I’ve had a year of transformation and crisis, turmoil and growth, which has been both traumatic and magical, appalling and unmissable. This isn’t one of those things where you can say “there, it’s over” (that isn’t how deep processes work), but I am coming through and feeling the joy of life return, and a much deeper sense of self-worth and original selfhood. I really have to thank my amazing husband for being with me through all this. He is an amazing man. Moreover I’m coming through as a Satanist, which I would consider a test of the fitness of my path.
We did a ritual at the weekend, with the first altar we have really set up as a Satanic altar, complete with a sigil of Baphomet wall hanging which I had painted.
The altar was oriented to the western wall of the living room. Black cloth, black candles in brass holders, silver (plated) chalice with wine, votive statue of the Set animal, athame standing in for a sword, and ritual “phallus” (in fact a dildo!). A picture of a naked man offering himself (blurred in the picture below) was added to affirm the earthy and carnal nature of the Satanic altar. A naked woman is the traditional Satanic altar, but for gay men that doesn’t really connect erotically, so a naked man offering himself was more appropriate for us.
It was a very simple ritual, but significant.
One of the things that has come out of the last year is my personal identification on an inner level with the Thelemic goddess Babalon (an identification of primal nature and sacred function). In fact Thelema continues to come out as having a personal compatibility and elucidating applicability for my own path. Babalon and The Beast are good by me.
So on we go, for life, liberty and selfhood.
Maybe “philosophy” is too grand a word. I believe very much in individual fulfilment and responsibility, as most Satanists do. Freedom is important, pleasure, gratification, desire, imagination, choice, self esteem. But life is a great, dynamic thing; passionate and serene, intricately ordered and structured, with veins coursing with the chaotic stuff of life, bound and freed, ridden and riding, a wondrous thing, that seeks ever more.
But what do we seek?
For me love is an immensely important factor in life, just not the castrated “love” of some religious traditions. There is a saying: “if you cannot curse, you cannot cure”. That which can powerfully do good can also harm. When we create we also destroy. When we love, ever more deeply, we love with all of ourselves. It is not a walk in the park. It’s not a meditation retreat. It is hazardous, a gamble, that takes our all. So love is very great in my estimation.
If part of our goal is mastery and self-mastery (and I think it is), it is also to be remembered that the deeper we go, the more our methods can look like madness, and the wisdom (in the making) of our flesh and soul look like foolishness. Except we follow the deepest course, with pure intent, the purest instinct for the deepest fulfilment.
We don’t live in our heads. We don’t live in the conscious mind, even if we must have this spark of awareness here, making sense of all this. We live across and between worlds, and our greatness, your greatness, my greatness, is found in this deepest stirring to go beyond ourselves, in the mystery of love. Undone, pure, bliss.
As poetry speaks truth, so love lives life.
I came to a realisation recently, about the “self” that I feel pride and worth in.
When I was very young I led a quite creative, bohemian life for a while. I painted and drew a great deal, and threw myself into meditation, magical practices and journaling, and I did access a good deal of creativity, and even seemed to enthuse others with an expressive spirit at times, but I was actually deeply unhappy. I had a very definite “self”, and a productive one, but I was unhappy because what really mattered to me was love. And I was very, very lonely.
It’s not uncommon for me to say to my loved ones that I wish to do or achieve things for them, and I do sometimes get the response that I should do it for myself. I understand why they say that, because self-esteem is very important. It can seem like I might be neglecting myself in some way, but what I realise is that I am working to actualize my deeper self. The self I truly value, love, and feel good in is the self that loves my loved ones, has those bonds with them, and lives in the capacity to love. This may be why Freya is my Heathen patroness, and Venus is my astrological chart ruler. I know it can be different for other people, but for me that is how it is, and it’s important for me to understand that about myself.
Love has always been the central reality of life for me, for as long as I can remember. Not the sterilised “love” of some kinds of exoteric religious teachings, and more than just the romantic type, which can be many things. But the spiritual heart of the erotic, rooted in soul, body and heart, that cannot be scripted, bound by a narrative, status or any power other than itself, infused with the energy of Life itself, seeking its true fulfilment, that has always been the meaning of life for me.
And that is why I am as I am, and I love as I do.
Two years ago I left Paganism, and by May 1st of that year I had declared myself a Satanist.
It was good to make the break with Paganism, and I have no regrets about that, or becoming a Satanist. After two years of rest from the online tangle of neopaganism, and all the community roleplaying, I feel like I can look at things a little more neutrally though, and recognise a great deal of common ground between Satanism and Paganism. Having remained a polytheist with a deep interest in the occult has probably helped there admittedly.
When people used to ask me about modern Paganism, I used to point to two things which didn’t define it, but which one way or another described modern Paganism as far as I could see. I used to say that modern Paganism tended to be polytheistic and/or Nature centred as a spirituality. You could find Pagan paths that were one, the other or both, but really rather few that were neither.
There is of course a major part of modern Satanism which is atheistic, but there are whole sections of neopganism which are at the least non-theistic in essence. Then again, there are other parts of Satanism which are polytheistic or henotheistic. I maintain that the most natural default for Satanism is agnostic, as this leaves all options open for the individual to determine themselves. Personal experience is the royal road of Satanism, and actually this seems to be what a lot of neopagans are looking for in Paganism too.
The reverence for Nature, while not universal within Paganism, is quite prominent. Within Satanism Nature is pretty much the bottom line, and is one of the things reflected in the acceptance of carnality and fulfilment of the whole person. Satanists in general have a love of Nature, and of our own deepest nature. On the other hand, Satanists recognise our capacity to negate and seemingly go against Nature, as part of our creative, individuating essence. But this level of sophistication is part of Nature itself, when seen in a wider perspective.
So I see a good deal of commonality between the phenomena of modern Satanism and Paganism, and what people are looking for in both. That is something I celebrate and enjoy.
Here is a clip of the front man of the black metal band Inquisition taking about Satanism, which my friend Aleph turned me on to. I really liked it.
I liked the way he talks about love, showing that it is important for him, but not making a defining badge out of the concept
. I put love very central in my own spirituality, but I leave it to others to discover their own terms and understandings. I like the way he brings everything down to the individual, without prior conditions in essence, to the open minded enquiry into Nature. I can see that we are experiencing some of the same thing here.
What I can also say now, after two years, and a reconciliation with Paganism, is that I feel an increasing sense of the “personage” of Satan, alongside the concept or symbol, particularly transitional, subtle, metaphorical, open, free, fearless, clear. As with everything for me, it is the direct experience that counts, rather than the formal sense or definition, for this is where we find the reality of things. This is good.
Meanwhile I feel a renewed sense of connection with deities and Nature.
Bon voyage, and Hail Satan.16th February 2017: 9th paragraph edited.
It’s been a good few days, quite a few, of stability and contentment, which is a lovely thing.
Over the last year I’ve drawn a lot on my polytheism, and links with my Heathen deities especially. I’ve needed them, they’ve been there. Others have been there too, such as my Egyptian “daemonic father”. “Gratitude” is too prosaic a word to describe what you feel for the presence of deities within your life, too commonplace a word for the bond, but the feeling is deep and free.
I’ve come to really value mindfulness, a mental practice and state that I first came upon decades ago in connection with Theravada Buddhism, though it also forms part of Reiki practice and training, and pretty much all Asian derived meditation techniques. The capacity to maintain mental balance, and not be overwhelmed by powerful emotions, thoughts and energies is a good skill for anyone, but it is essential for a magician or someone going through powerful experiences of personal growth, as powerful emotions and energies can be guaranteed in these situations at some point, and you have to be able to maintain your composure as you choose, in order to be able to function properly.
I am not a Buddhist, and do not subscribe to the wider Buddhist philosophy, but the traditional image of the Buddha is a good symbol of mindfulness for me, and I do use it.
In addition to this, the figure of Satan emerges as a fine focus of self-actualisation, pulling together my independent worth and stance, which is very good for someone as inclined to relationship and surrender as I am. No regrets there, not at all, as love is so important to me. But Satan for me matches both the irreducible clarity of selfhood, and clarity of mind that can cope with all of our nature.
Surrender blissfully as you wish, you will not lose that jewel-like self.