ecstatic!  
|Paganism is hands on!  

again, agreed strongly.

|Paganism does not separate matter and spirit in a system of 
|hierarchical values.  

this one varies TREMENDOUSLY.  traditionally I think there was a
bit of language from the Elders supporting this division, and my
impression is that it hasn't really gone away.  I personally don't
separate them, but I find myself at times alone of this tendency
in a group of professing Neopagans. ;>

|Paganism says flesh is good and a part of spirit.  

whoa, now you're starting to get controversial.  I know that I
don't even acknowledge a spirit excepting our subjective experience,
and I don't truly believe that the body is PART of the spirit.  no,
I'd be willing to bet you that most Neopagans are materialist
scientists with occasional shamanic energy-web associative schemes.
within such paradigms they sometimes consider magic(k) to be self-
instruction or self-transformation (not always looking at where
they want to go so much as experimenting with the technology).

|The divine is immanent in all things.

though what this means to Neopagans is still not understood.
it represents a confirmation of nature as the Giver of All,
yet says nothing about whether this 'divine' also exists in
some throne somewhere in space, is in there behind our 
appendix, has a big blue shell in our light temples in space,
or is the Lord of the Underworld and feared by Christians everywhere!

|Paganism isn't about separating things into parts, Paganism is about
|seeing the whole!  These things are very Pagan.  We can see how a dog
|can be a saint, a cat a goddess, a tree a wise teacher and healer.

precisely.  now instead of talking about limitations you are discussing
freedoms and this is where most Neopagans will agree with you.

|...Satanists proclaiming their religion as the left hand path of Paganism 
|...has made us look at how we were harming another religion in our 
|attempts to avoid religious persecution.  

unfortunately it didn't show it to the people who continue to do it. ;/
the Church of All Worlds continues to spread the disease.  write them
and tell them of your displeasure at their lies and hypocrisy.  demand
that Mr. Aquino's excellent letter be included or the publication stopped as far as I know.  they'll be happy to hear from you.

|It makes us look at what exactly Satanism is, 

I disagree.  all it makes us do is separate ourselves from Satanism or
accept it (for whatever it is, at a distance, Not in My Backyard!) in
Neopaganism.  some people care what is included in this silly Satanism
and I would not hold this against them.  where it comes from and what
it most closely resembles may help us in determining better the relation-
ship between the two, yet I have rarely if ever seen descriptions of
Satanic rites, excepting that my Satanist friends whom I trust tell me
that the ritual technology is effectively identical (between Satanists
and Neopagans), though I presume the themes change slightly and there
may a bit more blood in Satanic workings. ;>

|and makes us look at what Paganism is.  

with this I agree, and its gets people focussed on important issues,
like whether they want limits to the religion of which they are a part,
whether there should be limits set GENERALLY on religions which are
as eclectic and open as their own, where the harm lies in allowing all
manner of weirdo into association with us, etc.

|If we are going to say "we are not them" then we had better be clear 
|on exactly who "we" are and who "they" are and why we are not them.  

this is precisely the difficulty of defining a religion for another.
if we do this and say 'we are not that' it always leaves it open 
for those who we were trying to get away from saying 'well, we are
not that either!'  if Neopagans REALLY want to find a difference
between the two they have to look at them.  this is a form of
religious influence, to be looked at and to require it, especially
when we wear and demonstrate our religion in our daily lives.

|We had also better make sure that we don't send our detractors 
|down the street to pound on the Satanist's door.

ah but that is unfortunately the case with the Church of All Worlds
and its offensive publication on 'Witchcraft and Satanism'.

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