Why the Satanic Panic is still a thing

Satanic Panic has returned, or so we’re told. It certainly feels that way when we consider the extent to which hardcore American conservatives and the far-right in general are leveraging the same essential moral panic, and all its inherently fascistic undertones, as part of the gradual consolidation of fascism across the world. Indeed, long-time readers of this blog may have noticed that this past year has so far has seen me cover new iterations of Satanic Panic. This includes the conservative outrage against Lil Nas X, conspiracy theories about the Astroworld disaster, Jordan Peterson’s transphobic rant in which he compares trans people to Satanic Panic, and the whole industry of conspiracy theories that cast Ukraine as a Satanic fascist nation in opposition to Christian Russia. Just hold that last thought for later, because it will be important to cover that in more detail. Indeed, the Russian state to whom the Western far-right is allied has played a unique role in thrusting Satanic Panic back into focus by making it part of the ideological basis for their ongoing invasion of Ukraine. But while a lot of commentary on the subject seems to present this as a revival of 1980s moral panic, the reality is that Satanic Panic never actually died out. The basic tropes still persist to this day and are a fundamental part of the core of hardcore right-wing ideology and the conspiracy theories that build themselves upon it. We laugh rightly about the fact that there was a time where some people seriously believed that heavy metal was indoctrinating people into some sort of violent Satanism, no matter the actual religious affiliations (or often the lack thereof) of the bands in question, but that basic idea still has its adherents in this very decade! In this setting, I hope to demonstrate not only the way that Satanic Panic has been brought back into focus, but also the way in which Satanic Panic has always been present in Western societies.

Contemporary Satanic Panic

But first of all, let’s bring focus to perhaps the most recent discourse of Satanic Panic that jumped onto my radar, and in all truth is my impetus for writing this article to start with. Last week, a Twitter user going by the name Rob (or @.houellebecq_2) has gone semi-viral for suggesting that the Satanic Panic of the 1980s was actually “justified”. To re-state the basic facts of our subject, this Satanic Panic was based around a number of right-wing conspiracy theories. One of those conspiracy theories asserted that schools and daycare centers across America were secretly controlled by devil-worshipping paedophiles who (we’re told) carted their victims off through underground tunnels and into their ritual chambers to abuse or kill them. Another popular Satanic Panic idea that sort of connected with that is the belief that heavy metal (not to mention its more “extreme” varieties), Dungeons and Dragons, video games, horror movies and more were portals through which children and teenagers would be brainwashed into becoming Satanists and start ritualistically murdering people or committing other crimes as a result. Rob’s argument is that these beliefs are all justified because “there actually was widespread abuse in the 80s”. When he was called out for this, Rob asserted that his critics were simply weaponizing some alleged experience of gaslighting, then argued that people don’t accept his claims because of media hyperfocus on the occult aspects, an alleged overcharging of cases, and supposed outgroup anxieties about suburban Christians (which, if anything, is probably what is actually justified for reasons I plan to elaborate). He then suggested that people read The Witch-Hunt Narrative by Ross E. Cheit, which ostensibly argues against the idea that the McMartin accusations constituted a witch hunt, while rather suspiciously refusing to link to any court documents to support his case. Forgetting the obvious problem with trying to bat away decades of disconfirmation (not to mention explicit repudiation by children involved) with a single source coupled with the refusal to present any relevant legal evidence that just might refute Rob’s case, a quick search for Cheit’s book The Witch-Hunt Narrative gives us no indication that he actually endorses the idea of Satanic Ritual Abuse – even though he argues that widespread abuse was real, he does not seem to support the idea that this was ritualistic or “Satanic” in nature.

With this established, let’s emphasize exactly what’s wrong here. First of all, the argument that Satanic Ritual Abuse was a real, widespread phenomenon, and that Satanic Panic is therefore justified, is a fundamentally fallacious argument; one which, I suspect, has applications for other fascist conspiracy theories. Why, with this peculiarly shoddy reasoning, someone may as well argue that the fact that the USS Liberty was mistakenly attacked by Israeli military forces off the Sinai peninsula, for which the government of Israel had apologized and given restitution, was proof of some broader nefarious Jewish conspiracy against white people. I don’t bring up this example by accident. Not only is the logic the same, many of the same people who still believe that Satanists are secretly abusing and killing your kids also tend to hold some really toxic and bigoted beliefs about Jews – sometimes coded (see the way the Right has been talking about “globalists” for decades or even close to century), and other times overt. That’s not a coincidence either, because the basic premise of Satanic Ritual Abuse conspiracy theories is itself evolved from a much older tradition of blood libel in which Jews were frequently and maliciously accused of abducting people as victims of blood sacrifice, and these ideas are both pillars of a far-right/fascist ideology whose aim is to preserve a traditionalist notion of “the natural order” applicable to human civil society by oppressing or exterminating any designated Other seen as defying this order. I must stress for the record: this is what Rob thinks is somehow “justified”, and on such an appallingly weak standard of evidence.

I’m sorry to say this, but there’s more. Rob is not the only person trying to argue that the old Satanic Panic was justified. Anna Biller, the same woman who gave us The Love Witch, also recently endorsed the idea that Satanic Panic was justified based on the supposed reality of the McMartin preschool abuses. In fact, Biller even went so far as to claim that the “tunnels” where children were taken through to be abused were actually real, that the McMartin case was only debunked because no one at the time could prove that the tunnels existed, and that they were supposedly later found and the media wouldn’t cover it. How does she claim to know all of this? By going down a “Satanic Panic rabbit hole”…by which she means she went to some message boards and saw people claim that the tunnels were real and that they were covered up. Well, that and her other source is a website run by a man named Neil Brick, who incidentally has apparently also claimed that he was brainwashed by the CIA to be some sort of super soldier to go and kill people in Eastern Europe. His organisation, S.M.A.R.T., repeatedly claims the existence of large scale CIA mind control programs, and Brick himself repeatedly claims that the CIA financed various mass brainwashing programs. But there’s more. On S.M.A.R.T.’s website, you’ll find an article about Michelle Remembers, Lawrence Padzer’s infamous and discredited book that was taken up as the basis of the whole Satanic Panic nonsense, written by a retired psychologist named Alison Miller, in which Miller argues that the claims presented in Michelle Remembers are almost literally true and praises Padzer’s credentials. The website also seems to defend the work of Bennett Braun, a doctor who planted false memories of ritual abuse and demonic possession into the head of Pat Burgus – a charge that, surprise surprise, S.M.A.R.T. categorically denies. So Anna Biller is basing her “expertise” about Satanic Panic on conspiracy theories concocted from SRA theorists/apologists and probably also 4chan for all I know!

Of course, Biller has other arguments at her disposal. She claims not only that the ritual abuse cases were all real, but also that they were part of a massive international criminal trafficking operation, which she claims was, like Donald Trump’s abuse cases, too big to prosecute because they involved rich, powerful men at the centre. This new spin on the old Satanic Panic is fundamentally indistinguishable from the basic claim made by the QAnon movement, which claims the existence of an elite conspiracy to traffic minors in order to ritually abuse and sacrifice them, but is also if anything slightly more ridiculous (even if still less lurid) simply because it would have us assume that the richest of the rich and the highest echelons of US state power are somehow almost entirely invested in the fates of some random preschools daycare centers, and their faculty members, to the point of assassinating (or “Epsteining”) witnesses. Truly, I can hardly think of anything more absurd than this. But as ludicrous as this all is, it seems that we should make note her precise point of comparison – Jeffrey Epstein – as it seems to be a part of not only Biller’s Satanic Panic narrative but also other narratives from the last four or five years.

Biller claims that rich men abused children in the McMartin case and dressed it up in “Satanic trappings”. It seems that she never actually specifies what “Satanic trappings” she’s meant to be referring to. What is true is that all sorts of claims of ritualistic behaviours have been made about Little Saint James Island, and while we know that the human trafficking was real, the ritualistic behaviour probably wasn’t. One thing I do remember seeing from the Epstein cycle is a photograph of a bizarre mask via Getty Images, apparently found at Ghislaine Maxwell’s house in New York City. The mask is strange, it seems to resemble an old man with a long forked beard, some red eye-shadow on his face, a headdress seemingly meant to recall ancient Chinese royalty, and a mysterious triangle symbol on his head and on the cloth flowing downward. There’s almost certainly nothing “Satanic” about the mask, in fact as far as I can tell no one seems to really know what, if anything, it actually represents, but the usual conspiracy theorists took it up as evidence of “Satanic” inclinations on the part of Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell, and their clique of haute-bourgeois paedophiles. It is repeatedly claimed that the triangle on the mask is meant to be the symbol of NAMBLA, that notorious pro-paedophilia activist group, and the conspiracy theorist more or less expects you to connect the dots to Satanic Ritual Abuse from there somehow; you may remember PizzaGate adherents trying to tie the same symbol to Comet Ping Pong Pizza and cast it as a nod to Baphomet despite there not actually being a link.

And it’s not just QAnon types who peddle certain theories about the Ghislaine Maxwell mask. Some leftists have also joined in, and I don’t just mean Anna Biller. Matt Christman, on an episode of the Grubstakers podcast, speculated about the nature of the Ghislaine Maxwell mask and linked it to PizzaGate, though ultimately admitted that he cannot know what it actually means. Fans of the TrueAnon podcast are much less cautious, actively labelling the mask “demonic”. That whole “dirtbag” scene has a bizarre relationship to QAnon, where they outwardly mock and deny QAnon, but some figures, like Christman, at the same time describe QAnon as “half-right”, agreeing with them that the world is ruled by “a cabal of cannibalistic psychotic sexual abusers” (which, to be honest, sounds an awful lot like the way that the Polish far-right ideologue Andrzej Lobaczewski talks about “pathocrats”) while disagreeing principally with the idea that Donald Trump is going to arrest them all. It is curious that this way of discussing QAnon makes no mention of the fact that the concept of Satanic Ritual Abuse is a central part of QAnon ideology or the fact that anti-semitism, both overt and coded, is also so fundamental to QAnon beliefs. I wonder what could explain such oversight.

In this setting, we can’t escape the impression that a generalized mode of conspiracism, and from there various degrees of Satanic Panic, are really everywhere, spread out across much of the political spectrum. In fact, S.M.A.R.T. has sometimes enjoyed mainstream media credibility. In 2020, Associated Press (yes, the same Associated Press that was recently partially responsible for legitimising the idea that Monkeypox is a “gay disease”) ran an article titled “SMART Founder Neil Brick Speaks at Child Abuse Conference in Dundee, Scotland“, whose content, if you look closely, is a word for word copy-paste job of an article from S.M.A.R.T.’s website titled “THE ORGANISED AND RITUALISED ABUSE OF CHILDREN: THE CURRENT INTERNATIONAL SITUATION”, published as a paid press release by S.M.A.R.T. with no editorial involvement from Associated Press. Think about that for a moment or two: an SRA conspiracy theorist group paid Associated Press to publish one of their articles as a press release to basically promote their cause, and by implication Associated Press didn’t do much research into S.M.A.R.T. before agreeing to run a paid press release from them. This is not even the only press release from them that AP has run. In the same year AP also ran an article titled “SMART Newsletter Celebrates Twenty-Five Years of Publishing – Neil Brick Editor“, which is another paid press release from S.M.A.R.T., and towards the end of that year they published yet another article titled “SMART announces the 24th yearly Child/Ritual Abuse and Mind Control Conference“, which is unsurprisingly another paid press release, this time ran via a company called PR Newswire. There’s another article like that from last year too. PR Newswire, in turn, has published multiple articles from S.M.A.R.T. promoting their conferences as press releases. These articles also end up reproduced wholesale on other mainstream media outlets such as Yahoo News.

The American media seems to be normalizing S.M.A.R.T. by running articles from them without any critical considerations, without any research into the organisation, their work, or who its participants include, let alone challenge Neil Brick, the head of S.M.A.R.T., for his claims that he was brainwashed by the CIA to be their super soldier. That’s not necessarily a surprise considering that the media still has a habit of contributing to Satanic Panic discourse. Stop and wonder why, for a time, the only outlet that would cover The Satanic Temple’s lack of financial transparency or their litigation against Queer Satanic was Newsweek, and even Newsweek couldn’t cover it without including weird reporting about “Satanic” orgies. Stop and wonder why, to this day, news outlets will report instances of murder committed by apparent Satanists as connected to Satanism without ever doing the same thing when it comes to murders committed by Christians who openly say that God or their faith told them to do it. Even in cases of writing about the real threat posed by groups like the Order of Nine Angles or Tempel ov Blood, writers such as Matthew Feldman cannot help but disingenuously construct their own broader anti-Satanist moral panic. In this setting, Satanic Panic definitely has not gone away, and the mainstream media are surprisingly and alarmingly complicit in its perpetuation. No wonder, then, that even people like Anna Biller eventually fall for it.

But make no mistake: the lion’s share of Satanic Panic comes from hardcore right-wingers. In the run-up to the destruction of the Georgia Guidestones, Georgia gubernatorial candidate Kandiss Taylor proclaimed that she was “the ONLY candidate bold enough to stand up to the Luciferian Cabal”. The moral panic directed against Lil Nas X was manufactured by Republican politicians running on a Christian Nationalist culture war. As I pointed out earlier, QAnon itself is built upon an ideology that starts from the premise that “the elites” (mostly referring to Democrats) are secretly abducting, abusing, and killing children as part of a “Satanic” cult, a premise that itself evolved from the earlier PizzaGate movement. Right-wing conspiracy theorists such as Alex Jones have done much to cultivate the mythology of Satanic Panic in casting prominent Democratic politicians and others he doesn’t like as demons and Satanists. Many have observed that the increasing right-wing emphasis on what they call “grooming” – a term meant to refer to emotional manipulation for the purpose of sexual exploitation that the Right now uses to refer to things like promoting gender affirming care – has taken the form of Satanic Panic in that it retains basic tropes thereof, such as the basic idea that children are being manipulated in order to be exploited by the same people that the far-right already thinks are Satanists. American culture is in a peculiar place now where people are reckoning with the nature of moral panic through media such as Stranger Things and at the same time a chunk of the country believes in and will reproduce the same panic.

America is not even the only part of the world where Satanic Panic continues to persist. In the United Kingdom, in 2015 there was a Satanic Panic centered around the Christ Church Primary School in Hampstead, where several faculty members and parents were accused of the ritualistic abuse and murder of children, and even after the accusations were debunked there is still a movement of conspiracy theorists, or “Satan Hunters”, based around that conspiracy theory to this day. In Switzerland, within the last year, it was found that a number of psychiatric professionals have employed Satanic Ritual Abuse conspiracy theories as the basis of their therapeutic practice. The German Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth seems to have actually produced a report featuring Satanic Ritual Abuse terminology. In South Africa, an actual “ritual murder task force” called the Occult Related Crimes Unit, which was originally established in 1992, was re-established in 2012 and apparently still exists.

I haven’t even gotten around yet to discussing Russia, and as war in Ukraine rages on so too does the Satanic Panic narrative. Since I wrote about Russian Satanic Panic narratives back in March, I have seen more examples of just such a narrative. For one thing, it is the explicit and official argument of the Russian armed forces that the Russian army is “the last bastion against the satanic new world order”. This was ascertained from an official Russian Officer’s Handbook, which was obtained by the Ukrainian GRU. It is suggested that related texts have been circulating in Russian military forums for a maximum of six years, which could mean that Russian soldiers have already primed themselves to regard their enemies as “the satanic new world order”. This would be consistent with the fact that the idea of Russia as the “last bastion of the world of faith” has itself circulated in the Kremlin and Russian media for years. Then, in April, Russian forces had supposedly uncovered Satanic paraphernalia in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol; Channel One claimed that there was evidence of a “satanic organisation of gays and lesbians” that was supposedly funded by the United States in order to destroy Russia. In May, some strange and practically indecipherable graffiti was discovered in a Ukrainian village called Trekhizbenka, which RIA Novosti interpreted as a “Satanic seal” and on this basis accused Ukrainian soldiers of practicing”black magic”. Sometimes this is paired with narratives that Ukraine is under the thrall of some sort of nationalistic neo-pagan religion based in neo-Nazi ideology. Stranger still, in May and June it was reported that Russian “shamans” were performing rituals, blessing Russian troops, and calling upon “the spirits of the earth” to protect Russia from Ukraine and its allies. One might recall Gerald Gardner performing a group ritual to try and protect Britain from Nazi invasion back in World War 2. If nothing else it shows that Russia not only regards their struggle with Ukraine as a holy war, they also seem to see it as having some sort of “occult” significance, and they take that very seriously.

The Russian establishment has, over the course of the war, aggressively denounced Ukraine and its people as “Satanists”. Alexander Novopashin, an Archpriest who was also a “corresponding member” of the European Federation of Centers of Research and Information on Cults and Sects, recently expressed his support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which he described as “anti-terrorist”, and claimed among other things that “the West” is conspiring with “cults” (which he later says are “Satanic”) in Ukraine in order to spread Nazism and undermine supposed Ukrainian unity with Russia, that Ukrainian schools teach Nazism and cannibalism to children, and that all Ukrainian Nazis are also Satanists. Russian state media, especially Rossiya One, constantly stresses the idea that Ukrainians are Satanists as part of their coverage of Ukraine. In one segment, Rossiya One pundits claim the existence of a joint “satanic plot” by Ukraine, America, Britain, and the European Union to destroy Russia in a “hybrid World War 3”. In another segment, Vladimir Soloviev portrays Ukrainians as “Satanic Nazis” and claims that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is “not a Jew” – both are apparently standard-issue Kremlin talking points. In a more recent segment, Apti Alaudinov, commander of the Chechen Akhmat forces, argued that the Russian war in Ukraine is a holy war against “Satanism” and “the armies of the Antichrist/al-Dajjal” – by which he means Ukraine, America, NATO, and LGBTQ people. Tsargrad TV, owned by arch-conservative Kremlin ally Konstantin Malofeev, supported the war in Ukraine by arguing that Russia is fighting against “the enslavement of the once brotherly Ukraine” by “the Global anti-Christian system”, and claimed that LGBTQ pride rallies (which they call “Gay Marches”) are the symbol of that system as well as a larger “Satanic ideology”. Aleksandr Dugin, of course, continues to support the campaign against Ukraine, continues to present it as a battle against “the Antichrist”, and has argued that the war is not really a war but instead a “geopolitical exorcism” of Ukraine.

As I’ve outlined in my original article about Russian Satanic Panic, these narratives all align with similar conspiracy theories promoted by the American far-right, which also emphasize the idea of “satanic” bio-laboratories, and as I have shown in that article American and Russian right-wing conspiracy theories are connected in the same network of right-wing propaganda warfare. Moreover, Satanic Panic is not new to Russia. Russian fascists sometimes depicted their Bolshevik enemies in a sort of diabolical fashion. One example is a poster created by the fascist White Army in 1919, which depicts Leon Trotsky, then the commander of the Soviet Red Army, as a red devil wearing nothing but a pentacle, reclining upon the Kremlin wall and presiding over extra-judicial killings. In Poland, Nazis depicted Trotsky in a similar manner in a poster called “Bolshevik Freedom” (or “Wolnosc Bolszewicka”) in which a devilish Trotsky sits naked on top of a pile of human skulls. Given the atheistic nature of Soviet state life and the abundance of Soviet anti-religious/anti-theist propaganda, it seems unlikely that the Soviets would have contributed to Satanic Panic mythology. However, there were instances where the Soviet Union did echo aspects of the Satanic Panic found in their Western rivals.

In 1985, a Komsomol (youth wing of the “Communist” Party of the Soviet Union) in Soviet-controlled Ukraine produced a list of bands that were to be banned from Soviet radio stations on the grounds of “containing ideologically harmful compositions”. There’s no mention of Satanism on this list, but the general formula is very consistent with American Satanic Panic directed at heavy metal and Dungeons and Dragons and the like. I suppose the closest thing on the Komsomol’s list of transgresssions would be “religious obscurantism”, a rather enigmatic charge specifically levelled against Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. Given that Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden were frequently accused of being “Satanic” simply because of their imagery and references to Satan despite not actually having any sort of Satanist message, I suspect that “religious obscurantism” may have just been how the Soviets interpreted artistic references to the Devil. The Komsomol also seems to have hated basically all punk music with a passion, so bands like The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Madness, the B-52s, the Stranglers, Depeche Mode and more were all denounced (although that said I can probably think of one punk band the Soviet Union did like). They also seemed to genuinely think that AC/DC, KISS, 10cc, Sparks, and even Julio Iglesias were all promoting “neofascism” somehow. Van Halen, Pink Floyd, Judas Priest, Talking Heads, and Dschinghis Khan were all denounced as “anti-communist propaganda”. And of course, several bands and artists were denounced on charges of “violence” and “eroticism” that feel very familiar to the way that certain video games and movies, not to mention some bands even, were frantically denounced in America and parts of Europe. Apart from the relative absence of discussions of Satanism, virtually every aspect of this seems to mirror similar moral panics against popular media in the Western countries that opposed the Soviet Union.

Of course, the modern Russian state is not the only nation to manufacture Satanic Panic for political purposes. From 1972 to 1974, British intelligence concocted stories of black masses, devil worship, witchcraft, and ritual killings in Northern Ireland in order to present to a public narrative which asserted that Irish paramilitary groups, in addition to threatening Britain politically, were also Satanic black magicians who were unleashing the forces of evil to destroy Christianity in Britain. British agents would go and plant all sorts of ritual artefacts and occult paraphernalia in abandoned buildings across Northern Ireland, as well as parts of the Republic of Ireland, in order to manufacture stories about Satanic rituals to local newspapers that were then passed onto local newspapers who would turn them into sensationalist front page scoops. According to Colin Wallace, a former British army intelligence officer who spoke about this scheme with Professor Richard Jenkins in the book Black Magic and Bogeymen, the idea was to discredit paramilitary organisations not only in the eyes of the public but also in the eyes of the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches, both of which were seen to be influential over the paramilitary movements. By having the media cast paramilitary groups as Satanic magicians through fake stories about black masses and ritual killings, it was hoped that a devout Christian population and local religious leaders would be convinced that paramilitary groups were responsible for somehow unleashing supernatural evil into the world and thus turn against them. British forces also hoped to keep young people indoors at night and within view of army observation posts, thus effectively monitoring the local population.

However, it seems the campaign never panned out. Coverage was ultimately confined to certain newspapers, with next to no corresponding national television news coverage. Meanwhile, in Ireland, the stories were treated with widespread skepticism to the point that some Irish news outlets and citizens suspected that it was all a hoax created by the British army as a counter-insurgency tactic. In fact, Irish republicans at the time theorized that rumours of black magic and “Satanic” ritual killings were a black propaganda campaign carried out by British intelligence in order to cast the “freedom struggle” as “diabolical”, with the ultimate aim of manufacturing consent for a curfew to be imposed upon the population. Given the facts of the matter, I would suppose that these republicans were not off the mark in their guesses, and that in the end they were at least correct to assume it was an intelligence operation. In 1990, Colin Wallace spoke out about it in Paul Foot’s book Who Framed Colin Wallace?, where he confessed that the aim of the “Information Policy” section he worked for was to demonize paramilitary groups and keep young people indoors through horrific rumours of ritual brutality.

According to Wallace, the operation played on and took influence from Northern Irish media coverage of horror films such as The Exorcist and The Devil Rides Out, not to mention the actual films themselves, as well as Dennis Wheatley’s books (such as The Devil Rides Out, The Satanist, and To The Devil, A Daughter), Rosemary’s Baby, and possibly a right-wing evangelical text called The Back Side of Satan (which was apparently an early text of new Christian right of the 1970s and 80s). This all gels very well with the context of what was dubbed the “occult revival”, a period of widespread popular fascination with occultism during the late 1960s and 1970s which saw the spread and growth of many occult and alternative religious movements and, naturally, also came with a lot of fear and religious panic directed towards the occult. This, of course, was reflected in horror movies, some forms of popular music (in fact, it’s part of the very birth of heavy metal as we know it), and reactionary Christian backlash towards occultism and alternative religions. There’s a sense in which the Satanic Panic that became infamous in America largely developed from the already-existing Christian anxieties towards the broader occult revival, its reception or representation in popular culture, and its bouts of media prominence. And of course, during the British witchcraft craze in view of the overall occult revival, there were certainly many sensationalist scare stories about witches involving their supposed worship of the Devil. Even some occultists, such as Charles Matthew Pace, sought to opportunistically exploit this climate by passing on their own self-made legends as tell-all exposes to a tabloid media eager for sensational stories to fill their pages.

The Evolution of Satanic Panic

For all that, though, Satanic Panic in its modern sense, or at least its central thesis, is essentially an ideology – one whose tropes are incredibly old and equally persistent. Many iterations of Satanic Panic centre around the idea of a secret society of “Satanists”, “Luciferians”, “devil-worshippers”, “Illuminati”, whatever the preferred term may be (in conspiracy theories their use is completely interchangeable), who somehow control all the major institutions and whose mission it is to subvert the order of the country by destroying its religion and traditional values, presumably in order to turn it into a totalitarian dictatorship. Putting aside the actual nature of totalitarianism, the basic idea is an outgrowth of conservative reaction in the aftermath of the French Revolution. The French Revolution, with its overthrow of the French monarchy, its equally violent rejection of Christianity, and its support for new doctrines of rationalism in the form of civic cults, no doubt shocked traditional Christians in both France and elsewhere. Such a seismic rejection of the traditional order of civil society, they reasoned, could only be explained by way of conspiracy, and so they blamed the “Illuminati” among other scapegoats. Like many lasting conspiracy theories, this one had a little kernel of truth to it: there was a secret society by that was called Illuminati, founded in Germany by Adam Weishaupt in 1776, whose aim was to promote rationalist philosophy and undermine the influence of religion and superstition in both public life and government. But they did not last long: in the 1780s, the Illuminati and all other secret societies were banned by Charles Theodor, the Elector of Bavaria.

It was Augustin Barruel and John Robison who, in the late 1790s, first set out the argument that the Illuminati had survived criminalisation and that it had somehow organised the French Revolution from behind the scenes. Their ideas soon spread to the United States, where they inspired religious sermons directed against the Illuminati and a wave of anti-Illuminati authorship. Barruel himself was a conservative and traditionalist Jesuit priest, whose main political concern was the preservation of the dominance of Roman Catholicism over public life. The French Revolution, naturally, was deemed a threat to that order, and so he weaved a conspiracy theory in which the Illuminati used the French Revolution to destroy the French monarchy with the ultimate aim of overthrowing Roman Catholicism, and in service of this idea he posited a broad connection between the Enlightenment, Freemasonry, occultism, and “Paganism”. After receiving a letter from a man identified as Jean Baptiste Simonini in 1806, Barruel also began to consider the idea that Jews may have been involved in his imagined conspiracy. Simonini’s letter argued that both the Illuminati and the Freemasons were created by a Jewish organisation based in Piedmont, and claimed that he himself had been initiated by these Jews and that they had revealed this to him. Barruel himself had insisted that he did not consider Jews to be primary conspirators and not principally responsible for the French Revolution, and had originally refused to publicize the letter, ostensibly to prevent anti-semitic violence from breaking out as a result. However, in 1820, Barruel confessed on his deathbed to a priest named Grivel that he had written a new manuscript which posited the existence of a centuries-old anti-Christian conspiracy that he believed was started by the prophet Mani, involved the Knights Templar, and whose council was partially led by Jews. Barruel had apparently destroyed this new manuscript two days before his death, but the manuscript itself goes to show how Barruel’s basic idea ultimately evolved into an anti-semitic canard.

If you look at modern conspiracy theories surrounding the “Illuminati”, many of them inevitably incorporate familiar anti-semitic tropes, depicting Jews as part of a dangerous secret society plotting some sort of evil agenda. In the 19th century, Simonini’s anti-semitic letter was spread throughout influential conservative circles and was eventually published in a conservative magazine called Le Contemporain in 1878, despite Barruel’s intentions to the contrary. In fact, Barruel’s basic idea about how the French Revolution was created and organised by the Freemasons formed part of the premise of the notorious “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, which argues that Jews were at the head of Freemasonry and to this day is part of the canon of anti-semitic bigotry. Then, as now, right-wing conspiracy theories about some anti-Christian cult or secret society plotting to destroy Christian civilization tend involve anti-semitism. That is not by accident, because these conspiracy theories, and the general idea of widespread Satanic Ritual Abuse, all evolved from a much older trope known as blood libel.

Blood libel is the name given to a whole genre of anti-semitism in which Jews were accused of abducting non-Jewish children in order to sacrifice them and use their blood to make matzos. The entire idea is just grotesquely and absurdly wrong on all levels and remains a classical example of xenophobia, but it’s an idea that has been trafficked in order to justify anti-semitic persecutions or pogroms for centuries – particularly by Christians. The Christian church fathers repeatedly denounced Jews and accused them of all manner of brutal crimes against Christians. Martin Luther repeatedly and notoriously attacked Jews, regarded them as being possessed by the Devil, and accused them of plotting against Christians. Such ideas continued to proliferate and evolve throughout the Middle Ages, during which time Jews were ruthlessly persecuted across Europe. So widespread was the idea of blood libel in the Middle Ages that you can find an example of it in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, specifically The Prioress’ Tale, in which Jews are depicted as being incited by Satan to murder a young boy for singing “Alma Redemptoris Mater” through a Jewish ghetto. Incidences of children who disappeared and later died were blamed on Jews by people who accused Jews of killing them as part of a ritual sacrifice, resulting in trials and executions of innocent Jews, rafts of anti-semitic legislation, and the emergence of whole popular anti-semitic cults centered around celebrating these children as Christian martyrs while reviling Jews as the agents of Satan. Blood libel as a trope continues to persist in anti-semitic circles to this day, and in fact the Nazis made it part of their own anti-semitic mythology in papers such as Der Sturmer, a 1934 “special issue” of which depicted Jews as murderers of Christians and Christian children while denouncing them as “the devil’s brood” and accusing them of shedding blood in accordance with “the secret rite” (I have to stress the emphasis that Der Sturmer placed on Christianity in this issue, which suits their nature as a Christian fascist movement). Far-right conspiracy theorists naturally follow suit in this trend; this includes Alex Jones, who at one point blamed what he called a “Jewish mafia” for America’s problems and elsewhere publicly threatened CNN’s Brian Stelter while referring to him as “drunk on our children’s blood”.

It is also worth noting the extent to which anti-semitism formed an important part of the horrors we rightly associate with the Middle Ages. The Spanish Inquisition itself was originally created for the purpose of rounding up Spanish and Portuguese Jews who converted to Catholicism, who were targeted by Catholic monarchs who feared “Jewish influence” for the apparent purpose of coercively and tortuously ensuring the loyalty of local Jewish communities to the Catholic state and monarchy. Furthermore, the Inquisition viciously persecuted Judaism by burning Jews on the stake for refusing to convert to Catholicism, as well as burning copies of the Talmud, and they were also involved in deporting Jews from Spain and Portugal.

The blood libel trope can also be found in the medieval moral panic against witchcraft. One of the beliefs that people developed about witchcraft concerns a so-called “witches’ salve” or “flying ointment”. According to Francis Bacon, one of the ingredients of this ointment was human fat, specifically the fat of children or infants who were killed or exhumed. In the Middle Ages, it was widely believed that witches would kill newborn infants and suck their blood through their navels. It was frequently believed that witches abducted children for the purpose of collecting their blood and fat in order to consume or use to make ointments that granted them the magical power of flight. In one 17th century account, witches were accused of not only killing an infant but also digging up its buried corpse and later boiling and then roasting it for consumption and also to extract fat for their ointments. In many ways this idea is somewhat identical to the old blood libel directed against Jews. There is also an obvious line of progression between these stories about witchcraft and the broader mythology of Satanic Ritual Abuse.

A notorious 17th century French moral panic is perhaps illustrative in this regard. In 1677, a fortune teller named Magdelaine de La Grange was arrested on charges of forgery and murder, and La Grange’s claims to know about other crimes, particularly poisonings, being committed in the court of Louis XIV opened up an extensive investigation by French authorities into what was dubbed “The Affair of the Poisons” – a scandal involving mysterious deaths that were suspected to have been caused by poison. Numerous members of the aristocracy were implicated on charges of murder and witchcraft, fortune tellers and alchemists were rounded up and arrested on suspicion of providing various “illicit” services, and the king himself feared that he might have been poisoned by someone. Among the royal court, a major suspect was none of other than Madame de Montespan, Louis XIV’s mistress, who was widely believed (though never confirmed) to have been involved in the Affair of the Poisons. It was claimed that Madame de Montsepan consulted a “witch” named Catherine Monvoisin, with whom she supposedly performed rituals and prayed to the Devil in order to craft a love potion meant for Louis XIV, and that they ritually sacrificed and crushed newborn infants in order to drain the blood and mashed bones for their concoctions. It was thought that 2,500 infants were killed and buried in Monvoisin’s garden, but no evidence of infant remains was ever found and there is no evidence that the garden was ever actually searched. It was also claimed that Madame de Montespan allowed both Monvoisin and a priest named Etienne Guibourg to perform a “black mass” for her, in which Guibourg supposedly sacrificed an infant by slitting its throat over de Montespan’s body, had its blood pour into a chalice placed on her navel, and then used the blood and a consecrated host to create a potion or communion wine. It’s not clear if any of that ever actually happened.

The resemblance between this account and the blood libel trope should be somewhat clear: a religious renegade takes children (in this case supposedly purchased from prostitutes) to be ritually murdered in order for their blood to be consumed in some mixture or another. Instead of matzos or flying ointments, it’s wine or potions, but you can see the basic formula. Moreover, Satanic Panic continued to develop in France in tandem with the growth of the French occult underground. French occultists would sometimes accuse each other of being “Satanists” almost as a matter of course. “Satanists” (insofar as they were said to exist back then) were accused of holding black masses and engaging in various “immoral” activities. Eugene Vintras, a heterodox Catholic mystic who proclaimed “The Work of Mercy” was accused by Eliphas Levi and Stanislas de Guaita of being a Satanist who received “bloody hosts”. Joseph-Antoine Boullan, despite being a Christian, was often accused of being a prolific Satanist and of celebrating “black masses, particularly by Stanislas de Guaita”, possibly because of his apparent association with sex magic and his supposed encyclopedic knowledge of Satanism. Boullan himself claimed that it was de Guaita that actually performed the “black masses”. Jules Bois, in turn, accused Stanislas de Guaita of killing Boullan using black magick. French occultists alongside traditional Catholics also tended to accuse Freemasons of worshipping Satan or Lucifer. Jules Doinel, writing under the alias “Jean Kostka”, claimed in the book Lucifer Unmasked that Lucifer was the “secret god” of both the Freemasons and the “Gnostics”. Jules Bois claimed the existence of a “satanic temple” in which Lucifer was venerated as the “master builder”, suggesting a link between Luciferianism or Satanism and Freemasonry.

One event that marked perhaps the most lasting influence on modern Satanic Panic was the Taxil Hoax, which fooled the Catholic establishment by convincing them of the existence of a “Satanic sect” within Freemasonry. In 1885, a man named Marie Joseph Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pagès, better known as Léo Taxil, publicly professed his apparent conversion to Roman Catholicism while denouncing his earlier anti-clerical works, and over the course of the 1890s he began writing a series of tracts denouncing Freemasonry. A year prior to this, Pope Leo XIII published an encyclical in which he accused the Freemasons of organising the “partisans of evil” against the Catholic Church and of “rising up against God himself”. Taxil claimed that the Freemasons practiced Satanic rituals and murder and worshipped the Devil, and that members of the upper ranks of Freemasonry were members of a sect called the Palladium Rite, which worshipped Lucifer as the God of Light and Good, denounced God (or rather Adonai) as the God of Darkness and Evil, and practiced sexual congress with demons. Taxil further claimed that the Palladium Rite was based in South Carolina in the United States. Later on he introduced a character named Diana Vaughan, the supposed High Priestess of the Palladium Rite, and later proclaimed that she had converted to Catholicism. Of course, “Diana Vaughan” never made any public appearances to corroborate his story. Then, in 1897, Taxil called a press conference in which he promised to reveal “Diana Vaughan” to the public and deliver other revelations about Freemasonry. But when the conference took place, Taxil instead revealed that there was no Palladium Rite, that “Diana Vaughan” was a fictional character played by his secretary, and that everything he had said about the Freemasons, and even his conversion to Catholicism, was all an elaborate hoax played on the Catholic Church, by which he meant to expose the fanaticism and gullibility of Catholics who denounced Freemasonry.

But far from extinguishing this anti-Masonic fanaticism, Léo Taxil may have ended up furnishing it for generations. Despite the fact that all of Taxil’s claims about Freemasonry and Satanism were exposed by Taxil himself as being completely false, the same claims continue to be repeated by right-wing Christian conspiracy theorists against Freemasonry to this day. Taxil’s work, including an infamous fake quote attributed to Albert Pike that was made up well after he died, has been continuously cited in both right-wing tracts against Freemasonry and in Satanic Ritual Abuse conspiracy theories. In fact, the idea that the Freemasons were some kind of diabolical religious sect who either led or were part of the forces seeking to destroy the Catholic Church is one of the classical elements of fascist politics, where just as before this idea is almost invariably connected to anti-semitic beliefs about Jews.

In France, the proto-fascist Charles Maurras attacked Freemasons alongside Jews, Protestants, and “foreigners” as threats to the French nation, blaming them for its supposed “decline”. This idea formed part of the ideology of Action Francaise, a far-right movement which he co-founded, and in 1940 the Vichy regime organized an anti-Masonic exhibition based on these ideas. The Vichy government oppressed Freemasons and applied its statutes against Jews to the Freemasons and other groups, and the Nazi propaganda ministry within Vichy France commissioned the production of an anti-Masonic (and anti-semitic) movie titled Forces occultes (“Occult Forces”), which depicted the Freemasons as conspiring with Jews and the Allied nations to push France into going to war against Germany. In Spain, Freemasonry was already periodically regarded as the source of all crimes and regularly persecuted by Spanish monarchs and the Inquisition, fascist propaganda depicted a “Judeo-Masonic” plot, and when fascists took power Freemasonry was banned and Freemasons were killed. Francisco Franco believed that the Freemasons were part of a communist plot to destroy Spain and frequently ranted about how Freemasons were supposedly behind everything from the British Broadcasting Corporation to the assassination of Carrero Blanco. After the establishment of democracy in Spain, right-wingers similarly blamed “Jewish-Masonic-Communist” propaganda for the fact that voters didn’t elect them. In fascist Italy, Freemasonry was deemed incompatible with fascism and banned by Benito Mussolini, despite the fact that many prominent Italian Freemasons at the time actually supported Mussolini’s fascism. In Britain, fascists such as Barry Domvile advanced the idea that a small section of Masons were plotting to impose a global system of financial control at the behest of a section of Jewish elites. In Nazi Germany and its occupied territories, Freemasonry was banned, Masonic lodges were forcibly disbanded, Freemasons were sent to concentration camps where they were marked as political prisoners, and anti-Masonic exhibitions were created to depict Freemasonry as part of a Jewish conspiracy to destroy Germany. Adolf Hitler himself believed that Freemasons were responsible for “paralyzing” Germany’s “instinct for self-preservation” and otherwise regarded them as an instrument of the Jews. The Empire of Japan also enlisted Freemasonry as a scapegoat for their own purposes, as is at least evidenced by a Japanese delegate to the Welt-Dienst in 1938 stating his belief that “Judeo-Masonry” had somehow forced China to attack Japan; the delegate also denounced both Sun Yat Sen and Chiang Kai Shek as Freemasons. In the United States, hardcore right-wing televangelists and other reactionary ideologues are typically inclined to attack Freemasonry as a form of Satanism and for its supposed association with the Rothschilds.

Of course, it should be noted that not all attacks on Freemasonry came from fascists, and the attacks that didn’t did not necessarily come from the same place, though authoritarians of various stripes tended to view the Freemasons as a threat in some way or another, often as a source of opposition. That might be why Masonry seems to have been criminalized or denounced throughout the old “Communist” bloc. The Soviet Union banned Freemasonry and condemned it as bourgeois, and so did China, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary – post-war Marxist-Leninist Hungary in particular seemed to regard Masonic lodges as places where capitalists, imperialists, and enemies of the “people’s democratic republic” all gathered to oppose socialism. Even Fidel Castro, who was relatively tolerant to the Freemasons, still seemed to regard Freemasonry as potentially subversive, and Masonic lodges were sometimes assumed to be places of refuge for possible political dissidents. Masons often attribute this consistent authoritarian mistrust of Freemasonry to their own equally consistent moral support for liberal-democracy and its attendant values, which in theory would be repellent for any dictator. But I think that it is probably all the more the case that the secrecy of Freemasonry was always the primary source of authoritarian anxiety, that is to say the idea that there is a domain possibly outside of the control of state power whose liberty is guarded by secrecy. I intend to establish this as an important theme in the older roots of Satanic Panic, but for now let us establish that, even with all of this in mind, most anti-Masonic tendencies are fascist in nature, typically incorporating anti-semitic talking points and stemming not so much out of contempt for all things “bourgeois” but more out of a long line of Catholic traditionalist reactionary ideology which is itself nourished by a legacy of medieval bigotry.

You might wonder, though, how Freemasonry comes into it at all. What was so scary about Masonry that it might inspire generations of moral panic? Not much, it would seem. Freemasonry as we understand it is not a religious organisation as such. Masons were frequently accused by religious groups, particularly certain Christian and Islamic groups, of setting up their own religious group in competition with traditional religion(s), but there doesn’t seem to any set of distinct holy books, theology, religious philosophy, or the like that can together be described as “Masonic religion”. Yes, admission to Masonic lodges typically requires that you believe in some kind of supreme being, but there is no distinct “Masonic God”, and people of many different religions, believing in different gods or concepts of God, can be a Freemason. In fact, despite widespread Christian mistrust of or hostility to Masonry, several Freemasons are also Christians. Freemasonry can best be thought of as fraternal society based in a series of rituals, allegories, and mysteries that are, from their perspective at least, meant to develop the integrity of their members. For all the secrecy, there doesn’t seem to be much more to it than that. But again, secrecy is part of core of anti-Masonic mistrust. There is of course the general religious pluralism of Freemasonry, and the tendency among Masons to support rationalist ideas, but secrecy is the element on which reactionaries base the idea of the Masons as some sort of “Satanic cult”.

The “Origin” of Satanic Panic?

I said before that I would establish the reason why Satanic Panic has always been with us, and in the idea of a secretive cult that threatens to destroy the order of things was not invented as a reaction to the Enlightenment. Satanic Panic in its modern sense is a direct descendant of conspiracy theories that emerged in the Enlightenment as a sort of reactionary narrative in defense of a traditionalist society, but there are much older forms of the same idea that have recurred before modernity, and well before the Middle Ages.

Returning to the subject of anti-semitism among the church fathers, we can establish that they laid the ground work for the medieval blood libel that evolved into Satanic Ritual Abuse conspiracy theories and their antecedents. Tertullian regarded Jews as the source of heresy, claiming that they guided heretics in discussing ideas contrary to Christian orthodoxy, and argued against Marcion’s doctrine by saying that Jews were an inferior people whose sufferings were caused by their lack of belief in the Christian God. John Chrysostom accused Jews of murdering Jesus and claimed that Jewish synagogues were brothels and places of criminality and demonic possession. St. Ambrose accused Jews of tempting Christians into heresy and justified the burning of synagogues by Christian mobs. Jews were considered “anathema to Christ” by Christian Councils, which prohibited Christians from sharing feasts with Jews and regarded Christians who violated these edicts as Jews themselves. When Christianity took over the Roman Empire, Roman imperial law regarded Jews as a detested category of Roman citizen – officially legally protected, but religiously reviled and politically marginalized – based on Church doctrine that Jews were not only inferior to Christians but also supernaturally evil.

Whenever people discuss Christianity as a supposedly “progressive” world-historic force or even “egalitarian” belief system, it’s often forgotten that, although Judaism as a religion was never outlawed, discrimination against Judaism as a religion as well as Jews as a people was extensive in the Roman Empire during the Christian era. Jews were forbidden from receiving any honors or offices equivalent to their non-Jewish counterparts, Jews were not allowed to become attorneys, sue Christians, or testify in court, Jews who performed circumcision were punished with death, Jews were banned from serving in the military until they received Catholic baptism, Jewish synagogues were officially referred to as “conciliabulum” (which, in Roman slang, often meant “brothel”), and if a Jew “violated the rights of a Christian” he was punished more severely than a Christian would be for the same offense against a Jew. Conversely, Christians who converted to Judaism or agreed to be circumcised were exiled from Rome on the grounds of having “contaminated themselves with the Jewish disease”. From the beginning, Christian power tended to involve authoritarian anti-semitism.

Blood libel, of course, was also ancient. A Greek Christian historian named Socrates Scholasticus accused Jews of mocking the death of Jesus by binding a young Christian boy to a cross and scourging him to death. And yet it was not only Christians who made blood libel accusations against Jews. In pre-Christian Greece, there were people who accused Jews of abducting Greeks and fattening them up to be sacrificed to their god, then going to groves to eat their flesh, burn their bodies, and swear eternal hatred to Greeks. Such anti-semitic accusations were advanced by figures such as Apion (who claimed that the king Antiochus Epiphanes discovered a Greek captive being prepared for temple sacrifice), Posidonius, Apollonius Molon, and Diodorus Siculus. According to the Suda, a Greek historian named Damocritus in the 1st century BCE claimed that Jews captured a non-Jew every seven years in order to sacrifice them to their god, which he claimed was the head of a golden ass. Hellenistic anti-semitism typically stressed the belief that Jews were superstitious and misanthropic, claiming that Jewish people were impious, hated all people of all other nations, refused to share table with them, and because of this were hated by the gods. Some argue that these accusations originally emerged as justifications for Antiochus’ persecution and criminalization of Judaism. Of course, it is worth noting that, according to Louis Feldman in Studies in Hellenistic Judaism, anti-semitism was not a dominant strand of pre-Christian writings about Jews, and, by his count, many pre-Christian writers had an either neutral or positive opinion of Jews. In fact, polytheistic philosophers such as Aristotle, Theophrastus, Hecataeus of Abdera, Varro, and Numenius all praised Jewish theology. It is possible that Judaism was so influential on or shares so many similarities to ancient Greek philosophy that it was even claimed by Philo that Heraclitus “stole” from Moses. Then again, even anti-semitic writers such as Apollonius Molon reserved some positive remarks for Jewish patriarchs such as Noah and Abraham, and even some people who praised Jewish theology, such as Hecataeus, still nonetheless regarded Judaism as “unsocial” or “hostile to foreigners”.

The Hellenistic anti-semitic trope of Jews abducting Greeks in order to sacrifice them to their deity is obviously absurd, both from the standpoint of Jewish religious law and Greek and Roman law. But it is also worth noting just how close we come to modern images of devil worshippers sacrificing people to the Devil. Medieval Christian blood libel itself cast Jews as performing sacrifices and committing murders on behalf of Satan, and so we can map out an obvious line of developmental progression from medieval blood libel to Satanic Panic. With the Hellenistic version, instead of venerating the head of a goat, the imaginary cult of misanthropic human sacrifice venerates the head of an ass. One can easily imagine the idea of a sect that hates all other sects and is charged with abducting people outside of its cult for sacrifice as a very antique form of what would become the Satanic Ritual Abuse canard, and the line of progression between Hellenistic blood libel and Christian blood libel is not hard to notice.

Hellenistic anti-semitism can probably be analysed in the context of a period of interaction between Hellenistic polytheism and Judaism, which took place against the backdrop of the colonization of much of Asia by Alexander the Great and the attendant birth of that very construct we call the Hellenistic age. In this same setting, a syncretic tendency emerged in which Judaism merged with aspects of Hellenistic Greek culture and philosophy; this came to be known as Hellenistic Judaism. One product of this contact is the occasional identification of the God of Judaism with the Greek god Zeus, or, perhaps more frequently, the god Dionysus. Plutarch claimed, via interpretatio graecia, that the Jews worshipped a form of Dionysus or Bacchus, arguing that they represented themselves with symbols similar to those of Dionysus and hailed their god with ritual words similar to those uttered by worshippers of the god Sabazios, and similar ideas were expressed by many authors in antiquity. This likely emerged from confusion on the part of Greeks and Romans who may not have entirely understood Judaism or Hebrew, and here we arrive at one of the results, through which we link to another ancient conspiracism, this one involving the cults of Sabazios and Dionysus.

In 139 BCE, the Roman praetor Cornelius Scipio Hispalus ordered the deportation of the first Jews who settled in Rome. Cornelius accused the Jews of trying to subvert Roman religion by promoting the “corrupting” cult of a god called “Jupiter Sabazius”. Sabazius (the Roman name for Sabazios), of course, was not the God of Judaism but rather a Phrygian sky god who was worshipped with ecstatic rites and in mystery traditions in Anatolia and Thrace and was repeatedly identified with either Zeus/Jupiter or Dionysus (the Suda, for instance, regards Sabazios and Dionysus as the same god). The name Jupiter Sabazius may well have been, by way of interpretatio graeca, in reference to the name YHWH Tzevaot (or Sabaoth), one of the names of the God of Judaism, thus interpreting YHWH as a foreign version of Jupiter and again confusing the name Sabaoth as Sabazius. We typically understand that Roman society was happy enough to incorporate non-Roman gods into its own religious life; examples include Isis (from Egypt), Mithras (originally Mithra from Iran), Apollo (from Greece), Cybele (from Anatolia), and Serapis (from Hellenistic Egypt). But, as we can see, this inclusivity was not always consistent.

Sabazios in general has a strange reputation in both Rome and Greece. In Rome, he was of course identified with the God of Judaism and hence reviled by Roman authorities who regarded him as a threat to Roman religion in a manner out of step with their attitude towards many other foreign gods. Once again, there’s an obvious sign of Roman anti-semitism. But perhaps there is also a connection to the Roman attitude towards the cult of Dionysus or Liber, which was also frequently regarded as a subversion of Roman society. We will return to this theme momentarily. For now, let us note that, in Athens, the worship of Sabazios was mocked as superstitious and, because they were practiced largely by women, seemingly effeminate. Demosthenes tarnished his opponent Aeschines in a debate for allegedly joining his mother’s practice of worshipping Sabazios, while Aristophanes mocked Sabazios as one of an entourage of foreign deities being kicked out of Athens. However, despite such mockery, Sabazios did come to be worshipped in Athens over time. Yet the idea, for instance, that women worshipped Sabazios with sexual orgies points us in direction of the prolific Roman moral panic against the cult of Dionysus.

In 186 BCE, the Roman Senate issued a decree which placed restrictions and prohibitions against the Bacchanalia, a series of festivities dedicated to the god Dionysus and based around the Dionysian Mysteries. The decree ruled that no one could form a Bacchanalia or observe the sacred rites anywhere without the approval of the Senate, no man or Roman citizen or Roman ally could participate without, again, the approval of the Senate, men were not allowed to be priests of the Bacchanalia, no more than five people could observe the sacred rites, and all revelries that were not approved and regulated by the Senate were to be disbanded. This decree, which effectively bans the Bacchanalia in most cases, was issued amidst a period of moral panic directed against the Bacchanalia, which was regarded by the Senate and others as a threat to the Roman state. Roman authors such as Livy represented the Bacchanalia as a seditious conspiracy whose participants, coming from all classed and gendered backgrounds, gathered at night to get drunk, have orgiastic and promiscuous sex, and under the cover of darkness and religious veneer break all moral, social, religious, and civic laws and commit ritual and political murders in complete secrecy.

Where might we begin? We can look at how, in Livy’s narrative, the Bacchanalia was popular and appealed especially to women (who then outnumber men), plebeians, “men most like women” (possibly referring to “sexually passive men” by Roman standards, or perhaps more broadly to non-cishet males), the young, and the “uneducated and fickle”. In essence, the marginalized elements of Roman society. This would be much in line with the Greek cult of Dionysus, the god who was also worshipped by marginalized communities in ancient Greece, and who Euripides’ Bacchae presents as fighting against a king trying to oppress his worship. In Rome, a popular plebeian cult dedicated to Liber (Dionysus) was often regarded as subversive due to its association with cultic civil disobedience. Livy also presents the Greek origins of the Bacchanalia and its excesses as part of its untrustworthy and immoral character, suggesting that the Bacchanalia, from the standpoint of Livy’s narrative, is dangerous partly because it is “too Greek”, and thus entirely foreign and distinctly un-Roman. This, of course, is in some ways out of step with the inclusivity usually found in pre-Christian Roman polytheism, and can arguably be explained in the context of a reactionary fear that gripped the Roman Republic at the time.

But think about it: the whole idea of a religious movement holding orgies at night, worshipping a rebellious and subversive god, in whose name his believers break all social norms and laws and, supposedly, commit ritual murders in secret, fits a lot of the modern tropes by which we define Satanic Panic. Livy’s proposal that the Bacchanlia had the Roman masses and even some of the Roman elite in its sway implicitly suggests that the cult of Dionysus had a dangerous and insidious broad power over society, which can in some ways dovetail with the kind of power that Satanism is supposed to possess in the imagination of anti-Satanist conspiracy theories. In fact, as much as Dionysus has been compared to YHWH, there are many other ways in which you can compare Dionysus to the Devil. The whole rebellious vengeance that the Bacchae presents is one such way, but perhaps another is the darksome personage found in his incarnation as Dionysus Melanaigis (Melanaigis is an epithet meaning “black goatskin”), to say nothing of the fact that he was sometimes depicted with horns and has been shown with an entourage of satyrs. All this on its own doesn’t make Dionysus into a pre-Christian incarnation of the Devil any more than the comparisons given by Plutarch and the Suda among others might establish him as a pre-Christian precursor of YHWH. What it does point to, however, is a prefiguring of the assemblage of tropes that comes to form what we came to develop over the centuries until we see the Satanic Panic of modernity. We might even think about modern self-conscious representations of Satanism: the “sabbat” depicted by Stanislaw Przybyszewski in The Synagogue of Satan is arguably none other than the Bacchanalia in certain regards, albeit dedicated to Satan.

But, of course, being that this is pre-Christian Rome, we can’t quite call it a Satanic Panic. Yet, this is no trouble, for Satanic Panic itself is a type of moral panic, as was the anti-Bacchanalia panic, and both panics are in themselves also representations of an ideology at work in their respective societies. Within the context of ancient Rome, there is a clear conservative nationalist undertone to it all: the idea is that there is this massive foreign cult acting in conspiracy against the Roman state and working to destroy the social foundations of Roman society and, therefore, attacking everything about what it meant to be Roman.

This reactionary conservative ideology is fairly clearly expressed in Livy himself, who seems to have believed that Greek mystery cults were a source of “degeneracy” in Roman society to be blamed for its supposed decline in his time. In this regard Livy was perhaps a pre-modern exponent of social degeneration theory, complete with its attendant xenophobia. Of course, not everyone in Rome hated foreign mysteries, and not every foreign mystery was reviled, but the Dionysian Mysteries were not the only mysteries subject to conservative mistrust, even under official state tolerance. The mysteries of Cybele or its priesthood were treated with disgust by Roman men and in Roman literature, since the rites of self-castration performed by the galli were seen as an affront to Roman masculinity, and the Roman Senate even tried to enact legislation to prevent men from becoming galli. However, the Roman state still accepted a regulated version of the cult of Cybele. We might arguably count the cult of Sabazius among the mysteries that were despised in Rome, since Roman authorities presented the worship of Sabazius as a corrupt religion.

An important thing to remember about mystery traditions in both Greece and Rome is that, whereas traditional religion emphasized communal and social bands reinforced through ritual, mystery cults tended to encourage individual religious expression, which traditional civic society and its representatives would always have seen as divisive. It doesn’t take that much imagine for the Greek and Roman conservative to go from “this isn’t like our religion, that’s divisive” to “this is a threat to our social order and national identity”.

The Social Significance of Satanic Panic

A clear ideology and social function emerges from the moral panics of antiquity and thus inherited by the Satanic Panic of modernity. The social function is the function of marginalization, arrayed against basically anything that either state society or reactionary forces typically in support of it deem to be an insidious threat. The narrative of this function is that there is a sinister and secretive religious conspiracy whose goal is to corrupt the population, take over the institutions, overthrow the state, abduct and ritually kill people (often children), and/or destroy the identity of a given nation or society. The ideology implicit in this is very often as follows: there is a natural order that is apparent in human societies, expressed in nations and/or states, which humans must observe and obey and indeed do so by natural inclination, and anything that changes, supercedes, destroys, or simply turns away from this order, or simply does not figure in that order to start with, must be ontologically evil and the work of a murderous conspiracy.

In antiquity, the main object of this would be ecstatic worshippers of Dionysus, and in Rome’s case the participants of Bacchanalia and the cult of Liber. For a time, early Christians also experienced a similar marginalization. The Romans also had their own anti-Christian version of the blood libel trope: they sometimes accused Christians of killing and eating human babies, and of literally drinking human blood and eating human flesh based on a misunderstanding of the Eucharist. When Christians took power, the targets were very often Jews, and then magicians, occultists, Freemasons, “Satanists”, and, to be quite frank, anyone who challenged theocratic authority and often the ruling classes it supported. Consider, for instance, that in 1233, when the peasants of Stedingen revolted against local authorities over excessive taxation and stopped paying tithes to the archbishop, Pope Gregory IX accused the peasants of practicing “satanic rites” and declared a crusade against them. Similarly, in 17th century France, the Catholic priest Urbain Grandier, who also defended the autonomy of Loudon and opposed both the centralised authority of the French state and church orthodoxy, was accused of signing a pact with Lucifer and seducing nuns with black magic, blamed for a supposed outbreak of demonic possession, and ultimately burned at the stake over it.

I would also point out that this type of moral panic is not necessarily confined to the West, and that there are examples of similar panics with a different central subject that I can point to in Asia. In India, the practice of Tantra came to be demonized by orthodox/conservative Hindus, especially after the British Empire colonized India. Religious “reformers” blamed Tantra, particularly the “left hand path” of it, for weakening the moral fibre of the Indian nation – this is an expression of social degeneration theory similar to the kind espoused by Livy – and thus Tantra was blamed for the conquest of India by the British. In Japan, Tendai Buddhism was accused of partaking in illicit sexual rituals and “wicked teachings” over the worship of Matarajin, a syncretic Japanese Buddhist deity who happened to be (among other things) a patron deity of marginalized communities and social classes. Similarly, a somewhat popular Shingon sect called Tachikawa-ryu was similarly vilified by Shingon orthodoxy, accused of promoting black magic and illicit sexual rituals, its apparent “founder” Ninkan in turn was accused of cursing the emperor and conspiring against the Japanese nation, and ultimately the sect was outlawed and purged.

It may be worth stressing, though, that Satanic Panic as we understand it is fairly distinctly a Western phenomenon, in terms of its general setting and composition, while also pointing to the existence of similar panics wherever else they are found. In view of such a global perspective, we can make the following observation: Satanic Panic is a type of social/moral panic that is instrumented for the purpose of broad social marginalization. Moral panics in general tend to pervade organised human societies over the centuries, no matter how rational or enlightened they may see themselves as, and even some of the more “libertarian” or even “progressive” of us can end up falling into some moral panics for the simple reason that we do not even recognize them as moral panics. And the uncomfortable truth about human societies, or at least the societies we seem to create, contain within themselves the logic of marginalization, which it employs to preserve social authority through the marginalization of a given social or religious minority. Satanic Panic forms a conservative ideology of marginalization whose aim is to preserve a traditionalist order of society by attacking what it perceives as a sinister conspiracy against itself, with such a conspiracy inevitably constructed on anti-semitic tropes, whether directly or by conceptual lineage.

I would also point out that this does not mean that ritualistic abuse is a thing that never happens, but the extent to which it does has barely anything to do with the overall claim and ideological purpose of Satanic Panic. In my article on E. A. Koetting, I pointed out that the activities of the Order of Nine Angles and Tempel ov Blood could as well constitute an actual active fascist conspiracy, and that the same people who believe in QAnon or the like would never talk about it. That’s not for no reason. Satanic Panic as an ideological device does not concern itself with esoteric white nationalists, particularly not when they, despite their apparent opposition to Christianity, share the same reactionary Christian ideology that was designed to marginalize Jews, just that this time they claim to do it in the name of some fictitious ancient pagan cult. In the end, for Satanic Panic, it’s the ends of ideological marginalization that matter, and it is these parameters by which Satanic Panic determines what constitutes Satanic Ritual Abuse.

The simple summary of all this is that Satanic Panic, as a modern phenomenon, is a reactionary or fascist ideology that evolves from and within the social function of marginalization. That is why Satanic Panic is still a thing, that is why some antecedent of it has always been a thing, and that’s why it will continue to be a thing; not for as long as the light of Enlightenmentarian Reason doesn’t sufficiently shine upon the masses, but for as long as we do not rid ourselves of the structure and logic of marginalization locked into Society that, so long as it still operates, will continue to produce social panics and ideologies of social panic.

The “God Pill”

I have discovered a video on YouTube posted by Dave Cullen (a.k.a. Computing Forever), an Irish conservative who supports nationalism as well as free market libertarian and even anarcho-capitalist economics, in which he talks about his conversion to Christianity and promotes a concept known as the “god pill”, which can be taken as a facet of “red pill” online political culture. The video, entitled Rediscovering Faith: My Journey Back To Christianity, was so grotesque to the eye of reason, so erroneous in its premises, so self-serving in its function, and yet so enlightening as to the direction of online reactionary politics as well as Dave’s own political evolution, that I decided it was my civic duty to address it and key concepts from the video here on this blog. Please forgive me in advance for the sheer length of this post, but I must dissect these points here, for you will encounter these talking points on your own in time. Dave goes through several arguments at a time here, often in small portions but in quick succession, so addressing his major points will take up a lot of space, and the result will be probably one of my longest posts ever. If you don’t mind that (and here’s hoping you don’t), then I encourage you to read on.

Let ‘s begin by addressing the concept of the “God Pill”. Ostensibly, and for all practical purposes, the “God Pill” in the parlance of “red pill” culture is simply another way of referring to religious conversion, or rather the embrace of the belief in a God. God, for our purposes, refers to the concept of a supernatural consciousness that created and controls the universe and exercizes sovereignty over the souls of humans. However, the concept of the God Pill is also more than the simple acceptance of the belief in God, in that it is necessarily a component of the broader stages of “swallowing the red pill”. The God Pill stage is synonymous with the White Pill stage, which is suppsoed to follow the Black Pill stage, which is supposed to follow the Red Pill stage. Before we explain what exactly that means, let’s see Dave explain this process through his own words in the beginning of his video:

It seems now that a pattern is beginning to emerge among many of us who operate in this genre of red pill philosophy. When you take the metaphorical red pill, it’s just the first epiphany, the first layer. You realize how much you’ve been lied to all your life. You discover that you’ve been fed an ideology perpetuated through biased narratives and spin. You begin to discern truth from illusion, and reject the programming that they attempted to indoctrinate you with. Now if the red pill is the means by which you discover that you’ve been lied to with, the black pill is how you learn just how dangerous those lies truly were. The black pill is when you descend down the rabbit hole further and learn just how bad things have become. It’s where the consequences of evil become truly apparent. It’s also the point where you begin to experience a degree of hopelessness and despondence. This is the point of rock bottom, but luckily, from there the only way is up. Things can seem bleak, but it’s virtually impossible to stay black-pilled for long. It’s simply too difficult to entertain nihilism or despair for extended periods of time. Eventually, an appetite for hope, optimism and meaning begins to develop. The soul requires nourishment. Enter the white pill, also known as the God pill. You begin to desire action, order, purpose and a semblance of values in your life. The world may be going crazy but you’re not going to. The very values that have been stripped from Western nations by the left for the last 50 years gradually begin to make sense.

The God Pill, properly understood, is to be taken as an alternative name for the White Pill, which is the end of the stage a broader journey associated with the Red Pill concept. Taking the “Red Pill”, in this parlance, usually means the rejection of progressivism, liberalism, feminism and political correctness (or more or less as conservatives define it, which is basically just when you take a lefty-ish stance on social issues), and “awake” to what they believe to be the true nature of reality that is obfuscated and censored by progressives and globalist elites on a regular basis. In pick up artist parlance, where the red pill philosophy mythos originates, the “Red Pill” means “awakening” to the premise not only that society is gynocentric but chiefly that women don’t care about your personality and are only interested in promiscuous sex with young men, which given that women are also morally condemned for such a shallow mindset, even if they don’t actually have it, is pretty much unavoidably a recipe for misogyny. The opposite of the Red Pill is the “Blue Pill”, which represents ignorance of the realities of politics as well as women within red pill parlance. The “Black Pill” is a concept that Dave seems to softball for some reason. It is not simply when you learn how dangerously bad things are, but rather it refers to what happens when, some time after the premise of the Red Pill is accepted, you begin to develop a fatalistic and nihilistic outlook towards the world on the grounds that one comes to believe that the system that the adherent opposes cannot be reversed. In practice this usually means people in the new right turning to some kind of nihilistic fascism on the grounds that they now believe that the system they oppose can no longer be opposed through honorable or democratic means and that they are damned by whichever path they take, though in pick up artistry and incel culture the term simply means accepting the premise that there is nothing you can do to make yourself attractive to women if you are not conventionally attractive. The original definition of the Black Pill can be found in a post written by the Canadian anti-feminist blogger named Paragon in 2011, who defined the Black Pill as accepting the premise that there is no personal solution that can alter what pick up artists or incels or whatever they’re called nowadays consider to be a systemic trend of hypergamy that will always prevent men from having sex with desireable women. The “White Pill” in incel parlance is actually supposed to be just a generic term for the attainment of any sort of optimism and focus on self-improvement stemming from the premise of the Red Pill, but for people like Dave Cullen it seems to have taken on a distinctly religious connotation, related to religious conversion. In essence, we get a narrative which, in a sense, might give away the real goal of the strands of reactionary internet politics we see today: the end goal is to get disillusioned young people to not only reject progressivism, but also to reject any kind of liberal values, to reject the Enligthenment, to reject reason, and to reject the work of the French Revolution, and embrace Christian theism as a means of reviving the pre-Enlightenment order.

The Baptism of Christ, attributed to Sassoferrato (circa 1630-50)

It is worth noting at this point that Dave is far from the only exponent of the God Pill concept, and perhaps not the most insane of them. Rocking MrE, who considers himself to be a classical liberal and was once promoted by the EDL as such alongside Carl Benjamin (Sargon of Akkad), used to be an atheist who ascribed to a sort of “Cultural Christianity” (that is, when you don’t believe in God but you still support Christian moral doctrine and values), but converted to Christianity proper at some point in 2018, and now he not only believes in God but also denies evolution as an “occult doctrine” designed to lead people away from Christian morality. The concept of a God Pill seems to have been discussed by other right wing channels such as Blonde in the Belly of the Beast. One YouTuber, Critical Condition, credits her “God Pill” status to the lectures of Jordan Peterson, which she saw as a way of re-establishing what is apparently to be taken as a dormant sense of religiosity. The right-wing pick up artist Daryush Valizadeh (better known as Roosh V) converted to Orthodox Christianity in March this year, apparently after finally becoming dissatisfied with a life of treating women as just the object of vainglorious sexual conquest (not to mention getting high on magic mushrooms), and now promotes the concept of the God Pill on his online forum, where he describes it as the final destination of a journey that begins with the “blue pill” (ignorance of reality), then progresses with the “red pill” (awakening to reality, apparently through pursuit “materialism”, in this case meaning pick-up artistry), then the “black pill” (despair, nihilism and the resutling withdrawal from “materialist” society) and ends in the God Pill (in his words, submission to God’s Will). The transition from the Red Pill to the God Pill appears to be a general trend that has been seen by some Christian observers, who comment that the invariable destination of the red pill political subculture is the revitalization of Christian religiosity. But, I feel it is in Dave, as well as Rocking MrE, that we find something particularly poignant. Here we have people who have devoted themselves, ostensibly, to reason. To that end they have embraced some very conspiratorial worldviews relating to reactionary politics, to the point that they may as well have been wearing reason as a costume, but Dave at least seemed to consider himself to be taking after the likes of Christopher Hitchens in some of his videos. And now, here he is rejecting atheism as a childish doctrine in favour of Christian religiosity! But I suppose this all makes sense in light of the red pill pipeline being just a pathway to religion. Though, in Dave’s case, there might well be distinctly emotional motives for his transition, ones that just happen to intersect with his hardline conservative views.

Anyways, with all of that having been established, let’s move on to the next point:

I guess I considered myself an atheist since I was about 13. I rejected the religious teachings of my parents, who were both devout Catholics and quite conservative, and as I entered my teenage years I began to become more liberal and I believed that I could have all the answers, that science and secularism were adequate substitutes for religion and faith. But as I grew older, I also became more conservative, and I began to realize that the wisdom of my parents was based on something timeless, universal and tried-and-tested for thousands of years, that the teachings of Christ were a set of rules and instructions that not only made intuitve sense when carefully studied but actually had been essential in maintaining and building our Western Civilization.

This is the first part of the video where we get to one of the more absurd claims Dave makes in order to justify his position. The claim in question is that Christianity has been “tried and tested” throughout the history of the Western world, as in for thousands of years, as in, by implication, presumably long before Christianity was actually formulated, before Jesus was even born. To assert this tripe requires you to neglect the entire body of Hellenic philosophy upon which we derive many of our modern sciences, philosophical concepts, political constructs and even large parts of our mythos. I’ve covered this before in my post about Cultural Christians, but let me summarize this point by saying that large parts of Christian doctrine derive from the writings of Plato, Aristole and the Stoics, not to mention many mystery cults such as the Eleusinian Mysteries. Then there’s the fact that so many Christian holidays, myths and even saints and angels have their roots in the pagan custom of Greek, Roman and other ancient societies. I would argue that, if there really is something that is timeless, universal, and tried-and-tested for thousands of years, it’s not Christianity, considering the fact that Christianity has only really been around for two thousand years, which in the grand scheme of human history is a pretty short stretch of time.

Next, we come to his criticism of the New Atheist worldview, which he purports to have dismissed during his teenage years:

Science is the means by which we understand the physical world around us. It is not the means by which we derive our morality. For that we need philosophy, metaphysics, religion. Human beings need relatable stories, instructions, parables, in order to develop a moral and ethical framework in which to live.

Now, I will say for the record that I find what I have seen of Sam Harris’ attempts to form a morality based on the scientific worldview to be utilitarian garbage, and I find that he justifies this using many of the same arguments that Christian apologists would use (namely that if you don’t follow his morality you must be a psychopath), but to assert that you cannot divine morality through pursuit of studying physical reality is to reject the physical world. If morality is a phenomenon that comes from the physical world in the sense that it emerges from human relations, and in a sense can only really be observed in the context of the physical world, then treating it as dependent on something that can only be based on something that is supposed to be categorically outside of the cosmos doesn’t make any sense, and in a sense divorces morality from reality, which in my opinion is a dangerous and irresponsible thing to do because it creates the groundwork for moral nihilism. Not to mention, he seems to speak of philosophy as somehow separate from the pursuit of science, and aligned with religion and metaphysics. The problem with this is that the pursuit of philosophy makes no sense without its object – questions surrounding the nature of reality, that is a matrix that exists outside of ourselves that we observe on a constant basis – and also the fact that even the scientific method itself bases itself upon a specific set of philosophical assumptions and doctrines, which have proven effective for their purpose – that is, the investigation of reality through empirical study and experimentation and analysis based on reason. So from there, we can already see that Dave’s argument for religion amounts to a weak-kneed cop-out.

But in a sense, it’s also here we that we also come to one of the more revealing facets of Dave’s thesis on religion, one that is also apparent from the very beginning of the video, shortly before the first quote I posted from it. He doesn’t commit himself to a rational reason for believing in a Christian God, or in accepting the Christian religion as the guiding force for society as well as himself, but because he needs the Christian religion because it provides him with a meta-narrative that allows him to make sense of the world around him, and this desire, as was already implied in the discussion of the God Pill concept and as you will further see later on, is deeply linked to his conservative politics and his opposition to just about any form of left-wing politics you can find.

For now though, we must address that age old Christian apologist talking point that just won’t die, and that Dave is apparently resurrecting here:

Science and religion are actually not in conflict, as some atheists believe. They’re not actually in competition. One is the means by which we understand the physical world around us, the other is the means by which we derive meaning and moral instruction.

The main problem with this talking point is twofold. The first problem is that it assumes that religions are not formed as means by which to understand the world around us. The reason that’s a problem is simply the fact that religions like Christianity and Islam, and their surrounding myths, as well as the myths of polytheistic religions, were in part devised quite literally as a means by which people without scientific knowledge could explain the physical world. I mean, what the hell is the idea that God created the universe and is responsible for its cycles including those that happen on Earth if not an attempt to explain the physical cosmos? Oh wait, I forgot. We’re not supposed to take that literally. The second problem is that to believe that science and religion are not in competition but instead working harmoniously with each other requires the ignorance of the history of Christian power in Europe, as well as in America, which then as now is often in conflict with scientific findings. Did we all forget about how Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake by the Catholic Church for his pantheistic beliefs which he may have drawn from his scientific pursuits? Or how Galileo Galilei was forced by the Inquistion to recant his scientific discovery of how the Earth revolves around the Sun and not the other way around? Or how in the United States a man named John Scopes was sued by the state of Tennessee for teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection? Or how for decades the evangelical lobby has fought for creationism against the scientific teachings of not only evolution but also man made climate change, and how this lobby is still an active part of the Trump administration today? Oh wait, I forgot, that’s all just progressive babble isn’t it Dave?

Christianity shown here getting along with science, like it always does. Wait a minute…

Following this, we come to a part of the video where Dave’s political direction descends further into regression, past the realm of the absurd and into the realm of the sinister, while also serving as the first exposure of just how utilitarian Dave’s embrace of Christianity really is. Here is how he segues from religion being a system of meaning and moral guidance:

This system may even be the basis of a legal system or even a constitution for a nation state to live by, but the core philosophy must be based upon something that cannot be altered or replaced by man-made ideals. It’s the idea that there is a higher power that Man is answerable to, that governments and politicians cannot challenge, that the state is beholden to the values and morals that the populace subscribe to. This is one of the primary utilities of religion in our society.

Let me spell it out for you just in case it wasn’t already obvious: he is describing the logic of a theocratic society. He is describing a system that derives its legitimacy not from the will of the people, not from a secular body of law, but from the will of God and from the edicts of a religious doctrine. What he is describing invariably entails a society which, by definition, derives its legal basis from the interpretation of the laws and commandments of God by some religious or ecclesiastical authority. I don’t see how else it would work in his society unless he thinks that either Christians will just vote their beliefs into power or that God will just sort everything out by himself. His proposal cannot be classified as anything other than the basis of a theocratic society.

But the unstated premise of this assertion is that the need for religion as the basis of a society, in conservative parlance, derives from the need for a device through which their desired economic order becomes impossible to challenge through any sort of state intervention. Think about this for a moment. The state, properly understood in a democratic context, represents the sum total of human will in its ability to direct material components of the political system and make decisions on behalf of itself as represented by the body politic. Free market capitalism, being a man-made construct, is the product of human hands and as such is subject to human hands: Man created capitalism, Man becomes a subject to capitalism, and Man can also destroy capitalism. Of course, Man can also bend market forces to his will, that is say the state can assume ownership of what was once the realm of private markets in order to direct said markets and capital in pursuit of common good. The capitalist, and the conservative, oppose this because it hinders the free flow of capitalist markets to stream capital upwards in accumulation into the hands of private elites, which, for them, represents a much more abstract notion of economic freedom (freedom for the few, of course, not for the many). If the best way to stop this is to have something in place that is higher than the state, higher than the will of Man, then what better candidate than God Almighty, an entity that cannot be challenged by the will of Man according to the religions that believe in him? Now apply this to free market economics, via that popular conception of the invisible hand of the market (however true it might be to the way Adam Smith intended to espouse it). The idea that the markets direct capital, goods and services in a positive direction that benefits society without the interference of the state, can be reified as a religious concept by arguing that the invisible hand of capitalist market is, in a way, the hand of God, or more or less the will of God working through the markets. The result of this is that the free market cannot be challenged by the state on the grounds that doing so means going against the will of God. The only problem with this, of course, is that the Bible doesn’t actually support free market economics except through a selective reading of it, and in fact there is even a famous verse in the Book of Acts in which a seemingly proto-communist society appears to be endorsed as a commune of Christ’s followers.

After that little quotation, he shows a clip from an interview he did with a guy called John Waters, who is a writer for the Irish Times and not to be confused with the American film director of the same name. A self-described “neo-Luddite” who despises the internet and emails in particular, he has supported many reactionary conservative positions in his day. He supported the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 2000s, has claimed in 2014 that depression does not exist, opposed same-sex marriage, blamed gay people for his decision to quit journalism, and is such a staunch Catholic conservative that he even denies that there is institutional pedophilia in the Catholic Church, claiming instead that the real problem is homosexuality, which he claims explains the cases of pedophilia on the grounds that homosexuality is tied to ephepophilia (which, much like the anarcho-capitalists, he treats as morally distinct from pedophilia). In the interview clip being presented, Waters states that in the preamble of the Irish constitution begins with the phrase “In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred”, which he believes is grounds to treat the Irish constitution as a kind of prayer or invocation, which he justifies simply by stating that it is a mechanism to take the fundamental rights of humans and place them out of the reach of humans – in other words, to define human rights as a law that cannot be changed by humans (even though rights as a concept originate directly from humans).

We get into another stupid claim from Dave after this wherein he cites the British author John Glubb via his book The Fate of Empires as justification for religion as an integral part of civilizational survival:

Nations and even empires that lose religion tend to collapse within a couple of generations. This is the pattern that John Glubb observed time and time again when he catalogued the rise and fall of great powers throughout history. When an age of decadence is reached in a society, an age of liberalism follows. When you take God out of the equation, Man tries to become God.

The central problem with this claim in particular is that it is not simply that it is utterly unfalsifiable, but that it is demonstrably false and incorrect. The Roman Empire, for example, can hardly be said to have “taken God out of the equation” in the years preceding its collapse. In fact, by the time the Roman Empire collapsed, Rome was already dominated by the Christian church, and had been through an almost unbroken succession of Christian emperors for over a century. The idea that the Romans were trying to “become God” can from there be treated as utterly laughable. The ancient Egyptian religion was still a present element of Egyptian rule and culture during the last days of the Egyptian empire under Cleopatra, after whose death Egypt became a Roman province. The Egyptians only briefly lost their religion during the reign of Akhenaten, who tried to introduce a monotheistic cult centering around a sun god named Aten, but after his death the religion of the old priests was restored and all mention of Atenism was purged from memory. The religion of the Aztecs only really disappeared after the Spanish conquistadors arrived and forced them to convert to Catholicism on pain of torture or death. The short lived Seleucid Empire did not die because of some lack of religiosity, in fact the empire was pretty successful in establishing what we now know to be classical Hellenic culture and syncretizing it with foreign with influences such as Buddhism. Instead, it died after a period of instability generated by civil war surrounding succession that broke out after the death of Antiochus IV. China went through several imperial monarchies throughout its history, and religion is not necessarily the cause of their collapse and displacement by successive new empires. If you know just a little bit about Chinese history, you’ll know that civil war is a common feature in ancient Chinese history, cropping up frequently as a point of transition between new dynasties, the most famous examples being the Three Kingdoms Period that preceded the short-lived Jin Dynasty and the Warring States period that preceded the Qin dynasty.

Furthermore, his talking about how without religion Man tries to “become God” is a particularly mystifying talking point, and it doesn’t seem to have much basis in reality. Is he talking about how, throughout history, monarchies and empires have had their populace worship the king as a god as part of their religious custom? Or is he perhaps channelling Camille Paglia’s nonsense about how accepting transgenderism precipitated the decline of the Roman Empire? The swapping of gender roles, and indeed the inversion of many Roman values, was already a feature of Roman life in one particular festival, Saturnalia, which the Christians later phased out and replaced with the celeberation of Jesus’ birthday, which we would eventually call Christmas.

“Ave, Ceasar! Io, Saturnalia!” by Lawrence Alma-Tadema

Oh wait, never mind, Dave’s actually talking about communism:

Communism, which is once again trying to infiltrate every facet of our culture and compromise our institutions in the form of globalism, believes that the state is God, that it can be mother and father to an infantilized, powerless and impoverished proletariat.

As is standard practice for right-wing conspiracist content, Dave invokes the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory, which tells him that everything he doesn’t like about liberalism is actually communism, despite the fact that liberalism and communism are against each other as they always have been and despite the fact that Marxists are marginalized, rather than endorsed, in academia (not to mention that the European Union and quite a few European countries ban the promotion of communism or at least ban communist symbols). But that’s not the most important part of this video – we expect his ilk to parrot the same old conspiracy theory even after it’s been debunked already. The real hot take here is that communism believes the state to be God. You know, that ideology that famously rejects God, views religion as the opiate of the masses and believes that the state is supposed to wither away as the society progresses towards commiunism – God tends not to wither away in any system that concieves of his existence you know! What were you thinking when you spouted this nonsense!? I could address everything else he said when he invokes that tired old talking point about communism impoverishing nations wherever it’s been tried, but not only do I lack the scope for such an endeavor in this post, but it’s also somewhat irrelevant when you consider that his understanding of communism here falls apart when you understand even the most basic points about its actual ideological content.

Oh but that won’t stop him. After all, he’s not basing his worldview on anything rational or anything like that, just some utilitarian goal which centers around quashing the phantom of communism and “Cultural Marxism”.

It doesn’t even matter if you believe in an afterlife or an interventionist God at all, or how the universe got started. These discussions are great fodder for theoretical debates, but they won’t build or maintain a society. They won’t protect against communism, or indeed another outside religion that seeks to dominate the West. Everything the left has done has been a gradual attempt to take people away from who and what they are and where they came from.

You know, Dave, there was a religion that came from a foreign land, or more or less based on a set of teachings that originated outside of the West, that sought to dominate the West, and ultimately succeeded in replacing the values and beliefs that had been with our ancestors for thousands of years.

What was that religion called? Christianity.

This is something that, even while I was a right-winger back in 2017, always annoyed me about proponents of this “Cultural Marxism” bullshit. They talk about the threat of their Christian religion being replaced by some outside force, and they never talk at all about the fact that it was originally the Christians who sought to replace the paganism of our ancestors, as well as the religions of any foreign people’s they came into contact with. And unlike the Hellenic Greeks before them who let the Egyptians and the Bactrians practice their religion in harmony with Hellenism, and encouraged a syncretism that was nonetheless still unique to the cultures they arrived at, the Christians in many cases simply replaced the cultures of the various peoples they encountered wherever they could, often destroying many important artefacts, such as what happened to the Mayan civilization. But they don’t like to talk about that, either because it simply doesn’t enter into their minds at all or because it’s inconvenient to the narrative they’ve weaved for themselves. Do these people have any idea what the Spanish conquests were, or what the Goa Inquistion was, or how the Christians sacked various pagan temples such as in Alexandria? Of course we can’t say the Christians completely succeeded in replacing the heritage of the West, what with the Renaissance revitalizing many Greco-Roman concepts, but it does not change that the Christians still sought the destruction of quite a bit of pre-Christian heritage, a fact that a lot of these conservative nationalists fail to account for.

Christianity celebrates the vital importance of the family unit, the most powerful defence against an authoritarian state. In Christianity, the roles of men and women are clearly defined, with great respect given to the unique roles of the mother and the father and the raising children in a set of values shared by other members of our community and tribe.

First of all, the sacralization of the family unit is not at all unique to Christianity. In fact the use of “family values” as a political device is not at all unique to Christian conservatism, and can be traced back to the Roman emperor Augustus, who believed that monogamy and chastity were ancestral values and sought to enforce piety and carnal forbearance through religious and moral law. Second, the idea that the roles of men and women are clearly defined only in Christianity is just absurd. Every society and every religion has had its own definitions of gender roles, some of them closer to our modern conceptions than others. In Roman society, for example, the role of most women was very clearly defined as the property of a man, either her father or her husband (yeah, real progressive there). Third, are we going to ignore the fact that women often played vital roles in the early Christian movement that weren’t simply reducible to home-making? Who could forget the lore surrounding Mary Magdalene, who before she was whitewashed by the Roman church was likely considered to be a leading figure among Jesus’ followers and disciples. There is even discussion about how men and women may have been treated as equals in marriage during the early church period. Fourth, where does this talking point about how the nuclear family is the best protection against authoritarianism come from? The logic of it is not adequately explained at all. In fact, it’s worth pointing out that one of the main planks of fascism as defined by Benito Mussolini has always been the preservation of the nuclear family through the means of the totalitarian state. This is not to say that family is a totalitarian or authoritarian concept, merely to say that the idea that it is the greatest bulwark of liberty is unfalsifiable. If anything, it might just be completely false. In Russia, the Orthodox Church has a lot of sway in Russian society and is closely tied to the government of Vladimir Putin, with Christian conservatism the norm in Russian society, but that hasn’t changed the rampant drug addiction and domestic violence that runs rampant in the country, and the state is far more authoritarian than many Western countries. But the people on Dave’s side of the aisle treat those who resist this state of affairs, particularly feminists (who for once actually have a good cause), as maniacal totalitarians for the high crime of fighting an authoritarian state. What a joke.

The community-building aspect of the religious service, the Mass, and the profession of faith ensure that everyone knows they are part of something bigger than themselves, that there is an authority beyond a democratically elected politician in office. This is how a nation state is maintained: by recognizing the value of the family. As you can see, it’s not hard to understand why the leftist Cultural Marxists have attacked religion and the family at every turn.

There is a tell in this part of the video that yet again reveals Daves inclinations towards theocratic authoritarianism: “that there is an authority beyond a democratically elected politician in office”. Logically there is one thing that this can entail in practice. It means that the authority of religion supercedes the will of the people, and their rights and freedoms can be superceded by ecclesiastical authority, and it entails that democratic authority can be bypassed by the authority of religion. In that sense, the only reason people like Dave have for opposing such undemocratic (nay, anti-democratic) institutions as the European Union is because these institutions represent cultural liberalism, which they mistake as being communism or socialism for some baffling reason. If the European Union were more overtly conservative and going on about how important Christianity is (like Vladimir Putin does in Russia), he would have no problem with the EU bypassing the will of democracy in order to preserve Christian power, and perhaps he might even be treating the Eurosceptics, rather than the Remainers, as SJW progressives.

However, as if anti-democratic theocracy wasn’t enough, Dave’s thesis takes a much darker turn, one that betrays what could be an overlap between his own political thinking and that of the racist alt-right.

In Christian nations, the origin story of our culture is the birth of Christ. Now, even if you’re not religious, even if you don’t take the stories of Jesus literally, you can probaly acknowledge that an origin story about the birth of a child and a savior, born to bring peace to the world, is a powerful message and a symbol of hope for future generations. But if people are encouraged to move away from Christianity, then they lose attachment to this story, and the origin story of who and what they are becomes rewritten. It’s replaced with a focus on the worst moments in our history. This is why in many modern liberalized Western nations nowadays the native people are being encouraged to be ashamed of their past. In social justice infested college courses in America, young Americans are brainwashed into self-loathing. They’re encouraged to feel guilty for atrocities commited by their ancestors from hundreds of years ago. The same is true of many European nations: their people are being encouraged to feel an intense sense of guilt and self-hatred for their colonial past for example. So once the story we told ourselves about where we came from spiritually was based on the hope of a young child being born who could usher in a new age of peace for all humanity. Now it’s about negativity, despair and hopelessness. You cannot build anything stable or successful on such foundations.

It might not seem obvious at first glance, but if you pay attention to channels like Dave’s, you will see an overlap between what he’s saying here and the talking points presented by alt-right YouTuber Black Pigeon Speaks in his apparently now-deleted video “Why The West HATES and is DESTROYING Itself”, which he seems to have lifted from a post from an alt-right blog called Chateau Heartiste (which seems to have been removed from WordPress). The basic angle of Black Pigeon Speak’s video is that, following the aftermath of World War 2, the West became dislodged from what he sees as its affirmative origin stories and sacred narratives, and became obsessed with generating a new sacred narrative centered around the worst atrocities in human history. If you pay attention to his video, it becomes clear that he is by and large referencing the Holocaust. He goes on about how Western nations have somehow become anti-nationalistic (yeah right) and now oppose any conception of unity, order, civilization and national (or for that matter racial) pride because of how the Nazis are to be taken as the ultimate evil, and this supposedly is tied to “the post World War 2 foundation myth”, which he directly identifies as the Holocaust (the unstated implication, of course, being that we are to believe that the Holocaust never happened or was wildly exaggerated despite all of the evidence we have to support what we know about it). This trope has another name in alt-right circles: they call it “Holocaustianity”, which they believe to be a secular religion created by the Jews to enslave the minds of the white race through psychological and moral guilt.

Scene from “The Ten Commandments” depicting the Israelites worshipping a golden calf; an apt metaphor for what the alt-right thinks the Holocaust is.

I am fairly certain that Dave seems to have derived his argument from Black Pigeon Speaks, considering he has mentioned and promoted his content in the past throughout his career, and while I doubt that Dave himself denies the Holocaust, I am concerned that he appears to be promoting the ideas of actual Holocaust deniers and white supremacists in order to justify the nationalist impetus for his religious conversion, and that he is effectively soft-balling fascism. It should be especially concerning when you note that, for him, it is this trope that is responsible for the way American college students, as well as European university students, are supposedly indoctrinated by their professors to hate their past and their nation (which, if you think about it, is really just Dave being upset about the fact that Americans have to learn about slavery and colonialism, because he doesn’t like it when you learn about the parts of Western history where we end up being the bad guys). Not to mention, it’s not like people who think “Holocaustianity” is a thing limit themselves solely to discussion of the Holocaust: some alt-right commenters on Chateau Heartiste expand the concept of Holocaustianity to extend to the history of slavery in America, in order to cast serious discussion of slavery as nothing but religious self-flagellation.

But where for white nationalists and white supremacists all of this was about Jewish power and control, for Dave all of this culminates into a much more abstract narrative about the left seeking to destroy Christianity, somehow.

On the theme of the birth of a child, third wave feminism has promoted and attempted to normalize abortion, so the left has literally become like a death cult. You see, although the promotion of left-wing ideology is ultimately about power, it’s also not quite as simple as a straightforward attack on conservatism. It’s an attack on Christianity that goes back as far as the crucifixion of Christ, getting people away from their Christian heritage and values, disconnecting people from God and making them docile and compliant by promoting distractions that placate the masses: consumerism, pornography, sex, instant gratification, drugs, and materialism.

The part where he says “It’s an attack on Christianity that goes back as far as the crucifixion of Christ” alone deserves quite a bit of scrutiny. I didn’t know the “left” were attacking Christianity before the church of Christianity had even been established. Is Dave even talking about third wave feminism anymore? Just what does he mean by “the left”, if he’s even still talking about the left? And if not the left, then who? It boggles my mind, and, given how we’ve already established that Dave was basically parroting anti-semitic alt-right talking points about historical meta-narratives, I fear that Dave might be doing a dogwhistle and subtly referring to how Jews supposedly corrupt the white race. There are a few tells that suggest why this might be the case. The first of these is the idea of the attack that goes back as far as the crucifixion of Christ. The idea that there was anything that could be identifiable with the left in a modern sense is simply absurd, so it begs the question of just who Dave is referring to. The early Christian fathers have long hated the Jews, blamed them for the death of Jesus (which is funny to think about considering that Jesus’ death was supposed to happen per God’s plan to “save” humanity through the resurrection) and considered them thus the enemies of God, and this is reflected in the way medieval passion plays emphasized the negative role of Jews in the life of Jesus. In fact, such anti-semitism was so persavive in medieval Christian culture that the Catholic church only formally repudiated the idea that the Jews killed Jesus as recently as 1962, when they held the Second Vatican Council. The second tell is the way Dave describes this “attack” involving distracting the populace by promoting consumerism, drugs and pornography. For starters Dave promotes in his videos, including this one, the concept of “Cultural Marxism”, which is nothing more than a rehash of the Nazi concept of Kulturbolschewismus (or Cultural Bolshevism), which was basically a category for all manner of modern artistic and creative expression which the Nazis considered to be degenerate and corruptive to the minds of the German race. Then there’s the fact that white supremacists have long blamed Jews for a host of phenomenon they deem to be social ills, including pornography. The white nationalist James Edwards, for example, believes that the Jews use pornography as a tool to subvert the moral character of the white race as part of a broader agenda to keep them under control if not destroy them. The Jews have also long been associated with satanic influences against Christian culture in medieval folklore, and from this idea we get the blood libel trope that animates much of the whole Satanic Ritual Abuse theory and the term Judensau, which is now used as an insult by neo-Nazis. So with all that in mind, it makes me wonder: is Dave actually using Christianity as a cover for moving towards anti-semitic fascism?

After this part, he talks about how his mother died, and how this supposedly opened the way to religiosity, and from here we get a very strange interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer:

I knelt down one night and, for the first time in many years, prayed the Lord’s Prayer. I had said the Our Father many times as a child. I repeated it like a mantra, words that never truly meant anything to me. But this time, suddenly something changed when I reached the line “lead us not into temptation”. Now you can look at those words and not fully interpret their reason for being. “Lead us not into temptation”. What’s so objectively bad about temptation? Well, it’s the next line that suddenly struck a chord with me because it justifies that previous line: “but deliver us from evil”. So, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”. Now, all of a sudden, for the first time, given everything I was witnessing in the world, I could understand the context of why this prayer had been written this particular way. What has the left been promoting for the past number of decades? Temptation, sin, greed, materialism, deviation from the path, a denial of nature. If you corrupt the people, promote vice and their baser animal insticts, you bring about the destruction of the nation state. Promiscuity rather than monogamy results in unplanned pregnancy, broken homes, low parental investment. Marriage is destroyed by feminism, alternative lifestyles are promoted, the act of sexual union between two people is no longer respected, pregnacy and the creation of new life becomes a nuisance. By no longer believing in a power beyond Man, the state becomes the thing that everyone relies on. From welfare to their rights, it becomes extremely powerful and soon after, authoritarian. Suddenly, in those few words of the Our Father, I had gained an insight and a truth that had been hiding in plain sight my whole life. As E. Michael Jones would call it, Logos. Saint Augustine said that a man has as many masters as he has vices, and, as E. Michael Jones has talked about, the left has sold vice as a form of liberation. In truth, we become enslaved to our base, greedy and primitive natures, and thus much easier for governments to control. The people become docile, and malleable and atomized, especially since identity politics is promoted to further divide and conquer people.

There’s a lot to unpack here, but I must say for starters that, being someone who has had his lay Christian phase when he was a child, I find myself wondering what precisly he thinks is so special about that line. I remember being a school boy in Pembroke Dock and later Carmarthen and having had the Lord’s Prayer recited collectively during regular assemblies. The line just seems to be a petition to God to protect his followers from temptations (or, perhaps, for him to not actively lead them astray), and lead them away from the clutches of evil forces or Satan. I don’t know where he got his particular interpretation from. It kind of seems to me like he thinks the Lord’s Prayer was written because of SJWs. Or Jews, maybe, given where he seems to have gone earlier on in the video.

In regards to how he applies his interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer to the left as a whole, we should take great care to note what Dave considers vice, given that he believes that the left promotes vice at every turn. Among other things we leftists generally tend to oppose the tendency of free market capitalism to accumulate capital away from the masses or the common good and towards private elites, we oppose private corporations having the power to expropriate the value of the labour of the working class while giving them pittances in return, we oppose wage slavery, we oppose war, we oppose imperialism, we oppose the imposition of cruel living conditions upon working people and their families, we oppose sexual abuse like any decent people would, we oppose the systematic waste and destruction of our planet’s resources, and we oppose the system that generates needless envy and the suffering it creates, which as Slavoj Zizek has stated is the enemy of self-love. What about this can be interpreted as promoting vice or the wanton rule of our baser instincts exactly? Well, you see, guys like Dave are mad that we also (usually) support freedom of choice when it comes to sexuality. He hates it when non-traditional, non-conservative, non-religious lifestyles and attitudes towards sex are represented in Western culture, and he hates it when liberals and leftists oppose the criminalization of abortion and pornography and support same-sex marriage, expansive sexual education programs and the freedom to be gay, bisexual, trans or whatever else. Now I don’t agree with a lot of the left, progressives or liberals about a lot of what gets promoted in regards to “gender identity”, and I insist that we should be free to say whatever we want about it even if it means offending the wrong people, but I have never opposed the right of people to claim they’re two-spirit or whatever. That’s because I believe freedom of speech and of expression are central to my political worldview. Now Dave might claim that he too supports freedom of speech and expression, and I have no reason to believe he doesn’t sincerely believe that, but I think his vision of society would, in practice, run counter to such a profession on the grounds that in his society, democratic petitions and struggles for social and sexual freedom would be superceded and negated by ecclesiastical authority. Thus, I believe his claim that the left “sells slavery as freedom” is nothing but projection on his part.

His bizarre interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer is also yet another clue in just how far Dave is into the anti-semitic alt-right rabbit hole. You’re probably wondering who E. Michael Jones is. Well, he’s an American paleoconservative Christian writer and author who runs a magazine called Culture Wars and also has a YouTube channel where he talks about all manner of cultural and political issues, and also Jews for some bizarre reason. A quick search through his bilbliography leads you to some very interesting and totally not anti-semitic titles such as The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and Jewish Fables: Darwinism, Materialism, and Other Jewish Fables, and if you look at his YouTube channel you will find videos titled Jewish Agents of ChaosIt’s OK to Criticize Jews, and E Michael Jones on Jewish Influence from Calvary to Trump. He’s also done interviews with the likes of Jean Francois-Gariepy, Faith Goldy, Nick Fuentes, Roosh V, Owen Benjamin, Richard Spencer, and Red Ice Radio, most of whom belong to the alt-right. All of this begs the question: why the hell is Dave promoting this guy? It strikes me as another sign of Dave’s adjacency to alt-right politics as well as a hidden anti-semitic tendency.

Kreuzigung by Peter Gertner (1537); the crucifixion was the central subject of what was known as “passion plays”, which frequently demonized Jews

Now the next part is a bit of a tangent from the overall theme of this post but it’s worth addressing anyway.

Our nations are also becoming increasingly less safe under leftist control and further destabilized, and therefore more heavily policed. The power of the state is increasing, as people surrender their freedom for more so-called security.

I am curious about which Western nations he believes are under “leftist control”. The ones that spring to my mind are Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Finland, and Greece, all of whom are currently governed by social-democrats, and with the exception of Greece most of those countries have not been social-democratic for particularly long (Denmark and Finland, for example, have only recently elected social democrats to the national government). Meanwhile, Donald Trump has been president of the United States for nearly three years and the authority of the state has only expanded under his tenure. In fact, I am still old enough to remember when we were all invoking that famous Benjamin Franklin quote about freedom and security when criticizing the government of George W. Bush, a right-wing neoconservative! So much of the authoritarianism we see in Britain that Dave (rightly, in many cases) crticizes has happened under the auspicies of right-wing rule, including the Blairites of the Labour Party. And, as we will discuss in further detail later, Poland and Hungary, under nationalistic conservative governments, stifle freedom of expression and curtail democracy while the “leftist” European Union does little to challenge them. Dave’s argument rests only on the fact that social democrats and progressives within the Anglosphere and elsewhere flaunt their autocratic radical-liberal performative politics, and not on the actual mechanics of the expansion of authoritarian power over the last 30 years or so, which entails right-wing governments and ideologues laying the foundation for all of this. Indeed, even all this nonsense about “hate speech” can be traced to neoliberalism, namely through the ideas of Karl Popper.

Skipping ahead just a little:

The left hates Christianity more than anything, because it can’t control people who believe in something bigger than the state. It’s now my belief that the greatest act of defiance we can make against globalism is to spread the teachings of Jesus Christ.

It seems that Dave is now chanelling a common talking point among modern conservatives: the talking point that conservatism, or Christianity, is the new counter culture. I’ve seen Dennis Prager say, essentially, that being an ordinary god-fearing Christian is actually somehow the best way to secure your individuality as a person, as opposed to, you know, defying the largest religion in America. I guess that’s what happens when you base your political worldview on a conspiracy theory where everything is under attack by “communist” globalists. Or Jews (really, guys, just be honest, half of the time when the right uses term “globalists” they just mean Jews because they can’t actually call globalism what it is because that would mean actually opposing capitalism and joining the left; why else would they be trying to push the “Cultural Marxism” conspiracy theory again?).

Still there’s something to be said about how the left supposedly hates Christianity more than anything. Really? Is that why Christian socialism has historically been such a widespread tendency in non-Marxist currents of socialism, and is still a real trend in British leftism? Or why Hugo Chavez, father of one of the few socialist revolutions alive today (deal with it comrades, the Bolivarian project is socialist in purpose), was such a devout Christian who believed that his socialism derived from liberation theology and declared that “Christ is with the revolution”? If Dave believes that Christianity is the primary subject of antagonism for the left, then it just shows further that he has no understanding of the political concepts that he is talking about.

Next, if you thought he had a bizarre treatment of the Lord’s Prayer, wait till you see what Dave does with the Sermon on the Mount (or of the Mount, as Dave put it for some reason):

On the Sermon of the Mount, Christ says “resist not evil”. Now I thought I understood this message, that this commandment made no sense. Of course we have to resist evil, otherwise it’ll win. Now, recently I heard a pretty interesting interpretation of this commandment by John Butler, which was something to the effect of “don’t justify evil by giving it your attention”. Don’t come into conflict with it because to do so is to give it power. There is only one power in the universe, one force, not two forces. Evil is only maintained so long as people stray from the path. You empower it by giving it your attention. Think of it another way: if you’re driving to a destination, and you have two possible roads before you. Once you know that you’re on the correct road, you don’t need to give any attention to the wrong road anymore. You don’t need to focus on the darkness, when you’re looking towards the light.

Now the irony of this whole statement is that is that giving attention to evil, or more or less what he considers to be evil, have been Dave’s whole schtick on YouTube for the last four years, maybe more. In fact, if you look at his channel content, most of his video content before this video consists of the same brand of content – that is, short tirades about progressive media and other conservative pet talking points. How can he complain about “empowering evil by giving it attention” when that’s all he’s been doing this entire time, and he doesn’t intend to stop? Of course, he doesn’t. He simply intends to give his channel a new focus. In fact he uses a clip from Yuri Bezemenov’s widely-trafficked 1983 lecture on psychological warfare and subversion to demonstrate his point about how stressing religion above the culture war is the best way to counter “Cultural Marxism”. But before you get to that part, you’re left with the impression that he seems to resgined himself to some sort of cuckoldery, not that such cuckoldery would be genuine anyway – as you’ll soon learn, there isn’t much that seems to be genuine or authentic to Dave’s newfound love of religion.

Before we move on to the next point, let’s briefly address the way Dave contradicts baseline Christian dualism. In asserting that there is only one force, rather than two vying for power, he negates the dualism that animates much of the New Testament, particularly the Book of Revelations. The conflict between God and the forces of Satan that Christians stress as central to their belief system or mythos no longer makes sense in this interpretation, and as such, we can actually question Dave’s commitment to Christian theism.

Dante’s Satan, as depicted by Gustave Dore

Anyways, moving on, skipping the Yuri Bezmenov clip he introduces for less than two minutes, we come to Dave’s assessment of Ireland, his home country:

In Ireland, many people conflate the corrupted institution of the Catholic Church with Christianity, and because people have rejected their spiritual tradition, what has happened in Ireland? Well it’s becoming less Irish by the day. Try to think of a Western nation that’s succumbed to leftism that’s also got strong borders. When Ireland began to lose its faith, which is to say the pillar it was built on, unsurprisingly it began to slowly unravel. Now marriage has been redefined, and people have been so brainwashed that they’ve literally voted to take away rights from a portion of their own society: the unborn. And they celebrated this with tears of joy in the streets when they did so. They’ve given up on their future because the most vulnerable and precious in our society, our children, are no longer protected, and their right to life has been superceded by a woman’s right to treat that life as if it was nothing more than a piercing or a tattoo on her body.

Once again we have much to get into here. First of all, Ireland is not a country that is presently governed by leftists. The current government is dominated by the Fine Gael party, which is a liberal party that supports free market capitalism and economic liberalism with just a dash of conservatism, making them a standard liberal-conservative party, not entirely distinct from the Conservative Party here in the UK or the many center-right/”centrist” parties that dominate the European continent and the European Parliament, though unlike our Tories these guys support the re-unification of Ireland (meaning Northern Ireland folding back into the rest of Ireland). It’s just that these guys also support Irish membership in the European Union, which I guess for Dave is just leftism (even though the European Union is nothing but a giant capitalist power bloc). Second, although Dave explicitly means Western countries, it is worth noting that, during the Cold War, none of the red bloc states had open borders, as he puts it. DDR Germany and Soviet Russia, for example, had border police. And they had secure, strong borders for one very good reason: to protect their nations from the constantly present, and constantly escalating, threat of being destroyed, within or without, by capitalist encirclement, not for the sake of same base nationalism or to keep immigration from poor non-white countries to a minimum. So this talking about how leftism means open borders in practice is simply nonsensical, no matter how much conservatives and anarchists want it to be otherwise. Third, Ireland has not lost its faith, or at least not yet. The majority of Ireland’s population is still Catholic, with 78.8% of the population affiliated with the Catholic Church, although that figure has declined from 84% as of 2011. Christianity in general is still the predominant religion of the Irish population, and any other religions or irreligious and atheistic tendencies are profoundly marginal in Irish society. The Irish Constitution also still sort of honours Christianity, and Article 44, which holds that the Irish state recognizes God as a figure of honor and reverence, is still present within the constitution. Fourth, when I first saw Dave talk about how the Irish people have voted to take away the rights of a portion of their society, I erupted into laughter and curled into a ball, unable to contain myself, as I thought at first he was still talking about gay marriage. Of course, he was actually talking about abortion. Although I myself dislike abortion, I am unconvinced that criminalizing it will have any positive effect in terms of reducing abortions. In fact, while the debate around abortion cannot be reduced solely to the right of female bodily autonomy (due chiefly to the fact that, despite the feminist and libertarian slogans, it is not simply the woman’s at stake here, due to the fact of her sharing her body with a developing lifeform), it seems to me that Dave has no regard for the concerns of women who may be undertaking abortions. I mean, say a woman gets raped, and the coerced sex produces an offspring. Does he expect the woman to simply bear the child of her rapitst? Is that not simply demanding that women who were raped become the subjects of their rapists for the rest of their lives? That to me is simply an immoral position, and cannot be allowed for in a just and humane society. I completely agree that the life of the fetus should not be treated as simply an object to be dispensed with at will, on the grounds that it is a developing lifeform that, if given the chance, may eventually attain self-realization and carry out the Great Work in the name of the Luciferian path, but for me this means navigating a tight balance between the freedom to abort a fetus at the correct time (before it can be classified as a conscious being) and the right of women to make the right call. It also, most importantly, means working to eliminate the conditions that create abortion in the first place which, if anything, I would argue are partially created by both the social norms and the economic system that assholes like you support!

Of course, Dave will never concern himself with freedom, or at least not consistently, anymore. After all, as he puts it:

If you change the values of a nation’s people, you change the nation. If you distract the people with concerns about rights this and rights that, hedonism, sexuality etc., they will become focused on selfish navel-gazing and concerns that don’t matter.

In case you didn’t catch that, his position on social freedom and human rights is that it does not matter to him. The only thing that matters to him is that the body politic of a given society embodies his desired conservative social order. If that means gays don’t have the right to get married, or that women can’t have abortions, or that you can’t fight for your right to have a free, democratic, and secular society, then that’s immaterial to him, because all that matters is making sure that God is at the locus of the social and political fabric. In his worldview, rights are just a distraction that inhibits the conservative body politic: or, more aptly, the power of the nationalist state – what irony, then, that Dave whines so constantly about the need for religion in order to free humans from the state! When I first heard him explain this position, I was shocked. I was taken aback. How could someone who had once claimed to champion enlightenmentarian ideas to some extent regress in such a way? But on reflection, I now believe that this is what happens when you marinate yourself in conservative nationalism for long enough, arrive at the point where you become aware that liberalism is slowly dying, and have to make the call for how to surpass it. If you don’t have any commitment to the ideals of the Enlightenment left, having abandoned them entirely, you will end up embracing tyranny in the name of God (or perhaps race). And this embrace of tyranny is shown further by his affection for Poland:

Contrast liberal Ireland to conservative Poland. In Poland, they have Christian values and a strong sense of their identity, and a desire to maintain strong borders. Poland will therefore survive.

Um, Dave, how do you think Poland has kept to these “Christian values” you speak of? Actually, forget that for a moment. Poland is arguably not that committed to Christian values if it is indeed the fortress nation you say it is, when you consider the fact that the Bible counsels its believers to welcoming strangers, rather than rejecting them. The Book of Exodus encourages believers not to wrong strangers or foreigners on the grounds that the Israelites were once considered strangers or foreigners in Egypt, where they were enslaved. The Book of Leviticus instructs believers to treat those who sojourn into their lands as though they were fellow natives and love them as they love themselves, also referring to the Israelites being strangers in Egypt. Indeed, throughout the Bible it is stated that the sojourners, meaning people who go to another place to reside there (usually temporarily) are not to be mistreated or oppressed by the natives. In the Book of Matthew, Jesus says quite plainly, “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me”. All of this presents a problem for people who try to use Christianity to justify strict controls on immigration, or “sending them back” as it were, which you would think would bother Dave quite a bit. But that doesn’t stop him from embracing nationalistic chauvinsim towards refugees, and it certainly didn’t stop Christian Poland from refusing to accept refugess coming into Poland (except, of course, for Christian migrants). Christianity, therefore, seems simply to be a matter of Christian culture or “identity”. And, returning to the original question, how did Poland keep such identity, exactly? Anyone who knows just a little bit about the Polish government knows that it has laws against offending religious objects or places of worship, with offenders being punished by either fine or a 2-year sentence of imprisonment, which allows for pro-Christian activists to push for censorship of freedom of expression if they decide that they got offended. Yes, this is how Poland preserves its precious Christian identity: by curtailing liberty. What a joke Dave is.

Also, it’s worth noting just for irony that, although Poland is usually quite stringent about how many people they let in, they don’t seem to be all that bothered about how many people leave the country. Here in the UK we get several immigrants from Poland, and in August 2016 Poland overtook India as the most common country of birth for non-native citizens. This, incidentally, has also lent itself to discussion of Poles as being the victims of increased hate crimes within the last few years. Apparently Poland doesn’t mind its native population leaving because it receives billions of dollars for all the natives that leave the country and go off to other countries for work. Ironically, for a country that seems so stridently opposed to the European Union’s immigration policy, they seem OK with leeching from the union for all its worth. Yes, this is the country that Dave admires as a bastion of conservatism against liberalism and nationalism against globalism.

I look at the vandalization of our Christian heritage and see celebrations. St. Patrick’s Day is reduced to a glorified excuse for massive alcohol consumption. Easter doesn’t appear to be about the death of Christ for most people anymore. It’s become about chocolate eggs and the Easter Bunny. Likewise, Christmas is completely divorced from the birth of Christ, and it’s now become a tacky commercial holiday that begins in late September and promotes hyper-consumerism and materialism.

There are a number of problems with this analysis, chief among them the fact that there are quite a few holidays from the ancient world that were connected to the cultural order of society that could easily be taken as excuses to get wasted and indulge the senses. One of them, as it happens, was Christmas: or rather one of its precdessors, Saturnalia. One of the main points of Saturnalia that connects it to the modern Christmas is that, like the modern Christmas, it involved the exchange of gifts between people. But it also involved a lot of drinking and other reckless festivities, which would have suited its overall theme of reversing the normal custom of Roman society, which theoretically stressed virtue, order and hierarchical deferrence. Alcohol consumption for celebratory reasons was also rather ubiquitous in ancient culture, with celebratory drinking being observed in Greek civilization, Egyptian civilization, the Neolithic Orkney settlements, and Anglo-Saxon Britain. Then there’s his complaint that Easter and Christmas have nothing to do with Christianity anymore, which in my experience is simply false. Yes, it is very consumerist nowadays, no one denies that, but you can also still find that the theme of Jesus’s birth and death are brought up in relation to them, and the average person will still encounter Christian themes and symbolism in the festivities, particularly if they come from an at least nominally Christian background. I, for instance, am from a Catholic family, and my family still celebrates the customs that Catholics associate with Christmas and Easter (and as you all know I don’t particularly mind that because it means enjoying a good feast). I think that Dave’s general outlook that most of these holidays are strictly Christian is mistaken, considering that, with the exception of St. Patrick’s Day, many of them developed out of pre-existing pagan festivities – in fact, even the early Christians flat out stated that their custom of Christmas was an appropriation of the festival of Sol Invictus.

People now engage in alternative, quasi-spiritual practices, trying to replace real spirituality with yoga and meditation. Now, meditation can be very useful for breathing control and quelling anxiety, and that’s fine. I’m not knocking it, but it contains no content, so therefore, it cannot be used as a substitution for a moral framework and a values system. Something more is needed.

Here we find another set of concepts that, it appears, Dave has no understanding of. Dave seems to treat meditation as a concept separate from religion. This perception is very ill-informed when you account for the fact that meditation has been a part of religious practice, often inseparably connected to it, for centuries. Hell, even Christianity embraces meditation as a means of contemplating on God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but you wouldn’t know that from all the times Christian fundamentalists denounce meditation as a satanic practice designed to allow demons to get into your head. Indeed, you can find several books about meditation in the Christian context from various denominations, including Catholicism. Islam also embraces meditation. In fact, there is a type of meditation in Islam known as Salah, which is also considered a form of prayer and is mandatory for practicing Muslims. From Eastern religions to Abrahamism, meditation is a fairly universal part of religious and spiritual tradition, and indeed it is also embraced by several occult traditions. It’s almost like meditation is supposed to be part and parcel of spiritual life rather than just something you do to feel good about yourself. Yoga is also an important component of Indian religious practices, and is not to be taken as just a set of exercises you do to improve your body. In Hinduism, yoga means the practice of attaining unity with God or the Brahman, and such entails not a set of fitness exercizes but spiritual techniques aimed at attaining religious communion with the absolute. In Buddhism, yoga refers to a set of methods aimed at developing a series of virtues that would allow the practitioner to more easily attain nirvana, cognizance of the true nature of reality. In Jainism, yoga refers to a set of meditative practices that cultivate austerity for the purpose of liberating the soul from the power of karma. This is not simply the realm of trendy, consumerist quasi-spirituality that Dave seems keen on talking about, but in fact the realm of actual religious concepts that have been around for centuries, and have only relatively recently been appropriated as a set of undemanding activities tailored to fit the capitalist lifestyle. Understood correctly, the point of these practices is not to serve as its own religion, as Dave seems to think is the case, but instead serve as components of existing religions.

The Adiyogi Shiva statue, located at the Isha Yoga Center in India.

With the loss of religion, we’ve also jettisoned notions of sacrifice, personal accountability, restraint, honor, and duty. These were considered virtues once.

Since we can establish quite safely that by “religion” Dave just means Christianity (indeed it may actually surprise Dave to learn that not all religions are metaphysical or mystical in nature), it is worth pointing out that the ideas he speaks of are not unique to Christian religion, and as a matter of fact were taken as high virtues in ancient Rome. Romans prized things like self-sacrifice and duty among their highest virtues, and the story of Cincinnatus – the farmer who briefly became dictator of Rome to help defend the republic from invasion and abdicated once his task was completed – was a legendary source of inspiration not only for the ancient Romans, but for the founding fathers of the United States of America, who sought to take after the Roman Republic. The Chinese had similiar ideas about virtue to the ancient Romans, which were stressed in a religious/philosophical doctrine known as Confucianism.

Now there’s another important component of this: the recognition that we are corruptible and imperfect. That we will try and often fail to be good. This is why no matter how much we mess up, no matter what we’ve said or done or not done, the challenge of redemption is always possible. The gift of forgiveness is always offered by God.

You honestly do not need Christian religion to arrive at the conclusion that we are imperfect beings. The simplest pursuit of earnest philosophy will you help you arrive at this conclusion. The simplest observations of human life and human society lead you necessarily to this conclusion. It’s such a universal wisdom that we find Greek mythology, for instance, to be resplendent with tragic heroes and morally ambiguous gods to remind us of that humans are not angels and that we are imperfect beings. Forgiveness has also been a reified concept and component of civic virtue before Christianity arrived: the Romans venerated it as the goddess Clementia (known as Eleos in Greece), and the emperor Julius Caesar was often associated with this goddess due to his willingness to forgive. The main difference as regards Christianity is that forgiveness becomes a faculty of the absolute and part and parcel of salvation – and, of course, a way for the church to overlook your crimes.

 Now, I’m not going to pontificate to you or sell you some notion of an anthropomorphic, all-powerful being in the sky. I have no idea what that force resembles. I’m also not going to tell you that the purpose of doing good is a reward in Heaven. I’m not even fully sold on the idea of an afterlife. Maybe there is something I don’t know, but that’s not why I changed. To do good, knowing there’s no reward, is to be truly noble.

Wait…what? Why the fuck are you even a Christian? What is the point of you having “taken the God Pill” if you aren’t going to try and sell the most basic parts of Christian theism to your audience? If you aren’t sold on the idea that doing good and spreading Jesus’ teachings gets you a reward in some kind of heaven, why are you a Christian? That idea is one of the central premises of the religion you are now preaching, and you’re telling me you’re not actually committed to that? You’re not even committed to explaining to us why Yahweh is a real being in the universe? This to me is the most obvious tell going from here that Christianity to him is, in large part, a tool by which to advance a conservative social order, rather than a genuine religious belief, and the reason it seems that way is because he can’t even asked to defend core epistemological concepts of Christianity!

When I prayed to God I said, “I will change even if I get no answer”, because the word of Jesus makes more sense to me now given the state of our world. So at some point I stopped believing in nothing, because there is simply too much order in the universe, too many telltale signs of purpose and intent in reality for me to ignore the possibility that some guiding hand was behind all of this.

This kind of sounds like more cuck stuff from Dave. He’ll believe in Yahweh even if Yahweh gives him no answers, which for me is among the most pathetic forms of belief. He doesn’t need any assurance in reality that Yahweh is the supreme being and his will is at work wherever you go, he just believes it is anyway, because it makes more sense to him because something something progressive communist globalist Jews. That’s all this God Pill stuff is: it’s embracing a religious narrative because it makes sense to you because in a weird way it sort of dovetails with that whole conservative narrartive that you’ve marinated yourself in for, what, five years now? That’s why Rocking MrE denies evolution now, that’s why Roosh V is an Orthodox Christian now, and that’s why Dave claims he believes in God now – the idea that Christian religion is under attack, that all the “evils” of the left go back to the conflict with Christianity, and that returning to Christianity is the only way to push back against progressivism is simply the next development of the conservative narrative, a new story that guides their politics onwards, even if it’s not necessarily reflective of even baseline Christianity.

But then there is the other aspect of that part: he believes in God because there’s too much order in the universe for there to not be a God. The first part that sticks out about that is that it’s basically a rehash of just about any creationist argument you can think back to from over ten years ago or perhaps before. You’ll see Christian creationists and apologists, for instance, make the argument that God must exist because the universe seems so perfect, so precise, almost mechanical, that for them this must be proof of intelligent design. You also see arguments like that from Islamic fundamentalists and creationists, who insist that the universe is so sophisticated that it must be the product of the will of Allah. The irony of this cannot be overstated. Again, I remember when Dave was not only an atheist, but also a part of that whole milieu of “rational skepticism” on YouTube, opposing not only religion but also feminism on the grounds of rationalistic philosophy, and now here I find he’s leading the revival of what is essentially creationism or intelligent design theory! What a bizarre turn the internet has taken. The second part of this, however, is actually something familiar to me, one that almost has me empathizing with him. I already covered this in my post entitled “Nihilism sucks“, but I too have arrived at the conclusion that the idea that there is no order or purpose to life must be an absurd premise. But, where I differ from Dave is that I reject the premise that this means accepting theism, let alone Christianity, on the grounds that I do not believe that the natural order of things is dependent on a grand designer, a demiurge or some such, especially when we consider that the laws of nature are almost entirely apprehensible through scientific means. Where Dave must derive his purpose from Yahweh because he lacks the framework that allows him to do otherwise, I derive my purpose, spiritual or otherwise, from the idea that Man can and will know the truth, that we have the ability, and the duty, to demystify the mystified universe. All I can say otherwise is that I guess I have Anton LaVey and the like to thank for this perspective, and for the fact that, even during my right-wing phase, I’ve been consistently safe from the influence of Christian conservatism.

Skipping Dave’s explanation of astronomy and atomic materialism for dummies, we come to this:

If there’s a single instruction that the divine software architect programmed into the universe from the beginning, it’s creation. Destruction is part of the cycle of creation, and the unending move towards more complexity. Animals and humans die and their bodies will decay into the earth, but other life will feed on those remains. Planets will die and solar systems will be destroyed by exploding stars, but new material will continuously be created in stellar nurseries and recycled by the cosmos. We are the universe made flesh, made aware of itself, and what we believe and how we choose to live matters.

Wait, hold on a minute, this isn’t Christian epistemology. Or at least not in any baseline sense. It’s more like pantheism, but he still believes that there’s a God that exists outside of the universe – he refers to a “divine software architect”, obviously a modern variation of the term “divine architect” or “Grand Architect”, which entails that God exists outside of the universe and fashions it as an object external to his being – so what you get is a doctrine that partially resembles pantheism and partially resembles classical theism, possibly entering the realm of panentheism (the doctrine that God and the universe are distinct, but also that God exists within the universe, or something). But in any case, it’s a doctrine that diverges from conventional Christian theism in many ways. Its assertion that we are the universe made flesh, while definitely an interesting philosophical proposition from my perspective, is anathema to Christianity on the grounds that it asserts that Man is equal to the divine and that, as per pantheist doctrine, God is equal to the material universe rather than its father. In fact pantheism is sometimes treated as a form of atheism, not only by theists but also by atheists – Richard Dawkins famously referred to it as “sexed up atheism” and Vladimir Lenin considered pantheism to be compatible with the strictly atheist ideology of Marxism-Leninism on the grounds that it was a glorified atheistic doctrine whose materialism held God to be identical with Nature and hence the universe.

Demiurge by Vitaly Shelegin

In any case, this tells me yet again that Dave’s embrace of Christianity seems to be almost purely utilitarian, based not on the actual embrace of Christian epistemology but rather utilizing some conception of Christian values, tradition and mythos as a meta-narrative by which to justify his political ideology (rather poorly at that, too). It shows much further here:

Nations will fall, but powerful ideas will remain timeless and powerless forever. The answer is not only about rejecting destructive ideology. It’s about embracing the philosophy of creation. It’s about choosing life and not death, hope and not despair.

Christianity here is simply an expression of the “white pill”, a psychological expression of Dave’s personal desire for meaning, optimism, and hope, to dispel the despair he sometimes feels when faced with the reality of the world, or rather the reality that he himself has sort of created through his conspiracist ideology. Christianity for him is an abstraction representing philosophical goodness, life, and traditional continuity, a foundation for the order of the nation state as he imagines, and not the force of mental delusion and spiritual desertification that it actually is. If Dave lived in India, he would be embracing Hinduism as part of the goal of advancing Hindutva politics. If he lived in the Middle East, he would be embracing conservative Islam. If he lived in Japan, it would probably some weird nationalistic Shinto or Zen Buddhism like the Japanese far-right utilized in the past. If he lived in Israel, he might just be a typical Likud Zionist. In either case it would be the same thing because all it amounts to is just an expression of the desire to use a religious narrative, derived from your national cultural background, to make sense of the world and give yourself hope for the cause of conservative nationalist political activism. It’s all just the “white pill”, another step in the ascent of the modern online reactionary.

Skipping ahead just a little again, gradually approaching the end of the video, he goes on about how he probably won’t convince everyone, and tries to conclude with a nice sounding nugget of platitudes:

So I can only conclude by saying that I believe that the wisdom and lessons of our past will show us how to chart a course for a better future, that it is our duty to help those less fortunate, lest we forget the lesson, “there but for the grace of God go I”. I believe that we must also pray for our enemies, as they simply know not what they do, and we will all answer to the same authority in the end. Our enemies may hope for our destruction, but we do not pray for theirs. To do so would make us no different to them. So we pray that they can be saved from the evil they have succumbed to.

This is purely platitudinous in the overall, but it’s also all the stranger when you take into consideration the statement that he believes that his enemies know not what they do. This in my mind poses a problem for the genre of right-wing conspiracy theory that Dave and his ilk have been peddling for years. The unstated premise of this conspiracy theory is that the elites that they talk about consciously seek the destruction of the nation states that they subject to “globalist ideology”, because to break down these nation states is how they supposedly intend to pave the way for one world governance (that’s all this “globalism” stuff is, the old New World Order spiel all over again). The premise that they know not what they do is nonsensical in this worldview, because it undermines the whole premise of all the stuff Dave complains about being planned out from the outset, as is the case for all of these conspiracy theories surrounding “Cultural Marxism” and the like.

The video ends in what is probably the only remote link between Dave’s philosophy and baseline Christian epistemology:

I believe that those we’ve lost have never truly left us, that they have become part of something greater and more powerful than any man-made evil in our world. I believe this power is a benevolent and uniting force that governs all things in our universe, and seeks to provide us with the means to save ourselves from human frailty and damnation. I believe that within this force we will find our salvation and peace, and that if we place our faith in that power, it will lead us not into temptation, but it will deliver us from evil, forever. Amen.

You have probably noticed that, throughout this post, I don’t actually talk about God an awful lot, or make a lot of arguments against God, and the reason for that, quite simply, is that for most of the video Dave doesn’t actually discuss God, or baseline theistic concepts. Instead he just goes on about how religion, or more specifically Christian religion, is useful in promoting his desired values system. This is probably the only part of the video I can think of where Dave actively proposes a straightforward conception of a God consistent with basic Christian epistemology, but it begs so many questions. What is this force, really? Do we actually become God after we die? What does this salvation mean? How does this power, this God, “save” us? Why does it care about us enough to even want to give us the means of salvation? Salvation from what damnation? These are all questions that might emerge from Dave’s assertion, but he doesn’t go into any detail that might actually elucidate his concept of God. It’s just a generic belief in God.

And with that, we can conclude this post with some reflective remarks on what we’ve just seen.

It seems obvious to me that this “God Pill” development amounts to just a way of weaving Christianity into a broad desire for hope, which seems to be framed as the next step of a path of the intellectual evolution of conservatives, libertarians and assorted reactionaries who find themselves in that whole “red pill” milieu. It is a way by which people like Dave can add a spiritual and ecclesiastical dimension to their already reactionary political worldview, even if it doesn’t entirely match up with actual Christian doctrine (for instance, on immigration and even abortion). It also seems to be a development towards increasingly authoritarian political ethos, with Dave’s proposal seemingly rejecting liberty and individual freedom as a valid concern of politics and longing for a social authority structure that can bypass democratic will. The way Dave invokes what are clearly anti-semitic tropes suggests the possibility that this “God Pill” might also be something a lubricant towards some fascist sentiment or at least anti-semitism, or if not that then rather a way of undergirding some sort of ethno-nationalist or quasi-ethno-nationalist political tendency with a much broader religious motivation – it does not surprise me at all that anti-semitism would go hand in hand with Christian reaction. We can probably establish this elsewhere in the way that Rocking MrE, another right-wing YouTuber who promotes the concept of the “God Pill”, espouses all manner of fascistic conspiracy theories (despite presumably claiming he isn’t an alt-righter) about Jews, Judaism and the Qabbalah, alongside a number of strange ideas about white genocide, Cultural Marxism, and communist subversion of, well, just about everything, even UKIP for some bizarre reason – I imagine it’s not that hard to see where this is heading. Roosh V, another “God Pill” promoter, also has something of a history of anti-semitism. In 2015, he promoted the works of Kevin McDonald, a veteran white nationalist author who is the editor of Occidental Observer, while esposuing anti-semitic conspiracy theories on Return of Kings, such as how racism was supposedly invented by Leon Trotsky. Two years later, he wrote on his own personal website about how the Jews are “masters of propaganda” who according to him created feminism, and claimed that Return of Kings is responsible for “Jew-pilling” (meaning convincing people to believe in anti-semitic conspiracy theories) thousands of men. I can’t say everyone doing the “God Pill” thing is anti-semitic, in fact it’s still a relatively new trend, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more people promoting the “God Pill” either promoting anti-semitic tropes or outright being anti-semitic themselves.

Although the “God Pill” hasn’t quite exploded so far, I think it would be naive to simply overlook this development, and if Dave and Rocking MrE are any indication, more right-wing atheists will eventually follow in “taking the God Pill” and converting to Christianity following a similar logic to Dave. You may even be surprised to find Carl Benjamin, who’s been an atheist for years, join their ranks in the future. My reasoning for such speculation comes from the fact that he has, over the years, begun to soften up to Christianity. Years ago there was a time where, in addition to criticizing feminism and progressivism, he also crticized Christian conservatives like Ben Carson and commented against creationists like Ray Comfort. But increasingly, he seems to have spent less effort criticizing Christianity or Christian fundamentalism, even as it becomes all the more powerful during the Trump administration. The last time he complained about Christianity that I remember was him getting visibly annoyed and disgusted by the religiosity of Trump’s inauguration ceremony, but he seems to have gotten over that because he is now reduced to a cheerleader for the Trump administration. And now, he’s a member of UKIP, the party most prone to Christian conservative tendencies and where you will find literature about how homosexuality is a disease, and he speaks to UKIP members about “Christianphobia”, a concept that should make about as much sense as “Islamophobia” to anyone committed to opposing the Abrahamic faiths. Thankfully, however, he hasn’t quite succumbed to Christianity yet, as evidenced by his willingness to debate against Christianity during his debate tour of Gloucester, though I am left wondering how long this will last. In fact, I wonder if the “God Pill” route will end up becoming the inevitable destination for many conservative atheists as the inevitable result of their refusal to detach from the Christian ethos after rejecting belief in God. Anton LaVey certainly wouldn’t be too surprised to see such a development if he were alive today.

It would be foolish to dismiss the growth of this trend, however small it might be. We cannot rule out the possibility that the right won’t coalesce around the “God Pill” concept on a larger scale than what we’re seeing now, because if that happens we will see Christianity rehabilitated after all the effort that has put into debunking it over the years. Given the vision that Dave lays out, this will always lay the groundwork for the growth of religious and conservative authoritarian rule, and freedom will be under threat or eventually suppressed by religious reaction, and our goals will be set back significantly. We must strive to oppose this development however possible, and perhaps bolster our frameworks in the service of this effort. Otherwise, the Great Work of the Morning Star will be impeded.

Reject the “God Pill”. Reject the false song of Christian salvation. Reject the path to tyranny. Fight it in the name of freedom for humanity. In Nomine Dei Nostre Luciferi Excelsi.

resource_540f34f04d316
Satan Rousing the Rebel Angels by William Blake

Mythological Spotlight #9 – Lugh

A statue of Lugh

Introduction

Lugh is a rather well-known Irish deity and heroic figure.  He’s hailed a leader of the Tuatha De Dannan, the divine father of a heroic figure named Cú Chulainn, he himself is generally associated with heroism, skill and crafts, and he has a Celtic pagan festival named after him (that being the festival of Lughnasadh, which is held on August 1st). He is a complex deity, which perhaps leads many people to misunderstand him. Today he is erroneously recognized as a solar deity, a god of light, and even the Irish incarnation of Lucifer, without any solid basis in the original mythology, and the people who identify Lugh as such don’t really explain why they do.

This post was originally going to be just me debunking the idea that Lugh is connected to Lucifer in any meaningful way but then I started reading into Lugh and Lugus and decided, fuck it, let’s make this the first Mythological Spotlight I’ve done since last year.

 

History

The Irish deity Lugh seems to be a reflection of an older Celtic deity named Lugus, who was worshiped in parts of England and Western Europe. Lugus is known to be a three-headed deity with knowledge of all crafts, though sometimes he is said to have been particularly evoked by shoemakers. He was also held to be a deity who could move between many realms, was considered to have warrior attributes (including a spear), and was considered the divine guarantor of sovereignty. His wife was Rosmerta, a goddess of plenty. Lugus may also have been very associated with ravens, particularly ravens with white feathers, as a sign of his connection to the otherworld. It has been suggested that Lugus may even have appeared as multiple deities, and that his triune appearance is the result of a fusion of the deities Esus, Toutatis and Taranis. Some depictions of Lugus are said to have four heads instead of three, perhaps indicating that he was meant to be an all-seeing deity.

The Romans considered Lugus to be identical with their deity Mercury, possibly because of the identification of Lugus with Mercury by Julius Caesar via interpretatio romana (essentially the practice of interpreting foreign deities through the lens of Roman mythology) during his conquest of the Gaulish tribes. Caesar specifically referred to Lugus as the master of all arts and crafts, the guide of travelers, patron of commerce and the most popular deity of the Gauls. It is uncertain whether Lugus actually embodied all of the traits associated with Mercury, though there are likely some superficial similarities between Lugus and the Roman Mercury. In a way it’s like when the Greeks saw Ba’al Hadad, and the many other deities named Ba’al, and decided that they were all foreign avatars of Zeus (the name Ba’al Zaphon, for instance, was translated into Zeus Kasios by the Greeks).

As “Gaulish Mercury”, Lugus was linked strongly with high places in the tribal territories where he was worshipped, such as Montmartre, the Puy de Dôme and the Mont de Sène. These locations were referred to by the Romans as Merucrii Montes, literally the mountains of Mercury, and would contain shrines and statues dedicated to the “Mercury” deity. After the arrival of Christianity, Lugus became assimilated into Christian folklore as the Mercurii Montes were turned into St. Michael’s Mounts, thus assimiliated Lugus and the “Gaulish Mercury” into the archangel Michael. According to some, French legends claim that Michael is said to have fought Satan atop Mont Dol.

125px-autel_tricephale_museestremi_reims_1131a
The face of Lugus

Lugh, the Irish deity, is perhaps more well-known. In particular he is best known for the myth in which he fights Balor, the leader of the Fomorians who was also his grandfather, and kills him. In Irish myth, Balor becomes aware of a prophecy which says that one of his grandsons will kill him. Thus, to stop this prophecy from coming true, he locks his daughter Eithne up in a sequestered tower, away from any potential suitors, so that she couldn’t get pregnant. With the help of a druidess named Birog (or Biorog), Lugh’s father-to-be Cian manages to infiltrate the tower and seduce Eithne, resulting in her pregnancy and Lugh’s eventual birth. When Lugh grows up, he kills Balor with his slingshot (or a spear, in some versions of the myth), securing the harvest and its powers of fertility on behalf of the Tuatha De Dannan. After this he prepares to fight and kill Bres, a half-Fomorian king of the Tuatha De Dannan who ends up appeasing the Fomorians at the expense of the Tuatha De Dannan. However, when Bres promises to teach the Tuatha De Dannan the secrets of agriculture, Lugh spares his life.

Lugh is noteworthy in that, through his lineage from both the Tuatha De Dannan (through his father Cian) and the Fomorians (through his mother Eithne), he is linked to both sides of the mythological conflict, though he ultimately sides with the Tuatha De Dannan. The relation between the Tuatha De Dannan and the Fomorians is comparable to the Olympians and the Titans, or the Devas and the Asura: they are opposing clans, tribes or mythological races representing different aspects of nature, civilization or the psyche. In this case, the theme seems to be the relation between man and nature. The Tuatha De Dannan represent human society and civilizational control over the forces of nature, while the Fomorians represent the primordial power of the land and forces of nature in their raw form – which can be either beneficent or cruel, but either way blind to the concerns of humans and apathetic to Man’s will. Though locked in combat, neither the Tuatha De Dannan nor the Fomorians can truly destroy one another, being linked to each other by ties of blood. Through his conception by Cian and Eithne, the powers of the Tuatha De Dannan and the Fomorian unite in Lugh’s being, perhaps suggesting the interpenetration of opposites.

Later medieval Irish folklore would cast Lugh in a slightly different light. Instead of being the offspring of a Tuatha De Danann and a Fomorian through seduction with the aid of a druidess, the medieval Lugh’s birth is the product of a simple political marriage, removing his more complicated origins and his link between opposites.

The Celtic Lugh was also known as the master of all crafts, and the inventor of an Irish board game called fidchell, and the institutor of fairs and games, such as the Assembly of Talti. Thus it is not just Tuatha De Dannan and Fomorian that unite in him, but king and craftsman/artisan. Indeed, one of Lugh’s epithets is Samildanach, meaning “many-gifted” or “skilled in many arts”, suggesting that he was indeed the master of crafts and skills. This, in a way, echoes the assessment of the Gaulish deity Lugus as the master of all crafts and his association with the Roman deity Mercury. It is possible some of the attributes of Lugh may have been reflections of the mercurial persona of the “Gaulish Mercury”.

hermesseatedc
Is it me or is it getting rather mercurial in here?

Lugh’s festival, of course, is the August festival Lughnasadh. The main theme associated with the festival is that of the opening of the Harvest, the beginning of the descent of the Sun, and gathering for a feast in the name of Lugh. It also ties into the myth of Lugh’s conflict with Balor, as Lugh’s faction clashes with Balor’s over control over the powers of the harvest. This clash is said to be marked by lightning and thunder storms, with Lugh’s storms blotting out the harsh summer sun represented by Balor’s all-consuming eye. Thus Lughnasadh represented an escape from the harshness of summer through the arrival of rain. The festival is said to be centered around hills and high places, particularly hills that contain a source of water near to the top. Lughnasadh was also said to be an occasion where major assemblies would take place in which legal matters would be settled, political issues were discussed, artists, craftsmen and entertainers would have a chance to show their talents, and athletes would get to compete in sporting events that brought the community together for a time. According to the Sanas Cormaic, even the name Lughnasadh implies the assembly of Lugh, as in an assembly of the community under the auspices of the deity Lugh.

There is also a similar figure to Lugh in Welsh mythology known as Lleu Llaw Gyffes, who is not considered a deity but rather a mythological hero, whose name derived from Lugh or Lugus and is seen as sort of an equivalent. In Welsh myth, Lleu was one of the sons of the goddess Arianrhod, who magically conceives Lleu and a boy named Dylan despite being a virgin after being struck with the magic wand of Math, king of Gwynedd (north or northwest Wales). While Dylan was born as a human, Lleu is initially born as a mysterious unformed thing, which is wrapped up by his uncle Gwydion and placed in a chest until it changes into a healthy baby boy. After this Arianhrod curses the young Lleu three times at once: the first curse denies him from having a name unless she names him herself, the second curse denies him from having weapons and she arms him herself, and the third curse denies him from having a wife from any race currently living on this earth. Gwydion breaks the first curse by disguising himself and Lleu as shoemakers, tricking Arianhrod into naming him Lleu Law Gyffes (meaning “the little one has done it with a sure hand”), he breaks the second curse by summoning an imaginary army to attack Arianhrod, forcing her to arm Lleu to defend her, and he breaks the third curse by creating a wife for Lleu out of flowers. This would appear to confer upon Lleu the master of all three social functions attributed to the analysis of Georges Dumezil: the first being ritual identity, the second being strength and status as a warrior, and the third being fertility and reproductive capability through a consort. The motif of the number three evoked in the curses may also be a subtle echo of Lugus’ three heads.

There is another Welsh myth featuring two characters named Lludd and Llefelys, who are both cognates or variations of different Celtic deities, and this myth repeats the theme of the three functions and their respective trials. Lludd is based on either the Irish deity Nuada or the Welsh hero Lludd Llaw Eraint, and is depicted as ruling Britain from his seat in London, while Llefelys is a likely a cognate of Lleu and Lugus and is depicted as ruling France. Lludd comes to Llefelys concerned about three oppressions haunting his country: the first is a supernatural race known as the Coraniaid that can hear everything that is said in the land, the second is a scream that echoes every May Eve which robs men of their courage which is caused by two dragons fighting each other, and the third is the unexplained disappearance of royal provisions caused by a powerful magician casting a sleep spell over the royal court and then taking the provisions. To conquer them, Llefelys tells Lludd to (1) sprinkle certain insects crushed with water over the supernatural voyeurs, (2) trick the two combatant dragons into getting trapped within a chest and then bury the chest beneath the ground (or Snowdon), and (3) defeat the magician who steals the royal provisions. After doing such things, Lludd regains his sovereignty as ruler thanks Llefelys, who in turn is shown to possess the knowledge of sovereignty and the tricks to preserving it.

fightdrag
The red dragon fighting the white dragon

Both the Irish and Welsh myths contain aspects that, while they don’t explicitly link back to Mercury, they do share echoes of some of Mercury’s traits: namely the boundary-crossing aspect of Mercury/Hermes and his cunning. Not to mention that Lugh inherits from Mannanan a bag filled with treasures, perhaps an echo of Mercury’s bag of riches.

Since the Victorian era, Lugh has come to be identified as explicitly a sun god in the same vein as deities like Apollo in Greek Mythology, despite Lugh not really being much of a solar deity in the actual lore. This is a perception that carries over into the modern day from contemporary neopagan circles to pop black magician E. A. Koetting. However, to my knowledge (and we’ll get into this in more detail in a minute), Lugh doesn’t seem to have any real connections with the Sun, nor is he necessarily a god of light. He is most clearly a deity of craftmanship, a possessor of kingship, likely oaths as well, but not necessarily a solar deity. But for some reason, the idea of him being a deity of the sun and light persists, leading into other connections attached to Lugh that aren’t really present in any of the mythology associated with him.

 

Lugh’s Supposed Relation to Lucifer

In modern times, there are many people on the Internet who try to say that Lugh is either closely connected or outright the same thing as both Lucifer and the Norse deity Loki, based mainly on the claim that Lugh, Lucifer, and Loki all share the same etymology – supposedly, all three of their names mean light, through the Indo-European word “luek” (meaning light), and therefore they are all deities of light in their respective pantheons, ergo they are all light bringers and hence Loki and Lugh are Luciferian deities.

First, let’s immediately address the issue of etymology. Lugh’s name most likely derives from the Gaulish deity Lugus, and Lugus’ etymology doesn’t have anything to do with light. His name actually comes from the old Celtic word “lugi”, which means “to swear”, in the context of swearing an oath. This etymology implies Lugus was conceptually tied to oaths and contracts, not unlike the Indian deity Mitra (who was a deity of friendship, the morning light, oaths and contracts) or the Roman deity Orcus (a chthonic deity who punished those who broke oaths and contracts). Furthermore, the clash between Lugh and his enemy Balor is said to be symbolized as thunderstorms, and it is said of such clashes “The wind of Lúgh Long-arm is flying in the air tonight. Yes, and the sparks of his father [sic]. Balor Béimeann is the father”. This is a clear reference not to the attributes of a solar deity, but to the elements of wind, lightning and thunder storms. By this metric, Lugh has much less in common with sun deities like Apollo, let alone Lucfier, and more in common deities like Thor or Marduk, at least where natural elements are concerned. Of course, even if Lugh were a solar deity, this probably doesn’t equate to direct correspondence with Lucifer. Perhaps he would correspond with Apollo, but that is another matter. If anything, it could be argued that Lugh has more in common with the archangel Michael than he does Lucifer, considering that Michael does battle with the enemies of his divine faction with the aid of a spear.

As for Loki, there are several possible sources for his name. The Old Norse word “logi” (meaning flame, suggesting association with fire), another Old Norse word “loka” (meaning lock), “luka” (meaning close or shut), or that the word “loki” itself might be a reference to tangled knots or cobwebs. Much of the likely sources of his name don’t really have anything to do with light but instead signify either his role in bringing about Ragnarok or his role as the inventor of the fishing net. Hardly signifying of a god of light if you ask me. Thus, attempting to connect Lugh, Loki and Lucifer by name is essentially the same kind of etymological fallacy as saying Amen is actually a reference to Amun/Amun-Ra or that Satan and Set are basically the same deity based on the idea that Set=Sat=Saton=Satan (sadly an idea that I suspect permeates the doctrine of the Temple of Set).

8841a691f212693d41b7df4b0cdfbd16
Basically just watch The Zeitgeist Movie if you think this makes sense

There is also the idea that Lugh is connected to Lucifer through Odin (or Woden) that I’ve seen, on the basis of the vague or general idea that Odin is an antinomian deity of some sort and so is Lucifer, oh and also Lugh and Loki have the same etymological connection even though we’ve debunked that already but now somehow we’re going to throw Odin into this because god damn it this guy wants to be a Viking so damn badly! Seriously though, the name of this blog alone should tell you it’s not a trustworthy source. But back to the actual point, there is no real etymological connection between Lugus or Lugh and Odin, either, nor is there any solid correspondence between the two, despite the Stephen Flowers quote. There are superficial similarities between the two deities, such as the shared identification with Mercury by the Romans and the shared association with ravens and spears, but I can’t seem to find many of the major traits of Odin that line up with Lugus or Lugh.

It doesn’t help that Lugus is less pronounced a deity than his Irish counterpart, which is probably due to the Romans spreading the idea that Lugus and Mercury are basically the same deity. But, for instance, a key difference between Lugh and Odin is their roles regarding battle. Odin is often mistaken as a god of war par excellence, but as a god of magic and wisdom his role was not as the badass manly god charging into battle (that would probably be Thor) but rather as the chief magician who directs the battles in question, and of course selects the slain for Valhalla, whereas Lugh is known for directly stepping up to battle in order to kill Balor. In many respect the two couldn’t be more different: one was a hero god, the other a supreme magician god who directs things behind the scenes. You could make the argument that Lugh was kind of a tricky character, though it’s hard for me to find any actual myths of trickery attached to Lugh himself as opposed to either versions of Lugh or companions of his.

And of course, Odin doesn’t have direct correspondence with Lucifer either, having different myths, direct origins, but are faintly similar in minor respects (such as the theme of knowledge or enlightenment, or something about darkness and various Left Hand Path cred that doesn’t actually connect the two). So, in summation: Lugh, Loki, Lucifer and Odin, are all separate mythological entities, with different heritages, backgrounds and attributes, with minor similarities that relate them between each other but otherwise don’t equate to any meaningful correspondence. With Lugus, Lugh, and Lleu, however, there is some actual correspondence in terms of etymology and some shared themes and characteristics, though they are likely separate entities as well.

Finally, let’s return to the theme of Lughnasadh for a moment, because nothing about it seems to suggest any associations between Lugh and the sun. If anything, the fact that Lughnasadh was associated with storms in the myths connected to the festival, like with that line about the wind of Lugh the long arm, suggests association with wind or storms rather than the sun. Not to mention, if you’re going to have a sun deity, why have his dedicated festival be at a time when the sun is supposed to start receding and the days begin to get shorter in the month before the autumnal equinox? If he were a solar deity, wouldn’t it make more sense to hold his festival on the summer solstice, when the sun is at its most dominant and the days are brightest in the year, or in the spring solstice where we see the beginning of the sun’s rise in the annual cycle?

f3baad8d675c7a76329ba83f077a97b0c7662d5155b6d2930a9327bb4146340e
Because nothing says sun god like thunder and lightning

 

Conclusion

Lugh is far from the simple deity of sun and light he’s been pigeonholed as in the modern day – in fact, as we’ve established, he doesn’t really have anything to do with those things at all. Moreover, I’d say the idea of Lugh as a sun deity paves over his complexities in a way that suggests a perennial tendency of modern paganism to airbrush the old gods in their intricacies in order to make way for deities that are easier to understand, often friendlier too in the case of deities that are much darker but still integral to their respective pantheons (such as Odin). The actual Lugh is to be seen as a heroic deity, bringer of the harvest, master of trades and skills, a bridge between the forces of nature and the will of man, and a deity who presides over the community through the annual assembly of Lugh, with many other associations stemming from his ancestor Lugus. In my view, this makes for a much more nuanced deity than just “the Irish sun god” or “the Irish Odin”.

The pagan Halloween

Halloween is about two weeks away, so I figure I write a post about it’s pagan origins, just like Christmas and Easter before. Because of this, it’s time for a post about the pagan roots of Halloween.

I suspect that the roots of Halloween are primarily Celtic. In other words, pre-Christian Western Europe, before the Medieval period. Also, I have heard that parts of Europe believed there was a special day where all sorts of spirits, including the dead, would come to the mortal realm, and they would celebrate that day.

The ancient celebration is known as Samhain, a name that carries on in the modern age as a Neopagan festival, and a Sabbat in the Wiccan tradition. Samhain marked the end of the harvest season, and the beginning of the “dark half of the year”. See, the Celts divided their year into two halves. There was the light half of the year, and there was the dark half. The light half of the year consisted of spring and summer, with longer days and shorter nights, while the dark half of the year consisted of autumn and winter, with shorter days and longer nights. The end of the light half of the year was celebrated on Samhain. Fitting, as the name Samhain is said to mean “Summer’s End”. Apparently, costumes and treats were part of the Celtic celebration, which would probably feed into trick or treating. It is also seen as a time where spirits, fairies, ghouls, demons, and the like could more easily enter the human world and be more active, and the dead would revisit.

When the Romans conquered Britain, the British Celts adopted the Julian calendar and celebrated Samhain on November 1st. While Samhain was a strictly Celtic festival, the Roman religion was probably incorporated into the celebration over the four centuries that Rome ruled Britain. In fact, some say Halloween is related to the feast of the Roman goddess Pomona, who was the goddess of fruit trees, gardens, and abundance, and/or a festival of Parentalia, which was a Roman festival of the dead which went on for nine days and began on February 13, or at least in elements.

Pomona

The practice of carving pumpkins is said to date back to the Irish legend of Stingy Jack, who supposedly made a deal with the devil to ensure his soul would not go to hell. Eventually, he died, and after “God” barred him from heaven for making the deal, and the devil was bound by the agreement not to let him into hell, he was doomed to wonder the earth for eternity, with only an ember of hellfire to light his way. Admittedly, this is a Christian legend, but more of a folk legend. After Irish immigrants brought the custom of carving pumpkins to America, by the mid-late 19th century it became a Halloween staple. The Jack O Lanterns also have some relation to the will-o-wisp, and it was a folk tradition in parts of Britain to carry jack o lanterns to represent the souls of the dead and beg for treats, such as soul cakes.

In general, Halloween was about the coming of the dark seasons, the end of the harvest, and also spirits and the dead, and it was seen as a time when the world of mortals and the world of spirits and the dead could come to together. The difference is that nowadays, in our mostly Christian world, we view it as a time of evil. We sometimes make horror movies designed to enforce this Christian message and exploit the fear of the masses.

But make no mistake, the modern Halloween has some Christian influences, as well as some secular commercial influences, and is undoubtedly very different to the Halloween or Samhain of long ago. This is no surprise, because as Christianity spread and dominated the world, many pagan holidays were either Christianized or forgotten. However, the spirit is still there, just is it is in every other pagan/folk celebration.

By the way, Christmas, Easter, and Halloween are just about the only holidays with pagan holidays I’ve mentioned, so do let me know about any other holidays (especially famous or commonly celebrated ones) that are said to have pagan origins, and I’ll post about them in the future.