Baphomet stands opposite the Ten Commandments, at long last

I know it may seem abrupt, but I think I have to talk about this, because it seems like a notable positive development. The Satanic Temple’s statue of Satan, entitled Baphomet, has had quite a journey in its day. It was originally designed with the intention of standing opposed to the Ten Commandments monument at Oklahoma State Capitol Building. But, after said monument was ordered to be removed, the statue found itself without a home, and in the end was placed at a private unveiling party held by The Satanic Temple in Michigan. For a while, I thought that was it, the closing chapter in the story of our delightful goat-headed friend. But it seems that’s not the case.

Last year, a new Ten Commandments monument was erected on the property of the Arkansas State Capitol buidling, just like what had been done with Oklahoma. The monument was destroyed by someone ramming his car into it not long after its placement, but it was replaced in April this year thanks to a fundraising campaign by one Jason Rapert – a Republican State Senator and the founder and president of an Evangelical Christian organization called Holy Ghost Ministries. This has predictably been met with opposition from The Satanic Temple, along with the ACLU and atheists and secularists in Arkansas, and in response to this development The Satanic Temple have decided to hold a rally, the Rally for the First Amendment, in front of the Arkansas State Capitol Building to protest this decision, bringing with them the famous statue of Satan they designed for Oklahoma. In the background of all this, The Satanic Temple are naturally also suing the government for the right to keep that statue there permanently, or at least for as long as the Ten Commandments monument remains.

This in a way is such a triumphant moment. After being denied its moment to stand opposite the symbols of Christianity, at long last, the Baphomet/Satan statue finds the opportunity to do exactly that. We’re finally seeing what we thought we were going to see about three years ago in Oklahoma. And, honestly, from what I’m seeing of this event, it actually does look glorious. I like the sight of that Satanic statue set against the State Capitol building from an aesthetic perspective, as well as political.

I expect this to be a productive effort too. My prediction here is that, just like last time, that Ten Commandments movement is being pulled from the State Capitol. We know already that Jason Rapert, and presumably his fellow Christians, will not stand for the Baphomet to have permanent residence on the property, and we can assume that Lucien Greaves and TST are going to push through with their suit. We can safely predict that, rather than allow the Satanic statue permanent residence, the government will ultimately remove the statue in order to please both TST’s demands for the government to uphold secularism and the Christian demands for Baphomet to just go away. Mark me when I say this is going to be a very cut and dry victory for The Satanic Temple.

Image courtesy of boingboing.net

Horus and the morning star

As I seek out morning star archetypes from across the world, naturally one area of interest would be Egypt, and that lead me onto another mythological subject I’ve become interested in recently, one that I hadn’t thought of before regarding Egyptian myth: the subject of Horus (or Heru as he was probably known by the Egyptians) and his status as a stellar deity.

Horus is the deity representing the Egyptian royalty, the tutelary deity of the Pharaoh and thus the country of Egypt. He was also widely assumed by Western commentators to be a sky god, sometimes even a sun god (which doesn’t make much sense considering Egyptian mythology already has a sun deity in the form of Ra) by people who desperately want to believe in the Jesus=Horus=Mithras=Krishna=Dionysus=Attis theory propounded by the likes of Peter Joseph and Bill Maher. What is less known is Horus’ connotations as an apparent stellar or astral deity within the Egyptian religion.

In a study entitled Stellar and solar components in ancient Egyptian mythology and royal ideology, the egyptologist Rolf Krauss examines the texts of dynasties I-III wherein Horus is referred to as a star. According to Krauss, in the earliest periods of Egyptian religion Horus was a star deity, as evidenced by the names of the royal domains, such as “Horus, the star has arisen”, “Horus, the star of khet” and “Horus, foremost star of the sky”. While the first two are treated as possibly figurative, the third is seen as likely literal, referring to a star in the sky, in any case Horus is attested to as representing a star. The Pyramid Texts, the Coffin Texts and other texts apparently identify Horus as the son of Osiris-Orion and Sothis-Isis-Hathor. In Egypt, the constellation of Orion was actually a deity by the name of Sah, who was supposedly the father of the gods, but Sah was also associated with Osiris, as Utterance 442 suggests:

Behold, he is come (again) as Sah; behold, Osiris is come as Sah. Lord of the wine-cellar at the Wag feast.

This possibly means that Osiris appears as the deity Sah for the occasion of the feast of Wag, which might have been an Egyptian festival of the dead dedicated to Osiris. Since Sah and Osiris were not treated as identical, although related, Osiris-Orion might represent a compound deity, a fusion of Osiris and Shah. Sothis refers to a goddess referred to by the Egyptians as Sopdet, the goddess representing the star known as Sirius and the consort of Sah who served as the guide of the deceased king in the afterlife. The morning star was believed to be the child of Sothis. Her son, the deity named Sopdu, was said to be associated with the planet Venus (that part will probably be important later). At some point in Egypt’s history, Sothis and Isis become associated with each other to the point that Sothis becomes subsumed into Isis, and her husband Sah also becomes conflated with Osiris in a similar fashion. In the same way, Sopdu is identified as a related to Horus, is said to be paired with Horus in the Pyramid Texts as Horus-Sopdu, and is eventually treated as simply an avatar of Horus.

The priest Pu-Inpu offering praise to Isis (left), Harendotes (middle) and Osiris (right)

Osiris-Orion is said to have given birth to two deities that bear the name Horus: Mekhenti-irty (“Horus Eyeless”) and Harendotes (“Horus, protector of his father”). Mekhenti-irty is the older Horus and was sired while his father was alive, while Harendotes is the younger Horus and was sired after his father was murdered by Set. For some reason the younger Horus is also referred to as “Horus, son of Isis” because Isis is credited with raising him, but not the older one. The younger Horus is also referred to as “god of the morning”, and an inscription around the zodiac of Dendera apparently cites Horus as a star god associated with morning. This alone might not necessarily mean the morning star, but we’re building to something here.

According to Krauss, Horus is described as a “sehed star” and “a beautiful wa’a-star of gold, which has risen from the akhet” (I have no idea what sehed or wa’a mean) by Coffin Text 722, and is cited as “Horus who ascends as gold from upon the lips of the akhet” (akhet referring to the horizon) by Coffin Text 255, and these citations are supposed to link Horus with the morning star via the younger Horus (Harendotes). Krauss also suggests that if the younger Horus is the morning star, then the older Horus (Mekhenti-irty) must be the evening star. He cites Pyramid Text utterance 303 as the basis for this assumption, wherein Osiris is said to taken the older Horus as his and Hathor’s son, and Coffin Text Spell 106 wherein the older Horus is described as a “sehed star” just like the younger Horus. Krauss describes the sehed stars as possessing freedom of movement, which to me sort of lines up with what I’ve read about Athtar’s power of freedom of movement between Zaphon and the underworld.

There is also the eyes of Horus, which are described as the morning star and evening star respectively. The older Horus is said to have lost one of his eyes in a struggle against Set, but that eye was later healed by Thoth. This eye is attested to as the eye associated with the evening star, and apparently several Coffin Text spells link that injured eye to the night sky, it is described as “found in the retinue of the moon”, “beneficial in the night”, making “fire with its beauty”, and “becoming the fiery eye of Horus”. Such fiery nature enables Horus to roast his enemies, and is said to relate to the brilliance of a specific star. The injury of the evening star eye is said to relate to the invisibility of Venus two months before its reappearance as the evening star, while its recovery is said to reflect the encounter between the evening star and the waxing moon.

It is established from there that Horus represents the planet Venus, and its morning star and evening star aspects, and that the ideology of Egyptian royalty rested upon a stellar, not necessarily solar basis, at least for a time. This ideology is also said accommodate for Set, who in the early Egyptian religion was a storm deity identified with the planet Mercury. Strangely enough, it’s suggested that at some points Set was the friend of Horus, not just his rival, with the appearances and disappearances of Venus and Mercury indicative of fighting, injury, but also reconciliation and joint action, between Horus and Set. Of course, this must have been before the invasion and expulsion of the Hyksos (referring to a Canaanite dynasty who briefly ruled Egypt), after which Set was vilified as the patron of hostile foreigners and eventually effectively demoted to evil demon status because the Hyksos favored him due to his apparent similarity to one of their gods – namely Ba’al. Interestingly enough, it is suggested further that the stellar cult, that is the basis of pharaonic rule on the lord of the planet Venus, may have been one of the earlier royal cults, while the solar cult, based on Ra, was introduced later by the pharaoh Khasekhemuy, who ruled towards the end of the Second Dynasty. This would mean Horus becoming subordinate to Ra, now the king of the gods, which may have been achieved by having Horus become a child of Ra rather than of Osiris-Orion, which seems strange considering the continuity of the myth of Osiris’ murder wherein Horus is very definitely Osiris’ son and seeking vengeance against Set for murdering him.

Horus and Set stood around the sign of the union

Krauss is not the only one who identifies Horus as the morning star. In a section of Egyptology at the Dawn of the Twenty-first Century: Proceedings of the Eighth International Congress of Egyptologists, Cairo, 2000, Katja Goebs discusses the relation between the morning star (which curiously enough is treated as a solar entity) and certain deities, particularly in the context of spells for the deceased. Goebs describes the deceased beginning his sequence of divine association with Osiris, then needing to be transfigured into a certain kind of star for his ascent into the heavens, and then references a text where it is stated that at a certain point Re (clearly Ra) summons the deceased as Horus so that he may place him as the morning star into the Field of Rushes. The star the deceased becomes is a star that crosses Nut, goddess of the sky. The deceased is identified by Goebs as progressing from an underworldly, nightly, invisible force as Osiris or Orion into a solar entity likened to the divinity of the deities Thoth and Anubis, and is finally embodied as the morning star and attaining royal status as a result in the afterlife.  The sun deity Ra appears in two guises: Atum, identified as the evening sun, and the lord of the “wrrt”. But it is through his day form that he summons the deceased as the morning star, and though he grants the deceased royal status by this summoning and transfiguration, he remains the ultimate sovereign in the Egyptian cosmos.

The transfiguration from Osiris to ultimately Horus is also treated as symbolic of a mythological takeover of the rule of Osiris by Horus (or Ra) in the kingdom of the gods, and in a broader sense a cosmic transition from night (represented by the powers of Osiris) to day (represented by the powers of Horus or Ra). It is also said that Horus in this way actually bridges the rule of night and day, being the successor of the rule of Osiris and the predecessor of the rule of Ra. The cycle apparently is supposed to go as Ra-Osiris-Horus.

Finally, Ev Cochrane has his own interpretation of Horus as the morning star. In Starf*cker: The Catastrophic Conjunction of Venus and Mars, he points out a passage attributed to the Pyramid Texts which reads:

O Morning Star, Horus of the Netherworld, divine Falcon, wådåd‑bird whom the sky bore

Surely this refers to Horus as the ruler of the underworld like Athtar, right? Well, according to Cochrane, Duat was originally more of a celestial abode, which he backs up with verse that reads:

Make the sky clear and shine on them as a god; may you be enduring at the head of the
sky as Horus of the Netherworld.

This appears to suggest Horus as possibly being the leading star in the sky as the ruler of Duat. Does it answer the question of Duat being a celestial place? I have my doubts. Duat, if you remember, is neither heaven nor strictly hell. In Egyptian religion, it is the liminal plane between death and paradise in the afterlife, home to many demons who challenge the soul of the dead on behalf of the gods. Deities said to reside in Duat include Horus, Anubis, Thoth, Osiris, Ma’at and Hathor, all of whom are supposed to appear to the soul of the deceased at various stages. To that extent, Horus is probably *a* lord of Duat within the Egyptian canon.

Now, what does “wådåd‑bird” mean? In Phaethon: The Star That Fell From Heaven, Cochrane claims that wådåd translates literally into “great green”, and suggests . The word wådåd might be related to the word wꜢḏ, which does indeed seem to mean green, and it does dovetail with the symbolism of the Wadjet. Wadjet, or Wedjet, is the Egyptian name for the symbol famously known as the Eye of Horus, and is also personified as a snake goddess.  Wadjet amulets often came in a green or greenish blue colour, and green in Egyptian culture represented life, fertility, the growth of vegetation and death and resurrection (due its association with Osiris as the colour of his skin). Not to mention, in utterance 301 of the Pyramid Texts, Horus is referred to as the Lord of the Green Stone.

Purify for you Unas, make Unas bright in this your Jackal-lake, o Jackal (zAb), in which you purify the gods.
You are powerful,
you are sharp (spd) as Horus,
the Lord of the Green Stone.
To say four times:
“like the two green hawks.”

It is said that, because of this, Wadjet or Eye of Horus amulets, which represented the uninjured morning star eye of Horus, came to be associated with healing and protection from curses. It’s just a hunch and I can’t find anything supporting this concretely, but I kind of suspect that the word wådåd may have been related to the word wadjet, possibly even a dodgy translation of wadjet (perhaps wådåd-bird actually means wadjet-bird, which would make sense given Wadjet is literally the Eye of Horus).

Wadjet in snake form (pictured to the right) next to the goddess Nekhbet

Cochrone believes the significance of the colour green for Horus pertains to the “greening” of the cosmos through the appearance of the morning star, which is much less supported by Egyptian mythology (he even cites a passage of the Book of the Dead which depicts Horus rising in turquoise, not green), but he goes on to link this with different myths from different locations that supposedly reflect a real astronomical event. At this point that I think full disclosure is necessary regarding Ev Cochrane.

While I do think he gives us some factual insight into mythology, the conclusions he draws from the mythological sources are rather dubious. He is of the school of thought that mythology is a broad reflection by cultures across the globe of interstellar catastrophes that allegedly happened within the solar system. In this way he seems to be a disciple of Immaneul Velikovsky, whose ideas are spread in a journal writes for named Aeon (not to be confused with Aeon magazine) and another journal named Kronos. Velikovsky is most famous for claiming that Earth suffered close contacts with other planets and was witness other interstellar catastrophes, which in turn were recorded as mythological phenomenon. His ideas are pretty much universally rejected by the scientific community and are even treated as being on par with creationism. Know that I write this post from the perspective of mythology, and really nothing else, so we won’t explore Cochrane’s claims about astronomy any further, but if you encounter his ideas, bring a fresh jar of skepticism with you.

And now we arrive at the burning question with this inquiry: what does Horus have to do with Lucifer, given Horus’ evident association with the morning star? To be honest, I have my doubts. While Horus definitely seems to be the deity attached to the morning star in Egyptian lore, his mythology doesn’t have any correspondence or correlation with the Lucifer we know, or the Canaanite mythology of Athtar that preceded him. Whereas Lucifer as we know him defies God’s will and Athtar snubs the gods, all of Horus’ functions are ordained by Ra, the divine sovereign of the cosmos, and it is not despite but through the will of the Godhead (or the closest thing to it within a polytheistic religion) that deceased souls may acquire royal or divine status in the afterlife. In the Levant the morning star was either a mysterious deity who resided in the underworld, travels between realms and stands almost toe-to-toe with Ba’al Hadad (as per Canaanite mythology) or a rebellious and prideful entity who seeks the place of the Godhead (as per Jewish/Old Testament mythology). In Egypt, the morning star probably was just the foremost of all stars whose brilliance was second only to the sun. Horus does indeed traverse the underworld, accompanying Ra in his solar barge to fight Apep, and he resides in Duat, but that he doesn’t rule over Duat, though apparently he and over deities control some demons there in order to test the souls of the deceased. Horus in general doesn’t really exhibit any traits that a lot of Luciferians would probably identify as Luciferian, nor does he fulfill any Luciferian functions, let alone those of any deities that could be similar to Lucifer like Prometheus (though Prometheus is not a morning star, he forms part of the basis for the modern idea of Lucifer).

To be honest, if there’s any Egyptian deity who bears some similarities to Lucifer, at least in the Luciferian sense, it might be Thoth. Though he has none of the rebellious connotations of Lucifer or Prometheus (being effectively the scribe of the gods subservient to Ra and all), Thoth was something of a bringer of knowledge within Egyptian myth. He is credited as being the divine inventor of mathematics, science, magic, hieroglyphics, and many other things, and is credited with a library of magic books capable of subduing the gods themselves. He also serves as a bridge between opposites where he serves a mediator between order and chaos, so as to maintain the balance of the cosmos, and he also has some connection to the underworld, where he apparently has power unrivaled even by Ra or Osiris (who is pretty much dependent on his good offices). Like a certain Irish deity I covered in my last post, he was frequently equated with Mercury. In fact he was equated by the Greeks with their deity Hermes, to the point that they named his patron city Hermopolis (as in city of Hermes). The Greeks even credited him with inventing every branch of knowledge. They were even responsible for the identification of Thoth as Hermes Trismegistus, who would become a very important character for the occult philosophy of Hermeticism. Of course, being a scribe of the gods, Thoth was just responsible for recording knowledge, though there is some possible evidence of Egyptian lore wherein Thoth transmits knowledge to a human. Or there’s also Hermanubis, a syncretic fusion of Hermes and Anubis worshipped in the Greco-Roman mysteries, said to be a not only a psychopomp who also embodies the exploration of the truth, and like Hermes is said to travel in and out of the underworld, and some believe him to be the deity who reveals the mysteries of the lower world.

A statue of Hermanubis

The main point you can take from that is that the myths and gods of the world’s cultures, while often similar to one another, ultimately tend to possess their own character, having developed out of different conditions, different locations, different social relations and different understandings of the world. This is why deities from different cultures that seem similar really don’t have meaningful correspondence or correlation with each other. The Lucifer we know is the product of a figure from Canaanite mythology being interpreted through the lens of Jewish and then Christian mythology, followed by longstanding Romantic literal tradition and the influence of Western occult belief systems. This background is not shared by other mythological morning star deities, in whose cultures the morning star was simply a positive and often creative force in its own right. All cultures function as dialectical continuums unto themselves, starting from different origin points, building on top of them, evolving over time. There is no single myth or mode of belief from which all religions and belief systems stem.

This is where I’d end things, but I want to address where Thelema might fit into the whole Horus morning star thing, considering Horus becomes something of an important figure in that belief system. Thelema holds Horus as representative of the current Aeon, the Aeon of Horus, which represents a time where people begin to pursue realization of the sovereign individual and uphold the principle of “do what thou wilt” (as in, follow the True Will as per Thelemic doctrine rather than just do what you want according to the base senses). He manifests particularly within Thelema as Ra-Hoor-Khuit (or Heru-ra-ha), a compound deity consisting of Ra and Horus , as well as Hoor-paar-khrat (or Harpocrates), who is Horus the Child and described in Thelemic doctrine as the deity of the Holy Guardian Angel or the Higher Self. Aleister Crowley was said to have successfully invoked Horus in 1904, which was the same year he held marked the beginning of the Aeon of Horus.

Lucifer doesn’t really enter into Thelema, except through Aiwass in a way. Aiwass the name of a voice or spirit that Crowley claimed to have heard or encountered in 1904, and who Crowley would go on to identify as the minister of Hoor-paar-khrat. He also explicitly identifies Aiwass with Lucifer in Magick in Theory and Practice.

“’The Devil’ is, historically, the God of any people that one personally dislikes. This has led to so much confusion of thought that THE BEAST 666 has preferred to let names stand as they are, and to proclaim simply that AIWAZ, the solar-phallic-hermetic ‘Lucifer,’ is His own Holy Guardian Angel, and ‘The Devil’ SATAN or HADIT, the Supreme Soul behind RA-HOOR-KHUIT the Sun, the Lord of our particular unit of the Starry Universe. This serpent, SATAN, is not the enemy of Man, but He who made Gods of our race, knowing Good and Evil; He bade ‘Know Thyself!’ and taught Initiation. He is ‘the Devil’ of the Book of Thoth, and His emblem is BAPHOMET, the Androgyne who is the hieroglyph of arcane perfection. The number of His Atu is XV, which is Yod He, the Monogram of the Eternal, the Father one with the Mother, the Virgin Seed one with all-containing Space. He is therefore Life, and Love. But moreover his letter is Ayin, the Eye; he is Light, and his Zodiacal image is Capricornus, that leaping goat whose attribute is Liberty.”

Beyond this reference, however, Lucifer doesn’t really feature in Thelema. Lucifer seems to have been either an alternative name or simply the descriptive quality of Aiwass.

Here I think the function of Horus, or at least the entity that pretty much approximates Horus, could be interpreted by some Luciferians as representing something similar to their own values, perhaps, in the sense that there tends to be some overlap between Luciferianism, Satanism and Thelema though the doctrines are ultimately different. It still doesn’t line up with Lucifer exactly, but like there’s some small similarities at work. What’s interesting is that I haven’t seen the morning star used in reference to any entity within Thelema, not even Hoor-paar-khrat/Harpocrates who would definitely serve as the younger Horus within Thelema, and unlike in Luciferianism the morning star doesn’t really form the main basis of the spiritual philosophy. In Thelema, therefore, an aspect of Horus is linked with Lucifer in a vague sense, through the description of “the solar-phallic-hermetic Lucifer”, and not much else. Horus is still his own being within Thelema.

So, to make a very long story short, Horus, despite being the Egyptian morning star deity, is not related to Lucifer, and I think you would have make quite a stretch to suggest Horus as a Luciferian archetype.

An argument against Cultural Christianity (or Christian Atheism)

If you’ve been around both atheistic and conservative circles, you may well have encountered people who identify themselves as Cultural Christians. Sometimes referred to as Secular Christians, these are people who formally do not believe in God and reject the supernatural claims of the Bible and the Christian faith, but nonetheless ascribe to the religious doctrine and philosophy of Christianity either because they identify with it on a cultural level or because they feel that it is the best moral framework available for a broad society. In The Satanic Bible, Anton LaVey referred to such people as Christian Atheists.

Of course the term isn’t confined solely to neckbeards on the Internet who wish they were born in the Middle Ages so they can LARP as Crusaders only in real life. The term also has some purchase in the New Atheist movement: Richard Dawkins, despite his strident criticism of Christianity and indeed all of religion, has referred to himself as a Cultural Chrisitan, stating in the past that he sings carols like most British people do and resists the charge of being “Christianophobic” – a term no less of a fraudulent political label than Islamophobia and is simply used by conservative Christians to scaremonger about the secularizing of society. There is also a somewhat more malevolent aspect to the term: it was utilized by the infamous Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik in his manifesto, and I suspect because of this the position has its associations with white nationalists and alt-righters (which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me; I mean, if you’re a white nationalist concerned with the European “volk”, why would you pay lip service to religion based on a Jewish deity?). I have never subscribed to the Cultural Christian label, and in this post I intend to show that the main arguments in support of such a position are fallacious and delusional.

The main argument held by Cultural Christians seems to be that Christianity is the basis of the loose collection of ideas we refer to as the Western canon, or Western Civilization, thus to support Western civilization is to support Christianity from a cultural position. However, a cursory glance at European history (both Christian and pre-Christian) and the teachings of the Bible easily disrupts this premise.

Do you like democracy? Well, Western democracy didn’t originate in the Bible. It arguably originated in ancient Greece, in the Republic of Athens. Sure, it wasn’t perfect (women couldn’t vote and slavery was a thing back then), but it was also one of the early attempts at direct democracy – voters would have their say on every legislative issue. The Athenians were also so invested in their democratic system, and this even permeates into their normative attitudes; namely that they derided people who took no interest in politics, and considered them foolish and ignorant. Outside of Greece, the Roman Republic was another early form of Western democracy, in fact it was a classical example of representative democracy, where the electorate would appoint representatives to the legislature rather directly ratify each issue. There’s also the Althing in Viking Age Iceland, which is widely considered to be one of the earliest forms of parliamentary democracy. Similar assemblies where also held throughout the Germanic world, and even in Britain where they were referred to as folkmoots by the Saxons. All of this before Christianity took over in the respective territories, under the auspices of pre-Christian religious traditions. In contrast, the Bible implies that democracy is a bad thing because humans cannot govern themselves and that those who challenge a prophet of God in support of democracy will be destroyed by God. The feudal system that characterized much of Europe during the Middle Ages was justified with the doctrine of the Great Chain of Being – a Christian concept which entails a rigid hierarchical order that stratifies all creation as ordained by God.

Pictured: democracy in action

Do you like freedom of speech? The Bible actually forbids this to some extent, with one of the Ten Commandments forbidding cursing and Colossians 3:8 condemning “filthy language”. Publications and universities were once controlled by the Catholic Church, and in 1543 they decreed that no publication could be distributed without the permission of the Church. European rulers during the Christian age also used the state to control scientific publications and artistic expressions deemed threatening to public morality and the Christian faith. The Inquisition was another way of controlling publications, specifically the regulation of the import of books to colonies in the Americas by the Peruvian Inquisition. And as will be delved into further later on, the Catholic Church punished intellectuals who denied important teachings of the Church. Of course, this is one instance when the pre-Christian world wasn’t much better, with Socrates being poisoned by the Greek state for “corrupting” the minds of the people with skepticism and the office of the censor in Rome being the origin of the word censorship. In fact, the notion of freedom of speech as was understood since the Enlightenment was probably not practiced throughout much of the ancient world, and was chiefly defended by a handful of philosophers.

Human rights? While England did establish the Magna Carta, it was opposed by the Catholic Church that dominated Europe and annulled by the Pope. And the Protestants were far from better, rounding up non-believers and women to be burned at the stake for absurd charges of witchcraft, diabolism and conspiracy to commit such things. Also, a little thing called The Inquistion anyone? Not to mention the occasional slaughter of pagans in Europe such as in the Massacre of Verden, and the brutal conquest of native tribes in Latin America and elsewhere. The Bible also has several verses in which torture is an approved method of subjugation, persuasion, not to mention redemption, as well as endorsements of slavery.

How about scientific inquiry? Galileo Gallilei was banned from promoting the theory of heliocentrism, which is now well-established as scientific fact, by the Catholic Church and forced to comply with the Church’s declaration that heliocentrism was officially false. Nicolaus Copernicus also faced censure by the Catholic Church, with his book Revolutions banned by the Church. The Catholic Church burned Giordano Bruno for promoting the concept of exoplanets and generally contradicting Catholic doctrine. So needless to say it’s not got a great record on science. Not to mention, although some scientists like Isaac Newton would have considered their inquiry compatible with their faith on the grounds that both science and faith entailed the quest to discover and unlock the secrets of God’s creation, Christianity holds that it is a sin for Man to try and explain God’s mysteries because God is undefinable by nature. The Bible casts a man named Thomas in a negative light for doubting Jesus and asking for proof of his resurrection.

How about preserving heritage? Not only did the Christians have a tendency to destroy pre-Christian cultural artifacts in Europe, destroying idols and temples and replacing them with Christian structures, but they also destroyed the cultural heritage of peoples outside Europe. When the Spanish Christian conquerors arrived upon the Mayan civilization, they not only abolished the native religion but also burned down most of the Maya Codices, thus destroying much of the literature of an entire people and destroying what could have been a source of knowledge on the culture and civilization of that people. The Inquisition in Goa burned many Indian texts, along with many Indians, predominantly Catholic converts who were accused of being crypto-Hindus. They also destroyed Buddhist artifacts that were seized by the Portugese. There are many Saints in the Christian canon who are venerated for the destruction of former pre-Christian heritage, such as Saint Boniface and Junipero Serra. It should be noted, however, that the Christians didn’t always destroy the artefacts of the former culture. During the Renaissance, for example, artists in Christian Europe appropriated the literature and heritage of the pre-Christian classical world, often remaking them as symbols of Christian doctrine. However, those artists also faced pressure from the Church for supposedly promoting idolatry, heresy and lust, forcing the artists to justify their works within the framework of Christian dogma.

Finally, how about tolerance? Again, the Christian powers weren’t very good at that, what with destroying belief systems they found heretical. The Christian powers also frequently persecuted the Jews both racially and religiously, often expelled from the kingdoms they inhabited, and in Spain they were forced to choose between baptism and slavery.

A 17th century depiction of some youths throwing stones at a Jewish man during Lent

The argument that Christianity is the basis of Western culture can easily be disputed. Although Christianity is clearly an offshoot of Judaism and is thus based on Judaism, Western Christianity also layered aspects of Hellenic philosophy on top of it, reshaping them in its own image. The Logos is a title attributed to Jesus Christ within Christian contexts, and is generally used to refer to the word of God. The Logos also appears before Christianity in the writings of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, for whom Logos was the everlasting Word in which all things become united, and the ordering principle of the cosmos. The Logos was also held by the Stoics to be the animating principle pervading the cosmos, a portion of which is possessed by each individual, thus it is comparable to the Christian concept of the immortal divine soul. The Jews, by contrast, rejected the doctrine of the immortal soul, though in Jesus’ time some Jewish sects such as the Pharisees adopted the soul doctrine. Plato’s philosophy contained many ideas that would be characteristic of Christian philosophy. For instance, Plato considered there to be a division between matter and the soul, he believed in the existence of a divine, intelligent craftsman that he referred to as the Demiurge, he believed that the resultant creation comprised an imperfect but orderly cosmos, considered mortal existence to be a passing phase in the wider cosmic existence, and he believed that by sublimating irrational desires the individual can seek perfect purity and order.

Aristotle’s conception of the nameless Prime Mover can be seen as similar to the Christian conception of God in some respects, an eternal source of motion and cosmic order without defect (his rationale being that eternal things are always good and cannot possess defects), a being that never changes, has no beginning or end, and is an immaterial being whose activities are purely spiritual and intellectual. However, unlike the Christian God, this Prime Mover has no plan for anything that exists in his creation. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity was can be said to derive from Stoic philosophy to some degree through Seneca’s conception of a threefold divine power which “we sometimes call the All-ruling God, sometimes the incorporeal Wisdom, sometimes the holy Spirit, sometimes Destiny”. The concepts of Heaven and Hell have their Greek equivalents as well – the Elysian Fields was the realm were heroes, the righteous, and mortals related to or chosen by the gods would dwell in a blissful and happy afterlife with the gods, while Tartarus is the underworld where the rest go when they do, with all of the truly wicked and evil souls residing in the fiery pit of Tartarus. In general the concept of a transmission of a soul to an otherworldly plane after the death of the body occurs not just in Greek mythology, but several pre-Christian pagan traditions, as well as the monotheisitc religion of Zoroastrianism, whereas in Judaism there was no immortal soul and Sheol was the realm where all of the dead go regardless of moral conduct in an existence severed from life and from God.

Then there’s the little things. Many Christian Saints likely evolved from past pagan deities and figures, and others became the demons recorded within Christian demonology. The Saints also, in a sense, took on the function of the old tutelary deities, serving as the patrons of nations, cities, territories, activities, families, and other things, and they could also be prayed to for various favours, which may explain why many American Protestants and Evangelicals consider Catholicism to be a pagan religion rather than a form of Christianity. The depiction of angels as winged humans isn’t entirely Biblical (Jewish tradition has all sorts of monstrous and chimeric visages for its angels), drawing instead from the Greek depictions of beings like Eros or Nike and Roman beings like Victoria. You can see this in the angelic statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus in London, depicted as a winged angel with a bow in the fashion of a mature version of the Roman Cupid, which was conveniently renamed The Angel of Christian Charity, or how in the Roman Senate all statues of Victoria were removed from the Senate to suit Christian sensibilities, except for one statue which possessed wings. Among the differing views on daemons in Greece, Plato’s view of them as spirits that watch each individual to whom they are allotted probably influenced the concept of a guardian angel that sometimes appears in Christian circles. In general, both the angels and the demons come from the concept of daemons. And of course, many holidays we celebrate have their basis in older pagan festivals. Christmas has its roots in Saturnalia and various Germanic festivals, and St Valentine’s Day has its links to the Roman festival of Lupercalia. Even Western marriage is said to come from the early Christian embrace of Roman weddings.

Eros as “The Angel of Christian Charity” in London

Much of Christianity as we know it derived its culture and philosophy from Greek and Roman philosophy and pagan religion, which it used to form a doctrine palatable to gentiles and generate a non-Jewish superstructure for a religion that was still ultimately Judaic at its base. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to say that all of Western heritage comes from Christianity, when in reality the bedrock of such heritage was established before Christianity, mostly by Greek and Roman Hellenism. All the while, Christian power sometimes actively worked against the heritage it utilized to construct itself by destroying artifacts of Greek and Roman paganism and rejecting the principles of republican democratic governance they gave to the West.

However, to say that Western culture is Pagan culture would be anachronistic in the current context. Although the base of our cultural heritage is pre-Christian rather than Christian, things have evolved rather dramatically over the last few thousand years for European civilization, and now secularism makes up the current form of our culture, having shaped that which has come before and moved it away from strictly religious purpose. Rather than Western culture being Christian or Pagan in character, Western culture, like all others, exists as a dialectical, evolutionary continuum, wherein the form of what is considered culture and civilization modifies itself over time, sometimes gradually and sometimes radically, giving rise to new forms in a cycle of perpetual re-creation. The same condition goes for all of human history, a continuum upon itself, a continuum of our continual evolution and struggle for emancipation. It is ultimately this reason combined with the absence of anything resembling modern Western values in the Bible that I reject the argument for the Cultural Christian position, for it is arbitary to try and pigeonhole Western culture as Christian culture.

Of course there is the argument further still that Christianity was a beneficial force to the development of European civilization, and was instrumental in defending the continent from the march of Islam, especially during the Crusades. The reality, however, is quite different. The Teutonic Knights (a.k.a. The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem) often slaughtered their fellow Christians in Poland and raided the territories of Lithuania, forcing Poland and Lithuania wage war against them in the First Battle of Tannenburg. The Teutonic Knights also engaged in conquests of Orthodox Russia backed by the Catholic Church. In 1204, the Crusader armies sacked the Christian city of Constantinople, killing thousands of civilians, raping women, even nuns, pillaging churches and monasteries and smashing altars to their own God. As a result of such sacking, the Byzantine Empire was left weakened and unable to defend itself from the advance of neighboring Islamic forces, such as the Ottomans and the Sultanate of Rum. And of course, the Crusaders were known for massacring fellow Christians who followed a different sect, as happened to the Cathars during the Albigensian Crusade. Far from uniting Europeans under the Christianity, Christian power was simply the glue for a civilization that constantly went to war with itself under the auspices of the Catholic Church, with, ironically, the lives of fellow Christians crushed underfoot. And that’s not even counting the times they massacred pagan Europeans, such as in Verden.

Also, despite modern propaganda concerning how Europe’s Christian ancestors drove out Islam wherever it reared its ugly head, Christian powers in Europe actively collaborated with the Islamic Ottoman Empire during the 16th and 17th centuries, including England, France and Transylvania. Martin Luther was even somewhat sympathetic to Islam on the grounds that Islam rejected the veneration of images and opposed the Catholic Church. Islam was even tolerated by the Dutch at the tail-end of the 17th century, with Muslims being hosted in Dutch trading ports. So much for Deus Vult.

A depiction of the Sacking of Constantinople in 1204

So not only is it utterly arbitrary to attach Christianity and Christian power as the basis of Western civilization, and not only was Christian power ultimately the source of a lot of violent national and ethnic conflicts in Europe that resulted in thousands of deaths, but Christian power isn’t even the strong bulwark against Islam that traditionalist ideologues claim it to be, given that the Crusaders allowed for Islamic powers to make ingress into Europe and the Protestants were happy to ally with Islamic powers to the East in opposition to the Catholic Church. Christian power truly was a cannibalistic, self-destructive, self-betraying force in its day, on top of being tyrannical, regressive and intolerant. A force of barbarity to behold.

Finally, the Cultural Christian position often entails an attempt to justify conservative politics using religious scripture. But if you’ve ever taken even a cursory look at the Bible, you’ll soon become aware that the Bible is not a consistent political manifesto, and there are several different verses that can be used to justify any position across the political spectrum, even in cases where it doesn’t mean what the people invoking it says it means. In this context, Cultural Christianity for the most part becomes simply the secular version of the longstanding right-wing Christian trope of using an internally inconsistent and contradictory tome to justify their overarching politics.

In summary, the Cultural Christian position is a vanity. It neglects the reality that Christianity as we know it is largely a product of Hellenic ideas and philosophy mingling with apocalyptic Jewish faith, and the reality that history, culture and civilization are continuums compounding upon themselves to start with. It neglects the barbarous reality of Christian power. Its assumptions about the relation between Christianity and Western values are not actually supported by history or even the Bible, and are the work of pure propaganda and pure ideology. It exists solely as the result of a contradiction of having a conservative mindset towards religion and culture within a Western Christian context but being unable to believe in God or the supernatural claims of Christianity. It, frankly, serves to appeal to the feelings of not just Christians (many of whom reject Cultural Christianity anyway because it’s not really belief in God and Jesus) but also the atheists who hold this position because, for some reason, they feel that Christianity equals The West (which, by the way, also dovetails nicely with dumb right-wing political thought concerning the “clash of civilizations”). If someone tells you that he/she is a Cultural Christian, feel free to laugh at such a person. They deserve it.

The phenomenon and ideology of devil worship in India

It appears that that India is seeing more cases of alleged devil worship and black magick within the last few years, leading to reports of “Satanic cults” springing up within the country. Because of this it is of some value to take a look at what exactly these cults believe. Do they actually represent a form of Satanism as is being reported, or is it simply a form of edgy spiritism that utilizes Satan for its own ends? Are we dealing with a serious philosophical or spiritual tradition here, or just something that a few deranged individuals do for fun?

To start with, let’s take a look at the extent of the phenomenon in question. It’s not clear, but there has been increasing coverage of stories of devil worship since at least 2013, centering around the regions of Kerala and Nagaland. At one point the Vatican news outlet Agenzia Fides claimed that Nagaland was host to around 3,000 teenage devil worshipers in the summer of 2013. In 2014, in the Christian majority region of Meghalaya, the local government has started carrying out night patrols in an attempt to police so-called Satanic activities, with particular attention being paid to graveyards based on the belief that devil worshipers gather in graveyards in order to conduct their rituals at night. Particular concern is often paid to Kerala, where apparently a number of bizarre ritualistic crimes have taken place over the years, sparking concern of a rise of so-called Satanism in the region. Notable activities reported within Kerala include theft and/or desecration of communion bread for the purposes of performing a Black Mass, desecrations of churches, and even murders. What is interesting to note about Kerala is that it is considered the most literate and progressive state in India, which suggests that the rise of black magick and devil worship isn’t confined to the poor and religiously and socially backwards parts of the country.

But just what does this phenomenon represent as a broad system? Media reports on the subject will often talk of it in the context of “Satan worship” or “Satanic cults”, but having scoured said reports, I am unsure what this is based on. VICE actually did an article on the subject a few days ago in which Zeyad Masroor Khan investigates one group of people engaged in some sort of black magick in the city of Aligarh, located in the state of Uttar Pradesh. For Khan, the supposed “Satanism” described in India . In fact, here is what Khan makes of the overall philosophy of the group:

“The philosophy of the “blood brothers” is based on a combination of ideas derived from Satanic literature, religious texts, paganism, the popular art and fortuities—the sign that they say universe keeps throwing to them about the existence of forces that created it.”

In other words, it’s a hodge-podge of what appear to unrelated concepts, brought together by either the vague sense of a search for esoteric knowledge and power, affinity with darkness (not to mention dark music such as black metal), and possibly a proclivity towards superstition. It also seems to be more decadent than the Satanism you find here in the West, with members of the black magick group frequently taking illicit drugs whilst studying their philosophy.

Some members of the group have a different interpretation than others. Here is what is described of the conception of Satanism held by one of the members of the Aligarh black magick group, who goes by BlackLeg.

“For him, Satanism is not “a religion”. “In its essence, it’s about worshipping yourself,” he said. He said there’s no conflict between his beliefs and those of his religious girlfriend.

BlackLeg’s philosophical view of Satanism contrasts with some of the things V said his group participated in. “We did everything,” V told me, “from desecrating holy books to asking people to stand on the Quran, to test their devotion. Some of us did that, while the weaker ones refused.””

Apparently some members of the group are more inclined to the LaVeyan, philosophical angle of Satanism, while others (possibly the majority) are into actual black magick coinciding with a vague of theistic worship of the infernal pantheon – I say vague because I know most theistic Satanists I know actually have a guiding spiritual philosophy or ideology underpinning their belief system, and because of the lack of information surrounding their actual beliefs.

This, of course, is just one group, in what might be the only article I’ve seen that actually attempts to go into detail as to what the Indian devil worshipers believe. The rest of the articles I’ve come across make no real attempt to articulate the kind of “Satanic” belief system they think they’re dealing with.

For instance, in the case of a 2013 UACN article titled “Satan worshippers suspected in theft in Kerala church“, the main source of suspicion of Satanism on the part of by local church authorities is the disappearance of communion bread, which is suspected to be proof of Satanists using it to perform a Black Mass. To be fair, it does sound like something the Church of Ahriman would do (though they ultimately returned the communion wafer they stole in order to avoid a lawsuit by the Oklahoma City Archdiocese), but on its own this is not much evidence of Satanism, and we have only a plausible guess to the motives of the incident. Another UACN article, dated to 2012, claims that Satanists attacked a church in Mizoram. What does this attack have to do with Satanism you might ask? Apparently because police found a stack of burned Bibles and, I shit you not, a large A sign signifying anarchy. Yep. It’s that lame. Any Satanist worth their salt will tell that this does not necessarily equate to an actual Satanic ritual. Ironically, the article points out the advice of experts who implicitly hint that the activities of these youths are not influenced by a coherent Satanic philosophy, but largely by Western pop culture, particularly horror moves. Unfortunately, this is also interpreted from the Christian lens as being the influence of celebrities who, allegedly pray to Satan in order to gain fame, wealth and power – which, let’s face it, is about as sensible as Paul Joseph Watson’s claims about Pizzagate and the Illuminati.

In a 2017 article from Firstpost, the main subject is a man murdering his family members so as to “detach” their souls from their bodies, supposedly to free them. The man was also said to be involved with astral projection, which police suspect to be tied to Satan worship. In no way is it actually established what connection there is to Satanism or even Satan worship at all. The only thing vaguely related is the discussion of the communion bread theft incident from earlier. Also discussed is the selling of consecrated hosts stolen from churches. The fact that it seems that it is Christians who are selling the hosts suggests that the connection to Satan worship is not quite so clear cut. The article brings up the concept of “Satan worship” several times but does not seem capable of attaching to the various crimes to any coherent phenomenon of Satanism. In fact, within the same article you can find similar black magick practices within Hindu cults which suggest that what Indian media refers to as “Satan worship” is actually just a kind of Hindu black magick that has been around for centuries, just that I guess some people decided to dress it up in some vague diabolism lifted from horror movies. Perhaps the only thing actually connecting these things to Satanism or Satan worship is either the general loose conception of black magick, long held to be part of the doctrine of Satan, or the blasphemy associated with some of the actions, such as the stealing and selling of consecrations, which surely are the sign of Satanic activity according to India’s Christian population.

Sometimes even the police in India have trouble believing the whole angle of “Satan worship”. In the case of a murder committed by Cadell Jeansen Raja, police doubted his claim that he was a Satan worshiper and had him referred to a psychiatrist, who noted his interest in paranormal beliefs and concepts and suspects him to be living in his own reality, but otherwise the interrogation was said to be ongoing. Police also suspect that his murder was actually motivated not by supernatural belief, but instead by revenge. They say that Raja’s stories about his beliefs regarding astral projection, Satan worship and the paranormal were fabrications, and that his real motivation was his desire to avenge a long period of neglect by his family and a personal suspicion that his father was cheating on his spouse with other women. Raja is currently admitted to a mental hospital in Oolampara.

In an ironic twist, there is something that, in a loose sense, you could interpret as “demon worship” that occurs in India that is also entirely part of the expansive Hindu religion! In the small village of Peringottukara, located within the Thrissur district of Kerala, locals worship a deity named Kuttichathan through special and costly pujas and sacrifices overseen by holy men in order to gain prosperity and dispel black magic. The name Kuttichathan means “little ghost”, sometimes interpreted as “little demon” or “little imp”, and he does sometimes get interpreted as a demon. However, Kuttichathan also seems to be the name of a deity named Vishnumaya, a deity of wealth, magic and illusions. Vishnumaya is held to be a son of the deity Shiva, born of carnal union between Shiva and a human woman named Kulivaka, and he acquired his name because he took the form of the deity Vishnu using his magic. The closest thing to “devil worship” in India is Hindu worship centered around a demigod born from one of the supreme deities, though it is suspected by some that the pujas devoted to him are part of a money-scheming by religious ideologues preying on the gullible.

So, there you have it. The phenomenon of “Satan worship” in India is not a coherent movement of Satanism, but the appropriation of folk black magick for either rebellious or criminal ends, and in at least one case it’s just a convenient pretext to hide someone’s real motives for committing horrible crimes. In one case it’s a strange intersection of gothic and extreme metal subculture, occult philosophy, Indian black magick, drugs and general teenage rebellion. Many cases are mysterious acts of blasphemy that have less to do with authentic Satanism and more to do with youthful rebellion. There is no guiding ideology behind this phenomenon. I suspect the charge of “Satan worship” is an invention of both Indian media and Christians.

A man dressed up as Kuttichathan as part of a theyyam (a kind of ritual performance)

On campus censorship: it looks like we’ve been deceived

I remember back in 2015-2016 there were many things going on within both American and British colleges/universities. The safe spaces, the loud minority of people who came to be referred to as social justice warriors, the trigger warnings, anti-racist protesters who demand the removal of some speakers, and people like Michelle Click, painted the picture of the modern university as a repressive environment (though I always thought it weird how this was never the case for my university as such). This put together with a confluence of narratives surrounding left-liberal intellectual hegemony within wider society, made it easy to believe that there was some kind of authoritarian left dominance of the campus space at the expense of intellectual diversity and freedom. You’ll find this narrative parroted to this day by the likes of Jonathan Haidt, Jonah Goldberg, David Frum, Douglas Murray, Jonathan Chait, Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris, Bret and Eric Weinstein (the latter of whom works for Peter Thiel and supported the NXIVM-backed The Knife Media), Dave Rubin (himself backed by the Koch Brothers), Dennis Prager (from the outright Pravda organisation known as Prager University), Charles Murray, Ben Shapiro and Charlie Kirk (from another Pravda organisation and living meme known as Turning Point USA), as well as the people who comprised the GamerGate crowd, including Carl Benjamin. It’s so ubiquitous an idea that even former president Barack Obama referenced it in a speech about free speech on college campuses. As much sense as it seemed to make at the time, some data has recently emerged that casts doubt on the narrative we’re used to.

Vox recently released an article about some data drawn from studies conducted by Georgetown University back in March, and the Niskanen Center in April. The overall picture, contrary to popular imagination and the odd New York Times column, is that it is actually left-leaning individuals who face the most censorship. In the Niskanen Center study, you will find a graph sourced from The US Faculty Termination for Political Speech Database which shows that it is actually liberal/left-leaning faculty members who are terminated over political speech more often than their conservative/right-wing counterparts. Not only that, if you look at the graph, you’ll notice a curious trend: starting at 2015, you do indeed find that it is conservative academics who are more likely to be terminated, but when you get to 2016, not only do we see liberals/lefties get fired more, but the number of liberals/lefties getting fired for political speech skyrockets over the next year, while the number of conservatives getting fired flatlines from 2016 onwards. If conservatives were really getting persecuted for political speech across the board, that trend would be reversed.

The Georgetown University study points out that while there are definitely high-profile instances of right-wing speakers being shut down (Gavin McInnes, Milo Yiannopolous, Ben Shapiro et al), there are just as surely incidents of (at least seemingly) left-leaning individuals who faced censure and don’t get nearly the same coverage: there was Lars Maischak (a professor of American history at California State University) who was fired for tweeting that Donald Trump should be hanged, there was Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (a professor at Princeton University) who was forced to cancel speeches in Washington and California because of death threats following a commencement speech where she called Trump a racist, sexist megalomaniac, there was Sarah Bond (a professor of classics at the University of Iowa) who faced death threats from white supremacists for suggesting that the ancient marble statues of Greece and Rome became white because of age and were originally painted in colour (because apparently suggesting that Greek statues were painted is some kind of Cultural Marxist agenda for white genocide), and there was a student named Dee Dee Simpson (a graduate of Sonoma State University in California) who was reprimanded for reciting a poem during graduation in which he condemns the violence that occurs against African-Americans.

Let that last part sink in: a student in what we’re all told is a left-dominated academic environment was reprimanded for condemning violence against African-Americans. That alone should cast doubt on the narrative concerning academic political correctness.

I should also mention John Summa from the University of Vermont (who is not mentioned in the study), who tried to teach his students alternative economics and critiques of neoclassical economics and whose contract was not renewed, and has had to fight for his career in order to continue teaching. But you will not see self-proclaimed “free speech warriors” take the side of any of those people, because they do not care. It is typically only when non-left-leaning or non-progressive figures face silence that they sound the horn of outrage. And sometimes they even call for the censorship of people they disagree with, as was the case for George-Ciccariello Maher (over his white genocide tweet). Not to mention, Fox News openly calls for the censorship of anyone in academia, college or high school, who insults a Republican or whatever it is they care about, chiding them for basically committing hate speech (funny how conservatives can’t even be consistent in their opposition to the concept of hate speech), such as the example of Gregory Salcido who bashed the military and was accused of bullying and snitched on by some snowflake students. Ironic, isn’t it?

And if that’s not enough, even the basic premise of this authoritarian far-left dominance of academia is not supported by data. Last year, InsideHigherEd looked into the subject, and one of the things they found was that academia was actually dominated by self-identified moderates. 46.1% of faculty members identify as moderates, 44.1% identify as liberal or left-leaning, and just 9.2% identify as conservative or right-leaning. This would mean that, technically, left-leaning academics are not in fact the dominant force in universities. Hell, even the narrative of academic dominance has shifted over the years. According to the Niskanen study, even the number of conservatives who believe that universities are hostile towards their speech has gone down within the last two years, while now it’s liberals/lefties who believe that universities are hostile towards them.

While we’re still here, I’ve also discovered some research conducted by a political scientist named Justin Murphy, specifically an article titled “Who Is Afraid of Free Speech in the United States?”, and it turns out that the far-left are nowhere near as averse to freedom of speech as you would be lead to believe nowadays. His research showed that “extreme liberals” (possibly referring to hard-leftists given America’s bastardized political lexicon) are actually the most supportive of freedom of speech within the broad political spectrum, and that the centre-left (or slightly left) and the far-right, not the far-left, are the groups most opposed to freedom of speech. In a way this finding kind of dovetails with a recent New York Times article which showed that centrists, rather than extremists, are statistically the least supportive towards democracy (which is ironic considering the New York Times is one of the archetypal liberal centrist outlets).

Keep in mind, all of this is applicable to America, here in the United Kingdom, a YouGov poll was released a few months ago which suggests that there is no actual evidence that students are more likely to oppose freedom of speech.

So, in broad summary, the narrative of overbearing dominance of academia by crazy left-wing ideologues and the suppression of academic freedom by them is a myth, based on lies by omission and popular anecdotes concerning political correctness on campus, pushed predominantly by conservative ideologues for the purpose of delegitimizing both left-wing and liberal movements, increasing support for right-wing political causes and politicians, getting liberal media outlets to hire conservative writers (whilst they hardly ever practice the same intellectual diversity with liberals for their own outlets) and generally projecting their own sense of victimhood. Yes, you heard me: much of this has been a self-serving victim narrative this entire time. The SJWs you see make up a loud minority that can be used to paint the left in general with a broad brush by those who want to accuse them of being fascists.

Pretty much

All this in mind, I would like to add some historical context to the basic premise I’ve described as well, because it is actually an old narrative within American politics. Right-wing pundits have been complaining about what they termed political correctness for past few decades, arguably beginning with the release of Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind, Roger Kimball’s Tenured Radicals and Dinesh D’Souza’s Illiberal Education.  Even centrists embraced it at the time, with publications such as The Atlantic and New York Magazine running such cover stories as “Better Watch What You Say!” and “Are You Politically Correct?” as far back as 1991. Furthermore, as John K Wilson pointed out in The Myth of Political Correctness, the Olin Foundation gave thousands of dollars not only to Dinesh D’Souza, Charlie Sykes, The New Criterion (a conservative art journal edited by Roger Kimball), Peter Collier, David Horowitz (both of whom wrote a journal called Heterodoxy dedicated to “exposing” excessive political correctness), and Carol Iannone, but also supposedly liberal and centrist figures such as Christina Hoff Sommers and Richard Bernstein (the latter of whom worked for the New York Times), in order to promote the idea that authoritarian, politically correct left-wingers are attacking academic freedom. While the modern outrage over political correctness seems grassroots, and arguably sort of is (which I will touch on later), back then the whole political correctness thing was very much a mainstream media narrative backed up by right-wing think tank money. But this isn’t even the beginning of the trope. That honour goes to William F Buckley Jr, probably the grandfather of modern American right, and his 1951 book God and Man at Yale, which argued Yale was forcing left-wing ideology on its students and suppressing conservative (not to mention, Christian) thought on campus, and incidentally was also published by Regnery Publishing (owned by the financiers of the National Policy Institute). Huh, it seems even in the beginning there was right wing money behind it.

In broad terms, what we are seeing now is a repeat of the academic debates surrounding political correctness and alleged suppression of intellectual diversity that occurred in the late 1980s and the 1990s. Since there is no evidence of a takeover of authoritarian left-wing politics between the 1990s and the 2010s in the United States (I mean, unless somehow a secretive Bolshevik cabal successfully infiltrated the American government), we can conclude that the discussion of back then proved to be just a moral panic, and can speculate from here that the modern discussion surrounding academic political correctness will likely prove to be a moral panic as well.

Of course, while not identical in nature, the narrative also dovetails nicely with the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory, which has been a thing since the late 1980s, originally propounded by far-right thinkers such as William Lind, Paul Weyrich (who along with Jerry Falwell started the Moral Majority movement in the late 1970s, and was also the founder of the Heritage Foundation), Pat Buchanan, and Paul Gottfried, and largely took off after the Cold War. The theory goes that the Frankfurt School infiltrated academic institutions across the West in order to displace classical Western philosophy and “Judeo-Christian values” in order to subvert the political stability of the West, and also something about Jewish subversion. No seriously, guys like Lind and Buchanan ascribed “Cultural Marxism” to the Jewish race, and Lind himself even said “they are also, to a man, Jewish” when describing the Frankfurt School in a speech to Accuracy in Academia, which is probably no accident considering that the general theory of Jewish Marxists subverting culture and academia is essentially an echo of the Nazi ideology of Kulturbolshevismus (or Cultural Bolshevism), where just about anything that wasn’t romantic fascist culture that promoted the Nazi party and ideology was deemed the product of Marxist and Jewish subversion. This is an idea that continues to be prominent within the far-right, and hasn’t died out with the Nazis. In fact, the mythology of Cultural Marxism in some form is espoused today not just by hardline right-wingers, but also self-described libertarians and classical liberals, and one Jordan Peterson (who repackages it as “postmodern neo-Marxism” because he doesn’t understand any of the ideologies he’s trying to reference). Oh, and the notorious fascist terrorist Anders Breivik, whose massacre of students in Norway brought the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory back into the spotlight.

According to the modern version of Cultural Marxism, the SJWs and the already nebulous and non-empirical notion of illiberal progressive dominance of academia, not to mention the liberal media, is actually part of a long standing, ongoing conspiracy by Marxists to destroy not just traditional values (this time) but also the liberal democratic values of the Enlightenment as a quest to destroy all forms of meaning and value and replace them with mindless intellectual anarchy so that they can create a populace ripe for control by elites. Oh, and if you believe the whole package for long enough, it still involves Jews. It’s still a revival of a fascist conspiracy theory, and because it got spread around as an explanation for modern political correctness, many people on supposedly liberal circles who found themselves opposed to the SJWs ended up adopting the term to describe modern liberal-progressive tendencies and the SJWs, though not always believing it wholesale.

I think I’ve said enough on this point, but it’s worth considering how the mythology of academic political correctness and thought suppression became a thing in the 2010s. Like I said earlier, I think it can still be argued that the modern outrage about political correctness had a somewhat grassroots source, and I do stand by that. While it is true that right-wing money is still there and a powerful player in all this (Turning Point USA, for instance, is sponsored by Dennis Prager and the NRA, and Dave Rubin is sponsored by Learn Liberty, a division of the Institute for Human Studies which is partly run by one of the Koch Brothers), I do believe there are people in both academic and online circles who have encountered people who are progressive and/or liberal but possess an authoritarian mindset or controlling personality, and their activities and personalities may have moved a number of people to the right or at least away from the left. Not to mention, we can’t erase the well-documented incidents of SJWs doing what they do best – namely intimidate and harass people and disrupt events by shouting at them about privilege. A lot of this probably has something to do with the way GamerGate exploded into a wider “culture war” of sorts against progressives, and while the original impetus of the movement began with 4chan chat logs, it did trigger a lot of grassroots support drawn towards it. Not to mention, the broad concept of political correctness does sometimes apply to real phenomenon, such as the cases of the Rotherham and Rochdale grooming gangs and how they were handled by the authorities. Finally, while, academia is dominated by moderates, there is still a large enough presence of left-leaning academics and there is much said about said left-leaning academics in various media circles that can lead you to think that left-leaning thought is dominant.

Taken together, there are good reasons you can find yourself falling into this popular myth about academic suppression based on political correctness. If there is a lesson to take from this besides the main point, it’s the simple fact that people and their worldviews are formed and shaped by the environments they are in and the information they take in about it (which is often limited, either by circumstance or willful denial stemming from personal bias). And so for many Americans at least, their experience at university could well lead them into the worldview they have now. It’s also worth addressing how a lot of grassroots sentiment can be picked up by big moneyed political interests when it aligns with their own pre-existing goals. It happened with The Tea Party and the Koch Brothers, it’s been going on with the Mercers supporting nationalism, right-populism and the alt-right, it happened with Occupy Wall Street where a surprising number of the bourgeoisie supported it, and we’re seeing a lot of the “free speech warrior” crowd line up with conservatism and find the support of Turning Point USA, which is financially tied to Dennis Prager and is even known for trying to funnel money to conservative causes. In fact, there are several conservative think tanks operating on college campuses in America funneling dark money to conservative causes, suggesting that what’s been going on back in the 1990’s is still happening today, and that these dark money groups see, in the modern liberal outrage against SJWs, a golden goose opportunity to infiltrate universities and swing disaffected liberals over to the Republican Party and the right wing. All the same though, it would be a mistake to think this is some sort of anti-establishment sentiment. In fact, as I’ve established, far from being a sentiment that exists chiefly on the rebellious fringes of Internet politics, the mythology of academic political correctness is not only a long-held right-wing trope but also an embedded idea of the neoliberal-neoconservative-centrist alliance for decades.

Meanwhile, I think the mythology of a leftist dominance of academia and plot to destroy academic freedom is likely to set Americans down a path that will, ironically, be the real danger to academic freedom, because the ideologues who propound this mythology are ultimately hypocrites. Jordan Peterson not only barred Faith Goldy from sharing a platform with him and other “free speech activists”, but he is also on record saying that there should be a blacklist for professors who teach postmodernism and “neo-Marxism”, which is just a rehash of what Joseph McCarthy did and is also the kind of thing you expect from Richard fucking Nixon. Turning Point USA has a project called Professor Watchlist, which is pretty much exactly the kind of blacklist that Peterson advocates and exists almost entirely to shame professors for holding the wrong opinions on campus. Bari Weiss, a Zionist New York Times columnist who claims to defend academic freedom, has a history of trying to suppress academic criticism of Israel. There are also many cases where the liberal Alan Dershowitz pressured colleges and journalists over cartoons depicting him as having odious political views and colleges hosting BDS speakers, all because it’s “offensive” to him as a Zionist, and he even led a campaign to deny Norman Finkelstein his tenure at DePaul University because of his academic criticisms of Israel. It is actually somewhat well-documented that anti-Israel voices have a habit of being smeared as anti-Semites by people who want to shut them down, and cartoonists can actually be fired for making satirical cartoons critical of Benjamin Netanyahu or Israeli foreign policy. As I mentioned earlier, Fox News and many right-wing channels on YouTube will openly condemn any academic speaker who is against Republicans, Trump, the armed forces, Israel and other things they care about, and sentimentally disregard their exercise to free speech as treasonous hate speech. They wouldn’t be the only right wingers who aren’t consistent about free speech either. And, contrary to the narrative surrounding campus censorship, the real threats to free speech are not radical left-wing students, but actually the American government in accordance with the whims of Donald Trump and the Republican party, who are all too eager to suppress left-wing or anti-fascist/anti-racist protests whilst having gall to claim they’re supporting freedom of speech, expression and association. What’s more, far from being alienated, libertarian and conservative ideologues are being pushed into academia by right wing donors. But you’ll never be told this by the likes of Fox News, The New York Times, Spiked, or Carl Benjamin, or any of the intellectuals set against what they call the regressive left (by now simply a catch all term for any leftist that liberals don’t like).

That’s all I have to say on this. I do regret focusing so much on the American situation without saying anything about the British situation, but there honestly isn’t much to say about the situation here in the UK, or at least it’s far less pronounced than in America where there is dark money everywhere. However, I would not be too surprised if I found that there are right wing think tanks operating in colleges in the UK and doing similar things to what the American think tanks are doing. What happens in America never really stays there. As a final point, let me just say that political correctness as a broad concept is still a thing. It’s overplayed and mythologized to merry fuck by right wing capitalists who want to take over higher education, but it can used to refer to many things in political life pertaining to some semblance of unspoken manners of conduct, though hardly the monolithic progressive ideology that certain reactionary ideologues portray it as in order to smear left-wingers as totalitarians-in-waiting. But the narrative of this concerted left wing effort to silence free speech on college campuses is simply not supported by data. In fact, it is empirically clear that it is the liberals of the center who are among the real authoritarians, who ally with the right wing in order to suppress dissident voices in the name of capital and power on behalf of the establishment, for they don’t really value freedom of speech like they claim to, at least not universally.

So, in closing, if you are for freedom of speech, you must realize that the left, for the most part, are not your enemies. The evidence is clear on this matter. It is time to stop treating them as such. The real enemies are the coalitions of capitalists who funnel money towards right-wing causes and the centrists who cry free speech in one breath while silencing opposing voices in the next, and the rapid expansion of state power in the Western world that threatens freedom of speech for everybody. The narrative that the left are the real authoritarians is a way for the American liberal-conservative alliance to maintain power and clout and push back the influence of social-democratic and progressive politics in America, which is no coincidence given the rise of social democracy in the 2010s.

Do not be deceived.

For the New Luciferian Era…

As I hew much closer to Luciferianism than to Satanism nowadays, the idea of a New Luciferian Era appeals to me much more than it did a few years ago when I was influenced much more by the Satanist perspective and also generally more cynical in temper in many cases. And, because of this, as my worldview began to change over the last few months, I have been doing some thinking of the manner in which a New Luciferian Era can organize, or the ethos that defines it and its outcome. Indeed, the shape of Luciferianism to some extent. I think I have laid some groundwork on that front in my post concerning the organizing idea, but perhaps you can think of this post as expanding on that in a different area: namely, the New Luciferian Era, and the ethos of transformation, emancipation and progress it should abide by.

To base one’s spiritual-philosophical path and outlook on the basis of a mythological being who defied, challenged or refused the divine ordinance of heaven, who carries the torch of the dawn and of liberty across the sky for Man to behold, who transcends the boundaries of heaven and hell and who brings the fire of emancipation to mankind is to acknowledge that one seeks progress in some form in the world, progress towards emancipation of the human species. To embrace reaction makes no sense in this context and actively runs against this ideal. That is what I have realized this year, and yet I am also aware that progress is an idea that tends to be used and abused with the tendency to divest it of any real meaning. Hence, the basis of progress is necessary to establish, so what people like me can take it, retake it and wear it with pride.

Lucifer as he appears on the cover of Helena Blavatsky’s Lucifer magazine

To do this, we will first start with Michael W. Ford’s interpretation of the mythological account of creation presented in the Enuma Elish, In Wisdom of Eosphoros, Ford outlines his view on mythology as an archetypal reference for what could be seen as an evolutionary ideology on the part of Luciferianism.

“If you read Enuma Elish, the Mesopotamian myth of Tiamat the mother of chaos and Marduk, champion of the gods, you will note a few associations with evolution. First, the waters of chaos in which Tiamat dwelt, contained monstrous and reptilian forms of abyssic darkness with predatory instinct. The young offspring of Tiamat and Absu, the gods were evolved enough to seek to create and shape the world. The myth explains that in a great battle, Tiamat and her general-king of the army of chaos were defeated by Marduk and the world was shaped from the primal form of Tiamat. The blood of Qingu was used to create humanity and from there life evolved. This is symbolic of our evolution from the earth’s primal waters, from simple organisms to human beings.

If you look at evolution, reptilian life crawled from the primal waters and evolved on land. Over time, their brains obtained more layers and physical features which would continue to create new species. At some point a group of primates began to eat red meat, which is known to be essential to growing larger brains. Due to some “perfect storm” of conditions, the first humans evolved in a primal form. Over time we evolved into what we are today. Our gift of consciousness allowed us to ponder at deep levels our potential and who we could be. We were driven by our survival instinct and made stronger by controlling the wide range of emotions that we could feel.

Luciferians look at evolution as our eventual obtainment of the symbolic “Black Flame” of divine consciousness; we could literally decide the path of life and basically what we wanted to attain.”

– Wisdom of Eosphoros, pages 67-68

If we look throughout the mythologies of the world, the myth Ford is referencing is echoed not just in the surrounding regions of the Levant (Ba’al Hadad versus Yamm for the Canaanites for instance) but also much further afield. The Irish myth of the Tuatha De Danann, the champions of the tribe, fighting the Fomorians, primeval beings of chaos who emerged from the sea, is a great example of the overall theme, with Lugh bringing Lugh down with his spear or slingshot on behalf of the Tuatha De Danann and helping them gain control of the powers of harvest. Greek mythology also kind of has an echo of this theme, with creation being presided over by successive classes of beings – from the primordial deities, to the Titans, and then the Olympians, after a great war between the Olympians and the Titans plus their monster allies. After the Titanmomachy, Prometheus was said to have created mankind and later given them the fire stolen from Olympus, for which he was chained to a rock and tortured by an eagle until eventually being rescued by Hercules. In Norse mythology, the divine brothers Odin, Villi and Ve kill the primordial giant Ymir and fashion the world, humans and other races of beings, and other things using Ymir’s flesh and blood. The Ymir myth has its echoes in Vedic Indian myth of the sacrifice (or Yajna as it is called in Hinduism) of Purusha, which produces all of creation from his body and mind. In Chinese mythology, there is a myth featuring the primeval giant Pangu who emerged from a cosmic egg representing the primordial chaos before creation, created heaven and earth and split them apart as he split yin and yang, and upon his death every part of his body became the land, the animals and plants that dwelt upon it, and the elements of nature and the cosmos.

Marduk battling Tiamat

Now the sort of Darwinian interpretation of Mesopotamian mythology can’t be taken as a literal reference to natural selection, but the overall theme can be used as the basis for a kind of mythological framework of evolutionary progression – the evolution from primordial chaos, to divinity, or humanity, to the fire of knowledge being brought to man, to the attainment of his daemonic self, or something to that effect. And the evolutionary principle can be taken as a powerful reflection of reality: all things, all processes and all states are subject evolution, the result of which occurs like a continuum upon itself (the new forms emerging from and building upon the old in progressive fashion), and if physicist Lee Smolin is correct this process even extends to time and the laws of nature themselves. Thereby, one can think of a constant state, an existence, that is always subject to change, transformation, and remaking, and I would think that matters greatly to the Luciferian.

Now, to journey outside of Luciferianism for a moment, there is an idea I would like to introduce to you, the reader, that I discovered from the writings of the Serbian philosopher Mihailo Markovic. That idea is known as Praxis. Praxis, simply put, is the creative potential of human beings, the principle of self-determination, which comprises the being of humans and allows the development of individual potential in both a personal and social sense: evoking the potential of the individual and also serving the needs of others through that potential. But it is also an idea connected to the notion of a historical struggle in some respects.

“The comparable question with respect to human history asks: What is the primary project of historical development? Which are the objective conditions necessary for human survival and development, not as a mere living organism but as a distinctly human being? Many things which actually occurred in the course of history do not belong to such conditions: famines, floods, earthquakes, massacres, destruction. What made human history possible and indeed unique – in view of the explosive development of the last few thousand years – was a specifically human activity: praxis. Praxis is purposeful (preceded by a conscious objective), self-determining (choosing autonomously among alternative possibilities), rational (consistently following certain general principles), creative (transcending given forms and introducing novelties into established patterns of behavior), cumulative (storing in symbolic forms ever greater amounts of information and conveying it to coming generations so that they can continue to build on the ground already conquered), self-creative (in the sense that young human individuals, after being exposed to an increasing wealth of information and new environmental challenges, develop new faculties and new needs). Praxis is a new, higher-level form of the human species. It retains genetic invariance, self-regulation, teleonomy. But it goes far beyond them. The plastic genetic material will be shaped in countless different ways by social conditioning; self- regulation will become more and more conscious and autonomous; and the conservative telos of the species – preservation and multiplication – will be replaced by an entirely new basic project: the creation of a rich manifold, increasingly complex, and beautiful environment, self-creation of persons with an increasing wealth of needs. Many human activities are clearly not instances of praxis, nor are they characteristic of human history. The repetitive work of a slave, serf, or modern worker resembles more a beaver’s dam building than creative work.”

– Mihailo Markovic, Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights

In essence, there is the historical struggle predicated on the further emancipation of Mankind, through the lens of the idea of Praxis. The progression towards new productive forces, new political and social forms, and new methods of philosophical inquiry, under the right conditions and through the right actions of people, would lead to the creative potential, the Praxis of humans, to expand and be raised up, and the creative spark lends itself to the generation of new forms which in turn lead Man closer to its own emancipation. Something like this I think would be a fantastic way to frame or envision the goals of the New Luciferian Era: to lead to the expansion of Man’s collective Praxis, by creating new forms and pathways to enlightenment, and unburden mankind from the forms that generate its spiritual, intellectual and material oppression, thus generating liberation. The process of making, remaking, and transformation is then tied to Man’s existence as a creative being, a being of Praxis, who through knowledge of his affairs, his potential and the forces otherwise blindly mold him to shape his own destiny, create new forms and engender a better and freer world around him, not just for himself but for all around him.

A relief depicting Phanes, the Orphic/Greek embodiment of creative power and probably future subject of his own Mythological Spotlight

Back when the Assembly of Light Bearers was known as the Greater Church of Lucifer, the leaders of the group outlined exactly what the New Luciferian Era meant. For them, the arrival of the New Luciferian Era entailed a new dawn in both personal and scientific discovery, freedom from superstition and the old religions, self-determination, and mastery of potential approximate to the ascent to divinity. In my view, to fulfill that spirit, the definition of the goal of the New Luciferian Era can do well to be influenced by the evolutionary worldview and the ideas of Praxis. As we progress , and when we enter into the New Luciferian Era, we will enter into an age where we can progress so much further, both as individuals and as a species, free of all that obstructs mankind’s Praxis, and make the ascension towards the evolutionary, almost transcendent potential of the human species, and the ideal will be imbued with a focus on human freedom, human sovereignty and human power. In a word, humanism. Luciferian humanism.

I could end there, but I think I should use the opportunity to address a criticism I once leveled against the idea in the past. Aeons and millennial beliefs aside, I think I had misguidedly judged the idea of the New Luciferian Era three years ago as not being individual-focused by nature of it being aimed at a mass or collective movement. Such a perception hinges on the dynamic between individualism and collectivism that I hope to get around to deconstructing in a series of posts about duality and false dichotomy, but put simply, there is no successful, powerful movement in history where people don’t organize as a mass, as a “collective of individuals” (I hate that phrase but I hope you get it), as a gestalt effort. The revolution cannot be atomized. It might seem strange, but it’s not as though the individual is left out of this. In fact, you can argue that, done right, the individual can find some power as a participant in the overall effort, not as a cog in the machine but as an agent of mutuality within the group. Seen this way, my older suspicions seem silly.

Apotheosis. Liberation. Illumination. NLE.

On Alex Jones being deplatformed

Well isn’t this funny. Not too soon after I write a post where I mention Alex Jones and now I find myself talking about him again. I have received news that yesterday Facebook, iTunes, YouTube and Spotify have all removed Alex Jones’ show and channel from their respective platforms, effectively banning him from being able to broadcast on their platforms. The main reasons being given for this decision seem be that InfoWars violated the websites’ guidelines concerning hate speech, but I’m not entirely sure what specific action triggered this decision. I have heard from one source that it was over a podcast in which he seemingly threatened Robert Mueller and fantasized about killing him on his show, or how he seemingly threatened homosexuals, transgender individuals and drag queens and called for them to be burned alive, but I’m not quite sure what did it for Apple, Facebook, Spotify and Google. It’s possible, however, that his recent efforts to put his podcast on Spotify might have sealed the deal, with Spotify users apparently threatening to cancel paid subscriptions to the platform if they continue to host Infowars.

Now, why am I talking about this? Well for one thing, I think we in the Satanist and Luciferians circles are all too familiar with his shtick: him peddling conspiracy theories wherein politicians and media personalities he doesn’t like are basically demons from the pit of hell who want to kill Christians, enslave mankind and take over the world. You know, fundamentalist Christianity jacked up on ketamine, and with a bunch of other weird conspiracy theories on top of it (like gay frogs, chemtrails, and NASA allegedly running a pedophile ring on Mars). So he’s been on our radar for some time now, and imagine many of us aren’t really shedding a tear for him at this moment. And for another thing, I think there are points to make about freedom of speech and incitement.

I, honestly, am quite neutral on this issue. I know that might seem strange for someone as pro-free speech as I am, but do hear me out.

In principle, I don’t support the idea of Alex Jones getting deplatformed in the way that has been. However, it would be easy for me to take his side on the issue were it not for the fact that Alex Jones has come suspiciously close to incitement numerous occasions. For instance, in January he went on a bizarre, unhinged rant about CNN’s Brian Stelter, where he accuses him of being a devil worshipper who wants to control every aspect of your life somehow, and implies that he is going to “resist” him (whatever that entails) with everything he has and that God is going to destroy him. In 2016, Jones outright called for supporters of Bernie Sanders to have their jaws broken. More recently, he seemingly called for drag queens to be burned alive, which Pink News also claims is the reason for Alex Jones getting banned from Facebook. There was also a rant last year where Jones threatened to beat up Rep. Adam Schiff, apparently over something to do with accusations of him being an agent of Russia. And that recent story about Robert Mueller? I’m not making that one up. In fact, let me just leave a video compilation below which shows multiple examples of Jones’ threats, including some I already mentioned.

In summary, Alex Jones frequently skirts the line, sometimes even outright crosses the line, into incitement to violence for individuals he doesn’t like, usually while layering a sense of plausible deniability on top of his grandiose and vulgar threats. With Robert Mueller for instance, he insists that he’s going to get him “politically” in his rant. Because you know, he doesn’t really want to shoot him, even though he says he’s a pedophile who should be shot. Classy. But then there is a peculiar question we must ask, and I think some journalists have asked the same question: why hasn’t Alex Jones been deplatformed sooner given his particular history?

To be honest, I think the answer to that is probably to do with the ways in which Jones can give a sense of plausible deniability to himself. Besides the kind of thing I already mentioned, when Alex Jones was sued for custody of his kids by his ex-wife Kelly, his lawyer defended him by claiming that Alex Jones is a performance artist playing a fictional character. This is a very effective way of granting plausible deniability to his threats – after all, if it’s all just an act, then those threats aren’t really threats, they’re just part of the act; just a meme bro. It’s also a convenient falsehood, given that Alex Jones tends to double down on his conspiracy theories when pressed on the subject, and he will insist that what he believes is the truth outside of his show.

There is another issue with the subject of his deplatforming however, one that cannot be overlooked. I have heard the argument that after Alex Jones’ deplatforming, it is only a matter of time before the media begins to deplatform others who are accused of promoting conspiracy theories – not just right-wing nutjobs like Alex Jones who actually promote conspiracy theories, but left-leaning guys like Kyle Kulinski and Jimmy Dore who are both critical of the Russiagate canard and are considered to be conspiracy theorists and fake news promoters by their centrist opponents. On the one hand it’s easy to the logic: America is already at a point where it looks like Silicon Valley capitalists can generate a monopoly on what is considered true and false because of their entrenchment within mainstream political circles. This may partly explain why they have wanted Alex Jones gone for some time now, because they believe he is spreading fake news (which, to be fair, he is and that’s his business model). On the other hand, I do have to stress again that Jones has a record of incitement, and I believe this sets him apart from people like Kyle Kulinski and Jimmy Dore, who never come close to inciting anything.

Another argument you could make, one that I think might have more weight, is that deplatforming Alex Jones will only give people more reason to believe his ideas or give them credence, as The Guardian’s Sam Levin has argued. It makes sense because the removal can seen by devotees or sympathizers of the conspiracy theorists as proof that they are trying to shut that person down for his ideas, even in cases where that’s not actually true and you can point to cases of incitement to violence as a reason for their deplatforming.

Regardless, I will say this to any self-proclaimed free speech warriors thinking of unequivocally defending him. Why is it that someone like Alex Jones, who skirts the line between free speech and incitement to violence, worthy of defence in the name of free speech, and someone like Jake Flores, a comedian who made a joke on Twitter about ICE agents getting killed, gets his door knocked down by the US government is treated to radio silence? Keep in mind, when Count Dankula made jokingly taught his dog to give Nazi salutes, you guys rightly defended him. But when the US government bust down someone’s door over a joke, I don’t see you guys saying anything, and not only that but some of you guys defend the very state organization that violates your free speech principles. The Spanish government also arrests people for joking about public officials being assassinated and insulting the monarchy, and I have never, ever seen anyone outside the left talk about that. And aren’t you usually the people who, when you’re not talking about people you like getting deplatformed by private companies, you defend the very architecture of capital and private property that allows social media companies to have flagrant disregard for your freedom of speech? Well, even within that premise, why does Alex Jones getting deplatformed elicit moral outrage, but not when Facebook targets pro-Palestine groups at the behest of Israel and the US government? Is it because Alex Jones is somehow anti-establishment? Never mind of course that Alex Jones defends the people now in power in America on a regular basis, says nothing about the detention camps that ICE has implemented since the Obama administration even though he was the same guy who claimed Barack Obama was going to implement FEMA camps on his way out of office, and no matter how many times Trumps bombs Syria and goes against his supposedly non-interventionist America First program, he will always go back to supporting him out of Republican partisanship. Or is it simply because of some sort of partisanship wherein if it happens anyone who isn’t to your left you don’t care? Gee, it really gets my almonds going when even fundamentalist right-wing Christians like Rick Wiles decide that Alex Jones is going too far their liking, but the average online “free speech warrior” takes Alex Jones’ side.

Overall, this for me is not about hate speech. I oppose the concept of hate speech, but I also oppose incitement to violence. I can’t take Alex Jones’ side on this one. I’m not gonna cheer for his apparent censorship, but I’m not going to shed a tear either because I think Alex Jones might have ultimately brought this on himself.

Alright, fuck it, America probably needs The Satanic Temple

You guys know me by now: I’m not the biggest fan of The Satanic Temple. I kind of supported them in the early days of my blog, but then I went on to criticize them on numerous occasions, particularly last year as I found their particular brand of liberal politics unappealing despite their support for secularism. I was starting to see them as opportunistic, self-aggrandizing political activists who used Satanism as a costume through which to promote secular atheism through culture jamming, and was really annoyed that they had really nothing to do with Satanism. Now of course, much of that is probably still true, but insofar as their utility is concerned, I think recent developments in the US regarding religion have led me to change my mind.

This week, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced the creation of what’s been dubbed the “Religious Liberty Task Force”. What is it exactly? Apparently it’s supposed to be the US government’s way of “implementing religious freedom”. Which, knowing American politics, simply amounts to increasing the power of Christianity in the public sphere. Sessions justifies this by claiming that there’s basically a conspiracy in America to undermine the religious freedom of Christians. To quote Sessions himself:

“We’ve seen nuns ordered to buy contraceptives,” he said. “We’ve seen U.S. senators ask judicial and executive branch nominees about dogma—even though the Constitution explicitly forbids a religious test for public office. We’ve all seen the ordeal faced so bravely by Jack Phillips.”

Jack Philips, of course, was the man who was sued by a gay couple for refusing to make a custom same-sex wedding cake. But let’s just get to the point.

“Let’s be frank: A dangerous movement, undetected by many but real, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom. There can be no doubt. It’s no little matter. It must be confronted intellectually and politically and defeated.”

That’s right. Jeff Sessions, and presumably others within the US government, believe there’s an unspecified, unnamed, mysterious movement that seeks to destroy religious freedom in the United States. Of course, there isn’t, really, but that never stopped anyone before. Honestly it seems like a major tell that this claim Session is making is most probably bullshit when he seems reticent to even give a name to his enemies. I mean who the hell are these enemies of religious freedom supposed to be anyway? Atheists? Humanists? Pagans? Liberals? Muslims? Satanists? Communists? Democrats? Freemasons? Pope Francis? Nazis? Jews? Stop me if I get it!

Who am I kidding? From what I have heard its likely that he might be referring to the rise of secularism, or the whole bake the cake issue – Sessions extrapolates the truly horrific burden of….the idea of actually having to serve gay customers gay wedding cakes…into some kind of grander conspiracy against Christianity and its believers. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that many liberals and human rights advocates are already worried that this “Religious Freedom Task Force” is simply a pretext to limit the rights of gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals under the auspices of Christian dogma cloaked in the mantle “religious liberty”.

Either way, it looks to me like the Trump administration is going to attempt to elevate the power of Christianity withing the political sphere by trying to grant more protections to Christianity under the law. And, to be honest, I think The Satanic Temple was probably trying to warn people about the Trump administration’s obvious play to Christianity, and that’s why they joined in on the anti-Trump protests during Inauguration Day back in January 2017.

That’s why I’ve decided to change my tune on them for the time being: it seems like they were probably right about the American government under Trump moving to expand religious power, and naturally I think they are one of the main forces in American cultural politics who could stand against this.

While I still dislike aspects of the actual politics they tend propose – I think of it as a mediocre liberalism with a dash of the brand of contemporary identity politics that comes with it – and I almost certainly maintain that they aren’t Satanists nor are they interested in Satanism (though me being a self-identified Luciferian one might wonder why I would complain), I am ready and willing to admit that some of their activism has been pretty effective. The famous Baphomet statue provoked a debate about the separation of church and state and got the Ten Commandments movement removed from government property, and I think that the After School Satan project, while admittedly weird in its execution, was a decent counter to the prevalence of Christian after school programs designed to indoctrinate children across America. I also approve of their Grey Faction, dedicated to debunking SRA conspiracy theories and related falsehoods. Now that there’s this looming threat of the expansion of religious power in American politics, it looks like the time is ripe for further activism on their part in order to confuse the conventional political boundaries regarding religious freedom in order to win the battle for secularism.

And I must say just as an aside, for a year or two until recently I was under the impression that the power of Christianity had declined and that fundamentalist Christianity was a toothless political force. But Donald Trump has made it explicitly clear that, in his view, religious organizations (read: Christian bullshit) will make up the bedrock of American society and that he will support Christianity, as evidenced by his statement from a few months ago. In a way this could be seen as a revival of George W. Bush’s policy concerning faith-based initiatives, which if anything is yet more proof that Trump is nothing more than Bush 2.0 (or should it be 3.0, counting Bush Sr?). Not to mention, the Republican Party has a stranglehold over the entire government (unless this blue wave I’m hearing about has anything to do with it), which makes it inevitable that there would be a religious agenda of some kind. And evangelical politics is not going away yet in America, especially now that the evangelicals seem to be getting social/religious conservatives in the Supreme Court, and guys like Jim Bakker and Rick Wiles will continue to have certain talking points mirrored by the conservative movement in the US. What’s more, a large section of Alex Jones’ hot takes now center around some kind of insane, coked up Christian victim complex wherein Christians are being persecuted by demons from the fourth dimension and how “left-wing Satanists” (or something) hate you and want you dead because you’re not one of them, and not only has he had correspondence with Donald Trump on his show but it also looks like the FBI might be taking his views seriously and acting on them. Needless to say, there is still some entrenched power

So take a bow, TST. You are not the kind of people who I wholeheartedly support for various reasons, but you might prove to be useful in making sure America doesn’t completely fall into theocracy, which would be an abomination to behold on top of numerous other developments. Keep culture jamming until all of this is over.

OK guys, you win this one. Good luck out there.

Two theories regarding the Asuras

A while ago someone named Kabirvaani left an interesting comment on one of my very old posts about the Asuras, suggesting that page 300 of James Houghton Woods’ book The Yoga System of Patanjali references an Asura as the bringer of a psychotropic drug that confers enlightenment upon those who imbibe it. Intrigued, I decided to investigate the idea and searched for the book’s text, and found an online source for the book. While researching this subject, I decided to make this post about two subjects. The first is the subject proposed by Kabirvaani concerning the Asuras and psychotropic drugs, the second is a different theory proposed by another blogger named Kata no Kokoro, who suggested, commenting on another post, that the post-Vedic conception of the Asuras might be based on the philosophy of Carvaka – a school of Indian philosophy based on epistomological materialism – with the intent of demonizing that philosophy on contrast to the religious idealism of most Hindu schools and the authority of the Vedas. We will deal with both these subjects in the same post, to save me bothering with two separate posts.

 

The Asura maidens and their magic drugs

Before we get to what page 300 of The Yoga System of Patanjali has to say, let’s look at what the page before it has to say on the subject of how “Perfections proceed from birth or from drugs or from spells or from self-castigation or from concentration”.

1. The power of having another body is the perfection by birth.

2. [Perfection] by drugs is by an elixir-of-life [got] in the mansions of the demons, and by the like.

3. By spells, such as the acquisition of [the power of] passing through space and atomization [iii. 45].

4. [Perfection] by self-castigation is the perfection of the will, the faculty of taking on any form at will (kamarupin) [or] of going anywhere at will, and so on.

5. Perfections proceeding from concentration have been explained.

Note the second part. Apparently there’s an aspect of Indian yoga wherein a yogi can attain “perfection” through an elixir obtained through in “the mansions of the demons”. Who are the demons exactly? Of course, it is none of than the Asuras, the grand enemies of the Devas. From page 300:

2. He describes the perfection which proceeds from drugs. A human being when for some cause or other he reaches the mansions of the demons (asura), and when he makes use of elixirs-of-life brought to him by the lovely damsels of the demons, attains to agelessness and to deathlessness and to other perfections. Or [this perfection may be had] by the use of an elixir-of-life in this very world. As for instance the sage Mandavya, who dwelt on the Vindhyas and who made use of potions.

Regarding the lovely damsels of the demons, doing some digging I find that Vedic mythology does attest to female Asuras having knowledge of mystical plants and herbs. In the hymns of the Atharvaveda, specifically Book 7, there is a hymn that references a group of entities named the Asuri, who seduce the deity Indra by means of a magic herb.

“I dig this Healing Herb that makes my lover look on me and weep,
That bids the parting friend return and kindly greets him as he comes.
This Herb wherewith the Asuri drew Indra downward from the Gods,
With this same Herb I draw thee close that I may be most dear to thee.
Thou art the peer of Soma, yea, thou art the equal of the Sun,
The peer of all the Gods art thou: therefore we call thee hitherward.
I am the speaker here, not thou: speak thou where the assembly meets.
Thou shalt be mine and only mine, and never mention other dames.
If thou art far away beyond the rivers, far away from men,
This Herb shall seem to bind thee fast and bring thee back my prisoner.”

– Hymn XXXVIII of the Atharvaveda

The Asuri is said to refer either to a specific entity whose identity is unknown, or a group of beings. In either case, Asuri is simply the feminine pronoun of Asura, hence Asuri refers to female semi-divine or demonic beings. According to Nagendra Kr. Singh in Vedic Mythology, the Asuras were very knowledgeable on matters of magic and medicine and their women knew how to use magical and medicinal plants. They were said to hide such medicines under the ground so that the Devas could not find them.

So, while I have been unable to locate the female Asura I was referred to, I do learn that female Asuras are associated with magical plants within Vedic mythology. This establishes a mythological basis for the maidens of demons bringing the elixir of life in The Yoga System of Patanjali. There is definitely a tradition with Indian mythology wherein the Asuras provide magic medicines, which could have been extrapolated into what is described in the book.

Taw Waes Suwan Asura Deva Carrying Amrita by Ajarn Saeng Apidej

We can perhaps think of the Asuras within Vedic mythology as possible sources of enlightenment through psychotropics, at least insofar as the premise of enlightenment through drugs is concerned. Of course, this is only within the older Vedic Hinduism. Since the Asuras are treated as demonic in post-Vedic Hinduism, this idea is probably treated as some kind of demonolatry by modern Hindus.

 

Carvaka and the Asuras

Carvaka (often spelled Charvaka), also known as Lokayata, is a school of Indian philosophy that rejects theism, reincarnation, karma, the soul or Atman and Moksha, and viewed the best means of acquiring as being not from revelation or religious scripture but through direct perception via the senses and through the practice of empiricism. Such a view is recognizable in the Western world as materialism or naturalism, and is associated with contemporary atheism. It was said to have been developed by a Vedic sage named Brihaspati at around 600 BCE. Curiously enough, Brihaspati is also the name of a planetary deity, the patron of the planet Jupiter, who was consider the guru of the Devas and related to the fire deity Agni.

There is a myth within the Upanishads in which Brihaspati is said to have created the Carvaka doctrine in order to deceive the Asuras. According to the Seventh Prapathaka of the Maitrayaniya Upanishad:

Brihaspati, having become Sukra, brought forth that false knowledge for the safety of Indra and for the destruction of the Asuras. By it they show that good is evil, and that evil is good. They say that we ought to ponder on the (new) law, which upsets the Veda and the other sacred books. Therefore let no one ponder on that false knowledge: it is wrong, it is, as it were, barren. Its reward lasts only as long as the pleasure lasts, as with one who has fallen from his caste. Let that false science not be attempted, for thus it is said:
(1) Widely opposed and divergent are these two, the one known as false knowledge, the other as knowledge. I (Yama) believe Nakiketas to be possessed by a desire of knowledge; even many pleasures do not move thee.
(2) He who knows at the same time both the imperfect (sacrifice, &c.) and the perfect knowledge (of the Self), he crosses death by means of the imperfect, and obtains immortality by means of the perfect knowledge.
(3) Those who are wrapped up in the midst of imperfect knowledge, fancying themselves alone wise and learned, they wander about floundering and deceived, like the blind led by the blind.

Sukra might be a reference to Shukra, or Shukracharya, who if you remember from my second Mythological Spotlight was the guru of the Asuras and the planetary deity of Venus. Indeed, Sukra is the Indian name for the planet Venus. It might be suggested that Brihaspati took the appearance of Sukra in order to deceive the Asuras into believing what were deemed false teachings, presumably to undermine their ability to defeat the Devas in battle in order to help the Devas defeat them. It is not certain if the Brihaspati mentioned in the Upanishad, but it is commonly held that the deity Brihaspati and the human Brihaspati are separate entities, which would make sense given it is unlikely that the Devas would have sincerely believed in materialist philosophy. Given this and the ability of the Upanishadic Brihaspati to transform into Shukra and his imperative on behalf of the Devas, I suspect that the Brihaspati referred to here is probably the planetary deity and not the human sage.

Brihaspati (the planetary deity, not the sage)

The Padma Purana also contains a dialogue in which Rudra (or Shiva) refers to Brihaspati as the one who proclaims the “much censured” doctrine of Carvaka. In the same text, Buddhism is also referred to as a false doctrine, proclaimed by an incarnation of Vishnu, and that Rudra proclaimed a “pseudo-Buddhist” doctrine referred to as Maya. Rudra also says that he ordered a man named Jaimimi to expound the doctrine of Purva Mimamsa – a doctrine that, while it seemingly endorses the authority of the Vedas, holds that the material universe to be endless and without liberation – which Rudra describes as stating godlessness and invalidating the Vedas. It is established here that the Hindu deities go out of their way to, within the context of the lore, deceive the enemies of the Devas by promoting Nastika doctrines (that is, doctrines that go against or contradict Vedic scripture, typically atheistic philosophies, thus heretical doctrines within the context of Hinduism) in order that they might defeat and destroy them.

Another example of this happening with regards to Jainism is when Vishnu sent a teacher named Mayamoha to teach the Asuras the Jain religion in order to that they could be defeated. The rationale behind such a theme seems to be twofold: (1) the Asuras are strengthened by following the Vedas and performing the proper rituals and penances, hence they lose power when they reject the Vedas, which serves to paint the Vedic religion as imparting power to believers, and (2) the non-Vedic religions are treated as so wicked and false that clearly they are either the doctrines of demons or tricks from the gods designed to weaken their enemies.

This theme is echoed in the Puranic myth of the Tripurasura, a group of three Asuras (Vidyunmali, Tarakshaka and Viryavana) who were the sons of Tarakasura. After the three Asuras perform a series of religious austerities known as tapasyas, Brahma grants them the following reward: they will live for a thousand years in three palaces for each of them – one made of  gold, one made of silver, and one made of iron – which reside in different realms (one in heaven, one in the sky, and one on the earth) and align every thousand years, and can only be destroyed by an arrow that can penetrate the three realms when the palaces align. The Devas, feeling threatened by a bunch of Asuras having that much clout, appeal to the Trimurti to destroy them. Brahma refuses on the grounds that it was he who granted them the boon to begin with, and Shiva refuses because he saw that they weren’t doing anything wrong, but Vishnu comes up with a plan to trick them into becoming non-believers in order to justify their destruction. He creates a man out of himself, whom he named Arihat. Arihat was shaven and wore dirty clothes, thus he had the appearance of a bald ascetic monk. Arihat was instructed to teach the Tripurasura a religion that contradicts the Vedas – one which holds that there is no afterlife, that heaven and hell exist only on Earth and that there is no reward or punishment in any life after this one. After this, Shiva destroys the Tripurasura and their palaces once they align. Given the description of a lack of an afterlife and the emphasis on this world within this belief system, it is very likely that the “false religion” in this story is none other than Carvaka.

Shiva destroys the Tripurasura and their palaces

Another myth within the Mahabharata (specifically Book 12) describes a being named Charvaka, who is identified as either an Asura or a Rakshasa, who was believed to have impersonated one of the Brahmanas in order to accuse the Pandava prince Yudhishthira of killing his kin.

A little while after when the Brahmanas had become silent, a Rakshasa of the name of Charvaka, who had disguised himself as a Brahmana, addressed the king. He was a friend of Duryodhana and stood therein the garb of a religious mendicant. With a rosary, with a tuft of hair on his head, and with the triple staff in his hand, he stood proudly and fearlessly in the midst of all those Brahmanas that had come there for pronouncing benedictions (upon the king), numbering by thousands, O king, and all of whom were devoted to penances and vows. That wicked wight, desirous of evil unto the high-souled Pandavas and without having consulted those Brahmanas, said these words unto the king.’

“Charvaka said, ‘All these Brahmanas, making me their spokesman, are saying, ‘Fie on thee! Thou art a wicked king. Thou art a slayer of kinsmen. What shalt thou gain, O son of Kunti, by having thus exterminated thy race? Having slain also thy superiors and preceptor, it is proper for thee to cast away thy life.’ Hearing these words of that wicked Rakshasa the Brahmanas there became deeply agitated. Stung by that speech, they made a loud uproar. And all of them, with king Yudhishthira. O monarch, became speechless from anxiety and shame.’

When the real Brahmanas revealed his ruse, Charvaka was killed by their utterance of the Hun sound, the sound of Brahma. It is possible that the demon Charvaka was a demonization of the Carvaka school, a way of painting adherents of Carvaka as liars who deceive the public and impersonate the pious. However, this would depend on when the Mahabharata was compiled and published, given that the Mahabharata is likely to have been written at around 400 CE, many centuries after the emergence of the Carvaka school.

Finally, let’s look at the Upanishadic myth of Virochana, son of the Asura Prahlada, who together with Indra sought out the creator deity Prajapati to learn about the nature of Atman, the divine self or soul in Hindu theology. According to the Chandogya Upanishad, the two deities sought out his wisdom on the promise that whoever found it would gain the possessions of all worlds. After staying with Prajapati as his disciples and living the lives of Brahmacharis (as in, men who pursue Brahman) for 32 years, Prajapati tells both Indra and Virochana of the Atman and instructs them to see their reflections in a pan of water. After seeing their reflections, they left and relayed the revelations they believed themselves to attained. Virochana returned to the Asuras and told them that he learned that the body and the Atman are one and the same and thus the bodily self should be glorified, while Indra thought this was wrong, went to Prajapati for clarification twice before spending yet another 32 years with him as a Brahmachari, then another 5 years, before finally Prajapati told him:

“This body is subject to death yet it embodies the deathless and bodiless Atman. This embodied Self falls into the trap of all dualities like pleasure and pain, but the bodiless Atman is not touched by any duality. So long as the Atman resides in the body and attaches itself to them he seems limited and restricted, but again when freed from the body becomes one with the infinite spirit. When the Atman leaves the body, goes wandering freely in the infinite worlds. The eye, the ear, the senses, the mind are there only in order that the Atman may see and hear and think. It is on account of Atman and in the Atman that the things and beings exist. He is the Truth and the final repository of all existence.”

Indra comes to believe the doctrine of the Atman as the ultimate truth, as divine consciousness that embodies itself in the flesh in order to perceive the world and is freed from the body to wander infinity after the death of the body, while Virochana comes to believe that the bodily self is the self itself and the object of concern and reverence. Since Carvaka holds that consciousness exists only within the body, it is pretty likely that the doctrine Virochana and the Asuras learn is materialism, the doctrine of Carvaka.

To close this post, it’s worth noting the old Vedic character of the Asuras. As I’ve pointed out here many times before, Asura was once technically a title applied to the Vedic deities themselves, denoting the power, strength and might of the deity. They were sometimes also thought of as a semi-divine class of beings who were neither good nor bad, and possess the magical powers of maya. After some time though, as the old form of the Vedic religion got displaced by the new form of Hinduism, which was based on the Puranas and the Upanishads (which still claimed the authority of the Vedas as sacred mind you), Asura changed from a signifier of divine might, to a class of morally ambiguous semi-divine beings, to class of anti-divine beings if not outright a class of demons who are often materialistic. Perhaps this association with materialist doctrines stems from the conflict between orthodox Vedic Brahmanism and the emergent Nastika doctrines, such as Jainism, Buddhism, and Carvaka, as well as Tantric schools of Hinduism, not to mention the rise of a new form of Hinduism based on the Upanishads that sought to change the character of Hinduism.

The devas, possibly representing orthodoxy, pull Vasuki’s tail, the asuras, possibly representing heterodoxy, pull Vasuki’s heads.

As Hinduism was dealing with the Nastika doctrines, it made sense that, in order to maintain the authority of theistic Hindu doctrine, the Brahmanists and Upanishadists sought out to ridicule the Nastika doctrines, especially Carvaka. It also possible that they destroyed most first-person sources on Carvaka (that is, texts written by its adherents rather than its detractors), given the dearth of texts and information on Carvaka. Essentially, the new Brahmanists demonized the materialist doctrine, and other Nastika doctrines, by positioning them as doctrines believed by demons (Asuras and Rakshasas), often through the deceptions of the Devas and the Trimurti. The Asuras in and of themselves are not based on Carvaka, but the Carvaka doctrine became somewhat affixed to the Asuras through the Puranic and Upanishadic myths.

Thanks to Kabirvaani of Shivahaoma and Hata no Kokoro for providing the inspiration for this post