Writer Pat Mosley of Patheos published an article “A Case for Inviting Satan (back) into Wicca” recently, that has stirred a lot of controversy in the pagan community. While made on Valentine’s day, the article is still getting comments about how paganism in general, and Wicca, have “nothing to do with Satan“. It is likely this will further the debate about paganism and Satanism, many pagans simply do not accept Satanism nor Satan himself. (Satanists are often shunned in the pagan communities, even if they do not believe in a literal Satan either.)
The controversy got further heated when he published a second article yesterday (The 17th), that is also still getting comments. Pat suggests that the pagan community should have a better attitude about Satan; “Obviously I don’t think everyone should drop whatever religion they’re practicing now and convert to Satanism, atheistic or otherwise. However, I do think Pagan community should generally be a safe(r) space for Pagans to discuss working with Satan as a god or archetype.” He believes this can be beneficial to pagans, better than the current intolerant attitude. Likewise, he mentions that pagans tend to put out many misconceptions about Satanism and that we are doing the work for Christian fundies by treating the subject the way it has been, in the community, lately.
A good example of the misconceptions is of the quote from Doreen Valiente, quoted in the first article, where she says:
Contrary to the picture of witchcraft drawn by the sensational Press, genuine witches do not indulge in ‘devil-worship’ or invoke Satan. They believe that their Old Religion is the aboriginal creed of western Europe, and far, far older than Christianity; whereas ‘Satan’ is part of Christian mythology and ‘Satanists’ are just mixed-up Christians,
In his first article, Mosley brings up the influences on Wicca. Most of the influences on Wicca’s history have been the same as the influences of modern Satanism. They both come from the same ideas, and “diabolical trappings”. But they are now radically different. He mentions the influence of Aradia: Gospel of Witches, which does base itself off of things such as the mythical cult of Herodias. (A lot of this mythology is Christian based with Christian ideals and “what ancient pagans did” ideas behind it. Even if it is not factually correct.)
Mosley talks about how most of what Wiccans have been saying when they jump on the “nothing to do with Satan” bandwagon, have actually been telling the Christian version of Satanism. Some pagans even believing Satanism is “backwards Christianity”, despite the corrections. This is contrary to how Satanism actually is. Some branches being atheistic and others being more theistic, and having their own rituals and holidays. (Etc.)
As for the “Horned God”, as many pagans say is not Satan, Mosley adds that sometimes it is said to be Satan. He adds some citations to the article to showcase it. It seems likely, based on the research, that this common adage of the Horned God not being Satan comes from Murray’s long debunked thesis on the witch-cult. On the other hand, it is true that sometimes gods were used as inspirations for demons, as is the case with the goddess Astoreth and the male demon Astraroth. Satan was also a “title” bestowed to certain gods after Christians came into contact with them, such is the case with Tezcatlipoca. But given that Murray took her hypothesis off of the supposed “Satanic witch-cults” that Christian monks made up where they believed (pagan) witches worshiped Satan, and she probably applied Cernunnos to her Horned god (Or Gardner did.) when a god who was similar came up later, it is entirely plausible it is likened or said to be Satan.
Many people keep debating different sides of the article, which is essentially trying to heal the negativity between pagans who jump on the Satanic panic bandwagon, those that do not, and Satanists. Someone had mentioned Satanism is not pagan, a dissenter replied, “Excuse you, Theistic Satanists have been overlapping with Paganism in a Venn diagram for decades.” Another angry user commented, “I will *not* allow my Horned Lord to be identified with Christianity’s satan-figure.” There is much debate about allowing “Satan” back into Wicca, or even just acknowledging that both Satanism and Wicca have the same inspiration.
The debate where Wiccans and other pagans do not allow anything remotely associated with Satan around them, goes back decades. Though it started with founders of Wicca and many of the other inspirational pagans that came out, afterwards. The decades to follow however, brought many people questioning that. Diane Vera, a prominent theistic Satanist, has pointed out on her site on how Wiccans took inspiration from literary Satanism, among other things, way back in 1991. Cassie Beyer of the site “Wicca for the rest of us” published a piece two years ago about “Healing the spiritual rift: Wicca and Satanism”. Even LaVey wrote about Wiccans and witches way back when, albeit negatively, he called them “whitelighters”.
However, the idea of Satan or Satanism being the “big, boogie man” and trying to avoid that still exists in much of the pagan community. Witchvox is still quickly to deny Wicca/witchcraft has anything to do with Satan. In fact, one of their guidelines is that you must believe in something ethical like the rede, and that you cannot be a Satanist. (They have banned people in the past for identifying as Satanist on their user information.) Other sites may tolerate Satanists for a bit, but are really hesitant to allow them to be there. However, there is a few exceptions though. Paganspace is a rare pagan themed site that accepts all religions, for example.
- Diane Vera on Sacred Texts
- A case for inviting Satan (back) into Wicca
- Wicca for the rest of us
- The Aztec trickster