Articles/Essays From Pagans
June 16th. 2013 ...
How To Stay Spiritual Amidst This Chaos?
Hearing The Music And Dancing The Dance
A Tale of the Wood
June 9th. 2013 ...
The Nature of Sacrifice
The Magick of Buildings
Start your own Pagan Church in Canada - A Detailed Guide
June 2nd. 2013 ...
Maiden, Mother, Who?! (A Discussion of the Triple Goddess)
Gods Who Live In My House
Why the 'Redneck Pagan'?
Among the Greenwod - An Interview with Raven Grimassi
May 26th. 2013 ...
So You Think You've Found a Teacher...
Learning To Live Your Own Life
Raising Personal Magickal Energy for Spellwork
Casting The Wiccan Circle
May 19th. 2013 ...
The Role of Identity in Magic
Talking Trash? It's a Dirty Subject but Waste Happens.
My Wiccan Journey
13 Keys: The Victory of Netzach
May 12th. 2013 ...
Pagan Studies I: How Should We Define Modern Paganism?
The Third Path
Nothing Special... Part Two
May 5th. 2013 ...
The Value of Multicultural Awareness
Put Your Back Into It (Our Lady of the Sacred Honey Badger)
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Red Lipped Bat Fish
April 28th. 2013 ...
Lessons from the Lessers: Iris
April 21st. 2013 ...
Taken By The Goddess: The Crescent Moon Tattoo
The Gods/Being Godbothered
To Be A Witch
The Archetypes are Gods: Re-godding the Archetypes
April 14th. 2013 ...
On The Inclusion of Children
'Wand Fun' With Grandson
Lessons from a Baby
Lessons of Freedom: On Divinity and Healing
April 7th. 2013 ...
Out of the Broom Closet... Sorta
A Journey Through the Witches Tarot
History and Science Behind Numerology
March 31st. 2013 ...
What is the Magickal Self?
Ethics and Numerology
March 24th. 2013 ...
Keystones of the Sacred Land
March 17th. 2013 ...
Why Some Pagans and Witches Still Hide
Witch Heritage 101: What Happens When Witch Haters Joke about anti-Witch Films
I'm Not a Broom. So What's with the Closet?
March 10th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Things I Did as a New Pagan: Part 3
Hunting for the Real Witch in Film
The Collective Shadow
Lies - The Opposite of Truth
March 3rd. 2013 ...
Grounding and Releasing Negative Energy
A Patchwork of Magick
February 24th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I Made as a New Pagan (Part Two)
February 17th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I made as a New Pagan... Part One
Gardening with Crystal Energies
A Call from the Ancestors
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Black Water Snakes
February 10th. 2013 ...
We Are the Weirdos, Mister: A Completely Uncool Story of Origin
February 3rd. 2013 ...
"I'll Grind Your Bones to Make my Bread": Pagans and Animal Husbandry
The Role of Contemporary Culture in Magic
A Pagan Response to Endangered Earth
The Great Mother's Gift, Heinlein, and the Nature of Squirrels
13 Keys: The Glory of Hod
January 27th. 2013 ...
Why We Do Need Wicca
The Cosmos In the Coffee Shop
On Travel Spirituality and Magick
January 20th. 2013 ...
Beloved Backs and How to Save Them
Building or Burning Bridges?
Plants, Magic and Intuition
Plagiarism - How It Harms Our Community
January 13th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichés
The Magick and Power of Words
Aging Is Not Easy
The Riddle of Who We Are?
January 6th. 2013 ...
Wicca v Witchcraft
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
The Nature of Good and Evil?
Article ID: 10975
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: October 15th. 2006
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Good and Evil are concepts that are used by certain established religions to enforce their way of thinking. Remember that, according to some of those religions, we are Evil simply by virtue of not being part of their faith. How, then, can any Pagan hold on to these concepts while seeking to explore his or her own faith?
Let me just say that what I seek to discuss here is Good and Evil, not good and evil. The difference is quite great, as a perfectly ordinary human being can commit an evil act or a good act without necessarily recognizing any fault. Evil and good are a matter of perspective. But Evil and Good, with the capital letters, are grandiose abstracts.
One of the first things that I learned when I became a pagan was that Good and Evil do not exist as the great abstract powers that I was always taught about in church, nature (in paganism) being a matter of balance rather than opposition. Recently, however, I have heard individuals of the Pagan persuasion talking about Evil entities in exactly the same way Christians would describe devils and demons. It has made me wonder, not whether Good and Evil truly exist, but whether any of us can really escape the heavy-handed religious teachings of our childhood.
There is a reason why I say that Good and Evil do not exist. It's quite simple, really: Have you ever seen an Evil animal? An Evil stone or tree? No, because in nature there is only motivation and action. Balance is maintained because it is the way things work. Humans have been led to believe that because we are cognizant, we are better than animals. This is the source of the idea of Good and Evil; our ability to think about our actions beyond the instinctive level is taken to mean we have greater control over ourselves, which is true to a certain extent.
Being capable of thinking about our actions should mean that we are able to accept the consequences of our actions and not blame an abstract concept of Evil or Good. It is easier to excuse an ill thought or downright malicious action by saying ‘The Devil made me do it’ than to admit that you are at fault. It is easier to say ‘He’s just plain Evil’ than to realize that society is failing a lot of people and allowing psychologically disturbed individuals to go unnoticed (In these cases, perhaps the nature of Evil is apathy and complacency, of which we may all be guilty.)
When I hear intelligent Pagans talking about Evil or Good entities, I have to ask myself if there is not some misunderstanding. All the spirits and energy entities with which we work have their own motivations (which they are very unlikely to disclose). There are malign beings who will use the unwary to suit their own goals, but that makes them no more Evil then any human being seeking to use another to meet their ambitions. People do morally abhorrent, stupid, ignorant and pointless things every day, but they are not necessarily labeled as Evil: just human. Why should spirits be any different simply because they are incorporeal?
I don’t claim that spirits are the same as living humans, but they exist when we are not calling upon them, and so must have their own reasons for doing things. Perhaps if we understood their drives and aims a little better, we would be more selective as to how, when and who we called upon to aid us in our workings or we might find that we could allow ourselves more freedom in our communications with Otherworld inhabitants.
So, what of the nature of Good and Evil? As Pagans we should not use these terms, but rather acknowledge that intent, motive and action are all part of free will and that by choosing to act in a particular fashion, we also choose to accept the consequences for what we do, be that physical or metaphysical.
By proclaiming ourselves to be Pagans, we have rejected the established religions that preach of Good and Evil, telling their followers of what glory or damnation await in the next life and that the absolution of all acts in this life that can be achieved through their chosen devotions. There are reasons for these established faiths to maintain their belief in Good and Evil, but I cannot think of one that is positive. These concepts are used as a ruler with which to rap the knuckles of unruly followers, rather then expecting the faithful to learn through discussion and explanation. Good and Evil are the religious equivalent of ‘It just is’ giving no further reasoning and offering the believer no leeway in which to make up his or her own mind.
I know as I write this there will be a number of you who are thinking about Hitler/Stalin/Mussolini, etc. Even theyweren’t Evil and by thinking that they were, we give more power and importance to such individuals than they deserve. Most of history's monsters are misrepresented by the documentation, or they were so mentally disturbed that it is a wonder that they could function on a day-to-day basis at all. Yes, their actions were evil, but in most cases they had delusions that it was for the greater good of their people or nation. Only later were they consumed by their own addiction to power.
Paganism is meant to be as much about thinking for ourselves in all aspects of life as it is about worshipping the Gods of our ancestors. When a Pagan uses Good and Evil, he or she brings into his/her thinking something that belongs to book religions that seek followers who do as they are told, rather than thinking believers willing to argue and change what they think. When you are researching and studying, remember that when a writer uses the words Good or Evil, you need to look beyond and find more information from different sources and perspectives because that source is not providing you with enough information.
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