Debunking History’s Myths

Today I start a new series in which I will use academic scholarship and actual history to debunk widely held myths that many people hold today.  This is not done out of a desire to hurt people, or to cruel to any one group of people – it is merely to dispel the ignorance of history that has become so pervasive in our society.

So with that in mind, I present to you the first of many threads to come:

Why Roman Catholicism isn’t Witchcraft, Modern or Old.

http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message2167389/pg1

Above is the link I answering too and referencing, so you can see for your own eyes the actual claims made by the OP.   This is a format I will continue to follow in the future.

Now the false, but oft-repeated history presented in full:

“Doc Marquee has also written a book, which is being published by American Focus Publishing Company, entitled “Secrets of the Illuminati”. While this topic has been explored before, no author has been able to bring a truly occultic angle to the discussion. In other words, Marquee looks at the plan to bring in the New World Order from the viewpoint of a former witch. In his book, Marquee includes a chapter entitled, “Is It Catholicism Or Witchcraft?” At the beginning of this chapter, Marquee makes a quite startling statement, “I must emphatically state that Catholicism and witchcraft are one and the same…there is no difference between witchcraft and Catholicism.” Then, Marquee examines Catholicism and witchcraft from the vantage point of a former witch.

Marquee identifies several critically important areas in which the practice of Roman Catholicism and witchcraft are identical. We will first list these areas of commonalty and then comment specifically upon them. These common areas are:

The altar 
The golden goblet known as a chalice. 
Colored candles used in services 
The use of incense. 
The use of bells in the ceremony. 
Praying to statues. 
The use of Latin in services. 
The use of a golden scepter in giving a large blessing to the people. 
Common belief in Purgatory 
The common belief in the host. 
Common belief in the five elements. 
Now, let us examine each of these areas of commonalty:

1. The altar in every Catholic church is prominently positioned at the front of the church. The “Mysteries of the Mass” are celebrated on and around the altar. In witchcraft, also, the altar is similarly used for three purposes: 
To practice certain metaphysical rites, such as the casting of certain spells or to honor occult deities. 
To hold the tools of magic. 
To perform human sacrifice. 
The Roman Catholic altar also holds their tools of their magic, and they daily perform human sacrifice. Remember, we are looking at this subject through the eyes of a former high-level witch who is now a born-again Christian. This daily human sacrifice is performed according to the false belief in “transubstantiation”, the belief that the priest magically transforms the wafer into Jesus’ body and the wine into His blood. Marquee states, “In other words, every day Christ is being reincarnated and then sacrificed.. they perform daily their human sacrifice in which Christ is …sacrificed for their sins.” It is shocking to realize that the Roman Catholics are daily performing human sacrifice in a manner similar to that of witches throughout the centuries.

2. The Catholic Golden Goblet, or Chalice. “It is this cup that the wine poured into it becomes the…literal blood of Christ. When a witch does a human sacrifice, after the victim’s throat is sliced open, the spilled blood will be collected in a chalice, just as the Catholics do, except the witch’s chalice holds the real thing.” In Satan’s eyes, the Catholics are performing the same rite as the witches.

3. “Candles were introduced to the Catholic mass about 320 A.D. There is no Scriptural reasons for them, unless… you are a practicing witch. Below is a list of different colored candles a witch would use throughout the year. See if you can recall any of these colors used during a Catholic mass: 
White — Purity, Truth, Sincerity 
Red — Strength, Health, Vigor, Sexual Love 
Light Blue — Tranquillity, Understanding, Patience 
Dark Blue — Impulsiveness, Depression, Change 
Green — Finance, Fertility, Luck 
Gold/Yellow — Persuasion, Charm, Confidence 
Brown — Hesitation, Uncertainty 
Pink — Honor, Love, Morality 
Black — Evil, Loss, Discord, Confusion 
Purple — Tension, Ambition, Power 
Silver-Gray — Cancellation, Stalemate 
Orange — Encouragement, Stimulation 
Greenish-Yellow — Sickness, Anger, Jealousy 
“Using these colored candles and the right spells, a witch can cause anything to happen…our Catholic friends are not only using these occult tools, they also pay for them when they go to various statues and light…candles.”

4. “Incense is a constant tool that is used by priests. They will take a philter (incense burner), walk around the altar, and then wave it out toward the crowd with an invocation…Not only do witches use incense, but they will consecrate their altar and their fellow witches in the exact way the Catholics do…”

And now, let me answer these:

“The altar 
The golden goblet known as a chalice. 
Colored candles used in services 
The use of incense. 
The use of bells in the ceremony. 
Praying to statues. 
The use of Latin in services. 
The use of a golden scepter in giving a large blessing to the people. 
Common belief in Purgatory 
The common belief in the host. 
Common belief in the five elements. 
Now, let us examine each of these areas of commonalty:”

Starting with “the altar” – the use of an altar in Catholic and Orthodox Christian ceremonies is actually a reference to Judaic tradition, dating back to the Temples of Solomon, as well as the stone altars erected by Biblical Patriarchs as recorded in the Bible.  (Not I am not saying the stone altars were built or weren’t, merely that the Catholic church uses them as a reference to the Biblical accounts.)

The “golden chalice” comes from two sources – one, it represents the cup Christ used at the last supper, and two, out of Germanic tradition, in which cups were shared as a bonding ritual between Lord and Servants – recorded in beautifully in Beowulf, in which Hrothgar’s wife Wealtheow (peace-weaver) passes the royal cup around the hall in honor of Beowulf and in honor of the newly established (and short-lived) peace that results from Beowulf’s slaying of Grendel.

Candles as used in the church were a matter of great discussion among Christian authors, some of whom condemned them for seeming too much like pagan tradition, this is true, others pointed that the use of candles can be likened until the woman who brought the expensive ointment for Christ’s wounds – “and that it is not the gift that merit reward, but the faith the inspires it.”  (Contra Vigilantium).  However what can be said for the use of candles as a symbol is appropriate due to the fact that in early Christianity, light and fire are used exclusively as symbols of the divine, and that the accepted use of candles in worship predates the emergence of the official Catholic church.

The use of incense is another hallmark of Judaic practice, with references to the burning of incense dating back at least as far as tabernacle worship (that is to say, pre-first Temple).  Moreover there is also the new testament story of the wise men bearing their gifts of “Frankincense, myrrh and gold.”  The first two being expensive forms of incense.

The use of bells in church services seems to being in the 4th century, as a means to call the faithful to perform the Angelus prayer, as well as to summon the faithful to Mass.  It was officially sanctioned by the Pope in C.E. 604 as a part of worship, and since then various uses and superstitions were added to the bells, as they took on greater roles within worship services.  However, this should not be mistaken as being “witchcraft” – as throughout the middle ages music took on a greater role within the church.

Praying to statues – the iconoclastic debate rages again.  Listen there is so much scholarship, both secular and religious on the use of icons and statues in the Catholic and Orthodox churches, as well as examples of reactions to this that it would take an entire book to tackle this subject.  However, it should be noted that unlike in traditional idolatry, the saint (or Mary, or Jesus) is not believed to reside in, or actually to be the statue (in Hindu practice, the idol IS the god, a similar belief was held by Germanic tribes).  Instead the icon is held to be a tool of faith, a way to communicate these stories without the necessity of a common language, the art itself being the language.  Catholics don’t actually pray to statues, they pray that the saints the statues represent will intercede on their behalf with god.  It’s a humbling of themselves before God, as opposed to boldly approaching the Lord himself, this may seem strange to us, but it’s perfectly in accord with medieval thinking.

The use of Latin in services – well, to date, I don’t know of any branch of wicca that uses Latin exclusively in its practices, or that relies solely on the use of a single language, especially a single largely dead language.  However, that being said some witches do use Latin to intone their spells, however, this is mainly an adolescent urge to “look cool” or seem “mysterious” – or more pretentiously, “to give the appearance of intellectualism” ~ (paraphrased from the source: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100719092045AA7wi6J).  As for the Catholic use of Latin, this stems from several historical sources.  First off the Catholic Church, aka Roman Catholicism is the Church of Rome.  Literally, not figuratively.  In the early days of the Christian Church, many different cities were vying to be the center of the Christian church, but there were five with particular claim:  Alexandria, Antioch, Rome, Constantinople, and Jerusalem.  These were the Holy Sees of the Christian faith and they held sway over the Christian faith.  Due to political maneuvering, pressure from the Emperor, the emerging power of the Roman aristocracy in the church, and the loss of the much of the east to Islamist forces (Antioch, Jerusalem and later on Alexandria), the church basically fell into two main cities – Constantinople and Rome, which the Orthodox church held until the early 15th century, and the Catholic Church (which didn’t officially and fully split from the Orthodox faith until the great Schism in the 11th century) centered in Rome.  At the time the services were held in the language of the holy see you belonged too, so in Byzantium, you heard the mass in Greek, in the former Wester Roman territories the mass was taught in Latin, though, early vernacular masses arose.  With the exception of the Anglo-Saxon bible ordered by Aelfred the Great, these tended to rife with errors.  As such, the Roman church restricted the works to Latin and the mass as well, not due to “witchcraft” but because it was the language of the Holy See.

The use of a golden scepter – The scepter is a symbol of kingship throughout the ancient and medieval world, and we often find medieval depictions of monarchs holding the scepter (royal power) and orb, which represents Christ’s dominion over the world.  This shows that while the ruler may have power over his subjects, he is still subject to God and God’s judgement.  So why would the Catholic church have and use sceptres?  Because throughout most of the last 1500 years, the Pope wasn’t just head of the church, he was also a king in his own right, as ruler of the Papal states, which only ended in 1870.  The pope was a secular, as well as religious leader, and as such, had the right to bear a scepter.  Now the scepter itself is an interesting object, it is derived from the mace, which was long considered one of the deadliest weapons around.  Many ancient cultures used the mace both ritualistically, and as a battle armament, and there may have been actual combat rituals involving the mace, the Mahabharata itself describes how Bhima broke the rules of the sacred mace fight to break his enemy’s leg in combat and to gain the victory.  Eventually the power of the mace as a weapon was transposed into a kingly weapon and finally into the scepter itself.

A common belief in purgatory – well, to begin with, to my knowledge there is no real consensus of the Catholic concept of Purgatory among witches, wiccans or neopagans.  Moreover belief in a purgatorial like state predate Christianity, having adherents in prayers for the dead found in Judaism itself.  It was a commonly held belief that the divine litany and prayers of the living could make a different in regards to a soul’s final fate, however this was not always considered canon.  There is no connection here.

Common belief in the five elements – well, in actuality, the classical elements related to earth, air, water and fire.  Some early greek scholars believed in a unifying fifth element, or quintessence, that bound everything together, but this was not a Catholic tradition, rather it was a Platonic one as it was put forth by Plato.  When St Augustine brought in Neoplatonic teachings into the church, this concept was introduced to western scholarship all over again, and it did become the basis for medieval understandings of the universe, though these concepts now more correctly relate to states of matter (solid, liquid, gas and plasma) rather than the periodic elements.  In various magical traditions there are four or five elements, corresponding to different cultural and magical traditions, very few of which have anything to do with Plato’s ideals or Pythagoras’ five perfect forms.

Now on to the second half of the claims:

1. The altar in every Catholic church is prominently positioned at the front of the church. The “Mysteries of the Mass” are celebrated on and around the altar. In witchcraft, also, the altar is similarly used for three purposes: 
To practice certain metaphysical rites, such as the casting of certain spells or to honor occult deities. 
To hold the tools of magic. 
To perform human sacrifice. 
The Roman Catholic altar also holds their tools of their magic, and they daily perform human sacrifice. Remember, we are looking at this subject through the eyes of a former high-level witch who is now a born-again Christian. This daily human sacrifice is performed according to the false belief in “transubstantiation”, the belief that the priest magically transforms the wafer into Jesus’ body and the wine into His blood. Marquee states, “In other words, every day Christ is being reincarnated and then sacrificed.. they perform daily their human sacrifice in which Christ is …sacrificed for their sins.” It is shocking to realize that the Roman Catholics are daily performing human sacrifice in a manner similar to that of witches throughout the centuries.

1.  First off, traditional church design was done in the shape of a Cross, with the Altar at the far end of the building, as far away from the entrance as possible, so that you would have to walk to the Altar.  This is completely incorrect:

This is fairly typical of most period catholic churches.

This is fairly typical of most period catholic churches.

The act of communion is not “human sacrifice” even though the Catholic teaching on transubstantiation may seem odd to outsiders, it is not human sacrifice.  It an act remember Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, as well as the fellowship he had with his disciples, and it is a way for people even of this remote generation to connect to Christ, metaphorically.  Or at least that is the traditional Christian view of the act of Communion.  Moreover, the altar does not “contain” the tools of magic, it is a representation of the tradition of having altars to God like they had in the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, which the church fathers liked to imitate.  Finally, the God of the Catholic faith is the same God as the Protestant faith – they are not worshiping extra gods in Catholic temples any more than they are in Baptist churches.

2. The Catholic Golden Goblet, or Chalice. “It is this cup that the wine poured into it becomes the…literal blood of Christ. When a witch does a human sacrifice, after the victim’s throat is sliced open, the spilled blood will be collected in a chalice, just as the Catholics do, except the witch’s chalice holds the real thing.” In Satan’s eyes, the Catholics are performing the same rite as the witches.

As stated above, the chalice is a reference to the cup used by Christ in the last supper, as well as a reference to Germanic customs of rulership that were filtering throughout the Roman world by the 3rd and 4th centuries, right up until the early medieval period.  The act of communion is an act Christians are called too by Christ himself, though he may not have meant that Christians necessarily believe that the wine and bread were literally his body, it is unlikely that he would have gone bonkers at the notion either.

3. “Candles were introduced to the Catholic mass about 320 A.D. There is no Scriptural reasons for them, unless… you are a practicing witch. Below is a list of different colored candles a witch would use throughout the year. See if you can recall any of these colors used during a Catholic mass: 
White — Purity, Truth, Sincerity 
Red — Strength, Health, Vigor, Sexual Love 
Light Blue — Tranquillity, Understanding, Patience 
Dark Blue — Impulsiveness, Depression, Change 
Green — Finance, Fertility, Luck 
Gold/Yellow — Persuasion, Charm, Confidence 
Brown — Hesitation, Uncertainty 
Pink — Honor, Love, Morality 
Black — Evil, Loss, Discord, Confusion 
Purple — Tension, Ambition, Power 
Silver-Gray — Cancellation, Stalemate 
Orange — Encouragement, Stimulation 
Greenish-Yellow — Sickness, Anger, Jealousy 
“Using these colored candles and the right spells, a witch can cause anything to happen…our Catholic friends are not only using these occult tools, they also pay for them when they go to various statues and light…candles.”

3. Candles – well the explanation for candles entry into the church has already been given, so I will take a different approach here.  Candle magic – the use of candles in various magical traditions among modern neopagans and traditional Caribbean magic cannot be understated (see santeria), however, it is interesting to note that what different colored candles mean varies by tradition.  Moreover, what “Doctor Marquis” is doing is engaging in Presentism, which is the tendency to transpose onto the past things of the present, like in this case, “modern witchcraft” – though I would point out, few traditions would welcome a “Luciferan witch” into their covens.  This presentism is of course, modern witchcraft, which has NO HISTORICAL ANALOGUES at all.  There is no evidence of modern witchcraft beliefs, practices, or traditions appearing in any historical epoch, instead, the claims of this nature are often thrown out “because false histories make satisfying myths” according to Starhawk, one the most influential among the modern witch/ecofeminist movements.  The scholarship on this subject is immense, and I could write an entire book on this subject alone, luckily, others already have.  Check out the book here.

4. “Incense is a constant tool that is used by priests. They will take a philter (incense burner), walk around the altar, and then wave it out toward the crowd with an invocation…Not only do witches use incense, but they will consecrate their altar and their fellow witches in the exact way the Catholics do…”

4.  Another case of presentism, and not even a very good one.  The use of incense, as stated earlier, can be traced back to the temple of Solomon and indeed, the early tabernacle.  It was well established in many religions by the advent of Christianity, and given the common roots of Christianity in Judaism, it’s not surprising that it transferred over (as did priestly robes and skullcaps).  However, in his argument “Doctor Marquis” is making a blunder – he sees an old tradition, and a modern tradition, and assumes the modern tradition has influenced the old, instead of the other way around.  In this case it’s just clumsily done.

I hope you enjoyed this very long blog ^_^ – next week I will tackle the historical errors rife in modern wicca!

Advertisements