A Faith By Any Other Name

It is common knowledge that humanity is hardwired for belief. Skeptics, perhaps rightly, see said desire as a mental release valve for the pent up angst that comes with being a lone point of light in an otherwise dark and rudderless universe. They argue that we are as nothing and as such need to create something, anything, that can sit on high to make our lives worthwhile. We are slaves to an idea, an innate need to follow buried somewhere deep within our very souls, and even those who claim to be fee of the stain of religion do not realise that their very modern worldview is based almost solely upon that very thing.

Sadly, for magickians this comes with the territory, albeit unknowingly in most cases. It is not just the presence of deities that unify the Western occult systems, but also their roots in Abrahamic religious practice. Indeed many supposedly unique schools of mysticism actually formed as a mist shrouded companion, or in a few notable cases shadow cloaked antithesis, to the organised worship of the time and geographic region. Thus the Kabbalistic and Goetic systems stem from esoteric Judaism, while Thelema has its roots in flawed 19th Century ideas about ancient Egypt as well as Crowley’s all consuming hatred of Christianity.

Even the Pagan revival that sprung up around the middle of the 20th Century falls back on the pseudo-history surrounding the greatly overestimated burning times. All that we now are only exists because our forefathers developed the initial ideas under the ever watchful eye of the Abrahamic spirituality of the time. In so many ways we modern magickians are but vultures picking over the desiccated corpses of those original concepts, afraid to add anything of value to the mix in our new and godless age. Indeed, as we travel along the rotting veins of our esoteric spirituality we find all roads leading back to the very organised religions that many of us wish to deny.

This is even the case for those paths which on the surface scream freedom, such as the practices of the non-theistic Satanists. To reject God’s laws and embrace the seven deadly sins still requires that Christianity exist in the first place. It must be so, otherwise their much quoted personal empowerment and rebellion would have no anchor in our modern society, no supposed ray of light to play bloody counterpoint to. All that we do, even the actions of the atheists who vehemently deny the existence of a spiritual dimension to their lives, can be seen as either an embracing or denying of the religious thought and feeling that saturates our reality.

It is all that we are. We bathe in it, drown in it, gulp it down with out first breath and take it with us to pay the Reaper. Western society is so deeply based upon the ideas stemming from the Abrahamic religions that to imagine another way of living would be impossible. Humanity is young, and the last few thousand years have not been kind to those who deny the supposedly enlightened path. There are many that have tried of course, Humanists for example, but even their man as a moral animal viewpoint is yet another reactionary counterpoint to the presence of God, and as such falls into a similar category as the rest of the personal paths listed here.

It is the same for the ancient alien cultists, those who would replace angels with little green men and demons with ten foot tall reptilians. These true believers are still stuck feeding the same innate human need for more developed spiritual presences to exist out there somewhere so that we are never completely alone. But sadly I have saved the best for last, one final killing joke held in reserve. You see, even when doggedly fighting the hold that the concept of Abrahamic Gods has over Western occultism, we are hamstrung by the fact that our very weapons are forged from the substance of a world that was created by religious men and sculpted from their spiritual ideas.

This is not a fight we can ever win, for modern language knows only this God and as a result humanity’s very minds betray us. Our internal landscape has its roots in the ideas that many who would rise above the unthinking herd are trying to deny. If our default setting is one of belief, then no matter how hard we as a species try to become something more than the children of our forefathers superstitions, said rebellion can only ever be reactionism. Worse, in actively fighting against this aspect of ourselves are we not doomed to feed those vary fantasies, to honour the ideas we try and escape from even when they are held in opposition?

3 thoughts on “A Faith By Any Other Name

  1. Thoughtful analysis. For me the problem is slightly different: (1) freeing myself from my atheistic/monotheistic upbringing i.e. seeing the gods as more than psychological projections – and the fundamental question if I even really want to do so. (2) freeing pre-Christian beliefs from the pervasive Christian tumor that has enveloped and transformed them.
    I do believe it is possible to escape from the Abrahamic. Often the freedom lies in the very language we use. F.ex. The Christian word God is derived from a proto-Indo-European cluster of words, that refer to a ‘guardian of the grave tomb’. I would therefore in some ways argue the opposite: it is almost impossible for European Christianity to free itself from the non-Abrahamic.

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  2. Not sure if all paganisms fall back on the myth of the Burning Times and/or are reskinned Jehovah/Shaitan; for example modern takes on Norse/Teutonic metaphysics.

    Certainly, some of them have reaction to Christianity as a key facet and some of them are descendants of the more Abraham/Burning Times focused paganisms (perhaps with some Buddhism thrown it); but some of them are more interested in building up from historical texts supported by personal gnosis, so don’t seem either reskin or reflection of Middle Eastern monotheism.

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    • Agreed, but the Norse/Teutonic revivals are based on literature written down by Christians. There are indications, f.ex. that the Edda is not just a reflection of preceding Viking myth, but also a clever satire of those myths.

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