What is the nature of evil?

This Forum is dedicated to the Druidic search for the underlying meaning of life, the unifying nature of our common humanity, and our interconnectedness in the search for truth.
Forum rules
If you find a topic of interest and want to continue the discussion then start a new topic under The Hearthfire with a similar name and add a link back to the topic you want to continue.
To copy a link just copy the url on the top left of your browser and then put in your post, highlight it and press the url button.
User avatar
gwendolyng
Posts: 12
Joined: 09 Aug 2011, 12:32
Gender: Female
Location: Michigan, USA
Contact:

What is the nature of evil?

Postby gwendolyng » 28 Jun 2015, 02:14

So...
I've been tossing this around in my brain for the last several months without any kind of resolution. It occurred to me to post my internal debate here to get feedback.
I am at the place on my spiritual path where I am trying to reconcile certain concepts--particularly in relation to pagan practices. I grew up in a very religious family where there were no other beliefs taught or introduced. I know the whole christian belief about good/evil, God/Satan, and heaven/hell. I have decided that I don't believe the whole Christian story. I don't believe in the fantasy castle in the sky where God lives, nor in the brimstone and fires of eternal damnation.
I understand the concepts of light and dark and balance. But my question is, where does evil come from? Not the choices that men make--that is more about free will, and just plain old bad acts. I am talking about that spiritual darkness that is felt and experienced. If there is no Satan and no demons, then what is it? Dark fey? Dark energy? What? :anx: Any thoughts?
Gwendolyng
OBOD Druid

The smart ones sit back and let Karma do the work.
Joey Hernandez

User avatar
aaron
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 76
Joined: 12 Jun 2015, 18:52
Gender: Male
Location: Auburn, California
Contact:

Re: What is the nature of evil?

Postby aaron » 28 Jun 2015, 03:38

Hi,
I just finished re-reading Dante's ""The Divine Comedy"
If you would like a vision of heaven and hell as seen by a Florentine poet, Dante is your man.
Hell is a concept as old as civilization. In my opinion, prior to the Cristiana's it was a concept lost in poetry, mythology and allegory. In Christianity it seems to be used to scare the heck out of the devoted and designed to make them toe the line of whatever specific dogma of their choice.
Now go ahead and ask 15 psychologists to define evil, and you will get 17 opinions.
I think that evil is inherent in all of us. However, most people have a moral compass that helps us steer away from it.
Lately, say in the past 10 years, we have seen a proliferation of violent graphics, music , computer games, tv and movies. Thus, our moral compus has taken a hit in favor of profit and greed.
So if you want to visit evil, take a walk to your local high school and observe some of the students when they get out at the end of the day. Kids are not inherently evil, put they can be pushed into it by the modern social evils of greed, complacence, poverty, racial tensions, tribalism, and lack of parenting.
Our order is an order of peace and tolerance. But be aware that evil is also a part of our society, and I don't see it going away in the near future.
Happy dreams, everyone.
Aaron

User avatar
treegod
OBOD Druid
Posts: 2144
Joined: 26 Apr 2007, 16:28
Gender: Male
Location: Catalonia, Spain
Contact:

Re: What is the nature of evil?

Postby treegod » 28 Jun 2015, 06:56

I don't think evil exists of or by itself. I think of it as going against our own nature, consciously or not, and generally causing disharmony in our lives and the world.

In sensing "evil" I think the whole being (body et al) knows what is unhealthy or dangerous for it, so it'll react to this perception, and so we have a sense of what is "evil".

User avatar
Green Raven
Posts: 179
Joined: 19 Dec 2014, 20:44
Gender: Male
Location: Badon Hill, Dorset
Contact:

Re: What is the nature of evil?

Postby Green Raven » 28 Jun 2015, 19:41

Apologies for lengthy ramble but there are a lot of issues in a short question:

I cannot believe in ‘evil’ as a separate entity from the people who do ‘evil’ deeds. For me it must be defined by the results of actions by individuals or groups of individuals.

Consider these somewhat overused quotations, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” (attrib. Bernard of Clairvaux) and, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,” (Burke). They weigh evil by the results of the actions. The person who sets out to do harm is evil but the well-intentioned may also do great evil.

I have known truly malevolent people and cannot separate their evil from them as personalities.

Natural catastrophic events cause great suffering, misery and loss of life - the recent earthquake in Kathmandu, for example, or a widespread disease. These are surely not evil happenings, although deeply unfortunate, unless deliberately caused by a person. Sometimes things just happen outside of morality.

There is also the widespread belief that bad people are wholly responsible for great and terrible atrocities. There is a moral conundrum asking, “If you met Hitler as an infant, and being made aware of the great evil that he was to do, could you kill him?” I personally do not think that it would have made any difference. A set of circumstances were brought into play by the ambition of greedy empires, a terrible war happened and the aftermath was mishandled. Add in popular prejudice providing scapegoat populations and all it needed was a figurehead – anyone with a smooth tongue would have done to write the necessary moral ‘permissions’. To me, evil is personal, as is guilt.

Positively, I believe that the onus is on each and every person to strive to equip themselves with the knowledge of what is ‘good’ and right and to teach that to everyone they meet by personal deed, constantly checking their own actions against results – as opposed to forcing their personal gnosis on the unwilling. I regularly dissect my own motivations and try to hold them to a cold bright light against self delusion and wishful thinking. I do not always impress myself. :oops:

It is a useful exercise to study the evolution of social codes, from the (possibly neolithic) Noachide Laws, the Mosaic (Bronze Age), through The Law of the Twelve Tables (Roman), the ‘Dooms’ of the Anglo-Saxon Kings, the American Constitution & Bill of Rights (Industrial Revolution), and try to write your own code based on what you know and what you believe (the age of Hawking, Dawkins and Daish). The results can be strange and interesting.

So, what is the nature of evil? I guess it's the nature of the person who does evil, singly or collectively.
“Listen, O little pig! are not the buds of thorns
Very green, the mountain beautiful, and beautiful the earth?”
- Myrddin Wyllt, Hoianau / Greetings (to a Pig)

User avatar
gwendolyng
Posts: 12
Joined: 09 Aug 2011, 12:32
Gender: Female
Location: Michigan, USA
Contact:

Re: What is the nature of evil?

Postby gwendolyng » 28 Jun 2015, 20:21

Thanks to all for their responses, thus far. Take it one step further. I totally agree that individuals make a conscious choice to commit acts of violence and/or evil acts. These individuals choose to follow that dark path and therefore are evil. Evil definitely starts in the hearts of men.

Have you ever been to a place where you know that horrific things happened and just felt the residual 'funk' in the energy of that place? As druids, we honor and identify with the Spirit of Place. So, then, doesn't it stand to reason, that the energy of a place can be tainted (at least temporarily) by repeated negatively charged acts? Or, is it more about the individual's expectation of feeling the negativity because of their prior knowledge?

And--as Druids--how do we then, help heal the energy of a place that has been thus affected? For example, a forest that has been cut down for profit.
Gwendolyng
OBOD Druid

The smart ones sit back and let Karma do the work.
Joey Hernandez

User avatar
Green Raven
Posts: 179
Joined: 19 Dec 2014, 20:44
Gender: Male
Location: Badon Hill, Dorset
Contact:

Re: What is the nature of evil?

Postby Green Raven » 28 Jun 2015, 22:11

The total destruction, removal and disposal of all debris at the relevant properties in Cromwell Street, Ceinws and Soham seems to have brought some peace and closure to the families of the victims. Returning the land to nature or planting tranquil gardens is the approach instinctively taken by the representatives of the local communities, symbolically returning the land to an 'Eden-like' innocence. Perhaps moved by the Awen and the spirits of the places?

Re the hypothetical forest. There is a process by which a ravaged land will recolonise itself and rebuild an ecology if left alone long enough. It makes a fine metaphor for mankind's more sordid interactions with the planet and each other.
“Listen, O little pig! are not the buds of thorns
Very green, the mountain beautiful, and beautiful the earth?”
- Myrddin Wyllt, Hoianau / Greetings (to a Pig)

skepticskitchen
OBOD Bard
Posts: 80
Joined: 07 Dec 2014, 09:00
Gender: Male
Contact:

Re: What is the nature of evil?

Postby skepticskitchen » 30 Jun 2015, 15:19

Thanks to all for their responses, thus far. Take it one step further. I totally agree that individuals make a conscious choice to commit acts of violence and/or evil acts. These individuals choose to follow that dark path and therefore are evil. Evil definitely starts in the hearts of men.

Have you ever been to a place where you know that horrific things happened and just felt the residual 'funk' in the energy of that place? As druids, we honor and identify with the Spirit of Place. So, then, doesn't it stand to reason, that the energy of a place can be tainted (at least temporarily) by repeated negatively charged acts? Or, is it more about the individual's expectation of feeling the negativity because of their prior knowledge?

And--as Druids--how do we then, help heal the energy of a place that has been thus affected? For example, a forest that has been cut down for profit.
I believe that places and things have memory, and that is where that residual funk comes from. Be it house, temple, car, or forest. What I would do is threefold. First, I would perform a cleansing rite. Then I would physically clean the place out. Finally I would begin to build new memories for the place or thing.

I don't believe in "evil" as a separate spirit or entity just as I do not believe in "good" as a separate spirit or entity. For me good and evil, or bad, are fourfold. I have seen good people do good things for bad intentions with bad results. I have seen bad people do good things for good intentions with good results. I have seen good people do good things for good intentions with bad results. And so on, the combinations of people, acts (things), intentions, and results are many, and all help to form a place-memory which carries over into the next persons experience.
Yours in the Peace of the Grove,
/|\ Colley y Bara

Image

Rosaline2
Posts: 4
Joined: 16 Aug 2015, 23:42
Gender: Female
Contact:

Re: What is the nature of evil?

Postby Rosaline2 » 17 Aug 2015, 01:24

There was a documentary on in the UK about Egypt.
The meaning of the of one of their gods was lost to modern times like the
Bible recent transcript changed the true meaning because the translater wanted
To control the thoughts of others.

The Greeks did their own version.
Then the Masons draw their belief from this. They do so many good and so many
Bad things.

Evil takes..
It's a unary.
They understood that the human was in control or so they thought.
We live longer than most animals it does not give us the right to
Assum we are more intelligent.
Or in control.
They managed to find the original Egyption meaning of Thoth
'We are all stars'
No more no less we all have rights to shine.
Only man seems to make things up to control that's evil.
rainbow: :rainbow: :rainbow: :rainbow: :rainbow:

User avatar
Mountainheart
OBOD Bard
Posts: 383
Joined: 24 Nov 2008, 22:26
Gender: Male
Location: Yorkshire
Contact:

Re: What is the nature of evil?

Postby Mountainheart » 17 Aug 2015, 07:42

Have you ever been to a place where you know that horrific things happened and just felt the residual 'funk' in the energy of that place? As druids, we honor and identify with the Spirit of Place. So, then, doesn't it stand to reason, that the energy of a place can be tainted (at least temporarily) by repeated negatively charged acts? Or, is it more about the individual's expectation of feeling the negativity because of their prior knowledge?
I've been to quite a lot of places where I've really strongly felt the 'funk' that you are talking about: and normally I haven't had any prior knowledge or expectation. On investigation it has always turned out to be some human action of the past which seems to be causing the atmosphere so I completely agree that the energy of a place can be tainted. Some of the places I felt negative energy were where the event(s) happened hundreds of years ago.

My thoughts are that evil doesn't exist as as separate spiritual entity but that human activity can create a real and long lasting 'evil' energy, that can't be easily or quickly dealt with.

Thx
David

User avatar
Mistanlyn
OBOD Bard
Posts: 57
Joined: 11 Aug 2015, 16:35
Gender: Female
Location: New York, USA
Contact:

Re: What is the nature of evil?

Postby Mistanlyn » 28 Aug 2015, 19:15

I think evil, like morals, are relative to an individual and not as a whole. For instance, killing a person versus killing an animal (for whatever reason). Some people will think killing another person is worse than an animal, but does an animal not have feelings, feel things, have families, etc? Some people may think both forms of killing are murder no matter what and should not be done for whatever purpose. With this in mind, it's hard to place what is exactly evil, and what is good, due to people having different moralities and feelings about what is what.

As an example, I believe hunting and killing animals simply for fun, sport, or poaching is just as bad as someone going to another person and murdering them. Killing an animal and using every part (or almost every part) for something like food, hide to leather, bones, etc, is okay to me, because you are using all parts and in some instances, honoring the animal while doing so. In self-defense against another individual, if it meant saving my life or the life of a loved one, most certainly I could kill someone. But again, only in self-defense. A mother bear, or wolf, or lion, would not hesitate to kill a human who has become a danger to their young. We are all part of nature; we all have a fight-or-flight instinct within us that kicks up when we are put under certain situations.

And that is where morality is relative. Some people will likely disagree with me on some or all points. Others may agree with me on some points, but not others. It's various between individuals, as are the concepts of good and evil.

I love discussions like this, as it helps understand more people's opinions and points, as well as give new outlooks on subjects. And as a studying bard, I feel it is important to have some sort of balance between both "good and evil" or "light and dark" rather.
Image
https://earthlyandethereal.wordpress.com/
"We often forget that we are nature.
Nature is not something separate from us.
So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature,
we’ve lost our connection to ourselves."

- Andy Goldsworthy

"o hear the voice of the bard
who present, past and future sees
whose ears have heard the holy word
that walked among the ancient trees…"

- William Blake, First Song of Experience

User avatar
Mountainheart
OBOD Bard
Posts: 383
Joined: 24 Nov 2008, 22:26
Gender: Male
Location: Yorkshire
Contact:

Re: What is the nature of evil?

Postby Mountainheart » 28 Aug 2015, 19:38

And that is where morality is relative. Some people will likely disagree with me on some or all points. Others may agree with me on some points, but not others. It's various between individuals, as are the concepts of good and evil.
I think you are right. When you boil it down, morality is a completely human construct (despite the protests that most (all?) major religions would make at that statement) and is essentially a form of etiquette designed to allow the smooth functioning of a culture. In the same way as any colony of bees or ants, or herd of horses for example, exclude, hurt or kill individuals for stepping outside the expected behaviour, so humans do the same: the only difference is that we often egotistically claim a higher purpose behind our tribal etiquette.

Thx
David

LoonyLuna
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 78
Joined: 04 Jan 2011, 20:39
Gender: Female
Location: Surrey, UK
Contact:

Re: What is the nature of evil?

Postby LoonyLuna » 28 Aug 2015, 22:26

I've been to quite a lot of places where I've really strongly felt the 'funk' that you are talking about: and normally I haven't had any prior knowledge or expectation. On investigation it has always turned out to be some human action of the past which seems to be causing the atmosphere so I completely agree that the energy of a place can be tainted. Some of the places I felt negative energy were where the event(s) happened hundreds of years ago.

My thoughts are that evil doesn't exist as as separate spiritual entity but that human activity can create a real and long lasting 'evil' energy, that can't be easily or quickly dealt with.

Thx
David
Yes I've found similar, that a place has a particular atmosphere/vibe/energy about it which chills the blood and you just want to leave. Often-times only afterwards do I find out about the history.

A few years ago I visited Bodmin jail and it had the most awful energy. My kids wanted to explore the place more, but I just wanted to leave as fast as possible!

I think you are right. When you boil it down, morality is a completely human construct (despite the protests that most (all?) major religions would make at that statement) and is essentially a form of etiquette designed to allow the smooth functioning of a culture. In the same way as any colony of bees or ants, or herd of horses for example, exclude, hurt or kill individuals for stepping outside the expected behaviour, so humans do the same: the only difference is that we often egotistically claim a higher purpose behind our tribal etiquette.

Thx
David
I completely agree with you on this David. I would probably go a bit further and say that particularly with a lot of the major religions in last few thousand years have used their moral code as a form of control rather than etiquette.

Great topic by the way :)
ImageImage

User avatar
gwendolyng
Posts: 12
Joined: 09 Aug 2011, 12:32
Gender: Female
Location: Michigan, USA
Contact:

Re: What is the nature of evil?

Postby gwendolyng » 29 Aug 2015, 02:25

Morality and values do indeed help a society define what falls outside the 'norms' of what the majority find "acceptable". What happens when the society is steered in a specific direction for the wrong reason? We see this with our current environmental issues, like fracking. Politicians who are elected to be the voice of the people, will act instead, in accordance to the will of special interests for monetary gain or for power. Oftentimes at the expense of nature and our environment.

Edith Viore, in her book, The Unquiet Dead, described an interesting theory. She said that if there was enough negative energy in an area for long enough, the energy will splinter off and take on an independent life of its own. I have always been sensitive too the energy of places and know when there has been a history that has been negative or chaotic. But if we go by Viore's theory, is this what hauntings are about? Or perhaps what some religions would call demonic activity. If there has been a created negative or evil energy, how is it healed, then? If not, then is it perhaps the Spirit of the Place, who is just so totally angry, that it is spewing hostile energy all over the place in an attempt to keep humans away?

Blessings,
Gwendolyn
Gwendolyng
OBOD Druid

The smart ones sit back and let Karma do the work.
Joey Hernandez

User avatar
Jasper
OBOD Bard
Posts: 33
Joined: 25 Nov 2014, 08:06
Gender: Male
Location: Aotearoa - New Zealand.
Contact:

Re: What is the nature of evil?

Postby Jasper » 30 Aug 2015, 12:54

On whether hunting for sport is an expression of evil. A cat hunts and then tortures the mouse physically and mentally by letting the mouse go and then catching it again. Is the cat by nature evil?

LoonyLuna
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 78
Joined: 04 Jan 2011, 20:39
Gender: Female
Location: Surrey, UK
Contact:

Re: What is the nature of evil?

Postby LoonyLuna » 30 Aug 2015, 14:37

A place having accumulated negative energy must be able to clear it over time or we would eventually end up with everywhere having a negative vibe. Maybe it naturally clears over a long period of time, it taking longer when the energy is more strongly negative.
ImageImage

LoonyLuna
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 78
Joined: 04 Jan 2011, 20:39
Gender: Female
Location: Surrey, UK
Contact:

Re: What is the nature of evil?

Postby LoonyLuna » 30 Aug 2015, 14:47

On whether hunting for sport is an expression of evil. A cat hunts and then tortures the mouse physically and mentally by letting the mouse go and then catching it again. Is the cat by nature evil?
Good question. I don't think so no, because the cat is not aware (that we know of) that it is mentally torturing the mouse. It's actions are instinctual and have a survival function, that of providing food. Where as we humans have a more developed sense of awareness of what we do and associate particular actions with particular codes of behaviour etc. We no longer need to hunt to provide food, so it has no survival function, it is purely for entertainment reasons.

It may well be arrogance to think that us humans have a more developed sense of moral awareness than a cat... A cat may know full well it is torturing the mouse, making cats sadistic a******es the same as humans, just without the developed language skills :wow:
ImageImage

User avatar
Carbonscorpion
OBOD Bard
Posts: 23
Joined: 08 Jul 2015, 15:54
Gender: Male
Location: NJ, USA
Contact:

Re: What is the nature of evil?

Postby Carbonscorpion » 30 Aug 2015, 16:12

I fall into the camp that evil isn't a force or something defined in black and white. There are actions and inaction and how they will be perceived is relative to each entity.

I've never been to a place that felt inherently evil, maybe that's my luck of exploration. Certainly places that make me feel inspired, energized, at peace... But never evil. Maybe for me that can be interpreted as there's flowing spirit/light and the absence of it is the other end of the spectrum for me.

User avatar
DaRC
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 4511
Joined: 06 Feb 2003, 17:13
Gender: Male
Location: Sussex
Contact:

Re: What is the nature of evil?

Postby DaRC » 31 Aug 2015, 12:43

Yes
I fall into the camp that evil isn't a force or something defined in black and white.
The Norse saga's clearly indicate that there are evil actions but that people aren't inherently evil (as in a separate force) it's just that some people are more prone to evil acts..
About Loki in the Thor films: Tom Hiddleston: 'Every villain is a hero in his own mind.',
Certainly some areas seem to absorb negative human energy but I think that nature dissipates it over time.
Most dear is fire to the sons of men,
most sweet the sight of the sun;
good is health if one can but keep it,
and to live a life without shame. (Havamal 68)
http://gewessiman.blogspot.co.uk Image

User avatar
BirchWind
OBOD Bard
Posts: 30
Joined: 02 Sep 2015, 09:26
Gender: Female
Location: Western, BC
Contact:

Re: What is the nature of evil?

Postby BirchWind » 03 Sep 2015, 20:25

I recall tossing this notion about for some time.
I think for me.. if one thinks of all that is Good.. meaning, activated by Source, Energy, etc.. and then one thinks of things lacking that Source/Energy.. instead being a Void of sorts, that to me is Evil. (thugh the term 'evil' isn't really one I would use commonly)
Evil would be the lack of light. Lack of illumination. Lack of love. A Void. Actions that result from this absolute lack of love/source are bound to not be rooted in anything good.
Good begets good?
Void begets... nothingness.
As mentioned also, Evil can be relative - what one considers evil, another might consider necessary. What makes the difference is perhaps the foundation from where the choice is made. An interesting topic for sure.
As far as the memory energies attached to a place, when I moved to where I am now, where the First Nations people have a huge history (and it is a sad broken history now beginning the long walk of reparation) I would have moments of profound sadness, and the thought of 'the land is grieving' - with no idea of where those thoughts were coming from . I then began to read the local histories of the Sto:lo people in the area and all the things that transpired and realized I must have been picking up on some residual memory pain or some such thing.
So perhaps sometimes the feelings of 'funk' left in a place is the pain left behind, still vibrating in the strands of energy, and not actual evil, which in itself is non sustaining. Just my thoughts.


Return to “The Common Quest”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest