Wednesday 30 March 2011

News: Catholic Church says more people want exorcisms

The Catholic Church claims it is experiencing a soaring demand for exorcisms because of an increase in Satanism, according to a news story in The Telegraph.

The news story reports on a six-day conference on exorcism taking place at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, in Rome, under the authority of the Vatican. Carlo Climati, a member of the university, is quoted as saying: "The internet makes it much easier than in the past to find information about Satanism."

You can read the news story here:

Having read the story, I was once more annoyed at supposedly well-educated people making the mistake of confusing the occult - which means "Of, relating to, or dealing with supernatural influences, agencies, or phenomena" - and Satanism - which means "The worship of Satan".

They are not the same thing.


H.A. Blackthorn said...

There seems to be an upswing, too, in religious fundamentalism. Far fewer people attend church, or "believe" in what their church teaches, but those that do tend to believe very strongly and hold more radical opinions. Considering the number of Catholics I've seen blame the sex abuse scandals not on the priests who committed the abuse, but on "the Devil," I'm not surprised that they are, in larger numbers, blaming their problems and personal issues on an external force, rather than taking responsibility for them themselves. Also, as we all know; they've just published an anti-Wicca book, so clearly they're still more than willing to hate on other religions and blame them for problems.

Mnemosyne Mars said...

Hello! (First time reader!) Regarding your last paragraph, I would like to clarify two of your terms, as I was confused by your definition and use of them to describe your position. (I may be wrong, but these are the definitions as I learned them.)

The word occult means means "hidden" which refers to both secret knowledge and that which we overlook (knowledge hidden in plain sight so-to-speak). It does not refer to the "supernatural" although this is the common misconception of the term. If you ask the average person, they would probably say that the "occult" is anything relating to evil and cult-like practices (the word cult in it tends to scare people away). I was raised to think of the term in that light as well, so finding out I was wrong had a big impact on me.

Satanism is a trickier concept to define (no pun intended), but it is definitely not about devil worship. Satanism is a philosophical belief in the power of oppositional forces, and can also refer to related spiritual practices based on the dark and cunning nature of such "trickster" gods as Satan, Kokopelli, Loki, etc.

Trickster god(s) appear in every religious pantheon. They are the oppositional force behind chaos in an orderly world. In mythology, they present seekers with puzzles to solve (such as the role of sphinxes) and "tricks" to escape. Conflict and reason are their tools for change.

Satanists recognize that the chaos and oppositional nature of these gods actually provide an opposing spiritual viewpoint to the mainstream that is valuable in its own right, critical to the balance of order and light, and necessary for human development.

Satanists are not devil worshippers. They do not believe in the Abrahamic god, nor the Christian role of Satan in that mythos. They recognize "the devil" as a trickster god, not an embodiment of Evil. (In fact, the use of Satan's name—with the confusion and shock it inspires—is in itself an example of the kind of anarchist personality that so defines the typical Satanist attitude! It's like a "gotcha" right there in the title.)

Satan worshippers on the other hand, pay homage to the Christian role of Satan as the anti-Christ and source of all Evil. Satanists are just spiritual anarchists.

I am a lover of language so word origins, definitions, and the evolution of meaning fascinates me. What do you think? Am I way off the mark on what you meant by those terms?

Badwitch said...

I was using dictionary definitions - the links went to the dictionary I was using. I agree that another meaning of occult is hidden, and the dictionary had that as, I think, its third definition of the word. However, most people who say they are interested in the occult mean the supernatural or paranormal, so I used that definition. I do agree it is a topic that cannot easily be summed up in just a few words.

Mnemosyne Mars said...

Thanks for commenting back! Sorry for the long response. You sparked an interest (and I haven't slept). ;)

I agree. Terms often have a cyclical development that makes it hard to pin them down. They are created, used, defined, recorded, evolve with common use, develop modern connotations, redefined, remade, and redefined again... (For instance, the ongoing Sheen/Day "warlock" debate.)

I was using the merriam-webster unabridged dictionary (online edition) for my definition of "occult." (They're pretty good at updating terms and expanding definitions as soon as they're approved by the linguistic powers-that-be.) Their definition of the occult as an adverb is "secret, hidden knowledge," but you're totally right that the noun definition still refers to the supernatural. It does, however, include a caveat that it is commonly combined with prefix "the" (as in "the occult"), and also mentions the reference to "hidden knowledge."

Unfortunately the word lords haven't yet found the term Satanism to be worthy of a re-definition. It is still defined as satan worship as you said. But I have asked many a self-proclaimed Satanist and practitioner about this and none of them worship the devil, nor embrace Evil with a capital E in that way. With it's links to the Goth and Punk movement, and surprisingly deep rooted philosophy, I choose to take their definition as primary (much as modern pagans and witches (and now apparently warlocks) redefined those titles for themselves).

Thanks again for the lively topic and discussion!