And now, Part 4 of the big project I have about Satanism, this one concerning my own recent sense of tension about Satanism in recent months. This will not be too much like the last four posts as it’s more of a personal piece rather than an attempt on my part to unpack a subject intellectually. I will be elaborating on my tensions, dilemmas, issues and questions, or just general thoughts on the subject, through various subjects and dichotomies, so that I can get it out to my Satanic or Luciferian buddies for further discussion.
Egoism vs egotism vs altruism
If I’m being entirely honest, this has been influenced by high-profile events of last year, the reaction surrounding them, and how I feel they reflect on society as it is now. I remember when the Pulse nightclub massacre took place in Orlando, Flordia, wherein 50 people were murdered at said nightclub by a self-loathing Muslim who hated gay people and hated himself because he was gay. In the aftermath, I saw an interview with Guardian columnist Owen Jones which ended with him leaving the set and pouting like a child because they kept talking about any subject other than the fact that the victims happened to be gay and he “as a gay man” wanted to talk about it so badly. Basically, he took a 50 people getting murdered and made it all about himself and the fact that he himself is gay. That to me was inexcusable. Not only did he seem intent on obfuscating the true impetus behind the massacre, but he did it out of an identitarian sense of narcissism. For some reason I never got round to talking about that particular issue until today, but haven’t forgotten about it.
For all my egoism, at least within the context of my spiritual philosophy, I have grown tired of some individuals who care for nothing but themselves. Especially in the political sphere of things. There’s too many people who care only about themselves with regards to their vision of the country or the world, and they don’t care what anyone thinks because if they disagree with them they can ignore their concerns and impose their will on them anyway, even if they don’t like it and even if it’s only the people doing the imposing who believe it to be a good thing. Likewise, I have recently expressed sorrow over doing some things in my life solely for my own advancement, that is for the benefit of advancing to high position in a career and perhaps receiving a high enough salary from it.
And then there is something to be said of the issue of principle. Even though, as a Satanist, I might be expected to put any sense of principle to the side in favor of self-interest, and I have talked to other Satanists on this subject before over the years, but I find I am more likely to consider an outcome based on the success of a principle. For instance, I would rather be poor and free than live in a rich country in which we have no real liberty. I am sure that to some other Satanists, this is questionable. In a rich country I at least have the chance to pursue a better quality of life if I keep my mouth shut, so to speak, but in a poor country I might have less options and less money. But I would rather that if it meant I would live in a free country because I would prefer that the principle of liberty is alive. And not just for myself either: I don’t live in a free society unless the people in general share that liberty. Otherwise, there is only one person who has (or the few who have) license or permission to do what he/she wants (or they want), but there is not liberty for the all people. Is that truly freedom? Michael W. Ford, for instance, says that every deed is selfish, but I find myself questioning that at times. If I tend to put principle over other matters in certain instances, to what extent can that truly be called purely selfish? Or what about love? Emotional love I mean not simply sexual attraction. How much of love can truly be labelled a purely selfish thing?
Morality is a funny thing. I’ve always had it at the back of my mind at least, never totally gone without concern for it. In fact, I will probably write a post eventually on the subject of a conception of personal morality that I deliberate on and will plan to apply to myself consistently for the foreseeable future. But in general, the idea of any sense of moral understanding is never something I have had no interest in. In my day I have been shown examples of behavior that, by my own standards, I can’t describe as anything other than ethically or morally wrong. But then, the notion of objective morality is tricky. I don’t think I can argue that my moral principles are the absolute. For me I have had a question on my mind? What if we understood morals and ethics as something that we can base on the world around us, but that changes with our understanding of that world, and therefore it is possible consider perceiving morality similar to understanding the laws of nature, our understanding of which changes over time as we gain knowledge of the universe? Does it still make for subjective morality, or does it make for the possibility of at least barely objective morality? What I assume, though, is that it is clearly not valueless solely because it isn’t a physical thing. At which point, in any case, the real question then is the value of morality.
That said, I hate the label moralist often because it is always attached to people who wish to turn their moral compass into a code of law for all men and women to follow regardless of their own personal compass. Not to mention, the attachment to such stifling moral principles as the kind of religious values of Christianity, or at least the kind of Christianity provided conservatively religious Christians. If all moralist meant was someone who placed value on moral or ethical principles, who knows maybe I would be called that. But it’s got more baggage than that. I hate the progressive view of morality too. They think it’s either utterly malleable to the whims of some grand, immaculate, millenarian conception of social progress – that is, something is morally correct because “IT’S THE CURRENT YEAR GUYS!!” – or it’s based on almost the same religiosity and sensitivity as the kind provided by the Mary Whitehouses of both yore and modernity.
Self-preservation vs self-transformation
This is a fairly recent question, but it touches upon a key difference between Satanism and Luciferianism. Satanism is the philosophy that places emphasis on self-preservation, while Luciferianism talks about self-transformation. I have thought about it at some point, and I don’t think I have fully answered it, but there is still the question: what is ultimately more important to me? As much I have often felt that there is probably something core and essential to my personal being, and as insistent as I often tended to be only a few years ago, how much of me is really the same throughout the entirety of my life? Perhaps I haven’t discarded what is essential to me, at least as I see it, but there can be no denying that I have evolved throughout my life. I value self-preservation in the sense of preserving the characteristics that I consider integral to my personal sense of identity, but at the same time, is it not true that the self is a thing that grows and grows, constantly, ideally towards a better form? At which point, isn’t the better ideal to pursue the growth, evolution and transformation of the self into the best form that it could possibly attain?
Another main difference between Satanism and Luciferianism is that Luciferianism advocates the pursuit of a higher self. Michael W. Ford’s literature on the subject speaks of the Daemon, which is equated with the concept of the higher self. I’ve often associated the term ego with self because of the fact that the word ego literally means self. But is that all to the self though? Perhaps Lilith Aquino of the Temple of Set I think illustrates this point adequately in The Pagan Library (if that is really Lilith Aquino):
Glorification of the ego is not enough; it is the COMPLETE psyche, the entire Self or soul, which must be recognized, appreciated, and actualized.
God, and the gods
Although I am an apathetic agnostic and I don’t have much investment in the God vs No God debate, I do sometimes think about the concept of God, or the possible lack of one, from time to time. I still have yet to answer the question of deities vs deific masks and need to read more. That said, I think deific masks may be the likely view I take on rather than literal theism due to my issues with the idea of literal theism. In the end, I would value myself and my fellow Man above the rule of a literal God. Most literal deities probably want your worship more than anything else anyway. And with God, like I said some time before, I don’t care if God is real because I will probably not worship a literal God.
Although the Left Hand Path tends to be all about self-deification, I’m often at a point where I don’t like to take godhood too literally. I think I’ve often said that when LHP traditions say you ought be your own God it simply means you ought to be the master of your own life. Is a way of interpreting this, then, not self-mastery, spiritual autonomy? I suppose demi-godhood is simply the metaphor.
Hedonism vs eudaimonism
Hedonism is the doctrine that the primary value in life regarding happiness is the pursuit of pleasure, and the goal of life to maximize pleasure and the avoidance of pain. This can involve emphasis on the avoidance of negative or unpleasant experiences. Eudaimonism, by contrast, views the cultivation of happiness as dependent on self-realization and the practicing and cultivation of virtue. This can involve the development of personal strengths or emphasizing meaning and purpose as valuable to life. Both of them put the happiness and well-being of the individual at the core of their set of priorities, but differ in their conception of what happiness means for the individual.
The reason I mention this is because I have been doing some thinking on them. I feel I have seen a problem with at least certain aspects of hedonism regarding today’s social justice types. If hedonism at its root is the maximization of pleasure and the avoidance of pain and negative experiences, then what else do we call this attitude wherein the primary desire of life is to live in a world where they need not hear of anything bad? Where no inkling of negativity may penetrate the minds of today’s youth? Where the desire not to be divested of a comfortable life outweighs all other values? At the very least it could certainly be described as hedonism gone mad. I worry that such an attitude my result in my generation remaining as a generation of lotophagi – those who eat of the lotus of blissful ignorance, rather than the apple of the knowledge of good and evil that would otherwise spawn true freedom and virtue. Not only that, but I have been thinking that it is the desire for self-development and meaning that, for me, outweighs temporal pleasure, just that I think the enjoyment of temporal pleasure can be a positive thing. Perhaps that’s the issue of balance, that can answered by eudaimonism and epicurianism. Still, part of me thinks that a sense of value creates happiness in people that pleasure in the hedonistic sense can’t provide.
An eye for an eye, lex talionis, if a man hits you on the cheek smash him on the other. For a while, this has been a troubling thing for me. It’s based on the idea of “do unto others as they have done onto you”. But I have been running into a constant theme when discussing arguments: is it right to do something to others that you think they have done to yourself or others, when you are opposed to the very idea of that thing being done to you as a principle. Like doxing. The argument against doxing is based on the premise that individuals should have the right to privacy, and not have to worry about being harassed or threatened by people who gain their information. If you are doxed or someone you care about doxed, isn’t it then wrong to dox them? If you think it’s wrong to bully people as a general rule, is it right to bully someone who bullied you? If you got raped, and you are obviously against rape, what then?
Those are all the dilemmas I have for now that are pressing and relevant at the moment. Hope I can get some comments from my LHP buddies. Peace out.