Is evil a concept dreamt up for horror films? Is it something to fantasise about and dress up in its name on Halloween for ‘fun’? Is it born of Man’s imagination, fodder for ghost stories to titillate the nervous and be dismissed?
There may be many who would propose that this is the case. The serious consideration and recognition that evil does actually exist may be too fanciful, or indeed disturbing, for some to accept.
Surely it would be a safer option to pull the bedclothes up over our head and think of kittens playing with balls of string. This actually may be Evil’s most powerful defence. “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist” is a quote attributed to French 19th century poet, Charles Baudelaire.
It may be initially overwhelming to those who have not considered it before; what could one do if it were true? What does one person do in the face of such a prospect? One thing that evil cannot abide of course, is the light of truth. With acknowledgement and acceptance of a truth, the corners for falsehood and darkness to hide, start to reduce. For every soul that stands up with courage to say – what is going on in the world in the name of evil, is not right, the shadows that are home for those who deal in evil, will recede that bit more. This is our protection always, light and truth.
A Christian upbringing gave me some Biblical tutoring of the Devil/ Satan/ Lucifer and his works against Christ. And yes, it did feel like part of the heavy burden the Catholic Church placed upon its children to frighten them into good behaviour; on one level it was almost too much to bear.
When my thinking started to evolve in my teenage years and into adulthood (let me know when I get there!), I started to broaden my outlook in search for answers to life’s eternal questions. The doctrine of the church seemed to me a little restricted by ritual, repetition of dogma, and there was scant opportunity to explore thoughts. I was left with the impression that by exploring unresolved mysteries of faith, as they were known, I was bringing the whole Church – and by association, God – into question.
When I first met my friend Paddina at The Erasmus Foundation, who I have spoken about previously on this blog, I would have had an abstract notion of what evil was. I would have been questioning – was it something symbolic, a word to contain the potentiality of wrong doing that lies within all of us? But in discussing fundamentals like right and wrong, good and evil, and why certain horrors are perpetrated by some people within the world – with Paddina and the other tutors I spoke to at the Foundation – a more concrete understanding began to form in my mind of what evil actually was.
I started to entertain the idea that evil was a real and living force within our universe that could be tapped into as a source of power by way of ritual. Of course, a consequence of that acceptance triggered a thought or two of fear – that we are all in deadly peril to the powers of darkness every second of the day, but I also learnt that of course, this is what evil would want; to generate fear. Fear is the food of evil. Fear is the chaos, noise and fog that evil thrives within. Where there is light, truth and peaceful quietude; evil has no dark corners to hide to plot its course.
The next question then was, if there was a God, why would He allow evil to exist? Surely God would want us to be ‘happy’ – not be suffering at evil’s cold hand? I came to understand over my years at the Foundation that God wants more for us than we realise ourselves. If the purpose of life is to evolve, to learn and to grow; as a Spirit, as we do as humans here on Earth – then God, in His infinite wisdom is like a parent watching a child pick up a nettle; they know the child will learn much more about life, feeling the burn of the nettle on their fingers, than to have read about it in a book. We are but the accumulation of our memories; we act through the wisdom of our experiences – even if they are painful sometimes. If life is eternal, then one physical life within it, that we have chosen to take, in reality, passes in the blink of an eye.
One line of questioning I have heard, from more than one doubtful individual, is as follows: If there is a God, they are either powerless to intervene in all the pains that befall us in this world or they don’t care; either way, it doesn’t look good for them.
This sort of thinking, as arrogant as I’m afraid to say I find it, is born of people who have not found answers of any spiritual or existential relevance to them within religion, and therefore are adamant life is purely a physical undertaking. What I am learning at the Foundation is somewhat of a different perspective of life here on Earth, and why things unfold the way they do. There is a battle between good and evil yes, but God, or The Great Mind as Paddina calls Him (which helped in my mind to de-couple the word God from any particular religion), is not in a one to one battle with the Devil for ascendancy within Creation; the Great Mind is Creation.
The Great Mind allows evil to exist, for mankind to learn to face it and overcome it. Is it not our place to wake up, to grow up, and resist in light, evil’s chilling march? This is a hard and difficult battle that has ebbed and flowed over the ages, we can recognise this within different people, episodes, cultures and civilisations that have gone before us. Yet, it may be, that it was never quite so strong in its movements as it is today. Most, if not all religions and ancient myths, talk about the ‘End Times’. If ever we were experiencing another fall of Rome, I would propose we only have to look around at the arrogant excesses; the extremes of cruelty, suffering and decadence that our current civilisation is overflowing with.
Why am I writing this piece today? It is because of something that my friend Paddina once said.
Paddina was not a person who dealt particularly in compliments, she dealt in truths. Not in any way with abrasion; if you failed miserably somehow, she accepted that that is where you were at this time, and were in the middle of learning something. If you had done well in some endeavour, she wasn’t the sort to lavish praise either, because in her wisdom she knew there was a new learning curve coming along the road. To know her brought a calm, a peace and a security, especially to a flapping, over wound clock spring like me, as I was when I met her.
She was a steady ship, not dramatic highs and crashing lows. She was not without emotion, far from it, she felt very deeply, especially for other people, not so much for herself – if I can surmise that, as well as I knew her – but her encouragement, her words and actions were quiet, well timed and with accurate significance.
She believed in me long before I believed in myself, probably even with the knowledge that I would let her down a hundred times in the process. She had acceptance of this, and that taught me to have acceptance of my failings also. That mistakes and pain bring learning, and so consequently also wisdom, and can be, if accepted and understood for what they are, become the bedrock to build upwards from, towards the light. Change is possible. Anything is possible, within the Great Mind’s planning. Paddina taught me that.
I say all this to you, because I wanted to give you just a little of who Paddina was as I found her, and why she would speak of evil. A force for light, for positivity, for spirituality and for truth as she was, she had wisdom enough to know that there were dark forces moving within the world. This brought no fear to her, because if I ever met anyone with complete acceptance of God’s will, it was her. She emanated this acceptance and peace, and I absorbed it in flashes as I got to know her, and it helped me to start to untie the knots within myself.
Everything had a purpose and a reason was her outlook, and this included evil. This helped me to start to make sense of why people acted sometimes the way they did; and that it was up to every individual not to give a home within their hearts for the seeds of evil to set their roots. That is what we can do as individuals; and when individuals stand together, the strength of light starts to generate.
Most people might say they have no experience of evil, but if we see what is happening across our world and consider what is the driving force behind the destruction, the wars, the greed, the rape of our world – it is more than just poor choices by humans I would suggest.
Paddina used to say that the day would come when evil would grow to such strength that it would feel ‘emboldened’ to start to show its presence in main stream culture, rather than just work for its purposes behind the scenes; hence the reason for this post. I came across something on the BBC news this week; a small example of this emboldened presence.
A singer in America called Lil Nas X in collaboration with a Brooklyn art collective MSCHF have produced a modification of 666 pairs of Nike trainers that feature an inverted cross, an inverted pentagram, the words “Luke 10:18” (a bible quote – And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”), and a drop of human blood in the gel in the soles. I looked up any songs he had released and the first one I landed on was this one called ‘Montero (Call Me By Your Name)’.
The video, in short, is a descent into hell and the homosexual seduction of Satan. There may be some who say, it is just ‘art’. There may be some who say it is a cynical ploy for publicity. There may be some who don’t want to side themselves with the religious, mostly Christian backlash against it. But I simply ask you to think how it makes you feel. Good and evil doesn’t belong to any particular creed, colour or class of people, it is within all of us. Instinctively we know which is which when we see it and its consequences. We should, I believe, make a stand against evil in whatever guise it appears.
One of evil’s tactics Paddina used to talk about, was that those involved in its workings interweave a chosen truth in with their falsehoods; to create deceptions that fabricate a grey area, that tries to hamper the clarity of truth. Mr Lil Nas X has been speaking about his video and the song lyrics and meaning. He has said that he has used it to announce to the world that he is homosexual; and that the anger that he has generated he is glad of, because now people will know how angry he felt having to suppress who he really was all his life. There is no doubt that gay people have historically been persecuted and have been shunned by society – a difficult life to take; that is a truth. But I think to use this as a reason to produce his art in the form that he has, does a complete disservice to gay people worldwide, and is simply an excuse to propagate his satanic philosophy. He proffers that we should all be who we really are. With this I would concur, and I think he has declared who he really is by making this video.
The arts and popular culture are definitely a place you will find the tentacles of evil, even if it is sometimes a little more subtle than Mr Nas X. Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twilight etc; the latter two offering a heady mix of romance/young sexuality/fantasy, all acting as seductive breadcrumbs to young teens, leading some who follow them, deep into the darkened woods of the occult. Music, film, magazines and books, gaming, TV are all so influential, particularly on the young, and the saturation of hyper-sexualisation and gratuitous violence has increased in recent years by anybody’s standard, not just a dainty builder like me. This feeds into the minds of those who consume it, almost by way of a thought virus, to over stimulate the more base aspects of humankind. Now we are also beginning to see these more overt declarations of Satanism and evil practices surfacing.
Evil is drawn to seats of money and power, and the light has started to be shone into some of these dark halls lately. Religious institutions, government, media, commerce, business, schools, sports authorities, children’s homes, armed forces, charities working abroad – anywhere you have those in power over others, there have been some who have succumbed to this power and abused others – financially, sexually, mentally and physically. Abuse can be ritualistic with satanic rite and consciously evil, or it may be that some perpetrators allow evil to use them just to sate their baser selves without themselves having ritualistic knowledge. The victim is destroyed in one sense or another either way.
On the surface, you could say I have written cheerier posts than this one I know; but really there is a positive motivation for my doing so. So many of the horrors that exist in our world we do by our own hand as a civilisation. If we turn away and say it is too dark a prospect to contemplate; will things change to be the way they should be – to a world of light and peace, as the Great Mind would have it?
Paddina believed they would, she had belief in people as she had belief in me. But things only change when things are actioned to change. If we ask WHY things are happening the way they are? It is one thing to wish for, or hope for change; it is another to apply ourselves to make the change happen. The first step for an alcoholic they say is to recognise there is a problem in the first place. The longer it is ignored the more damage is happening under the surface.
So the age old story of Good and Evil is true in the end; and it is us who have a say in how it is to end; do we stand for the light or the dark? One thing I know to be true, every storm, however destructive, eventually passes over.
So perhaps it is for each of us to declare; within our own hearts and the way we live our lives; do we turn away because it is difficult or inconvenient, and continue to tolerate the intolerable – or do the quiet masses stand, one by one, to make a united light that will finally reign over this precious world of natural beauty and wonder as I believe she is destined to do?