Part 3 now of the following 4-part series on my idiosyncratic beliefs about “ultimate reality”:
- Azathoth, of the Lovecraft mythos
- Az, of Zoroastrian mythology
- Azerate, of anti-cosmic Satanism, via Dissection’s album “Reinkaos”
- How do you venerate a “blind idiot” god without running a nihilistic death cult?
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:
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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.