The dark draw

One thing I’ve noticed is that Christians try to vilify paganism, but actually just makes it sound more and more awesome. Same with sexuality among other things. This is usually the taboo effect, when something is made forbidden it usually entices the person to it. However, I feel there is something else in effect as well, and the taboo draw is just the start.

I think that mankind has a timeless attraction to the things that Christianity attempts to proselytize against, such as sexuality, our nature as humans, mysticism, and the wild side of existence. And the taboo against these things only strengthens our attraction and fascination towards them. Being cut off from these things makes us miss them so much that we want them so much more.

Our love of what we usually call sin is more than just the taboo effect. It is also the mark of our timeless love of it.

Goddesses

Part of me thinks I was a pagan without knowing it when I was younger. The idea of goddesses must have had some appeal, or perhaps it is just what they were associated with.

For instance, when I was a kid, I was reading a book about volcanoes and earthquakes, and there was a few pages on mythological representations of these phenomenon. I noticed a Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes named Pele, and some time afterwards for some reason I tried praying to said goddess.

Then, when I entered my teen years (probably at about 14-15 years old), I became fascinated with earth mother goddesses, perhaps from a mixture of Shin Megami Tensei (these goddess were on the Chaos alignment, and I was a huge fan, and still am today) and because I thought many of them were beautiful. In particular, I had a great fascination with the goddess Gaia as a goddess of earth and a mother goddess. Keep in mind though, at that time my thought hadn’t really, shall we say, evolved to the way it is now. For similar reasons I liked goddesses Isis, Cybele, and Parvati/Shakti.

Today, goddesses still have value to me, mainly as representatives of female power, among various of things. And Shakti is very important to me as both a goddess and a concept.

Pagan deities in the Bible (and Christianity in general)

In the Abrahamic lore, El (a.k.a. Yahweh) is the supreme or “one true God” and all other gods are supposedly inferior or evil. Of course, this is classic Abrahamic oppression, as the God of Abraham chains and oppresses all the gods of the pagan world to support his tyranny.

I have always had an interest in just what pagan deities in particular were the enemies of the God of Abraham, so I looked for how many pagan gods were vilified in the Bible.

Here is a list of pagan deities mentioned in the Bible

  • Adrammelech – Mentioned in 2 Kings 17:31. He is a solar deity, supposedly related to Moloch, and was worshiped in the town of Sepharvaim. Possibly another form of Baal/Bel, since he is a Baal deity.
  • Amon – Mentioned in Jeremiah 46:25. Amon refers to the Egyptian deity Amun. He is a deity of the wind and air and listed as a king of deities in the Egyptian pantheon, and was also a transcendental, self-created, creator deity, and was sometimes even viewed as a friend of the troubled and poor. He was particularly worshiped in Thebes.
  • Anamelech – Mentioned in 2 Kings 17:31. She was an Assyrian goddess said to be worshiped in the town of Sepharvaim. She the lunar goddess to Adrammelech the sun god.
  • Asherah – Appears in Judges 6:25, 26, 28, and 30. In Semitic mythology, she was a fertility and mother goddess, cited as the mother of the world. Said to be the wife of El, until he became the God of Abraham. Worshiped mainly in Canaan.
  • Ashima – Mentioned in 2 kings 17:30. She was a West Semitic goddess of fate or destiny.
  • Ashtoreth (Astaroth) – Referenced in 1 Kings 11:5 and 30. Ashtoreth is another name for Astarte, the goddess of fertility, love, sex, and war. Astarte is actually the Greek name for the goddess Ishtar, or Ashtart. She was worshiped in Syria, Phoenicia, and Canaan.
  • Baal – Mentioned in 2 Kings 18:18-23 and 25-28. He is a principle deity of the pagan world and worshiped in many forms. On his own, he is a god of storms, the sun, fertility, and power, among various other things. He is the rival of El/Yahweh and the greatest enemy of the Israelite religion. In Babylon he is called Bel, and he was once worshiped in Egypt as well.
  • Baal-berith – Mentioned in Judges 8:33 and 9:4. He is a form of Baal and identifed with Baal-zebul, to the point that his worshipers often carried small fly statues of him. He is a god of covenants and is representative of a kind of Baal worship prevailing in Israel, at least according to Judges. Was worshipped in Canaan.
  • Baal-Peor – Appears in Numbers 25:3 and 5. A form of Baal associated with Mt. Peor. He was worshiped by the Moabites. Some identify him with Chemosh, another Moabite deity. His cult was said to be very licentious (in order words ignoring social standards, especially in regards to sexuality).
  • Baal-zebub – Mentioned in 2 Kings 1:2, 3, 6, and 18, and also appears in  the New Testament as Beelzebub. A form of Baal (often the same as Baal). His name means “lord of the high place” and was worshiped by the Philistines. The name Beelzebub was that of the devil, as implied by the New Testament and the Testament of Solomon.
  • Bel – Mentioned in Isaiah 46:1 and Jeremiah 50:2 and 51:44. Same as Baal, was the Babylonian name for him (or Baal the Canaanite name for Bel).
  • Castor and Pollux – Mentioned in Acts 28:11. In Greek myth, they are brothers who are born of one mother (Leda) but different fathers (Castor was born from a king of Sparta, while Pollux was born from Zeus). They are the patrons of sailors.
  • Chemosh – Mentioned in 1 Kings 11:7 and 33. He was the national deity of the Maobites, and was variously labelled as a destroyer and fish deity. Also associated with Ashtar/Ishtar.
  • Dagon – Mentioned in 1 Samuel 2:2-4 and 7. He was a Semitic deity of fish, fishing, grain, and fertility.
  • Diana (Artemis) – Mentioned in Acts 19:24, 27, 28, 34, and 35. She was the Greco-Roman goddess hunting, the moon, and the forest. In Rome especially, she is associated with chastity and virginity. In Ephesus, Greece, she was worshiped as a mother goddess, with the added fertility quality.
  • Gad – Mentioned in Isaiah 65:11. He was a pan-Semitic deity of fortune worshiped by many Hebrews during Babylonian captivity.
  • The Golden Calf – Appears in the Book of Exodus. It was a bull idol worshiped by the Israelites while Moses was preparing the Ten Commandments. Bull worship was common in the ancient world, and it’s possible the idol was inspired by Egyptian religion.
  • Ishtar (known as The Queen of Heaven) – Mentioned in Jeremiah 7:18 and 44:17, 18, 19, and 25. Ishtar was a goddess of love, fertility, sex, and war, and also had associations with life and death. She was worshiped throughout Mesopotamia and the ancient Middle East.
  • Jupiter/Zeus – Mentioned in Acts 14:12. In Greco-Roman myth, he was a ruler of heaven and a god of thunder, law, and civilization.
  • Kaiwan – Mentioned in Amos 5:26. In Assyria and Babylon, he was a star god associated with Saturn.
  • Meni – Mentioned in Isaiah 65:11. Meni was a pan-Semitic god of destiny worshiped by some Hebrews during the Babylonian captivity.
  • Mercury (Hermes) – Mentioned in Acts 14:12. He was a messenger of the gods associated with trade, commerce, and the underworld.
  • Merodach (Marduk) – Mentioned in Jeremiah 50:2. Merodach was a name for the Babylonian deity Marduk. He was associated with water, vegetation, judgement, and magic, and is known for his thunderbolts. May be a form of Bel.
  • Milcom (Malcham, Melchom) – Mentioned in 1 Kings 11:5 and 33. Milcom, or Melchom, was a deity of the Ammonites, probably just another name for Moloch.
  • Moloch – Appears in Leviticus 20:2-5. Supposedly, Moloch was a destroyer and a sun god, to whom child sacrifices were made in his fire. However, there is no evidence that there was ever a deity named Moloch, or that he was ever worshipped.
  • Nebo – Mentioned in Isaiah 46:1. Also called Nabu, Nebo was a Babylonian deity of wisdom and writing. Sometimes worshipped as a deity of fertility and water.
  • Nergal – Mentioned in 2 Kings 17:30. Babylonian god of the sun, war, pestilence, fire, the desert, and the underworld.
  • Nibhaz – Mentioned in 2 Kings 17:31. A deity of the Avim, also said to be worshipped in Syria in the form of a dog.
  • Rimmon – Mentioned in 2 Kings 5:18. A Syrian weather deity, although in the same Syria he is almost identical to Baal.
  • Sikkuth – Mentioned in Amos 5:26. Identical with Sakkuth. A star god associated with the deity Kaiwan and the planet Saturn.
  • Succoth-benoth – Mentioned in 2 Kings 17:30. Succoth-benoth was a goddess of wisdom worshipped by the Samarians in Babylon.
  • Tammuz – Mentioned in Ezekiel 8:14. Tammuz was a Sumerian and Babylonian god of vegetation, food, and fertility.
  • Tartak – Mentioned in 2 Kings 17:31. A deity worshiped in the form of a donkey.

I’m not not done yet. Christian demonology in general has pagan deities as evil spirits. Some I already mentioned include Adrammelech, Baal/Beelzebub, Berith, Astaroth, Nergal, and Amon. Here’s a list of others from Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal I didn’t already mention.

  • Alastor: Was a title for Zeus, or an entity identified with Nemesis. The avenger of evil deeds, especially familial bloodshed, and the personification of a curse.
  • Belphegor: Based on the deity Baal-Peor, who is another form of Baal.
  • Beyrevra: Is a demonization of the wrathful deity Bhairava, who in Hinduism is a fierce form of Shiva.
  • Cali: A demonization of the goddess Kali.
  • Deumus: Based on Deimos, Greek personification of terror.
  • Eurynome: Based on a Greek titan goddess.
  • Ganga-Gramma: A demonization of the Hindu goddess Ganga, who was the goddess of the Ganges river.
  • Picollus: Comes from Prussian pagan deities associated with the seasons.
  • Torngarsuk: Based on a powerful sky deity in Inuit mythology.

And that’s the end of the long list of non-Abrahamic, pagan deities mentioned in the Bible and Christian lore.

The pagan/occult/satanic America pictured by Christians, and why it might actually be cool

This is a Medal of Honor. Why it looks like an upside-down pentagram I have no idea. But it looks cool.

Often when prowling the Internet for pagan stuff, I come across images that relate to conspiracy theories on the Internet that claim various holidays, aspects of American culture and society, and American institutions, are linked to paganism, the occult, and Satanism or Satan. The material usually comes from American right-wing Christian sources, probably the same lot who falsely believe that America was once a conservative paradise.

Here are some claims made by the conspiracy theorists, with factoids about the meaning of the symbols included:

  • The Washington Momument is modelled around the Egyptian obelisks; Obelisks are often seen as phallic symbols and in Egypt they were said to resemble the petrified rays of the sun-disk, and is associated with the sun-god Ra, and by extension sun worship. Obelisks are also said to represent carnal power and might.
  • The Medal of Honor and Medal of Valor are designed around the pentagram and contain the goddess Minerva or Liberty in the centre; it should be noted that these medals were first designed in the 18th-19th centuries, before Satanism was founded, and the crowned figure is meant to refer to the Statue of Liberty, not to any goddesses. Five-pointed stars of any variation are common in America, and the pentagram often represents the five elements.
  • The Statue of Liberty is linked with the Babylonian/Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar, or Astarte, who was a goddess of sex, war, love, and life; some point to the rays on her crown as borrowed from Mithras, a god of light and the sun worshipped in Rome (and in Iran as Mitras); funny enough I see the same rays on a statue of Attis, the Phrygian god of vegetation, life, death, and rebirth (see here)
  • That Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and other holidays are founded on pagan ceremonies and often associated with various gods, which is actually true (as I’ve already covered).
  • Mars, the Roman god of war, battle, and agriculture, can be seen on the entrance of the US Capitol Building. They also claim that Mars is a likeness of Baal, storm god of the Canaanites. Oddly enough, conspiracy theorists say Mars was referred to by the Egyptians as Osiris, the god of the afterlife, the underworld, and the dead.
  • The dime used to feature the Greco-Roman god Mercury, the messenger god and a god of the underworld.
  • The mall in Washington DC is supposedly laid out so that the gardens and streets resemble an owl, which according to them represents a goddess or demon called Lilith, who was associated with the night; other conspiracy theorists point to the owl as referring to Moloch, a Canaanite deity associated with fire and child sacrifice.
  • The White House sits at the apex or bottom point of an inverted pentagram, which is associated with Satanism; though Satanism was not laid out until 1966.
  • The Statue of Freedom, which sits on top of the Capitol Building, is claimed to reprsent either Athena (Greek goddess of strategy and wisdom), Minerva (her Roman counterpart), Libertas (the Roman goddess of liberty), or Isis (the Egyptian mother goddess of fertility and magic); the actual statue resembles a native American woman armed with a sword.
  • The Great Seal on the back of the $1 bill: The eye is said to refer to the All-Seeing Eye of Masonry, but is also claimed to refer to Lucifer or the Antichrist, it is also said to represent the Eye of Horus or Ra, which was a agent of action, protection, and wrath, and a symbol of divine providence; the pyramid shape itself is said to come from Egypt, where their shape is thought to be representative of the rays of the sun; pyramids also represent the primordial mound from which it was believed the earth was created.
  • There’s a claim that the Freemasons worship a goat-headed demon called Baphomet, and guys like Jack Chick claims the Freemasons are Baal-worshippers and that Baphomet is a symbol of Baal-worship
  • There’s also a claim that the Pentagon is the centre shape of a pentagram, which is associated with paganism and Satanism. There’s also a claim that an owl statue at heart of the inner grounds of the Pentagon represents the god Molech, or some pagan goddess (possibly either Lilith or Athena).

Wow, that was a lot.

Pictured: an Obelisk (not the Washington monument)

A lot of conspiracy theories point to the Freemasons and Masonic symbolism, but I am not interested in Freemasonry, just the stuff supposedly tied to paganism, Satan, Satanism, and the occult.

A lot of conspiracy theories can easily be refuted, but I’m not here to promote anything as true or false.

Now, I don’t know about you, but all this actually sounds kinda cool. For starters, the Obelisk (one of my favourites) being not just a sacred phallic symbol, but related to the sun, and carnal power and might sounds like an awesome concept. It celebrates both nature and sexuality in an amazing way, and I could picture intense power and energy flowing through the obelisk. Second, the Statue of Liberty being Ishtar. I happen to be something of a fan of that goddess, and now we have Ishtar being a goddess of war, sexuality, love, life, and now freedom on top of that. That kicks so much ass. Third, the medals of honour. Put it this way: the medal of honour is a pentagram, and supposedly an award from a goddess. That is fuckin’ cool. Incidentally, the obelisk, medals of honour, and the Ishtar statue of liberty are my three favourite conspiracy subjects. Then you have those holidays I mentioned earlier, holy days for celebrating life, the seasons, and in some ways indulgence.

In general, the idea of their being gods and spirits everywhere is also kinda cool, and it sort of reminds of places in Asia, such as India and Japan, where there often gods and sacred symbols present in cities as a reminder of the presence of nature and the gods. That, and I always thought this pagan stuff was quite cool and appealing, and I saw as somewhat embracing of all the wonderful things that Abrahamism would reject and vilify.

Ishtar being the Statue of Liberty is a nice idea, if only the woman depicted in the statue was prettier.

Did you know that America as it is now grew out of Renaissance Europe and its thinking, which was essentially a rebirth of Greco-Roman values? Apparently, in this sense, the American endorsement of individualism, and the pursuit of personal pleasure and happiness are actually embedded in a pagan way of looking at the world (especially that of Greece), and these values also appear in the philosophy of Satanism. Celebration of sexuality, esteem of nature, drama, and non-religious music do appear as vestiges of the same pagan thought, or at least when they appear in America. That is awesome if you ask me.

However, in America, this pagan way of life would be challenged and almost quashed by puritanism from England, which largely stifled pagan expressions until the 20th century, when America emerged as a large and powerful economy, in which more “decadent” pursuits were possible. Puritanical morality had fought back for a while, and these days America is often battling between two sets of ideas/ideals or ideologies: a more Christian puritanical thought, and a freer pagan thought. This instantly reminds me of the conflict of order versus freedom (or Law versus Chaos).

Thanks a lot, assholes!

All-in-all, I think the pagan America envisioned by conspiracy theorists much cooler than the puritanical “One Nation Under Christ” they’d rather have. It’s more exciting for one, and this pagan stuff is much more fitting for a Land of the Free, considering the American endorsement of individualism, the pursuit of personal happiness and pleasure, and the celebration of life and sexuality. Makes me want to identify as a pagan in some way, alongside my philosophical Satanism and chaos belief.

(Fun fact: Merriam-Webster defines pagan as (1) a member of a polytheistic religion, and (2) one who has little or no religion and who delights in sensual pleasures and material goods; an irreligious or hedonistic person.)

Satan’s origins in the god Baal

We’ve all heard of the Christian Satan (a.k.a. Lucifer, Beelzebub, etc. yada yada yada I’ve said this before), and thus you may have noticed his appearance throughout culture. You may also have heard that Satan’s design is a composite of pagan gods. Baal is one of those gods, and his role in the birth of the devil is a large and important one.

Let’s first start with Baal himself. While the word Baal (or Ba’al) itself simply means “lord”, and was also used as a title for a number of gods in the Canaanite religion, it is also a common way of referring to Baal Hadad, who for the purpose of this post we’ll refer to simply as Baal. He was a god of storms, thunder, rain, weather, and fertility. Among his notable features includes horns (or a horned headdress) and a thunderbolt, usually three-pronged, the latter of which would later appear as a weapon wielded by gods like Zeus and Indra. Baal was also equated with the Egyptian god Set, who, like Baal, was a strong and virile god of storms, but he was also a god of deserts who was also associated with foreigners and worshipped by Egyptian armies and soldiers, until later myths were he was a god of evil, darkness, and chaos (Egyptians really didn’t like chaos).

An ancient coin featuring a bull-headed deity. Notice he looks a lot like Set and with features of Baal.

Now we move on to Baal in Judaism. While there is no concept of the devil within Judaism, let alone as a being who opposes God, a similar kind of being is found in Ba’al Zebub. In Rabbinical texts, the name Ba’al Zebub (meaning “lord of the flies”) was the Jewish way of mocking the religion of Baal that surrounded them, and its followers, and it may have been a way of referring to Baal as a pile of dung and his followers as flies. They saw Baal as a false god, unworthy of worship. Does that sound familiar? Of course,  it’s a lot like the later Christian concept of Satan. The term Ba’al Zebub is the source of the name Beelzebub, and may have come from a Philistine deity named Baal Zebul.

In Christianity, we have Satan (who the Jewish Beelzebub is now synonymous with), who is most commonly shown as a horned male figure with a trident or pitchfork, along with other features like wings and a tail. The horned devil with a trident actually calls back to the god Baal with his horns and thunderbolt. It should be noted that Baal, or more or less the religion of Baal, was the biggest rival to the Jewish and Christian religions, so it seemed only natural for them to vilify him, and for the Christians to co-opt him into the design of the devil. Images of Baphomet may also be similar, being a horned entity holding objects.

A standard depiction of the devil.

So there you have it, Satan’s primary origins lie in the Canaanite god Baal, and in the Jewish (and later Christian) transformation of him (Beelzebub). There’s the traditional devil in Christianity, then before that a mockery/vilification of Baal in Judaism, and before that, Baal in the pre-Christian world. Baal does seem to me like the archetypal (male) pagan god, and that would probably make sense with regards to his vilification.

The Horned God (and why he’s surprisingly relevant to me)

It has been a long time since I posted about paganism. So I figure I’d remedy this by talking about a deity or archetype who is surprisingly relevent to me. The Horned God.

A statue of a horned deity from Cyprus.

I consider the Horned God as more an archetype than an actual entity. While the Horned God usually refers to a specific god in Neopaganism and Wicca, the image of a horned god recurs throughout history. Since ancient times, horns were a symbol of power, strength and virility/fertility, and to an extent they still are today. Gods with horns are thus associated with fertility and seen as strong, virile gods. In Neopaganism, the Horned God is a symbol of not just male power and virility, but nature, wilderness, the hunt, and the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

The concept of a horned god is very old, one might say it goes as far back as human history, down to the first depiction of a god of the hunt or fertility. It is embodied by many gods in the pre-Christian world. In Greece, there was the god Pan, who was depicted with horns, and was associated with lust and the wilderness. In Egypt, there was the gods Khnum and Banebdjedet, who were ram-headed gods, and some depictions of Set shown him as having horns and a large erect phallus. This makes sense considering Set was seen as a strong and virile god. In Canaan, the god Hadad, also known as Ba’al Hadad (commonly mistaken as just Ba’al), had horns and was associated with fertility, storms, and the rain, thus a giver of life for the crops. In the Indus Valley, there was a lord of the animals called Pashupati (in Hinduism, this is an epithet for the god Shiva, and in Vedic times was an epithet for Rudra), who some speculate was an early form of Rudra, lord of the hunt, who would then become Shiva, who was a wild god. The Celts may have recognized a god called Cernunnos who was associated with nature and fertility.

The seal of Pashupati, discovered in Mohenjodaro in the early 20th century.

The concept of a horned deity would be expressed in Christianity as well, but as tool to scare people away from the sexual freedom he stood for, and to trick people into following the dogma of the Christian church, who believed that sex was bad unless it was for procreation. Yes, I am actually saying that Satan is just another expression of the Horned God,  only stripped of his divinity, and this expression was aimed at vilifying paganism and its values. I am even lead to think Christianity is against power and strength, considering one of the chief attributes of the devil is his horns, and remember, before we saw horns as the appendage of evil, we saw them as the appendage of power. Funny enough, one of the names of Satan is Beelzebub (Lord of the Flies), who was derived from Ba’al Zebul, and we tend to think of Ba’al as a horned sky god. The diabolical horned god image would spill into occultism and the Tarot, where the image of the devil card, and the Egyptian god Banebdjedet, would later influence the design of a demonic horned entity called Baphomet, who would later become associated with Satanism. In the 20th century, the Horned God would be expressed again in gentler Neopaganism and Wicca, and once again considered divine rather than evil.

The image of the devil on the Devil Card. This was back in the 19th century when occultism was apparently a craze.

So, why is the horned god important to me? Well, I’ve gained an interest in horns lately, preferrebly devil or pagan god horns that resembled those of a goat or bull, possibly coming from playing the Chaos in Shin Megami Tensei games. But as for proper meaning, let’s go back to what I said about horns earlier. They were an archetypal symbol of power, strength, and virility. This is very compatible with my philosophy of sexual liberty and the ideal that freedom comes from liberating oneself by one’s own power. Thus horns also fit in my artistic imagery, to symbolize power and strength (I usually paint or draw the horns red to add power symbolism). He is also seems like a god that is so typically pagan, or quite pagan in quality, in the sense that it is quite an animalistic god and a god symbolic of sexual liberty, not repression. Added to that, there’s a kind of masculine importance, being aware of my masculinity, and what I want out of it, or rather what I want to do with it. The horned god archetype, and its Christian expression as Satan, are thus important to me and what I stand for.

Thanks for reading, it’s nice for me to talk about anything pagan again.