The expression click-bait, according to The Online Slang Dictionary, means, “the title to an article or webpage [that is] vague enough so that one has to click the title to learn what the destination is actually about.” So, by definition, the title of today’s post is definitely click-bait.
- You might be someone with a firm belief in God/the gods wondering if I’m going to denounce the entire concept of some divine entity.
- You might be an atheist looking for proof of your philosophy or a believer to attack.
- You might also be wondering what this has to do with magick.
Traditionally, people who have practiced magick have believed either in God or in gods. By worshiping or in some way dealing with, honoring, requesting from, or appeasing God, gods, or other non-physical entities you could achieve your goals.
But that’s not what I’m going to discuss.
Over the past century, the concept of deities, spirits, and other non-physical entities being objectively real has become increasingly uncomfortable for those who have a personal philosophy of scientific materialism. And yet, they still want to have the comforting notion of deities. So they have moved the gods out of the realm of spiritual reality and changed them into manifestations of our inner, psychological processes. Spirits aren’t separate entities, they are mere aspects of our psyches. I’ve termed this “the psychologization of magick.” As concepts of psychology (and often some very dated ideas about what psychology actually is) continue to become memes*, the psychologization of magick makes magick more acceptable to those who cringe at the “outdated” concept of deities and spirits being objectively real. Magick becomes a form of psychotherapy. Once we get rid of our issues we can direct our energies to obtaining our goals.
But that’s not what I’m going to discuss.
The obvious evolution of the psychologization of magick has resulted in some people, such as Peter Carroll, one of the founders of Chaos Magick, stating that there are no spirits or deities. They are simply metaphors. However, they are useful metaphors, so as part of magick we can pretend they are real. In fact, you should pretend with such mental strength that the metaphor can develop a virtual reality. It’s what chaos magicians or chaotes refer to with the expression, “Fake it ’till you make it.” To me, that has always seemed a long way to reach a belief in gods and spirits, but if it works for Chaos magicians, that’s great.
But that’s not what I’m going to discuss.
So Is God Real?
That sounds easy enough to ask and answer, but it’s actually quite complex. Specifically, it’s impossible to answer without knowing your specific definitions of the terms “God” and “Real.”
For some people the God of the Bible is real but the Flying Spaghetti Monster is not. So are some gods real and others not real? If so, how do you tell the difference? Certainly not because of mythic and metaphorical stories written in a book. If that were all that was necessary to make a character “real” then Tom Sawyer, Ebenezer Scrooge, Harry Potter, Hamlet, and Moby Dick would have all been real.
And that’s the problem with looking at just the word “God,” or “gods.” Everyone has their own concept of deity. It’s just a word that seems to mean, “Whatever we chose to think of that is an astounding power, with or without consciousness, and that is beyond us in all ways.”
So is it just easier to say that there is no God or that God is dead? I don’t think that’s the answer, either. For most people, the concept of deity from thousands of years ago is certainly dead. Does that make those gods dead? For many today, the concept of God as believed in over the past several hundred years no longer satisfies. In Europe, church attendance is way down. That version of God is certainly dying, if not dead.
So if our notion of God or gods is dead or dying, does that mean God never existed. Is God dead?
I would say that God certainly has a sense of humor and would agree with Mark Twain:
The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.
Our previous notions of God may be dead, but if God does exist, God is quite alive and well, not needing our belief in any particular way. I mean, come on! It’s freakin’ God! Why would God need you or me to believe any particular way? What an ant believes isn’t going to have any affect on me, and what we believe isn’t going to have any affect on God.
So is God real or not real? I don’t know. I don’t worry about it. For all practical purposes the world functions as if God and the gods and spirits are real. However, everything I’ve experienced comes through my senses, and they’ve been fooled before.
This optical illusion is known as Necker’s Cube.
Look at the cube on the left.
It can appear to be facing down and to the left as in the smaller image on the upper right,
or it can appear to be facing up and to the right as in the smaller image on the lower right.
Can you see it in both ways?
So do we have any way of actually known if a God or gods exist? If you analyze it, the answer has to be “No.” You may believe the gods or a God exists, but belief is the acceptance of something as real without proof. A bigger question, to my mind, is: Does the objective reality of deity matter? For every proof, one way or another, there is a disproof. Arguing for any side is a waste of time because there will always be someone to argue for the other side. Â As the As the economist Stuart Chase wrote:
For those who believe, no proof in necessary.
For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.
God may or may not be objectively real. Our experience of deity is always subjective. So what, then, is the value of believing in God or gods if we cannot prove their objective reality?
Is God a Myth? I Certainly Hope So!
From the sentence centered above it would seem like I’ve taken sides. God, the gods, non-physical spirits are all unreal.
But I didn’t write that!
What I’m saying is that deities should be myths. Myths are more than invented stories. They are symbolic and metaphoric tales that enlighten our lives. They give us something to strive toward.
My Christian friends, of course, believe they are saved by the sacrifice of Jesus. But that doesn’t mean they are now free to do whatever they want because they’re “saved.” Instead, they should look at the life of Jesus as a way to live their lives. This is known as practicing the “imitation of Christ,” and is discussed in the earliest Christian documents. The 15th-century book, The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas Ă Kempis, is one of the most widely read Western devotional books, perhaps second only to the Bible.
Magick is filled with myths of spirits and deities. In the Keys of Solomon you will read descriptions of spirits and what they do. In other sources angels are described in detail, along with what they are supposed to do. In the Kabalah, the very names of archangels, angels, and lesser entities reveal clues as to who they are and over what they have power. In one Kabalistic system involving what is called telesma, you can literally create the image of a spirit based on its name and mythical attributions.
This information comes from memes and myths. That does not mean gods, goddesses, angels, spirits, etc. are not objectively real. It only means that our perception of them includes myths that can be a source of encouragement and guidance. The myths can help us understand our lives and give meaning to our actions and beliefs.
We need myths in our lives! Some people may object and say, “But myths aren’t real. We shouldn’t be telling people to believe in the unreal.” To those people I would respond that you’re having difficulty understanding the very concept of myth. George Washington never chopped down a cherry tree and admitted it to his father. That was an invention. But it has become a myth that shows the value of honesty and integrity. It is a myth which, if we practice what it illustrates in our lives, can improve our lives and the lives of those around us. Telling someone to be honest and show integrity can easily be ignored. But to an American, showing the value of these practices as part of the life of the general who led our rag-tag armies to victory and freedom against the world’s strongest power, the first American President, revealing that it is a practice that is stressed and valued in American cultureâ€”your cultureâ€”gives an intensity to the concept that simple instruction cannot match.
Myths aren’t fantasy. They are guides to our lives. The tales attributed to Aesop are each a myth with a moral. You may forget the moral, but you’ll remember the story and it will make you think when confronted with a similar situation.
So what are the myths surrounding your deities and spirits? Have they made you a better or wiser person? Are you living up to the ideals presented in the myths surround your deities or are you striving in that direction? Do the myths of your deities indicate flaws in human nature so you can avoid them?
The myths of deities are so much more than mere stories. They are highly valuable for magickâ€”enabling us to choose which deities or spirits to work withâ€”and for improving our lives.
Is God a Myth?
I Sure Do Hope So!