Even though it is yet another unplanned interjection between working on my article about Revolutionary Demonology, I just can’t say no to the opportunity to address some common secular conceptions and misconceptions about Satanism by responding to YouTube commentator Big Joel’s short ramble about Satanists and why he seems to dislike them.
Joel, obviously, does not “love the Satanists”. That much is not in question. What, though, are misgivings towards Satanism? Joel recounts a video he previously uploaded where, in a larger discussion about Christianity, he briefly discussed Satanists as defined within the Christian imaginary. This apparently was a cause of offence to certain Satanists, who insisted that Satanism is not about worshipping or loving Satan, but instead is about atheism, rationality, and “free thinking”. Joel thinks that this is actually false, and perhaps something of a facade: he thinks that the “Satanism” of his Satanist critics is actually not Satanism, that it’s just an edgy way of saying you’re a “normal” atheist, and that “real” Satanists are just people who, in some way, love Satan. To him, that most consistently means worshipping Satan. The funny thing is, I can say with confidence that there are Satanists who would completely agree with this assessment.
In its own way Joel’s understanding of what Satanism is is not incorrect. True, it lacks the sense of distinct philosophical subtext by which Satanism is usually defined and presented in contrast to other religions, but in many ways it presents a much simpler way of looking at Satanism, as an internally diverse contemporary religious phenomenon. The only thing is, it does still invite the obvious question of “what does it mean to worship, revere, or honour Satan?”, which must be up to individual Satanists to answer. But, if Satanism is simply any belief system centering around Satan in some way, and that really means any way, then even the very atheists who Joel considers to not be Satanists would indeed be Satanists. Of course, since I connect Satanism to the concept of a distinct Satanic philosophy, I can think of atheists for whom their Satanism is in fact nothing but a provocative facade. But, that being said, the rejection of God as entailing atheism was at least a part of Eliphas Levi’s concept of Satan himself, though as far as I can see Levi himself had no doubts about the existence of either God or Satan.
There’s really not much to what Joel says here except that he then complains about how, in his opinion, Satanists are solely interested in looking for ways to correct people who say that Satanists are people who worship Satan, looking for every opportunity to butt in and assert that Satanists are not Satan-worshippers and instead just love rationality and atheism. It would seem that he is talking strictly about LaVeyan Satanists, or even more specifically just the official Twitter account of the Church of Satan.
His objection, in this light, is a curious one. He asks, perhaps somewhat facetiously, “then why do you name yourselves Satanists?”, followed by the suggestion that they do this simply to get a reaction from non-Satanists. The funny thing about it is that, as much as I am loath to say it these days, this was an argument that Anton LaVey already addressed within The Satanic Bible. LaVey predicated the distinction his own brand of Satanism from standard secular humanism, and attendantly the justification for calling his philosophy Satanism, on the argument that .
“Satanism is based on a very sound philosophy,” say the emancipated. “But why call it Satanism? Why not call it something like ‘Humanism’ or a name that would have the connotation of a witchcraft group, something a little more esoteric – something less blatant.” There is more than one reason for this. Humanism is not a religion. It is simply a way of life with no ceremony or dogma. Satanism has both ceremony and dogma. Dogma, as will be explained, is necessary.
As elaborated further:
Inevitably, the next question asked is: “Granted, you can’t call it humanism because humanism is not a religion; but why even have a religion in the first place if all you do is what comes naturally, anyway? Why not just do it?”
Modern man has come a long way; he has become disenchanted with the nonsensical dogmas of past religions. We are living in an enlightened age. Psychiatry has made great strides in enlightening man about his true personality. We are living in an era of intellectual awareness unlike any the world has ever seen.
This is all very well and good, BUT – there is one flaw in this new state of awareness. It is one thing to accept something intellectually, but to accept the same thing emotionally is an entirely different matter. The one need that psychiatry cannot fill is man’s inherent need for emotionalizing through dogma. Man needs ceremony and ritual, fantasy and enchantment. Psychiatry, despite all the good it has done, has robbed man of wonder and fantasy which religion, in the past, has provided.
Satanism, realizing the current needs of man, fills the large grey void between religion and psychiatry. The Satanic philosophy combines the fundamentals of psychology and good, honest emotionalizing, or dogma. It provides man with his much needed fantasy. There is nothing wrong with dogma, providing it is not based on ideas and actions which go completely against human nature.
In this context, the argument is essentially a psychological one, albeit one carried from a rather optimistic view of the institution of psychiatry and flat rejection of religion (except, of course, for Anton LaVey’s religion!). LaVey and LaVeyan Satanism treat religion as a psychological structure which, in selfish terms, fulfills the emotional needs or desires of humans, specifically the ones that all connect to the practice of ritual. It’s all taken as “fantasy”, or psychodrama, the specific form of which can unlock certain instincts and satisfy certain needs. The LaVeyan view in this sense is that most religions are psychodramas that satisfy a few specific needs or desires, but require the denial many others, often of a basic variety, and in the process elicit a tendency towards aggressive self-denial, whereas Satanic psychodrama is meant to satisfy the whole complex of the needs of “human nature” in its religious alignment with flesh and its wants. It’s an argument that is in many ways central to LaVeyan Satanism in particular, and I think this argument has sort of fallen out of focus in contemporary discussions of atheistic Satanism. I suppose that’s almost just natural as the Church of Satan, for all its internet presence as a notable Twitter gadfly, gradually slipped out of media relevance as The Satanic Temple eventually eclipsed it.
But as to the other atheistic Satanists, who may not be LaVeyans and in the overall may or may not share the LaVeyan view of religion as psychodrama, one may indeed still say, on a case by case basis, “why even call yourselves Satanists?”. The Satanic Temple is in this respect all the more hollow, lacking a larger philosophy of Satanism and preferring instead to take up aspects of the mythology of the Romantic Satan in service of an opportunistic commitment to egalitarian secular humanism. Yet, as obnoxious as the insistence on correction must seem in view of the particular attitude of the LaVeyans and their successors regarding “real Satanism”, if we’re being fair, it seems a tad natural that contemporary Satanists might bother to correct any sort of record at all. Popular culture, still driven latently by the Christian imaginary, contains many misconceived or simply tropey ideas about Satanism, at least some of which can be traced to some rather old and often fascistic conspiracy theories, which then occasionally, often subtly, still feed back into public consciousness. Thus, in principle, Satanists do have an imperative to push back against popular conceptions of Satanism. For one thing, it is an essential part of our broader struggle against the Christian imaginary, and Christianity as a whole. For another, at least some of these ideas and narratives are, in themselves, weapons against us, and they do often support actual social persecutions against Satanists as carried out typically by Christians.
In this sense, there are pretty much only two problems. The first is the fact that some Satanists are doing it in the wrong way, like the Church of Satan insisting its own distorted narrative and narrow definition of Satanism as the sole truth, or the far more general flat denial of all historical or pre-1960s expressions of Satanism on the grounds of their non-atheism. The second is that the media at large, whenever it does not cover Satanism through stories of criminal sects and neo-Nazi “accelerationist” cults, focuses pretty much all vaguely sympathetic or at least non-hostile coverage on atheistic Satanism: whether that’s the Church of Satan, The Satanic Temple, or the Global Order of Satan, to the exclusion of many esoteric or theistic tendencies within Satanism.
I will say that in the overall Joel’s video was more underwhelming than offensive, and I find it embarrassing that, even as a joke, he feels the need to insinuate that we might be itching for a fight with him over his ill-informed commentary. But I suppose I could close this with an answer to the question of why I embrace the label of Satanist, and I promise to keep it brief. For one it’s because it is the natural expression of religious egoism, hedonism, and “active nihilism” at least in our context, and for another its solar myth and philosophy of inversion has always been, for as long as it has been known, the key to your own inner freedom. Satan is the being who himself is the primordial spiral of insurrection, a solar myth denoting the “other side”, the inner and outer of life, the darkness, that is nonetheless life’s true basis. While I am Pagan, I am a Satanist because I see the war of all against all in the cosmos, the insurrection that ceaselessly propels life, and thus recognise and in turn honour Satan as its divine-demonic apogee, and to follow his black light. In short, I am a Satanist because I honour the war of all against all, and aspire to fight in it on my own side, just as he did.
[This article was originally published by Queer Satanic, a collective of former members of The Satanic Temple who are presentlty being sued by The Satanic Temple for speaking out against them. It was originally published on Medium on February 13th 2022, but it seems to have gone down, possibly as a result of The Satanic Temple’s efforts to silence Queer Satanic. I suspect it might have something to do with June Everett accusing Queer Satanic of having doxxed them. I’ve been asked if I would like to share or mirror this article to my blog, and I agreed on behalf of the cause of solidarity with anti-fascist Satanists who want to rebel against The Satanic Temple and oppose their leadership. The Satanic Temple has gone out of their way to spend money from Satanists who pay to be members on defending Catholic conservatives on free speech grounds, but this concern for free speech seems to not be applied to left-wing Satanists who speak out against The Satanic Temple. In solidarity with the cause, let me show you something that Lucien Greaves doesn’t want you to see.]
Last time, we looked in detail at how a press release from The Satanic Temple takes advantage first of weak local journalists and their editors by offering a compelling conflict narrative; this makes a story easy to cover “both sides” of and meets the minimum standards of objectivity. We showed how this simple, facile framework leads to a story that can be turned around quickly and neatly without any deeper questions pursued, and we showed how this tidy “man-bites-dog” Satanist story then works its way through each step of the rightwing media ecosystem, something that justifies further coverage by increasingly prominent “straight” news outfits as well as liberals and leftists looking to dunk on the right.
“After School Satan” clubs have been a point of pride for TST since first announced in late summer 2016 in the Washington Post.
If you are looking at that logo and chuckling to yourself because a.) you realize what the acronym is, and yet b.) you realize that would be inappropriate for an elementary and middle school program, you would be correct on both counts. But remember, we’re dealing with The Satanic Temple here, so all of the original iconography was not “After School Satan Clubs” (ASSC) it was just “After School Satan” (ASS). From conversations with some high-ranking ex-TST members, we’ve also been able to confirm that internally, “ASS clubs” was the joke, as well.
The After School Satan Clubs meet at select public schools where Good News Clubs also operate.
“Good News Clubs” or GNCs are religious indoctrination clubs run by Child Evangelism Fellowship, which they describe as “weekly Christian programs for kids 5–12 years old featuring a Bible lesson, songs, memory verses, and games.”
But you shouldn’t trust an organization’s self-marketing. GoodNewsClubs.info has some independent information about GNCs, but understand that there are thousands of these clubs across the United States harming tens of thousands of students, and they absolutely deserve to be countered.
No wonder people who want something like that also want to believe that a group like The Satanic Temple‘s self-marketing actually does exist and offers an alternative to kids.
Unfortunately, TST’s claims are lies.
As late as September 2020, the Temple claimed to have active ASS clubs in nine school districts. A person searching for themselves to double-check could even find multiple national and local headlines about it:
What you may notice (but journalists and fact-checkers never seem to) is that those stories don’t include the clubs getting to the point of actually meeting with students.
Ordo Sororitatis Satanicae detailed why Springfield, Mo., fell apart in their 2019 piece about Lucien Greaves and The Satanic Temple, but as far as we can tell, no news outlets thought it worth doing follow up at the time or ever since.
We reached out to Heinrich Kaiser, a former organizer for TST’s local affiliate group in the Washington, D.C.-area, about what happened to their program after getting all that press coverage and making public promises about it.
I was the spokesperson for PG [Prince George, Md.] county on this initiative years ago. Leadership pushed the promotion and left us high and dry like it never even happened after we had certified educators on board and a media blitz.
Which are both the more typical way of things with TST: the announcement is spoonfed to media who dutifully talk about it because it’s such a good and easy story for them, but then overworked journalists and understaffed newsrooms forget to follow up. By the time they do — if they do — the story is too old. Plus, the way the rules of news work, “turns out, nothing happened” is a tough sell to an editor.
Now, two of those places (Taylorsville and Portland) did get to the point of an “open house” at least, but there’s no evidence Taylorsville actually provided anything for students. Meanwhile, leadership of what in 2018 would break off from TST to become “Satanic Portland” confirmed publicly that one of their major sources of tension was that Portland’s local After School Satan club (mis-abbreviated here) fell apart after the national leadership got the headlines and photos they wanted then proceeded to ignore them for months at a time.
In general, an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but it seems pretty odd that dramatic protests and news coverage would accompany so many After School Satan clubs yet there then would be nothing about any of them actually meeting if they actually did.
See, though many provisional clubs were announced to great acclaim and consternation, when we asked around, only one program ever actually served a child that we can find: Point Defiance Elementary School in Tacoma, Wash.
There, a radio news story confirmed that a volunteer from the Seattle chapter taught one child once a month for two hours during the spring 2017 semester.
After a lot of hullabaloo about the club being on the grounds of Port Defiance Elementary, a young girl named Veronica (we’re not using her last name for privacy reasons) ended up being the only kid who joined.
“I am 11, I will be turning 12 on August 9th. My friend is a week older than me because she’s on July 28,” she says.
Erin Botello is Veronica’s After School Satan Club educator, and a member of the Satanic Temple in Seattle.
“Veronica is our only student,” she says. “She has come to every meeting that we have held … She is fierce. She has a great head on her shoulders, she also has a very supportive family who also shows up with her to the meetings.”
Additionally, we have documentation that TST’s non-church 501(c)(3) Reason Alliance Ltd. paid for a semester’s worth of once-per-month rent, starting December 2016 then till the end of spring semester 2017. Reason Alliance writing the check set off an entirely new round of rightwing outrage over how fast it got nonprofit status, but we won’t go further into that here.
Officially, the program was “on pause” the next semester. On the other hand, TST also told the Tacoma News Tribune the club was “well-attended” as a way to describe having one student participate.
The club met once a month with kids from all elementary grade levels during the second half of last school year, but it doesn’t have the resources to continue this year, according to the Satanic Temple of Seattle.
“It was a matter of funding, and also volunteers who couldn’t take the time out of work because it’s right in the middle of the work day, so we didn’t have enough volunteers,” said [Seattle] Temple leader Lilith Starr.
Those volunteers were members of the Temple, and Starr said two of the three of them had a background in teaching.
While Starr declined to give specific numbers for how many kids came to the 90-minute club, she said it had been well-attended.
And according to Botello when we reached out last week, TST shut the program down not due to a lack of local support but because the national org already had all of the headlines they needed.
“I pushed to do it for another year, and to make it bigger. But I was shot down real quick,” Botello said. “I wanted to keep it going, being more intentional about lesson plans and expanding to more students. But they shot me down. They said the ‘jig was up’ basically and the stunt had run its course.
“I was very passionate about the program. And I put a lot of my own money and supplies into it,” she continued. “It was a real slap in the face that they reduced my work to a ‘political stunt.’ As a parent, I felt some type of way about using children as pawns for political gain.”
The partner of Derek Piersing, former leader of the “South Sound Satanists” affiliate group centered on Tacoma, also independently confirmed this in a statement written in March 2020.
The only reason I joined TST was for the After School Satan Club. The first year Derek and I were both students and we couldn’t make it to Point Defiance to participate, but we were told it was a huge success and I was so happy. That summer we moved to Tacoma (for unrelated reasons) and I told Lilith [Starr] I wanted to enroll our son and be a teacher in the program, which she was enthusiastic about. As the school year approached, though, I didn’t hear anything else. I tried to talk to her about what I needed to enroll our son, and what I needed to do to be able to teach and always she said ‘we’ll get back to you’. So I waited, and heard nothing, until the mass email saying the program was canceled. I was frustrated because we had a student (my son) and the year before we had only had one, we had volunteers, including myself and a few others thanked in the email, so what had happened? No answer, no explanation, nothing except my name on a list in a mass email.
Indeed, Australian comedian Jim Jefferies did more journalistic work that fall than most professional journalists ever have on the topic when he interviewed ASS club’s then-national program lead Chalice Blythe.
In press releases, as late as September 2017, Blythe was still claiming publicly that things were going great and going to be “even better and much bigger” than ever.
“Last year [fall 2016– spring 2017], the After School Satan Club curriculum was only offered in school districts where local chapters of The Satanic Temple could manage and maintain them. In that time, we received a flood of emails from parents, educators, and other qualified parties who were interested in operating After School Satan Clubs in schools near them.”
The Tacoma News Tribune included Blythe’s statement without further investigation, as did Seattle’s alt-weekly paper The Stranger. TST member and future high-level media contributor Jack Matirko of course went one step further for his Patheos blog:
Amusingly enough, when asked by the Washington Post last year about the ASSC program the Liberty Counsel’s founder and chairman Mat Staver said:
“… I can’t imagine there’s going to be a lot of students participating in this. It’s probably dust they’re kicking up and is likely to fade away in the near future for lack of interest.”
If this expansion of After School Satan Clubs to a volunteer network is any indication, Mr. Staver may find that he was sorely mistaken.
But having Blythe on camera, Jefferies asked her a direct question, and Blythe confirmed that despite the massive amount of media coverage nationwide the year before, there were no active programs anywhere in the USA at that time.
Jim Jefferies: There’s 3,800 Good News Groups — clubs — across America. How many branches do you have?
Chalice Blythe: As of right now, we don’t have any currently in operation.
The airdate for that was October 2017. Despite being included in numerous press releases, we can’t find any evidence of such programs existing between then and January 2022. We were able to confirm that, as expected, TST’s 2021 year-in-review greatly mischaracterized what TST had done with its ASS clubs in that year and that there were no clubs in 2020, although this was blamed on Covid-19.
So, prior to January 2022 when an After School Satan club in Moline, Ill., actually met with students for the first time, there seem to have been none since Tacoma. (Even in Moline, we are relying on news to accurately characterize it as a meeting and not a provisional open house like in Portland.)
Again: we cannot prove that there were no ASS clubs during the previous five years, but it should be pretty easy for anyone to demonstrate TST actually met with kids other than that one program; as yet, no apologists for the Temple have been able to.
For five years, The Satanic Temple was able to advertise themselves offering a program without any of the work or headaches of actually doing it, knowing that news outlets were more interested in “reporting the controversy” than seeing if announcements or open houses ever got to the point of engaging students. Ignorant people without the time to do hours of follow-up on their own believed TST and these reporters, naturally.
People often say, “At least The Satanic Temple is doing something.” Well, the “something” TST was doing was getting attention and leaving all its volunteers high and dry.
Yet, when The Satanic Temple dusted off its After School Satan program this year and targeted the Midwest, it worked just as well. Numerous local and national news stories, including social media with rightwingers going nuts and smug liberals telling them that actually the Temple is great — why, just read TST’s own website for proof.
As far as we can tell, the program in Moline did actually meet, and when we asked campaign director “June Everett” on Facebook, she claimed it involved four students.
June Everett: We had 4 kids at the club in Moline.(emphasis added) Why does it matter? More are planning on attending in future months. They had such a great time I’ve been notified they want ASSC to be weekly. Geesh I don’t know why we don’t have 5,000 clubs up and going every year like GNC does. Maybe it has something to do with the 26 death threats I’ve received in the last 3 days? And all the doxxing that happens amongst other pissed off satanists? I plan on supporting my volunteers in anyway that I can. Being present for each club launch, taking care of all logistics to get the club approved, all documentation, required supplies, media training, ASSC training. Anything they need for future clubs. All of it.
Everett references doxing, and we’ll address that at the bottom because it turns out to be much too complicated to get into here. All subsequent press references to the campaign director of After School Satan also quote “June Everett”, so we’re going to have to follow that naming convention.
Just note that previously, someone named “Andrea Williams Wright” was also answering questions and also publicly identifying as the Campaign Director of the After School Satan clubs for The Satanic Temple.
June Everett: Well. I can tell you from experience that getting a school board to approve us is no easy task. The last two years have also been frustrating with COVID-19. Respecting the rules of the schools and considering that most were on and off with e-learning, therefore prohibiting most after school activities including Good News Club. I started receiving serious emails just this past fall notifying me that the GNC had returned, and that that there were parents willing to step up to volunteer to help run ASSC in their communities. I can assure you that just because a club never came to fruition, does not mean that there was zero effort trying to make it happen. (emphasis added)
I also just had a club approved in Ohio, and two more in the works in PA and NY. And of course now I’m getting flooded with volunteers who want to bring ASSC to their communities. So let’s see what the future holds. Cheers! & Hail Satan.
Of course, the work of volunteers on the ground is not and never has really been in question when it comes to The Satanic Temple. It’s what the national organization based out of Salem is doing with that volunteer labor and to what ends the two owners are seeking.
Local Superintendent Isaac Seevers confirmed to The Dayton Daily News that there were “two students and seven adults that were participating in the meeting”, which sounds to us like an open house people were just scoping out, but we’ll be generous.
June Everett, an ordained minister of The Satanic Temple and the campaign manager of the After School Satan Club, said the meeting “was anti-climatic” and they were “just hanging out and having a good time playing games and enjoying snacks.”
Everett said the meetings will be held monthly unless the volunteer leadership determines the need to have more meetings.
“We’re not disappointed with today’s turnout,” she said. “We’re not going after numbers. We just want to make this available.”
Everett said there are more people interested in participating and that she has received about a dozen emails and messages. She said people are afraid of their children becoming a target. Everett also said the schools did a great job in preparing for the meeting and with security.
So, as far as we can (generously) confirm, that is a total of seven students in three states meeting since the program was first announced in fall 2016.
What this “accomplishment” has received in return is dozens but perhaps hundreds of articles from the local news to blogs to YouTube videos to the Washington Post to multiple Fox News segments devoted to it, as well as dutiful repetition of TST’s claims in press releases that the program is extant even when — if anyone who bothered to check — it was not.
This latest news cycle is even better than getting coverage of the “Baby Baphomet” on Fox News in December, because this time Lucien Greaves himself got to go on Fox News again.
Why Greaves prefers someone like Carlson over someone like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow or CNN’s Brian Stelter could be explained in many ways, but the most generous is that Greaves knows he’s going to get a copacetic interview from Carlson. The Fox News primetime host is certainly not interested in finding out that “there’s no Satan Claus” when it comes to an international Satanic organization that claims half a million members trying to get into the schools of his audience and educate children.
Carlson and the rest of the far-right media are absolutely not looking to point out that TST is, in reality, five hundred thousand email-newsletter subscribers in a trench coat and some dozens of people actually involved till they burn out, get kicked out, or find out about the whole “Aryan king” thing. The Gateway Pundit is absolutely not going to bother to point out the Temple’s public figures make a lot of (to TGP’s audience) scary promises TST never delivers on and therefore are not something their audience should be frightened of, are not a sign of the end times, are not another reason to stock up on doomsday prepper supplies they happen to also sell.
The right wants what The Satanic Temple is selling because it helps the right push its own grifts.
If you’re saying that the right-wing media ecosystem would be inventing Satanist conspiracies and fear-mongering even without TST, OK — you’re probably right.
But The Satanic Temple is the organization that actively seeks attention, clout, and money by handing these people pre-packaged fantasies to peddle without even bothering to actually do anything good.
All of this goes on and is allowed to glide on — frictionless — because everyone involved at every step of the way supporting or opposing the Temple is getting what they want.
The Satanic Temple “controls the media” because news orgs get a bigger audience, right-wing groups get a bogeyman, liberals and leftists get to feel superior or feel like they’re “trolling” the right, and TST gets to make a buck while Lucien Greaves gets to feel clever and important and have endless praise heaped on him by TST sycophants.
The only people who don’t benefit in all of these schemes are the people who are supposed to be benefitting: the pregnant people who need abortions, the organizations actually fighting to keep Christian dominionism out of the state, and children who probably could use a decent alternative to after school programs by the Child Evangelism Fellowship and their “Good News Clubs”.
And it seems like that ought to be important to someone by now.
Maybe next time.
Moreover, we’re still being sued by The Satanic Temple in federal court. If you’ve learned anything new, please follow us on our other social media to learn even more and show your appreciation with whatever you can afford so we can keep defending ourselves from this frivolous SLAPP suit.
The Facebook profile “June Everett” clearly and unequivocally claims to be the Campaign Director of the After School Satan club program, as well as an “Ordained Minister of The Satanic Temple”.
Early on in our exchange, she accused us of doxing and said that she had already had a conversation with us the previous weekend.
June Everett: I know whatever I share with you is going to be posted on your private shit-posting page and Twitter Account. I saw all the posts that you shared using your real name when I was answering questions for you last weekend. So that was cool. Don’t worry — I won’t doxx you like you doxx everyone else. I’m sorry you hate TST so much that it has turned in to your full-time job. I would like to answer questions for you without you being so hostile about it. But I know whatever I say or honestly answer will just be flipped and twisted around and won’t mean a thing. So. What a conundrum.
At the time, this was a bit baffling, but with a bit of work we understood that she meant our fact-check of TST’s 2021 year-in-review where we referenced the conversation she had with someone else as “Andrea Williams Wright” under The Satanic Temple’s public Facebook post about After School Satan clubs returning mere weeks after TST had claimed they were actively meeting in 2021.
Although it remains public and we linked to the conversation directly there (and will do so again), the person asking those questions is not one of the four people being sued by The Satanic Temple, which is all “Queer Satanic” is, so we didn’t want to corral them into this without their permission.
Now, TST did attempt to dox the four of us by not only putting what they thought were our government names but also our home addresses into the public federal court record as part of serving us papers. Which is something fairly different from what the Temple’s supporters typically mean by doxing: referring to someone by the same government name they use when they buy stuff, own stuff, sue people, and give testimony in court as part of a “constellation of affiliate entities” exerting power over its members’ lives.
The Satanic Temple says, “We’re a legitimate religion!” But when pressed, it’s always, “I’m worried about being held accountable for things I say and do publicly for my legitimate religion.”
This is not deadnaming a trans person. This is not taking a new name as part of religious conversion.
This is the campaign director for what purports to be a national religious program for children, and she ought to perform the minimal amount of ownership and accountability of actually standing behind what she’s doing.
But — and this is where it gets tricky with The Satanic Temple — Wright being the same person as June Everett is based on only her word, and unlike typical “Satanyms”, there are multiple people legally named “June Everett”, including in Colorado, where Wright and Everett are from. Both were even involved in Menstruatin’ With Satan Campaigns in Colorado: Everett in 2020 and Wright in 2020, and Everett again in 2021. And yet the top non-Facebook search results for Everett including a LinkedIn profile clearly are a different person from Wright.
It should not be this difficult to just confirm that someone is who they say are.
So, while Everett says that she is the same person as Wright, and both Wright and Everett have publicly claimed to be Campaign Director for the After School Satan club program, we still cannot independently confirm that they are. Which is wild.
The same day the conversation was happening between us where Everett accused us of doxing, a Jewish community was targeted while meeting in their synagogue yet again. Somehow Jewish people — who are actually targeted for the ethno-religion rather than just by euphemism and proxy as Satanists are — conduct their work under their own names, meet publicly, and have a sense of community that can have internal and external accountability.
What an awful, pathetic religion Satanism is if it wants to get national headlines, untraceable money, and the right to teach children but is too craven to even endure scrutiny.
Editor’s note: a previous version of this article described Heinrich Kaiser’s role with The Satanic Temple inaccurately.
[Once again, this has been a mirror of what was originally written by Queer Satanic. All content here has been reproduced from the original article. And let me just thank Queer Satanic for giving me an unexpected opportunity to raise the issue of After School Satan being a scam.]
Some people reading this might have some idea who Peter Boghossian is. He’s an atheist philosopher, of the New Atheist school in particular, the kind of atheist who loves getting self-righteous about their beliefs in a way that outmatches even many religious moralists. He’s also a conservative ideologue, in fact he’s pretty notorious for submitting intentionally absurd hoax papers for the purpose of “debunking gender studies”, which his employer, Portland State University, determined to be a violation of its ethics guidelines concerning research on human subjects. Like other New Atheists, Peter Boghossian is enamored with ideas about opposing vague constructs called “wokeness”, which he believes to be a threat to liberal democracy. Often times you find that “wokeness” is a thing that people struggle to define. Personally, I really hate the term “woke” as a way of describing anything. It’s a vague term often meant to describe any political position you happen to despise. But on November 11th, Peter Boghossian posted on Twitter a spreadsheet detailing the characteristics of what he called “the woke religion”. Ironically enough, I think it also exposes his own inner “religious thinking” for lack of a better term, as well as the true content of the manufactured “war on wokeness” now peddled ruthlessly by the mainstream of politics. So, let’s take the opportunity to dissect it.
Apparently compiled by both Peter Boghossian and Michael Shellenberger, himself a self-described “eco-modernist” and noted conservative contrarian, the table is divided between seven vertical categories and ten horizontal categories. The categories of the vertical axis consist of “Racism”, “Climate Change”, “Trans” (as in trans people), “Crime”, “Mental Illness”, “Drugs”, and “Homelessness”, all of them seemingly pet issues for conservative culture warriors. To be honest, I’m surprised “Immigration” and “Islam” aren’t sections here, considering where this is going. The cateogries of the horizontal axis consist of “Original Sin”, “Guilty Devils”, “Myths”, “Sacred Victims”, “The Elect”, “Supernatural Beliefs”, “Taboo Facts”, “Taboo Speech”, “Purifying Rituals” and “Purifying Speech”. Some of these sound like song titles from a shitty glam rock album. But, more importantly, they sketch out what Boghossian seems to think a religion is, and how “wokeness” supposedly works. First there’s the “original sin” doctrine, or rather what we’re supposed to take as an expy to the original sin doctrine of Christianity, here meaning basically the idea of a crime or transgression taking place which is responsible for the current problems of the world. Then of course there’s the people who are responsible for it. Then you have “Myths”, which apparently are supposed to be a creation story, which will seem all the weirder when we analyze what these “myths” are. There are “Sacred Victims”, who continue to be affected by “Original Sin”, and there are the “Elect”, a chosen few gathered to right the wrongs of the world. The “religion” is equipped with a set of “supernatural beliefs”, here defined as “beliefs beyond scientific understanding or known laws of nature”, and, of course, has attendant categories of “forbidden speech”, which attacks the “religion”, as well as counteracting categories of “purifying speech”, which upholds the “religion” while alleviating guilt.
So, Boghossian’s construction of “the woke religion” is apparently a salvationist religion in which there are, judging by the table, multiple original sins that need to be redeemed by an enlightened Elect, supported by purportedly non-scientific beliefs, origin myths, purification rituals and speech, and, of course, the persecution of heretics. Boghossian here is trying to frame all of his critics and opponents as being religious fanatics, or just given over to religious thinking in general, and it’s very obvious that Boghossian’s idea of the nature of religion is informed almost entirely by Christianity. The whole concept is essentially a caricature of Christianity, the religion most defined partly by the concept of “original sin”, though unlike Christianity or any other religion it also involves the presence of an “Elect” to be set up to correct society, which actually sounds a little more like Plato’s Republic than Christianity or any religion. Then again, perhaps “the Elect” is meant to have the same meaning as “the Church”.
At this point I believe it’s worth bringing up that Boghossian’s understanding of religion is, like that of many other atheists, a very narrow understanding of religion, one that only really responds particularly to a generalized set of claims made by or about Christianity, as well as maybe Judaism and Islam. It is entirely inadequate when addressing the diverse reality of religion, both historical and present, or many claims made by non-Abrahamic religions. Ideas about original sin, the temptations of devils, spiritual elects, and the like are all absent in the polytheistic religions of the world, and in the historical context of the pre-Christian world, Christianity actually seems unique, perhaps even “eccentric”, in this regard. Hinduism has one God, expressed through many deities, and Hindu class society does affirm a sort of elite spiritual caste at the top, but there’s no original sin in Hinduism. Nor is there original sin in Buddhism, with suffering merely being a product of continuous arisings of craving and ignorance that don’t seem to have an obvious starting point; there is no descent from purity to impurity. Shinto does emphasize ritual purity, very strongly indeed, but it has no concept of original sin. Finally, the nature of the gods of polytheism seems distinct from the One True God imagined by the monotheist faiths and likely the same God that is the sole focus of atheist responses. They are powerful, but not omnipotent, nor omniscient, or even omnibenevolent, they do not deal in the sort of divine command that God is known for, and in some belief systems they are not even immortal.
With that out of the way, let’s examine what Boghossian and Shellenberger seem to think is the “woke religion” in terms of what its apparent beliefs are, and this is where things get truly bad.
One thing I should note right out of the gate is that Boghossian uses the term “supernatural beliefs” not to refer to any actual supernatural claims but instead to claims that very much pertain to worldly society, often with scientific support, but which he himself happens to disagree with. For example, one of the “supernatural beliefs” he lists is “humans are causing sixth mass extinction”. Putting aside the obvious problem that the scientific community seems to suggest that this is indeed happening, it beggars belief to suggest that this might be interpreted as a “supernatural” claim. Do mass extinctions happen only because of a God flashing a magic wand, or like lightning bursting out from another dimension? No, they are very much naturalistic phenomenon, and until today they were all caused solely by extant, uncontrollable natural phenomenon. Or how about “prisoners aren’t guilty, the system is”. Again, we might well ask questions about the system that makes sure that non-violent drug offenders, often African-Americans, spend years of their lives in prison, while allowing millionnaires who literally committed murder to avoid incarceration, but how in the world are we to take that as a “supernatural” claim, or even a particularly extraordinary one? I also fail to see how decriminalization as a means to prevent addiction and overdoses qualifies as a “supernatural” claim. These are just a handful of examples of Boghossian’s absurd labelling of whatever claim he dislikes as “supernatural”.
The “Racism” section of the table begins in predictable fashion. Slavery, referring mainly to the Atlantic slave trade, is the “original sin”, the machinations of mercantile slavery here are somehow given a cosmic status that perhaps was never afforded to it by actual anti-racists, and white people and the police are the “guilty devils”, the implication being that Boghossian assumes that white people are assumed to never be capable of being allies in the struggle against racism or of dismantling racial hierarchy. The “Myths” section is ostensibly supposed to refer to “creation myths”, but contains nothing of the sort. Instead it contains strawmen such as “Asian success is due to Asians participating in white supremacy” and “structural racism is the cause of all racial inequality and the only explanation possible for disparate outcomes by racial group”. The “Sacred Victims” are of course non-white and indigenous people, and the “Elect” meant to save them are Black Lives Matters, critical race theorists, and basically a selection of anti-racist intellectuals that he doesn’t like (not that I’m a fan of Ta-Nehisi Coates or Robin DiAngelo either, just so we’re clear). Black Lives Matter here is supposed to be taken as a kind of elite movement, an appendage of the establishment meant to scold white people, when in reality they seem to repeatedly criticize mainstream Democratic politicians, such as Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, and have more recently earned the ire of the establishment for their declared solidarity with Cuba against US imperialism. The “supernatural beliefs” section here is just a joke. It consists almost entirely of strawmen, and the otherwise not incorrect claim that racism is as bad as ever. The “taboo facts” section would imply “things forbidden to say”, but claiming that racism is declining and that interracial marriages are broadly accepted is not the edgy, rebellious, or controversial statement that Boghossian thinks it is. If anything it just shows he understands very little of the subject, as is demonstrated by his claim that racism can simply be wished away through a single legislative act (surely “magical thinking” if I ever saw it) and that “black wealth” supposedly rising is somehow proof that African-Americans do not experience systematic incarcertation and brutalization. “Purifying rituals” here seems to mean essentially any policy intended to address racial inequality that isn’t the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as more performative measures that don’t actually address it, while “purifying speech” seems to include obscure phrases no one uses as well the concept of intersectionality itself. All in all a truly baffling mixture.
I kind of stress the implications of Boghossian’s apparent beliefs on racism. Based on what we’re looking at here, Boghossian might be a racist. He opposes the idea of any structural barriers explaining the prevalence of racism and the negative outcomes of black people, and it is my suspicion that when he hints at “other possible explanations for disparate outcomes by racial group”, he’s trying to hint at something more essential, like IQ, genes, or phenotypes. And if he isn’t, he will likely assert that the problem is cultural, that African-Americans partake in a culture of violence and the glorification thereof, while of course conveniently ignoring similar cultures among white men or even the very existence of “white trash”. Either Boghossian believes that black people are genetically predisposed to crime, or he simply believes that black people have a uniquely violent culture, and in either case, this clearly is racist, and so Boghossian has irrational racist beliefs. It’s also quizzical how he maintains the idea that rioting is inherently apolitical as a means to denounce it. What does he think the Rebecca Riots were? How does he think Stonewall fought for gay rights? In certain contexts, rioting can take on political significance as political actions. But of course even this is hardly relevant since he’s clearly referring to the 2020 “riots”, after it was found that 93% of the so-called “riots” were actually peaceful protests. You know, for someone who might claim to advance evidence-based beliefs over faith-based ones, Peter Boghossian certainly doesn’t seem interested in any evidence that might contradict his racist faith. I suppose this is the first proof that not believing in a god of any kind doesn’t actually make you any better at evidence-based critical thinking.
The “Climate Change” section is no better. In fact, it’s one of the clearest proofs that Boghossian has no idea what he’s talking about when he tries to discuss science. Here the Industrial Revolution and fossil fuel use are “original sins”, and the “guilty devils” are climate deniers, the Koch Brothers (who often fund them), and huge multinational corporations. Yes, Boghossian and his friend are actually defending corporations through their implication as persecuted heretics, and yes, the implication of climate deniers as the same type of heretic shows their sympathies towards climate change denial. The “Myths” section comprises of entirely scientific and factual claims about climate change, the “Sacred Victims” section is essentially a way of belittling indigenous people who might have their lives completely destroyed by the worst effects of climate change, and “the Elect” consists of an absurd mixture featuring climate scientists, the United Nations, Greta Thunberg, Vandana Shiva, and the long-dead economist Thomas Malthus, never mind that Malthus tends to be despised by many progressive thinkers as a racist because of his ideas about overpopulation. The idea that man-made climate change will make humans as well as the majority of Earth’s lifeforms extinct is inexplicably dismissed as a “supernatural belief”, as is the study of tipping points and the idea that prosperity does not equal happiness. Nuclear power advocacy is somehow framed as “taboo”, when in reality it isn’t, as are certain talking points about renewable energy, which are in reality anything but fringe, while “taboo speech”, meant to imply true but heretical ideas, consists of a string of delusional nonsense and non-sequiturs. “Purifying rituals”, yet again, consist mostly of any attempt by state policy, society, or the individual to address climate change whatsoever, although I will say: “net zero” really is just a buzzword.
This section is also, in my opinion, a good glimpse into the inner religious thinking of the otherwise secular atheist Peter Boghossian. If, as the common atheist does, we define religious thinking as meaning faith-based beliefs, not based in evidence or critical thinking, then to be perfectly honest Peter Boghossian embodies this in spades, even in just this one topic. One example of “taboo speech” is “wealth is good”. Why? How much wealth? For whom? Evidently not for everyone. Wealth is apparently so good that most of the world isn’t allowed to have it, and instead it must be concentrated into the hands of an abject minority of the global population. This is a value judgement that is never questioned. By his terms, it is an assertion of faith over reason. The idea that fracking actually reduces carbon emissions flies squarely in the face of basic facts about fracking and the methane gas it releases. The idea that human civilization, in its current trajectory, can continue to exist, at least without a significant reduction of prosperity, is quite possibly the most faith-based position you can have on climate change. If you think that humans can keep consuming the earth’s finite resources ad infinitum, destroy the ecosystems that sustain life on earth, and continue perpetuating anthropogenic climate change, and not expect that civilization will collapse or be significantly imperiled, you have way too much faith in the status quo and its power to resolve our situation.
More scientific ignorance and arguably faith-based talking points comprise the “Trans” section, and this one sure is a doozy. The “original sin” here seems to be the reduction of gender to the traditional sexual binary, which is then conflated with gender, and the “guilty devils” who perpetuate it are TERFs, as well as people who oppose trans athletes competing in the games of that correspond to their gender identity as well as “mandatory use of pronouns”. I think we can tell who’s side Boghossian takes here. The two “Myths” listed are either a strawman (“trans women or trans men are identical to biological women or men”) or actually a proven fact (“Violence against trans people is on the rise, disproportionate, and due to being trans”). The “Sacred Victims” are of course trans and non-binary people and the “Elect” are essentially any individual or group advocating on their behalf. The idea that puberty blockers and gender affirmation surgery have any effect on your gender or your sex is dismissed as a “supernatural belief”, yet another abuse of the very concept, and the other claim is simply s strawman.
It’s when we get into his idea of “Taboo Facts/Speech” that the depths of this ignorance extend even further. He claims that social acceptance of trans people is increasing. This is despite the fact that more trans people are being killed each year, and there seems to be an entire media apparatus dedicated to defending transphobes and never facing any political challenge because of it. He claims that trans kids “often benefit from parental involvement”. The truth of that claim really depends on what he means by “parental involvement”. We have evidence to suggest that strongly supporting trans kids in how they want to live, just letting them be themselves while accepting their validity and not withholding parental love because of it, dramatically reduces the overall risk of suicide for trans people. If that’s what we mean by parental involvement, then yes, trans kids do overwhelmingly benefit. But I suspect that this is not what Boghossian means. It’s clear that he in fact despises trans people or sees being trans as a purely ideological construct rather than an age-old reality of the human species. In which case, parental involvement for him would mean that the parents of trans kids repeatedly deny the validity of their identities and raise them to deny themselves. There’s no evidence that trans kids benefit from it, and in fact we have evidence that this is actually more likely to lead to trans people committing suicide. And, of course, like any died-in-the-wool transphobe, he brings up “detransitioners” as a “forbidden” subject, the supposed heretical status of it being a way to delegitimize trans people as tyrants. Putting aside the fact that J K Rowling can be defended for using “detransitioning” to justify transphobia, if you actually cared about evidence, you’d learn that “detransitioners” consist of less than 1% of the trans community, who themselves are a group that already consists of around 1% of people, and if you actually cared about logic, you’d realize how stupid it is to ban people (including children) from having gender affirmation surgery or getting puberty blockers on the basis that the tiniest possible minority might want it banned, especially if you’re OK with children going through other body-altering surgeries if it means saving their lives. Once again, by Boghossian’s own standard, his claims about trans people are in fact “faith-based”, since they are not evidence-based and reject evidence-based conclusions.
Before we get into the next section, are you beginning to see the big picture so far? So far the “woke religion” seems to consist of anti-racism, or at least any anti-racism that does not accept the liberal-conservative faith that believes racism has already been resolved, the acknowledgement that man-made climate change is a real and tangible thing which threatens the continued existence of human civilization and life on Earth, and the basic scientific reality that trans people are real and valid as well as the basic moral position that you should accept them for who they are and let them be themselves. “Wokeness”, then, seems to just mean any vaguely progressive position you can take: or more accurately, it means any scientific or social reality that you dislike and thus have to rationalize as a totalitarian conspiracy.
In that spirit, let’s examine the “Crime” section, which shows his fundamental deference to authority. It’s very clearly his way of whining about people who acknowledge capitalism at the root of any social frustration that might culminate in criminal behaviour. The “Myths” here consist of the almost universally acknowledged fact that the American police force descended from slave patrols, and that large numbers of black people are slaughtered by the police. At his most shockingly out of touch, he also claims that black people killed by police officers are considered sacred. Yes, in Peter Boghossian’s fucked up mind, there are people in America who, when they see a black man pass them by, they will immediately prostrate themselves in worship. Again we see evidence of Boghossian’s possible racism, as to be completely honest it sounds like something a white supremacist might say. Another possibile indicator of this strand of racism is his claim that the “Elect” of the “woke religion” on crime consists of Black Lives Matter, progressive district attorneys, police abolitionists, and George Soros. I trust that I don’t need to explain what’s anti-semitic and white supremacist about blaming all social and racial unrest on one rich Jewish man.
In yet another abuse of the concept of a supernatural belief, he defines “Supernatural Beliefs” to include the idea that “Prisoner’s aren’t guilty, the system is”, which is just a strawman directed at anyone who thinks we should address structural inequality in order to resolve the problem of crime, as well as the idea that “Jails and prisons aren’t necessary”. The “Taboo Facts” include the dizzyingly mainstream and common belief that the police reduces crime, and that the “taboo against cooperation with police and prosecutors is a barrier to successfully prosecuting criminals”. That’s doing all the work isn’t it? What matters to Boghossian is not necessarily justice in itself, but rather just “prosecuting criminals”, which in itself could just mean arresting and incarcerating more people. You merely want a justice system that meets arrest quotas, not necessarily a justice system that resolves crime. He also blames anti-police protests for increasing criminal emboldenment through police pullback. Again I would point to the ACLED data for 93% of the George Floyd protests being peaceful as evidence to disprove his claim. And of course, he’s one of those people who still hasn’t figured out that nobody actually believes “all lives matter”.
I mean, think about it. Let’s go back to the logic that Boghossian would like to talk about. The only thing to understand about saying “all lives matter” is that it’s meant as a response to Black Lives Matter, on the grounds that Black Lives Matter is somehow an exclusionary statement on the value of human life in the abstract. “All lives matter” is thus, in theory, an axiomatic statement that every human life has the same value, defined in terms of a kind of individualistic egalitarianism. If that’s the case, then guess what? You don’t believe it, and in fact I’d even argue that nobody does. Or, if you/they do, then you/they certainly are willing to make a lot of exceptions to that rule. How many people who respond to Black Lives Matter and their supporters with “all lives matter” actually care the lives of people settling in camps and crossing the ocean to flee their countries of origin? Certainly not enough to oppose them being labelled “migrants” and either getting shot or interned by the state. Sticking to Boghossian, the lives of trans people, indigenous and non-white people, and, as we’ll see, the mentally ill and the homeless don’t seem to matter to him, at least since he is willing to disregard their needs for failing to conform to his moral ideology. And what about in a more everyday sense? Does the life of someone who invaded your home and either abducted or killed your family matter as much as the victims? Does the life of a dictator matter as much as the lives of his oppressed subjects who might be about to violently overthrow him? Our willingness to put up with countless imperialist wars might suggest that the lives of the people of the countries we invade don’t matter, no doubt because they are strangers and foreigners. And what if we extend that to non-human life forms? Clearly, our attitude towards climate change suggests that human comfort matters more than the survival of countless non-human life forms. And even older, perhaps more animistic cultures, clearly didn’t think all non-human lives were sacred enough to not devour them. And if you’re squishing flies, spiders, and ants to death for the high crime of being creepy crawlies, or defend industrial factory farming because it gives you the meat you eat, then yes, something tells me all lives don’t matter that much to you. I sincerely wish people would give up the pretence.
Moving on, we come to the “Mental Illness” section, which is certainly an unexpected endorsement of conformity from an atheist complaining about enforced conformity. The premise he establishes is that “the woke religion” believes that psychiatry and the Enlightenment are responsible for inventing mental illness as a way to control neuro-atypical people. Of course, the “Sacred Victims” are neuro-atypical people and non-conformists, already suggesting that he ridicules and hates anyone who doesn’t conform to society (except himself, of course), and the “Elect” meant to save them consists of “advocates of mentally ill” as well as a motley crew of intellectuals such as Michel Foucault, Thomas Szasz, and R. D. Lang. Never mind for a moment that Michel Foucault was just this year accused of raping young boys in Tunisia based in the testimony of people who immediately retracted or walked back their claims, and the media or parts thereof just uncritically parroted those claims as objective truth. So much for darling of the establishment. As opposed to the “supernatural beliefs” that mental illness is made up and that mentally ill people should self-medicate freely, he advances the supposed scientific truth that mentally ill people are disproportionately violent and that many mentally ill people need or claim to benefit from “involuntary treatment”. The part that does all the work is “involuntary treatment”. What kind of “involuntary treatment”? What does it involve? Considering that he views neuro-atypical people as “Sacred Victims”, an inherently derisive category, and believes the word neuro-atypical is itself a mere buzzword meant to signal virtue, I suspect that Boghossian would be fine with taking autistic people away to have electroshock treatment to control or “cure” their autism. Another case where all lives don’t matter to the guy who says all lives matter.
The ” Drugs” section is yet another instance where Boghossian’s attempts to define progressive and/or libertarian positions on drug policy as faith-based superstition fly directly in the face of empirical reality. He attempts to portray the idea of decriminalisation and legalization of drugs as vital to preventing addiction and overdose as a “supernatural belief”. Aside from the obvious abuse of the very term, what Boghossian won’t tell you is that it’s actually true. In 2001, Portugal decriminalised the personal possession and consumption all drugs; those found to have a supply, rather than being arrested, were expected to appear before a local commission about treatment, harm reduction, and support services. This was accompanied by a broad cultural shift in attitudes to drugs, and resulted in a dramatic decrease in drug addiction, substance abuse, and related deaths. This, keep in mind, was after decades rampant drug abuse and deaths from overdose. Portugal is thus a shining example of how rehabilitation over punishment is the more effective way to resolve the problem of drug abuse than the other way around, and to claim the contrary would, again by Boghossian’s own standards, be a faith-based claim, not an evidence-based claim.
It is also apparent that Boghossian blames George Soros for widespread proliferation of drugs, since he appears as one of the “Elect”, along with the Harm Reduction Coalition and the Drug Policy Alliance, set up on behalf of drug users, who are the “Sacred Victims”. Again Boghossian is perpetuating an anti-semitic conspiracy theory in which Jews are accused of spreading drugs everywhere, which white supremacists believe is an effort to weaken the white race. Yet more racism from Boghossian and his friend. Boghossian then claims as a “taboo fact” that liberalisation, decriminalisation, and normalisation of drug use increases drug addiction. The evidence points to the contrary, but that won’t matter because it contradicts Boghossian’s faith. Distributing clean needles and providing services for homeless drug addicts is dismissed as a “purifying ritual”. I suppose it’s purifying in at least one sense; namely making sure the needles are sterile so that you don’t get infected with something and die. Oh look, more lives that don’t matter to the guy who says all lives matter!
And in that spirit we come to the last section of the table: “Homelessness”. It seems to be yet another way of whining about people who think capitalism causes problems by dismissing it as an “original sin” doctrine. The idea that homelessness is caused by poverty and high rents is classed as a “Myth”. Again, any available evidence on the subject suggests that it’s not a “myth”, but that doesn’t matter, because Peter Boghossian just religiously despises homeless people. The idea that people live in tents and sidewalks because of poverty is dismissed as a “supernatural belief”, and it is misleadingly presented as something people might “decide” to do. You wouldn’t “decide” to live under a bridge if you had the choice, you only do it because you’ve lost everything and have nowhere else to go. Logic might tell you that, but for Boghossian, his faith, albeit a godless faith, overrides logic. This faith also seems to override the facts about homeless people experiencing more violence, since Boghossian dismisses this as a “supernatural belief”. Instead he asserts that homelessness is caused principally by addiction and mental illness despite all evidence to the contrary and claims that trauma and abuse have declined. He also argues that subsidized housing should be contingent on abstinence. While he might consider that to be “taboo speech”, his ideas are already mainstream policy: it’s called means testing. Unsurprisingly, free housing and any programs focusing on homelessness that aren’t punitive in nature are dismissed as “purifying rituals”.
By now we have a clear picture of what “the woke religion” looks like, and by extension what “wokeness” is. It seems to just be a collection of progressive policies and ideas that Boghossian and his friend don’t like, and in particular policies and ideas that seem to involve criticially addressing the current structures of power. To call something “woke”, then, is to attack it for daring to challenge existing laws, norms and power structures on the subject of race, crime, gender identity, drugs, homelessness, really any issue, or for more generally questioning the status of quo of “Western Civilization”. That, I think, is one of the other almost religious ideas found among some sectors of the New Atheist. The more palatable form of this embraced even by non-reactionary atheists is the cult of the Enlightenment. It all starts from this idea that we progressed from being backwards apes in the throngs of religious superstition to being people who conducted their lives and thoughts based on rationalistic logic and reason. The more self-aware atheist is usually prepared to acknowledge the fact that this all came with a bucketload of colonialism and attempts to justify racism through science and even philosophy, though I suspect many New Atheists will simply gloss that over. That’s because the Enlightenment, or its twin phantasm called “Western Civilization”, are both functionally a kind of sacred center, a sort of ground of being for the worldview they would prefer to be dominant. The ideas they oppose have but one thing in common: they challenge a set of ideas that have been crystallized as the social basis of “Western Civilization”, which are justified through what seems to be the rationalist’s version of what is otherwise the typically faith-based thinking they might claim to oppose, and so they amount to blasphemy. You might say it even counts as “taboo speech”, ironically enough. Instead of an unshakable faith in one God and the promise of eternal life in heaven, these people have an unshakable faith in the order and progress of “Western Civilization” and its culture (often in the sense of a particularly homogenous culture if you know what I mean), and will bitterly defend that faith against anyone who criticizes their beloved civilizational order.
Incidentally, it also turns out that Shellenberger and Boghossian got their concept of “the Elect” and many aspects of their “taxonomy of woke religion” project from John McWhorter, a conservative intellectual and the author of Woke Racism, who uses the term to refer to a class of progressive “neo-racists” and, well, perhaps anything else; seriously, McWhorter never adequately defines the term for himself. Shellenberger just summarizes it as “people self-appointed to crusade against evil”, which is meaningless. But apparently this junk philosophy can be endorsed by big-name skeptic atheists like Michael Shermer (who, by the way, is a sex pest) and fans of people like Sam Harris will simp for his work anyway, thus the New Atheist movement continues its reactionary drift.
This is the truth behind Boghossian’s and Shellenberger’s claims about “wokeist repression”. It’s all a big lie, a grift concocted by Boghossian to try and gain sympathy from idiots who might be inclined to believe his philosophy, and judging by the fact that Shellenberger endorsed him and became his friend after the fact, the grift seems to have worked. It’s nothing more than a pathetic manifestation of ressentiment that disguises rank failure, abject ignornace, and petty malice as common sense rationalism and skepticism, while framing the people opposing it as totalitarians, authoritarians, illiberals, what have you, which then justifies his own proposed actual authoritarian suppression of critics. But what’s really interesting and which I feel the need to stress more than anything is that his views, if we take them seriously, are fundamentally faith-based in the very sense Boghossian means when he condemns faith-based thinking. So much of what Boghosssian believes is proposed in direct contrast to evidential reality, and often seems to consist in what might otherwise be called “magical thinking”, or at least follows a similar logic. The way that the modern atheist movement, or at least certain sectors thereof, are defining themselves or have been defined by starkly reactionary tendencies, especially to the extent that they are supported by pseudo-science that presents itself as science, will never cease to fascinate me, between Peter Boghossian’s absurd attempts to frame everything he doesn’t like as a superstitious religion that must be purged and Lucien Greaves with basically everything he’s been doing up to this point. I’ve honestly been beginning to wonder what they’re even for over the last couple of months.
OK, so The Satanic Temple is really pissing me off at the moment. Just yesterday I learned from Queer Satanic, a group of ex-TST members who are currently being sued by The Satanic Temple, that The Satanic Temple have decided to support a Catholic organisation called Church Militant by filing an amicus brief for them. An amicus brief is a letter written to the court by people not involved in a case in order to present argument or evidence not yet presented by the parties involved to the court on behalf of one of the parties. Church Militant, also known as St. Michael’s Media, is a right-wing Catholic website which pushes climate change denial, LGBT-phobia, sexism, anti-Muslim fearmongering, and anti-abortion talking points as part of an ideological program of Christian conservatism, and its leader, Michael Voris, supports Donald Trump on the grounds that he believes Trump would have granted Roman Catholicism the status of state religion in America.
You did not misread that. The Satanic Temple, the very same organisation trying to bill itself as defenders of abortion rights and secular freedom in general against the threat of Christian theocracy, just supported an anti-abortion Christian conservative group dedicated to the cause of Catholic theocracy! And at that, the very same Christian propaganda network that has over the years repeatedly portrayed The Satanic Temple as villainous buffoons!
You might very reasonably be wondering what the hell The Satanic Temple would be doing allying with Church Militant of all people. Apparently, the Satanic Temple thinks that Church Militant is being “silenced” by the city of Baltimore. They say that even though they disagree with everything Church Militant stands for, they oppose the apparent “outrage” being committed against them, and they even do the typical Voltaire quote trope that had essentially become a religious mantra for “classical liberals” who, especially in the case of TST, inevitably fail to practice what they preach. Marc Randazza, the right-wing attorney who represented Lucien Greaves in his battle to get his blue checkmark back, is also representing Church Militant, which if we’re being honest is not a coincidence considering his record.
At this point we should ask, just what “outrage” is The Satanic Temple referring to? A few months ago, Church Militant planned to hold a rally at the MECU Pavilion in Baltimore, during the US Conference of Bishops on November 16th. Ostensibly, the rally was supposed to be all about speaking up against sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. That might seem funny coming from a Catholic organisation, but apparently Church Militant are not properly affiliated with the Catholic Church and the church itself seems to distance itself from them. The rally was also to feature former Trump advisor Stephen Bannon and professional non-serious person Milo Yiannopoulos as guest speakers, and purportedly involved support for the January 6th rioters. The city of Baltimore claimed that Church Militant risked inciting violence through inflammatory speeches, while Church Militant denied this and argued that the city is persecuting them over differences of opinion. In the end, on October 12th, the case was dismissed and judge Ellen Hollander ruled that Church Militant had the right to hold their rally in Baltimore. In TST’s amicus brief, Matthew Kezhaya, counsel for The Satanic Temple, argued that the rally was a religious event, on the grounds of the ostensible focus of the event as well as the involvement of prayer, and that the city of Baltimore was denying Church Militant their fundamental free speech and free exercise rights.
So, what to make of all this in relation to The Satanic Temple. Ostensibly, this is a free speech case for them, consistent with their fourth tenet which extols the right to offend. But if TST were at all consistent about that famous Voltaire’s maxim, they wouldn’t be suing Netflix for the use of their “Baphomet” statue in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, nor would they be suing queer Satanist activists for daring to criticize them in public – or, sorry, “commandeering” their social media page, per their politically correct interpretation of events. There’s no doubt that Lucien Greaves and Milo Yiannopoulos are friends, and Lucien has frequently spoken up in defence of Milo while condemning anti-fascists as threats to freedom of speech. If that’s the case, and it seems to be pretty consistent for Lucien, then this is less about freedom of speech for everyone including those who offend you, and more about Lucien Greaves simply sticking up for his far-right buddies.
Is it wrong to argue that the city of Baltimore was acting against Church Militant’s right to free speech? I’d say arguably not, at least in a vacuum. But this isn’t just Lucien Greaves going on his social media account posting Voltaire quotes to make innocuous arguments about freedom of speech. I wouldn’t complain if that were the case, but the reality of the situation is different. An amicus brief isn’t filed for free. I don’t know how much TST paid to file that amicus brief, but apparently, depending on who you ask at least, it can cost thousands of dollars in the US. That may not mean financial support for Church Militant, but when you keep in mind that Lucien Greaves probably derived at least some of those legal fees from the dues of its members, that means a lot of money drawn from TST membership went to Matthew Kezhaya just to provide legal support for Church Militant. Lucien Greaves could have just tweeted that the city of Baltimore was wrong and that they were violating Church Militant’s free speech rights, and then stayed out of the actual case. In my eyes there would be no problem if that was all that happened, as it would not mean any material support for the organisation. Instead of that he chose to spend lots of money, probably thousands of dollars, presumably pooled from paying members, to support Church Militant.
And let’s drag ourselves away from the strict details of the case for a moment to re-establish the real heart of the matter. The Satanic Temple paid thousands of dollars from its members to materially support an organisation that is completely against everything they and almost all Satanists and secularists stand for, and did so in the name of the right to offend, while at the same time they are actually suing left-wing Satanists for criticizing them, which only makes sense from the standpoint of having to justify punishing dissenters for having offended Lucien Greaves and his ego. And frankly, all this legal caping for theocratic anti-abortion Catholics while trying to act like the last line of defence for abortion smacks profoundly of contradiction, one that in my view completely invalidates the whole purpose of The Satanic Temple as an organisation. You can invoke the name of free speech and the right to offend as much as you like, but when you’re repeatedly trying to silence people for disagreeing with you, that to me is proof that, in all honesty, this is not about freedom of speech, and instead this is about how you support far-right, often fascistic, and even theocratic conservative people because, if we’re being fucking honest with ourselves and with you, you just plain like those people! Obviously religion has nothing to do with it. You just like right-wing authoritarianism, wherever that happens to come from. Given that Lucien Greaves was openly arguing for eugenics until 2018, continually sides with the right against the left, repeatedly defends hard-right ideologues against the left, and seems to have no problem with whatever the fuck Cevin Soling is up to, I’d say I’ve got a pretty strong case. Or maybe I’m wrong and you don’t, in which case the only option left is that this is pure selfish opportunism, since you’re still silencing left-wing critics and suing people over your dumb statue despite claiming to love the freedom to offend.
You might be thinking about all the “good work” TST supposedly does, the shit that launched the organisation to fame. Well, not one of its legal campaigns has ever landed any real success. Even the Ten Commandments vs “Baphomet” controversy that endeared guys like me to them can’t be credited to TST’s efforts. It was resolved by the ACLU, without any input or involvement from TST, but TST opportunistically took credit for it anyway. They are, in reality, utterly useless, coasting atop undeserved accolades. I’m gonna tell you right here and now that the only reason you might think TST are worth even half of a damn is the mainstream media. TST have done nothing of value, the cases hyped up by media coverage went nowhere, and meanwhile the actual leadership is authoritarian, opportunistic, and consistent allies of the far-right, but because they receive frequent and typically uncritical coverage from the media, often including sympathetic liberal and progressive commentary, likely taking advantage of their sensational opposition to Christianity, they enjoy a lasting reputation as progressive freedom fighters for secularism against Christian theocracy. In fact, I am sure that you have not heard of their support for Church Militant anywhere in the media and you probably never will because it’s inconvenient for the narrative they’re trying to create. The only times when the media is even vaguely critical of TST is when it has to talk about their dealings with Marc Randazza, for maybe a day or so. There is no coverage of The Satanic Temple’s attempts to sue the queer Satanists who criticized them, except maybe in an article from the increasingly conservative Newsweek, and even they couldn’t be bothered to do that unless it involved sleazy allegations regarding orgies.
You know, things like this have me thinking that Amaranthe Altanatum was broadly right about atheistic Satanism. I’m not saying all atheistic Satanists are like TST are even approve of TST, but there’s still a lot who will defend TST, and that’s probably because not enough people know what’s going on. Still even its rivals labor under the illusion that they can dismiss the Satanism of anyone they please. And either way, I think it’s something that has to be reckoned with.
Regardless, wherever you stand, The Satanic Temple aren’t your friends. They’re opportunistic fedora-tippers who are presently betraying everything that Satanism has ever held dear. They don’t deserve any support or honour.
A little while ago I stumbled on a video by a YouTuber by the name of JustTheFacts, or more specifically a video he released titled “RELIGIOUS LARPERS ARE RUINING THE INTERNET AND HERE’S HOW”. From what I understand, JustTheFacts is what’s referred to on the internet as a “tradcath”, or “traditional Catholic”. These are highly conservative and often reactionary Catholics who want to “restore” a society governed by authoritarian ideas of morality under the auspices of the Catholic Church, and for the Catholic Church itself to go back to the way it was before the Second Vatican Council, which modernized liturgy by allowing Mass to be read in vernacular language among other things. Their reactionary nature also sometimes leads to them adopting a host bigoted positions, and they even have a reputation for anti-Semitism. Of course, I’m sure not all of that applies to JustTheFacts, who from what I’ve seen considers himself to be against fascism and racism, but a brief run-down what tradcaths are is worth getting into before we start.
Despite tradcaths being known for copious amounts of “larping” on the internet, JustTheFacts intends to accuse Pagans of being larpers who only abandon Christianity in favour of Paganism for political and aesthetic reasons as well as group identity instead of reason. Now granted he does criticize tradcaths for much of the same thing, but the central target appears to be Paganism and as I see it the whole point is just a slew of projections that easily apply to Christians. We’ll get into that as we go forward, but the necessary conceit that comes with this argument is that it is impossible for people to embrace a religion other than Christianity for rational, intellectual, philosophical, or really reason that doesn’t amount to some kind of show. The idea is that there can’t be any logical reasons for abandoning Christianity, and so it necessarily must be explained by certain desires such as for group identity, emotional fulfillment, and attention – because you know, it’s not like all religions have something to do with group identity and emotional fulfillment, right? That’s the thing about Christianity: sometimes, Christians like to pretend that everyone is irrationally religious except them, that they believe what they believe because of logic and reason above all and everyone else only believes what they believe for irrational, superstitious reasons or an assortment of psychological complexes that overpower rational thought.
JustTheFacts is not the only Christian conservative/traditionalist who likes to insist that every modern expression of Pagan spirituality and religiosity is inherently insincere. I remember seeing Jonathan Pageau talk about some self-proclaimed Druid he met and how supposedly this Druid “admitted” to him that his tradition was “all made-up” as though that was some kind of own for the Pagans. Christians, when they aren’t pearl-clutching over demonic threats to their faith, will take any reason they can get for Pagans to not be accepted as sincere in their faith, whereas they are far more willing to accept atheists for their sincerity for some reason.
Anyways, let’s get started with this video. He starts out by saying that he actually despises the term “Larp”, because it assumes that people always merely pretend to believe what they say they believe and this shuts down any conversation people have about each other’s beliefs. His contempt for the word “Larp” is such that he even bans the use of the word on his Discord server, which has some fairly interesting (to say the least) implications about his views on freedom of speech if I may say so. Despite this, he says that it’s important to call out people who “derive their beliefs not from reasoning but from group identity and contrarianism”, a tendency that he believes applies to most religious people on the internet today. What he might not tell you is that this includes the online Christians of the present. He claims that, while there are people that are that arrive at their beliefs based on reason, they are drowned out by people who base their beliefs on group identity and contrarianism, or more specifically for “political reasons” (we’ll get to that in a moment). Again, the same exact thing applies to Christians even if true, or for that matter especially to atheists who find themselves converting to Christianity after watching enough Jordan Peterson lectures about feminism and the Bible.
He frequently conveys his arguments through memetic imagery, a manner that definitely befits the medium, so it’s worth pointing out that the first time we see him represent Pagans in this way is through a Wojak (an ambiguous meme character originally meant to represent melancholy or regret) wearing a Nazi uniform and a shitty “Viking” helmet saying “Well, Christianity is Jewish” when asked what attracted him to Paganism, and then reacting with disdain to an atheist “soyjack” (variation of Wojak) saying “You’re an atheist too? Let’s talk about gay rights and socialism!”. Immediately the subject is engaged in bad faith. The first representation of Pagans we see in this video is a strawman built around the phenomenon of Folkist (or Volkisch) Paganism, which is a racist and exclusionary form of Paganism based around ethno-nationalist and often fascistic ideas about racial purity and bloodlines as a source of community with the gods. It’s an absurd, xenophobic idea that is rejected and resisted by the majority of the Pagan community, but this has not stopped non-Pagans from slandering Pagans as Nazis or fascists because of certain racists and bigots who, although ultimately a minority of the movement, are unfortunately prolific enough that we have to respond against their presence.
Anyways, to return to the supposed conversion to atheism for political reasons. Here’s a strange statement from him:
Since atheism is not a religion but a lack of a religion, it doesn’t validate any particular belief system and that’s not good for people that need to be 100% politics 100% of the time.
I find that many atheists do in fact validate some particular belief system over another. Namely, they validate secular humanism and dismiss almost everything else as superstition. In fact, I would think that the self-styled Catholic should already have some idea of that. Further, the implication of what he’s saying here is that atheism is inimical to politics, but while it is true that atheism in itself does not have a specific political ideology locked into it, it is simply not true that atheism gets in the way consistent politics. In fact, some of the “most political” people you will meet on the internet are atheists. And indeed, when you spend enough time being an atheist, you criticize evangelical Christians, but that means criticizing the political structures that give them power. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Christian evangelicals and fundamentalists have never actually gone away just because atheists “won the debate” on the internet late in the 2000s and then moved on to whining about feminism. They’re still in politics, many still control state governments and legislatures, the megachurches of course still exist, the Trump administration was full of them, and thanks to Trump the Supreme Court is filled with reactionary Christians that believe basically the same things as many televangelists at least when it comes to religious politics, and they might be in a position to overturn the rights that decades have been spent fighting for. The only thing that changed is that some atheists just stopped talking about them so they could re-enact Elevatorgate forever. And you know what? Most atheists still oppose all of that, which is rightfully so, which also means that, if anything, they’re incredibly political because you have to be in order to fight all of this bullshit.
Also, what’s a “normal pill”? And why are you supposed to take one? And why is resistance to it worthy of mockery?
JustTheFacts’ other representation of Paganism, introduced almost a minute into the ten minute-long video, is another Wojak variation, this time female, with short orange hair, glasses, holding a can of yerba mate tea, and wearing a collar that just says “Witch”. This no doubt is meant to represent the witchcraft subculture, which isn’t necessarily strictly Pagan. It exists within Paganism, does tend to overlap with neopaganism, and many modern withches align themselves with Paganism or neopaganism, but witchcraft in itself is not strictly Pagan, some witches in fact actually consider themselves Christian (I’ve covered this a year ago), and it is not a religion per se. In any case, the witch says that “we are the true opposition to Christianity”, and the Nazi Pagan says “Fool. Idiot. Degenerate.” to mock her. The impression is that there is a schism within Paganism over who is the most “anti-Christian”, which is yet another of many strawmen, since I have never seen the Pagan movement in real life operate this way.
Another strange and ignorant statement follows:
For the most part, it’s been the right wing that has departed atheism online, allowing leftists to make atheism all about them. But, it’s worth noting how some leftists have tried to create a religion from almost nothing. Most of this is contrarianism against Christianity, which is associated with the right in America, and what could possibly be more contrary to Christianity than witches.
The presumption is that leftists seek to “make atheism all about them”. What is meant by this? The impression is that atheism, heretofore an apolitical movement, was recently colonized by the left, who wanted to complete take over atheism and make 100% political, or something. The fact that many atheists throughout modern history have been some kind of leftist, and many leftists throughout modern history have been atheistic, seems to be lost on this guy. The idea that the left is trying to create a religion from nothing has no basis in reality, and is incoherent in the face of the claim that they are embracing Paganism en masse in lieu of atheism. Although, if this guy is anything like Jonathan Pageau he probably thinks nearly all of modern Paganism is just “made up” and therefore would constitute being “created out of nothing”, which only means there’s a certain “party line”, as it were, for Christian conservatives on Paganism.
Also, it may interest our resident Catholic to know that taboos against witchcraft are not the invention of Christianity or its Catholic branch. We find tablets from ancient Mesopotamia invoking the gods to banish the influences of witches, seen simply as malevolent magicians who could cast curses on people, in Greece magic was widespread but not exactly trusted (in fact, the philosophers often regarded magic, let alone witchcraft, as a fraud), and the Roman equivalent of withcraft was practiced on the fringes of Roman society, and on the fringes of the boundaries between religion and “non-religion”, and in any case was often treated as a form of superstition, which back then simply meant excessive or improper desire for knowledge. This may be because the realms of magic and witchcraft aren’t the kind of thing that are easily controlled by the cult of the state, and the ruling class, regardless of the era or religion, has the habit of despising what it cannot control. Because Christianity is ultimately a religion based on authority, divine authority albeit, this logic of state control remains embedded in its own taboos on witchcraft, although ironically the early Christians didn’t even take witchcraft seriously, let alone enough to start burning accused “witches” en masse, until the Middle Ages.
Continuing on the subject of witchcraft we get to his assessment of the role of feminism and, oh boy, is this guy stupid:
It also has the bonus effect of being against the patriarchy and women only, so people on Tumblr decided to “become witches”, as if there were any sort of witch canon or organization qualified to certify them as witches, and eventually the phenomenon spread to Reddit, resulting in WitchesVPatriarchy, a very fun subreddit to add to the pile thereof.
Witchcraft is not exclusive to women. I’m not sure how he got the idea that it was, seeing as he must have waded through a certain amount of witchy content on the internet, but it is simply not true that witchcraft consists exclusively of women. There are plenty of men who embrace the label of “witch”, rather than terms like “warlock” or “wizard” as might be expected in popular culture, and the term “witch” is actually considered to be a gender-neutral term. In fact, a surprising amount of the accused witches burned in the Middle Ages were men; although in many countries, such as Germany, most of the victims of the witch trials were women, in some countries, like Russia and Iceland, more men were persecuted for witchcraft than women were. It is not untrue, though, that there are still plenty of women who practice witchcraft, and the witch as an archetype is more strongly associated with femininity in popular culture, which is no doubt the cause of the confusion of our resident Catholic.
Gender in witchcraft is not the only basic aspect of witchcraft that JustTheFacts seems to be ignorant of. Because he is a Catholic, projects certain expectations upon all other religious movements, in this case the expecation of religious authenticity being contingent upon your faith being certified by some external authority or “canon”. Not every religion has a “canon” in the sense meant by Christians. In fact, a lot of pre-Christian traditions were built on oral cultures, meaning they didn’t have a written canon or any written texts, and tradition was something that was passed down through speech. The fact that they didn’t have “canon” in the Catholic Christian sense didn’t make them any less legitimately religious, and you don’t need “canon” to be a witch or a Pagan. JustTheFacts seems to assume that modern witchcraft as a movement was basically created by people on Tumblr, but there have been witches on the internet since long before Tumblr got off the ground, and there have been witches writing books about their craft for decades. There are still publishers that sell and distribute books on witchcraft, past and present. So on that basis, you can’t just dismiss witchcraft as some hip invention of Tumblr. All you’re doing is demonstrating your own ignorance.
Before we get to his next point, let’s address the next image sequence JustTheFacts shows, because it’s a point I really want to get into. There’s a Wojak on the left side addressing some witches, saying “so when was the last time you girls performed a sacrifice?”, and the witches respond saying “uh shit” and “are we supposed to do that?”. Being that witchcraft isn’t actually a religion, it makes no sense to assume that there be any actual normative expectations regarding the practice of sacrifice. As far as I can see, a lot of modern witches don’t practice animal sacrifice (which is the bare minimum of what JustTheFacts seems to be hinting at) and don’t expect other witches to do so, and they definitely don’t practice human sacrifice either. When it comes to sacrifice of any kind, it would probably be practiced in the context of Paganism, and even in that context the norms for sacrifice are not what they’ve been made out to be. In the ancient world, animal sacrifices were mostly reserved for festivals and some fairly specific cults. When it comes to what you might consider to be more “regular” sacrifices, the norm for that, in Greece at least, was actually vegetables. Many deities were given offerings of plants, flowers, grains and wine, not blood sacrifice. And while some pre-Christian cultures did practice blood sacrifice to some extent, in Greece and Rome human sacrifice was considered a grotesque superstition. In fact, there were some in the Greco-Roman world that argued that all sacrificial rituals served only to separate humans from the gods and argued for their abolition.
Meanwhile, if anything, Jesus Christ’s death in the context of Christianity is basically a human sacrifice performed by God to expiate the sin of mankind. The difference is that this human sacrifice is supposed to annul the need for all other sacrifices, since sin is forgiven and the door to Man’s salvation in eternity is opened. But of course, there’s also martyrdom to account for. Their lives are sacrifices to God, sacrifices made by their own hand, knowing their souls have a place in heaven in their sacrifice. The whole concept of burning heretics and witches at the stake is essentially human sacrifice in all but name. Sin was believed to invite the wrath of God, and witchcraft was seen as especially sinful, witches were believed to invite damnation into the community, while heretics would no doubt have been considered a threat to the faith of the community, the abandonment of which would incur God’s wrath. Ceremonially executing them, through burning or other means, would therefore be a means of expiating the sins of the community through sacrifical murder. Thus, Christianity, far from abolishing sacrifice, has always been a religion of sacrifice. In fact, there are apparently even animal sacrifices still practiced by Christians to this day in the village of Taybeh in Palestine, a Christian-majority village where lambs have been sacrificed since the days of Abraham himself and almost nobody there seems to have a problem with it.
In any case, the funny thing about JustTheFacts’ beliefs regarding witchcraft and paganism is that he doesn’t take too seriously the idea that the people who practice witchcraft “don’t really believe it”, but insofar as he’s prepared to grant that their beliefs are genuine, he is inclined only to admit it in terms of some kind of irony-poisoning (“we become what we pretend to be”) and, ultimately, as a surrender of reason to group identity. Because you know, Catholicism has surely never worked that way. Yes, to have any belief in either the efficacy or simple validity of magic is to completely surrender your individual reason to some group identity, whereas believing that Jesus literally raised from the dead and will come back again to fight the armies of evil is totally based on reason and not conditioned by the desire for acceptance within a group.
Seriously though, give me a fucking break with this shit! When I was a kid, I told my teachers and at least once my parents that I believed in Jesus solely on the basis that I thought I might be punished or face some negative consequence if I didn’t. And it’s not like that was natural instinct or anything, because the very first time my parents asked me to go to church (which I think was when I was around 9 years old) I said no, because, for reasons that I don’t really remember, I didn’t like the idea of going to church. I eventually did end up going to church as a kid, for a little while, but I never liked it very much, and at some point in my youth I did an amateur prayer to a Hawaiian goddess just because I liked her after reading about her in a book about volcanoes. And to be honest, I’m very convinced that I’m not really alone in that experience. How many kids, how many people, have found themselves in the Christian fold not because of their actual beliefs or reason but because of social pressure and the desire to fit in? How do you know that’s not most Christians, considering that a shit-ton of them don’t even understand the Bible they swear by? How many people have surrendered their reason and individuality to conform to the absurd rules, doctrines, and false promises of Christianity? That’s how it is with Christians, though. To attack alternative belief systems that might prove more appealling than their faith, Christians will not hesitate to project all of their failings onto other religions.
The idea that Paganism enforces belief through rigid groupthink is the apogee of the ignorant projection of Christians. The modern Pagan movement is incredibly pluralistic and there isn’t much in the way of “dogma” in the sense understood in the context of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, and by that I mean the Pagan movement isn’t dominated by hegemonic thought-terminating catechisms in the way that the monotheistic religions are. In the ancient world, although the record for freedom isn’t comparable to the present, the religious landscape was a pluralistic one in the broad sense, and insofar as there definitely was religious conformity, it wasn’t necessarily because there was some kind of Pope of Paganism telling everyone what to think. Meanwhile, the entire premise of Christianity is that what you believe determines what happens to you when you die! That’s the whole reason that heresy and schisms are such a big deal in the Christian world, why entire sectarian wars have been fought, and why children are indoctrinated whenever possible. Faith in God and his son Jesus is the basic prequisite to being eligible for being saved by God and thus spared eternal damnation, and so what you believe matters if you want to preserve your immortal soul. This inevitably results in a dramatic emphasis on groupthink and intellectual conformity, especially as Christianity became more and more hierarchical and institutionalized over the course of its history. Meanwhile, the idea of a Pagan “community” is sometimes laughed off by Pagans on the grounds that there are too many differences between Pagans for something so binding to work. And yet, the Pagans all get along, they all get together, and they can talk in terms of a collective movement dedicated to the propagation of their faith.
Both Paganism and Christianity can be said to possess a “group identity” that shapes its members, and in fact, all religions can be said to have that. But some group identities are based on the idea that what you believe determines whether you live forever in heaven or die the second death, while other group identities just don’t work that way. This is not a difficult reality to make sense of, once you start to do so anyway. And talking about witches as people who surrendered their identity to some vague idea of what’s cool or aesthetic comes off as richly hypocritical, not just because he’s a tradcath and you can just as easily say people surrender their identities to the tradcath movement because of its aesthetics, but because the meme aesthetic he uses in his videos has consumed more identities on the internet than any spell of witchcraft ever will. I’m serious. I’ve made friends in some pretty scummy and contrarian corners of the internet and watched their whole personalities get dictated by memes to the point that that’s almost all they communicate in. How come that’s not such a surrender to groupthink but belief in witchcraft is? Especially when people tend to practice witchcraft without the broad ideas about religious community that are expected within Christianity? How is this not bullshit?
But in any case, JustTheFacts is not only convinced that people only believe in witchcraft because it’s cool, he also thinks neopagans are the same. He claims that most neopagans, or at least presumably contemporary neopagans, came from the neo-Nazi movement that was popular around 2013. This short-sighted and brazenly bigoted assessment would require JustTheFacts to ignore the complex history of online neopaganism prior to 2013. In reality, then as now, Nazi Pagans were only ever actually a minority within the neopagan movement as they are everywhere else, they have never represented the Pagan or neopagan communities as a whole, and all non-Folkist Pagans see them as racist assholes who abuse Pagan faith as a vehicle for their perverse, xenophobic romanticism and ethnonationalist politics, along with all the violence and genocidal terror that comes with all of that. But again, none of these facts matter to tradcaths like JustTheFacts, because they prefer an alternative history were it was Nazis who invented neopaganism as whole. To examine yet another quotation from the video:
Efforts to create a new European religion for post-Christianity have been going on since the 1800s and they’ve always been somewhat tangled between Norse paganism, Roman paganism, Hinduism and more. Back then, as now, intellectuals decided they didn’t like the principles of mercy, humility, and the meek inheriting the earth, preferring glorious conquest instead. They also didn’t like the Jews very much.
The first part of this requires us to ignore the existence of the so-called “Shelley circle”, which is to say a fairly notorious (in the eyes of 18th century bourgeois society) clique of radical liberal poets led by Percy Bysshe Shelley who all thought of themselves as some sort of pagan revivalists, seeking to revive at least what they thought was Paganism, drawing largely on what they saw in the Greco-Roman pre-Christian world. They were initially atheists, but became drawn to a kind of romantic neopaganism as an expression of a joyful, hedonistic religion guided by positive principles of natural law observable by reason, as opposed to what they saw as the misery and superstition of Christianity. Being radical liberals, close enough to whatever the mainstream left might have been at the time, they certainly harbored none of the fascistic ambitions that the Nazis had, and they weren’t all about “glorious conquest”, being more interested in free love among other things. They also weren’t anti-Semites, or at least Shelley himself wasn’t; in his works he portrays the Wandering Jew, traditionally reviled and cursed for mocking Jesus on the cross, as a heroic paragon of humble virtue who endures every curse God throws at him yet remains a kind man with an unwavering conviction.
The second part would have us thinking that it was only mercy, humility, and kindness that repelled anti-Christian intellectuals (although, in my personal opinion, “the meek shall inherit the earth” is if nothing else a big fat lie, and kind of a dangerous one too), as opposed to more philosophical concerns, most typically surrounding the nature or existence of God and the tendency of Christian societies to demand uncritical obedience to the faith. Friedrich Nietzsche, for his part, was not the anti-Semite that JustTheFacts may be trying to be imply he was. He was something of a reactionary, or at least did have reactionary leanings, at least judging by the fact that he hated the Paris Commune and disliked socialism, but he was not a fascist, was not an anti-Semite, and probably would have hated the fascists if he was alive to see them. It was only through his sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, who unlike her brother actually was a right-wing volkisch nationalist and anti-Semite, that Friedrich and his philosophy became associated with fascism after she edited his works to conform to her own ideology. But if we’re going to talk about humility and pride, then for my part I do oppose the Christian concept of pride as a sin, and as a matter of fact I’ve talked about here it a few months ago. In short summary, the Christians were wrong to condemn pride in itself as a sin, and the Pagans were right to elevate pride alongside humility as co-existent virtues, and the Christians should just sit there and accept it.
Also, although neopagan projects are what most people in the 18th and 19th centuries knew about practicing Paganism in a contemporary setting, it’s not true that they were the only ones practicing Paganism. In the Balkans, people were apparently still worshipping Slavic gods and goddesses like Mokosh well into the 19th century. There are also some accounts of the god Dumuzid still being worshipped in Iraq well after Islam became the dominant religion. Even in the medieval era, we see accounts of a few people in Sweden still worshipping Odin, and being executed for it. Not to mention that after Christianity took over Rome it still had a difficult time converting the rest of Europe, with priests reporting their embarassing failures to convert Slavic and Norse Pagans. All the while, there were some people in the medieval Christian world, particularly in Byzantium, who privately longed for the restoration of the pre-Christian religion, and even one attempted revolution in Byzantium by Pagan revivalists, as well as another attempt by a still-Pagan peasantry to overthrow Christianity in Hungary in 1046. The fact is that Paganism never truly was stamped out of history, despite Christian assertions to the contrary. True, it was banished from polite society and almost forgotten, but it never did die, it was only forgotten and hidden, and the neopagans and other revivalists, whether through reinvention or reconstruction, served in historical context to rediscover and revitalize Paganism, returning it to the world, evidently proving to be a source of embarassment for the proselytes of “progress”.
Now we come to a question that again betrays JustTheFacts’ ignorance. He claims to admire neopagans, even after he had already established that they were all Nazis according to him, but he asks why they don’t just be atheists instead of Pagans. The answer, according to him, is that atheism was too strongly associated with liberal academics, which supposedly these neopagans didn’t want. The obvious problem with this argument is that there are plenty of liberal Pagans who, being liberals, would have no problem with “liberal academics” or whatever he’s trying to refer to. The imagery he chooses is a Wojak (or Soyjak) again saying “You’re an atheist too? Let’s talk about gay rights and socialism!”, and the Nazi Pagan Wojak which he uses to represent Paganism says “…No”. If he were at all familiar with the contemporary Pagan or neopagan scene, he’d know that this scenario is absurd. Most modern Pagans are not against gay rights, in fact they acknowledge the tendency of Pagan myths to feature queer characters who aren’t punished for being queer, and there are a lot of Pagans who will tell you that they’re for socialism, though there are also many who disagree. In fact, one of the earliest modern Druids is a Scottish man named George Watson McGregor Reid, who lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and was a socialist and union activist who eventually also advocated for anarcho-communism. The neo-Nazis did not “go off and make their own thing” after being sick of atheists. They already despised atheists, and their idea of what Paganism is comes from over a century of volkisch romanticism and ethno-nationalist ideology, which animated the rise of the original Nazis in Germany. But I suspect he won’t talk too much about that because some of the original volkisch ideologues were actually Christians and/or Christian occultists rather than Pagans.
So, as to the question of why they don’t just be atheists, it seems to me that the obvious answer to that question is that they simply don’t find the atheist position to be convincing, and believe in the gods or (in the case of less theistic Pagans) that the natural world is worthy of worship instead, and that they came to that conclusion on their own, in a society and culture that does not encourage Paganism. In other words, they just sincerely believe in what they believe. It really is that simple.
Now, about five minutes into the video, JustTheFacts turns his gaze towards tradcaths, regarding them as having failed to live up to the tenets of Catholicism or Christianity. For him this doesn’t actually mean “being liberal and accepting everything because it says in the Bible that you should be tolerant”, evidently a strawman concocted as a coping mechanism for how easily non-Christian leftists embarrass right-wing Christians for failing to adhere to Biblical teachings when it comes to immigration policy (see Matthew 25: 31-40 or Deuteronomy 10:19) or capitalism (see Acts 2:44). But while he insists on not referring to the practical political implications of following the Bible, he does rightly complain that modern Catholics don’t necessarily live up to “the spirit of benevolence and mercy” he attributes to Christian teaching, and it’s clear from the imagery that he’s referring to Nazi Catholics. Unfortunately for him, though, the Catholic Church has a record of assisting the Nazis in some capacity; the Pope of that time neither condemned the Nazis nor pled with Hitler to release captured Jews, the Church helped Nazis escape to South America, and the German Catholic Church openly admitted their complicity with the Nazis. So, sorry, but no dice.
The imagery he chooses is for one of his points is strange and paints an absurd picture: it’s a Wojak representing a conservative college professor saying “Today we will be learning from De Regno”, and an angry Wojak representing a left-wing student says “WHAT ABOUT DAS KAPITAL?”. I’m assuming this was in a class for theology or religious studies, so why would you ever see someone in a class about theology and religious studies complain that their professor doesn’t teach them Das Kapital? That just wouldn’t make sense, because nobody expects politics or economics to be taught in theology class, and I’ve never seen any examples of that ever happening.
In any case, here JustTheFacts attempts to explain the phenomenon of Nazi tradcaths, and let’s see how well he manages it:
Now, who are these people, exactly? Well, when some of the neo-Nazis went to paganism in order to be contrary to the Jews, some of them decided to be as contrary as possible to liberalism, and what better religion to be against liberalism than the Catholic Church, known for fighting liberalism since the French Revolution. They took a number of from Catholicism, namely the aesthetic and the hatred of Protestants, but they also brought a few things with them such as pride, wrath, and cold-hard cruelty. These people rejoice in the idea that others might be burning in hell, even though scripture explicitly tells them not to do that, they promote the idea that there is no saving their enemies and they should only ever kill them, even though scripture explicity tells them not to do that, and they exalt themselves instead of humbling themselves, even though scripture explicity tells them not to do that.
There are some pretty fair points about modern tradcaths here, I think we’ve all observed some of those and there are real tweets like the ones he showed, but there’s a few problems. He says that they brought “cold-hard cruelty” with them to Catholicism, as though the Catholic Church was never cruel at all. What do you think the Inquisition was? Or the mass human sacrifice that we call “witch burnings”? And how do you think the Catholic Church viewed the genocide of indigenous peoples in North and South America? What do you think they thought of the Catholic settlers torturing and slaughtering natives, systematically destroying their culture, and giving them plagues? Even Pope Francis could not refer to what happened in the Americas as conquest without saying “so-called”, and there are Catholics to this day that deny that there was genocide. And it’s not a thing of the past either: the Catholic Church is still responsible for the genocide of indigenous children in Canada and Catholics still try to deny that it was even genocide. It’s not like the Catholic Church wasn’t ever cruel before the Nazis or tradcaths showed up.
Also, the volkisch movement that inspired the Nazis was, in part at least, originated by Christians as well as non-Christian romantic mystics. Houston Stewart Chamberlain, one of the intellectuals most celebrated by the Nazis, was a Protestant Christian who thought that the Catholic Church was a Jewish conspiracy to destroy the “Aryan” race. Chamberlain also, like Hitler, believed that Jesus was an “Aryan” and could not have been Jewish. Chamberlain’s other major admirer, Kaiser Wilhelm II, was a Lutheran, but after World War 1 Wilhelm converted to Marcionism (an ancient and heretical dualist sect of Christianity). Wilhelm, just like Chamberlain, was also convinced that Jesus was an “Aryan” rather than a Jew. One of the fathers of Ariosophy, an esoteric belief system centered around the idea of some lost “Aryan” mysteries, was a man named Jorg Lanz-Liebenfels, an Austrain aristocrat and former monk who believed that Jesus was an Aryan who was to come and redeem the “Aryan” race after generations of interbreeding with “demonic” non-“Aryans”. You’ll notice a lot in the original volkisch movement that it tended to include people who sought to justify worshipping Jesus depsite him being notably non-“Aryan” by arguing that he was actually an “Aryan”. That doesn’t sound to me like something a Pagan would need to do, since Pagans don’t worship Jesus or support the idea that he was the son of God.
In any case, JustTheFacts goes on to round off the “character” of the tradcath he aims to describe, summarizing the archetype as a person who picks and chooses to create their own brand of Catholicism based on identifying against their enemies as much as possible as opposed to genuine belief. There is an extent to which this might be true, but it also ignores the fact that the opposition to liberalism itself derives from something other than contrarianism. If it’s pure contrarian contempt for liberalism that drives a person, then that contempt can spread in any number of directions, all filtered by any number of personal biases that already exist in your mind. The tradcath must be a tradcath because the tradcath centers tradition and authority in the abstract, even inasmuch as the tradcath may genuinely believe in Catholicism as the correct doctrine. So it is actually not because of pure contrarianism that motivates the choice to become a tradcath but instead the desire for authoritarian models of virtue to rule society, itself inspired by the fixation on hierarchical power.
And so we come to the end of the video, where we find witches, Nazi Pagans, and Nazi Catholics, side by side as though they’re equals, because they’re all exactly the same type of larper giving up their own minds to surrender to group identity. Again, as if that’s not the history of Christianity according to this gormless conservative moron. Although I must say, the big stink about tribes against tribes does sound perfectly liberal, since they’re biggest bellyachers when it comes to anyone having any sort of “group identity” and loudly asserting it, or at least in a way that bourgeois society deems offensive or degenerate. And then some spiel about how perhaps all of human history is larping, or something, but then ultimately those people don’t matter. Why even bother to make this video at that point?
So all in all I really don’t see any real substance to JustTheFacts’ argument. For one thing there’s not all that many facts involved, despite his namesake. Just keep an eye out for people who brand themselves as being almost neutral in that they’re solely interested in objective truth, but in reality are morons and liars who can’t get even remotely close to the truth and are only interested in their reactionary agenda. But the whole enterprise driven almost entirely by the idea that non-Christians are not what they say they are, do not believe what they say they believe, and cannot be doing anything except acting out a kind of deception towards themselves and others, pretending to be something they’re not. Who they really are is something that, for the Christian, is decided by the Christian, on the grounds that Christianity is just axiomatically the correct faith, as though hardwired into the human condition despite only existing for less than 2,000 years (in terms of how many years mankind, or even just civilization, has been on Earth, this is a blip). The one thing that such a worldview cannot admit is that people can sincerely believe in the worship of the gods or of nature on their own, that people can look at the progress of civilization from Paganism to Christianity and later secular atheism and decide that they prefer Paganism. Such sincerity seems to be beyond the comprehension of the Christian.
With blatantly tyrannical laws on abortion set to be in place in Texas, and the state set to become the land where freedom dies in endless lawsuits, The Satanic Temple have predictably jumped at the opportunity to prove themselves fighters for reproductive rights and social freedom against Christian theocracy and authoritarianism, and many progressives have rushed to validate that image while the mainstream media portrays them as some sort of last hope against the Christian right. Oh, if only it were that simple. I too have contemplated seriously the idea that it might be necessary to join them in order to oppose theocracy. Bah! As if that would do any good!
I stumbled on an article written by Jinx Strange on Luciferian Dominion explaining that The Satanic Temple actually knows nothing about the law, especially on abortion. The Satanic Temple seems to think that by casting abortions as “Satanic rituals”, without any self-awareness of how compromises their own intentions, they can play the religious freedom card and demand the right to perform abortions and store and distribute abortifcacents as an exemption from Texas law on the grounds that, for The Satanic Temple, abortion is a religious right. The Satanic Temple seems to have ignored the fact that, in the United States, appeals to religious freedom do not protect you from state laws, meaning that TST would still be subject to Texas state law and would be denied the right to perform abortions and store/distribute abortifacents.
Suffice it to say, The Satanic Temple have been doing exactly the same thing that Texas wants to make normal, just that when TST did it they were trying to fight for themselves to have abortion ceremonies, and they seem to just treat lawsuits surrounding abortion rights as a way to accumulate fame and perhaps wealth, they don’t really seem to care about the actual people involved or their struggles. But again, you will not hear much about this in the media’s coverage of The Satanic Temple because the media is trying to portray them as crusaders for women’s rights and secular freedoms. Well that image might have been impactful, indeed sort of truthful, back in the old days of 2014 when they were actually taking on local governments with the Baphomet statue stunt, but it just doesn’t mean anything now, and is essentially nothing more than media bluster that obscures their true nature.
With the exception of Lucien Greaves defending Milo Yiannopolous or TST hiring Marc Randazza as their free speech lawyer, you will not hear anything in the mainstream media that contradicts TST’s image as a progressive secular advocacy movement bravely taking the fight to religious governments on behalf of reason and scientific enlightenment, because, quite frankly, the media wants a group like The Satanic Temple to represent the side of liberal values in a bourgeois culture war. To that end, you will even see outlets like Raw Story invent Satanic Temple quotes out of thin air to make them seem reasonable.
So, on those grounds, I can’t side with The Satanic Temple at all, I cannot in good conscience treat The Satanic Temple as being the right side of the fight for abortion rights, and I can’t say that they are anything other than a publicity racket propped up by opportunistic reactionaries who care more about their own vanity and self-created authority than the people they claim to be helping. Even with the Texas law set to take effect, The Satanic Temple have no leg to stand on in fighting it, and beyond that it seems like they are simply incapable of doing anything of substance, and apparently have been all along for years. Fuck The Satanic Temple and their skeleton goats.
I was recently reading a book by Michel Onfray, the French atheist, libertarian socialist, and hedonist philosopher, called A Hedonist Manifesto: The Power to Exist. I took a brief interest in the book on the grounds that I thought that, maybe, I might like its way of sketching out of a materialist hedonist philosophy, and was especially attracted to Onfray’s idea that he wanted to present a materialist historiography of philosophy to counter and combat the dominant, idealist historiography of philosophy. But upon reading the book, not only did I find myself disappointed by its ultimately lacking content, riddled less with explication and more with mere assertion or pronouncement, I also discovered that he had a grotesque and bigoted attitude towards autistic people that finds expression in this book.
Onfray’s bigotry is specifically arrayed against autistic people, who for some reason he despises and treats as a synonym for a kind of pathological narcissism and solipsism (you may be familiar with this sort of pablum from Jonathan Pageau’s homophobic rant against Lil Nas X). Here is but one example from page 20:
A large part of traditional, classical, idealist philosophy keeps reproducing these scholastic schemes. There are interminable discussions about the gender of angels, heaps of sophistries, ad nauseum rhetorical spins, willful verbal obfuscation, religious neologisms, onanistic and autistic approaches to practice, and other peculiar symptoms. A kind of schizophrenia always threatens philosophers who segregate theory and practice. But in secluded cabinets—like the philosopher under Rembrandt’s stairs — they can live and make a living from his teaching…This is the character of the Philosophy Professor — well described as a Socratic functionary. Is he a corporate sellout? I would say that Hegel is the epitome of all the vices of the profession.
Autism as a term is invoked alongside onanism to collectively denote some sort of pathological self-gratification that involves seculsion and endless speculation on rhetoric. The implication by this comparison would be that autistic people are narcissists who seek to seclude themselves from society in order spend their time stuck in self-masturbatory exercises. This is, in many ways, the sort of stereotypy that is all too typically levelled against autistic people by those who want neither to help nor to understand us.
The next extract from the book is a long one because it requires the inclusion of context, but here it is from pages 40-41:
The philosophical tradition claims to dislike the I. It announces all over the place that it hates the Me. Many contemporary philosophers unabashedly defend this theoretical position. Then, in their books and articles, they spill forth details of their childhoods, confide their biographies, and give testimonies of their education and formative years. Some provide minutiae of their family’s agricultural property; others talk about their adolescent scholarship; and still others write entire books recounting the details of a long nervous depression.
This kind of schizophrenia leads to a contradiction: either they are right to condemn the Me, in which case they should be silent about it, or they can speak in the first person, in which case they should reconcile their system with their personal outpourings. I believe it is necessary to revise the theories as well as to continue the kind of existential autoanalysis that allows us to understand where our thought comes from, what it is, and where it is going.
This does not entail an egoistic religion—a cult of the Me that is autistic and narcissistic—nor does it entail a loathing of everything that manifests in the first person. It is about properly understanding the Me and giving it its due. We don’t want to become dandyish caricatures or lust after metaphysical chalices; rather, we compose ourselves in the world without hysteria or grandiloquence. We should be neither critical nor thanatophilic, but logical, like Descartes, who, for the sake of his metaphysics, looked for and found an I. It’s essential to do something similar to enable a new ethics. Without a point of departure, there can be no ethical goal.
The top paragraph sort of a silly argument in itself, but more importantly for the purpose of this post, Onfray seems to be yet again referring to the term “autistic” to denote a kind of megalomaniacal and pathological self-centeredness, one that Onfray has to invoke in order to defend egoism as a concept from accusations of endorsing radical selfish individualism – an idea that, you would think, Onfray shouldn’t even have to conceive of a problem in defending considering he endorses ideas of “egodicy”.
The next extract is from pages 75-76, and concerns Onfray’s views on art:
Some clever people, camping out in their aesthetic marketplaces and doing their philosophical commerce, actually think that a history of art is possible…As long as you keep it concise! They dissertate about concepts divorced from any context; they gloss, like Plato’s contemporaries, ideas about Beauty-in-itself, the essence of Beauty, ineffable and unspeakable Beauty, or Beauty as a vector of transcendence; that is, they insist on the truth of its existence. From it, they can derive God, who they carefully guard from danger. They get a great deal out of a schema that is so philosophically easy.
The reactionaries among them—in the etymological sense; the most conservative to say the least—forge a common cause with two or three artists who pass for part of an intellectual avant-garde. The media elevates a fool who shares the same aesthetic picnic with scruffy, unknown auteurs who are convinced that their obscurity bespeaks an unfathomable depth. They collect neologisms, webs of glossolalia over the subject of ineffability, the unsayable, the incommunicable, “the veil,” and other baubles of negative theology. It all amounts to a banal, autistic, and solipsistic exercise. No need to speak of proper and formal analysis.
Here Onfray is talking about the art press as well as an unspecified category of avant-garde artist, who he despises because he believes them to be solipsistic, self-absorbed, narcisstic, and obsessed with indescribable categories of experience that, he feels, allow them to position themselves as the only ones who can talk about them. Once again, the term “autistic” is invoked as a descriptor for this, alongside “solipistic”, thereby by connecting the experience of the autistic spectrum with solipsism, perhaps even identifying the two with each other, which thereby establishes his attitude that autistic people are solipsists.
Our next extract is from page 82, and once again it involves on Onfray’s views on the art world as well as culture in general:
Our nihilist modernity, which is both commercial and liberal (these epithets being synonymous), is foolish in its use of objects, words, things, bodies, everything both immaterial and material. Nothing escapes the total domination of negativity: we hate the self, others, the flesh, the world, the real, images, and life. We celebrate hurt, feces, filth, autism, degradation, waste, infamy, blood, death, screaming, and the like.
The contempt for autistic people is barely even hidden. Autism is paired with feces, filth, degradation, waste, blood, death, screaming, and other negativities, and is in fact an array of negativity that he believes dominates our culture and what we celebrate about it. It kind of dovetails with a lot of reactionary conservative criticisms of modern culture where they look at the art world as in a degenerate state because it moved away from the schools of art that sought solely to imitate and glorify natural form and affirm their desired social values. Carl Jung had a similarly pathological attitude towards modern art, which he believed represented the forces of satanic, anti-Christian pathos seeking to destroy Christian culture, the conservative Dennis Prager famously complained the left supposedly ruining art by elevating urine and feces, and of course, the whole concept of “degenerate art” is a flank of Nazi ideology, upon which it invented the concept of “Kulturbolshevismus” (“Cultural Bolshevism”), or “Cultural Marxism” as it is known today (among many other names). But more to the point, it is starkly ignorant. Putting aside the sheer disgusting contempt involved in positioning autism as a category of cultural decay, the idea that autism is celebrated in contemporary society is simple nonsense! If it were, we wouldn’t have to worry about being treated like we’re freaks who should be avoided. I actually remember hearing from an autistic adult about being harassing by some asshole who talked to him like he was nothing but a benefits scrounger. In the United Kingdom, the government practically disincentives autistic people from marrying or perhaps even having relationships where they share their lives together because autistic people can face losing their benefits after a few days of moving in with a partner and making it official, and frankly I am not convinced that Britain is the only country where this is the case. And of course all of this is to say nothing of the fact that, in our culture, you can bully an autistic person into committing suicide and then nothing happens. We don’t get a lot of justice in our lives, so don’t you dare talk about how our culture “celebrates” autism.
But of course, none of that stops Onfray from repeating his association of autism with egoism in the very next page:
Hysterical exhibitionism is not sufficient for creating an artistic moment. We know that craziness and schizophrenia can become paradigms in an ill era, but we cannot accept a new norm that turns the resident of a mental hospital into the apotheosis of contemporary reason. Hölderlin’s, Nietzsche’s, and Artaud’s insanity interrupted their work. It required much of their biographies to be bracketed. However, it does not constitute their final word, method, or truth. Egotism, autism (egautism), narcissistic solipsism, glossolalia, verbigeration, deliberate refusal to communicate with others, not taking care of our bodies—we are deluded to take these as positive models.
The last extract regarding Onfray’s attitude towards autism comes from page 87, where he enlists the philosophy of Cynicism as a force “against autism”:
There is a vulgar cynicism in this religion of merchandise. However, if we put it up against Diogenes’s philosophical cynicism, we may be able to imagine an escape from nihilism, at least within the context of aesthetics. Against its negativity, we can contrapose the positivity of Diogenes’s great cheerful health, transmission of codes, and the communicative acts. This tradition leads to a rematerialization of the real and fights, at every turn, against pathology, autism, and the rarefaction of immanence.
Yes. Onfray sincerely believes that autism is something to be combatted and that it can be combatted through Cynicism. It’s a shame, really, because I actually like Cynicism as a philosophy in many ways, and, judging from a lot of what Onfray writes in his book, I don’t think Onfray understands Cynicism very well despite claiming to uphold it. I mean for one thing the Cynics were very pro-nature in a way that Onfray simply isn’t, and many Cynics abhorred social convention as an impediment to real virtue that could be found in alignment with nature. Some even expressed criticism of the mythical Prometheus because they saw in as the author of the artifices that led to the corruption of mankind, which to me is a problem for Onfray when he goes on about “Promethean Bioethics”. And frankly I do not think Diogenes was especially well-known for his gaiety, his physique, or even his good health.
Now you might think that Onfray’s comments about autism are somewhat incidental and grandiose, and don’t play a very big part of his overall philosophical worldview. Well Onfray’s worldview may not center around the subject of autism, but there is one critical aspect of Onfray’s vision of how society should work that, I think, has disturbing implications for how he views autistic people and many other types of people who are generally considered “abnormal”. In a nutshell, Michel Onfray is a supporter of eugenics. Indeed, from my standpoint, he may be one of the few modern leftists who actually maintains support for eugenics. The “Promethean Bioethics” section of A Hedonist Manifesto contains a whole section titled “A Preventative Eugenics”, in which he explicitly argues for eugenics on the grounds that it would “neutralize” negativity from the world, create a happy society consisting of “healthy” individuals, and allow humanity to “master and possess” nature. He insists on calling this “libertarian eugenics”, but if you actually read the section you’ll find that there is nothing particularly libertarian about his vision of eugenics other than he claims it’s not based on race. In fact, just look at this paragraph from page 106 and you’ll see that he seems to argue for eugenics as a way of ensuring that all people conform to some codified idea of normalcy from birth:
Without engaging in Byzantine debates, most of us can agree on what makes a happy or wretched presence in the world. For any future being in the world, it would seem that health is preferable to sickness, ability to disability, form to deformity, normality to abnormality. Anyone who would prefer sickness, disability, debility, deformity, or abnormality, that is, whoever would deny the existence of those categories, seems to me to be ontologically criminal in their refusal to act when given the possibility of transgenetic avoidance.
Onfray spells it out for us. “Normality” is preferable to “abnormality”. Anyone who opposes this is “ontologically criminal”, meaning that they are basically as close to evil as you can get for someone who, ironically enough, seems to support some concept of moral relativism in his book. Conformity to normalcy, therefore, is paramount, and that means ensuring that you conform from birth is ontologically mandated by Onfray’s vision of society. Nothing about this is very libertarian at all. You would think that a consistent libertarian outlook would mean accepting the freedom of others to not be normal, and you would think that a consistent relativist would treat the concept of “normality” with suspicion, skepticism, or even outright contempt. But such is not the case for Onfray, because all he wants is a world where classically beautiful people are born in the world to spend their days artificially enhancing themselves, indulging every kind of pleasure no matter how empty, and lording over the world as the masters of nature, thoroughly alienated from life by increasing artifice over the natural world. What this means in relation to autism is that autistic people are not “normal”, and that means that they will be bred out of existence in Onfray’s utopian society, and that this is a good thing to the point that you are utterly evil for opposing it. Anyone advocating that autistic people be allowed to be born into the world, be treated with compassion, respect, and dignity, and enabled to lead happy and fulfilling lives in the same way that non-autistic people are, would be labelled an “ontological criminal”.
The whole irony of this argument is that, despite Onfray’s commitment to secular atheism, his argument for eugenics will only serve to benefit the homophobia of the religious reactionaries of the creeds of Abraham. Think about it. “Normality” is preferable to “abnormality”, but who is he alone to define that? Homosexuality is still seen as rather “abnormal”, and being trans is unfortunately still considered by many to be a pathological aberration, which leads to trans people and homosexuals still facing some discrimination within society and struggling with either self-denial or in some cases, in America at least, eviction by their parents or landlords. The argument that Onfray puts forward can easily be put to the service of the idea that homosexuality, bisexuality, or gender dysphoria should be systematically eliminated via eugenics, thereby breeding LGBT people out of existence. In fact, I have actually seen someone argue in defence of eugenics as a “cure” for gender dysphoria. Onfray probably doesn’t intend for this sort of society to come about, but that is what he will get.
But to be honest, it’s what he says right before that paragraph that is if anything even more revealing:
If eugenics is condemnable, it is not so in itself, in some absolute sense, but because of the name that qualifies it. What about a libertarian eugenics? What would that mean? It would be a strategy of avoidance with a simple aim: to increase the chance of a happy presence in the world. It would do away with the idea that some sickness, suffering, handicap, or physical or psychological wretchedness vitiates any joy that might issue from our existential potentiality. Therefore, it is to decrease the chance of a wretched presence in the world.
That last sentence is the most important. “To decrease the chance of a wretched presence in the world”. For Michel Onfray people who aren’t “normal” are nothing more than “wretched presences”, who society should really do away with. He talks about how we should do away with the idea that some sickness, suffering, handicap, or “wretchedness” should impair the joy that we feel in our existence, but if he were serious about that, then eugenics would not even be on the table. If he was serious that being disabled or something to that effect should not vitiate joy, then he should be interested in creating a society where the disabled or just differently abled aren’t treated like abominations of nature and are instead treated like actual human beings, worthy of living a good life free of discrimination and suffering, but instead he wants a society that is so bigoted towards the disabled, differently able, or “abnormal” that it strives to breed them out of existence. Michel Onfray, it seems, experiences a reduction in happiness and joy when he sees that non-normal people, inclduing autistic people, exist in the world, and because he would rather that they cease existing entirely, rather than have a society where such people can expect compassion and dignity. People always think of the problems of the “abnormal” in terms of some innate defect, and never think of the life they lead in terms of the society they live in, and I suspect this is because the question of a more tolerant and compassionate society is incommensurable with the question of innate defects, and that addressing the former would make the latter quite useless and expose it for its inadequacy. In other words, it wouldn’t matter if you’re autistic or anything else “non-normal” because society would give you a good life, and apparently that’s not what Michel Onfray wants.
So I believe I’ve established with some adequacy the ableist bigotry of Michel Onfray as contained within A Hedonist Manifesto. The rest of the book is honestly nothing to ride home about. I felt like there were some potentially good lines of inquiry in other subjects but they don’t go anywhere, in fact much of Onfray’s book is pronouncements that don’t go anywhere and blind assertations without example. I think I might otherwise have liked Onfray’s efforts to posit the idea of a materialist historiography of philosophy and his attempt to advance some kind of Epicurean hedonist ethics, alongside many of the other influences he drews, but I feel like he simply invokes these influences without understand the significance and content of their teachings, and in general I don’t like Onfray’s fetishization of social norms, his anti-naturalism (at his own statement), his simultaneous affirmation of “aristocratic ethics” and his denouncement of supposed elitism, his transhumanism, his utopian and cult-like belief in human progress, and perhaps most of all his pro-eugenics stance and his bigotry against autistic people and the disabled. I will say that he definitely is right in his militant opposition to Platonism and it is good to see him emphasize the body, but I also have half of a mind to suspect that he may ultimately reproduce Platonic beauty by effect of his obsession with the reproduction of classical beauty by society, at the same time as him being open about being a postmodernist. In all, A Hedonist Manifesto was one of the most disappointing books I’ve ever read, and the worst libertarian socialist book I’ve ever read, and I say this as a libertarian communist myself. I’m almost glad that most of his books can only be read in French.
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 term Lumen Naturae (which in Latin means “the light of nature”) appears in various texts written by the legendary psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung, and its meaning points to a light that is contrasted with the light of revelation seen in traditional theology as a source of knowledge for Man. The Lumen Naturae is the light that shines imminently within all of matter (hence The Light of Nature), though it also seems to be a reference to the unconscious psyche. For Jung it is “whose strange and significant workings we can observe in the manifestations of the unconscious”. In this sense, the Lumen Naturae is one of those aspects of Jungian thought that, though it seems to not to be as talked about as often (not even by other Jungians), appears to be more central to Jungian thought and philosophy than it is given credit for, and it can be used as the bridge through Jungian philosophy to, situated within that realm, a doctrine that can postulate a doctrine of spiritual materialism that carries Jungian psychoanalytical philosophy and, I might say, a sort of Luciferian essence into a higher form in which, through Hellenic spiritual and philosophical influences among various other philosophical contours, it may attain a form that can assert itself in the present landscape – in other words, one where spiritual substance can be formulated in an atheistic context, outside of and in opposition to Christianity, in a manner where it attains depth, heritage and, from there, power, in the darkness of the Light of Nature. What darkness, you may ask? That is what you will find out over the course of this article.
A very lenghty and detailed exposition of the Lumen Naturae can be found in Volume 8 of Jung’s Collected Works, Alchemical Studies. It is here, in fact, that Jung lays out dichotomy between the Light of Nature and the Light of Revelation. In the process he introduces Paracelsus, the man from whom Jung gets his conception of the Lumen Naturae. For Jung, Paracelsus was a man who had two “mothers”, two substances from which he derived his thought and spirit; the Christian (specifically Catholic) church on the one hand, and Nature on the other:
To the mother in her highest form, Mater Ecclesia, he remained faithful all his life, despite the very free criticism he levelled at the ills of Christendom in that epoch. Nor did he succumb to the great temptation of that age, the Protestant schism, though he may well have had it in him to go over to the other camp. Conflict was deeply rooted in Paracelsus’s nature; indeed, it had to be so, for without a tension of opposites there is no energy, and whenever a volcano, such as he was, erupts, we shall not go wrong in supposing that water and fire have clashed together.
But although the Church remained a mother for Paracelsus all his life, he nevertheless had two mothers: the other was Mater Natura. And if the former was an absolute authority, so too was the latter. Even though he endeavoured to conceal the conflict between the two maternal spheres of influence, he was honest enough to admit its existence; indeed, he seems to have had a very good idea of what such a dilemma meant. Thus he says: “I also confess that I write like a pagan and yet am a Christian.” Accordingly he named the first five sections of his Paramirum de quinque entibus
morborum “Pagoya.” “Pagoyum” is one of his favourite neologisms, compounded of “paganum” and the Hebrew word “goyim.” He held that knowledge of the nature of diseases was pagan, since this knowledge came from the “light of nature” and not from revelation. “Magic,” he says, is “the preceptor and teacher of the physician,” who derives his knowledge from the lumen naturae. There can be no doubt the “light of nature” was a second, independent source of knowledge for Paracelsus. His closest pupil, Adam von Bodenstein, puts it like this: “The Spagyric has the things of nature not by authority, but by his own experience.” The concept of the lumen naturae may derive from the Occulta philosophia of Agrippa von Nettesheim (1533), who speaks of a luminositas sensus naturae that extends even to the four-footed beasts and enables them to foretell the future.
Paracelsus was definitely a Christian, of this there is no doubt, he even says “Christian knowledge is better than natural knowledge, and a prophet or an apostle better than an astronomer or a physician”, but he also confesses that he writes “like a pagan” and the reason for this seems to be that he considers the knowledge of the nature of diseases, essential to his practice as a physician, to be pagan in nature because it is knowledge of the world. The Light of Nature thus in the context of Paracelsus refers to knowledge of the physical universe, knowledge of nature, the knowledge held by scientists (such as astronomers) and physicians, while the Light of Revelation (which Paraselsus equated with the Holy Spirit) refers presumably to theology, or the knowledge of God, the “knowledge” held by prophets and apostles.
From Paracelsus, quoted within Alchemical Studies alongside more commentary from Jung, we get this description of the Light of Nature:
It is, therefore, also to be known that the auguries of the birds are caused by these innate spirits, as when cocks foretell future weather and peacocks the death of their master and other such things with their crowing. All this comes from the innate spirit and is the Light of Nature. Just as it is present in animals and is natural, so also it dwells within man and he brought it into the world with himself. He who is chaste is a good prophet, natural as the birds, and the prophecies of birds are not contrary to nature but are of nature. Each, then, according to his own state. These things which the birds announce can also be foretold in sleep, for it is the astral spirit which is the invisible body of nature. And it should be known that when a man prophesies, he does not speak from the Devil, not from Satan, and not from the Holy Spirit, but he speaks from the innate spirit of the invisible body which teaches Magiam and in which the Magus has his origin.
The light of nature comes from the Astrum: “Nothing can be in man unless it has been given to him by the Light of Nature, and what is in the Light of Nature has been brought by the stars.” The pagans still possessed the light of nature, “for to act in the Light of Nature and to rejoice in it is divine despite being mortal.” Before Christ came into the world, the world was still endowed with the light of nature, but in comparison with Christ this was a “lesser light.” “Therefore we should know that we have to interpret nature according to the spirit of nature, the Word of God according to the spirit of God, and the Devil according to his spirit also.” “He who knows nothing of these things is a gorged pig and will not leave room for instruction and experience.” The light of nature is the quinta essentia, extracted by God himself from the four elements, and dwelling “in our hearts.” It is enkindled by the Holy Spirit. The light of nature is an intuitive apprehension of the facts, a kind of illumination. It has two sources: a mortal and an immortal, which Paracelsus calls “angels.” “Man,” he says, “is also an angel and has all the latter’s qualities.” He has a natural light, but also a light outside the light of nature by which he can search out supernatural things. The relationship of this supernatural light to the light of revelation remains, however, obscure. Paracelsus seems to have held a peculiar trichotomous view in this respect.
There is a noticeable dualism in Paracelsus’ thought (or more or less what we are presented of it by Jung), a dualism concerning God and Nature. Such a dualism is further established when Jung refers to his writings in Philosophia Sagax, wherein he describes Man as “one part temporal, the other part eternal, and each part takes its light from God, both the temporal and the eternal, and there is nothing that does not have its origin in God”. This itself is not too dissimilar to the sort of dualism you usually see from the average Christian, but there is an intruiging undertone to what see of Paracelsus nonetheless. In theory, he positions the Light of Nature as lesser than the Holy Spirit, because in traditional Christianity Nature is framed as less valuable than God, its creator, but despite this traditional dualistic framing the Light of Nature has a special place in Paracelsus’ ontology on the grounds that it is essential to understand the natural world in the same vein as God’s word is to be understood via the spirit of God. Despite Paracelsus’ commitment to Christianity, this Light of Nature appears to be associated with paganism because for him the pagans “still possessed the Light of Nature” because they acted in the Light of Nature in its divine. This appears to mean that, for Paraclesus, the pagan view centered around nature and activity within it as the means of engaging with the sacred. This is perhaps the interpretation given by a Christian lens as to what constitutes paganism, given that medieval Christianity drew a line of separation between the world and the spirit, with spirit outside the world being the subject of Christian teaching and spiritual knowledge, so is to be treated in the context of that lens, but what this means is that the “pagan” impetus of the Light of Nature refers to the situation and engagement of knowledge with realm of Nature. Further it seems that, according to Jung at least, the Light of Nature may well have been the strongest theme in Paracelsus’ thinking, as Jung says:
The authenticity of one’s own experience of nature against the authority of tradition is a basic theme of Paracelsan thinking. On this principle he based his attack on the medical schools, and his pupils carried the revolution even further by attacking Aristotelian philosophy. It was an attitude that opened the way for the scientific investigation of nature and helped to emancipate natural science from the authority of tradition.
If Jung’s account of Paracelsus is accurate, then the Light of Nature can be treated, at least in context, as the spark of experiential authenticity, dervied from Nature and our species-being situated within it, which leads to a scepticism of authority and tradition and their tendency to obfuscate the truth of the world we live in. Within a materialist framework, this Light of Nature is the principal Light, and from there Nature becomes the principal source of light, knowledge and Being, and cannot be situated in any secondary domain, in any realm of “revelation”. It does not answer to the pacification offered by the constructed realm of ideated truth, whether from the church or from the “woke” authorities of the modern age, only to the truth itself within Nature. Indeed, despite his faith, Jung sees this Light of Nature in juxtaposition to his faith as the most important source of his creative energy, flowing from his natural and personal temperant of discontent, for this reason Jung cites Paracelsus as a Faustian figure, a prototype of a line that goes from Faust to Nietzsche, something that was only counterveiled by the pious maxim “I under God and God under me”.
Jung reasserts this assessment later on:
He was a well-intentioned, humble Christian. His ethics and his professed faith were Christian, but his most secret, deepest passion, his whole creative yearning, belonged to the lumen naturae, the divine spark buried in the darkness, whose sleep of death could not be vanquished even by the revelation of God’s son. The light from above made the darkness still darker; but the lumen naturae is the light of the darkness itself, which illuminates its own darkness, and this light the darkness comprehends. Therefore it turns blackness into brightness, burns away “all superfluities,” and leaves behind nothing but “faecem et scoriam et terram damnatam” (dross and scoriae and the rejected earth).
For Jung, this Light of Nature is a pagan feeling, on the grounds that it constitutes the veneration of the natural world, and its process of transformation:
Paracelsus, like all the philosophical alchemists, was seeking for something that would give him a hold on the dark, body-bound nature of man, on the soul which, intangibly interwoven with the world and with matter, appeared before itself in the terrifying form of strange, demoniacal figures and seemed to be the secret source of life-shortening diseases. The Church might exorcise demons and banish them, but that only alienated man from his own nature, which, unconscious of itself, had clothed itself in these spectral forms. Not separation of the natures but union of the natures was the goal of alchemy. From the time of Democritus its leitmotiv had been: “Nature rejoices in nature, nature conquers nature, nature rules over nature.” This principle is pagan in feeling and an expression of nature worship. Nature not only contains a process of transformation—it is itself transformation. It strives not for isolation but for union, for the wedding feast followed by death and rebirth. Paracelsus’s “exaltation in May” is this marriage, the “gamonymus” or hierosgamos of light and darkness in the shape of Sol and Luna. Here the opposites unite what the light from
above had sternly divided.
We also notice something peculiar in that we find, according to Jung, the Light of Nature is capable of embodying spirt as well as matter, thus in some ways providing a map by which to encapsulate even the supposedly extra-natural as, in fact, entirely within the natural, and thus all falls under Nature and therefore the Light of Nature becomes the true light of all. In this light, we see the Light of Nature as, more than only the skeptical light of natural consciousness, the spark of the unconscious, a light hidden within the unconscious of mankind, which animates the collective unconscious. Jung writes:
Nature is not matter only, she is also spirit. Were that not so, the only source of spirit would be human reason. It is the great achievement of Paracelsus to have elevated the “light of nature” to a principle and to have emphasized it in a far more fundamental way than his predecessor Agrippa. The lumen naturae is the natural spirit, whose strange and significant workings we can observe in the manifestations of the unconscious now that psychological research has come to realize that the unconscious is not just a “subconscious” appendage or the dustbin of consciousness, but is a largely autonomous psychic system for compensating the biases and aberrations of the conscious attitude, for the most part functionally, though it sometimes corrects them by force. Consciousness can, as we know, be led astray by naturalness as easily as by spirituality, this being the logical consequence of its freedom of choice. The unconscious is not limited only to the instinctual and reflex processes of the cortical centres; it also extends beyond consciousness and, with its symbols, anticipates future conscious processes. It is therefore quite as much a “supra-consciousness.”
So the Light of Nature then becomes more than just a metaphor for skeptical and naturalistic inquiry in a standard sense, but also something that lurks within the unconscious of human beings, perhaps even analogue to that often quoted aspect of Jung’s thought relating to the descent into darkness for the pursuit of knowledge and truth. The call to go into the underworld, then, takes on the character of the ontological inquiry into Nature, Nature not just in the outer sense, but in the dark recesses of the human psychological and psychorreal sphere, in which the hidden, perhaps even “occult”, currents of the mind and the world are to be discovered, and from which meaning is to be grasped, meaning of a kind that is not typically accessible in everyday life, and yet is perhaps immanent in life itself.
There is much more that can be said about this Light of Nature, however, outside of Jung himself. Indeed, many commentaries take note of the Lumen Naturae as reference to a source of knowledge couched in the natural world as opposed to revelation from God. From Georg Nicolaus’ C.G. Jung and Nikolai Berdyaev: Individuation and the Person: A Critical Comparison, we see the following:
The lumen naturae is a ‘second, independent source of knowledge’ set against the light of revelation, which is received through faith. It is ‘the quinta essentia, extracted by God himself from the four elements and “dwelling in our hearts” …The light of nature is an intuitive apprehension of the facts, a kind of illumination’. It is the highest treasure of nature, and has a twofold source: both a ‘mortal and an immortal’ one. It is the light of the scintilla animae, ‘the divine spark buried in the darkness’. The heart, where this divine spark is hidden, is also ‘the seat of the imagination’, so that the lumen naturae is the source of the alchemical vera imaginatio, the key to the opus.
As a ‘light in the darkness’ the lumen naturae is a source of true knowledge in the unconscious. Nature, too, has spirit within itself: ‘Nature is not matter only, she is also spirit. Were that not so, the only source of spirit would be human reason’. The lumen naturae in the unconscious is responsible for the fact that the unconscious is not only nature, but also a source of genuine spirituality which ‘anticipates in its symbols future conscious processes. It [the unconscious] is therefore quite as much a “supra-consciousness”.
The lumen naturae turns out to be a second source of ‘revelation’, one which dangerously competes with the supernatural ‘light of faith’ even though, according to Paracelsus, both lights in the end have the same source: ‘the unity of God’. In fact, as the ‘Enlightenment’ and the rise of modern science late showed, this union of the two lights is anything but unproblematic: the potential conflcit of the two lights goes to the heart of the problem of the ‘death of God’ in modernity.
Then from Marilyn Nagy’s Philosophical Issues in the Psychology of C. G. Jung: Portraits, Policies, Programs, and Practices, we see thus; for starters an assessment of Paracelsus that, ironically, positions the Christian Paracelsus one of the ancestors of the ancestors of the modern atheistic naturalist impetus regarding knowledge, God notwithsdanding of course:
The second problem for Paracelsus was the doctrine of revealed knowledge. We cannot accept things on faith, he said, just because someone else has told us it is so. We must look instead to Nature and to the truth which God has put there for us to read. “Pagoyum” was a favorite neologism, made up of “paganum” and the Hebrew word “goyim”. It meant that the truth is revealed not by authority or dogmatic faith but in nature herself, which is by contrast pagan. We can find the truth for ourselves.
The path to this knowledge is through direct personal experience. That meant getting away from rationalized theories and being with people in the world, listening to a story of a strange cure told at a wayside inn, observing not only the pathology but also the life circumstances of an ill woman.
More than that, thought Paracelsus, we must adopt the attitude of the naturalist, believing that Nature does indeed reveal the signs of God. We must not be skeptical, not “drown in work, abandoning research, saying it is beyond our understanding and thus failing to kindle the torch which will enlighten us.” Even in the face of our ignorance we must be obedient servants of this task. “As the light of Nature is like crumbs from the table of the Lord, for all the heathen to grasp, and has departed from Judah, so it behoves us not to give in, but to pick up the crumbs as long as they fall.
And then, on the Light of Nature itself and the means by which to acheive its realization in humans:
The method by which we obtain this knowledge and come to the light of nature has to do with coming into contact with a deeper level of our own natures which is connected to the larger processes of nature. For example, we know that scammonea purges, but this does not help us to understand the process itself. Just as there is a kind of science in a pear which teaches it how to be a pear and not an apple, so we should try to listen through the process of the scammonea. “When you overhear (‘ablauschen’) from the scammonea the knowledge which it possesses, it will be in you just as it is in the scammonea and you have acquired the experience as well as the knowledge. We find that place in ourselves which is in sympathetic correspondence with the principle of the external object, and we know it because we know ourselves. There is thus a much more direct, internal path to knowledge than objectivized processes of the rational mind.
We get a peculiar description of the lumen naturae in the notes for Carl Becker’s Asian and Jungian Views on Ethics:
In alchemical terms, lumen naturae is the “light of nature” as opposed to the numen of spiritual revelation. It is a sol invisibilis given to the individual, accessible through and identical with the “subtle” or “astral” body (ochema pneuma). It offers each individual “sufficient predestined light that he err not”. Phenomenologically, lumen naturae is experienced as scintillaes; sparks of the world soul scattered throughout the dark sea of night, germinal luminosities which are the seedbed of worlds to come (mundi futuri seminarium). This natural force, also described as an underworld fire, an ignis mercurialis, is synonymous with the pagan cosmos and aion.
Something to be mindful of is the “pagan cosmos” and the “pagan aion”. In pre-Christian Greece (the context we can assume is being referred to in this passage) Cosmos would refer to the order of the universe, and the very word simply means “world”, though can be interpreted to mean “universe” in the sense of the order of creation itself (for lack of a better word at least), though its Indo-European root word “konsmos” or “kems” means “to put in order”, thus Cosmos signifies the natural order of the world or the universe. Aion in Greek paganism refers to a god of time, more specifically time without limit, though he could also be taken as more of an abstract representation of time itself, as was the case in the Mithraic Mysteries, and the word Aion means “eternity” or “vital force”, thus signifying Aion as the vital force of infinite time. The connection made in this passage is that the Light of Nature is to be related with Cosmos and Aion and thus it is the light of the natural order of the universe and the bright flame of infinite time, or that at least is the inferrence we are to make. This broadens the concept of the Light of Nature significantly, though its association with the natural order (Cosmos) need not stretch it too far, insofar as it may, through identification with the natural order, signify immanent spiritual and intellectual awareness of Nature and its order, and from there the enlightenment that follows. The enlightenment, therefore, consists in the awakening of Man’s knowledge of Nature, and its relationship to Nature, and from there alignment with Nature – this can be rendered, from my perspective, in two senses; the first sense is the outer Nature, referring to the natural cosmos, its environment and more importantly its inner workings, while the second sense is the inner Nature, as in the Nature of all individual human beings, for which I would use the Chinese (or more specifically Taoist and neo-Confucian) concept of Ziran as an appellation, and the sum harmony of Man in relation to Nature is judged by his relation with both the Cosmos and with Ziran. The Light of Nature, then, could possibly be the spark that lights the way in this regard, leading humans away from artifice and rigid dogmas and towards independent and authentic existential inquiry and being in harmony with Nature in a holistic sense.
True to Jung’s assessment that the Light of Nature is a “pagan feeling”, there is a certain archetypal association established by Jung between the Light of Nature and a mythical figure from the pagan realm, namely Mercurius, the Roman form of the Greek god Hermes. It is safe assume the Mercurius that Jung speaks of in Alchemical Studies has more to do with alchemy (as the title suggests) than with paganism proper. Nonetheless, let’s have a look at Jung’s Mercurius. We can begin by highlighting his connection to the Light of Nature through alchemy:
The light hidden in nature and particularly in human nature likewise belongs to the stock of ancient alchemical ideas. Thus the “Tractatus Aristotelis” says: “See therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.” The light of nature is indeed of great importance in alchemy. Just as, according to Paracelsus, it enlightens man as to the workings of nature and gives him an understanding of natural things “by cagastric magic” (per magiam cagastricam), so it is the aim of alchemy to beget this light in the shape of the filius philosophorum. An equally ancient treatise of Arabic provenance attributed to Hermes, the “Tractatus aureus,” says (Mercurius is speaking): “My light excels all other lights, and my goods are higher than all other goods. I beget the light, but the darkness too is of my nature. Nothing better or more worthy of veneration can come to pass in the world than the union of myself with my son.” In the “Dicta Belini” (Belinus is a pseudo-Apollonius of Tyana) Mercurius says: “I enlighten all that is mine, and I make the light manifest on the journey from my father Saturn.” “I make the days of the world eternal, and I illumine all lights with my light.” Another author says of the “chymical marriage” from which arises the filius philosophorum: “They embrace and the new light is begotten of them, which is like no other light in the whole world.”
Later on, Jung expands the connection between Mercurius and the Light of Nature through the connection between Mercurius and fire:
Many treatises define Mercurius simply as fire. He is ignis elementaris noster naturalis ignis certissimus, which again indicates his “philosophic” nature. The aqua mercurialis is even a divine fire. This fire is “highly vaporous” (vaporosus). Indeed, Mercurius is really the only fire in the whole procedure. He is an “invisible fire, working in secret.” One text says that the “heart” of Mercurius is at the North Pole and that he is like a fire (northern lights). He is, in fact, as another text says, “the universal and scintillating fire of the light of nature, which carries the heavenly spirit within it.” This passage is particularly important as it relates Mercurius to the lumen naturae, the source of mystical knowledge second only to the holy revelation of the Scriptures. Once more we catch a glimpse of the ancient role of Hermes as the god of revelation. Although the lumen naturae, as originally bestowed by God upon his creatures, is not by nature ungodly, its essence was nevertheless felt to be abysmal, since the ignis mercurialis was also connected with the fires of hell. It seems, however, that the alchemists did not understand hell, or its fire, as absolutely outside of God or opposed to him, but rather as an internal component of the deity, which must indeed be so if God is held to be a coincidentia oppositorum. The concept of an all-encompassing God must necessarily include his opposite. The coincidentia, of course, must not be too radical or too extreme, otherwise God would cancel himself out. The principle of the coincidence of opposites must therefore be completed by that of absolute opposition in order to attain full paradoxicality and hence psychological validity.
The mercurial fire is found in the “centre of the earth,” or dragon’s belly, in fluid form. Benedictus Figulus writes: “Visit the centre of the earth, there you will find the global fire.” Another treatise says that this fire is the “secret, infernal fire, the wonder of the world, the system of the higher powers in the lower.” Mercurius, the revelatory light of nature, is also hell-fire, which in some miraculous way is none other than a rearrangement of the heavenly, spiritual powers in the lower, chthonic world of matter, thought already in St. Paul’s time to be ruled by the devil. Hell-fire, the true energic principle of evil, appears here as the manifest counterpart of the spiritual and the good, and as essentially identical with it in substance. After that, it can surely cause no offence when another treatise says that the mercurial fire is the “fire in which God himself burns in divine love.” We are not deceiving ourselves if we feel in scattered remarks of this kind the breath of true mysticism.
Thus, Mercurius is directly identified with the Light of Nature as the light which not only contained within itself spirit associated with the divine but also a certain abysmal quality associated with the fire of Hell, thus in some ways containing spiritual light as well as darkness within itself, but is more importantly associated with some sort of spiritual revelation. The association with the chthonic realm beneath the earth is, in my view, rather consistent with the association of Hermes with the underworld. Chthonios was one of the epithets affixed to Hermes within the Greek cults, and as Hermes Chthonios the god was invoked in private rituals inteded for casting curses, binding spells and raising the spirits of the earth, as well as being honored in festivals of the dead. Hermes in general was often associated with the underworld due to his role as the guide of souls in the underworld, and was always worshipped as a chthonic deity for aspects relating to fertility (hence why he was often venerated in the form of a phallus). And indeed, that role of Hermes containing both heavenly light and infernal darkness is consistent with how Hermes was seen both as an infernal god of necromancy and a benevolent protector and shepherd of souls. Not to mention, for his connections to revelation, look no further than the Orphic Hymn to Chthonic Hermes, which calls him “divine revealer”. In this sense, Hermes, or rather Mercurius, becomes an emblem of chthonic revelation, the revelation of Nature, whose light comes not from above but from within itself, through its own darkness, its murky mist which is illuminated by Man, through its negative foundation in which we see the mutual and often contradictory struggle that turns the wheels of freedom and fate.
Before we get into what this means, I’d like to get into what this has to do with Lucifer specifically, considering I tagged this with Luciferianism. Jung, of course, interprets Lucifer in a negative light, similar to Satan in that he’s called the father of lies. If nothing else, Jung should probably know that Jesus was also called Lucifer, within the Bible. But more to the point, in Jung’s work Lucifer and Mercurius, not just in Alchemical Studies where Lucifer is framed as effectively a shadow side for Mercurius, but in Man and His Symbols we find that Mercurius and Lucifer are linked together:
Envy, lust, sensuality, lies, and all known vices are the negative, “dark ” aspect of the unconscious, which can manifest itself in two ways. In the positive sense, it appears as a “spirit of nature,” creatively animating man, things, and the world. It is the “chthonic spirit” that has been mentioned so often in this chapter. In the negative sense, the unconscious (that same spirit) manifests itself as a spirit of evil, as a drive to destroy.
As has already been pointed out, the alchemists personified this spirit as “the spirit Mercurius ” and called it, with good reason, Mercurius duplex (the two-faced, dual Mercurius). In the religious language of Christianity, it is called the devil. But, however improbable it may seem, the devil too has a dual aspect. In the positive sense, he appears as Lucifer—literally, the light-bringer.
What is the chthonic spirit? Jung wrote about it as the dark side of the God image, for which sexuality apparently is its most important expression (for which the connection to Mercurius makes sense given that Hermes was often worshipped as a phallus), and he often pointed to this chthonic spirit as a source of both danger and innovation – danger because of the negative aspects of the unconscious, and because of the danger of the submergence of that chthonic spirit, but also innovation because it is within the same realm that human creativity and spiritual revelation are found, not least through the archetypal journey to the underworld. Donald Kalsched, writing in The Inner World of Trauma: Archetypal Defences of the Personal Spirit, remarks that Jung, despite his commentary on the development of Yahweh into a positive archetypal through the transition from Old Testament tyrant to New Testament shepherd as mediated through Job, always complained about Christianity handing Man’s chthonic spirit over to the Devil, to the realm of evil and the ego, rendering itself incomplete by casting out the chthonic element of the psyche, which for Kalsched lies at the root of his preference for alchemy to the point that he supposedly preferred Mercurius (or Mercurius Duplex) as the mediator of the Godhead instead of Jesus on the grounds that, unlike the Jesus we know today, Mercurius represented the complete union of opposites made possible by his chthonic nature. Exactly where Kalsched gets this assessment is not clear, and even a cursory analysis of Jungian psychology does not suggest it to be anti-Christian in content, not to mention we have reason to believe he despised what he called the “anti-Christian” culture of modernity. Nevertheless, like as Marx would do for Hegel, we can take key insights from Jung’s framework and use them to build a framework outside of Christianity, just that we cannot in the process of this assume things of Jung that are not true for Jung.
In any case, is there a mythic link between Mercurius and Lucifer that can be extrapolated? In the official canon of ancient Greece and Rome, most likely not, unless you make a loose link involving Nominos (the evening star) and Azizos (the morning star) who were identified with Hermes and Ares respectively and were worshipped, in their evening/morning star capacity, as heralds of the sun god Helios. Despite this there is some identification within the tradition of Luciferianism. Ben Kadosh, the eccentric father of Luciferianism, identified Lucifer with Hermes in Lucifer-Hiram through the Snake Principle, the principle of the serpent symbol, which he said belonged to Hermes-Mercurius, and described Hermes as one of the four shapes of the Lucifer (the other three shapes being the Moon or “a Moonintelligence”, Venus, and Jupiter). At first this seems outlandish, and it does indeed speak to the general loose connections that tend to be conjured up within occultism, but there was also a curious note in Asian and Jungian Views on Ethics which, although tangential to the Lumen Naturae, does touch on the relationship between Lucifer and the other gods of Greek paganism:
In Christian myth, Lucifer (literally “light-bearer”) became a rebel archangel whose fall from heaven was referred to in Isaiah 14, 42: “How thou art fallen, oh day-star, son of the morning.” This Old Testament passage, part of a polemic against the King of Babylon, was interpreted to mean that the chief of the angels who “kept not their estate” was named Lucifer before he fell, and thereafter Satan, the Adversary. This Lucifer was identified with Phosphoros and the Phosphoroi, pagan terms which referred both to the “morning and evening star” and to a particular shining or revealing quality associated with the gods prior to the Olympian cults. Thus, Hestia’s hearthfire, Hermes’ wayfinding, Artemis’ knowledge of the wilds, Hekate’s dark wisdom, Selene’s shining, Persephone’s underworld knowing, Pan’s spontaneity, and Aphrodite’s beauty were all a quality of “Phosphoros”. It was this identification that allowed Christian apologists to maintain with Augustine, that “Omnes dii genitum daemona/all the gods of the pagans are demons” and that these demons are the devil. Thus, they turned Lucifer into Sata, the adversary of Jahweh, the Old Testament God. Another often-used passage was Genesis 6 in which the “sons of God” who were set over men “fell” by copulating with “the daughters of men,” thus producing a race of demons. Those two were identified with the pagan Gods. All of those demons were seen to occupy themselves particularly with the divination and magic which was their “light”.
The identification of Phosphoros with countless gods from the ancient Greek world is sourced to Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher’s Lexikon der Grieschischen und Romischen Mythologie (or “Lexicon of Greek and Roman Mythology”). Sadly, however, I am unable to find a translation of it into English, so I couldn’t tell you what the German copy I did manage to find on the internet could tell you. If there’s anyone among my readership who can read and translate German, please get in touch so I can get a good look at what Roscher had to say about Phosphoros, particularly in relation to Hermes since there are no extant sources to Hermes (let alone Pan, Aphrodite, or Hestia) being given the Phosphoros epithet. One interesting lead it might present, however, is a either way of conceptualizing the Light of Nature which contains the abstract forms associated with the various gods (that is to say abstract ideas that correspond with hearthfire, wayfinding, knowledge of the wilds, dark wisdom, shining, underworld knowing, spontaneity and beauty), or just a separate conception of said abstract qualities that perhaps ties back to the Light of Nature. Either way, one can make parallels to the way Christianity sometimes took aspects of pagan mythos and, when they were not making demons of it, elevated aspects of it to the realm of abstract concepts relating to the divinity of God or the content of Christian salvation (for example, Christianity uses the Greek terms zoe and aion, which are associated with two gods from Greek myth, Dionysus and Aion respectively, to refer to their idea of eternal life in Heaven), which can be taken as way to compete with the heritage of Christianity, or just drawing lessons from it at a time where Christianity is still dominant in the Western world.
But, in totality, what have we established in regards to the Light of Nature? Admittedly, we seem to get a very broad and open-ended concept – the Light of Nature encompasses the skeptical intellect in alignment with Nature over dogma, the spark of the unconscious, the “fire of the underworld” which perhaps could be taken as the illumination of the unconscious, and even Jung’s prevailing conception of the “chthonic spirit” that underpins the unity of opposites. Jung’s analysis of Paracelsus’ intention is that the Light of Nature and the Light of God (the Lumen Dei) are to be taken as complimentary opposites, two separate means of attaining knowledge, sometimes even seen as co-existent in ideal circumstances. But, if we deal in a cosmos that is uncreated, whose order is thus self-emergent or self-arising (or Ziran), and whose basis is essentially fully materialistic in that the prima materia of the universe is matter-energy, where is the Father, where is the creator, and at that point if God is put in doubt where is the Lumen Dei? The Light of Nature is thus the Light that remains, and indeed always has been with us, whatever our illusions about ourselves would tell us otherwise, and it has been the spark by which we engage independently with and against the world around us, in alignment with Nature within and without, the source of existential authenticity once it becomes awakened. It is thus a latent relational construct that encompasses many psychorreal attributes, philosophical concepts and archetypal constructs, all of which fall back into the same theme in the end.
That is the Light in absence of any God that, I think, becomes the source of a much clearer concept of philosophical grounding than many other concepts that I have played with in the past. Indeed, it creates an anchor of spiritual engagement rooted in the premise that it is Nature and Man’s relationship to it that is the central locus of meaning rather than striving under a God in Heaven (whether it be Yahweh, Allah, Vishnu or any other), while building a meaningful, if anything, religious (if you choose such a word) base that does not require those Gods, because the Light of Nature operates on a basis that rejects their authority.
Some time ago I discovered the work of a philosopher named Erich Fromm, a German Marxist democratic socialist who dealt in humanistic philosophy and psychoanalysis, and the more I read him the more I think of him as being of profound value to the Luciferian outlook insofar as his analysis of mythology and the development of religion, though it can be said to emerge from an Abrahamist background, contains quite a few elements that can be useful to the formation of a Luciferian framework that can be situated in adjacence to Marxist aims but also more generally as something that stands out on its own, whereas in the present it is defined too much in relation to paganism, Satanism and/or Gnosticism, all three of which I find don’t ultimately express Luciferianism authentically and instead most of them define Luciferianism as just another name for their own product, no matter how fraudulent their claim to is (the case of “Gnostic Luciferianism” in particular shall be the subject of another post). I expect some Luciferians will find this proposal to be pretty strange, but I implore them to at least hear me out.
For starters, we can find The Sane Society an interpretation of the Garden of Eden for which a Luciferian reading is easily formulated. Taken from pages 23-24:
Man, who lives in the Garden of Eden, in complete harmony with nature but without awareness of himself, begins his history by the first act of freedom, disobedience to a command. Concomitantly, he becomes aware of himself, of his separateness, of his helplessness; he is expelled from Paradise, and two angels with fiery swords prevent his return.
Man, in Fromm’s conception, is ostensibly a part of nature and yet has transcended it in some way through the emergence of self-awareness, reason and imagination, which fundamentally alters the baseline animal existence that every other animal operates within and thus, in his conception, disrupts the harmony between Man and nature. This level of development, for humans, presents a contradiction that lies at the heart of human dynamism that, in its quest for dialectical resolution, sets humanity apart from the whole of creation. Reason is both a gift and a curse in that it compels Man to realize and cope with the disharmony that rests within himself, and the task of resolving what appears to be the insoluble contradiction of his existence. As Fromm puts it, Man cannot restore harmony with nature, and he must develop his faculties of reason until he becomes the master of nature as well as himself.
Now, the serpent of the Garden of Eden itself is not Lucifer, otherwise the Ophite Gnostic may as well have been Luciferians even though they were still just Gnostic Christians who happened to like the serpent as an archetype, though it does make sense to think of the serpent in Eden as a Luciferian archetype in much the same way that Prometheus could be seen as such (in a way that Fromm goes on to point out later). The serpent gives first humans knowledge of good and evil, despite the warnings of God that they shall “surely die”. The result of this is that the first humans gain self-awareness and are cast out of the Garden of Eden and into the wilderness, where they have lost harmony with God. But it is only because of this explusion, this divorce from Eden, that the beginnings of the ascent of Man take place, that the self-making of his destiny begins, and that means breaking away from the will of God. If God, for Fromm, is to be taken as an analogue for nature, then it presents an interesting way of framing certain other philosophies whose emphasis lies in a return to harmony. I remember once coming across a documentary on the Qabbalah many years ago, wherein a man was interviewed about it and he describes the goal Qabbalistic mysticism as essentially to “return to the Garden of Eden”, and indeed modern Jewish spirituality also seems to predicate itself on the idea of this return to the garden. The return to the Garden of Eden is a return to the original, unperfected state of nature, a return to a kind of primordial harmony that has ostensibly been lost through the attainment of human self-awareness and reason. Such an ideas have their echoes much outside Judaism and indeed Abrahamism more broadly, and can be found in the modern neopaganism with its emphasis on a return to a nature embodied by the multitude of gods and spirits, as well as forms of Eastern spirituality such as Shakti worship (in which such nature takes the form of a Great Goddess), Mahayana Buddhism (with certain schools that emphasize buddha-nature as a pure state to be returned to) and, I hate to say it, Taoism (with its return to the state of the uncarved block). Man, by his nature, deviates from the original template of the divine that he may become consciousness and attain divine destiny himself, in a similar way that the son eventually leaves his mother and father in order to become independent. The Morning Star, therefore, is the archetypal force of Man who walks away from the commands of God the Father (whose archetypal form is found in the mainstream Abrahamic religions as well as ancient pre-Christian religions) and the embrace of the Great Mother (whose archetypal form is found in goddess worship religions and also various forms of mysticism and Eastern spirituality). In any case, we do not unite with God, but place God in our hands and, from there, become the masters and stewards of nature rather than its servants.
Incidentally, the theme of mastery of nature isn’t so out of step with certain other descriptions of Lucifer, such as the Lucifer of Manly P. Hall:
Lucifer represents the individual intellect and will which rebels against the domination of Nature and attempts to maintain itself contrary to natural impulse. Lucifer, in the form of Venus, is the morning star spoken of in Revelation, which is to be given to those who overcome the world.
I’d like to note the reference made to the Book of Revelation because this is a reference to a verse in Revelation in which Jesus actually does call himself the morning star. In Revelation 22:16, Jesus says to John “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the bright Morning Star.”. This is not the only positive reference to the morning star in the New Testament of the Bible. 2 Peter 1:19 goes as follows:
We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
Returning to Erich Fromm, we also find in The Dogma of Christ a lengthy elaboration on his conception of the revolutionary character which also holds potential for Luciferian readings and forumlation, drawing not only from the Hebraic myth of the Garden of Eden but also the Greek myth of Prometheus:
The revolutionary character is capable of saying “No”. Or, to put it differently, the revolutionary character is a person capable of disobedience. He is someone for whom disobedience can be a virtue. To explain this, I might begin with a statement that is rather sweeping: Human history began with an act of disobedience that might end with an act of obedience. What do I mean by this? In saying that human history began with an act of disobedience, I refer to Hebrew and Greek mythology. In the story of Adam and Eve, there is a command by God not to eat of the fruit, and man – or rather, to be quite fair, woman – is able to say “No”. She is capable of disobeying and even of persuading man to share in her disobedience. What is the result? In the myth, man is driven out of Paradise – that is to say, man is driven out of pre-individualistic, pre-conscious, pre-historical and, if you wish, pre-human situation, a situation which could be compared to the foetus in the mother’s womb. And he is driven from Paradise, and forced onto the road of history.
In the language of the myth he is not permitted to return. He is, in fact, unable to return. Because once his awareness of himself has been awakened, once he is aware of himself as being separate from man, from nature, man cannot return again to the primordial harmony which existed before his awareness ever began. With this first act of disobedience, man’s history begins, and this first act of disobedience is the first act of freedom.
The Greeks used a different symbol, the symbol of Prometheus. It is Prometheus who steals the fire from the gods and commits a crime, who commits an act of disobedience, and with the act of bringing fire to man, human history – or human civilization- begins.
Within the same work, Fromm goes on:
Both the Hebrews and the Greeks taught that human endeavor and human history began with an act of disobedience.
And why do I say that human history may end with an act of obedience? Here I am unfortunately not speaking mythologically, but very realistically. If an atomic war should destroy, in two or three years’ time, half the human population, and lead to a period of complete barbarization – or if this should happen ten years from now and possibly destroy all life on this earth – this will be due to an act of obedience. That is, the obedience of the men who push the button to the men who give the orders, and the obedience to ideas which make it possible to think in such madness.
Disobedience is a dialectical concept, because, actually, every act of disobedience is an act of obedience, and every act of obedience is an act of disobedience. What do I mean by this? Every act of disobedience, unless it is empty rebelliousness, is obedience to another principle. I am disobedient to the idol because I am obedient to God. I am disobedient to Ceasar because I am obedient to God, or, if you speak in nontheological language, because I am obedient to principles and values, to my conscience. I may be disobedient to the state because I am obedient to the laws of humanity. And, if I am obedient, then I am indeed disobedient to something else. The question is not really one of disobedience or obedience, but one of disobedience or obedience to what and to whom.
To sum up: By “revolutionary character” I refer not to a behavioural concept, but to a dynamic concept. One is not a “revolutionary” in this characterological sense because he utters revolutionary phrases, nor because he participates in revolution. The revolutionary, in this sense, is the man who has emancipated himself from the ties of blood and soil, from his mother and father, from special loyalties to state, class, race, party, or religion. The revolutionary character is a humanist in the sense that he experiences himself in all of humanity, and that nothing human is alien to him. He loves and respects life. He is a skeptic and a man of faith.
He is a skeptic because he suspects ideologies as covering up undesirable realities. He is a man of faith because he believes in that which potentially exists, although it has not yet been born. He can say “No” and be disobedient precisely because he can say “Yes” and obey those principles which are geniunely his own. He is not half-asleep, but fully awake to the personal and social realities around him. He is independent; what he is he owes to his own effort; he is free and not a servant anymore.
This summary may suggest that what I have been describing is mental health and well-being, rather than the concept of a revolutionary character. Indeed, the description given is that of the sane, alive, mentally healthy person. My assertion is that the sane person in an insane world, the fully developed human being in a crippled world, the fully awake in a half-asleep world – is precisely the revolutionary character. Once all are awake, there need no longer be any prophets or revolutionary characters – there will only be fully developed human beings.
How do we read all of that in a Luciferian manner? If we talk the serpent of Eden and Prometheus as archetypally Luciferian in the sense that, although they are not Lucifer, they inspire self-awareness in Man and lend to disobedience against a divine authority that seeks to obfuscate that self-awareness for the sake of his own power (whether that be Jehovah or Zeus), the revolutionary character has a fundamentally Luciferian impetus in the sense that disobedience in the name of enlightenment is a virtue for him. The Garden of Eden is the mother’s womb, Yahweh and his commands are the father, the serpent takes the role of the enlightening morning star in that he leads Man away from the father and the mother and into independence, and away from primitive, baseline animalism and into humanity. Thus the Luciferian impulse in mythological terms is responsible for the awakening of the human species and the evolutionary refinement of our animal being that enables us to cultivate civilization, and the beginnings of the path to freedom through our freedom from the brute savagery that characterizes the pure state of nature. This enlightenment renders the re-unification of man with God, or primordial Nature, impossible, thus rendering the efforts of many forms of mysticism pointless and delusional and in some sense representing a rejection of the freedom that was evolutionarily won and attained.
With the myth of Prometheus, we see this in the stealing of the fire of Zeus which brings light to humankind and the innovation that precedes the birth of civilization itself. Out of love for mankind, whom he created, he desires that mankind not remain baseline apes and instead develop self-awareness, reason and the power to cultivate civlization, even if it means coming into conflict with the gods themselves. Zeus in Greek myth is in this sense no different from the God of the Old Testament other than he’s much more horny and less brutal. He in the end prefers a mankind that is just an unconscious or half-conscious ape whose highest act of sentience consists merely in worshipping him, and to that end he hides the fire of his self-awareness and civilization from him so that he may not advance beyond the ape state. Or, put another way, so that he cannot escape dependence on the father, Zeus being the “Allfather” of the Greek pantheon (despite never being the creator in any sense).
The Luciferian is disobedient in the dialectical fashion precisely because his disobedience is not rebellion without or against purpose but instead the highest mode of obedience towards the principles of liberty, human flourishing and human power. Disobedience to the Divine Father and the Divine Mother signifies obedience to Mankind and to human civilization. Disobedience to organized/traditional religion, as well as hegemonic ideology, signifies, in most cases at least, obedience to reason and the free-thinking intellect. The refusal to submit to capitalism siginifies not merely obedience to socialism, but in so doing obedience to the value of human life. Disobedence, therefore, is obedience to a greater principle that the thing being disobeyed, and that is a Luciferian principle.
We also see an interesting synthesis of skepticism and faith in Fromm’s revolutionary character: skeptical, because he questions hegemonic our bourgeoining ideologies on the grounds that they sometimes obfuscate problematic realities, but faithful, because he believes, faithfully, in principles larger than both himself and indeed the law of the land, and in human potentially whether manifest or unmanifest. For a Luciferian, this can be the same faith that Prometheus had in his creation, that the serpent of Eden had in Adam and Eve, indeed that Lucifer himself as Eliphas Levi’s angel of science, reason and freedom has in mankind. Incidentally, if we take seriously the belief in that which potentially exists, although it has not yet been born, we can also oppose abortion on precisely the grounds that we are destroying that which has not yet been born.
Finally, we can draw from, some sections of The Art of Loving in which we Fromm declares God to be the object of human identification, and that the dialectical sublation of monotheism leads inexorably to human divinity:
Following the maturing idea of monotheism in its further consequences can lead only to one conclusion: not to mention God’s name at all, not to speak about God. Then God becomes what he potentially is in monotheistic theology, the nameless One, an inexpressible stammer, referring to the unity underlying the phenomenal universe, the ground of all existence; God becomes truth, love, justice. God is I, inasmuch as I am human.
This is the stage that Fromm hypothesized to be the logical endpoint of monotheistic theology, the transition of God from a being to an idea, to code, to a byword for the totality of all things, and, quite tellingly, he identifies this as a stage of development that the majority of humans have not yet developed. They have not yet overcome the stage in which they feel they need a heavenly father to save, reward and punish them. Indeed, we should take note of the fact that Christianity, despite having a theological tradition that does contain something of what Fromm spoke about, at least in the realms of high philosophy, has not lead mankind out of bondage to the Divine Father in the thousand or so years it has held power over the Western world. God has not yet been reduced to a nameless substance, an inexpressible stammer, the abstract symbol of the cosmos and its ground. I have long wondered why that is, and why it seems that Christians seem to want God to remain a father figure, and from there a supernatural commanding being that exerts his will upon the natural universe, and I’m not totally sure as to the impetus for it, but I am inclined to think that the reason for it is because they may sense that, in a certain sense, to bring God to such a level is to abolish the concept of God, to “kill” God as it were. Now, this isn’t really true from a pantheistic perspective, and it is definitely possible to interpret Fromm in a pantheistic light, but just as we have moved away from the idols by taking the divine away from the multiplicity of gods and spirits, as we have rejected polytheism, by moving the divine away from the One God, from the Father of being, we reject monotheism, and we. In that dialectical sense, monotheism does in a weird way create the stepping stones for the abolition of the One God. As Crowley would say, there is no God but Man, and, as Fromm would say, Man is God inasmuch as he is human. By placing God into the image and breast of Man, we have made Man divine as the highest fruit of evolutionary pressure and striving, and that is a goal of Luciferianism.
Speaking of striving, in the same book Fromm also paints a picture of God as precisely a model of human evolutionary striving, rather than a divine being:
The truly religious person, if he follows the essence of the monotheistic idea, does not pray for anything, does not expect anything from God; he does not love God as a child loves his father or his mother; he has acquired the humility of sensing his limitations to the degree of knowing that he knows nothing about God. God to him becomes a symbol in which man, at an earlier stage of his evolution, has expressed the totality of that which man is striving for, the realm of the spiritual world, of love, truth, and justice. He has faith in the principles which ‘God’ represents, he thinks truth, he lives love and justice, and considers all of his life only valuable inasmuch as it gives him the chance to arrive at an ever fuller unfolding of his human powers – as the only reality that matters, as the only object of ‘ultimate concern’; and eventually, he does not speak about God – nor even mention his name.
Think back to what Fromm said in The Dogma of Christ: “Once all are awake, there need no longer be any prophets or revolutionary characters – there will only be fully developed human beings.”. Once we all cultivate self-governance, we let go of kings and masters. Once we all cultivate “God” as the object of personal and evolutionary striving, cultivate God-potential as it were, there is no longer any need for God. Thus through the cultivation of human self-consciousness and power we shall abolish the prophets, the kings and eventually God himself, until there really is no God but Man. This is the goal of the Luciferian revolutionary character. For the Luciferian, the only true monotheism is indeed Crowley’s maxim that there is no God but Man, and, indeed, Fromm’s maxim, “God is I, inasmuch as I am human”.
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