Educating about Paganism, without kicking Satanists under the bus

October 2, 2014 at 3:27 am 7 comments

Now as Samhain (Celtic and more broadly Pagan) and Halloween (secularized version of Christianized Samhain) approaches, many Pagans, Druids and Witches will be doing work to educate the public about our religions and holidays. I have some suggestions about this.

*Witchcraft and Wicca are not synonymous
*Not all Pagans/polytheists etc. celebrate Samhain as religious holiday (or even Halloween as a secular holiday, especially if they live in a country where it isn’t typically observed)
*It’s pronounced saw-winn dammit!
*It may also be worth mentioning that Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a different holiday of Mexican origin, though it bears many similarities to Samhain.

Another problem that often arises in public relations work surrounding Witchcraft, Wicca and Neo-Paganism is the usual “We’re Not Satanists!” disclaimer. Now while it’s fine to calmly explain to people that we honor deities and spirits of pre- (or possibly post-) Christian mythology and folklore and this does not include Satan, there are actual Satanists and Luciferians out there and I don’t think we should be well, demonizing them. It’s because of public relations that we often do not include these folks in our communities, we are too paranoid about being confused with them. One argument I also often hear is that Satanists draw on Judeo-Christian mythology, so they should be included as Pagans, going by the non-Abrahamic definition. With all the angels, Kabbalah and other Jewish and Christian derived magic and folklore in our altars and bookshelves this is rather silly to me. I do notice a sort of feminist bias- reclaiming Lilith and Mary as goddesses- totally cool!  But Jesus and Satan? No way that’s the evil patriarchy!

My opinion on this has developed over time, after learning more about these religions and philosophies. A few years ago I remember reading a critique by Diane Vera, a theistic Satanist of the typical “We’re Not Satanists!” disclaimer, this particular one was written by ADF’s own Isaac Bonewits. I thought her arguments were all quite fair and valid. She also has an interesting essay discussing the origins of Wicca, and its ties with literary Satanism, which has more to do with the Enlightenment and people rebelling against the Catholic Church than worshipping Satan.

Now, I am not saying we all necessarily need to approve of Satanism and I don’t really feel like defending their “right” to be under the Pagan umbrella, since as I’ve discussed I’m not sure how much I really believe in the concept. But we should not be spreading misinformation about other people’s religions, even if we disagree with them.  Pagans have just as many misconceptions of Satanists as Christians do, probably more since we’re more preoccupied with them “ruining our reputation”. I think it’s time we educated ourselves more, and I will continue this in my next post.

Personally, since I’ve long identified as a Druid, I haven’t had to deal with a lot of the Devil-worship PR issues Witches and Wiccans do, and fortunately most people in my area aren’t prone to read Jack Chick tracts (even my fundamentalist mother-in-law would likely find them ridiculous!) I’m more likely to have to explain that actually it’s a real religion,  not just a class in D & D or World of Warcraft. (Which of course, are also Satanic!)

Lastly, if you’re going to call yourself a Witch, a Pagan, a Heathen or a Druid, be prepared for at least a little notoriety. Persecution and misinformation about our religions sucks. But a little hint of danger and mystique? You know you want it!

References:

http://www.theisticsatanism.com/pagan/CritiqueDisclaimers.html
http://www.theisticsatanism.com/pagan/HistoryWicca.html

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Entry filed under: Luciferianism/Satanism, Pagan Communities. Tags: , , , , , , .

I’ll Take Liberal Christians/Jews over Conservative Pagans We Need to Create Support for Disgruntled/Frustrated Pagans

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. rabgaoth  |  October 2, 2014 at 6:15 am

    Reblogged this on Raibeart's Hearth and commented:
    As someone who tends to get into debates and arguments with folks about the various aspects of Samhain, both the facts and misinformation alike, and as someone who feels that many Satanists get a lot of bashing from a lot of folks, Pagans included, I drink to this article which brings up a few good points about both topics at hand.

    Reply
  • 2. G. B. Marian  |  October 2, 2014 at 7:21 am

    Amen. One doesn’t need to agree with or even like Satanism, but one doesn’t need to reinforce negative stereotypes about it either.

    I actually think the line between Satanism and Paganism is not always very clear, depending on who or what “Satan” is defined to be. This is due to several factors I discuss here.

    Also, one thing I get tired of is the argument I sometimes hear that “Satanic witches don’t exist.” Strangely, this is often voiced in my experience by Pagans who are perfectly accepting of Christopagans, Christian witches or Jewitches. So, certain parts of Abrahamic spirituality are okay to overlap with, but not others? Funny how that works.

    Reply
    • 3. caelesti  |  October 2, 2014 at 7:50 am

      Witchcraft, as far as I can tell, just means the practice of magic. Someone can practice magic alongside any religion or none at all. It boils down to what a person happens to approve of, pretty much. Good point about Satanism actually being a gateway to Paganism- actually Diane Vera makes the same point on her website.

      Reply
  • 4. Pagans and Satanists | Trellia's Mirror Book  |  October 2, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    […] just read The Lefthander’s Path’s recent article on the relationship between Pagans and Satanists, which is actually something I’ve been thinking about recently. I think all Pagans end up […]

    Reply
  • 5. Pagan Blog Project Archive Post | The Lefthander's Path  |  January 4, 2015 at 10:20 am

    […] –  Satanism- September […]

    Reply
  • 6. freemanpresson  |  April 12, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    I looked up this post to see if there was something I could quote instead of having to write it myself. Thank you! I would add a couple of practical points: Firstly, people don’t hear “not” very well, so when you’re the first to bring up Satanism, you are then associated with it, without anyone else raising a finger. Secondly, most of the people who need to hear the disclaimer are already armored against accepting it. Once someone swallows the mental poison of dualism, where not-Godly can only be Satanic, it will take much more to change their mind.

    Reply
  • 7. caelesti  |  April 15, 2015 at 12:55 am

    Very true. I’ve done a lot of work for political campaigns, so I’m familiar with messaging techniques and framing discussions in a way that best shares your viewpoint and gets out the key points. I’d definitely recommend that type of training for anyone that does interfaith or other engaging with the public type activities. Also agreed that some people are not going to listen. Fortunately the most hard-core tend to not show up at interfaith events.

    Reply

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