I believe in Satan.

Rather, I believe in Satan insofar as there are other religious people out there in the world who believe in Satan. To my knowledge, I haven’t had much direct contact with him (though, if I listen to my evangelical friends, there’s all kinds of Satan going on all around me all the time), but, given no reason to do otherwise, I believe in him insofar as I believe in a myriad of other gods and spirits with whom I have minimal to no contact. I believe in Satan in the same way that I believe in Hera, Ishtar, Quetzalcoatl, or Anansi. None of them are my gods, and so I have little to nothing to say about them—I leave that to their devotees.

I only mention Satan here because I’m constantly subjected to the refrain of, “Wiccans don’t believe in Satan!”

And I want to point out how little fucking sense that makes.

Now, I realize that not all Wiccans are polytheists. Maybe not even most of us. But even the archetypists and the all-gods-are-one-god people have to understand that the decision to arbitrarily exclude one set of mythological beings simply because it belongs to the dominant cultural paradigm (and at some point Christians were mean to you) represents a hefty theological reasoning flaw.

If we believe that there are potentially a multitude of gods and spirits working in the world (in whatever form), and we’re willing to give other people the benefit of the doubt when they tell us that they work with/worship/talk to/whatever gods and spirits other than our own, then we have to extend that same courtesy to the people asserting the reality of Satan.

So I, as a Wiccan, believe in Satan, despite whatever those idiotic Internet memes and newbie eclectic books assert.

Which is not to say that I believe Satan is and does everything that, for example, my Christian friends say he is and does. Clearly they have experiences with Satan that don’t jive with the rest of my personal worldview or my own experiences with my own gods. But this isn’t a unique situation. As a Pagan, I’m constantly being exposed to other peoples’ god experiences that don’t fit in with my own. But I don’t write them off as simply not being real.

When I go to church and I hang out with Christians, I know that I’m capable of having woo experiences comparable to what I try to cultivate in my own rituals. I get that same divine *pokepoke* that I experience in really good Wiccan ritual or in other settings when I think Someone is trying to talk to me. I have no doubt that Jesus is real and talking to these people. The difference is merely that I have elected to not talk back.

I am not interested in talking to Jesus/Yahweh/Jehovah/I Am because he wants a lot of stuff that I see no reason to give him. Exclusivity, faithfulness, tithes, Sundays, chastity, etc. I’ve also got commitments with other gods that I would be required to blow off if I was going to be a Jesus person. Plus I really like drinking and swearing.

But I don’t doubt that he’s real. When I’m in his space with his people, I can feel him the same way I feel my own gods. What’s not real is that he’s the only god, the best god, or the god I should serve.

Likewise, I may (and do) doubt what people say about Satan, but I don’t doubt that Satan is real for other people in the same way that my gods are real for me.

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6 thoughts on “I believe in Satan.

  1. Chris Mann

    “…to arbitrarily exclude one set of mythological beings simply because it belongs to the dominant cultural paradigm (and at some point Christians were mean to you) represents a hefty theological reasoning flaw.” – It seems to me that the logic behind it is: ‘Paganism is anything non-Abrahamic. Therefore if you are Pagan, you must reject all that is Abrahamic.’ Yet it also seems arbitrary because it sounds like ‘I’m ok with people believing anything … except that.’

    It also seems rather reactionary – either they grew up in an Abrahamic tradition (usually Christianity) and they didn’t like it or a Christian was mean to them, or both. Lately I’ve come across several atheists online who have the same basic story – they grew up in an Abrahimic tradition (usually Christianity) and they didn’t like it or a Christian was mean to them. It seems the difference is that atheists come to the conclusion that there is no deity or deities at all. I never see atheists trying to pick fights with neo-pagans, though. I always wonder what a conversation between a neo-pagan and an atheist would look like. Have you ever been in such a discussion? I would like to see you do a blog/vlog about atheists and neo-pagans and how they interact, and on your opinion, both scholarly and personal, about atheism.

    Reply
  2. Jason Leslie Rogers

    Hi, Thorn. 🙂
    I was raised in the Pentecostal Christian tradition, so, I’m sure you can imagine that everyone I knew growing up equated Satan with everything immoral, destructive, and deceitful. I walked away from Christianity quite a few years ago, at least as a spiritual path, and started walking an earth-centered path.
    However, once I had given myself enough time and distance away from the tyrant, Yahweh, I finally came to realize and expect that the stories and parables and proverbs of the bible would always heavily influence my worldview. So I began to slowly and carefully re-approach the Judeo-Christian narratives. Only this time I ignored the traditional canon and decided to include the stories and writings that didn’t fall within the covers of that collection of 66 books.
    This decision would completely change my outlook on the character of Satan, a word which simply means “The Adversary.” (It does not mean “enemy.”) In a larger context, it’s clear that Satan is simply the trickster spirit of the pantheon, like Loki of the Norse, Coyote of the First Nations of North America, and Eris of the Greek. He serves a necessary role in the lives of those with whom he interacts, and, as a deity, is as deserving of worship, or at least respect, as any other in the tradition. In fact, in the telling of some stories (Abraham trying to sacrifice his son, Isaac, for example), he seems to be the only reasonable voice speaking.
    This isn’t to say that I’m interested in or planning on interacting with Satan, much less offering him service (though I think that’s a fine path for others to take). I simply want nothing more to do with the Christian pantheon, including trinity, virgin, saints, angels, or demons. In fact, a couple of years ago I went so far as to put myself through a year-long cleansing process and undergo a disavowment ritual, forever separating myself from the religion. I do, however, regularly pay homage to other trickster and chaos spirits and deities, performing rituals invoking Eris, most often.
    What about you? Have you done any work with or service to Satan or other “left-hand” deities or spirits, anything you wouldn’t mind sharing, at least?

    Reply
  3. Katra

    I agree with you on this topic. I wish those books & sources would put it into a better context such as, “Wiccans generally don’t work with the Judeo/Christian archetype of Satan” – or something along those lines. Not just a straight up – Wiccans don’t believe statement – because that’s so wrong to anyone who’s an experience practitioner.
    My philosophy on the existence of Satan is that – if he didn’t exist before, he would definitely exist by now! I absolutely believe that energy follows thought, and I absolutely believe that there are primal (some may interpret as dark/evil/etc) energies as natural occurrences in our universe. Put those two together & what you get is a large number of people over a large amount of time feeding the idea of a “Satan” will develop a Satan. Same goes for all the Gods/Goddesses of the world. I’m a monotheist Witch – my monotheist philosophy supports the concept of archetypes that branch out from that central source of all energy — those are our “Gods/Goddesses/Devils/Demons/Guides/Angels/etc.” Good & bad – it’s all useful. The greater the thought/belief power, the stronger the archetype.

    To date, I have not had a personal experience with a Devil or Satan type energy. I have experienced primal energies that have made me feel uncomfortable (evil in my opinion) & I will work to understand & then rid them (because I don’t care for that energy). All of what I’ve come across has been primal needs/fears/desires created by some human force – that’s my impression anyway. I don’t deny the existence of a Satan archetype & I don’t want to meet him. I have enough issues of my own to work on in this life thank you 🙂

    Reply
  4. Michael

    Satan is as real as any other deity one might look at. In fact I’d argue the mythos of Satan in Paradise Lost is one of the richest immersions to a near god like figure available in the English language written in a form of myth. The problem I have with Satan is it is too dichotomous and intentionally corrupted to be overly useful as a deity to work with.

    Though it does remind that bad Metaphysics are quite common and so when people cry about the concept of Yin making an antifeminist pornographic reference in their mind and

    Reply
  5. G. B. Marian

    I also get frustrated by how some Pagans just flat-out dismiss the existence of Abrahamic entities. I’m especially bothered by all the Pagans who are perfectly okay with Sufism, Christopaganism or Jewitchery, but who continue to bash Satanism. It’s hypocritical and inconsistent.

    I too believe in the God of Abraham, and while I don’t believe Satan is really a “Deity” (i.e., in his own source mythology, he’s just an angel), I accept that he exists as well. However, like you I don’t agree that Yahweh is “the One True God” or even the Creator necessarily, or that Satan is completely evil. I think Yahweh is really just one God among many – and a jealous one at that – and that Satan is basically a servant of His whose job is to test His followers, weed out those can’t live up to His standards, and be a scapegoat for them. I also think that neither is completely good or evil, or at least not by my own personal moral standards.

    Reply

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