Discussion in 'Pagan' started by joed37, Sep 16, 2004.
is the wiccan god the christian devil?
Mmm . . . kind of a loaded question.
The short answer is “no.”
I think I would rather say—cautiously—that the Christians, of late-Roman times and up through the Middle Ages, took various pagan gods—notably Pan, Dionysus, Herne the Hunter, and Cernunnos and shaped them into what became the Christian devil. The Church was locked in a pretty desperate struggle in the early days, first against diverse views within its own ranks such as Gnosticism, Arianism, and Manichaeism, then against the pagans [literally “the country folk”] who tended to cling to the old ways and who had little to do with these new-fangled notions coming out of the big cities. By taking a deity with easily identifiable features—horns, goat legs, what-have-you—they could more clearly draw the battle lines between the new faith and the old. “We worship the One True God; you worship Satan.”
Most Wiccans I know will answer that question with something like “We don’t believe in Satan. He’s a Christian god.” While a simplistic reply, it’s true. Modern Wiccans worship a wildly diverse bunch of deities, but most tend to focus on the Goddess as a gentle, loving, and nurturing divine-mother figure. Many, but not all, include “the Horned God” as Her consort. Traditional Wiccan groups—Gardnerians, especially—emphasize the balance between male and female and see God and Goddess as equal, or as almost equal but with the Goddess in charge. The Horned God, often named as Cernunnos, is variously seen as the Lord of the Hunt, the Lord of Death*, or the Wild One of the Forest.
[*Footnote: Though “Lord of Death” sounds scary to Christian ears, for most Wiccans death is a necessary part of and balance to life, a door through which we all must pass to enjoy new life. Death is a gift, not a curse.]
Wiccans emphatically are NOT Satan worshippers as they are so often depicted by the news media or Hollywood. Satanism in fact is a perversion of Christianity, a religion which requires Christianity, and a belief in Christian symbols, to exist at all. The symbolism of a satanic rite—the inverted cross, defiling the host, ritually blaspheming God, the Black Mass itself—is all meaningless without Christianity as the prototype, if you see what I mean. Without God, there could be no devil.
And none of that figures in any way in Wicca.
It’s interesting to note that throughout the Old Testament, Satan was really a very minor character. In Job he is pictured as “the accuser,” a kind of prosecuting attorney who “goes to and fro upon the earth” in order to find out if good people are really walking the walk. In Genesis, the tempter is simply “the serpent,” which was a widespread near-Eastern symbol for wisdom and which seems to be a hold-over in the text from far more ancient Sumerian myths. In the OT, God Himself is seen as the source of evil. [I Samuel 19:9; II Chronicles 18:21-22/ 34:24; Proverbs 16:4; Isaiah 19:14/ 63:17; Jeremiah 4:6/ 6:19/ 23:12/ 32:42; Lamentations 3:38; Amos 3:6; Micah 1:12; and others too numerous to mention.]
The idea of a war in heaven and a rebellion of the angels didn’t become popular until much later—Maccabean times [c. 160 BCE] at the earliest, and in some of the Essene writings a century or more later. Some of these teachings obviously influenced early Christian writings. The early church was also strongly shaped by various other religions—notably Mithraism and Zoroasterism—which tended to see the world in terms of a universe-wide war between a god of light and a god of darkness. Some branches of early Christianity, such as the Manicheans, actually took this idea too far, making Satan essentially equal to God in power or, as the Gnostics thought, identified him as the demi-urge/creator of the material world, with the assumption that spirit = good, matter = bad.
Only by the Middle Ages did the devil start to assume his modern appearance—an angelic being who’d revolted against heaven, who is less than God in power, but who still seems to have been granted free rein over his own domain. [A very uncomfortable perch for modern Christianity philosophically: either Satan is not under God’s control, making him equal in power to God, or else God DOES have authority over him, making God responsible for evil.]
Wiccans don’t get involved in this mess at all. The Horned One may be the original model of the Christian devil, but that’s hardly THEIR fault! For Wiccans, the god is most often portrayed as Herne, represented by a stag or as a man with a stag’s antlers. Herne was later mutated by the Romans into Cernunnos, who often had goat’s horns and who represented a more pastoral divinity [i.e. a lord of domestic animals versus lord of wild animals in the woods.] The Greek Pan was seen as having a goat’s horns and legs, and is the most obvious prototype for the Christian devil, especially in some of his more, um, licentious aspects.
Horns, of course, represent the male principle in nature. Many—not all—Wiccans see nothing wrong with celebrating sexuality as a divine gift and even as an expression of worship. This may be one of the biggest and most important schisms between modern Wicca and modern Christianity. Wiccans find nothing immoral, sinful, or evil about sex or the body or sexual pleasure, which puts them in direct opposition to a modern Judeo-Christian culture that is still up tight about such things—especially in puritanical America.
And this is for fundamentalist Christians further proof that Wiccans must be devil-worshippers, since sex is sinful and Satan is the author of sin.
So the long answer is . . . there are indeed superficial similarities between the modern Christian devil and the Wiccan Horned God, yes, but they are due to ignorance, arrogance, and deliberate manipulation by the Christian clerics who demonized [literally!] the nature-based religions of the people they were trying to convert. For our part, Wiccans do NOT worship the devil. He is a Christian god.
no, and it's also not the Christian devil
as Juan has explained previously, the whole image of the devil is a work of fiction created by Dante for his seminal work "Inferno"
Lucifer is the Christian advesary.
and it's not what you might think at first blush... this isn't like an enemy, this is more like the Distict Attorney, if you live in America.
in any event, you can ask some of the more knowledgeable Jewish visitors to the forum to explain this in more depth, if you have interest.
Last time I checked "nature-based" didn't mean "worship a fallen angel whose only *crime* was rebellion and probably because he was yahweh's fave was sentenced to an eternity for a transgretion that really couldn't have done anything considering what yahweh thinks of himself"... or so I've read (now where's the spellcheck)
OK - can we stop saying "judeo-christian"? there's nothing "judeo" about what you've just said. judaism is *not* uptight about sex in its proper context. if you want to know what i mean by that, it's like driving - driving is all very well, but if you drive the wrong way down the motorway, that is not a good idea and would generally be disapproved of by society. it doesn't mean driving is inherently wrong, just the particular application. if you want to know what judaism says about sex, go to the judaism forum and ask. don't make assumptions that lump me in with daft christian fundamentalists.
and, yes, ha-satan is very, very minor compared to what you're talking about here. judaism would have a problem with nature-based religions if their proponents acted immorally or attacked us - which includes taking Divine Names "in vain", xandrew - see my other comments on your use of Divine Names. it's not big or clever to do this.
Wiccans do not have any thing to do with what the Christians call satan.
A wiccan is likely to honor Pan, Apollo, cerrunos, Or just The Horned God of the wild.
Nothing to do with Any Evil entity or Christian deity.
"The idea of a war in heaven and a rebellion of the angels didn’t become popular until much later—Maccabean times [c. 160 BCE] at the earliest."
I think you will find that the rebellion of angels came from Enoch (pre Moses) and passed on to his son Methuselah who was an old testament patriarch whose life span (recorded in Genesis 5:27) was 967 years. In the New Testament He is mentioned in the gospel of Luke.
The teachings of ENOCH appear to have influenced all religions coming from this region in some way. Fragments of the Book of Enoch were found amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls (which apparently scholars now say were not written by the Essenes). Enoch is mentioned a few times in the OT from memory.
I understand that Lucifer actually means 'Light Bringer'
I am glad this thread is allready in existence. I have been asked this question before but found it to difficult to explain in summation. WHKieth good rundown.
I'd also like to state that this view isn't even really Christian in general it's puritan view that most Protestant groups in America prescribe to but Catholicism and more orthodox Christianity is more in line with what is said above about sex in bananabrain's post.
As for whether or not Wiccans Worship Satan, I think that the normal Christian answer to this would be that Wiccans either worship Demons or figments of their imagination. I don't mean this as any form of insult to the Wiccans here I'm just giving the point of view of the average Christian. However I'd like to say that any informed person wouldn't say that Wiccans are attempting to worship demons simply that they are tricked into doing it by power hungry beings.
I'd agree with WHKeith that the pseudo-Christian view of Satan (as in what he looks like) probably did come from Pagan gods so it's no surprise that the gods of the Wiccans would look something like the pseudo-Christian view of Satan. a more orthodox view of Satan would be that of a revolting angel because he is only a spiritual being and is thus as beautiful as his soul is pure.
Well, Christians would have you believe that
The short answer is, no, of course not. The Wiccan faith has its roots in faiths far more ancient than even the Jewish faith - of which the Christian faith, is of course an off-shoot - and is entirely based on worship of Nature.
or at least, does its best to prove it has. historians are a little less charitable. i'm not being rude, but wicca as practised nowadays is essentially modern; there is very little to actually prove that the ancient goddess religions really have much in common.
Heh, I just want to point out that Lucifer is actually a Pagan God, father of the Goddess Aradia, Queen of the Witches.
The Roman Catholic Church linked the Devil with Lucifer to try to link Devil worship with Paganism. So, Lucifer is not exactly the Devil.
Hello, and Peace to All Here--
To the Christian, there are two kinds of death. One is physical, and one is spiritual and eternal. I respectfully submit that the Christian view of physical death is not that much different than the Wiccan view.
Sex is not considered sinful to a Christian at all--it is a beautiful part of life. The Christian view of sex corresponds exactly with bananabrain's explanation of the Judaic view. It is promiscuous sex that is seen as sinful.
Lucifer and Satan are viewed by most Christians as the same entity.
As I stated above, this is also the Christian view regarding sex. But could we stop saying "daft Christian fundamentalists?" Perhaps I am a little left of fundamentalism, but only a little. But please don't lump me in with the unthinking, unspiritual, and just plain stupid. Thanks.
The Protestant viewpoint concerning sex is no different than that of orthodox Christianity or Catholicism, except perhaps that it is a bit more liberal--for instance, most Protestants have no problem with the issue of birth control.
As to the original question, "Is the Wiccan God the Christian devil?:
No they wouldn't--not the ones who understand anything about Wicca. However, the "ego" is often seen as Satanic in the Christian view--ego here meaning "arrogance" or "self worship." Some Christians might think that the belief of some Wiccan groups that they are endowed with a higher intelligence than others might be seen as Satan worship in a roundabout way. This is not how I see Wicca, because I look at the intent--the heart. I am only saying that it very well might be seen that way by some. (And please, if I am mistaken about the Wiccan view there, correct me--I do not want to go around spouting foolishness. )
Guess ya gotta "lump me in" with bananabrain again on this one. That simply has not been proven. LOL--my sweet Wiccan goddaughter and I debate this all the time! Honestly, it just doesn't matter much to me.
Anyway, I thank you all for allowing me to jump in here and add to the conversation from a little different view. Hope I did not offend anyone--if I did, it was unintentional. Not here to judge or be judged--just saw a couple of things I thought begged for a little more elaboration.
Hey, InLove and others- I'll add just a bit to what InLove was saying.
I'd say this depends on who you're talking to. Some Christians don't have a problem with physical death, and treat it as the Wiccans do- as a transition, a birthing process into a new life. But I've run into other Christians who see physical death as a result of the fall of Adam and Eve and consequently have a real problem with it. Gnostics push it even further and say that all matter is evil. Check out the thread on suffering currently on the Christian forum. Overall, I have to say, being both intimately familiar with Druidry (which is quite similar to Wicca) and Christianity, the earth-based religions do go beyond the regular Christian resignation to death and actually celebrate the passing of another into the Otherworld/Summerlands (their heaven-esque kind of place). My own view is closer to the Druid one than the typical Christian one- I want my funeral to be a celebration!
Yep. Although there is more of a tendency to have a problem with nudity than earth-based religions. I think this is more from cultural origins than religious ones, though.
Kind of. Depends on the Christian you ask. If they understand anything about Wicca, which many don't, they may agree with this, as I do. But some Christians insist that people of any religion other than Christianity (and possibly Judaism and Islam) are worshipping Satan by default, since you are either worshipping God/Jesus or are deceived by Satan into worshipping him in disguise. To tell the truth, I've heard a lot more Christians say the latter than the former, unfortunately. I've also had people tell me I was worshipping Satan by being a Druid, even though I only worship Jesus and God in my ceremonies. Yeah, I honor nature and the spirits therein, just as I honor my parents and teachers and husband. But I don't worship anyone but God. But somehow, for many, different = Satanic/demonic. I will say that most of the liberal Christians I know don't go with this view. Maybe I just know more fundamental/conservative Christians.
My opinion, both professionally and personally, is two-fold. Wicca, as a specific practice, was founded by Gardner in the last century, and so it is a relatively new religion. But the ideas upon which it was founded- earth-based spirituality and shamanism- are ubiquitous throughout the ancient peoples of the world and still exist in all hunter-gatherer groups. They are, according to modern scholarship, the earliest form of spirituality/religion. So, in that way, honoring the earth and such is older than Christianity and Judaism (at least by modern scholarly study), but the specific religion of Wicca is a lot younger. Hope that made some sense.
Hello, and Peace, Everyone--
Thank you, path_of_one, for your insight and for sharing it. I appreciate the presence of mind and spirit.
To Mr. Keith:
Thanks for the info on Wicca. I now know several things I didn't know before.
To my dharma friends in the vast Judeo-Christian universe:
One thing an unaffiliated rogue like myself notices is the natural tendency to put one's tradition in the best light possible. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, just that it sometimes leads to papering over contradictions, complexities, etc.
On the Christian side, certainly "sex as a healthy part of marriage" is a common position, but I don't know how we can claim it as the dominant historical position of Christianity. St. Paul as we know set the tone. Marriage was for those who couldn't control their urges, a definite second-best to celibacy. Of course, St. Paul and the early Christians expected the rapture at any moment. But then we have Origen who, taking a scripture verse literally, castrated himself; and St. Augustine, who may be one of the fathers of the church but is also one of the fathers of a tortuous relationship between spirit & flesh. And so on, through the middle ages, during which I don't think any self-help books appeared proclaiming the beauties of sex in marriage. In fact, the genesis of the tradition of Romantic Love partly began as a revolt against and a subversion of the suppression and devaluation of sex by the church. Christian symbols like the rose, etc., were here assimilated to other ends. That modern Christians tend to a more positive view of sex is certainly true and I would say a good thing, but I think in many ways the more puritanical type Christians have a better case as representing the main historical Christian thinking on this topic.
On the Jewish/Banana side, again I hope and trust that for most Jews worshipping nature makes you more a harmless schmuck than anyone evil, but I really question whether this was necessarily the dominant attitude in the early days when the books were compiled. Numerous scholars have pointed out the traces of an antagonistic relationship between the Jewish God and earlier nature/goddess forms of worship, from the serpent in the garden to the golden calf, among other references to "abominations". Now, I know that as in many other cases, the greatest offenders in using this kind of material to oppress others have been Christian, but again you appear to be substituting the most enlightened view within a tradition for the tradition as a whole, worts & all.
Now, just to avoid a waste of flames, I admit that I read these things in a much more secular way than you do, that you're deeply into an interpretive tradition that reads these texts as not written by men but as transmitted from God, and so your reading would have to be radically different than mine. Fair enough. On that point, maybe we just admit that we're on different tracks - but if you do have any ideas on bridging the distance between those tracks, toss 'em over.
But I do agree with you on the Wiccan claims to the most ancient pedigree. Reviving what we know about Earth religions through Anthropology and Comparative Mythology and restarting the tradition under modern conditions is hardly the same as an unbroken line. I mean, I don't think any modern Wiccan is suggesting we revive human sacrifice, a common practice of agricultural, Earth-based religions even up to fairly recent times, following the natural analogy from planting and harvesting, that life follows on death. All credit to the Christians and modern Wiccans who realize this practice only in a mystical & metaphorical way!
Yep, I think we were responding about Christianity today rather than back then. Personally, my very liberal view of Paul leads me to suspect that lust of some sort was Paul's greatest fault with which he struggled; it has been speculated that it may have been homosexual lust, and therefore marriage was not an option to him. His discussion of celibacy and the poor light that he puts marriage and sexuality in never has sat right with my intuition, and I personally don't feel those passages were inspired by God. But I admit I'm about as liberal as a Christian gets, and considered heretical by many.
Personally, I think stemming from this came a lot of problems, some of which you mentioned and some of which are still with us. The celibacy of priests and nuns, for example, can cause sexual frustrations to be released in not-so-good ways, as we hear about in the media all the time.
Yep. Furthermore, I don't really get why there need be an unbroken line. Being a modern Druid, I always admit it is a reconstruction of an ancient tradition, using certain elements of the Druidic tradition that survived (like Welsh triads and Celtic mythology) and other elements from modern scholarship (like shamanistic practices). Just because it's modern doesn't mean it's irrelevant. In fact, that's partly why it's so relevant!
And thank God that we all have learned that sacrificing animals and humans isn't necessary. Humanity has made some strides in wisdom, one way or another. As an anthropologist I understand the reasons why folks did that, but I'm very grateful that it's stopped, for the most part, because I really feel it's wrong and unnecessary, even though most cultures (including both the cultures of my religious roots) did something of the sort.
I think it would depend on who you ask!!
I, think no. As a Wiccan, i believe in the Goddess and the God. I do not believe in a 'devil' This is a Christian belief, although the two have got terribly mixed up over the hundreds of years!
Christians call our 'God' their 'Devil' because in their belief, the 'Devil' is their ultimate baddie!! Nothing is worse than a devil worshipper, and if they assume that our god is their devil, then that is how Wiccans, Pagans etc ended up with such a bad name!! (Although this is referred to the years gone by when witchcraft was illegal!) Now that it is accepted a little more, people are interested, and read and research into this more, and realise what its all really about!
Separate names with a comma.