Some musings on my life, and a little bit on spirituality

Part 2 of Progress will be posted soon, but first there’s something I want to get out there onto the blog.

While walking past the castle in my town and through a local nature reserve, I’ve processed some thoughts in my head. I mentioned on my 4th anniversary post on Tuesday that being self-critical may have often been a source of woes in my life, and I think it’s probably true. I know it sounds weird coming from a Satanist, given that one of the primary tenets of modern Satanism is to basically believe in yourself, but I think that a lot of times I put myself down. The weird thing is, I remember there are times when I think I do feel pretty prideful, even arrogant from time to time, but in my academic life and sometimes personal or social life I actually have a bizarre tendency to feel the opposite. I often think I’m not as good as I ought to be at most things I do, I’m often cautious do a lot in the world of social interactions, it doesn’t help that I procrastinate fairly often, and I think there is still some self-doubt in my life, too much in fact.  If anything, it’s a sure sign that I’m not doing enough in my path. The fact that I have a university course and I’m in my third year probably doesn’t help things. But I also fear I may actually be deluding myself in this regard, especially because I remember, in the context of my academic work, that my lecturers are mostly or at least somewhat satisfied with my work, my fellow students think I’m doing fine and the people who support me via student services think I’m growing quite well. I think it may be one of those things were I have to, somehow, affect my perception of what I’m doing, the value of what I’m doing, perhaps even my personality, and then my behavior will likely change through it.

I talked with this a bit before with support mentors I work with. One of them talked to me about why I don’t like the idea of going out at night and then just staying with my brother, who is staying at the dorms. I wouldn’t do it anyway because I know he wouldn’t let me do it because he insists we keep our academic/social lives separate (he’s worried I might either “steal” some of his friends or make them feel uncomfortable, somehow), and he noticed that I was pretty good at coming up with reasons not to go out. And then I thought, “you know, you might be right”. And I think I still tend to protect myself quite a bit, and maybe it is because of certain fears or worries, which may give rise to delusions about social life, coupled with the fact that I’ve been introverted for the longest time and pretty insular for by and large my entire teenage life. I wanted more than most things to end this, but didn’t bother taking a lot of initiatives or giving myself much in the way of a competent road map for this. I think a lot of it has to do with the fear of a loss of control, and a general distrust of too much personal change that I can’t control. It’s also one of the big reasons why I never drank alcohol, especially in the past – I always suspected that something would go wrong if I started drinking and saw alcohol as both unhealthy and a surefire way to lose oneself.

I remember that in personal interactions with people I know reasonably well enough and get along with well enough, a more exuberant and confident self emerges. When I feel confident enough to do or say something, I can do it, and my personality, or rather that part of it that becomes unguarded by personal protectionism, shines forth. My brother knows this, my support mentors know this, I’m sure my lecturers and some of my friends have an inkling of knowing this and perhaps some of you might know it. In fact, I remember talking about this with The Desolate One, a Luciferian occultist who consider to be something of a spiritual mentor and even a bro of mine – and I mean that in the positive sense. Social media, in cases where I’m anonymously, tends to allow me to escape this, and in my past this hasn’t always been a good thing for a lot of reasons. Nowadays I think not much is accomplished in the end by this escape other than temporarily coping with the fact that I don’t have the life or lifestyle that I truly desire, similar to how pornography can be used by single men (or women) to cope with the either the fact that they have no sexual/romantic partner and are struggling to find one or, increasingly, that they are rejected by the other gender because of the “evils” the other gender has tied to their gender (incidentally, there’ll be more of me talking about that on the next Progress post).

I think that, maybe, part of what spirituality is in this case is to access a state of consciousness that is unfettered by any kind of fears, doubts or delusions for the largest part, even of those things aren’t eliminated from the self (not least without “killing the ego” as is the case in RHP traditions). Perhaps they need not even be eliminated per se, but rather conquered, or mastered. A divine consciousness, in the LHP tradition, would probably be such a spiritual consciousness that stands triumphant over these defeated things, whilst also being aware of a spiritual side of reality whatever that may be. If that’s what a lot spiritual systems, occult or otherwise, intend to do, then I think that’s great.

My own purposes

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

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

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

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

An ambition I might see through some day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worrying too much about ritual?

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

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

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

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

Spirit, sensation, and inner world

I’ve been thinking: if the afterlife is the heaven of your own desire and design, then here’s a good reason to keep living in this world and enjoying it.

If everything you think, every sensation you enjoy, everything that influences you, goes straight to your soul or your heaven, then obviously your heaven, your inner world, is influenced by what you feel in the outer world. Your vision of what your personal haven would be like is inexorably forged here in this world. That would be the importance of this world, and of life in this world, a reason why we should keep going till we can’t keep going anymore.

If if there’s a God out there that is a divine force rather than a man in the sky, or indeed given the presence of any spiritual force, then to experience that force must surely have an affect on that inner world, and your soul. Of course, this is something that is easier to experience than to describe, and it might be some time before I do. One could also consider one’s spiritual integrity, core self, and ideas as an influence.

Faith and belief: spiritual but not religious

I’m not a religious person, I’m certainly against religion as a concept, but there is one sense in which I do find an appealing and worthy religiosity that’s not actually religiosity.

My stance on faith is that there are two kinds of faith:

  1. The religious kind of faith: Devotion to an external God and what he supposedly tells you
  2. The non-religious kind of faith: Faith pertaining the self or a sense of the divine without any religion

I prescribe faith in the form of self-faith, by which I actually mean belief. Belief as in something referring to self-identity, and faith as in a kind of connection to the spiritual and/or spiritual strength pertaining to the self, like how each forges his own heaven. In fact, I have very little respect for those who think belief isn’t a big deal, even in the modern age, because belief is important, it’s is part of self-identity, or is identity, that which you are absorbed in or anchor yourself with as opposed to going with the flow and drifting away, because it makes you who you are.

Part of me is thinking that many religious imagery is merely misplaced to refer to ideas of God outside and religious faith, but it could still refer to the divine inside, the divinity of the self, the spark we all have. I don’t believe the idea of giving that up to an external God makes sense, especially if said God created us with that.

One way of depicting God in Hinduism. You could still take this as a representation of divinity within, a spark of the self from the spiritual realm, rather than an external God.

Speaking of deities, I personally see deities as personal and mythological emanations that both refer to things in this world and draw from the spiritual. They don’t have any objective, external existence, their existence is usually egregoric, and they can serve as frameworks of understanding or personal ritual and vessels of nature veneration. Nature itself can also be seen as being divine in itself in the sense that, as I feel, it should be venerated because it is the matrix into which all souls and bodies are born and without it we cannot experience life and take from it afterwards.

Usually the opposite of faith is “sin”. In the sense of religion, sin is a mythical concept designated to refer to disobedience towards “God”. But in a non-religious sense, you could use it to refer to a betrayal of personal integrity, values, and identity, usually a deep betrayal at that. Not referring to any religious disobedience, but self-betrayal, though it could just as easily refer to any kind of serious moral crime.

I feel faith need not be submission to an external God or a belief in a messiah, I propose faith in one’s self, faith as personal spiritual sense, will, and strength, and belief and self-identity. You could use the word faith, but it would be useful to distinguish from religion with secular words like belief or self-faith, which would refer to what I am trying to describe. Perhaps, something pertaining to a spark out of which a spiritual world may flow. Perhaps self-identity taken as spiritual.

Of course, I mock the religious version of this, which entails faith that some cosmic man makes things happen in this world, can be prayed to for anything, and is in charge of your soul, particularly Christian ideas that this cosmic man will fight another cosmic man in this world and destroy the world.

The best literal representation of that, minus the other cosmic man.

If any fight is to take place, it would be more likely to take place in the individual spiritual sphere and nowhere else. That’s why it is better to have a kind of internal faith and belief pertaining towards the self and ones own individual sphere.

An esoteric understanding of technology

When you get to see the inner workings of something, it provides you with a certain understanding of that something, and for me, a certain mystical layer of understanding is also spawned, and when I place layer on that thing, it makes something kinda beautiful. I find this happens with technology.

Take for example, the disk, or CD. I find there is something magical about disks. For some reason, I find that disks to me represent the universe, and even call back to the Buddhist conception of the universe as represented by the mandalas.

A Buddhist mandala, probably Tibetan

Perhaps it’s their circular shape, which I find to be a great representation of a matrix, and that the fact they contain information and images, which our matrix is full of.

Cyberspace itself feels like it’s own matrix, and you can make something mystical out of cybernetics and cyberspace. There’s a certain way of looking at the coding, as building blocks for a magical matrix that we can interact with. It seems magical from a certain perspective at least. Sometimes programming can feel like you are using a mystic language or letters, and a mystical code that creates a matrix or universe.

The inner workings of many electronic devices and technologies sometimes feel like a physical matrix, or a system that supports the life of a body or carries energy or life force around. You could even see these and machines as living, breathing systems.

To be honest, it’s really fun and kinda fascinating to look at technology, cybernetics, and cyberspace from a mystical, esoteric point of view. Why don’t you try it? You might get some fun ideas.