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What is Evil?

Copyright 1997 by Moira H. Scott. Previously unpublished. Presented at a "Write Your Own Ticket Party" hosted by Richard James, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on November 15, 1997.

To attempt to define Evil is to attempt to label an intangible concept. We cannot see Evil in and of itself but we know its presence by the destruction it leaves in its wake. Evil has no face, yet we see it in the eyes of those who seek to empower themselves at the risk others. We may "see" Evil everywhere, but our efforts to completely identify go unfulfilled. What one human being may view as being Evil, another may think is less so and though we may see the results of what Evil is capable of doing, we are hard pressed to be able to define it concisely and objectively.

Permit me to place this discussion into a Witchcraft context. If Magick is defined as the art and the science of bending and shaping reality -- with apologies to Aleister Crowley -- then by using magick, therefore, one is in effect, manipulating not only one's free will, but that of the other entities who are involved in, or otherwise affected by the magickal rite. If this is the case, one may view Evil as the both the method and the result of an imbalance or use of significant force to impose one's will upon another. This imposition or manipulation creates and promotes the severe imbalance of power and is coloured heavily by negativity, pain and calamity.

The Webster Dictionary defines Evil as "...having qualities tending to injury and mischief, having a nature or properties which tend to badness". It even goes so far as to quote Matthew vii 18: " A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit." It is clear, here, that Matthew's concept of humanity is slightly skewed, for he has implied that Good and Evil are both two separate identities which are completely counter one another.

All of these are but descriptions of the characteristics of Evil, but none tell what Evil is. In essence, I feel they at best, naïve. While Evil can be characterized by deviating from its counterpart known as virtue, imposed by conscience, by the will of deities, supreme beings or lawful human and natural authorities also according to Webster, there is nothing in these characterizations that tell us what Evil is. If we are to read into the dictionary definitions, we can describe evil as being a "gestalt" of all these things, with the whole being truly more than the sum of the parts.

While virtue cannot exist without vice, neither one of these concepts are truly autonomous. Neither one can exist without its counterpart. Funny, where have we all heard that before?

I tend to look at Evil in a more poetic form. I have even gone so far as to anthropormorphize it to an extent as illustrated by my description of evil being an entity which lives within.

Evil lives, like a sleeping giant buried deep within us all. It is awakened when we cultivate and nurture negative thoughts, words, actions that are designed to harm or eliminate another It stirs when the delicate balance between darkness and light is disturbed. It becomes vital and strong when the slaughter of innocents and the victimization of the less empowered becomes a tool for survival and when the subjugation of an individual or a group becomes the focus of the perpetrator or perpetrators' existence.

When the autonomy of another is crippled, terrorized or otherwise maimed or killed, when torture becomes one of the few methods of so-called effective communication and fear is its result, we hear the giant screaming. Its cries can drive us mad and it is up to each of us, as individuals, to find a way to muffle the sound, for Evil, can never be silenced. The giant lives like a parasite which cannot survive without a hospitable host. All of us then, harbour such a creature. All of us, also, listen to its cries from time to time. How can we not? Evil is part of us.

The sleeping giant is also aroused when we see acts of torture, cruelty, terrorization and brutalization of other creatures, the environment, human beings and turn away. It becomes empowered when we refuse assistance to a suffering creature, knowing full well that we are capable lending it and alleviating its suffering.

Evil lives within us all, feeding off our insecurity, pain, laziness and negativity. It is unleashed when the giant can convince us to give up, give in and live only for ourselves, at the expense of another, thus draining it of all vitality. Evil, therefore, is the enemy of balance.


Webmistress's note: To read more of Moira's writing, visit her web site.


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