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May the (Dark) Force be with you

Jess Wynne
This week I've been mostly dabbling in Satanism and
battling Darth MollyDog with my lightsaber.

Everyday people are straying away from the church and going back to God. (Lenny Bruce)
It certainly seems the case that society is becoming increasingly secular and that the popularity of orthodox religions is on the wane. However it is not necessarily God that people are turning to…
A recent story which captured public imagination was that concerning an email circulating in New Zealand asking people to name 'Jedi' as their religion in the forthcoming census. Cue lots of terrible jokes envisioning New Zealanders shaving their sheep and lopping off ears/noses/limbs in the process. (From me anyway.) Apparently if 10,000 people complied with the request then 'Jedi' would become an official religion. So was anyone interested in the prospect of becoming a Jedi knight, embracing the force and joining the Church of St Yoda? You bet they were!
'(The Force) is an energy created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.' (Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, 1977.)
'The dialogue! It's all frightful rubbish.' ( Alec Guinness, Obi-Wan Kenobi)

In a poll on the Internet 70.8% of the voters said that they intended acquiesce with the email and declare themselves Jedi knights. And why? Well these results go someway towards confirming my prejudices about the Internet and the sanity (or lack of) those involved with it - she says, dumbly forgetting the fact that she herself writes for an online magazine (in denial). But also it suggests the desire for a religion that can offer more than absolution (for sins that most would rather weren't considered so), endless kneeling on cold floors/hard cushion things and those strange discs which taste nearly, but not quite, totally unlike bread. Of course I'm generalising wildly here and, as a result of my new saintly guise, I don't want to offend anyone. The main religions (naming no names) should not merely be thought of as manipulative and abhorrent institutions which have caused more and far bloodier wars than anything or anyone in history. After all millions feel rewarded by their faith in their personal choice of religion. And millions can't be wrong. Can they?

Francis Ford Coppola once suggested to George Lucas that he had created the basis for a religion in Star Wars. So does Jediism outdo orthodoxy? What points does it have in its favour?
-All that being at one with The Force, everything is connected malarkey is an idea that links in with many alternative religions and is very appealing to new age types.
-The achieving of enlightenment, facing great challenges and not giving up, learning to disregard pain and fear and transcending baser emotions of anger, greed and jealously. These are all central tenets of much of the self-improvement books currently flooding the market.
- And most crucially the 'these aren't the 'droids you're looking for' aspect of the religion. Hypnosis, telekinesis…imagine you will never spend an age searching for the remote control again. Mind you visualise a world with everyone going around frantically hypnotising each other…you would never know if you coming or going, if your are a chicken or a tea cosy or whatever.

On second thoughts Jediism is not for me. I have not found what I am looking for. My considerable abilities with a toy lightsaber aside, I would be lousy at it. I would be particularly bad at all that self respect and determination business and I do not feel that I could ever master my inner potential. I'm not too hot at enduring pain either. While others would be moving elephants four miles to the left with sheer willpower I would be left flicking pens of desks and hoping nobody would notice. In short they would all laugh at me.

My only option: turn to the dark side…
Satanism or Satinism as I annoyingly keep typing is a surprisingly cosy affair. The first website I perused even offered the viewer the chance to obtain a free teapot. Just as I was beginning to think that perhaps the anti Christ wasn't so bad after all, evil corporate forces chased me away from the site with their relentless attempts to make me download their foul propaganda and read their adverts. At one point my computer crashed. In the pursuit of a good story I was even willing to enter the chatroom and do some research. But apparently to do so I had to wait thirty-eight minutes to download some Java thing. And I wasn't going to hang around thirty-eight minutes for a bunch of Satanists.

So onwards I went towards the shining dark of the First Church of Satan. Here you are met by the High Priest of the FCOS, Lord Egan, with the words 'dark greetings to you all' or was it ' greetings to the evil incarnate, tidings of death and despair, and keep up the sociopathic work' ? Something that managed to sound both silly and archaic anyway. Not that I'm mocking the bad lord or anything, after all I've looked at the sorcery section…
The ReCrucification: A ChaoSatanic Black Mass
Magical Representationalism
Lycanthopy: Handbook on Werewolfism
And my particular favourite, Perform a Ritual Toasting

With titles like this in the library I'm in fear for my life. And my spell check facility is not very happy either.

What is noticeable about the Satanists is how defensive they are. They are very keen to get across the message that they are not child molesters and mutilators of cute fluffy animals. They seem to ricochet from tales of their dark intents and performances of black magical rituals to protestations that 'a Satanist is first and foremost a freethinking individual, a self-created entity'. Satanism preaches that we are slaves to a tyrannical morality and that we should be 'free of guilt, self-loathing and shame' and gods of our own lives. According to the literature Satanists do not worship evil - ' we honour ourselves and nature and respect opposition in balance!'

Unfortunately the Satanists leaving messages on the notice board don't seemed to have taken the rhetoric of their chosen religion too seriously. They clearly revel in evil. Alternatively comical or frightening; I hope theirs are just the musings of teenage 'Goths' who will soon calm down.
Basically it is a religion in which you can do whatever you like. To which I say: who needs an excuse? Is Satanism a good thing religion-wise? Or a good to be bad thing? Or a bad to be good thing? Is It dangerous? I was confused. Some of it actually seemed to make sense. Then I found something that decided me.

I found the shopping section. Intrigued I scanned the adverts. AzureGreen for all your metaphysical, occult and witchcraft needs. Café Satan - mugs, T-shirts, mousepads and more! And then… 'Lord Egan is pleased to announce the release his new jazz CD entitled Dark Passions'. Cue pictures of the dark lord himself, accompanied by his trusty cloak and raven. Available from all bad music shops and includes such classics as 'Days of Wine and Roses' , Route 66 (presumably there is no route 666), and 'That Old Black Magic'.
I listened to a few tracks ( you can download them all in mp3 format, Yes!) and left the temptations of the dark path.
Never fear, your cute fluffy animals are safe from me.

The Good:
The Bad:

© Jess Wynne 2001

Jedi Knight-Class

A. Hernandez unravels the mythology of Star Wars
To be a good person is to think, speak, act, work, study and live in the right way.

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