A Mythicist and a Theist

The term “mythicist” was a new one for me. I came across it a few weeks ago while listening to an episode of Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio on YouTube (though, for the life of me, I can’t remember which episode exactly). The term apparently applies to the Christ Myth Theory, which holds that there is no proof of a historical Jesus, and even if there were by chance a historical Jesus, he would have little to do with the archetype he became, and even less so with the church that spawned. It is often now extended and used as a term for those who view all supernatural aspects of the worlds various religions as pure mythology.

I feel that I should be acquainted with the Judeo-Christian stories out of necessity so this is the exact approach I take when looking into them. And even to take it that one step further; I also think it is a healthy approach to take when looking into any mythology or belief system. When we start off by seeing these archetypes as flesh and blood we run the risk of becoming almost dogmatic in our perceptions of them. Or, even worse, we run the risk of projecting our own human baggage onto them. When first delving into a new mythology I find that viewing things with the widest lens possible tends to help me avoid putting these Archetypes into boxes which often limit their potential, at least magickally speaking.

But at the same time, I am a theistic practitioner. This puts me in a different boat than most mythicists because I do not believe that the supernatural (or maybe more appropriately supra-natural) is impossible. I hold the opinion that the essence we know as Satan or Lucifer (or any of the endless names that have been used) is very real and can be tangible in various ways through practice.

I see no issue with holding both views at once because I do not believe any single culture, text, or belief system holds the “truth” (if such a thing even exists). The Deity I venerate is, in my opinion, something vast, chaotic, and primordial, which could not possibly be known in It’s entirety by any one person, coven, or church. Similar to how no single person in my life sees all aspects of me. Who I appear to be to my mother is not the same person I appear to be to my significant other. Who I appear to be to my significant other is not who I appear to be to my coworkers, etc. And if for some reason you wanted to understand me by asking these individuals to define me, you would get very different descriptions of who I am as a person. All of these descriptions would show aspects of me, but none of them would properly define me as a whole. This, I think is what happens when we try and understand our Deities and Archetypes by taking the literal word of the myths. Each myth is just a snapshot frozen in a specific time and culture, and is then further eroded by translation, politics, and unfortunately even literal erosion.

I was told  a short while back that “God is man writ large, and man is God writ small”. (The capital G here is denoting the concept of Deity, rather than a specific god.) If this holds true, and I am of the opinion that it may, then I’d say the myths and their subsequent religions can define Deities only as well as a coworker or an ex might be able to define you or I. So I think the myths themselves actually hold very little weight. But, they can certainly form a foundation for our understanding, especially when viewed comparatively.

Parallels between Azazel and Cain

 

AzazelSigil5
Sigil of Azazel

Though I have never previously worked with him, Azazel has been on my mind lately. I’ve even begun to invite him into my practice a little here and there so I have been going back through the textual sources of him to try and gain a better understanding. He is broad and varied, and could take up multiple posts to really analyze, but one thing that stuck out to me is a parallel I see between Azazel in the Day of Atonement ritual of Judaism, outlined in Leviticus 16, and Cain’s tale in Genesis 4.

To quickly paraphrase Leviticus, there are two goats brought forth. Lots are cast so that one goat is for “god” (YHWH/Jehova) and the other is for Azazel. The goat for YHWH is killed as a sacrifice, whereas the goat for Azazel survives. The priest places all the blame of the communities’ sins onto it, making it a literal scapegoat, then it is lead into the wilderness and released.

Azazel
Azazel – Dictionnaire Infernal (Paris,1825).

This calls to mind Cain, who was marked and cast off to wander the wilderness east of Eden. In this tale, Abel is beloved of the Hebrew god, he is the favored son as it were, and he is slain by his brother. When this transgression is discovered, YHWH does not kill Cain, but rather marks him so that none shall kill him, and then sends Cain away bearing his sin. It is almost as if Abel is filling the shoes of the goat for YHWH and Cain is filling the shoes (hooves?) of the goat for Azazel.

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Cain and Abel – Tintoretto

I don’t see any direct connections between these two characters though. Cain and Abel are hardly the first tale of feuding brothers, and purely a mythical story, whereas the Day of Atonement is still a literal holiday in modern Judaism. From a Left Hand Path perspective, the archetypes of Cain and Azazel embody similar traits however.

In Islamic mythology Azazel (Iblis) is a djinn. He is first born of smokeless fire, and is the one called Shaytan/Shaitan/Satan; the one who refused gods command to bow to Adam. Whether he is a scapegoat or djinn, Azazel seems to have no problem standing his ground in contrast with god. And it’s this trait which I also see echoed in Cain’s tale. When confronted by god regarding Abel’s disappearance he spits back “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Both Azazel and Cain seem to represent strength, independence, and opposition to the ways of the Judeo “god” and so I’m finding both to be potent archetypes of the very essence of Satanism.

gods as energy? (philisophical rambling)

energyball

Gods as energy

Most ancient religions did not have such a “black and white” outlook of their gods. Often the gods held within them some sense of duality, and most gods had some sort of flaw that often got them into trouble (think of Oden’s womanizing (more often raping), and Prometheus’ punishment for wanting to enlighten humanity with the “fire of the gods”, even though it was forbidden). In the beginning even Christianity gave their God faults, the Old Testament is full of phrases like “I am a jealous god”, and I think we can all agree he had a bit of a temper. I mean, was wiping out humanity with a flood really the mature thing to do? Then suddenly in the New Testament, he is far more peaceful and loving, no longer the wrathful god that demanded sacrifices, he is now meant to be known for peace and forgiveness.

JesusIloveyoubutmydadfuckinghatesyou
A vulgar but accurate representation between the teachings of the OT and the NT.

There are the obvious similarities between Horus and Jesus, and I believe the grieving Isis was transformed into the grieving Virgin Mary (but that’s just my humble opinion). Set has been melded with others (often it seems to be the trickery of Loki) to become the deceiver that we know now as Satan. Ancient goddesses such a Lilitu and Ishtar are no longer the goddesses of power, strength and femininity that they once were. Now they are thought of as frightful demons like Astaroth and shrieking whores like Lilith. In the sad case of Lilitu’s, she has now been all but forgotten by the modern Christian religion.

HorusVSJesus

All of this has been well documented and well theorized upon, by minds far more intelligent than mine. But, the thought that I believe now bares consideration is; what if these similarities go a step farther? Perhaps there is a reason that certain personalities or archetypes have been so well absorbed and accepted through the ages. Perhaps there is more to it that just making a few name changes and then forcefully converting believers. Perhaps, these archetypes exist naturally for all of us.

Ashtoreth - Astarte
Illustration of a “Deific Mask” in Michael Ford’s book “Dragon of the two Flames”.

My theory is that if we remove ourselves from the idea that all of these deities are “literal” creatures, as in anthropomorphic and made of physical “matter”, then a few avenues of thought begin to open up to us. Perhaps rather than seeing these beings as literal deities, we should see them as currents of energy. These deities as we know them may simply be symbolic representations of the forces and the energies that surround us. After all, human history was originally an oral tradition, and things like symbolism, and images of powerful, beautiful, or frightful creatures have a habit of clinging to our memories.

This doesn’t make the “deities” any less powerful, in fact I think it does the opposite. It makes them essentially a force of nature. Similarly, I believe that a working knowledge in chaos magic(k) (if you are unfamiliar start with Peter Carroll) actually gives credence to this path. If these deities are essentially energies that have existed on this earth for (quite possibly) longer than we have, and we are of this earth and made of essentially the same energies then not only would it be beneficial to strengthen our “connection” and our understanding of these energies but also we have the ability to master and enhance these energies in ourselves.

Currently this is just a theory of mine, and I am still pursuing research that may prove me right or wrong, but for now I thought I’d get the basic outline on paper. If you have any ideas or suggestions please share them =)