Horus and the morning star

As I seek out morning star archetypes from across the world, naturally one area of interest would be Egypt, and that lead me onto another mythological subject I’ve become interested in recently, one that I hadn’t thought of before regarding Egyptian myth: the subject of Horus (or Heru as he was probably known by the Egyptians) and his status as a stellar deity.

Horus is the deity representing the Egyptian royalty, the tutelary deity of the Pharaoh and thus the country of Egypt. He was also widely assumed by Western commentators to be a sky god, sometimes even a sun god (which doesn’t make much sense considering Egyptian mythology already has a sun deity in the form of Ra) by people who desperately want to believe in the Jesus=Horus=Mithras=Krishna=Dionysus=Attis theory propounded by the likes of Peter Joseph and Bill Maher. What is less known is Horus’ connotations as an apparent stellar or astral deity within the Egyptian religion.

In a study entitled Stellar and solar components in ancient Egyptian mythology and royal ideology, the egyptologist Rolf Krauss examines the texts of dynasties I-III wherein Horus is referred to as a star. According to Krauss, in the earliest periods of Egyptian religion Horus was a star deity, as evidenced by the names of the royal domains, such as “Horus, the star has arisen”, “Horus, the star of khet” and “Horus, foremost star of the sky”. While the first two are treated as possibly figurative, the third is seen as likely literal, referring to a star in the sky, in any case Horus is attested to as representing a star. The Pyramid Texts, the Coffin Texts and other texts apparently identify Horus as the son of Osiris-Orion and Sothis-Isis-Hathor. In Egypt, the constellation of Orion was actually a deity by the name of Sah, who was supposedly the father of the gods, but Sah was also associated with Osiris, as Utterance 442 suggests:

Behold, he is come (again) as Sah; behold, Osiris is come as Sah. Lord of the wine-cellar at the Wag feast.

This possibly means that Osiris appears as the deity Sah for the occasion of the feast of Wag, which might have been an Egyptian festival of the dead dedicated to Osiris. Since Sah and Osiris were not treated as identical, although related, Osiris-Orion might represent a compound deity, a fusion of Osiris and Shah. Sothis refers to a goddess referred to by the Egyptians as Sopdet, the goddess representing the star known as Sirius and the consort of Sah who served as the guide of the deceased king in the afterlife. The morning star was believed to be the child of Sothis. Her son, the deity named Sopdu, was said to be associated with the planet Venus (that part will probably be important later). At some point in Egypt’s history, Sothis and Isis become associated with each other to the point that Sothis becomes subsumed into Isis, and her husband Sah also becomes conflated with Osiris in a similar fashion. In the same way, Sopdu is identified as a related to Horus, is said to be paired with Horus in the Pyramid Texts as Horus-Sopdu, and is eventually treated as simply an avatar of Horus.

The priest Pu-Inpu offering praise to Isis (left), Harendotes (middle) and Osiris (right)

Osiris-Orion is said to have given birth to two deities that bear the name Horus: Mekhenti-irty (“Horus Eyeless”) and Harendotes (“Horus, protector of his father”). Mekhenti-irty is the older Horus and was sired while his father was alive, while Harendotes is the younger Horus and was sired after his father was murdered by Set. For some reason the younger Horus is also referred to as “Horus, son of Isis” because Isis is credited with raising him, but not the older one. The younger Horus is also referred to as “god of the morning”, and an inscription around the zodiac of Dendera apparently cites Horus as a star god associated with morning. This alone might not necessarily mean the morning star, but we’re building to something here.

According to Krauss, Horus is described as a “sehed star” and “a beautiful wa’a-star of gold, which has risen from the akhet” (I have no idea what sehed or wa’a mean) by Coffin Text 722, and is cited as “Horus who ascends as gold from upon the lips of the akhet” (akhet referring to the horizon) by Coffin Text 255, and these citations are supposed to link Horus with the morning star via the younger Horus (Harendotes). Krauss also suggests that if the younger Horus is the morning star, then the older Horus (Mekhenti-irty) must be the evening star. He cites Pyramid Text utterance 303 as the basis for this assumption, wherein Osiris is said to taken the older Horus as his and Hathor’s son, and Coffin Text Spell 106 wherein the older Horus is described as a “sehed star” just like the younger Horus. Krauss describes the sehed stars as possessing freedom of movement, which to me sort of lines up with what I’ve read about Athtar’s power of freedom of movement between Zaphon and the underworld.

There is also the eyes of Horus, which are described as the morning star and evening star respectively. The older Horus is said to have lost one of his eyes in a struggle against Set, but that eye was later healed by Thoth. This eye is attested to as the eye associated with the evening star, and apparently several Coffin Text spells link that injured eye to the night sky, it is described as “found in the retinue of the moon”, “beneficial in the night”, making “fire with its beauty”, and “becoming the fiery eye of Horus”. Such fiery nature enables Horus to roast his enemies, and is said to relate to the brilliance of a specific star. The injury of the evening star eye is said to relate to the invisibility of Venus two months before its reappearance as the evening star, while its recovery is said to reflect the encounter between the evening star and the waxing moon.

It is established from there that Horus represents the planet Venus, and its morning star and evening star aspects, and that the ideology of Egyptian royalty rested upon a stellar, not necessarily solar basis, at least for a time. This ideology is also said accommodate for Set, who in the early Egyptian religion was a storm deity identified with the planet Mercury. Strangely enough, it’s suggested that at some points Set was the friend of Horus, not just his rival, with the appearances and disappearances of Venus and Mercury indicative of fighting, injury, but also reconciliation and joint action, between Horus and Set. Of course, this must have been before the invasion and expulsion of the Hyksos (referring to a Canaanite dynasty who briefly ruled Egypt), after which Set was vilified as the patron of hostile foreigners and eventually effectively demoted to evil demon status because the Hyksos favored him due to his apparent similarity to one of their gods – namely Ba’al. Interestingly enough, it is suggested further that the stellar cult, that is the basis of pharaonic rule on the lord of the planet Venus, may have been one of the earlier royal cults, while the solar cult, based on Ra, was introduced later by the pharaoh Khasekhemuy, who ruled towards the end of the Second Dynasty. This would mean Horus becoming subordinate to Ra, now the king of the gods, which may have been achieved by having Horus become a child of Ra rather than of Osiris-Orion, which seems strange considering the continuity of the myth of Osiris’ murder wherein Horus is very definitely Osiris’ son and seeking vengeance against Set for murdering him.

Horus and Set stood around the sign of the union

Krauss is not the only one who identifies Horus as the morning star. In a section of Egyptology at the Dawn of the Twenty-first Century: Proceedings of the Eighth International Congress of Egyptologists, Cairo, 2000, Katja Goebs discusses the relation between the morning star (which curiously enough is treated as a solar entity) and certain deities, particularly in the context of spells for the deceased. Goebs describes the deceased beginning his sequence of divine association with Osiris, then needing to be transfigured into a certain kind of star for his ascent into the heavens, and then references a text where it is stated that at a certain point Re (clearly Ra) summons the deceased as Horus so that he may place him as the morning star into the Field of Rushes. The star the deceased becomes is a star that crosses Nut, goddess of the sky. The deceased is identified by Goebs as progressing from an underworldly, nightly, invisible force as Osiris or Orion into a solar entity likened to the divinity of the deities Thoth and Anubis, and is finally embodied as the morning star and attaining royal status as a result in the afterlife.  The sun deity Ra appears in two guises: Atum, identified as the evening sun, and the lord of the “wrrt”. But it is through his day form that he summons the deceased as the morning star, and though he grants the deceased royal status by this summoning and transfiguration, he remains the ultimate sovereign in the Egyptian cosmos.

The transfiguration from Osiris to ultimately Horus is also treated as symbolic of a mythological takeover of the rule of Osiris by Horus (or Ra) in the kingdom of the gods, and in a broader sense a cosmic transition from night (represented by the powers of Osiris) to day (represented by the powers of Horus or Ra). It is also said that Horus in this way actually bridges the rule of night and day, being the successor of the rule of Osiris and the predecessor of the rule of Ra. The cycle apparently is supposed to go as Ra-Osiris-Horus.

Finally, Ev Cochrane has his own interpretation of Horus as the morning star. In Starf*cker: The Catastrophic Conjunction of Venus and Mars, he points out a passage attributed to the Pyramid Texts which reads:

O Morning Star, Horus of the Netherworld, divine Falcon, wådåd‑bird whom the sky bore

Surely this refers to Horus as the ruler of the underworld like Athtar, right? Well, according to Cochrane, Duat was originally more of a celestial abode, which he backs up with verse that reads:

Make the sky clear and shine on them as a god; may you be enduring at the head of the
sky as Horus of the Netherworld.

This appears to suggest Horus as possibly being the leading star in the sky as the ruler of Duat. Does it answer the question of Duat being a celestial place? I have my doubts. Duat, if you remember, is neither heaven nor strictly hell. In Egyptian religion, it is the liminal plane between death and paradise in the afterlife, home to many demons who challenge the soul of the dead on behalf of the gods. Deities said to reside in Duat include Horus, Anubis, Thoth, Osiris, Ma’at and Hathor, all of whom are supposed to appear to the soul of the deceased at various stages. To that extent, Horus is probably *a* lord of Duat within the Egyptian canon.

Now, what does “wådåd‑bird” mean? In Phaethon: The Star That Fell From Heaven, Cochrane claims that wådåd translates literally into “great green”, and suggests . The word wådåd might be related to the word wꜢḏ, which does indeed seem to mean green, and it does dovetail with the symbolism of the Wadjet. Wadjet, or Wedjet, is the Egyptian name for the symbol famously known as the Eye of Horus, and is also personified as a snake goddess.  Wadjet amulets often came in a green or greenish blue colour, and green in Egyptian culture represented life, fertility, the growth of vegetation and death and resurrection (due its association with Osiris as the colour of his skin). Not to mention, in utterance 301 of the Pyramid Texts, Horus is referred to as the Lord of the Green Stone.

Purify for you Unas, make Unas bright in this your Jackal-lake, o Jackal (zAb), in which you purify the gods.
You are powerful,
you are sharp (spd) as Horus,
the Lord of the Green Stone.
To say four times:
“like the two green hawks.”

It is said that, because of this, Wadjet or Eye of Horus amulets, which represented the uninjured morning star eye of Horus, came to be associated with healing and protection from curses. It’s just a hunch and I can’t find anything supporting this concretely, but I kind of suspect that the word wådåd may have been related to the word wadjet, possibly even a dodgy translation of wadjet (perhaps wådåd-bird actually means wadjet-bird, which would make sense given Wadjet is literally the Eye of Horus).

Wadjet in snake form (pictured to the right) next to the goddess Nekhbet

Cochrone believes the significance of the colour green for Horus pertains to the “greening” of the cosmos through the appearance of the morning star, which is much less supported by Egyptian mythology (he even cites a passage of the Book of the Dead which depicts Horus rising in turquoise, not green), but he goes on to link this with different myths from different locations that supposedly reflect a real astronomical event. At this point that I think full disclosure is necessary regarding Ev Cochrane.

While I do think he gives us some factual insight into mythology, the conclusions he draws from the mythological sources are rather dubious. He is of the school of thought that mythology is a broad reflection by cultures across the globe of interstellar catastrophes that allegedly happened within the solar system. In this way he seems to be a disciple of Immaneul Velikovsky, whose ideas are spread in a journal writes for named Aeon (not to be confused with Aeon magazine) and another journal named Kronos. Velikovsky is most famous for claiming that Earth suffered close contacts with other planets and was witness other interstellar catastrophes, which in turn were recorded as mythological phenomenon. His ideas are pretty much universally rejected by the scientific community and are even treated as being on par with creationism. Know that I write this post from the perspective of mythology, and really nothing else, so we won’t explore Cochrane’s claims about astronomy any further, but if you encounter his ideas, bring a fresh jar of skepticism with you.

And now we arrive at the burning question with this inquiry: what does Horus have to do with Lucifer, given Horus’ evident association with the morning star? To be honest, I have my doubts. While Horus definitely seems to be the deity attached to the morning star in Egyptian lore, his mythology doesn’t have any correspondence or correlation with the Lucifer we know, or the Canaanite mythology of Athtar that preceded him. Whereas Lucifer as we know him defies God’s will and Athtar snubs the gods, all of Horus’ functions are ordained by Ra, the divine sovereign of the cosmos, and it is not despite but through the will of the Godhead (or the closest thing to it within a polytheistic religion) that deceased souls may acquire royal or divine status in the afterlife. In the Levant the morning star was either a mysterious deity who resided in the underworld, travels between realms and stands almost toe-to-toe with Ba’al Hadad (as per Canaanite mythology) or a rebellious and prideful entity who seeks the place of the Godhead (as per Jewish/Old Testament mythology). In Egypt, the morning star probably was just the foremost of all stars whose brilliance was second only to the sun. Horus does indeed traverse the underworld, accompanying Ra in his solar barge to fight Apep, and he resides in Duat, but that he doesn’t rule over Duat, though apparently he and over deities control some demons there in order to test the souls of the deceased. Horus in general doesn’t really exhibit any traits that a lot of Luciferians would probably identify as Luciferian, nor does he fulfill any Luciferian functions, let alone those of any deities that could be similar to Lucifer like Prometheus (though Prometheus is not a morning star, he forms part of the basis for the modern idea of Lucifer).

To be honest, if there’s any Egyptian deity who bears some similarities to Lucifer, at least in the Luciferian sense, it might be Thoth. Though he has none of the rebellious connotations of Lucifer or Prometheus (being effectively the scribe of the gods subservient to Ra and all), Thoth was something of a bringer of knowledge within Egyptian myth. He is credited as being the divine inventor of mathematics, science, magic, hieroglyphics, and many other things, and is credited with a library of magic books capable of subduing the gods themselves. He also serves as a bridge between opposites where he serves a mediator between order and chaos, so as to maintain the balance of the cosmos, and he also has some connection to the underworld, where he apparently has power unrivaled even by Ra or Osiris (who is pretty much dependent on his good offices). Like a certain Irish deity I covered in my last post, he was frequently equated with Mercury. In fact he was equated by the Greeks with their deity Hermes, to the point that they named his patron city Hermopolis (as in city of Hermes). The Greeks even credited him with inventing every branch of knowledge. They were even responsible for the identification of Thoth as Hermes Trismegistus, who would become a very important character for the occult philosophy of Hermeticism. Of course, being a scribe of the gods, Thoth was just responsible for recording knowledge, though there is some possible evidence of Egyptian lore wherein Thoth transmits knowledge to a human. Or there’s also Hermanubis, a syncretic fusion of Hermes and Anubis worshipped in the Greco-Roman mysteries, said to be a not only a psychopomp who also embodies the exploration of the truth, and like Hermes is said to travel in and out of the underworld, and some believe him to be the deity who reveals the mysteries of the lower world.

A statue of Hermanubis

The main point you can take from that is that the myths and gods of the world’s cultures, while often similar to one another, ultimately tend to possess their own character, having developed out of different conditions, different locations, different social relations and different understandings of the world. This is why deities from different cultures that seem similar really don’t have meaningful correspondence or correlation with each other. The Lucifer we know is the product of a figure from Canaanite mythology being interpreted through the lens of Jewish and then Christian mythology, followed by longstanding Romantic literal tradition and the influence of Western occult belief systems. This background is not shared by other mythological morning star deities, in whose cultures the morning star was simply a positive and often creative force in its own right. All cultures function as dialectical continuums unto themselves, starting from different origin points, building on top of them, evolving over time. There is no single myth or mode of belief from which all religions and belief systems stem.

This is where I’d end things, but I want to address where Thelema might fit into the whole Horus morning star thing, considering Horus becomes something of an important figure in that belief system. Thelema holds Horus as representative of the current Aeon, the Aeon of Horus, which represents a time where people begin to pursue realization of the sovereign individual and uphold the principle of “do what thou wilt” (as in, follow the True Will as per Thelemic doctrine rather than just do what you want according to the base senses). He manifests particularly within Thelema as Ra-Hoor-Khuit (or Heru-ra-ha), a compound deity consisting of Ra and Horus , as well as Hoor-paar-khrat (or Harpocrates), who is Horus the Child and described in Thelemic doctrine as the deity of the Holy Guardian Angel or the Higher Self. Aleister Crowley was said to have successfully invoked Horus in 1904, which was the same year he held marked the beginning of the Aeon of Horus.

Lucifer doesn’t really enter into Thelema, except through Aiwass in a way. Aiwass the name of a voice or spirit that Crowley claimed to have heard or encountered in 1904, and who Crowley would go on to identify as the minister of Hoor-paar-khrat. He also explicitly identifies Aiwass with Lucifer in Magick in Theory and Practice.

“’The Devil’ is, historically, the God of any people that one personally dislikes. This has led to so much confusion of thought that THE BEAST 666 has preferred to let names stand as they are, and to proclaim simply that AIWAZ, the solar-phallic-hermetic ‘Lucifer,’ is His own Holy Guardian Angel, and ‘The Devil’ SATAN or HADIT, the Supreme Soul behind RA-HOOR-KHUIT the Sun, the Lord of our particular unit of the Starry Universe. This serpent, SATAN, is not the enemy of Man, but He who made Gods of our race, knowing Good and Evil; He bade ‘Know Thyself!’ and taught Initiation. He is ‘the Devil’ of the Book of Thoth, and His emblem is BAPHOMET, the Androgyne who is the hieroglyph of arcane perfection. The number of His Atu is XV, which is Yod He, the Monogram of the Eternal, the Father one with the Mother, the Virgin Seed one with all-containing Space. He is therefore Life, and Love. But moreover his letter is Ayin, the Eye; he is Light, and his Zodiacal image is Capricornus, that leaping goat whose attribute is Liberty.”

Beyond this reference, however, Lucifer doesn’t really feature in Thelema. Lucifer seems to have been either an alternative name or simply the descriptive quality of Aiwass.

Here I think the function of Horus, or at least the entity that pretty much approximates Horus, could be interpreted by some Luciferians as representing something similar to their own values, perhaps, in the sense that there tends to be some overlap between Luciferianism, Satanism and Thelema though the doctrines are ultimately different. It still doesn’t line up with Lucifer exactly, but like there’s some small similarities at work. What’s interesting is that I haven’t seen the morning star used in reference to any entity within Thelema, not even Hoor-paar-khrat/Harpocrates who would definitely serve as the younger Horus within Thelema, and unlike in Luciferianism the morning star doesn’t really form the main basis of the spiritual philosophy. In Thelema, therefore, an aspect of Horus is linked with Lucifer in a vague sense, through the description of “the solar-phallic-hermetic Lucifer”, and not much else. Horus is still his own being within Thelema.

So, to make a very long story short, Horus, despite being the Egyptian morning star deity, is not related to Lucifer, and I think you would have make quite a stretch to suggest Horus as a Luciferian archetype.

Mythological Spotlight #8 Part 1 – Satan

For Part 3 of my planned series, I offer you a special Mythological Spotlight dedicated to comparing the archetypes of Satan and Lucifer, both of whom are important mythological figures within the current of Satanism, as well as its sister philosophy known as Luciferianism. The main impetus for these two posts is simple: although Satan and Lucifer are treated in the popular imagination as similar entities, if not the expressly synonymous, the two characters are known to have two separate historical origins within two distinct contexts. I hope that in these posts, I will adequately demonstrate how this is the case.

I had originally intended to wrote a single Mythological Spotlight comparing Satan and Lucifer, essentially making for two Mythological Spotlights in one. However, as I was writing it I decided that the single post would be excessively long, so I decided to split this into two part. The first part of this Mythological Spotlight, of course, concentrates on the character of Satan. The second part is in progress should be released soon enough.

satanjobboils_blake
Satan smiting Job with boils, as depicted by William Blake

 

Description

To Christians, he is The Devil, The Beast, That Old Snake, 666 and other names, the being that leads people away from God’s will and into sin and will soon do final battle with God. To Jews, he is just another angel of God, just that his main function is to test the faith of Mankind. To Muslims, he is Iblis, the one who refused to bow to Adam and revolted against Allah in order to become the master of the djinn. To Satanists, he is the embodiment of Man’s true nature, and the representation of Man as he ought to be. To others, just a bogeyman made up of all manner of pre-Christian deities designed solely to revile pre-Christian religions. Satan is a character with a complex and storied history, and one that continues to evolve.

 

History

Satan seems to have originated as a title in Hebrew lore, meaning “adversary”, “opposer” or “accuser”. It could have referred to anyone, often including a human, who served as an obstacle to the individual believer. Sometimes it can refer to an invisible or illusory obstacle placed by YHWH. The most familiar context of the name is that of a specific angel, or a specific kind of angel, found within the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh; one who tests the faith of Man, argues his sins to YHWH and creates difficulties for humans under YHWH’s command. This is the angel typically identified as Ha-Satan, or “the Satan”, the angel cited as the original Satan. This Satan is the angel who features in the Biblical story of Job, who thought that Job was only humbly serving YHWH because he gave him a blessed life, and that if he took it all away he would stop praising his name. YHWH accepted the challenge, and so he ordered the Satan to take his misfortune away from him and ruin his life. As an angel of YHWH, the Satan requires the permission of YHWH before he can act, and cannot act independently according to Jewish lore.

Since Satan is a title, “the Satan” or Ha-Satan is not necessarily a proper name, but rather a title referring to the role played by the angel in question, the identity of the Satan of the book of Job has been the subject of some debate. The name Satan is typically used to identify the Satan of Job, perhaps to relate to the Christian concept of Satan. However, traditional and apocryphal Jewish sources consider the identity of the Satan of Job to be Samael, also known as the angel of death. Little appears to be known about Samael, and opinion of Samael can vary wildly within Jewish tradition. Samael is either the prince of evil itself, a being unaligned with the heavenly host or even outside of it, which is the view held in some later or more apocryphal texts, or as simply an angel who, though pernicious and often malevolent, is still a servant of YHWH and is simply playing his role in YHWH’s order of things, which aligns with the view of the concept of Satan held within mainstream Judaism.

In the Ascension of Moses, an apocryphal Jewish text, Samael is identified directly as the angel who tests Job, apparently to weaken his faith so that he may collect his soul:

There was another angel in the seventh heaven, different in appearance from all the others, and of frightful mien. His height was so great, it would have taken five hundred years to cover a distance equal to it, and from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet he was studded with glaring eyes, at the sight of which the beholder fell prostrate in awe. “This one,” said Metatron, addressing Moses, “is Samael, who takes the soul away from man.” “Whither goes he now?” asked Moses, and Metatron replied, “To fetch the soul of Job the pious.” Thereupon Moses prayed to God in these words, “O may it be Thy will, my God and the God of my fathers, not to let me fall into the hands of this angel.”

The Lost Apocrypha of the Old Testament by Montague Rhodes James identifies Samael as The Devil, the opposite of the archangel Michael, and is described as a being .

And Moses said unto Jesus the son of Nauë, ‘Let us go up into the mountain.’ And when they were gone up, Moses saw the land of promise and said to Jesus, ‘Go down unto the people and tell them “Moses is dead.”‘ And Jesus went down unto the people, but Moses came to the end of his life. And Samael tried to bring down his body (tabernacle) unto the people, that they might make him a god. But Michael, the Chief Captain, by the command of God came to take him and bury him, and Samael resisted him, and they contended. So the Chief Captain was wroth and rebuked him, saying, ‘The Lord rebuke thee, devil.’ And so the adversary was vanquished and took to flight, but the Archangel Michael buried the body of Moses where he was bidden by Christ our God (and no man saw the burial of Moses)

It is noted, however, that as Michael’s opposite Samael is also seen as the compliment to Michael in some way. Samael is the prosecutor and the adversary of Mankind and Israel, while Michael is its defender. As not only the Satan par excellence but also the prince of “satans”, the prince of the powers of evil, Samael is very much a figure synonymous with Satan similar to how we may understand him today. But nonetheless, this Satan is still viewed as a servant of YHWH, just a servant who fulfills a negative function – that of bringing misfortune, tempting people to sin and arguing the sins of Man or Israel to his master, which brings him into conflict with Michael.

At a later period in Jewish history, specifically during the Babylonian Exile, the role of the Satan begins to change because of the influence of Persian teachings, namely those of Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrianism stressed the dualistic monotheistic view more akin to modern Christianity and Islam – that of a single Supreme God who is the embodiment of goodness, light, truth and justice, juxtaposed against his opposite; the embodiment of evil, darkness, falsehood and wickedness, a concept encapsulated as The Lie. During the time of the Babylonian Exile, the Jews came into contact with Persian beliefs, and after that period Judaism became more in line with Persian teachings. And so the concept of Satan became more and more aligned with the idea of an evil opposite to God (YHWH). Samael became attached to this idea in Talmudic and apocryphal sources to the point that Samael is viewed as the architect of evil, sin and the fall of Man, as well as having mated with Eve and even either planting or playing the role of the serpent in the Garden of Eden thus being responsible for their fall from Paradise.

At this point it’s worth noting that the link between any Satan and the serpent of the Garden of Eden is questionable at best. The connection between the serpent of Genesis and Satan seems to stem from a verse from the Book of Revelation which reads:

And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth,” – Revelation 12:9

However, Genesis makes no reference to Satan in relation to the serpent in the myth of the Garden of Eden. The myth originates in Jewish tradition, which does not recognize a singular literal or personal Satan. Not to mention, the serpent of Genesis used to have limbs, but had his limbs removed by YHWH through a curse as punishment for tempting Adam and Eve, and is consigned to live as a snake, whereas the Beast of Revelation doesn’t appear to resemble a proper snake in both appearance and behavior. In all likelihood, the serpent of Genesis was just a serpent, unaffiliated with YHWH or any Satan, who perhaps happened to be particularly clever. Returning to Revelation, the dragon is previously described as “having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads“. You may recognize this sort of creature as the mount of the Whore of Babylon, whose appearance indicates a symbolic reference to Ancient Rome, the adversary (or perhaps, the “Satan”?) of the early Christian movement, or more specifically John – the man who wrote Revelation. It is an expression of an empire or civilization believed to be rife with sin, wickedness and blasphemy and which persecuted the believers of God/YHWH. It may also be an expression a more ancient mythological motif of conflict between a warrior figure and a dragon or serpent, such as the Old Testament battle between YHWH and Leviathan.

There is another angel in Jewish lore who is associated with the concept of Satan and is identified with the Satan of the Book of Job: Mastema. Mastema is an angel who is believed to carry out punishments on the orders of YHWH, as well as a commander of evil spirits who harass humans. He is often retconned in the pseudepigraphical Book of Jubilees as an evil force who either motivates YHWH to do strange evil things or as a someone who does some of those things instead of YHWH. For instance, he is considered to be the one who persuaded YHWH to challenge Abraham to kill his son Isaac, and the one who persuaded the followers of Moses to commit idolatry. There is also a strange instance in the Bible where YHWH tries to kill Moses, but the story gets rewritten so that Mastema becomes responsible for the attempted murder. He is also written to be the one who aids the sorcerers of the Pharaoh to oppose Moses, and is seen as the angel responsible for the death of the firstborn sons of Egypt as part of the Ten Plagues sent by YHWH. Like Samael, Mastema was not necessarily an enemy of YHWH, rather a servant of his whose role is to tempt the souls of men, obstruct and hinder them, and argue their sins. YHWH even allows him to keep a portion of demons under his service before the great flood. Indeed, in much the same way as Samael may have become synonymous with the Christian Satan, it is this sinister function that has led him to be treated not as an angel in service of YHWH but rather a devil who opposes him, to that point that Mastema is often treated as synonymous with Belial.

Returning to Zoroastrianism, Ahriman is an important influence on the character of the Christian Satan. He was, from the outset, evil incarnate. Also known as Angra Mainyu, Ahriman is the embodiment of evil and “the Lie” and opposite of Ahura Mazda (though the Gathas position him as the opponent of another being, Spenta Mainyu; an aspect of Ahura Mazda) and is believed to be the creator of all manner of nasty creatures that seek to bring harm to humans. Much like the Christian Satan, Ahriman is the deceiver according to Zoroastrian tradition, and he is the chief and/or creator of a group of demonic beings who are referred to as daevas (which was originally the Hindu term “deva”, referring to a class of deities that resided in the heavens). The entire universe is presented as being divided between Ahriman and Ahura Mazda, with both sides fighting for the souls of Man at large.

Within mainstream Christian tradition, the names Samael and Mastema seem to have lost relevance, and the chief opponent of YHWH comes to be identified simply as Satan. If anything, the Christian Satan seems to be identified with Beelzebub, who in Jewish lore was the lord of the flies who represented a rival deity to YHWH. The Book of Revelation also identifies him with the beast with seven heads, who we have discussed earlier in this post. However The Ascension of Isaiah, a mostly Christian apocryphal text, identifies Samael (or Sammael) as Satan, though the same text also identifies Satan with Belial (Beliar), the angel of lawlessness, who is also considered the ruler of this world. The being is recounted as having possessed King Manasseh in order to bring about Isaiah’s martyrdom. The Christian role of Satan no longer resembles the Jewish conception of The Satan as a prosecutor and accuser on behalf of YHWH, but the opponent of YHWH and the ruler of Hell, whose temptations lead the souls of humans to Hell and their doom and damnation, who will according the Bible eventually be judged by the resurrected Jesus and imprisoned in the very Hell he is supposed to rule over. In fact, the role of the ruler of the underworld, and his iconic appearance from the medieval period going forward, has noticeably more in common with pre-Christian pagan beliefs about the deities of the underworld – such as Hades, Nergal or Yama – than the original Jewish tradition. He certainly took on many characteristics associated with the pre-Christian pantheon: horns associated with Ba’al, the trident associated with Poseidon, goat features including hooves associated with Pan (not to mention his famously lustful attributes) and his dominion of the underworld a trait of Hades (which funny enough became an alternate name for Hell). He is also identified with the Beast of Revelation, or the Great Red Dragon chasing after the Woman Clothed in Sun. That he is identified with a draconic beast the way he is in revelation suggests, to me at least, that Satan has transformed from merely an angel in God’s service to an apocalyptic force of chaos set against God, and that this is his ultimate role in things.

In Christianity, Satan and Lucifer are typically seen as synonymous, typically based on certain Biblical verses. But, as will be explored much further in Part 2, there is nothing in these verses that actually connects Satan with Lucifer. The Book of Isaiah is typically used to show how Satan was once the morning star before he fell, when in fact the morning star seems to be referring to a king of Babylon. The Book of Ezekiel is similarly cited to show how Satan was the greatest of the angels before his fall, when in fact it is a king of Tyre being compared to an unnamed angel. Indeed, the explanations for how he turned from simply the Adversary of Job to the Beast seem strange to me.

In Gnostic Christian tradition, Samael appears as a name of the Demiurge – the malevolent or incompetent deity who creates the material universe as a prison for the souls that presently inhabit the body of Man. Since the Demiugre is treated as basically Satan, being the opposite of the true and perfect God described by the Gnostics, this is essentially stating that Samael and Satan are identical. In a similar tradition, adherents of the Bogomil sect believe that Satan created matter while God created the soul of Man. The Bogomils identify Satan as Satanael, an angel who also appears in the apocryphal Second Book of Enoch as the name of the leader of the Grigori (or the Watchers), a group of angels who fell from heaven after becoming infatuated and attracted to human women and sought to teach humans various forms of knowledge that were previously kept by the angels (in the first Book of Enoch, the leader of the Grigori is named Samyaza; the two are sometimes seen as synonymous).

The apocryphal lore surrounding the Grigori, and the identification of their leader as Satanael (whose name you may note means “Adversary of God”), may have influenced the Judeo-Christian character Satan as we know him, by positioning him as a rebellious angel who fell to the Earth and spread forbidden knowledge. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if this is partly how the serpent became seen as related to Satan – after all, the serpent performed a similar function by tempting Adam and Eve towards the forbidden knowledge of good and evil. And perhaps this is how Satan came to be seen as the Beast? The Enochian Satanael was later rewritten by an occultist named Faustus Scorpius, founder of a group known as the Order of the Left Hand Path, to show Satanael as the one or first angel in heaven to realize the concept of self-consciounsess and hence rebelled against the Demiurge and his heavenly host. He was defeated by Michael and his angels, but still set out to spread self-consciousness and freedom to Man.

In Islam, Satan is known as Iblis. Iblis was a djinn – a being made of fire, as opposed to the angels who were made out of light – who was banished from the heavenly realm for refusing Allah’s command to bow to the first human he created. Like the Christian Satan, Iblis is seen as leading souls away from Allah through temptation and actively opposes Allah’s will . Although it is generally agreed that Iblis is a Djinn, some Islamic scholars think that Iblis was originally an angel, much like Samael.

Perhaps the most famous interpretation of Satan is the one found in John Milton’s epic Paradise Lost. In this work, Satan was once an angel in Heaven who served God, but rebelled along with a third of the heavenly host, only to be defeated and be cast down into Hell, where he decides to establish his own kingdom, uttering the famous phrase “Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven”. I can assume that this draws from the attempted connection by Christians between Satan and the Lucifer figures of the Bible, but it is through this depiction that the traditional conception of Satan emerges, rather than the actual scripture of Christianity or Judaism. Here we see a more romantic interpretation of Satan, and arguably a heroic Satan – the first instance wherein we see Satan as the rebellious figure, standing up to God, and arguing the case for his unjust character. Indeed, I suspect this is the source of the Satanic Temple interpretation of Satan as the eternal rebel standing up to tyrannical authority. The irony being, of course, that before John Milton Satan doesn’t seem to be shown as much of an enemy of God until the Book of Revelation, the verses typically shown before hand to refer to Satan’s fall having nothing to do with Satan. And before all of that, it was a Satan that was working with tyrannical authority, that of YHWH.

Because of the prevalence of Milton’s Satan in the popular imagination, Satan has been compared to a Greek mythological figure known as Prometheus. In fact, the author of the drama Prometheus Unbound wrote a preface explaining his personal judgement that Satan is the only character resembling Prometheus. Prometheus is a being related to the Titans (that is, he is a son of one of them), the personification of foresight and knowledge. He was the creator of mankind who stole the fire from Mount Olympus and gave it to mankind, for which he was chained to a rock by Zeus. The fire of Olympus came to be a symbol of Man’s enlightenment, reason and knowledge, which was withheld by Zeus. Before stealing the fire of Olympus, Prometheus was considered an ally of the Olympian gods, thus the act of stealing it for mankind’s benefit was an act of betrayal of the gods. In a way, there are some characteristics he thus shares with Satan. Other than, however, there is no direct connection. Many connect the two through the serpent myth, asserting that Prometheus was like Satan who brought the forbidden fruit to Adam and Eve. But, as has been established, the serpent of Eden is not actually Satan.

Another influential interpretation is the story of Mephistopheles, the demon who appeared to Faust in his eponymous legend. In the legend, Faust summons Mephistopheles, who offers him his service for a period of time, at the end of which Mephistopheles claims his soul for eternity, leading it to Hell. This tale echoes into the modern world as the archetypal “deal with the devil”. Mephistopheles is explicitly a representation of the Devil, of Satan perhaps, and it seems to play on a characteristic that Jewish apocrpyha associated with Samael – that of taking away the souls of humans.

The archetype Satan found within Satanism is based on both the Miltonian conception of Satan, the Judeo-Christian notion of Satan as The Adversary and the opponent of the values associated with YHWH and the background laid by several magickal traditions in their description of Satan. Eliphas Levi describes Satan as “the goat of the Sabbath”, associated with profanation and darkness. Stanislas de Guatia views Satan as “the foul goat threatening Heaven”. The same inverted pentagram we know today from the Church of Satan actually comes from the works of Maurice Bessy. Indeed, whenever an inverted pentagram appears in historical magickal works, it is typically meant as a symbol of the inversion all that is good, which would be symbolized by the upward-pointing pentagram. Satan is also aligned with materialism in many spiritualist traditions, and indeed his symbol is taken as meaning matter prevailing over spirit. Curiously, Stanislas de Guatia’s Satan pentagram features the name Samael. It would seem to denote Samael as the negative opponent of Adam. Anton LaVey took the Satan of Judaism, Christianity and Western magickal tradition and made him a positive figure, the advocate of Man as he ought to be as defined by the philosophy of Satanism.

Finally, Satan is frequently compared with the Egyptian deity Set. Both Satan and Set are considered to be evil beings, but it is claimed that they are connected by the name Set-hen, a title purportedly attached to Set. I have been unable to find a lot of evidence for the “Set-hen” theory, with few resources available outside of Satanic circles and even then not much is elaborated. The claim seems to amount to the idea that “Set-hen” sounds like the modern Satan, therefore it’s a match. However, there are many characteristics that Set shares with the modern Satan. Much like the Jewish conception of Satan, Set was not always seen as an evil being. He was originally a deity of storms, the desert, and war. Similar to Apep, he was seen as a personification of chaos and destruction, but unlike Apep, Set was seen as very much a part of the natural order of things, his chaotic influence a necessary component of balance and harmony in the cosmos. Later on he came to be associated with foreigners. He was also considered a troublesome deity, perhaps most infamous for murdering his brother Osiris after he was seduced by the goddess Nephthys, who was supposed to be his wife, which led him to conflict with the sky deity Horus. However he was also the protector of the sun deity Ra, and at one point also considered to be one of the principle deities of the cosmos, alongside Amun, Ra and Ptah. After the Hyksos invaded Egypt and brought with them their religion, Set rose to prominence through his identification with the Semitic deity Ba’al (with whom he shares many characteristics). After they were driven out, Set’s association with the Hyksos and foreigners in general led him to be seen as an evil being who invited the conquest of Egypt by foreigners. Eventually he become almost synonymous with Apep, and lost his role as a protective deity. In Greece, Set was equated to Typhon – a monster personifying chaos and volcanic forces who lead the Titans against Zeus when they kill Dionysus.

Today, the character of Satan is alive and well and still continues to be invoked as a bogeyman, particularly in conspiracy theories wherein he is somehow one of the main benefactors. For instance, he believed to be the deity worshiped by the Freemasons, the “Illuminati” and the New World Order. Some even believe him to be the true God of the Muslims and Jews, which of course is historically and religiously illiterate. A similar point can be made about the Islamic world, where the Great Satan is a term used by Islamist regimes and Islamic terrorists to refer to demonize the United States of America. However, in the modern world, his character is also still influenced by John Milton’s characterization of him, and today the Miltonian Satan is also used as a political tool by some of those who wish for the expulsion of religion from the public sphere. Satan is often conflated with an idol named Baphomet – originally the name of the idol the Knights Templar were accused of worshiping -, a symbol that in occult traditions generally refers to the unity and harmony of opposites in the universe and not strictly to the Devil; although Baphomet has proven influential in shaping the image of Satan. And of course, Satan is a celebrated icon in the subculture of heavy metal music, where many songs, albums or musical careers are dedicated to him to this day. Not that the vast majority of heavy metal fans and musicians are Satanists or Satan worshipers per se. For metalheads, it’s just that he happens to make for awesome music.

 

Conclusion

In summation, Satan, as a concept, begins in Judaism wherein it refers to an adversary in general or to a specific angel who carries out punishment in the name of YHWH, before gradually evolving into the archetype of evil, chaos and sedition against God, to being equated with the bringer of knowledge and freedom and thus being seen as the opponent of dictatorial rule, and today the concept of Satan is influenced by both religious and literary tradition. In a way, the concept of Satan remains something of a historical scapegoat, with many people citing the Devil as the inspiration for many a malicious act on the part of themselves or of their enemies. Indeed, even among Christians different sects have been seen as in league with Satan for their heresy against the Church. And as I said earlier, if you go down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theory land it’s not too long before you find a Satan or two used as a scapegoat for many complex problems in the world. But the concept of Satan has also taken on many other meanings. Indeed, as Adversary, he can perhaps be seen as a force of passion – that is, the passion that has the potential to either lead to evil things, or drive life as we know it towards greatness and progress. In the end, the idea Satan eventually becoming the opponent of the Absolute, rather than just an accuser of Man, makes some sense when you consider the development of Jewish and later Christian tradition. At one point the Jews considered evil to be a part of God’s machinations. But, at some point the Jews suffered what would have been a great indignity, if not outright injustice, towards their faith. It is difficult to conceive that God would destroy his own temple to punish the Jews in some way. It was perhaps naturally to think that it was the work of something that was set against God. Samael then would’ve made for a terrific scapegoat, given he was the angel whose role was often an unpleasant one. Satan was once a title, and then became something of a scapegoat in the Christian tradition, but perhaps it can be said that Satan eventually took on a life of his own.

Satan, Set, Isfet, evil, and morality in the Left Hand Path

Imagine the following if you will: Madness. Injustice. Terror. Instability. Social decay. The prevalence of corruption. The general disintegration of the bonds that hold people together. Brother turning against brother, sister against sister and so forth. Complete disorder and mayhem. Rampant violence. Riots, looting, and senseless destruction. The vices of mob mentality, or even mob rule. The woe sown by dictatorships. The bloodshed of a massacre. A world ruled by malice, hatred, and hostility, with no room for love, reason, or any of Man’s brighter qualities. The general feeling experienced by an individual when he/she loses control of everything around him, particularly through circumstances or actions that send his/her life in the wrong direction. The state of living in the constant fear that you will die for no good reason. A kind of disharmony which threatens the lives of human beings (and lifeforms, for that matter).

For many people, all this is what is normally referred to as “chaos”. But chaos can be a nebulous concept. Is it that woeful plague of disharmony and terror? Or is it primordial chasm, sea or abyss before creation as spoken of in many mythologies? Or is it that force of primordial power that motivates all of existence as I once thought of it? To be fair though, I may not necessarily refer to the last one as Chaos any more now that I recognize the force I described in the Nietzschean concept of Will to Power, the Setian and Luciferian concept of the Black Flame, the force of vital existence as described by Anton LaVey, or rather the power of the Adversary as described by Michael W. Ford (which is why I have a significant interest in Luciferian and Adversarial magick and particularly in the way Ford describes it). Back in August, a friend of mine and fellow blogger named G. B. Marian discussed three terms from Egyptian mythology that refer to three different kinds of “chaos”, albeit whilst discussing a mutual appreciation of the band Black Sabbath. For him, there was Nun, Kheper/Xeper, and Isfet. Nun was the primordial state of inertia from which all things originated. Kheper was the power of transforming, becoming, and being, and was associated with the creation of the cosmos – the modern concept of Xeper is also an important part of the beliefs of the Temple of Set, referring to the power of self-awareness, freedom, and isolate intelligence. Isfet was the concept of the dissolution of harmony and the bonds forged between human beings, a state of disorder that lead the cosmos back into the inertia of Nun if left unchecked. It’s the third concept that most people would identify as “chaos”, and the concept that is part of the focus of this blog post.

Isfet also seems to refer to the concept of uncreation. This is important to remember because destruction, or what is sometimes called “chaos” can be a good thing or be carried out in service of the order of the cosmos (or Ma’at). Such constructive chaos is famously embodied in deities such as Sekhmet and Set, particularly Set who was the original protector of Ra who hacked the being known as Apep with his weapon. Speaking of Apep, the concept of Isfet as uncreation could safely be said to be embodied by Apep, for he sought the annihilation of the cosmos – with no real motivation other than for the evulz as far as I can tell. By seeking to undo everything that existed and embodying annihilation, Apep was uncreation. Apep was sort of an embodiment of Isfet.

By defeating Apep, Set drove back the forces of Isfet – the forces of uncreation, disorder, and disintegration.

Sometimes Isfet is seen as synonymous with another concept, evil. But evil can be a loaded term, moreso than chaos. Generally it refers to everything bad for the mind, soul, ethics, and life of the human being and the community at large. It’s also very loaded because the religious have always presented their own notions of “good” and “evil”, and everything outside of their dictated morality was almost always denounced as “evil”. In the Jewish and Christian mythos, Beelzebub’s only real crime was simply being a popular deity worshiped instead of Yahweh/Jehovah. Satan’s only real crime was embodying the fleshly instincts of human beings, and their ego. The only reason Lucifer was supposedly cast from heaven was that he didn’t want to ruled by Yahweh/Jehovah, and who the hell would want to be ruled by him? Most of the devils are only “evil” because they’re devils or embody certain “sins”, but I can’t think of most of them being really malevolent beyond the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic point of view.

When I originally embraced Satanism back in around June 2013, I did so based on my own instincts which I found the philosophy in alignment with. And even though Satanism doesn’t really embrace concepts like “good and evil”, and it’s purely an egoistic philosophy, I never abandoned any sort of ethical/moral concern and still felt there were some things that were simply wrong, and others were right. At least I recognized this was from a mostly subjective perspective. But I also view morality/ethics as a human desire, as much a desire as any of our other desires. I believe that out of our selfish or egoistic nature can arise a kind of natural morality – a morality not dictated as mores and commands from on high that we are compelled to obey for no good reason of our own, but rather a morality that is based on one’s own desires, own feelings, own determination of right and wrong based on both one’s own nature or drives and on human reason. And I think that most in people’s morals, the madness that makes up the concept of Isfet would be intolerable for a number of reasons, the opposing of Isfet, or that which leads to it, would be ethical and quite natural for another number of reasons. On the Left Hand Path, good and evil are usually treated as abstract concepts, specifically abstract concepts that serve only to be dogmatic, restrictive and conducive of slave mentality. It’s certainly true that the morals dictated by the outside can be that way, and often are. But I feel that in the Left Hand Path, there is room for practitioners to pursue their own kind of natural morality, to follow our own moral instincts and beliefs that arise from our own nature, for they are just as . Defying the norms, mores, rules, and Gods who we deem are unjust, we carve a path of freedom where we are responsible unto ourselves, and smite those who would threaten our life and liberty and that of those we care about (and who, in a way, embody Isfet in the process). In a sense we follow the examples of Set, Satan, Lucifer, and the other lords of the Left Hand Path.

Modern Setian tradition holds Set is either the bringer of individuated consciousness (or isolate intelligence) or the embodiment of it. He is also believed to be the Dark Lord behind the notion of Satan, thereby the oldest mythological symbol of such a concept. They both are believed represent the individuated consciousness of Man and its nature. Set shows us the power of a strong will and individuated soul or consciousness triumphing over uncreation, carrying forth the light of the sun. He may point to the individual’s struggle for survival, for personal power, for the future. Of course, that’s just one interpretation. It’s also interesting to me that Set is in some way linked to storms, and that Christian Satan (from my point of view) has links to at least one storm deity (that would be Ba’al). Satan, as Man’s egoistic self embodied in myth, and Lucifer, the Lightbringer, oppose a “God” in whom they see a new force of uncreation, a ghoul who stands against life, accomplish, and self-worth. I believe that in the Satanic, and Luciferian, traditions, we defeat the nihilisms that degrade our perception of the world and send us into retreat and embrace life, and we fight for our authentic selfhood against the doubts sent our way by the world or our fellow Man. We live as authentic, strong individuals, free men and women, pushing back the uncreation and that which we consider to be evil or a threat, just as Set does. And in our hearts, we carry forth our light of creation, as Set helps the light of Ra travel through the underworld.

The Lovecraftian character Nyarlathotep as depicted Persona 2. Something like that only less humanoid would represent Apep and Isfet quite nicely in my books.

May Chaos come alive?

Writing the post on the Luciferian Points of Power actually gave me another idea as well. I’ve have been reading it and so far haven’t found about the passionate, chaotic, and free life force that the information on the back has implied yet, but as I think about the idea of a passionate, chaotic, wild life force, I feel like I just want it more and more, a real investment of interest towards it coming on.

I think about the force of Chaos, or perhaps the Adversary or Adversarial Force is a better term for it, and my desire for it is greater, perhaps because when I think about it I am reminded of that which I have held in the beginning, as though I have returned to it with greater understanding or new ideas. I think of that kind of life force I think of Chaos, the Adversary, Satan, The Black Flame, the Hindu Shakti as a force (and for that matter, the power associated with Shiva), and the power of Set and the power of isolate intelligence. I would also identify it with the power of heavy metal music. I’m even tempted to refer to Babalon of Aleister Crowley’s Thelema despite that Babalon is that thing you surrender yourself to (then again I might say the same of the divine Shakti according to Hindu teachings). But honestly, I’m not yet sure of the best term for it. Though if it’s really the Black Flame, or the Adversary or Adversarial Force, then just think about it for a second: Luciferianism would effectively be presenting what I’ve been trying to define in the early days of my personal path.

This could be one way of visualizing it.

Whatever it is, I think I definitely want to experience it, feel more of it, become empowered by it more than ever. I want to feel it in light and in dark forms, I want to feel it in creation and destruction, I want to feel it in imagination and creativity, I want to feel it in love, in conflict, in the thrill of battle, in emotion, in desire, in ambition, in competition, in my very being. I would like it to be so liberating and empowering, I want it to strengthen my spirit, my will, my soul, I want to know that it is the core of my being. Who knows, working with it might just dissolve not only fear and doubt but also the boundaries between emotion and reason, intellect and passion, and all in a manner that’s conducive to my being and individual to me. This might entail a conquest of my limitations, or simply the limiting of my limitations, if that makes sense. It doesn’t really matter if this force is simply my interpretation of a life force that may be considered to others, because at least that still means its uniquely my life force, or the life force I identify with. It should not be the life force to surrender to in an external form. It should be a life force within that fuels your individual being, gives you strength and life.

The only question lies in how this ties in with the mind in general, rather than overpowering it, and how this affects the arrangement of the deities I set out earlier. From at least an aesthetic point of view, part of me thinks that the deities of Asian religions that I like could go on the light spectrum of this force, as well as the light and heat of the sun, while the demons and devils can go on the dark spectrum of that force, but that’s just one simple idea, and I really hope I don’t have to overhaul my altar space too drastically. As for the conscious mind, who knows. Maybe I want to take a page from the Temple of Set or even Hinduism for this one. There’s probably a few things I can gleam from Hinduism, Taoism, and hopefully Shinto when dealing with this force.

Shiva, Bel, Satan, Set, and Typhon

There is an interesting idea I’ve been interacting with lately. The idea that Shiva is related to Bel/Baal and Set, and by extension Satan and Typhon.

Set is among the earliest deities in the Egyptian pantheon. He is associated with virility, fertility, storms, and power, and also destruction. The Greeks refer to him as Typhon, an agent of Chaos.

Baal/Bel is said to be the principal deity in the pre-Christian Middle East, associated with fertility, storms, power, and even the sun. He would later come to be Beelzebub, a.k.a. Satan.

Shiva is said to be the oldest known deity, and in the pan-Hindu tradition, worship of Shiva (or more or less his older forms), is the oldest in the tradition. Idols have been discovered dating back many thousands of years. Among his domains are creation, destruction, power, sexuality, spirituality, truth, and the raw and primal force. He also destroys evil and ignorance and proclaims justice, and heavily associated with serpents, the symbols of chthonic force and primal power that would later be commonly linked with Satan.

Worship of Baal involved phallic objects and sexuality, and Set is sometimes depicted with a large phallus. In the case of Shiva, honoring the Lingam (a symbol of Shiva) couldn’t possibly not be phallic, or similar by extension.

Also, Shiva’s wife is a essentially female manifestation of his qualities, while Bel’s wife (Ishtar) is a female to Bel.

But, let’s not forget Rudra, the howler, the fierce storm and hunter god both feared and revered by ancient Vedic Indians. Rudra and Shiva are pretty much the same as each other, if you really think about it. They at least share so much in common. Same with Pashupati.

In a way, the worship of Shiva, or the worship of the horned god of power and fertility, is among the oldest sacred practices or forms of worship in the world, or the oldest manifestation of the timeless pagan veneration of nature.

You know, I’m thinking, I’m probably something of a Hindu Pagan by now. That alongside Satanism, and ultimately in a Left Hand Path spirit sounds sweet, and it could still justify a Satanic Pagan label.

Beelzebub in Egypt

Why is the image of Set here? Because I’m talking about him in this post. And because I couldn’t find another image of Seth-Baal.

For some reason yesterday I can’t help but think of Egypt, possibly brought on by listening to “Curse of the Pharaohs”. Man, Mercyful Fate are good. In any case, I also noticed a search criteria for “beelzebub egyptian god”. Curious, I googled it myself, and found something interesting.

According to a book called “The Egyptian Origin of Christianity” by Lisa Ann Bargeman, the Egyptian god Set, or Seth, was identified with Baal, or Baal-Seth (Seth-Baal), who became known as Baal-zebub, or Beelzebub. OK, to be honest, this does sound kinda like something I’ve posted about before. There is also, however, something interesting, as after it says that, it says “Therefore doubly foreboding is the claim that the Bible’s greatest evil, Satan, was the word for God”. I have since looked through the book and found no explanation for that.

There’s another interesting thing I read, which comes earlier. It said that Set is “the great Wild Bull” and “the soul of Geb”, who was the Egyptian god of the earth.  Apparently the explanation is the Set is primarily a negative god, and Geb was a primarily positive one, and Set is properly understood as the wild, untamed desert earth. An aspect of Geb perhaps? I’ve also heard of some associated with the name Set and Satan, but that’s not the main interest.

All-in-all, I admit this sounds like something I’ve said before, but I’ll think of it as an extension. Besides, I’ll probably talk more about Baal/Beelzebub/Bel in later posts, because I have in interest in that god lately.

Satan’s origins in the god Baal

We’ve all heard of the Christian Satan (a.k.a. Lucifer, Beelzebub, etc. yada yada yada I’ve said this before), and thus you may have noticed his appearance throughout culture. You may also have heard that Satan’s design is a composite of pagan gods. Baal is one of those gods, and his role in the birth of the devil is a large and important one.

Let’s first start with Baal himself. While the word Baal (or Ba’al) itself simply means “lord”, and was also used as a title for a number of gods in the Canaanite religion, it is also a common way of referring to Baal Hadad, who for the purpose of this post we’ll refer to simply as Baal. He was a god of storms, thunder, rain, weather, and fertility. Among his notable features includes horns (or a horned headdress) and a thunderbolt, usually three-pronged, the latter of which would later appear as a weapon wielded by gods like Zeus and Indra. Baal was also equated with the Egyptian god Set, who, like Baal, was a strong and virile god of storms, but he was also a god of deserts who was also associated with foreigners and worshipped by Egyptian armies and soldiers, until later myths were he was a god of evil, darkness, and chaos (Egyptians really didn’t like chaos).

An ancient coin featuring a bull-headed deity. Notice he looks a lot like Set and with features of Baal.

Now we move on to Baal in Judaism. While there is no concept of the devil within Judaism, let alone as a being who opposes God, a similar kind of being is found in Ba’al Zebub. In Rabbinical texts, the name Ba’al Zebub (meaning “lord of the flies”) was the Jewish way of mocking the religion of Baal that surrounded them, and its followers, and it may have been a way of referring to Baal as a pile of dung and his followers as flies. They saw Baal as a false god, unworthy of worship. Does that sound familiar? Of course,  it’s a lot like the later Christian concept of Satan. The term Ba’al Zebub is the source of the name Beelzebub, and may have come from a Philistine deity named Baal Zebul.

In Christianity, we have Satan (who the Jewish Beelzebub is now synonymous with), who is most commonly shown as a horned male figure with a trident or pitchfork, along with other features like wings and a tail. The horned devil with a trident actually calls back to the god Baal with his horns and thunderbolt. It should be noted that Baal, or more or less the religion of Baal, was the biggest rival to the Jewish and Christian religions, so it seemed only natural for them to vilify him, and for the Christians to co-opt him into the design of the devil. Images of Baphomet may also be similar, being a horned entity holding objects.

A standard depiction of the devil.

So there you have it, Satan’s primary origins lie in the Canaanite god Baal, and in the Jewish (and later Christian) transformation of him (Beelzebub). There’s the traditional devil in Christianity, then before that a mockery/vilification of Baal in Judaism, and before that, Baal in the pre-Christian world. Baal does seem to me like the archetypal (male) pagan god, and that would probably make sense with regards to his vilification.

My thoughts on Satanism (the initial impressions)

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

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

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

Set, the Egyptian god of chaos.

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

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

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

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

A toast to the gods of chaos

A god of chaos is a mythological deity who represents not just classical chaos or primordial chaos, but also primal forces, and the link between chaos, the primal, the sensual, and creation and destruction. You may not believe some of the gods that I have elected as gods of chaos. Also, not all gods follow the same pattern. Also, I am aware that a there is a god called Khaos in Greek myth, but I do not count it because (a) that would be dumb, and (b) Chaos was more a concept in Greek myth anyway, just like the way I see it. Satan and Angra Mainyu don’t count either, because officially they are not gods.

Shiva

I swear I’ve said this three times now. Shiva’s intimate link to creation and destruction and primal forces and desires, for me, merits him his staus as a god of chaos, in some way. To add to his primality, he has a heavy association with the Aum, the primordial syllable of creation and the universe.

Set

He’s not here just because everyone else calls him a god of chaos.

Ah, the ancient Egyptians. They sure loved their order, and whenever it was disturbed, they described it in in pretty calamitous proportions. Set was a god of storms, chaos, and dark forces, and he was already a force to be feared, but he could also aid those who worship him, so, like the rest of the pantheon, he was an ambivalent force. Then, politics ruined his image. He became the victim of an Egyptian chaoskampf (“stuggle against chaos”) in which he is slain by Horus, and over time he effectively became an Egyptian Satan. Is it any wonder he became worshipped by theistic Satanists?

Tiamat and Apsu

A painting of Tiamat by Susannah Iles

Tiamat may have been a chaos monster, but she was also a goddess of the primordial chaos, the creatrix of the universe along with Apsu another primordial chaos god. Together they made sweet primeval love and Tiamat birth many gods, as well as dragons and serpents. She would later be slain by Marduk, and become the archetypal example of the Chaoskampf.

Aditi

Aditi is a creatrix mentioned in the Vedas as a mother of the gods and the goddess of both heaven and earth, in contrast to many traditions having a sky father and an earth mother. Her attributes are freedom, infinity, creation, and might, and she is often corresponded the primordial of many ancient mythologies. Unsurprisingly, this includes Chaos, but it also refers to the waters of space, or the deep, and primordial light. She is also associated with Lajja Gauri, the nude earthly goddess of fertility and abundance in folk Hinduism.

Kali

Statue of Kali Maa

Make no mistake, she’s a wild lady alright. Beautiful too. She is really violent and destructive ,but that ain’t the only side to her. In fact, I believe she is just as linked to creation and the primal as well as destruction as Shiva. She might just be a female image of Shiva, though Parvati/Uma and Durga are also the shakti of Shiva.

Tezcatlipoca

Jaguars aren’t his only deal.

Tezcatlipoca is a very diverse god, and a very dark one. He’s a god of war, strife, disorder, chaos, the sun (he did rule the sun a few times in Aztec lore), obsidian, beauty, the earth, the night, hurricanes, kings, temptation, and magic. His complexity is the main attribute that merits his status as a god of chaos.

Eris

Yeah, as long as we’re talking about gods of chaos, but just what’s so primal about her? Well I suppose she is the daughter of Nyx. You could say she’s the strife side of chaos. Then again, she’s the goddess of Discordianism, whose authors have written this about Eris in the Principia Discordia: “I am chaos. I am the substance from which your artists and scientists build rhythms. I am the spirit with which your children and clowns laugh in happy anarchy. I am chaos. I am alive, and I tell you that you are free.” I guess I can accept that.

Gaia

She looks beautiful in this modern artwork.

Gaia is extremely intimately linked to primordial chaos, having been directly born from chaos. She is primality. Since she is nature, or all things earthly, and chaos seeps into and is a huge part of the natural world. Chaos then is the blood of the natural world. By this logic, any earth mother can count as a beautiful and bountiful goddess of chaos, or at least most earth mothers.

Now, to raise a glass to these magnificent gods.