You’ve outdone yourself again, YouTube

Remember last month when I complained about YouTube shadowbanning Jeremy Crow’s videos, and in that post I pointed out how YouTube’s quest for censorship is nonsensical and serves no purpose other than to make YouTube look good to potential advertisers? Weeeeeelll, it appears YouTube has hit a major snag in that department.

For all the fuss that was generated over “extremist” video content, which mostly was just a way of saying they’re going to try to suppress politically incorrect content, YouTube didn’t count on what really fucked their brand this weekend: pedophiles. Or, more specifically, the presence of videos depicting real children appearing in suggestive situations for pedophiles to masturbate to, or the presence of pedophiles chortling to the comments sections of home videos featuring children in which they express their desire to have sex with them. According to an investigation from The Times this is being financially supported by ads from major corporations, including Amazon, eBay, BT and TalkTalk, appearing on those videos. This has resulted in overwhelming backlash from advertisers, who have been pulling their YouTube ads and expressing doubt over YouTube’s commercial viability.

So let’s just get this straight: YouTube, in a desperate bid to sanitize their platform by chasing the alt-right bogeymen away, left out the large numbers of pedophiles who are on their website, and searching for videos of scantily clad children so that they can leer at those children, and now that this has come to light it is hurting their brand, when they thought all they had to worry about was some Nazis ranting about Jews and the Holocaust. Good job YouTube. You’ve demonstrated once again how much of a farce your censorious policies are proving to be.

I’m sure YouTube are going to clean this up in the light of such a major boycott from advertisers – this is their bottom line we’re talking about – but, if you defended YouTube for removing content it doesn’t deem advertiser friendly before, are you now beginning to see a problem with this position? Apparently it’s not OK to shitpost or express opinions that the company deems offensive or disposable, but it is OK for pedophiles to lurk on your website for lord knows how long and leer at people’s prepubescent daughters. It is increasingly impossible defend YouTube, and by proxy its parent company Google, over its plans to regulate the content and information that appears on its platform when such scandals, and more, spread like wildfire so easily, and can be shown without much difficulty for the farce that they are. I sincerely hope that more people come to realize this as time goes by.

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How I became a Satanist: a retrospection

Well, it’s that time of year, again. It is officially the anniversary of my Heretical Domain, and I’ve now been running this blog for five years. I kind of worried this blog would be dead by now, given how much things have slowed down this year. But no, I think I’ll still be writing for this for some time. And since this is the 5th anniversary of the blog, I would like to do something special for you readers: I’m going to look back on how I became a Satanist, from my current perspective.

Now, while I officially became a Satanist in 2013, while I was still a college student, there is something to say about my “religious life” before that point. When I was a boy, I used to be loosely part of the Christian faith in that I was brought to believe in Jesus on the basic level. I was never a devout Christian in the sense that I read the Bible back then and was a consistent church-goer (in fact, my parents were liberal enough that they allowed me to not go to church for some reason), but I did believe in Jesus, was scared of going to hell like many kids were, and I was naive enough back in the day to pray to him to stop the rainforests from being bulldozed to death (because hey, I cared a lot about stuff like that as a kid). At the very least I would have been culturally Christian back then. As I got older, I was more reluctant about this religious belief, and there was one time when a learning support assistant I worked with talked about whether or not I was Christian, I was asked if I believed in the god of the Bible and his son and nervously said yes. I say nervously, I was worried that I’d be judged if I said no. That was about a decade ago, I think was at least 12 years old at the time, and I can never be certain if those concerns were rational.

At some point in my early teens I discovered the writings of an atheist named Ebon Musings on the Internet, specifically writings concerning about the nature of the god of the Bible. How he was an evil, tyrannical deity who kept his hold over the hearts of his believers by threatening to destroy them for all eternity, and who goes about murdering countless people in the Old Testament. I also used to watch some programs hosted by Richard Dawkins, where he would explain his similar views about Christianity and God, as well as religion in general. Somehow I never really became an atheist after that (though I do have my leanings in some cases), I guess even after absorbing those ideas part of me still wanted a spiritual side, but I did abandon Christianity, never to return. After that I was inspired to look at all kinds of religions. In that sense, looking back, it seems like I did what a lot of people did when they lose their faith. I always looked to either Eastern religions or some forms of paganism, and I was very interested in earth and fertility goddesses for some reason. There was a time when I did a random prayer to Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes, because I found the deity interesting. At some point, I discovered the Shin Megami Tensei games, which brazenly showed me a world filled with demons, angels and Gods, nearly all derived from existing religions, traditions and mythologies, and pitted them in a world that presented a philosophical choice for the player, which for most of the games can often be boiled down to a the dilemma of “order/security vs freedom and self-direction”. Looking up the series, and the entities featured in the games, exposed me to a whole world of myths, characters and beliefs that until then I didn’t know existed. At the time, I still wasn’t emotionally ready to embrace Satanism yet, but for a while I got thinking and I leaned a lot to the side that happened to be backed by demons and fearsome deities (though, as a teenager, I had a tendency to be swing back and forth with different positions). It also kind of find into my interest in real world mythologies evolving from concern with goddesses and Hinduism, to also incorporating chthonic beings like the Cabiri and the Yaksha, and representations of primordial chaos like Tiamat.

For years until 2013, I was just a kooky agnostic who hated Christianity and admired paganism and Eastern religions. That was probably the closest to a consistent religious identity I had for a while. You could probably tell from a lot of my earliest blog posts. Even after I became a Satanist, aspects of that persisted for about a year or so, but we’ll get to that later on. I think it was by around 2011 or 2012, when I was still active on Yahoo Answers, I met a Luciferian occultist from America who followed me and gave me his opinion in answer to several questions of mine, even regarding things non-related to religion and philosophy. I used to chat with him a lot, he would frequently indulge my curiosities about Satanism, the Left Hand Path and the occult, as well as talk to me about a world of other things, and before long we became friends. Sometimes, I even referred to him as a brother of sorts, despite not actually being tied by flesh and blood. I haven’t spoken to him since at least 2015, sadly, but I will always remember him by his handle: The Desolate One. After talking to him, as well as watching interviews of King Diamond while I was getting into heavy metal, I began thinking more about Satanism, and more specifically what I wanted.

As much as nowadays I complain about the pretentiousness that is, somewhat stereotypically, associated with art students, I think that my time in art college was useful. For one thing I probably couldn’t have gotten into university without it, because I needed to earn a further education degree in art in order to get into the game design course I now do, but in a broader sense it was an opportunity to express myself creatively with wild abandon, even if I’m not convinced what I did was as good as many of the other things that other students made. Whenever I had the freedom to do so, I would express a lot of leaning that would probably be considered proto-Satanist in a personal sense, sometimes expressing ideas that learned from The Desolate One, but mostly expressing aspects of my own personality. At the time, I was pretty rebellious, which I guess is sort of typical for someone who was still basically a teenager, but introverted as merry fuck on top of that. Before the beginnings of summer in 2013, my leanings and thoughts came together, and I saw Satanism as the perfect fit to what I was looking for: I wanted freedom, self-direction, affirmation of life, a spiritual system that embraced pretty much everything that mainstream religion hated. That was how I understood Satanism. Theism or atheism, it didn’t matter to me, and it still doesn’t matter to me that much. I don’t care if you are an atheistic or theistic Satanist; I care if you are a Satanist. If you embrace the fundamental philosophy of Satanism on a basic level, the God debate is irrelevant because then you are still a Satanist with or without the literal Satan.

Ever since then, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t go through changes. When I was younger for instance, I tried vainly to mix that Satanism with Hindu and Buddhist teachings, but it didn’t work out. Now I don’t do that as much, although I am still interested in reading about the Tantric teachings to learn from them. Also, in the past, I was still pretty emotionally immature, and this has often lead to me doing some really stupid things that ended friendships and even potential relationships. Nowadays, I guess you could say I’ve “grown up”, but I’m still a pretty eccentric individual with some of my historical desires and drives remaining; call it what you will: an act of the hidden Will preserving those things, or what Nietzsche called some granite of “spiritual fatum”, or just genes I guess. But that’s the look I’m looking at. And in 2015 I learned more about Luciferianism, at least the kind expounded by Michael Ford and Jeremy Crow, and I really liked the philosophy they put forward in Wisdom of Eosphoros and have since incorporated many aspects of it into my own worldview. But for now, I mostly think of myself as a Satanist first, but with a sort of Luciferian framework layered on top of it. And I guess I’m a sect unto myself now, as of some months ago.

And that, I suppose, is how I became a Satanist. If my philosophy is strong enough, I will probably remain a Satanist for the foreseeable future. I can’t imagine how much that will play into the rest of my life after I leave university, but hey; nowadays I’m almost less worried about people knowing I’m a Satanist and more worried about people getting to know my politics and my appreciation for good memes (not that this should throw me off guard). Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed reading that and I kind of hope to still be posting on this blog for a couple more years.

Hail Satan, and salutations to The Desolate One for leading me down the path to Satanism.

Order, the organizing idea and self-mastery

This is one of quite a few posts I intended to write much earlier, but got sidetracked by my coursework. If my post from the beginning of September is any indiciation, I did say this was going to happen. Still, I’ve managed to put this together, and there’s something I have planned for Wednesday as well – I think you know why if you’ve followed me for long enough. Anyway, here’s the post.

Recently I watched a 3-part video series on the 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene and gained a few insights that seemed particularly useful and relevant to me. Since then I gained an interest in the book itself, and for this post I want to go through two specific laws that hit right home when I was first paying attention, alongside some other ideas that I became aware of with time.

One such law is the law of planning all the way to the end.

Law 29
Plan All the Way to the End
The ending is everything. Plan all the way to it, taking into account all the possible
consequences, obstacles, and twists of fortune that might reverse your hard work and give the
glory to others. By planning to the end you will not be overwhelmed by circumstances and you
will know when to stop. Gently guide fortune and help determine the future by thinking far
ahead.

The point of this law is straightforward: think of the outcome you want to achieve, and pay attention every possible outcome looming in the horizon so that you can outmaneuver them. Honestly, I feel like this is part of the point of me constantly being taught about planning ahead in game design at university: there is no game project without a plan underlying it. Otherwise, the project becomes consumed by a multiplicity of setbacks, some late ideas that people try to add on and a lot of stress due to the fact that you’d inevitably be forced to improvise all the way to the last minute, resulting in a shitty game that no one would want to play.

Greene gives a very good reason for this law in the book:

Most men are ruled by the heart, not the head. Their plans are vague, and when they meet obstacles they improvise. But improvisation will only bring you as far as the next crisis, and is never a substitute for thinking several steps ahead and planning to the end.

And I think that’s generally true: people are mostly ruled by emotions. In a way, nearly all of us are to some extent. It’s why lots of people get drawn into mass outrage over small things, because it pokes at specific emotions. It’s also a major reason why humans have a proclivity towards the consumption of false hopes, because the fantasy provides solace.

What struck me is the analogy to the Greek gods found in the book, which goes as follows:

According to the cosmology of the ancient Greeks, the gods were thought to have complete vision into the future. They saw everything to come, right down to the intricate details. Men, on the other hand, were seen as victims of fate, trapped in the moment and their emotions, unable to see beyond imminent dangers. Those heroes, such as Odysseus, who were able to look beyond the present and plan several steps ahead, seemed to defy fate, to approximate the gods in their ability to determine the future. The comparison is still valid – those among us who think further ahead and patiently bring their plans to fruition seem to have a godlike power. Because most people are too imprisoned in the moment to plan with this kind of foresight, the ability to ignore immediate dangers and pleasures translates into power. It is the power of being able to overcome the natural human tendency to react to things as they happen, and instead to train oneself to step back, imagining the larger things taking shape beyond one’s immediate vision. Most people think that they are in fact aware of the future, that they are planning and thinking ahead. They are usually deluded: what they are really doing is succumbing to their desires, to what they want the future to be. Their plans are vague, based on imaginations rather than reality. They may believe that they are thinking all the way to the end, but they are really focusing only on the happy ending, and deluding themselves by the strength of their desire.

I should probably read more Hellenic literature, so as to study this phenomenon further whenever I get the chance. Beyond that, I see a way of relating to the Left Hand Path. To be godlike is to have complete control, or as close an approximation as possible, of your own destiny. It’s not hard to recognize that you are not going to be in control of anything if you consistently allow yourself to be ruled by the present moment, the changing seasons of the day, and your emotions. You certainly won’t be in control of your own destiny if you can’t plan it out. You will either remain a limited creature, subject to the whims of “fate”, or you will surpass that through your capacity to sit back, observe the circumstances and be able to maneuver them and approximate wisdom of the gods in Olympus. I’m sure the analogy is understood.

Scene from Jason and the Argonauts (1963) in which the gods watch Jason from Mount Olympus.

And speaking of divine analogies, we see another in the introduction to the book…

Related to mastering your emotions is the ability to distance yourself from the present moment and think objectively about the present moment. Like Janus, the double-faced Roman deity and guardian of all gates and doorways, you must be able to look in both directions at once, the better to handle danger from wherever it comes. Such is the face you must create for yourself – one face looking continuously towards the future and the other to the past.

In other words, eat shit people who relentlessly quote Siddhartha Gautama about living in the moment to justify some air-headed and carefree view of the world!

I jest (well, mostly), but the point is easy enough to grasp: if you want to control your own destiny, and control your own emotions, step outside of the moment and look at it from that position, with objectivity. Much as a deity might step outside of his or her creation, looking down upon its inhabitants and observing things as they are, assuming we’re dealing with a rational deity of course.

The other law I want to talk about is the law of concentrating your forces.

Law 23
Concentrate Your Forces
Conserve your forces and energies by keeping them concentrated at their strongest point. You gain more by finding a rich mine and mining it deeper, than by flitting from one shallow mine to another—intensity defeats extensity every time. When looking for sources of power to elevate you, find the one key patron, the fat cow who will give you milk for a long time to come.

Various websites offer the following interpretation of this law, which I can’t seem to find in the book itself:

Are you in a state of total distraction and diffusion, hardly able to keep your mind in one direction before you are pulled in a thousand others? The modern world’s level of conflict is higher than ever and you internalize it in your life.

The solution is a form of retreat inside yourself to the past, to more concentrated forms of thought and action.

1. Single-mindedness of purpose.
2. Total concentration on the goal.
3. Then use these qualities against people less focused.

Such an arrow will find its mark every time and overwhelm the enemy. This is what happened to ancient Athens, which lusted for the faraway island of Sicily and ended up losing its empire. The Romans stretched the boundaries of their empire to encompass vast territories; in doing so they increased their vulnerability, and the chances of invasion from yet another barbarian tribe. Their useless expansion led their empire into oblivion.

The text in question is related to the book, specifically page 174, where it talks of how the modern world is more divided than ever, in terms of individuals, families and political groups, there is more social conflict than before, and that this external state of things is internalized by humans resulting in a constantly distracted state of mind for the majority of the population. Keep in mind, the book was written during the mid-1990’s and published in 1998, but if you look at the modern world of 2017 I think you will find that not much has changed from his day except for the fact that social media is now an all-encompassing aspect of life, which can only entail more distraction for many people. If anything, it kind of feels like the conflict and division in the modern world has been getting worse, or at least that’s the case in America which is now more polarized than ever, but even here in the UK I think we are starting to become polarized in the same way as the Americans.

But going back to the point, I’ve often felt like I get distracted a lot. I do my coursework, and sometimes find myself staring at the screen before promptly eyeing another stimulation. It’s something that I struggle with throughout. I’ve written a schedule to try and order things, and I think I keep to for the most part but I suspect that I sometimes flout it unintentionally. I also sometimes feel like I have multiple ideas for what I want to do with myself and take a long time to settle on just one goal. A good example is with my guitar. I have thought about actually making music with it at some point in the future, and the reality of career expectations notwithstanding I have envisioned a few directions for my style to go in (all of them some form of metal though, let’s be fair) and I have yet to pick one over the other. Sometimes, I find myself to be pretty all over the place in many aspects, having a lot of things I want to do and not focusing on one thing nearly enough.

When I heard that law, for some reason I thought of an idea that I came across earlier from Friedrich Nietzsche which is referred to as “the organizing idea”, which seems to be traced to the book Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is, which incidentally was the last book he wrote in the years leading up to his fall from sanity.

Meanwhile, the organizing idea that is destined to rule keeps growing deep down – it begins to command, slowly it leads us back from side roads and wrong roads; it prepares single qualities and fitnesses that will one day prove to be indispensable as a means toward a whole – one by one, it trains all subservient capacities before giving any hint of the dominant task, “goal,” “aim,” or “meaning.”

This idea was apparently something that he proposed as a way coordinating and ordering an entire multiplicitous structure of desires, drives and forces within the psyche or self: one overriding drive or ideation to rule as lord of the psyche, to grant the individual the ability to live his or her life with single-minded devotion towards a source of meaning in that life. This idea is said either to be attained through self-creation, the fashioning of an ordered, harmonious and unitary self out of the multiple elements of the self in the sculptor’s vein, or discovered over the course of the individual’s life, revealing itself to the individual at points, leaving the individual to seek out the organizing idea. I wonder if Luciferians relate this to the concept of the True Will, in reference to the Azal’ucel or the Holy Guardian Angel in Michael W. Ford’s work, in which case the True Will would be the organizing idea that the individual has to seek out, attain an understanding of or transform into in order to organize the self. On a slight tangent, Ford’s Luciferianism can be seen as pursuing essentially the kind of the journey that Nietzsche advocated – to descend into the depths, to bore the foundations, in order to explore the psyche in a journey true self-knowledge – and for Ford this journey is largely undertaken either through bare bones self-exploration or through the pursuit of occultism.

I thought of the organizing idea as something to concentrate forces behind, often in a personal and spiritual sense. A guiding force at the center of a life path, your activity. I don’t know if it’s apt, but I think it’s an approach worth thinking about.

So why did I talk about these ideas? Well, because they convince me more than ever of the value of an internalized sense of order, and of structure. They show me these things as paths to power, strength, wisdom, self-direction and the enlightenment of the Left Hand Path. Together it gives me a really good crystallization of the path I would take: not to join the kingdom of light, but to rule a kingdom of shadows, the dark kingdom of the soul. To step back, see with a detached set of eyes and take control of one’s fate through the human capacity to order the world around him. To transcend one’s own limitations. That last part is also important for the following reason: increasingly I find myself more and more aware of the fact that most humans are limited creatures: most of us favor group-think to some extent, most of us think we are rational when really, while not totally ignorant, we are only partly rational and often subject to delusion and ignorance, most of us are weak in the sense that we give into emotions such as fear with ease, and most of us are not capable of facing the darkness. Rare is the man who wants to make the journey to the underworld.

Shiva and his host of chthonic, “demonic” attendants (the ganas and bhutas).

The Infamous Tantra Teachings of the Tachikawa-ryū

nippaku

Some of you may have noticed, but I took a break from blogging this summer. Among other things, I signed up for an introductory summer school course in Tibetan Buddhism at the University of California, Berkeley. Since I have only familiarized myself with Japanese Buddhism thus far, this was a great opportunity to broaden my perspective and go back to Buddhist basics. At the same time, I learned about Tibet, for me an unknown region with a fascinating history, culture, language and – of course – religion.

wp-image-148140993jpg.jpg Buddhist teacher Padmasambhava in sexual embrace with consort. – Tibetan painting on post card, original at Asian Art Museum San Francisco

Since the focus was mostly on Tibet, Japan was not mentioned very often during my class, but the notorious “Tachikawa-ryū” (lit. school of Tachikawa) was repeatedly brought up by several authors in their account on the dispersion of Tantrism in Far East Asia…

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The Litanies of Satan

Magistra Ardat Lile

– by Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)

O thou, of Angels loveliest, most wise,
O God betrayed by fate, deprived of praise,
Satan, have mercy on my long distress!
O Prince of exile, who was dispossessed,
Who ever rises stronger when oppressed,
Satan, have mercy on my long distress!
O thou who knowest all, Hell’s sovereign,
Known healer of mankinds’s afflictions,
Satan, have mercy on my long distress!
Thou who the lepers and pariahs doomed
Show out of love the Paradise to come,
Satan, have mercy on my long distress!
Thou who in Death, your mistress old and strong,
Breeds Hope – delightful aberration!
Satan, have mercy on my long distress!
Thou who dost give the outlaw the proud glance
Which damns the crowd who watche his sufferance,
Satan, have mercy on my long distress!
Thou who dost know where greedy earth enfolds
The precious stones a jealous God concealed,
Satan, have…

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Lucien Greaves responds to the Church of Satan, and it’s a lame response

So it appears that Douglas Misicko (might as well drop the formality of calling him Lucien Greaves) has responded to the article put out by the Church of Satan pertaining certain facts regarding the Satanic Temple and its formation. This will be a point by point response to the article in question. As with the last post I will leave a link to the article at the end of the post. I will also leave a link to the Church of Satan’s article again at the end of the post as well as a show of good faith. Like last time, I must stress that this is going to be a long ass post, as is necessary to cover all of the main points, in fact, you’ll find that it’s even longer than the last post, so buckle up if you want to read this one.

Anyhow, without any foreplay, let’s do this.

Yesterday, the Church of Satan released a so-called “fact sheet” related to The Satanic Temple. While I typically don’t reply to the insults and laughable claims of exclusive authenticity put forward by the CoS, this fact-sheet is so egregiously cherry-picked, willfully misinformed, and outright false, that it demands correction. Most of the “facts” on the fact sheet seem to suggest that the author believes that because The Satanic Temple (TST) began with lower ambitions, and that because TST wasn’t originally conceived to be a centrally governed international religious organization, it somehow still isn’t, and the original concept must still be the “real” TST.

You seem like a capable mind reader, being able guess the author’s true intentions. Of course, not really, but don’t let that spoil you. But your ambitions were different, and I would argue they could well be described as “lower” than your current ambitions. What is a generic secular protest movement against George W Bush compared to a campaign to build an entire “religious” movement around a form of Satanism that doesn’t like the actual Satanism in order to take America by storm? That said, I’m not entirely sure where you get the idea that accusations are cherry-picked, willfully misinformed or outright false. The corroboration for these claims is out there and they’ve put it in the article.

In fact, we’ve been quite open in interviews regarding the origins of TST, and neither me nor TST’s other co-founder had the audacity to imagine in the beginning that TST could be what it is today. We wanted an active and relevant Satanism, one that would do exactly the things that TST are doing presently. We didn’t need an organization to tell us how to think, how to properly be “true” Satanists, or as a mere social club in which we could construct ourselves into the highest ranks of a false hierarchy. We wanted an organization that served a mission statement and pursued organizational goals. Of course, we didn’t have one, and the idea of constructing one from the ground up seemed a lofty delusion, but we had plenty of ideas of what such an organization would do.

As we will go on to explore later on in the article, the part about you wanting any kind of Satanism simply isn’t true. You’re using Satanism as a costume for your own ends, but you don’t even give a shit about the Satanic Bible enough to make it a core part of your teachings, much less insist that people who ascended the ranks of your organization know anything about it.

Also, you give people fancy titles like High Priest or Reverend in your organization, per Brian Werner’s testimony. You are in no position to complain about the evils of hierarchy. And, constructing missions statements from the ground up is a lofty delusion now? There’s a politician out there who almost become Prime Minister in the Netherlands on the back of a one page manifesto. What’s your excuse?

Without membership and without any desire to recruit or convert, we imagined that we would demonstrate Satanic activism ourselves, putting small-scale campaigns to film, and that those films (or that film) would inspire others to fly the banner of The Satanic Temple and take up similar Satanic causes. The idea was that — with various competing concepts in Modern Satanism — TST would be a unifying umbrella without a central authority, that would be defined by its activism for secularism and against Satan Panic witch-hunts, for pluralism and against theocratic encroachments into the public square. We imagined TST would be more like Anonymous in its decentralized activities than anything resembling the international religious movement it’s become. But while TST changed, our deeply-held beliefs and identification as Satanists — which predated TST — never did.

That’s a funny of saying you went out of your way to make a satirical documentary for what was intended to be a fake religion, a fictitious Satanic cult modeled after theistic Satanist ideals rather than the dolled up atheism you call your current theology. You still seem to see your organization as focusing on political activism with political goals, and honestly, that you compare yourself to Anonymous is, for me at least, not to your credit (read: Anonymous is a joke).

And at this point he starts talking about the specific points raised in the article.

The “fact sheet” begins by saying “The Satanic Temple is a self described ‘Yes Men’ styled satire/activist group that uses satanic-themed imagery and language to get media and public attention.” Already, the piece flatly lies to its readers. The “Yes Men” parallel refers to an interview I did in Vice when I talked about the style of activism, but I was also very clear that we’re very much a religious organization with sincere beliefs, nor is the “use” of “satanic-themed imagery and language” a mere ploy “to get media and public attention.” As I said in the interview, “I believe that where reason fails to persuade, satire and mockery prevail. Whereas many religious groups seem to eschew humor, we embrace it.”

Well it’s not flatly lying to the readers, actually. You’re a culture jamming movement. You troll people or institutions that promote Christianity in a public capacity, and you as you admitted, openly admit to embracing satire as a means of activism. That’s why you’re comparable to the Yes Men. Because the two of you are, in spirit at least, doing the same thing.

The fact sheet then goes on to claim that we don’t have any deeply-held beliefs. This is a perplexing statement, clearly and provably untrue, that leads one to wonder if the author couldn’t be moved to check our website or various legal suits (argued, as they are, as a defense of our clearly stated deeply-held beliefs).

It’s one thing to throw what you think your beliefs are out there for all to see, but that on its own doesn’t mean much. Your actions are important to the world than your arguments ever could be, which isn’t to say that you’ve never actually acted on your beliefs. You know what, that’s one credit I’ll give to you here. Fair play.

Then we get into “the facts”:

 

  1. In 2013, Spectacle Films ran ads looking to cast characters for a mockumentary about a fake religion, that film was to be titled “The Satanic Temple” — the casting director was listed as “Lucien Greaves.” [newsbusters.org | doubtfulnews.com | miamiherald.typepad.com | ritualabuse.us]

 

The first public appearance TST ever made was in a rally in support of Florida Governor Rick Scott as he signed a bill allowing for prayer in school. The cheering evangelists, we knew, would think twice if Satanists applauded their increased “liberty.” This, of course, was when we wanted to inspire Satanists to take on causes that would help preserve and expand their personal liberties, but we had no membership. While there was a casting call to try and populate the rally, the “fact sheet” flatly lies when it states that ads were ran “for a mockumentary about a fake religion.” Satanism was never treated as or regarded to be a “fake religion” by TST.

You had no membership but somehow had enough people to hold a mock rally “supporting” Rick Scott. Yeah, I’ll believe that. But seriously, when you say “Satanism was never treated as or regarded to be a “fake religion” by TST”, you’re being disingenuous. The fake religion isn’t Satanism. It’s the fictitious sect *of* Satanism that’s fake, or was at first. Or maybe the sect being fake was just an elaborate hoax as well. Satanism is not you people, you have to understand that.

By the way, this still doesn’t convince me that you’re not out to troll evangelical Christians, just saying. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, other than the fact that you’re being dishonest about it.

  1. Launched in 2013, The Satanic Temple’s (TST) website claimed to believe in and worship a literal Satan. The TST trademark filing contains documents that have these claims as well. [web.archive.org | bizapedia.com]

False. Under the original limited conception of TST, the activism was primary, not narrowly-defined concepts of what Satanism is imagined to be universally for all people. To that end, we didn’t put a fine point upon our beliefs, but in one segment of the website we spoke of our non-supernaturalism in theological terms. “God” is consigned to the supernatural, thus removed from the real world and outside of our area of belief and/or interest. Satan is emblematic of critical discourse and scientific exploration. By the logic of the CoS’s own “fact sheet” we could also conclude that Anton LaVey’s The Satanic Bible, which they take a fundamentalist pride in upholding as the one true definition of Satanism, is a decidedly theistic text for the abuse it heaps upon the character of “God.”

To quote the section of your website the article was talking about:

The Satanic Temple believes that God is supernatural and thus outside of the sphere of the physical. God’s perfection means that he cannot interact with the imperfect corporeal realm. Because God cannot intervene in the material world, He created Satan to preside over the universe as His proxy. Satan has the compassion and wisdom of an angel. Although Satan is subordinate to God, he is mankind’s only conduit to the dominion beyond the physical. In addition, only Satan can hear our prayers and only Satan can respond. While God is beyond human comprehension, Satan desires to be known and knowable. Only in this way can there be justice and can life have meaning.

So God creating Satan to rule over the universe as his proxy with the compassion and wisdom of an angel is just a metaphor for critical discourse and scientific discourse, rather than basically a rehashing of Gnostic and Yazidi beliefs that exists to play into the role of a fictitious theistic sect? This sounds like an utterly post-hoc rationalization of a statement you put out 4 years ago as part of the act.

Also, by your logic, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, three of the Four Horsemen of New Atheism, are theists as well, on the grounds that they talk about the character of God as an utterly malignant and tyrannical personality. Is this really the point you intend to make? Anyone with an anti-theist sentiment is really a theist simply by dint of talking about God in a negative light, all because you don’t like that the Church of Satan put out a statement from your website that is decidedly theistic in character?

  1. TST Co-founder Malcolm Jarry (not his real name) has stated that TST was originally conceived as a backlash to US President Bush-era “religious protections.” [nytimes.com]

Well, why not? In the George W. Bush era it became quite apparent that other religions needed to challenge Christian exceptionalism. It is unclear what this “fact” is attempting to establish. Again, an organization should serve an organizational purpose

So, just to be clear, you’re essentially admitting that’s what it is. You aren’t refuting anything here, in fact you’ve ceded this point to the Church of Satan. You basically admitted here that your original purpose was political activism.

  1. Now credited as co-founder and spokesperson, “Lucien Greaves” is in fact a character that has been played by several people, including an unnamed actor, Shane Bugbee and currently by Doug Mesner (not his real name). Shane Bugbee was paid by Spectacle Films for his work with TST. There is a yet unnamed 3rd TST co-founder. [shanebugbee.com]

False. There is not a word of truth to this entire statement. Nobody has “played” Lucien Greaves. Lucien Greaves is a pseudonym I used, and still use, as it was hoped I could retain some protective layer of anonymity when challenging religious zealots who threaten harm and death upon me. Incidentally, “Anton LaVey,” too, was a pseudonym. There is no 3rd co-founder, Shane Bugbee never “played the role” of Lucien Greaves, nor was he ever paid for doing so. The only evidence of this that the “fact sheet” provides is a personal blog, leading one to wonder if the CoS will begin citing Satanic Panic “ritual abuse” paranoiacs in their desperation to discredit us. (They get there at point 9.)

This would be believable if you presented any concrete proof of that statement. Now it is true that the primary evidence for this claim is a personal blog, but where’s your proof exactly? Have you any proof that Shane is lying? Also, it is quite something that you compare just citing Shane’s personal blog to citing an SRA believer. It shows how low you value Shane’s word. And here I thought you were friends.

  1. In a 2013 Vice interview “Doug Mesner” says that TST is satire and states that it is “like a darker Yes Men.”  [vice.com]

 

It’s amazing that the author of the “fact sheet” managed to bypass or fail to understand the entire surrounding text of the interview. It was as follows:

 

VICE: Is the Satanic Temple a satanic, or a satirical group?

 

Doug: That is a common question. I say why can’t it be both? We are coming from a solid philosophy that we absolutely believe in and adhere to. This is Satanism, and to us it couldn’t be called anything other than Satanism. However, our metaphor of Satan is a literary construct inspired by authors such as Anatole France and Milton—a rebel angel defiant of autocratic structure and concerned with the material world. Satanism as a rejection of superstitious supernaturalism. This Satan, of course, bears no resemblance to the embodiment of all cruelty, suffering, and negativity believed in by some apocalyptic segments of Judeo-Christian culture[emphasis added]. The word Satan has no inherent value. If one acts with compassion in the name of Satan, one has still acted with compassion. Our very presence as civic-minded socially responsible Satanists serves to satirize the ludicrous superstitious fears that the word Satan tends to evoke.

 

Reminds me of a darker version of the Yes Men.

 

Yes. Just as the Yes Men use very catching theatrical ploys to draw attention to a progressive agenda, we play upon people’s irrational fears in a way that hopefully causes them to reevaluate what they think they know, redefine arbitrary labels, and judge people for their concrete actions. I believe that where reason fails to persuade, satire and mockery prevail. Whereas many religious groups seem to eschew humor, we embrace it.

In the first part of the segment of the interview you quoted, you do indeed attempt to pass yourself off as a sincere form of Satanism. But as soon as Shane had you pegged as a Yes Men style group, you essentially admitted that, yes, you are employing the same satire as them and for political activism.

  1. In a 2014 Village Voice article “Malcolm Jerry” is outed as the filmmaker Cevin Soling, owner of Spectacle Films.  [villagevoice.com].

 

There’s no point in this “fact” other than a low attempt at “doxxing.”

Except it’s not. Putting an article out that was already released 3 years ago with the name there is a strange form of revealing someone’s private information yourself (that’s what doxing is by the way, which he also doesn’t seem to know how to spell properly) if you ask me. More to the point he doesn’t seem to be refuting this point at all. Why doesn’t he just show how Malcolm Jarry isn’t actually Cevin Soling and that Shane Bugbee and the Church of Satan are lying instead of just attack the morality of the information being put in the article and going no further from there?

  1. Spectacle Films has documented most major TST public events. [duckduckgo.com]

 

False. This isn’t true, nor does the citation support the claim. The idea for an activist film that would inspire grassroots identification with a non-centralized TST was abandoned very early in our history, after the Rick Scott rally, when we soon began organizing real adherents to our philosophy who wished to work directly with us in building the formidable institution we’ve become.

To your credit, Joel Ethan could have just put links to specific articles rather than just a link to search engine. But if you click the link you’d find that claim isn’t strictly true. Spectacle Films was there for your adopt-a-highway campaign, as well as the Pink Mass where you held a gay wedding over the grave site of Fred Phelp’s mother, not to mention the Rick Scott rally. These were pretty high profile events for your group.

  1. 10 years before TST, “Doug Mesner” produced illustrations for an edition of Might Is Right, published by Shane Bugbee (who was a Church of Satan member at the time) with an introduction by Anton LaVey, founder of the CoS, and afterword by Peter H. Gilmore, current High Priest of the CoS. Originally published in 1890, Might Is Right is cited and paraphrased in LaVey’s 1969 book The Satanic Bible, which is universally accepted by religious scholars as the founding document of the religion Satanism. In the following years “Mesner” would often appear on Radio Free Satan, an internet radio show closely connected to the CoS. [archive.org | shanebugbee.com | cimminneeholt.com]

It is really unclear why this “fact” is included, as it seems to contradict everything that the “fact sheet” itself attempts to establish, which prior to this point in the “fact sheet” seemed to be the notion that TST and myself have no real attachment to Satanism. What we see here is acknowledgment that long before TST I did, in fact, familiarize myself with a wide variety of Satanist identifiers. Was this just thrown in as a way to merely not ignore it, and in an effort to pretend that the author confronted any dissonance it may provoke?

To me it suggests that you did have an interest in Satanism at a certain point, but it is evident to me that, at a later point, you rejected Satanic philosophy because of its decided non-egalitarian outlook, which was influenced by Ragnar Redbeard. What they are acknowledging is not what you are, but what you used to be.

  1. The original TST website listed Neil Bricke as the founder. This was apparently a smear campaign that was removed a few months later, as Neil Bricke is actually the founder of SMART, who has had a longstanding public feud with “Doug Mesner,” an alias used since the mid 1990’s by Douglas Misicko. [ritualabuse.us | returntothepit.com | ritualabuse.us | web.archive.org]

Neil Brick claims to believe that he was a brain-washed Illuminati supersoldier who was abused by Satanists/the CIA/Freemasons only to completely “repress” the memories of those episodes and recall them later. This is the “fact sheet’s” source, and the CoS now seems to object to the very idea of this anti-Satanist’s alleged mistreatment.

How the hell is this a refutation of their claim? I get it. Neil Brick is an unreliable source. In fact, I talked about two articles you wrote in the last post I did to show how crazy Neil Brick and his SMART organization is, which I did to your credit to show that you are correct. But how the whole does that make this particular claim incorrect? You didn’t address the veracity of the evidence in any way other than by saying he has terrible opinions. Imagine if someone like me rejected the claims in one of your sources solely on the grounds that it’s a left-wing rag like The Independent. You’d probably call me out for it, no? It seems to me that you can’t actually refute the claim being brought because you know it’s actually true. I mean you could have just said you did it as a joke or something to that effect and it wouldn’t be so bad.

  1. “The Satanic Temple” is a registered Trademark of United Federation of Churches LLC, which is listed as registered to Douglas Misicko, 519 Somerville Ave., No 288, Somerville, MA 02143-3238. Reason Alliance LTD is a religious non-profit also registered to Douglas Misicko at the same address. [bizapedia.com | bizapedia.com/ma/united-federation-of-churches-llc.html | irsexempt.com | taxexemptworld.com]

It seems that some people, never entering into the real world battle for the protection of individual rights, advocating for Satanists, are not aware of the dangers of having one’s name and address published. Or, they merely try to “dox” those whom they feel are upstaging them.

Again, you aren’t being doxed in this instance. The links posted in their article consist only of information that is publicly available on the Internet. Joel Ethan didn’t steal your personal information out from under you or anything like that. If the Church of Satan did do that, I would actually be taking your side on this issue. But they didn’t. And again, you haven’t refuted a damn thing. All you’ve done is attack the claim on the grounds that you think it’s a morally bad claim. Almost as if you can’t actually show how the evidence being put forward is false.

  1. Reason Alliance LTD paid bills for, and provided 501c3 documentation in support of, TST’s After School Satan Club in Seattle, however their own website claims they do not believe religious organizations should be tax exempt. [judicialwatch.org | judicialwatch.org | freebeacon.com | afterschoolsatan.com]

This point seems to indicate that the author of the “fact sheet” is unaware of how organizations operate and the difference between a standard 501c3 and a religious tax exemption. In fact, we are an LLC with a 501c3 where donors can contribute. Some activities, such as running an after-school club, sometimes require the endorsement of a 501c3. Here again, the “fact sheet” uses bad citation, this time from an evangelical right wing watchdog group whose articles about TST’s After School Satan Club and its alleged “fast-tracking” by the IRS were debunked by both Snopes.com and Forbes. The Forbes article also describes the utility of the Reason Alliance, if the CoS is still confused regarding how active organizations operate.

Judicial Watch literally had the documentation for tax-exempt status on its website. The evidence was right in front of you. But once again you try to say that it’s a “bad source”, this time because it’s apparently a right-wing political group. You don’t seem to understand that, in this case, the “evangelical right wing” watchdog group is a correct on the basis that they have the evidence. And you can’t even refute that you didn’t. You just dismiss Judicial Watch because of their political affiliations, but not before rationalizing your decision to apply for tax-exempt status, meanwhile, as CoS points out, you literally stated on the After School Satan website that you don’t believe organizations like yours should be tax-exempt. You believe yourselves to be a religious movement, and you believe that religious organizations should not be tax-exempt. Therefore, filing for tax exemption is hypocritical. It’s that simple.

  1. Original TST “High Priest” Brian Werner states in his 2014 resignation video that TST is a political organization that has nothing to do with Satanism. Werner claims the actual people behind TST have no interest in or connection with Satanism, a claim echoed by Bugbee. [youtube.com | shanebugbee.com]

False. Werner objected to the specific type of politicization he saw in TST, but he never denied that I’m Satanist. He also objected that there were some in TST who have no care at all about what the Satanic Bible by LaVey says (as it’s not in our canon), but Werner doesn’t believe the CoS to be a credible Satanic organization either. The CoS’s general worthlessness is also echoed by Bugbee who had his membership revoked by the CoS in 2006.

Doug, are you dense? The fact that you appointed people to the status of chapter heads (apparently without a vote by the way) who had no interest in the philosophy of The Satanic Bible, coupled with the fact you just admitted that The Satanic Bible is not in your canon is precisely what is meant when CoS says you have nothing to do with Satanism. Why would you let people ascend the organizational ranks who aren’t Satanists nor have any knowledge of Satanism, or admit people who aren’t even Satanists, unless you have fuck all to do with Satanism. The fact that Brian Werner and Shane Bugbee neither associate with nor support the Church of Satan does not change this fact. It’s almost whataboutery.

  1. TST spokespeople are on record saying you do not have to be a Satanist to join TST, you simply need to support their political efforts. [brokeassstuart.com]

False. It says, right there in the citation provided, that our After School Satan Club received numerous applications from would-be teachers for our clubs who were not self-identified Satanists, but deeply invested in helping us combat the encroachment of evangelicals into public schools.

That is the opposite of the claim being false. Not to mention, it says, right fucking there, from their own mouths “you don’t even need to be a Satanist to join The Satanic Temple”. The only way for the claim to be false, strictly speaking, is if it never actually says that anywhere in the blog post, and that’s just not true.

  1. The Oklahoma 10 Commandments monument case was won by ACLU representing two Christians opposed to the monument. TST and its Baphomet monument were not involved with the case, however they claimed victory publicly, an intentionally confusing narrative picked up by many media outlets. This tactic has become MO for the TST. [acluok.org]

This is a bizarre statement. We never claimed a victory of our own in court when the 10 Commandments came down, but we did celebrate a victory for the 1st Amendment. In fact, we coordinated our plans for a lawsuit and our messaging to the public during the OK 10 Commandments dispute with the ACLU. We’ll never know to what degree the State Supreme Court considered that any ruling for the 10 Commandments needed to be equally applied to our bid to erect Baphomet, but many reasonably feel it was certainly a consideration. It’s difficult to understand how this “narrative” confuses the CoS.

Except you did. You claimed the removal of the monument was a victory for you, even though all you did was generate media publicity. Unless you did any fighting in that case, you won nothing, and the ACLU has won nothing for you. It’s one thing to say you coordinated you plans for a lawsuit, but you know what would be even better? Showing that you actually went through the troubling of suing someone. But of course you can’t.

The “fact sheet” then summarizes by saying that I claim “no shared lineage with the Church of Satan, though he was publicly associated with many Church of Satan members and projects in the decade before The Satanic Temple launched.” This, too, is flatly and provably false. Even in the Vice piece that the “fact sheet” cherry-picks from I speak of LaVey as a starting point from which we evolved Satanism into a relevant and productive religious movement. I have spoken about this at length in many interviews, including a recent one with Haute Macabre (http://hautemacabre.com/2017/06/never-let-your-activism-be-artless-an-interview-with-lucien-greaves-of-the-satanic-temple/).

It would be myopic to repeat to myself on this point, so I’ll just say that you can say all you like that you started from LaVey’s philosophy, but in reality you abandoned every aspect of it that did not align with your political goals. It is obvious to anyone who is familiar with the philosophy of Satanism, and in fact you admit that you consider LaVey’s original philosophy incompatible with your perspective. Also, in the interview you posted, you try to claim that Satanism is about equality. Only your belief system is. LaVey, by contrast, believed equality was a myth. One need only look at his Pentagonal Revisionism program to learn that. In fact, he believed that death is the closest that humans can get to any real equality, and even then he thought some people made better corpses than others.

We then see an unconvincing attempt to justify this petty and undignified public temper tantrum with the claim that “it’s important for an understanding of what is and what is not Satanism to be maintained. “The Satanic Panic” in the 1980s-90s is evidence of a willful distortion of this religion as the concept of a conspiracy of murderous ‘satanists’ was promoted primarily by evangelical Christians and taken-up by the media worldwide. Law enforcement debunked the claims of the evangelists but not before many people had become victims of false accusations of ritual child abuse, sacrifice, and kidnapping.”

Apparently, this “understanding” can only be gained by dogged insistence that only the website of the CoS defines Satanism. This is particularly infuriating as TST, unlike the CoS, has been actively fighting against the Satanic Panic which still exists, nor is it “promoted primarily by evangelical Christians.” One need only look at our Grey Faction campaign to recognize that actively fighting back against anti-Satanist propagandists is one of the primary functions of TST.

I will admit that the Church of Satan is notoriously dogmatic and obtuse on the issue of what Satanism is, believing that because they started Satanism they are the only people who can decide what Satanism is. But still, at least they, or rather Anton LaVey, gave us the basic tenets of Satanism that any Satanist, whether pro-CoS are not, atheist or theist, can agree upon as a matter of principle, for they are the backbone of everything we value. Your contributions to rationalism and skepticism will not change the fact that what you believe simply isn’t Satanic, you are just using Satanism as a costume for your activism. And you citing this in an attempt to get one over on the Church of Satan is pathetic, particularly given your taste for refuting their claims through moralfagging rather than presenting indisputable proof of them being false.

Also, I think you misread the “promoted primarily by evangelical Christians” part. They are saying that this is, at least historically speaking, the main source of the idea of SRA conspiracy theories, though I personally would include a media prone to sensationalism as another primary source.

As irritating as all this willful misrepresentation is, it also calls into question the CoS author’s understanding of the CoS’s own history. Some readers may find this article illuminating: http://www.maryellenmark.com/text/magazines/rolling%20stone/920S-000-004.html

The article you quoted is a reminder of the complexities of LaVey’s own personal belief system. But, I think the argument could also be made that he might be metaphorical. He could be speaking of magical things, and he appears to take coincidences with some level of seriousness or enthusiasm, but, at least after 1975, he was pretty much an atheist.

On the whole, Douglas’ response was a response I find to be lacking in substance. It fails to address the evidence right in front of him, and he seems incapable of being straight about what seems to be evident about the past. The late rationalizations, moralfagging about publicly available information, and pearl-clutching over sources made this a frankly pathetic read in which I found myself losing patience for Douglas Misicko.

I brought up this point last time, but as a mild tangent I think it’s worth repeating as a closer: the fact that Tucker Carlson didn’t take the time to actually look at this shit before he talked to Misicko in either of the interviews he did with him makes me think he’s really not as clever as he’s made out to be. He, or whoever writes his notes, is surely capable of finding these pieces of information about Douglas, and he might well have used some of them to put him in a corner when he would be forced to give the game away. But he didn’t, and for that I will be eternally disappointed.


Lucien Greaves’ response to the Church of Satan: https://luciengreaves.com/correcting-the-church-of-satan-fact-sheet/

The Church of Satan’s fact sheet: http://www.churchofsatan.com/the-satanic-temple-fact-sheet.php