Although I’m not sure I totally agree with the assessment laid out, it is wonderfully succinct. However, the author forgot to note that, for Kadosh, darkness also meant matter and Pan was identical to the universe.
Giving credit where credit is due, I initially discovered Ben Kadosh while reading a blog post from Frater V.I.M of SatanicWitchcraft93. Here’s a blurb from that blog post:
“Ben Kadosh (Carl William Hansen, 1872-1936) was a pretty interesting guy if you’ve never heard of him. He was a Danish Freemason and pre-Crowley O.T.O. member who just so happened to be a Luciferian. Actually, he’s also the first person known to history to publicly self-identify as a ‘Luciferian.’ He even went as far as to list that as his religion in an official government census.”
Kadosh’s thesis gets a bit muddled in his explanation, as is common with many occultists. But here’s a rundown from the way I…
Lately I’ve been searching around for Luciferian communities, that is to say any community that consists specifically of Luciferians, or at least of the sort that are willing to have troublesome old me around, and I suppose it was inevitable that I stumble upon Tumblr, because Tumblr has its own presence of Luciferians. In their case, though, it seems to intersect with the witchcraft community, though it also tends to include some general “Gnostic” Luciferians and other varieties, possibly including theistic Satanists who believe themselves to be Luciferians. These movements tend to be rather eclectic, and it’s not always clear whether they have a shared historical basis, and I sometimes think they don’t always have the right idea about Luciferianism to some extent. Of course, insofar as Luciferianism at present is a rather individualized movement, everyone seems to have different ideas about it, but even so I think there are extant facts that can be pointed to for a well-grounded perception of it.
And in that spirit I’d like to take the time to respond to a Tumblr post I found posted by a self-identified “Gnostic Luciferian” called Sathanielle Seiko, titled “Luciferianism vs. Satanism on Demons“. There are a few claims made within it that I find at the very least questionable. We will start from the beginning.
For the purposes of this post, “Luciferianism” refers specifically to the Gnostic sect described in the Gesta Treverorum, and “Satanism” refers to Catholic heresies where Satan is worshiped as the Demiurge and petitioned or prayed to for favors.
The first problem comes down to the claim that Luciferianism refers to the sect described in the Gesta Treverorum. The Gesta Treverorum is essentially a series of records that were compiled by German monks in St. Matthias’ Abbey under the Archbishopric of Trier, between the 12th and 18th centuries. What we are told is that, in 1231, there were heresies running rampant and being persecuted in Trier, Germany, to which the name of the text refers, and supposedly one of these heretical sects was known as the Luciferians. This is supposedly the first time that the name Luciferian was used to refer to a group of people devoted to the veneration of Lucifer in any capacity (as opposed to the “Luciferians” of the 4th century, who were nothing more than a short-lived ultra-conservative tendency within Roman Catholic orthodoxy). Supposedly this was a heretical sect that believed that followed the narrative of the War in Heaven and took the side of the angel Lucifer, believing that his expulsion from heaven was unjust, and committed various obscenities as part of their religious rites to blaspheme God and practiced necromancy. The problem, of course, is that there has never been any credible evidence that this sect ever existed, and in fact, all scholarly analyses of the accounts of this supposed sect suggest that what the heresy-hunters called “the Luciferians” were actually accounts of the Cathars, who no doubt were accused of being perverted devil worshippers simply for their rebellion against Catholic authority and consequent rejection of any social conventions that they believed were sinful. There are also no “Luciferian” texts from this period that might have confirmed the existence of a “Luciferian” sect separate from the Cathars. The connection between the Luciferians and the Cathars is non-existent, and is more or less a product of a zealous and frankly ignorant priest whose babblings found favour in the church at large, but somehow the idea was never really challenged in occult circles, whether anti-Christian or otherwise.
As for the claim about Satanism, I have never seen any descriptions of any medieval Catholic heresies referred to officially as Satanism, let alone ones that venerate Satan as the demiurge. This idea is more or less the product not of medieval heresies but of anti-Masonic propaganda or pronouncements made by Catholics during the 19th and early 20th century. Satanism in any official sense has almost no existence prior to 1966, with the establishment of the Church of Satan.
Both movements have origins in Catharism, however Luciferians identify the devil with Sophia (or the Logos) and Satanists identify the devil with the Demiurge. Later, Ben Kadosh and Gregor A Gregorius would independently merge the two by viewing Satan as the lower aspect of Lucifer.
For starters, to say that Luciferianism and Satanism have their origins in “Catharism” is completely empirically false. There is no Satanism during the Middle Ages, and the “Luciferians” of that time did not exist either and were rather made up by the Catholic establishment. Of course this by itself doesn’t get into the fact that at least some scholars have challenged the idea that the Cathars as a standalone sect even existed. I have never seen any accounts of any Luciferian sect using the name Sophia or Logos as a name of Lucifer let alone the Devil, and I have never seen any accounts of Satanists identifying the demiurge with Satan. In fact, whenever the demiurge appears in Satanic discourse, it’s as another word for God, who is the enemy of the Satan they venerate in anti-cosmic circles. Historically speaking, it has usually been Luciferians who have consciously identified the Demiurge with Lucifer, from Carl William Hansen (a.k.a. Ben Kadosh) right up to Michael W. Ford, though this is not a universal trend. And speaking of Hansen, Sathanielle seems to mix Hansen and Eugen Grosche (Gregor A Gregorius) together. While Grosche did view Lucifer as a higher octave of Saturn and Satan as the lower one, Hansen had no such view, and viewed Lucifer to be the creative force of Pan, who was identified with the material universe.
Skipping a paragraph, because it’s simply a generic description of how demons are viewed throughout history, we come to this:
In Satanism, the identity of demons is straightforward. Satan is the ruler of this world, and so demons are the spirits who go out and maintain his order by causing havoc and granting boons according to his will.
In Luciferianism, the relationship is more complex. The archangel Michael is called a demon by the Ophites, for instance. It’s a lot easier to divide the cosmogony of Luciferianism up into aeons and archons rather than angels and demons.
In regards to the claim about Satanism, this seems to have less to do with Satanism except maybe for demonolatry and more to do with Christian beliefs about demons. In regards to the claims about Luciferianism, Sathanielle refers to the beliefs concerning a “Gnostic” Christian sect supposedly referred to as the Ophites. Of course, in reality, their very existence is dubious. They are only attested to by Hippolytus of Rome, and even then it’s more likely that the term “Ophite” is simply a desgination for multiple “Gnostic” Christian sects that treated serpents as a positive symbol, and neither of them are known to have venerated Lucifer in any capacity. I assume by “the cosmogony of Luciferianism” he is simply referring to a cosmogony associated with certain “Gnostic” sects of Christianity.
Here, the traditional Abrahamic angels or names for God tend to be malevolent archons, whereas the aeons may take on names that are later found in demonological texts. However, there is also the belief that the archons are just the lower emanations of the aeons, and to be interacted with and revered as gods despite their tyranny; here, the aeons are still placed above them in religious reverence, but the archons are petitioned for their help in material life. We see this with the Abraxas amulets, for instance.
This is a dichotomy that’s not alien to Satanism, or goetic tradition in general. Many demon-summoning manuals give the task of teaching about philosophy or forbidden knowledge to demons, whereas angels tend to be more focused around personal health and stability.
John Dee’s Enochian system would flip this idea on its head, with cacodemons being lower beings responsible for the material world and Enochian gods and archangels being higher beings responsible for spiritual enlightenment. This is also where we get Choronzon as the name for the malevolent Demiurge. However, even after Dee, we continue to see material angels and intellectual demons throughout various works.
I am familiar enough with both Christian demonology and “Gnostic” Christianity to know that I have never seen the names of any Aeons found in any demonological context except for Abraxas, and even then it is not clear that Abraxas was actually considered an Aeon. I cannot begin to guess where the idea that the demon Choronzon was identified with the demiurge comes from. In fact, there seems to be very little actual information out there about how John Dee described Choronzon, and most esoteric discussion of Choronzon seems to be about how the figure appears in Thelema and the writings of Aleister Crowley, and supposedly Dee only ever mentioned Choronzon once and never treated him as a demon.
So then, what are demons in Luciferianism? Archons or aeons? In my opinion, I think the majority of demons used for the purpose of low magic (that is, magic used for physical manifestation rather than fulfilling the Magnum Opus) are archons. I think Luciferianism and Satanism agree on this.
A lot of Luciferians, when discussing demons, simply use the term demons or daemons. In fact, Michael W. Ford doesn’t even use the word archon in a negative context. Not that many figures within the historical tradition actually do, if they ever make reference to them at all. The idea that Luciferianism employs such “Gnostic” cosmology is probably a relatively recent one. It does not occur in the writings of Carl William Hansen, or Eugen Grosche, or Madeline Montalban, or Michael Howard, or the Neo-Luciferian Church, or Michael W. Ford, and I’m not too sure if even Jeremy Crow made active use of it even though he likes to derive from “Gnosticism”. As for whether or not Luciferians and Satanists agree on demons as vehicles for “low magic” being referred to as “archons”? I haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about, as no Satanist or Luciferian source actually states this.
Generally, I try to stick to the older texts without too much influence from newer movements, but it does seem to make some sense to merge Luciferianism and Satanism in the way that Kadosh and Gregorius have given the consistent placement of demons at the material level. The two don’t necessarily contradict one another on an esoteric level. Luciferianism focuses on high magic, whereas Satanism focuses on low magic. They serve different purposes.
It’s not evident that older texts have ever been referred to, no source is given on any of them. And it does not make sense to merge Luciferianism and Satanism together, because they have fundamentally different goals, though often defined by similarities. Luciferians often seek gnosis as to the authentic nature of individual being, which for me means something very worldly, something “deeper” rather than “higher”, while Satanists often seek simply to honour the carnal aspect of human existence (if that is they’re not worshipping an alien intelligence in the form of an Egyptian god or seeking to extricate themselves from the universe entirely). As far as I’m concerned, we Luciferians have as our goal the idea of living a fully daimonic life, and not only that but to see a world teaming and brimming with daimonic life, defined by the liberation and awakening of creative power without arbitrary constraints, and the freedom of the human mind from artificial reifications imposed by idealistic historiography, or indeed hagiography. In a certain way, we seek a certain spiritual emanciaption and gnosis that is not described within Satanism. In this sense, no, we are not differentiated simply by our attitude to “high magic” versus “low magic”. In fact, LaVeyan Satanism already contains within itself a distinction between greater and lesser magick within its own belief system, both of which are defined strictly in materialistic, psychodramatic terms.
For some reason I’m in the mood lately for deconstructing bad arguments about Satanism, despite my being a Luciferian seeking a strict line of demarcation between Luciferianism and Satanism, and so in this spirit, as long as it is still relatively current, let me take the time to address a laughably bad video about Satanism made by a somewhat popular Catholic YouTube personality named Brian Holdsworth. Now Brian is quite the character in the Christian apologetics movement. By which I mean he has a habit of gladly defending nearly all of the worst aspects of Christian power: he has defened the Inquistion as a subject worthy of apathy rather than contempt, has argued that the Catholic Church has never opposed science, and more recently has openly defended the Crusades. So one can already expect him to be quite woefully ignorant on the subject of Satanism right of the gate. The video we are responding to is called Satanism: Inside the Incoherence, in which Brian argues that Satanism is an incoherent religious movement that exists solely to plagiarize Catholicism.
The video opens not so much with a discourse of satanic doctrine but rather a set of personal reflection on his relationship with metal music. By watching just one of his videos you may learn that he has some guitars on the wall, perhaps indicative of his musical inclination or aspirations, past or present, and he certainly looks the part in a somewhat stereotpyical sense (from whichever perspective, he either looks like a hippie or looks like a homeless person). Anyway, this reflection on metal music is intended to be an opening bridge to the broader subject of Satanism, and it certainly does contain some laughable pronouncements. He talks about having lived on a musical diet consisting of “heavy and dark music”, taking every chance he could not only to listen to it but also to play it on his guitar (and let’s give him credit here, that sounds like a fun part of his life). He reduces its appeal to the fact that, as he says it, it is unambiguous, noisy, and can get a lot of attention due to its “obnoxiousness”, not at all like the choirs that slowly become audible as the video goes forward to its introduction. I never really got this. We metalheads can and do have obnoxious tendencies, sure, but I always associated a fixation on this other type of music with a kind of pompous persona whose pronouncements about the falts of others serve as a projection of their own ceasless egoic pride and boundless self-importance. It even bleeds into when some of them denounce secular, colour-blind (by which we really mean not a racist of any variety) individuals as being “self-hating”, even if their worldview precludes any kind of self-discourse or any notion of individualism. He tends to broad-brush metalheads as being insecure and metal as appealing to insecurity, which is funny because Brian is the exact kind of Christian conservtive who would be inclined to feel deeply insecure about the apparent collapse of Catholic orthodoxy and dominance in modern life (perhaps the Catholics should have thought about that one).
Somewhat bafflingly for a video ostensibly dedicated to addressing the subject of Satanism, right after the title cue the first band Brian mentions is Opeth, who in no way promote Satanism and nowadays might not even be counted strictly as a metal band. Opeth established themselves in Sweden beginning in 1989 and for much of their career they did play some sort of progressive variety of death metal, but in more recent years have shifted from extreme metal, to progressive metal, to progressive rock, and now find their newer material played on general rock (or “classic rock”) stations such as Planet Rock. He brings them up because he listened to them more recently, and showed their music to his kids, and both he and his kids laughed at the “demonic” vocals, treating as an expression of insecurity. The only reason we have to infer insecurity is because of some spiel about “the appearance of toughness”, which only seems like an insecurity because it’s aggressive and involves something other than glorifying conventional beauty. Because of this, Brian reasons, bands like Opeth must be compensating for something. That exact something is intentionally left a mystery, but where we finally get to the subject of Satanism is that Brian believes that the appeal of Satanism, or any preoccuption with the demonic, is guided by the same pathology. Of course, how easily do we forget that it is Christians who, historically, have had the biggest preoccuption with the demonic, writing whole treatises on the subject and hunting down anyone they deemed to be in league with Satan.
Brian argues that people get into Satanism for the thrill of being seen as dangerous to society, and that they get a thrill out of mocking God or the sacred because doing something dangerous, and surviving, is indeed thrilling. Of course, that same thrill-seeking principle can apply to many other dangerous activities, like mountain climbing, so this on its own explains rather little. Then we get to his first attempt to explain the absurdity of satanic fascination, one which, ironically, is itself an absurdity. Brian argues that the mocking or challenging God can only look or feel dangerous because of the tacit acknowledgement that God exists. So it goes, supposedly, the only reason to put so much effort into mocking God is because he is actually real. But is there any reason why this is necessarily the case? Why does it have to be that mocking God is thrilling or feels dangerous because God is actually real, and why is it necessarily not the case that it could simply be explained by existing social context? Think about it: insofar as rebellion is usually salient specifically as relative to an object that it is rebelling against, the idea of mocking God being a rebellious thing ultimately makes sense in the context of a society wherein the God-concept is embedded into the superstructure of society, whether as overt religious doctrine held over the masses or simply as a residual cultural belief that had previously been conditioned for generations. Not to mention, there are other cultures where the use of the demonic is employed as a way to mock co-existing belief systems. Tantric Buddhism regularly features artwork depicting Hindu deities such as Ganesha or Shiva being trampled by wrathful, demonic-looking beings representing Buddhist enlightenment, and their literature sometimes depicts the Hindu gods as either inferior to the Buddha, ultimately dependent on his refuge, or as hostile forces that actively disrupt the cosmic order. If Brian followed his reasoning to the letter, he would have to concede that the Hindu gods are actually real, which would of course violate his Christian monotheism, and if he refuses to concede this, he must either admit that social context, not the actual existence of a God, is the correct inferrence or show himself to be a hypocrite.
Brian claims that no one spends any time or effort mocking the gods of pre-Christian polytheism, such as Thor or Odin. As he puts it, “why would you, if you were convinced they don’t exist?”. And to this I would point to the Bible itself. The New Testament spends some time mocking the gods of the non-Christians as demons whose worship was the folly of heathens, who in turn are mocked as well. The Christians certainly were never convinced of the reality of the other gods, nor were the Jews for that matter, and that never stopped them from mocking gods they were not necessarily convinced were gods. The name of the demon Beelzebub, for instance, comes from the god Baal Zebul, and his status as lord of the flies served as a way to cast his worshippers as flies buzzing around a pile of feces, thus mocking the god and his religion. Brian brings up that the Church of Satan to be atheistic, which they most certainly are, and dismisses this atheism, calling himself an atheist in relation to the various gods of polytheism and hence stating that this means he spends no amount of time thinking about them. He tries to own the Church of Satan on this point by stating that fixating on that which is not is a waste of time, and that, in contrast to himself, Satanists and atheists “obsess” over a God they believe does not exist. Again, this argument is much weaker and less profound that it appears to be, and is easily silenced when one begins to invoke social context. In the Western world, if atheism is not marginal at present, it is still the case where Christianity and its God-concept informs the cultural makeup of the society in which Western atheists live, and atheism still lives in tension with surrounding religious culture. Thus, the “obsession” with God is really just constant interaction with a counterveiling philosophical and culture presence that has been here for centuries and still exerts psychological and cultural influence over the masses, not to mention still serves to legitinate power structures. As such, Brian proves himself to be dishonest by treating anti-theistic rebellion strictly in isolation as an expression of his own discomfort with something he considers sacred being treated as feeble and worthy of mockery. In other words, the atheist triggers him.
The second “absurdity” Brian points to is that it is, in his words, “entirely derivative”. Now there are arguments to be made about Satanism, at least in the parlance of Anton LaVey, as being fairly unoriginal, and there are accusations to be made conerning plagiarism on LaVey’s part. But this is not what Brian points to. The actual proof he gives is much weaker and less substantial. He argues that Satanism is completely contingent upon the Catholic Church, and to demonstrate this he starts out by bringing up examples of satanic musicians mockingly wearing the imagery of Catholicism in their music videos. He shows examples from Marilyn Manson, Behemoth, and Ghost (a.k.a. Ghost BC) wearing outfits intended to subvert the Catholic aesthetic as proof of Satanism simply copying it in order to appear more ancient and esoteric, thus Satanism supposedly parasitically feeds off of the Catholic aesthetic to sustain itself. Building from his he talks about the Black Mass being derivative of the Catholic Mass, except being a mockery of it. And dude, yes, that’s the point. It’s not an actual rite as such, merely a parodic re-enactment of it in order to profane Catholic liturgy. In fact, the Satanic Bible talks about this and is very open and up front about the fact that it is a mockery and a subversion, not so much an actual ancient rite that was once practiced by some ancient pagan cult or some nonsense. You can actually kind of understand this through the Situationist principle of detournement, the concept of radical movements taking edifices of existing cultures and more or less hijacking them, usually applied in the context of turning capitalist media culture against itself.
While we’re here, Brian uses the point of the Black Mass to make an utterly vapid point about tolerance vs intolerance. He finds it “interesting” that the Black Mass is tolerated because, in his view, the only thing society does not tolerate is intolerance. He seems to take that perceived fact with a sense of subtle, almost passive-aggressive grief, and he complains about liberal society’s apparent handwringing about tolerance, diversity, and respect for other people who are different, on the grounds that Satanism is the subject of a blind spot and that this is a problem because Satanism is, in his words, a hate group. Now this is a very specific charge, it’s not something that can be thrown around lightly. The term “hate group” is used to refer to organizations that actively spread bigotry and often encourage violence towards others on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender, “gender identity”, national identity, or any such characteristics, typically on the basis that they are outside of their own. Now through some sort of manipulative argument you might be able to argue part of that for Satanism on the grounds that Satanists despise Christianity, along with all other forms of organized religion (other than, presumably, their own), but if you’re going to do that you’ll have to do the same for countless atheists who express open disdain towards Christianity and organized religion in general, often mocking it ferociously and treating it as a dinosauric obstacle to social progress. And yet atheists don’t typically call for jihad against religious people, unless of course you’re like Sam Harris and the idea is to sneakily justify such violence by proxy through foreign policy. It’s also worth noting that the Church of Satan may traffic in bombastic rhetoric against Christianity, but have never encouraged the violent persecution of Christians. But as for racial hatred, it is actually possible to talk about that in relation to the historical movement of Satanism, since high-profile Satanists, as I’ve laid out before, have associated with and promoted actual white nationalists, and as I’ve come to understand others such as Michael Aquino were even outright Nazis. This would not be enough to label Satanism as a whole as a “hate group”, categorically speaking anyway, though it does raise certain questions for the Church of Satan and the Temple of Set, and even The Satanic Temple given Lucien Greaves’ shady past on the Might Is Right podcast. But Brian Holdsworth doesn’t make any mention of this at all. In fact, fascism and white supremacy aren’t brought up by him at all, and if he really wanted to talk about how Satanists are hate-mongers he really could have. But instead it’s just him whining about how much Satanists hate Christians and about how they “get away with it”.
Now, how Brian goes on to explicate this further is to be taken in a peculiar light. He complains that “we can’t talk about racial slurs in an academic context without teachers jobs getting threatened”. If he’s referring to the incident that I think he’s referring to, I suspect Brian is only complaining that you can’t say the n word in public. And don’t get me wrong I do basically believe in free speech absolutism, but please don’t dress up your desire to simply spout racial slurs under the guise of some vague “academic context”, and I say it’s vague because Brian never in the entire video gives any examples of what he’s talking about (he alludes to the subject once and then never refers to it again in the video). He says further that we can’t talk about cartoons of the prophet Mohammad in “a similar academic context”. Again, which academic context? Those cartoons are blasphemous (by Islamic defintion) depictions of Muhammad, they are created to satirize Islam in a rather crude fashion, and I am unaware of any “academic context” being spoken of. And while it is true that these are often censored today, in recent times the French government has been rather brazen about displaying them in their campaign against “political Islam” (which they’ve since renamed “islamo-leftism”). So it is actually not entirely fair to say that we can’t talk about those cartoons. In fact, even in the extent that they face censorship, in a strict sense people talk about them all the time whenever Charlie Hebdo is back in the news.
Anyways, Brian’s complaint seems to be that racial slurs and anti-Islamic blasphemies are considered taboo but Satanists can appparently steal communion wafers for the purpose of desecrating them in their rituals. Um, can they? He doesn’t say what he’s talking about, in fact he alludes to the subject very abruptly, but I suspect he is making reference to a 2014 incident in Oklahoma, in which members of the Church of Ahriman stole a communion wafer. This incident was not broadly supported by society, and if anything it seems to have met condemnation, but it was ultimately a trivial affair. The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City were planning to sue the Church of Ahriman for said theft, but the Church of Ahriman later agreed to return the wafer to the church, and the Archbishop dropped the lawsuit soon afterwards. The foolish Church of Ahriman hoped to get a rise out of the Christians with the daring stunt as part of their Black Mass, but its leader decided that the wafer wasn’t worth dealing with lawsuits from the church, and in the end the incident was resolved, and ultimately forgotten (along with the Church of Ahriman itself by my count). So to answer Brian on this point, the theft of the communion wafers was never “tolerated” under the aegis of political correctness. It was forgotten, because it was an irrelevant, and frankly pathetic, stunt that ended with the Church of Ahriman assenting to the demands of the Catholic Church. In the bigger picture, the incident is hardly worth dwelling on except as curisoity.
The next “evidence” of plagiarism on the part of Satanism that Brian points to is The Satanic Bible. Now, you could actually talk about the fact that, at least according to some observers, LaVey seems to have simply taken Ragnar Redbeards’ Might Is Right and only slightly modified it in order to form the basis of the Book of Fire section of The Satanic Bible. But as usual, Brian does not seem interested in any case for his argument that might actually be based on anything serious or credible, preferring instead trifing and often groundless flanks for his position. The reason he blasts The Satanic Bible as plagiaristic has nothing to do with its actual content but instead the name, specifically the fact that it has the word “Bible” in it. Now, I could just go on about the fact that it’s consciously intended to be a detournement or subversive reference to a familiar point of reference within existing Western cultures, or the fact that there’s several other non-religious books with the word “Bible” in their names (including multiple “cooking bibles”) and you don’t see Brian or anyone else crying plagiarism over that, which would tell us that Satanism is being unfairly, indeed almost arbitrarily, singled out here. But far more salient is just the fact that the word “Bible” itself simply means a collection of books. It derives from the Greek word “byblos”, meaning book, or the Greek expression “ta biblia”, meaning “little papyrus books”, and such terms have been in use during antiquity before Christianity emerged. In fact, the use of the term “ta biblia” to refer to the collected Old and New Testaments, which we now refer to as The Bible, did emerge right at the beginning of Christian history but instead developed in the 3rd or 4th century, probably beginning with John Chrysostom. So once again, Brian’s argument is weak. He desperately tries to invoke Zeena LaVey having renounced her father as being on the basis of plagiarism, but when you hear from Zeena herself, the actual reasons why she left the Church of Satan and renounced her father are somewhat different, though no less damning for LaVey.
In continuance of his point on plagiarism, Brian appears to cite the broad philosophical syncretism of LaVey’s original doctrine as either evidence of plagiarism or as simply related to it. He describes the philosophy as borrowed and sampled from various places but in an incoherent way, likening it to a glutton going to a buffet and, owing to his lack of restraint, stuffs together all manner of incompatible dishes. Of course, he never actually goes into detail as to these different philosophical influences, let alone explain why the result is incoherent. He simply expects us to believe him at his word. Meanwhile, if we look at the history of Christianity, we can find that it is more or less a synthetic doctrine. The early formation of Christianity borrowed much from surrounding influences of Greek philosophy, such as Stoicism, Aristotielianism, Platonism, and Cynicism to a certain extent, along with Greek mystery religiions such as the Eleusinian and Orphic mysteries, with then merge with Jewish mythos and particularly reformist currents of Judaism such as Hellenistic Judaism. In fact, if you look at Brian’s beloved Catholic Church, you’ll notice elements that have almost nothing to do with the teaching of the Bible and instead have more in common with Roman polytheism, right down to the concept of the papacy being an evolution of the Roman pagan high priest, literally sharing the title of Pontifex Maximus. All told, it’s very interesting to see Brian, and perhaps other Christians as well, complain about philosophical syncretism and synthesis when it seems to have been a somewhat normal part of religious development, and thus it seems that it is only when it happens outside the remit of Christianity that it becomes a problem, which is a fundamentally arbitrary beef to have in my opinion.
The third “absurdity” Brian points to concerns the apparent ignorance of Satanists towards the Christianity that they despise. Now this can be a somewhat general phenomenon depending on what aspect of Christianity is being discussed, but the examples he points to, once again, in fact demonstrate Brian’s misunderstanding of Satanism rather than the Satanist misunderstanding of Christianity. Predictably, he points to the preponderance of the upside down cross in various music bands that, in his view, intentionally give off a satanic presence, and just as predictably he points out, correctly, that the upside down cross is in fact a symbol of the papacy and of St. Peter, who deemed himself unworthy to be crucified upright and so insited that he be crucified upside down. The problem with Brian’s point is that most serious Satanists already know this, and in fact there are memes illustrating this. But I would not dismiss the angle of hijacking or subversion either, considering it does still appear in some way, though, I would also say that all real acts of detournement must be conscious. You have to know what the upside down cross is in order to subvert its meaning.
After talking about St. Peter’s cross, Brian seems to leave the subject behind to masturbate about how it is Christians who are the real original rebels and badasses. He praises Peter and the martyrs as being immune to even the worst injustices that could be visited upon them by the powerful, and thus beyond the controlling influence of any despotic figure, holding up in particular an admittedly impressive example of rebelliousness in the form of Saint Lawrence, who refused to hand over the treasures of the church to the prefect of Rome, and instead distributed them to his community and was martyred for it upon a gridiron laden with hot coals, and in the process of said martyrdom he defiantly told his torturers “I’m well done on this side. Turn me over!”. He uses this to convey the point that, if rebelliousness and standing up against tyranny is what you’re attracted to, then Satanism plagiarizes this theme from “the real thing”, being Christianity. The problem, however, as I’m sure is obvious to many of my readers, is that Christianity stopped being some underground nexus of genuine rebellion centuries ago. He points out that the church, in its early existence, refused to sell itself out to the Roman Empire, and it is true that the early Christian movement was a real force of resisting authoritarian domination in its day. But the only way to paint the church as the real rebels in a contemporary sense is to ignore history of Christianity after Constantine. Sure, when Christianity power, there was still in the early years a struggle between the priesthood and the constant threat of emperors who would oppose them theologically and demand their exile, but as time went on the priesthood ultimately found itself attached to elite hierarchy, doing whatever they could to curry favour with the internal structure of the empire, and eventually, over the centuries, the church in no way resembles the original Christian community and has since morphed purely into the religious establishment of Europe, and the West as a whole, and now makes up the superstructure of residual Western culture. Not to mention, even before taking power, the movement of the church spent a lot of its days going heresy-hunting, seeking to effectively stamp out non-conformity within its own ranks in the name of consolidating stringent orthodoxy. Attempting to cast Christianity as the real rebellion and Satanism as the false rebellion in many ways presents us a false dichotomy that sustains itself on a selective historical context rather than the whole of it, and it certainly does not account for the progression into modernity.
And with this, the video ends. Well, not accounting for the outro message he puts in anyway. Ultimately, I think this video is a masterclass of Christian projection and hypocrisy. Christians like Brian, and there are rather many of them, shriek at their opponents for all sorts of follies and sins while embodying many of the same follies and sins themselves. They have a nasty habit of lying in the name of what they suppose to be the truth, they treat nearly everything in isolation and pretend thusly to have understood things, they sometimes obsess over how easily offended society is whilst drawning in their own insecurity towards secularism, and despite being unable to justify their core concept of God or many of the impositions they place upon humans they tend to act like they have attained superior philosophy over all others. I find it ironic that Brian would be so dismissive of metal because of its drive to project toughness and strength in a supposedly obnoxious fashion, while staunchly conservative expressions of Christianity strive for essentially the same impulse Brian describes – an insecure, in some ways desperate, spirit of chest-thumping that comes across as an obvious compensation. Brian Holdsworth has not exposed the incoherence of Satanism. He has instead exposed only his own ignorance and hypocrisy.
Tell me if you’ve seen this exchange before. Someone on social media almost out of nowhere gives their opinion that Satan is actually good, probably drawing on a popular Milton-esque conception of Satan. An incredulous and perhaps conservative individual takes exception to this statement and replies sacrastically that Hitler was good. The former person, with a certain blamelessness, denounces his responder as a fascist. I have also seen far-right-leaning metalheads whine that edgy paeans to Satan are to be expected in metal while bands that actively promote fascism or Nazism and sing the praises of Hitler are to be be shunned. I have seen at least one of those sport the imagery of the German Empire while making such pronouncements (that empire, incidentally, having been run for twenty years of its existence by the insane volkisch ideologue Wilhelm II).
The conceit being displayed in this argument is obvious. Satan and Hitler are to be taken as equal abstract representations of human evil, never minding of course the obvious problem that one of them is a fictional character and one of them was an all too real human. This alone only scratches the surface, however. If you read the Bible closely, you’ll notice that, for a start, Satan never fell from heaven in the events before the Book of Genesis, and so throughout the Old Testament he is an angel in the court of God. Even in the New Testament, the only time he appears to be an enemy of God is in the Book of Revelation, when a vision depicts Satan as having fallen from heaven. This scene itself is a.representation of the victory of Jesus over Satan, and death, through his own death on the cross at Calvary and then resurrection. This would mean that, before that fall, the Satan that tried to tempt Jesus in the desert was still an angel in God’s court, carrying out the same tempting, accusing function that he had in the Old Testament. What that means for the goodness, or evilness, of Satan kind of depends on how you choose to interpret things, not least given the Bible is much more open-ended a collection of myths and fables than Christians usually like to let on.
From one perspective, you can still interpret Satan as an evil figure here, in fact as an angel he may represent an abstract principle of evil persecuting mankind, but this is all on the orders of God, at least until the resurrection of Jesus happens. So from a certain standpoint, God ultimately comes out as the artificer of evil, as well as good, since all of the evil attributed to Satan emerges directly from God, being carried out on his orders, meaning that, even if Satan is evil, so is God to a certain extent. On the other hand, if God is still supposed to be good, indeed the ultimate good, then Satan’s activities on God’s orders must serve the purpose of good in some way, even if he seems to be the accuser of humans. Now this is a perspective that I, personally, do not hold. I think that Satan in the context of Biblical lore comes off as a tyrant angel serving under a tyrant god, rather than everyone’s favorite goat-headed rebel, and him being an extension of God’s power over humans pretty much damns God in some way. But if one really has to insist that God is good, and this means that everything God does is ultmately good, then logically even Satan, being under God’s service, would ultimately be good.
Of course, expect all of this to fly straight over the heads of anyone trying to compare Satan to Hitler. No doubt they barely even read the Bible, and their only conception of Satan comes from popular retellings of Christian myth which obfuscate the real meaning contained in the Biblical mythos. I notice that right-wing Christians have a similar pathology that rears its head whenever left-leaning critics of right-wing policy on immigration point out that the Bible actually endorses that immigrants be treated with compassion and liberality (see for example Exodus 23:9) and not with hostility and mistrust. Such is usually responded to with whiny memes meant to convey that they, as apostates, have no right to talk Christians about their faith, a gesture of defiance that serves only to cover for their own embarassment at their failure to have read their own scripture. White nationalist Christians suffer from the same blindspot on race, and mock you for pointing out that the New Testament preaches that there is neither Jew nor Greek, while refusing to cite any part of the Bible to back up their own racism themselves.
So next time some imbecile tries to gaslight you into witless comparisons between Satan and Hitler, you may want to talk to them about the role of Satan in the Bible. Or alternatively just ignore them, since you won’t get many meaningful conversations with them anyway.
So yesterday I found out that Jon Schaffer, the rhythm guitarist and one of the founding members of the great American power/thrash metal band Iced Earth, was involved in the Capitol Hill riots, and that because of this three band members have decided to quit the band. Singer Stu Block, bassist Luke Appleton, and later guitarist Jake Dreyer, all announced on social media that they will be leaving Iced Earth after it emerged last month that Jon Schaffer was involved in the riot, carrying bear spray and, according to recent surveillance footage, possibly charging at police officers. Schaffer was featured on the “Most Wanted” section of the FBI’s website in a gallery titled “Violence at the United States Capitol”. In addition to this, Schaffer’s involvement in the riots appears to have caused the record label Century Media to drop Iced Earth from their roster, along with Schaffer’s other band Demons and Wizards, which consisted of both himself and Hansi Kürsch, the lead singer of Blind Guardian. Kürsch, of course, left Demons and Wizards upon hearing of Schaffer’s arrest, stating that his collaboration with Schaffer was over, which I guess means that Demons and Wizards has officially disbanded.
This, of course, leaves a lot of questions concerning the fate of Iced Earth. The band now presumably consists of just two members, Jon Schaffer and drummer Brent Smedley, and are presently unsigned, and even with that, Schaffer himself is currently in FBI custoday. Will the band find people to replace the three musicians who left? Will the band continue to exist? I suppose that would depend on who would be willing to join Iced Earth after its founding member is now known as one of the rioters, and thus branded a domestic terrorist by the government. Then again, I’m sure that there will be plenty of people in metal who won’t be too surprised at Schaffer’s actions. If you’ve ever followed Iced Earth to any extent, you’ll know that Jon Schaffer is frequently vocal about his right-wing political views. He sometimes inserts his politics into his albums, such as on the 2004 album The Glorious Burden, he lists various right-wing figures such as Ron Paul and G. Edward Griffith, and at one point he even appeared on InfoWars with Alex Jones. During his involvement in the riots, he could be seen wearing a cap saying “Oath Keepers Lifetime Member”, suggesting affiliation with the right-wing militia known as the Oath Keepers. Curiously enough, however, Schaffer hasn’t actually voted for anyone in 12 years prior to the 2020 election, which would mean that despite apparently supporting Donald Trump he didn’t actually vote for him when he ran in 2016. In any case, Schaffer’s political tendencies are well known, and it is only now that they seem to have ruptured Iced Earth.
Of course, one thing that will definitely be affected is plans for a new album. Last year in April, Schaffer announced that he and the band would begin work on a new album intended for release this spring. Now that most of the musicians have left, and Jon Schaffer is held in jail and presumably awaiting imprisonment on felony charges, I can only wonder what will come of that album, if we will still see it, given that as a result of all of this there is effectively only one guy still available to play in the band. Unless he can find some musicians to replace the people who left, or maybe even gets rid of Jon Schaffer and replaces him too (which may not work considering it means replacing probably the only man who’s still been in the band since they first formed).
On the one hand, it’s difficult to be moved by the idea of Schaffer getting a mugshot for participating in the meme riot being this great tragedy. After all who can forget the numerous musicians that were famously arrested on various charges. Then there’s just the sheer irony of bands like Rage Against the Machine being all “edgy” with their anti-government politics or Body Count with a sound literally called “Cop Killer”, but god forbid a musician actually ramn into an officer and try to take over a government building. One can only imagine anarchist musicians will probably condemn that, while having nothing negative to say about the riots from last year. On the other hand, if this is going to mean two great power metal bands facing the axe and forced to disband, then honestly fuck Jon Schaffer for this shit. He was one of the great American metal guitarists, having two great bands floating on him, and he decided to throw it all away for the right-wing equivalent of “hurr durr Bush stole Florida”. Sorry dude but Joe Biden won handily, the Supreme Court was never going to support Trump’s case on supposed electoral fraud because as it turns out none of the supposed evidence being brought forward amounted to diddly-dick, and the cries of electoral fraud will ultimately have no consequence other than the Republican Party struggles to overcome being the party of Trump for a few years. Oh and given that the riots have essentially motivated tech companies and governments to push for more centralization and censorship, somehow I fail to see how storming the Capitol was worth it. Certainly doesn’t seem to be worth possibly destroying a classic power/thrash metal band that you created in the first place.
I suppose only one more question is buzzing around in my head: if, as certain conservatives say, the Capitol Hill riots were the work of Antifa rather than Trump supporters, then what would Jon Schaffer be doing at an Antifa protest given his well-known penchant for right-wing politics?’
The article we’re about to respond to was originally posted on a website called Alt-Market way back in 2013, titled “Luciferianism: A Secular Look At A Destructive Globalist Belief System”, but seems to have been doing the rounds again in later years on right-wing libertarian websites. Etu Malku did a response to this article already on his blog back in 2013 as well, but I feel his response is rather lacking in content, and he had very little input beyond simple assertion. Other than that, I think it would be nice to do a few response articles on this blog on the subject of Luciferianism for once. So let’s get started.
Our author, by the name of Brandon Smith, begins this article with the conceit that he possesses as morbid fascination with the subject of evil. Well, I suppose I could be interpreted as bearing a similar fixation, but more on darkness as a generic meta-concept than “evil”, and such is one of the animating elements of my discourse of the chthonic and the demonic to a certain extent. He says that this is necessitated by the logic of the need to “understand the enemy”, likening himself to an exterminator dealing with cockroaches. Very flattering, I’m sure, to be thinking of yourself as slaughtering abject religious minorities/non-conformists.
Before any discussion of Luciferianism begins, Smith spends a good chunk of time discussing the concept of evil as a reality in general. Given that the title suggested a discussion specifically on Luciferianism, you can imagine the reader’s disappointment to find such wide gaping delay before the main subject is even brought forward. He is keen to establish that evil is in fact a concrete reality in the world, and that the establishment spends its days trying to convince the public of the opposite; that evil is nothing more than a matter of personal or received opinion. Examples of this establishment propaganda are not forthcoming. For his point about the existence of evil he does cite the work of Carl Gustav Jung, hinting his belief in continuous archetypes in the psyche as evidence for the existence of evil, and that the existence of the human conscience implies evidence of an intrinsic understanding of duality. His operating thesis is that evil, like beauty, is recorded in the psyche and therefore derives objective truth from being a quality of psychic expression.
Before we go any further, we need to note something about Jung, as someone who is myself quite the appreciator of his work from the perspective of spiritual philosophy, though, as you’ll see, not necessarily the man himself. For starters, Smith cites Jung’s concept of the shadow to refer to the evil aspects of the human psyche, but that is not strictly what the Jungian concept of the shadow entails. He also mention the “personal shadow” or “collective shadow”, which are not actual components of Jungian psychoanalysis and I suspect this is a confusion of the shadow with the unconscious, which are not necessarily the same concept. In Jungian lexicon, the shadow simply refers to the hidden or unconscious aspects of the psyche, which the ego or persona either represses or simply does not recognize. This can typically include repressed desires or impulses, some of which could be bad, but also more generally childish qualities, resentments, sometimes vital qualities that are forbidden by convention, really anything that the persona has to suppress in order to be a social agent, and all told, those things could either be good or bad or much in between. The shadow is “dark” at least to the extent that the persona, its inhibitor, is identified as “bright”, and even insofar as it is “dark”, it does not comprise only of evil tendencies, and in fact can consist of creative tendencies, realistic insights, or even what could be deemed “normal” instincts that the persona otherwise suppresses. Part of the goal of Jungian psychanalysis is the assimilation or integration of the shadow into the psyche, which involves a careful mediation between the ego and the unconscious content so that synthesis may be achieved. Although Smith has not yet actually mentioned Luciferians so far, I would not that we Luciferians also have a great admiration for Jung’s work, as it paves the way for recognizing some concept of darkness not as something to be destroyed but instead as the potential basis for some form of self-realization.
Smith also makes a point about Jung being attacked by the establishment because he presents something threatening to public conditioning. The fact that Jung as a figure and his works remain popular and influential to this day would suggest that, if the establishment set out to bury Jung and his work, they have failed spectularly. Although make no mistake, Jung does not enjoy as sterling a reputation in academia and modern psychology as he does in popular imagination and modern religion. Smith refers to various claims that Jung was a Nazi, and it is worth pointing out that, although Jung was not a Nazi, having worked for the Allies against the Axis during World War 2 and wrote in terms of horror about the Nazi regime with its replacement of the cross with the swastika on the back of mass atrocity, he also said some very strange things about the “Aryan” unconscious having “higher potential” than the Jewish one, and despite opposing Nazism he still seems to have reserved some modest praise for Jakob Wilhelm Hauer, the leader of the volkisch German Faith Movement. This does not mean one has to throw out all of Jung’s insights, not least because those of Martin Heidegger and Carl Schmitt are still accepted in broader philosophical discourse despite both of them literally having actually been members of the Nazi Party during World War 2, but it does invite a great deal of caution when dealing with Jung as a figure.
Moving on from that, let us consider Smith’s arguments and definitions pertaining to evil. How does Smith define evil? He defines it first and foremost as any action that seeks to destroy, exploit, and enslave in the name of personal gain or gratification, and as something that begins with the denial of the existence of conscience. For the former, there is little reason to object although whether or not the criteria is purely absolute is a matter worth discussing. For the latter, it seems Smith has declared that evil is a matter of holding a different epistemic opinion from himself, however wrongheaded that difference of opinion may be. Whilst we get definitions of the concept of evil, his argument for it being objective is somewhat thin, though admittedly this was not supposed to be the focus of the post. He states that most people have an “intuitive relationship” to the concept of good and evil, feeling anxiety when confronted with evil thoughts, arguing that “some might call this a “moral compass”” and that he personally would call it “soul” or “spirit”. Now, I have no inherent objection to discourse on soul or spirit, but at least stop pretending you are looking at this from a strictly secular perspective if you are going to bring such things up. I know I don’t pretend to be a strictly secular person these days. Returning to a previous point, I would say that the objectivity of evil, or beauty, as derived from the psyche depends on the situation not simply of the psyche as an objective fact, but on the objectivity, within the psyche, of the conceptions within it.
If morality is objective, and I do not see it salient to see it as completely subjective, there is a certain fluidity to morality that must be accounted for, one which entails that, regardless of objectivity or subjectivity, one cannot argue for absolutes that stretch across unchanged for all time, even if we can say that there are key axioms that persist in human psychology. Slavery, for example, was once seen as a necessity of the social order, and that upholding it was good in terms of upholding the social order. The abolition of slavery was unthinkeable until relatively late in human history, and in antiquity the idea that people should not be made to be slaves would be seen as a threat to the social order. Not even the Bible was particularly explicitly opposed to slavery except in that Moses fought for the freedom of the Israelites from the slavery imposed on them in Egypt, and even then the Bible still does not oppose slavery in itself, only the unjust treatment of slaves. I would not say that this makes slavery moral or devoid of moral value in one way or the other, but I would say that it forces us to reckon with the fluidity of morality even as we consider morality to have objective value.
In any case, at a certain point in the article we finally arrive at Smith explaining that “there is a group of people in the world who do not see good and evil the way most of us do”, that they “exhibit the traits of narcissistic sociopaths”, and that “there is an ideology or system of belief that argues for the exact opposite of what conscience tells us is “good””. This, we are told, is Luciferianism, and Smith attempts to argue that Luciferianism is in fact the source of “most existing destructive -isms”, including socialism and “globalism”, and that it is a religion build by sociopathic narcissists for their own benefit. Of course, Smith does not bother to provide any evidence for the starting premise of his claim here. Socialism as we know it, in fact, was actually invented by people who happened to be Christians, such as Henri de Saint-Simon (the man who coined the very term socialism). What Smith calls “globalism” is in reality just a development of free market capitalism as globalization advances, and to be fair there are probably forms of economic organization that correspond to globalization in some form that stretch back before modernity. Neither of them can be traced to any “Luciferians” or conspiracists in particular. The actual politics of Luciferians as a broad movement can in fact be at variance, but they tend to be profoundly libertarian, whether that is libertarian in the left-wing sense or the right-wing sense or even somewhere in between, and this corresponds to a broad ethos of religious or simply mythopoetic libertarianism that has always animated Luciferianism as it exists to some extent.
We must note, briefly, that he links at one point to an article of his where he views “the globalists” as fundamentally not human. Who are these “globalists”? They seem to refer to elite liberal politicians and networks thereof who promote a kind of multiculturalist or cosmpolitan liberal politics who he, as an obvious conservative, despises. Now this in itself is not problematic on its own, there is good reason to disagree with the United Nations and the European Union and similar entities and the various business interests that align with some mode of liberalism, but do remember that there are people on the ground who have some sympathy with them, and these people would thus in some sense be in league with what in his view is outside of the human. He talks quite a bit about evil, but it is quite baffling to see someone talk about evil without talking about dehumanization, which is an effective way to cast undesired social minorities outside the realm of the human and justify their disposal. Actually, scratch that, Smith begins the other article by openly acknowledging that dehumanization or otherizing can be dangerous due to its potential to cast a wide net of aspersion over a number of unrelated individuals, but justifies it anyway on the grounds that “other-izing is perhaps the only option when faced with a very particular type of person embracing a very particular brand of ideology” and that it thus becomes “a matter of survival”. Of course he is keen to establish that he only means to dehumanize the politicians and not their supporters, but that he needs to emphasize them as “psychologically broken non-humans” is still somewhat telling, though I suppose that . Say what you will about us Luciferians and our views on morality, but we are generally not fans of dehumanization as a principle, and I would say that this is not least to do with the fact that we tend to be on the receiving end of it from conservative Christians and similar types, or to the fact that we generally do not feel the need to organize our lives around the threat of an overrarching and apocalyptic Archetype of Evil.
.Anyways, returning to the Luciferianism article, Smith complains that it is difficult to identify “the “true sacraments” of Luciferianism on the grounds that Luciferians “refuse to admit that our belief system is a religion. This of course represents Smith’s difficulty in grasping the reality of Luciferianism as an admittedly very diffuse and decentralized movement. I do wish that we might transcend that situation and become more of a cohesive and united movement, and to be fair I do believe that some of us need to start taking seriously the idea of Luciferianism as a religion, but the truth is that for many of us it is somewhat more than a religion. This may perhaps be due to certain preconceptions of religion that trickle down from the Christianity that many of us grew up with, which then obscures the idea of religion as something deeper than that, and that we, in some ways, swim in religious concepts without really properly coming to terms with that. He also claims that “the system”, which we can infer to be tied to “the Luciferians”, actively disseminates misinformation in order to confuse non-adherents. Whilst it is certainly true that the established system promotes a flurry of misinformation for the purpose of confusing the masses, the idea that we Luciferians set out to confuse the masses and mislead them is itself complete misinformation. We are frequently the subject of false narratives crafted to those who want us to go away or be scattered to the winds, or by those who believe that the evils of the powers that be could only make sense through some kind of diabolical mystical element, for which they interchangeably use the names Satanism, Luciferianism, Illumanti, or even Freemasonry (and of course, sometimes, they let the cat out of the bag and simply call it a Jewish conspiracy, like they always meant to say), and it is because of this that we Luciferians, along with the Satanists and others, make it a point to expose these narratives for the falsehoods that they are. Smith uses the term occultism to refer to “religious secrecy”, and he terms this itself elitism, but while some Luciferians, owing to excessive Left Hand Path tendencies, due possess some elitist views, modern Luciferians don’t hide their belief system at all. In fact they’re very keen to share their ideas where they can, and often write books dedicated to explicating their views, which can be very diverse owing to the current diffuse state of our movement.
Commenting on what he believes to be beliefs Luciferians confess to, he says that first and foremost the goal of Luciferianism is to attain personal godhood through the accumulation of knowledge. Accumulating knowledge is a universal theme in Luciferianism, but in practice the idea of becoming your own god is not necessarily. Carl William Hansen, the father of our creed for example, did not really speak of it at all, while Fraternitas Saturni had a belief system that could be interpreted in a similar light but they also talk about uniting with the World Soul, which does not have the standard implications that can be connotated in terms of psychological egoism, and then of course the writings of Michael Howard or Madeline Montalban make no proper mention of it. I suspect that Smith is speaking of Luciferianism through the ideas of Michael W/ Ford, who leans ultimately more to the direction of Satanism and unfortunately appears to be popular, I say unfortunately because I believe his ideas generate confusion due to their obvious similarity to, and derivaiton from, Satanism. For my part, I believe largely in the idea of achieiving individual freedom or autonomy in a spiritual sense through a kind of mystic union with a “dark” ultimate principle of reality (which I hold is not the same as the god-concept) in which, ironically, the two opposites are in fact one, studying the laws of nature and the hidden realms of the human, by dissolving the boundaries between the self and the other (thus negating crass egoism and blind altruism by destroying the distinction between egoism and altruism), and cultivating individuation – all, of course, modelling after the Luciferian archetype, that is that of the morning star himself. I’m not too sure how many Luciferians share my exact position, but I derive it from Carl William Hansen and other Luciferians as well as a cocktail of other influences filtered through my own freethinking ways.
Because of the assumed belief in self-worship, Smith brings up Kurt Godel’s incompleteness theory for no other reason than to suggest that complete knowledge of the universe is “mathematically” impossible (be wary of the use of math in philosophy, it is associated with Platonic idealism and in science it can be used to support scientific theories that otherwise have no physical-theoretical basis, such as string theory), and that despite this we are not bothered by “mathematical reality”, which means that we supposedly destructive chase that which we cannot have and that science, when not “tempered by discipline, wisdom, and a moral compass”, will result in catastrophe. One can imagine calling back to the Manhattan Project, no doubt, to the invention of the atomic bomb that was later mercliessly deployed against Hiroshima and Nagasaki by America, but I would hard pressed for evidence that it was “Luciferians” who were behind it. Indeed, the senseless destruction of innocent lives, although by all accounts a war crime, just repeatedly justified not by “Luciferians” seeking to justify godlike power over others, but instead by the establishment who committed such a crime through utilitarian arguments which held that the bombing would save more lives than allowing the war to continue would. Of course, given that the Soviets at this time were already on the way to capturing the surrender of Japan through repeated successful campaigns towards the north of the country, the problem with such arguments are easily exposed as fraudulent, and that if anything the Soviets, by being allowed to complete their campaign against Japan without interference, would have saved more lives than America ultimately did, and thus the defence of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings are nothing more than a convenient way for the bourgeoisie to get away with war crimes. As for the theme of power over others, while Luciferians tend to emphasize personal empowerment, they do not actually mean to advocate for holding power over others on principle, and sovereignty and control is reserved in large part for themselves, meaning control over their own lives and not those of others. So the idea that we seek “godlike power” in the sense that we seek absolute power over the lives of others is quite ridiculous. He talks about how one inevitably desires followers in pursuit of a god, “What is a savior, after all, without a flock?”, but what he does not understand is that we Luciferians do not seek mere followers, we do not want people only to follow us like a flock, and we do not want to position ourselves as mere saviours. We want people to have the means to save themselves, and that is the extent of any “salvation” we could speak of, and we have no desire to rule over anyone through force or through trickery. Quite the opposite, in fact – we wish to spread our way to others by offering an alternative spiritual philosophy and worldview to anyone who is interested in one, and we tend to find essentially all established organized religions guilty of the very thing Smith accuses us of doing.
Smith’s next paragraph concerns the idea of Luciferians seeking to elevate the power of the individual. Right off the bat, it is strange that this should be taken as a source of evil here, since the typical right-libertarian actually does believe in elevating the sovereignty individual. And in fact by my reckoning there are at least a few Luciferians who may well find themselves situated in the right-libertarian camp or somewhere adjacent to it (that was once the case for myself as well). So then, should he not have something in common with the Luciferians he describes, or are his libertarian beliefs only valid up to the point where he must recognize it in those who seek to break from Christianity? Indeed, he admits that he agrees with the Luciferians on “individualism”, but adds the caveat that “any ideology can be taken to extremes”, citing that the pursuit of individual gratification can go too far, to the extent that others suffer. Of course, he gives no actual examples of this, and gives very little illustration to serve his point. Perhaps on the surface it is a matter of intuition, in that we can work out for ourselves, without much effort, the point at which individual gratification becomes destructive, but at a deeper level, he is speaking to something that requires elaboration. Just what is it he thinks we Luciferians get up to that becomes a destructive pursuit of individual gratification? He does not say, perhaps because it means actually making accusations against us that he cannot substantiate. Instead he quickly moves on to describing the apparent elitist nature of Luciferianism, claiming that we do not seek the elevation of all individuals, only “certain “deserving” individuals”.
The implication is that we seek out some sort of Elect and privilege them above all other people, presumably as part of an elite stratum of society that exercises exclusive sovereignty over the rest of society, but we have no such designs in mind. I for one claim no affilitation with Blanquist technocracy or the mystic aristocracy of the Utopians. Perhaps Roger Caillois was an enthusiast of aristocracy, but he only seems to have called himself a Luciferian insofar as Lucifer to him represented a refinement of the what he thought of as the satanic archetype asssociated with French Romanticism (the same milieu, I might add, from which we get much of the modern positive archetype of Lucifer who was, if anything, hardly a sympathizer of aristocracy). He complains that Luciferians tend to view non-adherents as inferior people, “to be sheared like sheep”. I can perhaps attest to the first part of that tendency among some Luciferians, those influenced by Satanism anyway, but I haven’t the slightest idea where he gets that last part. He also appears to profoundly misunderstand what Luciferians mean when they say they don’t seek to convert people (although, to be fair, why the hell should we not try to convert people as long as it’s not in the aggressive way that Christian fundamentalists do?). Many Luciferians dislike the idea of actively seeking the conversion of others, because they believe that in doing so they do not respect the freedom of thought of other individuals, shunning proselytism, even if it means undermining their ability to spread their beliefs, because to them it represents the forceful imposition of one perspective upon other people. There is an admirable aspect to this, however flawed the stance may be, in the sense that there is a sense of respect reserved for those who, without prodding, arrive at our perspective or at least a similar degree of questioning the beliefs that are taken for granted, reified, and thus restrict the individual consciousness, and so they prefer to simply have those who want to come to us do so on their own. Ironically, however, the first Luciferian in history, Carl William Hansen, was actually known for his proselytism within the Masonic lodges of which he was a member – so well-known in fact that eventually other Masons got fed up and removed him from many of those lodges – so historically it’s not like proselytism is actually an un-Luciferian thing to do, just that modern Luciferians don’t like doing it.
Despite the fact that Smith establishes that Luciferians do not seek proselytism or conversion, he also proclaims that “their goal of influencing the public through social and political spheres is rather evident.” Besides the obviously self-contradictory logic of opposing proselytism and at the same time somehow proselytizing to the masses through propaganda, how is this evident? At this point a title drop is warranted. Who are these “Luciferians” who Smith believes to be influencing the public through “social and political spheres”? Well, it is not as though Smith does not attempt to give examples, but his examples are pathetic, and we shall go through them now.
The first example given is none other than Saul Alinsky, that famous political activist who everyone on the right name-drops (not to mention attribute quotes to him that were actually paraphrased from the Nazis) but none of them really understand. Alinsky is taken by the right to be some sort of mastermind of the political left, but within the left itself no one actually talks about him or refers to back to his work in any way, or at least I, within my observations of the left, have never seen any such references by the contemporary left. Alinsky is frequently accused by the right of being a communist. While he probably was some form of leftist and anti-fascist, was willing enough to work with communists, considered fascism to be far more of a threat to civilization than communism (a view that, in my opinion, is correct), and to that extent he even sympathized with Russia do to its strong stance against the Nazis, it seems he never actually identified himself as a communist or with any communist movements, and seems to have had some sort of philosophical objection to joining a Communist Party. Conversely, many communists do not particularly care about Saul Alinsky (let alone even know who he was), not least because they already have a whole pantheon of communist philosophers and ideologues upon which they base their conceptions of communism. Alinsky was not a Luciferian, or at least never identified himself as a Luciferian, but he apparently did give a short statement of respect for Lucifer, who he called “the very first radical”, in Rules for Radicals. Smith refers to Alinsky as a “high level” leftist organizer and “Democratic gatekeeper”, implying that he had a connection to the Democratic Party apparatus. In reality, however, there is no evidence that he was ever involved with the Democratic Party at any level, and he certainly did not “inspire” people like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or George Soros for that matter. The only connection Alinsky ever had to these people was that Hillary Clinton wrote her thesis on Alinsky in the , and she explicity disagreed with Alinsky’s ideas and tactics, preferring the idea that reformers should work within conventional politics rather than pursue radicalism external to the governmental system (hardly a “far-left” contention), and while Obama seemed to have been familiar with Alinsky’s ideas, he never actually embraced them and in fact criticized them as being too focused on self-interest over “people’s hopes and dreams”. Neither of them can be counted seriously as proteges of Alinsky. If anything, however, it was the political right, specifically the Tea Party movement, who readily embraced Alinsky’s ideas, albeit reorienting them from his original leftist/progressive grounding towards right-wing libertarian and conservative politics, despite the previous conservative tradition of maligning Alinsky as a dangerous subversive, although this was quickly abandoned once people started talking about Clinton’s thesis on Alinsky.
Next, Smith turns his attention to the United Nations, specifically their apparent connection to the Lucis Trust. It is true that the Lucis Trust was originally called the Lucifer Publishing Company, and its founders, Alice and Foster Bailey, did choose the name in honor of Lucifer, but although they expressed positive ideas of Lucifer, they were not Luciferians, at least not in the sense that they consciously identified with any belief system that could be called Luciferianism. They were in fact Theosophists, that is two followers of the religion of Theosophy that was created by Helena Blavatsky. Theosophical literature does contain broadly positive interpretations of Lucifer as a bringer of enlightenment, and these ideas contributed to the broad alternative view of Lucifer as a rebellious hero that has metastasized in the present, but it is not centered around Lucifer. Instead Theosophy is based largely on the idea of receiving esoteric spiritual teachings from a group of perfect beings known as Ascended Masters and in reassembling what Blatavsky believed to be the one universal religion, upon which all others are secretly based. Suffice it say, this idea is completely absent in Luciferianism, finds no expression in any historical formation of Luciferianism, and I will say for my part that to believe in the authority of Asccended Masters is no better than to believe in the authority of prophets or supreme Gods. In fact, for Theosophy, Lucifer is nowhere near as important as Maitreya, a figure appropriated from Mahayana Buddhism, who they believe to be the savior of humanity who incarnated as Krishna and Jesus Christ and was supposed to incarnate again in the body of Jiddu Krishnamurti (such messianism is another belief that we Luciferians have no interest in). Where the United Nations comes in is that supposedly the UN was involved with the Lucis Trust and Robert Muller, the former Assistant Secretary General of the UN not to be confused with Robert Mueller, was affiliated with the Lucis Trust. I have found very little evidence connecting Muller to the Lucis Trust. Smith provides a link to a Lucis Trust page in his article, but Muller is only mentioned once, and in passing. It is in no way clear that Muller had any tangible connection to the Lucis Trust. As for the UN as a whole, there is indeed a Lucis Trust page expressing support for the United Nations, and a page in which the Lucis Trust regarding “support of the United Nations”, but if you actually read it you find that the Lucis Trust is merely one of several non-government organizations recognized by the UN and which spread information about the UN for the purpose of promoting it. There is little to suggest that the Lucis Trust was particularly important, and there is still very little evidence that very many UN members were actually involved with the group as members, and certainly no evidence to suggest that the UN incorporates Theosophical ideas directly into its core ideology. Not that it matters, though, since the Lucis Trust, despite its previous nomenclature, never actually promoted Luciferianism and instead was a Theosophist organization, and Robert Muller may have been a Theosophist in some sense but he was never a Luciferian – these are two different belief systems that should not be paired together or conflated with each other.
Smith argues that Luciferians “approach global governance like they do everything else – with heavy propaganda spin”. In reality, Luciferians hardly talk about “global governance”, and no Luciferian has ever expressed a desire to implement one world government. For one thing, individual Luciferians tend to have somewhat different political views, though typically never holding any particularly authoritarian ideologies, He says that “Luciferian ideals are sugar coated in a host of flowery and noble sounding motifs”, referring to the apparent use of environmentalism to justify large-scale centralization of power. I’m not about to argue that such things do not occur in modern politics, but the idea of attributing this to Luciferianism is total bullshit. For a start, Luciferians like myself tend not to rely on “flowery” motifs in particular, not least when we choose as our central archetype a “fallen” angel, accursed for his defiance. I tend to place a particular emphasis on the chthonic aspects of world mythology, which were not especially sugary in theme and tone. And while many Luciferians can be seen as supporters of broadly environmentalist ideas, we are not typically fans of the concentration of power into authoritarian centralization, since we cherish individual freedom as a primary value.
And now we come briefly to a popular talking point surrounding Lucifer and Luciferianism: the link to “Gnosticism”. “Gnosticism” is the name given to a diffuse selection of heretical or heterodox Christian sects that were united only by a shared belief that gnosis (or spiritual knowledge) rather than faith was the key to salvation. He claims that “Some gnostic texts depict Satan as the “good guy” and God the “bad guy” in the story of Genesis; God being a ruthless slave master and the serpent as the “liberator” bringing knowledge of the material world to mankind”. No such texts exist, and no “Gnostic” sect in the history of “Gnosticism” has ever venerated Lucifer in any capacity, not even the sects that supposedly honoured snakes. The idea of God being a tyrant in “Gnostic” mythos is also a complete misunderstanding of “Gnosticism”. The “ruthless slave master” in Gnostic myth clearly refers to certain conceptions of the Demiurge, as found specifically in the Gospel of Judas where he is called Saklas, as well as similar texts, but this being is not referred to as God and in fact is treated as an entity separating himself from God out of ignorance. The whole point of stereotypical “Gnostic” dualism, along with similar dualistic beliefs outside of “Gnosticism”, is that the being worshipped in the Old Testament was not the real God, but merely claimed to be God to justify his creation and his rule over it, and that the real God had to be discovered by Christians in order to re-unite with him through gnosis, and thereby be saved in some fashion. This basic idea has nothing to do with Luciferianism, or Satanism for that matter. In fact, the earliest expressions of Luciferianism in the 20th century actually subverted “Gnostic” dualism. Carl William Hansen referred to Lucifer as the Demiurge and believed that this Demiurge was actually a positive figure, also using it to refer to Pan, who is the dark substrate of the material cosmos for whom Lucifer represents its light, more specifically its creative power or “ego” (not to be confused with the individual ego in the every day sense). Fraternitas Saturni saw the Demiurge as a Promethean rebel figure, identified with Lucifer as well as Saturn, who stole fire from “God” or the Solar Logos and retreated to the dark corners of the solar system to challenge his rule. Michael Howard, and perhaps Madeline Montalban as well, argued that Lucifer was a demiurge and the regent of this world, as well as the bringer of light. Even Michael W. Ford argued that the “Gnostic” demiurge Yaldabaoth was a positive affirmation of selfhood in opposition to God. Thus, Luciferianism is actually something of a subversion of “Gnosticism”, taking its core conceit of gnosis and applying it, and some of its mythos, in ways that completely up-end the formula of “Gnostic” Christianity. Of course, some Luciferians still seem to prefer the popular but baseless interpolation of “Gnosticism” as a belief system that venerated Lucifer and thus “Gnostic Luciferianism” is born.
Next Smith addresses related idea of Lucifer as a “heroic saviour”, which he says is a common narrative and cites a quote from Manly P. Hall, the famous Canadian mystic and Freemason, in which he expresses a belief that Lucifer represents individual intellect that resists natural impulse and rebels against nature. While it sounds like it could be Luciferian in its own way (though I personally do not view Nature as something to be conquered any more than the Christian believes it is possible to conquer God), it would be doing Freemasonry a disservice to refer to it as Luciferianism, and Manly P. Hall never called himself a Luciferian or advanced a doctrine called Luciferianism. Freemasons, for one thing, believe in God, and although generally they don’t impose much doctrinal limits on Masons, one thing that is required of prospective Masons is that they believe in some concept of a Supreme Being or God, even if it is not necessarily the Christian God, with all concepts of God being connected together in universal brotherhood. Lucifer was interpreted by Freemasons as a positive figure to some extent, but he is not their central archetype and they certainly do not worship him as God. In this sense, Hall, and other Freemasons, merely contributed to the archetypal development of Lucifer as a positive figure, but did not center this archetype in their thinking.
Smith then discusses the idea of Lucifer as an archetpye, stating that “One Luciferian model describes God as an archetypal concept only, a mythological comfort blanket that helps us to face the loneliness of existence”. It is correct that Luciferians make use of the model of Lucifer as an archetype, but I dispute the notion that it constitutes a “comfort blanket”. Far from it. Myth has the potential to be a guiding force, a way of communicating ideas and even truths that animates people in a way that ordinary communication often doesn’t. Christianity, of all religions, is one of the most successful examples of the use of mythopoetic narrative concerning a mythologized fiure to convey what they consider to be profound spiritual truth and ethos. To say that it is a coping mechanism is in some ways a deeply ingrained product of the assent of rationalism and positivism, but does not reflect the whole truth. Both ancient Greeks and some Christians were actually conscious of the idea that their belief systems compose a mythopoetic narrative that serves as a ground for their religious ethos. Apply the same thing to all other religious belief systems, and the approach makes sense except in the case of religions that actually exclude this approach (I suspect that Islam might be an example of such, because it considers the idea of relating God to the physical world to be blasphemous in a way that even Christianity does not). Smith criticizes this approach by saying that one cannot reconcile the concept of the lack of a corporeal God with the existence of inherent psychological archetypes, and then asking “Where did archetypes come from if there is no creative design or intended meaning to humanity?”. The short answer to that question, of course, is Man. God did not design these archetypes, they are a product both natural development in relation to the psyche in the sense of having been informed by natural processes, and human teleological influence in which the archetypes are reshaped by Man, sometimes for political ends, before again taking on a life of their own. Meaning, relatedly, is not something that has been handed down by an absolute father figure. Indeed, I perhaps would posit that, if it was, there would be no need of meaning. Our quest for meaning springs forth because, even as Jung himself said, Man was born into a world that he does not understand, and thus tries to interpret it. If there was a God, a source of absolute meaning and order, and this was instanteously apparent as it would be, humans would have no business ordering the world because they are already ordered by God, and they would have no business seeking to interpret the world and no variance of interpretations and beliefs because there is, necessarily, only one belief. Thus we Luciferians hold that meaning is for the individual, and individuals, to draw out on their own terms, communing with the world and its hidden aspect to negotiate their own meaning, cultivate their own selfhood, and order their own lives. That for us is part of the true content of what Jung meant by the process of individuation, and such a process is, indeed, a struggle. Thus let’s quote Skull Knight from the Berserk manga: “Struggle, endure, contend.”
And now we come to a truly preposterous set of claims from Smith. He says that “more discreet Luciferians” argue that the figure of Lucifer is separate from Satan. There’s nothing “discreet” or duplicitous about this argument, because it is incontrevertibly historically and scripturally true. Lucifer as a mythological figure begins in the pre-Christian Greco-Roman world, but of course has roots and analogues beyond it, with morning star deities like Athtar or Ishtar informing part of the character we call Lucifer today, and there are many similar deities that carry forth aspects of Lucifer throughout the world. Satan, on the other hand, has very few reliable counterparts in the pre-Christian world and as a postulate is specific to Judaism, Christianity, and later Islam. The modern Lucifer may overlap with certain folklorisitc interpretations of Satan, but is not completely identical in emphasis, and ultimately are in no way connected by the Bible. The Bible does not even feature fallen angels, those are products of extracanonical Jewish tradition. There is no instance of Satan being called Lucifer and falling from Heaven before the events of Gensis, and while Satan is shown to be falling from heaven in Revelation, this is only supposed to happen after the death and resurrection of Jesus, suggesting that, until Jesus enters the heavenly retinue, Satan has always been just an angel in God’s court, a heavenly functionary rather than the prince of Hell. Smith admits that the name Lucifer is not mentioned in relation to Satan in the Bible, but still asserts that “this argument seems rather coy and disingenuous to me” on the grounds that “for centuries the term Lucifer has been synonymous with the devil in the public consciousness” and that thus Luciferians only try to separate them “through a twisted form of wordplay and semantics”. If your own scripture proves that you are wrong, why is it us who are doing “twised games of wordplay and semantics” and not you? And isn’t this funny? You hark at us for not believing in absolute, totally objective meaning, and now your own arguments for why Lucifer and Satan are the same thing are nothing more that cheap exercises in ontological subjectivism. I’m sorry, but just because society has believed in something that was wrong or incorrect for centuries does not mean that this thing suddenly becomes correct. Or do you agree now with Joseph Goebbels when he said that a lie, told often enough, becomes the truth? Should we now declare that it was wrong to abolish slavery simply because it was considered just for thousands of years?
Continuing on the preposterous claims made by Smith, he says that we Luciferians do not care about the truth (that is, the “truth” according to Smith anyway) because we supposedly aim to sell Satanism to the public, thus requiring that we “put a different face on an old and ugly idea”. For starters, Satanism is not a particularly old idea. The first actual religious expression of Satanism, in a conservative estimate, would be the Church of Satan as founded by Anton LaVey in 1966, but there may also have been people peddling eccentric and heterodox religious takes on Satan before that, and some claim that the first man to call himself a Satanist was actually a Polish poet named Stanislaw Przybyszewski. Either way, Satanism finds no self-conscious religious expression prior to modernity. There is no ancient expression of Satanism as a religious concept. Satanism and Luciferianism, for that matter, are two different belief systems that, although sometimes overlapping, start with different central archetypes and conceits. Satanism is about the carnal ego (even if some Satanists pretend otherwise) while Luciferianism sometimes places emphasis on a “higher self” and in any case advocates for the evolutionary potential of humans. Satan is the accusing angel sent by God to chastise and torment humans, while Lucifer is the spirit of the morning star, who to us is the emblem of the light of the earth (and the underworld) who inspires rebellion against God or the Solar Logos (as Fraternitas Saturni put it). Luciferianism has complex origins in which an ancient pagan archetype is filtered through Christian folklore, occultism, and radical romantic literature, whereas Satanism, assuming LaVey is its main progenitor, emerges from a syncretic mix of Randian egoism, Nietzschean individualism, and Social Darwinism, without the same confluence of development. They are decidely different in roots and in character. Smith makes a point about how Satanists refer to Satan and Lucifer in the same breath and that Anton LaVey apparently did so as well, and I would say that if they did so then they are simply wrong-headed in light of history.
Smith claims that Luciferians, specifically the “more marketing conscious Luciferian groups” (whatever that means), treat Anton LaVey as an annoyance due to him supposedly being open about Luciferian beliefs in public. The fact that Anton LaVey never once used the term Luciferian to refer to anything doesn’t seem to be a problem for his narrative. We supposedly “believe in secrecy and initiation” and don’t like our “darker side on display for the whole world to see and to judge”. We may talk about initiation in a spiritual sense, but we’re not very secretive about it, or really any of our beliefs. Luciferians don’t tend to hide their core beliefs from the public, and certainly our “darker side”. I assume he means something malevolent, which we don’t, and I cannot imagine how anyone can look at Luciferians like us and think we like to hide any discourse concerning darkness, or the occult, or “the adversary” in the case of Ford and his ilk, or anything like that. We’re deeply interested in the subject, we’re open enough about it when spreading our beliefs, and we actually tend to think of darkenss as pertaining to a postulate of the true nature of beings and reality, and a base for light, enlightenment, evolution, creative power, and freedom. Our view of darkness could be said to be reminiscent of alchemy or Tantra, in that we consider it to be the raw base of transformative potential.
Then Smith brings up Michael Aquino in order to establish that he is “a direct antithesis to Anton LaVey”. On the surface that may actually be correct, at least for those who know the history of Satanism, but his reason for saying this is not actually because of the stark philosophical distinction between LaVey and Aquino. Instead he says this because Aquino supposedly set out to create a “more marketable” version of Satanism in the Temple of Set. I suppose if by “more marketable” we mean literally being on record going off to Wewelsburg Castle to practice black magick, brandishing a dagger wielded by Heinrich Himmler, and openly praising the works of Adolf Hitler and other Nazis while carefully pearl-clutching about their detractors (I wish I was making all of that up, but unfortunately it is well-documented), then perhaps it is “more marketable”. If anything, however, Anton LaVey has proven “more marketable” in this regard, not least because of the palatable nature of his rationalistic atheism. Suffice it to say that the Church of Satan remains a somewhat popular face of Satanism (though outpaced, in the last decade, by The Satanic Temple). Smith claims that Aquino showcases the “Luciferian belief in magic”, and at this point I’d like to stress that Aquino is not a Luciferian and has never used the term Luciferian to refer to himself, his belief system, the Temple of Set, or anything to do with magic. Satanists, typically, do not use the term Luciferian to describe themselves, because the term, by their reckoning, does not describe anything they believe, however similar. It is true, however, that Luciferians have a certain fixation on “magic”, though modern Luciferians don’t necessarily mandate that individual Luciferians practice it, and the more atheistically-inclined are sometimes encouraged to look at it in terms of psychological phenomenon. In fact, in his Lucifer-Hiram pamphlet, Carl William Hansen talked about what was then a contemporary attitude to magic as something “natural”, which could be apprehended by investigating the laws and ways of nature.
Smith says that Luciferians “believe in the power of magic words and symbols in the form of psychological key phrases and archetypes”. No examples are given to demonstrate this. He adds that Luciferians have adopted the use of archetypal psychology, which is sort of true, while stressing that “where psychologists like Carl Jung used archetypal psychology to heal people with mental and emotional illnesses, luciferians use archetypes to manipulate and control public thought.” In the case of Jung, this is in some ways a very simplistic reading of Jungian psychoanalysis, considering that Jung’s concept of individuation means a lot more than simply healing the psyche, but in the case of Luciferianism, we have no intention of using archetypes to manipulate public consciousness. Smith argues that we control people’s thoughts through popular culture and films, and you just know this shit gets good when we start talking about Hollywood conspiracies. His examples of Luciferian ideas in popular culture include the movie Blade Runner (OK, at least that just means we’ve got good taste) and the Netflix adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events. In the case of Blade Runner, Smith argues that its main “Luciferian” theme is that it shows androids rebelling against their creator and eventually murdering him. To reduce the movie to a kind of robo-triumphalism seems silly to me, and it only shows that people like Smith don’t understand the movie in terms of a 1980s popular culture that was specifically communicating the danger of rapid technological acceleration (with androids “killing their creator” being one example of that). In the case of the Netflix series, he claims that it showcases a belief in elitism, moral relativism, anti-theism, and even features a serpent that saves the protagonists from danger. I remember seeing the Brad Silberling movie version of it when I was a kid, and that movie to me had a lot to do with kids trying to outsmart a capricious guardian, not sure how that’s strictly “Luciferian” though, but as for the TV series I couldn’t tell you because I don’t have Netflix (and given Cuties I will probably keep it that way at least for some time). I have to assume it’s not quite like the way Smith paints it, but honestly he only made the show sound interesting. Also, with a careful reading of the Bible, you could make the argument that the serpent was actually doing God’s work, at least because the tree where Adam and Eve ate from could only have been present through God’s design; he knew it was there, knew that its fruit and the serpent would tempt then, and did nothing except warn Adam and Eve about it, and in his omniscience surely knowing they would ultimately disobey him.
Towards the end of the article, Smith claims that we Luciferians are duplicitious, citing our “duplicity” as the reason that people should be wary of our “promises and arguments”. He does not really establish why we are duplicitous, though. Yet, in the interest of balance, this is not for a lack of trying on his part. He attempts to establsh that we are deceivers, but in so doing he showcases his own ignorance about not only Luciferianism, but also a number of other subjects including even his own religious scripture. Thus we should say that he attempts and fails to establish duplicity. Smith states that humanty has spent the better part of 2,000 years attempting to rid society of the influence of “secretive occult elitism”, and the implication is that we Luciferians oppose this because we are “relentless” in our supposed “desire for power”. By this, it seems he means some sort of “high priest class”. Well we Luciferians don’t plan on ruling anyone by means of a class of high priests, nor do we plan on having ourselves be ruled by them. And it’s certainly true that civilization has had to deal with efforts by the ruling elite to consolidate their own secretive inner circles for the purpose of holding power and maybe doing nefarious deeds. The problem with trying to blame this on Luciferians, apart from the fact that Luciferianism in the sense we’re talking about is a marginal religious movement than never actually existed before 1906, is that, in the case of the West within the last 2,000 years, the people trying to establish a high priest class happened to Christians, and their sect happened to be Roman Catholicism. In fact, if Martin Luther is to believed, the whole problem of pedophile priests in Catholicism is not a new thing, and sexual abuse was suspected to have taken place even in his day, and otherwise it was not before the Reformation that you didn’t have to read Latin in order to be a good Christian. But of course, if I know Smith’s type of right-wing conspiracy theorist well enough, I’d assume he would simply treat the Catholics as a cabal of devil worshippers who merely claim to be Christians.
Smith concludes by asserting that regardless of the “positive spin” that supposedly we put on our “ideology” (by which he clearly means religion or spiritual philosophy), “the fruits of their activities speak much louder than propaganda”. What does he mean by “our activities”? Why, “globalism” of course, which he defines as “a cancerous desire for control over civilization and of every aspect of human thought”. Such a desire would run counter to just about everything Luciferians talk about regarding individual freedom and freedom of thought against conformity, Smith’s definition of “globalism” sounds rather like what we might otherwise call totalitarianism and pretty much no Luciferian I’ve ever met has ever argued in support of totalitarianism, and if anything I have met some Luciferians who might actually agree with Smith in that they oppose what they also call “globalism” (and I myself was once a right-winger sympathetic to nationalism at the same time as being a Luciferian). So all in all, I have no idea where Smith gets his ideas about what Luciferians are other than other people who think exactly like he does, and probably only know about as much as he does. He also claims that Luciferians pursue “a perversion of nature” in their quest “to obtain what they call “godhood””, and that “Transhumanism and genetic tampering carry all the hallmarks of the luciferian ideal”. Well not all Luciferians are necessarily pro-transhumanism. In fact, I for my part argue implacably against it, and I can draw arguments for it based on Carl William Hansen’s ideas while employing Cynic and Epicurean arguments in favor of pursuing a life of natural authenticity as a base of value and freedom, something that transhumanism ultimately threatens. As for “genetic tampering”, he gives no examples thereof, and I couldn’t say whether many Luciferians generally are for or against such things partly as a result of that. If he means GMO’s, that’s pretty much a nothingburger if you’ll excuse the pun. If he means something that involves making sure your child isn’t born with a debilitating disease, I can understand the ethical dilemmas there depending on the technology, but on the other hand, wouldn’t you want your offspring not to be born in suffering as a first principle?
In closing, Smith declares that everything about Luciferianism is an affront to “inherent conscience” and that thus it can only become acceptable through to the majority through deception, adding further that our philosophy must be either “dangerously incomplete” or “outright cataclysmic” if, as he claims, we have to lie about our philosophical motives. We don’t deceive the majority, and our ideas are not embraced by the majority of people, and in fact we expect that the majority of people will not embrace Luciferianism, so the first part of that is just a non-starter of a claim. We feel no need to lie about our motives. Such a thing serves only to hurt us as we affront our own conscience. There are few Luciferians in the world, none of them are part of the elite as people like Smith love to claim, but the few Luciferians there are give no illusions about their convictions, and some of them write books about those beliefs. As for his claim that “it is hard to find anything of value in their system”, I for my part can give my own take on the value of my belief system.
In my formulation of Luciferianism at least, the main sense of value comes from the . Without the supreme authority of God, there is Nature, the all-encompassing actuality of reality, from which there is no extrication, yet within which we see the seat of ultimate freedom. Nature is that which most people, even neopagans, know only as trees, rivers, mountains and such things, but not only does it comprise the totality of the space of life (and death) itself, but there is much that we do not know of it, and its laws (such that they can be called) lay at the same time hidden and readily available to reason, and from its bosom emerges a psychic current which nourishes Man, makes him complete, and underscores the real and fully human, not just the apparent self-image of Man. Set against authenticity of nature and the freedom of humans, indeed whatever chaos may underpin them, society frequently assembles reifications – of natural forces, of societal functions, of human virtues, or of the human ego itself – to lead humans astray from the basic facts of their existence on the promise of glory, honor, security, salvation, meaning, or any such things. They stand as the lights of the Apparent over the Real, and the concept of the Solar Logos refers to the principle of reification and power over the earth for which they stand. Lucifer is the emblem of the Real which stands in rebellion against the Apparent, whenever it rules over humans and leads them to ignorance and subjection. The light being brought to the world as implied in his namesake is the light of the earth, of nature, even its dark interior, the messenger of the truth at its most authentic, and therefore its most “absolute” as such can be called in a way that the gods of the heavens can never embody. His light is that which profanes “the sacred”, in the name of the only true sacred, which is also, ironically, profane in itself. Lucifer in this context is also the emblem of the inquisition of Man into the laws of nature, so that he may decide his own destiny, individually or collectively, and so he embodies gnosis of the ultimate principle reality. There is also a demiurgic quality in the Lucifer myth, at least in that he becomes a symbol of the creative power by which Man becomes the artificer of his own surroundings and which, when remembered and held to the root, is recalled as his own power, and one and the same with Nature, but which, when obscured by ignorance and reification, is mistaken for such things as Fate, God, or some supreme order of things.
Thus, the value of our mythopoetic way of thinking is to explore the world and the hidden mystery of life and death on our own terms, free from the dogma, obscurantism, and reification that has characterized much of organized religion (whether that is Christianity, beyond Christianity, or even before Christianity), and, in this quest, the pursuit of a destiny through the seat of authentic freedom in Nature, to set against societal certification. The daemon is the image of that destiny. It may seem like I am declaring a doctrine associated almost purely with non-religious atheism, but indeed it has religious implications akin to Taoism, aspects of paganism, and even some of Christianity (during their early period, one could still speak of journeys to the underworld). Indeed, I hark back to the two suns at Delphi, where the bright sun of Apollo and the night sun of Dionysus represented two spiritual currents, and I interpret the former to be the path toward reification and the latter to be the chthonic mystery heralding the real. What is more, for all Smith’s talk about how we Luciferians are supposed to be in favour of totalitarian engineering of society, the ideas I set out are totally against that, in fact it positions the reification of goodness and virtue as the font of artifice and social engineering, a manipulation of human consciouness that is to be opposed. In fact, I wager that many of the things Smith claims to oppose are in fact also opposed by us, at least given that ideological libertarianism of some stripe is the practically norm for Luciferians.
The last things I should note in regards to Smith’s article is the many things he says about Luciferianism. He treats it as though it is one big centralized and unified bloc, and certainly consolidated enough to have command over the superstructural apparatus of modern capitalist society. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. I could only dream of us having a cohesive enough movement to shake up society. But one wonders where Smith gets his ideas about Luciferianism with regards to elitism, moral relativism and the rest. I suspect he gets a good chunk of it from having only then found out about Michael W. Ford’s writings, but then it is probably just as likely that he never read anything from Luciferians at all, and insread simply picked up his ideas about Luciferianism from people like Mark Dice. I won’t say that no Luciferian is a moral relativist of some stripe, because I think there are Luciferians who are, though I do not consider myself one. One should look at the Cynics, and the way they embodied many of the ideals that we Luciferians hold ourselves to today, and note that they emphasized virtue as the prerequisite of the good (and free) life, just that their idea of virtue also meant the willingness to defy and even transgress social convention in pursuit of freedom, truth, and authenticity, so they cannot be said to be moral relativists. The idea of rebelling against and casting aside unjust gods of falseness in heaven also cannot meaningfully be separated from this conception of moral mission. So the only way the canard of “moral relativism” makes sense for Luciferianism, in my opinion, is from the perspective of people who despise and misunderstand our morality.
Finally, it is worth noting that part of the title of Smith’s article is “A Secular Look At A Destructive Globalist Belief System”, yet I do not see any indications that this is meaningfully a secular argument. It certainly failed to establish Luciferianism as “globalist”, for one thing, but more to the point his arguments do not make sense when framed as a “secular” perspective. He criticizes atheistic takes on archetypal psychology because he believes that the archetypes do not make sense without “creative design or intended meaning to humanity”, and this argument makes absolutely no sense for someone who is not religiously-minded to deploy, and by this I mean the argument is not a secular one, but a Christian one, arguing for the existence of God. You could say that in fact it is an atheist criticizing the idea as having theistic implications, but then he argues for good and evil as having transcendent existence, and complains about established, traditional religious narratives being subverted. Thus, our supposedly “secular” commentator is in fact a Christian god-believer fronting a very weak disguise for himself. No doubt that his audience sees through the charade he puts up, but praises the Christian underneath.
So in summary, Brandon Smith’s article is as mediocre as one would expect. It is built almost entirely of either misinformation or misleading interpretations of extant facts, or perhaps both. In either case, you will learn nothing about Luciferianism by reading that article, and it will not be particularly useful to you unless you already happen to subscribe to Smith’s worldview.
I stumbled upon an article from some website called UnHerd a few weeks ago about how conservatives need to return to “core values” after the defeat of Donald Trump. The article, titled “After Trump, conservatives must return to core values” and written by a man named Peter Franklin, makes the case that conservatives should re-align themselves with the core of conservatism by abandoning Trumpian populism in favour of a kind of Platonic (or at least seemingly Plato-inspired) ideology of civic virtue. UnHerd for those who don’t know is some centrist conservative-leaning op-ed magazine whose main trade seems to be self-important cultural and political commentary on liberalism (there are good articles from them to be sure, I just have a bit of a personal distate). Although the article isn’t exactly fresh, I decided to take the opportunity to express criticism of tendencies within conservatism that I’ve always disliked.
Our author begins with an astute observation of the inconsistency between the American right’s stated commitment to Christian values and their willingness to throw their support behind a man whose actions and personality convey very little in the way of those values. His main thrust, buttressed by quotation from the the Bible, is that the Republican Party, having imbibed Trump and his movement, has become stained by the apparent abject immorality of Trump and his movement, their bad company runing the otherwise “good morals” of the party (no one tell him about the fact that the same party appears to have no problem with Jim Jordan being in it), and so the key premise is for Republicans should cut off the Trump movement, or what’s left of it, in order to rebuild their moral credentials.
Now I could, of course, go into the many ways in which the Republican Party’s claim to being the party of good morals is simply false, from their enthusiasm for murderous plundering in the name of imperial expansion to their willingness to maintain a system that is entirely at odds with the religion they claim to believe in (indeed, perhaps Franklin should reflect much more on that superlative Eric Weinstein quote he cited and apply it to the official myth of Republican moral splendour), but what capitvates me is the more immediate impetus for the article itself. This article was written on the day of Joe Biden’s inaugration as President of the United States, and by that time, any reflection of Trump done by just about anyone is irrevocably coloured less by his overall record and more by his more recent association with the Capitol riots, as well as perhaps his refusal to accept electoral defeat. In this sense, Franklin should ask himself the honest question of what was such the unique moral outrage here? That some angry QAnon enthusiasts and Trump supporters invaded the Capitol building (or rather, were let into the premises by the police) for the purpose of shitposting and perhaps stealing the ballots? And yes, there may have been violent intent, suggested by the presence of weapons at the scene, but outside of that, very little destruction seems to have actually taken place. Meanwhile, last year, there were riots that engulfed many parts of the country in flames and a government building was destroyed. Now I’m confident that Franklin is much more consistent than many liberal commentaries, but at the same time one has to wonder why the objectively less destructive (which is by no means saying good) riot is more worthy of moral reflection on his political movement and the moral fibre of the country than the objectively more destructive riot.
We then come to a strange discourse concerning the relationship of conservatism to the establishment, reflecting on how conservatism used to be associated with the establishment and that now anti-establishmentarianism is moving away from the left and towards the right (both framed in bourgeois terms of course, referring to two wings of the present liberal bourgeois order rather than historical political thought). In any case here we get a sense in which Franklin’s concern for morality is defined significantly in relation to power. Think about when he says “Insiders get away with what they do and say because it’s normalised — even celebrated — by the arbiters of acceptability.”, and that conservatives should be mindful that “the cover story does not cover them anymore”. In some sense there is some point to it, in that the prevailing hegemony of a given society will favour itself and its agents over any who do not find themselves in harmony with it. But by reflecting on moral responsibility in this way, is it not possible to say that the salience of building moral comportment comes merely that it may be useful as a means to attaining power, rather than in-itself? If virtue or ethics pertain to what we do out of principle when there is no advantage, no threat, or no one watching, then virtue is of spontaneous value, it is valuable in itself, and so arguments that emerge from advantage, power, or looking reasonable for bourgeois society, are fundamentally meaningless. Mind you, as we shall see, there are some guiding axioms that Franklin presents, and we shall examine these as we go forward.
There is a key conceit of conservatism worth addressing here. Franklin states, in his criticism of conservative echo chambers, that “proper conservatism” is one that dislikes not only ideological purity spiralling but also “ideology itself”. I have seen conservatives of many stripes go and claim that they detest ideology and do not consider themselves an ideology, as though they were somehow centrists or something. In truth, this is nothing but a conceit. Conservatism is an ideology in its own right. It has core political axioms by which they believe society is to be structured around, as many ideologies do, they are defined in some sense by broad political programs and sets of assumptions that justify said programs, as all ideologies do, and it can be tied back to key historical materialist interests, namely those of the bourgeoisie, or at least the bourgeoisie of old. The only reason it doesn’t seem like they are too ideologically committed is because a great chunk of conservative ethos is defined precisely by opposition to broad or seemingly radical social and political changes.
There is a reason why conservatism in Europe looks somewhat different from conservatism in America. European conservatives have already accepted the liberal welfare state as a political reality, and in this sense part of their identity can be defined in terms of their opposition to much broader and more thoroughgoing socialization of the economic order. Americans on the other hand still have to fight just for universal healthcare to be realized, and many of the reforms that Europeans (including the British) take for granted are not only militantly opposed by the American right but also, due to their unfamiliarity in American life, become a source of anxiety that stems from the threshold between the present status quo and its alteration. But then even liberals serve the role of halting progression in this sense too, so what is the difference? The answer comes back to ideology, and the operative premise behind it. Whereas modern liberals merely oppose broad social-democratic reform because it means shifting away from neoliberal consensus in some way, even if only marginally, conservatives since the aftermath of the French Revolution have been guided by a belief that there is a timeless, eternal, supra-historical vision of social and political order whose observance and obedience is the source of harmony and prosperity (and perhaps “freedom” in some twisted Germanic reactionary vision thereof), and from which deviation is the source of degradation, destruction, and decline. It is, by necessity, not always consistent in light of their constantly shifting environment, but there will usually be an argument of this nature in opposition to broad social reforms. This claim cannot be taken as anything other than ideological, since it presents an assumed model for the proper course of political functioning and organization. Really I would say that there is no one in political thought that does not embody some sort of ideology. To say the opposite is to claim to a skepticism that either does not actually exist or is simply untenable in the face of any external pressures or experience.
Now we arrive at the subject that motivated me to write this post to start with: the “first principles” of conservatism that Franklin proposes. These “first principles” are a set of transcendental axioms referred to as Agathos (“the Good”), Aletheia (“the True”), and Kalos (“the Beautiful”), a terminiology he asserts to be borrowed from Greek philosophy. He uses the term “Platonic Triad” or “Socratic Triad” to refer to this set of axioms, though ironically such a triad was probably never actually devised by Plato or Socrates and instead was likely invented by a French idealist philosopher named Victor Cousin during the 19th century. Thus, he is speaking to concepts that were present in the Greek philosophical canon, though since Greek philosophy is by no means a unified entity they would likely have been defined differently and the subject of debate and contestation in relation to their precise meaning.
Before we get into these transcendentals individually, there is a fundamental conceit underpinning the invocation of this triad that underpins Franklin’s idea of conservative thought. His contention is that conservatism is defined explicitly by the belief that the transcendental axioms of morality are objectively real in that they transcend human experience. This is in his view what sets conservatism apart from liberalism, which in his view holds these axioms to be subjective or simply relative, a matter of opinion. It is also, contrary to Franklin’s earlier conceit, inespacably ideological, and in fact we now see that Franklin’s conservative ideology is an ideology of transcendent values, which are thus to be formatted onto human experience and societal organization. Franklin is very specific about what this transcendent status means, because he states that such a belief in transcendent axioms is excluded by the premise that the physical universe is all there is. What is implied, though not outwardly stated, is that these values stand apart from physical reality, apart from human experience, to be imposed upon both from some alien realm of spirit. Such a premise thereby invites obvious questions about the origins of these axioms, the falsifiability thereof, or whether or not they even tie back to human experience if they exist in such a fundamentally alien fashion to humanity, as is implied by their transcendent status. Indeed, in light of the obvious influence of Platonism found here, we can note that Plato’s critics have said much the same thing in objection to Plato’s theory of the Forms. But Franklin prefers not to think of it this way. Instead he only assumes that this view has been challenged, and supposedly abandoned, because it is simply “unfashionable”. Not because such a worldview may actually be untrue, but because its implications inhibit the autonomy and subjectivity of humans.
This is interesting by itself because it speaks to a broader worldview that, in my view, presents itself as absolute truth but in reality is ripe for contestation and question. Franklin obviously recoils to the thought that freedom and autonomy might actually demand that any limits be placed upon it are not valid or worthy by themselves but instead must be tested on the grounds of their salience, their moral sense, their empirically sound character, and in broad terms their necessity, and from there merit. Obviously, if morality is transcendent, then any limits on autonomy or freedom don’t need to be justified except by their conformity to a set of transcendent axioms, but even then it certainly seems to have no basis in nature or the human, since it stands fundamentally outside of the human. Thus, it exists specifically as a device by which to restrict freedom through the superimposition of a trace-manifestation of the original or natural expression of virtue in the world.
Now, onto the first of these transcendentals: Agathos, or “the Good”. “The Good” is here defined as “excellence of character”, and is to be applied to questions of leadership, “is he or she of excellent character?”. To this, I say, I’m sure Barack Obama could be interpreted as “excellent in character” by many people, but he still ordered the wholesale slaughter of countless children in the Middle East, and orchestrated mass espionage upon his own population. In this sense clearly either he was not excellent in character, at which point no US President after World War 2 could ever be described as such (to which I would indeed agree), or there is a clear gulf between “character” and the actions perpetrated in the real world. As to his own application of this axiom, we are drawn back to the subject of the Capitol riots, and it is hear that I must confess that I laughed at the author’s apparent lack of self-awareness. He asks: “Can attacking police officers doing their duty be described as good? Or vandalising a public building? Or disporting oneself in a place reserved for the holders of high office?”. I have questions of my own. What about police officers letting rioters into the Capitol Building in the first place? What about them taking selfies with them? What about a police officer murdering a Trump supporter? Or better yet, what about acting like a scene in which five people died is an unprecendented national tragedy, while ignoring the riots that engulfed America last year – who knows how many people were hurt or killed while their homes and businesses were burned and smashed? Can any of this be described as good? And I’m not done. What about arguing against stimulus relief for poor and working Americans trying to survive the pandemic, as plenty of Republicans have done? What about abetting a system in which the average American cannot be guaranteed good healthcare because they will never be able to afford it? What about lying Americans into an illegal, unjustifiable, criminal war in Iraq, as Republicans have done? Is any of this to be described as good?
There is also something to be said of Franklin’s statement that “if someone lives their life in obvious violation of widely shared standards of decency, then that really ought to put us off”. On the surface, this is eminently agreeable. But let us peel back. To what extent are the shared standards of decency we hold based on goodness, let alone on truth, and how do you know that this is the case? Evidently our discourse on the Capitol riots suggests that our shared standards of decency are, if anything, ultimately insincere and arbitrary, and that their authorship is traceable to a consensus that is manufactured by the ruling class, one which evidently sees the destruction of ordinary communities as no big thing compared to the intrusion upon reified symbols of bourgeois power.
Next, the second of these transcendentals: Aletheia, or “the True”. Here he denotes the concept of self-evident truth, from which he then proceeds to masturbate about the evils of conspiracism. He never explains why the enterprise of conspiracy theory is inherently fallacious, in light of the fact that conspiracy is in fact a legitimate category of law and hence conspiracy theory is simply speculation on the occurrence of conspiracies, he simply expects that you already agree with him. He also makes no argument for why truth is always necessarily self-evident either, why there can be nothing hidden from human eyes, that we must hence seek out upon our accord. He argues only that as conspiracist thinking becomes normalized, “debate” ceases to exist, replaced by propaganda, as though the mainstream press does not propagandize the public all the time.
He complains that unity is destroyed in the process, but the unity he seeks is nothing more than a culture in which all people conform to an unquestioned account or narrative of events. Unity based on this is not necessarily a good thing, and it certainly is not good soil for debate, since the only salience there is for debate is, ironically enough, the ground of disputation, contestation, uncertainty, disagreement, in other words division. This division is natural to the diversity we see in the free and open exchange of ideas that we like to talk about, and it is quite natural that you may put two or three people together and expect them to agree on almost nothing. To the extent that Franklin upholds the virtue of doubt, it is very clearly not towards popular or established consensus. He certainly does not embody skepticism any more than anyone else meaningfully can (as I implied earlier, there are probably no true skeptics in any fully ontological sense), and he seems to subtly chastise those who are skeptical of the efficacy of blanket lockdowns as a policy, though ironically such skepticism is quite normal in his own movement.
There is also something that can be said of Franklin’s invocation of the concept of epistemic humility. He holds this to ultimately be a conservative ontological principle because it implies a consistent opposition to radical and untested change. But does it? He equates this concept with doubt, “the homage that we pay to truth’s transcendent power to expose human ignorance”. But is it not through that very same homage that we come to question the transcendent itself? Is it not through epistemic doubt and humility, the admission of ignorance, that tells us that we cannot even be sure of the transcendent, or of God’s presence in the universe? Although it is certainly true that there can be no such thing as a truly consistent skeptic, since such a skeptic is compelled ultimately to ontological impossibilism through his own self-denial, it is also obvious that Franklin’s idea of doubt and epistemic humility stops short of the validity of his transcendentals. These, being outside of the world, are also being the question of this world, despite very clearly being human reifications of human, and thus worldly, givens. In the same sense that he implies doubt as an implacable opponent of radical and untested change, I may also submit alternatively that it implies opposition to any arbitrary impositions upon natural liberty and autonomy, and the free development of individual, as well as collective, ways of life, or an opposition to any claim for organized human society that exists because it is simply the natural order of human societies. But such thinking, I suspect, would be totally anathema to Franklin, because his transcendentals would ultimately be the targets of any thoroughgoing application of such a virtue, at least so long as they stand as means to justify the impositions he desires.
Lastly, the third of these transcendentals: Kalos, or “the Beautiful”. Here we also see a take on the interrelation between goodness, truth, and beauty that sound sensible for those who dwell in appearances and therefore in ignorance. He says “truth tells us about goodness and beauty draws us towards the truth.”. I laugh. Beauty more often than not has the power to draw you away from truth, for indeed a lie can be beautiful and wholesome whilst still being a lie, and spreading a beautiful lie is not good, indeed it is thoroughly unvirtuous. Here is a truth that is very cruel and ugly, but is true nonetheless: at any moment, you may actually die from seemingly nothing. Is it true? I see no reason to doubt it. Is it beautiful? Absolutely not? Is it good? You tell me. A truth need not be particularly noble-minded, and certainly not particularly beautiful, in order for it to be true. And ironically enough, even Christianity had its sights on this reality. The Bible talks about people despising the truth, but if truth were beautiful and glorious, who could despise that, especially if beauty is supposed to lead to truth?
Beauty, very often, can serve as an effective veneer for all manner of faults or problems. Take for example a recent story of a woman named Jewel Hernandez who assaulted her boyfriend because he apparently refused to have sex with her. She is by no means an ugly woman, so the refusal to have sex must not connect with any sort of repulsion to her appearance. The man could just have not been feeling like sex that day, but that itself seems to have set her into a violent stupor. Clearly you can meet someone who is beautiful but also unstable. Fascist aestheticism plays an often unreasonably high stress on the aesthetic element, to the point that aestheticism can be seen as central to the psychic and even political appeal of fascism. In fact, Walter Benjamin made a good observation when he stated that fascism introduces aesthetics into political life as a means of giving the masses an expression without giving them the right to change the structure of their society. Fascism thereby lays a heavy emphasis on what it deems to be the beautiful, which in their parlance is invariably married with their abstract ideas of strength, and the fascist ideal of the beautiful here leads not to truth but instead to the obfuscation of unspeakable malice and suffering. The Soviet Union, by contrast, politicizes art and aesthetics, thereby conforming art to ideology, and this was the ethos behind that witless school of art known as “socialist realism”, whose apparent aesthetic splendour, in its relentless pursuit of the glorification of the USSR, no doubt served to blanket away its precarious and totalitarian nature.
Now, this observation is very relevant because, although Franklin is not a fascist, not by any stretch of the term, and certainly not a Stalinist either, his views on aesthetics stress an intertwining of beauty and salience by rendering aesthetic choice a criteria not only by which virtue can be inferred but also the character of a political movement as a whole. This embodies simultaneously the aestheticization of politics and the politicization of aesthetics. Politics is rendered aesthetic because beauty is intertwined with truth and goodness as mutual criteria of each other, and aesthetics is politicized because aesthetics here fundamentally matters to politics in that it is to be the expression of politics. Aesthetics, in Franklin’s conservatism, is to “enlighten”, “improve”, and “inspire” in its wholesomeness, and in this regard he deems that Trumpism fails the standard of virtue by flouting the axiom of the Beautiful because its aesthetic, as communicated by their memetics and rhetoric, is vulgar, provocative, and outrageous, and by his books seeks to sensationalize rather than inspire and offend rather than enlighten. But enlightenment in itself is not something that exists simply to graciously beautify creation. Indeed, there are all too many discourses on the nature of enlightenment that hint brilliantly towards the character of enlightenment as being destructive towards illusion inasmuch as being inspirational. Indeed, while vulgarity can indeed be an alienating thing, there is also, in at least some cases, a sincerity to it that Franklin’s idea of graciousness rarely permits, since substance is never always guaranteed by form. Unbounded by nicety, the vulgarian, if he intends to communicate the truth (or at least what he sincerely believes to be the truth), will not bother with grace and form and instead aggressively preach his raw substance, and he will wish to awaken people to his views, by which we mean very rudely and boldly so. Even if we put God into the equation, I think it is fairly obvious in the Bible that God does not just politely nudge people towards his reality or his word, rather he shocks his prophets into the knowledge of God. Now, Franklin is careful to acknowledge that even in speaking profanely a person can still speak the truth, but whereas he deems it a failure of virtue in the ultimate analysis, I deem it to be alive, authentic, even heroic at times.
There, after all this, still hangs in the air a sense of the question of what Franklin is conserving. You would think this was an insane question because his objects of conservatism are clear as day, namely the three transcendentals. But when one looks at his arguments, I find that most of what he wants to conserve is the reputation of the right, by which I mean their good standing in the sight of bourgeois values. And besides, if these transcendentals are really apart from the physical world, if as is implied by his concept of what it is to be transcendental, then they are fundamentally out of human hands to preserve or alter, and we are in fact moved and imposed upon by them, since they transcend our experience. Yet, it seems this does not happen. Of course it doesn’t, since humans do not naturally conform to the transcendental, if mainly because the transcendental, in the terms that implied by Franklin, in Platonistic discourse, and in common parlance, does not exist to start with. When I say this, I do not mean this in the sense that there is not more to the world than first meets the eye. Insofar as I consider to be myself spiritually-inclined, I do indeed suspect or believe that there are concerns for which the I prefer the term “numinous” to describe (the term “supramundane” rolls of the tongue but is ultimately an inadequate definition). What I mean is that insofar as I consider philosophical materialism to be correct over philosophical idealism, I would say that, if there is only the cosmos that exists, and that this cosmos consists of eternally regenerating matter and energy in the final hand, then to speak of something exist apart from the cosmos and transcending it is to speak fundamentally of fiction, deceptive abstraction, falsity, and of a unique type of meaninglessness that is uttered, ironically, in the name of giving life meaning. I suppose then that we do arrive at Franklin’s true object of conservatism: an imagined idea of a world governed by the alien forces of the transcendental, whose mere existence overrides the autonomy of humans.
Now, I want there to be no illusions about my views on morality. Just because I reject the idea of there being a transcendental moral axiom or axioms does not mean that I think that morality is meaningless or non-existent, though my criteria for morality is admittedly an obstinate one – it must justify itself within the world. .My view of morality is that it must be something that is not rained down upon us from heaven, like manna to the Israelites, but instead growing outward from the soil, like the tree of life as symbolized in antiquity. It should be something that can develop freely by our hand, yet be held to the root and compel observance from humans. It should not be some feckless yoke upon autonomy and expression, but something that is simply shared and considered in the space of freedom and worldliness. Such a thing is very difficult to sketch out, I realize, and it is small wonder that people can default either to transcendent moral absolutism or complete moral skepticism or subjectivism, neither of which I find to be salient.
In any case, I find Franklin’s case for the “core values” of conservatism to be thoroughly unsatisfactory, and I hope I have gotten that across in the best way possible.
So many religious movements set themselves on the idea of human nature as something to be thoroughly reconditioned for their own salvific ends, to the extent that any expression of religious thought that runs counter to this instinct is taken as a threat. Take Buddhism, for example. Some sects of Buddhism, such as Tendai Buddhism, stress a doctrine known as hongaku (“innate enlightenment”), which holds that enlightenment or the potential thereof is to be found in all sentient beings, even if they are ignorant, and in all states and all beings, even inanimate objects. Buddhists who criticize this doctrine usually make an argument that comes down to the idea that is enlightenment is innate, needing only to be awakened or acquired, and that it is found everywhere, then what is even the point of Buddhistic practice? By this, of course, they mean what is the point of the attainment of enlightenment and the destruction of ignorance, by which many of them probably still mean through their means in particular. I am reminded of Christian arguments against Epicureans who argued against the fear of the gods on the grounds that it would destroy all religion.
Yet even within the Christian world, more specifically within the milieu of Renaissance humanism, we see a defence of unconditioned human nature in the credo offered by the poet Maffeo Vegio: “what Nature created and shaped cannot be anything but holy and praiseworthy.”. Not only this, he even defends Nature itself from the charge of being the source of human evil, saying “Truly, the excuse that the wickedness of man derives from Nature seems to incriminate Nature (however unjustly) more than it exculpates man”, and as a man who somehow considered himself both a Christian and an Epicurean he also condemned the Stoics on the grounds that they “cast many a stone at Nature, as if she can be reformed” First and foremost he was a defender of Nature, the first cause from which he believed mankind cannot be separated.
It is a trope of modern left-wing political thought to deny the very concept of human nature because of right-wing conservative or bourgeois arguments that use a distorted or selective idea of human nature in order to give naturalistic groundings to a system that is otherwise either relatively novel or even functionally unnatural. Yet ironically for Marxists who do this, Karl Marx himself never denied human nature, and in one of the footnotes for Capital he even chasitses people who he believes ignored human nature in support of their ideas. Indeed, when paired with the Nature invoked by Vegio, we should remember that Marx’s friend Freidrich Engels posited Nature as the first case of labour, the fundamental principle of social and historical life. Human nature, admittedly, can mean many things in common discourse, and is usually is taken as a synonym for the side of humans that is either bad or simply dubious and in any case is to be repressed, but if we are serious about the concept, we should also account for all of the benefic aspects of human behaviour. Kindess, friendship, love, compassion, benevolence, sociation, wisdom, yes, even things like duty, self-restraint, discipline, pride, and honor. Can anyone say that these things are purely the work of the conditioning of human nature? Are those things, or at least their potential, really not found within the primeval soup of unconditioned human nature at least as much as such traits as cruelty, lust, fear, sloth, wrath, or greed?
Human nature might be far more ambiguous a concept than popular belief would have you think, but this is not to say that there is no point to discourse on the concept. As we hold ourselves to the root as the Neo-Taoist Wang Bi counselled us to do, we shall wisely look to the base of the human, in all its ambiguity and indeed darkness, as the base of the human, and so the Real. Carl William Hansen would tell us Luciferians the same thing, to look to the darkness of created matter and its hidden nature as the only reality, in contradistinction to any who set the bright realms of Pleroma against the world. And in application of hongaku thought we should say that enlightenment itself is to be found and activated within the pure sphere of Nature. So hail to human nature, and woe to the prophets against nature. That is the true credo of humanism: to love Man not for what he may be conditioned into being, but for the fullness and suchness of his being. There is no love of mankind without the reverance of the fully human.
This is the last of five Mythological Spotlights that was originally a Deific Masks page.
Shiva is a very complex deity. He is usually the destroyer of the universe, though also sometimes considered a creator in some sects, and he is also a deity of the powers of liberation. He holds the trident of divine power, the drum of cosmic vibration, and the flame of destruction. He also wears the beautiful goddess of the Ganges river in his locks of hair. Despite his nature as a destroyer and a generally wild deity, he is known for being respectful, friendly, kind, loyal, and protective to his devotees, which probably explains a lot of his popularity as a deity. He also upholds cosmic balance and has the power to bring opposites together. As Mahadeva he is associated with the powers of the heavens and cosmos, one of the most powerful, if not the highest, of the Hindu pantheon of deities. Shiva is also represented as a Lord of Music (Vinadhara), and a Lord of the Dance. As Pashupati he is the lord of animals. In his capacity as the destroyer, Shiva destroys clutter to make way for space, harmony, and serenity.
It has been speculated that a seal found in Mohenjo-daro, an ancient settlement located in what is now Pakistan, depicts an early version of the Vedic deity Rudra, who went on to become the modern Hindu deity Shiva. The deity in question and its seal was named Pashupati, after one of Shiva’s epithets (which means “Lord of Animals”), and shown with the horns of a water buffalo, sitting in a yogic pose, and surrounded by animals. However, for many, Shiva originated as the Vedic deity Rudra. Funny enough, it is said that in Vedic times, an epithet given to Rudra and other deities was Siva (which means “The Auspicious One”), which would become the name of the modern Shiva.
Rudra himself was a lord of storms, wind, and the hunt, and was considered a dangerous and frightening deity, the embodiment of unpredictable and wild nature (which might have made his Siva epithet bitterly ironic). The Rigveda praises Rudra as one of the mightiest deities, if not the mightiest. His sons were a group of storm deities known as the Maruts, who were violent young warriors that attended to the weather deity Indra. Rudra was also feared to cause diseases to people and cattle with his arrows, but it was also believed he was capable of healing people as well. He was mainly appeased and worshiped out of fear rather than devotion, due to his mostly malevolent and unpredictable nature, and was often associated desolate and distant places.
Rudra’s depiction started to change when he became identified as Shiva, the destroyer of the universe and liberator of souls, which likely began with a body of Indian texts known as the Upanishads. One of these texts, the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, is notable for is focus on Rudra and Shiva. In fact, it’s the first text where Shiva is definitely used as an epithet for Rudra; the wild, fierce, destructive, and borderline-malevolent deity Rudra started also being considered a kind and benign deity. Over time, Rudra and Shiva became viewed as one and the same deity, and in the time of another body of texts known as the Puranas, the notion of a trinity of deities (that of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer) emerged and Shiva’s role within it was: he was the destroyer and regeneration of the universe, the deity of transformation, and a liberator of souls. However, it was and still is often the case that one or two members of the trinity were favored more than the other. Vishnu and Shiva were always more popular and were treated as the Supreme Being by different sects of Hinduism. There are some who believe Shiva is the supreme being, and Vishnu and Brahma (among other deities) are merely aspects of him, while others believe Vishnu is the supreme being and Shiva is just his supreme guru and the ruler of the material world. Two sects represent each position respectively, and have often taken to vilifying each other and even demonizing their patron gods as liars. Even to this day most people prefer one of them over the other or both, but the deity Brahma never attained same kind of prominence. This may be partly to do with a myth in which Shiva cursed Brahma to never be worshiped. Some say it was because Brahma mated with a goddess named Shatarupa, which was considered incestuous because Brahma had created her and so she was considered to be his daughter. Today, Shiva is one of the most widely worshiped deities in Hinduism and is considered to be benevolent and just as well as destructive, and he is also worshiped in many forms and under many names. Many myths show him to be more powerful than almost all other deities, if not all other deities, and the devas tend to call on either him or Vishnu for aid. The only deity shown to be possibly more powerful than Shiva is his wife, Parvati, whenever she is angered or takes on terrfyingly wrathful forms such as Kali (whose dance of bloodlust almost destroyed the universe before Shiva lay himself beneath her feat as a mattress).
In Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, Shiva is manifested as the deity Mahakala, a wrathful protective deity (particularly one classed as Dharmapala or “protector of Dharma”) charged with defending practitioners, schools, and teachings of the Buddhist faith. In Buddhist lore, Mahakala is considered a wrathful manifestation of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Mahakala arrived to Japan from China (where he was also considered a protective deity) and become a household deity of fortune and farmers, associated with prosperity, and was named Daikokuten. Despite his happy and benign personality, Daikokuten could also assume a wrathful form with six arms and three heads, referred to as Sanmen Daikokuten. Shiva himself also made his way to Japan as one of twelve devas who guard the eight directions, the sun, the moon, up, and down. He is known in Japanese esoteric Buddhism as Ishanaten or Daijizaiten, and he was believed to protect the northeast direction and live in the sixth heaven (the heaven of the world of desire). He is also believed to have been subjugated by Gozanze Myo-O, one of the Five Wisdom Kings, before becoming a Buddhist deity. There is also a myth from medieval times which stated that Japan itself was the domicile of Daijizaiten, who was thought to be its cosmic ruler and the inventor of the Chinese writing script. In the same myth, Vishnu (Bichuten) was the cosmic ruler of China and the creator of the Kharosthi script, while Brahma (Bonten) was the cosmic ruler of India and the creator of its script.
Shiva’s complexity has made him a hugely successful deity in the Hindu mythos. He has been able to capture multiple mythological connotations that render him a particularly universal deity within Hinduism. His association with asceticism has also led him to be taken as a totem of Hindu orthopraxy in that he represents the state to which the yogis aspire to, that which they seek to become through the attainment of God-realization. His dark side through Mahakala lends itself nicely to the Tantric framework and the resultant transmutation into Japan seems to have made him something of a chthonic god. As such, the universality of Shiva is a strength that allows him to travel throughout the East.
An exciting development has been taking place in the field of sticking it to the man. Last week, a subreddit called r/WallStreetBets began short squeezing shares from the company GameStop, which was seeing hard times due to a combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and competition from online distrubtors. Seeing GameStop’s terrible condition, some hedge funds placed short bets on the company failing, intending to make a fortune off the company eventually folding. But r/WallStreetBets had other ideas. Seeing so many investors bet on GameStop’s price going down, and going from the word of Citron Research who said that the value of GameStop’s stock would decrease, the subreddit began buying GameStop’s stock en masse in order to drive up the price. The idea seems to have been to make it so that the rich short sellers would have to pay more money for the stocks they bet on. As you probably already have some idea about, it seems to be working.
In the space of a week, GameStop’s share price has skyrocketed by about 700%. The hedge funds bet that GameStop’s stocks would plummet, and now that they’re actually rising they risk losing a lot of money. The stocks have risen so quickly that trading has halted at some points. Naturally, this has sent the financial establishment into panic mode. They’re now doing everything they can to try and lower the price of the stock so that they can still make a profit off of those shares, while Reddit is holding out and refusing to sell for the moment because then the stock prices will plummet and the hedge funds win. In the meantime, the same people who for years have been playing the stock market like a casino are now calling on the government to stop people from doing the same thing they did.
However, it looks like all the hype might not be to last. As of today, the stock price for GameStop has indeed plumetted after the trading app Robinhood imposed a ban on its users investing in GameStop. The bourgeoisie, having sense that the stock market was rapidly being turned against them by ordinary people, and have now opted to use their power to rig the outcome in their favour so that they can still make a profit. Thus it seems as though WallStreetBets might well lose the war. And yet, despite this, there may yet be wide-ranging political rammifications. Both progressives and conservatives appear to be united in calling for investigations into the stock market, and the Senates plans to have a hearing on the state of the stock market. Time will tell what will come of all this, but no matter what happens hedge funds are in for a grilling and the future of stockbroking may change irreversibly.
All told, I think this was nothing less than a heroic story of ordinary people on the internet who, with nothing but their own know-how, got together and seized the opportunity to take on the American financial elite by playing the stock market game. And although I can’t say with much confidence that they’ve won, for now at least, but no matter what the outcome their struggle is showing people what happens when ordinary people try to take on the system, and, most importantly, that is possible for anyone to subvert the system if they have the knowledge to do so. I think this the main lesson for anyone seeking to oppose capitalism to draw from all of this. Old forms of revolution in light of modern material conditions is the talk of the 20th century, but subversion is, and always has been, a living force of radical change, and opens the way forward for the anti-capitalism of the 21st century.
The other lesson, of course, concerns so-called “hate speech”. Not long after the stock market spiralled out of control, the Discord server for r/WallStreetBets was shut down supposedly on the grounds of “hate speech” violations. This, you should remember, is not long after they successfully short squeezed GameStop’s stocks. The lesson from this is that “hate speech” laws were never, ever, about protecting the marginalized, or upholding freedom of speech as some would insist in a brazenly Orwellian fashion, but instead they were always there just to shore up the authority of the ruling class. Those who look at this and still for that hackneyed line will show themselves to be goons forever.