5 August 2011

On Evil

An article on the website of Dragon Rouge, a Swedish (left-hand path) occult society, concerning their philosophy, makes an interesting division between 'grey' everyday evil, and 'mythological' Evil.

To quote:
'It is of great importance to be aware already at the outset of the fact that the dark and evil forces that are described in the myths must not be mixed up with the grey evil that strikes us as soon as we read a newspaper or watch the news on television. This grey evil that surrounds us in our world is mainly committed by frustrated and confused individuals, power mad politicians or criminals, unable to control petty desires. This evil has in reality nothing whatsoever to do with the metaphysical evil that we encounter in religious documents. ... The grey evil characteristic of humanity is not seldom justified with goodness. How often do we not see terrible cruelty in the name of goodness? ... The forces of evil appearing in the myths are revolting, questioning, overthrowing and pioneers.'

I have myself surmised at times that the terms 'good' and 'evil' are almost useless in the 'real' world, mostly because they are utterly subjective. What, say, an American fundamentalist Christian might think as 'evil', I often find positive, necessary, or simply immaterial (take such topics as premarital sex, abortion or homosexuality). And then again, I'm sure there are things such people consider 'good' that I find downright disgusting. It might be more useful to think of 'real world' matters in terms of 'harm' and 'benefit', although obviously a lot of people will not agree on those either.

The question of 'mythological' Evil is of course a whole other matter entirely. I quite agree with the Dragon Rouge article that it should not be confused with 'everyday' evil, and cannot perhaps even be discussed in similar terms. And mythological Evil does have a strange appeal, which isn't entirely negative.

Take Darth Vader. Most of us, quite rightly, will not agree with his actions. But that won't stop us from thinking that he's friggin' cool. We love cool bad guys, we can't help it. Does that make us evil? Of course not. Unless, perhaps, it makes us Evil in that 'mythological' sense, which is not really evil at all in the way most people use the word.

But what of utilising 'Evil' creatures in spirituality or magick, calling on them in evocation rites, or even actively worshipping them? Surely such practices must be frowned upon? To continue with the movie analogy, someone always has to act the part of the bad guy. And often these parts are lots of fun and quite rewarding for the actor. Irony? We love the dark side. It's in our nature. Spiritual dealings with it are obviously not for everyone, but does that mean it is not fit for anyone? Darker desires and impulses are of course part of us, as evidenced by the prevalence of the 'grey' everyday evil in our world. Would it not be better to deal with these things in the spirit world rather than the physical? And where denouncing such things in church might work for some, ritually embracing them might be just as useful for others. It takes all sorts, after all.

Mythological Evil is, in the end, a human invention, and a primarily aesthetic invention, at that. Of course I can only speak for myself when it comes to questions of belief, but really, I fail to see how any monster, demon or other evil character from myth or religion could be seen as anything else than 'made up'. I cannot bring myself to believe that, whatever rite I would perform, whatever forbidden word I would utter, some unspeakable entity would actually manifest before me. They are symbols. And symbols can be redefined, reinterpreted. We take what we enjoy from them, and leave the most unsavoury parts.

Whereas much of conventional occultism is, perhaps contrary to many people's preconceptions, utterly benevolent, it is not uncommon these days for people interested in the occult to have a flair for the 'dark side'. There is an element of rebellion in this, of course. Since the 20th century we have been discovering the meaning of individualism and freedom of thought, free from millennia of being told by society how to think and act. Darker entities reflect this desire for freedom, they represent 'raw power', free from authority. As the Dragon Rouge article puts it: 'The bright side characterizes most mass movements and exoteric religions, while the dark side emphasizes the unique, the deviant and the exclusive.'

The fact that these entities are human inventions is no obstacle, quite the contrary. They are creatures of the human mind, and the mind is, after all, what makes us what we are, what ought to be the primary interest of the magician.. Modern magicians (and perhaps particularly those in the field of Chaos Magick) even work with beings that have never been purported to be anything but fiction, such as creatures from the works of H.P. Lovecraft.

In the end, whether we simply enjoy it in fiction or go as far as making it a part of our spiritual existence, mythological Evil makes life richer. Spirituality should be both fun and cool, otherwise what's the point?

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