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.