when i get really into a particular subject or thought, i get, like, REALLY into it. i’ll download 20+ kindle books and purchase another 10-15 or so from amazon on the subject, or those complementary to it.
and the human-created concept of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is certainly one of those i’ve spent a fair amount of time in the rabbit hole on.
basically, what i’m trying to convey is this: our limited human minds cannot comprehend divinity of any kind. i don’t care what particular religious doctrine you subscribe to, they’re all more or less right, in that there are powers much bigger, more powerful, and all-knowing than ourselves. and these deities can, and likely do, all exist in one form or another somewhere. like all at the same time. nobody is right or wrong here.
there are probably multiple planes of existence, too.
and beyond all that, these divine entities or beings are neither good nor bad. humans have this habit of applying dualistic labels to absolutely everything, and its a habit that sometimes saves our lives, but in general, probably limits us more than we think.
so here’s the path i’ve been on lately: i have been an atheist since probably middle school. i just tried really hard to believe in various religions, none of them really sticking for me, until maybe around my late teens encountering various pagan practices that looked a little like wicca, but without all the rules and without the goddess and god. maybe its nature worship or some other non-theistic branch of spirituality of the self.
so, fast forward to maybe sometime in my late 20s and then into my 30s, satanism really appealed to me. and, if you’re ignorant and need to be told, satanism is not human sacrifice and eating babies.
its essentially a variety of religious paths that fall under the umbrella of self-worship, self-esteem building, self-advocacy, and embrace of your darker self (we all have one- those of you that think you don’t are the worst off, because yours is repressed and you’re constantly fighting your own innate nature).
some satanic sects are theistic, with deities ranging from satan to lucifer, to other demonic beings that existed before christianity, and others are atheistic, believing instead that there is no higher power, humans are the higher power and its our responsibility to solve our own problems.
for what its worth, i think both are right, more or less.
through all that, though, i still considered myself nontheistic, or, at most, agnostic. i joined The Satanic Temple a couple years ago, but still as a nontheistic atheist.
i previously had interacted with the Church of Satan, but found them to just be a cover for old, white conservatively-leaning atheist men who were hoping for orgies. maybe not all CoS chapters or groups are/were that way, but the ones i encountered in the 2000s all had that in common. CoS doctrine and writings, especially those written by Anton LaVey, its founder, are heavily misogynistic, which is the main reason i never officially joined that organization.
what appeals to me about TST, however, is their neutral stance on actual religiosity, with heavy involvement in fighting injustices that governments and human constructs have placed on the freedoms of humans, like our 1st amendment rights, for instance. if you’re not familiar with TST, i highly recommend you go read their tenets before passing judgment. you will likely come away with a new appreciation for what you consider ‘satanic.’
i’ve never been involved with a group before that did more for personal freedoms, the women’s movement, and free speech and expression than TST.
but lately, in the last few years, as i’ve re-embraced my spiritual self that i lost somewhere along the way, i’ve had experiences, which i won’t go into detail here, but if you really want to know, i’m happy to speak about elsewhere, which lead me to believe that the deities i have reached out to or thought about intently at certain points actually do exist in some form, and communicated with me in some very direct, but also indirect ways.
for those of you who have been practicing the craft for some time, this comes as no surprise to you, because we’ve all had those experiences that open our minds. those ‘a-ha!’ and ‘omg!!’ moments where you realize you’re not alone.
for those that don’t believe, that’s totally fine, and i’m not here to change your mind. if you’re not a believer in any type of higher power (god, lucifer, athena, ishtar, apollo, oya, etc), and you don’t want to be, then you can stop here, because this isn’t really relevant to you. you’re not on that journey right now, and that’s okay.
but to everyone who is on it, or who thinks maybe they are, or wants to be, or just isn’t sure, i have found that one of the biggest blocks that you will experience in making contact with energies and beings beyond our plane is your own fear.
you fear they actually exist, you fear their power, you fear they won’t like you, you fear you’re not important enough for them to listen or respond, you fear a lot of things. but mostly, you fear the unknown.
you fear handing over control to them, or you fear they may be spiteful like you’ve been taught (some can be, but only if you’re a piece of shit, or if your fear rules you, tbh. there are some beings that feed on fear, and those are not the ones you want to make contact with anyway).
and, to top it off, you’ve been told (mostly by your established and dominant religious indoctrination of abrahamic religions) that there is good and evil, and we sort beings into those categories. don’t try to contact dark entities because they want to corrupt you and use you for their own evil purposes. the devil will trick you into a contract to serve him, etc etc.
first, yes, there are dark entities, and there are also entities that feed on fear, hate, destruction, and death. and second, its not likely you’re going to conjure (that’s not even really the right word) one of the latter unknowingly, and, unless you’re a particularly powerful medium, they don’t want anything to do with you anyway.
they have more important shit to do. some of these entities do like to see murder and mayhem, literally, but they’re not that common, and again, you’re likely not a conduit.
third, there are plenty of deities or beings with ‘dark’ reputations, or even those considered ‘demons’ by established judeo-christian organizations, who are, in fact, not at all demons or bad or evil.
they were simply worshipped in pre-christian times and when christianity began to wipe out all prior religious practices in order to control people and information, pagan and pre-christian deities were literally demonized, in every sense of the word. they became evil, harmful, and something you should fear in order to get our ancestors to stop venerating them.
examples of this are lilith, hekate, lucifer, and ba’al.
all were gods or goddesses, or minor deities who had very few, if any, harmful or negative associations until after the establishment and organization of religious doctrine that needed them to appear ‘evil’ in order to convince people to stop worshipping them.
they are no more ‘demons’ than jesus or buddha. they were simply a threat to the growing power of the hebrew and then christian churches, followed by the muslim religious establishment later on after 600 CE.
and this is not an attempt to ‘demonize’ abrahamic religions, because what’s done is done. its recorded in history and we’re living in the now. the powerful leaders of those religious organizations understood propaganda the way that our current president does: fear works.
fear can get otherwise rational people to do all kinds of things, simply because they fear the unknown, and here is someone telling them they “know” as long as you follow them and vote for them/give them your money.
but what i think i took away from this deeper exploration myself is that we fear things we do not understand. we fear concepts we can’t comprehend. we fear change. we fear upheaval. we fear knowing something very heavy like that, because then what do we do with that knowledge? we fear there is a greater purpose for us than just this mundane shit we do all day, and what if we’re asked to act on that?
and then, to add to that, we fear the truth that we are also connected to the divine. whether its pure energetic bonds between molecules you consider divine, or an actual being or group of them, part of that is in you. and its both dark and light. and facing your dark can be terrifying. admitting your deepest thoughts, fears, secrets, anger, hatred, impulses…all of that is in you.
(p.s. in a previous post, i recommended this shadow work journal and i’ll recommend it again. i get no incentive for recommending this, its just a really great tool to explore and accept the darker aspects of yourself so that you can grow and become a better and more functional human, and then also read a little more about what shadow work is in my previous post here).
so, if anything, we humans are dualistic, but our deities need not be. sure, some deities are not that into humans and don’t want anything to do with us, and some are even unfriendly, while others love interacting with us and want to help us out when we call. but just because a deity is associated with dark aspects like war, death, and the afterlife does not make them evil.
a great example are a couple well-known goddesses of the celtic and norse pantheon, like the morrigan, who is the goddess of war and death, but also fertility and sexuality. and then freya, the norse goddess of beauty, love, and sexuality is also the goddess who gets the first pick of souls of the dead in battle.
there are usually both ‘light’ and ‘dark’ aspects to most deities, because, again, they are part of the divine, and, therefore, do not exist in a state of ‘good’ or ‘bad.’
i have friends who are very devout christians who believe that pretty much anything spiritual that is not 100% christian is a path to the devil. and i have friends who are of varying religions who believe that there are many paths to interact with the divine.
personally, i think this is a personal journey. anyone who tells you that you cannot speak directly to the divine, in whatever form she/he/they appear to you, is wrong. run from them. they want control and probably your money. each of us needs to decide exactly what role any relationship with divinity plays in our lives, and that includes how we interact, or not, with it.
as a former atheist, i can tell you that i wouldn’t have opened my mind had i not been led there. and no, i don’t believe in a christian ‘god’ still, but many deities who are a direct channel to higher and more divine power and through whom we can better know ourselves and our higher purpose in life (’cause i’ll be honest, your higher purpose in life isn’t to judge other people on facebook, karen).
in case you want a longish list of books that i’ve read all or part of in no particular order and can’t remember exactly what it was that was said that was so helpful, but i just remember that i found them enlightening and enjoyable to read, here you go (some of these may contain affiliate links):
- Pagan Britain, Ronald Hutton
- Dark Goddess Craft, Stephanie Woodfield (excellent if you’re going through a transformative time in your life and need some direction, or are on a spiritual journey to find your path)
- Demons and Demonology, Rosemary Ellen Guiley
- Intuitive Witchcraft, Astrea Taylor (excellent for those of you who know there is no such thing as a coincidence…)
- The Winding Path, Persephone Rossi
- The Complete Book of Demonolatry, S Connolly (a really good perspective on ‘demons’ and why most people’s view on this is wrong)
- The Daemonolater’s Guide to Demonic Magick, S Connolly
- The GLAM Witch, Michael Herkes (excellent for those, especially women, finding themselves, claiming themselves, finding their voice, and wanting to speak their own, authentic truth)
- Encyclopedia of Spirits, Judika Illes (really good read, straightforward, even if you don’t know if you believe in all these beings…)
- The Magick of Lilith, Baal Kadmon (great historical part of the real origins of Lilith as opposed to the post-biblical demonization of her)
- The Exorcist’s Handbook, Josephine McCarthy (funny, irreverent, and super interesting, also useful for just the layperson who wants to be more informed)
- Keeping Her Keys: Hekate’s Modern Witchcraft, Cyndi Brannen
- Hekate: Liminal Rites, David Rankine
- The Way of Fire and Ice: The Living Tradition of Norse Paganism, Ryan Smith
- Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines, Patricia Monaghan, PhD
- The Morrigan, Morgan Daimler
- Lucifer and the Hidden Demons, Theodore Rose
- Goetic Pathworking, Corwin Hargrove
- Lucifer: Princeps, Peter Grey
- Satanic Feminism, Per Faxneld
- Kosmology, Jeremy Christner
- The Path of Druidry, Penny Billington
- Witchery, Juliett Diaz (a really easy read, introductory book if you think you might be into witchy shit, but not sure)
- I’ll come back and add more later after I’ve walked around my house and found all the titles I own in person as well that I’m forgetting
there are still yet another few dozen i didn’t link here because i haven’t read enough of them to really make a recommendation, but maybe i’ll come back and edit this post in future to include additional titles.