The other day I was starting to get quite depressed. It’s something I’ve probably suffered from, on and off and to varying degrees since my late teens, though I’m pretty good at drawing on inner resources I’ve developed over time, and have got some help over the years with counselling, CBT and occasional, short term (and not very successful) medication. I also don’t do Winters well, so there is that seasonal thing.
We lay down for a while, and as I was drifting I got to thinking a great deal about my mother (who died in 2004). We were very alike in some ways, and I think you could say we both had “unusual” relationships to “reality” and its demands, though we mainly handled it differently. I’m very glad of the mother I had (she was very unnarcissistic, not at all into that conventional mother-gave-you-life bullshit), but I’m quite unsentimental about her. I genuinely appreciated her and liked her as a person though, and thought she did a very honest job of parenting. High five Jean, we even had some laughs together.
She did have a hard life though, and we shared a lot of emotional characteristics, and separation from her was a necessary part of maturing as a person for me. I expressed my appreciation as I was drifting there though.
At some point, either when we got up or shortly before, I realized that the depression I was feeling was in part her’s. You only glimpsed it at times as a child, and forgot it quickly (of necessity), but from behind her fortress of coping there would sometimes slip just a tone in the voice that betrayed what you could only describe as despair. Like I said, we were quite alike, and you need to develop distance if you aren’t going to turn into your parents.
Later I was talking with a friend of mine online who is another Satanist, and he was recounting the community of Satanists he used to be a part of, celebrating together, as a kind of brotherhood. It was very heartening, and funnily enough, I had only shortly before read Anton LaVey’s opinion (in 1969) that Satanists should seek out others to celebrate with:
“The pageantry of religion is what sustains it. When religion consistently becomes a solitary situation it reaches into that realm of self-denial which runs concurrent with anti-social behaviour”
The Satanic Bible
I am used to focussing on the individual aspect of Satanism (indeed I think it is primary), and with the advent of the internet it is possible to be in touch with people as a network rather than a conventional community, thus neither properly isolated nor in community, but I do realize that there is a need for fellowship and companionship in the actual bodily sense. Where it is possible, this is a very fruitful thing, though it has to be right for us of course.
The other thing that came from chatting with my friend was the shared enthusiasm we had as theists. I actually believe that the appropriate public form of modern Satanism is agnostic and tolerant of many different approaches, but I am by nature a Devil worshipper and I will not deny myself that. And that brings me to what I think was a perennial cause of depression and pessimism for me, which is the conventional veneration of a world supposedly ruled by a “natural” law that excluded me, or of social norms that devalued the lives of me and my loved ones, or of hypocritical moralities. With my gods there is no such requirement to take care of that world and bow to its requirements or norms. It is up to us.
And with that the war is over. The Devil and his darlings make their own way. Peace; just not as you have been taught it.
Unlearning all the bad lessons that keep you unfree can take time. Breaking your forced vows. Looking after your own. It takes time to undo all those things which, set up as they are, leave you in just the place to lose, to not be counted, to be quietly buried.
The “Creator” who knows best. The “greater good” that doesn’t include you. The “karma” that never happens to makes just sense. The “law” that sacrifices those considered moral collateral damage. The collective valuation of lives that is anything but equal. The body of respectable men and women that, when the scab is knocked off, bleed through as villagers with pitchforks and torches in the night. The exhortations to “do no harm”, to save the world, to put others first, when that is not the way the world works, and it turns you into a target and a liability if you aren’t privileged and protected. It takes time to unlearn these habits, and do the real good you can do for yourself and your loved ones. It takes time to learn new ways to be human.
We all need the warmth of faith and common humanity at some level; it’s just part of our make up. It’s not a big moral deal, but it’s like food, or clean air psychically. For some that faith might be in reason and our own capacity to solve the problems we are faced with. Getting to Mars would be pretty hardcore, and it’s about time we picked up where my parents’ generation left off. But some of us need the kind of faith we get from polytheism too, and understanding that it is not monotheism with cool looking angel substitutes tending the Universe is pretty important. In fact it needs to be an anti-monotheism (sorry interfaith, but I don’t want you and your hangers on), just practically.
The Devil to his darlings is that warmth. And we are warlocked with love.