The Church of Satan vs The Satanic Temple

Welcome to Part 2 of my series of introspective posts about Satanism, and the wider Satanic zeitgeist. In this post, we will have a look at the two Satanic organizations with the largest profile that I can think of –  the Church of Satan and The Satanic Temple – and observe the differences between the two groups and the split that it represents in the wider zeitgeist of what is considered to be modern Satanism.

The famous (or perhaps infamous) Satanic Temple depiction of Satan as a Baphometic figure

First, I think some essential background surrounding the two organizations is in order.

The Church of Satan was established in 1966 by Anton LaVey as something of an alternative to both Christianity and the hippie movement of the 1960’s, promoting radical individualism, egoism, rational self-interest and hedonism, using the figure of Satan as the embodiment of Man as a carnal being and as he ought to be, with some dark spirituality and occultism thrown in to some degree (though LaVeyan Satanism typically sees it as a pageantry, and the Church of Satan nowadays doesn’t emphasize these aspects, but we’ll get into that a little later). At first it was organization teeming with the potential of what might be called Satanic magick, which aspirants rising up the hierarchy through their own works, and there was sometimes even talk of some vaguely spiritual ideas surrounding Satan and magick, but it has since evolved into a more secular and outright purely atheistic organization.

The Satanic Temple was founded in 2014 by Lucien Greaves and Malcolm Jarry as an activist organization, using the icon of Satan as a window dressing for what is essentially secular liberal (or social liberalism) activism. They are known for encouraging (or arguably trolling) the US government and Christian groups into accepting the rollback of religious presence and activity in certain areas, perhaps most famously with their campaign to erect a statue of Satan on Oklahoma Capitol Hill in order to protest the presence of the Ten Commandments monument, which has since been removed (though apparently a bill has recently been passed allowing the monument to return).

There are a number of differences between the Church of Satan and The Satanic Temple. Perhaps the most notable is their focus. The Church of Satan is not focused on political activity or lobbying, and currently has no desire to change the world around them in that vein. The Satanic Temple, on the other hand, is well known for its political activism and has staged many events aimed at promoting separation of church state and numerous other political causes generally aligned with the “left-liberal” side of the political spectrum. Besides the Satan statue, they’ve raised money for the adopting of highways, launched an after-school program designed to counter the kind offered by Christians, held protests in support of Planned Parenthood, held a “pink mass” over the grave of the mother of Fred Phelps to make the Westboro Baptist Church think they were turning her soul gay (stay tuned for my thoughts on that shit), erected Satanic “nativity scenes” to counter the Christian tradition of the Jesus nativity piece, held a black mass at Harvard Church and held various ritual ceremonies to protest Christianity. The recently commissioned a public Satanic monument in Belle Plaine, Minnesota, over the presence of a Christian religious monument. The Church of Satan, however detached from LaVey’s original spirit it seems to be in modern times, stems from LaVey’s original philosophy, which stresses focus on self-empowerment, embraces an egoistic view in the mold of Ayn Rand, and prizes radical individualism over egalitarianism. The Satanic Temple, in contrast, asserts its primary goal as encouraging “benevolence and empathy” among all people. They keep the LaVeyan understanding of Satan as an embodiment of Man’s nature, implying they share LaVey’s philosophy of Man as a carnal and selfish being, but they also embrace what seems to be an altruist tack via the rather wishy washy conception of benevolence to all things (again, we’ll get into that in greater detail later on).

Now despite what I have said and will say against the organization, there is still much that can be said to the organization’s credit. I would still praise their Satan statue campaign targeting the Oklahoma Ten Commandments monument, solely on the grounds that a religious monument’s presence in a house of secular law might present a conflict of interest. After all, does this place represent secular law or the laws of “God”?  I also approve of their general stance against child corporal punishment in public schools, and kind of support their After School Satan program because it involves nothing more than the insertion of an alternative set of ideas in a free and open market of ideas, though I don’t necessarily approve of their ad campaign. I also understand that they have a “Grey Faction“, which is devoted to debunking Satanic Ritual Abuse theories and anything of the like, I approve of their sentiment that religion can be divorced from the irrational thinking and pure superstition that is characteristic of the familiar organized religions and associated generally with faith (a sentiment which, if you think about, was also found in the Church of Satan back in the day and I suspect is also shared by organizations such as The Sect of the Horned God), and their founder Lucien Greaves is at least somewhat aligned with the classical liberal political tradition, as evidenced by his condemnation of other Satanists who tried to disrupt an event that Milo Yiannopoulos was holding because they didn’t like him spreading “hate speech”.

However, this is where my praise of The Satanic Temple ends, and my many criticisms begin.

Honestly, their most recent campaign (the Belle Plaine monument) seems to remind me that they might not solely be motivated by separation of church and state, or at least I don’t think they have the same view of what that means. In an article of Star Tribune, a local Minnesota paper, Lucien Greaves (who is referred to as Doug Mesner) says this about the group’s intentions.

It’s a sad state of affairs when any one religious group feels persecuted because they don’t have exclusive privilege on the public grounds,”

What the heck does this mean, exactly? Is he trying to say that non-Christian religions are persecuted because of the lack of non-Christian monument? Does he want religious privilege? It seems kind of vague, but it come across as saying that the biggest priority here is a perceived religious privilege. This is a veteran monument we’re talking about here. I am pretty certain that the use of a cross, while it might be connected to Christian faith, may also be used to convey a more universally understood meaning pertaining to death. A cross, associated with funerary monuments, is instantly understood in popular imagination as being associated with death/passing away, though perhaps that is because Western culture is still undeniably influenced by Christianity in some way. Whereas with the Satan statue issue I sympathized with them because they objected to the presence of religious symbolism in a place of secular law, this issue seems to be them up in arms about the presence of Christian symbolism at a memorial park. I really don’t see the issue and I don’t care what religious symbolism is there. If I think about it, their way of opposing integration of church and state seems to amount to protesting the presence of Christian symbolism and acting like they don’t have the freedom to establish their own religious presence. Like with their counter-nativity scenes. I approve of The Satanic Temple creating their own nativity scenes, because it is just them putting their own cultural artifacts out into the public, but the motive here seems to be all about diversity of religious representation or railing against the mere idea of a Christian nativity being displayed in public. And these people actually went out of their way to protest a football game, dressed like goth rejects, all because a Christian led a pre-game prayer and they took it as evidence that one group has exclusive privilege, for which I do not see any proof. It’s almost like how SJWs look at how white people being the majority demographic in a given Western nation and somehow construe this as granting an intrinsic social privilege to that demographic, of course without offering any evidence beyond “white people in government and big corporations”.

Also, there’s something about their idea of the “pink mass” that bothers me. Besides the fact that they were basically dancing on the grave of Fred Phelps’ mother because they don’t like Fred Phelps’ thoughts on homosexuality (and neither do I, for the record), the premise of the mass is basically to, at least figuratively, turn the soul of a deceased person gay. My problem with this premise is that The Satanic Temple seem like the kind of people who would be against conversion therapy for turning homosexuals into heterosexuals, but because Fred Phelps was a vocal opponent of homosexuality that makes turning his mother’s soul gay a good thing? That seems like such a petty and pathetic thing to do over a man’s “hate speech”, as it would be termed by the media. Almost as petty is when they considered performing a similar ceremony for Fred Phelps himself after he died in 2014. It’s a bit like that notoriously bad Bill Nye Saves the World cartoon that depicts straight white men as a vanilla ice cream who proposes conversion therapy for his gay/bi friends and who needs to be turned gay through seduction so he can have a bisexual orgy with them.

Come to think of it, I can’t say I’m surprised that the same kind of media that praises Bill Nye’s stupid cartoon sketch as “slamming Christians” and “explaining the absurdity of conversion therapy” (by saying that it’s OK to push a kind of conversion therapy on straight white men) praises The Satanic Temple as bringing Satanism into the mainstream by showing their progressive credentials, shattering Christian intolerance by displaying public intolerance towards the mere presence of Christian symbols at any one time or place.

To be perfectly frank, I am annoyed with the fact that Satanists in general are being compared to Christians because of The Satanic Temple. “The truth is that Satanists are actually…saintlike” claims Comicverse for instance. Bullshit. Satanists are in truth more like cats than saints. I don’t strive to be a saint, not least by the standards of sainthood and morality put forth by both traditional Christian morality and the progressive ideology that so pervades modern media. Lest we forget that the Catholic idea of Sainthood allows for malevolent individuals like Mother Teresa (an ally of dictators and lover of the suffering of the poor) and Juniperro Serra (who seems to have converted the native population of California to Catholicism by force) to be canonized as Saints and treated as benevolent figures. Not to mention, if your idea of “saintlike” involves performing spiritual conversion therapy on people for merely having a bigoted opinion, you need to re-evaluate your moral compass. How would you like it if I dragged you to a clinic that provided actual conversion therapy, or had you mailed to Iran in hopes that you’d undergo forced gender assignment, because you think people who don’t like buttsex are evil? Are you going to say then that I am a saint for doing so, or for having the kind of mindset that would think this is OK? Salon (ever the most cogent outlet and totally not ideological driven at all these days 😉 ) actually ran an article back in 2015 claiming that Satanists are truer to the words of Jesus Christ, a sentiment echoed by many TST-obsequious articles on Patheos, at which point I must draw a line. I am nothing like Jesus Christ, and nor are most Satanists I know, nor do we try to be. I am not about loving thy enemies, I don’t want love for all things and all people without a shred of hatred in my heart, I don’t want religious pluralism to be replaced with hardcore traditionalism (Jesus, after all, advocated for Jewish conservatism as opposed to moderated and Romainzed forms of Judaism, and opposed the Roman Empire which, although it demanded the worship of an emperor, tolerated any religion that welcome a sacrificial rite to the Roman emperor), I don’t want universal benevolence in the name of the kingdom of the sky, and I don’t want your socialism-lite Christianity either. But crucially, I and most Satanists aren’t as violent and crazy as Jesus was according to the Bible. If you think that I and many Satanists have anything in common with Jesus, let alone your Bernie Sanders-esque conception of him, I’m sorry, but you are deluded I will treat you as such.

It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that the Church of Satan has expressed disapproval of The Satanic Temple’s activities. Their current leader, Peter Gilmore, went on record to denounce The Satanic Temple as “a parody of Satanism rather than a representation of some actual philosophical or religious organization”. Whatever else can be said of Gilmore and the modern Church of Satan, and not much of it is positive from what I have seen in the Satanic blogosphere, I honestly don’t blame him for expressing that sentiment, given what The Satanic Temple seems to be these days. I mean, what exactly is so Satanic, for instance, about stressing universal compassion and benevolence and particularly going out of your way to basically bodyguard random Muslims because you think they’ll be stigmatized, while the religion of Islam is so against Satanism that its practitioners would be punished with death if a society were run in accordance with Islamic doctrine. But, in fairness, am I so surprised that Gilmore got flak for this sentiment given the isolationist nature of his organization and the fact that he want so far as to claim that the Satan statue was “pedophilic” in nature? I would say no. I would say that Gilmore didn’t do the organization any favors, and in the eyes of many Satanists he served to deepen the image of both himself and his organization as cranky, cantankerous (in itself far from unrespectable in my opinion), isolationistic, intolerant and out of touch, which to me is kind of a shame because, while it is true that the Church of Satan has been dismissive of other Satanic organizations as as not really Satanic (or even just filled with bad Satanists), I do understand and respect the fact that part of Gilmore’s objection to the Satan monument is that he doesn’t like proselytism. He views Satanism as something that should come naturally to a person who reads about it and decides that he/she sees him/herself embodying that philosophy, and the literary archetype of Satan to some degree, and sees The Satanic Temple as doing the opposite – proselytizing their outlook through public political activism.

We actually get a curious snapshot of the division between the ideals of The Satanic Temple and The Church of Satan in the wake of, of all things, the election of Donald Trump as 45th President of the United States of America. According to Rooster, The Satanic Temple witnessed a sudden increase in membership within almost two days of the election. The Satanic Temple views this as an opportunity to push their organization as a vanguard of political resistance against a “theocratic” regime under the Republican Party. The Church of Satan (which apparently also saw its share of increased online interest), by contrast, is noted as being less opposed to the idea of a Trump presidency, with Church of Satan reverend Raul Anthony noted as a Trump supporter. Their article, I must mention, was about as obsequious to popular progressive narrative on the subject as many Western media outlets on the subject of both The Satanic Temple and Donald Trump, painting the Trump viewpoint as essentially theocratic, even though Trump himself seems to be less religious than the textbook religious Republican to the point that he does not oppose gay marriage and seems to be, if anything, pro-gay. And their characterization of the Church of Satan as endorsing “Trumpian” beliefs is about as uncharitable as it is borderline character assassination. What exactly does a Nietzsche or Redbeard-inspired might makes right style view have to do with the “America First” ideology, which appraised objectively amounts to essentially a populist, nationalist, perhaps paleoconservative outlook? What does exactly Trump’s rhetoric on “law and order” have to do with “If a man smite thee on the cheek, smash him on the other”? And if they are related, doesn’t that make him (gasp) a secret Satanist? Wouldn’t that rather undermine the whole “Trump is a Christian ideologue” narrative, especially given that Christianity is supposed to be a Bernie Sanders religion according to these American media outlets? And “greater men should rule over lesser men”? Quite a peculiar thing to say about someone who spent his campaign on a decidedly populist, anti-establishment tack.  Though I must say, the quote from Raul himself doesn’t paint his side of the story in a good position. He is quoted as saying “you have to hate”, which I think is a misrepresentation. Yes, love is not the only thing in this world that you need, I agree with that, but you don’t *have* to hate anyone who doesn’t deserve it. Satanism simply says on this matter that you should be free to hate who you feel is deserving of hate – people who mistreat you, people have wronged you or your loved ones, people who do not give you your due as you toil in this world etc.

And speaking of Donald Trump, we come to my biggest problem with The Satanic Temple as of late: their alliance with feminism and progressive identity politics. I’ve covered this before on my blog, but the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration was marked by protests and riots in Washington DC, and I found out that The Satanic Temple had been seen attending the anti-Inauguration protests, claiming that they want to stop Donald Trump from “destroying all of your rights”. Immediately following this was the Women’s March, a giant incoherent virtual signal organized people with no unifying cause other than “fuck Donald Trump”, but happened to be led by anti-liberal ideologues like Linda Sarsour and Gloria Steinem, and perhaps most notorious for a crazy ass Ashley Judd’s slam poetry, one of the speakers having a criminal record and the elevating of the hijab as the symbol of women’s liberation, while the women of Saudi Arabia live with it as a symbol of religious oppression as is mandated by Islamic doctrine. And yet I find that, again, the Satanic Temple decided to join the Women’s March in solidarity with their nebulous cause. Not only that, but they also promoted a “civic engagement party” being hosted by three two-bit progressive bloggers, most of whom work for the Huffington Post (which I also covered in a previous post). In addition, when I look at the Satanic Temple’s website, it seems they have co-opted feminism not just for the purpose of supporting “reproductive rights” (which, judging from their support of Planned Parenthood, seems to amount to the belief that having abortion clinics sponsored by the tax payer and propped up by the state is a fundamental human right). And guess who is on the vanguard of “Satanic feminism”? None other than The Satanic Temple’s Jex Blackmore, the very same woman who took the folk horror movie, The Witch, and tried to co-opt it as part of some kind of progressive revolutionary agenda.

What is my problem with this, exactly? Well, in the case of The Witch, it basically amounts to them attempting to co-opt a piece of entertainment media as part of their own ideological movement, the same thing that progressives have been doing to video games and comic books in recent years. As for the rest, it is them deciding to embrace progressive ideology and embracing a philosophical/political identity that is proving to be increasingly divorced from actual Satanism. I will say it unequivocally, I think feminism has nothing to do with Satanism, nor should it. Feminism, at least in its current form, is an identitarian movement that regards women, and gender itself, as a social class, wherein all its members have shared interests (like how Marx viewed every member of the working class as having the same collective interests, or how white nationalists and supremacists view white people as all being part of one big family), wherein the ideologues who lead it claim that feminism represents women, and their interests, and an attack on feminism is an attack on women. I find that this is inherently anti-individualistic, and thus I find it is anti-Satanic. Progressivism in general is infested with much the same identity politics, except that it’s not just feminism. They have their own brand of identity politics wherein various groups of non-white people are treated as constantly vulnerable political classes that need to be shielded from a white supremacy that they themselves project onto a society that, when examined objectively, is not a white supremacist society. This too is anti-individualistic, thus is opposed to part of the core of Satanic philosophy. For the Satanist the individual, and the interest of the individual, matters more than any notion of a shared racial or sexual identity, and the individual is treated as an individual, with his/her own desires, interests and goals, rather than as a social class, let alone based on arbitrary characteristics. But apparently, despite being an organization ostensibly interested in promoting Satanism, The Satanic Temple views progressive identity politics and social justice as an acceptable component of its activism.

This puts modern Satanism in a lamentable predicament: Satanism as we know it began in the 1960’s as a rebellious alternative to the burgeoning flower power counterculture of the time, establishes itself as a movement opposed to both religion and political correctness in its time, placing individualism and egoism above of these values, only in to, in the 2010’s, have a public image that is not being dictated by a progressive organization that ostensibly seeks to reinvent Satanism and bring it to the mainstream, by divorcing Satanism from its original ideals, to the point that is seems like it is using Satanism as a means of militant atheist political activism. And the Church of Satan, despite Gilmore’s arguments, will not do much to remedy this situation, because they keep to themselves too much, resting on their past glory instead. In addition to this, the Church of Satan been shown to be kind of a money-grubbing organization. In order to join you have to pay the organization a $200 membership fee, for you receive a crimson card signifying your membership. That in itself would be ridiculous enough were it not for the fact that, according to my friend Satanicviews’ investigation of their finances, the money you give to the Church of Satan goes not to the organization and its cause but instead into the pockets of Peter Gilmore and his wife. And if you do decide to join the Church of Satan, your membership will take 16 weeks to process, and once you are a member you will be required by the organization to observe the doctrine/dogma of the organization itself, without fail, on pain of expulsion, which kind of violates the spirit of Satanism as embracing individualism over the dogmatism of organized religion. So, unfortunately, you are basically paying $200 to join an organization where you have to agree with Peter Gilmore’s version of LaVeyan Satanism and not diss other members of the Church of Satan or be cast out. And remember, if you’re not a member, CoS members will consider you to not be an actual Satanist, because their ideological prerogative demands it.

We are, thus, presented with a modern face of Satanism that is characterized by a stark factionalism between two established organized entities: one of them markedly conservative with regards to Satanic philosophy, despite itself being removed from LaVey’s original vision, plagued by elitism, isolationism, dogmatism and (I’ll say it) greed, and the other a bunch of progressive activists who use Satanism, or rather a form of Satanism divorced from its original ideas, to spread “equality for everyone” and fight for separation of church and state by pissing and whining about the merest breath of the American Jesus freak in public society, while embracing pepperings of the kind of identity politics and cultural infiltration that is currently killing the Democratic Party in America and the progressive movement in general, all so they can stick it the perceived Christian patriarchal order of things, which, when examined objectively, starts to become a shakier premise. This to me cannot be described as anything other than a farce. A weird psychedelic Satanic ashram led by the metalhead doppelganger of Osho would be a better public face of Satanism than this.

But hey, as bad as it is, at least there isn’t a giant Satanic Panic on top of all of this, like there was in the 1980’s. And at least if you don’t want to be in either organization, there is much less dependence on religious community in Satanism than there is in, say, Christianity or Islam.

What is authentic Satanic philosophy?

Before we begin first and foremost let me just apologize for keeping you waiting for so long, and let me tell you in advance that the next posts I write may still take up a fair bit of time to write. Spring break proved to be dominated by video games (namely Persona 5, which was released April 4th while I was on holiday), and I still had to do a fair bit of work for university, so those things kept me occupied no matter how hard I tried. Not to mention, the past few weeks represent the last portion of my major project before we have to prepare a public exhibition for our course, so I have been busy. But I hope you have been patient, because now I can begin my series of blog posts on Satanism, from my current stand point.

This of course will be Part 1, exploring what I think is the core of Satanic philosophy, the authentic philosophy which from the wider movement of Satanism springs forth. And without further ado…

Anton LaVey, with masked attendants

Classical Satanic philosophy stems from Anton LaVey, the original founder of the Church of Satan, with particular emphasis to be placed on the earliest form of the Church of Satan philosophy – that is, before around 1975 when the organization became more materialistic and ultimately almost secular in its approach. The original Satanic philosophy of Anton LaVey is typically summed up succinctly in the concept of the Nine Satanic Statements for ease of digestion.

  1. Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence
  2. Satan represents vital existence instead of spiritual pipe dreams
  3. Satan represents undefiled wisdom instead of hypocritical self-deceit
  4. Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it instead of love wasted on ingrates
  5. Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek
  6. Satan represents responsibility for the responsible instead of concern for vampires
  7. Satan represents Man as just another animal; sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all fours, who because of his divine, spiritual and intellectual development has become the most vicious animal of all
  8. Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental and emotional gratification
  9. Satan is the best friend the church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years.

In broader terms, it represents the conception of the human being as pretty much a carnal being. The seven deadly sins, in Christian parlance, is an artifice within this framework – lust, greed, pride, envy, wrath, sloth and gluttony are not only not seen as inherently negative, but actually inherently positive on the ground that these behaviors lead to gratification of the senses. Indeed, while it is said (and I think I’ve said this in the past) that the Church of Satan used to be an organization with more pseudo-spiritual believes, the organization has always believed in a greater importance on the material body than that of the soul – a fact not only attested to in The Satanic Bible, but also in the 1970 documentary called Satanis, in which LaVey can be seen extolling the virtues of the original Satanic philosophy. Satanism by LaVey’s imagining was always aligned with the specifically carnal worldview, but there was more emphasis and value placed on ritualism. The only thing that might make things cryptic is the discussion of life after death through fulfillment of the ego within The Satanic Bible. I suppose this is perhaps an extension of the other central principle of Satanism: the potential godhead is directed towards the self, rather than towards God, and so it is the self, carnal though it may be, that realizes its own godhead. This kind of semi-spiritual immortality does seem to be a rarely discussed feature of Satanic philosophy though, and I can only assume it had faded in importance.

Aside from that, as is pointed out by Michael Aquino in his book Church of Satan, Satanism began with a worldview that was aligned with atheistic materialism. Ultimately, among the prime virtues of Satanism are self-preservation and indulgence. Indeed, some people in LaVey’s time thought that the name “Satanism” was unnecessary, with Humanism being the more apt nomenclature due its flat rejection of conventional religion and its anthropocentric (Man being the center of the Satanic religion after all) worldview. But it was the veneration of Satan as this “dark force” in nature and the presence of ceremony and dogma centering around that archetype, coupled with the presence of magick, that granted Satanism an identity of its own. Over time, as the Church of Satan aged, ceremony and magick seemed to become less of a big deal and the “elite atheism” aspect that has come to be associated with Satanism at large, was front and center, along with the $200 membership fee and Peter Gilmore (oh, but we’ll get to that saga in a later post).

Before we go any further, this raises the question of theistic Satanism: namely, you might ask, where does theistic Satanism fit into this if, so far, authentic Satanic philosophy appears to be strongly LaVeyan in character? The phenomemon of theistic Satanism is that of a decentralized spiritual movement – perhaps more so than the Satanism established by Dr. LaVey – which isn’t to say that the wider phenomenon of Satanism is a very centralized one, far from it. Satanism offers no Popes (you might say LaVey was the only thing close, having gone by “The Black Pope” in his day, and even then this is more or less in name only) to lay down the law for all other Satanists, and it is rather difficult to “herd” Satanists the way the Catholic Pope would herd his own flock. Many movements, in my experience at least, seem to resemble a kind of dark polytheism, not simply worshiping Satan but also accommodating a veritable infernal pantheon of devils, or perhaps they prefer to be addressed gods, such as Beelzebub, Astaroth, Lucifer, Lilith, Belial etc. Some theistic Satanists claim that their religion represents a traditional form of devil worship, other movements are still very much in tune with LaVey’s basic philosophy, except with the absence of the materialism and atheism. Typically they believe Satan is a being that they have experienced in a profound way, and so they , but like their non-theistic counterparts they reject Christian doctrine as well as metaphysics, with the archetype of Satan being the center of a belief system separate from Christianity. If you have a bias in favor of what the Church of Satan currently teaches, you will most likely not consider them to be actual Satanists, just devil worshipers. Conversely, there are theistic Satanists out their who dismiss LaVey in a similar fashion – either denouncing his system as mere Halloween pageantry, or as a decadent humanism (if they’re anything like Euronymous or Jon Nödtveidt). Some theistic Satanists believe that LaVey’s belief system was not actually the original Satanism, but a version of Satanism that he invented in contrast to a much older form of Satanism – whichever that happens to be, however I haven’t seen any evidence of a formal historical Satanism of any kind and no self-identified practicing Satanists before LaVey’s time. Some even consider themselves Gnostic or Anti-Cosmic Satanists, who believe that the material world is a false concept, often cut themselves off from society entirely and advocate for a spiritual return to primordial chaos and darkness and negation of this “false” orderly world, a rather awkward position in my view considering that Satanism is typically more of a life-affirming philosophy, meaning world-affirming not world-negating. But, as I see it, theistic Satanism isn’t necessarily a phenomenon that exists apart from Satanic philosophy, and I am aware of theistic Satanists who respect LaVey and model some of their spiritual system after LaVeyan ideals, and there are many who, while they do worship Satan, still affirm their the idea of their own godhead. Just that they see communion with a metaphysical or literal Satan as the path to affirming that godhead, and are often dissatisfied with the more atheistic form of Satanism found in the Church of Satan or (debatably) The Satanic Temple. In fact, Diane Vera is noted to have described the literal Satan as “a being who encourages us to be true to ourselves, think for ourselves, excel at whatever our talents may be, and do what we can to better our material situation“, which, to me at least, isn’t a million miles away from LaVey’s ideals. Often, however, it simply depends on the individual practitioner or organization, as is the case with what is such a decentralized movement.

Anyhow, Satanism is not an egalitarian philosophy, as is evidenced by the thunderous pronouncement of the Book of Fire portion of the Satanic Bible, wherein the strong are praised and the weak are shunned, embodying something of a might makes right worldview, drawing from one of LaVey’s most profound influences – Ragnar Redbeard . The insecure, the hypocritical, the servile and weak of heart are damned in this worldview. The bold, the strong, the clever and the masterful are hailed as righteous. Indeed the Church of Satan, to this day, is a strongly hierarchical structure, and before 1975 ascendance to this hierarchy depended on merit, based on recognition of prowess (presumably as a magician) and contribution to the organization. After 1975, LaVey decided essentially to allow aspirant Satanic magicians to elevate up the ranks through other contributions such as money, real estate etc. LaVey also envisioned stratification as part of his ideal society, outright stating equality to be a myth in his Five Points Program of Pentagonal Revisionism, alongside the law of the jungle and Lex Talionis.

Satanism, despite making use of an archetype that originates in Hebrew/Christian lore, is a worldview divested of Christian morality and metaphysics. It rejects many teachings popularly associated with Christian teaching, such as “love your enemy”. Before Anton LaVey, anything resembling Satanism as a formal philosophical doctrine did not exist. There was no Satanism, only the diabolical ritualism that was most likely invented by medieval Christian folklorists. The very word “Satanist” originated as a slur or derogatory term meant to refer to people who people who did not conform to tradition, were thought to be heathens or were thought to worship the Devil or evil in general. . When Anton LaVey arrived onto the scene, the dark, devilish ritualism imagined by Christian folklorists was used as a device for what is, objectively speaking, hedonistic psychodrama. A kind of occult-themed pageantry designed for ritual gratification, to grant a sense of meaning or ceremonial substance to the Satanic worldview – which recognizes ceremony and tradition as a need of the human psyche – as well as a form of cultural subversion. Human and animal sacrifice are not only forbidden in this system, but the idea behind such a practice is dismissed as cowardice by LaVey – white magicians murder an innocent lifeforms to appease their God with their death throes sooner than they would offer their own blood.

Curiously, although there was no actual formal Satanism before LaVey’s time, the LaVeyan Satanist conception of Satan as representing Man just another animal has some far older roots than LaVeyan Satanism. If you are an occult aficionado, particularly if you are into tarot, then you may be familiar with the image of The Devil found in tarot decks. You may recognize a horned demon sitting atop and altar, presiding over two nude humans chained to it. Arthur Waite gives a detailed description in The Pictorial Key to the Tarot.

The design is an accommodation, mean or harmony, between several motives mentioned in the first part. The Horned Goat of Mendes, with wings like those of a bat, is standing on an altar. At the pit of the stomach there is the sign of Mercury. The right hand is upraised and extended, being the reverse of that benediction which is given by the Hierophant in the fifth card. In the left hand there is a great flaming torch, inverted towards the earth. A reversed pentagram is on the forehead. There is a ring in front of the altar, from which two chains are carried to the necks of two figures, male and female. These are analogous with those of the fifth card, as if Adam and Eve after the Fall. Hereof is the chain and fatality of the material life.

The figures are tailed, to signify the animal nature, but there is human intelligence in the faces, and he who is exalted above them is not to be their master for ever. Even now, he is also a bondsman, sustained by the evil that is in him and blind to the liberty of service. With more than his usual derision for the arts which he pretended to respect and interpret as a master therein, Éliphas Lévi affirms that the Baphometic figure is occult science and magic. Another commentator says that in the Divine world it signifies predestination, but there is no correspondence in that world with the things which below are of the brute. What it does signify is the Dweller on the Threshold without the Mystical Garden when those are driven forth therefrom who have eaten the forbidden fruit.

In tarot, the Devil represented an attachment, perhaps even bondage, to worldly desires and materialism. He is also seen as representing evil, the temporal, and “falsehood”, presumably from the Christian perspective found in classical magick. In a way, the portrayal of the Devil as associated with attachment to the material is consistent with the LaVeyan notion of Satan as representing Man as the purely carnal.

The Sigil of Baphomet, the symbol most closely associated with Satanism, has its origins in Enlightenment-era Western magickal traditions. Eliphas Levi considered the pentagram, in its upright direction, to be the “Blazing Star”, a sign of intelligence, light and divinity, and in its inverse form the sign of infernal evocations and the “Sabbath Goat”. This is where we get the modern conception of Baphomet, or the Goat of Mendes from. Stanislas de Guatia identified it as a sign of blasphemy, of the “foul goat threatening Heaven” (presumably echoing Levi’s concept of the Goat of Mendes). Paul Jagot identifies it as “expressive of subversion”. The background of the Satan recognized by Anton LaVey is sufficiently old, and given that LaVey himself had a background in occultism I suspect he may have been aware of this.

So to conclude, I think authentic Satanic philosophy rests on some fairly simple principles:

  • Self-preservation
  • World affirmation
  • Affirmation of life, and the lovers of life, over asceticism and those who negate the world around them
  • Rejection of white light spirituality and conventional religion
  • Radical individualism
  • Egoism and rational self-interest
  • Life is not fair and we are not created equal
  • Man as Beast, and as a carnal being
  • Alignment of either godhead or some kind of divine statue with Man or the individuated self
  • Hedonism
  • Celebration of “sin” as the source of gratification and affirmation
  • Satan embodies Man as he ought to be

In this pursuit, I hope I don’t come off as presenting myself as a Pope of Satanism, laying down the tablet of the laws for all Satanists to observe. I am simply interested in the describing the most basic essence of Satanism as a formal philosophy, and I believe the essence of Satanism is something to be preserved and remembered within the wider zeitgeist of the Satanic movement. Rest assured that I have no pulpit, only a soapbox, and I claim no power over other Satanists.

This is, of course, Part 1 of my series on Satanism. The next post will be dedicated to the split between the two main public Satanic organizations outside the Internet: the Church of Satan and The Satanic Temple.

The “crucifixion” of Prometheus

A while back I heard of an interesting claim regarding the Greek figure Prometheus: the claim that was “crucified” just as Jesus was according to the Bible.

The claim seems to stem from a passage supposedly attributed to Hesiod’s Theogony, which reads as follows:

With shackles and inescapable fetters Zeus riveted Prometheus on a pillar.

This appears to be one interpretation of the myth. According to another interpretation, courtesy of the University of Michigan.

He bound the changeful-planning Prometheus with unbreakable fetters, painful bonds, and drove them through the middle of a pillar. And he sent a long-winged eagle upon him.

Another interpretation, courtesy of Perseus Digital Library.

And ready-witted Prometheus he bound with inextricable bonds, cruel chains, and drove a shaft through his middle, and set on him a long-winged eagle, which used to eat his immortal liver;

In either case, I fail to see the equivalence of being bound or tied to a pillar or a rock and someone being literally crucified. You know, that thing where you’re nailed to a cross or stauros or whatever, whilst elevated from the ground, and left to die. Jesus dies whilst on the cross, while Prometheus is eventually rescued by Hercules instead, which would preclude any resurrection on Prometheus’ part. So I can’t help but the idea of Prometheus being crucified is essentially one that’s barking up the wrong tree. Not to mention, if Prometheus is being crucified here, then so is Andromeda. She was chained to a rock as a sacrificial offering in order to appease the gods, before she is rescued by Perseus. I was unaware that being chained to a rock was the same as crucifixion – whether it’s one of those t-shaped crosses were all familiar with or the stauros which may been the actual historical equivalent.

The idea of Prometheus being crucified seems to come from a book titled The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors, which was written in 1875 by Kelsey Graves. The book lists Prometheus as one of the “crucified saviors” alongside deities like Krishna, Mitra, Indra (if you can believe it), Attis and Quetzalcoatl, and posits that Jesus was essentially a clone of sixteen deities from various mythologies that were crucified or killed and then descended into the underworld only to resurrect. And if it sounds like something out of Peter Joseph’s Zeitgeist films or Bill Maher’s Religulous, that’s only because it pre-dated both. In fact, the book and its author are often seen as an unreliable and debunked source on comparative religion and mythology.

So needless to say, Prometheus is not Jesus. If anything, I thought Prometheus was closer to Lucifer than Jesus.

Prometheus by Gustave Moreau

Prometheus by Gustave Moreau

How much of Christianity was lifted from the pre-Christian world?

Sorry to keep you waiting with this post. I guess I should’ve mentioned that the second semester of my third year at university is now in full swing.

In this post I’ll attempt not just to outline how many of the main points of Christianity are borrowed from pre-Christian/pagan belief systems, but by the end establish what that means, focusing on some of the key points found in popular Christianity as it is imagined today.

 

God himself

We already know that Yahweh/Jehovah, the supreme deity of the Bible, was originally a minor Canaanite deity of war, who ascended in status within the Hebrew pantheon as the chief deity of their people (in other words the God of Israel), the context of which transitioned from that of a merely henotheistic tradition (that is the belief that there are many gods but the practice of worshiping just one; i.e. on the basis of tribalism) to that of a full-blown monotheistic tradition. As time passed, Yahweh also accrued many characteristics associated with other deities such as El or Zeus, and became the far more warlike and supposedly omnipresent and loving version of both. And after the Jews were exiled from Babylon, Yahweh transformed from just the God of Israel to the ruling deity of everything.

Yahweh himself is just another deity in a long line of supreme deities with slightly similar characteristics. Ahura Mazda in Persia, Aten and Ra in Egypt, Ba’al and El in Canaan, Marduk in Babylon, Indra and Varuna in India, and of course Zeus in Greece. And we know that before the ascent of monotheism, Yahweh was in direct competition with other deities. Among his biggest rivals was a deity named Chemosh (or Kemosh), whom the Bible refers to as the “abomination of Moab”, a deity that archaeological evidence points to as being not so different from Yahweh.

Kemosh (aka Chemosh)

Kemosh (aka Chemosh)

 

The messianic archetype

Jesus himself was not stolen from paganism, contrary to what Bill Maher and Peter Joseph would have you believe. However, the role he plays in the Bible is that of an archetype that has been passed down throughout the ages. The archetypal role assumed by Jesus is of course the role of a dying and rising deity, or divine being. One of the most familiar examples of this in Mesopotamian mythology is the deity of vegetation known as Tammuz, the deity to whom the origins of the Christian cross are sometimes attributed. Tammuz was believed to have died at the hands of the spirits of the underworld or his wife Inanna/Ishtar, and descended to the underworld only to rise again every six months. Then there is Osiris, who was killed by Set only to be resurrected by Isis and go on to become the lord of the Egyptian netherworld. Among the deities worshipped by the Phrygians was a deity of vegetation and fertility named Attis, who went crazy and mutilated himself only to, depending on who you ask, either resurrect or reincarnate as a pine tree. In another sense, Ishtar’s descent into the underworld is sort of similar to the descent of Jesus into Hell, except that Ishtar dies and resurrects while in the underworld while Jesus is crucified to death and then goes to Hell in order liberate the souls of the damned. In the case of Ishtar, her mission was to save Tammuz who had apparently been dragged to the underworld by Ereshkigal’s spirits.

There are other aspects associated with messianic archetypes that I’ve covered in my post about the “Divine Individual“.

 

Some familiar public holidays

I’ve talked about this before in the early days of my blog and I plan on covering this subject in greater detail in separate posts dedicated to the eight holidays associated with the Neopagan wheel of the year, but we’ll quickly go through the holidays popularly celebrated in the West. The timing of the Christmas holiday season is based on Saturnalia and other winter solstice festivals and is found nowhere in the Bible, the premise of Easter hinges on a myth that, as was just explained, derives from pre-Christian archetypes and storytelling, and while the modern Halloween is largely shaped by Christian and American tradition, the date of the Samhain celebrated by Celtic pagans is, perhaps coincidentally, near to the date that Halloween is celebrated now, and the theme of monsters and night terrors associated with Halloween was also found in European pagan traditions which hold that time to be either Samhain, Walpurgisnacht or both.

 

Heaven and Hell

The belief in an afterlife divided in terms of a blissful kingdom of light versus a dark nether realm filled with demons or monsters has been traced to as far back as ancient Egypt, as has the basic concept of the individual soul being judged after death. The Duat was the ancient Egyptian version of the underworld, filled with all manner of monstrous figures and daemonic beings and the site of the regular journey of the solar deity Ra. It is even documented within Egyptian lore that a serpent bent on mankind’s destruction slithers through the underworld, waiting for the opportunity to strike at Ra whenever he journeys into the underworld, which is similar enough to the Christian view of Satan as the adversary of mankind who also appears as either a dragon or as “that old serpent” intent on striking down Jehovah/Yahweh. However, for the ordinary Egyptian, being trapped in the underworld was not the main fear, rather the prospect of being annihilated in the jaws of Ammut if the soul was found wanting by Anubis. The equivalent heavenly realm is Aaru, a prestine field of reeds which resembled life in Egypt, which the Egyptians felt was the greatest thing on earth and wanted to continue living for eternity. And if the soul was deemed worthy of passing into such a beneficent afterlife, then it would indeed be allowed to pass on an live forever with loved ones and pets. Does that sound familiar?

Don’t forget that many pre-Christian traditions have their own conceptions of the afterlife, and there are several heavens and hells found in the mythologies of the world. In Greece, for instance, those who lived a good and virtuous life or were heroic in some way would enter Elysium, provided that they were remembered by their peers and their descendants, while more wicked individuals would descend into the dungeon of Tartarus, where the Titans were also imprisoned, and everyone else would go to the fields of Asphodel, a meadow in the underworld where ordinary souls pass on that was neither a heaven nor a hell, all after the judgement of the soul. Oh, and much like how Christians believe that Yahweh reserved a lake of fire for the devil and his angels, Tartarus is the place where deities like Zeus cast down their enemies, such as Typhon.

Fallen angels in Hell by John Martin

Fallen angels in Hell by John Martin

 

Angels and demons

Pre-Christian belief systems all had their own varieties of spirits, with plenty of them falling into either the angelic or demonic categories. Mesopotamia had the Shedim, which were largely seen as demonic beings. Other demonic beings included Gallu, Lamashtu and Pazuzu, the baddest of the bunch. Evil spirits were often viewed as the cause of disease and were sometimes capable of bringing harm to humans and abduct their children, particularly night spirits such as Lamashtu and Lilitu, the latter a precursor, at least in name, to the the Biblical Lilith (we’ll get into that in a future Mythological Spotlight, once I get around to writing one). The closest things to angels in Mesopotamian lore were probably beings such as the Apkallu, who were winged sages or demigods who were viewed as teachers and protective spirits. Egyptian, as was already established, was host to several spirits. What we would could demons were viewed by the Egyptians as liminal spirits, frequently either hostile beings or guardians of the netherworld who could be called upon to protect humans, and thousands of nameless demons have been found in depictions on all manner of items from both religious and mundane items in Egyptian society. The Greeks recognized the term daemon – from which we get the nomenclature “demon” – as a general term for spirit, and often these spirits were seen a guiding forces, though there were of course malevolent spirits in Greek lore (a disease spirit named Aerico immediately springs to mind). Romans had a similar belief and believed in the concept of genii, who often served as the spirits of the household. India and Persia observed the similar divide between good and evil spirits. For the Indians, it was the devas, apsaras and sometimes yakshas on the good side, with the asuras, rakshasas and other ghoulish spirits on the evil side. In Persia the devas were actually on the evil camp, identified as “daevas” and the minions of Angra Mainyu or Ahriman, while the good spirits are identified as the Amesha Spentas in service of Ahura Mazda. In fact it’s in Persia via the Zoroastrians that we encounter one of the earliest clear cut incarnations of the concept of good versus evil personified as God versus Satan in the form of Ahura Mazda versus Angra Mainyu.

 

 

Good old fashioned Christian values

The “family values” platitude that is stereo-typically attached to conservative Christians are not especially new. In fact, at the very least it goes back to the Roman Empire. The emperor Augustus instituted a series of reforms aimed at aligning Roman society towards “traditional Roman values” – values such as monogamy and chastity. He even went so far as to criminalize adultery and imposed financial penalties on people who did not marry and have children, which to be fair seems a tad more extreme than the kind of family values politics that Western societies would have to deal with in the modern world.

The concept of marriage, which is often seen as a Christian institution, has been a recognized social and romantic union for longer than Christianity has been recognized as a religion. Marriage rituals have been known to exist in ancient Greece, Rome and China, and the contract of marriage, and divorce, has even been around in ancient Mesopotamian society. In Mesopotamia, marriage was valued for much the same reason we do now – to ensure the continuation of a given family line. Rome also considered monogamy to be the tradition for marriage in society, just as we do now. Of course, the ancient world had a tendency to value arranged marriage, whereas in the modern world we value the choice of getting married.

Then there are some of the debatably more positive values sometimes ascribed to Christianity, which have been observed as far back as the days of ancient Akkad.

 

The influence of the mystery cults

Greece and Rome were home to a particular phenomenon known as the “mystery cult”, which is basically a religious movement characterized by secretive rituals and the tendency to center around a specific deity (like Mithraism for example). There was an Eleusinian mystery cult centering around the goddess Demeter, based around the story of the abduction of her daughter Persephone, the wrath she wrought upon the earth and its fertility and the resurrection of vegetation and thus life. The re-emergence of Persephone was supposed to be representative of the possibility of eternal life through participation in the mysteries. The exact nature of the ritual performed in the Eleusinian mysteries is disputed, but it is possible that the ritual took place in an underground passage or theater and was intended to convey the whole death and rebirth message. It is also said that the Eleusinian mystery participants purified themselves by bathing in the sea. The cult of Dionysus had its own communion, typically described as a sharing of wine (which would be befitting of the deity of wine). The Mithraic mysteries were also known for featuring an oblation of bread and water or wine, at least for initiates of certain degrees, which may have served as either a reminder of their faith or as a means of giving them the power to resist the forces of evil. The Orphic mysteries stressed that only by following their rites, practicing abstinence from sensual pleasures (such as sex) and devoting yourself to the mystery can you guarantee salvation and join the gods on the fields of Elysium for all eternity. And don’t forget the Egyptian mysteries, including the mystery of Osiris which proclaimed “Be of good cheer, O initiates, for the god is saved, and we shall have salvation from our woes”. The promise of eternal salvation through initiation into the mystery cult and performance of its rites very much strikes accord with the Christian idea that you can be saved by being baptized, receiving communion and following Jesus.

 

So what does that mean, exactly?

I do not consider Christianity to be a complete clone of one single religion, as many critics of Christianity are want to do, instead I consider it to be supported by collection of ideas that existed well before both Christianity and Judaism. It started off as an offshoot of Judaism, which itself emerged out of the henotheistic tradition observed in the land of Canaan, and it embraced many ideas that happened to be observed by the rivaling pagan traditions, but in doing so the Christians essentially repurposed them for their own belief system. Many of these old ideas, it seems, are in fact very ancient, and have been with humanity for a very long time. And as much as the idea that Christianity took over solely through violent conquest is an appealing narrative to people more vociferously anti-Christian than I (and believe me I still am considerably anti-Christian; it practically comes with being a Satanist/Luciferian), I suspect many appropriations of polytheistic teachings and those of the mystery cults were more likely either reflective of the religion as a product of its time – remember that the religion had developed in the Roman Empire alongside the other traditions – or as a means of drawing pagans away from their old belief systems and into the new one. I think that when this is understood when dealing with modern Christianity, you can render Christianity essentially harmless for what it is – a messianic Jewish faith that with synthesized pagan beliefs, sometimes the same beliefs that are also present in Judaism I might add.

 

Just as an aside to close this post, I can’t guarantee that I will post as frequently as I would like to, due to university commitments, but I’ll see what I can do.

A further excoriation of The Satanic Temple

You know, I think my musings on the inauguration of Donald Trump and its aftermath would be incomplete without talking about The Satanic Temple, and its role in all this. I talked about them before in “Some post-Inauguration thoughts“, but I intend to excoriate the organization further in late of their involvement in the Women’s March, which took place the day after Trump’s inauguration. After this, I swear I’ll go back to my planned content.

Before I begin my excoriation of The Satanic Temple I think it’s important to establish the following: just what is the Women’s March exactly? It was a mass demonstration that took place beginning on January 21st, the day after the Inauguration and after the Inauguration protests, which devolved into riots, vandalism and clashes with police officers and Trump supporters. Unlike the previous protests, these were not riotous protests in which Antifa, as well as radical communists and anarchists, got involved and started shit. It basically just a movement of feminists taking the opportunity to protest against Trump in a civil manner. I say that because it really does seem like a bunch of people getting together to protest Trump’s inauguration, especially given the time and the high presence of anti-Trump slogans alongside feminist and pro-Clinton. It’s not a response to any legislation, it’s just a response to Trump, driven by the fear that he will bring about the apocalypse of women’s rights. In a way, it seems to me like a kind of opportunistic, johnny-come-lately demonstration. I mean were these people planning to do anything the day after Trump got elected, or even after he was sworn in by the Electoral College?

So what women’s rights are being agitated for? Well, it seems that a lot of protesters showed up because they didn’t want to get their vaginas grabbed. Which is pointless because (1) the 12-year old tape was essentially bragging that isn’t substantiated by anything and that Trump will probably not live up (except, perhaps, in the bedroom with Melania, but that’s a private matter between two married individuals), (2) Trump will not order that every woman be taken to the White House to have their vaginas grabbed by him, that would be logistically impossible, and (3) I cannot see Trump making sexual assault legal, and I mean clear-cut sexual assault not the kind of bullshit that third wave feminists make up to justify not owning up to, say, getting drunk and then sleeping with someone and then regretting it. Then there’s that famous sign which read “Make men pay for razors if we pay for tampons”. I assume this refers to the “tampon tax” or “pink tax”, which can actually be debunked. But besides that, people already do pay for razors, they’re just less expensive apparently. The theme of abortion rights was also present – presumably driven by fear of either the overturning of Roe v Wade (which will likely not happen), the abolition of Planned Parenthood (which also probably will not happen), or simply the prospect that Planned Parenthood will no longer be funded by the taxpayer (which honestly is not a reduction of your rights, it just means you have to pay for your own abortion), who knows? -, as well as a cocktail of environmentalism, LGBT activism, promotion of Islam, and other causes typically associated with the Democrat Party. Not to mention, it seems to me like some of them don’t even know why they’re doing this other than they don’t like Trump, and even then they just feel that he’s going to be the worst President, they don’t know that. Other than that, this has been an entirely Western phenomenon – nothing about the horrors that women face outside the Western world, particularly in Islamic countries (like Saudi Arabia and Iran) and African countries (like Tanzania and Mauritania), where girls can be subject to things like child marriage or female genital mutilation and women can be viewed as commodities or subjects, rather than citizens just as men are.

This whole thing has been a pathetic and confused virtue signal, designed to make thousands of women feel good and act like they give a damn about issues and vainly proclaim that progressivism shall not be defeated, while it is otherwise on the path to being soundly dead, paying the price for its rejection of reason, tolerance and classical liberal values and its embrace of identity politics, postmodernism and ideological bigotry.

And yet who should I find in support of this sad display of witless political posturing? Why The Satanic Temple of course, specifically their Seattle chapter, apparently. But not only that, I did some searching and on the TST website I find that there is a link to their official Instagram account where they seem to be promoting the Women’s March. And what individual member announced her attendance? None other than Jex Blackmore, apparently. The same women who took a folk horror film called The Witch and co-opted it for their own politically progressive agenda. Why am I not fucking surprised? Another link brings me to another Instagram post promoting something called The Civic Engagement Dance Party. Right away, the fist symbol gives me concern, given that it’s pretty much the symbol of black power movements, and similar black racialist causes (like Black Lives Matter), as well as feminism. The event promises prospective attendees that they will meet with like-minded people who want to “build a better world”, the terms for which, for my money, I suspect that will amount to a world aligned with progressive ideology (you know, making everything equal and shit). The description lists some names of some “powerful women”, which are as follows: Najima Jamilah, Zaira Livier and Abida Segal. I can’t find much about Najima Jamilah other than she may or not be a Black Lives Matter activist who is affiliated with the Tuscon chapter of Black Lives Matter. Zaira Livier is a feminist and Democratic Party activist who supported Bernie Sanders and also has the honor of, apparently, not actually being a US citizen, but rather an “undocumented” immigrant, who it seems rather than work to legally become a US citizen spend her time getting politically active with the progressive Latino voting block. Adiba Segal is a blogger for The Huffington Post and a writer for Everyday Feminism, as well as a burlesque dancer at Ravishly and a self-described food addict, and her work for The Huffington Post is typical banal mom blog stuff.

So in other words, not only are The Satanic Temple promoting and taking part in the Women’s March, a confused, vain and opportunistic march for progressivism, but they also seem to be allying themselves with Black Lives Matter, an organization that promotes the lie that the police are at war with black people as a whole and think America is an actual white supremacist country (despite that it has several black members of government and even had a black President for 8 years, as well as the fact that black people are quite capable amassing large amounts of wealth on their own), and two no-name progressive activists, one of whom is a fucking blogger. These are not powerful women! These are just nobodies – nobodies who happen to be politically active and advocate for progressive and collectivist political ideas but that’s about it! And The Satanic Temple is taking their side. These are supposedly advocates of an individualistic philosophy allying with advocates for collectivist progressivism. That I find to be insufferable, if not intolerable, particularly from a group that has actually supported liberal ideals in the past, and as recently as the last weekend their leader was willing to defend Milo Yiannopolous’ right to free speech and disavowed the “Satanist” protesters who were planning to demonstrate their opposition to him speaking at California Polytechnic.

I’m going to tell you right here, right now, that these people aren’t doing this for Satanism. All the pentagrams, black robes, the dressing up as the Whore of Babylon and the Black Masses in the world won’t change that fact. They are doing because they are liberal progressives and they got some more supporters after the victory of Donald Trump. Yes, I seem to remember that right after the election of Donald Trump The Satanic Temple received an influx of new members, a new flock of sheep who believe that the end of the free world is coming and that America will be more of a “One Nation Under God” sort of country and seek to satisfy their desire for a resistance movement (and in that regard, at least they didn’t go to Keith Olbermann). They know they’ve got new membership, and they intend to capitalize on this, as well as the hip progressive “Trump is Hilter” hysteria – that’s all this is. And they use their existing political philosophy as a nice package for this progressive activism.

And I have half a mind to suspect that these people don’t actually care much for authentic Satanic philosophy to begin with. These are the kind of people who distance themselves from Anton LaVey’s philosophy primarily because Ragnar Redbeard was an avowed racist (at least according to them), despite the fact that Anton LaVey had excised the racial components of Redbeard’s philosophy when using its ideas to form his own – something that Greaves himself acknowledged – and the founder Greaves emphasizes meritocracy as impossible without an “environment of equality”. Well, what equality? Do you mean equality of opportunity? Or do you mean equality of outcome, or parity? Or do you just mean a bunch of socialist nonsense that will never be achieved because it just doesn’t pan out in real life? In my mind, authentic Satanic philosophy is about individualism and merit first, and equality second, or third, – we are equal in the sense that every man and women, regardless of race or creed, can play by the same rules in a society, can share the same liberty and strive to become more than he or she is at present. Beyond that, equality really isn’t the strongest ideal to be found in Satanist philosophy, which is deeply individualistic. Of course Greaves and co can’t have that – they wouldn’t be siding with progressivism if they are truly committed to any deep-seated individualistic philosophy. They may have some aspects of it right, they may talk about how their Satan is the eternal rebel against arbitrary authority, but their actions in the wake of the Inauguration speak louder than words here. Either commit to individualism as you purport to, or continue down the progressive road and remain a trendy left-wing activist group that conforms to leftist ideological trends whilst simultaneously espousing the idea of Satan as the eternal rebel against arbitrary authority.

The sad thing is, I know that The Satanic Temple is capable of being better than this. They are capable of standing up for positive ideals and in at least a somewhat positive manner. And I know that in the past their trolling of religious institutions, or religious influence in secular governing institutions, was largely a force for good because they were trying to show that individual rights and secular government should come first. They should have been a beacon of how, contrary to the Church of Satan’s assertions, Satanic activism can be a force for good. But instead they have proven the Church of Satan to be correct in their assertion that they represent a Satanic philosophy diluted by Tumblr politics.

Jesus was fucking crazy!

I will never understand how Jesus’ reputation as a peaceful hippie type leader has stayed so influential in the West. I feel the same way about the idea that the Old Testament was the evil book of the Bible and the New Testament the good book of the Bible.

Why do I say this? Because in the New Testament there is plenty that can be used to point to the idea that Jesus was not the ancient equivalent of the leader of a hippie commune as some have painted him as, but rather a crazed revolutionary.

I mentioned this first point on the last post I wrote, “The Divine Individual“, but Jesus is not here to overturn the cruel laws of YHVH. In fact, he’s very much in favor of it. So much so that one of his criticisms of the Pharisees was that they didn’t execute their sons for being rebellious.

 “For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death’. But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.” – Matthew 15:4-6

For the record, here’s what the Old Testament has to say about that.

If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.” – Deutoronomy 21:18-21

That is the word of YHVH telling his believers that if you have a disobedient child then you have to punish that child with death! And Jesus is all in favor of that.

Now for some stuff I didn’t mention in a previous post. At one point, he actually advises his followers to cut off their own hands and feet in order to avoid being damned to hell for some reason.

If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.” – Mark 9:43-48

He was very much a fire and brimstone preacher as well. Contrary to what the liberals would have you believe, I think he would have gotten along with the Christian right, even the fundamentalists to a certain extent, just fine. This next verse is an example of why I feel this way.

But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.” – Luke 10:10-15
Essentially he’s saying that cities that refused to hear his teachings would get a worse fate than that of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement. And make no mistake, he believed the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

But on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife.” – Luke 17:29-32

What I find most troubling about the character of Jesus is how he says he has come to pit families against each other. Literally.

 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” – Luke 12:51-53

Gee, a guy preaching about the end of the world, about a heavenly being saving their souls if they fear him and obey his every command, and having people turn on their own families for him? Why, oh why, does that sound like he might just be the leader of a cult?

But it doesn’t stop with just the living Jesus. Later on in the New Testament it’s said that, when Jesus returns, he will destroy non-believers.

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” – 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9

His second coming is also set to be very destructive.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be dissolved in the fire, and the earth and its works will not be found.” – 2 Peter 3:10

Once you get to Revelations you find that Jesus is pretty much a cosmic mass-murderer on behalf of his father YHVH, and he has some angelic buddies in on the action as well.

I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.” The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great wine press of God’s wrath. They were trampled in the wine press southside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.” – Revelations 14:14-20

The last verse I want to show, just to hammer home how, in another instance where it seems the people talking about how Jesus was a peacenik don’t know shit about Jesus, Jesus turns to be something of a warmonger.

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.” – Revelations 19:11

Also, if you read the New Testament, there are many more verses that show that not only was Jesus a mad and violent prophet, but that the God of the New Testament is clearly no less evil than the God of the Old Testament. I really don’t know where people are getting the idea that the opposite is the case.

The Divine Individual

This is the first of a series of posts I will write discussing the topic of the mythological figure of Jesus, because there’s a lot about the subject, and of the related subject of Christianity that I have on my mind. And to start, I’d like to write about an idea promoted by Jordan Peterson, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, because he sparked some interesting ideas in my head. I’m sure you remember Peterson best as the professor who stood at the center of a crowd of social justice warrior type protesters who were attacking a free speech rally at the University of Toronto where he was protesting Bill C-16, a Canadian law which would add the subjectively defined notions of gender identity and gender expression to a list of prohibited grounds of discrimination and criminalize “hate propaganda” based on gender identity – which, in practice, seems to amount to the ability to punish someone for refusing to call someone “ze”. But enough about that, let’s talk about his concept of the Divine Individual.

The Divine Individual is a concept that Jordan Peterson uses to illustrate as a principle that societies, in need of social cohesion, can use to unite under a banner and organize in order to overcome fragmentation whilst avoiding both nihilism and totalitarianism. Let’s go through an excerpt of his New Year’s Message on his YouTube channel where he outlines the premise. We’ll explore this bit by bit, exploring pertinent points made by Peterson.

One alternative to fragmentation is, of course, union under a banner. A collective ideal, cause or purpose. The problem with uniting under a banner, as the postmodernists who push identity politics rightly point out, is that to value something means simultaneously to devalue other things. Thus to value is an exclusionary process. But the alternative is valuelessness, which is equivalent to nihilism, and nihilism does not produce freedom from exclusion; it just makes everyone excluded. And that’s an intolerable state: directionless, uncertain, chaotic and angst-ridden. When such uncertainty reaches a critical level, the counter-response appears. First the unconscious, and then the collectively expressed demand for a leader possessed by totalitarian certainty, who promises, above all, to restore order. Thus a society without an underlying principle oscillates unmoored between nihilism and totalitarianism. Human beings have been wrestling with this problem since the beginning of civilization. When our capacity to form large groups, for all its advantages, also started to pose a new threat: that of the hyper-domination of the state or collective purpose. But without the state there’s just fragmentation into smaller groups.

I just want to raise this point because it sounds like this is how he understands the dichotomy of order and chaos. For Peterson, chaos is the state of society characterized by valuelessnees, uncertainty and nihilism, one that eventually gives way to order, but at an extreme level, which he identifies as totalitarian certainty. I find it interesting how this can be interpreted in the political/cultural context of current society: the modern left has embraced postmodernism and valuelessness, only to give rise to totalitarian certainty. An uneasy example of this is found in the social justice warriors, which openly embrace totalitarianism in order to prop up postmodern ideology. Of course that’s probably a more liberal perspective. A more conservative perspective might be that the SJWs, and leftists in general, embraced valuelessness and postmodernism, creating conditions that will allow totalitarianism to take hold: whether by the hand of big government, communism or radical Islam (and make no mistake: Islam and communism are, in practice, among the ultimate embodiments of what Peterson would call totalitarian certainty). The other reason I find this very fascinating is because the whole tension presented by Peterson it reminds me of quite a few discussions I had on the subject with other people, and it also reminds me of the theme of Law and Chaos in the Shin Megami Tensei series, as well as one of my favorite passages in the history of the written word: the opening passage of Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide. Thus it has ever been.” – Luo Guanzhong, Romance of the Three Kingdoms

It illustrates Guanzhong’s cyclical worldview regarding empire, or more specifically the Chinese empire, which seems to be characterized by a history of fragmentation and civil war, followed by unity under the banner of a new emperor and dynasty, followed by fragmentation and civil war after the decline of the dynasty, and so repeats (presumably until the advent of the modern republic of China, but that’s as far as my knowledge of Chinese history goes I’m afraid). It also kind of evokes the kind of cyclical worldview found in Taoism, one of the main religions historically practiced in China and still practiced to this day. Speaking of Taoism, it seems to me like Peterson has a very yin and yang view of order and chaos, and the dangers of their extremes, much like I do. I suppose that’s why I like him, coupled with the way he elucidates this understanding. Anyways, enough of the massive tangent, let’s get back to the next important point.

In the West, starting in the Middle East thousands of years ago, a new idea began to emerge – evolve is not too strong a word – in the collective imagination. You might, following [Richard] Dawkins, consider this a meme, although this is far too weak a word. This idea, whose development can be traced back through Egypt to Mesopotamia, before disappearing into unwritten history, is that of the divine individual.  The eons-old work of the imagination is a dramatic presentation of an emergent idea, which is the solution to how to organize social being without falling prey to nihilistic divisiveness or deceitful totalitarian certainty. The group must unite, but under the banner of the individual. The individual is the source of the new wisdom that updates the antiquated, nihilistic or totalitarian detritus and glory of the past.”

This is where we, finally, come to the main point – the concept of the Divine Individual. In a way it actually reminds me of characters who might fulfill the narrative of the “monomyth”, or the Hero’s Journey, courtesy of Joseph Campbell, which funny enough we had to talk about during the second year of my game design course. You know, that structure that has influenced the development of many films, such as the Star Wars films, and details the archetypal hero’s quest for glory, or for greater knowledge and wisdom. I see the Divine Individual as possibly a person (or, in mythical terms, a deity) who has undertaken that journey and accrued a powerful new wisdom which he brings back to the world at large, in that sense becoming the source of the new wisdom.

Also, there definitely are examples of characters that might fit the idea of the Divine Individual in various cultures in the regions Peterson mentions. In Mesopotamia we have the story of Gilgamesh, who travels to find the secret of immortality only to realize that humans cannot achieve immortality. There’s also Utnapishtim (aka Atra-Hasis or Ziusudra), the man who built a great boat and survived a flood before Noah did it and was blessed by the gods afterwards. I could also make the argument for the Babylonian deity Marduk possibly being an example – by challenging and slaying Tiamat, the draconic embodiment of the primordial chaos, Marduk overthrows the rule of an older group of primordial deities and creates the cosmos out of the spoils of battle, creates mankind out of the blood of one of her monster allies, Kingu, mankind is created. In Egypt I find this is more difficult to find, but I believe the best example is the sun god himself, Ra, who every day undergoes a journey to the underworld, and with the help of his guardians (or sometimes on his own in the form of a cat) he defeats the serpent Apep and the forces of evil, who would otherwise destroy the cosmos, and ensures that the light of the sun continues to shine on Egypt. Why stop there?

For better or worse, that idea reaches its apogee in Christianity. The divine individual is masculine because the feminine is not individual. The divine feminine is instead mother and child. However, it is a hallmark of Christian supposition that the redemption of both men and women comes from the masculine, and that’s because the masculine is the individual. The central realization, expressed dramatically and symbolically, is that the subordination of the group to the ideal of the divine individual is the answer to the paradox of nihilism and totalitarianism. The divine individual is the man that every man admires, and the man who all women want their men to be. The divine individual is the ideal from which deviations are punished by the group with contempt and disgrace, and fidelity to which is rewarded with attention and honor.

And here’s where we come to the part where Peterson ascribes the role of the divine individual to Jesus. I can’t help but disagree with a few things here, but we’ll start with the role of Jesus. I’ll grant that the conventionally understood form of Jesus can indeed fit the role of the divine individual – besides being the offspring of a deity (which I don’t think was mandatory for the role), he studied Jewish law and went on to spread, supposedly, a new form of Jewish teaching that spoke of the end times coming, God coming to overthrow the corruption of Rome and telling people to love they neighbor. He is, however, not much of a reformer. In fact, Jesus is quoted in the Bible as saying that he favors the old Jewish law.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” – Matthew 5:17-18

And this apparently even includes the stuff about loving thy neighbour. That famous New Testament verse was actually from the Book of Leviticus, the same text that condemns lying with another man as with a woman. I suspect Jesus was only considered a reformer in the sense that he came after the Pharisees because he viewed them as hypocrites, possibly because they advocated following the spirit rather than the letter of Jewish law and maybe because they put less control of the Jewish teachings in the hands of just the priests. He would have been a conservative who wanted to preserve the dogma of Jewish lore, rather than the reformist source of a new wisdom that would have updated the dogma. In fact, one of the things he criticized the Pharisees for was that they didn’t kill disobedient children, which was sanctioned by Jewish law in the Old Testament, the very same law that Jesus was sent to uphold. Jesus was also the kind of guy who talked about fearing God, condemned entire cities for not believing him, reserved eternal hellfire for those he damned and ordered people to chop off hands and feet to cleanse themselves of sin. Sounds like he’s a figure of totalitarianism to me, and that’s not all there is to it (I will address that in a separate post). The other embodiment of totalitarian certainty is, of course, his father, Jehovah/YHVH – the deity who demands blind faith and complete obedience according to the Bible or you will be destroyed or condemned to eternal damnation. So the main problem I have is that Jesus is quite easy to deconstruct based on what is actually written in the Bible.

Interestingly enough, however, since there is a figure of totalitarian certainty in the Christian religion, what represents the opposite – that of valuelessness and nihilism? I would argue that, for the Christians, that doesn’t mean Satan, as one might suspect, but rather Hell itself. In the popular Christian conception of Hell, Hell is either the lake of fire where in the soul is tormented by demons, or a place of darkness where the soul is completely and utterly separated from God, either way it is the source of horror, weeping and the gnashing of teeth. But typically, it is the place where the soul no longer knows the love or the presence of God, and instead knows torment and anguish. There are verse of the Bible which seem to imply both

Other than that, there are other points to make. It is generally true that the heroic figures of many mythologies are male, and many goddesses embody a maternal role. But I can think of one female mythological figure who doesn’t necessarily fit this role – the Babylonian goddess Ishtar. She journeys into the underworld, the land of the dead and of death, without fear, to try and fight Ereshkigal, the ruling goddess of the underworld, only to wind up imprisoned, striken with disease and killed by one of her minions, and then resurrected by a eunuch of the gods and returning to the surface to – all to revive her lover, Tammuz (deity of vegetation), after he died. And the idea of the man that every man wants to be and every woman wants their men to be I find is easily exemplified in, say, Greek mythology, where we can find such heroic figures – like Hercules, Achilles, Perseus, Odysseus, Jason or Theseus – men who in the modern world are still lionized in popular culture. Or hell, not even just mythology: did someone forget about Leonidas I, or Alexander the Great if his ruler cult is anything to go by? Those people became immortalized, in a manner of speaking, both in ancient religion (as is the case in Alexander the Great) and modern fiction (Leonidas I).

The divine individual is the builder, maintainer and expander of the state, he who boldly goes where no man has gone before, and someone who watches eternally over the widows and the children. His power of direct and honest communication is that which identifies, discusses and then resolves the continually emerging problems of human existence. 

I guess that’s one reason for him to think of Jesus as fitting the role, considering Jesus is sometimes depicted in a regal fashion, and is often referred to by Christians as their “king”. But I think this applies to Marduk as well. As the creator of the cosmos, king of the gods and patron deity of the city of Babylon, I think the role of the builder, maintainer and expander of the state suits a ruler figure such as Marduk. Or how about Ziusudra or Gilgamesh, who were both kings?  Or how about the rulers who were deified in classical Greece? Indeed I see this applying outside the Christian context pretty much categorically.

However, I’m willing to put forward because of its long-standing presence in human culture, and the clearly positive values attributed to it, I think the idea of the divine individual is worth pursuing. I think Peterson’s concept should be influential to me at least, as it seems like an effective way of expressing the idea that . In a way, pursuing the ideal of the individual is an idea I suspect some Left Hand Path systems, if not many, actively pursue. In fact, I see this in Luciferianism, and the way we Luciferians view the example of Lucifer – a mythological being that has evolved for so long in the collective imagination, from possibly being a Canaanite/Ugaritic deity associated with the morning star to being the figure of the Enlightenment. For us I think he’s more like the Enlightenment type figure, though more influenced by the John Milton characterization of Satan (which, if we’re being honest, sort of comes from the Christian characterization of both Satan and Lucifer). On this basis, I think the concept of the Divine Individual is worthy of appraisal and analysis.

Lucifer

Lucifer

 


If you want to see all of the posts that Jordan Peterson discussed, click here. I highly recommend it, because his perspective is nonetheless a fascinating one.

Also, I think he kind of deserves a little appreciation. At least because, as you’ll see in the video, he seems deeply troubled, if not pained, by some of the maladies he sees in the modern world, and I think he’s really trying to set things right in his own way by speaking his mind.