Figured I’d follow on yesterday’s blog theme about being a pagan and accepting Jesus as a great teacher and mentor with one about his opposite number.
So Lucifer. Bloke’s pretty crazy. According to John Milton, he was God’s most beloved angel and the favorite, who ended up developing a power complex, envied the treatment Man was given, and pretty much resolved to unseat God, screw mankind up, and start running things his own way, defiant to the last with “better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven”.
According to the Bible, Lucifer is not named as such, but given a whole host of other names and appearances, which range from the subservient-but-still-independent like in the Book of Job, to the testing of our souls as seen in Jesus’ temptation, to the outright antagonistic appearance as The Dragon in the Book of Revelations. In truth, his appearances in the Bible are so many and varied that what Christians take to be a singular, very powerful entity may actually be several more specialized ones under a common job title. “Satan” means “The Accuser”, the one who accuses you of sin in a sort of heavenly court of Law and it is up to you to defy his accusations and prove your Innocence, and if you can’t, then you make amends.
Not sure when the whole “Satan as the Root of Evil” began, but probably sometime around the Council of Nicea, like much that I find deplorable in Christendom.
So here’s where I make my point.
I, like most pagans, have been asked if I worship the devil, accused of doing so, and even treated as if I were.
But when people ask me if I worship the devil, my answer is usually tongue in cheek.
“Satan? Dunno the bloke, but I hear he throws great parties!”
I don’t deny that Satan is real, I just deny his so-called place in my life. Not my sphere, not my issue. I know that as long as I live honorably and abide by the sacred laws and follow the advice of my divine mentors, I will have nothing to worry about.
Evil is a human choice, and people blame their choices on external influences all the time because it absolves them of their perceived responsibility. Except it doesn’t. A murderer can blame society’s treatment of him or blame his upbringing all he wants –he can even say that the Devil made him do it! That is on every level his choice just as his evil was, but he will still be a murderer and he will have to face the music for what he did. Pushing the blame somewhere else doesn’t alter what was done.
People need to stop chasing Satan and start chasing the demons intrinsic to mankind. I don’t blame Loki, the Devil, Goblins, Gremlins, or Ur-Grues for my misfortunes and my sucky choices. I blame myself, and occasionally I will encompass someone else as a heavy contributing factor.
But Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett wrote a book called “Good Omens”, and I think every person who has ever brushed with Christianity in any capacity ought to read it. In addition to being a thumping good comedic read, one of the main characters is a demon named Crowley. When confronted by his BFF and Mortal Enemy, the Angel Aziraphale, Zira calls him out on tempting people with sin.
“THEY DIDN’T HAVE TO SAY ‘YES’!”
Evil is always a choice. Boogeymen like Satan hurt us in ways entirely not ascribed to them: they allow damaged people to shift the blame elsewhere. “HOLD THE DEVIL ACCOUNTABLE! I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT!”
But the Devil didn’t mug that old lady (she died from a combination of fright and her injuries, by the way). The Devil didn’t burn that forest down to make room for a new factory (inadvertently wiping out hundreds of plants that could have been used to advance the field of medicine).
The hands that did that were human. And the brain that drove those hands made the choice to do that.
Humans are the worst demons when we allow ourselves to be.
I say we banish thoughts like the Devil from our minds. Ignore him. Ignore the IDEA of him. There is one person to ultimately blame for my bad decisions: ME. When I banished the idea of Satan from my mind, that became more clear. I don’t blame Loki, Angrboda, Surtr, or Utgard-Loki for bad choices. That’s not their role. Hold them accountable for harm done, no question, but don’t compound their rap sheets with your dishonor. The HONORABLE thing to do is own up to your own shit and be honest with yourself.
“To thine own self be true” applies to both the good and the bad.
Don’t give yourself an out on your own responsibility.