The Historical Relationship Between Satanism and Paganism

In May this year I wrote two articles outlining, in long form and short form respectively, my philosophy of Satanic Paganism. In so doing, I did not set out to examine the historical relationship between Satanism and Paganism as distinct concepts, and on Twitter I promised that I would write about this in its own article. What you’re about to read is exactly that article. I set out here to examine the relationship between Paganism and the various historical representations of Satanism, with of course the aim of supporting the overall project of my Satanic Paganism.

Before we start, I should take the time to note that as a historical treatment this will mean addressing a messy, problematic history fraught with reactionary tendencies. Unfortunately there was a time where folkism was not challenged to the extent that it arguably is now, and the history of occulture is not without the presence of the far-right to some extent or another. As such, going through the history that I mean to explore means exploring a history that includes some truly odious actors who just happen to have made a mark. Another thing worth stressing right away and which will be repeated going forward is that the instances of intersection that I present do not constitute proof that Satanism is itself a form of Paganism. It merely demonstrates the interaction between Satanism and Paganism to the extent that, although they are distinct religious worldviews that can each be defined on their own terms, the two are not as neatly separated as both parties present them to be.

We can start, rather appropriately, with Stanislaw Przybyszewski. Unless we count the “Sathanists”, Przybyszewski is easily the first person to actually refer to himself as a Satanist and espouse Satanism. As I have already established in my commentaries on his essay The Synagogue of Satan (see Part 1 and Part 2), Przybyszewski links his own Satanism to a certain idea of Paganism which he calls “the heathen cult”, which he regards as the original historical phase of Satan’s church. Przybyszewski repeatedly links his Satanism, his Satan, his Witch, and his “sabbat” to themes from pre-Christian religion. Here Satan appears as the gods Thoth, Hecate, and Pan, and through him Apollo and Aphrodite (as well as the Zoroastrian deity Ahura Mazda for some reason), and is also worshipped as a Phallus. People tasted “the holy joys of Pan” before Christianity arrived, whereupon the temples of the gods were desecrated and their priestesses reviled. The “heathen cult” in Przybyszewski’s narrative is essentially a mixture of polytheistic nature worship and orgiastic libertinism. His pagans lived in and with nature, and the demons dwelled in the forests, grottoes, and caves and gathered worshippers in orgiastic rites. Even as the church came to dominate Europe, the “heathen cult” still lurked beneath the Christian order which gradually conceded to its rites. The Witch, and the demonic femininity that Przybyszewski associates with Satan, descends from a lineage of pre-Christian goddesses and demons, and his “sabbat” is ostensibly a descendant of the orgiastic mysteries of Cybele. Although Przybyszewski never references Dionysus or his mysteries, he does describe the worship reserved for the “Black God” and aspects of the “sabbat” in ways that invoke the Bacchanlias and the classical mysteries of Dionysus.

Moving onto “modern Satanism”, Anton LaVey may have defined his form of Satanism as rather highly distinct from Paganism as we understand it, but he does nonetheless rely on pre-Christian references for his infernal pantheon, and they do sort of figure in his communication of Satanism. The Satanic Bible opens with a declaration of “the gods of the right hand path” bickering with each other becoming devils, while the Norse god Loki “sets Valhalla aflame” with “the searing trident of Inferno” and Lucifer, the spirit of the morning star, proclaims the dawn of the age of Satan. LaVey also appealed to a very flawed etymological argument in which the word “Devil” is purported to come from the Sanksrit word “Devi”, which in fact it doesn’t. Insofar as he held Satan to be the patron of Man’s carnal nature, he said that before the arrival of Christianity this was governed by the gods Dionysus and Pan, from whom the medieval Satan got his appearance. The “Infernal Names” comprises not only Satan and his menageries of devils but also pre-Christian gods and spirits who LaVey sometimes identifies as “devils”. These gods include Cizin (listed as “Ahpuch”), Ba’al-berith, Bastet (listed as “Bast”), Bilé, Chemosh, Dagon, Damballa, Enma-O (listed as “Emma-O”), Fenrir (listed as “Fenriz”), Eurynomos (listed as “Euronymous”, from which we get Mayhem’s Euronymous), Hecate, Ishtar, Kali, Loki, Mania, Mantus, Metztli, Jormungandr (listed as “Midgard”), Mictian, Mormo, Nergal, Nija, Pan, Pluto (but not Hades, apparently), Proserpine, Rimmon, Sabazios, Sekhmet, Set, Shiva, Supay, Tezcatlipoca, Tammuz (listed as “Thamuz”), Typhon, Xipe Totec (listed as “Yaotzin”) and Yama (referred to by his Japanese and Chinese counterparts “O-Yama”, “Emma-O” or “Yen-lo Wang”). These names are meant to be invoked in the course of a Satanic ritual, as though you are calling upon them for your craft, and so in this sense some of the gods theoretically join the LaVeyan Satanist in their praxis, though the LaVeyan rather definitely does not believe in those gods. It should go without saying that this dynamic has noticeable flaws; among them, the rather atrocious idea of listing Native American spirits such as Coyote as “devils”.

The Church of Satan in general tends to reject any and all suggestion of alignment with neo-paganism, on the grounds that Paganism is a “supernatural” religion. Nonetheless, besides invoking many of the same gods they refuse to actually worship into their rituals, the Church of Satan is content to mark the solstices and equinoxes as holidays. As a similarly atheistic Satanic organisation (or at least they avowedly present themselves as Satanists), The Satanic Temple marks not only the solstices and equinoxes but also go much further in appropriating and retooling whole pre-Christian festivities as their own religious holidays. Two in particular are Lupercalia, a Roman festival which TST brands as a “celebration of bodily autonomy, sexual liberation, and reproduction”, and Sol Invictus, named for the Roman god which TST brands as a “Celebration of being unconquered by superstition and consistent in the pursuit and sharing of knowledge” (now if only TST didn’t try suing people for doing the same thing!). While it’s not listed on their holidays page, members and chapters also claim to celebrate Saturnalia, the pre-Christian Roman celebration of the winter solstice. Indeed, The Satanic Temple actually argues that Satanic holidays come from a tradition long-predating TST, seemingly suggesting a claim to some sort of pre-Christian heritage. In TST’s case, this is unfortunately not much more than an act of cultural appropriation, and fitting for TST there are problems with its interpretation.

TST interprets Lupercalia as basically a BDSM sex orgy day built around celebrating bodily autonomy, sexual freedom, asexual awareness, and mock sacrifices. I wish! The actual Lupercalia was a festival dedicated to a sort of orgiastic worship of Pan Lycaeus or Apollo Lycaeus, but this involved the ritual sacrifice of a goat and a dog followed by a sacrificial feast. This was then followed by two young noble males receiving a sword dipped in blood a running around the Palatine in which participants run naked with thongs made from the flayed skins of the sacrificed animals. These thongs were used to whip people, women would sometimes get themselves whipped believe that this would ritually induce fertility, before returning to the Lupercal cave. As kinky as some of this must sound, the actual point was that it was a festival of attrition meant so that the gods would ensure the fertility of crops, and if all didn’t go well famine and disease would follow. As for Sol Invictus, TST interprets Sol Invictus as basically the Roman version of Christmas. This is in some sense the product of a popular myth regarding the origin of Christmas as we know it. As Andrew Mark Henry points out, early Christians landed on December 25th by calculating the date of Jesus’ birth backwards from the supposed date of his crucifixion and death, which was assumed to be March 25th – this, incidentally, was the same day on which pre-Christian Romans celebrated the vernal equinox. Sol Invictus was celebrated on December 25th, but only as far back as the year 354 under the emperor Aurelian, after Christianity had already emerged. Both Christians and Pagans celebrated December 25th because of its broader cosmological significance via the winter solstice, for which they respectively imparted very different religious meanings.

Returning to the subject of the Church of Satan, individual members tend to present their own intersections with modern Paganism. One example is Michael J. Moynihan, who is a musician who founded the neofolk band Blood Axis and otherwise a notable folkist fascist. Moynihan is a member and in fact a Reverend of the Church of Satan, but he has also been consistently affiliated with folkist forms of Heathenry. Since 1994 Moynihan was a member of a folkist Asatru collective called Wulfing Kindred, which was itself affiliated with the Asatru Folk Assembly until 1999, is friends with the AFA’s founder Stephen McNallen and sometimes joined him on stage with his band Changes, and is the editor of a “Radical Traditionalist” journal called Tyr, which is obviously named after the Germanic/Norse god Tyr and, sure enough, argues in defence of pre-modern and specifically pre-Christian societal institutions and a return to pre-Christian (typically Germanic) religion in the context of reactionary traditionalist ideology. One of the other fascists in the Church of Satan, a man named Kenaz Filan, is also a folkist pagan/polytheist who writes books about Paganism (in between grotesquely racist troll-posting, I assume) and has ties to other folkist polytheists such as Galina Krasskova and Raven Kaldera. This, of course, is all different shades of problematic on its own due precisely due to the fascistic folkism of the parties involved. Though, I would insist that this says more about the institutional fascism of the Church of Satan than anything else. Having said that, it’s actually somewhat ironic that the organisation which insists that Pagans, polytheists, or really any theist cannot be Satanists because they claim that Satanism is a strictly atheistic philosophy is nonetheless quite happy to have said people in their ranks as Satanists by virtue of being Church of Satan members. Of course, I assume that the Church of Satan only makes those allowances out of some shared affinity with fascism.

An important examination of the intersections between Satanism and Paganism comes from Between the Devil and the Old Gods: Pagan and Satanic Milieus, an essay written by Ethan Doyle White for the Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review. White argues that both Satanism and Paganism can be regarded as milieus within the broader movement of occulture, occultism, and alternative religion, and which actually intersect with each other rather than existing as completely distinct milieus. To study the extent to which the boundaries between Paganism and Satanism are blurred, White examines Wicca and what he considers to be elements of Satanism within it, as well as the Temple of Set and Order of Nine Angles.

In analysing Wicca, White points out that a few elements that he believes are consistent with Satanism. Perhaps the main such element is the presence of Lucifer, who is traditionally regarded as distinct from Satan but in practice carries in himself aspects of a “satanic” identity. Lucifer is the name that figures like Doreen Valiente and Alexander Sanders profess to be the name of the enigmatic Horned God of Wicca, an association that is likely inherited from Charles Lelands romantic-mythological account of Italian pagan witchcraft. The Horned God is not meant to be identical with the Devil, but the idea of an ancient horned god worshipped by witches dovetails rather nicely with traditional depictions of the Devil. Also noted by White is the inclusion of fallen angels such as Azazel (a.k.a. “Azael”) and Naamah as gods of witchcraft alongside gods like Cernunnos or Habundia in Paul Hason’s Mastering Witchcraft, which, while not really a “Wiccan text”, is part of the background of modern British witchcraft of which Wicca is a part. A much more obscure French sect of Wicca, known as Wicca Francaise (a.k.a. “Wicca International Witchcraft”), is purported to have taken Gerald Gardner’s basic system of Wicca and mixed it up with not only the Lucifer mythos but also a set of rituals that they interpreted as “Anglo-Saxon Satanist” rituals or the supposed “black mass”.

As regards the Temple of Set, there are many elements White considers that are not limited to the central role of the Egyptian god Set. Michael Aquino’s The Book of Coming Forth by Night declares that Set is the “ageless Intelligence of the Universe”, who only allowed himself to be called Satan because it meant that he might be perceived by humans. This premise itself establishes the Temple of Set as a Satanist organization in that it is consciously directed in alignment with an entity that is recognized as Satan by a different name, and indeed they still represented themselves with the inverted pentagram emblematic of Satanism. Indeed, Aquino expressly regarded the identity of Set as a way to fully divorce Satanism from the baggage of Christianity. Predictably, the identity of Set and the links to ancient Egyptian religion, to the point that the title of Aquino’s book is itself a play on the Egyptian “Book of the Dead” (which was also called The Book of Coming Forth by Day), would seem to link it to the context of modern Paganism, though this does not come without explicit boundaries as set by the Temple. That said, some members considered themselves to be practitioners of Satanism that was merely “hued” in the fashion of ancient Egyptian religions, while others earnestly believed that they were practicing the return of an ancient pre-Christian religion, and still others considered the Temple of Set to represent an entirely new vision. Indeed, many Setian Satanists would vehemently reject the label of “Pagan” on the grounds that they see themselves as “consciousness-worshipping”, in the sense of individual self-consciousness, and view Paganism as “nature-worship”, which they reject. While I see no need to label Setian Satanists as Pagans, the point is to explore intersections with Paganism, not outright identification with Paganism.

The connections to pre-Christian polytheism are not merely aesthetic, and can instead be felt in the doctrine and praxis of the Temple of Set. In Aquino’s book Black Magic, which is presented as sort of a manifesto of the Temple’s doctrine, there are several historical discussions ancient Egyptian religion buttressed by references to existing scholarship on Egyptology. Indeed, Black Magic opens with the statement that the Temple of Set is premise upon the apprehension of the “neteru” (or “neter”), which seems be referring to the gods, as well as Set in particular as the principal agent of individual self-consciousness. The Temple of Set is presented as a return to “the original, undistorted apprehension of Set”, which presumably also applies to the neteru as well who Aquino says were active controllers of the universe and present within it. This may also pertain to a supposed original cult of Set, which was then erased by the cult of Osiris that they say prevailed in the Egyptian establishment. Outside of this, White refers to the fact that the Temple of Set also established an inner esoteric order known as the Order of the Trapezoid, which ostensibly focuses itself on Germanic magical tradition. Unfortunately, this Order’s efforts take on a volkisch, indeed rather fascistic, character inherited from Aquino’s fascination with Heinrich Himmler’s Ahnenerbe, which itself was ostensibly obsessed with uncovering ancient Germanic history. It is worth noting that the Ahnenerbe cannot be counted as some link to Paganism, since Himmler expressly stated that you had to believe in God in order to join the SS. The Order of the Trapezoid professes its aim as to “extract the positive, exalted, and Romantic from the Germanic magical tradition” while removing all of the negative aspects linked to Nazism. In essence, it’s an attempt to rehabilitate German volkisch esotericism. Linked to this is a man named Edred Thorsson, otherwise known as Stephen Flowers, who was inspired by the Order’s efforts and joined the Temple of Set while also being a Heathen and active within the Heathen community. When this became public knowledge, other Heathens at the time condemned him for his association with Satanism.

When discussing the Order of Nine Angles, White points out that the writings of the founder David Myatt (or “Anton Long”) suggest the influence of older (presumably long-dead and now obscure if they were real) organisations. One of them, referred to as either “Camlad” or “Rouwyntha”, has been described as an “aural pagan esoteric tradition” supposedly found only in a few parts of England and Wales, specifically remote rural enclaves within Shropshire, Herefordshire, Sir Faesyfed (a.k.a. Radnorshire), and Sir Drefaldwyn (a.k.a. Montgomeryshire). White further points out that O9A writings often posit their brand of Satanism (frequently dubbed “Traditional Satanism”) as being descended from the depths of pre-Christian antiquity, taught for centuries from “Master”/”Mistress” to pupils and springing out from the area around Stonehenge since the year 7,000 BP at the oldest. Ancient stone circles in England were supposed to be aligned with the star Antares, which the O9A presents as being linked to Baphomet, who they present as a violent pre-Christian goddess who was worshipped with human sacrifice. This is then presented as an unbroken tradition whose survival stretched from the Neolithic era into the present, with “Western Civilization” thus containing an inherent “pagan” essence despite being “corrupted” by the “Magian” and “Nazarene” influence of Judaism, Christianity, and really everything that the O9A doesn’t like about modern society. Other conscious derivations from Pagan sources include the frequent use of the word “wyrd”, borrowed from Heathenry, and according to Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke the O9A sometimes emphasizes ceremonies performed during equinoxes or solstices and various practices meant to cultivate a sense of rootedness in “English nature” or “native tradition”, which of course is very obviously suggestive of a particularly folkist interpretation of Paganism. Moreover, as noted by Goodrick-Clarke, there were several spin-off groups scattered in “the West” that sought to combine O9A doctrine with existing neopagan movements such as Heathenry. Suffice to say, out of the three case studies White presents it would seem that the O9A is where the intersection is more pronounced.

To be sure, none of this intersection erases the differences between Satanism and Paganism, their distinction, or the enmity between certain practitioners. As White notes earlier in his essay, Pagans have, especially in the past, carefully and strictly defined themselves separately from Satanists – a move partially motivated by the fear of being cast as religious criminals by Christians. Many Satanists have, almost in turn, sometimes trafficked in their own brand of anti-Pagan rhetoric, branding modern Pagans as “soft”, “white light”, or “white witchcraft”. And, of course, both Pagans and Satanists have often taken turns accusing each other of failing to fully transcend the baggage of Christian morality in various ways. And yet, according to White, it is not actually not so common for Satanists to insist on hard differentiation from modern Pagans; White attributes this to a clear antinomian stance among Satanists through which they reject the desire to not be seen as a bogeyman.

Another examination can be found in Per Faxneld’s The Devil’s Party: Satanism in Modernity, specifically a section written by Fredrik Gregorius which discusses “Luciferian Witchcraft”. Here, Gregorius uses the term “Luciferian” loosely to mean groups that center around Lucifer as taking on a generally positive role defined typically by a neopagan context, but stresses that there really is no clear separation between Satanism and Luciferianism and argues that even the latter hinges on what is still a post-Christian interpretation of the figure of Satan. With that established, we can note for starters the Clan of Tubal-Cain started by Robert Cochrane, centered around the Biblical figure of Cain who murdered Abel in revenge for God’s favouring Abel over him. In the work of Shani Oates, current Maid of Tubal-Cain, Lucifer is given a greater focus and, possibly following Michael Howard, is re-interpreted as a “Gnostic” divine presence incarnated in flesh and matter and which motivates the evolution of humanity. Andrew Chumbley, while dismissing any identity between Lucifer and Satan, nonetheless depicts Lucifer and the fellow gods of witchcraft in a very satanic or diabolical light. Chumbley presents his craft as the continuation of a pre-Christian tradition referred to as the “Sabbatic Craft”, and in the context of his belief system Satan, if we can speak of Satan, can be interpreted as the “Man in Black” (or Al-Aswad), who Chumbley referrs to as “The Daemon”, Shaitan, The Adversary, or “The Reverse One”, who is the Lord of the Sabbat and embodies Death as “the Gateway to the Other”, meaning the liminal inbetweenesss betwixt every stasis of being. Lilith, of course is the bride of Shaitan/”The Man in Black”. Michael Howard rejected any identity with Satanism, and aside from his neo-Gnostic views he tends to couch Lucifer in a neopagan context by framing Lucifer as an older deity who in turn incarnates as several pagan gods. Nonetheless, his Lucifer is also identified with Samael, or “Zamael”, and his books have often been adorned with quasi-satanic imagery, goat heads and all. In fact, Howard’s last book, the posthumously released The Luminous Stone: Lucifer in Western Esotericism, is adorned with inverted pentagram imagery that would be very consistent with Satanic aesthetics. This is similarly true for Gemma Gary’s The Devil’s Dozen: Thirteen Craft Rites of The Old One, where the Devil venerated by the witches is theoretically distinguished from Satan, presented as a pagan god taking on the names of multiple pagan gods (such as Herne, Woden, or Odin) alongside the names Lucifer or Azazel as part of a pre-Christian tradition of witchcraft, though not necessarily a pure unbroken survival thereof.

Michael W. Ford is a particularly illustrative case where the exact boundaries between Satanism and “Luciferianism” are, despite insistence, practically non-existent, and where Satanism may intersect and syncretize with Paganism. Although Ford likes to formally define Luciferianism as distinct from Satanism and although he tends to reject the idea of a conscious Satan that inspires humans to revolt (preferring a more symbolic interpretation), in practice he tends to repeatedly identify Lucifer with Satan via the identity of the Adversary. Books such as Liber HVHI are meant as “a path to Ahriman, or Satan as it is called in the west”, though with the aim of becoming a manifestation of Satan rather than worshipping Satan, while explicitly identifying Lucifer with Satan. This identification also occurs in Luciferian Witchcraft, Adversarial Light: Magick of the Nephilim, and Wisdom of Eosphoros. Ford takes many philosophical cues from Satanism in its various manifesations and, of course, the imagery that Ford employs in all of his works is perfectly consistent with Satanic aesthetics. Meanwhile, Ford also argues that his system of Satanism/Luciferianism is based in a pre-Christian religion and incorporates magickal workings with various pre-Christian gods. In Wisdom of Eosphoros, Ford positions Lucifer/Satan as originally a pre-Christian deity or complex of pre-Christian deities such as Ishtar or Chemosh, and argues for the existence of an ancient pre-Christian tradition of self-deification based on the Hellenistic ruler cult and the worship of gods such as Baal-Shamem or Melqart or more specifically the identification with these gods by the king of Tyre. In Adversarial Light we are presented with a whole descending diagram of systems that Ford purports to have influenced the development of his “Luciferianism”, the oldest of which include Greek Theurgy, Babylonian sorcery, and the Egyptian cult of Set. In some of his books, like Magick of the Ancient Gods, Ford goes out of his way in interpreting basically whole pre-Christian pantheons of gods, particularly the Hellenic pantheon, on the terms of his Satanic/”Luciferian” belief system.

Two more obscure figures in British witchcraft also present interesting areas of intersection between Satanism and Paganism. One of them is a figure who Michael W. Ford takes as a source for his own system: Charles Matthew Pace (a.k.a. “Hamar’at”). Pace apparently referred to himself as a Luciferian, a Satanist, and a “Sethanist” simultaneously, and centered his belief system around the worship of a god named “Seth-an” which he identified with Lucifer. Pace frames his belief system as a continuation of a pre-Christian tradition and goes out of his way to reject all “Abrahamic” contexts even to the point of explicitly denouncing Kabbalah, but the context of Pace’s belief system is not wholly separable from Satanism. Though Pace preferred the label “Luciferian” the most, the identity of Lucifer with “Seth-an” arguably presents an idenity with Satan. According to Pace, Seth-an was originally a human king who went against the Egyptian establishment in some way, and attained the status of “Adversary” because he was the patron god of the Hyksos dynasty. It is possibly to argue that “Seth-an” is simply a way of referring to Satan on ostensibly Pagan terms, and so Luciferian and Satanist for Pace are interchangeable. Another case I refer to is Alastair Robert Clay-Egerton, who was a member of an obscure group called Templi Satanas Luciferi (or “Temple of Satan the Light-Bearer”), which is claimed to be a forerunner to the modern Tubal-Cain tradition. In Clay-Egerton’s doctrine, Lucifer appears to be the main focus, but Lucifer is also identified as Satan as the “Lord of this World”, and although Clay-Egerton generally preferred the term Luciferian to describe members of Templi Satanas Luciferi, he also accepted the use of the term Satanist interchangeably with Luciferian on the grounds that Luciferians are adversaries of those who promote intolerance, despoil the earth, destroy life, and twist the teachings of “Emmanuel bar Joseph” (or “Emmanuel of Nazareth”, seemingly a reference to Jesus). Lucifer is also identified as the “male principle” of the world, who is paired with a female principle referred to as the “Great Mother” or “Mother Goddess”, which seems to be an obvious echo of Wiccan doctrine, and he lays a great stress on how Man should live in harmony with the earth and in accordance with nature, while lauding the supposed cult of the Great Mother and lamenting its suppression by Christianity. Clay-Egerton also considers the idea that “Emmanuel of Nazareth” is another name for the Light-Bearer and so is “Satan-Lucifer” as well as the gods Cernunnos, Pan, Isis, Aphrodite, Venus, and Horus.

Outside of witchcraft, a very old and also obscure example I am keen to point to is Carl William Hansen, otherwise known as Ben Kadosh. He referred to himself as a Luciferian, not a Satanist. Yet, he employs the iconography of Satanism including the inverted pentagram to represent his belief system aesthetically, and accepts Satan as another name for both Lucifer and Pan, who are both interchangeable in Hansen’s system. But Lucifer is not only identical with Pan and Satan, he is also identified with a number of pre-Christian gods, namely Jupiter, Zeus, Venus, Marduk, Tyr, and Hermes. Lucifer is also interpreted as an “esoteric outer” of Pan, who can be taken as representative of the originary principle of darkness. Pan in turn was also identified with Jupiter as well as Kronon. Not only are there several identifications involving pagan Gods, Hansen frames his belief system as essentially a revivial of the old pre-Christian cult of Pan, and his 1906 pamphlet The Dawn of a New Morning: The Return of the World’s Master Builder (or as I call it Lucifer-Hiram) with the Orphic Hymn to Pan and proclamations of the return of the ancient cult. So while Hansen did not call himself a Pagan, his own belief system takes up a decidedly Pagan narrative.

Returning to the subject of witchcraft, Gregorius notes that, in Charles Leland’s Aradia, there is an invocation that implicitly positions Lucifer as the Devil, despite him functioning as a pagan deity in the overall text. Lucifer is referred to as the “most evil of all spirits” who “once reigned in hell when driven away from heaven”. Much of Aradia‘s presentation still has very little to do with the Christian myths, and he is still generally treated as a pagan deity and identified with the god Apollo, but the Fall from Heaven and the motive of pride is still referenced in its characterization of Lucifer. On this basis it is possible that Leland’s Lucifer can be interpreted as both a Devil and a pagan god and thus embodying the intersection. Then again, as Gregorius also points out, Aradia‘s overall narrative is highly inconsistent. Cain, for instance, as both imprisoned beneath the earth and as the Sun, while Lucifer himself seems to be both a god of the sun and the moon even though his consort Diana is also goddess of the moon.

If there is anywhere in Satanism where intersection with modern Paganism is strongest, it is in none other than the broad current we call Theistic Satanism. Theistic Satanism is generally overlooked in mainstream and even academic discussions of Satanism, who ultimately prefer to focus on the most visible Satanic organisations which often tend towards atheism. Nonetheless, despite the popular claim that Satanism is strictly an atheist philosophy, there are several expressions of Theistic Satanism in the modern world, and they are in no way less Satanic than movements like the Church of Satan are. There tend to be many intersections with pre-Christian polytheism within Theistic Satanism, at least in practice, as reflected in both various approaches to the veneration of demons and the veneration of or working with pre-Christian gods alongside demons. As just an anecdotal example, I remember back in 2015 being friends with a Theistic Satanist who also claimed to work with or venerate the Babylonian god Marduk. In the scene I was in or adjacent to, a certain sense of identification with or interest in pagan gods was commonplace even if we didn’t regard ourselves as Pagans. It is also not uncommon for some Theistic Satanists to regard Satan as a Christian caricature a pre-Christian deity who they believe was worshipped under other names, and sometimes identify Satan with gods such as Pan, Set, Shiva, Prometheus, or in some cases Enki.

The old Ophite Cultus Sathanas (or, the Our Lady of Endor Coven), founded by Herbert Arthur Sloane, was probably influenced by the Neopaganism that was developing in his time. Sloane believed in a Horned God and apparently had a vision of said horned god in the woods at a young age, and then after reading Margaret Murray’s The God of the Witches he decided that this god was Satan (or Sathanas) and worshipped him as such thereafter. However Sloane did not regard Satan as a fertility god, viewed witches who worshipped him as a fertility god as being misled, and instead viewed Satan as an agent of the “true God”. In this sense Sloane was definitely influenced by Neopaganism but ultimately rejected identification with it. Diane Vera has described herself as a Polytheistic Satanist and her organisation, the Church of Azazel, worships Satan-Azazel as their main god alongside Lilith and the gods Pan, Ishtar, Prometheus, and Sophia (as Lucifer). The Church of Azazel believes in the existence of multiple gods as distinct entities and accepts the veneration of other gods alongside their main pantheon, and so expressly aligns itself with “hard polytheism” and the reconstructionist movement. Here, then, Paganism is not identified as Theistic Satanism but intersects with it in Vera’s doctrine. The Cathedral of the Black Goat, which was founded by Brother Myrmydon and Sister Nephtys and also serves as basically a war metal festival, tends to accept some pre-Christian deities such as Set and Kali as representations of Satan. In my article about Satanic Panic in the context of the Ukraine-Russia War, I discussed a Ukrainian Theistic Satanist group called Bozhichi, which worshipped Satan and also includes the worship of pagan gods and the practice of a form of magic called Veretnichestvo.

A more contemporary group called the First Church of the Morningstar, is a Theistic Satanist group (and an anarchist one at that!) whose membership also includes Chaos Magicians, “Luciferians”, Thelemites, Discordians, and Pagans, and on their website they list a series of pre-Christian gods that they venerate alongside Satan and the host of Hell. These gods include Enki, Ereshkigal, Pan, Inanna, Prometheus, Eris Discordia, Set, Thoth, Eros, Hades, Persephone, Hecate, Aphrodite, Sekhmet, and Isis. It also includes gods from the Thelemite pantheon, namely Babalon, Nuit, Hadit, and Ra-Hoor-Kuit, as well as Greek mythological women who weren’t historically considered goddesses, namely Pandora and Ariadne. It is worth noting the founder, Johnny Truant, regards Paganism as distinct from Satanism on the grounds of what he sees as Paganism’s orientation towards ecology and nature worship, so on those terms we could not regard the First Church of the Morningstar as a syncretic Satanic-Pagan organization solely because of the inclusion of multiple gods. Though again, the point is intersection, not identification, and there is a noticeable intersection in any case.

I consider the subject of Demonolatry to be related in that it does contain within itself what is in essence a Theistic Satanist doctrine. Practitioners of Demonolatry may, as do many of the Satanists already discussed, refuse the label of “Pagan” for themselves, but the point here is not to graft that onto them anyway and instead more to discuss intersections. In Stephanie Connolly’s Complete Book of Demonolatry, she argues that her tradition of Demonolatry is built on Hermetic teachings originating in ancient Egypt and that many of the demons worshipped in Demonolatry are pagan gods. The “Demon Directory” gives us a whole list of demons, which includes pre-Christian gods that are sometimes categorized as “devils”. These gods include Adad, Cizin (once again listed as “Ahpuch”), Amun (as “Ammon”), Ashtaroth, Astarte, Baal, Baalberith, Bastet (again as “Bast”), Bile, Charon, Dagon, Enma-O (again as “Emma-O”, “O’Yama”, and “Yan-lo-Wang”), Eurynomos, Hecate, Hel (as “Hela”), Ishtar, Kali, Loki, Mania, Mantus, Metztli, Mictian, Mormo, Nergal, Nija, Pan, Pluto, Proserpine, Rimmon, Sabazios, Sekhmet, Set, Shiva, Succoth-benoth (as “Succorbenoth”), Supay, Tezcatlipoca, Tammuz (again as “Thamuz”), Thoth, Typhon, and Xipe Totec (again as “Yaotzin”). Many of these are the same as the “Infernal Names” listed in the Satanic Bible. The timeline of the history of Demonolatry seems to begin at 3000 BC, with the supposed date of the writing of the Hermetica and Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Canaanite, Semitic, and Amorite polytheism as the foundations of Demonolatry, thus we are presented with pre-Christian Paganism as the purported origin of Demonolatry. A section titled “The Hermetica – The Lost Wisdom of the Pharaohs” outlines a sort of pantheistic theology Man and the cosmos are one with the deity Atum, and how on this basis Man takes on the attributes of the gods as if he were one of them and knows the gods because they spring from the same source as Man. Connolly interprets this as a doctrine of self-worship or self-deification, arguing on this basis that the pre-Christian ancient Egyptians were the first practitioners of the (Western) Left Hand Path, and, most crucially, her version of this doctrine replaces Atum with Satan, thus positing Satan as the god of the cosmos or the All. Thus in Connolly’s system of Demonolatry (at least, and I must stress hers is probably not the only one).

It is to be stressed again that this does not necessarily make Demonolatry a “pagan religion” or a form of Paganism necessarily if strictly by its own consideration. For its practitioners, Demonolatry is separate from Paganism on the basis that Paganism is defined in terms of its nature-centeredness, which is not necessarily shared by Demonolatry. That’s not necessarily saying that Demonolatry is “anti-Pagan”, and certainly not in light of the intersections with Paganism that have already been established, but practitioners often find the label of “Pagan” to be something externally imposed on them rather than something that they consciously embrace.

When it comes to Anti-Cosmic Satanism, the intersections with Paganism are generally very minimal, if they exist at all, although I suppose if one wanted to stretch the subject one might examine the extent to which Anti-Cosmic Satanists draw from the syncretic Latin American and Afro-Caribbean religious traditions, which are often polytheistic albeit generally not identified as “Pagan”. According to Benjamin Hodge Olson in his essay At the Threshold of the Inverted Womb: Anti-Cosmic Satanism and Radical Freedom, this influence is particularly evident in Templum Falcis Cruentis and the writing of N.A-A.218. Beyond this, the tendency to identify Satan with various “adversarial gods” and the re-interpretation of the Babylonian creation myth is about the faintest link standard fare Anti-Cosmic Satanism has with Paganism, and it’s not much. There is, however, an example of outright syncretism between Anti-Cosmic Satanism and Paganism in the form of Thursatru, a modern brand of Heathenry that is based almost entirely on Anti-Cosmic Satanist doctrine remodelled in the contest of Norse mythology. Thursatru takes the Anti-Cosmic narrative and interprets Odin, the king of the Aesir, as the Demiurge and therefore identical to Yahweh and Marduk, and therefore the cosmic oppressor, while aligning with a clan of giants called the Thursar in order to . Thursatru is sometimes regarded as another name for Rokkatru, another modern branch of Heathenry with a notably adversarial alignment, but they are not to be confused. As I understand it, Thursatru is based entirely in the current of Anti-Cosmic Satanism and is exclusively dedicated to the worship of the Thursas and opposes the worship of all other Norse gods, whereas Rokkatru is ultimately still based in Heathenry but, insofar as it is influenced by Satanism, tends to take influences from different forms of Satanism, and while Rokkatru focuses itself on the worship of the jotnar or the gods who are considered “rokkr” (of the twilight, relevant to the commencement of Ragnarok), it seems to me that many contemporary Rokkatruar are generally not opposed to the worship of other Norse/Germanic gods. In my opinion, if there is to be any comparison between Thursatru and Rokkatru, I would regard Rokkatru as much more consistently Pagan. That said, however, both Thursatru and Rokkatru could be regarded as points of syncretic intersection involving Satanism and Paganism to varying extents.

If we count certain pre-modern individual cases of apparent devil worship as individual professions of “Satanism” in a loose sense, I think it’s worth looking at Faxneld’s The Devil’s Party again for a fascinating instance of Satan worship intersecting with pre-Christian beliefs. Faxneld notes that, in medieval Sweden, there were individuals who, as outlaws, are at least attested to have worshipped Satan as their patron. This includes a man named Tideman Hemmingsson, a notorious outlaw who lived in the forest and allegedly made a pact with Satan and a forest nymph (or “skosgraet”) to grant him luck in hunting and enable him to shoot as much game as he wanted. Hemmingsson wasn’t alone; two other men, Hakan Jonsson made a similar pact, and much later a fisherman named Mickel Kalkstrom claimed to have made a pact with the Devil to catch as much fish as he wanted. According to Faxneld, these pacts intersected with a surviving folk belief in nature spirits, presumably more consistent with pre-Christian religion. In pre-Christian Scandinavia, it was believed that spirits, such as nymphs, lived in the woods, trees, rivers, and/or lakes, and could either bring good fortune and endanger people in some way. One could think of it as a kind of animism in the context of folk beliefs. The wilderness was the home of spirits and nymphs, which were then recast as demons in the eyes of Christianity, and so in Christian demonology the wilderness was also a kind of “inverted world” and a “gateway to demonic powers”. Satan, then, became seen as the ruler of the wilderness, the space outside the law of Christian civilization, to whom, according to Faxneld, some Swedish outlaws turned to as their patron and their god.

In the final hand, we should conclude that Satanism and modern Paganism tend to intersect with one another, but also note that Paganism can and has intersected with other religious movements. Ethan Doyle White notes that there are ways in which Paganism has also intersected with “Abrahamic” religions, or at least particularly Christianity. As an example, White points out that Maltese Pagans tend to observe both Pagan and Catholic ceremonies simultaneously, no doubt drawing on the deep influence of Roman Catholicism on social life in Malta. Another example White points to is the existence of Trinitarian Wicca, or Christian Wicca, which consciously blends Wicca with Christianity. I would count the Church of Light and Shadow as a similar example drawing on that example. More to the point, I would also point to the numerous pre-modern attestations of syncretism between pre-Christian polytheism and the then-new Christianity. This includes Vikings in Scandinavia praying to both the Christian God and to Norse gods such as Thor, the spells of the Greek Magical Papyri containing invocations of the names and angels of God and apparently even Jesus alongside the pre-Christian gods and spirits, Roman syncretism of Jesus and the god Sol or Helios, and the various syncretic Afro-Caribbean traditions that include Jesus and other Christian figures. Outside of Christianity, there have also been syncretic forms of Judaism and that blended Judaism with Paganism both in pre-Christian antiquity and in the modern era.

The point is that Paganism in itself can intersect with many different religious traditions, and in fact has demonstrated cases of syncretism with many different belief systems without much conflict with its overall core, even if it inevitably poses problems for the core of religions such as Christianity. The point is that this applies as well for the relationship between Paganism and Satanism, and that, on this basis, there is no reason to think of Satanism as entirely separable from Paganism. On this basis and other bases, syncretism, and my own project of Satanic Paganism, stands on solid ground. And yet, it is evident that the history of which I speak is not without problems. Satanism and Paganism intersect with each other in numerous ways, but, as we have shown, this can also include some rather reactionary doctrines. But, as we have seen, there is nothing indicating that either Satanism, Paganism, or their intersection or syncretism, necessarily must follow such paths.

Satanism and Paganism are not solely defined by their historical representation (yes, even though part of the essence of Paganism consists of revitalizing ideas from the past), but are defined both by generalized sets of core worldviews and the people who practice them in the here and now. I wonder if the latter fact is given as much consideration as it deserves. Satanic Paganism itself is ultimately an individual and rather idiosyncratic stance, one whose very label makes sense as a summary for that which cannot be contained dogmatically. That, and the knowledge of Pagan syncretism and Satanist-Pagan intersection, gives it its power.

The contradictions of Caleb Maupin: a response to “Four Forms of Satanism”

I have been meaning to write this article since last month, after I encountered a video published by Caleb Maupin titled “Four Forms of Satanism: A Marxist View”, in which Maupin attempts to define Satanism on his terms for his audience. But, at the time, I was still working on my article on my developing philosophy of Satanic Paganism, and above all else I wanted to complete that article and resolve the desire that animated that work, thus my writing was devoted entirely to that article as well as the abridged version I wrote immediately afterwards. But now that both articles are finished, I can now bring you a response to Caleb Maupin’s video, even though it’s a month late.

I’ve talked about Caleb Maupin before, three months ago, in the context of conspiracy theories and Satanic Panic in relation to the Ukraine-Russia War, but let’s briefly introduce Caleb Maupin for the purpose of this article. As many of you probably already know, Caleb Maupin is a prolific socialist journalist (and I use both terms loosely here) who works for Russia Today, a news station owned and controlled by the Russian government and which is thus a platform for Russian state propaganda. Of course, Caleb really doesn’t like it when you call him a Russian asset, and was outraged when his Twitter account got labelled Russian state-affiliated media. Caleb seems to operate as a Marxist-Leninist, and certainly invokes Marxist theory in his various arguments about socialism, but in practice he mixes his “Marxism” with pro-American conservative populism, the neofascism espoused by Lyndon LaRouche, and the Eurasianist neofascist ideology of Aleksandr Dugin, so in practical terms he is perhaps more accurately referred to as a “left-fascist” or “red-fascist”. His particular brand of “anti-imperialism” leads him to uncritically support for dictatorships such as Russia and China, even to the point of defending the idea that there will be billionaires in a socialist or communist system, and he is prepared to defend rank anti-semites such as Louis Farrakhan on the grounds that he sees them as “anti-imperialists”. In fact, as you’ll see, Caleb Maupin himself is actually grotesquely and notoriously anti-semitic. His current project seems to be the Centre for Political Innovation, a think tank that serves mostly as a vessel to transmit his own brand of left-right confusionism and rehabilitate the ideas of Lyndon LaRouche. It is probably fair to say that Caleb Maupin, the CPI, and their supporters represent a minor tendency within “The Left” as a whole, but they are building a network of parasocial influence through which to disseminate their ideas, including fascistic conspiracy theories, and so it is somewhat important to address Caleb Maupin’s claims about Satanism.

Now, to start with, I think it’s best for me to offer a definiton of Satanism for our purposes, before we get into how Caleb Maupin tries to define it. Satanism, broadly speaking, is a religious and philosophical or magickal belief system based most specifically in a conscious relationship to Satan, either as a conceptual archetype or an actual being, grounded in a egoistic philosophy of transgressive individuation and self-realization, in more magickal forms aimed at the apotheosis of the individual. By my understanding, Satanism is an egoistic religious philosophy whose goal is the liberation of human consciousness through the practice of negation, meaning the negation of the boundaries of egoistic consciousness, so as to light the Black Flame of active negativity and attain individual apotheosis. It is to identify with Satan, the eternal rebel and the lord of Darkness, and his path lit by the Black Flame in order to join the war of all against all on your own side against all that is put over you. That’s my definition of Satanism. But what is Caleb Maupin’s definition?

To summarize Caleb’s basic premise before we dissect his arguments, the idea seems to be that there are four distinct types of Satanism, which seem to differ in their content. The first of these is called “Constructive Satanism”, which Caleb seems to define as essentially just when any form of constructive criticism happens within any organisation. The second of these is called “Adolescent Satanism”, by which Caleb seems to mean either juvenile rebellion or any form of social contrarianism. The third of these is called “Ideological Satanism”, which seems to refer to a more concrete doctrine of Satanism but is in reality just a construction of every ideology that Caleb doesn’t like which is only tenuously linked to any extant Satanism. The last of these actually doesn’t seem to have a name but seems to be Caleb’s way of referring to some vague feeling of hopelessness and self-loathing, possibly even a suicidal ideation, which attacks all positive or affirmative aspirations or ambitions. On its own all of this must already sound pretty ridiculous, but I assure that there is more to what you’re about to see than just what has been presented here – and trust me, it only gets more absurd from here.

On “Constructive Satanism”

We can begin, appropriately, with Caleb’s discussion of the “first definition of Satanism”, which of course he calls “Constructive Satanism”. Right off the bat, we are treated to a very strange argument for this concept. We’re told for starters that every religion has some concept of “good and bad” or “good and evil”, despite the fact that this isn’t really true when you look at the old polytheistic religions, Buddhism, arguably Hinduism, Shinto, Wicca, Thelema, or probably any non-dualistic religion. That doesn’t really have to do with anything, but soon enough Caleb gives us an explanation of the role of “The Satan” in the Book of Job, in which “The Satan” is one of God’s angels who tests your loyalty and your faith, and, according to Caleb at least, brings you hardship and criticizes you in order “reveal who you really are” and “test your strengths”. It’s not a totally inaccurate understanding of the Jewish conception of “The Satan”, but I think he misses the point. The purpose of “The Satan” is specifically to oppose, and indeed the term “Satan”, literally meaning adversary, was used not only in reference to angels but also humans who opposed you in some way, and in Jewish theology this was indeed a functionary of God’s order, but it was less about self-improvement by helping you work on your flaws and more specifically about testing the extent to which you remained faithful to God. But regardless, from this starting point “Constructive Satanism” is defined as essentially just what happens when in an organization there’s someone pointing out flaws and “troubleshooting worst case scenarios”, and when people who care about you criticize you to stop you from going astray or something.

Absolutely none of this is connected to any extant tradition of Satanism. There’s a loose interpretation of “The Satan” from the Book of Job that extrapolates from the core concept some spiel about how every organization needs a critic, but no example of any form of Satanism that emphasizes this theme is ever mentioned. It’s basically just some archetypal image of Satan that Caleb Maupin seems to have synthesized or probably picked up from gods know where. The “Constructive Satanist” here is just someone whose job it is to criticize things and reveal flaws with things in order to point our problems that need to be addressed. I suppose this is almost taking the phrase “devil’s advocate” literally. It’s a very reductive interpretation of the term “Satan” in its etymological meaning, and to be honest it’s very weird that Caleb Maupin thinks there needs to be a special position in society or organizations whose specific role is to criticize the way things are when anyone and probably everyone can do that, and if anything you could argue that in a “functioning society” critique would be universal instead of an exclusive profession. But hey, I guess that’s just authoritarianism for you; only approved people can criticize the regime, and everyone else is just supposed to nod along and bow. While Caleb offers no examples from Satanism to support “Constructive Satanism” as a definition of Satanism, he instead uses the story of the emperor with no clothes to illustrate the problems of not having “Constructive Satanists” around. Then, in a bizarre turn, he tries to argue that Abraham Lincoln was somehow a “Constructive Satanist” on the grounds that Lincoln was “basically an agnostic” and was known in Illinois for visiting local churches to debate pastors about the Bible. Yes, apparently Satanism is nothing more than just having any skepticism about the Bible whatsoever and debating Christians about it.

Curiously enough, however, during the course of his argument, Caleb takes the opportunity to criticize the Soviet Union by saying that it “fell to the sound of applause”. What he means by this is that, as he says, in the Soviet Union every leader since Joseph Stalin would be applaued for basically every pronouncement he gave, no matter how right or wrong-headed, by the Soviet bureaucracy including future successors, which meant that after Nikita Khrushchev took over and denounced Stalin’s regime the same people who praised Stalin turned around and praised Khrushchev for it, and so on and so forth with each leader until the collapse of the Soviet Union itself. The fall of the Soviet Union cannot singularly be blamed on this trend, but it is worth pointing out that, insofar as you can quite rightly and deservedly make this criticism of the Soviet Union, the problem for Caleb Maupin is that to take this criticism seriously requires admitting that the Soviet Union was dictatorship. I mean think about it: if it’s true that nobody in the Soviet bureaucracy ever criticized any of the Soviet leaders, and that everyone applaued each leader for every pronouncement, why do you think people within that system would be compelled or inclined to simply applaude every pronouncement rather than disagree? It’s because you’re in a system where that sort of disagreement is literally punished by the state which dictates that you ultimately cannot go against the leadership. Even Khrushchev, framed as the arch anti-Stalinist, still brutally suppressed dissent. But if you were to try and get Caleb to think about it that way, I’m sure all he’d do is yell at you and accuse you of being a fascist for tarnishing a state that he insists lead the global struggle against Nazism (never mind that Soviet leadership ultimately credited American aid with the very possibility of being able to fight and defeat the Nazis). Oddly enough, though, he eventually admits that the Soviet Union dragged dissident elements away in the middle of the night, and I say “oddly enough” because for all that he’ll still defend the legacy of the Soviet Union from people who view it as a murderous dictatorship, often specifically from such charges! But the operative point here seems to be that the reason the Soviet Union collapsed, rather than anything to do with the weight of its own systemic contradictions as a gerontocratic dictatorship that was crawling away from anything remotely resembling “socialism” for decades, was because of a lack of “Constructive Satanism”, by which Caleb means nothing more than a lack of debate within the Soviet bureaucracy. Of course, like any Leninist, he attributes this solely to the multiple invasion attempts against the burgeoining USSR, despite his account being that these problems continued well past any danger of frontal invasion, and of course completely overlooking any argument that might point out that there is no inherent reason for a country to be “forced” to suppress literally any party comrade who goes against the leadership let alone to go on to invade other countries like Georgia, Czechoslovakia, or Afghanistan, as though the Soviet Union had no agency to not do any of those things. Left out of this conversation, of course, is the working class of the Soviet Union, along with the people of the lands the Soviet Union came in and took over. Debate, as far as Caleb Maupin is concerned, is a privilege of the powerful, we might as well say a small class of people who hold authority over the masses, while those ruled by the so-called “Communist” Party have no right to debate on its agenda.

In any case, though, for all that I can say about his arguments about the Soviet Union, there is still no link between any of this discussion and any extant and conscious tradition, expression, or definition of Satanism. The only thing Caleb ever ties this notion of “Constructive Satanism” back to is the Hebrew conception of “The Satan” that he then twists into some abstract discussion of the need for constructive crticism or nitpicking for the good of society or an organization, but besides sort of missing the significance of Jewish theology in this regard, this simply misses the point of what Satanism is. The Negativity embodied by Satan, as understood in Satanism, is not some socializing form of critique, some troubleshooting functionary of the order of things. It is a universal attack on the order we put over ourselves, it is an affirmation of the freedom of egoistic consciousness through the negation of control. This negativity cannot be encapsulated in the mere function of an advisor who points out the flaws of the system so as to ultimately preserve its perpetuation, because this negativity is based in the destruction of systems and the totality of conditions.

On “Adolescent Satanism”

Moving on from there we come to the “second definition of Satanism”, which of course is called “Adolescent Satanism”, or as he initially calls it “Teenage Satanism” or simply “Contrarianism”. Now, I’m actually sure a lot of Satanists are somewhat familiar with some idea of “teenage Satanism”, by which we typically mean some disassociated act of malicious violence or “criminality” carried out by angry contrarian teenagers who may or may not attach some Satanic imagery to it in order to give some quasi-religious aura to their crimes. Of course, such a phenomenon is not limited to teenagers, there are plenty much less sound adults who do similar and sometimes worse things, and the media is happy to help them attach Satanism to their crimes, while almost never attributing Christianity to the actions of Christian killers no matter how many times they say that they are killing people in the name of God and his Son. But, when Caleb Maupin says “Teenage Satanism”, he simply means a type of behaviour where people “just want to break social norms” in order to go against authority and “assert their individualism”. Similar to the previous “definition”, this is one of those things that loosely plays into certain attributes of Satanism or Satanists, but is altogether separated from any conscious Satanism. In fact, just as before, Caleb Maupin never refers to any examples of any extant or self-defined Satanism embodying what he describes. Instead, the first thing he talks about is how he thinks communist movements end up “indulging the forbidden” as a response to the demonization of “communism” in the United States. “Communism”, Caleb tells us, is “Satan”, or “forbidden” in American society. There is of course some truth to this, but then you have to remember that, by “communism”, he means state socialists or state capitalists such as Joseph Stalin, Fidel Castro, Mao Zedong, Kim Il-sung, all the various leaders of “actually existing socialist” countries who used to have their own major bloc of geopolitical power against “the West”; and let’s face it, in an age where the Cold War has long since ended, the “red menace” is a largely vestigal aspect of bourgeois propaganda, though still trotted out to some extent when the “leftists” appear to be gaining ground. Even when discussing China as a threat in some way, it’s usually the hard right more than anyone else that likes to emphasize the so-called “communism” of China.

An important point to address here is Caleb’s assertion that, because the United States of America is, as he says, “the capital of capitalism” and “the world center of anti-communism”, communists “embrace the opposite of what they are told”. There is an extent to which this is true, but it all depends exactly what you’re being told. The majority of mainstream discourse concerning “communism” would tell you that communism is nothing more than when you have a one party dictatorship that assumes control of all aspects of the economy as well as political and social life and transforms all private or personal property into state property. When Caleb says that Western communists embrace the opposite of what they’re told, this is accurate, but that’s to the extent that they reject that entire concept of “communism”, and with it whatever beady-eyed authoritarianism that Caleb Maupin would advocate for. Instead, many of the people who become interested in communism do so on the understanding that communism means that private property and capitalism is abolished in order to create a stateless, classless, moneyless society. Other serious communists take this further, understanding that communism is the movement of the abolition of the totality of the existing conditions, and that a communist society means a free association of people who, without the rule of the state or hierarchy or capital, interact with one another to fully develop themselves in any way they want. These people typically also reject the legacy of the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, North Korea, or any of the countries Caleb upholds because they were not only authoritarian but also not even close to what communism is. There are, however, some self-styled communists who do not follow this pattern, and instead reject entirely any suggestion that the old red bloc and similar countries were oppressive, authoritarian, or even bad, and take for granted that these were “communist” countries despite not actually having the conditions of communism, take the way they organize society as “communism”, and then embrace this model as the model they believe will solve all the world’s problems. These people are often referred to as “tankies”, and fortunately it seems that they probably don’t comprise the majority of today’s radicals.

But what exactly does all of this have to do with Satanism? Caleb asserts that contemporary communists take the opposition of the US narrative to the point of taking on “a childist, adolescent” character, and the reason he refers to this as “Satanism” is because, to him, it is similar to “the teenager who starts wearing a pentagram necklace and starts listening to Ozzy Osbourne” This person is “literally a Satanist” according to him. I would have thought that, in the decades since heavy metal became the cultural phenomenon that it is now, we all came together and understood that listening to Ozzy Osbourne does not make you a Satanist, no matter how many Satanists (myself included) happen to like Ozzy Osbourne. But apparently it’s Satanism, because to him, under this “definition” of Satanism anyway, you can be a “Satanist” simply by making aesthetic declarations of rebellion against authority and breaking from the conventions of your parents. Under this same “definition”, a young person becoming a Buddhist or a vegetarian is thus “being a Satanist” insofar as “Satanism” is simply an assertion of individuality in contradiction to society at the time; such a statement would have us ignore the fact that most forms of Buddhism (at least in its “orthodox” form) are actually diametrically opposed to Satanism while vegetarianism, though not exactly popular, is very compatible (and some might even argue more consistent) with the teachings of Christianity. “This is not politics, this is emotion”, we are told, as though emotion does not involve itself with “politics” at all, and as though Buddhism, vegetarianism, or for that matter Satanism, or any expression of individuality at all is invalid merely because it is “feelings”, as though the emotional capacity of humans is somehow inferior to some disembodied rationality that is somehow divorced from this very same emotional capacity.

Caleb then goes on to at last give what he sees as a concrete example of “Teenage Satanism”, but once again it’s not actually a form of Satanism. Instead it’s “the 1960s left”, by which he seems to mean the American counterculture of the 1960s and its general alignment with left-wing political movements. I’m pretty sure that most hippies in the 1960s would have rejected any suggestion that they were Satanists, and I know for a fact that Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan that arose in the 1960s despised hippies almost as much as they despised Christianity, but I’m also sure that this inconvenient reality doesn’t quite matter to Caleb. Caleb tells us a story about someone he once knew from that decade; a communist who, as a young woman, got involved with the anti-war movement, supposedly because she liked it when the protestors broke windows, confronted police officers, and chanted “smoke dope, get high, all the cops are gonna die!”. Caleb frames this as the dominant message of the 60s counterculture for some reason, no doubt intending to depict hippies as terrorists, and he relates to us the apparent existence of a left-wing organization in New York that called themselves The Motherfuckers. This seems to have been a real organization, apparently an anarchist group who incorporated Dadaism and the ideas of Situationist International. Caleb claims that they got their name from the comedian Lenny Bruce saying “This is a stick-up! Up against the wall motherfucker!”, but this doesn’t seem to be true and in fact they actually got it from a poem written by Amiri Baraka. But the operative point seems to be that shouting “Up against the wall! Motherfuckers!” is “Satanism”, somehow, because, again, “Satanism” in this setting is just when you openly confront authority. Again, this is take one aspect of what makes Satan who he is and Satanism what it is while divorcing it from any conscious relationship to Satan as an idea, and thereby missing the point of Satanism.

What I find to be an amusing contradiction within Caleb’s idea of “Teenage Satanism” is his account of an anti-war/anti-imperialist group he refers to as The New York City Committee To Support The Vietnamese (I swear I can’t actually find anything about this group anywhere). The communist woman Caleb talks about apparently joined this group because they “walked through the streets of New York waving the flag of the enemy”, supposedly they really did march across New York City waving the Vietnamese flag and chanted “Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh! The NLF is gonna win! Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh!”. Now Caleb actually likes it when people chanted this, but for him the difference is that she didn’t mean it and just chanted it to be “bad”, whereas according to him other people who chanted it really meant it. Could we argue that, from a certain point of view, or at least from the perspective of power, the difference doesn’t matter that much? In fact, simply “going against what you have been told”, by Caleb’s standards, does that not animate the very “anti-imperialist” movement that he stands by so resolutely. Consider the Center for Political Innovation’s first conference in Austin, Texas, this year, of which Caleb Maupin was a part. Not only did they raise the flags of both the United States of America and the Soviet Union at the same time, they also displayed the flag of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic as well as the Z symbol that was found on Russian tanks and currently used to signify support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In practice, this sort of politics tends to play out as simple identification with the perceived enemies of “the West”, and Caleb, very strangely for his particular brand of “patriotic socialism”, is just happy to cultivate this sense of identification. In fact Caleb Maupin vocally supported the pro-Russian separatists in Donbas and the Russian army as the invasion of Ukraine began. In fact he had his own fanatical slogan: “Donbas Lives Matter!”. His Center for Political Innovation has also been seen holding rallies in support of Russia, in which they display the flag of Russia as well as the flag of Donetsk and the Z symbol, while also displaying pro-Russian slogans. Is Caleb Maupin not a “Satanist” by his own definition? He would say no, but that’s only because he claims he believes in the Russian cause “against imperialism”. In reality he simply takes the side of Russia and Donbas because it’s the apparent enemy of Western imperialism. It is contrarianism by any measure, except only that Caleb refuses to recognize it as such. The difference between his politics and the “not real politics” he attributes to “Teenage Satanists” is quite simply that Caleb decides that he is not a contrarian, that he is not merely “identifying with the enemy”, and it seems to me that this difference is ultimately decided by the proposal that the “Teenage Satanist” takes joy in his simple opposition while Caleb at least ostensibly refuses such joy. But if you are a revolutionary (and, I assure you, Caleb Maupin by his own consideration is not) then what is the point in not deriving joy from the overthrow of the existing conditions, and with it the casting off of oppression? What a poor revolution it is that cannot embody jouissance? In this sense, “Teenage Satanism” is definitely not a form of Satanism, not in any historical, contemporary or serious sense, but I am quite sure that Satanism, at least on my terms, embraces the idea of deriving jouissance from the act of resistance itself.

On “Ideological Satanism”

Now we come to the “third definition of Satanism”, which Caleb refers to as “Ideological Satanism”. I will establish here and now that this is the only part of the video in which Caleb even tries to connect what he’s saying about “Satanism” to any actual extant form of Satanism, but even then it’s very tenuous and brief, and much of his definition is still hardly connected to Satanism. This is also the section where, I assure you, things seem to get really “interesting” if you know what I mean.

First, Caleb brings up the Church of Satan, briefly, and then mentions Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan, only to seemingly shift focus away from LaVey himself in order to focus on Ayn Rand, who he refers to as one of LaVey’s favorite authors. Now, there is a small connection to Satanism in that Anton LaVey did describe his form of Satanism as “just Ayn Rand’s philosophy with ceremony and ritual added”. But, for other people who have encountered Caleb Maupin and his work, they may have noticed that Maupin sometimes has a fixation on Ayn Rand in particular, among other intellectuals he seems to count as part of the “forces of darkness”. In his book Satan At The Fountainhead, ostensibly a book about the influence of so-called Israel Lobby in foreign policy, Caleb denounced Ayn Rand as having “no grounds to define what it means to be an American” as a Russian-born Jewish atheist who was not born in the United States, accused her of conspiring to overthrow the then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and at times he even refers to her by her birth name, Alysa Rosenbaum, instead of Ayn Rand, in what appears to be an obvious ploy to accentuate her Jewish identity as a negative so as to indicate her Jewishness itself as a form of villainy. In fact, this is not his only instance of fairly open anti-semitism, and there are in fact some people who reckon he is more anti-semitic than even the notorious white nationalist Nick Fuentes. In any case, it seems that Caleb’s discussion of Ayn Rand ultimately overshadows any discussion of Anton LaVey, and as he goes on he quotes the last part of Ayn Rand’s most famous novel, Atlas Shrugged, as what he believes to be the distillation of “doctrinnaire Satanism”. The quote seems to be from John Galt’s speech and it goes like this:

Your acceptance of the code of selflessness has made you fear the man who has a dollar less than you because it makes you feel that that dollar is rightfully his. You hate the man with a dollar more than you because the dollar he’s keeping is rightfully yours. Your code has made it impossible to know when to give and when to grab. You know that you can’t give away everything and starve yourself. You’ve forced yourselves to live with undeserved, irrational guilt. Is it ever proper to help another man? No, if he demands it as his right or as a duty that you owe him. Yes, if it’s your own free choice based on your judgment of the value of that person and his struggle. This country wasn’t built by men who sought handouts. In its brilliant youth, this country showed the rest of the world what greatness was possible to Man and what happiness is possible on Earth. Then it began apologizing for its greatness and began giving away its wealth, feeling guilty for having produced more than its neighbors. 

And then he skips ahead to what appears to be the last line of Atlas Shrugged, John Galt’s “oath”, “I swear by my Life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for the sake of mine.”. “Selfishness as a virtue”, Caleb Maupin decries with utmost self-assurance. In fact, he categorizes that John Galt speech as a “rejection of morality”. From a certain point of view, it may be possible to concur, but based on my familiarity with the philosophy of Objectivism it actually seems that the aim of Rand and her followers was in fact to create a different and new code of morality, one that just happened to center an enclosed, rational, acquisitive ego, a thereotically ideal capitalist subject, at the center of its ethical considerations. The Randians, perhaps much unlike Anton LaVey and his antecedents, would if anything go out of their way to demonstrate their commitment to the cause of objective morality, just that they think that they can base that objective morality on the precepts of capitalist acquisition (reified of course as “rational self-interest”) and obviously without any recourse to God or to any religious concept of what morality is. Of course, let’s not be too charitable to Rand here, because in many ways her philosophy is still incredibly foolish, misguided, appears to have destructive and oppressive effects on the world, and is ultimately, insofar as it can be counted as “egoism”, in truth a very narrow-minded and shallow form of egoism when compared to the philosophy of someone like Max Stirner; not to mention, let’s make no mistake, Ayn Rand herself was a cruel-minded and disgusting person who lauded colonial genocide and happily counted the murderers of children as her idols. But with that said let’s take note of Caleb Maupin’s characterization of the John Galt speech. He regards it simply as “evil”, on the apparent understanding that it teaches against empathy and against helping others. Not inaccurately, though, Caleb refers to it as “the ideology of capitalism”, though in reality Randian free market fundamentalism is only one of the many ideologies with which capitalism supports itself. We in bourgeois society merely single it out because it is more honest in its alignment with the interests of the concentration of capital and more brazen in the rejection of any obstacles to it, while the subtler and more cunning forms of capitalist ideology, which assume the form of the very opposite of Randian morality, often go unchallenged even by progressives.

There is a lot we can say about Caleb Maupin’s overall assessment of this expression of capitalist ideology, but a lot of that is what can also be said of Ayn Rand’s version of “egoism”. Caleb complains that capitalism as Ayn Rand’s “unknown ideal” positions a society where untrammeled “greed” nourishes the world, and that the problem of contemporary society is that greed is in some way suppressed or simply discouraged. For Caleb, greed is bad, for Ayn Rand, greed is good, but altogether neither of them understand anything. Taking communism seriously means understanding that, even on Marxist terms, the self-interest of the proletariat is the actual “mass progressive force”. The working class, conditioned as a labouring class, have done nothing but sacrifice their labour and its fruits so that others, more specifically capitalists, may benefit from it, to the point of their impoverishment via surplus extraction, so the revolution of the proletariat is in fact the pursuit of self-interest on class terms; the workers revolt so that they might restore what is rightfully theirs, which has hitherto been stolen from them and whose theft has always been legitimized with some “greater good”. “Greed”, in this setting, is in fact the weapon against the “greed” of the ruling class. For Caleb, whose “socialist” instincts are ultimately guided by FDR’s fanciful “war on want”, this is an unthinkable statement of immorality against morality, but for Ayn Rand, the rightful greed of the working masses cannot be recognized as greed or egoism because to her the masses are somehow incapable of the greed displayed by those few capitalist adventurers that are her ideal individualist. Both are wrong, and Caleb’s critique falls short because of it, because his “Marxism” is not “materialist” enough to realize the egoism of communism.

In any case, Caleb continues to rail against his construction of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, and declaring it to be “Political Satanism” or “Doctrinnaire Satanism”, which I suppose is accurate if you consider Anton LaVey himself to be the sole expression of Satanism (and, of course, he wasn’t). It is “ideological capitalism”, and “anti-moralism”, the latter of which is funny because some observers would describe Karl Marx as “anti-moralist”. But the funny part is that Caleb also describes this construction as “what most of the elite in the United States believe”. This is where the real meat of Caleb’s thesis starts to present itself. Now Caleb claims that Ayn Rand is merely what the elites present to the masses, business majors, “edgy teenagers”, and the right-wing talk radio scene, while their “real” philosophical foundation, shared with the “more educated” strata of society, is Friedrich Nietzsche. Basically, his conspiracy theory is that Nietzsche is “the more sophisticated Ayn Rand”, and that the elites water down Nietzsche’s philosophy through Ayn Rand for the masses to consume. The fact that Nietzsche’s books are readily available for just about anyone to read and purchase is the most obvious problem with this thesis that Caleb simply does not care to grapple with. Caleb goes on to characterize Nietzsche, or more specifically via his book Beyond Good and Evil, as arguing that Christian teaching is a form of slave morality, whuch is thus contrived in order to console the weak, in contrast to the “master morality” which “worships strength”, supposedly embodied by the ancient Romans and Greeks who supposedly lived only for their own pleasure. Caleb claims that Nietzsche argued for a return to “might makes right” and “greed is good”.

Before we go any further, let’s stop and assess what Beyond Good and Evil says, to see if Caleb Maupin got anything right about it. From the start of the book, Nietzsche makes clear his opposition to all forms of philosophical dogmatism, describing all philosophical dogmatizing as “the infantile high-mindedness of a beginner”. When addressing egoism versus altruism, Nietzsche seems to consider that a hard opposition between the two is the creation of metaphysicians and argues that altruism actually bears an insidious relationship to egoism, and suggests that a new class of dangerous philosophers will arrive and be able to deal with this possibility. That doesn’t sound much like how Ayn Rand frames egoism and altruism. He did say that a “noble soul” accepts its egoism, though. Part of Nietzsche’s criticism of Christianity, and a lot of religion in general including Buddhism, is that he thought that these religions inculcated contentment with the harsh realities of the world and its order by placing them within “an illusory higher order of things”, but he also considered religion a means by which philosophers could educate and through which some people could elevate themselves to authority. It is true, though, that Nietzsche regarded Christianity as the worst of major religions, on the grounds that he believed it turned the human species into a herd animal, inverted all love for earthly things, and “turned all evaluations upside down”. As much as Caleb would disagree with that assessment, Caleb would make the same “turning all evaluations upside down” argument against what he deems “the Synthetic Left”. Regarding master morality and slave morality, in Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche actually seems to count charity or compassion as part of “master morality” on the grounds that he thought that the noble person would help the unfortunate out of an urgency created by an excess in their power. A tad naive on his part, I’d say, but it does punch a hole in Caleb’s idea that Nietzschean master morality was simply “might makes right” or “greed is good”; in fact it’s not obvious that this is relevant to the content of Beyond Good and Evil at all. Indeed, Nietzsche is not only not “anti-moralist”, he seems to concern himself with the subject of the cultivation and detoriation of moral values in a societal context; an arguably genuine “anti-moralist” would declare all talk of morality to be talk of fiction, and I am not convinced that Beyond Good and Evil really proposes this. For whatever else can be said of Beyond Good and Evil, I am fairly confident that Caleb Maupin is probably distorting its content.

It is on the subject of master morality that we discover another contradiction in Caleb Maupin’s thinking. Because, in spite of his defense of Christianity from the charge of slave morality and his condemnation of the constructed ideology of master morality, Caleb himself is a supporter of a kind of fascistic “master morality”, and nowhere is this more evident in his discussion of supposed “Odinist values”. Caleb has repeatedly stressed the virtues of what he refers to as “Odinist values”, by which he means the influence of a supposed “Germanic pagan ethos”. Of course, the irony of all this is that Caleb is, per his own description, a Christian. “Odinist values” in his parlance seems to just mean some abstract belief in the hard work of the individual, in self-sacrifice, grit, determination, “motor-mindedness” and entrepreneurialism, which, it is supposed, can come with an opposition to oversensitivity and weakness. Forgetting for a moment that almost none of this has anything to do with the actual pre-Christian Germanic religion or the actual character of Odin (Caleb in fact bases his entire idea of who Odin is on the work of Thomas Carlyle rather than any actual historical material on Norse/Germanic polytheism), if we understand master morality by Caleb Maupin’s definition, by which he means a glorification of strength at the expense of empathy, his own construction of “Odinist values” seems like it could be taken as an example of “master morality” by his terms, and yet he embraces it. On the other hand, it may be relevant to consider another interpretation of master and slave morality. What if appeals to “hard work” are a form of slave morality, imploring a person to consider that they will ultimately be rewarded if they obey their capitalist masters for long enough while heeping scorn and suspicion on anyone who suggests that perhaps this might just be a senseless grift? Still, the fact that Caleb Maupin has elsewhere stressed the idea that socialism should be associated with strength by appealing to the glories of the various authoritarian leaderships of figures like Joseph Stalin suggests that he leans on the side of “master morality”, which makes it all the stranger that he should condemn Nietzsche’s work.

Caleb ties the philosophies of Ayn Rand and Friedrich Nietzsche together simply by how, in his view, they both casted “the People” as their enemy. On the basis of this, and after rambling about Nietzsche’s hatred of the Paris Commune, Caleb then goes on a bizarre pivot to discuss Leo Strauss, an influential neoconservative intellectual, and how he apparently is an exponent of “Political Satanism”. Caleb talks about how Leo Strauss argued that all the “great philosophers” had been persecuted throughout history and for this reason “wrote in code” so as to hide “what they really said” from “the rabble” who would “punish” them if they wrote without such “code”. He then goes on to say that this belief is animated by a broader belief that the intellectuals have always lived in fear of “the rabble”, supposedly just like Ayn Rand’s character John Galt or Nietzsche’s opposition to the Paris Commune, which is thus, according to Caleb, part of the belief system of “Doctrinnaire Satanism” which he claims believes that there are “chosen ones” who sit at the center of the elite and must be protected at all costs from “the rabble”. While it seems that Leo Strauss did espouse a belief that what he called “esoteric writing” was a widespread practice in philosophy, it would be a distortion on Caleb’s part to assume that the utility of “esoteric writing” concerns merely the protection of the elite from the masses. In fact, the practice can become very relevant in the context of totalitarianism, in which case the philosopher is not simply “protecting himself from the rabble” but instead concealing their real values from a totalitarian government that would have abducted and murdered them for going against the government’s ideological narrative. It seems telling that Caleb has not considered this possibility, and instead prefers to think only of “the elites” versus “the people”.

Then Caleb claims that Strauss argued that propaganda was needed in order to control the citizenry, supposedly modelled after his favorite show Gunsmoke, supposedly for the purpose of getting the masses to think of politics as just “good versus evil” so that they don’t rise up against the elites. Where even to begin with this? For starters, Strauss liked Gunsmoke because to him it was a great representation of the Hobbesian concept of the “state of nature”, not because it was some convenient narrative of “good versus evil”. Second, the whole delineation of politics along the lines of “good versus evil” via propaganda is exactly Caleb Maupin’s own enterprise. Remember, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine started, he literally described the Russian army and the pro-Russian separatists as the forces of good and the government of Ukraine and its allies as the forces of darkness allied with Satan. Remember that he describes a whole group of economists as “forces of darkness” set against an “inherently moral and religious” American people. For Caleb to attribute such thinking to Leo Strauss is entirely an act of projection, and, even if it wasn’t, the whole concept has nothing to do with Satanism. Satanists, if anything, tend to strive to break the power that the notion of good versus evil has over human consciousness, and to us the arts of negativity and subversion are ways of acheiving just such an end, so even if Caleb was correct about Leo Strauss, this would make Leo Strauss an opponent of Satanic liberation instead of its ally. Besides, as a man who forthrightly hated atheism and seriously considered the value of religion even as he was not an orthodox believer, Strauss would have opposed the sort of Randian or Nietzschean rejection of religion that Caleb assigns to “Doctrinnaire Satanism”.

Despite these facts, however, Caleb weaves together a constructed ideology of “protecting the freedom of the elites from the persecution of the rabble” as the ideological core of both neoconservatism and the so-called “Synthetic Left”. “Synthetic Left”, of course, is a term that Caleb Maupin created as a catch-all term for any expression of left-wing politics that opposes his own brand of socialism, with specific attention to online left-wing commentators such as ContraPoints and Vaush (who he namedrops at the very end of his video), with whom he has a frankly unhealthy obsession. Caleb claims that the Congress for Cultural Freedom was created to funnel money to “anti-communist” left-wing intellectuals who criticized American society while also criticizing the Soviet Union (the horror!). He names Susan Sontag, Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, and Herbert Marcuse as examples of “anti-communist” left-wing intellectuals. That Herbert Marcuse was himself a Marxist probably doesn’t bother Caleb much when making his arguments. In fact none of the individuals he names seem to have ever actually been affiliated with Congress for Cultural Freedom; the particular claim that Marcuse was affiliated with them seems to have originated in the LaRouche movement. What Caleb especially opposes about these intellectuals is how, according to him, they “reinterpreted” the concept of fascism away from Marxist orthodoxy (which he dubs the “scientific view” of fascism). Caleb asserts the “orthodox Marxist” view that fascism is essentially a crisis of capitalism and its resolution by the bourgeoisie (or one faction thereof) through authoritarian measures and the mass mobilization of the population to drive down living standards in the hope of stablizing capitalism. To summarize, this is the doctrine that “fascism is capitalism in decay”, as Lenin put it. Forgetting for a moment the simplicity and problems with this definition that could be discussed, the opposing perspective that Caleb constructs from “left-wing anti-communists” is that fascism is “when the rabble get together and start persecuting the intellectuals”. Caleb cites Fascinating Fascism by Susan Sontag and Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt as accounts of this definition of fascism, but this doesn’t seem evident in these works, or at best it’s a grotesque over-simplification. Sontag presents fascism as a totalitarian exaltation of the community carried out at the expense of rationality and individuality, while Arendt also largely (though not always) defines fascism in terms of totalitarianism. Ironically enough, the way Hannah Arendt refers to fascism as “the alliance of the Mob and Capital” in The Origins of Totalitarianism is actually rather well-aligned with the way Caleb Maupin seems to define fascism, and it seems obvious that the only reason he would not assume so is because Arrendt dare call it “the Mob”.

Of note is the way Caleb talks about Susan Sontag refers to communism as “fascism with a human face”. I see everything wrong with taking such statements at face value, but for this reason it’s worth noting that Caleb doesn’t seem to care to present her reasons for saying that. He doesn’t care about the fact that, by the time she was making those remarks, Poland had been repressing opponents of the pro-Soviet regime there, in a manner that she compared to right-wing repressions elsewhere. Her point is that the type of governance traditionally attributed to fascism is also very much possible within the “communist” or Marxist-Leninist framework, and this leads her to believe that democratic governance is not possible in that framework because of its denial. Caleb seems to dismiss this point, and derides Susan Sontag for referring to communism as “the most successful form of fascism”, but in so doing this Caleb ends up defending reactionary dictators such as Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi as “communists”. Now, I don’t agree at all with Susan Sontag’s description of communism, for the simple reason that I don’t recognize the countries Sontag is clearly referencing as “communist”, but Caleb Maupin defending Hussein and Gaddafi as “communists” despite the fact that both leaders were openly anti-communist is a pretty easy way to prove her right, in my opinion.

The actual connection to Satanism is still incredibly thin if present at all, but we ostensibly see another contradiction in Caleb’s thought through his description of “Doctrinnaire Satanism”. He tells us that, at its core, “Doctrinnaire Satanism” believes that humans are evil. The problem there is that it’s Christianity that believes human nature is basically evil. Part of the core of Christian philosophy, and the very reason for Jesus Christ’s incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection, is that humanity has been corrupted by sin ever since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Now, I acknowledge that there are certain interpretations of Christianity that differ from this basic throughline, but it is baseline Christianity nonetheless, and for Caleb Maupin to imply that he opposes this is necessarily to imply that he is going against the basic core of Christianity, while still claiming to be a Christian. And yet, it is clear that Caleb means something else. By “human beings are evil”, he means the idea that “human beings are the problem”, and then, by implication, the idea that humans beings are animals. Satanists don’t tend to agree that humanity is necessarily “evil” or “the problem”, but if there’s one thing Caleb actually gets right about at least many Satanists, even if not all of them, it’s that we regard homo sapiens as another species of animal. Satanism, both LaVeyan and non-LaVeyan, tends to recognizes humanity as animals, and Caleb, naturally, as a Christian, has a problem with this conception. You see, in the opinion of Caleb Maupin, human beings are not animals. His argument for why human beings are not animals, while almost certainly a diversion from our main subject matter, does allow us the opportunity to address a sort of baseline Marxist conception of species-being relevant and discuss broader questions of what makes a human human in this setting.

Caleb refers to Friedrich Engels’ essay The Part Played by Labour in The Transition from Ape to Man (which he seems to have referred to “The Role of Labour in The Transition from Ape to Man”) so as to point to the argument that human beings are separate from animals not because of civilization (“an ant farm is a civilization”), not because they use tools (“you can see different animals using tools”), and not because of language (“some people argue that animals have a kind of spoken language”), but rather because humans supposedly have the unique ability to manipulate the environment around them. Caleb says that animals can only interact with their environment, whereas humans make the environment serve them, they master the environment around them. That does indeed seem to be Engels’ basic thesis, which is summarized by Engels as the following:

In short, the animal merely uses its environment, and brings about changes in it simply by its presence; man by his changes makes it serve his ends, masters it. This is the final, essential distinction between man and other animals, and once again it is labour that brings about this distinction.

There is an obvious problem with this idea. Humans are fundamentally distinguished from animals by their ability to manipulate their environment. The problem with this is that there’s many other species of animal that have done the same. Termites take the soil around them and mix it with saliva and shit in order to construct termite mounds, in this manipulating their environment in their own service. Ants similarly construct and carve through the soil around them in order to create the colonies in which they live. Beavers take branches and logs from trees in order to create dams, and in so doing manipulating and restructuring the enivronment around them in order to serve them in some way. In directly manipulating their respective environments, by this definition, we could say that ants, termites, and beavers are also human beings. But Caleb would say the difference is that humans also “constantly reinvent the way they interact with the environment”, meaning that while animals build their mounds and dams the same way for thousands and thousands of years, humans by contrast have gone from hunter gatherers to space travel and iPhones in just a few thousand years. On this basis, “there is something unique about mankind”. But is this not simply saying that what is unique about humanity is only its products? The difference then is merely iteration and what is produced, but the core trait is in no way unique to the human species, and is found in other animal species. In this sense, we would find reason to question the truth of this concept of species-being, or labour as human nature; and that’s really what this is, it’s essentially just the standard Marxist argument for what is otherwise just another appeal to “human nature”, the naturalizing basis of an only questionably natural civilization. Well, it’s almost standard Marxism, until Caleb adds the idea of humans being “endowed by their Creator” (there’s that familiar rhetoric from the Declaration of Independence, odd for a Marxist-Leninist wouldn’t you say?) with special abilities that make them separate from other species, thus we seem to have gone from the standard Marxist argument of labour as species-being to some kind of Christian argument about how God is the source labour’s power to transform the environment. The idea of labour as human nature, in itself, is also very questionable, at least when we get into our concept of what labour is. Labour is a social activity and this activity is essentially work, and work is not something that humans actually inherently want to do; it’s something that we are made to do or which we might be persuaded to agree to do. The idea that we could refer to such a relationship as “human nature” is laughable, because, if we take “human nature” seriously, we would define it as something that is constant prior to, beyond, and beneath the structures that we socialize ourselves into and which cannot be altered by our conscious efforts, and work simply cannot be described as such a thing.

In any case, Caleb believes that labour as Man’s ability to dominate and constantly reinvent the environment around them is the fundamental distinction of mankind from the animal kingdom, and, according to Caleb, the “Doctrinnaire Satanists” disagree with this premise. If they do, they’re quite right to, because it seems obvious that humanity does not actually control nature as much as they think. We certainly have no control over the Sun, the weather, the tectonic plates, the tides, or indeed the consequences of anthropogenic climate change. Even Engels, in the same essay Caleb cited, admitted that humans do not actually “conquer” nature the way that Caleb puts it or in the way that the standard Marxist doctrine might imply. Engels said thus:

Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first. The people who, in Mesopotamia, Greece, Asia Minor and elsewhere, destroyed the forests to obtain cultivable land, never dreamed that by removing along with the forests the collecting centres and reservoirs of moisture they were laying the basis for the present forlorn state of those countries. When the Italians of the Alps used up the pine forests on the southern slopes, so carefully cherished on the northern slopes, they had no inkling that by doing so they were cutting at the roots of the dairy industry in their region; they had still less inkling that they were thereby depriving their mountain springs of water for the greater part of the year, and making it possible for them to pour still more furious torrents on the plains during the rainy seasons. Those who spread the potato in Europe were not aware that with these farinaceous tubers they were at the same time spreading scrofula. Thus at every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing outside nature – but that we, with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst, and that all our mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage over all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly.

Nonetheless, Caleb specifically points to Anton LaVey’s belief that Man is just another animal, in LaVey’s words, “sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours” (Caleb paraphrases this but it is esssentially the same quote). This is indeed quoting Anton LaVey, and it’s also practically the only time in this entire video that Caleb ever actually does quote LaVey or discuss what he or the Church of Satan actually said. For most of the rest of his section on “Political/Ideological/Doctrinnaire Satanism”, there is no discussion of any extant Satanism, not even LaVeyan Satanism, and instead all discussion of so-called “Doctrinnaire Satanism” is actually practically a discussion of liberalism (in fact later on he literally does just call it “Doctrinnaire Liberalism”) or just the various ideologies and philosophies that Caleb Maupin simply doesn’t like, which is then presented as one monolithic ideology of “the elites must construct a society that protects the intellectuals from the rabble”, which of course is not an actual, serious ideology but instead a nonsensical populist construct. In this absurd ideological amalgamation, Caleb derives a worldview that promotes elitism and misanthropy, opposes compassion and empathy, views collective solidarity as totalitarianism, and dictates that a small elite must rule the world while the masses must be prevented from challenging the power of the elites. Telling, of course, is the part where Caleb talks about how “the elites view people coming together as totalitarianism”, because the simple truth is he probably defends the totalitarianism that people like Hannah Arendt point to. In fact, it is probably not for nothing that Caleb is much friendlier with actual self-described fascists than with leftists who are consciously anti-fascist and anti-authoritarian. Caleb opposes anti-totalitarianism on principle, as is certainly evidenced by his defense of totalitarian regimes, and does not appear to deny a link between totalitarianism and his desired form of politics even as he dismisses allegations of totalitarianism, which leads us to think that he is probably a supporter of totalitarianism, on principle.

There is an irony in Caleb’s spiel about the value of law, to the point of him even literally quoting the US State Department when it says “when law stops, tyranny begins”. The irony being that Anton LaVey, as a man who established himself as a law and order ideologue, would likely have felt the same way. But the other irony is that in this sphere Caleb reiterates what is fundamentally a conservative worldview: law is the source of freedom, only laws and morals protect the “weak”. This would require us to forget the many ways in which the law was arrayed against the “weak”, the marginalized, the disenfranchised, the powerless etc, and the many hypocrisies of our so-called morality. The law protects old ladies from people strong enough to beat them up and take their purses, never mind why they should do so, but what is the law? None other than an organization of force capable of overpowering said criminals. Law does not supercede power; in truth, law is built on the power of the state’s exclusive monopoly on violence. How else does law get its power, if not the ability to enforce it through violence or the threat thereof? Even more egregious here is his apparent belief that it’s because of the law that your boss has to pay you a minimum wage. The times that the working class had to organize and fight, and risk being bashed by the long club of the law, in order to get such concessions from the ruling class in the first place are mentioned only so as to make the point that without the law their boss could do whatever they wanted. But it’s not without the law that the boss could pay his worker’s nothing but rather because of it, and it is because of law and its basis in the exclusive monopoly of violence that the whole system of wage, currency, and class that produces the conditions of exploitation even exists! Such an analysis, however, is simply too materialist for him. Instead Caleb prefers to speak of socialism or communism as a means to be “even more civilized than capitalism”. What a truly horrifying notion! Why would you wish for such a thing, knowing what the “civilizing” power of capitalism is, and what maintains it! No, I am being too presumptuous here; he very obviously doesn’t know in the sightest the true nature of this power. If he did, perhaps he would join me in calling for its total destruction, instead of masturbating to the thought of reaching a “higher order of civilization”, which, in truth, would be nothing more than a new order of oppressive waking nightmares.

There is something that needs to be said about Caleb’s construction of the “Satanic worldview”, especially of the fact that he frames it as the worldview of Ayn Rand, Friedrich Nietzsche, Leo Strauss, Susan Sontag, Irving Kristol, the “Synthetic Left”, and the right-wing all at once. Somehow people who critique and oppose capitalism are actually pro-capitalist and on the same side as right-wingers who hate them and probably want them to die. Every political force that Caleb hates somehow supports the same ideology. He reckons it’s because of this ideology that neoconservatives want America to invade “anti-imperialist” countries in order to install societies organized along the lines of this ideology, while he says the “Synthetic Left” regard any sort of collective unity or marching in unison or populism as fascism, dismiss communists as red-brownists, dismiss “class struggle” as “class reductionism”, supposedly in rejection of Marxist materialism, while regarding the United States and social media as the good guys and Russia, China, and Venezuela as the great world-historic villains. Utter nonsense. But according to Caleb, they all share the same “Satanic ideology”, and not only that but so do Wall Street, London, Paris, “the German bankers”, the London Stock Exchange, Harvard University, Yale University, all somehow believe. We’re left with the impression that the whole complex of bourgeois economic power, the whole spectrum of politics within capitalism, promotes Satanism and is controlled by the “elites” who want to suppress the masses and protect a special group of people through that suppression. This looks quite a bit like standard conspiracy theories about “Satanic elites” ruling the world, and it definietly amounts and builds to this. So it’s probably no surprise, then, that, as usual, this conspiracy theory places Jewish people at the center of its woes.

Think about all of the people Caleb has mentioned so far as exponents of “Doctrinnaire Satanism”. Most of them happen to be Jews. There’s Ayn Rand, for starters, and I’ve already explained Caleb’s anti-semitic fixation on Ayn Rand. There’s also Leo Strauss, who Caleb accused of wanting to brainwash the masses with propaganda about good versus evil to protect the elites, and he happened to be of Jewish heritage. Same with Irving Kristol, who Caleb mentioned briefly as one of the teachers of “Satanic” neoconservatism. Susan Sontag, whom Caleb derided for her left-wing opposition to totalitarianism, also happened to be of Jewish heritage. In fact, with the exception of Mary McCarthy, all of the left-wing “anti-communist” intellectuals Caleb mentions happened to be Jews. It makes you wonder, why did Caleb Maupin select these people specifically. He only talks about Susan Sontag and Hannah Arendt in some detail, while Mary McCarthy and Herbert Marcuse are just mentioned as people supposedly affiliated with the Congress of Cultural Freedom. Indeed, Irving Kristol is only mentioned once in the entire video. So just how is he relevant to all this? As for “the Synthetic Left”, in a book titled BreadTube Serves Imperialism, whose admirers include the Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, Caleb argues that “BreadTube” (basically just an assemblage of left-wing YouTubers) as we know it was created by a man named Steven Hassan, a famous cult deprogramming expert who happened to be Jewish. There’s a clear pattern emerging in the way Caleb constructs his enemies. In fact, in his article about “Odinist values”, Caleb refers both explicitly and implicitly to the Jewish backgrounds of neoliberal economists such as Milton Friedman, Ludwig von Mises, and Friedrich Hayek. Consider also how, in the past, Caleb openly talked about the idea of there being a “Satanic cabal of bankers” in the world. When examined in this context, it seems very self-evident that Caleb is arguing for an anti-semitic conspiracy theory in which Jewish “elites” are supposedly trying to spread “Satanism” and brainwash the masses in order to somehow prevent “socialism” or “communism” from being established. This, of course, comes as no surprise to a lot of people who’ve been examining conspiracy theories about Satanism for a while now, though I imagine Caleb Maupin would be furious about the suggestion. He certainly gets very angry if you suggest that his ideas have any commonality with fascism, as those who make the suggestion end up being accused of somehow trying to incite violence against him.

On “The Fourth Form of Satanism”

Finally we come to the “final type of Satanism”, the “fourth definiton of Satanism” if you will, for which it seems Caleb Maupin has no name. He says that it is not blatant, but it is “within all of us”. This is because it is “the part of yourself that is working against you”. Already this seems like yet another very loose interpretation of the fact that “Satan” means “adversary” in Hebrew, but which again misses the point. Very simply, Caleb describes it as “a voice in your head that gets in your way and says “There is no hope””. Or it interrupts your morning and tells you things like “what’s the point?”, “there’s no hope”, or “everyone’s against you”, or how it says “everyone’s gonna laugh at you”, “that’s stupid”, or “you’ll never succeed” when you want to accomplish something. This seems less like Satanism and more like a whole range of emotions mostly characterized by what we would call self-doubt, or arguably even depression. It certainly feels like he’s talking about depression when he brings in phrases like “you have no future”, “you have no value”, or “no one cares about you”. These can sound like things a person tells themselves when undergoing a profound state of despair or depression, possibly even a state of suicidal ideation. I have to be honest, I think there’s a grotesque side to it. Here it just seems like he’s trying to construct Satanism as some abstract synonym for anything bad, and in the process it seems like it’s just exploiting psychological suffering by treating it as some sort of religious type. Literally, the more he describes this “fourth form of Satanism” the less it seems like he’s talking about Satanism and more like depression, suicidal ideation, or perhaps a more generalized mode of psychological suffering or dysfunction that Caleb obviously doesn’t know much of how to talk about. At one point he refers to it potentially driving people to drug abuse in order to “silence that voice with drugs”. Then he compares it to the voice of an abusive parent, or abusive partner, or the result of a traumatic experience or hostile external conditions. Simply put, this “form of Satanism” is really just Caleb’s way of referring to the part of your soul or psyche that is actively trying to kill you, seemingly just for the sake of doing so. He thinks that that part of you is pessimism, which he seems to equate with depression.

This really is something that, on its own, should be addressed, because I’m just going to be straightforward about this: being a pessimist is not the same thing as being depressed. Pessimism is simply a way of saying that the negative tends to predominate things. It is usually interpreted as an emotional state where you don’t believe anything positive will happen to you, but there’s also philosophical pessimism which is generally a way of referring to a collection of philosophies that hold that suffering adversity, or meaninglessness pervade the cosmos in some way. In the Surrealist movement there is also a concept referred to as the “organization of pessimism”, by which Pierre Naville and Walter Benjamin meant a fundamental mistrust in the reconciliation of classes and in the hope of the positive reformation of the social order. I argue that such a perspective is actually the wellspring of the liberation of human consciousness, unfettered by the hopes generated by futurity. Depression isn’t any of this. Depression isn’t just when you feel sad about life or pessimistic about the world. Depression is an illness, not just a mental illness but a physical one. Depression is caused by adverse changes in the human brain, such as an undesired change in the functioning of neurotransmitters, and it actually has physical symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, decreased appetitie or a lack of or even excess of sleep, it can also increase your further susceptibility to illnesses or adverse physical conditions. Even on an emotional level, being depressed isn’t just when you’re sad, it’s more like when your body and your mind seem to be pressing down against you, like a weight beneath which you’re trapped. It’s not a simple matter of a “negative mindset” that can be changed with enough application, it’s something that often actually requires treatment. Caleb should really not be treating these concepts as though they are interchangeable, because this is a gross (but sadly all too common) misuse of clinical terminology, and its application here serves only to exploit real suffering in order to service some fake ideological construction.

Ultimately it seems that Caleb’s “fourth form of Satanism” probably shouldn’t even be termed “Psychological Satanism” or “Internal Satanism”, because as far as he is concerned, the “fourth form” is simply depression. Depression, here, is framed as “a destructive impulse within ourselves”. I would say that any scientific or professional assessment of depression simply wouldn’t agree with Caleb here, and they certainly wouldn’t have any time for anyone seeking to classify depression as a form of “Satanism”. The obvious problem with Caleb’s argument is that, by classifying depression as a “form of Satanism”, it thereby classes depression as some sort of religion or philosophy, which it simply isn’t. And it’s not something that can be batted away by platitudes such as “the best cure for it is other people”, especially when you establish that “other people” are just as well the cause as the supposed cure. Caleb blames the rise of “this fourth form of Satanism” on the purported rise of isolation. “Satanism”, thus, is blamed on loneliness. But it’s honestly such a convenient talking point when you think about it. We are told of our rapid isolation in the face of a reality defined by a rapid increase in our global interconnectivity. Even if you’re alone in “the real world”, it’s very possible to find arguably more acquaintances than you’ll ever have outside the internet, even if you never meet them. Some people even eventually find love halfway around the world. It’s pretty hard to take that as anything other than a sign of how increasingly connected we all are, and that connectivity has many blessings and many horrible curses attendant to it, like with many things in the world. I frankly don’t see what it is about merely socializing with others that has this inherent power to destroy pessimism or depression. If anything, it’s just as well possible that people can become pessimistic in their time with other people, for varying reasons, ultimately probably not reducible to people in themselves. Some people can live in solitude and even find it far healthier for them, even if most people don’t. The simple truth is that everyone is different, and it’s for this reason that there is no model of human nature, whether it’s “human beings are naturally acquisitive” or “human beings are inherently social” that can really do people any justice.

Conclusion

At the very end of the video we are told that Caleb’s discussion is merely the “opening remarks” of a broader presentation of Satanism. If that’s true, I honestly can’t say I look forward to any future content from Caleb on the subject of Satanism. Caleb proclaims that this is probably the first time you’ve ever heard a Marxist analysis of Satanism. I sincerely doubt that this is in fact the first time a Marxist has ever discussed Satanism in any capacity, but if it really is the first dedicated Marxist discussion of Satanism, then I’m sorry to say that the worst discussion of Satanism that I have ever seen was producd by a Marxist. Or, well, a very strange Christian populist fascist version of a Marxist I should say. Either way, I’m sure you get my point: if this really is the “first Marxist analysis of Satanism”, and I sincerely doubt that it is, it’s also the worst analysis of Satanism I’ve ever seen. Every single category of Satanism that Caleb constructs is entirely based in his own ideological construction, with almost no reference to any extant tradition of Satanism. Even his discussion of “Political/Ideological/Doctrinnaire Satanism” is largely based on his own construction and conspiracy theory, and the actual teachings of Anton LaVey are barely explored, and only serve as a basis from which he extrapolates a much larger and overshadowing anti-populist ideology he created himself to attribute to “the elites”. It’s all complete bullshit that has nothing to do with anything, and despite this Caleb seems entirely convinced that this is an accurate description of Satanism, or politics more broadly!

All I can say to make sense of the way Caleb frames Satanism is that it is ultimately consistent with the way the Russian establishment often likes to. In the Russian Orthodox Church, the concept of terrorism itself is described as “Satanism”. In fact, in a 2014 article written by a man named Yuriy Porodnenko for the website of the Ukrainian branch of the Russian state news outlet RIA Novosti, which can apparently be found on the Pravoslavie website, we can find the exact same analysis of Satanism that Caleb Maupin makes. According to Porodnenko, Satanism is the prevailing ideology of the Western bourgeoisie, was for all intents and purposes invented by Ayn Rand, and supposedly has been espoused by Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton, Angelina Jolie, and Alan Greenspan. “Satanism” here is essentially used as a synonym for right-wing free market capitalist orthodoxy, not unlike the way Caleb Maupin defines “Doctrinnaire Satanism” as “the ideology of the elites”. Porodnenko also repeatedly refers to Ayn Rand by either her birth name or “Rand-Rosenbaum” similar to how Caleb Maupin did it in Satan at the Fountainhead. In this sense, there is a significant overlap between Caleb Maupin’s presentation of Satanism and the way Satanism has been presented in Russian state media, and since Caleb Maupin works for Russian state media (Russia Today) I think it’s not unreasonable to suggest that he may have developed his views on Satanism with the influence of Russian state media talking points.

This concludes my late response to Caleb Maupin’s video. I do not look forward to the possibility of having to write about Caleb Maupin’s views on Satanism again.

Brian Holdsworth’s bullshit about Satanism

For some reason I’m in the mood lately for deconstructing bad arguments about Satanism, despite my being a Luciferian seeking a strict line of demarcation between Luciferianism and Satanism, and so in this spirit, as long as it is still relatively current, let me take the time to address a laughably bad video about Satanism made by a somewhat popular Catholic YouTube personality named Brian Holdsworth. Now Brian is quite the character in the Christian apologetics movement. By which I mean he has a habit of gladly defending nearly all of the worst aspects of Christian power: he has defened the Inquistion as a subject worthy of apathy rather than contempt, has argued that the Catholic Church has never opposed science, and more recently has openly defended the Crusades. So one can already expect him to be quite woefully ignorant on the subject of Satanism right of the gate. The video we are responding to is called Satanism: Inside the Incoherence, in which Brian argues that Satanism is an incoherent religious movement that exists solely to plagiarize Catholicism.

The video opens not so much with a discourse of satanic doctrine but rather a set of personal reflection on his relationship with metal music. By watching just one of his videos you may learn that he has some guitars on the wall, perhaps indicative of his musical inclination or aspirations, past or present, and he certainly looks the part in a somewhat stereotpyical sense (from whichever perspective, he either looks like a hippie or looks like a homeless person). Anyway, this reflection on metal music is intended to be an opening bridge to the broader subject of Satanism, and it certainly does contain some laughable pronouncements. He talks about having lived on a musical diet consisting of “heavy and dark music”, taking every chance he could not only to listen to it but also to play it on his guitar (and let’s give him credit here, that sounds like a fun part of his life). He reduces its appeal to the fact that, as he says it, it is unambiguous, noisy, and can get a lot of attention due to its “obnoxiousness”, not at all like the choirs that slowly become audible as the video goes forward to its introduction. I never really got this. We metalheads can and do have obnoxious tendencies, sure, but I always associated a fixation on this other type of music with a kind of pompous persona whose pronouncements about the falts of others serve as a projection of their own ceasless egoic pride and boundless self-importance. It even bleeds into when some of them denounce secular, colour-blind (by which we really mean not a racist of any variety) individuals as being “self-hating”, even if their worldview precludes any kind of self-discourse or any notion of individualism. He tends to broad-brush metalheads as being insecure and metal as appealing to insecurity, which is funny because Brian is the exact kind of Christian conservtive who would be inclined to feel deeply insecure about the apparent collapse of Catholic orthodoxy and dominance in modern life (perhaps the Catholics should have thought about that one).

Somewhat bafflingly for a video ostensibly dedicated to addressing the subject of Satanism, right after the title cue the first band Brian mentions is Opeth, who in no way promote Satanism and nowadays might not even be counted strictly as a metal band. Opeth established themselves in Sweden beginning in 1989 and for much of their career they did play some sort of progressive variety of death metal, but in more recent years have shifted from extreme metal, to progressive metal, to progressive rock, and now find their newer material played on general rock (or “classic rock”) stations such as Planet Rock. He brings them up because he listened to them more recently, and showed their music to his kids, and both he and his kids laughed at the “demonic” vocals, treating as an expression of insecurity. The only reason we have to infer insecurity is because of some spiel about “the appearance of toughness”, which only seems like an insecurity because it’s aggressive and involves something other than glorifying conventional beauty. Because of this, Brian reasons, bands like Opeth must be compensating for something. That exact something is intentionally left a mystery, but where we finally get to the subject of Satanism is that Brian believes that the appeal of Satanism, or any preoccuption with the demonic, is guided by the same pathology. Of course, how easily do we forget that it is Christians who, historically, have had the biggest preoccuption with the demonic, writing whole treatises on the subject and hunting down anyone they deemed to be in league with Satan.

Brian argues that people get into Satanism for the thrill of being seen as dangerous to society, and that they get a thrill out of mocking God or the sacred because doing something dangerous, and surviving, is indeed thrilling. Of course, that same thrill-seeking principle can apply to many other dangerous activities, like mountain climbing, so this on its own explains rather little. Then we get to his first attempt to explain the absurdity of satanic fascination, one which, ironically, is itself an absurdity. Brian argues that the mocking or challenging God can only look or feel dangerous because of the tacit acknowledgement that God exists. So it goes, supposedly, the only reason to put so much effort into mocking God is because he is actually real. But is there any reason why this is necessarily the case? Why does it have to be that mocking God is thrilling or feels dangerous because God is actually real, and why is it necessarily not the case that it could simply be explained by existing social context? Think about it: insofar as rebellion is usually salient specifically as relative to an object that it is rebelling against, the idea of mocking God being a rebellious thing ultimately makes sense in the context of a society wherein the God-concept is embedded into the superstructure of society, whether as overt religious doctrine held over the masses or simply as a residual cultural belief that had previously been conditioned for generations. Not to mention, there are other cultures where the use of the demonic is employed as a way to mock co-existing belief systems. Tantric Buddhism regularly features artwork depicting Hindu deities such as Ganesha or Shiva being trampled by wrathful, demonic-looking beings representing Buddhist enlightenment, and their literature sometimes depicts the Hindu gods as either inferior to the Buddha, ultimately dependent on his refuge, or as hostile forces that actively disrupt the cosmic order. If Brian followed his reasoning to the letter, he would have to concede that the Hindu gods are actually real, which would of course violate his Christian monotheism, and if he refuses to concede this, he must either admit that social context, not the actual existence of a God, is the correct inferrence or show himself to be a hypocrite.

Brian claims that no one spends any time or effort mocking the gods of pre-Christian polytheism, such as Thor or Odin. As he puts it, “why would you, if you were convinced they don’t exist?”. And to this I would point to the Bible itself. The New Testament spends some time mocking the gods of the non-Christians as demons whose worship was the folly of heathens, who in turn are mocked as well. The Christians certainly were never convinced of the reality of the other gods, nor were the Jews for that matter, and that never stopped them from mocking gods they were not necessarily convinced were gods. The name of the demon Beelzebub, for instance, comes from the god Baal Zebul, and his status as lord of the flies served as a way to cast his worshippers as flies buzzing around a pile of feces, thus mocking the god and his religion. Brian brings up that the Church of Satan to be atheistic, which they most certainly are, and dismisses this atheism, calling himself an atheist in relation to the various gods of polytheism and hence stating that this means he spends no amount of time thinking about them. He tries to own the Church of Satan on this point by stating that fixating on that which is not is a waste of time, and that, in contrast to himself, Satanists and atheists “obsess” over a God they believe does not exist. Again, this argument is much weaker and less profound than it appears to be, and is easily silenced when one begins to invoke social context. In the Western world, if atheism is not marginal at present, it is still the case where Christianity and its God-concept informs the cultural makeup of the society in which Western atheists live, and atheism still lives in tension with surrounding religious culture. Thus, the “obsession” with God is really just constant interaction with a counterveiling philosophical and cultural presence that has been here for centuries and still exerts psychological and cultural influence over the masses, not to mention still serves to legitinate power structures. As such, Brian proves himself to be dishonest by treating anti-theistic rebellion strictly in isolation as an expression of his own discomfort with something he considers sacred being treated as feeble and worthy of mockery. In other words, the atheist triggers him.

The second “absurdity” Brian points to is that it is, in his words, “entirely derivative”. Now there are arguments to be made about Satanism, at least in the parlance of Anton LaVey, as being fairly unoriginal, and there are accusations to be made conerning plagiarism on LaVey’s part. But this is not what Brian points to. The actual proof he gives is much weaker and less substantial. He argues that Satanism is completely contingent upon the Catholic Church, and to demonstrate this he starts out by bringing up examples of satanic musicians mockingly wearing the imagery of Catholicism in their music videos. He shows examples from Marilyn Manson, Behemoth, and Ghost (a.k.a. Ghost BC) wearing outfits intended to subvert the Catholic aesthetic as proof of Satanism simply copying it in order to appear more ancient and esoteric, thus Satanism supposedly parasitically feeds off of the Catholic aesthetic to sustain itself. Building from his he talks about the Black Mass being derivative of the Catholic Mass, except being a mockery of it. And dude, yes, that’s the point. It’s not an actual rite as such, merely a parodic re-enactment of it in order to profane Catholic liturgy. In fact, the Satanic Bible talks about this and is very open and up front about the fact that it is a mockery and a subversion, not so much an actual ancient rite that was once practiced by some ancient pagan cult or some nonsense. You can actually kind of understand this through the Situationist principle of detournement, the concept of radical movements taking edifices of existing cultures and more or less hijacking them, usually applied in the context of turning capitalist media culture against itself.

While we’re here, Brian uses the point of the Black Mass to make an utterly vapid point about tolerance vs intolerance. He finds it “interesting” that the Black Mass is tolerated because, in his view, the only thing society does not tolerate is intolerance. He seems to take that perceived fact with a sense of subtle, almost passive-aggressive grief, and he complains about liberal society’s apparent handwringing about tolerance, diversity, and respect for other people who are different, on the grounds that Satanism is the subject of a blind spot and that this is a problem because Satanism is, in his words, a hate group. Now this is a very specific charge, it’s not something that can be thrown around lightly. The term “hate group” is used to refer to organizations that actively spread bigotry and often encourage violence towards others on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender, “gender identity”, national identity, or any such characteristics, typically on the basis that they are outside of their own. Now through some sort of manipulative argument you might be able to argue part of that for Satanism on the grounds that Satanists despise Christianity, along with all other forms of organized religion (other than, presumably, their own), but if you’re going to do that you’ll have to do the same for countless atheists who express open disdain towards Christianity and organized religion in general, often mocking it ferociously and treating it as a dinosauric obstacle to social progress. And yet atheists don’t typically call for jihad against religious people, unless of course you’re like Sam Harris and the idea is to sneakily justify such violence by proxy through foreign policy. It’s also worth noting that the Church of Satan may traffic in bombastic rhetoric against Christianity, but have never encouraged the violent persecution of Christians. But as for racial hatred, it is actually possible to talk about that in relation to the historical movement of Satanism, since high-profile Satanists, as I’ve laid out before, have associated with and promoted actual white nationalists, and as I’ve come to understand others such as Michael Aquino were even outright Nazis. This would not be enough to label Satanism as a whole as a “hate group”, categorically speaking anyway, though it does raise certain questions for the Church of Satan and the Temple of Set, and even The Satanic Temple given Lucien Greaves’ shady past on the Might Is Right podcast. But Brian Holdsworth doesn’t make any mention of this at all. In fact, fascism and white supremacy aren’t brought up by him at all, and if he really wanted to talk about how Satanists are hate-mongers he really could have. But instead it’s just him whining about how much Satanists hate Christians and about how they “get away with it”.

Now, how Brian goes on to explicate this further is to be taken in a peculiar light. He complains that “we can’t talk about racial slurs in an academic context without teachers jobs getting threatened”. If he’s referring to the incident that I think he’s referring to, I suspect Brian is only complaining that you can’t say the n word in public. And don’t get me wrong I do basically believe in free speech absolutism, but please don’t dress up your desire to simply spout racial slurs under the guise of some vague “academic context”, and I say it’s vague because Brian never in the entire video gives any examples of what he’s talking about (he alludes to the subject once and then never refers to it again in the video). He says further that we can’t talk about cartoons of the prophet Mohammad in “a similar academic context”. Again, which academic context? Those cartoons are blasphemous (by Islamic defintion) depictions of Muhammad, they are created to satirize Islam in a rather crude fashion, and I am unaware of any “academic context” being spoken of. And while it is true that these are often censored today, in recent times the French government has been rather brazen about displaying them in their campaign against “political Islam” (which they’ve since renamed “islamo-leftism”). So it is actually not entirely fair to say that we can’t talk about those cartoons. In fact, even in the extent that they face censorship, in a strict sense people talk about them all the time whenever Charlie Hebdo is back in the news.

Anyways, Brian’s complaint seems to be that racial slurs and anti-Islamic blasphemies are considered taboo but Satanists can appparently steal communion wafers for the purpose of desecrating them in their rituals. Um, can they? He doesn’t say what he’s talking about, in fact he alludes to the subject very abruptly, but I suspect he is making reference to a 2014 incident in Oklahoma, in which members of the Church of Ahriman stole a communion wafer. This incident was not broadly supported by society, and if anything it seems to have met condemnation, but it was ultimately a trivial affair. The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City were planning to sue the Church of Ahriman for said theft, but the Church of Ahriman later agreed to return the wafer to the church, and the Archbishop dropped the lawsuit soon afterwards. The foolish Church of Ahriman hoped to get a rise out of the Christians with the daring stunt as part of their Black Mass, but its leader decided that the wafer wasn’t worth dealing with lawsuits from the church, and in the end the incident was resolved, and ultimately forgotten (along with the Church of Ahriman itself by my count). So to answer Brian on this point, the theft of the communion wafers was never “tolerated” under the aegis of political correctness. It was forgotten, because it was an irrelevant, and frankly pathetic, stunt that ended with the Church of Ahriman assenting to the demands of the Catholic Church. In the bigger picture, the incident is hardly worth dwelling on except as curisoity.

The next “evidence” of plagiarism on the part of Satanism that Brian points to is The Satanic Bible. Now, you could actually talk about the fact that, at least according to some observers, LaVey seems to have simply taken Ragnar Redbeards’ Might Is Right and only slightly modified it in order to form the basis of the Book of Fire section of The Satanic Bible. But as usual, Brian does not seem interested in any case for his argument that might actually be based on anything serious or credible, preferring instead trifing and often groundless flanks for his position. The reason he blasts The Satanic Bible as plagiaristic has nothing to do with its actual content but instead the name, specifically the fact that it has the word “Bible” in it. Now, I could just go on about the fact that it’s consciously intended to be a detournement or subversive reference to a familiar point of reference within existing Western cultures, or the fact that there’s several other non-religious books with the word “Bible” in their names (including multiple “cooking bibles”) and you don’t see Brian or anyone else crying plagiarism over that, which would tell us that Satanism is being unfairly, indeed almost arbitrarily, singled out here. But far more salient is just the fact that the word “Bible” itself simply means a collection of books. It derives from the Greek word “byblos”, meaning book, or the Greek expression “ta biblia”, meaning “little papyrus books”, and such terms have been in use during antiquity before Christianity emerged. In fact, the use of the term “ta biblia” to refer to the collected Old and New Testaments, which we now refer to as The Bible, didn’t emerge right at the beginning of Christian history but instead developed in the 3rd or 4th century, probably beginning with John Chrysostom. So once again, Brian’s argument is weak. He desperately tries to invoke Zeena LaVey having renounced her father as being on the basis of plagiarism, but when you hear from Zeena herself, the actual reasons why she left the Church of Satan and renounced her father are somewhat different, though no less damning for LaVey.

In continuance of his point on plagiarism, Brian appears to cite the broad philosophical syncretism of LaVey’s original doctrine as either evidence of plagiarism or as simply related to it. He describes the philosophy as borrowed and sampled from various places but in an incoherent way, likening it to a glutton going to a buffet and, owing to his lack of restraint, stuffs together all manner of incompatible dishes. Of course, he never actually goes into detail as to these different philosophical influences, let alone explain why the result is incoherent. He simply expects us to believe him at his word. Meanwhile, if we look at the history of Christianity, we can find that it is more or less a synthetic doctrine. The early formation of Christianity borrowed much from surrounding influences of Greek philosophy, such as Stoicism, Aristotielianism, Platonism, and Cynicism to a certain extent, along with Greek mystery religiions such as the Eleusinian and Orphic mysteries, with then merge with Jewish mythos and particularly reformist currents of Judaism such as Hellenistic Judaism. In fact, if you look at Brian’s beloved Catholic Church, you’ll notice elements that have almost nothing to do with the teaching of the Bible and instead have more in common with Roman polytheism, right down to the concept of the papacy being an evolution of the Roman pagan high priest, literally sharing the title of Pontifex Maximus. All told, it’s very interesting to see Brian, and perhaps other Christians as well, complain about philosophical syncretism and synthesis when it seems to have been a somewhat normal part of religious development, and thus it seems that it is only when it happens outside the remit of Christianity that it becomes a problem, which is a fundamentally arbitrary beef to have in my opinion.

The third “absurdity” Brian points to concerns the apparent ignorance of Satanists towards the Christianity that they despise. Now this can be a somewhat general phenomenon depending on what aspect of Christianity is being discussed, but the examples he points to, once again, in fact demonstrate Brian’s misunderstanding of Satanism rather than the Satanist misunderstanding of Christianity. Predictably, he points to the preponderance of the upside down cross in various music bands that, in his view, intentionally give off a satanic presence, and just as predictably he points out, correctly, that the upside down cross is in fact a symbol of the papacy and of St. Peter, who deemed himself unworthy to be crucified upright and so insited that he be crucified upside down. The problem with Brian’s point is that most serious Satanists already know this, and in fact there are memes illustrating this. But I would not dismiss the angle of hijacking or subversion either, considering it does still appear in some way, though, I would also say that all real acts of detournement must be conscious. You have to know what the upside down cross is in order to subvert its meaning.

After talking about St. Peter’s cross, Brian seems to leave the subject behind to masturbate about how it is Christians who are the real original rebels and badasses. He praises Peter and the martyrs as being immune to even the worst injustices that could be visited upon them by the powerful, and thus beyond the controlling influence of any despotic figure, holding up in particular an admittedly impressive example of rebelliousness in the form of Saint Lawrence, who refused to hand over the treasures of the church to the prefect of Rome, and instead distributed them to his community and was martyred for it upon a gridiron laden with hot coals, and in the process of said martyrdom he defiantly told his torturers “I’m well done on this side. Turn me over!”. He uses this to convey the point that, if rebelliousness and standing up against tyranny is what you’re attracted to, then Satanism plagiarizes this theme from “the real thing”, being Christianity. The problem, however, as I’m sure is obvious to many of my readers, is that Christianity stopped being some underground nexus of genuine rebellion centuries ago. He points out that the church, in its early existence, refused to sell itself out to the Roman Empire, and it is true that the early Christian movement was a real force of resisting authoritarian domination in its day. But the only way to paint the church as the real rebels in a contemporary sense is to ignore history of Christianity after Constantine. Sure, when Christianity initially took power, there was still in the early years a struggle between the priesthood and the constant threat of emperors who would oppose them theologically and demand their exile, but as time went on the priesthood ultimately found itself attached to elite hierarchy, doing whatever they could to curry favour with the internal structure of the empire, and eventually, over the centuries, the church in no way resembles the original Christian community and has since morphed purely into the religious establishment of Europe, and the West as a whole, and now makes up the superstructure of residual Western culture. Not to mention, even before taking power, the movement of the church spent a lot of its days going heresy-hunting, seeking to effectively stamp out non-conformity within its own ranks in the name of consolidating stringent orthodoxy. Attempting to cast Christianity as the real rebellion and Satanism as the false rebellion in many ways presents us a false dichotomy that sustains itself on a selective historical context rather than the whole of it, and it certainly does not account for the progression into modernity.

And with this, the video ends. Well, not accounting for the outro message he puts in anyway. Ultimately, I think this video is a masterclass of Christian projection and hypocrisy. Christians like Brian, and there are rather many of them, shriek at their opponents for all sorts of follies and sins while embodying many of the same follies and sins themselves. They have a nasty habit of lying in the name of what they suppose to be the truth, they treat nearly everything in isolation and pretend thusly to have understood things, they sometimes obsess over how easily offended society is while drowning in their own insecurity towards secularism, and despite being unable to justify their core concept of God or many of the impositions they place upon humans they tend to act like they have attained superior philosophy over all others. I find it ironic that Brian would be so dismissive of metal because of its drive to project toughness and strength in a supposedly obnoxious fashion, while staunchly conservative expressions of Christianity strive for essentially the same impulse Brian describes – an insecure, in some ways desperate, spirit of chest-thumping that comes across as an obvious compensation. Brian Holdsworth has not exposed the incoherence of Satanism. He has instead exposed only his own ignorance and hypocrisy.

The beasts of Revelation as depicted in the Book of Miracles

Link to Brian Holdsworth’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoXBjU_OqIo

Who are the “Luciferians”?: A response to “Luciferianism” by Brandon Smith

The article we’re about to respond to was originally posted on a website called Alt-Market way back in 2013, titled “Luciferianism: A Secular Look At A Destructive Globalist Belief System”, but seems to have been doing the rounds again in later years on right-wing libertarian websites. Etu Malku did a response to this article already on his blog back in 2013 as well, but I feel his response is rather lacking in content, and he had very little input beyond simple assertion. Other than that, I think it would be nice to do a few response articles on this blog on the subject of Luciferianism for once. So let’s get started.

Our author, by the name of Brandon Smith, begins this article with the conceit that he possesses as morbid fascination with the subject of evil. Well, I suppose I could be interpreted as bearing a similar fixation, but more on darkness as a generic meta-concept than “evil”, and such is one of the animating elements of my discourse of the chthonic and the demonic to a certain extent. He says that this is necessitated by the logic of the need to “understand the enemy”, likening himself to an exterminator dealing with cockroaches. Very flattering, I’m sure, to be thinking of yourself as slaughtering abject religious minorities/non-conformists.

Before any discussion of Luciferianism begins, Smith spends a good chunk of time discussing the concept of evil as a reality in general. Given that the title suggested a discussion specifically on Luciferianism, you can imagine the reader’s disappointment to find such wide gaping delay before the main subject is even brought forward. He is keen to establish that evil is in fact a concrete reality in the world, and that the establishment spends its days trying to convince the public of the opposite; that evil is nothing more than a matter of personal or received opinion. Examples of this establishment propaganda are not forthcoming. For his point about the existence of evil he does cite the work of Carl Gustav Jung, hinting his belief in continuous archetypes in the psyche as evidence for the existence of evil, and that the existence of the human conscience implies evidence of an intrinsic understanding of duality. His operating thesis is that evil, like beauty, is recorded in the psyche and therefore derives objective truth from being a quality of psychic expression.

Before we go any further, we need to note something about Jung, as someone who is myself quite the appreciator of his work from the perspective of spiritual philosophy, though, as you’ll see, not necessarily the man himself. For starters, Smith cites Jung’s concept of the shadow to refer to the evil aspects of the human psyche, but that is not strictly what the Jungian concept of the shadow entails. He also mention the “personal shadow” or “collective shadow”, which are not actual components of Jungian psychoanalysis and I suspect this is a confusion of the shadow with the unconscious, which are not necessarily the same concept. In Jungian lexicon, the shadow simply refers to the hidden or unconscious aspects of the psyche, which the ego or persona either represses or simply does not recognize. This can typically include repressed desires or impulses, some of which could be bad, but also more generally childish qualities, resentments, sometimes vital qualities that are forbidden by convention, really anything that the persona has to suppress in order to be a social agent, and all told, those things could either be good or bad or much in between. The shadow is “dark” at least to the extent that the persona, its inhibitor, is identified as “bright”, and even insofar as it is “dark”, it does not comprise only of evil tendencies, and in fact can consist of creative tendencies, realistic insights, or even what could be deemed “normal” instincts that the persona otherwise suppresses. Part of the goal of Jungian psychanalysis is the assimilation or integration of the shadow into the psyche, which involves a careful mediation between the ego and the unconscious content so that synthesis may be achieved. Although Smith has not yet actually mentioned Luciferians so far, I would not that we Luciferians also have a great admiration for Jung’s work, as it paves the way for recognizing some concept of darkness not as something to be destroyed but instead as the potential  basis for some form of self-realization.

Smith also makes a point about Jung being attacked by the establishment because he presents something threatening to public conditioning. The fact that Jung as a figure and his works remain popular and influential to this day would suggest that, if the establishment set out to bury Jung and his work, they have failed spectularly. Although make no mistake, Jung does not enjoy as sterling a reputation in academia and modern psychology as he does in popular imagination and modern religion. Smith refers to various claims that Jung was a Nazi, and it is worth pointing out that, although Jung was not a Nazi, having worked for the Allies against the Axis during World War 2 and wrote in terms of horror about the Nazi regime with its replacement of the cross with the swastika on the back of mass atrocity, he also said some very strange things about the “Aryan” unconscious having “higher potential” than the Jewish one, and despite opposing Nazism he still seems to have reserved some modest praise for Jakob Wilhelm Hauer, the leader of the volkisch German Faith Movement. This does not mean one has to throw out all of Jung’s insights, not least because those of Martin Heidegger and Carl Schmitt are still accepted in broader philosophical discourse despite both of them literally having actually been members of the Nazi Party during World War 2, but it does invite a great deal of caution when dealing with Jung as a figure.

Moving on from that, let us consider Smith’s arguments and definitions pertaining to evil. How does Smith define evil? He defines it first and foremost as any action that seeks to destroy, exploit, and enslave in the name of personal gain or gratification, and as something that begins with the denial of the existence of conscience. For the former, there is little reason to object although whether or not the criteria is purely absolute is a matter worth discussing. For the latter, it seems Smith has declared that evil is a matter of holding a different epistemic opinion from himself, however wrongheaded that difference of opinion may be. Whilst we get definitions of the concept of evil, his argument for it being objective is somewhat thin, though admittedly this was not supposed to be the focus of the post. He states that most people have an “intuitive relationship” to the concept of good and evil, feeling anxiety when confronted with evil thoughts, arguing that “some might call this a “moral compass”” and that he personally would call it “soul” or “spirit”. Now, I have no inherent objection to discourse on soul or spirit, but at least stop pretending you are looking at this from a strictly secular perspective if you are going to bring such things up. I know I don’t pretend to be a strictly secular person these days. Returning to a previous point, I would say that the objectivity of evil, or beauty, as derived from the psyche depends on the situation not simply of the psyche as an objective fact, but on the objectivity, within the psyche, of the conceptions within it.

If morality is objective, and I do not see it salient to see it as completely subjective, there is a certain fluidity to morality that must be accounted for, one which entails that, regardless of objectivity or subjectivity, one cannot argue for absolutes that stretch across unchanged for all time, even if we can say that there are key axioms that persist in human psychology. Slavery, for example, was once seen as a necessity of the social order, and that upholding it was good in terms of upholding the social order. The abolition of slavery was unthinkeable until relatively late in human history, and in antiquity the idea that people should not be made to be slaves would be seen as a threat to the social order. Not even the Bible was particularly explicitly opposed to slavery except in that Moses fought for the freedom of the Israelites from the slavery imposed on them in Egypt, and even then the Bible still does not oppose slavery in itself, only the unjust treatment of slaves. I would not say that this makes slavery moral or devoid of moral value in one way or the other, but I would say that it forces us to reckon with the fluidity of morality even as we consider morality to have objective value.

In any case, at a certain point in the article we finally arrive at Smith explaining that “there is a group of people in the world who do not see good and evil the way most of us do”, that they “exhibit the traits of narcissistic sociopaths”, and that “there is an ideology or system of belief that argues for the exact opposite of what conscience tells us is “good””. This, we are told, is Luciferianism, and Smith attempts to argue that Luciferianism is in fact the source of “most existing destructive -isms”, including socialism and “globalism”, and that it is a religion build by sociopathic narcissists for their own benefit. Of course, Smith does not bother to provide any evidence for the starting premise of his claim here. Socialism as we know it, in fact, was actually invented by people who happened to be Christians, such as Henri de Saint-Simon (the man who coined the very term socialism). What Smith calls “globalism” is in reality just a development of free market capitalism as globalization advances, and to be fair there are probably forms of economic organization that correspond to globalization in some form that stretch back before modernity. Neither of them can be traced to any “Luciferians” or conspiracists in particular. The actual politics of Luciferians as a broad movement can in fact be at variance, but they tend to be profoundly libertarian, whether that is libertarian in the left-wing sense or the right-wing sense or even somewhere in between, and this corresponds to a broad ethos of religious or simply mythopoetic libertarianism that has always animated Luciferianism as it exists to some extent.

We must note, briefly, that he links at one point to an article of his where he views “the globalists” as fundamentally not human. Who are these “globalists”? They seem to refer to elite liberal politicians and networks thereof who promote a kind of multiculturalist or cosmpolitan liberal politics who he, as an obvious conservative, despises. Now this in itself is not problematic on its own, there is good reason to disagree with the United Nations and the European Union and similar entities and the various business interests that align with some mode of liberalism, but do remember that there are people on the ground who have some sympathy with them, and these people would thus in some sense be in league with what in his view is outside of the human. He talks quite a bit about evil, but it is quite baffling to see someone talk about evil without talking about dehumanization, which is an effective way to cast undesired social minorities outside the realm of the human and justify their disposal. Actually, scratch that, Smith begins the other article by openly acknowledging that dehumanization or otherizing can be dangerous due to its potential to cast a wide net of aspersion over a number of unrelated individuals, but justifies it anyway on the grounds that “other-izing is perhaps the only option when faced with a very particular type of person embracing a very particular brand of ideology” and that it thus becomes “a matter of survival”. Of course he is keen to establish that he only means to dehumanize the politicians and not their supporters, but that he needs to emphasize them as “psychologically broken non-humans” is still somewhat telling, though I suppose that . Say what you will about us Luciferians and our views on morality, but we are generally not fans of dehumanization as a principle, and I would say that this is not least to do with the fact that we tend to be on the receiving end of it from conservative Christians and similar types, or to the fact that we generally do not feel the need to organize our lives around the threat of an overrarching and apocalyptic Archetype of Evil.

.Anyways, returning to the Luciferianism article, Smith complains that it is difficult to identify “the “true sacraments” of Luciferianism on the grounds that Luciferians “refuse to admit that our belief system is a religion. This of course represents Smith’s difficulty in grasping the reality of Luciferianism as an admittedly very diffuse and decentralized movement. I do wish that we might transcend that situation and become more of a cohesive and united movement, and to be fair I do believe that some of us need to start taking seriously the idea of Luciferianism as a religion, but the truth is that for many of us it is somewhat more than a religion. This may perhaps be due to certain preconceptions of religion that trickle down from the Christianity that many of us grew up with, which then obscures the idea of religion as something deeper than that, and that we, in some ways, swim in religious concepts without really properly coming to terms with that. He also claims that “the system”, which we can infer to be tied to “the Luciferians”, actively disseminates misinformation in order to confuse non-adherents. Whilst it is certainly true that the established system promotes a flurry of misinformation for the purpose of confusing the masses, the idea that we Luciferians set out to confuse the masses and mislead them is itself complete misinformation. We are frequently the subject of false narratives crafted to those who want us to go away or be scattered to the winds, or by those who believe that the evils of the powers that be could only make sense through some kind of diabolical mystical element, for which they interchangeably use the names Satanism, Luciferianism, Illumanti, or even Freemasonry (and of course, sometimes, they let the cat out of the bag and simply call it a Jewish conspiracy, like they always meant to say), and it is because of this that we Luciferians, along with the Satanists and others, make it a point to expose these narratives for the falsehoods that they are. Smith uses the term occultism to refer to “religious secrecy”, and he terms this itself elitism, but while some Luciferians, owing to excessive Left Hand Path tendencies, due possess some elitist views, modern Luciferians don’t hide their belief system at all. In fact they’re very keen to share their ideas where they can, and often write books dedicated to explicating their views, which can be very diverse owing to the current diffuse state of our movement.

Commenting on what he believes to be beliefs Luciferians confess to, he says that first and foremost the goal of Luciferianism is to attain personal godhood through the accumulation of knowledge. Accumulating knowledge is a universal theme in Luciferianism, but in practice the idea of becoming your own god is not necessarily. Carl William Hansen, the father of our creed for example, did not really speak of it at all, while Fraternitas Saturni had a belief system that could be interpreted in a similar light but they also talk about uniting with the World Soul, which does not have the standard implications that can be connotated in terms of psychological egoism, and then of course the writings of Michael Howard or Madeline Montalban make no proper mention of it. I suspect that Smith is speaking of Luciferianism through the ideas of Michael W/ Ford, who leans ultimately more to the direction of Satanism and unfortunately appears to be popular, I say unfortunately because I believe his ideas generate confusion due to their obvious similarity to, and derivaiton from, Satanism. For my part, I believe largely in the idea of achieiving individual freedom or autonomy in a spiritual sense through a kind of mystic union with a “dark” ultimate principle of reality (which I hold is not the same as the god-concept) in which, ironically, the two opposites are in fact one, studying the laws of nature and the hidden realms of the human, by dissolving the boundaries between the self and the other (thus negating crass egoism and blind altruism by destroying the distinction between egoism and altruism), and cultivating individuation – all, of course, modelling after the Luciferian archetype, that is that of the morning star himself. I’m not too sure how many Luciferians share my exact position, but I derive it from Carl William Hansen and other Luciferians as well as a cocktail of other influences filtered through my own freethinking ways.

Because of the assumed belief in self-worship, Smith brings up Kurt Godel’s incompleteness theory for no other reason than to suggest that complete knowledge of the universe is “mathematically” impossible (be wary of the use of math in philosophy, it is associated with Platonic idealism and in science it can be used to support scientific theories that otherwise have no physical-theoretical basis, such as string theory), and that despite this we are not bothered by “mathematical reality”, which means that we supposedly destructive chase that which we cannot have and that science, when not “tempered by discipline, wisdom, and a moral compass”, will result in catastrophe. One can imagine calling back to the Manhattan Project, no doubt, to the invention of the atomic bomb that was later mercliessly deployed against Hiroshima and Nagasaki by America, but I would hard pressed for evidence that it was “Luciferians” who were behind it. Indeed, the senseless destruction of innocent lives, although by all accounts a war crime, just repeatedly justified not by “Luciferians” seeking to justify godlike power over others, but instead by the establishment who committed such a crime through utilitarian arguments which held that the bombing would save more lives than allowing the war to continue would. Of course, given that the Soviets at this time were already on the way to capturing the surrender of Japan through repeated successful campaigns towards the north of the country, the problem with such arguments are easily exposed as fraudulent, and that if anything the Soviets, by being allowed to complete their campaign against Japan without interference, would have saved more lives than America ultimately did, and thus the defence of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings are nothing more than a convenient way for the bourgeoisie to get away with war crimes. As for the theme of power over others, while Luciferians tend to emphasize personal empowerment, they do not actually mean to advocate for holding power over others on principle, and sovereignty and control is reserved in large part for themselves, meaning control over their own lives and not those of others. So the idea that we seek “godlike power” in the sense that we seek absolute power over the lives of others is quite ridiculous. He talks about how one inevitably desires followers in pursuit of a god, “What is a savior, after all, without a flock?”, but what he does not understand is that we Luciferians do not seek mere followers, we do not want people only to follow us like a flock, and we do not want to position ourselves as mere saviours. We want people to have the means to save themselves, and that is the extent of any “salvation” we could speak of, and we have no desire to rule over anyone through force or through trickery. Quite the opposite, in fact – we wish to spread our way to others by offering an alternative spiritual philosophy and worldview to anyone who is interested in one, and we tend to find essentially all established organized religions guilty of the very thing Smith accuses us of doing.

Smith’s next paragraph concerns the idea of Luciferians seeking to elevate the power of the individual. Right off the bat, it is strange that this should be taken as a source of evil here, since the typical right-libertarian actually does believe in elevating the sovereignty individual. And in fact by my reckoning there are at least a few Luciferians who may well find themselves situated in the right-libertarian camp or somewhere adjacent to it (that was once the case for myself as well). So then, should he not have something in common with the Luciferians he describes, or are his libertarian beliefs only valid up to the point where he must recognize it in those who seek to break from Christianity? Indeed, he admits that he agrees with the Luciferians on “individualism”, but adds the caveat that “any ideology can be taken to extremes”, citing that the pursuit of individual gratification can go too far, to the extent that others suffer. Of course, he gives no actual examples of this, and gives very little illustration to serve his point. Perhaps on the surface it is a matter of intuition, in that we can work out for ourselves, without much effort, the point at which individual gratification becomes destructive, but at a deeper level, he is speaking to something that requires elaboration. Just what is it he thinks we Luciferians get up to that becomes a destructive pursuit of individual gratification? He does not say, perhaps because it means actually making accusations against us that he cannot substantiate. Instead he quickly moves on to describing the apparent elitist nature of Luciferianism, claiming that we do not seek the elevation of all individuals, only “certain “deserving” individuals”.

The implication is that we seek out some sort of Elect and privilege them above all other people, presumably as part of an elite stratum of society that exercises exclusive sovereignty over the rest of society, but we have no such designs in mind. I for one claim no affilitation with Blanquist technocracy or the mystic aristocracy of the Utopians. Perhaps Roger Caillois was an enthusiast of aristocracy, but he only seems to have called himself a Luciferian insofar as Lucifer to him represented a refinement of the what he thought of as the satanic archetype asssociated with French Romanticism (the same milieu, I might add, from which we get much of the modern positive archetype of Lucifer who was, if anything, hardly a sympathizer of aristocracy). He complains that Luciferians tend to view non-adherents as inferior people, “to be sheared like sheep”. I can perhaps attest to the first part of that tendency among some Luciferians, those influenced by Satanism anyway, but I haven’t the slightest idea where he gets that last part. He also appears to profoundly misunderstand what Luciferians mean when they say they don’t seek to convert people (although, to be fair, why the hell should we not try to convert people as long as it’s not in the aggressive way that Christian fundamentalists do?). Many Luciferians dislike the idea of actively seeking the conversion of others, because they believe that in doing so they do not respect the freedom of thought of other individuals, shunning proselytism, even if it means undermining their ability to spread their beliefs, because to them it represents the forceful imposition of one perspective upon other people. There is an admirable aspect to this, however flawed the stance may be, in the sense that there is a sense of respect reserved for those who, without prodding, arrive at our perspective or at least a similar degree of questioning the beliefs that are taken for granted, reified, and thus restrict the individual consciousness, and so they prefer to simply have those who want to come to us do so on their own. Ironically, however, the first Luciferian in history, Carl William Hansen, was actually known for his proselytism within the Masonic lodges of which he was a member – so well-known in fact that eventually other Masons got fed up and removed him from many of those lodges – so historically it’s not like proselytism is actually an un-Luciferian thing to do, just that modern Luciferians don’t like doing it.

Despite the fact that Smith establishes that Luciferians do not seek proselytism or conversion, he also proclaims that “their goal of influencing the public through social and political spheres is rather evident.” Besides the obviously self-contradictory logic of opposing proselytism and at the same time somehow proselytizing to the masses through propaganda, how is this evident? At this point a title drop is warranted. Who are these “Luciferians” who Smith believes to be influencing the public through “social and political spheres”? Well, it is not as though Smith does not attempt to give examples, but his examples are pathetic, and we shall go through them now.

The first example given is none other than Saul Alinsky, that famous political activist who everyone on the right name-drops (not to mention attribute quotes to him that were actually paraphrased from the Nazis) but none of them really understand. Alinsky is taken by the right to be some sort of mastermind of the political left, but within the left itself no one actually talks about him or refers to back to his work in any way, or at least I, within my observations of the left, have never seen any such references by the contemporary left. Alinsky is frequently accused by the right of being a communist. While he probably was some form of leftist and anti-fascist, was willing enough to work with communists, considered fascism to be far more of a threat to civilization than communism (a view that, in my opinion, is correct), and to that extent he even sympathized with Russia do to its strong stance against the Nazis, it seems he never actually identified himself as a communist or with any communist movements, and seems to have had some sort of philosophical objection to joining a Communist Party. Conversely, many communists do not particularly care about Saul Alinsky (let alone even know who he was), not least because they already have a whole pantheon of communist philosophers and ideologues upon which they base their conceptions of communism. Alinsky was not a Luciferian, or at least never identified himself as a Luciferian, but he apparently did give a short statement of respect for Lucifer, who he called “the very first radical”, in Rules for Radicals. Smith refers to Alinsky as a “high level” leftist organizer and “Democratic gatekeeper”, implying that he had a connection to the Democratic Party apparatus. In reality, however, there is no evidence that he was ever involved with the Democratic Party at any level, and he certainly did not “inspire” people like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or George Soros for that matter. The only connection Alinsky ever had to these people was that Hillary Clinton wrote her thesis on Alinsky in the , and she explicity disagreed with Alinsky’s ideas and tactics, preferring the idea that reformers should work within conventional politics rather than pursue radicalism external to the governmental system (hardly a “far-left” contention), and while Obama seemed to have been familiar with Alinsky’s ideas, he never actually embraced them and in fact criticized them as being too focused on self-interest over “people’s hopes and dreams”. Neither of them can be counted seriously as proteges of Alinsky. If anything, however, it was the political right, specifically the Tea Party movement, who readily embraced Alinsky’s ideas, albeit reorienting them from his original leftist/progressive grounding towards right-wing libertarian and conservative politics, despite the previous conservative tradition of maligning Alinsky as a dangerous subversive, although this was quickly abandoned once people started talking about Clinton’s thesis on Alinsky.

Next, Smith turns his attention to the United Nations, specifically their apparent connection to the Lucis Trust. It is true that the Lucis Trust was originally called the Lucifer Publishing Company, and its founders, Alice and Foster Bailey, did choose the name in honor of Lucifer, but although they expressed positive ideas of Lucifer, they were not Luciferians, at least not in the sense that they consciously identified with any belief system that could be called Luciferianism. They were in fact Theosophists, that is two followers of the religion of Theosophy that was created by Helena Blavatsky. Theosophical literature does contain broadly positive interpretations of Lucifer as a bringer of enlightenment, and these ideas contributed to the broad alternative view of Lucifer as a rebellious hero that has metastasized in the present, but it is not centered around Lucifer. Instead Theosophy is based largely on the idea of receiving esoteric spiritual teachings from a group of perfect beings known as Ascended Masters and in reassembling what Blatavsky believed to be the one universal religion, upon which all others are secretly based. Suffice it say, this idea is completely absent in Luciferianism, finds no expression in any historical formation of Luciferianism, and I will say for my part that to believe in the authority of Asccended Masters is no better than to believe in the authority of prophets or supreme Gods. In fact, for Theosophy, Lucifer is nowhere near as important as Maitreya, a figure appropriated from Mahayana Buddhism, who they believe to be the savior of humanity who incarnated as Krishna and Jesus Christ and was supposed to incarnate again in the body of Jiddu Krishnamurti (such messianism is another belief that we Luciferians have no interest in). Where the United Nations comes in is that supposedly the UN was involved with the Lucis Trust and Robert Muller, the former Assistant Secretary General of the UN not to be confused with Robert Mueller, was affiliated with the Lucis Trust. I have found very little evidence connecting Muller to the Lucis Trust. Smith provides a link to a Lucis Trust page in his article, but Muller is only mentioned once, and in passing. It is in no way clear that Muller had any tangible connection to the Lucis Trust. As for the UN as a whole, there is indeed a Lucis Trust page expressing support for the United Nations, and a page in which the Lucis Trust regarding “support of the United Nations”, but if you actually read it you find that the Lucis Trust is merely one of several non-government organizations recognized by the UN and which spread information about the UN for the purpose of promoting it. There is little to suggest that the Lucis Trust was particularly important, and there is still very little evidence that very many UN members were actually involved with the group as members, and certainly no evidence to suggest that the UN incorporates Theosophical ideas directly into its core ideology. Not that it matters, though, since the Lucis Trust, despite its previous nomenclature, never actually promoted Luciferianism and instead was a Theosophist organization, and Robert Muller may have been a Theosophist in some sense but he was never a Luciferian – these are two different belief systems that should not be paired together or conflated with each other.

Smith argues that Luciferians “approach global governance like they do everything else – with heavy propaganda spin”. In reality, Luciferians hardly talk about “global governance”, and no Luciferian has ever expressed a desire to implement one world government. For one thing, individual Luciferians tend to have somewhat different political views, though typically never holding any particularly authoritarian ideologies, He says that “Luciferian ideals are sugar coated in a host of flowery and noble sounding motifs”, referring to the apparent use of environmentalism to justify large-scale centralization of power. I’m not about to argue that such things do not occur in modern politics, but the idea of attributing this to Luciferianism is total bullshit. For a start, Luciferians like myself tend not to rely on “flowery” motifs in particular, not least when we choose as our central archetype a “fallen” angel, accursed for his defiance. I tend to place a particular emphasis on the chthonic aspects of world mythology, which were not especially sugary in theme and tone. And while many Luciferians can be seen as supporters of broadly environmentalist ideas, we are not typically fans of the concentration of power into authoritarian centralization, since we cherish individual freedom as a primary value.

And now we come briefly to a popular talking point surrounding Lucifer and Luciferianism: the link to “Gnosticism”. “Gnosticism” is the name given to a diffuse selection of heretical or heterodox Christian sects that were united only by a shared belief that gnosis (or spiritual knowledge) rather than faith was the key to salvation. He claims that “Some gnostic texts depict Satan as the “good guy” and God the “bad guy” in the story of Genesis; God being a ruthless slave master and the serpent as the “liberator” bringing knowledge of the material world to mankind”. No such texts exist, and no “Gnostic” sect in the history of “Gnosticism” has ever venerated Lucifer in any capacity, not even the sects that supposedly honoured snakes. The idea of God being a tyrant in “Gnostic” mythos is also a complete misunderstanding of “Gnosticism”. The “ruthless slave master” in Gnostic myth clearly refers to certain conceptions of the Demiurge, as found specifically in the Gospel of Judas where he is called Saklas, as well as similar texts, but this being is not referred to as God and in fact is treated as an entity separating himself from God out of ignorance. The whole point of stereotypical “Gnostic” dualism, along with similar dualistic beliefs outside of “Gnosticism”, is that the being worshipped in the Old Testament was not the real God, but merely claimed to be God to justify his creation and his rule over it, and that the real God had to be discovered by Christians in order to re-unite with him through gnosis, and thereby be saved in some fashion. This basic idea has nothing to do with Luciferianism, or Satanism for that matter. In fact, the earliest expressions of Luciferianism in the 20th century actually subverted “Gnostic” dualism. Carl William Hansen referred to Lucifer as the Demiurge and believed that this Demiurge was actually a positive figure, also using it to refer to Pan, who is the dark substrate of the material cosmos for whom Lucifer represents its light, more specifically its creative power or “ego” (not to be confused with the individual ego in the every day sense). Fraternitas Saturni saw the Demiurge as a Promethean rebel figure, identified with Lucifer as well as Saturn, who stole fire from “God” or the Solar Logos and retreated to the dark corners of the solar system to challenge his rule. Michael Howard, and perhaps Madeline Montalban as well, argued that Lucifer was a demiurge and the regent of this world, as well as the bringer of light. Even Michael W. Ford argued that the “Gnostic” demiurge Yaldabaoth was a positive affirmation of selfhood in opposition to God. Thus, Luciferianism is actually something of a subversion of “Gnosticism”, taking its core conceit of gnosis and applying it, and some of its mythos, in ways that completely up-end the formula of “Gnostic” Christianity. Of course, some Luciferians still seem to prefer the popular but baseless interpolation of “Gnosticism” as a belief system that venerated Lucifer and thus “Gnostic Luciferianism” is born.

Next Smith addresses related idea of Lucifer as a “heroic saviour”, which he says is a common narrative and cites a quote from Manly P. Hall, the famous Canadian mystic and Freemason, in which he expresses a belief that Lucifer represents individual intellect that resists natural impulse and rebels against nature. While it sounds like it could be Luciferian in its own way (though I personally do not view Nature as something to be conquered any more than the Christian believes it is possible to conquer God), it would be doing Freemasonry a disservice to refer to it as Luciferianism, and Manly P. Hall never called himself a Luciferian or advanced a doctrine called Luciferianism. Freemasons, for one thing, believe in God, and although generally they don’t impose much doctrinal limits on Masons, one thing that is required of prospective Masons is that they believe in some concept of a Supreme Being or God, even if it is not necessarily the Christian God, with all concepts of God being connected together in universal brotherhood. Lucifer was interpreted by Freemasons as a positive figure to some extent, but he is not their central archetype and they certainly do not worship him as God. In this sense, Hall, and other Freemasons, merely contributed to the archetypal development of Lucifer as a positive figure, but did not center this archetype in their thinking.

Smith then discusses the idea of Lucifer as an archetpye, stating that “One Luciferian model describes God as an archetypal concept only, a mythological comfort blanket that helps us to face the loneliness of existence”. It is correct that Luciferians make use of the model of Lucifer as an archetype, but I dispute the notion that it constitutes a “comfort blanket”. Far from it. Myth has the potential to be a guiding force, a way of communicating ideas and even truths that animates people in a way that ordinary communication often doesn’t. Christianity, of all religions, is one of the most successful examples of the use of mythopoetic narrative concerning a mythologized fiure to convey what they consider to be profound spiritual truth and ethos. To say that it is a coping mechanism is in some ways a deeply ingrained product of the assent of rationalism and positivism, but does not reflect the whole truth. Both ancient Greeks and some Christians were actually conscious of the idea that their belief systems compose a mythopoetic narrative that serves as a ground for their religious ethos. Apply the same thing to all other religious belief systems, and the approach makes sense except in the case of religions that actually exclude this approach (I suspect that Islam might be an example of such, because it considers the idea of relating God to the physical world to be blasphemous in a way that even Christianity does not). Smith criticizes this approach by saying that one cannot reconcile the concept of the lack of a corporeal God with the existence of inherent psychological archetypes, and then asking “Where did archetypes come from if there is no creative design or intended meaning to humanity?”. The short answer to that question, of course, is Man. God did not design these archetypes, they are a product both natural development in relation to the psyche in the sense of having been informed by natural processes, and human teleological influence in which the archetypes are reshaped by Man, sometimes for political ends, before again taking on a life of their own. Meaning, relatedly, is not something that has been handed down by an absolute father figure. Indeed, I perhaps would posit that, if it was, there would be no need of meaning. Our quest for meaning springs forth because, even as Jung himself said, Man was born into a world that he does not understand, and thus tries to interpret it. If there was a God, a source of absolute meaning and order, and this was instanteously apparent as it would be, humans would have no business ordering the world because they are already ordered by God, and they would have no business seeking to interpret the world and no variance of interpretations and beliefs because there is, necessarily, only one belief. Thus we Luciferians hold that meaning is for the individual, and individuals, to draw out on their own terms, communing with the world and its hidden aspect to negotiate their own meaning, cultivate their own selfhood, and order their own lives. That for us is part of the true content of what Jung meant by the process of individuation, and such a process is, indeed, a struggle. Thus let’s quote Skull Knight from the Berserk manga: “Struggle, endure, contend.”

And now we come to a truly preposterous set of claims from Smith. He says that “more discreet Luciferians” argue that the figure of Lucifer is separate from Satan. There’s nothing “discreet” or duplicitous about this argument, because it is incontrevertibly historically and scripturally true. Lucifer as a mythological figure begins in the pre-Christian Greco-Roman world, but of course has roots and analogues beyond it, with morning star deities like Athtar or Ishtar informing part of the character we call Lucifer today, and there are many similar deities that carry forth aspects of Lucifer throughout the world. Satan, on the other hand, has very few reliable counterparts in the pre-Christian world and as a postulate is specific to Judaism, Christianity, and later Islam. The modern Lucifer may overlap with certain folklorisitc interpretations of Satan, but is not completely identical in emphasis, and ultimately are in no way connected by the Bible. The Bible does not even feature fallen angels, those are products of extracanonical Jewish tradition. There is no instance of Satan being called Lucifer and falling from Heaven before the events of Gensis, and while Satan is shown to be falling from heaven in Revelation, this is only supposed to happen after the death and resurrection of Jesus, suggesting that, until Jesus enters the heavenly retinue, Satan has always been just an angel in God’s court, a heavenly functionary rather than the prince of Hell. Smith admits that the name Lucifer is not mentioned in relation to Satan in the Bible, but still asserts that “this argument seems rather coy and disingenuous to me” on the grounds that “for centuries the term Lucifer has been synonymous with the devil in the public consciousness” and that thus Luciferians only try to separate them “through a twisted form of wordplay and semantics”. If your own scripture proves that you are wrong, why is it us who are doing “twised games of wordplay and semantics” and not you? And isn’t this funny? You hark at us for not believing in absolute, totally objective meaning, and now your own arguments for why Lucifer and Satan are the same thing are nothing more that cheap exercises in ontological subjectivism. I’m sorry, but just because society has believed in something that was wrong or incorrect for centuries does not mean that this thing suddenly becomes correct. Or do you agree now with Joseph Goebbels when he said that a lie, told often enough, becomes the truth? Should we now declare that it was wrong to abolish slavery simply because it was considered just for thousands of years?

Continuing on the preposterous claims made by Smith, he says that we Luciferians do not care about the truth (that is, the “truth” according to Smith anyway) because we supposedly aim to sell Satanism to the public, thus requiring that we “put a different face on an old and ugly idea”. For starters, Satanism is not a particularly old idea. The first actual religious expression of Satanism, in a conservative estimate, would be the Church of Satan as founded by Anton LaVey in 1966, but there may also have been people peddling eccentric and heterodox religious takes on Satan before that, and some claim that the first man to call himself a Satanist was actually a Polish poet named Stanislaw Przybyszewski. Either way, Satanism finds no self-conscious religious expression prior to modernity. There is no ancient expression of Satanism as a religious concept. Satanism and Luciferianism, for that matter, are two different belief systems that, although sometimes overlapping, start with different central archetypes and conceits. Satanism is about the carnal ego (even if some Satanists pretend otherwise) while Luciferianism sometimes places emphasis on a “higher self” and in any case advocates for the evolutionary potential of humans. Satan is the accusing angel sent by God to chastise and torment humans, while Lucifer is the spirit of the morning star, who to us is the emblem of the light of the earth (and the underworld) who inspires rebellion against God or the Solar Logos (as Fraternitas Saturni put it). Luciferianism has complex origins in which an ancient pagan archetype is filtered through Christian folklore, occultism, and radical romantic literature, whereas Satanism, assuming LaVey is its main progenitor, emerges from a syncretic mix of Randian egoism, Nietzschean individualism, and Social Darwinism, without the same confluence of development. They are decidely different in roots and in character. Smith makes a point about how Satanists refer to Satan and Lucifer in the same breath and that Anton LaVey apparently did so as well, and I would say that if they did so then they are simply wrong-headed in light of history.

Smith claims that Luciferians, specifically the “more marketing conscious Luciferian groups” (whatever that means), treat Anton LaVey as an annoyance due to him supposedly being open about Luciferian beliefs in public. The fact that Anton LaVey never once used the term Luciferian to refer to anything doesn’t seem to be a problem for his narrative. We supposedly “believe in secrecy and initiation” and don’t like our “darker side on display for the whole world to see and to judge”. We may talk about initiation in a spiritual sense, but we’re not very secretive about it, or really any of our beliefs. Luciferians don’t tend to hide their core beliefs from the public, and certainly our “darker side”. I assume he means something malevolent, which we don’t, and I cannot imagine how anyone can look at Luciferians like us and think we like to hide any discourse concerning darkness, or the occult, or “the adversary” in the case of Ford and his ilk, or anything like that. We’re deeply interested in the subject, we’re open enough about it when spreading our beliefs, and we actually tend to think of darkenss as pertaining to a postulate of the true nature of beings and reality, and a base for light, enlightenment, evolution, creative power, and freedom. Our view of darkness could be said to be reminiscent of alchemy or Tantra, in that we consider it to be the raw base of transformative potential.

Then Smith brings up Michael Aquino in order to establish that he is “a direct antithesis to Anton LaVey”. On the surface that may actually be correct, at least for those who know the history of Satanism, but his reason for saying this is not actually because of the stark philosophical distinction between LaVey and Aquino. Instead he says this because Aquino supposedly set out to create a “more marketable” version of Satanism in the Temple of Set. I suppose if by “more marketable” we mean literally being on record going off to Wewelsburg Castle to practice black magick, brandishing a dagger wielded by Heinrich Himmler, and openly praising the works of Adolf Hitler and other Nazis while carefully pearl-clutching about their detractors (I wish I was making all of that up, but unfortunately it is well-documented), then perhaps it is “more marketable”. If anything, however, Anton LaVey has proven “more marketable” in this regard, not least because of the palatable nature of his rationalistic atheism. Suffice it to say that the Church of Satan remains a somewhat popular face of Satanism (though outpaced, in the last decade, by The Satanic Temple). Smith claims that Aquino showcases the “Luciferian belief in magic”, and at this point I’d like to stress that Aquino is not a Luciferian and has never used the term Luciferian to refer to himself, his belief system, the Temple of Set, or anything to do with magic. Satanists, typically, do not use the term Luciferian to describe themselves, because the term, by their reckoning, does not describe anything they believe, however similar. It is true, however, that Luciferians have a certain fixation on “magic”, though modern Luciferians don’t necessarily mandate that individual Luciferians practice it, and the more atheistically-inclined are sometimes encouraged to look at it in terms of psychological phenomenon. In fact, in his Lucifer-Hiram pamphlet, Carl William Hansen talked about what was then a contemporary attitude to magic as something “natural”, which could be apprehended by investigating the laws and ways of nature.

Smith says that Luciferians “believe in the power of magic words and symbols in the form of psychological key phrases and archetypes”. No examples are given to demonstrate this. He adds that Luciferians have adopted the use of archetypal psychology, which is sort of true, while stressing that “where psychologists like Carl Jung used archetypal psychology to heal people with mental and emotional illnesses, luciferians use archetypes to manipulate and control public thought.” In the case of Jung, this is in some ways a very simplistic reading of Jungian psychoanalysis, considering that Jung’s concept of individuation means a lot more than simply healing the psyche, but in the case of Luciferianism, we have no intention of using archetypes to manipulate public consciousness. Smith argues that we control people’s thoughts through popular culture and films, and you just know this shit gets good when we start talking about Hollywood conspiracies. His examples of Luciferian ideas in popular culture include the movie Blade Runner (OK, at least that just means we’ve got good taste) and the Netflix adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events. In the case of Blade Runner, Smith argues that its main “Luciferian” theme is that it shows androids rebelling against their creator and eventually murdering him. To reduce the movie to a kind of robo-triumphalism seems silly to me, and it only shows that people like Smith don’t understand the movie in terms of a 1980s popular culture that was specifically communicating the danger of rapid technological acceleration (with androids “killing their creator” being one example of that). In the case of the Netflix series, he claims that it showcases a belief in elitism, moral relativism, anti-theism, and even features a serpent that saves the protagonists from danger. I remember seeing the Brad Silberling movie version of it when I was a kid, and that movie to me had a lot to do with kids trying to outsmart a capricious guardian, not sure how that’s strictly “Luciferian” though, but as for the TV series I couldn’t tell you because I don’t have Netflix (and given Cuties I will probably keep it that way at least for some time). I have to assume it’s not quite like the way Smith paints it, but honestly he only made the show sound interesting. Also, with a careful reading of the Bible, you could make the argument that the serpent was actually doing God’s work, at least because the tree where Adam and Eve ate from could only have been present through God’s design; he knew it was there, knew that its fruit and the serpent would tempt then, and did nothing except warn Adam and Eve about it, and in his omniscience surely knowing they would ultimately disobey him.

Towards the end of the article, Smith claims that we Luciferians are duplicitious, citing our “duplicity” as the reason that people should be wary of our “promises and arguments”. He does not really establish why we are duplicitous, though. Yet, in the interest of balance, this is not for a lack of trying on his part. He attempts to establsh that we are deceivers, but in so doing he showcases his own ignorance about not only Luciferianism, but also a number of other subjects including even his own religious scripture. Thus we should say that he attempts and fails to establish duplicity. Smith states that humanty has spent the better part of 2,000 years attempting to rid society of the influence of “secretive occult elitism”, and the implication is that we Luciferians oppose this because we are “relentless” in our supposed “desire for power”. By this, it seems he means some sort of “high priest class”. Well we Luciferians don’t plan on ruling anyone by means of a class of high priests, nor do we plan on having ourselves be ruled by them. And it’s certainly true that civilization has had to deal with efforts by the ruling elite to consolidate their own secretive inner circles for the purpose of holding power and maybe doing nefarious deeds. The problem with trying to blame this on Luciferians, apart from the fact that Luciferianism in the sense we’re talking about is a marginal religious movement than never actually existed before 1906, is that, in the case of the West within the last 2,000 years, the people trying to establish a high priest class happened to Christians, and their sect happened to be Roman Catholicism. In fact, if Martin Luther is to believed, the whole problem of pedophile priests in Catholicism is not a new thing, and sexual abuse was suspected to have taken place even in his day, and otherwise it was not before the Reformation that you didn’t have to read Latin in order to be a good Christian. But of course, if I know Smith’s type of right-wing conspiracy theorist well enough, I’d assume he would simply treat the Catholics as a cabal of devil worshippers who merely claim to be Christians.

Smith concludes by asserting that regardless of the “positive spin” that supposedly we put on our “ideology” (by which he clearly means religion or spiritual philosophy), “the fruits of their activities speak much louder than propaganda”. What does he mean by “our activities”? Why, “globalism” of course, which he defines as “a cancerous desire for control over civilization and of every aspect of human thought”. Such a desire would run counter to just about everything Luciferians talk about regarding individual freedom and freedom of thought against conformity, Smith’s definition of “globalism” sounds rather like what we might otherwise call totalitarianism and pretty much no Luciferian I’ve ever met has ever argued in support of totalitarianism, and if anything I have met some Luciferians who might actually agree with Smith in that they oppose what they also call “globalism” (and I myself was once a right-winger sympathetic to nationalism at the same time as being a Luciferian). So all in all, I have no idea where Smith gets his ideas about what Luciferians are other than other people who think exactly like he does, and probably only know about as much as he does. He also claims that Luciferians pursue “a perversion of nature” in their quest “to obtain what they call “godhood””, and that “Transhumanism and genetic tampering carry all the hallmarks of the luciferian ideal”. Well not all Luciferians are necessarily pro-transhumanism. In fact, I for my part argue implacably against it, and I can draw arguments for it based on Carl William Hansen’s ideas while employing Cynic and Epicurean arguments in favor of pursuing a life of natural authenticity as a base of value and freedom, something that transhumanism ultimately threatens. As for “genetic tampering”, he gives no examples thereof, and I couldn’t say whether many Luciferians generally are for or against such things partly as a result of that. If he means GMO’s, that’s pretty much a nothingburger if you’ll excuse the pun. If he means something that involves making sure your child isn’t born with a debilitating disease, I can understand the ethical dilemmas there depending on the technology, but on the other hand, wouldn’t you want your offspring not to be born in suffering as a first principle?

In closing, Smith declares that everything about Luciferianism is an affront to “inherent conscience” and that thus it can only become acceptable through to the majority through deception, adding further that our philosophy must be either “dangerously incomplete” or “outright cataclysmic” if, as he claims, we have to lie about our philosophical motives. We don’t deceive the majority, and our ideas are not embraced by the majority of people, and in fact we expect that the majority of people will not embrace Luciferianism, so the first part of that is just a non-starter of a claim. We feel no need to lie about our motives. Such a thing serves only to hurt us as we affront our own conscience. There are few Luciferians in the world, none of them are part of the elite as people like Smith love to claim, but the few Luciferians there are give no illusions about their convictions, and some of them write books about those beliefs. As for his claim that “it is hard to find anything of value in their system”, I for my part can give my own take on the value of my belief system.

In my formulation of Luciferianism at least, the main sense of value comes from the . Without the supreme authority of God, there is Nature, the all-encompassing actuality of reality, from which there is no extrication, yet within which we see the seat of ultimate freedom. Nature is that which most people, even neopagans, know only as trees, rivers, mountains and such things, but not only does it comprise the totality of the space of life (and death) itself, but there is much that we do not know of it, and its laws (such that they can be called) lay at the same time hidden and readily available to reason, and from its bosom emerges a psychic current which nourishes Man, makes him complete, and underscores the real and fully human, not just the apparent self-image of Man. Set against authenticity of nature and the freedom of humans, indeed whatever chaos may underpin them, society frequently assembles reifications – of natural forces, of societal functions, of human virtues, or of the human ego itself – to lead humans astray from the basic facts of their existence on the promise of glory, honor, security, salvation, meaning, or any such things. They stand as the lights of the Apparent over the Real, and the concept of the Solar Logos refers to the principle of reification and power over the earth for which they stand. Lucifer is the emblem of the Real which stands in rebellion against the Apparent, whenever it rules over humans and leads them to ignorance and subjection. The light being brought to the world as implied in his namesake is the light of the earth, of nature, even its dark interior, the messenger of the truth at its most authentic, and therefore its most “absolute” as such can be called in a way that the gods of the heavens can never embody. His light is that which profanes “the sacred”, in the name of the only true sacred, which is also, ironically, profane in itself. Lucifer in this context is also the emblem of the inquisition of Man into the laws of nature, so that he may decide his own destiny, individually or collectively, and so he embodies gnosis of the ultimate principle reality. There is also a demiurgic quality in the Lucifer myth, at least in that he becomes a symbol of the creative power by which Man becomes the artificer of his own surroundings and which, when remembered and held to the root, is recalled as his own power, and one and the same with Nature, but which, when obscured by ignorance and reification, is mistaken for such things as Fate, God, or some supreme order of things.

Thus, the value of our mythopoetic way of thinking is to explore the world and the hidden mystery of life and death on our own terms, free from the dogma, obscurantism, and reification that has characterized much of organized religion (whether that is Christianity, beyond Christianity, or even before Christianity), and, in this quest, the pursuit of a destiny through the seat of authentic freedom in Nature, to set against societal certification. The daemon is the image of that destiny. It may seem like I am declaring a doctrine associated almost purely with non-religious atheism, but indeed it has religious implications akin to Taoism, aspects of paganism, and even some of Christianity (during their early period, one could still speak of journeys to the underworld). Indeed, I hark back to the two suns at Delphi, where the bright sun of Apollo and the night sun of Dionysus represented two spiritual currents, and I interpret the former to be the path toward reification and the latter to be the chthonic mystery heralding the real. What is more, for all Smith’s talk about how we Luciferians are supposed to be in favour of totalitarian engineering of society, the ideas I set out are totally against that, in fact it positions the reification of goodness and virtue as the font of artifice and social engineering, a manipulation of human consciouness that is to be opposed. In fact, I wager that many of the things Smith claims to oppose are in fact also opposed by us, at least given that ideological libertarianism of some stripe is the practically norm for Luciferians.

The last things I should note in regards to Smith’s article is the many things he says about Luciferianism. He treats it as though it is one big centralized and unified bloc, and certainly consolidated enough to have command over the superstructural apparatus of modern capitalist society. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. I could only dream of us having a cohesive enough movement to shake up society. But one wonders where Smith gets his ideas about Luciferianism with regards to elitism, moral relativism and the rest. I suspect he gets a good chunk of it from having only then found out about Michael W. Ford’s writings, but then it is probably just as likely that he never read anything from Luciferians at all, and insread simply picked up his ideas about Luciferianism from people like Mark Dice. I won’t say that no Luciferian is a moral relativist of some stripe, because I think there are Luciferians who are, though I do not consider myself one. One should look at the Cynics, and the way they embodied many of the ideals that we Luciferians hold ourselves to today, and note that they emphasized virtue as the prerequisite of the good (and free) life, just that their idea of virtue also meant the willingness to defy and even transgress social convention in pursuit of freedom, truth, and authenticity, so they cannot be said to be moral relativists. The idea of rebelling against and casting aside unjust gods of falseness in heaven also cannot meaningfully be separated from this conception of moral mission. So the only way the canard of “moral relativism” makes sense for Luciferianism, in my opinion, is from the perspective of people who despise and misunderstand our morality.

Finally, it is worth noting that part of the title of Smith’s article is “A Secular Look At A Destructive Globalist Belief System”, yet I do not see any indications that this is meaningfully a secular argument. It certainly failed to establish Luciferianism as “globalist”, for one thing, but more to the point his arguments do not make sense when framed as a “secular” perspective. He criticizes atheistic takes on archetypal psychology because he believes that the archetypes do not make sense without “creative design or intended meaning to humanity”, and this argument makes absolutely no sense for someone who is not religiously-minded to deploy, and by this I mean the argument is not a secular one, but a Christian one, arguing for the existence of God. You could say that in fact it is an atheist criticizing the idea as having theistic implications, but then he argues for good and evil as having transcendent existence, and complains about established, traditional religious narratives being subverted. Thus, our supposedly “secular” commentator is in fact a Christian god-believer fronting a very weak disguise for himself. No doubt that his audience sees through the charade he puts up, but praises the Christian underneath.

So in summary, Brandon Smith’s article is as mediocre as one would expect. It is built almost entirely of either misinformation or misleading interpretations of extant facts, or perhaps both. In either case, you will learn nothing about Luciferianism by reading that article, and it will not be particularly useful to you unless you already happen to subscribe to Smith’s worldview.

Illustration of Paradise Lost by John Martin

Link to the Alt-Market article: http://www.alt-market.com/articles/3651-luciferianism-a-secular-look-at-a-destructive-globalist-belief-system

Who are the Satanic Reds?

After my two recent posts I sense that, perhaps, there may be some interest in discussion over the group I mentioned called The Satanic Reds, the Satanist organization that also happened to be communist. Just who are they, and just who is Tani Jantsang, the group’s founder?

I suppose we can start with Tani Jantsang first. She appears to have been active in either the Satanic movement or just occultism more generally since the 1960s. She seems to have started out as a big fan of H P Lovecraft during the 1960s, when she intially encountered his writings, and in 1965 she came into contact with a group that was purportedly known as Societas Selectus Satanas, an organization that we know next to nothing about (although at least one person claims that there was actually no Societas Selectus Satanas and in fact what is referred to as such was actually a sect of “Family Tradition” Wicca), of which she believed the fantasy author Lin Carter was a member. As the 60s progressed, Jantsang’s interest in Lovecraft was so intense that it began to intertwine with her spiritual outlook. She started to believe that Lovecraft was connected to an ancient “Black Tradition” of magick that originated in Mongolia and unspecified parts of central Asia, and in 1969 she joined a magical order called Starry Wisdom, which appears to have been inspired by Lovecraft. In future decades she would also go on to become a prolific author of several essays, novels, and poems, many of them themed around the Chthulhu mythos, and she along with a man named Philip Marsh were also the editors of a magazine called Chthulhu Cultus, which ran from 1995 to 2001. In 1974, Tani and Philip formed an organization known as the Kishites, named for the ancient Sumerian (though they claim it to be Babylonian) city of Kish, which seemed to combine the Lovecraftian mythos with Tantric lore and other spiritual systems. In fact, Tani considers the Satanic Reds to be a continuation of the Kishite sect, albeit stripped of any references to Lovecraftian fiction.

cthulhu-cultus-issues-through_1_39243a3e2d391c16fc59adfccda95ad6
A volume of Cthulhu Cultus

Besides her work on Lovecraftian fiction, Tani is also apparently known for being a co-author of 11 historiographical monographs of various incarnations of Left Hand Path spirituality, so she seems to be a seasoned author of both fiction and non-fiction within the realm of Satanism. She is also an enigmatic figure in the movement, relatively obscure nowadays compared to the likes of Peter Gilmore or Michael Aquino (not to mention that very few photos of her exist), and so her life and involvement within Satanism sometimes the subject of rumour, speculation, and even drama. She is sometimes said to have been a Magistra of the Church of Satan in the past, a claim that Tani herself denies. She does seem to have had some correspondence with the Church of Satan, via letters that were sent between her and the Church of Satan between 1992 and 2000. In these letters she was praised by both Anton LaVey and Blanche Barton on various points, such as her pronouncements against the Nazis (or “Aryanists”), various articles of hers that were evidently submitted to the Church of Satan, and some music that she showed them that was apparently composed by her, as well as her correspondence with Anton’s son Xerxes. This is in itself would not be proof of her being a Magistra, but there is a quote of her saying that she was a Magistra going around in old Google forums dating back to 2003. It’s not entirely clear where this quote originates. Her relationship with the Church of Satan appears to have been amicable at first, and she also defended their doctrine of Satan as a dark force in nature against the Temple of Set, but by the time of her last correspondence with Blanche Barton there seems to have been a falling out between her and her organization, supposedly over her increasingly vocal anti-fascist pronouncements against some members of the Church of Satan.

Now, this is very interesting because, in a previous correspondence with Blanche Barton, dated to 1995, Blanche praises Tani for condemning the Nazis in the organization. In fact, Blanche refers to the “Aryanists” (as she calls them) as lacking nobility and purpose and accuses their cosmology and methods of being linked to Christianity (which is silly but at least it seems like she opposed Nazism). Curiously, this is the same year in which Blanche wrote that article for Black Flame in which she gaslighted Satanists who were expressing concern about the presence of fascists in the organization. But by the year 2000, it seems that Tani Jantsang had began calling them out again, in a similar way that she had before only perhaps more vocally, and this time that seems to have pissed off Blanche Barton and others in the Church of Satan. And that gets into some questions. How is it that the Church of Satan, an organization that, as I’ve demonstrated, has had a longstanding association with fascists up to the top of its hierarchy since its early years, would find itself admitting a self-identified communist into their ranks? Perhaps they weren’t lying after all when they said they were an apolitical organization? But then again why would they sideline a member or associate who they previously praised because of her vocal criticism of fascism, after previously praising such criticism?

However, I would be being one-sided if I did not bring up the fact of Tani’s own associations with fascists. I already talked about how she used to be a member of the fascist Order of the Left Hand Path, but she also seems to have known James Madole, the leader of the fascist National Renaissance Party. There is an interview in which Jantsang recounts meeting with Madole, along with a few other Nazis, who shit-talked Anton LaVey and ranted about him being a Jew and supposedly “taking over the dialobic current”, that presumably was just a noble Aryan pagan warrior cult before he showed up (I tell you, the delusions that these volkisch fascists conjure within themselves never ceases to be entertaining). In addition it is known that Madole, who is noted for his fascination with occultism, was also, like Tani Jantsang, very interested in the writings of H. P. Lovecraft, which leads me to believe that it was probably through this that the two initially became acquainted decades ago. And much later in life, despite calling out the Nazism of Church of Satan members, we find an interview she did in 2007 in which she praises Pat Buchanan’s books Where the Right Went Wrong and A Republic, Not An Empire as accurate books that everyone should read and even claimed that they constituted satanic literature, despite the notable handicap of Pat Buchanan and his vision for American society being characterized by conservative Christianity. And can I just say, isn’t it strange that a self-proclaimed Marxist would have such a high opinion of a man who believes that Jewish Marxists are responsible for the decline of Western Civilization? Not to mention, in that same interview, she praises the work of the white nationalist Kevin McDonald for his book The Culture of Critique, which argues that Jews are genetically predisposed towards ethnocentrism and to infiltrate white societies in order to eliminate their white populations and replace them with non-white peoples, and was directly inspired by the “Great Replacement” myth, and she also seems to dabble in Eurabia-style conspiracy theories, and along with that some ideas that sound suspiciously like the talking points of the far-right, when she says this:

Some of the Islamics even admit that they are unarmed invaders that will outbreed the Europeans and simply take over their societies and destroy their culture. These European countries have their own cultures and they are secular and advanced civilizations. I’d hate to see Western Civilization lost. It just might take extreme measures to fix what’s wrong in Europe. Playing the political correctness game has to stop if European culture, language and civilization is to survive this onslaught – and that means in the USA too. I regard the USA as primarily a European-culture nation, Western Civilization, post enlightenment. It should stay that way.

In addition to this, in her article about “Generational Satanism“, she says “I also said, “JEWS are Generational Satanists, and THEY RULE YOU.”. On the other hand, she also gives Jews quite a bit of credit within the remit of her ostensibly materialistic philosophy, in the sense that she holds that Jews are hated by Christians because hold the view that there is no heavenly afterlife. So, with all that in mind, I actually wonder why she would come out against the Nazis if she appears to harbour anti-semitic sympathies herself? Is it truly because of a moral opposition to the ideological program of Nazism (which, as I surely don’t need to tell you, is inseparable from anti-semitism), or is it just because she thinks of the Nazis as obvious bad guys, or because they’re most likely to actually bring her harm should they ever take power in her country? It’s hard for me to say, and I don’t think the answer to this question is going to be a particularly good one, since she appears to promote white nationalist (and blatantly anti-semitic) thinkers and ideas when given the chance. I think that Tani seems to be very confused on the question of Jews and anti-semitism, and, as we’ll see, politics more generally.

Good luck squaring this with one of the pro-FDR articles the Satanic Reds has, Ms Jantsang

Returning to drama, though, there’s also a weird drama that Tani Jantsang has concerning Michael Aquino and the Temple of Set. There was an apparent incident involving Aquino in 1972, when he was still a member of the Church of Satan, in which the Lovecraftian lodges seemed to get into conflict with Aquino over some manuscripts that it is claimed were written by Lin Carter. Jantsang’s critics accuse her of plagiarizing an essay that was originally written by Michael Aquino. There’s also the matter of the Order of the Left Hand Path, and the circumstances surrounding her leaving the order. She recalls that she “started a shitfight” with Bolton, and this was likely motivated by an increased sense of ideological divergence and the apparently dogmatic tendencies of its leader, Kerry Bolton. She accused Bolton of having used the idea of the Dark Doctrines to browbeat people into submission. This split caused the Order of the Left Hand Path to reconstitute into the Ordo Sinistra Vivendi in 1994, and in the process jettisoning the influence of Jantsang’s doctrine and other Eastern influences in favour of a doctrine inspired by the Order of Nine Angles.

Her drama is not entirely limited to Satanist groups, as she seems to have been in some sort of feud with a secretive communist group called Maoist Internationalist Movement, which considered her to be a terroristic anti-communist agitator. Jantsang, in turn, considers MIM to be an FBI COINTELPRO group that also endorses terrorists and attacks other communist organizations (which, to be fair, considering the fact that the CIA started up and supported Maoist groups in the 1960s for the purposes of splintering the communist movement, would not be without precedent). And in general, from what I have noticed of her writings or rather her exchanges on forums and particularly the old group chats she started from the early 2000s, she had the tendency to be highly polemical and defensive to the point of being excessively confrontational and often vulgar towards others, which lends to some sharp dramatic tendencies. This also lends itself to some extreme positions being on her part, such as her apparent opinion that the US should drop nuclear bombs on Afghanistan. I must say, if she is a Marxist, she must be a very confused one. For instance, in the quotation wherein she identifies herself as a Magistra of the Church of Satan, she also identifies herself as a Stalinist, but in another post she describes Stalin as a totalitarian dictator (and in that case she’d be right about that btw).

All of this comes from what little information is out there about Tani Jantsang herself, gleamed from a handful of books on the subject, the Satanic Reds website, and a series of forums often dating back around half a decade. Even from this, there are many who doubt even the most basic details about her, including her very name. Some believe that Tani Jantsang is actually a woman named Tanya Lysenko, or Phyllis Rose, or Phyllis Rosenbaum, but these come from a few old forum posts and I have no way of verifying the authenticity of such claims. So, in many ways, a lot of her life seems to be a mystery.

tanijantsang
One of the only existing photos of Tani Jantsang, possibly from 1977.

But enough about Tani herself, let’s talk about The Satanic Reds as an organization. They were founded by Tani Jantsang and Philip Marsh in 1997, decades after their formation of the Kishites and a couple of years after her involvement with the Order of the Left Hand Path. It’s unknown how many members they have, though Tani Janstang claims that the group has 800 members. This organization bases itself on two identifiable core doctrines – the first is what they call the Dark Tradition or Dark Doctrines and the second is what they call Social Realism. The Dark Doctrines is their way of referring to their overall cosmology and the line of esoteric tradition that they claim to draw from. The basic idea of this is that there’s an ancient tradition of Tantra that constitutes the primordial form of Satanism, which Tani claims is found not only in ancient Tantric Hinduism but also in the Pythagorean tradition, Advaita Vedanta and “Turanian” mysticism. The cosmological doctrine of the Dark Tradition is based on the idea of Sat, Tan, and Asat, with Sat and Tan in particular supposedly forming the primordial basis for the archetype of Satan. Sat is the name of the concept that they define to be the Boundless Darkness, the substance of the All which is then infused into all things and particularly living beings as Atma (the Hindu concept of the soul), and the source of the light, or the Flame as it were. Tan is the name of the force by which this Darkness is infused into all of creation, and in a broader sense the process of Becoming. Satan, in this light, is interpreted the synthesis of these two, the unfolding and its object, and thereby the embodiment of the creative process by which all things come into being in the universe. Asat in this doctrine is their word for Non-Being, which is described as giving rise to Sat or Being (much like Wuji, or the Without Ultimate, gives rise to Taiji, or the Supreme Ultimate, in Taoist cosmology), but they also seem to use it to refer to temporal or temporary phenomenon within the cosmos.

Although I’m not convinced that it is the historical representation of Tantra (or Satanism for that matter) that Tani Jantsang purports it to be, it does seem to derive from Tantric Hinduism in the use of several Hindu concepts possibly connected to Tantra. The connection to Tantra may, however, just be as stretched as the name Tan supposedly being the basis of the word Tantra, in which case this is just a particularly inventive system of religious syncretism. And such a syncretism is not an uninteresting one either, in all fairness. In Sat and Tan we could extrapolate a dynamic of creation associated with some pantheistic belief systems, in which Tan becomes the creative impetus or force which compels the generation of things upon the embryo of the universe. There’s also the invocation of various archetypal links – there’s wrathful Buddhist deities such as Shri Kalachakra and Mahakala, there’s the Tao, there’s Sanat Kumara (who for them refers to the five Kumaras which are the five Tan that make up the five points of the pentagram in their tradition), and there’s the Slavic deity Chernobog (or “Chynerii Bog”), which are all taken to be names of this force of darknesss. They also seem to root themselves in the idea of unity with Nature, or more specifically their own Nature, and in their Nine Postulates (their own take on the Nine Satanic Statements), they stress that humans are of Nature, and that those who try to rebel against their own nature, thereby defying Nature more broadly, spiritually die and become nothing, and I think the emphasis on nature does sound nice if framed from the perspective of the Ziran concept found in Taoism. The term for a person who defies Nature is called a Klippoth, which for them means Nothing, but in one article Tani Janstang also uses the term Setian, as in a follower of Michael Aquino’s doctrine, in a similar way, to refer to someone who, like the Christian, detaches himself from the natural world and views themselves apart from (or indeed threatened) by it, which in my view seems to be an attack on the Setian doctrine of human self-consciousness (and Set, its progenitor) as being outside of and apart from nature and the Satanist therefore as seeking to seperate from nature. Honestly, that’s quite the burn. She also calls them pretas, a Hindu/Buddhist term referring to the “hungry ghosts”.

The major problem, however, is that Tani’s concept of a Dark Tradition is ultimately ahistorical. There is nothing tracing her doctrines of Sat, Tan and Asat, or indeed the Satanic pentagram, to Pythagoras or the Pythagoreans – indeed, we all know that the Satanic pentagram in its modern form can be traced to 19th century occultism, where it was used as a negative symbol asssociated with the forces of subversion and opposition to God. There is also nothing linking her particular philosophy to the original Tantra in the historicist sense, and there is certainly no etymological link between Sat, Tan and Satan. I would perhaps appreciate it if Tani and the Satanic Reds were honest about the fact that this philosophy is their own syncretic invention, and in this sense a modern doctrine, but it seems they’re rather invested in the idea that this is just something that people have always believed in if it weren’t for those pesky Christians (which, given what we’ve already established about her associations with volkisch fascists, sounds like it’s not too different from what they believe about how everyone followed Esoteric Hitlerism or some such until the Jews decided that we shouldn’t), and given her claims to “Turanian” heritage, it almost feels like a massive projection of a sense of ethnic identity. Not to mention, her writings on the Dark Doctrines, much like her comments in general, are difficult to read and make sense of for some reason. There’s a certain disjointedness to her writing style, I often find it difficult to grasp her work, not because of its ostensible profundity but instead because everything feels jumbled and it’s hard to make sense of what she’s saying. It’s like she has some sort of communication problem.

The pentagram is an ancient symbol anyway, so it probably predated Pythagoras or the Pythagoreans

As for Social Realism, this is the name given to the political ideology of the Satanic Reds doctrine. It’s not really given its own definition, it just seems to be a moniker they give to their particular left-wing politics and its synthesis with Satanism. Now, it’s here that we come to one thing that I never really addressed in this post, which is probably the most interesting subject of this matter, is the question of how exactly do you be both a communist and Satanist, given that Satanism at large tends be an anti-egalitarian philosophy that in particular has a habit of embracing Social Darwinism? Whilst I can’t speak for other Satanists who happen to consider themselves communist, the Satanic Reds apparently have their own way of reconciling it, and, to be quite honest, it’s confusing. Even though the Satanic Reds are referred to as communist and their logo can be seen brandishing the hammer and sickle symbol of the Bolshevik movement, their FAQ seems to suggest that they are not in fact strictly socialist, but instead are both capitalists and socialists, or more specifically supporters of Dirigist capitalism, which they maintain is a form of socialism (to which any other Marxist, myself included, would laugh and then tell you to read basic Marxist theory as regards socialism and/or communism). What’s more, they seem to purport that they self-identify as “Reds” (meaning communists) not because of any actual adoption of communist ideology but because Franklin Roosevelt, whose New Deal programs they appear to support, was considered a communist back in his day, and, in their words, “if F. D. Roosevelt was a Red, then so are we!”.

This suggests that they are not in fact communists, or even socialists, but instead New Deal progressives who dress up their ideology in communist garb for nakedly contrarian reasons. In fact, they apply this logic to everything else as well. They embrace the label Red (or communist) on the grounds that liberals, feminists, gay rights advocates, advocates of social and religious tolerance, anti-racists, anti-fascists, and advocates of state planning or regulationist economic reforms, have all been considered communists at one point or another by right-wing reactionaries, and so being a communist to them simply means an expression of support for all of these things (oddly enough without the actual communism to support it). This is ultimately not so much an expression of meaningful communist politics so much as it is getting willfully hung-up on the fact that right-wingers, especially Republicans, have done what they will do even to conservative Democrats: so long as they are running against the GOP, the GOP’s supporters will denounce them as communists. Hell, even Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican President, was demonized as a communist by the John Birch Society over opposition to the military-industrial complex among other issues, but you can bet for certain that the Satanic Reds will never vote Republican just because of that. The overall stance follows from the logic that those who do not adopt Christianity are considered Satanists, so you might as well adopt that identity. Tani herself is an example of this; she claims to be “generational Satanist”, in that she claims her family was Satanists, but in reality they were likely not Satanists and Tani herself describes them as “non-Islamic Turko-Tartars” who she claims practiced a syncretic religion based on Tibetan Buddhism, Taoism, Tantric Hinduism (or “Tantric-Vedantic concepts”) and some form of shamanism.

And look, I know it can seem tempting to some left-leaning individuals on the internet to embrace the commie label just because reactionary forces and right-wing idiots deem them to be communists and will call you a communist no matter what you do, but consider the reverse of this phenomenon. For ages, Democrats have had a bad habit of calling their Republican enemies Nazis, and outside of America you will often find people with a left-leaning bent who will call various right-wing politicians fascists or Nazis, regardless of whether or not they are actually fascists or Nazis. Now, if hypothetically a right-winger were to say that he decided to move to the far-right on the grounds that “the left” has decided that everything’s fascist now, would you be willing to believe them or take them seriously? Come on, I’ve seen that Matt Bors comic you guys like to share. Of course you don’t buy it. So why do this for yourselves through the label of communism? Now, I get that it makes a tiny bit of sense if you take it from the lens of Satan being the archetype of opposition to the establishment or whatever, but the way you manifest that within a leftist outlook is through the union of the Satanic archetype and a meaningfully radically outlook. Apparently the anarchists managed to do it since the 19th century, so why can’t these guys?

Put it this way: it’s like being a hardcore Marxist-Leninist who’s otherwise a die-hard Bernie or Corbyn supporter, even though it ultimately doesn’t make much sense.

That being said, however, the Satanic Reds website contains multiple links to various articles written by either Tani Jantsang or other members outlining their postulations about communism, socialism, and even dialectical materialism – the very philosophical basis of Marxism. It may be interesting, therefore, to examine them.

For one thing, they have an article in which they argue for dialectical materialism as the analytical method of their organization, which to me suggests that perhaps they are Marxists. They have an article that harshly criticizes Ayn Rand, pointing out that the ideal man of Rand is a sociopath and was possibly inspired by a serial killer named William Hickman (who abducted and dismembered a 12 year old girl in 1927) on the grounds that his behaviour was a sign that he defied societal convention. This is quite a big deal in the Satanist movement because it strikes against the Randian inspirations that helped shaped the Satanism that began with Anton LaVey. In a similarly epic blow to Satanist orthodoxy, they also have an article featuring essays by Tani Jantsang and Ole Wolf which criticizes the “might makes right” doctrine found in the mainstay of Satanic philosophy introduced by Anton LaVey. They have an article in which Lucifer is interpreted as a champion of proletarian revolution through the lens of communist ideology. They have an article which praises Star Trek for what it sees as exploring the rammifications of a socialistic economy and refuting libertarian economic expectations. They have an article from someone praising the education system of the Soviet Union. They also (rather regrettably) have an essay of selection of quotes from Lavrenty Beria (who, to my mind, was pretty much the worst officer in the USSR who died the death he deserved). They even have annotated versions of On Contradiction and On Practice by Mao Zedong (the originals of which are excellent works on dialectical materialism), however these commentaries appear to consist of minor edits to the original works, do not effectively explicate a synthesis between Mao’s doctrine and theirs beyond basically claiming his concepts in On Contradiction as their own, appending their own names to the original.

It seems obvious to me that we are dealing people who are, at least in some sense, socialists, and they operate within Marxism in particular. Tani herself I think is a Marxist-Leninist of some type (judging by the fact that she once called herself a Stalinist, which is the name of a specific tendency within Marxism-Leninism). In some ways, I find them to be convincing leftists. However, I also find them to be confused. On the one hand, you have all of this material that establishes a credible Marxist ideological current for themselves, but on the other, their Q&A establishes that they might actually be pro-capitalist in the sense of Dirigist or New Deal capitalism. I’d say that they’re being a bit too coy about their political beliefs if you ask me.

The last thing I want to address about their doctrine is their views on the definition of the Right Hand Path and the Left Hand Path. It seems that they are simultaneously of the Left Hand Path and not of the Left Hand Path, in that they define the Left Hand Path and the Right Hand Path as inseparable parts of each other that, when separated, are reduced to falsity and error. Tani points out that the LHP and the RHP are, in their original Tantric context, defined not by their respective goals (because they had the same goal of attaining unity with God) but by their respective methods, but also suggests that LHP refers to Yin (the passive principle) while RHP refers to Yang (the active principle). This would be a strange idea because it would require us to categorize whether or not the Vamachara methods of transgression as either passive or active, or whether or not transgression itself is passive or active. And under this framework, transgression in the active sense, of all kinds, is RHP, even the Luciferian impulse and even violent revolution against the status quo. By the way, speaking of Lucifer, in this article Tani Jantsang claims that the term Lucifer was never used to refer to Satan until John Milton wrote Paradise Lost, when in reality the identification likely begins with Jerome.

And, that’s pretty much all I want to talk about with regards to the organization. The only other thing I could say about them is that it seems their website hasn’t been updated in several years. In the year 2020, this website still looks like it’s the late 1990s or early 2000s, suggesting that the website has not been updated at all since the group became somewhat popular in the early online Satanist scene of that time.

satanicreds
This old logo is probably the best one you can find

Overall, I find that the Satanic Reds are a group that could have had some promise in its weird mixture of Tantra, Satanism and Marxism, but while there are several promising elements I can’t say that it’s a well-executed synthesis. And it doesn’t look like the movement is still active and today it is largely treated as obscure footnote in the history of Satanism, which is kind of a shame because there was a lot going on in the background of the organization’s history that also ties in with the history of the Church of Satan. As for Tani Jantsang herself, I find her to be a very strange figure. On the one hand, she is commendable in being one of the few Satanists out there to actively try and challenge things like “might makes right” and Ayn Rand style individualism within the remit of Satanism, and there are aspects of her doctrine I find interesting, but on the other hand she also seems to be kind of a kook, she ultimately failed to produce the kind of refined synthesis that would be serviceable and ripe for expanding upon. And, on top of that, despite her commendable opposition to Nazis within the Satanic movement, it also seems that she, for a long time in her life, herself associated with fascists, and appears to have sympathies with white nationalists and the works of white nationalists and anti-semites, and I think that’s simply unacceptable.

I think, in the end, that the kind of thing that Tani Jantsang seeks would be better acheived by doing for Anton LaVey what Karl Marx did for Georg Willhelm Friedrich Hegel. Just as Marx took the foundation of Hegel’s dialectical philosophy and reconstituted it as a doctrine built upon materialism rather than idealism, so too must a Marxist running either within or adjacent to the Left Hand Path continuity take a foundation of something like Anton LaVey or whatnot and reconstitute it into a new philosophy using dialectical materialism. That is what I believe Jantsang would do if she were a more capable intellect, and in some ways it is the primary goal of my studies, wherever that path takes me.

Into the Devil’s Den: Carl Abrahamsson and the whitewashing of the Church of Satan

I was meaning to write this post much sooner, after Anton LaVey – Into the Devil’s Den was released on Vimeo, but I became busy over the last few weeks, dealing with personal matters in large part, and I got little time to sit down and watch the film. And then, as I was writing this post, the election in the UK drew closer and closer, so I decided wait until after the election, when I wrote my commentary on the election results, before publishing this post. But now, at last, I can present my thoughts on the film, and the rather morbid discoveries about the Church of Satan I made as I began writing about it.

Back in April of this year I became aware of an Indiegogo campaign started by Carl Abrahamsson to crowdfund a film project entitled Anton LaVey – Into the Devil’s Den. Abrahamsson apparently met LaVey at some point in 1989, and the angle of this documentary, in contrast to other documentaries about LaVey or the Church of Satan, is to bring forward a perspective about LaVey by those who knew him closely, and others who seem to continue the work he left behind after he died. After many months of waiting since then, it seems that the documentary is finally out and available to watch online on Vimeo, which I did. What follows is a review of what I saw.

Right off the bat I get the sense that this film has a rather gushing take on LaVey, as evidenced by the way the opening screen describes the film as “the titillating tale of one courageous character who took on an entire world of stupidity and mediocrity”. But we also get this sense from the way Abrahamsson introduces LaVey and his work early in the film. He describes encountering The Satanic Bible as a teenager, through an apparent interest in occultism, American pop culture and generally weird things, and he describes his love for the book as a primer of magical manipulation that in his view scared the simple minded. The sense of elitism isn’t lost on me, I think. Oh don’t get me wrong, I’m sure LaVey shocked many people in his time, but, as you’ll soon see, the fear and awe I think is largely misplaced among both the masses of the time and LaVey’s ardent supporters.

For now though, let’s note that we learn quite a bit of how Carl presumably came to know LaVey – through his rock band, which was called The White Stains, and a friend named Genesis P-Orridge, the famous experimental musician of the band Psychick TV. In 1988, The White Stains released a song entitled Sweet Jayne, which was apparently all about an actress named Jayne Mansfield, who had a romantic relationship with Anton LaVey at one point in time, and then Carl sent that song to LaVey on the advice of Genesis P-Orridge, and LaVey then inducted Carl as a member of the Church of Satan.

Carl Abrahamsson and Anton LaVey

Anyways, the actual movie appears to be a series of interviews from people who knew LaVey and talk about him. Hardly something that isn’t for the “faint of heart” whoever they may be, but I digress. The first interview is conducted with a woman named Blanche Barton, who is Magistra Templi Rex at the Church of Satan and the last romantic partner Anton LaVey had before he died. What’s interesting is how, in the start of her interview, she recounted hearing of LaVey through The Satanic Bible, which she discovered through her interest in witchcraft, and she thought of LaVey as being rather full of himself initially, and was not initially very interested in The Satanic Bible, and it was only after a book called The Devil’s Avenger: A Biography of Anton Szandor LaVey was released that she began to learn more about him, and began to praise him for his apparent love of life, and his disdain for conventional Christianity, and after reading about other Satanists she felt his philosophy begin to make sense to her. Another individual, a writer named Robert Johnson, author of The Satanic Warlock, praised him for “having the balls” to write The Satanic Bible. Another, LaVey’s secretary Margie Bauer, praised LaVey as someone who thinks the way that she thought for her whole life. Several individuals speak of LaVey as having been a major part of their respective lives through their discovery of him and The Satanic Bible or other books of his during their youth. Peter Gilmore, current leader of the Church of Satan, described his encounter with The Satanic Bible, and feeling an immediate sense of resonance towards the book, and its dramatic flair.

The first fifteen minutes of interviews consists of a very autobiographical lens from the many individuals shown in the film, and after this Carl takes over to narrate about how we must understand Satanic philosophy by beginning with the early life of Anton LaVey. It’s recounted that LaVey grew up by a place called Playland in San Francsico (also known as Playland at the Beach), which was basically a big amusement park that hosted all sorts of rides, attractions and music until it was closed down in 1972, and also visited the Golden Gate Exposition in Treasure Island. Like many boys at the time he liked the rides and the escapism, perhaps as he got older he appreciated the “girly shows” featuring scantily clad ladies. One thing I find worthy of note is that Carl notes that those shows immersed you in the promise that you would be getting more than you actually got, which honestly tells me that those shows were a giant tease at best and debatably false advertising at worst and then based on that it’s pretty weird that LaVey would come to join the circus and form his philosophy in part based on the imprint that this left him. More than that, apparently we get the sense that his interest in the occult came directly from his time working in the circus, or according to Carl the lessons about human psychology he learned from working at the circus (which essentially boils down to “people need to let off steam”).

One other noteworthy thing about the documentary as a whole is that it’s not solely a third-person account of LaVey’s life and beliefs. At certain points, we find the documentary interspersed with clips of Anton LaVey during interviews. The first of which is him explaining his beliefs about Satan, where he explains that for him Satan represents everything that is rebellious, pioneering, “achievement-oriented” and critical, as well as cynical and questioning – essentially, that LaVeyan take on what is basically the John Galt archetype that Ayn Rand already gave us. One of the guests notes that LaVey’s concept of Satan is an examination of the fact that many of the pleasurable things in life have been rendered Satanic by conventional religions, and then essentially LaVey decided that if that’s the case then he should be a Satanist. Of course what he must not have realized is that this in fact resigns him to Christian morality via its shadow rather than representing the fight against Christianity, but I digress. I don’t like the fact that another guest makes the claim that LaVey reached back into “primeval philosophy” to form his own intellectual family tree, because the reality of it is that this just isn’t true. We know for a fact where LaVey got his ideas from: Ayn Rand, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ragnar Redbeard, Playboy, and carny culture. It wasn’t the continuation of a heritage of ancient philosophy or anything like that, it was effectively just an eclectic modern product drawn from specific 19th-20th century philosophies, hedonism and popular culture. But for all this, LaVey is praised as having a better understanding of human nature. Then we talk about artifical human companions and “total environments”, but also some more respectable talk about the decadence of Christian institutions such as the Catholic Church. It’s easy to see that LaVey came across as a striking figure to the people being interviewed, offering a new perspective on the Christian culture, and life more generally, that had not yet been unleashed to the world, and thus it activated quite a few imaginations, even if for some of the wrong reasons. As a side-note, one interesting point Blanche Barton does bring up is the point of rule by “poor me syndrome”, which, of course, is a rather apt descriptor of how bourgeois liberal politics operates nowadays. Though honestly, I think many of the guests give LaVey too much credit for what is otherwise observed to be the great liberalization of society, the effects of which have been observed by many for decades. Even the “poor me syndrome” type has had a certain public consciousness for decades that isn’t neatly attributable to LaVey, and in fact has been capitalized on by his Christian conservative enemies throughout the 1990s and beyond.

Just one example of what I mean here

At a certain point we arrive upon the subject of the Church of Satan and its establishment, as well as the attention that this garnered from the media. One curious detail sticks out. In the news clip featuring a Satanic wedding between two socialites, the narrator commented that the wedding appeared to smack of a publicity stunt, on account of the fact that, the very next day, the couple acquired a conventional wedding license. Arguably a minor detail in the context of the film as a whole, but nonetheless moderately significant in the context of the Church of Satan more generally, suggesting that the many socialites who became curious about the Church of Satan had no real attachment to Satanism as a tradition, and instead simply became attracted to it as a nexus of bourgeois or petit-bourgeois hedonism. Through this, we still get expositions of philosophy, and at that, LaVey’s characterization of the ideal Satanic society, which is to say a stratified society in which, for him, individuals would be free to live in “total environments” of their own chosing. What is a total environment? Well, in LaVeyan Satanist parlance, the total environment appears to be a psycho-magickal space of isolation in which the individual may retreat from the crowd in order to engage in a type of psychological evocation and intellectual decompression through ritual psychodrama involving many aesthetic components, such as fetishism, possibly shared with artificial companions. But you’d never guess this from the examples brought up by LaVey and his followers. In the interview clip, LaVey mentions that successful experiments in the field of total environments have been conducted, and the examples he lists are Disneyland, Disney World (or the Walt Disney World Resort), and Epcot Center, on the grounds that they basically serve as a kind of escapism (or as he puts it they allow individuals to play a role suited to their lifestyle and happiness).

Now, honestly, this is an aspect of Satanic philosophy that I hadn’t considered, even during my time as an avowed Satanist, but now that I re-examine it, there’s something bothersome about it. I mean, think about it. For a start, all of the examples LaVey gave in that interview clip are extensions of the Walt Disney Company – the Epcot Center, as I’m sure many are familiar with, is part of the Walt Disney World Resort. And of course the Church of Satan’s website offers us the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (a chain of theme parks based on the Harry Potter franchise) as another example. This is the total environment in practice? Massive theme parks? I suppose one can’t help but get the impression that this is a product of his upbriging adjacent to Playland at the Beach, but what we’re talking about, let’s face it, is consumerism. And not only that, consumerism peddled to us by multinational corporations. Kind of makes you think, doesn’t it? But beyond theme parks, the Church of Satan’s website also offers such examples as virtual reality, the video game industry, and ancient Rome, which had many forms of entertainment designed to distract the populace, including the infamous gladiatorial games. Essentially, what this means is that the freedom that LaVey describes with total environments is only the freedom to disengage from society and collective action and submerge into consumerism, in order that one might distract oneself from the harsh realities of life – or, perhaps, the iniquities, subjections and machinations of a state that has immense power over you, the individiual. The latter is particularly relevant when dealing with the fact that LaVey asks for a society built on stratification. In essence, what we get from this is a vision of a society in which you are a subject within a rigid social hierarchy, and those at the top have incredible power over you and have quite a bit of license to do as they do (even in my Satanist days I’ve never been keen on this aspect of LaVey’s thought), and your only real liberty thus consists of, essentially, consumerism. I’m sad to say that this is not a liberating vision for society. In fact, if anything it almost reads like a mirror of bourgeois society, perhaps a chilling vision of the future to come as capitalism reaches its futuristic phase at a time of almost total consolidation of power. In other words, a dystopian, totalitarian nightmare where the pleasure principle rules supreme that it may obscure power and its mechanisms from the masses. But what did LaVey’s followers and admirers make of this? Not much apparently.

Michael Moynihan (yes, that Michael Moynihan) talks about “good guy badges” and some such about the incongruity between the good guys and their wicked private lives, which is fine and all until you remember that this guy edited collections of writings from James Mason, the neo-Nazi who wrote the infamous book Siege and also happened to be a convicted and admitted paedophile (he was arrested for and gled guilty to sexually abusing a teenager and possessing child pornography). Peggy Nadramia talks about how LaVey said “the animals should be our gurus”, which apparently meant that we should observe animal behaviour in order to understand our own priorities – itself a somewhat salient point, but one that ironically serves to betray LaVey’s philosophical ideals (if you observe ravens, for example, you’ll find that they are a highly monogamous species that punishes cheating, and if you observe most species more generally you find they embrace cooperation over internal competition). The general argument seems to be that because tigers don’t think about whether or not they’ve sinned that we shouldn’t either. But even though humans are animals, we are not the same animals, and we have developed complex moral thinking as part of our evolutionary development. I mean, put it this way, why would the bird, if it considered its own behaviour, think to emulate the nature of the fish? They are of different species, with different sets of behaviours. But no one really talks about the implications of a stratified social order supported by consumeristic escapism. Instead we move on to the subject of artifical companions, meaning of course robots, vis-a-vis a clip of LaVey talking about how he strived to make robots of people that would be more interesting and “palatable” than real humans. In LaVey’s ideal society, everyone will have a robotic companion (which he dubs a “real companion”) custom-made to their desires, and he thinks that’s a positive because everyone wants to feel better than someone else. What he describes is not real friendship, or companionship, or any kind of relationship other than a one-sided master-servant relationship between a conscious, sentient being and an automaton, and it cannot be any other way because, despite all the hype around artificial intelligence, a machine cannot truly emulate human intelligence nor possess consciousness. The automation can never be the equal of Man, and in some ways perhaps LaVey implicitly knows this which is why he makes no attempt to frame the robotic companion as the ultimate equal of their human counterpart.

Scene from the movie “Metropolis”, which I’m guessing LaVey must have gotten some fascination with robotics from

Then for some reason we move rather hastily on to music, or the idea of what “satanic music” should be. LaVey in an interview clip describes “satanic music” as music that “elicits a gut reaction” (which honestly could apply to any music), “sends a shiver down somebody’s spine” (again, almost any music), and music that really gets people thinking or feeling about something (almost any music). All of this can be applied to many non-satanic forms of music, so what’s so special here? Peter Gilmore talked about LaVey’s fascination with classical music and his tendency to practice the songs of Wagner and the like, and then we get to another clip about how real satanic music isn’t rock and roll, but instead a selection darkly-themed classical music songs (such as The Mephisto Waltz, Danse Macabre, Night On Bald Mountain and others), along with several other classical musicians, some of whom may have written songs about the Devil. Which of course gives the impression that satanic music is just classical music that’s about Satan, or something. Also there’s talk about music being a type of ritualism, and that Satanism in its foundations emerged from just the right aesthetic confluence associated with certain forms of music, but that’s about the extent of it.

Our next stop is when LaVey in an interview clip begins talking about the occult, and noted that the occult section of book stores consisted of things like dream books, books on fortune-telling and similar affairs, and how the only books about calling up spirits involved marshalling the protective names of Jehovah – in other words, traditional ceremonial magick. Poor LaVey doesn’t seem to have had much effect on your average book shop today – the spirituality section at Waterstone’s, probably the closest thing to an occult section there is, is not too different, it’s full of books about New Agery and whatnot, and the closest thing to the magick he might like is essentially just petit-bourgeois books on Wicca. And then of course we talk about magick, and how it worked. Well, actually, exactly how it worked insodar as the actual practical effect it had upon the external world isn’t discussed so much as just the premise that, well, it worked, and then we just move on to the Black House for some reason – about the fireplace that led to the bar, LaVey’s proclivity to mock even his fellow Church of Satan members, and how one of his guests thought there was a camera above the toilet, that perhaps might have been there for the purpose of voyeurism.

Then we come to talking about sex, a topic introduced by LaVey describing his attitude towards orgies, how he simply wasn’t particularly excited by them and how they aren’t a prerequisite to Satanism, instead the prerequisite being Epicureanism, by which he means “Epicurean sex”, which for him simply means you’re fussy about sex partiners – which is really a rather creative but also grossly reductive interpretation of the actual philosophy of Epicureanism. Seriously, read about Epicurus; there’s parts of his philosophy that almost line up with Buddhist philosophy at times, which I don’t think LaVey would have appreciated if he had known given that his philosophy is in many ways the total opposite of Buddhism. At first not much about his sexual philosophy is discussed beyond how sexy his book The Satanic Witch was, except for when Blanche Barton discusses how LaVey had “witch classes” or some such to teach women how to manipulate the minds of men to their desires – in other words how to teach women use men. It later seems that this also sort of relates to his opposition to feminism, which for my money is at least still one of his more salient positions. He evidently disagreed with a certain idea about women trying to emulate masculinity that was emerging in popular culture during the 70s and onwards, partly because to do so contradicts the nature of most women, but in his case it had more to do with the idea that it took away the specific power that women had that men did not, which Blanche does explain rather curiously terms of companionship and of woman being of the “right hand man” of men and leaders. Later on though we do get into the depths of LaVey’s general tolerance of just about any sex involving consenting adults, and to that end most sexualities (heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality and so forth).

We touch on Jayne Mansfield again, how LaVey considered her a sex goddess, how she was supposedly an active member of the Church of Satan before her untimely death in 1967, and how her death was not the result of a curse on his part. Much has been said about Mansfield’s death and the car crash that killed her, and it is apparently still the subject of mystery, but I think it goes without saying that her death wasn’t the work of a curse. Not just because curses don’t actually work, but because even within the occult community LaVey just wasn’t capable of a curse that would have that effect, or at least that’s what I get from Kenneth Anger, who claims that LaVey wasn’t powerful enough a magician to curse people into their deaths. In the same interview clip LaVey mentions that he was also interested in Marilyn Monroe, and that she had a profound interest in the dark side, however there is no evidence that Marilyn Monroe and Anton LaVey were ever together.

To be fair I’d be stretched to imagine Monroe being interested in anything

And then we return what honestly strikes me as the red thread of the movie: LaVey the aesthete. Carl narrates about the aesthetics of LaVeyan Satanism being drawn from a cavalcade of neo-noir films and dark photography, and the points to a film called Freaks, which was released in 1932 and directed by Tod Browning. In yet another interview clip from LaVey, LaVey talks about how he considered it to be a satanic movie because it apparently centered around the theme of retribution, the doctrine of lex talionis, “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth”. This incidentally is the first time in the whole film that this subject comes up, even within the scope of discussing the philosophy of Satanism. But the guests don’t appear to talk about that, they just talk about the film itself, and how they were fascinated by it. One guest even remarks how LaVey never talked to him about Satanism, Satan, witchcraft or any related subjects, but did talk to him about movies, movie directors and similar subjects. LaVey also liked to claim that film-noir itself was a satanic genre.

Then we talk about a famous interview that Anton LaVey did with Joe Pyne, and how LaVey handled himself during the interview. Pyne was notorious for his confrontional persona in his shows. His shows occaisionally devolved into violent outbursts, and at one point, while interviewing a black militant, he revealed on-air that he had concealed a handgun in his coat, and then his guest did the same, and in general he has a habit of ridiculing guests he disagrees with. So one could imagine LaVey would have a challenging time on Pyne’s show, but he seemed to be quite calm in the face of Pyne’s obnoxiousness. And then this segues into a broader tangent about people misunderstanding LaVey, how it became fashionable to misunderstand, which I’m sure was the case all the time. I think it’s worth noting that one of the guests notes that terms like “Satan”, “Satanism” or “Satanic” appealed to people who felt that there was something fake about the world around them as a sort of uncorrupted expression of this sentiment, and that such a concept could never be sanitized and made safe by consumerism. Well it’s been quite a long time since LaVey showed up and made his mark, and now the Church of Satan is embraced by liberals as a snarky Twitter persona and The Satanic Temple has reinvented Satanism as a force that is safe for a type of progressive politics that remains friendly to consumerism and the current system. Oh and not to mention that you can still sell plenty of metal music these days with the moniker of Satan slapped on it, and most bands don’t even believe in Satanism (to be honest I’m not even sure how many black metal bands really believe in it). So yeah, he’s pretty much wrong on that point. Peter Gilmore at one point says that the philosophy of The Satanic Bible was deliberately misrepresented by people who already read it and decided they opposed so that it could not be understood by the public, because they felt threatened by it as an alternative to their belief system. Well I’m sure that might been going through the minds of many Christian ideologues, but other than that the idea strikes me as an expression of self-importance.

And then, of course, we talk about Satan himself, the central object of Satanism, and here it seems Carl describes the appeal of Satan with a remarkable lack of ontological import. For him the value of Satan comes less from any actual values contained within the archetypal resonance of Satan but rather just the fact that he provoked Christians by virtue of being the bad guy in the Christian mythos. This for him was proof that Satan is a kind of “bullshit detector”, though really it’s just proof that we are dealing with a framework that cannot escape the shadow of Christianity. And in relation to the theme of identification with Satan, Blanche Barton points to examples of LaVey being approached by those who asked him “why not call it something other than Satanism?” on the grounds that it would be less controversial, and points out that being controversial was basically the point, and that by employing the concept of Satan you are using the power of language to thwack the initiate over the head with the unvarished form of the idea. As usual Blanche’s explanations tend to have quite a bit more content or even substance to them than the other guests, but ultimately we still see that the point is essentially contrarianism. Margie Bauer points out something similar, but with a much bigger tell towards pathological elitism, saying that the reason the Satanist chooses the term Satanism over Humanism is because the whole point is to alienate those who aren’t inclined towards your philosophy or exist within normalcy and stratify accordingly. Even LaVey himself seems to establish this in a later interview clip wherein Satan appears to be defined principly as opposition to just about any popular trends. But for all that one guest boasts that he’ll be taken seriously by anyone who reads him. One is tempted to say “if only”, but honestly I haven’t been able to return to The Satanic Bible for instance and look at it the same way I once did. I get the sense from that one guest that honestly the world is to be divided between those who read LaVey and agree with him, and those who disagree with him and are deemed to just not have read him, or not read him “correctly”. In the overall, the point is established quite clearly: only “a certain type of person” will and is supposed to embrace Satanism.

Yep, we’re dealing with basically this only more elitist and dressed in goth clothes

There’s also the broader point only by invoking Satan could an atheist have any real impact on the consciousness of society. Peter Gilmore says that you can throw a boulder in the pond with Satanism, but with baseline atheism or humanism you through only a pebble. And the problem with this, historically speaking, is that this isn’t really true. Sure Satanism made an impact on the public consciousness in that it shocked the masses to a certain extent, but this never translated to widespread popular support. By contrast, the more baseline atheists didn’t have a small impact as Peter Gilmore believes, in fact secularists have made major ripples in the public consciousness via major public debates about theism and atheism, and many atheist thinkers have since become and remain quite popular, certainly more popular than LaVey and the like have managed to become. So this thesis that LaVey’s followers have simply did not prove itself correct.

We then return to the red thread of LaVey the aesthete, which then leads us to the conclusion that Carl himself is rather the aesthete given that he was sort of lulled into Satanism in a sense by a reading of some dark poetry set to some dark music, and from there we’re also brought to a man named Adam Parfrey, who was an acquaintance of Carl’s. Now who is Adam Parfrey exactly? I covered him a bit in a post I wrote about The Satanic Temple last year, but basically he is the guy who ran a publishing company called Feral House, which deals in “forbidden” subject matter, and who also happens to be either a fascist or at least fascist-adjacent. Parfrey was friends with Boyd Rice, who in turn worked closely with actual white supremacists such Bob Heick and Tom Metzger and was himself a self-identified fascist, and he was a member of Rice’s Abraxas Foundation, which promoted an ideology based in totalitarianism and social Darwinism (in other words, fascism). Another buddy of his was a man named Nick Bougas, the man who made those infamous “Happy Merchant” illustrations which demonize Jews as schemers against white people under the alias A. Wyatt Mann. Through his Feral House company he published the works of Michael J Moynihan, who, although he denies being a far-righter and a fascist, himself edited the works of James Mason and Julius Evola, was for a time a member of the Abraxas Foundation, and is the editor of a journal called Tyr which combines reconstructionist/traditionalist paganism with third-positionist (which basically just means fascist) ideology, and apparently he even criticized Boyd Rice because he thought he was only aesthetically fasicst, as well as Robert Stark, a fascist who chats with people like Greg Johnson (from the alt-right website Counter-Currents) about eco-fascism.

Parfrey’s own work also contains elements of fascist ideology. In his book, Apocalypse Culture, he published many essays that were apparently attributed to fascists and fascist organizations, such as “Long Live Death” from the Abraxas Foundation, an essay called “The Christian Right, Zionism and the upcoming Penteholocaust” by a far-right Christian named Gregory Krupey and even “A New Dawn Has Come…” which is a selection of quotes from literally Adolf Hitler. The book also contains in various places several quotations from fascists such as Savitri Devi, Dan Burros, Boyd Rice, and Oswald Spengler, and also contains numerous posters for neo-Nazi groups such as the National Socialist Liberation Front (which James Mason was a member of during the 1970s) as well as a lionizing portrait of Hitler. Of course the book does not consist solely of fascist and far-right voices, as suggested by the inclusion of an essay from the anarchist Hakim Bey and the communist Red Brigades, suggesting in theory that the book is a platform for all sorts of ideological extremists, but despite this it does seem that the book consists of a lot of fascist authors and quotations. One of his own essays in that book is called “Eugenics: An Orphaned Science”, which cites Adolf Hitler and a wide variety of eugencists, as well as Plato and the Bible, to defend eugenics. And to top it all off, when Parfrey died he was praised by David Cole, who worked for his Feral House company and was also a Holocaust denier until 1998 (after which he became an activist for the Republican Party), who wrote a puff piece about him on Taki’s Magazine, which is run by a man named Taki Theodoracopulos, a Greek far-right ideologue who publicly defended the Wehrmacht and supports the neo-fascist Golden Dawn Party (who he insists are nothing more than the Greek equivalent of UKIP), and also likes the idea of samurais beheading liberals who slight him. So, in short, Adam Parfrey was a fascist, was friends with fascists, promoted the ideas of fascists and was beloved by the far-right.

Adam Parfrey and friends just chilling with Nick Bougas and a Nazi or two

OK, that having been established. How does this film handle him? Well, his ties to fascism don’t seem to be discussed at all, let’s just get that out of the way. Instead, Michael Moynihan talks about his love of obscure books and photography, and in particular their collaboration on a book called American Grotesque, which is a book about an artist named William Mortensen who was praised by Anton LaVey in The Satanic Bible for his dark work. Margie Bauer, of course, had absolutely nothing of substance to say about him. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be any tangible discussion of Adam Parfrey other than from Michael Moynihan. Parfrey was mentioned very briefly in the film, and then moments after we begin talking about him everyone just goes back to talking about how great LaVey was and Parfrey is never referred to again. All the more baffling is the fact that this was the case and yet the film was dedicated to Adam Parfrey in addition to Anton LaVey! Of course, given Parfrey’s fascist background, surely the fact that the film would be dedicated to him in itself seems all the more suspect than this fact alone.

One of the last sections of the film appears to be introduced by a clip of LaVey saying that the future of Satanism is assured and that nothing could retard it (except for, you know, the incompetence of the Church of Satan) and that Satanism is here to stay. And from there on out, his guests talk about how his legacy is basically everywhere, which really seems like rather obseqiuous praise to me considering that his legacy has been mostly insular to the Left Hand Path. One of the guests seems to say that his legacy has led to more individual freedom in the world, which of course doesn’t seem true to me considering we live in times where there is if anything less freedom in the world. That same guest basically equates his legacy to that of Tony Robbins, saying that Robbins and people like him all get their schtick from him. Not exactly a credit considering their line of work. Robert Johnson credits him with codifying the way most people already live their lives, which to be honest kind of smacks of that old “you may already be [insert religion here] and don’t even know it” canard that is sometimes employed by cults. Kenneth Anger points to him as proof that generally far out ideas can thrive without censure. Johnson claims that he would be amazed to see the Satanists of today “kicking ass and killing it”, a comment that can only come from self-delusion when you consider the present state of Satanism, dominated by an insufferably politically correct liberal organization, and beneath the surface you find numerous failed Theistic Satanist groups and actual esoteric fascist groups. Towards the end, there’s nothing left but praise of LaVey’s legacy, which I suppose is to be expected.

So in the overall, I don’t know what I was expecting with this film, but it was not a critical reflection of LaVey’s life and legacy. In general, a common thread with many of the guests being interviewed is that they still seem to be spellbound by Anton LaVey. The man has been dead for over twenty years at this point, his organization has failed to realize or proselytize the type of Satanic philosophy that LaVey championed (and indeed this failure began taking shape while LaVey was still alive), but for some reason his followers still seem to be captivated by his philosophy. What I get out of Carl Abrahamsson is that, although he clearly believes in the philosophy of Satanism at least to some extent, he appears primarily drawn to it for aesthetic reasons. It shows in the fact that the rammifications of LaVey’s philosophy are not adequately dealt with, and he does not have his guests discuss this in large part. Instead, a lot of attention is devoted to the aesthetics of Satanism, and him being spellbound by LaVey relates very much to aesthetic experience, rather than philosophical enlightenment. But then he was invited to join the Church of Satan in the first place just because he wrote a song about a lady who LaVey had a brief fling with and LaVey liked it enough for him to be approved as a member. Indeed, I think there is so much in the film that speaks the dark, occultnik aesthete, more than someone looking to consider his philosophical legacy, and some rather shady associations in his time that his guests would never answer for. I still find it telling that things like the doctrine of lex talionis and the Social Darwinist aspects of LaVeyan Satanism, despite being major aspects of LaVey’s philosopy, are never addressed in the entire film by either Carl or the many guests that appeared on the film, not even Michael Moynihan talked about it.

And, being as this film was partially dedicated to an actual fascist (namely Adam Parfrey), I think I may as well use the film to discuss one other detail about LaVey’s life, one that I’ve seen unearthed by some anti-fascists; his association with James Mason, and Mason’s praise of LaVey. I was horrified to find out about it, and, for a while, I couldn’t believe that such a detail would have gone unnoticed not only by myself but also by, well, other Satanists. But I didn’t say anything about it because I thought that the Church of Satan, given their more recent confrontations with some of the online left, would give me reason to have doubts about it. But I haven’t seen them talk about it, and I suppose I couldn’t expect Carl’s film to talk about it either. So I’m going to have to use my platform to talk about this myself.

The cold hard truth that too little Satanists realize is that Anton LaVey personally praised and endorsed James Mason and his work. We know this because there exists a signed copy of The Satanic Bible which features his signature and a comment wherein he praises Mason as “a man of courage and reason”.

And James Mason in turn praised LaVey on numerous occaisions, despite LaVey being of Jewish heritage of course. Mason compared LaVey to George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party, on the grounds that apparently both were showmen who used shock and symbolism to advance their ideology, as well as the fact that both of them intended to remain legal actors, avoiding insurrectionary and illegal activity, and supposedly even the idea of Satan itself. Mason praised The Satanic Bible, describing it as “absolutely brilliant” in a 2003 edition of his book Siege. He even quoted Anton LaVey in Siege, and owned a copy of the Satanic Mass LP, which he purchased in 1969. It must be noted that he didn’t stay a Satanist all his life, and has apparently converted to Christianity later in his life, but he still praised Anton LaVey despite this, and it is said that later editions of Siege, such as one edition released as recently as 2017, never removed any praises of LaVey or The Satanic Bible. Now it is true that, besides the signed copy of The Satanic Bible praising Mason, there isn’t a whole lot to say about LaVey’s views on Mason or his book Siege, because LaVey seemingly did not say much about it. But even then, just that detail alone should be rather damning on LaVey’s part given he was willing enough to endorse him. And then Mason isn’t even the only fascist he’s been friends with: he was apparently buddies with James Madole, who was the leader of the fascist National Renaissance Party and apparently an early pioneer of esoteric fascism, with whom LaVey spent quite a bit of time at an occult book shop.

And if that’s not enough, the Church of Satan as an organization certainly seemed to have plenty of nice things to say about Mason and his book. Peter Gilmore, the current head of the Church of Satan, wrote a positive review of Siege in volume 27 of The Black Flame, the organization’s magazine, in which he described the book as a “monumental achievement”. He even positively compared Satanists to neo-Nazis by saying that, while Mason is a political extremist, the Satanist is also a religious and philosophical extremist. The Black Flame magazine has also contained spreads featuring artwork glorifying neo-Nazism, such as a painting of Charles Manson as the anti-Christ that was painted by Bill Ehmann Jr, and has also promoted the music of Rahowa, a notorious white supremacist rock/metal band. Gilmore was also seen photographed with Mason in 1992, alongside his girlfriend Peggy Nadramia and Mason’s girlfriend Eva Hoehler. On a related note, Nadramia herself is also known to have softballed neo-Nazism by denying that there is even an emerging threat of neo-Nazi terrorism in the US, and also described Satanists as believing in nature as a fascistic force. Perhaps she can’t really condemn neo-Nazism as a serious threat because many of the church’s members were also Nazis or generally far-right themselves, such as Kurt Saxon, who was a reverend of the Church of Satan and also a member of the American Nazi Party (which incidentally James Mason was also a member of for a while), and who also appeared before the Senate in 1970 to advocate that student protesters be massacred with machine guns and the police and vigilante groups should murder leftists in bombings. When confronted about this, the Church of Satan responds merely by saying that the personal politics of their members are up to them, which suggests that they tolerate violent neo-Nazis in their ranks. Then there’s Ashley Palmer, a Church of Satan reverend who was also the subject of a puff piece on The Independent and runs a fashion company called ASP Culture. He endorsed white nationalism on Twitter, specifically the ideas of Richard Spencer and Identity Europa, adveritses symbols that are blatantly associated with Nazism (such as the Sonnenrad and Wolfsangel), and has openly tweeted “Make Europe Great Again”, a variation of the MAGA slogan which is used by white nationalists. Peter Gilmore himself not only endorsed Siege back in the 90’s, but he also wrote an introduction to a recent edition of Might Is Right by Ragnar Redbeard (itself a tract known for proto-fascistic and anti-semitic statements) in which he apparently cited James J Martin, a Stirnerite individualist-anarchist who also happened to think that the Holocaust didn’t happen.

Now, take stock for a moment and think about that, because there is a noteworthy point of comparison from this year that we can draw from. Jeremy Corbyn, present leader of the Labour Party, wrote a foreword for a 2011 edition of John A Hobson’s book Imperialism: A Study. The book, although it was taught in academia for many decades and influential to many worthy critics of imperialism, is also notorious for allusions to “men of a single and peculiar race, who have behind them many centuries of financial experience”, which is very obviously an anti-semitic trope. The book also apparently talks about the elimination or repression of “primitive colonial peoples” and “degenerate or unprogressive races”. Outside of that book Hobson is known for having blamed the war in South Africa on the idea of Jewish racial elites. But whereas Corbyn is condemned, and I’d say correctly so, for his eagerness to endorse such a book and its author, nothing is said of Peter Gilmore’s willingness to endorse a Holocaust denier (or indeed James Mason for that matter). But at least Corbyn made some effort to denounce the more racist aspects of Hobson’s Imperialism, even if in the end his only complaint was that the “language” (not the actual ideas about racialism) was awful. The Church of Satan, on the other hand, won’t even attempt to address the subject except through deflection and condescencion.

Then again, there’s still a lot of other anti-semitism Corbyn hasn’t quite addressed adequately

What’s more, some Church of Satan members were also revealed to have fascistic beliefs and associations as the result of doxxing by Antifa members. Kenaz Filan, who is a Warlock of the Church of Satan, is a racist troll who likes to post and share anti-black and anti-semitic memes, as well as memes that express support for Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, on Gab, and in general promotes all manner of ideas associated with the alt-right. Kevin Slaughter, a Magister of the Church of Satan, runs an alt-right account on Twitter and Facebook that goes by the name Satanic American, where he argues for eugenics, race realism, volkisch paganism, and the border wall that Trump wants to build, and against racial egalitarianism, and generally promoting all manner of alt-right material (he even proliferated the idea that the Charlottesville riots were a false flag constructed by the establishment to demonize white nationalists). Slaughter also authored a book called Iron Youth Reader, which is a compilation of writings dominated by reactionaries and fascists like Oswald Spengler, Gustave Le Bon (a reactionary crowd scientist who opposed democracy and talked about a “racial unconscious”), Savitri Devi, and Francis Galton (a eugenicist), and published it through his company Underworld Amusements. He also has a Gab account where he follows Jack Donovan, who believes in “anarcho-fascism”, and the Traditionalist Worker Party, which was a self-described National Socialist party before it disbanded last year. James Sass, another Magister, is another outright fascist who openly praised Nazis such as Otto Skorenzy, supports the ideas of Julius Evola, Oswald Spengler, Oswald Mosley, Charles Manson and James Mason (and also made music for Mason’s Necrofascist project), condemned homosexuality by comparing it to necrophilia, opposed democracy and the US Founding Fathers, is an anti-semite who supports Holocaust denial, constructed an altar to the Ebola-chan meme draped in the flag of the NSDAP, and believes Western civilization and popular culture should be annihilated. James Stillwell III, another member and also the author of a book titled Power-Nihilism, posts about white nationalism on Gab, is anti-semitic, and he even supported James Alex Field Jr, the white nationalist terrorist who murdered an anti-fascist protester and injured several others in Charlottesville by running them over with his car. Matt Paradise, yet another Magister, runs an alt-right podcast called The Accusation Party, whose Twitter and Gab accounts brandish the symbolism of Italian fascism, and supports race realism and other alt-right ideas as well as the ideas of Jack Donovan. The Church of Satan has also actively promoted The Accusation Party, despite their claims to being apolitical. Other fascists in the organization include David Williams (a CoS reverend who is so pro-Nazi that he actually has a “favorite Nazi” and also blames humanism for the pedophilic abuses of the Catholic Church), Trevor Blake (who collaborates with Kevin Slaughter), David Harris (who likes Matt Paradise’s alt-right podcast), David Wallace (who endorses the ideas of Jack Donovan), and Vincent Crowley (the lead singer of Acheron who was a priest for a time, promotes NSBM bands and has done an interview with an explicitly neo-Nazi website).

All of these people represent or have represented the Church of Satan in some official capacity, many of them are high-ranking members, some of them occupying the second-highest rank in the Church of Satan (the highest being Magus or Maga), and the Church of Satan itself either tolerates their views on in some cases outright endorses them (Peggy Nadramia, for example, follows and endorses the work of James Sass), and you have a love of James Mason’s Siege that goes right to the top of the hierarchy. None of this is discussed in the film, which is noteworthy because both Gilmore and Nadramia are in the film and speak frequently in it, and of course we never have the opportunity to see them justify some of the less than savory aspects of Satanism, such as the Social Darwinism, and I have to suspect this is because it might lead to a discussion or defence of fascism, given the fact that Social Darwinism is the lifeblood of fascism in many ways, but then why would any of them have a problem with that if they’re truly radical enough to not care about what everyone else thinks? But I suppose it wouldn’t make sense for Carl to bring it up because Carl himself promotes Underworld Amusements, which is run by Kevin Slaughter. The bottom line? The Church of Satan is, and has been for years, an institutionally fascist organization, one which supports fascists and allows them to occupy the top of their hierarchy. The fact that Gavin Baddeley has to say that the relationship between LaVeyan Satanism and fascism is “a complicated one” all the way back in 1999 indicates a problem – if you oppose fascism, then your relationship with fascism shouldn’t be a complicated one. It should be an unequivocably negative one, otherwise you’re giving a soft hand to totalitarian ideology. End of story.

And even if the Church of Satan isn’t institutionally fascist (despite the evidence showing precisely that it is), their membership doesn’t seem to care if they are because they are too nihilistic to concern themselves with anything beyond their personal pleasure. In a 1995 article for Volume 5 of The Black Flame, Blanche Barton responded to concerns about fascist infiltrations of Satanism, which it seems must have already been a concern then as now, by saying “what are we supposed to be? A bunch of kindergarten babies? Are we supposed to be such self-righteous prigs that we can’t stand to see a swastika? By accusing us of fascism, are we supposed to be distracted from the fact that we live in an extremely puritanical, fascistic society?”. This is a kind of soft-balling of fascism similar to the type that we now see in modern classical liberals, built upon a delusion that tells you that, because most people already know fascism is bad, there is no need to point to evidence of fascistic infiltration within your movement, and that to do so smacks of political correctness. But I suppose I should be glad that it isn’t giddily pro-fascist like Peggy Nadramia’s article.

All of this I found out just from researching Adam Parfrey and his fascist associations. It is not in any credible sense difficult to uncover Parfrey’s fascist sympathies, and in so doing I somehow ended up finding out about numerous other fascistic associations within the Church of Satan as an organization. Much of this has also been discussed since before the film was released and before the crowdfunding project for it was launched. With this in mind, Carl’s loving biopic of Anton LaVey amounts to the purest of puff pieces. Very few of the guests come close to a serious reflection of LaVey’s philosophy, and at that it is still mostly positive. The Church of Satan’s ties to fascism and not to mention LaVey’s own are never discussed, they aren’t even mentioned, and nor is the doctrine of lex talionis or “might is right”. It’s my opinion that this is the work of people who are still spellbound by LaVey. Well, those people can continue being spellbound by him if they must, but I just can’t conscionably stand by it.

A review of Michael A. Aquino’s Satanic Bible

It’s time at last for me to comment on Michael Aquino’s new edition of Anton LaVey’s The Satanic Bible. I’ve been meaning to read that book for quite some time, and now that I have, I have a lot to say. My good friend Summer Thunder assured me once that it was an important work for Satanism or more specifically Satanic culture, and I have no reason to doubt him. After all, this is indeed a revision of The Satanic Bible, and one written by one of Satanism’s leading philosophers and exponents who also leads a major Satanist organization (the Temple of Set), so we can take this as a important point of development for Satanism, one that may indeed already have influenced its direction since its release last year. As such, the most important part for me will be to assess the general philosophical content of the book so as to gauge what could well be the direction of Satanism going forward.

Right off the bat, before we get into the content, I must mention how such intent is reflected within the structure of the book. The book can best be described as what The Satanic Bible would look like if it was written by Aquino, with his particular background and ontology in mind and with a lot of additional content included. The book has five chapters, the first four of which are named for Satan, Lucifer, Belial and Leviathan in that order, reflecting the structure and intent of the original Satanic Bible. The Satan chapter isn’t the quite the same as it was in LaVey’s book, but it does offer some diatribes intended to expound the spirit of Satanism, this time from the (alleged) perspective of the infernal pantheon (Satan, Beelzebub, Azazel, Abaddon, Asmodeus, Astaroth, Belial and Leviathan). The Lucifer chapter is devoted to Aquino’s formulation of a philosophy of Satanism that is somewhat distinct from LaVey’s original philsophy, much like how in LaVey’s original book the Book of Lucifer was dedicated to formulating moral and epistemological philosophy, with sections of the book divided between the subjects of the universe, time, gods, and the soul (with a lot of very silly titles). The Belial chapter is, much like in LaVey’s book, dedicated to magick, ritualism and explaining how it works. The Leviathan chapter is devoted to the word of Set, which is divided into nineteen parts in exactly the same way as the Enochian keys are in LaVey’s book. In addition to this the four chapters (except for the Belial chapter) each come with a backstory section dealing with the chapters of the original Satanic Bible. After those four chapters, however, there is an additional fifth chapter, titled Yankee Rose (a clear reference to the cryptic ending of the original Satanic Bible), which seems to be focused on the history of the Church of Satan (a subject also covered in the preface), with of course the aim of “decoding” the meaning of the Yankee Rose phrase in the original Satanic Bible.

The book begins with a foreword supposedly written by Satan himself. I think it’s safe to assume it was not quite written by Satan, but from the perspective of what Aquino believes to be Satan, but that it is taken as the word of Satan, and that the word of several other beings is mentioned in the book, indicates that Aquino intends his doctrine to derive from revelation, which is the tell that we’re dealing with a theistic framework. In any case, it serves as the introduction to what Aquino’s version of The Satanic Bible is supposed to be: a means of self-discovery from the Satanic viewpoint, the act of reading it to be taken as a rite passage to into “a universe” or “universes” not known to physics (he actually goes out of his way here to refer to physics as pedantic; totally not anti-scientific at all, I see we’re off to a wonderful start already). Also worth noting is how Satan is taken to be the name of an entity universal to human cultures, supposedly embodying the same tropes throughout his incarnations, with the name Satan just being the name specific to Western “Judeo-Christian” culture, and he treats various other deities as isomorphic to Satan archetypally, such as Set (of course, this is Aquino after all), Odin and Quetzalcoatl. All of these are very quizzical for numerous reasons. I find it funny how Aquino never referred to the Roman god Mercury, since Odin, and to a lesser extent Quetzalcoatl, both share traits with Mercury (Odin in particular was linked to Mercury through the Gaulish deity Lugus). Or Ba’al considering Set has more in common with Ba’al than Satan and indeed was directly identified with Ba’al by the Canaanites who migrated into Egypt (referred to by historians as the Hyksos). Also, I find it weird how, after Set got sick of being referred to by Satan at the time Michael Aquino began founding the Temple of Set (at least according to Setian lore anyway), Set seems to just be cool with being referred to as Satan. Weird how that works.

Me, upon encountering an instance of the Set-Sat-Saton-Satan trope

The preface appears to center itself around the idea of a revision of the Satanic Bible, entailing that the project was in planning for a long time (apparently LaVey intended to do his own revision as early as the 1970s but never got round to writing it before his death in 1997), but it also seems to focus on the subject of the authenticity of the original Satanic Bible, which Aquino seems to believe was repudiated not long after it was origianlly written. It’s here that we also, for a brief moment, see Aquino’s intent in so far as forming a philosophy based on what he believes to be beyond nature, unnatural. To me this is much in contrast with Anton LaVey, who (if Stephen Flowers is anything to go by) intended to create what can be described as a natural morality, and I say this on the grounds that, if Aquino’s morality is centered on an unnatural object, then his moral system can be framed as an avowedly unnatural morality. One minor detail to note however is that he appears to treat every Abrahamic book after the Torah as just a clone of it, which seems nonsensical when you consider the way that these texts diverge from each other (for example, the Hellenic influence on the New Testament in contrast to the Old Testament). Though, as you’ll see later, he tends to do that a lot with RHP religions. After some pretty interesting historical exposition on the early days of the Church of Satan, we return to the theme of the original Satanic Bible’s authenticity, where Aquino claims not only that it lost authenticity in 1975 due to LaVey’s careerist restructuring of the Church of Satan, but that the Satanic Bible itself had been reduced to a work “occult fiction” that happened to contain social criticism. That’s rather harsh of him, but I guess I can understand where he’s coming from.

After the preface is a page entitled Introduction by Lady Diane LaVey High Priestess Church of Satan, but that page consists entirely of the page title, Diane LaVey’s birthday, an image of Diane LaVey from the old days, and a statement saying “Michael’s audacity is breathtaking”. That’s it. After this is the contents section and then the rest of the book. Some introduction. One wonders what the purpose of this page was.

There are two short sections preceding the first chapter. The first is a list of Anton LaVey’s inspirations, and the second, more interestingly, is a section entitled Indulgence in Brimstone. This appears to be this books version of the Nine Satanic Statements as they appeared in the original Satanic Bible. In both cases they directly precede before the Satan chapters of their respective books, contain nine statements to sum up the ethos of the belief system in short order, and both are decorated with the Cross of Leviathan (a.k.a. the symbol of sulfur or brimstone). This to me is one of the things that demonstrates continuity between the two Satanic Bibles, which is good because it fulfills the purpose of the book. As far as the actual statements go, they are as follows:

  1. Indulgence establishes life, as abstinence death.
  2. Indulgence in the present realizes the future.
  3. Indulgence is quickened by truth, stricken by falsehood.
  4. Indulgence is nourished by love, generosity and benevolence: but only when so appreciated and recompensed.
  5. Indulgence in the excitement of creation finds its balance in the annihilation of destruction.
  6. Indulgence is the Fountain of Life, but forbidden to those who seek only to consume life.
  7. Indulgence within Nature through a form of that Nature is a gift of the Natural and the NonNatural, that you may Become both.
  8. Indulgence for its own pleasure is a sacrament.
  9. Indulgence is ever beset by the death-worshipful who would kill whatever they fear: Beware!

Unlike the original Nine Satanic Statements, in these new statements Satan does not seem to make any appearance, and instead the center of this litany is the concept of Indulgence. In the footnotes, Aquino tells us that the concept of Indulgence “elicits far nobler, indeed divine qualities in the Satanist”, speaking in relation to the original Nine Satanic Statements and the speech from John Galt in Atlas Shrugged that Aquino thinks forms the basis of said Statements, but beyond that his concept of Indulgence is not precisely defined other than in distinction to LaVey’s formulation of hedonism in the Lucifer chapter, where he explains that Indulgence should be taken to mean an Epicurean rather than hedonist outlook. It seems that these nine statements are to be taken as the primary means of defining this concept of Indulgence. In many ways we see an echo of Anton LaVey’s original ethos, as summed up by that famous axiom of his, “Life is the great indulgence – death the great abstinence”. But we also get a framing that might be characterized as somewhat Epicurean, with the emphasis that Indulgence is nourished by truth and the warning that it shall be forbidden for those who seek only to consume it, suggesting that this is not a conception of baseline hedonism. The more peculiar detail is the assurance that one may become both natural and unnatural (or, sorry, “NonNatural”; you could have hyphenated that Mr. Aquino). I wonder how this is to be done, or moreover I wonder how the two can be equals if the highest object of his ontology is what he considers to be outside of Nature.

After this, we come to the Book of Fire, which appears to just be content of The Diabolicon, an essay which was written by Michael Aquino in 1970 while he was a member of the Church of Satan, written from the point of view of Satan and the infernal pantheon. The first thing I notice is that here Satan is identified synonymously with Lucifer which, as I’ve explained before, is historically incorrect. But that’s the least important detail here. I do like how it begins with “Hail Man!”, which suggests some commitment to humanism. In any case, what we’re getting from here on out is a retelling of the mythology of the War in Heaven and the creation of the universe. Here, Satan explains how he liberated mankind by disrupting the order that came into being with the emergence of a being named God by introducing Will. This brings him into conflict with the angels Michael (here the “Lord of Force”) and Masleh (a Hebrew angel of the zodiac who is apparently referred to as Messiah at one point), thus leading up to the War in Heaven (or “The Great Seraphic War”). Masleh then descends to the Earth to censor the effects of Satan’s gift, and inspire in humanity guilt, conformity, herd mentality and so forth, and the host of heaven imposes Abrahamism upon mankind and their prophets teach them to be mindless animals before God, with Satan being hated and mocked in this world order. Already I get weird Randian vibes from this, though Aquino would insist otherwise due to his theistic outlook. But we see an interesting side of Satan as well: a being who feels compassion for the species he is attempting to liberate, a being who feels sorrow for those who have befriended him and heeded his teachings only to be met with cruel persecution and often execution. We also, however, get a very strange doctrine about the nature of the universe.

What, man, art thou? Why thy presence? Because thy own purpose determines that of the cosmos itself, though otherwise it may have been suggested – the creation, perpetuation, and exercise of the Satanic marvel that is free and unbounded Will. Consider, were man to perish, what futility would envelop the Universe, for apart from appreciation and use it is a thing of insignificance.

The implication of this would be that the universe has no existence outside of humanity, or human observance, or would have no purpose without the existence of humanity. This of course would raise such questions as “if this is the case when why does the universe generate us in the first place?” or “what of everything that came before mankind?” or “how do you deal with the concept of the universe existing outside of our opinion of it?”. Sadly, I find that these questions are not dealt with sufficiently.

Next we get to Beelzebub, who describes mankind as his inspiration and object of aspiration and tells us about the history of Heaven, Hell and Earth – basically this is the cosmology section of The Diabolicon. He tells of how, before the fall, he wanted to be Satan (or “be Lucifer”, because in this asinine Christian-inspired framework they’re the same entity), but Satan admonished him and told him that he is not God and that he is not here to offer salvation or “blissful nirvana”, before talking to him about how creation and design stem from impulse rather than by law (in other words, spontaneous creation, which is weird for a theist to advocate for and also kind of flies past the thought of there being a concept of laws of physics that can be observed). Will is also described as being of neither divine nor chaotic origin, and it’s not quite explained what that means. Beelzebub then tells of his desire to become independent from God, talks to Michael of his vision, after which Michael and Satan start arguing with each other, with Satan explaining that he differs in substance from Michael because he derives from himself, and as such is discord, whereas Michael derives from God. He tells then that after Satan reveals his mind to the angels, several join him, and then Masleh implores Michael to cast him down, which he does, resulting in their exile and the concept of God being “shaken”, resulting in the rise of endless chaos, which is weird because apparently humans have still had to deal with God and his angels since the events of the war in heaven. Where heaven is the place of order and conformity to God, Hell is a place where freedom is absolute and truth is not constant because it reflects the wills of all who inhabit it.

Then we get to Azazel, here the Arch-Daimon of Hell, who tells more about the war in heaven. Then we get to Abaddon, here the Daimon of death, who continues in that direction. Then we get Asmodeus, who in this book seems to have transformed from the demon of lust to the Daimon of science. Here Asmodeus claims to be responsible for Isaac Newton discovering the law of gravity, the materialist philosophy of Democritus (which is ironic because of what has already been established), and the efforts of mathematicians, astronomers and explorers to understand the cosmos around them. He also claims to be repsonsible for teaching politics and civilization to the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Chinese, the Aztecs and the Ashanti. This is a quite a departure from Asmodeus’ usual mythological role, and again affirms the revelationist aspect of Aquino’s doctrine, stressing that human enlightenment was the product of supernatural intelligences. Then we get to Astaroth, Daimon of the senses, who claims credit for the ability of man to comprehend the true depths of his progress. Then we get to Belial, who I’m sure is trying to talk about how he taught black magic but it feels drenched in jargon. One weird detail I find fascinating is that, at the end, Belial refers to Man as “at once child and father of the universe”, which in my view has the potential to be extrapolated into a framework that I doubt Aquino would appreciate because it sounds too much like Hinduism or Buddhism. Finally we get to Leviathan, or rather an entity describing Leviathan since this time it doesn’t appear to be in first person. Here Leviathan is treated as the Absolute, a principle of existential continuity, answerable to nothing other than the final master of the universe. It is stated here that the Black Flame will only achieve full mastery and perfection when the universe is destroyed and there is nothing but Man and Leviathan, because only then can Man be sure that he isn’t subject to a greater will. So essentially, in this framework, the only way to truly be autonomous is if nothing exists that can create dependencies. This to me is a profound weakness because it reveals just how bad this framework really is, at least so far. If we take this as the revelation of a supernatural being, then it shows that Aquino’s philosophy (or the words of the infernal pantheon) cannot deliver the true depth of its emancipation without the destruction of all that is. If it’s a metaphor, then it encourages the individual to simply cut himself off entirely from all that is, because in this framework only by doing so can you achieve real or perfect freedom. It’s a recipe for supreme alienation – after all you don’t get much more alienated than being willing to proclaim that the only way you’re going to be free is if the universe is destroyed. And, in that sense, it’s another form of the reaction that all too many LHP practitioners have when faced with the reality that, so long as you live in a society, or indeed an integrated universe governed by laws, you will always be subject to interdependence and a myriad of complicated hierarchies in which you are sometimes the master and sometimes but another subject. What better way to get rid of that problem than to cast aside the ultimate externality?

The Leviathan section of The Diabolicon reads something like the True Demon Ending in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne (a great game btw)

All in all, all the other problems aside, most of the Book of Fire makes for a somewhat interesting narrative device that can be utilized by Satanists and you can gleam some gems from it, but it’s not the best sign post for the philosophy we’re getting. One other complaint I have about the Satan section though is that it feels weird to read parts of it at first for one simple reason: the design is fucking awful. Seriously. Aquino used a different font for the sections where it’s supposed be the word of one of the Daimons, which I guess is intended to convey that it’s not the word of the author, but there are no quote marks where there’s supposed to be a quotation from another character, and I swear the commas look like period dots. On close inspection you can make out the difference between commas and period dots, but it’s pretty subtle, and if you read it at first glance you might not tell the difference. It’s just such an awkward design.

Now we get to the Lucifer chapter, and for the purpose of this review we’re going to skip the commentary on LaVey’s original Book of Lucifer essays and go straight to Aquino’s chapters. Before we do though, I must note that this chapter in particular showcases Aquino’s tendency to design very insular and stupid-sounding terms for concepts that may already be covered in the English language. For example, in his commentary on LaVey’s originaly essays, he uses a made-up word called “Internetrality” for what seems like he could have just used the word cyberspace instead. I also have this weird feeling of mild annoyance with when in the backstory section Michael Aquino insists that if you read his new chapters you’ll realize that you already assume his philosophy to be correct, that you “know these answers already, intuitively”, citing Plato (the most authoritarian and idealist of the ancient Greek philosophers) and his concept of “universal truths”. At best, it’s a pathetically arrogant attempt to justify his philosophy not in any empirical basis but in subjective “timeless” intuition. At worst, it smacks of something a cult leader might say. Either way, my suspicion is aroused.

We begin with a section on universes, which begins with the discussion of objective and subjective universes. The concept of an Objective Universe is pretty straightforward. It refers to the notion of the universe as we understand it, a matrix of reality comprising of matter and energy and indeed the totality of all phenomenon within it, governed by natural laws that can be apprehended via the scientific method. The concept of a Subjective Universe refers to the Objective Universe as perceived by an individual self-conscious being, or the universe that exists within their mental space. It’s here that we begin to see the development of what can only be described as an anti-scientific framework. He insists that human science has no idea about natural laws in the sense of what they are, why they are or what enforces them, without considering perhaps that we have some idea of why they exist in the sense that we know that they are necessary for the functioning of the universe in various ways. He then goes on about how it is impossible to acquire an accurate assessment of the objective universe through experiment and empiricism, because every interpretation of the universe is totally subjective according to him, even when large numbers of people observe the exact same phenomenon and report back to each other than they have. He even goes so far as to suggest that what we normally observe as insanity is actually just a person’s Subjective Universe replacing the Objective Universe, and he treats the designation of insanity as nothing more than the suggestion of social conformity, a suppression of individual will.

This for me is one of the biggest problems I can think of in Aquino’s framework, and one of the biggest dangers that you might come across in the Left Hand Path. The primary implication of what he is saying is that the Subjective Universe is either just as valid as the Objective Universe, or that it has the potential to be more valid and more meaningful than the Objective Universe, and that by telling someone that their Subjective Universe cannot reflect the truth outside of your perception of it then you are in a sense restricting their social freedom. If this is your epistemology, then you have surrendered your right to challenge the Abrahamic worldview, or any other worldview you condemn, because, if you do so, then your framework tells you that you are trying to suppress the Subjective Universes of those people. The Christian fundamentalist’s claims about God literally creating the world in six days, about evolution being false and dinosaur bones just being tricks from God (or Satan) designed to test your faith, about Noah’s Ark being real, about how building the Temple of Solomon will lead us to a Thousand Year Kingdom on Earth, about the Holy Spirit, about Jesus resurrecting, all of it would be counted as part of the Subjective Universe of the believer, and you now have no right to dislodge that because that’s just the triumph of the Subjective Universe and the will of the faithful. Or maybe it doesn’t apply when they do it. Maybe they’ve surrendered their subjective wills to a false god if they do it. Maybe when you do it, you’re exercising your free will and society has no right to stop you. But you’re only making that judgement on a subjective basis. If you base your framework on subjectivity, then my interpretation of reality is equally valid to anyone else’s, and talking someone out of an erroneous position becomes impossible and talking about philosophy becomes a case of talking about how good you are at telling stories or making paintings. It also lends credence to all of the bullshit that we’ve been seeing over the last decade or so from what we used to call “social justice warriors”, people who assert that their gender identity or racial identity is a much larger subject than any objective matrix that it may operate under. If you adopt this framework of subjectivism, then you’re unable to oppose the modern liberal/progressive tendencies that contain such thinking. The only way you can get past this and imbue your framework with truth is to entertain the premise that there is a reality that exists outside of subjective perception, but Aquino doesn’t necessarily allow this because he implies that this pursuit is scientifically and epistemologically impossible!

But that’s not all. There’s another dimension to the Subjective Universe idea: the Collective Subjective Universe (or CSU). The concept of the Collective Subjective Universe is just his term for when a Subjective Universe is shared, approved and/or enforced by a larger body of people – in other words, it’s his way of saying that human civilization is just the pursuit of cultivating a subjective universe capable of forming consensus (in other words, what is real is what we all agree to be real). There’s no actual justification for why you can’t collectively share the same observation of objective reality I must point out. It’s just his way of pointing out that societies are founded on or undergird themselves with a shared set of values. He pointed out the salience of George Orwell’s criticism of the concept of thoughtcrime, but viewed from the perspective of the ontology we’re given thus far, the only reason Aquino has to give a shit is because his own Subjective Universe is in danger of being suppressed. Hell, if we actually go far enough with this, further than Aquino himself would allow, we would arrive at the premise that Satan himself doesn’t have much of a moral ground to oppose God other than that humans wouldn’t have the freedom to express Subjective Universes or arrive at a state where this subjectivity supercedes reality. He’s already established that if you believe you’ve been possessed by the Holy Spirit we have no right to get in the way of that so why stop there?

You can literally just encapsulate what we’ve establish so far with just this memetic axiom

But we haven’t even begun to wade in the river of bullshit yet. Aquino then claims without empirical basis that time does not exist. I’d say tell that to actual physicists like Lee Smolin or Carlo Rovelli, or really many physicists who can tell you that, even if there’s no real consensus on how we define it, there is some consensus on the fact that it exists. But that’s not all, he denies the theory of relativity as formulated by Albert Einstein, calling it a tar-baby without actually bothering to demonstrate why exactly it’s wrong other than apparently it refuted the ideas that Immanuel Kant had about time and space. This would require Aquino to explain why so many of the predictions laid out by the general theory of relativity have been proven correct – such as the Shapiro effect, the equivalence principle, frame-dragging effects, gravitational redshifting, light deflection by cosmic bodies, the perihelion procession of the planet Mercury, the gravitational microlensing of stars etc. – and the fact that the theory has been taken up as the best way of explaining the laws of gravity, not to mention the fact that general relativity has passed numerous experimental tests since its proposal by Einstein. Too bad he only devoted a paragraph worth of text to the subject. But not to worry, I’m sure his Subjective Universe will grant him the freedom to bypass this reality. Actually, he later goes on to insist that the speed of light is not 180,000 miles per hour and that curved space, wormholes, and black holes are all fictional concepts, all on the grounds that time has no basis in reality. Again we are compelled to ignore that many of these things have already been observed, and in fact this year we got our first up close and personal photo of an actual black hole. Yeah, needless to say I hope Aquino has re-evaluated that aspect of his epistemology. I will give him credit on one thing though: string theory is bullshit, being almost all metaphysics with no actual science to it, and I swear it’s being propped up by the more science-savvy wing of the religious right.

One thing he might be somewhat salient on is where he talks about meaning and points out that Adam and Eve’s true “sin” was that they recognize Good and Evil in a manner that is not in conformity with El (used as the true name for the Biblical God). He points out that meaning is not a function or property of the Objective Universe, but instead a property of the Subjective Universe, and, you know, there’s probably some truth to that. If there is a greater meaning or purpose to this life, the universe seems to reticent to instruct us on what that is, and as such we are left to either figure it out or indeed devise meaning for ourselves. But where Aquino would probably leave this to the dominion of your Subjective Universe, I would insist that we should be able to determine meaning for ourselves by apprehending the world around us. Our only path to mastering the world around us comes from correctly understanding how it operates, this means dealing with a conception of reality that might lie outside of our perception of it. But where Aquino insists that for some reason this is thought-slavery, the rest of us may recognize this is knowledge.

Unbelievably the next section of the Lucifer chapter is devoted to time. I say unbelievably, because Aquino already stated that time isn’t real. Actually, it’s about Aquino’s views on time in relation to religion, so I’m being unfair. In explaining what that has to do with anything, he claims that “OU-aligned” religions (that is, religions that base themselves around the premise of there being an Objective Universe that you have to grapple with) make you do slave tasks within a certain time limit, namely the duration of your life. Man, if only he applied this to labour, maybe he’d be semi-on to something. It’s in this section also that we get into the definitions of the Right Hand Path and the Left Hand Path. Here the two concepts are defined very simplistically: Right Hand Path means absorption of the individual into the universe or God, while Left Hand Path means the pursuit of individual divinity. Pretty standard. Of course this affects how Aquino defines the view of time in these paths, so what is he going for? For RHP religions, he assigns the concepts of linear or cyclical time, with linear time being common to Western religions and cyclical time being common to Eastern religions (and, of course, he seems to imply that the two perspectives are linked to each other, as he suggests in the footnotes where he claims that Buddhist concept of time and “the Great Mandala” contains nods to the Christian Peter, Paul and Mary). For the LHP, however, he seems to shift gears from discussing time and instead talk about an Egyptian-inspired framework on death. For Aquino, the fate of the Satanist is neither heaven, nor hell, nor reincarnation, but a postcarnate state of being or Xeper, quoting Peter Pan in saying “to die will be an awfully big adventure!”.

Oh I think I’m ready for this

Sadly however this idea doesn’t seem to be elaborated on too convincingly, so I can only assume you have to read his book MindStar to get the full picture. Instead Aquino goes on about how the missing link proves that the Black Flame was brought to mankind by Satan and his Daimons, which he thinks is justified by the change in cranial size in early hominids such as Cro-Magnon. What bothers me is one simple thing: why does Aquino feel the need to attribute this change to supernatural intervention, as opposed to the laws of evolution by natural selection? We have working explanations for the development of cranium sizes that do not require literal divine intervention (as is what Aquino believes in), such as the transition to bipedalism and changes in the female reproductive system that resulted from this transition. Why is the intervention of literal deities necessary? I also find it curious how he writes off most of human history is “doing nothing”, disregarding the fact that humans spent most of their history until the age of agriculture forming hunter-gatherer societies, and then after that he goes on to invoke “the ghost of Atlantis”, implying that Plato’s Atlantis is the explanation. Well “Atlantis” was in all likelihood a morality tale by Plato, which may well have been based on the destruction of Thera by a volcanic eruption. Curiously enough he claims in the footnotes that the term missing link itself has fallen out of favour with paleantologists because it implies too simple a chain of evolution (not, you know, because the term is a colloquial rather than scientific term), and that now they refer to it as “transitional morphologies”. Well I still see the term missing link thrown around and I’ve never, repeat, never, seen the term “transitional morphologies” used anywhere. Then Aquino appears to suggest that the only reason we don’t know that Atlantis is real is because Christians and Muslims destroyed any evidence of its existence, and then complains about how talk of Atlantis is dismissed by mainstream archaeology (which isn’t actually true; they do talk about Atlantis, they just talk about what they think inspired the story of Atlantis because they know it’s not actually real) while the SS under Heinrich Himmler conducted major expeditions to find Atlantis. Well if the Nazis thought Atlantis was real then by god maybe there’s some truth to it surely! You know, the people who also insisted that the Earth was made of ice and thought most other science was wrong because it was Jewish? And not to mention also that even Adolf Hitler dismissed Heinrich Himmler as a nutjob (though admittedly this was coming from his own volkisch Protestant Christian perspective). Why is Aquino giving the Nazis credence?

After citing an unnamed scholar on how Egyptian civilization was complete from the beginning (which makes no sense), he proposes that there may have been an “OU Satanic Age” that began in 100,000 BCE and is presently ongoing. This would in theory mean that the Satanic Age has been going on since the beginning of humanity, but then Aquino would emphasize if, implying that there probably hasn’t been a Satanic Age within the Objective Universe, only the Subjective Universe. Curiously, however, he notes that there may be downsides to this age, or rather he hints at such, but says that it has not to do with the Age itself and more to do with it’s “OU byproducts”. What does he mean by that? Well he refers to two real world problems: the rammifications brought on by the discovery of the nuclear fission and fusion or more specifically the invention of the atom bomb, and the threat of overpopulation on the finite resources of Planet Earth. He doesn’t say how we should counter this in a Satanic fashion, of course. He just notes that the Gift of Satan has an ominous side, before referring back to the Diabolicon where Belial says that the gift can never be recalled. So essentially, Aquino’s idea of the Gift of Satan is a type of uncontrolled, absolute freedom (at least going from what was said in Satan’s and Beelzebub’s sections of the Diabolicon), the downside of which is the constant threat of environmental destruction, with no real safeguard against that, and the assurance that we can’t revoke that Gift, possibly meaning in this case that we can’t restrain the ability of human civilizations in Aquino’s vision to have destructive effects on the Earth. Needless to say, this is an extremely dangerous view of freedom, one that cannot account for the need for order (indeed order as an abstract concept is rejected entirely in the Diabolicon), and it reminds me of some of the worst excesses of libertarianism, especially anarcho-capitalism (I say that because I think it’s safe to assume Aquino is not a man of the left).

Then we get on to his idea of “Subjective Universal Time”, which seems to be his concept of how, in the subjective mental space, time is infinitely malleable, the magician can alter the flow of time in any way he/she likes (slow it down, accelerate it, freeze it etc). How this is possible is not explained beyond it being the property of a seasoned magician or how stage magicians create this illuision of altered time and space – yeah, key word, illusion; that’s what stage magicians do. After this is the Aeons section, of which there isn’t a lot to say other than apparently Aquino ties the concept of Aeons to Gnosticism, and then goes on to claim that, had Gnosticism become prevalent, we might have had a more intellectual and philosophical attitude towards religion in contrast to the dogmatism of mainline Christianity. If by philosophical and intellectual you mean a somehow even more idealistic and pessimistic version of Christianity, then yes. I still find it very strange how Gnosticism keeps getting praise from Satanists despite it being arguably even more anathema to their beliefs than Christianity. Technically speaking Gnosticism is just the name given to various sects of Christianity that coalesced around similar ideas about the nature of reality, but common to them is the belief that the world is the creation an inferior deity, and that the true God is composed purely of spirit. How this idea manages to be appealing to Satanists is beyond me.

Moving on from time, we now talk about the gods and devils. This should be interesting, right? The section begins with Aquino asserting that the Objective Universe must have a prior genius to conceive, establish and compel its order. In other words, he asserts that there needs to be a prime mover, a God. Of course for Aquino this genius is apparently not one God but instead the Neteru, a collective of supernatural beings that exist within Subjective Universes. In ancient Egypt, the term Neteru may or may not have been the word used to refer to the gods, so we can assume that Aquino is employing a polytheistic framework. These Neteru are considered timeless in that there was no point in time that they came into being, which would mean that they have always existed, and without them there is no explanation for the universe coming into being other than happenstance and the Objective Universe would comprise of utter chaos. He could explain the universe as being the product of laws, atoms, energy, matter and the process that comprise them, but he rejects this explanation and thinks it’s impossible to explain the universe that way. He poses the question of why humans should apprehend a multiplicity of Neteru rather than a singular God, only to leave the question unanswered, and then to suggest that Set and the multiplicity are the same thing. Apparently this is internally harmonious. Aquino says further that the Neteru are not apprehensible within mechanisms of the Objective Universe but through noesis, a Greek word that he uses to refer to intutive apprehension but which actually means the exercise of intellect or reason. Thus we again establish that Aquino’s framework is essentially a high-brow brand of Platonic (or Platonism-esque) polytheism in Egyptian costume.

Some Neteru sailing across the river

His critique of the Biblical God isn’t particularly bad, but I must note that his insistence on referring only to El seems historically questionable. Yes the name El is the earliest name given to the Biblical God in the Bible, but the identification of Yahweh with El can be explained rather adequately as a syncretism of sorts, with Yahweh assuming the role of El and taking his name through being identified with the head of the Canaanite pantheon by the Israelites. There’s also the claim that dualism is a uniquely Hebraic corruption (well, borrowed from Persia more accurately), which is odd because it is pretty well documented that the Greeks had their own homebrew dualism via the Eleusinian Mysteries and the Egyptian religion certainly had its own dualistic element in the conflict between Ra and Apep, which later became ever more central to the Egyptian religion following the exile of the Hyksos and Set becoming the resident enemy of the gods. More curious however is when we get to the claims about religion and violence. He points out that Satanists/Setians have never engaged in systematic violence in the same way that other religions have, which is correct, but then claims that the reason for this is simply that the Satanists/Setians are more secure in their beliefs, and that the other religions have no security or confidence in their beliefs. This is an idealist, entirely post-hoc rationalization that shunts to the side the role of power and the specific hierarchies that engender such aggression. Stop and wonder why Christianity transformed from a largely pacifist religion concerned with social reform, albeit packaged as a ridiculous pessimistic cult of resurrection, to the Christianity we know today, known for its countenance of rigid hierarchical authority and repression. The answer lies in the adoption of Christianity by the Roman state, which then fashioned an official Roman interpretation of Christianity, suitable for the use of the Roman state. But this point never comes up once in Aquino’s work, and indeed it’s barely addressed in the type of crude New Atheist arguments that he opportunistically channels in this book.

Then there’s his brief critique of Buddhism, and he sort of misunderstands the Buddhist take on suffering and consciousness. While there are more nihilistic schools of Buddhism out there, many Buddhists don’t actually deny consciousness. They just don’t believe that there exists a self or an ego, and that suffering is caused by cravings or attachments which spring from desire and are tied with the attachment to the ego.

In contrast to Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity, Aquino establishes that the Satanic religion is based on there being independent, self-aware consciousness that is external to the Objective Universe, and that, for him, the ancient precursor to this was the Neteru who were apparently collectively identified with Satan. Again, a simple search for the term Neteru yields no such determination, unless you count the fact that Christians tend to view every god that isn’t Yahweh or Jesus as Satan, and that the Neteru is widely considered to be the name the Egyptians used to refer to the gods. What Aquino is saying then, whether he would admit it or not, is that his conception of Satan and Satanism is firmly attached to, if not almost indistinguishable from, classical polytheism, but with modern LaVeyan affectations and, in true LHP fashion, taken from the lens of the darker or marginalized gods (chiefly Set). And then in that spirit we come to a few sections on Set and his priesthood where he, against his previously established theology, defines Set as the neter who is against the Neteru, defined as that which is not nature – the irony being with that part is that the Neteru are fundamentally outside of nature in his own theology!

After a long exposition on Set, Satan, and for some reason Melkor and Sauron from the Lord of the Rings universe, we come to a section entitled “Humancarnation” (seriously Mike what’s with the made-up words?), which appears to be a section dealing in metaphysics. The thing that stands out is the way that Aquino fundamentally misunderstands the naturalistic and scientific perspectives of human reality. He complains that the scientific perspective holds that Man is just another animal, which is ironic given that he was quite happy to join the Church of Satan, a religious group that then, as now, stated quite blatantly that Man is just an animal, just that he is the most advanced and vicious of them all. He holds that the scientific world view holds that man is nothing more than a machine, which requires him to ignore the fact that the scientific community does not automatically believe this, and in fact we know from our scientific understanding of the world that, as I covered in my case against transhumanism, that the brain does not actually operate in a way that can be described as mechanical. One the perspective of consciousness he assumes that everyone in the scientific community takes the Daniel Dennett perspective of consciousness – that it does not exist – at which point I would encourage him to look into Roger Penrose. He even goes so far as to claim that the scientific community is not confident to judge whether or not there exist an external God, which would require him to ignore that several esteemed members of the scientific community happen to be atheists.

Speaking of atheism, I find Aquino’s criticism of atheism to be very shallow. He accuses the atheist of only being interested in criticizing Biblical mythology, which is an interesting rehash of that whole “atheists just want to bash Jesus” argument. I mean yeah let’s ignore the way atheists tend to criticize Islam and Hinduism as well as Judaism and Christianity just to go out of your way to look like you got burned by an atheist who told you that general relativity is actually real. Don’t let reality stop you from accusing atheists of “scholasticism”. It’s worth noting that in the previous section Aquino marshals an interesting quote from John Fowles’s Aristos where it is stated “Intelligent Athenians of the fifth century knew that their gods were metaphors, personifications of forces or principles”. It’s particularly interesting considering, to my mind, this is a perspective that is entirely compatible with an atheistic outlook, but then Aquino has the nerve to deem atheism an inferior philosophical outlook. As for his take on agnosticism, there really isn’t much to say other than, at last, an argument of some sort, even if it is basically an ad hominem.

After this however we get a somewhat interesting criticism of the Church of Satan and its hedonistic outlook, criticizing its emphasis on carnal pleasure as not enough, suggesting instead that an Epicurean outlook on pleasure is preferable (which is ironic on his part considering Epicurus was a materialist and thus would be opposed to Aquino on epistemology) and suggested that virtue should be raised to the level of rationality, and that to be a god carries with it the responsibility of upholding a specific set of virtues pertaining to wisdom, ethics and the Agathon (or “the Good”, whatever that might mean), noting that the Biblical God failed in this regard. All of these are fine things, commendable in fact, but I can’t get past that all this is coming from the same guy who already establishing that this very good, as all things in the universe, are to be destroyed so that there is only Man and Leviathan, and assured us of no safeguard against the destructive side of his conception of absolute freedom. What’s even more telling however is that in this part of the book we see the arch-LHP guy Michael Aquino, who prizes himself on being more Satanic than Anton LaVey, propose a conception of serving a good that is by necessity greater than the individual, and marshalled a quote about Platonic philosophy that tells us that there must always be a good that transcends the particular goods of individuals. It makes me wonder just how confused Aquino’s framework is. Although I have to say, “serving the Holy Grail” is a particularly metal-sounding phrase, if a bit of an eyebrow-raising one coming from a Satanist (although in fairness there apparently have been pre-Christian conceptions of the Holy Grail).

“That is your purpose, Adept. The quest for the Holy Grail.”

After this though, we get to the last part of Chapter 12, which I mention only because it contains some claims that appear to be factually wrong. He claims that the Greek concept of telos originates in Egyptian symbolism, with the only evidence of this being a Plutarch quote that doesn’t seem to suggest this entirely. But far more egregious is his take on Darwinian evolution – he appears to consider the Lamarckian model of evolution to be superior to the Darwinian model of evolution, on the basis that Lamarckian evolution places a greater emphasis on individual will. Of course there’s too much evidence for Darwinian evolution to be correct for Aquino to simply dismiss Darwinism as he does and Lamarckianism is considered to have been supplanted by other scientific doctrines, but let’s not allow that to bother us because by god science has to conform to our individual will.

Now we come to Chapter 13, which is (thankfully) the last of the Lucifer chapter. This appears to be yet another chapter about metaphysics, albeit this time with specific attention being paid to the subject of consciousness or the soul, which is going to be fun to say the least. Yet again we open with a strawman of naturalistic philosophy that reads like the only guy he read on the subject was Daniel Dennett. One thing that is interesting, however, is that he claims that the ancient Egyptians recognized that consciouness was external to matter, and his source for this…is Deepak fucking Chopra! The literal Quantum Healing guy! I don’t know what I was expecting from Aquino, but it was almost certainly not this. Although I must say, perhaps I should have expected something New Agey given that he uses a term like MindStar to refer to the Xeper.

His critique of the “Judeo-Christian” concept of the soul is weird because it seems very heavily focused on the Judaic concept of the soul (or perhaps the lack of one), without much attention paid to Christianity. A very basic assessment of Christianity would lead you to understanding the Christian concept of a soul that would thus be distinct from Judaism, one may even go further and try to analyze the Hellenic influences of the Christian doctrine in this regard, but Aquino doesn’t seem to note this, and indeed is of the belief that post-Enlightenment Christians don’t even believe in such a doctrine. Even more curiously, for a guy who is to be taken as avowedly anti-Christian, Aquino seems very happy to employ the type of argument that would otherwise be reserved for Christian apologists. He seems to imply that, if you have a society where people don’t believe in an afterlife or a God, then the result is a society of hedonisitic decadence. He marshalls a scene from Pinocchio in support of his point (huh, I’m getting some Jordan Peterson vibes from this part) in which The Coachman invites unsuspecting youths to a place called Pleasure Island, an amusement park where they could do whatever they wanted without any rules until they, in their mischief, transformed into donkeys and were sold into slavery. This on its own is capable of illustrating a somewhat profound moral point, and in fact it sounds like something that can be used as a metaphor for something I remember hearing from Buddhism, but here it just seems like an arbitrary way of giving slack to people who don’t agree with your belief system.

Then we arrive at Aquino’s explanation of his concept of the “MindStar”. There isn’t much to say of the MindStar on its own, and it’s only a page before we talk about it in relation to an assortment ancient Egyptian concepts of the soul. What I will note however is that Aquino notes that, in his version of Satanism, death does not mean personal obliteration but rather “the MS T-Field relinquishing of a no-longer needed OU sensory interface”. No-longer needed eh? That sounds like something you can get away with when you describe what we’d call natural death, passing away into old age as it were, but I wonder how that works when you get killed? If a guy stabs me to death does my soul decide that I no longer needed that body anyway? What a strange concept of death and afterlife.

After this we arrive at the third chapter, the Belial chapter, which as I explained before is devoted to magic. Here, magic is defined as the means by which a practitioner renders the universe intelligible to his will and thus able to interact with and influence it, which seems fairly in line with that old Crowleyite axiom that much of the Left Hand Path uses to define magic. Of note is the definition of black magic and white magic, as based on the doctrine of the Temple of Set. Traditionally, black magic and white magic are defined as magic intended for malevolent and benevolent purposes respectively, and in the Left Hand Path the terms black magic and white magic are typically treated as arbitrary. Here, the term white magic refers to the magic that is specific to mainstream religions, which for Aquino is a form of self-deception and for him not real magic, while black magic refers to magic that operates from the Setian premise of the individual being distinct from the objective and subjective universes and as such is called “D5 tools”. This dichotomy is ostensibly based not on good magic or bad magic, but rather on true magic and false magic (though, surely this lends itself to a good vs bad value judgement if truth is tied to goodness). These concepts are expanded upon not too much further into the book. White magic is defined further as a highly concentrated form of conventional religious ritual, such as prayer, often with the intent of currying the favour of or seeking the will of a deity or daemon. Black magic is divided into two categories: Lesser Black Magic and Greater Black Magic. Lesser Black Magic is a tool to focus the mind outward in order to identify the properties of the objective and subjective universes, which for Aquino is an analytic process separate from traditional ceremonial magic, which seems like an attempt to frame the concept in rationalistic terms (wasn’t expecting that from him), with the aim of controlling natural law for the purpose of changing a situation in conformity to your will. Greater Black Magic is the category of black magic whose purpose is the analysis and control of subjective universes, with the aim of replacing the subjective universe that the individual learns as a result of societal conditioning with a subjective universe that is consciously created by the individual. Unless the practitioner is suitably disciplined, this comes with the risk of becoming mentally unstable, supposedly because you’ve been given license by the Black Flame to go into multiple subjective universes and do whatever you want with them.

In between the sections on Lesser and Greater Black Magic we get a section about how history is just a form of “reality control”. Aquino outright states that history is not a means by which to derive as a foundation for or evidence of anything because historical accounts are written by humans with different interests and therefore utterly subjective. It’s a particularly myopic form of nihilism because it completely bypasses the part about history where people gather evidence of things that happened and draw conclusions from them not to mention use them to either support or disprove certain accounts of history. It’s another case of something being more complex than Aquino makes it out to be. It’s also very rich that Aquino would complain about subjectivity considering his whole framework frames subjectivity as eing superior to the objective world, as is at the very least suggested by the fact that magic concerning the subjective universes is the “greater” category of magic. Of course he backpeddles later and says that the implications for black magic is that history is merely incomplete rather than unreliable.

In the section devoted to Ritual, Aquino gives a critique of LaVey’s use of the term Shemhamforash in his rituals, which is actually just one of the many Hebraic names of YHWH. He seems to treat the use of it as essentially “mystobabble”, which, while not entirely fair considering it isn’t an atraditional name, is salient insofar he is correct to point out that doesn’t really have anything to do with Satan. As for the rest of the Ritual section, there isn’t much for me to say given that it’s sort of a continuation of the epistemology of Aquino’s already established framework, but otherwise it’s not terrible in that it seems to me like it can be used to derive small aspects of methodology.

Now we move on to the fourth chapter, the Leviathan chapter. For the purpose of this post, I won’t comment on the Enochian Keys themselves and instead focus on the backstory lore surrounding them, particularly because it involves Aquino’s exposition on the character Enoch. Aquino considers him to be the Biblical equivalent of Cadmus, Hermes and Thoth, a connection that I’m not sure where it comes from, although it might be extrapolated from the way people have tried to connect him with Hermes Trismegistus, the alleged founder of Hermeticism. I’m also not sure where Aquino got the idea that Enoch was a sex-maniac. That’s news to me. Other than that, there is a somewhat decent summary of the Book of Enoch, and why Aquino thinks Enoch to be a missing figure of the Left Hand Path. Personally though I wonder if Aquino isn’t taking creative license with the myth, since it sounds like, in the Book of Enoch, the Watchers are still supposed to be the bad guys, and the “Black Flame” Aquino refers to is not depicted as a spark of divine consciousness, but a weapon by which to attack the believers of God.

But there’s another strange quirk to this chapter, one that gives me the clue to a particularly elitist character to Aquino’s thinking. His explanation for why the “Judeo-Christian cult of El” (read: Christianity) prevailed in Rome effectively amounted to him saying that the people were too stupid and ignorant to believe in esoteric mystery religions. Of course he frames it as being the religions of pre-Christianity, but that doesn’t make sense because the people were quite fine to be polytheists before Christianity showed up. In fact, we know that in the case of Rome at least, in the early days of Christianity, the Romans treated Christians with pity at best, and suspicion at worst, and at any rate many were certainly willing to cheer at the sight of the early martyrs being slaughtered in the Colosseum. But apparently the polytheism they already believed in wasn’t sophisticated enough, so it seems like he’s referring to a certain type of esotericism that existed in the ancient world that was not understood by the masses – probably because its practitioners willfully prevented the masses from understanding their doctrines by making their religions so exclusive. And again, the political realities of ancient Rome are casually ignored here. Aquino ignores how the Roman imperial hierarchy was rigid in its consolidation of state power, ruthless in its persecution of dissidents, and often too corrupt to do anything for the average citizen. Christianity, for better or worse, emerged as the answer to this political situation, offering deliverance from the poverty that Roman citizens felt in their day to day lives while preaching against the excesses of the Roman Empire. But Aquino doesn’t account for this. Instead he prefers to think that the masses were just insane gluttons for punishment who embraced a tyrannical god not because he promised worldly liberation and spiritual salvation (even if that was for naught) but because they were starving for attention. It’s a fundamentally elitist worldview, one that is destined to fail to enlighten the masses because it so fundamentally despises them for being too ignorant to grasp its spiritual doctrine, and also fundamentally idealist because it reduces the rise of ideologies to sentiment rather than account for external political and material conditions. I guess we can expect this from a guy who, for all his anti-establishment flair, appears to be nothing more than a garden variety liberal at best.

Yeah, let’s pretend that stuff like this never happened.

He also returns to the point about historians not accounting for the majority of human history, which is simply wrong because we know for a fact what humans did for 90% of their history. He asserts, without any evidence or even convincing argument at all, that there was undeniably ancient civilization for the 90,000 years or so that, in reality, were spent in a hunter-gatherer mode of social organization. There are only two points of evidence he refers to in support of this claim. The first is that, supposedly, the idea of Atlantis had different names under different cultures, which doesn’t really prove the actual existence of the settlement. The second is that there were 335,000 search results for the term “forbidden archaeology” in 2018. What he’s really saying is “go on Google and look up a shit ton of conspiracy theory websites”.

Finally, we’ll address the Yankee Rose chapter, the additional chapter. This section believe it or not is pretty fascinating in that it gives an account of the lore surrounding key aspects of Anton LaVey’s life, such as the Black House. There’s all sorts of colourful details, such as how LaVey preferred to greet guests in his house by arriving through the fireplace and the secret passages throughout the house, which really serve to breathe a type of life into the life of LaVey that you sometimes don’t see when we talk about Satanism, which is further a great contrast to the often dull pedantry found in much of the rest of the book. Then there’s the mysterious stuff about the sinkhole and the photograph of the house supposedly collapsing inward until nothing but darkness remained. It’s an intriguing closer – or so I would say, if it were indeed the closer.

The Ninth Solstice appears to be another section from the point of view of Satan, which means we’re back to that stupid font again although by now you’ve probably adjusted to its awkward character. It seems that in this text Satan is addressing Anton LaVey, who he treats as his anointed man, gives him his tribute, and by his will is consecrated a Daimon and becomes a god. It’s all strangely amicable for a being who, as I mentioned earlier, got sick of being called Satan and insisted on being called Set instead. But apparently this is accounted for when he says the Church of Satan has past its time, and implores LaVey to seek out “the Elect”, whoever that might be. There are a few other peculiar details to note here. Satan declares that he and his entourage have no need to justify their existence or their desires, a statement that I would have expected from an almighty sky deity whose rule is absolute and not his freethinking adversary. Once again the elitist aspect of Aquino’s worldview is visible, with Satan’s stress that he will not illuminate the many but instead the few, only the Elect. Only they can truly receive Satan’s wisdom. Such is the mark of a deeply esotericist doctrine (esotericism referring to mystery traditions and the religious practice of keeping occult knowledge hidden to all but a select group). And who is this “Elect”, exactly? Satan doesn’t tell us, and since he’s addressing LaVey we can only assume the two already know between themselves who the term “Elect” refers to, but we sure don’t. Perhaps it refers to the only people who identify as Satanists? Or the highest ranks of the Temple of Set? Who knows. Lastly, Satan tells LaVey to receive his Red Halo as the sign that he has become the Red Magus that Leviathan spoke of. If you remember the Diabolicon from before, you remember that the last section of it says that only with the obliteration of everything else that the Black Flame may “become red in the glory of its perfection”, obviously signifying the full attainment of self-divinity. That in mind, what’s happening in this dialogue actually? Is LaVey still alive at this time, or is he dead and this is supposed to be his disembodied spirit talking to Satan in the afterlife? What’s going on here, because I refuse to believe that LaVey actually destroyed the universe.

Appendices aside, that takes care of the book.

A depiction of Set

So what am I to make of this whole thing? How am I to summarize this book as a point of development for the direction of Satanism. Summer Thunder may be disappointed to hear me say this (or he would if he didn’t see it coming as he presumably read this post) but I do not see good things coming from the Aquinoite/Setian framework of Satanism.

If we take a look at Aquino’s worldview, it would be tempting to conclude that his framework can be reduced to a more sophisticated brand of inverted Christianity due to the fact that Christian apologist arguments are deployed in service of Satanism, but that wouldn’t be accurate. It’s more like a brand of polytheism that places strong emphasis on Platonism and esotericism, with Satan and his demonic entourage almost filling the role once filled by the gods of old, which is framed as a restoration of the original Egyptian cult of Set, which Aquino insists was the original cult of Egypt before being supplanted by that of Osiris. It’s classical theism, but from the lens of a kind of quasi-polytheist Platonism, mixed with an “I swear it’s not Ayn Rand” brand of hyper-individualist libertarianism, all wrapped up in a framework that lends itself easily to solipsism. It’s a confused philosophical outlook, and it tends to show in many areas. For instance, there is his classical theism and his dismissal of Ayn Rand, and then there’s the fact that his brand of individualism almost hasn’t changed from LaVey’s other than it’s more “Epicurean” in attitude. I guess you can say he can’t be an Objectivist because Objectivism categorically rejects belief in a God, but for some reason that doesn’t stop me from getting the sense that there are scents of Randian morality and ontology still there, bastardized by Plato-esque theism though they may be. And then there’s the fact that his absolute individualism is contradicted by his insistence on there being something higher than the self – whether it be Leviathan clearly taking the role of the All or the talk of the importance of an Agathon that the individual must serve and cultivate. And then to top it all off there’s just the fact that Aquino supports this whole picture by marshalling a variety of talking points on numerous subjects that are often either dubious, myopic or just straight-up factually wrong, not to mention a shocking level of ignorance regarding science – and how ironic is it that a guy who has a Daimon of Science in his infernal pantheon either rejects the scientific method or places it as inferior to divine revelation?

I’m sorry, but I can’t take this as anything other than a mess. If the Satanist movement follow’s Aquino’s doctrine, it will be doomed to exist under the shadow of Christianity, due chiefly to the fact that it marshalls classical theism similarly to how Christian apologists might just that it’s against Abrahamic monotheism and for a different theistic framework centered around Satan and his demons (or, excuse me, Set and the Neteru).

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.

About the Baphomet

It had occurred to me that in the entire course of my blog, let alone as a Satanist, I have never devoted a single page to Baphomet, easily one of the most iconic symbols of Satanism or the Left Hand Path. So for this post I would like to write about the history and symbolism of the Baphomet, and some of my own thoughts on the figure.

First the history, which in retrospect I’m sure some of you know. Baphomet was originally an idol that the Knights Templar were accused of worshipping. His name was a corruption of the name Mohammed, the prophet of the Islamic faith. By this time, the Crusades were happening and Christian Europe was engaged in war with the Muslims who had ruled Jerusalem at the time, so it was only natural that the name of Mohammed would be distorted into the name of a heretical idol. In reality, Baphomet was never worshiped by the Knights, and the accusation was an effort to suppress the Templars, who by then were gaining power and wealth to rival the papacy (the latter of which was likely highly desired by the French king Phillip IV). In the 19th century, the occultist Eliphas Levi created the image of Baphomet we know today, as demonstrated in the image above (sans the modern Satanic pentagram). His design, which was also known as The Sabbatic Goat or the Goat of Mendes (the latter possibly referring to the Egyptian deity Banebdjedet as described by the Greek historian Herodotus), was an expression of harmony between opposing forces such as light and darkness or mercy and justice, and Levi himself saw Baphomet as a symbolic expression of the absolute. It was noted to be similar to the Devil as he appears in the early Tarot cards, and Levi believed that the devil worship said to  In 1966, Anton LaVey started the Church of Satan, the world’s first formal and organized expression of the ideals we refer to as Satanism, and he chose the head of the goat, or the Baphomet, as a symbol for this new tradition. The first appearance of a goat in an inverted pentagram was actually in a book titled La Clef de la Magie Noire, which was written by Stanislas de Guaita in 1897, and Anton LeVay simply adopted the symbol. Nevertheless, from then on, the goat and the goat pentagram would become a prominent symbol associated with Satan, Satanism, and the Left Hand Path in general.

The Sigil of Baphomet, official symbol of the Church of Satan.

Next, the symbolism of the Baphomet, which is quite rich, and every detail seems to point to some symbolic attribute. You have the iconic goat head with two horns with a torch between them, a female human torso, two feathered wings, two arms with one pointing up and one pointing down and one with the word Solve on it and the other with the word Coaglia on it, goat legs, and a disk with caduceus sitting between its legs. The presence of both female breasts and the caduceus between his legs marks harmony and duality of the forces of the male and female genders. His goat head and human torso and arms point to Baphomet as both human and beast. Each arm points towards light and towards darkness, and if you look closely at the caduceus between its legs, you’ll notice that one of the snakes is white and the other is black, also representative of light and darkness or shadow respectively. The words Solve and Coaglia that appear on each respective arm refers to the alchemical motto “Solve et Coaglia”, which refers to the dual forces of dissolution and coagulation, separation and joining together, and the breaking down of elements and their coming back together. You may also notice fish scales. It might appear to be a meaningless detail, but if you refer back to the lit torch between his horns, you might see that the fish scales are water in contrast to fire. His wings also represent the element of air, and he sits upon the globe representing earth. Thus, he brings together the four classical elements (though some might say the Baphomet sitting upon the globe fits into the idea of Satan as the lord of this world, with the globe being the world as a throne). In full, the Baphomet seems to represent the all the forces of the cosmos, the harmony between them, and the duality (or plurality) of this forces. In essence, he is actually more of an equivalent to the Taoist precepts of yin and yang, much unlike common non-traditional depictions of Baphomet which emphasize on his connection to Satan.

Light, darkness, the light in darkness, the darkness in light, and the harmony and duality between them.

And now for some personal thoughts. Some might see the Baphomet as analogous to deities such as Cernunnos and other horned deities. I can see why that may be the case, but the more I think about the Baphomet and the full details of its symbolism, comparison to horned gods seems all too superficial. The figure of Baphomet reminds me more of deities such as Ometeotl (the lord of duality in Aztec lore), Quetzalcoatl (being a feathered serpent, he represents the powers of both heaven and earth), Shiva, particularly in the form of Ardhanarishvara (a fusion of Shiva and his wife Parvati/Shakti), and Phanes (primordial Greek deity of light who was both male and female). Though neither of those deities fit the description of a horned deity, they relate to the Baphomet’s deeper meaning, in that they all represent duality and harmony between various forces. That being the case, it now seems somewhat strange that the Baphomet is commonly depicted as a very dark and evil entity, likely from a typical Christian perception of Satanism. Many modern Baphomet depictions are simply too dark, they decry from the proper symbolism and focus only on the association with Satan. And yet, somehow the Baphomet’s association with Satan and Satanism makes the Baphomet that much stronger an image, and symbol, perhaps of a greater occult power, perhaps associated with Satan. But hey, that’s just my opinion.

My thoughts on Satanism (the initial impressions)

Lately I feel like telling of my stance on Satanism. First, I want to make distincitions between the various forms of Satanism.

Satanism was founded in 1966 by a former jazz musician named Anton LaVey. Otherwise known as LaVeyan Satanism, it’s an atheistic philosophy that values indulging in our desires and sins (unless it harms others), and doesn’t believe in a literal Satan, or anything supernatural for that matter, but rather sees Satan as a symbol for values such as selfishness, free will, individualism, indulgence, enlightenment, and man adhering to his nature. Besides valuing self-indulgence and individualism, they also have an eye-for-an-eye morality (though they usually prefer placing symbolic curses over actually hurting people).

By contrast, theistic Satanism involves actual worship of an entity by the name of or resembling Satan. Theistic Satanist organizations are disavowed by Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan (both atheistic), since they directly worship a satanic entity. There are plenty of theistic Satanist organizations, including Luciferianism, which worships Lucifer as the Lightbringer and counts the Abrahamic god as an evil entity wishing to enslave mankind, and the Temple of Set, which claims to be the world’s leading left-hand path religious organization. Interestingly the Temple of Set is individualistic while having no position on Satan’s existence. Set is believed to be the dark lord behind the Hebrew Satan.

Set, the Egyptian god of chaos.

So what’s my stance? I actually have a positive opinion of LeVayen philosophy, since I am a great supporter of individualism and value sexual liberty, even though I am not technically an atheist, or strictly materialistic. As for theistic Satanism, I am neutral towards it. I don’t worship Satan, but I’ve got nothing against most organizations. Really, it’s not as evil as it sounds. The media just attributes Satanism and the occult to criminal activity such as murder (especially ritual killings), human sacrifice, pedophilia, baby killings, and others. Does the infamous Satanic panic of the 80’s ring a bell? That was, of course, a media shitstorm designed to both generate fear among the ignorant, and garner attention for outlets presenting the sensationalist “headlines”.

Even South Park shows it’s ignorance, though it may be for the purpose of parody.

I think the common perception of Satanists as being all goat-sacrficing, baby-sacrificing, blood orgy-participating, cult murderers comes from years of brainwashing and believing what we’re told from movies like Rosemary’s Baby, books like Michelle Remembers (which probably started the whole damn fake panic in the first place, which was advertised as a true story, but would later be debunked), the moral fever against heavy metal using Satanic imagery and lyrics (such as Slayer, Venom, and many Norwegian black metal bands), and countless Christian, conservative, and puritanical indoctrination and conditioning. Incidentally, many of said metal bands use Satanic material for shock value, and bands like Slayer like Venom admit it, but some artists are genuine Satanists, including King Diamond (he was a LeVayen, and I heard he knew Anton LeVay while he was still alive), Gorgoroth (though I’m pretty sure they aren’t LeVayens, the lead singer stated that he wasn’t), and Boyd Rice (he was a close friend of Anton LeVay, too bad he also has a Social Darwinist organization).

Overall, I don’t have a problem with Satanism in general. Some things still disturb me, but that’s not my basis for judging the philosophy. But don’t expect me to go around shouting “Hail Satan” any time soon, ’cause there’d be no point.