Ayn Rand: Godmother of Satanism

Funny how folks inspire movements unintentionally. Kirkegaard was a devout Christian and would probably be a bit dismayed at the Existentialist movement his writings gave fruit to, and just so, I don’t think Ayn Rand really expected to inform Satanist philosophy.

Joe Carter (really nice guy) writes over on First Things:

Perhaps most are unaware of the connection, though LaVey wasn’t shy about admitting his debt to his inspiration. “I give people Ayn Rand with trappings,” he once told the Washington Post. On another occasion he acknowledged that his brand of Satanism was “just Ayn Rand’s philosophy with ceremony and ritual added.” Indeed, the influence is so apparent that LaVey has been accused of plagiarizing part of his “Nine Satanic Statements” from the John Galt speech in Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

Yet fear not, there’s not absolute accord between the two philosophies, as Satanists think Rand has a few things wrong, as explained by Nemo over at Church of Satan.com:

You don’t have to start with metaphysics to create your ethics. Satanism does not assert that the fundamental truth of the nature of reality (metaphysics) is known. In fact, Satanists utilize two different metaphysical assumptions regarding reality as evidenced in Satanic ritual as opposed to the rest of life. In effect, Satanists are pragmatic regarding their beliefs concerning reality. Thus, as Satanists do not claim to know the absolute “truth” regarding what is real they are, by definition, not “Objectivists” who hold that reality is totally objective. Satanists proclaim that doubt is vital in the absence of proof. At this fundamental level there is division between the two views of reality.

What I find amusing is that Christians, particularly those in public office, have begun espousing Rand, even though she is the closest thing to the Anti-Christ as has ever existed. In truth, Satanism is likely more sympathetic to Christianity than Rand’s Objectivism, though neither jive with the teachings of Christ.

I’ve often reflected on how different a story Atlas Shrugged would be if Hank Rearden had a severe stroke midway through the book. What if he showed signs of early Alzheimer’s? What if he fell and suffered brain damage? What pity or care would there be for a man whose productivity is suddenly diminished? Would the man who abandoned his family find himself abandoned?

It’s a running joke that the first thing a Pagan will say when asked to explain their religion is “We’re not Satanists” and perhaps we should toss in “We’re not Objectivists either!” Every Pagan religion I know of is antithetical to Objectivist and Satanist philosophy. We have taboos regarding hospitality, a strong belief in a deeply personal connection to Divine Forces, and we don’t believe a person’s worth is measured by their bank account or material possessions or their productivity. Many of us believe in tribal societal structures, which may include shared possessions and shared responsibility for children, the elderly and the sick.

While we’re not Satanists, or really have very much in common with them, we’re not against them. I’ve known a few Satanists over the years and have had nothing but respect for them. By the Wiccan tenet of “Perfect Love and Perfect Trust” I never expect them to behave or think like me, but to be perfectly themselves and trust that they will act according to their principles. It’s how we roll.

Yet for Conservative Christians to embrace Objectivism is truly bizarre. It is so strange to see them suddenly espouse a philosophy more foreign to them than Satanism. At least Satanism leaves room for doubt and faith. While the last time the popular imagination was caught on fire by Satanism many innocent Pagan and goth youth were unjustly sent to prison on scant evidence, perhaps there’s a new “Satanic Panic” brewing where the infiltration of Rand’s Objectivism into Conservative Christian politics changes the face of Christianity forever and draws new lines in the sand.

My religion, Wicca, has a strange “godfather” in the form of Aleister Crowley. We took his Thelemic tenets and philosophy and reinterpreted them to slightly different, perhaps kinder, ends. Love takes a larger role for us, though we each seek to hone our Will and Spirit into tools in which to reach our utmost potential. How strange it seems that followers of “the wickedest man in the world,” as well as those who embrace the title Witch, should come to a place where they look askance at some members of the Religious Right with reasonable suspicion of their being Satanic?

About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • wulfric82

    Crowley was called “The Wickedest Man in the World” by the popular media, it was not an epithet he chose for himself – He DID choose “The Beast 666″, but this was for Qabalstic and Magickal reasons. The fact that he did not dispute whatever stories were told about him (and in fact, got a certain amount of childish glee over being painted as a devil), does not mean he had anything in common with Satanism, as the end of your article implies. The fact is that Crowley’s teaching of “Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” is not a license to do whatever you want. It is a command to find and follow your true will – your higher will, which can only be discovered with communication with your divine self (The knowledge and conversation of the holy guardian angel). This is completely at odds with LeVay’s interpretation of it, and with Objectivism in general.
    “We took his Thelemic tenets and philosophy and reinterpreted them to slightly different, perhaps kinder, ends. Love takes a larger role for us…” You’ve obviously never read Liber AL vel Legis – The Book of the Law. The companion verse to “Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” is “love is the law, love under will.” (Liber AL 1:57) In fact, this is the call and response form of greeting for Thelemites in conversation, symbolized by 93/93.
    A good article about this is here: http://perdurabo10.tripod.com/id386.html

    • Syna

      I’m a Thelemite, and I think Crowley was an unquestionable self-aggrandizer, at times very much along Satanist lines. Come on. Do you seriously think he was unaware of the connotations of being the Great Beast 666? He was not nearly so clinical as to accept it only for the sake of Qabalah. Crowley was a persona-crafter and an attention whore and he knew it.

      (I say this with no judgment. I personally mostly enjoy that aspect of Crowley.) 

      However, you’re quite right about love — the connection between Will and Love is incredibly crucial to Thelema. There are other important distinctions between Wicca and Thelema, but an emphasis on Love is not one of them. 

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      I have never implied Crowley was a Satanist, any more than my mention of Kierkegaard implies he is one. Like Rand and Kierkegaard, Crowley’s work informed and spawned a movement unforeseen by him, and perhaps not in line with his wishes.

      • Revsonyamiller

        Crowley had partners you know, they were women, and as a woman you should know that…they also formed that path just as much as he did…Crowley is like any history book…he just got the credit since so much is told from that perspective

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          Crowley’s history with women is strange at best. I think of him as a misogynist in the worst sense. Nothing made me angrier than the ending of Diary of a Drug Fiend.

  • Anonymous

    Crowley was called “The Wickedest Man in the World” by the popular media, it was not an epithet he chose for himself – He DID choose “The Beast 666″, but this was for Qabalstic and Magickal reasons. The fact that he did not dispute whatever stories were told about him (and in fact, got a certain amount of childish glee over being painted as a devil), does not mean he had anything in common with Satanism, as the end of your article implies. The fact is that Crowley’s teaching of “Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” is not a license to do whatever you want. It is a command to find and follow your true will – your higher will, which can only be discovered with communication with your divine self (The knowledge and conversation of the holy guardian angel). This is completely at odds with LeVay’s interpretation of it, and with Objectivism in general.
    “We took his Thelemic tenets and philosophy and reinterpreted them to slightly different, perhaps kinder, ends. Love takes a larger role for us…” You’ve obviously never read Liber AL vel Legis – The Book of the Law. The companion verse to “Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” is “love is the law, love under will.” (Liber AL 1:57) In fact, this is the call and response form of greeting for Thelemites in conversation, symbolized by 93/93.
    A good article about this is here: http://perdurabo10.tripod.com/id386.html

    • Syna

      I’m a Thelemite, and I think Crowley was an unquestionable self-aggrandizer, at times very much along Satanist lines. Come on. Do you seriously think he was unaware of the connotations of being the Great Beast 666? He was not nearly so clinical as to accept it only for the sake of Qabalah. Crowley was a persona-crafter and an attention whore and he knew it.

      (I say this with no judgment. I personally mostly enjoy that aspect of Crowley.) 

      However, you’re quite right about love — the connection between Will and Love is incredibly crucial to Thelema. There are other important distinctions between Wicca and Thelema, but an emphasis on Love is not one of them. 

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      I have never implied Crowley was a Satanist, any more than my mention of Kierkegaard implies he is one. Like Rand and Kierkegaard, Crowley’s work informed and spawned a movement unforeseen by him, and perhaps not in line with his wishes.

      • Revsonyamiller

        Crowley had partners you know, they were women, and as a woman you should know that…they also formed that path just as much as he did…Crowley is like any history book…he just got the credit since so much is told from that perspective

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          Crowley’s history with women is strange at best. I think of him as a misogynist in the worst sense. Nothing made me angrier than the ending of Diary of a Drug Fiend.

  • Anonymous

    Crowley was called “The Wickedest Man in the World” by the popular media, it was not an epithet he chose for himself – He DID choose “The Beast 666″, but this was for Qabalstic and Magickal reasons. The fact that he did not dispute whatever stories were told about him (and in fact, got a certain amount of childish glee over being painted as a devil), does not mean he had anything in common with Satanism, as the end of your article implies. The fact is that Crowley’s teaching of “Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” is not a license to do whatever you want. It is a command to find and follow your true will – your higher will, which can only be discovered with communication with your divine self (The knowledge and conversation of the holy guardian angel). This is completely at odds with LeVay’s interpretation of it, and with Objectivism in general.
    “We took his Thelemic tenets and philosophy and reinterpreted them to slightly different, perhaps kinder, ends. Love takes a larger role for us…” You’ve obviously never read Liber AL vel Legis – The Book of the Law. The companion verse to “Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” is “love is the law, love under will.” (Liber AL 1:57) In fact, this is the call and response form of greeting for Thelemites in conversation, symbolized by 93/93.
    A good article about this is here: http://perdurabo10.tripod.com/id386.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/nick.boyer Nick Boyer

    In the Book of Mormon there is a similar philosopher as Ayn, with the name of Korihor and he is described as an anti-Christ. 

    He preaches that people in religion have a “frenzied mind” and that our strength isn’t from God but ourselves. 
    Yet many LDS still have a reverence for this Rand character, despite the most obvious distaste she has for Christ in every respect. 

    Very strong example of how modern philosophies of men are relentlessly combined in opposition to the kingdom of God. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Travis-Lynch/100000583928640 Travis Lynch

      As someone who is in opposition to the Kingdom of God, I thought I should field this.  There are other modern philosophies besides Objectivism, like Secular Humanism, for instance.  Most of which is pretty close to my own personal philosophy.  Speaking as an LHP(for the record I’m a Luciferian and I have to say ‘not a Satanist’ a hundred times more than most of you) and a democrat, this is one of the reasons I’ve always had trouble with Christian Republicans in general, because they’re specifically told to be generous and not to accumulate wealth or material possession.  Cognitive dissonance abounds, and people suffer because of it.

      Then again, that’s part of the whole problem now, that “Republican” and “Christian” are so nearly-synonymous. Certain aspects of moral arguments like abortion and gay marriage have been used to polarize us, then a constant obfuscation about taxes and a weight of sheer lies and misdirection have distracted us away from the fact that our government wasn’t really supposed to be that involved in morality and what we choose to do or not do. At the same time, increasingly on both sides, the management of wealth(everything from human-power to minerals etc), foreign negotiation, and the actual interpretation and enforcement of the other 99.5% of the law have gone far out of control. Meanwhile their agencies have been alternately gutted, mismanaged and over-powered while being under-trained, under-vetted and under-observed, and allowed to slip into corruption.

      Worse still is the fact that it’s a vicious cycle. As the Republican side starts to slip into plutocratic/theocratic fascism wearing the mask of the ‘average Joe’ the democrat side falls into cults of personality because we’re so desperately wishing for a ‘messiah’ of our own who can make everyone unite behind what we see as common sense. Our sureness on what we view as right then makes us come off as ‘elitist’ and the ‘otherness’ that we embrace scares the ‘average Joe’ back over to the other side.

      (Oh, and, excellent article Star, I actually hadn’t ever heard those quotes from LaVey, or really thought about that particular connection between the two. …And I might use the fact that Satanism’s principles are closer to Republican than Democrat as the arguments are currently being made as well. Plus, you’ve some sparked some interesting discourse already!)

      • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

        Never met a Luciferian before! Very cool! I assume you worship the “LightBringer” and associate Yahweh with darkness? Sort of a Gnostic thing? Am I close?

        • http://profiles.google.com/thorncoyle T Thorn Coyle

          Some thoughts:
          Lucifer used to be a big part of traditional Craft – if we read Aradia we see that. His golden light was in contrast to the light of the moon, Diana. A lot of trad Craft folk are Luciferian, but don’t talk about it in public because of the skewed way Christianity has taken over that term.

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            Right, Lucifer, or Phosphorus, is the planet Venus itself. I’ve always thought it was interesting how Pagan concepts were used to transform the Adversary, and then those Christian concepts reverberated back into the Craft.

            Aradia has a lot of very traditional Craft ideas that would probably be shot down by popular Paganism today.

          • Henry

            yah, I posted the link to Aradia here a few posts back….heh

  • http://www.facebook.com/nick.boyer Nick Boyer

    In the Book of Mormon there is a similar philosopher as Ayn, with the name of Korihor and he is described as an anti-Christ. 

    He preaches that people in religion have a “frenzied mind” and that our strength isn’t from God but ourselves. 
    Yet many LDS still have a reverence for this Rand character, despite the most obvious distaste she has for Christ in every respect. 

    Very strong example of how modern philosophies of men are relentlessly combined in opposition to the kingdom of God. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Travis-Lynch/100000583928640 Travis Lynch

      As someone who is in opposition to the Kingdom of God, I thought I should field this.  There are other modern philosophies besides Objectivism, like Secular Humanism, for instance.  Most of which is pretty close to my own personal philosophy.  Speaking as an LHP and a democrat, this is one of the reasons I’ve always had trouble with Christian Republicans in general, because they’re specifically told to be generous and not to accumulate wealth or material possession.  Cognitive dissonance abounds, and people suffer because of it.

      • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

        Never met a Luciferian before! Very cool! I assume you worship the “LightBringer” and associate Yahweh with darkness? Sort of a Gnostic thing? Am I close?

        • http://profiles.google.com/thorncoyle T Thorn Coyle

          Some thoughts:
          Lucifer used to be a big part of traditional Craft – if we read Aradia we see that. His golden light was in contrast to the light of the moon, Diana. A lot of trad Craft folk are Luciferian, but don’t talk about it in public because of the skewed way Christianity has taken over that term.

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            Right, Lucifer, or Phosphorus, is the planet Venus itself. I’ve always thought it was interesting how Pagan concepts were used to transform the Adversary, and then those Christian concepts reverberated back into the Craft.

            Aradia has a lot of very traditional Craft ideas that would probably be shot down by popular Paganism today.

          • Henry

            yah, I posted the link to Aradia here a few posts back….heh

  • http://blog.dianarajchel.com Diana Rajchel

    “It’s a running joke that the first thing a Pagan will say when asked to explain their religion is “We’re not Satanists” and perhaps we should toss in “We’re not Objectivists either!” Every Pagan religion I know of is antithetical to Objectivist and Satanist philosophy.”

    I think you just raised a new line of conversation for people that insist Pagans justify what they are not in explaining what they are.  It might even be less circular than some of the arguments of “Well, if it ain’t Christian, it’s gotta be Satan!” 

    • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

      It’s very often best to start a definition with what that label is, not what it is not. 

      Though the whole “we are not Satanists” line is something I personally believe has generated a bit of tension on the Wiccan side of the fence in understanding between Wiccans and Satanists.  Wiccans have no understanding of Satanism and Satanism focuses on the stereotypical actions of novice Wiccans cited in The Satanic Bible.  

      IMHO, those examples, for the most part, provide Wiccans with a good practical guide on how to overcome situations without exiting the boundaries of Wiccan ethics and values.  However, some examples do go beyond those ethical boundaries, depending on your interpretation and any additional dogma your trad brings to the table.

      • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

        LaVey wrote some good stuff and I think he should be on Pagans bookshelves. My point is that we actively state that we are a different religion and philosophy, both different from Satanism and Objectivism. For a Wiccan to be an Objectivist is an oxymoron. For a Wiccan to be a Satanist is bizarre and rare.

  • http://dianarajchel.com Diana Rajchel

    “It’s a running joke that the first thing a Pagan will say when asked to explain their religion is “We’re not Satanists” and perhaps we should toss in “We’re not Objectivists either!” Every Pagan religion I know of is antithetical to Objectivist and Satanist philosophy.”

    I think you just raised a new line of conversation for people that insist Pagans justify what they are not in explaining what they are.  It might even be less circular than some of the arguments of “Well, if it ain’t Christian, it’s gotta be Satan!” 

    • Anonymous

      It’s very often best to start a definition with what that label is, not what it is not. 

      Though the whole “we are not Satanists” line is something I personally believe has generated a bit of tension on the Wiccan side of the fence in understanding between Wiccans and Satanists.  Wiccans have no understanding of Satanism and Satanism focuses on the stereotypical actions of novice Wiccans cited in The Satanic Bible.  

      IMHO, those examples, for the most part, provide Wiccans with a good practical guide on how to overcome situations without exiting the boundaries of Wiccan ethics and values.  However, some examples do go beyond those ethical boundaries, depending on your interpretation and any additional dogma your trad brings to the table.

      • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

        LaVey wrote some good stuff and I think he should be on Pagans bookshelves. My point is that we actively state that we are a different religion and philosophy, both different from Satanism and Objectivism. For a Wiccan to be an Objectivist is an oxymoron. For a Wiccan to be a Satanist is bizarre and rare.

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    Love is under Will in Thelema. This is not so in Wicca. It the least it has equal standing with Will, and in many cases has a far greater emphasis.

    • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

      Indeed, some interpretations of The Wiccan Rede: “an ye harm none, do as ye will” put harm as being “harming someone’s will” not physical/other forms of harm.  Others say harm is the opposite of love.  Some define it simply as anything that is in opposition (sometimes merely potential opposition) to living.

      Quite an interesting topic, something I’d expect someone to write a PhD thesis on for a seminary given how deep this topic can go in Wicca.

      • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

        The Rede is a bone worth gnawing on for awhile. The different interpretations amaze me.

    • Syna

      But the whole 93 thing is what matters most: will and love are aligned together, and in a paradox, will is said to be the whole of the law, while love is also the law.

      Love ‘under’ will is more methodological than anything, IMHO. One is not more important than the other, as the constant emphasis on their alignment reveals.

      • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

        Fascinating. I never knew that about 93. I know Thelema means “will” and the references in the Book of the Law. I’ll have to dig deeper into this when I find time. Thanks!

        • Syna

          Unfortunately Thelemites are fond of a lot of Will talk and forget to emphasize that 93 means love as well :) (The wording of ‘love under will’ doesn’t help.) I like to bring it to light when I can. 

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    Love is under Will in Thelema. This is not so in Wicca. It the least it has equal standing with Will, and in many cases has a far greater emphasis.

    • Anonymous

      Indeed, some interpretations of The Wiccan Rede: “an ye harm none, do as ye will” put harm as being “harming someone’s will” not physical/other forms of harm.  Others say harm is the opposite of love.  Some define it simply as anything that is in opposition (sometimes merely potential opposition) to living.

      Quite an interesting topic, something I’d expect someone to write a PhD thesis on for a seminary given how deep this topic can go in Wicca.

      • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

        The Rede is a bone worth gnawing on for awhile. The different interpretations amaze me.

    • Syna

      But the whole 93 thing is what matters most: will and love are aligned together, and in a paradox, will is said to be the whole of the law, while love is also the law.

      Love ‘under’ will is more methodological than anything, IMHO. One is not more important than the other, as the constant emphasis on their alignment reveals.

      • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

        Fascinating. I never knew that about 93. I know Thelema means “will” and the references in the Book of the Law. I’ll have to dig deeper into this when I find time. Thanks!

        • Syna

          Unfortunately Thelemites are fond of a lot of Will talk and forget to emphasize that 93 means love as well :) (The wording of ‘love under will’ doesn’t help.) I like to bring it to light when I can. 

  • http://b.rox.com/ Editor B

    Well put and thought-provoking. It takes a perspective outside the Christian-Satanic paradigm to see how ludicrous this is.

    One minor quibble: You said “jive” but I think you meant “jibe.”

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      Nope. Musical reference, not nautical, although both are apt.

  • http://b.rox.com/ Editor B

    Well put and thought-provoking. It takes a perspective outside the Christian-Satanic paradigm to see how ludicrous this is.

    One minor quibble: You said “jive” but I think you meant “jibe.”

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      Nope. Musical reference, not nautical, although both are apt.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

    I don’t find it the least bit surprising or incongruous that Evangelical Christians idolize Rand.  Like Satanists, they worship raw power and their own advancement over others. They’re not as honest or upfront about that motive as Satanists, so they feel the need to dress up their social Darwinism in the guise of selfless love.  The Christian narrative also gives them a wonderful theological justification for their actions. To them, Christ was a weapon of power over the “enemy.”  Since they follow Christ, anything they feel justified in doing is what “Christ would have wanted.” Since they’re followers of Christ, anyone who opposes them in any way is Christ’s enemy as well.

    Christians, most especially those who revere Rand (probably a solid majority in this country) and Satanists are two faces of the same coin.  In both cases, their cosmology and theology are utterly unlike anything I understand to be pagan. Nor  does Crowley form a link between our heritage and true Satanism.  The fact that he delighted in scandalizing Edwardian British society (a pretty soft target really), does not make him a Satanist.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      Crowley was definitely not a Satanist, but if he was it wouldn’t bother me. There’s nothing wrong with Satanism. It’s just not my cup of tea. I respect Isaac Bonewits, and he was a Satanist back in the day.

      I don’t think most Christians admire Rand. She was a bad writer, in bad need of an editor and her plots were often melodramatic and redundant.

      I’ve never understood how The Fountainhead was the least bit relevant, considering it was written in an era marked by modern architecture. Rather like my whining that no one listens to Justin Bieber nowadays.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

        Bonewits had some very choice things to say about Satanism and its followers.
        http://www.neopagan.net/Enemies.html

        My favorite among them, and one which dovetails quite nicely with my point is “Most people who practice Satanism are Christian fundamentalists in drag.”

        another choice morsel:

        “The overwhelming
        majority of Satanists I have known were sleazy, manipulative,
        parisitic and unethical. I can’t think of a single reason
        why we should make them feel welcome in our community, or why
        we should make their activities any easier, or why we should
        help their groups to grow and prosper. If the Setanists were
        ever to conquer the world (Goddess forbid!), they would herd
        us into ovens just as quickly as the other fundamentalists would.”

        From his writings, it seems Isaac had some very bad personal encounters over a period of time with Satanists and Satanic organizations. In my much more limited experience, I haven’t found Satanists to be all that evil, or interesting. Most of them seem to be secular humanists who want more edge and street cred than the tweedy academic sorts who hang out at the secular humanists societies.  Most of the Satanists I have met at least seemed to have a live and let live approach, and that’s more than I can say of the Christian elements in power who love Rand’s work.

        I should clarify that point as well. It’s not so much that vast numbers of Christians admire Rands writings directly (although many may, I don’t know). The point is that all of the Christian right is clearly enamored with Rands message that we are each islands unto ourselves with zero obligation to anyone else.  Other people are units of production. Pieces of meat. If they happen to serve your ends, great. If not… Power needs no justification beyond itself.

        Conservative Christianity is clearly informed by this ethic. It shines through in social and economic policies they favor and the militarism which has transformed us from a republic into an empire, decaying though it may be.  For all their crowing about “the sanctity of life,” no one in modern times has done more to reduce human life and quality of life to a pure commodity, one where supply always drives down price. Not rich or clever enough to have good health insurance? Tough. You SHOULD die. To legislate or even to imply that a collective responsibility for each other exists is socialism! (and very un-Randian).

        That fact is a curious paradox given the example of Jesus they cite as supreme truth, but as I say, he was just a means to justify their own position in the world and their own righteousness.

        • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

          I’m going to trust someone who says “Setanists” just as much as I trust someone that says “Wiccanists.”  

          If you want to get some feel for the Setians, you can listen to Episode 113 of the Pagan Centered Podcast where we had a representative from the Temple of Set.  Episodes 105 and 106 cover LeVayan perspectives.  

          Links:
          113: http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com/shows/pcp/113
          105: http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com/shows/pcp/105
          106: http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com/shows/pcp/106

          You can take that and then re-read Bonewitz’ essay.  I wont say he’s wrong, but I wont say I agree fully with Bonewitz either.

      • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

        Well, Satanism wouldn’t exist until decades after Crowley’s death.  That might be the primary reason why Crowley wasn’t a Satanist rather than choice or anything.  

        Then again, I’m speculating about someone I know little about :).

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          True, but he also didn’t identify as worshiping Lucifer, even as a metaphor. He used Pan and Baphomet in his religious imagery, not Lucifer.

          • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

            Do Luciferians fall under Satanism though?  Usually Satanism, outside of a Judaeo-Christian context, refers to Church of Satan and the religion(s) that split off the CoS.

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            I’ve always thought Luciferians were Gnostic and close to Zoroastrianism in theology.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

            Crowley defies easy labels and as a result, he tends to be one of those blank-screen phenomena that people can project what they want to see.  At some level, I think the Satanic ethic appealed to Crowley. He rebelled against the extremely rigid version of Christianity in which he was raised. He said of that time “I simply went over to Satan’s side.”
            So he rebelled against the rigidity and self-denial of Christianity, but there’s no evidence that he ever worshiped Satan as an entity. Indeed, he would at times decribe himself as the “truest sort of Christian.”

             He was also a pagan in his own way, a Kabbalist and a devotee of eastern mysticism and disciplines such as yoga.  The religion he founded combines a Kemetic pantheon with a libertarian/humanist philisophy, elements of his lifetime of occult studies and ritual elements that are nothing if not Judeo-Christian in form and origin.  He was also a product of his time, a blue-blood of Edwardian England, with all of the connotations of racism and misogyny that went with it. He was a showman and egomaniac and could frequently be a five star a** by his own admission, but he also did a lot of truly selfless stuff for people he considered friends.

            In short Crowley was a very interesting character and very hard to characterize.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

    I don’t find it the least bit surprising or incongruous that Evangelical Christians idolize Rand.  Like Satanists, they worship raw power and their own advancement over others. They’re not as honest or upfront about that motive as Satanists, so they feel the need to dress up their social Darwinism in the guise of selfless love.  The Christian narrative also gives them a wonderful theological justification for their actions. To them, Christ was a weapon of power over the “enemy.”  Since they follow Christ, anything they feel justified in doing is what “Christ would have wanted.” Since they’re followers of Christ, anyone who opposes them in any way is Christ’s enemy as well.

    Christians, most especially those who revere Rand (probably a solid majority in this country) and Satanists are two faces of the same coin.  In both cases, their cosmology and theology are utterly unlike anything I understand to be pagan. Nor  does Crowley form a link between our heritage and true Satanism.  The fact that he delighted in scandalizing Edwardian British society (a pretty soft target really), does not make him a Satanist.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      Crowley was definitely not a Satanist, but if he was it wouldn’t bother me. There’s nothing wrong with Satanism. It’s just not my cup of tea. I respect Isaac Bonewits, and he was a Satanist back in the day.

      I don’t think most Christians admire Rand. She was a bad writer, in bad need of an editor and her plots were often melodramatic and redundant.

      I’ve never understood how The Fountainhead was the least bit relevant, considering it was written in an era marked by modern architecture. Rather like my whining that no one listens to Justin Bieber nowadays.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

        Bonewits had some very choice things to say about Satanism and its followers.
        http://www.neopagan.net/Enemies.html

        My favorite among them, and one which dovetails quite nicely with my point is “Most people who practice Satanism are Christian fundamentalists in drag.”

        another choice morsel:

        “The overwhelming
        majority of Satanists I have known were sleazy, manipulative,
        parisitic and unethical. I can’t think of a single reason
        why we should make them feel welcome in our community, or why
        we should make their activities any easier, or why we should
        help their groups to grow and prosper. If the Setanists were
        ever to conquer the world (Goddess forbid!), they would herd
        us into ovens just as quickly as the other fundamentalists would.”

        From his writings, it seems Isaac had some very bad personal encounters over a period of time with Satanists and Satanic organizations. In my much more limited experience, I haven’t found Satanists to be all that, or interesting. Most of them seem to be secular humanists who want more edge and street cred than the tweedy academic sorts who hang out at the secular humanists societies.  Most of the Satanists I have met at least seemed to have a live and let live approach, and that’s more than I can say of the Christian elements in power who love Rand’s work.

        I should clarify that point as well. It’s not so much that vast numbers of Christians admire Rands writings directly (although many may, I don’t know). The point is that all of the Christian right is clearly enamored with Rands message that we are each islands unto ourselves with zero obligation to anyone else.  Other people are units of production. Pieces of meat. If they happen to serve your ends, great. If not… Power needs no justification beyond itself.

        Conservative Christianity is clearly informed by this ethic. It shines through in social and economic policies they favor and the militarism which has transformed us from a republic into an empire, decaying though it may be.  For all their crowing about “the sanctity of life,” no one in modern times has done more to reduce human life and quality of life to a pure commodity, one where supply always drives down price. Not rich or clever enough to have good health insurance? Tough. You SHOULD die. To legislate or even to imply that a collective responsibility for each other exists is socialism! (and very un-Randian).

        That fact is a curious paradox given the example of Jesus they cite as supreme truth, but as I say, he was just a means to justify their own position in the world and their own righteousness.

        • Anonymous

          I’m going to trust someone who says “Setanists” just as much as I trust someone that says “Wiccanists.”  

          If you want to get some feel for the Setians, you can listen to Episode 113 of the Pagan Centered Podcast where we had a representative from the Temple of Set.  Episodes 105 and 106 cover LeVayan perspectives.  

          You can take that and then re-read Bonewitz’ essay.  I wont say he’s wrong, but I wont say I agree fully with Bonewitz either.

      • Anonymous

        Well, Satanism wouldn’t exist until decades after Crowley’s death.  That might be the primary reason why Crowley wasn’t a Satanist rather than choice or anything.  

        Then again, I’m speculating about someone I know little about :).

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          True, but he also didn’t identify as worshiping Lucifer, even as a metaphor. He used Pan and Baphomet in his religious imagery, not Lucifer.

          • Anonymous

            Do Luciferians fall under Satanism though?  Usually Satanism, outside of a Judaeo-Christian context, refers to Church of Satan and the religion(s) that split off the CoS.

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            I’ve always thought Luciferians were Gnostic and close to Zoroastrianism in theology.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

            Crowley defies easy labels and as a result, he tends to be one of those blank-screen phenomena that people can project what they want to see.  At some level, I think the Satanic ethic appealed to Crowley. He rebelled against the extremely rigid version of Christianity in which he was raised. He said of that time “I simply went over to Satan’s side.”
            So he rebelled against the rigidity and self-denial of Christianity, but there’s no evidence that he ever worshiped Satan as an entity. Indeed, he would at times decribe himself as the “truest sort of Christian.”

             He was also a pagan in his own way, a Kabbalist and a devotee of eastern mysticism and disciplines such as yoga.  The religion he founded combines a Kemetic pantheon with a libertarian/humanist philisophy, elements of his lifetime of occult studies and ritual elements that are nothing if not Judeo-Christian in form and origin.  He was also a product of his time, a blue-blood of Edwardian England, with all of the connotations of racism and misogyny that went with it. He was a showman and egomaniac and could frequently be a five star a** by his own admission, but he also did a lot of truly selfless stuff for people he considered friends.

            In short Crowley was a very interesting character and very hard to characterize.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2QJH7OCSK4GUYCYZ3Z3HCQE2SY Michael

    One part of the foolishness here is the idea that agreeing with Rand’s prediction and diagnoses in “Atlas Shrugged” – the accuracy of which has been demonstrated in the last few years to a nicety – somehow magically commits one to agreement with her total philosophy. Would this argument be extended to an atheist leftist who recommends Tolstoy or Victor Hugo?

    The other part is a specific misrepresentation of Christianity. Christianity is not a pro-Statism religion; indeed, given who killed their Savior, it tends to the anti-State. (This is something the left has not yet dealt with.) Nowhere in the Bible does it say that wealth should be expropriated and redistributed by the dubious means of government structures; it speaks of personal and *voluntary* charity. One might add, looking at the horrific debt and unfunded liabilities situation that the U.S. is in right now, that the Bible and Jesus were wise in staying away from government panaceas.

    This entire kabuki charade is in bad faith. The Bible does not advocate any Progressive notions of “economic justice.” The progressives who have suddenly discovered religion and its necessary role in politics – after thirty decades and more of stridently and rightly insisting it must be kept out of politics – are not sincere. After this temporary rhetorical bubble is over, they will resume their previous, also ad-hoc, declarations.

    As for the “sociopath” accusation, this is what comes of copying attack website garbage. The whole thing rests upon one author – Prescott’s – highly selective excerpting and chopping up of a private [i.e., thinking out loud without clarifications ] journal written when Rand was barely out of her teens, fresh from the blood bath of 1920s Soviet Russia – and still made it very clear that her read on the personalities of the observers showed that they were not appalled by Hickman’s crime – she said there had been far worse, without the same spectacle of glee – but by his flamboyant and mocking defiance of society. She – who was writing about a *legally innocent man* at the time of the trial – even called him a repulsive and purposeless criminal. Enough with the disinformation and – yes – Satanizing of Ayn Rand.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      Where did I say Christianity was pro-statism? Where did I suggest the Bible supports government-funded charity? Perhaps you shouldn’t read things into articles that aren’t there. The Bible specifically states you must care for the poor. None of Rand’s characters have any interest in that, either politically or personally.

      Who called her a sociopath? Are you responding to my post or someone else’s?

      If a Christian politician quoted LaVey it would be scandalous, so Christian politicians quoting a philosophy which is even further from Christianity on the spectrum of values should be equally scandalous.

      • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.a.moody Joseph A Moody

        in a perfect world…..

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2QJH7OCSK4GUYCYZ3Z3HCQE2SY Michael

    One part of the foolishness here is the idea that agreeing with Rand’s prediction and diagnoses in “Atlas Shrugged” – the accuracy of which has been demonstrated in the last few years to a nicety – somehow magically commits one to agreement with her total philosophy. Would this argument be extended to an atheist leftist who recommends Tolstoy or Victor Hugo?

    The other part is a specific misrepresentation of Christianity. Christianity is not a pro-Statism religion; indeed, given who killed their Savior, it tends to the anti-State. (This is something the left has not yet dealt with.) Nowhere in the Bible does it say that wealth should be expropriated and redistributed by the dubious means of government structures; it speaks of personal and *voluntary* charity. One might add, looking at the horrific debt and unfunded liabilities situation that the U.S. is in right now, that the Bible and Jesus were wise in staying away from government panaceas.

    This entire kabuki charade is in bad faith. The Bible does not advocate any Progressive notions of “economic justice.” The progressives who have suddenly discovered religion and its necessary role in politics – after thirty decades and more of stridently and rightly insisting it must be kept out of politics – are not sincere. After this temporary rhetorical bubble is over, they will resume their previous, also ad-hoc, declarations.

    As for the “sociopath” accusation, this is what comes of copying attack website garbage. The whole thing rests upon one author – Prescott’s – highly selective excerpting and chopping up of a private [i.e., thinking out loud without clarifications ] journal written when Rand was barely out of her teens, fresh from the blood bath of 1920s Soviet Russia – and still made it very clear that her read on the personalities of the observers showed that they were not appalled by Hickman’s crime – she said there had been far worse, without the same spectacle of glee – but by his flamboyant and mocking defiance of society. She – who was writing about a *legally innocent man* at the time of the trial – even called him a repulsive and purposeless criminal. Enough with the disinformation and – yes – Satanizing of Ayn Rand.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      Where did I say Christianity was pro-statism? Where did I suggest the Bible supports government-funded charity? Perhaps you shouldn’t read things into articles that aren’t there. The Bible specifically states you must care for the poor. None of Rand’s characters have any interest in that, either politically or personally.

      Who called her a sociopath? Are you responding to my post or someone else’s?

      If a Christian politician quoted LaVey it would be scandalous, so Christian politicians quoting a philosophy which is even further from Christianity on the spectrum of values should be equally scandalous.

      • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.a.moody Joseph A Moody

        in a perfect world…..

  • Danica_ray

    I agree with a lot of Rand’s philosophies, specifically with this ideas that hold dear the individual genius and staying true to one’s vision. Does that mean I’m not a “real” pagan, Star? And who made you pope to define what are and are not pagan values? I’ve read your column for a while and finally felt that I needed to speak up. Pagan values (whatever those are) go far and wide beyond your particular political and personal philosophies. You don’t get to define what they are and are not for everyone.  You do not speak for all of us.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      Individual genius and staying true to one’s vision are not uniquely Randian ideas, as Crowley espoused them years before she did, and the Golden Dawn before him and ancient philosophers before them.

      If you truly believe Rand’s philosophy then you are adamantly anti-religion, and therefore not a Pagan nor a Christian nor a Jain. You are likely more in tune with Satanism than Rand, and many Satanists and other LHP folks have been identifying as Pagan for a very long time. Note I said any “Pagan religion,” not any Pagan. Objectivism isn’t compatible with Asatru, Wicca, Hellenismos, or any other “religion.” Satanism is in and of itself not a Pagan religion anymore than Santeria or Lakota religion is. It is only Pagan in the big umbrella sense. It’s individual practitioners may identify as Pagan and there’s nothing wrong with that.

      I believe it’s already been settled that Sannion is the Pagan pope, but I voted for Lon Milo DuQuette myself.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1226891346 Cara Schulz

        I think Rand had a valid point and insight with her political philosophy of personal excellence, freedom of the individual. etc…and I’m not anti-religion.  I’m also not a Satanist. 

        I disagree strongly with what you have written and I don’t understand why you are taking this position that because I think Rand has a point and has some good insights into human behavior I’m either a Satanist or an Objectivity.

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          I never said that.

          • Cigfran

            She knows.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1226891346 Cara Schulz

            You don’t know me so don’t presume. I realize that people think it’s cute to do these little remarks, but it isn’t.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1226891346 Cara Schulz

          OK.  I’m still confused.  You said “If you truly believe Rand’s philosophy then you are adamantly
          anti-religion, and therefore not a Pagan nor a Christian nor a Jain”  So what do you mean by that?

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            Rand’s philosophy is Objectivism, which is anti-religion. Rand herself was very anti-religion in her writing.

            She may have made a good point here and there about the economy, but then Stalin made a few good points here and there about governing. There’s a difference between saying she made a good point now and then, and endorsing her and her philosophy.

            My point is Objectivism is further from Christian values than Paganism, so it’s absurd for them to make Rand their new poster-child.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1226891346 Cara Schulz

            Thank you for clarifying. I don’t agree, but I appreciate the reply.

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      Did Star say word the first about speaking for all Pagans everywhere?  What you’re doing here?  This is a huge part of why we don’t have more openly Pagan bloggers – because so often, when one of the ones we *do* have takes a stand on something and voices *THEIR PERSONAL OPINION*, people who feel that the blogger’s opinion doesn’t mesh 100% with theirs and reverberate with Deep Cosmic Truth ™ have to whinge about “who made you pope to define…” blah blah blah.

      You’re reading Star’s articles because either you a) find value in what she has to say or b) find no value in what she has to say and are looking for someone to argue with.  Where I come from, we have a word for people of the latter sort.  Don’t be that guy.

  • Danica_ray

    I agree with a lot of Rand’s philosophies, specifically with this ideas that hold dear the individual genius and staying true to one’s vision. Does that mean I’m not a “real” pagan, Star? And who made you pope to define what are and are not pagan values? I’ve read your column for a while and finally felt that I needed to speak up. Pagan values (whatever those are) go far and wide beyond your particular political and personal philosophies. You don’t get to define what they are and are not for everyone.  You do not speak for all of us.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      Individual genius and staying true to one’s vision are not uniquely Randian ideas, as Crowley espoused them years before she did, and the Golden Dawn before him and ancient philosophers before them.

      If you truly believe Rand’s philosophy then you are adamantly anti-religion, and therefore not a Pagan nor a Christian nor a Jain. You are likely more in tune with Satanism than Rand, and many Satanists and other LHP folks have been identifying as Pagan for a very long time. Note I said any “Pagan religion,” not any Pagan. Objectivism isn’t compatible with Asatru, Wicca, Hellenismos, or any other “religion.” Satanism is in and of itself not a Pagan religion anymore than Santeria or Lakota religion is. It is only Pagan in the big umbrella sense. It’s individual practitioners may identify as Pagan and there’s nothing wrong with that.

      I believe it’s already been settled that Sannion is the Pagan pope, but I voted for Lon Milo DuQuette myself.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1226891346 Cara Schulz

        I think Rand had a valid point and insight with her political philosophy of personal excellence, freedom of the individual. etc…and I’m not anti-religion.  I’m also not a Satanist. 

        I disagree strongly with what you have written and I don’t understand why you are taking this position that because I think Rand has a point and has some good insights into human behavior I’m either a Satanist or an Objectivity.

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          I never said that.

          • Cigfran

            She knows.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1226891346 Cara Schulz

            You don’t know me so don’t presume. I realize that people think it’s cute to do these little remarks, but it isn’t.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1226891346 Cara Schulz

          OK.  I’m still confused.  You said “If you truly believe Rand’s philosophy then you are adamantly
          anti-religion, and therefore not a Pagan nor a Christian nor a Jain”  So what do you mean by that?

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            Rand’s philosophy is Objectivism, which is anti-religion. Rand herself was very anti-religion in her writing.

            She may have made a good point here and there about the economy, but then Stalin made a few good points here and there about governing. There’s a difference between saying she made a good point now and then, and endorsing her and her philosophy.

            My point is Objectivism is further from Christian values than Paganism, so it’s absurd for them to make Rand their new poster-child.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1226891346 Cara Schulz

            Thank you for clarifying. I don’t agree, but I appreciate the reply.

    • http://twitter.com/ouranophobe Áine

      Did Star say word the first about speaking for all Pagans everywhere?  What you’re doing here?  This is a huge part of why we don’t have more openly Pagan bloggers – because so often, when one of the ones we *do* have takes a stand on something and voices *THEIR PERSONAL OPINION*, people who feel that the blogger’s opinion doesn’t mesh 100% with theirs and reverberate with Deep Cosmic Truth ™ have to whinge about “who made you pope to define…” blah blah blah.

      You’re reading Star’s articles because either you a) find value in what she has to say or b) find no value in what she has to say and are looking for someone to argue with.  Where I come from, we have a word for people of the latter sort.  Don’t be that guy.

  • sonyamiller

    I agree with you about the objectivism, but I really think Lavey plagiarized more from Nietzche than any philosopher, and GOT AWAY with it!  As a philosophy major who was reading and studying both around the same time, I remember taking his book to a professor who totally agreed with me, Rand and Nietzche and Carny is where Lavey got his theories, but at least he created them.

    Lastly, as a Wiccan myself…I do not claim Crowley as my Godfather…I think many people have helped create my craft..I like Dione Fortune, or Selena Fox, or how bout Starhawk?  Most Wiccan’s today (and I should know because I teach them) don’t know Crowley, but they sure have read Buckey’s blue book, or Scott Cunningham.  Also, there were so many women in that era that we never even seem to acknowledge that contributed as much or more to what we call “higher magick” Crowley just stole the show by being a publicity hound…is that the image we really want to promote for our religion?

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      Gardner borrowed from Crowley. What Wicca originally was, and for some still is, owes a debt to Crowley. The Rede itself comes from Crowley’s writing.

      • Henry

        Nah, it doesn’t. The rede isn’t the eight word soundbite folks like to bandy about. Nothing in Crowley’s writings even suggest it, and the idea of doing ones will hardly originated with Crowley.

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          Most people tend to see “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” as the predecessor to the Rede. Considering Valiente spent of deal of her time minimizing the Crowley in Gardnerian Craft it seems likely that’s where she found it, among the Crowley-influenced bits Gardner had filled-out Wicca with.

          The long-form didn’t show up until the 70′s, and came from someone’s grandmother, of course.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

            I have no problem with the idea that Crowley contributed or transmitted some ritual and conceptual elements to Wicca and other present day forms of witchcraft. I think it’s easy to overemphasize his contributions, however. His correspondence with Gardner was relatively brief and in the last year or two of Crowley’s life when he was burdened with health issues and other distractions.  There are indeed similarities between the Rede and the Law of Thelema.

             On the other hand, the underlying sentiment of both sayings far predates either tradition. It has been expressed in various forms by Rabelais in the early 1500s and about 11 centuries before that by St. Augustine of Hippo. In fact, the entire premise of the Enlightenment and our own country’s original promise of limited government and expansive individual liberties comes from philosophers like John Stuart Mill who espoused ideas much like the Rede. In fact all religious movements throughout history which have emphasized the supremacy of individual conscience and personal experience of divine over legalism and the authority of a priestly caste have expressed ideas very similar to the Rede.

          • Henry

            ” On the other hand, the underlying sentiment of both sayings far predates either tradition. It has been expressed in various forms by Rabelais in the early 1500s and about 11 centuries before that by St. Augustine of Hippo.”

            And so, Crowley is a possible source, yet Gardner cites the character of a french novel in ‘The meaning of Witchcraft’, that witches “are inclined to the morality of the legendary Good King Pausol, ‘Do what you
            like so long as you harm no one’.”
            Despite what Star says about Valiente, by her own words(Valiente’s), she had great admiration for Crowleys poetry, and I’d say the reverse was more probable. That Crowley’s works were more of an influence on Valiente and it was Valiente who introduced the Crowleyesque wording when she rewrote some of Gardners material.
            It’s basicly a matter of phrasing than concept, as you say the concept has been around a long time, and has been phrased differently by different persons.

          • Henry

            Most people tend to see it that way based on what? Someone elses say so.
            If as you say, Valiente spent a good deal of her time minimizing Crowley in the Gardnerian order of the craft, why would she use it if it came from Crowley? Seems more likely she wouldn’t have.
            If I remember rightly Gardner himself mentioned it with a reference to a character in an old french novel “do what you like as long as it harms no one”.
            He also spent time in srilanka and malaya, and could very well have picked up the concept from ahimsa.

            Since you’ve hinted to Lady Gwens version, of course claiming to have received something from ones grandmother is immediately suspicious. Since we all know that there are no unbroken family traditions of the craft and Gardner invented it, because of course “someone says so”.

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            You should really stop reading things into my posts that I don’t say.

          • Henry

            so you aren’t saying:
            “Gardner borrowed from Crowley. What Wicca originally was, and for some still is, owes a debt to Crowley. The Rede itself comes from Crowley’s writing.”     
            or
            “Most people tend to see “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” as the predecessor to the Rede. Considering Valiente spent of deal of her time minimizing the Crowley in Gardnerian Craft it seems likely that’s where she found it, among the Crowley-influenced bits Gardner had filled-out Wicca with.”

            and “The long-form didn’t show up until the 70′s, and came from someone’s grandmother, of course.”
            isn’t a reference to Lady Gwens version??? and the ‘Of course’ wasn’t tinged with a bit of sarcasm?
            LOL
            So tell me Star, what is it I ‘read into’ that you didn’t write? 
            or are ya just gonna killfile me? lol    

    • http://twitter.com/noumenia noumenia

      Episode 19 from the podcast The Infinite and the Beyond goes through the history of Wicca looking at its family tree essentially, that is Crowley and Ceremonial Magick. Found here: http://www.infinite-beyond.com/

      I’ve met Wiccans who have never heard of Crowley or Thelema or the origins of their faith. There’s nothing wrong with knowing and accepting where things come from, I have issue with willingly ignoring such things for the sake of cherry-picking.

      • http://twitter.com/chrisorapello Christopher Orapello

        Thanks for the mention.

    • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

      Just to add to the sources you can explore that shows Crowley as a “Godfather” figure to Wicca (though I’d go more with the “Uncle we don’t talk about” analogy myself), GeraldGardner.com has released this PDF:

      http://www.geraldgardner.com/Gardner46-49.PDF

      It does an excellent job of collecting information from the period of time that Gardner and Crowley were close, relatively speaking and Gardner shortly after Crowley’s death and how all that influenced Wicca.

      • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

        There was an issue of Pentacle magazine a couple of years ago exploring new docs that have come to light regarding Gardners correspondence with Crowley.

  • sonyamiller

    I agree with you about the objectivism, but I really think Lavey plagiarized more from Nietzche than any philosopher, and GOT AWAY with it!  As a philosophy major who was reading and studying both around the same time, I remember taking his book to a professor who totally agreed with me, Rand and Nietzche and Carny is where Lavey got his theories, but at least he created them.

    Lastly, as a Wiccan myself…I do not claim Crowley as my Godfather…I think many people have helped create my craft..I like Dione Fortune, or Selena Fox, or how bout Starhawk?  Most Wiccan’s today (and I should know because I teach them) don’t know Crowley, but they sure have read Buckey’s blue book, or Scott Cunningham.  Also, there were so many women in that era that we never even seem to acknowledge that contributed as much or more to what we call “higher magick” Crowley just stole the show by being a publicity hound…is that the image we really want to promote for our religion?

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      Gardner borrowed from Crowley. What Wicca originally was, and for some still is, owes a debt to Crowley. The Rede itself comes from Crowley’s writing.

      • Henry

        Nah, it doesn’t. The rede isn’t the eight word soundbite folks like to bandy about. Nothing in Crowley’s writings even suggest it, and the idea of doing ones will hardly originated with Crowley.

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          Most people tend to see “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” as the predecessor to the Rede. Considering Valiente spent of deal of her time minimizing the Crowley in Gardnerian Craft it seems likely that’s where she found it, among the Crowley-influenced bits Gardner had filled-out Wicca with.

          The long-form didn’t show up until the 70′s, and came from someone’s grandmother, of course.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

            I have no problem with the idea that Crowley contributed or transmitted some ritual and conceptual elements to Wicca and other present day forms of witchcraft. I think it’s easy to overemphasize his contributions, however. His correspondence with Gardner was relatively brief and in the last year or two of Crowley’s life when he was burdened with health issues and other distractions.  There are indeed similarities between the Rede and the Law of Thelema.

             On the other hand, the underlying sentiment of both sayings far predates either tradition. It has been expressed in various forms by Rabelais in the early 1500s and about 11 centuries before that by St. Augustine of Hippo. In fact, the entire premise of the Enlightenment and our own country’s original promise of limited government and expansive individual liberties comes from philosophers like John Stuart Mill who espoused ideas much like the Rede. In fact all religious movements throughout history which have emphasized the supremacy of individual conscience and personal experience of divine over legalism and the authority of a priestly caste have expressed ideas very similar to the Rede.

          • Henry

            ” On the other hand, the underlying sentiment of both sayings far predates either tradition. It has been expressed in various forms by Rabelais in the early 1500s and about 11 centuries before that by St. Augustine of Hippo.”

            And so, Crowley is a possible source, yet Gardner cites the character of a french novel in ‘The meaning of Witchcraft’, that witches “are inclined to the morality of the legendary Good King Pausol, ‘Do what you
            like so long as you harm no one’.”
            Despite what Star says about Valiente, by her own words(Valiente’s), she had great admiration for Crowleys poetry, and I’d say the reverse was more probable. That Crowley’s works were more of an influence on Valiente and it was Valiente who introduced the Crowleyesque wording when she rewrote some of Gardners material.
            It’s basicly a matter of phrasing than concept, as you say the concept has been around a long time, and has been phrased differently by different persons.

          • Henry

            Most people tend to see it that way based on what? Someone elses say so.
            If as you say, Valiente spent a good deal of her time minimizing Crowley in the Gardnerian order of the craft, why would she use it if it came from Crowley? Seems more likely she wouldn’t have.
            If I remember rightly Gardner himself mentioned it with a reference to a character in an old french novel “do what you like as long as it harms no one”.
            He also spent time in srilanka and malaya, and could very well have picked up the concept from ahimsa.

            Since you’ve hinted to Lady Gwens version, of course claiming to have received something from ones grandmother is immediately suspicious. Since we all know that there are no unbroken family traditions of the craft and Gardner invented it, because of course “someone says so”.

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            You should really stop reading things into my posts that I don’t say.

          • Henry

            so you aren’t saying:
            “Gardner borrowed from Crowley. What Wicca originally was, and for some still is, owes a debt to Crowley. The Rede itself comes from Crowley’s writing.”     
            or
            “Most people tend to see “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” as the predecessor to the Rede. Considering Valiente spent of deal of her time minimizing the Crowley in Gardnerian Craft it seems likely that’s where she found it, among the Crowley-influenced bits Gardner had filled-out Wicca with.”

            and “The long-form didn’t show up until the 70′s, and came from someone’s grandmother, of course.”
            isn’t a reference to Lady Gwens version??? and the ‘Of course’ wasn’t tinged with a bit of sarcasm?
            LOL
            So tell me Star, what is it I ‘read into’ that you didn’t write? 
            or are ya just gonna killfile me? lol    

    • http://twitter.com/noumenia noumenia

      Episode 19 from the podcast The Infinite and the Beyond goes through the history of Wicca looking at it’s family tree essentially, that is Crowley and Ceremonial Magick. Found here: http://www.infinite-beyond.com/

      I’ve met Wiccans who have never heard of Crowley or Thelema or the origins of their faith. There’s nothing wrong with knowing and accepting where things come from, I have issue with willingly ignoring such things for the sake of cherry-picking.

      • http://twitter.com/chrisorapello Christopher Orapello

        Thanks for the mention.

    • Anonymous

      Just to add to the sources you can explore that shows Crowley as a “Godfather” figure to Wicca (though I’d go more with the “Uncle we don’t talk about” analogy myself), GeraldGardner.com has released this PDF:

      http://www.geraldgardner.com/Gardner46-49.PDF

      It does an excellent job of collecting information from the period of time that Gardner and Crowley were close, relatively speaking and Gardner shortly after Crowley’s death and how all that influenced Wicca.

      • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

        There was an issue of Pentacle magazine a couple of years ago exploring new docs that have come to light regarding Gardners correspondence with Crowley.

  • http://twitter.com/chrisorapello Christopher Orapello

    “Every Pagan religion I know of is antithetical to Objectivist and Satanist philosophy.”

    As always a well written and thought provoking article Star, just thought to mention that there are some pagans who consider themselves as also being atheists.  Thought you would be interested in that.

    BB / 93!

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      Atheism doesn’t have a literal belief in God(s). Objectivism is against religion. An atheist Pagan can find meaning in ritual. An Objectivist is against the ritual and practices of religion as well as not believing in God(s).

      Being a Pagan Objectivist is an oxymoron. You can’t be against religion while participating in it actively. Being a Pagan Atheist is simply acknowledging the practice of religion has some benefit to humankind.

      • http://twitter.com/chrisorapello Christopher Orapello

        So, on some level a Pagan Atheist is compatible with a Satanist, who in my understanding of the Church of Satan are also atheists?  Which makes the quoted statement by you from my first post false. Or am I mistaken? 

        Incidentally, thank you about the clarification regarding Objectivism.  Honestly never really knew of it specifically or Ayn Rand.  Nice to know.

        BB / 93!

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          An Atheist Wiccan or an Atheist Druid are still very different from a Satanist. Different values and philosophies.

        • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

          Most in the CoS are atheists, but there are some that consider themselves theistic Satanists (often frowned upon in LeVayan Satanism).

          However, Setians also fall under the umbrella of Satanists and given that schism in the CoS was caused by an encounter with Set, something tells me they’re not as adamantly atheistic as LeVayans.  Admittedly, I don’t see Setians talking about the gods the same way a recon or a Wiccan would.

  • http://twitter.com/chrisorapello Christopher Orapello

    “Every Pagan religion I know of is antithetical to Objectivist and Satanist philosophy.”

    As always a well written and thought provoking article Star, just thought to mention that there are some pagans who consider themselves as also being atheists.  Thought you would be interested in that.

    BB / 93!

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      Atheism doesn’t have a literal belief in God(s). Objectivism is against religion. An atheist Pagan can find meaning in ritual. An Objectivist is against the ritual and practices of religion as well as not believing in God(s).

      Being a Pagan Objectivist is an oxymoron. You can’t be against religion while participating in it actively. Being a Pagan Atheist is simply acknowledging the practice of religion has some benefit to humankind.

      • http://twitter.com/chrisorapello Christopher Orapello

        So, on some level a Pagan Atheist is compatible with a Satanist, who in my understanding of the Church of Satan are also atheists?  Which makes the quoted statement by you from my first post false. Or am I mistaken? 

        Incidentally, thank you about the clarification regarding Objectivism.  Honestly never really knew of it specifically or Ayn Rand.  Nice to know.

        BB / 93!

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          An Atheist Wiccan or an Atheist Druid are still very different from a Satanist. Different values and philosophies.

        • Anonymous

          Most in the CoS are atheists, but there are some that consider themselves theistic Satanists (often frowned upon in LeVayan Satanism).

          However, Setians also fall under the umbrella of Satanists and given that schism in the CoS was caused by an encounter with Set, something tells me they’re not as adamantly atheistic as LeVayans.  Admittedly, I don’t see Setians talking about the gods the same way a recon or a Wiccan would.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

    Crowley defies easy labels and as a result, he tends to be one of those
    blank-screen phenomena that people can project what they want to see. 
    At some level, I think the Satanic ethic appealed to Crowley. He
    rebelled against the extremely rigid version of Christianity in which he
    was raised. He said of that time “I simply went over to Satan’s side.”

    So he rebelled against the rigidity and self-denial of Christianity, but
    there’s no evidence that he ever worshiped Satan as an entity. Indeed,
    he would at times decribe himself as the “truest sort of Christian.”

     He was also a pagan in his own way, a Kabbalist and a devotee of
    eastern mysticism and disciplines such as yoga.  The religion he founded
    combines a Kemetic pantheon with a libertarian/humanist philisophy,
    elements of his lifetime of occult studies and ritual elements that are
    nothing if not Judeo-Christian in form and origin.  He was also a
    product of his time, a blue-blood of Edwardian England, with all of the
    connotations of racism and misogyny that went with it. He was a showman
    and egomaniac and could frequently be a five star a** by his own
    admission, but he also did a lot of truly selfless stuff for people he
    considered friends.

    In short Crowley was a very interesting character and very hard to characterize.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

    Crowley defies easy labels and as a result, he tends to be one of those
    blank-screen phenomena that people can project what they want to see. 
    At some level, I think the Satanic ethic appealed to Crowley. He
    rebelled against the extremely rigid version of Christianity in which he
    was raised. He said of that time “I simply went over to Satan’s side.”

    So he rebelled against the rigidity and self-denial of Christianity, but
    there’s no evidence that he ever worshiped Satan as an entity. Indeed,
    he would at times decribe himself as the “truest sort of Christian.”

     He was also a pagan in his own way, a Kabbalist and a devotee of
    eastern mysticism and disciplines such as yoga.  The religion he founded
    combines a Kemetic pantheon with a libertarian/humanist philisophy,
    elements of his lifetime of occult studies and ritual elements that are
    nothing if not Judeo-Christian in form and origin.  He was also a
    product of his time, a blue-blood of Edwardian England, with all of the
    connotations of racism and misogyny that went with it. He was a showman
    and egomaniac and could frequently be a five star a** by his own
    admission, but he also did a lot of truly selfless stuff for people he
    considered friends.

    In short Crowley was a very interesting character and very hard to characterize.

  • Caelesti

    Funny- a while back I read a Christianity Today article that discussed their religion’s incompatibility with Objectivism- and I thought it was also incompatible with Paganism- but it would be with Satanism! I haven’t read Rand (don’t plan on it!) so I can’t comment on whether LaVey stole ideas from her. I also agree Crowley was not a Satanist but liked dark imagery for sensationalistic attention.

  • Caelesti

    Funny- a while back I read a Christianity Today article that discussed their religion’s incompatibility with Objectivism- and I thought it was also incompatible with Paganism- but it would be with Satanism! I haven’t read Rand (don’t plan on it!) so I can’t comment on whether LaVey stole ideas from her. I also agree Crowley was not a Satanist but liked dark imagery for sensationalistic attention.

  • http://dvera.wordpress.com/ Diane Vera

    There are other kinds of Satanism besides LaVeyan Satanism.  LaVey’s Church of Satan likes to claim the word “Satanism” as its intellectual property, but most new-religion scholars to not agree.

    There are many kinds of Satanists, with views ranging all over the political spectrum.  I, for one, do not agree with Ayn Rand’s economic views at all.

    I’m the founder of two Satanist groups that hold in-person meetings here in New York City.  I also maintain a well-known website devoted to theistic Satanism, founded in late 2002.

  • http://dvera.wordpress.com/ Diane Vera

    There are other kinds of Satanism besides LaVeyan Satanism.  LaVey’s Church of Satan likes to claim the word “Satanism” as its intellectual property, but most new-religion scholars to not agree.

    There are many kinds of Satanists, with views ranging all over the political spectrum.  I, for one, do not agree with Ayn Rand’s economic views at all.

    I’m the founder of two Satanist groups that hold in-person meetings here in New York City.  I also maintain a well-known website devoted to theistic Satanism, founded in late 2002.

  • http://twitter.com/GardenOfChaos Allison H

    I’d also like to add that, although it is true that most LaVeyan Satanists (otherwise known as Modern Satanists) are objectivists, The Satanic Bible is not a Satanic holy book as the Christian Bible is,
    therefore adherence to it’s creed and philosophies does not signify a “true” Satanist. Ayn Rand was a revolutionary thinker and very bold to come out with something that groundbreaking, especially as a woman. Bringing about change, revolution, and all the rest is indeed what Satanism is about but, as a Left-Wing’d Satanist, I don’t agree with her or the “Might is Right” philosophies in Modern Satanism.

  • http://twitter.com/GardenOfChaos Allison H

    I’d also like to add that, although it is true that most LaVeyan Satanists (otherwise known as Modern Satanists) are objectivists, The Satanic Bible is not a Satanic holy book as the Christian Bible is,
    therefore adherence to it’s creed and philosophies does not signify a “true” Satanist. Ayn Rand was a revolutionary thinker and very bold to come out with something that groundbreaking, especially as a woman. Bringing about change, revolution, and all the rest is indeed what Satanism is about but, as a Left-Wing’d Satanist, I don’t agree with her or the “Might is Right” philosophies in Modern Satanism.

  • Calypsoshade

    There are many more types of Satanist than the La Veyan kind. La Veyan Satanism is a type of atheistic Satanism- and although many of us were introduced to the left-hand path by his book, we also turned away from it as soon as we found types of Satanism that suited us better. The internet is a handy tool for building communities and helping ideas evolve faster.

    On a much more personal level, La Vey’s book helped me feel vindicated as a young person who felt restless and resentful toward overzealous and controlling versions of Christianity, while at the same time alienating me for being “weak”, “guilty”, and a “prude”. I didn’t unlearn those ideas until years later and now I identify as someone who has a good deal of self-determination and a sex-positive. As for Ayn Rand, all I’ve heard about her is that she’s a misogynist. “All women are ___, except me,” type of thing. I don’t read her for the same reason I won’t read Nietszche. Maybe someday, but I’d rather focus on the work of more human-positive authors for now.

    • Calypsoshade

      was* might be better, I’m not even quite sure the woman is still alive.

  • Calypsoshade

    There are many more types of Satanist than the La Veyan kind. La Veyan Satanism is a type of atheistic Satanism- and although many of us were introduced to the left-hand path by his book, we also turned away from it as soon as we found types of Satanism that suited us better. The internet is a handy tool for building communities and helping ideas evolve faster.

    On a much more personal level, La Vey’s book helped me feel vindicated as a young person who felt restless and resentful toward overzealous and controlling versions of Christianity, while at the same time alienating me for being “weak”, “guilty”, and a “prude”. I didn’t unlearn those ideas until years later and now I identify as someone who has a good deal of self-determination and a sex-positive. As for Ayn Rand, all I’ve heard about her is that she’s a misogynist. “All women are ___, except me,” type of thing. I don’t read her for the same reason I won’t read Nietszche. Maybe someday, but I’d rather focus on the work of more human-positive authors for now.

    • Calypsoshade

      was* might be better, I’m not even quite sure the woman is still alive.

  • cerridwen guske

       To say wiccans believe in love more than Crowley is misplaced since ‘An it harm none, do what ye will’ (the wiccan creed) comes directly from Crowley’s “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. Love is the law, love under will.”  It seems many forget the second, quite important, love filled, part to that statement.
       I believe wiccans today would like to distance themselves from the Beast because they are uneducated in his works and do not take the time to appreciate the beauty and satire of his prodigious writings. He may be interpreted as a misogynist if one glances at the surface of his poems and rituals. More fair analysis would include an understanding of Victorian mores and the man who battled through them and his own confusion/guilt with his mother, sexuality and faith of his father to create rituals celebrating not only the union of the sexes in creation but the holy feminine as a necessary part of that equation. As a bisexual polygamist with little regard for the taboos of the time he was a master at confronting the assumptions of society and utilizing the energy created when one breaks those taboos to make magic and fame.
        Unfortunately, many pagans today forget the God, choosing only to acknowledge the goddess in their workings. Such Dianic principles are as imbalanced as Christianity without mother Mary elevated to the same status as the christ.  Just as the church sought to demonize our lady by association with the wicked, today’s pagans are in danger of dismissing the god as bestial, masochistic, chauvinist, horny and lacking love. Just as the mid wives, herbalists, and powerful women were cast in an evil light, so too, is Crowley cast as a degenerate, wicked man so that his memory and work may be de-legitimized and dismissed.
     

    • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

      Not all Wiccans, much less Pagans, embrace Dianic ideals.  Yes, the Dianic tradition seems imbalanced and I still do not understand how they claim to be Wiccan given the importance of balance as an underlying concept of Wicca and within the design of the religion.  Nevertheless, they and the radical feminists do their thing – but don’t confuse tolerance from the remainder of the Wiccan community with us embracing that imbalance in our own spiritual views and practices.

      Also, let’s try to remember that the whole duo-theistic thing tends to be mostly Wicca (not a pan-Pagan value nor belief).  I don’t think the Asatruar are in danger of losing touch with what Odin represents or those embracing the Greek pantheon forgetting what Hephaestus represents.

      If you want to know why Wiccans tend to distance themselves from Crowley, I recommend observing interactions between Wiccans and Thelemites.  That, and it’s not popular nowadays to associate with a religion that was led by a man… to keep it PG-rated… embracing the sexual stereotype of a Catholic Priest circa 2002.

  • cerridwen guske

       To say wiccans believe in love more than Crowley is misplaced since ‘An it harm none, do what ye will’ (the wiccan creed) comes directly from Crowley’s “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. Love is the law, love under will.”  It seems many forget the second, quite important, love filled, part to that statement.
       I believe wiccans today would like to distance themselves from the Beast because they are uneducated in his works and do not take the time to appreciate the beauty and satire of his prodigious writings. He may be interpreted as a misogynist if one glances at the surface of his poems and rituals. More fair analysis would include an understanding of Victorian mores and the man who battled through them and his own confusion/guilt with his mother, sexuality and faith of his father to create rituals celebrating not only the union of the sexes in creation but the holy feminine as a necessary part of that equation. As a bisexual polygamist with little regard for the taboos of the time he was a master at confronting the assumptions of society and utilizing the energy created when one breaks those taboos to make magic and fame.
        Unfortunately, many pagans today forget the God, choosing only to acknowledge the goddess in their workings. Such Dianic principles are as imbalanced as Christianity without mother Mary elevated to the same status as the christ.  Just as the church sought to demonize our lady by association with the wicked, today’s pagans are in danger of dismissing the god as bestial, masochistic, chauvinist, horny and lacking love. Just as the mid wives, herbalists, and powerful women were cast in an evil light, so too, is Crowley cast as a degenerate, wicked man so that his memory and work may be de-legitimized and dismissed.
     

    • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

      Not all Wiccans, much less Pagans, embrace Dianic ideals.  Yes, the Dianic tradition seems imbalanced and I still do not understand how they claim to be Wiccan given the importance of balance as an underlying concept of Wicca and within the design of the religion.  Nevertheless, they and the radical feminists do their thing – but don’t confuse tolerance from the remainder of the Wiccan community with us embracing that imbalance in our own spiritual views and practices.

      Also, let’s try to remember that the whole duo-theistic thing tends to be mostly Wicca (not a pan-Pagan value nor belief).  I don’t think the Asatruar are in danger of losing touch with what Odin represents or those embracing the Greek pantheon forgetting what Hephaestus represents.

      If you want to know why Wiccans tend to distance themselves from Crowley, I recommend observing interactions between Wiccans and Thelemites.  That, and it’s not popular nowadays to associate with a religion that was led by a man… to keep it PG-rated… embracing the sexual stereotype of a Catholic Priest circa 2002.

  • Lifencompass

    I’m sort if laughing at myself here. I bounced over to the CoS site and read that bit and found part of myself nodding. Hmmm well I do believe ibam the Gods and the Gods are me, sort of thing but I never realized the unintentional collusion (maybe??) between magickal theory and practice between CoS and some magickal ideas: cones to mind Bonewitz and Real Magick, though an older publication raises good questions for the self.

    Thank you for that.

  • http://lifencompass.com Scott @ Lifencompass

    I’m sort if laughing at myself here. I bounced over to the CoS site and read that bit and found part of myself nodding. Hmmm well I do believe ibam the Gods and the Gods are me, sort of thing but I never realized the unintentional collusion (maybe??) between magickal theory and practice between CoS and some magickal ideas: cones to mind Bonewitz and Real Magick, though an older publication raises good questions for the self.

    Thank you for that.


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