© fra Nefastos 2006
The occult worldview is based on the idea of the absoluteness of existence. Therefore, because everything is One, all dualism is eventually illusory. It is by no means possible that God could be both all-powerful and all-knowing, both personal and good, as the latter part of each of those descriptions are attributes of a divided being; they can be IN God, but God himself cannot be restricted to some personality or mode of action in his own cosmos. The all-powerful and all-knowing essence cannot be a pool of dualism; there can be no charge against him that does not belong to him. If God is “good,” then everything is “good,” because God does not cease existing in any part of the world which he has brought into existence; therefore if there is “evil” in the world, it must be permitted by God. And if God would be personal, he cannot be either all-powerful or all-knowing, because personality necessarily means restriction of form.
Therefore it logically follows that we have at least two different concepts of God:
1) The Absolute God that is all-powerful and all-knowing, The One and Only. About this Absolute we can say that it is good in a certain way, but in this goodness there is nothing petty: indeed, God lets the sun shine on both good and bad, and judges no man.
2) A personal god, who may actually be many and in many ranks, forming several presentations of the Absolute. Christians adore this kind of god with personality, who can and does make commandments and denials; for whom dogmas can be joined, and who may have a counterpart, “the Adversary” – Satan.
And now we can advance to the actual question. If we choose the first concept’s approach, we can say that there is nothing that is evil in itself in nature or outside of it, but that all evil is made of bad use of things fundamentally beautiful and good. A murderer is “evil” because he hasn’t understood the true essence of hate (or some other motivation that he had for his deed), but instead has fallen to regressive action; a rapist is “evil” because he has not understand the true essence of sexual desire, &c.
It is very unphilosophical to think that there could be an almost infinitely powerful spiritual being, whose intention would be to make things wrong. Such spirits of error can indeed live in the so-called astral world that surrounds our world and are made up by our imagination and impregnated by our deeds, but they are not infinitely powerful, nor are they gods, nor angels, but “evil spirits.” As a man who has erred and thinks things wrongly can affect other people’s thoughts and emotions in a bad way, drawing others to the same error he has made, these spirits do the same. But these creatures are mortal, that is, restricted to time and space. The archetypal “god of evil” (or, the ex-angel of evil, as Christians see it) cannot exist. This we can understand both with the coherence of metaphysical thinking and with the incorruptible conviction of the heart (which are the workings of theosophical Manas and Buddhi, the two main aspects of man’s spiritual soul).
Then why do we speak of Satan?
Simply because “Satan” did not originally mean – and is still not meant in many systems – “the Devil”. Satan is a name that can be understood in many ways, but none of them correlate one to one with the Christian view of the Devil, whose only aim is to lead astray and do harm.
Etymologically “Satan” means, as we remember, “the Adversary.” However, this opposition is neither total nor final: rather, it is ritualistic. The world – everything in the world – acts in a way in which things must first be tested so that their true essence can be revealed and harnessed. In such a way acts evolution, in such a way acts man’s psychological development, in such a way are things made even in our human schools, where students are entered into exams in order to test their knowledge and understanding. Satan is a being who presents the problems of existence to the soul.
This makes all progress possible. Without a trial there could be no victory, and life would be without consciousness, self and true power. The trial is not arbitrary, but we do summon it for ourselves subconsciously. Our psyche asks nature to present us with some issue – what exactly, depends on our place in our own arc of development and our own past doings, thoughts and emotions. Satan comes to us as an initiator, he brings to us the bitter chalice, and we have the chance to either pass the test or fail – and if we fail, that is, if our personality has not been able to find a living key to some hidden, problematic lock in our own psychology, then we cannot advance in that particular thing; but life will eventually present us with the same problem in a varied form, and again we will have a situation in which we will need to choose another answer.
We must not think that suffering is inevitable. We must face trials, but whether they are painful or not depends on our own attitude towards the world and how we have lived. If people would be able to love – not sentimentally, but truly, by soul – the working methods of Satan would change to be as wonderful as his own inner nature. But as men we are still too calculating, having too little trust towards life, therefore Satan must approach us with the mask of terror, violence and torment in his face – the black mask that is reflected straight from men’s own inner strictness and harshness in their souls. It is a great tragedy, but we cannot truly blame Satan for that tragedy.
Satan also represents many other things, for there are many sides to the work mentioned above. First, he is the Destroyer; he is Death. Why? Because in a trial are separated cinder and gold, the transitory and the permanent, the profane and the sacred, error and truth. The former of these pairs are inevitably destroyed, that is, changed, with only the latter staying changeless and remaining as they are in the Great Work of the soul.
When speaking of lofty, archetypal powers, it is vital to remember three things – the appliance of the threefold Key again. Firstly, that these kinds of divinities are in their completeness, power and omnipresence impossible to be fully grasped by man’s conceptual thinking. Secondly, that intellect must still be our main instrument even in research of these great powers, or we might slip to erroneous forms of adoration, which lead us to act regressively and irresponsibly, because – and this is the third point – for every occult philosopher it is clear a priori, that every truly awakened and enlightened power in the cosmos must unavoidably have within it the recognized thought of unity, and thus it presents love – or if we would like to express it so, “goodness”.
Thus our philosophy cannot reconcile the name of Satan to an entity that would lead people to evil, or whose true essence or aspect would be evil and wrong deeds. According to our view these kinds of things belong to the fragmented and illusory world, not the archetypal; and only archetypal beings are wholly real and worthy of deep respect. The spirits which work in a divided world are distorted reflections of the original, pure thoughts, and these spirits who live in a distorted reality often have as much or even more possibilities for error than is found in man.