The True Ritual Magician

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From: "Positive Atheism" <>
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: Saturday, December 11, 1999 6:06 AM

This appears to be heavily influenced by Aleister Crowley, who was the only prominent atheistic occultist until Anton Lavey, who may or may not have been a true occultist. I don't know. He may still have been playing the carny huckster after he started stumping for Satanism, but many of the things he said and the respectable set of values he laid down make me suspect that he thought he was being realistic. Likewise Crowley, at times, leads me to suspect he might have been putting us on, although some of the values he laid down make me tend to think that he was being serious and that what he said was consistent with what he thought was happening.

I get the impression that the writer may be confuting religious faith with fundamentalism: he denounces what he calls "belief," but he seems to describe fundamentalism instead. Fundamentalism I denounce; faith can, when divorced from fundamentalism, be healthy. In my December 1999 column, I describe and denounce fundamentalism practiced within organized atheism.

Personally, I don't believe anything -- if by believe you mean the same thing that the Christians (and other theists) mean by the word faith. I do have a world view, though. Thus, I have stopped using the words believe and belief as synonyms for the term world view. I do this because way too many adversaries try to entrap me into the logical trap commonly known as "equivocation."

Here is how theists (and some agnostics) pull the equivocation stunt: If I use the word belief in describing the fact that I have a world view, the adversary immediately responds by using a different meaning for the word belief than I had intended when I used it. They then accuse me of having faith, and of being no different from a Christian in that respect. My response is to distinguish between using the word belief to mean world view, and using it to describe the "saving faith" that is (we are told) so crucial to being a Christian (and anything similar to it). Even theistic or Christian "faith" is not necessarily synonymous with fundamentalism, and fundamentalism is not limited to religious fundamentalism.

Crowley, Robert Anton Wilson (agnostic occultist and philosopher), Madalyn Murray O'Hair (atheistic leader), and others have surely encountered the equivocation ploy, and that this is why so many of us now say, "I don't believe anything." I seriously doubt that any of us are saying that we do not have a world view. And all of us would admit that nobody's world view is set in stone and that nobody's world view should ever be confused with "The Truth" (if such a thing as "The Truth" even exists).

The talk about "Ritual Magician" is an attempt to disavow and to discourage the mutilation of fellow life forms for ritual purposes. However many different ways this needs to be worded, I am all for discouraging and preventing any needless death -- that is, death that is not part of the competitive struggle to remain alive. I am not saying that we should not kill a life form whose existence will cause greater damage than its death. I am also not saying that it is wrong not to eat other life forms: this is how it works on this planet. But the killing of life forms purely for ritualistic purposes is to be denounced in the strongest possible terms.

The question of shedding blood (or not to shed blood) for the purpose of pleasing a higher entity or principle is an argument that spans recorded history. Some say that the story of Abraham setting out to sacrifice Isaac was a denunciation of human sacrifice -- but Moses later did just that (buried deep on page D-19 of Chapter 31 of Numbers, namely, verse 40: "And the persons were sixteen thousand; of which the Lord's tribute was thirty and two persons.") I use this passage against Christians who claim that human sacrifice is wrong, but who turn around and pretend that they depend upon the human sacrifice of Jesus for their ritual cleansing.

Christians are also fond of calling Jesus the "God of Love" as opposed to the brutal and sadistic Volcano God of the Old Testament. I agree with Paine, Ingersoll, Twain, and others who have concluded that the Jesus they are talking about was infinitely more brutal than Jehovah, in that he invented Hell. He also is said to have ordered his opponents to be burned in John 15:6 "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." This passage was used for centuries to justify burning our predecessors at the stake for refusing to believe.

I openly laud the trend among modern Satanists that marginalizes or stigmatizes or disavows or denounces what I have elsewhere called "phony Satanists," particularly those who think bloodshed of any kind is necessary for ritualistic purposes or for any other kind of personal enhancement. No deity ever asked anybody to shed blood to appease the volcano, and I promise you that anybody who teaches anything even remotely similar to this is de facto a charlatan -- including anybody who thinks that shedding blood of any kind will in some way (materialistic or otherwise) enhance anybody or any group or society. The only exception is when it comes down to physically protecting your material body from physical death at the hands of an attacker.

Although people are entitled to their opinions, I will openly oppose this practice and this teaching whenever I encounter it, and will laud any individual or group that opposes this practice.

      I despise
      'Cos it means destruction
          Of innocent lives
      War means tears
        To thousands of mothers eyes
      When their sons go off to fight
          And lose their lives

      Is an enemy
            To all mankind
      The thought of war
            Blows my mind
      War has caused unrest
          Within the younger generation
      Induction, and then destruction
          Who wants to die!?

      Has shattered
            Many a man's dreams
      Made him disabled
          Bitter and mean
      Life is just too short and precious
        To be fighting wars each day
      War can't give life
          It can only take it away

            -- "War" (recorded first
                    by The Temptations,
                    later made famous
                    by Edwin Starr,
                    circa 1970)

Thanks for listening.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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