Archive for the 'witchcraft' Category

Christine O’Donnell and her alleged “little midnight picnic on a satanic altar”

September 19, 2010

In response to Bill Maher’s re-playing, on Friday, of Christine O’Donnell’s claim to have “dabbled into witchcraft” and “had a little midnight picnic on a satanic altar” (as reported by New York Magazine, ABC News, the Washington Post, and Think Progress, among other sources), some Pagans have defensively insisted that she must have dabbled in Satanism and not witchcraft/Wicca, and that the alleged “witch” whom she dated must have been a Satanist and not a Wiccan.

In fact, neither a serious practicing Wiccan nor a serious practicing Satanist is likely to have a picnic on one’s altar.

A more sober Pagan response is Speculations on Christine O’Donnell and Witchcraft by Gus diZerega, Saturday September 18, 2010. He even admits the possibility that she might have dated one of the “creeps infesting the Pagan community” who “used his alleged ‘magickal powers’ to try and impress simple-minded women attracted by power that he was hot stuff.” Of course, as Gus diZerega correctly points out, such “creeps” are not representative of the Pagan community.

Anyhow, to put Christine O’Donnell’s claim into perspective, we should note her tendency to confuse Satanism with not only Wicca but also rock fan culture.

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Favorable references to a “Lucifer” by occultists

June 30, 2010

Recently I was contacted by someone interested in learning about Luciferianism as distinct from Satanism. In my view, Luciferianism and Satanism are overlapping categories, and most people today who call themselves “Luciferians” really are Satanists too, as far as I can tell. However, there have also existed plenty of occultists who didn’t even call themselves “Luciferians,” but who nevertheless were “Luciferian” in the sense of making favorable references to a being that they called “Lucifer.” In most though not all cases, this “Lucifer” is indeed quite distinct from “Satan.”

Here is a far-from-exhaustive list.

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Hank Hanegraaff — an example of fundamentalist/evangelical Christian beliefs about Satan

May 1, 2009

Today I surfed onto a blog belonging to a fundamentalist/evangelical Christian named Hank Hanegraaff, who runs something called the Christian Research Institute (CRI).

He seems to be, in some ways, one of the more honest and reasonable evangelical Christian public figures. Back in the early 1990’s, CRI published some articles debunking the “Satanic ritual abuse” scare , for which I would like to thank him. Back then, standing up against the SRA scare required quite a bit of courage.

In most other ways, though, I still have to regard him as being very much in the enemy camp, for reasons aptly summed up here on RationalWiki (although, as I’ll detail later, the RationalWiki page contains some inaccuracies).

Anyhow, I would like to call attention to some things he says that are of interest both to Satanists and to Pagan Witches.

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History of European witchhunts: Jenny Gibbons, and a response to Beastrabban

May 16, 2008

I highly recommend the excellent article Recent Developments in the Study of The Great European Witch Hunt by Jenny Gibbons.

Too many modern Pagan writers still cling to outdated ideas about the European witchhunts. Jenny Gibbons shows where many of those wrong ideas came from and how they were eventually corrected.

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“Taking elements of” older religions and “warping them into something else”

May 26, 2007

On both the blogs To slam a revolving door and A Blog of 2 Witches, there is an entry titled “10 Things Everyone Should Know About Witches, containing the following:

4) We are NOT Satanists (a Satanist actually takes elements from Christianity and pagan traditions and warps them into something else. Satan is a Christian myth, so it is NOT something associated with witches)

Well, this is a little better than the commonly-heard claim that all forms of Satanism are “just upside down Christianity.” At least there’s an acknowledgment here that most Satanists draw ideas from other sources besides just Christianity.

However, the intended point here seems to be that modern Pagan Witchcraft, supposedly unlike Satanism in this regard, is supposedly a pure and pristene ancient pagan tradition – which it most definitely is not.
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Witchhunt in India

May 5, 2007

Horrible witchhunt story: Couple burned alive for “black magic”, Reuters, Hyderabad, India, Thu May 3, 2007. Another copy of this story, with a few more details, can be found on the website of Reuters India (Andhra Pradesh couple burnt alive for “black magic”).

More detailed versions of this story can be found on India eNews.com (Couple burnt to death for practicing black magic), on RxPG (Couple burnt to death for practicing black magic), and on the Independent Online site in South Africa (Couple burned alive for ‘witchcraft’).

Even the short version says: “Belief in black magic is common in some parts of rural India, despite the country’s robust economic growth and cutting-edge high-technology industries. Dozens of women are murdered each year after being accused of witchcraft.”

Some of the longer versions add, “In the last decade, about 300 people were killed in the region on the suspicion they were practising black magic. The practice is prevalent in Medak, Nalgonda, Ranga Reddy, Warangal, Karimnagar, Nizamabad and Adilabad districts. The actual number of deaths could be higher as many of the ‘bhanamati’ deaths are treated as deaths caused by illness.”

The short version ends with the following, on the separate issue of human sacrifice: “Last year, a barber in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh killed his four-year-old son by slitting his throat with a razor after the man started seeing visions of the Hindu goddess Kali demanding a sacrifice.”