Oct 6, 2015

Pagan Candidate Causes Libertarian Shake-Up

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

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I was hoping The Wild Hunt would weigh in on the strange candidacy of Augustus Sol Invictus, and they have obliged. The news yesterday was awash in stories of the strange paganish practices of this Libertarian opponent of Sen. Marco Rubio, that actually caused both the chair and vice chair of the Florida chapter to resign in protest.

Much of the upset seems to be over stories of Invictus's sacrifice, some say dismemberment, of a goat. Invictus disputes the dismemberment charge, but not the sacrifice. As The Wild Hunt points out, animal sacrifice is an ancient religious sacrament still practiced in many religious contexts. I would add that Christianity is a religion based on a human sacrifice, that of Christ, otherwise known as the Lamb of God.

I'm not a fan of animal sacrifice, but criticism of the practice by practitioners of religions built on such foundations smacks of hypocrisy.

A similarly ironic statement came from Republican strategist and adviser from the Trump campaign Roger Stone.

“The guy is a nut, speaks in tongues or whatever. Weird stuff,” Stone said. “They need someone to run against him to make sure he doesn’t win and make us all look crazy.”

One assumes Stone won't be courting the Pentecostal vote. Apparently a whole lot of evangelical Christians are crazy.

What is troubling about this story isn't the deduction that Invictus is a nutter. He appears to really be one. It's that much of the criticism is directed at his "kooky" religious practices rather than some very troubling political objectives. Sorting the truth from the anti-Pagan spin has proved challenging.

Invictus is a Thelemite, but was expelled from Ordo Templi Orientis nearly two years ago. The organization will not disclose the particulars, but The Wild Hunt did get a statement from one member.

We spoke with author and Occultist James Wasserman about Invictus’ run for Senate and his alleged expulsion from OTO. Wasserman has been a member of OTO since 1976; he lives in Florida and knows Invictus. “It is difficult to comment on this individual without understanding that he suffers from mental illness. We are repeatedly warned in the mystic teachings of the dangers of madness: ‘The mystic swims in the same waters in which the psychotic drowns.’ ”

Wasserman goes on to explain, “The unrestrained plunge into the Abyss comes through attachment to the Ego. In the Star Wars story, Luke hears Obi-Wan calling upon him to trust “The Force.” Such ancient myths, translated into modern cinema, can retain their truth when skillfully told. Augustus Sol Invictus pursues his fantasy life on YouTube with phony accents, unbalanced rants, and even despicable acts of violence. Anyone contemplating taking him seriously should first ask him to remove the password protection from his YouTube video of a goat sacrifice. If you find him acceptable after that, go in peace. While some of his written political philosophy may contain some coherence, we would expect no less from one who was once sane enough to earn a law degree. To pretend that the teachings of the Law of Thelema justify his behavior or his opinions besmirches Truth with the tarnish of delusion, egomania, and narcissism. I am sorry to witness his fall. At one point, I believed he might have had some potential.”

It also doesn't seem the conflict within the Libertarian Party of Florida is based on anti-Pagan bigotry. Not even the chair who resigned and released a very harsh statement about Invictus appears to be of that stripe.

[Adrian] Wyllie not only resigned as LPF Chair, but has also left the LPF Party. In a written interview, he told The Wild Hunt, “I was not familiar with Thelema specifically before this, but I am familiar with Paganism. I’m probably most familiar with Wicca, because I have some close friends that practice it. I have other friends who identify as Pagans, but not any specific order. I think a candidate’s religion is absolutely irrelevant. The only reason it became at all relevant with Mr. Invictus was because he used it as his justification for violence and starting a civil war. I strongly believe that his view of Paganism is completely warped, and that the overwhelming majority of Pagans are good, peaceful people who don’t share his apocalyptic visions. He doesn’t represent Pagans any more than a violent Jihadist represents Muslims.”

What is more difficult to sort out is how many of the truly outrageous beliefs ascribed to Invictus are genuine. Does he or doesn't he want to overthrow the government? Is he really a supporter of eugenics? He seems to have clearly espoused both at various points and an argument for eugenics and against the propagation of the "weakest, least intelligent, and the most diseased" can still be found on his website.

He also has a devoted following of white supremacists.

“Many of his supporters are known members of Neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, such as American Front, Vinelanders and Stormfront, and he has been recruiting them into the Libertarian Party,” Wyllie said Thursday on Facebook.

Invictus said that as a lawyer, he has represented some of these groups in a professional capacity. He said, however, that he’s no racist. “My four children are Hispanic,” said Invictus, who’s divorced.

The truth of who Augustus Sol Invictus, née Austin Gillespie, really is and what he's actually about may be impossible to determine. What's unfortunate is that the drama around his candidacy may do genuine harm, in the public mind, to the religious practices he claims to represent.

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