In Polytheism, There Are No Good Or Evil Gods

“We are Polytheistic fish swimming in a monotheistic ocean.” (Note 1) This aptly describes the modern propensity to divide Gods into the categories of Good and Evil. Christianity, the dominant Monotheistic religion in the West, separates the world into those two poles. Thus, it becomes a matter of habit for modern Pagans to do the same.

During the time of the Christian assimilation, Polytheistic Gods were demoted to being Servants of Satan, God’s Adversary. An example of this is Nergal of the Babylonian Underworld. He became associated with Christian Hell as the “Chief of Hell’s Secret Police.” However, popular Gods like Brigit of the Irish (Note 2) became assimilated as saints, who possess their attributes.

The Gods who are Chaos Bringers are usually shunned by many modern Pagans. Loki of Norse mythology is a prime example. Since the Norse Sagas were written by a Christian, centuries after the Norse conversion, they have Christian sensibilities embedded in them. This presents problems for many Norse Polytheists, who converted from American Protestant religions. They tend to regard the sagas (i.e. the Lore) as the “Final Authority.” This habit is left over from various Protestant sects, which directed people to rely only on the Scriptures. According to the Sagas, Loki brings about Raganok. Therefore, many of these Polytheists shun Loki as an evil God who is out to destroy the world. However, Loki is more complex and complicated than that simple interpretation.

Even the Monotheistic God Yahweh cannot be simplified. The belief that Yahweh is (only) All-Good and All-Powerful presents many problems. Theologians grapple with the question of “where does evil come from.” Some say that He has a counterpart in Satan but this contradicts Yahweh being All-Powerful. Some say that evil is a part of God’s plan. This contradicts Him being All-Good. The cost of eliminating many of Yahweh’s undesirable attributes have caused many believers to engage in mental gymnastics to explain evil.

Modern Pagans also do mental gymnastics concerning their Gods. Rather than recognize that the Gods are complex Beings, they have separated Them into polar groups. However, a human may encounter different aspects of the same God. Apollo, who is the God of Light and Logic, has a dark side of raping women.

An example of a God with many conflicting facets is Enlil of Mesopotamia. Called Lord Air, He is the power of the storm. Enlil can bring rain to soften the hard earth or winds to topple the date trees. He is the “Great Mountain” who holds the Tablets of Destiny, and sits at the Head of the Assembly of Gods.

The “Hymn of Enlil” explains the Sumerians’ attitude towards this God. As each human understands each God differently, what emerges is a consensus of who the God may be. For me, the Sumerians demonstrate the best way to regard the Gods.

“Enlil in the E-kur (Enlil A)”
“Enlil’s commands are by far the loftiest, his words are holy, his utterances are immutable! The fate he decides is everlasting…

Without the Great Mountain Enlil, no city would be built, no settlement would be founded; Without the Great Mountain, Enlil, Nintud would not kill, she would not strike dead; no cow would drop its calf in the cattle-pen…

Enlil, your ingenuity takes one’s breath away! By its nature it is like entangled threads which cannot be unraveled, crossed threads which the eye cannot follow. Your divinity can be relied on. You are your own counsellor and adviser, you are a lord on your own. Who can comprehend your actions?” (Note 3) (Note 4)

Notes:
Note 1. Edward Butler, Polytheist Philosopher
Note 2. St. Brigid of Kildare
Note 3. The translation source is http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/section4/tr4051.htm
Note 4. Many of Enlil’s attributes were transferred to Yahweh.

Magical Resistance: Malefic Magic

gray dragon statue

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Since 2015, more and more Pagans have decided to employ malefic magic against what they view as public outrages. In these various incidents, the Pagans regard that the guilty party has gotten away “scot free.” Therefore, they have decided to administer vigilante justice.

Lately, their target has been Donald Trump. When asked why, the answer is because he (and his followers) are evil. Witchcraft is traditionally used as a tool by the oppressed to resist and overthrow their despots. The Magic Resistance has cast their activities in those terms.

A curse is a two way street, which creates a link between the target and the source. In Trump’s case, he is adept at deflecting curses back to their source. Trump is a master magician, who has had much practice at being the object of people’s ire.

Moreover, the problem with cursing public figures like Trump is that they have an egregore. An egregore is “an autonomous” psychic entity that is created by a collective group mind.” Fed by the group mind, the egregore will protect the public person. In Trump’s case, he has built one over the years. Therefore, doing magic against him involves dealing with his egregore.

A person can do a magical working based on honest hate. They simply need to be prepared for the blowback that it entails. Since magic follows the path of least resistance, it usually comes back to the practitioner. One repercussion of malefic magic is that the spellcaster becomes obsessed with the target. I have seen my friends become sicken with rage at Trump, who has become a monomania for them..

The problem with any type of magic is that it is uncontrollable and unpredictable. It also exacts a price from the practitioner, corrupting and weakening them. People who overuse magic end up suffering for it. Therefore when doing malefic magic, the spellcaster needs to understand that magic does not act the way that they want it to. They need to be prepared for failure.

Read More in this series:

Lessons from the Magic Resistance: Collective Trauma

Lessons from the Magic Resistance: Ethics

The Magic Resistance: The Curse of Moral Purity

The Magic Resistance: The Curse of Moral Purity

time lapse photography of four black metal cooking wares

Photo by Devon Rockola on Pexels.com

In various discussion about Donald Trump, many people have agreed that using baneful magic against him is appropriate. People of the Magic Resistance have decided that Trump (and others) are evil and unredeemable. This has expanded to Pagans in general deciding who is evil and needs to be brought down. For example, Michael Hughes (Note 1) has a spell called “Hexing Nazis to Save the United States.” The crime that many of these “evil” people is that they do not subscribe to Progressivism that these Pagans do. In their efforts to root out evil, the Magic Resistance has decided that there is only one side to truth, justice, and goodness. It is theirs.

I have several problems with this. For one thing, people act as though the Gods are with them in this. They assume that what they have deemed evil, the Gods have also. For them, the Gods have a morality based on Judeo-Christian ideas. As a Polytheist, my experience with the Gods is that They are not bound by human conventions. The Gods keep their own counsel, which They may inform us through divination. We cannot assume anything where the Gods are concerned.

From what I can see, the Magic Resistance is laboring under the curse of moral purity. Within this lens of moral purity, everything is flattened into black and white. Truth is replaced by slogans. Now sterile, ethics become brittle as they devolve into simplistic norms. Reality is reduced into one main idea – “we are good, you are evil.” It is then molded into a barren consistency. My belief is that this moral crusade of the Magic Resistance is an expression of deeper problems in the greater society. I believe it is an attempt to deal with being disempowered by forces beyond them.

Moral grandstanding arises from moral purity. When there are toxic tribal divisions, people will demonstrate how much they are devoted to the tribal ideology. The person will promote how good and morally exceptional they are. Grandstanding grows when people showboat over who is the most moral. All this crowds out actual moral considerations.

Notes
Note 1: Michael Hughes wrote “Magic for the Resistance.” He came to fame for his public (on-going) working, “Mass Spell to Bind Donald Trump and All Those Who Abet Him.” Many of my friends who participate in this mass spell are friends of his. They hold similar views.

Read more on the Magic Resistance

Lessons from the Magic Resistance: Collective Trauma

The Magic Resistance: Emotional Intelligence

The Magic Resistance: Outgroup Homogeneity

Lessons from the Magic Resistance: Ethics

Lessons from the Magic Resistance: Ethics

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Before doing any type of magic, the question of ethics has to be addressed. Magic expands beyond the spellcaster and affects people, places, and things. Since magic impels many changes, careful thought must be done first before doing any spells. Therefore examining the ethics behind a desired outcome is necessary.

For the ethics of the Magic Resistance (Against Trump), Michael Hughes (Note 1.), writes “Being a part of the magic resistance means working in service.” (Note 2.) He continues “this magic is done for the higher good of all (emphasis his) of us. (Note 3.) Hughes defines what is meant by “Resistance Magic.” “It is about bending reality in (r) evolutionary directions either by pushing against reactionary and regressive trends or encouraging positive change.” (Note 4.) He continues, “This movement also uses magical practices to promote progressive, inclusive, liberating and empowering political, environmental, economic, and social causes.” (Note 5.)

Theorist Brian Culkin examines the overall resistance to Donald Trump. (The Magic Resistance began in reaction to Trump’s election.) First, he defines what Trump stands for. In “The Meaning of Trump,” Culkin states, “The politics of Donald Trump was grounded and articulated in a fundamentalist-populist reaction against… the mainstream liberal democratic order and the general dynamism of neoliberal globalization.” (Note 6.) He calls Trump’s actions, a resistance (emphasis his). “It was Trump and his followers who were the ones who engaged in the true act of resistance.” (Note 7.) He names the resistance to Trump, “a resistance to resistance itself (emphasis his).”

Culkin explains the “problem is that the liberal world view is now stuck in a mode of discourse and critique that perceives the state world as it was in the 1950s.” (Note 8.) “But nevertheless, one can only note that we do not … still live in such a world often articulated by the standard liberal critique.” (Note 9.) He writes, “We could make the provocative claim that the new pervasive resistance to Trump is actually more akin to a reactionary gesture, an attempt to reconstitute the status quo of the more palpable and acceptable neoliberal policies. (Note 10.)

Culkin perceives that Trump is a “message from the Gods.” Therefore, people should first pause and take a clear look at the world that they live in. Instead of reacting to Trump, they could address the deteriorating social and economic systems of their local communities. This would be more constructive than trying to smash Trump.

My Personal View: I believe that Hughes and others of the Magic Resistance have determined that the appropriate morality for Pagans should be Liberal and Progressive. My reaction to this is alarm, since any difference of opinion is regarded as “evil.” I regard their ethics to be problematic since they are veering into ideology, instead of seeing the moral complexity of the situation.

Notes:

Note 1: I cite Michael Hughes, since he is the most vocal and accessible of the “Magic Resistance” group.
Note 2: Michael Hughes, “Magic for the Resistance,” Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN). 2018. P. 42. P. 2
Note 3: ibid. P. 2.
Note 4: ibid. P. 3.
Note 5: ibid. P. 4.
Note 6: Brian Culkin, “The Meaning of Trump.” Zero Books: Hampshire (UK). 2018. P.56.
Note 7: ibid. P. 56.
Note 8: ibid. P. 57.
Note 9: ibid. P. 58.
Note 10: Ibid. P. 56

Works Used:
Culkin, Brian, “The Meaning of Trump.” Zero Books: Hampshire (UK). 2018.

Hughes, Michael, “Magic for the Resistance,” Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN). 2018.
—, “Daily Trump Binding and Justice Spell,” Medium.com. 19 December 2017. https://medium.com/@michaelmhughes/daily-trump-binding-and-justice-spell-9b2010d9270b

McShee, Sean, “Author of Trump Binding Spell Releases New Book: Magic for the Resistance,” The Wild Hunt, 18 September, 2018. https://wildhunt.org/2018/09/author-of-trump-binding-spell-releases-new-book-magic-for-the-resistance.html

The Magic Resistance: Outgroup Homogeneity

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In his blog, evolutionary psychologist Glenn Geher discuss outgroup-homogeneity in politics today. He describes that the political divide in the U.S. by calling it “outgroup homogeneity” and “ingroup/outgroup categorization.” Dr. Geher explains that outgroup homogeneity is rooted in tribal psychology (a critical part of human evolutionary biology). When people belong to a particular tribe, they simplify the qualities of all the other tribes. For example, all truck drivers are stupid, while all college students are smart. This enables (inside) tribal members to vilify the outside group.

Dr. Geher explains that in ingroup and outgroup categorization, the ingroup allows for diversity of individuals within their group. Meanwhile, the outgroup becomes homogeneous. (This is also called “othering.”) The outgroup is dismissed and marginalized, while the ingroup is exalted and elevated. This leads to treating individuals as if they are an abstract concept. For example, anti-Trump people see themselves as diverse as Progressives, Liberals, and Centrists. They support a multitude of social causes for the betterment of people. Meanwhile, they regard all Trump supporters to be Nazis.

The ingroup/outgroup categorization is evident in the writings of Michael Hughes (Note 1.) (Note 2.), one of the proponents of the Magic Resistance.

From 2017:
“I believe we are called upon to face down the clear and present evil facing us. Which is why, along with our phone calls, our marches, our sit-ins, and our other acts of daily resistance, we have been joining our collective energies and binding Donald J. Trump and all those — like the extremists who control the Republican Party — who enable his wickedness. (Emphasis his)…Most importantly, it should leave you feeling charged, energized, empowered, and rededicated to our mutual goals of justice, liberty, love, equality, and peace.”

In his spell against Trump, he writes,
“And bind, too
Donald J. Trump
And all those who enable his wickedness
And those whose mouths speak his poisonous lies”

By 2019, Hughes has become more extreme in his “othering” of people who support Trump. His magic workings moved from binding to cursing, while he considers himself be morally good. This troubles me since it devolves complex moral questions into “they are evil, and we are good.”

“As members of the #MagicResistance, we should always dually focus our energies: protecting those who need it, while resisting and using all defensive magical and mundane means against the agents of violence and oppression. The spell is adapted from the Fuck Fascists working, Hexing Nazis to Save the United States of America (emphasis both his.)”

“So please join the thousands of patriots in the #MagicResistance as we embark on our latest working to accelerate the karma of one of the most revolting Nazi punks in recent history. I curse you, Stephen Miller, and bind you in this hellish trap of your own making. (Emphasis his.)” (Note 3.)

The problem, as I see it, is that the Magic Resistance is seeking moral purity. For me, this moral purity has become a form of ideology, conforming to ingroup/outgroup categorization. The Magic Resistance can now be wholly good as they smite the evil Trump fascists.

Notes:
Note 1: Michael Hughes wrote “Magic for the Resistance.” He came to fame for his public (on-going) working, “Mass Spell to Bind Donald Trump and All Those Who Abet Him.” Many of my friends who participate in this mass spell are friends of his. They hold similar views.

Note 2: These quotes are from Hughes’ writings at Medium.com. https://medium.com/@michaelmhughes

Note 3: Stephen Miller is a senior advisor for policy for President Donald Trump. He is responsible for immigration policies.

Works Used:
Bradberry, Travis and Jean Greaves, “Emotional Intelligence 2.0.” Talent Smart: San Diego. 2009.
Geher, Glenn, “Darwin’s Subterranean World Blog,” Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/darwins-subterranean-world
Hughes, Michael, “Magic for the Resistance,” Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN). 2018.

Other posts in this series:

The Magic Resistance: Emotional Intelligence

Lessons from The Magic Resistance: Rituals and Trauma

Lessons from the Magic Resistance: Collective Trauma