Modern Pagans and the existence of Satan and the Christian god



Many modern Western Pagans will say they believe in just about every god in just about every pantheon except for the Christian god and Satan. This position is quite illogical, in my opinion.

Pagans vary in their theology. Many Wicca-based Pagans hold a view which Tim Maroney once satirized as: "All goddesses are The Goddess, including Eve, Mary, and Lilith, who are The Goddess. All male gods are The God, except for Jehovah, Jesus, and Satan, who are not The God." Other Pagans are more polytheistic, believing in the gods as distinct entities, not just aspects of one Goddess and one male God.

Regarding the Wicca-based view: There can be no logical basis for including, among The God's many facets, all male gods from all religions, with the sole exception of the Jewish/Christian/Islamic triad, unless you believe both (1) that all non-JCI religions are fundamentally alike and (2) that only the JCI triad worships a truly unique god. Such stereotyping of all non-JCI religions as a unified "other" is, itself, a JCI-centric attitude. In reality, there are many different non-JCI religions. And the JCI religions inherited a lot of themes from older religions, just as all other religions have inherited themes from older religions.Of course, Christian theology does conflict with polytheism, so a polytheist cannot accept the idea that the Christian god is the true cosmic God. Nor can a polytheist accept the idea that all nonhuman spirits are mere servants of either the Christian god or Satan. Still, as I will explain below, it is most reasonable for a polytheist to believe that the Christian god is in some sense a real entity, though a polytheist's interpretation of who and what that entity is will necessarily differ from traditional Christian beliefs. Furthermore, it is most likely that both the Christian god and Satan are at least as powerful as, if not more powerful than, most of the gods that have been popularly worshipped by large groups of people in the past.

Regarding the Christian god: If even some of the gods of the old religions of Europe and the Middle East are real, and if those gods had any liking at all for the attentions of their human worshippers, then how could so many of those religions have been displaced by a religion which worships a totally unreal god? Of course, Christianity and Islam spread via a combination of aggressive persuasion and force. But why didn't the older gods protect their worshippers from being conquered by Christians and Muslims? If you believe in these gods at all, then the most reasonable conclusion is that the Hebrew/Christian/Muslim god too is indeed a real spiritual entity of some sort, and indeed a relatively powerful one, even though I don't think it's at all likely that the Hebrew/Christian/Muslim god is the true cosmic God. (I'm not sure whether the Hebrew, Christian, and Muslim god(s) are the same entity, but I'll assume for now that they are.)

Regarding Satan: If one accepts the idea that the Christian god (1) is in some sense real and relatively powerful and (2) desires to be worshipped by as many people as possible, then it also seems likely that the Christian god has a powerful enemy other than just the old gods who were displaced. Why? During the past few centuries, the Christian god seems to have lost much of his grip in quite a few of his former strongholds, including Western Europe and most other cultureally Western countries around the world (e.g. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand), and to a lesser degree the United States. Many (though not all) of these countries are among the world's most prosperous and most technologically advanced. But, in these regions, Christianity has not been supplanted by the worship of any other specific deity or pantheon. It has been supplanted primarily by atheism and agnosticism (often under the guise of a continued nominal membership in the state church), and only secondarily by a growing variety of alternative theistic religions. So, it would appear that the Christian god has been at least partially driven into exile by an entity or group of entities who don't particularly care about being worshipped by large numbers of people, but who do favor human technological progress.

The above description fits Satan/Azazel to a tee. Traditionally, Satan is not seen as wanting vast hordes of worshippers. (Christians traditionally see Satan as being much more interested in leading people away from the Christian god. I would add that Satan seems to enjoy challenging dogma in general.) As for the technology angle, this too makes sense if one recognizes that the Christian "Satan" concept is based more on Azazel than on "ha-satan" of the Book of Job.
that Satan has played a gate-opener role for the modern Pagan community, in the following ways:

The modern Pagan movement arose only after Christianity's near-monopoly in the West had been already broken. That near-monopoly was broken, primarily, not by Pagans but by atheists, agnostics, and Deists. Hence, if indeed any spiritual entity at all was involved in breaking the Christian near-monopoly and thereby laying the groundwork for the growth of modern Paganism, the most likely candidate would be Satan/Azazel (who does not desire large numbers of worshippers), not any popularly-worshipped ancient god.

The most popular form of modern Paganism is Neo-Pagan Witchcraft. Although Neo-Pagan Witches do not worship Satan and in many cases will vehemently deny that they even believe in Satan, it seems to me that many of them do, in effect, call on Satan in a backhanded sort of way, by using symbols and terminology traditionally associated with diabolical witchcraft and, therefore, having to spend lots of time and energy denying that they are Satanists. (No other religion's adherents spend so much time denying that they are Satanists, except perhaps in the most backward Bible Belt backwaters. For example, when was the last time you heard a Western Buddhist say "Buddhism is not Satanism"?) And it seems to me that the diabolical-witchcraft baggage associated with Neo-Pagan Witchcraft has drawn attention to that religion and thereby helped it grow.

The most immediate ancestors of Neo-Pagan Witchcraft include various traditions which aren't, strictly speaking, "Satanist", but which do have a definite "Luciferian" component, involving a "Lucifer" based at least in part on the Christian "Satan" concept, even though "Lucifer" is often distinguised from "Satan." These traditions include (1) Theosophy, (2) Thelema, (3) the witchcraft traditiion described in Aradia: Gospel of the Witches, (4) Feri Witchcraft, and (5) various other forms of "Traditional Witchcraft" that have become increasingly open about their Luciferian aspect in recent years.

The growth of Neo-Pagan Witchcraft has, in turn, created a subculture in which other modern Pagan religions have grown also, partly in reaction against the "fluff-bunniness" of many Neo-Pagan Witches.

There are quite a few theistic Satanists who believe that "Satan" is actually the Christian-era name of some ancient popularly-worshipped pagan deity, e.g. Pan, Set, and, most recently, Enki. I do not agree with this belief. (See Who and what is Satan? Various Satanist reinterpretations.) But it seems to me that those who hold such a belief are, in effect, calling upon Satan as a gate-opener for whatever god they've identified with Satan. Such forms of theistic Satanism are likely to give birth to new forms of Paganism centered around the deity in question.

Thus, in various ways, it seems to me that Satan has helped the older gods regain their access to the human realm.

It does not follow that these gods are mere servants of Satan. In most cases, I see their relationship with Satan as being more like a temporary alliance of convenience, most likely on a basis something like "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."
-Diane Vera

your thoughts?
I saw this post when it first appeared but didn't really have a moment to try and respond until now.

First off, I'll disclose that I am a Wiccan. I've been practicing Wicca now for over twenty years. I'm also a voracious reader and have had lots of exposure to a wide variety of ideas both within and without the occult community.

Most modern Pagans are polytheists although not all. Some are indeed monotheists, although their particular deity is not the Christian, Jewish, or Muslim god. Some modern Pagans are duotheists who worship two very specific deities and might or might not acknowledge that there are other deities. Others are what are sometimes called "hard polytheists" who say that there is a multitude of distinct and independent deities out there -- and deities that might look similar (for instance the Egyptian Thoth and the Greek Hermes) are in fact two very different deities and not just the same thing with two names. And then there are the "soft polytheists" who believe that all gods are really just different faces or aspects of one God, and all goddesses are facets of one Goddess, and sometimes the God and Goddess are two parts of a whole which is the one God (often considered to be unknowable -- we humans can only really get a grasp of the Divine through the lesser aspects.) This "soft polytheism" is not a new idea despite what some people claim today -- it is evident in the ancient cult of Isis (as portrayed in Lucius Apuleius' "The Golden Ass") and in religions such as Hinduism, where all deities (Hindu and foreign) are seen as aspects of a supreme deity, sometimes called Brahman.

So... the question of Satan.

A polytheist (soft or hard) can acknowledge the existence of a particular deity without choosing to worship that deity. Many Wiccans, for instance, will acknowledge a wide range of deities but choose to pay particular attention to a Matron or Patron deity, or often one of each, over all others. It could be argued that Christians who believe in the existence of Satan fit this model -- they acknowledge the existence of the particular deity, but choose to not worship it.

The problem is when polytheists are accused of being de facto Satanists because they acknowledge a multitude of deities. There are plenty of examples we can pull out where this accusation is clearly made -- the logic is usually presented as "if you don't worship MY specific deity, then you are obviously worshipping Satan." It might be worth noting here too that this same accusation is leveled sometimes by one Christian sect against all others. And just like it doesn't make sense when levelled against other Christian sects, it doesn't make sense when levelled against Pagan religions either.

The exception, of course, is that those who do claim to worship Satan are clearly Satanists.

It is no surprise to me that sometimes Pagans who are speaking to outsiders might try and oversimplify things to say "We don't even believe that Satan exists" rather than try to explain the more complex idea that one can acknowledge a wide variety of deities but choose to worship a subset. We should be realistic though in not trying to ascribe motives to explain simplified statements except where it's very clear that such motives actually exist.

It is true that there are overtly Satanic influences within the occult community. It is also true that there are overtly Satanic influences within the Christian community. If we look at the history of the Roman Catholic church, for instance, there are Gnostic, Templar, and other influences which have existed at various points, and are still evident to the present day if you know what to look for. Other Christian sects sprang off from the Roman Catholic church and sometimes emphasized these influences that might be deemed Satanic, or even introduced new ones that didn't exist in the Catholic Church in the past. The history of Satanism is intertwined with the history of Christianity just like it is with the history of European and American Paganism.

Another thing that I wonder about is whether any one religious opinion of a particular deity (or even spiritual or religious idea) can be said to be truly authoritative. Is the Roman Catholic official view of Satan correct, or is the stance of the Church of Satan? What about the view of modern Pagans who might acknowledge the existence of Satan but who have opinions of Satan's nature that differs from the Catholic and Church of Satan views? And how is the whole thing muddied by groups such as some Christians who equate Satan with every deity out there that is not their version of the Christian god? Is Yahweh really Satan? How about Buddha? Is Gahesh? Isis? Zeus? Ishtar?
LensmanZ313 said:
But is Satanism actually interwined with Neopaganism, in your POV?

The same way the Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are also intertwined with Paganism.

At lot of it all depends on what you define as Satanism. If you count pre-Christian deities and cults such as the Egyptian Set as being Satanic, then it's pretty easy to say that there is at least an acknowledgement among modern practitioners of Egyptian Paganism, as Set definitely plays a role in those myths.

If you define Satanism strictly as a Christian theological device but do not connect it with pre-Christian deities or religions, then the link is a bit more tenuous as modern Paganism has far more connection to Christianity and Judaism than it does specifically to exclusively Christian Satanism. (There is a lot of Qaballism in modern Paganism and that is heavily Christian and Jewish in most of its popular forms.)

Saying that any group that worships a deity that is not your own specific deity (whichever one that is) is automatically Satanism though is a gross oversimplification and just plain not true.
Traditional Satanism has an interesting history very much connected to medieval versions of Paganism btw.

A variety of Christian Dualists believed Satan was Jehovah/Allah, the evil creator god of the universe, the fallen Archangel from the heaven of the Most High. And most of these traditions held the many pagan gods and goddesses as representing the angels and demons of Satan's host.

As I study the history of Christian Dualism alot, I notice some traditions were more paganistic and called Satanic (or Luciferian) Dualists, in that they believed Satan/Lucifer was actually the good Archangel of God. Christ was then seen as the evil Archangel, the Jehovah/Allah of Exodus pretending to be the Creator, because he was jealous. But Lucifer remained Creator, and ally to the pagan gods. Their sacred texts no longer existing now, I have no idea what they would be like, other than expelling their doctrine, and a re-telling of important events like the Creation...

So at least among Medieval and Late Antiquity Satanic movements, there were allied connections between Satan and Pagan gods...
I contend that When religions were new upon the earth, people generally recognized evil and had to name it in some way. Because the Jewish tradition became more prominent, their "word" for evil, and their "idea" became prominent as a way to describe it. No one out there in any faith system can deny that evil and bad things happen in this world. Wiccans who say that there is "no devil" still admit that young women like Natalie Holloway have disappeared and some of them have met a bad fate. Children are still abused, people still murder, and steal things - yes no matter what you call it, we are surrounded by evil. Maybe some people in the ancient world felt better personifying that pervading spirit of evil. Maybe that "character" helped them teach their children what to avoid. I'm a Christian, but like you, I read everything, and have done as much reading on Wicca as time has allowed me, along with Mormonism, Buddhism and so forth - and I love reading such things, and even feel connected to alot of this spirituality. When Wiccan's speak of the God and the Goddess, I am under the impression that the "God" represents things in the heavens, i.e. the sun, and the deity above all things. For me this is Christ, the Heavenly deity. The Goddess in wicca appears to represent the earth and the womb - the mother and creative force, that when touched by the God, produces life. For me, the Goddess is the "Church" of genuine believers, who, when united with Christ, produce good things, and bring believers into a new birth through Christ. While the Church of believers equates to the Goddess for me, the Church building itself represents the cauldron, the place where the "mixing up" goes on, until a birth is formulted, and a new believer comes out, born anew, just as the ancient celtic cauldrons of rebirth embraced. (I am not talking about the evil done in the "name" of Christianity, by the way, because yes, these things were truely evil, and no, I do not believe that Christ would support such activities through out history - ever.)

For me all the gods and goddesses in pantheons stem from one silitary story, the story of Noah. Genesis 5-8 tell of Noah's geanology through his father ONLY, then give a story of the "Sons of God" who marry the women of earth, and their offspring produces the "heroes of old, the men of renown" of which Noah was one such hero. I personally believe that Noah's mother, whose geanology was NOT given in the story is the direct descendent of a marriage of "Son's of God" and and earth woman. This causes Noah to be genetically divine, as well as genetically human. His divine descendents lived with him upon a mountain top, which is remembered in world mythology as the residence of many pantheons-and I believe that Noah and his children really did have magickal/miraculous powers. Other pantheons who resided beneath water or upon Islands (such as Avalon and Atlantis) are earlier memories of the Mountain Top of Ararat surrounded by water, or the Ark floating in and under stormy waters. I believe that Noah's family had miraculous/magicKal powers because of the Heavenly parentage encoded in their genes. WE are all descendents of Noah, and can access these powers, which wiccans do through spell casting and Christians and Jews do through prayers. Even Christ instructed people in this way, telling his followers that if they believed in him, they would have greater powers than Christ had upon earth- and Christ had a great deal of magickal power, so much so that his own religious authorities accused him of witchcraft. If you explore Christ's powers, you quickly realize that he executed miracles/magick that is sought after in many pagan circles, such as healings, psychic abilities, and eliminating evil attacks. For ME, (not anyone else) there is no way I CAN leave Christ out of the equation of paganism and pantheons. For ME Christ remains the hub of all the other systems - the central point that all other faiths spin around BECAUSE he has the power everyone is seeking to emulate. It's just that most people dont want to explore it or recognize it, because like many religious faiths, INCLUDING CHRISTIANITY, people are TAUGHT to be afraid to explore, read, understand and accept things they do not know about. The thing is, Christ knows about you, whether you know about him or not. I always wonder: if Christianity had NOT become a world religion, would Christ be one of the most revered pagan deities? I think he would have. Judaism STILL teaches that Christ is a PAGAN DEITY, and that Christians are complete pagans in their genetic and faith practices. But the Pagan community won't hear of that for the most part. And this makes me think that neo-paganism is really about avoiding the mainstream in order to be different - this might be one underlying issue of neo-paganism today, because it makes no sense to avoid one deity and accept all the others, EXPECIALLY if that deity is the epitomy of all powers that are sought after in that faith experience. And isnt that the oldest story? Only in Moses' day, the "trend" of fashionable religion was to thwart the mainstream religion (paganism) and declare the oddball religion of Monotheism as the most appropriate faith for the modern human being...We never change, do we.
Pegans are "generaly" not monoteists and the "God" is a monotheistic concept
at the same time there has been "monotheistic" neopegans
who basicially had a unified monistic idea of their universal nature-force and feministism as embodied by "The Only" Mother Goddess which would be just as bad as normal monotheism.

I once have read on the interenet about Christain Pegans arguing christian morality without monotheism
there has been one historical religion of an peganistic and polytheistic christianity
the Arianist heresy in the middle ages which say Christ as one of may dieties of Which The Father as in the Trinity was another god
and other dieties was valid.

It might bee relevant that many Satanists believe that the pegan gods and godesses are are Satan.
Satansism is called satanism becouse "Satan" is relative to a opposed religion
accordning to witch the actual content of Satanism and Peganism fills all the criteria for being evil becouse it is different.

Satanism is the pure form of peganism while the modern moralist neopegan movement is influensed by christian ideas of goodness even if that goodness is pegan by ethic.

According to me the old pegan gods are the wild powerfull forces of nature
and of the animalistic untaimed aspect of humanity.
In the dark ages these old gods become demons in folklore and co existed in
early pre-theological Christianity untill around the first millenium the theology about angels were solified and witch hunts begun at the actual
"christian" that believed in the form of christianity were old gods were devils with witches that served the Christian god by punishing the wicked. According to the native folklore God created monsters and behaved like the old gods.
This was much like the later Woodo religion that mixes satanism with Christainity, polytheistism and magic.

The roman church wanted and tried to to replace the slavic christianity,the celtic christianity, gemanic christianity and any other culture
that all had within them satanic elements.
The roman church never finnished their work before the renesance, the reformation and the age of enlightenment that all have had witchhunts
and groups interested in pre-christian culture and odd shadowly christian ideas such as witches and satanism.

So the witches were actually satanic pegans or they were christian heretics.

Pagans prefere to percive these things as "good" and want to be accepted and loved while simultanious indulging in them.
The defense that "this is not harmfull" or the defense that they would

The satanist prefere the words "Demon" and "evil" to point out that they are not Christians and becouse they believe that all forms of goodness will be gonfused with Christianity and thereby be corrupted.
The satanist prefere the words "Demon" and "evil" to point out that they are not Christians and becouse they believe that all forms of goodness will be gonfused with Christianity and thereby be corrupted.

I know he isn't here anymore... But (you never know he may lurk!) But I also wanted to add for others that read this.... Because this statement is a very general blanket statement....... Many Satanists do not see themselves as evil... :) And many do not even have ANY connection to christianity...... at all.
The Christian religion is contantly changing and adapting as most religions do. Different branches such as Catholicism are gaining popularity, while other branches are declining. In India, the far east and many other parts of the world, the Christian religion is gaining popularity, however it is adapted to the current culture and religion. An early example of assimilation is when Christianity was developing in the 1st century AD. The Catacombs of Rome show a mixture of Christian and non Christian burials (Christians were allowed to bury their dead here, even if they weren't an accepted religion at the time). The paintings found in the tombs are interesting because they show Jesus as the new Apollo, Herakles, Sol and Dionysus. He is portrayed in the same way, with the same attributes as these earlier gods. Scholars believe that this is why Christmas is on 25th December (Sol's birthday) and why he has a halo (Sol and Apollo were frequently depicted with a halo. The Saints in Greece are often a continuation of a previous local deity. So Christianity may seem to be a religion that has discredited earlier religions, however it seems that it has been and still is capable of incorporating previous religious practices - after all people like their old practices and feel loyal to them.
Sooty said:
So Christianity may seem to be a religion that has discredited earlier religions, however it seems that it has been and still is capable of incorporating previous religious practices - after all people like their old practices and feel loyal to them.

Christianity was willing (and may still) to look at other religions and see their best practices as its own. It saw the divine as active everywhere, and it tried to collect that divinity. It was like a parabolic satellite dish that tried to collect a scattered signal and focus it, then replicate it. I think it was Islam that changed this attitude the most. Islam was a religion of conquering which conquered Christian countries for several centuries. Perhaps Islam caused Christianity to doubt whether the divine really was in everything. It seems to me Christianity's faith wavered when it demonized Islam, and that wavering either started or increased animosity towards 'Pagans'. Its 'Chi' turned inward instead of outwards, similar to how a person can be bitter about something. As a result Christianity may have lost some confidence in the divine, by which I mean it stopped expecting to see the divine outside of itself. For a time it was unable to see both good and bad in the world around it as part of the same divine creation. It may come back around.