Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Why the "Satanic Panic" Makes No Sense

One of the first things you learn publishing an occult book is how few occultists there really are. I was on a panel at a Pagan conference a number of years ago and got the sense that the people there really thought that occult authors could make big money writing about magick. Here's a spoiler for you - we can't. There aren't enough people buying books on magick to even earn a decent living, let alone make "big money."

Now I will grant that I'm perhaps more jaded on that front than many of the authors out there. I'm a professional software designer and developer, so the only way I could ever top my current income would be to somehow come up with a mega-bestseller. It's not impossible, but it's unlikely and I can pretty much guarantee that if I do somehow manage to write something like that, it won't be a book on magick or occultism.

Occult books, even good ones, usually only manage to sell a few thousand copies. Compared to the population of even the United States that's practically nothing. As far as occult organizations go, the largest one I know of is the one I belong to, Ordo Templi Orientis. It has about four thousand members worldwide, with approximately half in the United States. There simply aren't millions of occultists out there, let alone millions of occultists who specifically identify as Satanists.

In light of this, it's rather amazing to me that people were actually fooled by the "Satanic panic" of the 1980's and early 1990's, presumably because they seriously believed in this imaginary population of occultists out there who were up to no good. If extrapolated, many of the stories told about "Satanic cult activity" would have required something like a third of the population of the towns in which they happened to be members of said cult. And that just isn't realistic.

I now know this from personal experience, because if there really were that many occultists in the world or even the United States I would be selling a lot more books. Likewise, it points out that people today who are worried about "Illuminati activity" or whatnot really have no idea what they're talking about. While it is true that the wealthy have a massively disproportionate influence on modern civilization, for the most part these real "elites" have nothing to do with actual occultism.

David Icke has made an entire career out of arguing that the wealthy who control our economy are alien lizard people. The Illuminati conspiracy is similar, but from a religious perspective rather than a science-fiction one. The impulse behind both stems from the idea that people who do especially evil things must be especially evil, or even inhuman. But the truth is that being wealthy changes how you see the world.

Specifically, studies have found that rather than being evil in any existential sense, wealthy people simply lack empathy for others. Generalizing from self is one of the most common logical errors out there, and they tend to assume that since they managed to become wealthy, all that poor people should have to do is do what they did. Nobody wants to attribute their success to luck, but the truth is that lots of people work very hard at improving their station in life and only a few truly succeed.

Now the reason I bring all of this up is in response to this case currently playing out in the British courts. In the midst of a messy divorce, a man was accused of "Satanic cult abuse" by his former spouse.

The claims - that he led a "satanic cult" in north London and that he and other members carried out the abuse - had been made by his children in mobile phone recordings and two police interviews. Their names and videos of them making the allegations were also widely circulated online by their mother and campaigners.

"My children, my two children, eight and nine, they'd said that I'd sexually abused them and I was selling them to people in this satanic cult thing. They named 60, 70, 80 people," he said. "They'd said we were killing babies, I was shipping them in, we would cut the babies' throats and drain their blood and then would drink the blood. It's just horrific upon horrific detail."

Delivering her judgement at the High Court, Mrs Justice Pauffley said the children had been forced to concoct accounts of horrific events and that their stories were a result of relentless emotional and psychological pressure and significant physical abuse by their mother's new partner in collaboration with their mother.

So the court did rule correctly, but what amazes me is that anyone ever believed this story at all. The bottom line is that nobody has ever done most of this stuff as part of a "Satanic cult." The closest was probably Colin Batley, who led a small group of followers and is now in prison for sexually abusing his children. But even Batley never killed anyone, and his group never had more than a handful of members.

Any talk of large "Satanic cults" that do things like kill babies while mysteriously leaving no physical evidence behind must be aggressively questioned on all counts. As far as investigators can tell no such organization has ever existed. Furthermore, such accusations have more in common with made-up witchcraft practices from the middle ages than any real form of occultism or magick. It's not clear why anyone would engage in them, except perhaps to be evil for evil's sake.

As far as motivations go, that's just dumb. "Being evil" is not a compelling motivation for anyone of sound mind, and for the most part people who suffer from severe enough mental illness to possibly embrace such a thing are usually too far gone to be even marginally effective at it. In real life, people are motivated by self-interest, and the degree of "evil" in which they engage usually corresponds directly with the degree to which they are willing to harm others in the process.

Maybe very religious people really believe that if you sacrifice a baby the devil will appear and dump money or something on your doorstep. But as a practicing occultist I can say with certainty that magick doesn't work that way. Thinking that it does is like picking up a fantasy novel and mistaking it for non-fiction. Magick is a discipline that requires focus and dedication, and even the most powerful ritual work can only influence physical reality, not completely control it in some kind of Harry Potter fashion.

As occultists we need to challenge these narratives at every turn. Nonsensical though they are, they serve the interests of religious fundamentalists who would like nothing more than to see our spiritual practices banned outright. We can't allow the assertion that anybody who performs a magical ritual will eventually molest children and sacrifice babies to be treated as anything other than ignorant religious bigotry.

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Nerd said...

In conspiracy theory, the motivation behind "satanic ritual abuse" isn't evil per se. No one believes that people just want to be "evil" for no reason. At least I don't think they do. lol

In conspirology, the motivation for this type of ritualistic abuse is to fragment the mind of the child and create "alternet" personalities in order to make the person into a "super spy." I do think there is something to it, as it is well known that phlegm in the heart orifice can create a separation between the astral soul located therein and the aetheric soul, housed in the liver, which is similar to what psychoanalysts would call 'the unconcious.'

However it's not individual occultists or alternative religion people who are doing this per se, it's mainly people who have connections to "the illuminati." I won't name names of course.

On the other hand, there are people who just rape kids and abuse people, because they are crazy. Some people do so, because for them interactions are about "power," and it is easier to "dominate" a child sexually than it is to interact with a fully grown adult person. Alfred Adler's interpretation of power dynamics comes to mind.

Then there's also the type that overtly sexualizes children. These types of people were often abused themselves as kids and now repeat the cycle of abuse, usually with family members or their own children. I don't know alot about it per se, but it's something that imo people are more conscious of nowadays than perhaps they were in the past.

Nerd said...

*alternate. lol.

Iirc, the case of Candy Jones comes to mind. It's interesting to note that in ESSENTIAL PAPERS ON PSYCHOSIS from the "Essential Papers in Psychoanalysis" series, the first paper in there iirc was on the "controlling machine" psychosis. LOL

Of course, not everyone who thinks the government is controlling their minds is a victim of some sort of conspiritorial wrongdoing. Precisely to the contrary!

Mindcontrol is sometimes considered to be "far out" there in terms of conspiracy theory, but it's really no different from "the mass psychology of fascism," wherein peoples' ideologies and "value systems" are socially engineered. It's more a difference of degree than a difference in kind.

I would also suggest that at this time, corporate entities may even be usurping the place of government entities when it comes to this sort of thing.

Scott Stenwick said...

Here is the thing, though - have cases where these alleged super-spies done anything really been documented? I have studied some of the attempts, like MKULTRA, but there's no evidence that those ever worked the way the CIA wanted. A few of the techniques they explored survive in modern corporate propaganda methods, but that's about it.

There's even considerable controversy over the existence of "multiple personalities." Only a handful of cases have ever been documented, and in most of them were found to have been exaggerated by therapists seeking notoriety. And the trouble with anything involving the "unconscious mind" is that it's not a "mind" in any coherent sense, just a collection of mechanical conditioning loops that fire based solely on environmental conditions.

"Recovered memories" aren't a real thing either. Maybe if we called them "reconstructed" or "synthetic" the description would be more accurate, since there's no evidence that they necessarily bear any relation to events that really transpired. Researchers have in fact been surprised at how easy they are to fabricate.

I certainly don't dispute that there are pedophiles out there who abuse children - that would be silly. What I'm disputing is that it has anything to do with "Satanism" or any form of occultism. It's just abuse. I don't pretend to understand where the drive to molest children comes from - maybe it's obsession with power, maybe it's something akin to a dysfunctional orientation, and maybe it's all of the above.

Nerd said...

Yeah, I'd scrutinize the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnesses and well, the Catholic Church frankly, if I was looking for demonic sex abuse of children.