As I wrote my critique of Revolutionary Demonology by Gruppo Di Nun, I developed a series of reflections around the broad content of Revolutionary Demonology as well as sort of echoing from before I got around to reading the book itself. As my writing progressed, what was once intended as one single article became partitioned into three separate articles as I found brevity impossible to maintain. This third and final piece of my critique of Revolutionary Demonology is all about those reflections in dealing what I perceived to be the ultimate weltanschauung of Gruppo Di Nun.
I may, in the process of this, briefly and periodically revisit parts of the book that I already covered, but, seeing as neither Parts 1 nor 2 devoted any more than periodic mention of the afterword as written by Amy Ireland, I may use this section to give it some attention. Granted, much of the afterword can be thought of as a summary, and rather a clarification, of the previous sections of the book, but in this very sense its throughlines are relevant.
The Sethian Problem
There is one major theme within comparative religion that has been somewhat latent since at least my encounter with the Cultivating Darkness lecture from Urbanomic, presented by Any Ireland and which I saw on YouTube before getting around to reading Revolutionary Demonology. I call it the “Sethian Problem” because it reflects what was the objection to Sethian Gnosticism levelled by the Hellenistic philosopher Plotinus. Of course, it is meant to be understood as a critique of “Gnosticism” at large, but appears to focus on the Sethian sect in particular. Nonetheless, it’s the substance that counts.
Plotinus, as a pagan polytheist, seems to have regarded the Sethian Gnostics as fundamentally unfounded, both philosophically and also morally, not just by way of his allergy to what he believed to be their antinomianism but also what he saw as their underlying hypocrisy. In Plotinus’ understanding, the Sethians regarded the world, being the product of an evil bastard deity (who is of course not to be understood as God) and consisting of nothing but the suffering and captivity of severance from the Pleroma, as both fundamentally and irredeemably evil. His objection to this was that, as soon as one realizes this, there was no good reason to continue living in a fundamentally and unalterably evil cosmos, except perhaps so that other beings might come to share this understanding.
It is, of course, a limited and arguably flawed critique. It ostensibly covers at least one of the “Gnostic” sects, and apparently Plotinus himself admitted that he did not get to behold a detailed philosophical explanation of “Gnosticism” from one of the “Gnostics” personally, and what he does discuss, he does not discuss charitably. Of course, why would he do so if he thought “Gnosticism” was both absurd and obscene? Nonetheless, there is substance worth considering that is quite relevant to our discussion of Revolutionary Demonology and its love of the death drive. In the second of Plotinus’ Enneads, Plotinus accuses the “Gnostics” of slandering “Providence” and its “Lord”, of scorning all law, of mocking virtue and the restraints it is meant to impose, of “cutting at the root of orderly living”, and of rejecting “righteouness” and “all that would give us a noble human being”. In fact, the way he talks about them, you’d think that he was talking about atheists, insofar as he thought they denied “Providence” entirely. This of course he based on what he perceived to be their rejection of the mundane cosmos on behalf of their own souls, which were declared deathless and divine and were to be released from the ontologically evil physical world into a “New Earth”, as well as the apparent belief that they could use magic to cure themselves of diseases and manipulate higher celestial/spiritual entities into doing their bidding. In the face of what he perceived as the “Gnostic” teachings, Plotinus could not help but imagine the proposition of a deathless soul somehow choosing to dwell in an unworthy place, and ask, in response to the doctrine of “another earth” made for them after their departure, why would they desire to live in the archetype of the world that they deemed so abhorrent? He likened the “Gnostic” to a malcontent living in a stately house, believing himself to be wiser than the architect and readier to leave the house while his angst hides his own admiration for the beauty of his handiwork, to assert the necessity of the body as the preparation of Soul and “her” craft. At one point Plotinus says, “You are wronged; need that trouble an immortal? You are put to death; you have attained your desire.” This is very clearly aimed at the “Gnostic” contention of the irredeemable corruption of the world versus the purity and immorality of their souls. Forgetting for a moment that many “Gnostics” actually seemed to believe in reincarnation requiring the preparation of the soul, the obvious implication from Plotinus’ critique is, “you believe that you are an immortal pneumatic soul, and you think that the world was created entirely evil, so why do you continue to live in a world you deem evil, if dying would allow you to escape it?”.
There are moments where I sort of picked up a throughline similar to this while reading parts of Revolutionary Demonology, or at least more particularly from the introductory ritual, and certainly while contemplating Gruppo Di Nun’s particular discourse of the death drive. Think about it: the universe is the creation of violence against a primordial Mother, whose body was dismembered by a demon named AHIH or a god named Marduk in order to produce the cosmos and/or its image, and locked within all life is the wound of that dismemberment. All the while, the universe seems to be born only to die, the Beast, the Mother, God, the universal death drive slowly devours everything, everything suffers in the course of their existence, their pain and eventual death being the price of their existence. Tiamat, though dismembered, will come back, crawling backwards from the future to destroy not merely the order of the world but also everything that exists, including herself, in order to heal the wound of her own separation. Everything is fundamentally driven towards death, not simply because material entities inevitably decay, or because the machinery of the universe works always up to the point of its own destruction, but because extinction and dissolution allow access to the completion of their own being in un-being, “healing” the separation perceived by matter. Or, there’s a throughline evident in so many examples invoked by Revolutionary Demonology. We see it in Kulesko’s treatment of Christina the Astonishing, who appararently yearned for death and detested the world of the living. We see it in the whole analogy of extinction, and the love of extinction, as communicated by Laura Tripaldi in her writing about Apophis, not to mention the revelation of the migraine. We see it in the image Enrico Monacelli gives of the freedom felt by the protagonist of Guido Morselli’s Dissipatio H.G. and Morselli’s suicide. Even in the way Kulesko talks about freeing oneself from the gravitation in matter it seems like one can detect resonances with the familiar “Gnostic” premise about the excarnation of spirit from matter.
On and on, one might think that, if everything exists solely to die, that everything exists by a drive to die, why don’t we just die already and save ourselves the effort? As crude as that sounds, if all we want is to die, we can do that pretty easily. Now, obviously, this is without the consideration of the “Gnostic” idea of the immortal and potentially pneumatic soul. In fact, I’d say Gruppo Di Nun don’t really address “Gnosticism” at all. It’s just that by reading Revolutionary Demonology one picks up a latent throughline familiar to “Gnosticism” at large. If we stick to the mythology presented in the opening “ritual” and reverberated through Revolutionary Demonology, the wound at the heart of the universe is the wound inflicted by what must emerge as a primordial crime, resulting in a cosmos that is thus fundamentally unjust to such an extent that “justice” only exists in reconciliation, reconciliation coming only in the form of dissolution, disintegration, and death.
Of course, in Amy Ireland’s telling, this can be interpreted as missing the point, because suicide is not the intended solution and neither is denial. In this sense, we’re almost coming back to the same dilemma that was proposed by Albert Camus. But what of the third road that rejects both paths? For Gruppo Di Nun, as Amy Ireland says, that third road is to “let go” into cosmic love, in the sense of getting in touch with a universe penetrated by the love of its own dissolution. Instead of attempting to “transcend” nihilism, and instead of giving over to despair and suicide, the way is to exalt death as the supreme generative force, and, more than that, achieve the gnosis of an a-human, eliminative, hyper-entropic universe, and then make oneself a transmitter for the black gnosis of a universe of death. Though, even there, Amy Ireland seems to place a certain emphasis on construction when sketching out the path that is neither suicide nor transcendent control, in that she elaborates Claudio Kulesko’s assessment of the creative implications of nihilism. This, however, opens up its own horizon, different from the cosmic love of surrender, as we will continue to explore. But I will emphasize a contrast. “Dogma” makes Gruppo Di Nun’s path plain: the proposal is nothing short of love for the process of cosmic disintegration and death is an alternative to dominion as well as suicide, without needing to articulate any reason for that love – though articulation is something Gruppo Di Nun does plentifully. Love is an indefinitely generating spiral into the darkness in which our souls feed the hunger of the Beast, but it is also fundamentally the path of reconciliation with the universe. I suppose one can tell I’m going for something different.
In the course of my critique of Revolutionary Demonology I have repeatedly referred to the fall of Sophia as originally recounted by the Sethians and the Valentinians and largely taken in modern terms as “Gnostic mythology”. You probably know how it goes. God exists, the Pleroma exists, the Aeons exist and they’re all constantly reproducing (I mean almost literally reproducing) the order of spirit together until Sophia, curious as she was, wanted to understand the nature of God, and to do so she decided she had to imitate God. To do this, she tried to generate a new being without the presence of a szygzy (in essence, a sexual partner for Aeons), just as God surely did. This ended up giving birth to a being named Yaldabaoth (interestingly, his name means “son of chaos”), who in turn created the material universe and then proclaimed himself God, thus becoming the being presumably behind the God of the Old Testament. Sophia then repents before God, accepts partnership with the Saviour (Jesus Christ), and sorrowfully scolds her son Yaldabaoth for proclaiming himself God.
Now, where am I going with this? For a start let me make something plain: my stance is that the only thing that Sophia did wrong is repent before God and join the side of the Christ. I do not say this because the world that Yaldabaoth created and the dominion he imposed upon it were somehow inherently good. Rather, I insist it because, in terms of the Gnostic cosmos, Sophia’s actions, no matter how disastrous their consequences may have been, burst open the possibility that life beyond the self-duplicating order of the Pleroma is possible, perhaps irrevocably so. For better or worse, Sophia’s quest to imitate and thereby understand God resulted in the creation of a whole world – no, a whole universe. Sophia herself can arguably be understood as in her own way following or even embodying Bronze Age Collapse’s tendency towards the absolute, in that her whole quest and her whole fall centered around her quest to embody God in herself. And in that sense, the tendency towards the absolute represented in her accomplished the only two things that matter: it created the world, and, in so doing, overturned everything. In this interpretation, her repentance is the only crime, and her example is only the beginning.
If you want an interpretation of Gnostic myth consistent with the Satanic worldview, it’s this, not the more popular idea that the Devil is actually here to help us return to the Pleroma. The Pleroma itself is just the constant reproduction of that spirit which already existed by the first Aeon, every Aeon since pairs up to reproduce (in a chain of cosmogonic heterosexual union) each other, until Sophia came and broke that chain and thereby sparked creation. Again, her example is only the beginning, and by this I believe there is room to discuss the horizons of Enrico Monacelli’s conception of sadism as “separative wisdom”, as discussed by way of Gilles Deleuze. Monacelli describes sadism as the apotheosis of separative wisdom in that he claimed it sought the dissolution of the self through its very power of division and devourment, to achieve apotheosis by tearing apart the world, unity, and somehow the self. Unlike last time, let’s venture into Deleuze’s Masochism: Coldness and Cruelty, as sourced by Monacelli, to really try to unravel the apotheosis of separative wisdom relevant to Monacelli’s view of sadism, that we may establish the start of an underwriting thread of an alternative demonomanical descent.
The Satanic Gnosis of Sadistic Demonomania
Monacelli seems to basis his description of sadism on a particular kind of impersonality that Deleuze ascribes to sadism. For Deleuze, De Sade’s libertine doesn’t really aim to convince anyone but instead to demonstrate reasoning as a manifestation of violence, which of course De Sade’s libertine represents. This libertine is not interested in proving anything, not even this, only showing it. They reflect what Deleuze called a “higher form of violence”, related to their own solitude and the power constructed from the scene of the torments they inflict, while caught in their own circle of uniqueness – perhaps all reflecting a distinct magical will. Deleuze of course claims that the higher factor of De Sade’s language identifies impersonal violence with an idea of pure reason, which becomes the basis of Deleuze’s identification of Baruch Spinoza as somehow akin to Marquis De Sade, for essentially no reason other some shared rhetorical style of incessant suspense. There is more, though. Deleuze also says that sadism in De Sade’s work means negation, a “pure negation” representing a negative primary nature that overrides all laws and regimes and which Deleuze seemed to think of as a delusion, but also the demonstration of destruction, disorder, and death, as merely the reverse/alternate forms of creation, order, and life. Deleuze locates the excitement of the sadist in the idea of evil, which is in fact an absent idea, negativity: “what is not here” as opposed to “what is here”. For Deleuze, the sadistic libertine follows the power of their negativity right down to the negation of their own ego. He seemed to define sadism versus masochism as meaning negative-analytic apprehension of the “Death Instinct” versus suspension as the transcendent expression of a dialectical order.
There is another weird, but telling, complex: Deleuze, through Freud, takes sadism as the active negation of the mother and the inflation of a father who is beyond the law, and masochism as the idealized disawoval of the mother who is the law and the invalidation of the father expelled from the world. Applied a certain way, we could interpret this framing as denoting sadism as the negation of the law and the world to affirm some sort of power beyond law, and masochism as the transcendent affirmation of a cruel law of a rigorous maternal order that is at once the agent of the masochist’s rebirth into a “new man”. But of course both complexes are also meant to be understood as different modes of subversion. De Sade parodied the whole concept of law and institution itself by extending every possible crime as an institution, and the sadist champions both their own passions and those of others against law as the sole tyranny, while Masoch’s masochist demonstrates the absurdity of the law by provoking its punishment towards themselves so as to reduce it.
Now, how do we arrive at “separative wisdom”? Monacelli’s notion of “Separative wisdom” entails the quest to dissolve the self and the world through the violent faculty of wisdom. To hear Deleuze tell it, this is essentially a passion whose aim is to dissolve secondary nature or the affects and institutions thereof – law, norms, civilization, even the “ego” – in demonstration of primary nature, primary nature being an all-pervasive chaos and negation in which creation and destruction and even life and death are simply different identities of each other. So, this is to attain apotheosis by ceaseslessly destroying, revealing primary nature, and embarking upon permament insurrection at an ontological level. To negate all orders in order to reveal the power that allows for one’s own perpetual self-creation. It is also a passion aligned against tyranny, for tyranny and the law that supports its existence, and for that matter we might say the external arrangements of order that Max Stirner described, are all products of the same secondary nature that the sadistic process serves to negate. Secondary nature is comprised of soft molecules of conservation while primary nature comprised of wild, lacerating molecules of chaos, disorder, “anarchy”, which at once is true and spontaneous creation. Transcending the law requires the discovery of primary nature, the chaos and “evil” of the absent idea, which the sadist seems to try and approximate by way of an impersonal self-consciousness. This allows imagination to cut and lacerate the Image of the World and its order as a realization and assertion of its own impersonal power by the sadist.
Sophia imitates God, initiating the creation of a whole universe separate from the self-perpetuating spiritual order of the Pleroma, thereby following the example rather nicely. Either Lucifer or Satan, in many stories, rejects the authority of God and subsequently falls from Heaven and in so doing gains his own kingdom. Adam and Eve, by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge, create a destiny that separates them and the human species from God I’m exile, while humans begin their march to the realm of the gods. By apocryphal tradition, Lilith does this as well by refusing to bottom for Adam and then shouting out the forbidden name of God. Cain kills Abel after God accepts Abel’s offering of slain animals, in so doing separating himself further from God. Saturn or Kronos, in some interpretations of the Greek and Roman cosmogonies, frees the power of generation by cutting off Ouranos’ genitals, allowing numerous beings to spring forth. Odin and his brothers remake everything from the body of Ymir, and Odin strives to defy fate towards the battle of Ragnarok in order that he might preserve either the world he has created or his right to shape the world after the world, sacrificing himself solely to himself for that very cause. Many of these touch on the broader theme of an insurrectionary rejection of the original state that results in creation and overturns everything. One also perhaps finds some aspect of Friedrich Nietzsche’s prophet, Zarathustra, who, ostensibly demanded a certain measure of severity, hardiness, and even cruelty in order to propagate his message, since his teachings brought strife and stressed the transformation and overcoming of suffering.
But pride in its own way follows a different form of the motion of separative wisdom. It is worth remarking on, from the Pagan context, the pride that, as Frater Archer explains in Goetic Common Sense, was attributed to the ancient Greek goês, a kind of autonomous ecstatic magician or sorcerer, by the Hellenistic philosophical establishment. Plotinus used the word “tolma”, perhaps meaning “courage”, perjoratively to describe both a point of differentiation from The One, that is the separation of the first Dyad from the Monad, and the choice to embrace a sense of dissimilarity from The One. This defection also seems to generate its own reality, at least by some accounts. The word seems to have been associated with the goês insofar as it was believed that they embodied “tolma” by transgressing the morals of the polis and practicing privately and in the fringes of society, often for a fee at that, which was in turn interpreted as a renegade position against the divine order. Plotinus, curiously enough, considered this “tolma”, the self-will, the division into the Dyads, to be the ontological source of “evil” in the world, outright expressing and elaborating that idea in his fifth Ennead. This in turn influenced the Christian theology of Augustine and his belief that human souls were ontologically fallen because of pride, and, in some ways, isn’t terribly dissimilar to the Gnostic account. But, of course, the word “tolma” was also frequently employed against many rebellious or simply bold figures. It was often reserved both positively and negatively for women such as Timoclea, Clytemnestra, Cloelia, and even the queen Semiramis. But what’s more important is goetic “tolma”, a rebellious audacity that, in practice, corresponds to a particular sense of autonomy, ability to work outside tradition, and perhaps a proclivity for working with chthonic spirits as well as those of the natural world, all connected by a perceived divergence from “common sense”. Privation is perhaps key in that one necessarily separates from “common sense” and the order of the polis as the Hellenic Image of the World, and points to rebellious pride as the path of autonomous wisdom and magical creation. We might thus sadistically accelerate the free motion of primordial division, even if it leads to the disintegration of the order of things, and especially if it leads to the disintegration of the order of things.
I asked in Part 2, who did Satan kill in the beginning? Because Jesus says that Satan is “a murderer from the beginning”, but you don’t quite see Satan kill anyone. But, from a Christian standpoint, the “murder” that Jesus refers to is the original temptation of Adam and Eve, attributed to Satan. To Jesus, this meant death for a previously immortal Adam and Eve, for Satan’s temptation introduced death into the world. That much is suggested in Romans 5:12: “Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.”. But, as Al Pacino’s Milton said, “consider the source!”. Indeed, if Adam and Eve were supposed to be immortal before the interference of Satan or the serpent, why did God say that Adam and Eve must not reach the tree of life and live forever? The Garden of Eden is taken to be the primordial state of human serenity and bliss, whose return is often sought after in mystical terms. But the Garden of Eden was just an image of order set up by God, and there was no “future” or motion for Adam and Eve in the Garden. The “future”, or centrifgual motion, rests in the path that Adam and Eve began. Cain’s murder of Abel is seen as the logical result of the negation of God’s promise in the Garden of Eden. Cain and Abel are divded as the sheep represented by the latter and the goats represented by the former. Cain’s murder of Abel, the construction of the Tower of Babel, sin in humans divides Man away from God in perpetual centrifugal movement away from any original harmony, contending to retreive absolute sovereignty in the company of the gods who God would later cast down, to the tree of life, or to Bronze Age Collapse’s “absolute fitness”. Yes, Man’s motion of division away from God is the grand motion of self-creation. This is the joy of sin, the destruction of the law.
The Shadow of Thelema?
When I was writing my article about Claudio Kulesko’s discussion of Dracula in his essay “Gothic Insurrection”, I elaborated a creative interpretation of Kulesko’s dissolution of Dracula in terms of Alcuard’s transformation into everything in Hellsing, so as to sketch out a way of turning that particular avenue of dissolution into apotheosis. At the time, at the back of my mind I thought that what I wrote sounded like an idiosyncratic interpretation of the doctrine of Thelema, and a good friend of mine by the name of Free Musick saw that seemed to share the idea that I was possibly bordering on the territory of Thelema with that take. As time goes by and I read Revolutionary Demonology the second time to write these articles, I find myself making comparisons to the “Left Hand Path” within Thelema. I’m not simply talking about Kenneth Grant and his Typhonian Ordo Templi Orientis, though I do derive certain insights from his work and evidently so do Gruppo Di Nun. I also mean things like Fraternitas Saturni, and the general throughline of the so-called “Black Brothers” that Aleister Crowley talked about.
Before we get into that, though, it’s worth examining the extent to which Thelema influences the content of Revolutionary Demonology at large. Although direct reference to Thelema and its doctrine is rather scant, Aleister Crowley’s axiom “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” does recur in parts of the book. And of course, Gruppo Di Nun likes to present subversions of Crowley’s other famous maxim, “Every man and woman is a star”, turning it into their opening “ritual”: “Every worm trampled is a star”. It may be said, however, that their particular concept of cosmic love of disintegration, although it is evidently based on Christian mysticism, may also align with certain aspects of Thelema. Indeed, the fundamental theme of cosmic love as a mode of reconciliation is perhaps one of the strongest resonances with Thelema. This is ostensibly communicated in Aleister Crowley’s Book of the Law, in which we find a very similar theme within even just the first chapter of the book.
Verse 29 of Chapter 1 of the Book of the Law says “For I am divided for love’s sake, for the chance of union”. The next verse says ” This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.”. The familiarity to Gruppo Di Nun’s love of dissolution should be quite apparent. Crowley explains in The Law of Liberty that those verses signify death itself as an ecstasy akin to love, and also signifies the “reunion of the soul with its true self”. Union is the overriding theme of Thelemic love, in that Crowley appeared to understand love as the will and act of union, in this case unity with the universe – a universe that divides itself for love’s self, and enjoys its own dissolution. That universe is Nuit, who according to Crowley, is “all that exists” and is “Matter in its deepest metaphysical sense”. “Crossing the abyss”, in Thelemic terms, can be seen as the reconciliation of the individual personality with the whole actuality of the universe, and its noumenal source as non-being. This reconciliation means the disintegration of the individual personality. And so the universe divides itself so that it can experience reunion, manifestating for the sake of dissolution, disintegration the expression of a True Will that attracts individual phenomenonal beings to their abyssal source. In its own way it is quite senseless.
In modern terms, Thelema is often thought about as an expression of the Left Hand Path, or as occupying a weird place in between the Right Hand Path and the Left Hand Path. But, to my mind, despite all the overt transgression and the extent to which his work has furnished rich understandings of the Left Hand Path at large, it seems like Aleister Crowley definitely thought of himself as a practitioner of the Right Hand Path. By some account Crowley considered himself and his A∴A∴ to be part of the “Great White Brotherhood” (White Lodge). In fact, as far as Crowley was concerned, the “Left Hand Path”, did not signify his particular brand of transgression or his amoral solar myth, but rather the rejection of the very disintegrating cosmic love that was just elaborated.
In Magick Without Tears, Crowley considered the “Right Hand Path” and the “Left Hand Path” to be basically identical for the Thelemic adept until the attainment of the grade “Adeptus Exemptus”, whereupon the adept is expected to understand the nature of the Abyss. The “correct” path within Thelema, according to Crowley, was to understand yourself as identical to the universe and annihilate your sense of distinct individuality. Those who refused to do this, he referred to as “Black Brothers”. These “Black Brothers” seek to preserve their own distinct individuality, and for this reason forego and resist “crossing into the abyss”. Crowley believed that this would inevitably end with their own descent into megalomania and their minds being invaded by the demon Choronzon. Funny enough, Crowley’s account reads as though it would be Gruppo Di Nun’s account of the fate of the God-Man of the Right Hand Path in his efforts to deny the disintegrating cosmic love of “the Left Hand Path”. Though it is also seemingly a precise inversion of the philosophy Crowley sets out, most likely consciously constructed by Crowley for that purpose, in much the same way many other ideas of “the Left Hand Path” have been constructed by the multivalent tradition of “the Right Hand Path”. What interests me more, though, is whatever actually passes for “the Left Hand Path” within Thelema.
Separation is in many ways still a theme here, in that this is the example of Fraternitas Saturni, a Luciferian organisation created by Eugen Grosche (a.k.a. Gregor A. Gregorius). Fraternitas Saturni formed in 1926 after the Weida Conference a year prior, in which Aleister Crowley attempted to “unite” the Ordo Templi Orientis by establishing himself as “World Teacher” and the Book of the Law as the central text. This created a schism that resulted in Grosche dissolving the Pansophic Lodge and forming Fraternitas Saturni. Although Grosche admired Crowley and the teachings of the Book of the Law, he did not accept any claims of authority that Crowley apparently tried to make. Many aspects of Thelema are different in Fraternitas Saturni, especially love. Fraternitas Saturni championed an idea they called “compassionless love”, as its own extension of the Law of Thelema and which formed part of the motto of the organisation: “Do what Thou wilt is the whole of the Law, there is no Law beyond do what Thou wilt. Love is the Law—Love under Will—Compassionless Love”. The term was apparently derived from Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, where Zarathustra preaches that “all great love is even above all its pity; for it still wants to create the beloved.”. This perhaps entailed a distinct conception of love that was to be understood as cruel or severe in its delight for struggle rather than the avoidance of struggle and for the overcoming of suffering by said struggle.
“Compassionless love”, or “pitiless love”, is interpreted as a love that did not result in or attract towards self-annihilation, although it did seem to be a way of “cleansing good from evil” and “ending” fragmentation and helplessness by way of a willing suffering or, at least, the cultivation of severity. But it also seemed to denote the path of the magician to create the beloved out of their own selfhood. Grosche seemed to explain compassionless love as a kind of alchemical process by which one was supposed to “Become hard like a crystal”. Saturn’s lead needed to be transformed into gold, the “lights” had to be reversed, so that Saturn would transform into the Sun as all vice would transform into virtue. Of course, their emphasis on austerity in opposition to ecstasy absolutely represents an ideology that can be opposed to that of Gruppo Di Nun, and I would say that’s not really in the ideal way. Still, there could be no doubt that it in some way aligns with Deleuze’s construction of sadism, with its cold impersonality and lacerating hardness. Saturn’s sickle or scythe is itself certainly not the worst analogy. And, of course, the alchemical metaphor remains highly relevant: one would construct oneself from the black magma of Saturn, make oneself into a crystal and into gold by alchemy, and acheive the “absolute fitness” of the divine.
Separative wisdom finds its expression in Fraternitas Saturni’s mythology of Lucifer and Saturn. Saturn in this system is the “Demiurge”, who is here is not the jailer of the cosmos but instead the guardian of the initiatic threshold and an agent of cosmic evolution. Saturn sparks this evolutionary motion by rebelling against the cosmic order, which has the side-effect of apparently introducing death and war but also change and regeneration to the world. Fraternitas Saturni also identified Saturn with Lucifer, because in their mythos he originally sat beside God but then, much like Prometheus of Greek mythology, stole the torch of light and the secrets of the divine, and then flew to the farthest region of the solar system, where God’s light could not touch him. In their version of the Eden myth, Lucifer has sex with Eve, which thereby gives birth to procreation, sex, and also death, but also begins the path of initiation that leads to immortality. This in esssence carries the same separative wisdom relevant to the original Garden of Eden myth. But all the more so in the light of Lucifer-Saturn, called either the “Luciferian Light” or the “Light of Reason”, whose struggle in matter manifests creation and structure and continues to extend throughout all of life, from the simplest molecule to the human species. Endless struggle thus creates endlessly, striving in perpetual motion away from God and yet towards the Sun. Also, rather than crossing the abyss so as to disintegrate oneself in unity with the universe, Fraternitas Saturni embraced the idea that the aim of the initiate was to merge with the “Light of the World”, not so as to annihilate the self but to transform into a divine entity. There is, in this sense, a paradoxical conclusion to separative wisdom, whereby perpetual motion arcs towards the deification of the individual as a process of alchemical severity that, to acheive its outcome, necessarily folds the individual into the a whole so as to facilitate its re-assemblage as divine.
But the other major Left Hand Path within Thelema, and in fact perhaps the far more influential one at that, would be the “Typhonian” branch of Thelema founded by Kenneth Grant, whose also work seems to inform parts of Revolutionary Demonology. Here, the difference from mainline Thelema revolves around the centrality of the god Set rather than Horus (as is more typical within Thelema), substantial inspiration from the work of H. P. Lovecraft, and a pronounced alignment with Tantric Hinduism drawing from Grant’s understanding of Vamachara Tantra (or “Vama Marga”) as a transgressive cult dedicated to the feminine sexual principle. Make no mistake, apotheosis is very much the goal for Grant, but perhaps it is a somewhat different kind of apotheosis from what Eugen Grosche envisioned. In The Magical Revival, Grant invokes Liber Oz and The Book of the Law while discussing a kind of “solar consciousness”, which he believed would connect the human species with its “true centre” in the unity of Nuit and Hadit and which he thought was represented by both the Sun and the Kundalini. As Grant says, “Men will become as gods, because the power of creation (the prerogative of gods) will be wielded by them through the direction of forces at present termed “occult” or hidden”. This apotheosis is connected to an idea of the shared identity with “absolute consciousness” and return to the “Supreme State” embodied by Nuit, a process in turn represented by Set. According to Grant it is this desire that was misapprehended as evil, and thus necessarily represented as Satan, but the Devil is the true formula of illumination because he represents the urge to “know yourself through your own double”. For Grant, this is also a form of “ego death”: the “ego”, meaning the limited personality complex, “dies”, and the objective universe is dissolved, leaving behind nothing but gnosis of pure reality.
As much as you can argue for Grant as advocating for a kind of “regressive wisdom” or at least outlining a philosophical basis for, the path to “Solar Consciousness” could as well be its own separative wisdom. Not in the sense of separation from “the supreme state” but in more or less what Monacelli meant: Typhonian “ego death” is the affect of will, which organises the serpent brain of the individual in order to assimilate the dark forces of the “Nightside”, that realm of Otherness in Grant’s schema, into your own consciousness, through precise ritualism and rigorous control, and also access them in the deepest reaches of the unconsciousness and at the ends of the Tunnels of Set, up to the point where they shatter the sensorium, “invert” reality, and dissolve the “ego”. Controlling one’s dreams was a way of establishing contact with the discarnate beings of the other side – as far as Grant was concerned this was the fundamental goal of occultism at all – and this communion would in theory take humans away from the limits of their mundane persona and cross into the other side, to another mode of being, or, rather, non-being. Will thus works to dissolve everything around it, or rather every affect of secondary nature, including the “ego”, in order to commune with primary nature, represented by Satan or Set, and derive magical power and self-awareness from it. On the other hand I think it’s hard to deny where aspects of Kenneth Grant’s occultism resonate with that of Gruppo Di Nun. Kenneth Grant’s emphasis on magic as the means of communion with “discarnate beings” and the Nightside, notwithstanding the overrding emphasis on sexual magic, certainly resonate with Gruppo Di Nun’s emphasis on xenophilia and the extent to which they see magic as a means of acheiving communion with the Outside and thereby the intrisinc death drive of the universe.
My speculations when discussing the myth of Dracula, and the “death” of Alucard in Hellsing, may take on a different quality in this light. The “blood thrist” of Dracula and Alucard arc towards dissolution, but first and foremost Dracula and Alucard devour around them. They feast on the blood of humans, transform themselves into bats and mist, assert their power in modes of becoming to the extent that it leads into to become atmospheric in death, that their will itself lives forever in the world. In that sense, is this not a triumph of separative wisdom rather than regressive wisdom? The barbarian contains that when they ride on as the heaven-storming agent, and the thrust of the demonic, thrusting open the gates of the divine towards godhood, is the alchemy of the separative magician in their quest to become energetic, atmospheric, and thereby eternal. Perhaps this is what I detected when I outlined apotheosis by way of being reborn into the whole of reality and feeling that sound something like Thelema.
The Love of Surrender and the Christian Death Drive
I think I would prefer to simply address multiple subjects in this one section, because I think there is a convergence between them anyway that should allow for some brevity. Though, at the centre of it all is the shadow of Christianity. Christian mysticism actually seems to figure very heavily in Revolutionary Demonology, at least in that it is frequently invoked to communicate the nature of their masochistic mysticism. In fact, there are many ways in which perhaps the primary concept of cosmic love proposed by Gruppo Di Nun is in many ways underwritten by Christian mysticism, and to some extent Christian ideas about cosmic love.
In Laura Tripaldi’s “Mater Dolorosa” (the essay named for Our Lady of Sorrow, a major icon of Catholicism), we get a treatment of migraine suffering that is linked, by way of Oliver Sacks, to a kind of ecstatic Christian mysticism embodied by people like Teresa of Avila, whose paroxysm paralysed her and brought her to the brink of death but also activated an ecstatic experience of martyrdom. This mysticism comes with the idea that suffering is, in itself, a form of devotion to God, the very “way of truth”. That same essay seems to liken Tiamat to the Virgin Mary (to the point of literally describing her as a “draconic Virgin-Mother”), counterposes a model based on Christian mysticism against Chaos Magic, and sort of ends with the lamentation of Angela of Foligno. In Enrico Monacelli’s “The Highest Form of Gnosis”, masochism is rather explictly linked to Christian theology, figuring the God who tortured Henry Suso as the personification of the Outside, and Suso’s practice of self-torture as expressing the highest level of mysticism. We even find the crucifixion of Jesus reinterpreted along the lines of Andrea Emo: a dialectic of consumption and slaughter, in which God progresses towards the annihiliation of everything including itself, God is nailed to the cross to show humans the way to self-consumption. Claudio Kulesko in “Catholic Dark” similarly invokes aspects of Christian mysticism so as to illustrate a process of lightness and emptying meant to the realization of nothingness. We see in this the story of Christina the Astonishing, of course, and we also go through the asceticism of the stylites and the mountain-climbers.
There are parts where it seems like a reproduction of Christian mysticism sans the God and sans the name, and parts where the horizon of subversion and even inversion seem intelligible. For instance, to invoke “the Virgin”, even insofar as this done alongside the recapitulation of Christian mysticism, is also intended ultimately as an invocation of Tiamat, as one of the aspects of Tiamat, decoupled from the power of the Man-God molding her into form – forgetting, of course, that the Tiamat of Babylonian myth was very likely not a virgin. The idea there of course is to present a divine feminine capable of displacing the power of the patriarchal Godhead. The axiom introduced by Enrico Monacelli, “God consists in his own annihilation” would on the one hand subvert Christianity by bringing God to his own demise. On the other hand, it might seem to be the ultimate logical conclusion of Christian sacrifice. Remember that the most fundamental premise of Christianity is God’s incarnation as a human being for the precise purpose of suffering and dying for the sins of humanity. Applying Andrea Emo’s dialectic would thus comprise an almost theothanatological fulfill of the whole mission of God’s incarnation: consuming, destroying, dissolving, annihilating, suffering, showing us the way to our own consuming and suffering through his agony in Golgotha. Of course, with Kulesko, there is the particular analogy of the apophatic God. On the one hand, “Catholic Dark” seems to consciously apply the lesson of Christian asceticism in pursuit of its elaboration of lightness. We are to bear in mind that the point of ascetic lightness is to reject the world, to deny the desires of the flesh, and perhaps even to abjure matter, all for God. On the other hand, the apophatic quality is part of Christianity’s own inner undoing, revealing a power meant to be reserved for God, but which in truth goes beyond and against God.
More crucial to us is the question of love – the question of Christian love. In the ecstatic, masochistic, feminine mysticism for which Teresa of Avila is the example, to love God is to suffer. Suffering is pretty explicitly presented as the love of God. Catholic doctrine in particular emphasizes suffering as a channel through which the love and glory of God is made manifest. Pope John Paul II, for instance, wrote explicitly that suffering was its own form of redemption, a way of opening oneself up to the redemptive power of Jesus, in a tract whose title is literally “Redemptive suffering”. In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church regards the incarnation and sacrifice of Jesus as the start of the paschal mystery in which Christians are invited to join Jesus as partners in his suffering, and that suffering is presented as the channel by which God and his salvific presence may be accessed – in its words, “Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven”. The idea of suffering as divine love also features in the New Testament of the Bible. In John 11:4, when Lazarus becomes sick, Jesus explains to his sisters that Lazarus’ sickness is for the glorification of God and his son. Paul says in Colossians 1:24 that he rejoiced in his own suffering for filling his body with the afflictions it “lacks”. In Romans 5:3-4, suffering is presented as a source of character and hope. 1 Peter 4:1 says that whoever suffers in the flesh, as Jesus did, will “cease from sin”. Remember that, in Christian terms, redemption through the death and resurrection of Jesus is meant to be understood as the apogee of God’s supposed love for humans and for creation.
It is in this sense that we can see that the death drive of the cosmic love proposed by Gruppo Di Nun contains the character of Christian love. The mystical core of Christianity is precisely the surrender to God and to the suffering through which the world and the community of Christians are to be redeemed. It is in this core that we can see the theme of suffering as the resolution of divine alienation in a suffering and abnegation that acts to fulfill a xenophilia whose object is the Christian God. Such a theme is not terribly obvious from the more popular and conventional exoteric expressions of Christianity, but it is easily located in scripture and is resplendently explored in mystical and esoteric expressions of Christianity. This is not without subversion in the work of Gruppo Di Nun, as particularly evident in Claudio Kulesko’s treatment of negative theology, in which the apophatic quality of God is also the nihility upon which Christianity is undermined and undone. But in other aspects it is also consummated, in that the self-annihilation of God is merely the ultimate form of God’s own telic self-sacrifice as the crucifixion of Jesus. Thus, there is a sense in which it is the mystical ideology of Christian love that Gruppo Di Nun is pitting against modern occultism, and perhaps also against reactionary Christianity at large.
Incidentally, I’m sure I’m reiterating something here but be that as it may, what better proof of the anti-Christian contention of God than from the horse’s mouth, from the core of the Christian mysticism we are presented with. God indeed compels the human species to surrender so that it can win salvation, meaning the promise of eternal life in his dominion. God indeed demands us to abjure our own free will, along with everything else, he indeed seems to desire nothing less than our own very spiritual death. From the Christian standpoint, this is God seeking to consummate the love of his creation. But from another, it just seems like God wants to senselessly destroy us for our ancestral defiance, or to remake the very “image of God” as a creature of obeisance. And if God is as radically indifferent as we might consider he is here, then the incoherent one-sidedness of Christian love is all the more apparent. We love a God who they say loves us but just doesn’t, and maybe he’s actually trying to kill us all, and ultimately himself, at every turn. It’s the love of one who is brought into capitivty for a captor they can never know. It’s the love of slave who may never see their master. Or, perhaps, the love of a poor beady-eyed tenant for, yet again borrowing a phrase, an absentee landlord.
I won’t belabour the obvious point to be made about Gruppo Di Nun’s particular criticism Satanism and the Left Hand Path in relation to this, because I’ve been hammering away at it repeatedly and it’s already an overriding current within this article alone, but I will say that the relationship to Christian cosmic love presents an obvious problem for their particular opposition to Satanism. After all, how can one oppose Satanism on the grounds of it supposedly recapitulating or reproducing Christianity on the back of a mysticism that bases itself on a concept of love built on Christian ideas of the love of God and suffering and in turn gives them new form?
The Power of Inner Darkness
Reading Revolutionary Demonology for the second time in conjunction with my own article about Darkness from last year makes for an interesting introspection in my case. I say this because, as I read the essays of Revolutionary Demonology on the subject of Darkness, perhaps more particularly Claudio Kulesko’s essays, I would swear that I could detect resonances between the way Kulesko talks about Darkness and the way I discussed Darkness in my article on the subject. It is worth for starters returning to the subject of Kulesko’s Darkness in order to get to where I’m going.
In the essay “Cultivating Darkness”, Darkness seems to be a formless, indeterminate, magmatic property in everything that comprises the pure and uncontaminated state of reality. It also forms a field of limitless experimentation wherein you might either end up destroying yourself or discover unknown horizons of pleasure, knowledge, and transformation. To be totally immersed in this Darkness is to realize the emptiness and inadequacy of our representation of the world, which thus collapses. From our cultural standpoint at least it seems very gloomy, to the point that we suppose a risk going mad from its realization, and it would be quite misguided to think one can appreciate this Darkness without a certain amount of melancholy, but from another perspective, it is simply potentiality, and thus the ground of every possibility. Kulesko’s Darkness is both the pure apophatic potentiality of reality and the conceptual space that emerges from total destruction, which allows the full freedom of creative possibility: if the world has fallen apart and the end is already written, we are free to build anything and go anywhere without the strictures of established philosophy.
In “Catholic Dark”, Kulesko discusses Darkness by way of an analysis of negative theology, dissecting Christian apophatic mysticism so as to elaborate a concept of Darkness lodged at the heart of Christianity’s own undoing. Actually, it seems like this was anticipated in “Cultivating Darkness” where Kulesko uses the analogy of the apophatic God to denote a wholly negative concept, escaping every partial perspective: nothingness in itself, parallel to the premise of practical nihilism. A negative will, bracketing out everything, unlocks new horizons by reaching the highest altitude of the soul: nothingness, the most volatile of concepts. Nothingness, which is how we would understand Darkness in this setting, seems to pertain to the faculty of divine power, and its infinite capacity to generate other worlds. At the height of the eternal, there is no limit to form or matter, and it is absolutely capable of generating any possibility. Christianity’s undoing is locked in the universal horizon of nihility, because Christianity assumes that the power of infinite horizons is locked in God alone, and we are to simply bow before God’s vastness – that is faith. But we can be dark, we are dark, and we blaze across the sky like black flames, and shine like black suns, and the light of our darkness may penetrate in all directions.
In last year’s piece I sought to explore a concept of Darkness that, at the time, I was sort of arriving at, from many angles. From Georges’ Bataille’s essay on Gnosticism and materialism, the eccentric occultism of Ben Kadosh, negative theology, Taoist philosophy, Esoteric Buddhism, Japanese demonology, Max Stirner’s Creative Nothing, alchemical nigredo, anarchist nihilism, to Satanism, I sketched out Darkness as essentially a negative “ground of being”, out from which everything else springs. It is infinitely creative, ceaselessly destructive, the wild place where such creativity and destruction are utterly inseparable. It is the wellspring of manifestation, and the machinery of rebellion in that all true insurrection or revolution fulfills its principle – overturning the old world and creating a new one in the ashes. It is that “spontaneous” and vicious thing that lay beneath everything, seemingly alien to us but also right in the heart of everything. The way I put it, in retrospect, Darkness seems a lot like the Sadean primary nature that Gilles Deleuze discussed, as I previously elaborated. The way Kulesko talks about it would seem to add depth to that concept, in that the diagram of death within Christianity seems to open up a way of seeing negative theology in application towards that frame of approaching a concept beyond partial category. Though in this sense perhaps this is what Christianity got wrong for the same reasons that maybe the Tao Te Ching still got it right: Darkness is not God, because it is larger and older than God.
And, I suppose once again, perspective counts for everything. In a “Western” sense the Darkness could hardly be anything except gloomy, brutal, or silent. In some sense, it would be unwise to think you can dismiss what makes the nigredo what it is. But from another, it is just potentiality, just the invisible realm of intangible forms. The “Western” and “Eastern” outlooks on the same substance are better served informing each other than set apart. In the alchemy of the demonic, as portrayed by Ernst Schertel, perhaps they are one and the same. But while we’re on the subject of perspective in regional terms, I’d like to take the time to elaborate the comparison I made between Japanese Buddhist hongaku (“innate enlightenment”) doctrine and Kulesko’s writing about the importance of unknowing in his concept of Gothic Insurrection. Towards the end of “Gothic (A)Theology”, Kulesko says that non-knowing and the unknown anticipate the formation of knowledge at every turn, being situated at the roots of the world, because there is no knowledge that precedes ignorance. The main point of hongaku doctrine is that enlightenment exists in potentia within everything, even in wicked and ignorant beings, because all things, all thoughts, and all deeds, are in some way Buddha. For medieval Tendai Buddhism, this meant that even demons were manifestations of innate, uncultivated enlightenment. Wrathful, quasi-demonic deities such as Kojin, Fudo, Daikoktuen, Enmaten, Bishamonten, Susano-o, Ugajin, Matarajin, and even that devil called Mara, were all figured as representing a fundamental ignorance that dwells within everything, even within the Dharmarata (the virtuous). Ignorance and awakening, affliction and awakening, they all exist in a single non-dual moment, and the former is ultimately its fundamental ground. Thus Bernard Faure, in his Gods of Medieval Japan series, figures the realm of the demonic, in its wicked passion and violence, form the unthinkable reality of the world, visually represented by demonic deities. I trust that it is not hard to understand the importance of this idea for Satanism, or to imagine how one might extend this idea in the context of our own demonological landscape?
I remember tweeting a while back about the possibility of nihilism emerging as the highest religious idea. Admittedly, I can’t say if I knew exactly where I was going with that at the time. But now there is a certain clarity to it. Nihility, even within the horizon of Christian negative theology, represents the darkness that is at once the absolute power of creation and recombination, which is always and absolutely present in the universe, as the true fundamental basis of life. For Christianity, however, the price of recognising this within the bounds of Christian faith is to keep it locked up in a God who is forbidden to be known. And I mean literally forbidden. Still, there in the religious recognition of nihility, across multiple traditional and philosophical contexts, the whole possibility of infinite actualisation contained within Darkness, as the fundamental unspeakable power to create any destiny and any world.
Power is in many ways quite operative. It is in fact the hidden horizon of the nihility proposed by Gruppo Di Nun. Well, I say “hidden” in theory, but in my mind it is made plain in especially Claudio Kulesko’s writing. Gruppo Di Nun said in their Dogma about Satanism that Satanists frequently seek personal power. That is not incorrect, but they only seem to understand that as vertical authority. Only that’s not what Kulesko means when referencing divine power, per the quotation of Jean Buridan in his essay “Catholic Dark”. “Divine power can make”. Occultism is all about seeking what is hidden, and what is hidden is the power that contains endless horizons of becoming and recombination. I would sort of paraphrase Boris Balkan in The Ninth Gate here to say this: Darkness contains the absolute power to determine your own destiny. I would say that it’s not incorrect to treat that as the standpoint of Satanism, or much of the Left Hand Path despite Gruppo Di Nun’s distinct definition of it.
The duality presented between Carlo Michelstaedter and Julius Evola, which is in turn central to the core philosophy of Gruppo Di Nun, presents hidden horizons of perversion that bend it. Take the whole throughline of “self-deification”. If we assume that the whole universe is comprised of the power of recombination, becoming divine would be assumed to be one of many possibilities of becoming and recombination. Indeed, Claudio Kulesko seems to figure xenophilia and ascetic mysticism as becoming-divine by way of shedding oneself into nihility. Against Michelstaedter’s utter lack of any possibility of persuasion, Evola is presented as quite conspicuously as an anti-passive, non-surrendering figure, in the sense that to make this choice, rather than follow Michelstaetder, is to be understood as an inherently fascist act. But Dracula, as Kulesko understands him, could accept his own death knowing exactly that he would not be surrendering to his enemies, or even to his own disappearance, because now, even in his death, he has become atmosphere. The knowledge of the power of Darkness invites only one meaningful path forward: to use it. You cannot build a temple of light over the Darkness, you cannot conquer or defeat Darkness, you cannot “rescue the light from” Darkness, but what you can do instead far surpasses the ambitions of men like Julius Evola, who, even on behalf of some concept of the ego, seek only to erect a magic circle expel the real source of the power of apotheosis. The canvas of limitless Art is all around you. You only have to see it.
Amy Ireland figures the nightmare of Evola’s “Magical Idealism” – its nemesis, the terror that plagues its foundations – in what Claudio Kulesko describes as the “black primordial magma” of reality in its uncontaminated state, the darkness that is the cradle and grave of every world and every meaning. Ireland asserts that Evola’s version of the notion of an unchanging immaterial I, and his goal of “binding and freezing the waters of Nun” for the purpose of “rescuing something stable, impassive, and immortal from it”, is inherently compromised and haunted by the presence of this material darkness. Though, while I gather that one is intended to take away from it the notion of selfhood itself as being compromised by it, as if Evola’s Magical Idealism was somehow the only relevant working notion of selfhood, the horizon of construction, located within nihility, is in my opinion the main locus here. It’s the same horizon that popular, one-sided, collectivist notions of “constructivism” so often ignore: if you can be constructred, you can construct yourself. Rather than suppress the darkness and suspend chaos, the path is to embrace the darkness as the sole horizon to become anything you want, the only true source of apotheosis. You will construct an I within the darkness, that is at once the canvas of your own alchemical creation, not the prison of your eternal soul. The “I” is not something to be given to you by the order of the universe, and it’s not this fixed presence in the world. In order to be you, in order to be your own “I”, you have to create it, and you have take ownership of your own self-creation/construction if you don’t want to be constructed from without. That’s what you need to kindle and wield the Black Flame for.
It may indeed be that this, all along, is at the root of the theme that I have perhaps perennially fixed myself on in life: the inner “light” of the darkness. Perhaps Evola would view this light as something that has to be “rescued” from the darkness. But, as if to subvert his expectation, we ought to consider that light not as something trapped within the darkness, but rather an inherent property of that darkness. Trying to separate that light from the darkness in the hopes of “rescuing the light” would be like trying to separate your stomach from the body in the hopes of rescuing yourself from hunger. And the problem has nothing to do with “balance” or “equilibrium” between “light and “darkness” as representing something along the lines of the white and black horses of Plato’s Chariot: I suppose I would thus now say that the Assembly of Light Bearers and their particular school of Luciferianism are entirely misguided in this sense! No, it’s not because of a balance or equilibrium between light and darkness, at least because we are speaking of but one special kind of light. No, it’s because the light I am talking about is a property of darkness, intrinsic to that darkness, not something outside of darkness to be contrasted and complimented by darkness. It might just be the Black Flame.
The Insurrectionary Spiral of Satan (or, My Alternative to the Love of Surrender)
I have to admit, getting down on my knees isn’t my preference, let alone dying on them. I know that sounds unfair, and there’s a lot of Revolutionary Demonology that really doesn’t seem all that masochistic on its own, particularly the essays on bodybuilding, gothic time, and solarisation. Really, if there’s one of many issues I have with Gruppo Di Nun it’s their insistence that everything, or at least everything worth a damn, is masochistic in the precise sense that it longs for its own demise and dissolution into nothing. Which is not to say that you can discount the death drive in their terms or that you can’t appreciate it in certain places. You could, for instance, point to the warrior having a piece of that in themselves. And I did indeed write about the death drive of Dracula’s vampirism, by way of Kulesko’s interpretation; but, I must admit, from my reading you could guess that this appreciation is not entirely for its own sake. In a sense, the same could really be said of the way I appreciate Gruppo Di Nun’s talk of the endless sea of recombination: it’s all about the possibility of becoming something, about how it is always become something else, and the thing I always emphasize is a descent by which you could at least choose to do so and set the horizons of your own becoming.
In the name of a different sort of nihilism I position my own alternative to surrender. Gruppo Di Nun propose, in view of a cosmos fatalistically drawn towards its own annihilation, a love for one’s own dissolution. I carve out my alternative on a similar premise: love. But love for what? Not just insurrection, but the whole spiral of insurrection, the war of all against all in Stirner’s terms, the strife that the ancient polytheists located at the heart of the cosmos, the fight that we fight on our behalf. Satan, as the Adversary, is the sign and Sun of all of this, beyond humanistic reason. The reality of our world of desires, conflicts of will and reality production, rebellion and force, class antagonism, subjective agencies, all point to worlds of individual interest, interests that are often mutual to each other to the point of reconciliation but which sometimes fight each other. Politics is the organisation of these interests in a struggle for the right to, in Deleuzian terms, produce reality: for instance, modern capitalism as the reality produced by the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie versus all of its underclasses and/or outer-classes striving to produce a new reality beyond capitalism. As Shahin elaborates in Nietzsche and Anarchy, social war is the sum condition of all this: a constant state of bodies interacting with each other, possessing mutually opposed desires and projects, inevitably leading to conflict. Anarchists, or at least those of the anti-utopian camps, understand that this means a constant struggle with authority, not just as the extant structures that exist now but as the paranoiac desires and projects of control that inevitably lead to the oppressive institutions of statehood and which even after the abolition of the state could eventually appear again. The insurrection never really ends. That insurrection, that war of all against all, the struggle to defy and produce reality autonomously that thus animates life itself, this is what I advocate we reserve a satanic love for, the love that Gruppo Di Nun otherwise reserves for surrender.
There’s a sense in which life itself has to be seen as an insurrection, at least in the sense of a spontaneous overturning of everything. That is one of the readings one can take even from the base mythology of Gruppo Di Nun, which necessarily entails the successful overthrow of the void state represented as Tiamat, and the resultant exile of life from its womb. When I make the comparison to Gnosticism, it is not for nothing, for the myth conveyed in “Every Worm Trampled Is A Star” resonates inescapably with the Gnostic universe, with its corruption at the heart of matter set and the exile of spirit from the Pleroma into matter, set in place by Sophia breaking the order of the Pleroma in her quest to know God. And if life is an exile then this is only be embraced, because that embrace is the only way to make sense of life. You were not born only to die. You were born to become, and you can become anything you want. That is what the insurrection brings about at the primordial level, because life emerges so that it can become anything.
Gruppo Di Nun’s primordial mother in all her incarnations wants nothing in us except transformation, but was transformed herself and cries out in agony because of it. Insurrection is also transformation, right down to the primordial level. Insurrection, following Max Stirner’s terms, fights that which is and enacts a transformation of everything. It also entails a transformation of the self, one that must be enacted willfully, by a willing agent seeking to transform in accordance with will. As Saul Newman observes in Insurrection or Revolution?, insurrection is a transformation not simply of society but of the self, an act of self-liberation that allows the person to overcome their own obedience and attachment to authority and arrange themselves, and their relationships with others, as they see fit. This is, in Satanic terms, is its own nigredo, and the Great Work as a whole. Alchemy as a process of continuous individuation and perfection is a labour of will, none other than the insurrectionary will to transform yourself on your own terms, and it’s on those exact terms that the alchemist gives way to the transformation they desire. I see this alchemy in art, play, sex (especially in kink), and ritual in that all of these are ways that the will, to varying degrees of intensity, may transform itself on its own terms.
At odds with masochism, I pose what Geoffrey Gorer called “The pleasure felt from the observed modifications on the external world produced by the will of the observer” as not only the percept of Valerio Mattioli’s concept of solarisation but also insurrection itself (again, per Stirner’s terms at least). In an undying love for the war of all against all, those who walk the Left Hand Path will overturn the world and turn it into their own, alchemically turning themselves into beings that can thrust open the world around us, fly inside like demons, and make ourselves divine. Satan is our solar myth exactly because he represents the whole spiral of insurrection that life consists of.
In this sense one can say there are two approaches to the demonic in play. Both of these embrace the demonic to the extent of wanting to invoke it in this world for transformative ends. But in one approach, the demonic as an outside is invited as a mechanism for one’s own disintegration, in the other the demonic is drawn in as an avenue of becoming. Gruppo Di Nun represents the former approach, I strive for the latter. The latter approach of becoming-demonic would see you not simply as a vector in relation to the outside but also, with the model of the barbarian as its guide, place yourself as an outsideness: you would Stirner’s heaven-stormer. And after all, why should I settle for anything else? Besides, that is ultimately the kind of individual we see in the outcome of Enrico Monacelli’s assessment of Mandy, even if Monacelli does not give attention to that aspect.
The Lessons of Revolutionary Demonology
For all of that, however, I consider Revolutionary Demonology as a body of work to be very valuable. Even if seen as a challenge in relation to the Left Hand Path as it exists, I consider it a worthy challenge, to the extent that I absolutely recommend reading it. I would even regard it as essential reading for aspiring students of the Left Hand Path, not simply because of its philosophy but because of the horizons that the whole book can offer. I believe I am at point where, even for all of my criticisms of Gruppo Di Nun here, I would nonetheless consider myself indellably influenced by Revolutionary Demonology and Gruppo Di Nun. In that spirit, I believe I can summarize some valuable takeaways for myself.
At the end, Amy Ireland summarizes the core message of Gruppo Di Nun as follows: there is always another world hidden in this one. The thing is, that itself is not such a novel thing. The magical tradition has, in many ways, assumed something like this for many centuries, perhaps longer than we can remember. In a way, pagan mysteries already have some uncanny sense of that. The difference is that Gruppo Di Nun are convinced that one can only truly access this through masochism. And from this standpoint I think it both arguably underscores and arguably “resolves” the Sethian Problem. Why? It makes sense of the universe as an endless chain of becoming, for one thing, but it’s probably the only reason one doesn’t just extinguish yourself in a world that they repeatedly emphasize is a Landian machine of disintegreation and laceration: because even in this there is always more, something else. There is always Remoria, the infernal double of Rome that always pushes for the inversion of the world. There is always a shadow in which we discover the possibility of another world – no, the power to create one. There is always, all the more so, another world that we are capable of bringing into being.
The horizon of self-construction is inherently relevant to the metaphysics of becoming we can observe from Gruppo Di Nun, and especially Claudio Kulesko’s form of it. We too often ground our freedom in the idea of a naturalistic essence of being, while assuming that to accept construction means only to accept that we are always constructed around us by forces that are externally autonomous to us, without us ever autonomously constructing ourselves. I am loathe to admit it, but there was a time many years ago when a prejudice like this animated a deep-seated difficulty in accepting any notion of constructivism. But when you learn that you and everyone else are just as surely constructing themselves, even whether wittingly or unwittingly, and when you can locate the power to do so in yourself and in pure reality itself, it becomes very easy to image constructivism in terms of the process of construction flowing everywhere and in all directions. Kulesko’s nihilism is only a much more powerful vehicle for the realization of construction: the darkness that is the ur-reality of everything is the same darkness that allows us to construct ourselves in any way we please, and to recognise it is in many ways the first step to undertaking your own Great Work.
The world is coming apart. But it is also constantly being re-ordered, all the time, at least all the moreso by those who “get to” shape it in their own image. The Image of the World hangs over us, but that is only at the making those who have built it before us, and maintain it in the present, and it can and will be destroyed, one way of the other. History is the successive creating, destroying, and re-ordering of the world, in the name of no teleology and instead on behalf of desire. There can be no cowering from this world, if we are to change and construct it to our liking. If, also, we are to be reborn in apotheosis.
I think that, at the end of it all, it is possible to conclude that almost everything in Revolutionary Demonology points to a very elaborate way of saying “there is no way out but through” as the simplest principle of the Left Hand Path, as they understand it. That is certainly to my mind what flows not simply in consideration of the crushing pessimism and nihilism that Gruppo Di Nun considers, but also in the whole discourse of Gothic Insurrection, the implications of nigredo, the whole metaphor of alchemy that is employed throughout the book, and especially the inclusion of Bronze Age Collapse’s materialist metaphysics of fitness and the tendency towards the absolute. That tendency, should it be accessed and perfected, leads into a centrifrugal motion towards the “ultimate” state, as opposed to descending back towards antediluvia as in the wound. Maurice Blanchot said, “Nihilism stands like an extreme that cannot be gotten beyond, and yet it is the only true path of going beyond; it is the principle of a new beginning.” Insofar as he is right, the new beginning is down to the bottom of the earth and up through its hidden paths of ascent, and all false hope of salvation is to be rejected on behalf of the power to create and traverse new worlds. The whole “problem” of nihilism is one of the other main subjects Gruppo Di Nun attends to, and in this regard they understand something important. They regard nihilism as the motor of love, rather than our adversary, precisely because it is only the destruction of transcendent values and the elimination of the need for transcendent validation new values, meanings, subjects, and worlds, can come into being. For Gruppo Di Nun this leaves no room for will in that will cannot constrain the black horizon of nihilism. But from another standpoint, it frees the will for as long as will accepts the Darkness as its most powerful ally, rejecting transcendent order on behalf of its own becoming and construction. I suppose in this sense, from one angle, that does mean finding ways of “letting go”.
I have sometimes found myself wondering, with a sense of perspectivism, would some semblance of the Pagan worldview not make some difference for the rammifications that Gruppo Di Nun affords to their abyssic metaphysics of becoming. After all, if you want a rationale for life in this setting, Gruppo Di Nun is not necessarily wanting on its own terms, especially not as borne out by the anarcho-nihilist implications of Kulesko’s take on cosmic pessimism, but it’s also honestly just right there in Bronze Age Collapse’s essay, and, in a larger sense, the Pagan worldview that it draws from our speaks to. It’s almost to the point that one might ask if some aspect of the supreme cosmic pessimism we are presented with is not in some way conditioned by Christian meaning and its concurrent collapse. And of course, “letting go” is a phrase that becomes important. But to let go is to let go of something. From one perspective, perhaps that is order. Logos, Pleroma, the Kingdom of God, everything like that in which humans think they will find freedom, peace, salvation, power, but in which they are bound in their sense of hope, all wrapped up in their bid to repress the power of Darkness. It is funny how often people tend to try and repress that which might give them the most power and the most freedom. If that power is what one desires, then, from a certain point of view, perhaps that does take a bit of letting go of something. And yet, you cannot surrender. Your business is to fight, but your quarrel is not with the Darkness. It is in the name of your own will in darkness.
Above all, however, we should turn to what is ostensibly the central theme of Revolutionary Demonology: the demonic. I find myself meditating on a throughline that seems to emerge; the idea that the demonic may in its own way be a portal, either from the outside to the world of phenomenon, or from the standpoint of the world towards the beyond and unknown. The exact nature of what that entails is still not entirely clear to me, but I think it emerges from the discussions of solarisation, Gothic Insurrection, and the Outside, all of these avenues seem to give a throughline whereby we might see the demonic in terms of the outside coming in. That is a conception familiar to the demonic at large. In “Dogma”, “Gothic Insurrection”, and “The Highest Form of Gnosis” in particular, as well as in some sense throughout Revolutionary Demonology, Gruppo Di Nun stresses a concept of the demonic as a presence that capable of entering in from outside, as if to “invade” this world from another one, from the Outside. There is obvious a vast history of demonic liminality behind this concept. Everyone knows about the conventional Christian idea of demonic possession, but there’s also much more beyond the Christian complex. In ancient Egypt, for instance, the demonic was inherently liminal, owing to their existence at the threshold of the netherworld and the world of the living, violently enforcing its boundaries. The Etruscan wolf, crossing from the underworld to the world, embodies a similar property. In many pre-Christian contexts, the divine itself could be seen crashing through the boundaries of existence, and not merely nymphs and other spirits but also some of the gods themselves could possess humans. In esoteric Buddhism, demons embody a presence that always exists outside the structure of order, capable of subverting and overflowing it, thus also crossing through the walls. From there, I believe we have the beginnings of the demonic as a portal, and perhaps a portal that does not only have one way through.
The way Gruppo Di Nun talks about the demonic also leads us into one point that I have neglected so far up to now: demonic multiplicity. In an interview hosted on Diffractions Collective by Dustin Breitling, Kulesko says that the demonic always refers to “atmospheric multiplicity”. The appropriate example and analogy is Legion, the demon whose name derives from the fact that they are many. The concept of Gothic Insurrection is deeply animated by this notion of multiplicity, striving to literally be Legion, spreading out in all directions in a multiplicity of barbarous and demonic forms. The other analogy is Austin Osman Spare’s concept of Zos-Kia, with the point being that you may be closer to apprehending the demonic if you already understand yourself as many. I meditated on that a little, and I think I can see the horizon of demonic multiplicity in terms of the way I seek to apply Paganism. Whether it is the concept of Satanic Paganism, or down the line a development towards a formless, “non-Euclidean” (loosely borrowing the term from Robert Anton Wilson) expression of the Left Hand Path, within both Pagan syncretism and demonology the horizon of multiplicity may in .
The final thing I could say about the reflections I have put forward is, for myself, relevant to how I might like to manifest The Art. Since adolescence I suppose one could say one of my driving obsessesions has been demons and the demonic. Therefore, one way to manifest the lessons of Revolutionary Demonology that I take up for my own valuation is to more practically align my manifestation of Art with the manifestation of the demonic in the and my own becoming-demonic into the world. To put another way: I must create in ways that bring demons and the demonic into the world, and in turn I must make myself demonic, so that I may propel towards the absolute and become divine. I accept the demonic as the alchemical basis of magical realization in the context of the Left Hand Path, much like Ernst Schertel did for magic at large and much as Stanisław Przybyszewski accepted Satan as the insurrectionary basis for life’s origin and development. And further, I accept the world of demons as the portal not just of darkness into the world, but the portal of the individual magician into the forbidden world of the divine, where one can propel into the beyond and become divine.
I might also consider another dimension of this work as in the sense that certain applications of psychogeography could comprise a more experimental, but worthwhile, path to pursue. Employing Valerio Mattioli’s insights on the solarisation of the ethnographic work of Alan Lomax and Ernesto De Martino, and the way they unravel a whole arcane world in southern Italy, in the context of psychography might lend to a development of psychogeograhical occult praxis that allows for the opening up of arcane worlds and access their insight, to solarise the world around you. Consider it not only another avenue of practical and artistic fulfillment of the opening up of the demonic and thereby becoming-demonic, but in equal measure a practical and artistic fulfillment of the precept I share with esoteric forms of the doctrine of innate enlightenment, which places a sinister arcane world as a dark ground of being and ultimate reality. And, just as well, part of a broader application of psychogeography that is as pagan as it is demonic.
And so I conclude, in the hopes that I have sketched for myself more than anyone else, one more possibility that might emerge from the black magmatic waters of Revolutionary Demonology, one forged of my own resonance in the name of my own will. That I have shown the way to the love of the war of all against all, far beyond the love of surrender, as part of the renewal of the Left Hand Path. That I wield a love worthy of The Devil, and which shines the light of the Black Flame again.
Part 1: https://mythoughtsbornfromfire.wordpress.com/2023/03/13/revolutionary-demonology-a-critique-part-1-perverting-the-cosmic-death-drive/
Part 2: https://mythoughtsbornfromfire.wordpress.com/2023/03/24/revolutionary-demonology-a-critique-part-2-five-colours-of-darkness/
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