Saturday, February 8, 2020

Doing the Dark Lord's work on the dance floor

I got a lot of positive feedback for the DJ set I played at Friends of Satanic Temple's event at Broken City on Fri Feb 7, so it seemed worthwhile to post a playlist. 

Usually when I DJ I don't plan anything ahead of time - DJing is noteworthy as being one of the only activities I enjoy that has this degree of spontaneity to it.  In this instance, however, I saw a lot to be said for extensive pre-planning, as I wanted to make sure I made the best use of the opportunity to present some songs with lyrics that I thought really speak to either the aesthetic of Satanism generally or the political activism of Satanic Temple more in particular.  I'm very happy with what resulted, and hope the attendees were as well!

* * *

Sicut Superius Et Inferius - Jinx's Playlist

Ghost - Year Zero
Nine Inch Nails - Heresy
Harsh R - In League With Satan
Ghost Twin - Mystic Sabbath
Pop Will Eat Itself - Ich Bin Ein Auslander
Stromkern - Heretic III (Revolution)
Helium Vola - Omnis Mundi Creatura
Rotersand - You Know Nothing
Laibach - Tanz Mit Laibach
Die Krupps - Fatherland (Sisters of Mercy Rmx)
VnV Nation - Epicentre
Imperative Reaction - Functional
God Module - Rituals
Uberbyte - Under the Cross
Noisuf-X - Toccata Del Terrore
Electric Hellfire Club - Unholy Roller
Santa Hates You - Scum
PreEmptive Strike 0.1 - Hubris (Infinite)
Ashbury Heights - Bare Your Teeth
X-RX - Hard Bass, Hard Soundz
Killing Miranda - Discotheque Necronomicon
Rammstein - Links 2 3 4
Rotting Christ - Grandis Spiritus Diavolos
Dissection - Black Dragon

* * *

By far my favorite part of this endeavor was getting an actual dance floor for those last two songs, as that is not something one normally expects to see for black metal.  Then again though, as multiple people pointed out to me, "I have never heard Dissection played a club before," and so, one doesn't know if one doesn't try.  I had anticipated via checking the BPM that there was at least a possibility, so I am glad others appeared to agree.

Now, personally, I think a LaVeyan Satanist DJ playing a 218-Current-band's song at a Satanic Temple event is a beautiful illustration of Satanic ecumenism, but maybe that's just me. ;)  At minimum though, doing something like that is illustrative of why, though I often refer to the LaVeyan framework in explaining myself (since it's been 25 years of that now for me), I increasingly tend to identify as a "heterodox" Satanist. 

As I said to a few folks at the event, "I believe in everything that Satanic Temple stands for... it's just that I also believe in some other things." 

And so, if any new readers happening by are interested in details of just how into that "black dragon" I am, I recommend taking a look at the entry I wrote awhile back about Azerate and the other related entries linked from that one, as I do think that series was probably the most "heterodox" thing I've written thus far.

Anyway though, the bottom line is, I'm glad the event did so well and I look forward to the possibility of being involved in more like it in the future.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Pride vs. humility

A couple of reasons for writing today’s entry about pride vs. humility:

1) On the surface level, the endorsement of pride and rejection of humility seem like an obvious front on which LaVeyan Satanism may appear to be strongly at odds with traditional religious values, and/or dysfunctional in the values it espouses.  

I like to think the negative impression is weaker than in the past as far as the pride part goes, inasmuch as there are positive social movements with “pride” in the name these days - i.e. I get the impression that most people understand pride as a thing that is bad in excess rather than bad-as-such, which is then what LaVeyan Satanism itself says anyhow.  The humility part is worth addressing though, as while there are aspects of humility that I think LaVey does make valid points against, I would ultimately contend that the resulting anti-humility stance does not amount to anti-questioning-yourself, anti-admitting-you-are-fallible or etc.

2) Pride and humility are actually both more complex concepts than one may initially think.  I would thus argue that often when there is an apparent clash of values between two different religions on this front - e.g. between LaVeyan Satanism and Christianity - it is possible to at least partially reconcile this clash by recognizing that in fact the two parties mean different things via some of the words they are using, and thereby end up talking past one another.

My contention then would be that beneath the way each religion talks about pride and humility, whether as good or bad, there is fundamental agreement about what makes for a good human life, vs. the surface argument merely reflects different views about what is the most worrisome way to go astray from this vision of the good.

This entry is divided into three sections:
  1. Some examples of apparent clashes
  2. Complexities of pride and humility
  3. Reconciling apparent clashes
* * *


Some examples of apparent clashes

The contrast between traditional Christianity and LaVeyan Satanism re: pride vs. humility is perhaps most easily-and-efficiently highlighted via a comparison of passages like the following:
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
- Matthew 5:5-9
vs.
Blessed are the strong, for they shall possess the earth!
Cursed are the weak, for they shall inherit the yoke!
Blessed are the powerful, for they shall be reverenced among men!
Cursed are the feeble, for they shall be blotted out!
Blessed are the bold, for they shall be masters of the world!
Cursed are the righteously humble, for they shall be trodden under cloven hooves!
Blessed are the victorious, for victory is the basis of right!
Cursed are the vanquished, for they shall be vassals forever!
Blessed are the iron-handed, for the unfit shall flee before them!
Cursed are the poor in spirit, for they shall be spat upon!
- Book of Satan 5:1-5
From excerpts such as these, it seems like what Christianity is most worried about is people who go around with a sense of entitlement, patting themselves on the back for being ‘good’ because they live up to some supposed standard, while at the same time doing a lot more oppressing-of-their-neighbours than they do loving-of-their-neighbours (*cough* *cough* Pharisees *cough* *cough*) - hence the passage’s championing of said downtrodden neighbours.

LaVeyan Satanism, on the other hand, seems far more worried about people who thwart the potential-greatness of others via fear of the new and different, insecurity re: how the achievements of others may reflect unfavourably on one’s own accomplishments, outright hypocrisy and/or general conformist cowardice - hence the passage’s contempt for said cowards and hypocrites.

A better illustration of Nietzsche’s distinction between slave morality and master morality may well be difficult to find.  Note too that in saying that, I am not necessarily saying one is in-all-ways better than the other, but rather speculating that such drastic differences probably arise in part from the differing social standings of the founders of the religions.  As the left-leaning crowd would say, a marginalized person and a privileged one are not going to have the same opinions about what is good/bad about the-world-as-it-currently-is, about what problems most urgently need to be fixed, and etc.

The key point here, however, is that regardless of the exact reasons for the clash, that there is a clash seems self-evident at the current level of analysis.

* * *


Complexities of pride and humility

Reflection suggests that pride and humility are both quite complicated concepts, more so than some of the religious discourse (from any religion) about them might initially seem to suggest.  Each can be broken down into three aspects:
  1. How you feel about yourself
  2. How you assess your abilities
  3. How you respond to situational challenges, e.g. how you react to the ethical claims put forward by others
Each of these three aspects can in turn be broken down into a strength and a weakness.  This then is what leads to a lot of confusion, because, for example, a Christian might talk about a weakness-aspect of pride while saying it’s a sin, vs. a Satanist might talk about a strength-aspect of pride while saying it’s a virtue; they both call it “pride” though, which is what I then mean about people talking past each other.

Here’s then a listing of aspects of pride via the analytic breakdown just-mentioned:
  • Self-esteem: Liking yourself and who you are, on account of a realistic appreciation of virtues that you do in fact possess.  (attitude about self + a good thing to have)
  • Confidence: Belief that you can achieve what you set your mind to, based on a realistic assessment of your capabilities.  (assessment of abilities + a good thing to have)
  • Integrity: A sense that there are certain values you “stand for” and thus will not compromise on, thereby establishing yourself as honorable and trustworthy.  (response to challenge + a good thing to have)
  • Arrogance: Thinking excessively highly of yourself while failing to be realistic about your vices and shortcomings. (attitude about self + a bad thing to have)
  • Hubris:  Acting as if no limitations can possibly apply to you, on account of an unrealistic assessment of your capabilities. (assessment of abilities + a bad thing to have)
  • Stubbornness:  Clinging to values or to a particular way of doing things because it is your way, even after it becomes evident that is not the best way. (response to challenge + a bad thing to have)

A listing of aspects of humility via a similar analysis yields:
  • Modesty: Avoidance of unnecessary and counterproductive showing-off, i.e. just because you like yourself doesn’t mean you have to brag about it all the time.  (attitude about self + a good thing to have)
  • Prudence:  Awareness of the limitations of your abilities, leading you to reflect carefully before acting, rather than just leaping in.  (assessment of abilities + a good thing to have)
  • Compassion:  Thinking of others rather than being preoccupied only with yourself and your own group.  (response to challenge + a good thing to have)
  • Shame:  Dislike of yourself and who you are, based in an exaggeration of your flaws and a lack of appreciation for your potential.  (attitude about self + a bad thing to have)
  • Timidity:  A “I’d better not try because I’ll just fail anyway” -type approach to life, based in an overemphasis on your shortcomings.  (assessment of abilities + a bad thing to have)
  • Self-effacement:  Failure to stand up for your own needs and rights due to a sense of worthlessness; excessive preoccupation with not wanting to inconvenience others.  (response to challenge + a bad thing to have)

Another interesting way of understanding pride and humility is in terms of attitudes toward order vs. toward chaos.  

Via this approach, pride is the term applicable to areas of endeavor that entail the self imposing order on chaos.  Constructive aspects of it enable one to move confidently and competently through the world, vs. destructive aspects of it involve overestimating one’s ordering capacity, thereby inviting a collision with chaos.

Humility is then the term applicable to areas of endeavor that entail the self accepting that a certain amount of chaos is an irreducible part of life.  Constructive aspects are cognizant of human limitation and thus protective of oneself and others, vs. destructive aspects of it involve underestimating one’s ordering capacity, thereby amounting to a surrender to chaos.

This analysis in terms of order and chaos in turn invites an interesting angle on Nietzsche’s distinction between master and slave morality: masters are those largely able to impose order upon their environment, therefore their morality emphasizes striving for ever-greater excellence (as per pride + positive traits above); slaves are those who find themselves largely at the mercy of chaos, therefore their morality emphasizes trying to avoid bringing further trouble down upon their heads (as per humility + positive traits above).  The risks of each moral system then entail the possibilities that masters will overestimate themselves and make mistakes (as per pride + negative traits above) and slaves will underestimate themselves and fail to achieve their full potential (as per humility + negative traits above).

To say this much reinforces the impression of two clashing value systems, such that the sinister path (i.e. Satanism) could then be cast as an embodiment of master morality and right-hand-path religiosity (i.e. Christianity) as an embodiment of slave morality.  However, in the next section I will argue that the clash may not actually be as absolute as it first appears.

* * *


Reconciling apparent clashes

Looking at the above not from the perspective of a Satanist per se, but from the perspective of a philosopher of ethics, one might arrive at the following remarks:
  1. A person who possesses both self-esteem and modesty, and avoids acting in a manner that is either arrogant or shameful, will thereby make their way through life in a dignified manner, i.e. a manner deserving of respect both from themselves and from others.

  2. A person who possesses both confidence and prudence, and avoids both hubris and timidity, will thus be able to act effectively in the world.

  3. A person who possesses both integrity and compassion, and avoids both stubbornness and self-effacement, will then treat both others and themselves in accord with the requirements of justice.

These points in turn appear to suggest that if one wants to go through life in a manner that is dignified, effective and just, one actually needs an integration of the good aspects of both pride and humility, while at the same time avoiding the bad aspects of both pride and humility.  

My suspicion then, upon reflection, is that a typical member of the religions I have referenced in this entry (and others besides) will likely react to the above formula in a “yes, but…”  -type way that is revealing of their different assumptions re: where human beings typically go wrong, and what on that front is most worth worrying about.  To identify a very general pattern that I would expect:
  • Right-hand path religions, e.g. Christianity: modesty, prudence and compassion are good + arrogance, hubris and stubbornness are bad; self-esteem, confidence and integrity have their place, but are too-often exaggerated into the negative-pride traits; preaching against the negative-pride traits risks breeding shame, timidity and self-effacement via over-correction in the other direction, but excess of those negative-humility traits causes less total harm in the world than excess of the negative-pride traits.

  • Sinister (left-hand) path religions, e.g. LaVeyan Satanism: self-esteem, confidence and integrity are good + shame, timidity and self-effacement are bad; modesty, prudence and compassion* have their place, but are too-often exaggerated into the negative-humility traits; preaching against the negative-humility traits risks breeding arrogance, hubris and stubbornness via over-correction in the other direction, but excess of those negative-pride traits causes less total harm in the world than excess of the negative-humility traits.

* = As I expect the claim “modesty, prudence and compassion have their place in LaVeyan Satanism” to be the most contentious, I would here highlight that: i) among the Nine Satanic Sins are “pretentiousness” and “counterproductive pride” - i.e. the average LaVeyan will probably reflexively dislike the term ‘modesty,’ but I would argue that some degree of it is nonetheless implied via negation; ii) contra people who confuse the word ‘prudence’ with ‘prude,’ really prudence is just practical wisdom, and wisdom is framed positively by the Third Satanic Statement; iii) between reflection upon the First Satanic Statement and LaVey’s explicitly pointing out in several places that being a Satanist doesn’t mean being a psychopath who only cares about yourself, it is possible to arrive at an argument for compassion - maybe not the universal extent of compassion that some would prefer, vs. compassion more in the sense of care for one’s own loved ones and immediate associates, but still.

Now, many people are likely to read this and conclude “well, they still sound like total opposites then.”  And I see where that is coming from if one is in the habit of dualistic thinking (which unfortunately I think social media and various other factors train people in nowadays).  However, what I think should not be lost sight of is that the disagreement between religions re: these values can be conceptualized with regard to where people mess up the formula for being a good person who lives a good life.

By contrast, the formula itself (as per what I just wrote re: dignity, effectiveness and justice) does not come across to me as fundamentally-contested here.  And I think that is to be expected, really, inasmuch as human beings, regardless of subgroup, will surely all share similar needs re: vulnerabilities of the body and mind, need for social contact in order to feel fulfilled, etc.  One would, in other words, expect widely-shared optimal survival needs to translate into widely-shared moral imperatives, as evolution would root out societies that did not thus articulate imperatives favorable to the flourishing of their members.

Of course, one would not want to go so far as to say there are no significant clashes between the right-hand path and the sinister one.  Nonetheless, so long as one is dealing with functional, constructive members of either worldview (i.e. as opposed to, say, theocrats-not-grounded-in-reality on one hand and/or libertarians-not-grounded-in-reality on the other), it seems to me that some degree of getting-along ought to be possible.

My own experience, in fact, points to an even stronger conclusion that this one, as I actually both i) tend to get along quite well with many Christians I’ve known, and ii) have done more than my fair share of arguing with other Satanists (albeit more so in far-distant days of the earlier-Internet) re: the pointlessness of being flippant and snarky about what is essentially “straw-man Christianity,” i.e. trashing something that they do not actually appear to have much real understanding of.

I have also been situations in which the Satanist (me) and the Christians (friends of mine) wind up allied against certain forces of secular politics, on account of our shared impression that said forces are in fact guilty of arrogance/hubris/stubbornness.  This is one (not the only) way of conceptualizing, for instance, the apparent refusal to reflect upon how imperatives such as Nazi-punching and due-process-abandoning might lead to harm for undeserving parties, with the underlying “but our side is oh so good that we would never make punching-or-imprisoning-the-wrong-person mistakes” attitude then being what both religions are criticizing.  It is perhaps also relevant to the shortcomings of “I don’t need to actually read that book before I criticize it” and “I can judge that person’s entire life according to the demographic I classify them into” -type attitudes as well.

As one Christian friend at one point said, “if both the Christian and the Satanist think your position sucks, that’s probably a sign that you should rethink your ideology.”  :)

This suggestion strikes me as having even more merit if it can be demonstrated - as I have tried to do above - that it actually is possible for conclusions between these two religions to converge somewhat when it comes to questions of “good” and “evil” without utterly losing sight of values essential to either religion.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Marking 2019 as the best year


Two important notes about this entry’s contents:
  1. My use of many of the lyrics quoted below is admittedly idiosyncratic, i.e. may well be contrary to artist’s intentions regarding their meaning, via having situated them in my own context.  No attempt at offering a proper ‘interpretation’ is thus being made here.

  2. No assertions of real-life connections between any persons referenced and any belief system obliquely referred-to are being put forward, i.e. any seemingly-implied connections stem solely from my own meaning-making and personal interests, vs. I am ignorant of any ‘actual’ affiliations. 

With that out of the way: 

Reflecting on the year that’s now passing, I find myself concluding that 2019 is easily the best year I’ve had in the last decade, if not in my entire adult life more generally.  

I thus want to outline nine factors that occur to me as significant contributors toward making this year an outstanding one for me.  And amid this, I have included a profusion of links to a certain black metal band's songs for interested parties to explore, for as I have mentioned on this blog before, said band, Uada, was the pebble thrown into the Abyss whose ripples have since reshaped basically everything in my life for the better. 


1

The first thing to massively improve for me in 2019 was my health, after receiving the celiac diagnosis back in February and adjusting my life accordingly.  After so many years struggling with a general feeling of unwellness, while cautions unheard shrieked silently from within, I now find myself vastly more vigorous and thus better equipped both to rise above mundane difficulties and to initiate new adventures.  I regret that the complacency-formerly-stifling-me took so long to overcome and thereby held back my finally getting diagnosed, but am glad that the dissatisfaction did ultimately build up and break so as to make this moving-forward at last possible.


2

Starting around the time I was interviewed by the student press about Satanism (late March, vs. article published in July), and then on to the dawn of this blog and beyond (late April), I have become far more forward about thoughts and feelings that I had formerly misperceived as unwanted in the public sphere, and had therefore stifled.  

Positive feedback from friends on this front further reinforces the impressions I’d already received: that at best, I am saying things that others may have also thought and hence will feel encouraged at hearing echoed, or at worst, what I am saying is definitely still not so beyond the pale as to warrant fears of looming intellectual exile. 

In an age of fib, fable and fiction absolute, I thus stand convinced that it is important to continue making the effort to try to keep speaking up in this way.


3

After my initiation of the blog, I performed a working aimed at intensified experience and the making of stronger and more significant/meaningful connections to complement the occult dimension of my life.  (Note: that link is just for reference re: my conception of ceremonial magic, not specific to this particular working.)

The "intensified experience" element appeared to manifest immediately, inasmuch as within a week after the working (late April), various factors nearly conspired to interfere with my attending a concert that I had the most personal of reasons for badly wanting to see (Uada getting arrested upon entering Canada and an insane blizzard the day of the concert being most noteworthy), and when the concert then did go ahead, I can say without hesitation that it was truly flawless flame we ignite, beyond bleakest pitch, transcendence burning bright – i.e. a peak experience black metal show as far as I’m concerned. (Note: that footage is not from the show in question, but this one is.)  

That week will thus long stand out in my memory for the rollercoaster of despair and ecstasy that unfolded, and with reference to which I accept the worst as well as the best as both equally constitutive of intensified experience.  This excitement was in turn followed by a very definite multiplication of occult-interested persons in my life, partly via forming deeper connections with someone who attended the show with me, and partly via going out to BC for a Beltane celebration that I am now intending to try to attend every year.


4

The Beltane celebration was further significant in igniting greater desire to spend more time in natural settings.  This is a longing that I had felt to a lesser extent for some years prior, only to have anxiety and ill-health interfere with follow-through. 

This year, though, I not only experienced an improvement in my health (as mentioned above) but also deepened emotional and intuitive connections to my surroundings – awkward as it may sound to those who may not relate, these days I find myself caring about the stars and the moon and the clouds and the forests and etc. in a much more extensive and intimate way than I ever knew when I was younger.  Needless to say, it is much easier to enjoy hiking and camping and etc. when one's sentiments have thus shifted.

I have thus found myself looking into a dark sky in the middle of nowhere and feeling, with significant emotion, sweeping darkness surge; reveal all within what you hide.  Apparently then, Walpurgis does indeed bring rebirth.


5

As spring then gave way to summer and autumn, improved confidence in my instincts increasingly motivated and enabled me to more clearly and extensively articulate the ethical and political implications of what I believe in spiritually.  Every exercise in this on the blog has enabled me to continue feeling better about myself, via an impression that I have an intelligent perspective to offer that is different from the perspective of others – and that this difference is a good thing, because regardless of whether it brings agreement or disagreement, it promotes thought.  

The Azathoth/Az/Azerate entries (link goes to start of series) in particular were significant for me via trying to integrate insights I’d gleaned from a disparate collection of “forbidden” books (i.e. both occult and otherwise) into something meaningful to me.  But I would also cite this recent entry as a stand-out one re: the implications of my religious convictions for politics specifically, i.e. having long been immersed in something I've since realized was "against my religion," I have much greater conscious understanding now than I once did re: how did I end up with such serious mental health issues.

I hope to continue with this sort of insight gaining-and-sharing on the blog going-forward, as to expand the mind well beyond yesteryear, breathe every breath until the very last is very much my heart’s ardent wish.


6

Improved comfort with my place in the world has in turn rendered me better able to exercise compassion toward others. 

At several points during this last year, this manifested via my finding myself seemingly thrown into the path of people whom I then found myself uniquely positioned to be able to assist, through some combination of occult insight, other knowledge to share (e.g. "forbidden" books to lend) and/or general receptivity toward engaging with realities that others might prefer to deny – a feat at times requiring what The Herd might judge as empathy beyond the sane, perhaps. 

Regardless, it is a remarkable experience to find oneself able to affect others’ lives in for the better on such fronts as these, and better yet when fulfilling friendships blossom from such beginnings. 


7

Having more energy and passion via all of the above has also been good for me on the artistic front.  I have now been able to follow through on some things I had meant to do years ago (e.g. get my own music on to Bandcamp) and to develop detailed plans to get back on track with much that had to be put on one side writing-wise last year while I was especially-unwell.  Apparently, much is possible when one ignites the fire of all creation; nor is it a bad thing to be bound in our illusions and dreams in this particular context.


8

The above points re: compassion and re: energy/passion in turn translate into enjoying my work a lot more than I’d been doing during the years immediately prior to this one.  This is a highly meaningful and positive development given the nature of my work and its natural fit with certain Satanic principles such as the value of seeking knowledge, the right to exercise critical thinking, etc. 

Having long seen that job as “living the dream,” it frustrated me to find myself, during the previous few years, unable to feel as enthused about it as I thought I should.  But no longer do I feel myself just going through the motions, meanwhile fading is the light that never shines, aiding manipulation against our minds, for I have gained a far greater appreciation now for the influence I can wield for the better, and intend to continue intentionally wielding it well into the future. 


9

Lastly and perhaps most significantly, the spiritual journey I have found myself on during the last year has led into some very interesting places. 

The sinister path in question is one that I’d felt strongly called-to the year before, only to repeatedly hesitate and abort because of the doubts and terrors that weighed me down.  Over this most recent year, however, I have persisted through “forbidden” books and the transgressive rites detailed therein, and been rewarded both with the eradication of my fears and the revelation of unseen realities that I would not have dared imagine in the past. 

In the course of this development, I’ve been instructed to envision “energy flowing down from the moon to you – visualizing the energy as filaments, silver in color, that spread from the moon to engulf you” and thought “hmm, yes, for some reason I in fact find that extremely easy to picture.”  More importantly though, I have peered into the depths of the unknown and glimpsed the distant star within that may, with cultivation, continue internally burning ever more bright.

There is no way to speak of these things more straightforwardly, at least for now.  Suffice to say though that it means the world to me to have been able to walk hand-in-hand with this Darkness, and to receive the opportunity to grow both wiser and more powerful via accepting it into my life.

* * *


What I have attempted to demonstrate above, via all the various songs I linked, is that I strongly feel that all of these wonderful developments directly followed in the wake of that experience I had toward the end of last year, in which hearing Uada’s music at the right time shocked me out of the complacent misery that was ruining my life.  

Or put another way, I doubt that all of these goods would have come my way in the fashion they did, had the dark epiphany in question not occurred beforehand - hence my angst in this other recent entry re: I could have easily been deprived of that experience if certain kinds of far-left opinions were given unchallenged sway over who can get "cancelled" over what.

Thus, in recognition of the impact of that experience and how much it has meant to me, I decided a couple weeks ago to get a tattoo to commemorate this having been such a profoundly great and spiritually-formative year for me.  If you click the moon-related link in section 9 above, you will see the base image for it.

In closing, then: here’s to a year that was haunted in the best way. ;)  And to anyone who’s read this to the end, thanks for your support in reading what I have to say here, I hope 2019 was a good year for you too, and best wishes for 2020!

Monday, December 16, 2019

Thinking harder: "spiritual pipe dreams" and "vicious animals"


A previous entry on this blog discussed how the LaVeyan Satanic Statement “Satan represents indulgence, instead of abstinence” can be understood with more nuance than may seem evident at first glance. 

I have an addendum to that entry in the works, but since it will cover the concept of “guilty pleasure” (more specifically, the lack of use for such a concept that I find follows from my interpretation of Satanic ideals), it treads some ground closely adjacent to my most recent entry.  In the name of variety, I’d thus like to explore some other things for a bit here before looping back to that topic.

For various reasons, I’ve recently wound up doing an unusual amount of explaining-the-same-point-to-multiple-people re: the seventh Satanic Statement, which is “Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours, who, because of his ‘divine spiritual and intellectual development’ has become the most dangerous animal of all.”  

In my understanding, this Statement is in turn proximate to the second Satanic Statement, “Satan represents vital existence, instead of spiritual pipe dreams.” 

This entry explores the following aspects of these two Statements:

This entry wound up getting rather more political as it went on than I had originally envisioned, vs. I’ve thus far preferred to make an effort to not have multiple entries in a row that go down that particular rabbit hole.  I’ve noticed in my blog statistics that the political-related entries seem to be the ones that are actually generating the most interest re: other people reading them, however, so I’ll have to reflect on what impact that should-or-should-not-have on my politics-frequency-principles in the future.

* * *

Saturday, November 30, 2019

In case anyone needed a reminder that "fan" is short for "fanatic"

It’s approximately the one-year anniversary now of the incident I spoke of in my first journal entry.  On one hand, I have the urge to reflect, but on the other, I have limited time-capacity for doing so right now, given the workload-rhythm of my chosen career.  Nonetheless, I’d like to have more than one entry for November, so what follows is a condensed version of a longer reflection/rant that I tried to write back in July/August but failed to finish before getting distracted by other things.

I also shelved it because I figured it made me sound crazy, but we won't worry about that just now. ;)

Anyway: at Terminus this last year, I wore outfits on all four days that were inspired by four bands who’ve had an especially big impact on my life.  To put that impact in a nutshell:

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Of black dragons and blind idiot gods, part IV: Yes, this is a functional basis for a religion


Last part now of this 4-part series on my idiosyncratic beliefs about “ultimate reality”:

This entry is longer than the previous three, and hence split into several sections discussing various right-hand path and sinister path perspectives on my proposed “dark trinity”:

The latter three are really all one discussion, just split up for the purposes of manageability length-wise.

* * *

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Of black dragons and blind idiot gods, part III: Azerate


Part 3 now of the following 4-part series on my idiosyncratic beliefs about “ultimate reality”:

As mentioned previously, each entry in this series will start off by describing the “primary” entity as I have come to understand it from various sources, and then provide some tie-ins re: why, beyond the “A” and the “z,” I interpret these as all being essentially one being, albeit with three distinguishable facets.

Note about the entry below: Technical terminology for “what Dissection believes in” has only recently been clarified to me, vs. in the past absence of said terminology (“The 218 Current”) my ability to seek out any/all connected literature was hindered.  I have thus not yet gotten around to reading the actual books of the 218 Current, e.g. “Sitra Ahra” and so forth.  Therefore, what follows does not pretend to be a comprehensive take on how Azerate is conceptualized by that particular Satanic tradition.  Rather, it is a reflection on how I relate what I have discerned about the entity - mostly via Dissection’s music, but also via a limited selection of online sources – to other things that I know and believe, so as to arrive at something meaningful to myself. 

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Azerate

Azerate is an entity venerated by black metal band Dissection on their album Reinkaos.  Some lyrics typical of how the entity is conceptualized can be found in the song “Beyond the Horizon”:
This is the realm of Azerate, eleven as one
Destroyer of cosmic order, extinguisher of the sun
In this place so sinister I shall find my dreams
Illuminated by the blackest flame to transcend with dragon wings

Salient details thus alluded to include:
  • Azerate is a composite being, consisting of eight Dark Gods and three Dark Goddesses, for a total of eleven-entities-in-one.*  The significance of the number eleven is tied to this Satanic denomination’s interest in Qabalah (an interest that I myself definitely share), but that is way too complicated a topic to get into in the current entry.
  • As a being of chaos, it is an enemy of order in general, but particularly of the current order inasmuch as that order is dominated by light-oriented right-hand-path religions.
  • The occult adept who is a devotee of Azerate sees the promised destruction positively, inasmuch as it will deliver them to “a place of eternal freedom, the void where all illusions die,” as lyrics later in the same song state.  Multiple Satanic denominations associate “black flame” with self-evolution; context then suggests that “place so sinister” here can be taken to mean “via the left-hand path,” though of course it can also be taken to mean something less ethos-oriented and more overtly-occult-oriented, such as “the acausal realm.”
  • As a composite being, Azerate is envisioned as an eleven-headed dragon.*  Other songs on the same album refer to “dragon mother” and equate her with primal chaos monsters of every pantheon, e.g. Tiamat, Leviathan, Apep, etc.

(* = the chaos magician in me feels it is salient to point out: these two details in combination look to yield the somewhat-amusing conclusion that apparently, what we have here is not only a Hydra in the mythological sense of “multi-headed dragon,” but also a Hydra in the Marvel sense of “a group of villains cooperating toward the end of producing maximum mayhem.” :))


Beyond just the association with chaos, the aspect of Azerate that makes me think of Azathoth is the reference in multiple songs to bringing about the apocalypse by waking the dragon.  This detail fits very well, it seems to me, with the notion that the world’s stability depends on Azathoth remaining in some sort of torpor, vs. the end of the cosmos coming about if he were roused. 

This analysis admittedly paints Dissection as being real-life’s manifestation of the worst kind of insane Lovecraftian cultists.  Really though, I feel like that is not entirely unfair, what with the whole “they probably would have eventually staged their own mini-Jonestown if Nodtveidt hadn’t gone to prison for that homophobic-murder-thing first” business. 

Important note related to this issue: I stand solidly with what I hope is a majority of Dissection fans when I say, “great music, but too bad about the lunatic-asshole front-man.”  Also, I personally think you have to be a special kind of loser to style yourself as any kind of chaos-devotee while at the same time taking issue with anyone’s sexuality for any reason, but maybe that’s just me.

In any case, the aspect of Azerate that makes me think of Az is the dark feminine aspect, as when the entity is given any gender at all, it is typically female – “dragon mother” as above.  Going even further though, there is also an explicit tie-in to Lilith here, both via Lilith being one of the eleven “Azerate members,” and via Lilith herself being called “dragon goddess” on the song “Dark Mother Divine” on the same album.  The lawlessness of Az, and the adept’s hope of “eternal freedom” in Azerate’s wake, also appear to be congruent with one another.

Now, since the previous two entities discussed are horrifying primarily in concept, vs. this one, as per the above-given link, has actual real life casualties of both a homicidal and suicidal nature associated with its adherents, obviously it’s a bit urgent for me to clarify where I’m going with the idea that there’s any possible way of engaging constructively with Azerate. 

The nature of the beast though is such that I’ll have to wander through quite a bit of philosophy to get there, much of which is not going to initially sound like it is helping much.  Nonetheless, to proceed:

One thought is that, parallel to the above discussion of “dark realities” personified via Azathoth and Az, I think Azerate can be understood similarly: basically, in Freudian terms, Az is equivalent to libido and Azerate to thanatos; the former seeks a pleasure as total as that of the embryo with all its needs supported by the mother’s body, while the latter seeks dissolution in accord with the default entropic tendencies of the inorganic matter.  

Acknowledging these forces then need not be equivalent to worshipping them, but rather just entails recognizing that life is driven by chaotic forces that are both antisocial and destructive if unregulated.  It would then follow that if “indulgence” is the goal, self-mastery is a pre-requisite, which brings us back to the ethos of LaVeyan Satanism.

Another “dark reality” that Azerate can be taken as an expression of would be the Medea hypothesis, which argues that contra the Gaia theory of life on earth self-regulating toward a harmonious state, actually life tends to be suicidal in the long run, since: 
  1. The drives and adaptations that are selected-for by evolution are those that favor the individual and its immediate descendents, without an eye to the horizon of the species or biosphere as a whole;
  2. Populations just are large groups of such individuals, who are then adapted in such a way that they tend to individually compete for resources and reproduce until a shortage of resources forces starvation and die-off, not before;
  3. Such a population additionally produces ever-increasing amounts of waste just in the process of staying alive, which within the context of a closed system (which a planet ultimately is) means slowly poisoning itself;
  4. Getting life to not behave in the manner just described in 2 & 3 is an uphill battle, because to accomplish this, you would have to convince it to resist drives strongly selected for in 1. 

This is not, by the way, an argument against trying to fix the environment, so much as it is rather a case of “I am really, really not surprised that we are failing” on that front. :/  

What is interesting mythology-wise though is that Medea seems to embody a lot of the same drives as Az so long as she is getting her way (i.e. accomplishes all manner of wondrous feats and transgresses all sorts of boundaries in pursuit of her own desire), vs. the same drives as Azerate once she is not getting her way (i.e. seeks total destruction of the currently-existing order – the familial, in this particular case – out of sheer malice).

That this should be so is suggestive of the unity of the two figures.  It is suggestive too of the dystopian experience of an evolved-and-aware consciousness, simultaneously insisting on the goodness of persevering in existence on one hand, and sensitive about the frustrations of life to the point of being tempted toward nihilism on the other. 

Faced with such a fork in the road, the LaVeyan Satanists go one way and the Anti-Cosmic Satanists go the other.  This is perhaps most evident via contrasting LaVey’s strongly negative attitude toward suicide to Nodtveidt’s seeing suicide as a fitting and perhaps even triumphant conclusion to his life.  

I would nonetheless argue that the difference between the two positions lies not in one denying the darkest side of life and the other plunging headfirst into it, but rather, in one merely acknowledging that darkness with open eyes while the other was utterly overpowered and possessed by it.  

One thus arrives again at the idea that, from a Satanic perspective that values “undefiled wisdom,” we ought to acknowledge this dark force within ourselves in order to become empowered to take steps to overcome the aspects of it that are ultimately not in our best interest. 

A further constructive angle for Azerate is an angle that I think also applies to a lot of other apocalyptic discourse, regardless of specific religious origin of that discourse: that which leads to very bad places when taken literally and projected outward can be constructive if taken figuratively and directed inward.  From this perspective, references to destroying the cosmos refer to the need to break down one’s unreflective default worldview, toward the end of replacing it with something more comprehensive, adequate and/or freeing.  This process naturally manifests as tribulation prior to its full completion though, since it throws one into a state of pervasive doubt and attendant temptations toward hatred and despair – i.e. chaos prior to the re-establishment of a better order. 

The inadequacy of Anti-Cosmic Satanism – at least in my heavily-skewed-by-Dissection-and-thus-not-necessarily-reflective-of-the-218-Current-as-a-whole opinion – lies primarily in its neglect of that rather-important last step.  And yet, at the same time, I think hints of this perspective can be found on Reinkaos itself in the song “Internal Fire,” specifically with its reference to “Atazoth.”  This name is the Order of Nine Angles’ dyslexic spelling of Azathoth (i.e. I am under the impression that there is literature openly attesting that they are the same thing) with the rationale that “at-azoth” means “an increase of azoth,” azoth being the agent of transformation in alchemy. 

So, in other words: keeping the Daemon Sultan asleep may be a good idea if you are fine with the status quo, but if that is dissatisfactory, waking up the Black Dragon of Chaos would mean clearing the path of the obstacles that stand in the way of evolution and actualization.  

Construed that way, Azerate starts to seem rather a lot like some of the Hindu deities like Shiva and Kali, whom plenty of people manage to venerate without construing “the Destroyer” as permission to be a nihilistic fuckhead.  Yes, I know, there’s a Kali song on Reinkaos, but let’s not write off all the actual Indian Shiva and Kali worshippers who are functional people over that one small detail. :)

Summing up then about Azerate: tempting as it may seem to jettison the idea of a Destroyer in this trinity, since doing so might make it easier to explain the whole thing in a way that sounds constructive, it seems to me that destruction does have its place here, both as a force of nature that simply needs to be acknowledged with open eyes, and as a process worth undertaking intentionally for the purposes of replacing that which has become old and inadequate with something new and better. 

The idea mainly goes astray when it drifts into destruction for destruction’s own sake, wherein it can wind up leading into some disturbing territory.  I would argue, however, that this drift can be arrested via proper attention to the other two elements of the trinity.  I will elaborate more on this in the final installment to follow.