« on: April 27, 2010, 10:05:12 PM »
In the last lesson we discussed the use of familiars by members of the Craft. It should be pointed out that we of the twentieth century are often too quick to dismiss the beliefs of the past as being mere superstition, with little basis in fact. The important thing to remember always is that it is not so much why we believe a particular thing but rather what happens to us as a result of having a particular belief. Long before the discovery by science of what is called hypnotism, few accepted the ancient teaching that each of us possess more than one mind. Now it is generally accepted that the working of the unconscious mind is far more important than that of the conscious mind. This is because the former is the master-servant that accepts each and every idea fed to it by the conscious mind. By programming your thinking as taught in this course of instruction, you will be able to make maximum use of this other mind.
At this stage of our lessons, we must stop and clarify a subject that has been greatly misunderstood throughout the ages, namely, the concept of Satan or the Devil.
Although most members of the Christian faith believe the Devil is their religion?s particular possession, its origin is found in the more remote past.
In the Old Testament, Satan is mentioned only three times. In Zechariah 3: 1?2: ?Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, ?The Lord rebuke you, 0 Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you!? ?In Job 1?2. Satan is presented as the tempter and adversary of God, plying for the soul of his servant Job. In 1 Chronicles 21:1, Satan appears as the tempter of David. All of these passages are considered by scholars to be from the postexilic period and dated later than 539 s.c. This means that the concept of Satan did not stem from the period during which the Jews were held in captivity by the Egyptians. Rather, current scholars believe that the idea of a force of evil equal to God was derived from the contact with members of the Zoroastrian faith, which had its origin in Persia, the same religion that gave us magic.
The Zoroastrian religion, based on the teachings of Zoroaster, holds that two gods, Ahura Mazda (also known as Ormazd), the leader of the ?host of light? and the source of all good, and Angra Mainya (also known as Ahriman), the spirit of darkness and source of all evil, constantly battle for control of the world and all its manifestations, and that in the end, Ormazd, the god of good, will win and defeat the god of evil.
This concept, when it came into Judaism, led to the creation of Satan, patterned after Ahriman?a creature who stood in direct opposition to God and who sought to frustrate the purposes of both man and God. An important distinction, though, is the fact that for the Jews, Satan (the Hebrew word literally means ?adversary? or ?accuser?) was always inferior to God, not equal as in the Zoroastrian religion.
With the rise of Christianity, Satan was transformed into the Devil (a Greek word meaning ?slanderer?) and was defined by the church at the Council of Toledo in A.D. 447.
The real truth concerning the Devil, however, is something that you as a member of our Order have now been privileged to receive.
The Devil as understood by Christianity is merely a misunderstanding based on ignorance of the true nature of Wicca and its traditional association with horned gods and priests.
When during the medieval period Christians happened to stumble upon meetings of our Order, which were usually held outdoors and at night, they often saw a creature with horns dancing around the fire. What they saw was not a superhuman being at all, hut merely the high priest portraying the god as has been done for centuries. Due to the teaching of the church, however, that the Devil was a real, existing being, these observers allowed their imagination to convince them that they hd actually seen the Devil. When they went back to their priest and reported what they had seen, he in turn encouraged their imagination by convincing them they had seen Satan himself. (Remember, too, that most people in this period could neither read nor write and thus did not know why the church came to believe in the Devil.) So it was that the idea arose of the existence of the Devil as ?god of the witches.?
The next item for discussion is the idea of a pact wth the Devil. As we described in a previous lesson, one of the requirements of membership in the mysteries was that of initiation. Those outside believed that witches had signed a pact with the Devil in which they had promised to give their soul in return for a period of prosperity, usually seven years. Nothing could actually be further from the truth.
While the cult has always required that the initiate sign an agreement to support and not to betray its secrets, this agreement has nothing to do with the soul of the would-be witch!
Once again, the high priest, as representative of the god of the coven, might ask for a pledge of loyalty, much in the same way that a modern priest requests a restatement of faith though the reciting of the Apostles? Creed. This pledge, however, during the early period in our history, was seldom written because few persons could read and write. Once again we see how a mistaken idea can create a great misconception in the minds of those who do not understand.
To continue the development of your power to concentrate, try the following at least once daily.
Collect a group of small items, such as a pencil, a comb, a button, a bottle cap, some paper clips, and similar objects, and take them to a quiet room in which you have placed a comfortable chair.
Pick up each item in turn, hold it in your hand, and carefully study the way it appears. Carefully note any scratches, dents, the color, the texture?everything about it.
Now close your eyes, relax your body, and try to picture in your mind exactly how the item looks. See every detail of the item, and try to hold this picture as long as you can.
After doing this with each item, close your eyes once again, and try to picture every item you have seen, one after the other.
Remember that these practices will enable you to become all you wish to be. Do not pass by these exercises. They will build within you something of great value.