I have been planning my altar for quite a while, and I have had a breakthrough as to how it is meant to be, which has also led to me changing my perspective on the deities.
The first element is a flame at the center of the altar, which should ideally be contained in a bowl in a manner least likely to create a fire hazard. The central flame is a representation of the will, and its power which I want to evoke and strengthen. The altar itself is supposed to be an orderly vehicle for my spiritual goals, and to receive the power to achieve them. With the flame of the will at its center, there is no real need for deities that impose, or rather disseminate, order (such as Varuna). Saying that, however, Ashura is a deity I think is capable of being associated with order and capable of bringing that order, though this is mostly due to his associations with Ahura Mazda. That said, Ashura is a warlike deity, and as a warlike deity he calls back to the times where war, discord, and unrest led to the rise of heroes who made a name for themselves by fighting to restore order (the Three Kingdoms period in China being a well-known example), and he’s a guardian deity so there’s a lot of potential there.
Getting back on point, the flame also represents the flame of life, which runs through living beings, the flame of intelligence, as in the flame that appears between the horns of the Baphomet, the flame of ambition and drive, the flame of strength and freedom, and the flame of spirit itself, perhaps even of youth. It also calls back to the Pythagorean concept of the central fire, a fire at the center of the cosmos referred to as the “hearth altar of the universe” and the “watch tower of Zeus”, and the sacred fire of the goddess Vesta, which was believed to be the life and soul of Rome itself and fundamental to its survival. It’s as though fire upholds the cosmos and civilization, and so just fire upholds the cosmos, fire should uphold me as my will, and the fire of the altar should help to evoke that power. In mythological terms, the fire should also relate to the fire given to mankind by Prometheus of the Greek tales, and later Azazel of the Watchers who fell from Jehovah’s realm in Hebrew lore, and the fire of being and illumination associated with Lucifer. Thus, the fire can also represent Lucifer as a principle in the Luciferian sense. The thing is, in Luciferianism, Lucifer is not exactly supposed to be worshiped in the way that you’d be expected to worship Jehovah, Jesus, Allah, Vishnu, Zeus, or pretty much all deities and their prophets in the conventional sense. Instead, Lucifer is a more of a symbol or a role model, in a way like how Jesus and the Buddha have become role models for people in the mainstream current. Much like how Buddhists seek selflessness by following the model of Siddhartha Gautama, or how the Bible taught that Christians were meant to follow the example of Jesus, Luciferians like myself seek to advance ourselves, pursue our dreams and desires, and maximize our freedom, the strength of the will, and control over our own lives and destiny with the example of Lucifer in our minds and souls. Instead of worshipping Lucifer, a Luciferian tries to achieve what Lucifer represents, and that’s one of the important things the flame represents. Among other details for the altar include a hexagram cloth representing an orderly cosmos with small candles on each of the six points, the upside down pentagram within the hexagram representing the path of selfhood (the self creating its own order, just like with the flame), and Chinese dragons flanking the central flame (meant to complement the flame itself, provide an Oriental touch to the altar, and refer to dragons as divine symbols of power, energy, and good fortune).
Now for my plans for deities. I like the concept of deities as archetypes and symbols, and I always have. But the way I have done things in the past, and the way I have just left things, it feels like deities risk having too large a role, especially when I have deities representing every portion of my personality. I feel this narrative was fine at earlier points (or more or less during my time in art college), but I don’t feel it got practiced and I often forgot to do so. My concern is that this is because it was generally too much baggage, especially when it’s accompanying a belief system where the primary focus is the self, rather than the deities as abstract beings. It’s also especially a problem when I tried to accommodate some kind of primordial force, and then attached that to a deity or being, such as Shiva, Shakti, or Satan/Beelzebub. It’s kind of problematic because it might accidentally lend to the notion of a supreme deity, which is very problematic, and I guess you could say to the point of being an oxymoron, if your belief system centers on the self. In other words, having a primordial force represented by a deity and relating it to myself just seems strange, and there’s little point in doing so if you believe you are your own god, the force primarily responsible for your life. Because of this, while I feel I should still have deities in my system, they should have a less central role in things and the arrangement should be simplified.
Before this post has been published, the My Deities page showed eight deities (well nine actually, just that Liberty and Justice are paired). Under my new plans and altar arrangement, this is reduced to four deities. Since the flame is a symbol of the ideals of liberty, Liberty isn’t really that viable as a goddess being already conveyed in flame, so she’s out. The goddess Justice is also a little auxiliary because of the flame of liberty. Besides, liberty and justice are strong enough as principles and ideals. The flame also renders Agni as a deity useless, since many things Agni represents are now covered by the flame of the will and of Lucifer. And Guan Di? Well I feel a foolish treating a deity based on a historical person, and I’ve read some of Guan Di’s teachings and they ultimately refer to humans as meant to exist in service of their fellow man, which is a big no-no for Left Hand Path systems. This leaves four deities: Shiva, Ashura, Beelzebub, and the goddess Astaroth (who replaces Dairokuten Maou for lust, mainly because there’s actually little going for him and not much about him to work with). Here, the deities are symbols and archetypes, chosen based on the deities I relate to the most or am most fond of, and they each represent something important. After this post is published, I plan to rewrite the deity pages to include full details about what they represent to me, and their history (though Astaroth will get a whole new page devoted to her), and will not use my paintings on them unless I decide to use new paintings for them. It’ll take a long time for each of the pages, but it’ll be worth it.
I will reveal these details about the deities though, in the meantime. Ashura is a war god and a guardian deity. Shiva was the destroyer in the Hindu trinity, but somehow he’s worked his way up to being the supreme being many Hindu circles (probably the work of popularity). Beelzebub is the lord and ruler of demons. Astaroth (or Ashtaroth) is the goddess of love and lust, originally the goddess Astarte or Ishtar (who was the goddess of love and war). Ashura represents battle, competition, and the warrior’s, but also ethical devotion, the desire to protect, and upholding honor. Shiva represents wilderness, creativity, liberative power, and the ability to harmonize to opposing forces (like creation and destruction). Beelzebub represents the power of the dark, and the fascination for it. And Astaroth represents, well, love and lust. But of course, I intend to put more detail on all that into the deity pages in due time.