a cache of usenet and other text files pertaining
to occult, mystical, and spiritual subjects.


Global Religion and Terminology

To: alt.magick.tyagi,talk.religion.newage,,alt.mythology,talk.religion.misc,alt.christnet.demonology,alt.magick.goetia,alt.pagan
From: (SOD of the CoE)
Subject: Global Religion and Terminology (was Call for Demon Lists)
Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2000 21:27:14 GMT

50000328 IVom Hail Satan!

sri catyananda (
>>If anyone can supply further URLs connected with this topic --
>>particularly demon-lists which contain specific, scholarly reference
>>citations and/or linguistic and cultural notations -- we'd be very

I left this so that newcomers may be apprised of the call for information.
however, below I will wish to focus more on the ambiguity of categories
in religious terminology and what this means in terms of sociology.

>>I am especially interested in obtaining the names of Hebrew, Sumerian,
>>Babylonian, and Greek demons -- as opposed to what i call "wrathful or
>>disease gods of other cultures who can be called 'demons' to pad out an
>>illustrated book."

the way that the term 'demon' has come to be used by Christian culture,
it seems to be applied to spirits and gods other than Jehovah and his
retinue of angels. the rest are classified as 'devils', 'demons', or,
in Muslim culture, djinn, efreet, etc., and dismissed as of a lesser
category with respect to the cosmological framework which has their
chosen god (usually a cosmic originator) as its central focus.

those outside Christian culture whose origins or relationship is of a
similar comparable history (e.g. Muslims) will use similar names to
explain their cosmological identification of xenogenetic spiritual
entities (those arising outside one's cultural or subcultural paradigm).

this appears to have parallels all over the world. Indians and Avestan
religious, for example, invert the nomenclature in the description but
not character of the hierarchies they describe, one promoting 'devas',
one 'asuras', over the other. this religious contention has been directly
compared with the history of Greek religion (or at least mythology)
with its titanic and deity stratifications (the new generation
killing or displacing the previous in a temporal struggle for primacy).

there appears to be a common human experience of developing one's
cosmological knowledge system with a radial and home-centered bias.
in Asia, Westerners have been occasionally identified as 'white-
eyed devils' (as interpreted by Westerners). this has its correlate
in Western culture where Asians and others have been depicted in
demonic and/or theriomorphic ways. 
>>In other words, my objective is to avoid being party to the creation of
>>"pseudo-demons" -- something that has been done extensively since the
>>19th century by Westerners who are openly disrespectful to religions
>>which worship or propitiate "negative aspect" deities. 

I think your objective is valiant, but not specifically related to the
time and culture with which you are identifying it. most religious will
construct a paradigm which supports their historical descriptions of
insular cosmological and theocratic structure, even those which seem,
ostensibly, to be inclusive and accepting. these differences are not
possible to reconcile except through accepting the pole of the insular
origination (what you are properly identifying as cultural antagonism)
or transcending cultural insularism through a kind of fragmented
anthropological survey (something which students of religion might
find important). this latter "solution" does not fulfill the needs of
the world's religious, which is evidenced by very many Euro-American
identifications of Greek and Roman religion as "mythology" as compared
to the "scripture" of many other (usually considered to be 
contrastingly modern) religions.

a good example here is how Jesus is seen by many Indians (Hindus,
Buddhists, etc.). by many he is accepted as "an incarnation of
Visnu", and this exact interpretive displacement is ascribed by 
scholars (however reliable, I am not sure of prevailing winds of 
explanation on this issue) to the disappearance of Buddhism from
India, since Gotama was regarded as just such a Vaisnavite
'avatara'. to the religious who regard Jesus Christ as the sole
child of the only Cosmic Creator (not the local space-time 
'demiurgos' Brahma who may be one of billions generated by the
chosen god, whether this be Siva, Sakti, Kali, Visnu, etc.). the
characterization of Jesus or their Creator God in this way is
an egregious disrespect, and yet this is not INTENDED to be such
a disrespectful act. it is the way that the devoted, regionally-
insular religious have learned to integrate xenogenetic data into 
their knowledge-base.

what you do not appear to be taking into consideration here,
however, is that there is a THIRD contingent developing, one
which is GLOBAL in its perspective, uses scholastic and artistic
collage to construct their own *personal* coherent narrative in
a knowledge-base of design relevant to the individual. in some
cases this is also POLITICALLY-BASED, intentionally reinterpreting
xenophobic and xeno-displatial language and iconography so as to
generate an environment where a spectrum of spiritual entities may
be described and appreciated for ALL of their qualities (what I'd
call the Neopagan dream).

while not all modern religious do this, some do in fact identify
'demons' as the rough equivalent of 'spirits which are considered
objectionable to the cultures which have traditionally described
them', and have accepted them as worthy of, in some cases, worship. 
>>When such writers
>>attempt to force wrathful deities into the role of "demons" in a
>>Judeo-Isalmic-Christian monotheistic / racist framework, the result is
>>often ridiculous and hateful: Prime examples of the "creation of
>>pseduo-demons" occur in the works of Anton LaVey, who equated the Hindu
>>god Siva with the Jewish demon Satan, and Victoria Hyatt, who referenced
>>the Hindu goddess Kali as a "demon" because she is a wrathful deity.

there is no such thing as a "wrathful deity" outside the angry Jehovah
to the Judeochristislamic fundamentalist. we aren't going to change
that by converting them to a transcultural cosmological framework, and
to describe EVERY instance of these interpretations as 'disrespectful'
or 'culturally appropriative' is plainly an exaggeration.

it is one thing to consider a religious who is NOT imbued in hir
religious culture and understands the differential she is making
when she marginalizes another culture's gods and religion as of
a degraded or evil character in comparison to hir own. it is quite
another to consider someone who is fundamentally (pun intended)
wedded to a restricted and limiting perspective on the cosmos and
who describes their understanding of the universe unambiguousedly
biased toward their perceptual preferences. AND it is another
thing altogether to consider an eclectic religious from a largely
fragmented and solitary spiritual pursuit attempting the sometimes 
impossible task of trying to be respectful of insulary knowledge-
based religious frameworks while constructing a meaningful
theological and cosmological symbolism to use in ritual, worship,
and philosophic communications out of what is becoming more and
more a local environment (the planet).

these three 'poles' of religious construction and expostulation
are complicated by the ambiguity in terminology throughout the
spectrum of cosmological speculation. terms in English such as
'ghost', 'spirit', 'demon', 'angel', 'archangel', 'demigod',
'god' and even 'God' are frequently confused and overlap in 
their categorical usage. this is not facilitated by the fact
that most of these words have etymological origins that are in
some cases quite different than their modern developments,
and the inclusive (appropriative?) quality of languages LIKE
English make it more and more common as communication tools
and techniques develop for what were originally foreign words
to be accepted without translation (examples being the slightly
ambiguous 'devas' and 'asuras', the more interesting 'djinn',
the fabulous 'dragons', 'nagas', and stratified transcendental
human heros or demigods such as 'arhats', 'bodhisattvas', and
the Taoist 'shih'). 

it is no wonder that we have writers like Anton LaVey (whose
work is far from expert, but which has achieved significant 
notoriety by virtue of the cultural trappings it wears) taking
the descriptions of Christislamic culture and accepting them
as COMPLIMENTS, effectively inverting the xenophobic language
for the purpose of creative eclecticism. writers with New Age
biases have been doing something like it (albeit without the
inversion) for decades if not centuries (converting all the
world's religious instructors and pioneers into a cosmic
university of spirituality, all gods aspects of a single god,
etc.). the inversion is just one more step in the direction
of cultural syncretism, though with the controversial choice
to retain the originally condemnatory linguistic modifiers
as EXALTATIONS so as to contrast the original cosmological 
presumption (LaVey disputes the cosmology of Christianity 
and in many instances borders on atheism). while on the
surface this may come off as participating in a fundamentalist
framework, it is actually commandeering the fundamentalism
toward more liberal standards).

I don't think the solution to this complex picture is to try
to institute a single language which may be used to describe
the complicated sociocultural exchange and dispute that is
part of a long and important maturation of the human species.
nor do I think that the promotion of multiculturalism and
some kind of post-modern anthropologizing (this time the pun
is not intended but it is relevant) without any place for
insular and primary religious cosmological origination is a 
reasonable and laudable objective.

instead my preference is to allow the diversity of thought
and language which the sincere and devoted make known,
oppose the first 'pole' that I mentioned of obvious, openly
antagonistic disrespect to which the insular and xenophobic
may become prone, and let the various participants and
observers describe their experiences or empirical data
in the manner they feel comfortable, neither blaming them
for their lack of participation, on the one hand, nor for
their participation in an exclusive or confusing (because
new and global) enterprise. the result of not trying to 
control or filter these vying sociological forces will in 
all likelihood be the proliferation of religious traditions 
that incorporate ALL of the respectful aspects into 
themselves in an integrous fashion without displacing their
perceived competitors or condemning well-meaning religious
from other regions of the world. what happened and
continues to happen in India with its clans and diversity
and attempted transcendentalism will likely be played out
in a larger arena as a global coalescence and exploration.

"John B" :
>I will never forget the look on a friend of mine's face when I had a
>discussion about Kali with her. My only knowledge came from Muller and his
>disciples' vision of Indian mythology. My friend lived in Pakistan for most
>of her life, and she just couldn't understand my perspective on Kali... She
>later ( after some research) 

note that we are truly discussing different types and sources of
knowledge here: one is anthropological, another is religious and
directly experiential. one is objective, the other is subjective.
because the objective is sometimes considered to be of greater
relevance to modern scientists, this does not mean that it is of
greater truth value to modern religious. in fact, in many cases
this is strongly disputed (as amongst those who support the
value of individual revelation and relationship to the divine --
examples here include Anabaptists and some Unitarian Universalists
in the West, some Buddhist and Hindu syncretists in the East).

>explained to me the difference between the
>public/devotional conception of Kali ( mother goddess), from the priestly
>conception ( wrathful/dangerous goddess)  and the tantric understanding
> destructive/creative feminine aspect) To this day I can hardly believe this
>way I had over simplified this figure for the sake of my own
>preconceptions...  even the above categories are way too general. 

too general to be anthropologically sound, this is very true. I
would like to speak out here for those whose aims may not be to 
speak from a objective but from a SUBJECTIVE bias. the categories 
cannot ever be legislated into a simplified knowledge-base and it 
would be disrespectful of the religious themselves to attempt to 
convince them that their cosmology was "wrong" merely because it
doesn't lead to an objective picture.

the best we can do is to point out where evidence to the contrary
does seem to conflict with their cosmological view. an example
would be when the conservative Christian describes Kali as a
bloodthirsty demon who only wants evil in the world we may point
out that Kali is described by worshippers and in scriptures in
numerous ways, often DEVOURING demons in protection of gods as
the religious understand them. explaining that the worshippers
of these entities perceive them differently is truly as far as
we are able to go, since the fervent will begin to describe the
'reality behind the appearance' and justify this with scripture
and religious sources of authority that cannot be rationally
disputed in what would be considered by them to be a convincing

I hope to be seen as a voice in favour of TOLERANCE (even of
intolerance as a temporary facet of complex societal 

blessed beast! (SOD of the CoE)
-- ; ; 
emailed replies may be posted; cc replies if response desired

The Arcane Archive is copyright by the authors cited.
Send comments to the Arcane Archivist:

Did you like what you read here? Find it useful?
Then please click on the Paypal Secure Server logo and make a small
donation to the site maintainer for the creation and upkeep of this site.

The ARCANE ARCHIVE is a large domain,
organized into a number of sub-directories,
each dealing with a different branch of
religion, mysticism, occultism, or esoteric knowledge.
Here are the major ARCANE ARCHIVE directories you can visit:
interdisciplinary: geometry, natural proportion, ratio, archaeoastronomy
mysticism: enlightenment, self-realization, trance, meditation, consciousness
occultism: divination, hermeticism, amulets, sigils, magick, witchcraft, spells
religion: buddhism, christianity, hinduism, islam, judaism, taoism, wicca, voodoo
societies and fraternal orders: freemasonry, golden dawn, rosicrucians, etc.


There are thousands of web pages at the ARCANE ARCHIVE. You can use ATOMZ.COM
to search for a single word (like witchcraft, hoodoo, pagan, or magic) or an
exact phrase (like Kwan Yin, golden ratio, or book of shadows):

Search For:
Match:  Any word All words Exact phrase


Southern Spirits: 19th and 20th century accounts of hoodoo, including slave narratives & interviews
Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy, sacred architecture, and sacred geometry
Lucky Mojo Forum: practitioners answer queries on conjure; sponsored by the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
Herb Magic: illustrated descriptions of magic herbs with free spells, recipes, and an ordering option
Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers: ethical diviners and hoodoo spell-casters
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
Missionary Independent Spiritual Church: spirit-led, inter-faith, the Smallest Church in the World
Satan Service Org: an archive presenting the theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive: FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups
Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic
Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century ceremonial occultist
Spiritual Spells: lessons in folk magic and spell casting from an eclectic Wiccan perspective
The Mystic Tea Room: divination by reading tea-leaves, with a museum of antique fortune telling cups
Yronwode Institution for the Preservation and Popularization of Indigenous Ethnomagicology
Yronwode Home: personal pages of catherine yronwode and nagasiva yronwode, magical archivists
Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, etc.
      Free Love Spell Archive: love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells
      Free Money Spell Archive: money spells, prosperity spells, and wealth spells for job and business
      Free Protection Spell Archive: protection spells against witchcraft, jinxes, hexes, and the evil eye
      Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive: lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races