Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Are you there, Psychological Construct/Archetype?

Another epic debate on the pros and cons of Satanism is winding down on one of our local Pagan listservs, a debate which, I am ashamed to say, I accidentally started. I'd posted some comments about how Pagans can effectively deal with the media, and mentioned that if a reporter asks if Wiccans worship the Devil, the correct answer would be "no." Trying to explain how the ancient image of the Horned God was co-opted by Christianity to represent Satan just confuses the issue, and leads to questionable sound bites like, "Wiccans worship a deity often associated with Satan."

I thought I was making a great point. So imagine my surprise when I was dutifully informed that some Pagans "work with Satan as an archetype."

My bad, then.

The whole divine archetype thing is a relatively new addition to Pagan thought. It evolved out of Joseph Campbell's concept of the Hero's Journey, Robert Graves' The White Goddess, and generally mistaking comparative religious theory for actual religion. The basic idea is that all Gods can be categorized under specific headings, such as "Trickster," "Maiden," "Dying God," "Crone," etc. Now, the confusion sets in when these categories are viewed as Deities themselves. For example, Hermes, Mercury, Pan, Coyote, Ananzi and Loki are all Tricksters, so therefore they're interchangeable; Athena, Bast, Diana, Artemis and Persephone are often listed as Maidens, so they're pretty much all the same Goddess.

To make matters even more mindbending, these archetypes are often not viewed as divinities, but as "psychological constructs" or "energies," meaning that they are generated by the human mind and as such are subservient to it. Accordingly, the inherent nature of any Deity can be altered based on personal perception: "I know that in Norse mythology Loki's described as pretty evil and hateful, but I think He's just misunderstood," or "Kali has ten arms because She loves to give hugs!"

If I were a deity, it would piss me off if my worshippers viewed me as quantifiable and controllable. But I'm not, of course, so I'm not going to presume to put words in Anyone's mouth. Besides, who knows? Maybe the Gods get a big kick out of the whole thing. In a way, the idea of some Universal Power giggling and rolling It's eyes is kind of reassuring.

1 comment:

boxxo said...

me like.