Review - The Origin of Satan by Elain Pagels

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Review - The Origin of Satan by Elain Pagels

Postby Jim Eshelman » Sat Apr 22, 2006 2:03 pm

(Reproduced from Black Pearl I:3, in reference to another thread - Copyright College of Thelema, All Rights Reserved.)

THE ORIGIN OF SATAN
by Elaine Pagels. (Random House, 1995. Hardcover, 214 pp. ISBN 0-679-40140-7. $23.00)

Elaine Pagels is well known to, and respected by, popular and scholarly audiences alike. Her highly acclaimed 1981 book, The Gnostic Gospels, was a best-seller, and introduced the general public to the amazing and exciting content of the otherwise very dry Nag Hammadi Library. Her qualifications for writing The Gnostic Gospels included having been one of the members of the committee responsible for the translation and editing of the enormous corpus of Gnostic documents found at Nag Hammadi; Pagels was directly involved in the translation of four of them. Her doctorate is from Harvard, and she is presently the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton.

Her personal writing style is popular yet intelligent. Following The Gnostic Gospels, she gained comparable acclaim for her Adam, Eve and the Serpent, which I have not read. She brings the same traits of erudition and accessibility to her present book.

But The Origin of Satan is not predominantly a scholarly work. It is a very human book, arising from the soul searching that is successor to personal loss. “In 1988,” Pagels wrote in her Introduction, “when my husband of twenty years died in a hiking accident, I became aware that, like many people who grieve, I was living in the presence of an invisible being - living, that is, with a vivid sense of someone who had died. During the following years I began to reflect on the ways that various religious traditions give shape to the invisible world, and how our imaginative perceptions of what is invisible relate to the ways we respond to the people around us, to events, and to the natural world.” This, in turn, led her to explore the origins of the Judeo-Christian view of Satan, which she has turned into a fascinating study in cultural evolution. More importantly, it led her into exploration of how we humans fearfully and hatefully make devils of each other: “In this book, then,” she explained, “I invite you to consider Satan as a reflection of how we perceive ourselves and those we call ‘others.’ Satan has, after all, made a kind of profession out of being the ‘other’; and so Satan [culturally and psychologically] defines negatively what we think of as human.”

Her tales of history often read like a novel. Her exposition of evolving Judaic culture over the centuries leading toward the arising of Christianity is revelatory and fascinating, and could not possibly be capsulized in this review. It must be read to be appreciated. Fortunately, she gives us a darn good read for our money. Four Roses for this one. (****) — QUILL
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Postby redd fezz » Wed May 10, 2006 8:24 am

Hi, Jim! Thanks for the recommendation. It was eye-opening.

I'm halfway through this book and a third into The Law Is For All and, I am not exactly sure how Pagels research on Satan (or "the satan") corresponds with Crowley's comments about Satan or your own comments regarding your experience/s with "Satan."

The first problem I run into is that Pagels seems to imply that there is no such entity known as "Satan," but that "the satan" is any obstacle of divine origin, which was not originally considered "evil" at all, but only an explanation for why seemingly bad things happen to "God's chosen people." The rationalization was that God throws "the satan" in our path which changes our direction for the ultimate good. The idea that "the satan" is not a real entity is further demonstrated as Pagels' continues to show the evolution of "the satan" as the socio-political climate changes. "The satan" who was originally an agent of God slowly becomes the enemy of God and earthly struggles come to represent the cosmic battle between good and evil. And "the satan" ("ha-satan")becomes the entity known as Satan.

This initial set-up of Pagels' seems to be at odds with Crowley's, who doesn't seem to regard Satan as an unpleasant angel, nor the adversary, but possibly the enemy of the Judeo-Christian God. Regardie makes a good point in the introduction to "The Law Is For All:"
Regardie, The Law Is For All wrote:Up to the time of the dictation of Liber Legis, Crowley's emotional momentum had led him to challenge and then discard the basic moral attitudes of his parents and the type of Christianity they and their representatives had imparted to him. His life expressed an open revolt against them. There was never any secret or mystery about this. It represented the very core of his existence. It was stated a hundred times or more in everything he wrote and everything he did. Under these circumstances, it would be most surprising if his book, whether dictated by a preterhuman intelligence or composed by Crowley himself, did not take an identical stand. The miracle in his life would have been if it had agreed with all that he had been opposed to."


And in Crowley's commentary to the Book of The Law, second page, regarding the VERY FIRST line of the book, no less, Satan appears front and center, where he writes:
Crowley, The Law Is For All wrote:It is also to be considered that Nu is connected with the north, while Had is Sad, Set, Satan, Sat (equals "being" in Sanskrit), the south.

He further comments that the conjunction of Had (9) and Nu (56) "results in Adonai, the Holy Guardian Angel." He writes: "He is then the sun, one point concentrating space, as also is any other star. The word Abrahadabra is from Abrasax, Father Sun, which adds to 365. For the north-south antithesis, see Fabre d'Olivet's Hermeneutic Interpretation of the Origin of the Social State in Man[*1]. Note "sax" also as a rock, or stone, whence the symbol of the Cubical Stone, the Mountain Abiegnus, and so forth."

In this brief commentary regarding the very first line of Liber Legis, we have several references to things we've previously discussed on this forum regarding Satan, which eventually led to the posting of this book review for Elaine Pagels' "The Origin of Satan." First, there is the connection with Satan to the Holy Guardian Angel, as we discussed, although in this comment, Had (Satan) is only half of the "conjunction" which "results in Adonai, The Holy Guardian Angel." So, Had / Satan/ Sun in the South is only one half of the Holy Guardian Angel, with Nu being the other half. It seems odd that Crowley didn't go into as much of an explanation regarding Nu as he did for Had, but that brings me to the next point: how eager Crowley was to connect Had with Sad, Set, Satan and Sat. Here is more evidence that Crowley sees a correspondence between Set and Satan, as other scholars have. I had previously concluded this earlier when I quoted from "Magick In Theory & Practice:"
Crowley, Magick In Theory & Practice wrote:This "Devil" is called Satan or Shaitan, and regarded with horror by people who are ignorant of his formula, and, imagining themselves to be evil, accuse Nature herself of their own phantasmal crime. Satan is Saturn, Set, Abrasax, Adad, Adonis, Attis, Adam, Adonai, etc. The most serious charge against him is that he is the Sun in the South. The Ancient Initiates, dwelling as they did in lands whose blood was the water of the Nile or the Euphrates, connected the South with life-withering heat, and cursed that quarter where the solar darts were deadliest. Even in the legend of Hiram, it is at high noon that he is stricken down and slain. Capricornus is moreover the sign which the sun enterers when he reaches his extreme Southern declination at the Winter Solstice, the season of the death of vegetation, for the folk of the Northern hemisphere. This gave them a second cause for cursing the south. A third; the tyranny of hot, dry, poisonous winds; the menace of deserts or oceans dreadful because mysterious and impassable; these also were connected in their minds with the South. But to us, aware of astronomical facts, this antagonism to the South is a silly superstition which the accidents of their local conditions suggested to our animistic ancestors. We see no enmity between Right and Left, Up and Down, and similar pairs of opposites. These antitheses are real only as a statement of relation; they are the conventions of an arbitrary device for representing our ideas in a pluralistic symbolism based on duality. "Good" must be defined in terms of human ideals and instincts. "East" has no meaning except with reference to the earth's internal affairs; as an absolute direction in space it changes a degree every four minutes. "Up" is the same for no two men, unless one chance to be in the line joining the other with the centre of the earth. "Hard" is the private opinion of our muscles. "True" is an utterly unintelligible epithet which has proved refractory to the analysis of our ablest philosophers.

We have therefore no scruple in restoring the "devil-worship" of such ideas as those which the laws of sound, and the phenomena of speech and hearing, compel us to connect with the group of "Gods" whose names are based upon Sht, or D, vocalized by the free breath A. For these Names imply the qualities of courage, frankness, energy, pride, power and triumph; they are the words which express the creative and paternal will.

Thus "the Devil" is Capricornus, the Goat who leaps upon the loftiest mountains, the Godhead which, if it become manifest in man, makes him Aegipan, the All.

The Sun enters this sign when he turns to renew the year in the North. He is also the vowel O, proper to roar, to boom, and to command, being a forcible breath controlled by the firm circle of the mouth.

He is the Open Eye of the exalted Sun, before whom all shadows flee away: also that Secret Eye which makes an image of its God, the Light, and gives it power to utter oracles, enlightening the mind.

Thus, he is Man made God, exalted, eager; he has come consciously to his full stature, and so is ready to set out on his journey to redeem the world. But he may not appear in this true form; the Vision of Pan would drive men mad with fear. He must conceal Himself in his original guise.

He therefore becomes apparently the man that he was at the beginning; he lives the life of a man; indeed, he is wholly man. But his initiation has made him master of the Event by giving him the understanding that whatever happens to him is the execution of this true will.


When I discovered, this, I asked if "Satan was the Key To the Great Work," to which you (Jim) responded:

Jim Eshelman wrote:
Redd Fezz wrote:If Satan is the key to the Great Work,


... Just one example of dozens of other ideas that express the same useful points. It doesn't have to be Satan. It could be Adonai. In the context you were describing, there isn't any particular difference. It could be the solar archetype called the Beast 666, or any of several images of the solar child or Divine Androgyne (including Levi's popular one that doubles as a devil-image), and so on. Part of the point is that it doesn't much matter what you call it as long as you call it for dinner - on a regular basis!


According to the AC's commentary on Liber Legis cited above, Had/Satan is only half of Adonai. But, he does equate Satan equally with Adonai in the above quote from Magick In Theory & Practice. It would be interesting to know why. It would be interesting to bear out all these associations he links with Satan. In some cases, I suspect the assocation is very tenuous or demonstrates a very specific relationship, not that they are even close approximations of the same thing.

For example, Crowley links Satan with Attis and Adam. Attis is a solar deity, who like Mithra and Jesus, was chained or nailed to matter, right? Satan, from Saturn, has a direct correllation with the limitation/"evil" of matter and The Devil or "Prince/Lord of This World" from Baal, who the Bible clearly associates with Satan. Jesus, being nailed to matter, like the other solar deities, represents the spirit of God descending into matter and suffering and dying. But, that is not to say that Jesus is Satan. One could compare Jesus to Prometheus who stole the fire from heaven and was punished by being chained to a rock with a bird pecking at his liver. But, Satan would represent the rock, not Prometheus. Although, Satan is similar to Prometheus in that both supposedly defied the Gods, however, Hmm, and Satan was supposedly "cast out of heaven" and "fell to earth," so there are some similarities to Prometheus. Jesus defied the religious authorities of his day, but not God. The Pharisees accused Jesus of being an apostate and he was crucified. God allowed it, I suppose, but apparently for a reason, according to the scriptures. Point is: crucifixion was common enough back then; certainly every murderer and thief who disobeyed the law and was crucified is somehow linked with Satan and all the solar deities, but that doesn't make the association particularly meaningful.

Besides, with all these associations, there is clearly an agenda, as Crowley writes: "The most serious charge against him is that he is the Sun in the South." ... Oh really? That's the most serious charge against Satan? I think many Biblical scholars would disagree, including Elaine Pagels.

In the case of Satan being correllated with Adam, there is an obvious similarity with regards to "disobeying God." The fall of Satan could easily be a metaphor for "the fall of man," which could be a metaphor for becoming self-aware. I am partial to this explanation, since I believe people are responsible for their own evils and I tend to agree with Elaine Pagels in that it seems Satan was created as a scapegoat to explain the evil actions of "God's chosen people." Once again, this leans toward the idea that Satan is not a real entity. Would this idea even correllate with the adversarial 'ha-satan' of the Old Testament?

You also said:
Jim Eshelman wrote:
Redd Fezz wrote:Of course, it makes sense now: Satan is the ruler of all the demons!


Or Lucifer is. Or one of the others. And these aren't all the same thing (except in that sense in which all gods are simply the god you personally know.) - Hence my continuing to razz you that you use "Satan" and "the Devil" pretty interchangeably. They're interchangeable only in the sense that they're also both interchanegeable with, say, Christ or Kali; but to the extent that they're differentiatable from Christ or Kali, they're also quite distinctive from each other.


In the above quote from Magick In Theory & Practice, Crowley uses them pretty interchangeably. As I demonstrated above, by my logic, anyway, Satan and the Devil are not interchangeable with Christ. Possibly Kali, I don't know, but I doubt it. To interpret Satan as "the savior," one needs to reinterpret Satan as more of a "Lucifer [*2]," which you really shouldn't be doing, especially if you're being picky.

Also, in the above commentary to the Book of The Law, Crowley does not mention Lucifer or Christ or Kali. But, he does link Set with Satan and he does link Satan with "a rock, or stone, whence the symbol of the Cubical Stone, the Mountain Abiegnus, and so forth." This is the same cubical stone of the tarot on which the Devil is perched and to which man is chained, isn't it? (as the solar deities were chained or nailed to matter?). Isn't YHVH a representation of this solar deity being nailed to matter, Vav being the nail that joins the vision to the final Heh, matter? Isn't the Mountain Abiegnus the mountain the Hermit climbs? Aren't these representations of matter actually representations of "Saturn" and "The Devil "of matter? The illusion of matter? Here again, we have a link from Saturn to Satan and the Devil and Set. So, why are you objecting to me using "Satan" and "the Devil" pretty interchangeably? Crowley himself has used them pretty interchangeably.

...
The funny thing to me, is that this ongoing discussion of Satan is what led to the posting of this book review. But, from what you have said and what Crowley has written, there doesn't seem to be any overlap of ideas between Pagels ideas and your own or Crowley's that I can see, so I am left wondering why you recommend it so highly.

If Satan is not a real entity, not linked with Set, Shaitan, Saturn, the Devil, as Crowley himself says it is, but merely an idea which evolved from the concept of divine interference, as Pagels says it is, then how does this relate to Crowley's (or your) ideas? If anything, Crowley uses the idea of "Satan" (not ha-satan) as a God, as it later evolved, according to Pagels (or perhaps the "anti-God"). He does not use the idea of Satan as a sort of "divine interference." Crowley gives Satan much too much credit to accuse him of such things. He is advocating "Devil Worship," by his own words, not "worship of divine interference."

I have to wonder especially why you recommend this book, when you have in fact said you have "met" Satan and expressed the idea that the HGA is Satan, though I don't know how literal you were being (and Crowley seems to indicate Satan [Had] would only be 1/2 of the HGA).

---------------------------
[*1] Fabre d'Olivet's Hermeneutic Interpretation of the Origin of the Social State in Man --- anyone know if this is online somewhere?

[*2] LUCIFER - One additional point, on pg. 48 of Pagels' "The Origin of Satan," she makes the mistake of misinterpreting Isiah 14:12-15 as a reference to Satan or "Lucifer," as it was mistranslated. In fact, the passage has nothing to do with either, as the surrounding text indicates; "day star, sun of the dawn" refers, almost mockingly, to the death of a quite human king. The text is saying, simply, "Oh you were so high and mighty, you thought you were God himself, didn't you? Well, look how far you've fallen!" If I'm not mistaken, the human king was a Babylonian king and would have worshipped a Solar Deity and perhaps considered himself a living incarnation of that Solar Deity (being a king and all), thus: "day star, son of the dawn, how you are fallen to earth, conqueror of the nations! You said in your heart, 'I will set my throne on high... I will ascend upon the high clouds... but you are brought down in darkness [sheol] to the depths of the pit."

If Pagels' research didn't catch this, I have to wonder if her interpretation of "the satan" is accurate, or if she is perhaps flubbing an interpretation of the translation. In other words, "satan" may just be a term for "adversary," but that doesn't necessarily mean it couldn't also be a term for The Adversary, nor does it prove the term didn't always imply the existence of such a concept or entity, necessarily. It is an interesting point, to be sure, especially since this is the main point which seems to contradict Crowley's usage of the term "Satan" as a God fairly interchangeable with Set, Saturn, Shaitan and the Devil.
Last edited by redd fezz on Thu May 11, 2006 6:16 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Postby redd fezz » Wed May 10, 2006 8:53 am

The bolded point above were not meant to seem hostile or anything. I just wanted to highlight the main questions.
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Postby Edward Mason » Thu May 11, 2006 6:06 am

Elaine Pagels has been criticised on the grounds of scholarship by several people. Her great virtue is that she forces people to think outside the established boxes. And I get the sense that she has at least peeked through the doors of the Sanctuary.
I don't think Crowley was trying to make perpetually definitive statements about Satan, which would be pointless anyway in a Qabalistic context. I see his guidance and commentary being there for meditation and inner development, not offered as a series of ex-cathedra pronouncements.

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Postby redd fezz » Thu May 11, 2006 6:20 am

Edward Mason wrote:Elaine Pagels has been criticised on the grounds of scholarship by several people. Her great virtue is that she forces people to think outside the established boxes. And I get the sense that she has at least peeked through the doors of the Sanctuary.


I get that same sense and, as when I read Crowley, I can't help but notice she has an agenda with certain lines of thought. It may be her great virtue that she forces people to think outside the established boxes, or she just may be deceptive, perhaps not entirely intentionally, but dishonest with her self and her own motives. For example, she prefaces The Origin of Satan by discussing the loss of a loved one (perhaps she is blaming God for her misery?) and, after a thorough trashing of the scriptures, she actually ends the book by claiming she's inconclusive about what it all means. Yeah, right. She'd have to be a moron, which she clearly isn't.
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Postby jmiller » Thu May 11, 2006 6:22 am

From a, perhaps defensive, historian...

Edward Mason wrote:Elaine Pagels has been criticised on the grounds of scholarship by several people.


Non-historians can sometimes take this sort of challenge or disagreement as an indictment of the scholar's work. But, we shouldn't. Disagreement and debate work in history similarly to how it works in sociology or physics. So, Fezz, don't just dismiss her work. Every work of history has some explicit errors. Some of these just enter into the book or article out of inevitable accident because of the massive organizational effort required to bring together the enormous amount of information and analysis necessary to produce the book. And any good or interesting work of history will provoke disagreement and debate, because it will provide sufficient evidence within the text to enable others to analyze it, to some extent, for themselves and come up with their own conclusions.

Regardless of any errors or problems with her particular interpretation, the book has a particular value: It challenges our common sense notions of evil and Satan, showing, regarldess of the details, the historical contingency out of which the concepts of evil and Satan emerged and demonstrating that we can't take these categories as natural or universal. Humans created the concept of evil in a particular historical and cultural context.
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Postby redd fezz » Thu May 11, 2006 6:43 am

I haven't dismissed her work any more than I have dismissed Crowley's. They are both saying something of value, but I am trying to find the "missing link" that joins the two lines of thought. I am also trying to distinguish sh*t from shinola, as they say. There may be some things about Pagels' book I am suspicious about, but for the most part, it was so straightforward and interesting, it has made me want to go back and read all the books of the Bible she cites and witness the scribes' manipulation firsthand.

I am not Christian and I am not anti-Christian. As a matter of fact, rather like Crowley, I generally disagree with Christianity, but agree with "Christ" the man, for the most part. Well, actually, I guess Crowley didn't really agree with Christ the man, either, but he did go out of his way to point out he didn't hate Jesus Christ, but that he just hated Christianity. And, actually, I guess I don't really agree with Christ the man, either, if I take the Bible literally.
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Postby Jim Eshelman » Thu May 11, 2006 6:48 am

It would take me years to answer the above in anything resembling point-by-point.

Redd, I read your main post above twice, and at the end of the second read I realized what had my mind reeling: I can't fathom for a moment why it matters to you whether Satan is "real."

And, for that matter, I don't know what "real" means in this sense.

And yet, that issue is the crux of your post - so I can't begin to think of how to answer it.

Even the fact that I've met someone has little to do with whether or not they are real. With several varying yet commonplace definitions of "real," I can assure you on my utmost honor that I interact with many people on a daily basis who, if real, aren't entirely so. This despite medical records that firmly and sincerely attest to their existence.

I work in the entertainment field, and before that 14 years in law.

Was Barney Fife real? I have sat on a bench and chatted with him. Junior Miles doesn't even exist, but he coauthored a No. 1 song, is CEO of the company for which I work, and responded to an email I sent him a few weeks ago.

Is Madonna real? Like the Holy Guardian Angel, she is at once both completely real and totally fictional (and, in both cases, is an amazingly useful projection). In any case, she makes my employer a ton of money, so they assure me she is extremely real. (And, based on this assessment, her duet with Gorillaz at the Grammy Awards opener was hillarious!)

On my desk at work sits a framed platinum record award presented to Madonna by RIAA for one of her albums (currently my personal property) and she has autographed it. It came to me through the president of Rhino records. Some people who come to my desk wonder if it's real, and I assure them that - even better - it's authentic!

This question also touches precisely on the similar question of whether the HGA is an "actual other person." The answer is yes, no, both, neither, huh?, ha!, and "Objection, Your Honor, for lack of foundation!"

Pagels' book was recommended as a darn good read in its own right, and because it would help kick the rudders out from under just about any opinion of Satan and its opposite. Besides, Elaine Pagels is very real.

We're talking about magick! And, on top of that, you're talking about a Briatic being.

Literally and actually, at the Briatic level I am, myself, exactly as real as a myth.

And when you bring in Biblical existence, it gets crazier still. (I started on a paragraph on Hiram Abiff vs. Freemasonry, and wouldn't begin to have time to write the main points this month.)

Is a myth real? You bet your patootie! As you've shown eloquently, on their own plane myths can even collide and have impact, so they have substance and texture. In Briah, a myth is as concretely real as is anything on which you bang your shin in Assiah.

At the moment, I'm not sure whether the author of this present post is real - only that he really has to get going and already will be late for work. (By the way, do you have any actual evidence of my existence? If so, then of what nature is that evidence? And, in the final analysis, what implications, if any, does it have for you whether I exist or not?)

Repeat: We're talking about magick! And, on top of that, you're talking about a Briatic being.
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Postby redd fezz » Thu May 11, 2006 7:38 am

I was trying to figure out how to boil down my post to the simplest of questions and, after 5 or 6 edits to the darn thing, I think I know it well enough backwards and forward to come a conclusion!

What I'm really asking is not whether Satan is "real" or not, although that is part of it. What I am asking is how the term "Satan" comes to be defined by all these terms and associations of yours/Crowley's... and yet NOT by the standard terms and associations.

That's pretty funny, don't you think? It must be, because you find the standard concepts of Satan and the Devil laughable, so here would be a good chance to explain why that is so.

For instance, I see no indication from the Old Testament or New Testament that Satan simply represents a solar dynamic. What about the entire last half of the Bible from which the name "Satan" comes in the first place? I see many indications that Satan is synonymous with The Devil, rebellion, evil, deception, etc. Even esoterically, I can associate Saturn with Satan, Lord of the world/matter and the illusion of maya, denying the Unity underneath it all.

But all of these unpleasant aspects or associations of Satan are simply disregarded for reasons never explained. In favor of what? Vague allusions to contradictory ideas using Qabalistic numbers as the only explanation for the relationship? It seems there is a desire to turn "Satan" into a lofty concept, yet there doesn't seem to be ample evidence to support such an idea.

And so I am left not wondering if Satan is real or not, but why Satan is so important (especially if he is NOT real) to the occultists that take the idea so far beyond the standard conceptions suggested by the scholarly evidence as to practically ignore them completely. I am not 'accusing' you of this, Jim, as I think you'd probably say that the concept of Satan is not all that important to you. But, it was to Crowley. And it is to so many other occultists, who typically ignore all Satan's "bad press" in favor of some philosophy of their own making.
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Postby DavidH » Thu May 11, 2006 8:39 am

It seems to me that your main question is :
Why is Satan depicted as evil and dangerous in most history, popular culture and religion while we tend to teach something of the contrary?

Does that sum it up Redd? It's actually a good question but I think it was answered at one point. Here is my opinion:

Having been involved in martial arts for about 25 years I will use it as an example- I studied some common "sport" martial arts of the kind you are probably most familiar. I have also studied very ancient, combat arts that are small and selective and have a history away from the mainstream. They teach things on a much higher level than is inteded for the common mainstream person. Why? Because most people can't understand it or may not want to put in the time to understand it. So the mainstream gets a watered down "fastfood" understanding of what martial arts are. They are in fact impressed with the incredible skill of these artists while the small "esoteric" martial artist knows that what mainstream martial artist has nothing to do with the real art. It is superficial and all show, while the "esoteric" martial artist may not look impressive but understands the principals that would really work in the world and not rely on fleeting ability such as speed or strength.

My point is that usually, the mainstream gets the information that is most easy for the common person to accept and understand. Usually with quantity you lose quality. Show me a restaurant that has high quality and I almost guarantee it is not a chain, but a small private one.

Another reason is that (like another person has posted) the energy involved with Satan may be dangerous to the uninitiated, thus it is demonized. Many are at a level of a child in these matters (including myself). What does a mother do to protect her child from the hot stove? She says " NO! BAD! Fire BAD!" Once the child grows up they realize that fire is in fact good or at least can be used for good, but at the time, the label of BAD protected them from harm.
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Postby redd fezz » Thu May 11, 2006 10:02 am

DavidH wrote:It seems to me that your main question is :
Why is Satan depicted as evil and dangerous in most history, popular culture and religion while we tend to teach something of the contrary?

Does that sum it up Redd? It's actually a good question but I think it was answered at one point.


Somewhat, but the other part of the question is where do these teachings come from? I know where the "bad dude" Satan comes from. Now, the other? It seems to be traced from several unrelated sources, "fitting" certain ideas together, such as Lucifer, Kundalini, etc.

I do understand that the Bible is, arguably, just a bunch of "fitted" ideas together to suit the particular slant of the scribes and the political powers of the times. I also do understand the concept of "esoteric" vs. "exoteric" teaching. However, I am just wondering how we can definitively ignore all the "bad dude" Satan stuff in favor of the "savior" Satan stuff? Surely, there must be some point of agreement which "solves the puzzle," so to speak? The "Rosetta Stone" that ties the 2 opposing views together? How does Crowley get "solar quality" from ha-satan, an agent of God meant to oppose or from "Satan," the cosmic enemy of God and embodiment of evil?

In fact, the passage in Isiah that was translated as "Lucifer" seems to flat out mock the Babylonian religion, as it shows that a king who aspired to great heights, perhaps sailing in the bark of Osiris across the skies, is dead as a dog, his dreams crushed. It does not appear that the Biblical writers were writing the "opposite" of what they really meant to keep the truth safe from the profane, especially if you follow Pagels' logic in this book. She argues that the writers consistently used Satan to define the enemy and to preserve their own culture, certainly not to conceal an "opposite message."
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Postby Jim Eshelman » Thu May 11, 2006 10:12 am

Quick answer on the fly on "where do these other ideas come from."

They were always encoded in the name, in the formula to which I first directed you for meditation. To a Qabalist, the name is the reality. "Satan" is Shin Teth Nun - Cosmic Fire, the solar-lion-serpent force, and the death-transformation energy which, at root, is the fundamental sexual force. That's what composes the Name, and that's what composes the entity bearing that name.

One has to get it on the right plane - interpreting this in Yetzirah (where people have their emotional reactions to the idea) would be really different from interpreting it it in Briah (where the Actuality exists).


Quick answer to why I take so much of this as a joke: Skipping the easy and somewhat misdirecting answer - that to the letter A'ayin is attributed, in Sepher Yetzirah, the idea of mirth - the simple answer is that I don't take the idea of an objective Evil seriously. Not in the slightest. There is no such thing. Everything in my experience of life, my rational assessment, my subconscious perception, and whatever illuminated understanding of things I have been allowed confirms this. There is nothing any more Objectively Evil than electricity or fire is objectively evil. Instead, there are forces and other realities to be understood for what they inherently are.
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Postby Chris Hanlon » Thu May 11, 2006 10:14 am

David H.,
That was a most excellent question and answer. Yes, you voiced what Redd's concerns are, I think. Redd, if I am wrong, I just know you'll set me right. How can something ,that everyone views as evil , be good? There's a reason certain things are wrong. Then, there is Crowley talking about stuffing babies with sausages-not generally considered a good thing.
There is a huge dissonance between talking about being a new God and beng a new God that eats babies.
The reason I think that Redd is battering this, is because he FEELS things intensely. And the talk and behavior of Crowley still doesn't feel right, even though there is magic, enchantment and power in what he has written and espoused.
We want to be on the side of angels (talking just about me, I guess), and we see demons. You can say that demons are the same as angels, but somehow in this world of dualism, we just don't see that.
The issue of Satan and whether he is real or not is on the back burner for me, but that's because I am not dealing with anything horrific in my American plush and safe life. The closest it comes to me, is when I see that small children are routinely stolen and harmed in this country as well as others. Also, when I see children do, what I consider, evil things.
Thank you. Your addition to the discussion and to Redd, in particular, was very helpful to me.
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Postby redd fezz » Thu May 11, 2006 10:16 am

Jim Eshelman wrote:To a Qabalist, the name is the reality. "Satan" is Shin Teth Nun - Cosmic Fire, the solar-lion-serpent force, and the death-transformation energy which, at root, is the fundamental sexual force.

So, does that mean the authors of the Old Testament and New Testament Qabalists?

Or, regardless, the Qabalah provides the answers?

Or, STN, really isn't a Qabalah thing so much as a Hebrew language thing?

I did meditate on those keys as you suggested, Jim, and I think all of this is part of the process of me trying to cut through some of the ideas. I've been having dreams about Satan quite consistently and they are not frightening in the least; more like revelatory. I sometimes awake thinking "I get it" only to have the substance of my dreams evaporate from my memory before I can get the notebook.
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Postby Jim Eshelman » Thu May 11, 2006 10:23 am

Redd Fezz wrote:
Jim Eshelman wrote:To a Qabalist, the name is the reality. "Satan" is Shin Teth Nun - Cosmic Fire, the solar-lion-serpent force, and the death-transformation energy which, at root, is the fundamental sexual force.

So, does that mean the authors of the Old Testament and New Testament Qabalists?

Yes. Of course. They were the earliest known, and set the pattern of everything else.

Or, regardless, the Qabalah provides the answers?

I suppose that depends on the question, eh?

Or, STN, really isn't a Qabalah thing so much as a Hebrew language thing?

There isn't any difference. Before the 19th Century, Hebrew was never spoken as a conversational language. It existed only for scriptural purposes. Every key word (certainly every name) in the Hebrew scriptures is a contrived formula.
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Postby redd fezz » Thu May 11, 2006 10:32 am

That's what I had thought, but someone on the forums earlier stated that they didn't believe the scribes were Qabalists. And, of course, "proof" of the Qabalah only goes back so far.

I wonder how this language understanding was lost.

I have seriously got to become a good Qabalist and get me a Hebrew OT.

It seems that the authors of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not Qabalists. Or else, they were just liars with an strange agenda.
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Postby Jim Eshelman » Thu May 11, 2006 10:45 am

Redd Fezz wrote:That's what I had thought, but someone on the forums earlier stated that they didn't believe the scribes were Qabalists. And, of course, "proof" of the Qabalah only goes back so far.

Yes, only to Genesis I where the Creation story identifies 22 distinctive Divine Ideas grouped in exactly the structure of the Hebrew alphabet and, in most cases, giving the same attributions and characteristics to them that we give to the 22 Hebrew letters in the same structure...

...and all composed while, uh, writing in Hebrew.

I wonder how this language understanding was lost.

It wasn't intended to be generally known. And, it wasn't lost.

I have seriously got to become a good Qabalist and get me a Hebrew OT.

Not sure how you can look into this stuff without one :)

Get the freeware e-Sword from http://www.e-sword.net/ - download all the Bibles you want, being sure to get at least the KJV, the KLJV with Strongs integrated, the Hebrew OT and the Greek NT.

It seems that the authors of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not Qabalists. Or else, they were just liars with an strange agenda.

Of course they were Qabalists. And of course they had agendas. Whether strange or liars I don't really have an opinion on at the moment.

But the important thing to understand is that the esoteric side of religion is never intended to be known to the general public. It is preserved for the initiated few (who are usually the only ones who can understand it anyway) and a VERY different spin on the same content is intentionally provided to the general masses. Partly this has been a political power-grab at times, partly it has been to keep the priests from getting lynched, and mostly it's because the exoteric version is all that the masses would understand anyway. Truth is at odds with mass-mind - at least, that's been the way through most of history and it probably would be arrogant or simply deluded to think things had changed all that much since.
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Postby Edward Mason » Thu May 11, 2006 10:46 am

Redd, 93,

It seems that the authors of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not Qabalists. Or else, they were just liars with an strange agenda.


I'd say they were Qabalists - John, at least. But what's a 'strange agenda' ? To me, that sounds like 'ideas I don't like.'

Qabalah has no fixed orthodoxy beyond a set of agreed-on general principles (the basic Tree of Life being the most consistent..?) , and people are constantly coming out with off-centre notions, like that set of seven Trees you found. Such things are very useful to some people, and not at all to others.

Christianity, in its various major forms, took (I believe) a set of Qabalistic teachings, and from them formed orthodoxies, including doctrines on the literal existence of Satan, the Crucifixion, Judgement Day, Hell, et al. Qabalists are always tracing the truths that underlie or interpenetrate such orthodoxies. Qabalistic descriptions vary a lot, as a result, and that's what forces each of us to find our own understanding - which is a quite different process to determining our own dogmas.

93 93/93,

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Postby jmiller » Thu May 11, 2006 10:49 am

Redd Fezz wrote:That's what I had thought, but someone on the forums earlier stated that they didn't believe the scribes were Qabalists. And, of course, "proof" of the Qabalah only goes back so far.


I said that.

sasha wrote:
Redd Fezz wrote:I want to understand the Qabalist interpretation of the Bible.


With great uncertainty...

I thought The Bible, both Old and New Testaments - but at least the Old, came out well before Qabalah.

I suppose it depends on what you mean by Qabalah. The classic Qabalistic, excuse me... Kabbalistic texts didn't appear until at least 1000 AD.

I can easily see that the writers of the Bible used gematria deliberately in their writing. According to Gershom Scholem's book on the history of Kabbalah, Jews probably learned Gematria from Babylonians during the captivity. But it seems that this use of gematria long predates Qabalah, perhaps by 1500 years.
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Postby redd fezz » Thu May 11, 2006 10:58 am

Edward Mason wrote:Redd, 93,

It seems that the authors of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not Qabalists. Or else, they were just liars with an strange agenda.


I'd say they were Qabalists - John, at least. But what's a 'strange agenda' ? To me, that sounds like 'ideas I don't like.'


No, if they were Qabalists and knew the true understanding of Satan, then these dolts were the ones who turned it around to mean something evil by accusing everyone NOT like them to be Satanic. True, I 'don't like' the ideas behind this strange agenda, but that does not mean it isn't strange to finger a group of people based on facts you know to be false.
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Postby redd fezz » Thu May 11, 2006 11:00 am

Jim Eshelman wrote:
Redd Fezz wrote:That's what I had thought, but someone on the forums earlier stated that they didn't believe the scribes were Qabalists. And, of course, "proof" of the Qabalah only goes back so far.

Yes, only to Genesis I


Well, that's pretty far! I had "proof" in quotes because I thought it was supposedly traced back only to the Sephir Yetzirah or something, but not being an expert Qabalist never took this as fact. (Or is SY older than Genesis, anyway?)
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Postby Edward Mason » Thu May 11, 2006 11:27 am

RF, 93,

No, if they were Qabalists and knew the true understanding of Satan, then these dolts were the ones who turned it around to mean something evil by accusing everyone NOT like them to be Satanic. True, I 'don't like' the ideas behind this strange agenda, but that does not mean it isn't strange to finger a group of people based on facts you know to be false.


You seem upset over this topic. The nature and function of Satan appears very important to you - okay, that's acknowledged. But I have the impression you are going to remain frustrated until someone defines the 'true' Satan for you.

That's your job, though. Satan to me is not significant. I think it's a huge psychological misunderstanding, though properly understood it would point to the Redemer principle. Light comes down into the realm of mind, and the mind freaks out and throws out paranoia and confusion in response to all that incoming energy. We then spend a few lifetimes correcting that mistake, realise what we thought was 'evil' is just us over-reacting to Light, and on we go.

A key aspect of Satan in religion is that he/it is projected onto everyone in sight, and the versions of the gospels we now have include that notion. But that doesn't, in my mind, rule out an intended Qabalistic approach. For just one example, Matthew 1, 17 observes:
So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

Now go to Revelations - you'll find references to 42 (3x14) all through it. The number was esoterically important to Matthew, whoever he or they really was/were. Exempt Adept Qabalists? Maybe they weren't, but they were aspirants to Qabalistic truth, like you and like me.

if they were Qabalists and knew the true understanding of Satan

Here's where you and I differ. I think a practicing Qabalist is constantly UN-knowing things he/she knew yesterday. We can definitively, finally, scholastically, empirically, Qabalistically, theologically and superlatively get to the 'truth' about Satan two or three posts from now. But if we really are Qabalists, our 'truth' won't hold up next year, or the year after that. Da'ath (knowledge) has a dodgy reputation for a good reason.
Religion is very Da'ath-ish. It's there because there's a need for it, and the Qabalists keep on doing their thing, too.

93 93/93,

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Postby redd fezz » Thu May 11, 2006 11:43 am

Thanks, Edward. I'm not upset, but I can see how I might be coming across that way. Look at my signature. Does that seem "upset"? :-)

Your last post was very insightful. This thread has cleared up my confusion considerably, as I'd hoped it would. I have enought material now to work through Satan on my own time.
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Postby Jim Eshelman » Thu May 11, 2006 12:10 pm

Sepher Yetzirah is much newer than Genesis.

Here's the quickie outline of what I regard as the oldest overtly Qabalistic formulation that resembles Qabalah as we know it today. (And yes, you're right, the name Kabbalah is only a little over a millennium old - that doesn't mean there wasn't Kabbalah, just that they called it something else.)

In Genesis I, "Elohim" appears 32 times. Here is the breakdown:
"Elohim said" - 10
(By tradition, this counts Gen. I:1 even though it isn't literally written that way.)
"Elohim made" - 3 times
"Elohim saw" - 7 times
"Elohim" (other) - 12 times

The 10 instances corresponding to the 10 Sephiroth would be:

1. In the Beginning Elohim created the heaven and the earth.
2. Elohim said, Let there be light...
3. Elohim said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters...
4. Elohim said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place...
5. Elohim said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind...
6. Elohim said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
7. Elohim said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
8. Elohim said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind...
9. ELohim said, Let us make ADM (=45) in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion &c....
10. Elohim said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed...

Not bad, eh?

For the three Mother letters:

A - Elohim made the firmament...
M - Elohim made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: and made the stars also.
Sh - Elohim made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind...

These don't line up as well, and aren't as obvious. There may be a different order. There are, nonetheless, three of the same form.

For the seven Double letters we also don't get anything overly striking, since, though the first one (Beyth?) is, "Elohim saw the light, that it was good," all the others are simply, "Elohim saw that it was good" (ALHIM KI-TVB). No real differentiation. However, the last, corresponding to Tav, was specifically, "Elohim saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good."

With the 12 Simple letters, things get very intriguing:

H - The Spirit of Elohim (RVCh ALHIM) moved upon (or hovered above) the face of the waters
V - Elohim divided the light from the darkness. [I'd expect joining rather than severing, but it isn't bad.]
Z - Elohim called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.
Ch - Elohim called the firmament Heaven (HShMYM).
T - Elohim called the dry land Earth...
Y - Elohim set them [Sun, Moon, stars] in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth
L - Elohim created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind...
N - God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth [!!!]
S - Elohim created Adam in his image
O - In the image of Elohim created he him...
Tz - Elohim blessed them, and...
Q - ...Elohim said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.

There are some very interesting items in these lines.
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Postby Chris Hanlon » Thu May 11, 2006 5:39 pm

Edward said,

"You seem upset over this topic. The nature and function of Satan appears very important to you - okay, that's acknowledged. But I have the impression you are going to remain frustrated until someone defines the 'true' Satan for you.

That's your job, though. "

Another well written and thought out response. Yes, it is his job, and you are all helping him and others a lot by engaging in this.
Thank you, Edward Mason.
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By the way, JAE,
brilliant posting on Elohim, the letters, etc.
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