My own purposes

I have been encouraged by fellow Satanists to piece together beliefs, magical constructs, deities, ideas, and philosophies (or bits of them) together for my own purposes. In my life this has been difficult to grasp despite how simple it should be.

I have thought about it and felt like, in the past, I was probably a little less open. I kept trying to make sure everything was tightly consistent, so that all the ideas were only one set of ideas or two sets of ideas. Either Asian religions, Satanic ideas, or Western Paganism, all a part of my struggle to reconcile Satanic philosophy and Left Hand Path occultism and the ideas of Asian religions. But since then, new knowledge has changed some of my perceptions of some entities and philosophies, I have even gained insight into ideas and entities that fall outside. There are areas in which I consider myself to have gained a more refined understanding than the past. And if I can bring together various ideas and aesthetics into my practice, spirituality, and spiritual world and spiritual kingdom, as long as it all glues together it might be fine and need not endanger my philosophical paradigm.

If I think about it, this principle is what Shin Megami Tensei is all about. You summon gods and demons to fight alongside you from all manner of different cultures, and you end up interacting with their cultures and mythologies in someway depending on how you relate to the demon. You even deal with ideals and philosophies through the gods and demons. And it’s very open and multicultural about it.

What are my purposes exactly? I guess that would be spiritual experience itself. The experience of things beyond the mundane. The experience of power. To bring things into my own world or spiritual kingdom (like new spiritual experiences). Spiritual affirmation. That’s the most solid idea I have of my purposes. I guess that I can put everything I like to good use, and glue it together. But I’ll need to know more about ritual and altars, and the ways in which they can work.

The face of Satan in heavy metal

If anything is traditionally ubiquitous in heavy metal, and not just extreme forms of metal, it’s any kind of association with the devil. Since a lot of heavy metal bands mention Satan in some way, it’s been assumed they are of the devil’s camp, even though it’s often done to be cool. Because of this, Satan has become a kind of cultural symbol for the world of heavy metal. A lot of people don’t seem to realize the diversity regarding how Satan is dealt with in heavy metal music.

There’s bands that sometimes sing about Satan but they’re just rocking out and trying to write cool songs. Examples I can think of include Exodus, Demon, Nuclear Assault (on their first album at least), Witchfinder General, and, in recent times, Enforcer.

There’s bands that do not frequently sing about Satan at all, but are still associated with Satan because of either the odd use of the Satanic pentagram or because conservative types don’t know any better. Examples I can think of include Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, and WASP. This also happens to hard rock acts outside of metal, such as KISS, Alice Cooper, and Ugly Kid Joe. There’s also plenty of metal bands that use devil imagery but are not really attached to Satan at all, and there’s too many of them to count. There’s even a band called Satan that doesn’t have a whole lot to do with Satan.

Then there’s bands where Satan is the whole point of their music, but not necessarily Satanism. Here Satan in the traditional or just rock and roll context is celebrated and central subject matter, often alongside other traditionally dark or evil forces. Examples I can think of include Venom, Mercyful Fate, Destruction (early on), Sodom (also early on), Bulldozer, Possessed, Onslaught, Infernal Majesty, Midnight, Speedwolf, and Ghost (aka Ghost BC), along with many black metal bands both old and new. I’d also like to mention that Running Wild used to sing a lot about Satan and demons until 1987, when they released Under Jolly Roger, when they started concentrating on writing songs about pirates and history, and in those days Satan was often written about as a heroic figure who brings freedom and peace to the good and destroys the worst of people. Also, with full-on black metal bands, not all of them are all about Satanism, and not all black metal musicians are actual Satanists or promote real Satanism. There are black metal musicians who are actually Satanists, and even then not all of them promote philosophies that can actually be called Satanism.

There’s also bands that, when they do sing about Satan, they sing about Satan from a negative point of view, as in they sing about how he’s supposed to be the bad guy from the Christian point of view or how he’s supposed to be defeated in those beliefs. Aside from so-called Christian metal bands (such as Stryper), there’s Megadeth, Hirax, Cage, Trouble, Pentagram (ironically enough), and Black Sabbath. Black Sabbath, the band that would come to be known for laying the foundations for heavy metal, never intended to use pentagrams or upside down crosses, nor did they intend to glorify Satan. They had an interest in the dark side, and an interest in creating dark and heavy music, but it was also a kind of fear of the dark side, and their style of music was intended to reflect the reality of the environment in which they lived in during their youth (at least until Ozzy Osbourne left the band), in contrast to the flower power being expressed in America.

Finally there’s the that come close to actual Satanism in terms of lyrics, in terms of actual veneration of Satan and sometimes actual philosophical Satanism, often mixed in with defiant anti-Christian sentiment. Examples include Behemoth, Morbid Angel, The Electric Hellfire Club (although they used to be just an industrial band), Root, Deicide, and Acheron. King Diamond of Mercyful Fate is also a genuine Satanist, but the songs he writes for both his solo band and Mercyful Fate are more like stories of devil worship and horror, though I suspect some proper occult context is vaguely applied in some songs. Also worth mentioning outside of heavy metal are bands called Coven and Black Widow. They are not heavy metal (Coven was psychedelic rock band, and Black Widow as a folk/progressive rock band), but they gained fame before Black Sabbath and before any heavy metal band for associating with overtly Satanic imagery or writing songs with a Satanic or occult themes (though Black Widow soon abandoned that direction), and their lyrics back then could make some later metal bands lyrics look pale or insincere by comparison.

And that’s basically it. All in all I really think the whole idea with Satan and rock and roll of any kind is to just have fun with it. A lot of times it’s ultimately shallow and you can only really take it at face-value, and some times you find genuine Satanism, but I think all you can do in the case of music is just have fun. If lyrics about Satan are fun for you, great. If not, you can always look at other songs. But if you care so much about real Satanism being proliferated in rock and metal music, then I’ll say what Alice Cooper once said: if you want real Satanism, don’t look in rock and roll.

About the Baphomet

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

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

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

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

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

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

An ambition I might see through some day

Yesterday afternoon I have thought of something that I might like to do at some point in my life, something that involves my beliefs, the occult, and the Left Hand Path.

You see, I live in a part of the world where I know I’m an outcast, and where there isn’t a sizeable voice for things of occult nature that I am interested in. Usually the only thing non-Christian things I see are those stores that sell nothing more than household witchcraft, nothing truly occult. I am the only Satanist I know in the region of the UK in which I live (well except perhaps for one person who went to school with someone I know in university), and I have never met anyone seriously keen on talking about the occult and sharing knowledge and ideas outside of the Internet. Left Hand Path is outside the knowledge of many people of where I live, and if they ever hear of Satanism, the occult, or of paganism, it is through their Christian-influenced media which has no idea what it is talking about.

That’s why I have an idea. One day, I want to start an organization dedicated to not just expressing the Left Hand Path, but providing an platform for those interested in anything relating to the occult to exchange knowledge and wisdom, particularly regarding ritual, mythology and the mysteries of the gods (if you believe in any deities), the spiritual/physical reality of the universe, and other subjects that might enter into it. It could be even be a pseudo-temple, acting as a place of religious activity when in fact its participants need not be particularly religious at all. All that would matter to me is that it would be an organization dedicated to being a voice for the occult outside the internet (because let’s face it, anyone can probably talk about the occult on the internet, but how many active voices are there in the real world?).

As a by and large Left Hand Path organization, it would also be an organization that provides a voice for an alternative to herd mentality, along with what I see as the two main ideals that otherwise characterize human society, which are as follows:

  1. Mainstream religion and self-abnegation: I don’t need to mention the names of those religions, and the religions of Abraham are not the only ones I mean. Mainstream religions teach love and forgiveness for everyone, even those who do not deserve it, and some religions even teach that God is love. You find this in many religions from Christianity to Hinduism to New Age. Love is a powerful force in this world, but we have misuse love the same way we misuse respect, giving it to those who do not deserve it. I would much rather give what love I have to the people I care about (and if we’re very enough that’s always going to be a small percentage of the world) than lavish all of mankind with a love I do not have, and I would rather that man not try to love everyone on earth even if it means the existence of discord in our society. Mainstream religion also has a poisonous habit of denying the carnal self, and for that matter the self itself. In addition to artificial love, many religions tell us to cast aside the ego and live in service of either God or your fellow man, thus denying individuality and self-investment (rather like communism I might add). Just as mainstream religion has a faulty understanding of love, it has a faulty understanding of the self. What exactly do you think ego is? The self. That is what the word ego originally meant, that is what ego is, and it comprises of so much more than the childish or hubristic attitudes we so pitifully associate it with. But in the eyes of most religions, ego is worthless and only God, love, or peace is truly worthy. Of course they would see ego as a threat, if we know religion all too well.
  2. Materialism and consumerism: After the age of what was called the Enlightenment and the ascension of physical sciences, materialism was on the rise and it would have appeared that religion was waning in influence. But in reality, all the masses did was create a new religion: the religion of materialism. Because there are many who will not forge an identity of their own, they instead find it in products, wealth, or material status, to the point where I wonder if they forget that it is not to last in this world. There’s nothing wrong with relating to objects (in fact, the pagans of old had ways of spirituality relating to objects), but in this world there is no real spiritual relation to the object. People lead vacuous lives for social status, and education is geared towards getting a job. People these days equate the body with the self, denying the spiritual self, and equate complete and total loss of control with valid pleasure. While there is nothing inherently wrong with desire or indulgence, that doesn’t mean it is right to deny the spiritual side of the universe and pursue only the body, and there is certainly everything wrong with placing material life and material prosperity above ethics and the personal soul. Then, you also have the problem of the rule of human greed. There’s nothing inherently wrong with money, but humans have been constraining each other money and  greed, and social structures that have been designed to protect the greedy, thus making a mockery of capitalism. Mankind has always advanced with ambition, desire, want, but to rule the people with greed is tantamount to tyranny.

The teachings I hope to spread are teachings that smack of Chaos in some way, and yet more. The ultimate goal is not to create another religious or group identity to wear as a badge, but a venue for those interested in the occult and in an alternative to the ways of human society to come and share ideas and knowledge, even hold group rituals. It would be an organization that does not shun those who do not know or are unsure and simply have a question or two to ask, or those are shy or withdrawn. I think of it as extending an arm of welcome and compassion to those who would like to know more, and an arm of rebuke to the values of modern society and their respective ills. We would embrace darkness, and also light. The light we would seek is the light of knowledge, the self, spirituality, freedom, and spiritual immortality,  and the darkness we embrace is the darkness of the carnal self and the mysterious realm of the occult. We could marvel at the timeless Chaos of existence, but also create our own order (after all, despite my valuing of Chaos, I would say that what we call order or structure is a valued part of the human psyche and sphere of human affairs, just that I reject our social order and the idea that we should have to follow someone else’s order). And it wouldn’t even mattered what religion you were from or what deity you worship, if either apply.

This grand vision is not without possible flaws, however. For starters, how on earth would I start? The thought of starting it out as a website seems like a fine idea at first, but then there is always the risk that it would suffer the same decline of some “satanic” forums (which my good friend and fellow LHP thinker Satanicviews can tell you about better than I could). Then there’s the issue of how to create an organization, inevitable one with rules, without it becoming dogmatic. Obviously no centralized hierarchy would fit, but there would still need to be an administration with the wisdom and integrity to preserve the organization’s ethic and integrity while at the same time keep constantly aware of changes. Not to mention, I feel there are many goals I must fulfil before beginning such an ambition. But the idea will always be there…

Worrying too much about ritual?

Sometimes I complain that I don’t have a lot of time for what I see as proper rituals. You know, anything involving a magic circle, books, a dedicated altar, or specific ritual tools or materials. I often see this as a disappointment, but nowadays I’m beginning to feel like I worry too much about ritual, probably because of my expectations for what ritual is, failing to realize that there are small rituals that can be done that are just as valuable and/or worthy of spiritual merit.

Perhaps I have set up the idea of ritual as something grander than it has to be, limiting ritual and just how flexible it can be, and thus denying myself possible enjoyment of small rituals. Even the religious have some idea of a small or regular ritual that doesn’t involved too many tools, like Christians and Muslims with their daily prayers, Hindus and Catholic Christians with their reciting of their rosaries. Some Buddhists also believe in spiritual practice and enlightenment can be achieved through mundane or everyday activities. I’m not saying it could be the same for me, but I do have some rituals in mind that can be considered relatively small.

In recent months I already mentioned meditation, mala bead recitals, and solitary contemplation in quiet spaces, but this alone is basic on top of seeming uncharacteristic for someone like me, granted they have their benefits. I did make a fly idol out of clay in reference to the covenant to Baal made by the Israelites after the death of the judge Gideon. I could place the idol close to my chest or heart area for a minute or so as a gesture of a “covenant” of my own. Then we have symbolic gestures such as eating the apple at the beginning of each Halloween and Walpurgis Night which I plan to enforce, but these are by and large for special occasions.

There has got to be some small things you can do ritually in general. You just have to look in the right places, or use some imagination.

The Ram

Since it’s my birthday tomorrow, I feel like doing something mildly amusing. Talking about things in mythology and the occult that I find coincidental regarding my star sign, Aries, though I usually don’t actively take it seriously.

Amun-Ra is a ram-headed deity of ancient Egypt, considered to be a universal deity, even the ultimate god. He is a fusion of Amun (a god of creative energies) and Ra (a god of the sun), thus we have creation and the power of the sun (which in Egyptian lore also manifests as a destructive power, in the form of the Eye of Ra). This I feel relates to me as a creative individual and someone with an affinity for the sun and the flame. Since Amun-Ra is associated with a universal force, coupled with the creative energy and the sun, I feel Amun-Ra is associated with an intensity that I have an affinity for and spiritual attraction to, much like Shiva.

In the Goetic Shemhamphorash, the 72 demons evoked and commanded by Solomon are paired with 72 pairs of three letters. The demon Baal (or Bael) is associated with the sign Aries, and bears the decan of Aries. Before the emergence of Judaism and Christianity, Baal was the prime god of the Canaanites and the Phoenicians. He was also known as Hadad (or Adad), and in Sumeria he was known as Ishkur. He was associated with weather, storms, fertility, power, and male sexuality. Baal obviously relates to me in non-devilish ways because I tend to be pretty sexual even without the physical level (although there is that one thing), but trust me the mental level counts, as does any form of expression of, and interest in, sexuality and the carnal side of yourself. What’s odd about this example is that Baal was usually associated with the bull, not the ram. This would probably make any connection the most purely coincidental, but also the most interesting.

The god associated with the sign Aries is the Greco-Roman god Ares, or Mars, who of course we all know was the god of war, courage, and masculinity. One may find traces of masculinity and war in my worldview if you have followed my blog or philosophy. It gets me thinking that, despite my other tendencies (including the esoteric, philosophical, and gentle and kind), I tend to be mostly yangish, though I prefer to express masculinity my own way, without conforming to society’s idea of masculine. For instance, I find long heavy metal hair to be very masculine, a better sign of power and masculinity than short hair. I see nothing that says you can’t be fiery, yangish, and masculine, and esoteric, intellectual, internal, dark, or kind and sweet at the same time. And I don’t think being masculine should have to involve picking fights with everyone you see just to prove yourself to the world, and I find nothing noble about treating women as trophies or property. Another thing, I’ve been told the passion for self-identity is very Aries, though I think it can be possessed by anyone and it is a noble ideal to follow.

It looks like Ares can be pretty sexual too. Or maybe that’s just me. Go figure. Still, gotta love the pairing of love and war.

Lastly, there is a Hindu god associated with both the ram and fire. Agni, the Indian god of fire. His steed is the ram. He’s one of my favorite Hindu gods actually. As I already talked about some 6 months ago, I view Agni as symbolic of the spark of life and eternal youth, thus my desire not to surrender the youth of my spirit, and all the things associated with fire, and the quality of being energetic.

There you have it, that’s about all the ram-related mythological/occult stuff I can think of. Besides all this, there’s something appealing about the ram’s head that just fascinates me.

I must remind you and myself that these are basically interesting coincidences, though they all may have some truth to them. I should also note that, as I mentioned, I don’t think I believe in the whole zodiac thing, but I do think the stuff I mentioned is worth it.

Kings of Evil and Strange Journey

Once I glanced at the lyrics of a song entitled “Kings of Evil”. It was made by a band called Death SS (as in Steve Sylvester, not the Nazis; more about that later) and was released for their album “Black Mass” in 1989. The reason this is any important is because when I read the lyrics, I was reminded of Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, particularly what the Chaos-aligned forces wanted to do in that game.

Why? Let’s look at the lyrics. Here they are below.

You foolish mortals who live your life like sheep
In this meaningless world
You who live a normal life
Following the laws of human greed

Don’t hope in a better future
Nor in the progress of hallowed science
There’s just one way that can get you high
You must search for it into the mist of time

Burn with us in the eternal flame!

You gotta fight against reactions
Clench your fists but don’t despair
Destroy every link with your false doctrines
Only this way you can have power

Free yourself from the false beliefs
In exchange you’ll realize your wishes
The occult desires will calm your thirst
And you’ll be acclaimed in a better world

Come with us! We are the Kings of Evil!
We wanna fight for a new creation!
Come with us! In the Satanic Service!
We wanna destroy to reconstruct

Note: I don’t intend to say that Death SS predicted Strange Journey. That would be pretty much impossible. I’m just pointing out what I see as a resemblance. And just in case I sound like a grumpy old Christian ripping on rock and roll, I’m not.

The first verse basically condemns the majority of humans for their normal lives in normal society, including the tendency of most people to mindlessly follow consumerist culture (thus “following the laws of human greed”). It reminds me of how the Chaos-aligned demons and gods criticize mankind for destroying the earth by living like pigs. The first four realms of the Schwarzvelt, the dimension in which the game is set, reflect the errors of human society, such as war for war’s sake, decadence, commercialism, and the desolation of the environment, perhaps with the intention of sending mankind’s errors back at them.

The second verse kinda makes me think of the Neutral path in Strange Journey, which involves a lot of science and technology, and it is useless as a solution compared to the Chaos path.

The third and fourth verses call upon the listener to reject the false beliefs and doctrines thrust upon him by society and embrace the forces of the occult to attain freedom and personal power. It makes me think of the Chaos path in the series in general, which encourages freedom and personal, including freedom from false beliefs and doctrines imposed on the masses.

The last verse implores one to join the Kings of Evil, and tells that they are fighting for a new creation and wish to destroy in order to reconstruct. One might think of the god Shiva, but that’s besides the point. It actually reminds me of how the forces of Chaos want to uses the Schwarzvelt to destroy the current civilization and revitalize the world as a world where humans live in harmony with demons, nature, and the gods of old in a kind of anarchy where one is free to attain power for oneself.

This is probably coincidental, but it just connects to me, and it actually gives the song much more charm in my eyes. The lyrics are most likely not intended to connect with what I relate them to, but I think it works.

And now below, for your listening pleasure, the actual song Kings of Evil, from the Black Mass album. Enjoy.