Cosmology and Evil Spirits in the Bible, Continued

We see in the tradition of Satan how prominent a role the seventh chakra plays. The issue is community versus destruction of community. The conflict includes cosmological powers of light warring with powers of darkness; envy, hostility, and resentment that lead to violence expressed in “cosmic” warfare of good versus evil; energy being sent into the larger community (including the prophetic energy of resisting certain values in the human society).

Standing in the light and shadow. Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash.

As Pagels puts it, “Satan evokes more than the greed, envy, lust, and anger we identify with our own worst impulses, and more than what we call brutality. [He is a] spirit…in his frustrated rage he mirrors aspects of our own confrontations with otherness.”

We might say that Satan stands for a summing up of all the negative energies of which an unbalanced chakra is capable. Satan is the culminating force at the pinnacle chakra where, instead of connecting to light beings and benign ones in the universe, we connect to malevolent powers, powers of cosmic nihilism.

All this is summarized in a fashion by the author of the Letter to the Ephesians, who wrote, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against powers, principalities and the world-rulers of the present darkness, against spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places.” (Eph. 6.12) The powers that be in the heavens and on the earth are the powers that our awakened energies struggle against.

Theologian Walter Wink understands the “powers” to stand for “ideologies, the zeitgeist, customs, public opinion, peer pressure, institutional expectations, mob psychology, jingoistic patriotism, and negative vibes” that bring about “the quality of alienated existence, the general spiritual climate that influences humanity, in which we live, and move, and lose our beings.”

These realities are not hosts in the sky, but an “atmosphere that envelops people and seals their fate.” It is something we breathe, absorb, and drink. “Satan” means the “actual power that congeals around collective idolatry, injustice, or inhumanity, a power that increases or decreases according to the degree of collective refusal to choose higher values.”  All work of the seventh chakra.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. 364f.

To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: The denial of affection & affirmation. Photo originally posted to Flickr by Dano Rau.

Queries for Contemplation

Pagels calls Satan a “spirit” and Wink calls the powers “ideologies, mob psychologies,” where we “live, move and lose our beings.”  Do you sense such forces at work in culture today?

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7 thoughts on “Cosmology and Evil Spirits in the Bible, Continued”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Your Queries for Contemplation today ask us to consider these ideas:
    “Pagels calls Satan a “spirit”–the spirit of greed, envy, lust, and anger. And Satan is depicted in the book of Revelation and is implied in the following passage as being part of a cosmic battle, for the author of the Letter to the Ephesians, writes, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against powers, principalities and the world-rulers of the present darkness, against spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places.” (Eph. 6.12)–the forces of evil in heavenly places. The ruler of which is, Satan–once again, the spirit of greed, envy, lust, and anger. And in saying spirit we are not speaking of a literal being or beings, rather we are speaking about the consequences that are played out in the world with: greed, envy, lust, and anger. But it is really not a “being” called Satan who is doing all these things, but rather the world-rulers of the present darkness, which these powers work through, rulers such as Putin at this time, and Kim Jong Un–and there are others behind the scenes. And when you throw in what Walter Wink calls the powers into the mix, that is: “ideologies, mob psychologies,” where we “live, move and lose our beings”–we get a feel for what is really going on. Wink uses the text in the book of Acts that says, “In God we live and move and have our being”–which is Creation Spirituality’s scripture for “panentheism”–in this way, he is saying that it is now, in this present darkness we live and move and lose our being. And not just “Yes,” but “Hell yes!” I sense these forces at work in culture today !!!

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    The passing of gun laws is not THE solution to gun violence in America, but it would be an important move in the direction of A solution toward a national problem whose roots are determined by many factors. In any culture, particularly ours, where the prevailing norms and distinguishing features reveal insensitivity to the role of the feminine (toxic patriarchy) and of the childlike (adultism) will value phallic symbols of power and destruction (guns and missiles) over those that further life and peace. One must consider whether the apocalyptic Babylon referred to in Scripture who “sits by many waters” and whose influence and power is over “many kings of the earth,” and who is feminized as an end times “whore,” is indeed a toxic male in drag, good old Uncle Sam. Despite his storied, world-wide avuncular image, this guy inveterately turns a blind eye and deaf ear to his own domestic household, guilty, by way of proxy and sins of omission, while his own women, children, and adopted offspring of color are abused, mutilated and murdered. In ancient times, this feminized ‘whore’ was thought to be Imperial Rome. Today, its spirit and habitation has merely shifted westward, to Washington, flaunting its great great phallic obelisk (Washington Monument) and architecture (Pentagon) for all the world to see.

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    Jeanette Metler

    I found Walter Wink’s statement, “Satan means the actual power that conceals around the collective… is a power that increases or decreases according to the degree of the collective refusal to choose higher values,” to be interesting and insightful. It not only brings some understanding as to why we are seeing an increase in misdirected, inhumane and unjust acts of violence and the power of this… but it also helps to identify and clarify the decrease of higher values… of those positioned in high places… that are negatively influencing the choices within the collective of humanity.

    The response to all of this, is also hinted at within his statement… that being our task to spiritually discern, with conscious awareness… the choice of higher values… of all that which is sacred and divine… such as love, compassion, mercy and justice… which God has revealed and made known to humanity through many religions and spiritual paths… as well as the incarnation of the Holy Spirit of His/Her essence and presence dwelling within our own hearts, minds and souls… which assists us throughout this process.

    Our task is to acknowledge, accept and respond in faith… trusting God’s ways and thoughts are higher than our ways and thoughts… and are therefore to be highly valued and acted upon… that the power of these higher values may increase that which is already there, concealed and written upon our own heart, mind and soul… which is the value, wisdom and power of love, compassion, mercy and justice… which is available for each one of us to choose and act upon in any given moment… no matter what we may be experiencing and encountering, within both our internal world and our external.

    We are not as powerless against the principalities and powers of darkness and evil in high places… as we often believe ourselves to be… for we have been given a Spirit of love, compassion, mercy and justice and the value and power of this, along with a sound mind… made capable of discerning the higher values available to each one of us, if we but choose to increase the measure of these, in response to all that we are facing during these challenging and difficult times.

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      Amen! We must be open to God’s Loving~Wisdom~Truth~JustIce~Powerful~Creative~Beautiful~Joyful~Peaceful… Spirit Always Present Within, through, and among us, especially among the Feminine, Children, Mother Nature and all Her creatures, our spiritual multidimensional guides & Angels, and our Living multiverse evolving Cosmos… God’s Divine Love is All in All ….

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    “What in hell is going on?!” “What in heaven’s name is happening?!”

    Heaven and hell, the tension of the already not yet. The state of wrath as Divine LOVE confronts and defeats evil in the world.

    #revelation #apocalypse #openings

  5. Avatar

    It’s the collective refusal to choose higher values—the absolute denial of facts and truth and the substitution of warped conspiracy theories to justify the worst kind of violence like the recent mass shootings, especially in Buffalo and in Texas. We are indeed trapped in a spiritual place of losing our beings. I think Matthew has used the term, spiritual carnage, which describes it well. There are practical measures that could be taken, such as voting out all those politicians who have been bought and paid for by the NRA and gun manufacturers on local, state, and national levels. That will probably not happen, but it is a goal. I am not happy about any guns but have come to accept the genuine meaning of the 2nd amendment and the appropriate use of pistols and rifles, but no automatic weapons should be in the hands of civilians, never mind an unstable 18 year old. We need to do everything we can to prevent these people from getting to the point of desperation that they feel they must kill–of course they hate themselves, and many seem happy to end their own lives or let the police do it for them. It starts with bullying, and this is something we can be aware of and work to stop as individuals and in groups.

    And, in the midst of all the evil and horror, this is what I find comforting and empowering:

    “For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 8: 38-39 in the King James Version, which I think uses more powerful language than RSV. This is not to say that there are not other sacred scriptures or practices from other faiths that serve as well. But this helps me to have some perspective and remember that when Paul wrote this, he and many other early believers and Jews both were at great peril from empire, and many of both faiths were being killed in large numbers.

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