Say what you like, being an apologist for Satan is no easy task. Take for example the Yezidis, an obscure ancient of Iraq, who reverence the aforementioned nefarious being. According to their view of things, the Peacock Angel, also known as Satan, is not the source of evil. Quite the opposite, he is to be commended, for he refused to obey God’s capricious injunction to bow down to and serve Adam. Adding to the confusion, the Yezidic Satan is but one of a heptad of angels who are in fact God’s emanation, formed of the light of God. God is supposed to delegate most of his actions to the heptad so instead of a trinity, we are talking here of a heptarchy. Of course, in Christianity, Satan is the source of evil in the world, his task being to tempt humans to give in to their baser instincts and stray from the path of God. Yet while orthodox Christianity, on the basis of the book of Revelation, preaches the final eternal damnation and punishment of the Archfiend and all his pomps, some influential theologians have, in their quest to prove the ultimate mercy and love of God, to suggest that in the final apokatastasis or restoration of the divine plan, even the Devil will be forgiven and restored.
Origen, the great theologian whose writings form the foundation of Christian theology, and who castrated himself in order to purify himself of the passions, seems to have been condemned for this view, after his death. According to him, a vast cleansing via the equivalent of a spiritual bushfire would take place, leading to cosmic renovation. By a further spiritualisation Origen called God himself this consuming fire. In proportion, as souls were freed from sin and ignorance, the material world was to pass away, until, after endless eons, at the final end, God should be all in all, and the worlds and spirits should return to a knowledge of God. This, logically, would also include the infernal spirits who would emerge very much burnt and very much cleansed.
Evagrius Ponticus, an influential Pontian theologian, also espoused this point of view and even the revered Orthodox saint and theologian St Gregory of Nyssa approached this view of things, though not without numerous qualification and distinctions: In the Life of Moses, he writes that just as the darkness left the Egyptians after three days, perhaps redemption will be extended to those suffering in hell. There are passages where he seems to suggest that even the demons will have a place in Christ’s “world of goodness” based on his interpretations of Corinthians (“And when all things shall be subdued unto him …”) and Philippians (“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth”). While he too believes in the purifying fire and the banishment of evil though, it is arguable that this does not preclude a belief that God might justly damn sinners for eternity.
Nicholaos Mihaloliakos, the leader of Golden Dawn, also appears to believe in the apokatastasis. His apokatastasis however, is not one where Satan is purified, forgiven and restored to his primordial position after apologising profusely for his transgressions. Instead, according to his early beliefs and writings, he looks forward to the time when Satan will oust “twenty centuries of darkness,” restore “lost Paradiseis of old” which comprise the “future world of our dreams, which by our own Will, shall become a reality”. All this and much more besides is contained in his introduction to Odysseus Paterakis’ poetry collection: “The Shining Darkness of Lucifer – The National Greek Religion.” According to Mihaloliakos, who at that time was not a member of parliament and thus had time to dabble in literary criticism, poems such as Lucifer, in which Paterakis warns: “The meek beware, we have returned, in the ranks of the black battalions of Hell. We proceed in the footsteps of Prometheus, and Lucifer illuminates our way”, poetry of this nature is to be applauded because it possesses “Spiritual Courage” and “Ideological Consistency”. The Spiritual Courage of the poet here, according to the mini-Führer, lies in calling for the overthrow of Christianity and the restoration of some type of ill-defined neo-pagan religion, in the same way that Alfred Rosenberg designed the new Nazi neo-pagan religion for his Führer in the ‘thirties. The Ideological Consistency, something which of course is important to all totalitarian belief systems, is exemplified by the poet wishing to “sacrifice his desire to be liked by everyone, by remaining true to his national consciousness”. One may possibly find an example of such consistency in the poem The Lord of the Demons, where the poet states that he is an element of death, the offspring of the abyss and begs for the chance to be offered the primordial forbidden fruit from the hands of the Arch-slanderer himself. Powerful stuff, except the bit where he claims that he is a “monk of lightning and a beast of the sea”, where the imagery veers off into mangaland.
There follows a lengthy quotation of the poet W. B. Yeats, which fills up one half of the introduction, presumably serving the double purpose of establishing Mihalokiakos’ intellectual credentials (after all, he has read Yeats), as well as dispensing with the need to come up with anything more original to say. Coincidentally, Yeats had designed the uniforms of the Irish fascists in the ‘twenties. Do we forgive him his foibles? After all, many of us are guilty of penning introductions to questionable works which we would prefer never to see the light of day again. I remember writing one such introduction to a work involving an interstate romance that came to a heady conclusion on the exotic sands of Victor Harbor. The key significance of this work was that half of it was copied from a travel brochure about this enchanting location. Yet as I recall, while the besotted youth was romancing his beloved on the horse-drawn tram, there was no mention of any infernal powers, despite their devil-may-care attitude on life in general.
Mihaloliakos’ love of the devil, stemming as it does from his conviction that Christianity has somehow corrupted Greek civilization and that paganism offers a way forward, is an element of the core belief system of Golden Dawn’s rank and file that they now would not readily admit to. In his attempt to plunge his party into the mainstream of Greek politics, he now professes an admiration for “our Orthodoxy”. In particular, he is concerned with protecting Orthodoxy from the miasma of racial miscegenation, recently crossing swords with Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki. An outspoken nationalist himself, Anthimos has condemned Golden Dawn’s racist provision of food and other handouts, which is restricted solely to Greeks. He has confirmed the Church’s doctrine that charity is for all and that migrants and other needy groups in Greece should not be discriminated against. Mihaloliakos ripostes by stating his concern for the protection of the integrity of Orthodoxy, which concern, one would suggest, is as sincere as that of his object of admiration, that mankind be permitted to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. This, after all, this is the person who, with his simian cohorts, performs the contemptible act of physically abusing Greek citizens who purchase foodstuffs from migrants.
With such disturbingly farcical views under their belt, views that the Greek media have either not presented to their full extent or which have not been fully analysed or understood by a Greek public bred upon a public discourse of hyperbole and sensationalism, Golden Dawn’s continued presence in the Greek parliament and growing popularity is gravely disquieting. A racist, macho, sexist, violent organisation that applauds the devil and writes poetry in his honour simply because kindness and compassion is beyond its members’ compass of emotions, would have us believe that it offers a plausible way forward for the Greek people. While it espouses its devilish world view, it, as a way of duping the gullible populace into smoothing their assault on power, professes concern for a religion that preaches the exact opposite of the evil that they rejoice in. To them, therefore, and their heinous adherents, only one Greek injunction is relevant and should be expressed on a continuous basis until their pernicious existence is expunged from the diptychs of Greek political life: «Άει στο διάολο!»
* Dean Kalimniou is a Melbourne solicitor and freelance journalist.