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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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. 


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. 

* * *


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.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Of black dragons and blind idiot gods, part II: Az

Part 2 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: as we’re now moving on to a being that originates in a specific culture, rather than in fiction, it seems worth pointing out that I am not a religious specialist in Zoroastrianism, with much of what follows coming more from Michael Ford’s Luciferian take on the demons of that pantheon than from academic/primary/etc. sources.  One should thus keep in mind that what follows is presented primarily because I find the narrative in question, whatever its ultimate true source, to be an apt fit with my beliefs, vs. no claim is being made as to its adequacy in educating anyone about any “real” beliefs pertaining to Zoroastrianism.

* * *

Monday, September 30, 2019

Of black dragons and blind idiot gods, part I: Azathoth

Previously I wrote an entry about Tezcatlipoca in the context of the “dark pagan” element of my practice, i.e. while I still think LaVeyan is a better descriptor of my ethos than other labels, my particular styling of greater magic is outwardly pagan-like as far as positing a relationship with particular entities predicated upon interest in the mythology that surrounds that entity.

The current entry, as well as those that will follow, are about another such entity – one whom I might well go so far as to term the “ultimate reality” in my own idiosyncratic-belief-system-pertaining-to-acausal-matters. 

This entity I have not found to be captured adequately in any single tradition, but a survey of several of the most infamously “dark” streams of occultism enables one to build up a threefold-picture it via the following beings:

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.  This latter, comparative portion is scarcely a footnote in the current entry, as you’ll see, but will become more substantial in later ones since the greater groundwork laid by then will make the endeavor easier at that point.

All of this will finally be followed by a fourth installment to tie up a few loose ends I foresee, namely:

Stick around and keep reading to find out… ;)

* * *

Monday, September 16, 2019

Thinking harder: "Indulgence, not abstinence"

I’ve been thinking for some time that LaVey’s first Satanic Statement, “Satan represents indulgence, not abstinence!”, if interpreted in a nuanced and constructive way, can be used to articulate a more complex and fruitful image of how to live one’s life than LaVey’s own writings by themselves may make evident to many people. 

And since fairly-recently I’ve run across a few instances on social media where it sounds like someone got turned off LaVeyan Satanism because of being under the impression that indulgence meant something that was not nuanced and constructive in this way, now seems as good a time as ever to write an entry on this subject.

There are three major points I’d want to make in this entry about my own understanding of the First Satanic Statement:
  1. The Statement does not only mean “animalistic” pleasures when it talks about “indulgence.”

  2. Inasmuch as the Statement can be construed in terms of “this is what makes life better for everyone, and therefore society would be better if we set things up to best foster it for everyone,” it arguably can lead to consequences irritating to folks on the right who want small government and no social programs.

  3. Inasmuch as the Statement can be construed in terms of “it’s better to address a problem by adding something constructive to the situation than by taking something away,” it arguably can lead to consequences irritating to the censorious “no art should be allowed to exist that doesn’t reflect my politics” folks on the far-left.

As usual, I’ll elaborate on each of these points below – the third one at much greater length than the other two, as to say it has been a bit of a pet peeve of mine for the last few years would be an understatement.  An implied thesis behind all of this though is that it’s possible to interpret the First Satanic Statement of LaVeyan Satanism in such a way that it implicitly leads to much that is in the Seven Tenets of the Satanic Temple, re: compassion for others, seeking justice, inviolability of the body and freedom including the freedom to offend. 

I will grant that whether most LaVeyans take the First Satanic Statement in the way I am describing is a separate question. Similarly, I have no problem professing that from a “what is the better face-forward for a group of Satanists living in and trying to constructively influence society at large,” Satanic Temple’s formulation is obviously better.  It is thus primarily the assumption of some that the LaVeyan formulation cannot be constructive that I am arguing against in this entry.

* * *

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Esoteric practices in Satanism, part IV: Greater Magic

Continuing with the esoteric matters I’d like to explore here in connection with Satanism – i.e…

… the last one I want to cover here is greater magic.

Subsections of this entry:

This is my longest entry so far, i.e. longer even than the cultural appropriation one, amazingly.  Then again, greater magic is a very complex topic, especially if you are trying to make it comprehensible to people who may have no occult background, as I am attempting to do here.  

I am aware that some of what follows will make me sound completely insane to a certain sort of reader.  Nonetheless, I hope that what follows will both give you an idea of what ritual magic entails for a Satanist who practices it, and provide some sense of how the practice itself might be beneficial to a practitioner personally, regardless of whether you-the-outsider believe that it “works” or not.

* * *

Monday, August 12, 2019

Esoteric practices in Satanism, part III: Lesser Magic

Continuing with the esoteric matters I’d like to explore here in connection with Satanism – i.e…

… next up is lesser magic.

Subsections of this entry:
  1. Lesser magic according to LaVey’s Satanic Bible
  2. Further nuances re: the workings of lesser magic
  3. Implications in connection with a Satanic worldview

As with divination, I originally had in mind to have a section about some intersections-with-current-hot-button-political-issues that arise in connection with this practice, but between length considerations and my feeling that some of the same issues arise with greater magic, I’ll be covering this separately later. 

Thus, if you read the entry below, and at any point find yourself thinking “OMG, the implications of that practice are terrible – haven’t you noticed that they’re terrible?” – yeah, very likely I have noticed, and just because I don’t talk about that issue in this entry doesn’t mean I haven’t thought of it; wait a little while and I’ll likely discuss it in another entry.

* * *

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

A note about "the sinister path"

I have the entry for lesser magic basically written, but due to Terminus and other things consuming my attention in recent weeks, haven’t yet had time to finish off a few things related to it. 

I don’t like the prospect of then having only one entry for July though, so here’s a more-compact-than-my-usual-topics topic that I thought I’d dash off a few words about: the meaning of “right” and “left” from a spiritual rather than political perspective, and why, due to contemporary politics, I use different terms these days when I am talking about spiritual matters myself – namely, the potentially-pretentious-sounding wording of “the sinister path.”

* * *

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Esoteric practices in Satanism, part II: Divination

Previously, I’d mentioned these topics as being a few of the esoteric matters I’d like to explore here in connection with Satanism:
It makes sense to look at divination next inasmuch I see it as having a couple of connections to meditation: i) one way of understanding divination – the way that I myself use – basically situates it as a subtype of meditation; and ii) I think the two are similar with regard to people who have negative views of them perhaps not actually knowing what they entail to actual contemporary occult practitioners (whether Satanic or otherwise). 

Hence, subsections of the current entry:
I had a few thoughts to share also about a couple of political issues I’ve seen come up in connection with divination in online forums, but as my attempt to write these out ran toward the long side and contained repetition of some points made in my previous entry about cultural appropriation, that content may or may not wind up in another entry later on down the line.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Esoteric practices in Satanism, part I: Meditation

Inasmuch as I’ve gotten the impression that actual engagement in esoteric practices may be unusual among people who identify as Satanists, despite this element being present in the writings of LaVey and other authors, I thought making this aspect of the religion better understood to people who may have no familiarity with it might be an interesting challenge to take on.

Esoteric practices that I think a case can be made for in Satanism include the following:
As this list may imply, what I am here terming “esoteric practices” includes what I have elsewhere called “ritual practice,” but I’m adopting the former in this case as a better umbrella term than the latter when it comes to covering the full range of practices I want to discuss.

This is a big enough topic to constitute multiple entries, so I’ll cover only one area of practice at a time, starting with meditation:

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Friday, June 7, 2019

Cultural appropriation vs. spirituality: a thorough dissection

Since my recent thrift-store luck in connection with an upcoming event has provided opportunity for a good accompanying photo for the topic, now struck me as the right time for a few things I wanted to say about cultural appropriation, specifically the concept’s salience within the context of what might broadly be called spirituality.

Sections of this entry:

Note: this wound up being insanely long even by this blog’s already-unreasonable standards - hence the jump cut below - so if you are mainly here for the spirituality-related content and find lengthy dwelling upon the concept of cultural appropriation to be tedious, feel free to skip down to the last section, as that’s where I get to the point that I’ve least seen people talking about elsewhere when cultural appropriation comes up.

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Why Satanic Temple is likely to continue growing: a theory

As some friends have already messaged to inform me, a recent article in the Calgary Journal about the Satanic Temple cited me for some background info on Satanism.

Now, given the focus of the article being the Calgary chapter of the Satanic Temple specifically, I had no expectation of the rather-lengthy interview the journalist did with me, re: other Satanic denominations and the appeal of Satanism more generally, making up any significant portion of the article in question.  However, inasmuch as I wound up making a few points to my interviewer that are germane to topics I’m discussing on this blog, I did nonetheless want to just post a short addendum here about a theory I have about why Satanic Temple strikes me a denomination especially likely to grow in the near future.

I want to stress, before getting into this, that this is just my own theory based on what I know of Satanic Temple’s tenets on one hand vs. the issues I’ve personally had with politics over the last few years on the other hand.  It is thus not a theory based on my own contact with specific Satanic Temple members, and it neither is, nor pretends, to have anything to do with the understanding of Satanism that the particular Satanic Temple folks who are the focus of the article may themselves have.  I am thus sharing it not because I have data to suggest that it is true, but because I find the claims I am making philosophically-plausible and will therefore be interested to see whether trends in the next few years support or refute it.

The theory has four components, as follows:

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Black sun and black pharaoh

I’ve made a couple references now to appropriation, i.e. in this context, the taking of someone else’s or some other religion’s narrative/symbols/etc. and interpreting/applying these toward one’s own ends. 

Sooner or later I’ll have an entry on how this collides with contemporary politics, and was thus one element contributing to that spiritual crisis I was trapped in last year - but this is not that entry. 

This entry does, however, cover the content of my own practice where I figure the supposed appropriation issue is perhaps most relevant.

One component of LaVeyan ritual practice is the invocation of dark names that the individual finds best flesh out one’s own take on the values and/or spiritual realities of Satanism, these being either names of fallen angels, or names of dark gods from other cultures, or etc. 

One of the names I have long invoked in this context is that of Tezcatlipoca, who is an Aztec god of strife, sorcery and the night. 

I have no connection with the Aztec culture in any material way, nor pretenses toward representing any kind of “authentic” tradition here.  However, somewhere in the late high school / early undergrad era of my life, I ran across a book called “The Fifth Sun” by Burr Cartwright Brundage, which contains quite detailed info about Aztec mythology, religion and ritual practice, and something about the stories and folklore surrounding Tezcatlipoca (which I then went on to read more about via other sources) was definitely striking to me. 

The seed thus planted did not really sprout or bear fruit until recent years.  But as my practice has gradually become more “dark pagan,” it’s increasingly struck me as a resource worth returning to and reflecting upon more.

Here then are a few points about Tezcatlipoca that are of interest to me as a Satanist, organized along similar lines to the key points of Satanism that I referred to previously in this entry:

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Reflections about chaos magic

Since last entry mentioned chaos magic, and it increasingly looks like I’m likely to meet some folks of that tradition during my upcoming holiday in BC here, it feels worth taking the opportunity to reflect upon what exactly that particular occult “tradition” actually means to me.  I’ll do this in three sections: 1) history of applying the label in my case, 2) the appeal and 3) reservations I have at this point. 

History of using the label

My earliest relevant influence for chaos magick is probably Church of the Subgenius when I was in my late teens.  Subsequent reading included Discordia, Philip Hines, Peter Carroll, Ramsey Dukes, Lon Milo Duquette, etc.  Probably my biggest influences overall though were Grant Morrison’s graphic novel series “The Invisibles” and Kenneth Grant’s book “Nightside of Eden.”

Interestingly, I’ve come to realize in retrospect that the short period of my life during which I was up-playing the chaos magic quite a bit and somewhat downplaying the Satanism largely overlaps the time when I was in the UK doing my MA.  I figure a big part of the reason for this is that I experienced North America and Britain quite differently from one another re: when you hear about “chaos magic,” what does that actually mean:

  • In North America, most chaos magic people I met seemed to be significantly influenced by the aesthetic of Discordia, Subgenius and/or what most readers would understand to be the “good” guys in The Invisibles, i.e. “chaos as fun and freedom.”  In that context, chaos magic seemed to be 50/50 between pure technique (see the “appeal” section below) and “joke religion.”
  • In the UK, I got the impression that in the circles I was moving, all the men said they were Heathens and all the women said they were Hedgewitches, but really they were all chaos magicians who didn’t like using the term because it had been previously ruined by people who thought chaos magic meant slavish dedication to the system of A.O. Spare in combination with being weird, dark and kind of an asshole.

Thus, in one setting, chaos magic seemed to entail both a specific ethos and a technique, whereas in the other, it mainly designated a technique compatible with a variety of ethos.  Naturally then, if you can have Heathen-chaos-magicians and Hedgewitch-chaos-magicians, you can have Satanist-chaos-magicians, and there I was. ;) 

It’s also probably worth noting that among the North Americans I knew, references to Cthulhu were always “part of the joke,” vs. in the UK, I’d say there were some contexts in which Lovecraft was taken light-heartededly and some contexts in which the notion of genuine “dark” encounters with entities of that nature did rear its head.  For me personally, chaos magic always had more of the “dark” than the “light” in it, so for this reason too, I gravitated toward it much more in the British context vs. the more time has passed since my MA, the more overtly I have drifted back toward explicitly Satanist territory.

The appeal

The key appeal of chaos magic for me was the notion that all aspects of the human condition can be utilized toward the purposes of magic, i.e. discernment of unseen spiritual realities and manipulation of these in order to bring about change in accord with will – more specifically, that contemporary culture, technology and “the new” are not somehow inherently “unmagical” in comparison to traditional culture, nature and “the old.” 

I have long been self-aware about how, as a near-sighted asthmatic (and now, for that matter, celiac) with a very non-outdoorsy upbringing, I did not feel any kind of “closeness” with “nature.”  And as I have gotten older, I have also increasingly felt at odds with anything that resembles “tradition” because it so often entails assumptions about gender roles that don’t speak to my own experience and/or expectations about “looking to your roots” that are somewhat awkward for a biracial person.  This then left me in a position where there were certain things I liked about Wicca and Neopaganism, but I never really felt it was “for me” as far as being able to identify with those religions.

On the other hand, if one is both of an urban bent that appreciates technology, and hybrid in terms of one’s identities, the great thing about chaos magic is that you can just go explore and invent and figure out what works for you personally – i.e. you can elevate fictional entities to godhood if that’s what speaks to you; you can observe how divination’s most requisite feature is an element of randomization and posit that you ought then to be able to interpret your iPod shuffle results the way some people interpret runes and tarot (obviously in the context of ritual and intention); you can borrow from different cultures and construct something that reflects your own complexities instead of being stuck feeling “left outside” of everything (here’s that appropriation can-of-worms again); etc.

In other words, it’s fun and fulfilling inasmuch as it lets you proceed on your own instincts.  Additionally, I think there is a strong affinity of mentality between the effective chaos magician and the effective Satanist, inasmuch as both have the attitude of “this is all up to me, without any external authority, therefore I have to be ruthlessly honest with myself about my progress as well as disciplined in my practice if I want to actually improve.”  Yes, that attitude is to some extent present among all individual “spiritual” practitioners, but in my view, less strongly so in others than in these specific two cases, inasmuch as others fall back upon appeals to spirit guidance, ancient ways, supposed-universality of principles, and other elements beyond just one’s own experiences & results.

The reservations

Probably the biggest reservation I have about chaos magic pertains to the famous saying that “nothing is true, everything is permitted.” 

It is my impression that, for many people who put forward this saying, the underlying reality of the world (chaos) is conceptualized as a blank slate that different worldviews draw different things on; the chaos magician, realizing this, is then potentially empowered to draw whatever they like on there.

I do not myself conceive of chaos in this way.  To me, chaos is less like a blank slate than a really blurry out-of-focus picture (you may notice I did mention above being nearsighted ;)) that no one has the perfect lens to bring into full focus (because Lovecraftian madness would result) vs. everyone uses different lenses and thus sees different things in better/worse focus.  Unlike the blank slate though, here there is something there, and if you persist in using lenses that do not register certain key characteristics that it has, you are missing things that may bite you in the ass. 

Notice then that, according to the “typical” chaos magic view, you cannot really compare worldviews beyond just their being different/equal.  Vs. according to my view, yes there is an element of relativism re: no one is one-hundred percent “right,” but I do think some worldviews fare better than others at dealing honestly with a larger percentage of “reality, and “better/worse” here can be determined via empirical investigation, whether that means consulting science (regarding material matters) or consulting the experience of the individual (regarding matters of meaningfulness) or etc.  This then is plainly not “nothing is true, everything is permitted” – the Satanist reserves the right to be able to put forward critical claims that in some respects, society is deluded, people lie to themselves, etc.

I have other reservations about chaos magic, but I think fundamentally they all go back to this one and also tie in to what I said in my previous entry about Satanism about dark spiritual realities.  You might say on that front that I am not much of a “chaos as Eris” chaos magician vs. much more of a “chaos as Azathoth” chaos magician – i.e. no less of a chaos magician for that, but of the view that at least for me, a darker, more monstrous image of chaos better “fits reality” than certain cutesy, flippant-sounding characterizations I’ve occasionally encountered within the chaos magic context.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Obligatory "I'm a Satanist" post

Anyone who’s known me for awhile has likely noticed that every time I start blogging anew, there will at some point early-on be an entry about how I’m a Satanist and what exactly that means.  Well, here’s that entry for this time around. 

Why retread that ground yet again?  Because i) I find it useful to re-articulate this stuff to myself once in awhile; ii) it seems all the more worth unpacking given references to it in my previous entry (i.e. if you came here looking for the crazy "black metal convinced me to NOT kill myself" story, that's the link you're looking for); and iii) my understanding of the religion actually has changed in some details over the last few years.

Anyway, though: I was first exposed to LaVeyan Satanism when I was sixteen, i.e. like, a quarter-of-a-century ago now, which is kind of insane to think about. 

I would not say Satanism was something I hugely focused on during my early twenties, but from about 2003 onward (that being when I went to grad school at a university that had a pagan/occult student society), I began exploring that side of things much more explicitly and purposefully.  This has intensified further in recent years until the point where, from about 2013 onward, I was fairly “out” about it even at my workplace, inasmuch as I was by then teaching classes in which the subject was coming up.

Now, while these days I’d still say I am strongly influenced by LaVeyan Satanism, what I actually believe and practice has increasingly deviated from that denomination, enough that I gravitate toward the term “heterodox Satanist,” as I am not in wholesale agreement with any of the other denominations either.  This is hairsplitting though, vs. as a starting point, here’s what I see as a common core shared by pretty much everything that credibly calls itself “Satanism”:

  1. A critical, adversarial stance toward authorities and institutions that dominate society, especially inasmuch as said authorities and institutions make appeals to dogmas that the Satanist, by light of their own reason, reflection and experience, does not find intellectually convincing, emotionally satisfying and/or conducive to their own flourishing.

  2. A dedication to the pursuit of knowledge via the exercise of one’s own intellect and, in connection with this, a life of constant introspection, resulting in a high level of self-awareness regarding what one really wants, why, to what extent one is succeeding at attaining it, etc. – as per Socrates, “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

  3. Appreciation for the carnal world in the form of sensual and aesthetic experiences, embrace of these experiences as an important part of the human condition, and awareness of how otherworldly religiosity tends to reject such experiences, thereby promoting a diminished quality of life in which human beings are alienated from themselves – hence the Satanist being the enemy of that kind of religiosity.

  4. Strong emphasis on such concepts as liberty, sovereignty and the strong will of the individual; it is not that one is never willing to ‘play ball’ with other people or with society (though some Satanists are like that) but rather that one ultimately puts oneself first and is thus resolutely unwilling to act against one’s own interests for the sake of others that one feels no adequately-justified obligations toward.  Most Satanists additionally understand that a natural consequence of this stance is that you are going to be labeled the “bad guy” at some point, and that from the perspective of those doing the labeling, you are the “bad guy."

  5. A recognition that, inasmuch as living a successful life as a Satanist requires intelligence, self-awareness, discipline, autonomy, etc., it is just a fact of life that not everyone is cut out to be one, at least not by default.  Differences in how they see the implications of this are what I see as a key distinguisher of Satanic denominations: there are optimists who think people can be educated and political moves made to create a more ‘Satanic’ society, there are pessimists who think society will always be ‘a herd’ and hence seek only to carve out a life for themselves that is as separate from stifling social mores as possible, and there are nihilists who actively strive toward the destruction of society.  In all cases though, some degree of alienation from society is a typical ingredient of Satanism, as a big part of the point of adopting the label is that you are basically saying to society “your idea of good sucks so much that I’d rather side with the Devil.”

  6. Rejection of “feel good” metaphysical claims – e.g. a benevolent personal God, “the universe is fundamentally made of love,” etc. – on the basis that such notions are not in accord with the harsh realities of life.  Satanists may run the whole range from atheistic materialists at one extreme to “dark” pagan polytheists at the other, but the implication then of that spectrum as a whole is “maybe there is nothing beyond the physical, or maybe there is a dark spiritual something that should not be assumed be in a caring relationship with humanity, but there is definitely NOT some lovey-dovey, anthropocentrically-conceived, inherently-good-thing that ensures justice in the universe and magically ‘makes it all okay in the end.’”

OK, so with all that said, the question that typically arises is “but why call that Satanism instead of just calling it humanism?” 

The short answer is “because the mythology of Satan vividly illustrates all of these themes.”

The longer answer is:

  1. Satan rebelled against God, and thereby models the criticism and rejection of irrational, tyrannical authorities who harbor attitudes such as “the way I’m running things is the best way and you are not allowed to question that” (as per the Devil’s rebellion in Christianity) or “this thing I made is awesome simply because I made it and you are not allowed to think otherwise” (as per Iblees’ rebellion in Islam).

  2. Satan encouraged Adam & Eve to eat the fruit of knowledge, and though that led to punishment by God, one cannot help observing that it seems like a bit of a waste of potential for human beings to have been expected to just remain innocent children in a garden forever.

  3. Satan is associated with temptation, whether that means fulfillment of primary earthly needs (“turn these stones into bread”), attainment of social power and influence (“all the kingdoms of the world if you bow down to me”) or self-aggrandizement via special talents (“throw yourself off this roof and angels will catch you – everyone will be very impressed!”).  One could argue that these things can be good at least in moderation, vs. absolute ascetic rejection of these things means a life of dissatisfaction, disempowerment and “hiding one’s own light” – that’s all fine if you’re a totally God-oriented person such as Christ, but is it realistic for anyone else?

  4. In Paradise Lost, some of Satan’s most famous quotes include “The mind is its own place, can in itself make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven” and “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.”  i.e. defeat is not a cause for despair, but rather an opportunity to make one’s own way and thereby rise to even greater eminence. There are also lines elsewhere in the poem indicating that this character knows he is “the bad guy” (e.g. “Evil, be thou my good”), yet many readers of the poem nowadays nonetheless find something compelling about his steadfast dedication to his chosen cause, even if it is “evil.”

  5. Medieval folklore about the Devil portrays him as being served by witches, i.e. a pariah group who could be construed variously as using magic to make life better for their communities, as simply outcasts rejected by the society around them, or as involved in an organized conspiracy to promote evil.  Note, then, that the Neopagan interpretation of this history conceptualizes witches optimistically, the secular interpretation is more pessimistic, and the traditional Christian view of witches portrays them as having nihilistic intentions.

  6. By questioning God about whether Job was truly good or not, Satan created a situation in which God wound up coming across as a giant asshole who destroys his own follower’s life and puts him through hell for no really good reason.  The story’s ending can be read as God himself admitting that he’s not wholly good while asserting that humans don’t get to complain about it.  Satan’s actions thus initiate a series of events by which a rather dark spiritual reality is revealed.

Obviously countless exegetical and historical objections can be raised against all of this – it self-evidently a very selective interpretation.  But the point is that in these narratives, the Satanist sees elements that speak to them, and in what might itself be said to be a Satanic gesture, dares then to appropriate whatever they find useful here in creating a meaningful and vivid worldview for themselves. (And yes, I will definitely return to the can-of-worms that this specific phrasing opens up in a later entry…)

As this predictably got long quickly, I’ll finish for now with a few summary-thoughts about where I’m at with the spiritual side of things these days:

  • As far as the values and ethos associated with Satanism, I don’t think I have changed that much over time – rather, I’ve just gotten better at more thoroughly articulating the implications and consequences of what I see as the fundamental principles.

  • LaVey’s Satanic Bible describes ritual practices, but I’m under the impression that most LaVeyans don’t bother, and the other most-visible denomination (Satanic Temple) does not appear to have much of an esoteric component at all (at least as per how its official tenets are phrased); I am thus something of an outlier inasmuch as for me, the “magical” or “religious” component was key from the start, and has always remained such.

  • When it comes to the beliefs and practices that differentiate me from other Satanists, I figure the two decisive drivers are: i) my broad knowledge of mythology, world religions, esoteric practices and etc. via my educational background; and ii) my having in recent years gotten obsessed with certain aspects of black metal.  Combine these factors with the sensibility of chaos magic (click here for brief explanation if you don’t know what this is), and the result is a “personal mythology” and “magic system” with some significant differences from that typically associated with LaVeyan Satanism.

  • Despite my religious idiosyncrasies, and my growing impression that they likely make me closer to what is technically known as Luciferianism than Satanism, I have long stuck with the latter terminology because inasmuch as “Satan” means “accuser/adversary,” this to me is the most appropriate general term for the religious stance that is against what basically every other religion says.  Vs. I tend to use other diabolic names in invocation of specific sub-parts of the religion, e.g. in the case of Lucifer, the pursuit of knowledge in particular.

I’m not 100% sure yet how explicit I will ultimately want to get on here about my, as Ihsahn in Emperor once put it, pretentious secrets. ;)  But “articulating the implications and consequences of what I see as the fundamental principles” – with regard to a few political matters on my mind, but also with regard to other topics – is most definitely something I will be getting into more in future entries as far as Satanism goes.