The Myth of Hell
Being raised by Roman Catholic parents who attend Church every Sunday it should hold no doubt that I was taught about Hell and Satan. I also attended a parochial high school and then studied the Catechism as an adult. During all the studying I was continuously being reminded that Satan was ‘the great tempter‘ and Hell was where I was bound to go if I committed mortal sins. Even when I converted to the Methodist Church I still carried the beliefs of Satan and Hell with me though something just didn’t ‘feel right‘ about it. It wasn’t until I started a Bible Study with one of Jehovah’s Witnesses that I formally question then discarded my belief in Hell. Although it wasn’t until years later as I began my journey down my current path that I finally stopped believing in the concept of Satan, The Devil.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I do believe that there are bad or evil intentions in people and because of this there are corresponding actions that are negative and hurtful. Christians, I’m sure, would call those behaviors “sinful” or “wicked” but I do not. They are just actions which are motivated by selfish reasons and don’t take into consideration the feelings of others. I don’t cater to the belief of a personified deity called Satan/Lucifer/The Devil nor do I embrace the notion of a dwelling called Hell/Sheol/Gehenna/Hades where the wicked unrepentant sinners go and are tormented for all eternity.
As I see it there are really two views of looking at The Divine. Some see it as a Life Force or a Collective Consciousness, an unseen energy that connects all things. And others see it as a definite deity (We were created in His image). Personally, I fluctuate between the two. I do believe The Divine is the Life Force that connects us all but when practicing my Craft I tend to personalize it as a definite deity with human qualities.
As I look at The Divine as a Life Force, the concepts of Satan and Hell don’t really make sense. There is no deity to judge who the unrepentant sinners are when they die. It’s just the cycle continuing forward like a wheel spinning. Energy flowing (birth) and ebbing (death). Since there is no definite deity for The Divine then there really is no deity to oppose it either. So, no Satan. And no Hell.
If I think about Ritual and when I personalize The Divine as The God/Goddess then I view them as Father/Mother. The most loving and caring parents that I, the child could have. The perfect balance between male and female, light and dark, Alpha and Omega. Perfect Love. Perfect Trust. Perfect understanding. My conscious is their gift to me. It is my moral guide – not The God/Goddess.
So for example: I kill another human, which I label as morally wrong because I believe that all life is sacred, then I have then committed a “sin”. Perhaps, I am even unrepentant because the individual I killed had murdered someone I love and perhaps I did it out of revenge. If The God/Goddess are prefect love and have perfect understanding why would they send me to a place of unending torment for all eternity? Even my human and imperfect parents wouldn’t be able to find it in them to be that cruel even if the person I killed was my own sibling. No loving parent would.
Why would God/Goddess?