by Jake Block
“If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”
— Bob Parsons
The Left-Hand Path is no easy trail through the grasslands with fields of green and cool running streams. It can be the toughest trail along the craggiest peaks, where one false step can send you plummeting to the canyon floor hundreds of feet below. It’s hazardous to your safety, to your security, and to your health, both mental and physical. It’s no wonder that so few start the journey in the first place, and those who stay on it for life are a rare breed indeed. One generally doesn’t travel this path simply because they want to, but because not to try seems to be unthinkable.
Think, if you will, about some of the human tragedy that can come from turning one’s back on the ethic and ethos of their culture and society to become an outcast wanderer along this path. They can become shunned by friends and families, ostracized for their choice to stand against the dictates of philosophic and religious dogma. We all know of people who’ve been expelled from their families and branded as heretics and apostate for the abandonment of faith. Losing the warmth of family and home can be devastating.
Think of those who have been physically or legally accosted. Those who were openly Satanists (or suspected of such) during the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s faced not only the shunning of family, but community scorn as well. Michael Aquino, founder of the Temple of Set, found himself smeared in the press and forced to defend himself against accusations of child molestation, placing his military career at risk and exposing him to the ordeals of serious jail time. I was personally accosted by three men with 2x4s when leaving the Black House in San Francisco at 3AM. Only being armed, and willing to kill, defused the situation and saved me from a horrific beating that they had planned, to force me to “love Jesus.”
Think also of those who have been discriminated against by employers, by those who denied them places to live, and those who denied services and commerce. In business, we think that we have immunity from discrimination on the basis of religious choice, much as we do on the basis of race, color, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation or gender identity), national origin, age (40 and older), disability and genetic information. Any good office manager, however, can fire you for his or her own reasons, never once mentioning what they are in reality, cloaking the reason in “failure to comply,” or a host of other innocuous reasons.
Likewise, housing discrimination, while illegal, still happens. “The law is on your side,” but trust me, it’s not easy or often worth the effort to force compliance! Most renters don’t have the resources or time to fight housing discrimination in court and then, if you think about it, would you really want to win, just to be allowed to live in a place where someone will always be looking and waiting for you to slip?
I had a friend who for some reason, told his landlord that he was not a Christian, and that he was a Satanist. Not a wise move, as his landlord, who lived downstairs was a fundamentalist Christian, who began having prayer services (loudly) six nights a week, and my friend was late with the rent by five days, so, his landlord immediately began slapping on late charges and finally an eviction notice. He couldn’t evict my friend for being a Satanist, but legal ways to get rid of someone are there, if you really want or need to.
These are just a few of the pitfalls that one must contend with if they wish to walk the Left-Hand Path. But beyond that are the personal quests for enlightenment that can shatter your illusions of self control and make you question the truths that you once took for granted. There is no way to avoid inner turmoil if one is to engage in radical personal revelation and growth. The Left Hand Path is not a path of stasis or passivity.
One must fight for every step, for each tiny lumen of enlightenment along the way, and defend it tenaciously, not as a martyr, but as a lion defending his freedom of individuality in a world that champions collectivism. Those who reject the status quo perform a revolutionary act, and the culture will impose its Will to force your assimilation and compliance, if you allow it. Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara wrote, “I will fight with all the weapons within my reach rather than let myself be nailed to a cross or whatever.” This is a statement of defiance in the face of custom and canon. When the armies of Xerxes demanded that the Spartans at Thermopylae surrender their weapons, King Leonidas responded, “Μολών Λαβέ (Molon Labe — come and take them).” Surrender nothing that is yours without a fight, and that includes freedom of thought. That said, changing one’s mind in the face of sound contradictory facts is a sign of wisdom and flexiblity.
When I think back on the 21 year old who discovered the concept of Satanism in a magazine left in a waiting area in Vietnam, and compare the person that I am today, I can see few similarities. Some of the changes in my life that have rearranged my ways of thinking about the world and my place it in came organically, and simply as an adjunct to the process of living. Survival choices that we as people make simply to stay afloat financially, choices we make to adapt to social situations and that uneasy detent between or personal goals and our societal obligation, and choices we make to create options to allow us a greater chance to thrive are those that we all make to a greater or lesser degree.
Then there are times when, as a result of some of those choices we make, or the threats to our physical or mental survival, we are called to account at the “edge of the abyss,” where we find ourselves accountable to ourselves and those affected by our choices. It is at this time when the most profound changes, or the most exquisitely impactful (often harrowingly so) acceptances of our lives and the paths we have taken to this point in our lives are made. And as my fellow life-long travelers on this path can relate as well, we all face the truths one only faces when one stares into the abyss, and the abyss stares back.
I know that one day, in the not that distant future, I will be called to one last session at the edge of the abyss. Will I, in that dying moment, like Crowley, think, “I am perplexed?” Maybe I will echo the words of the dying actress Joan Crawford, who raged, “Damn it! Don’t you dare ask God to help me!” I’m reminded that the diabolically minded Voltaire replied to a priest at his bedside, who asked him to renounce Satan said, “Now, now my good man, this is no time to start making enemies.” Or perhaps, I will, quite simply echo the last words of Nostradamus, “Tomorrow, I shall no longer be here,” and step off the edge of the abyss on my final leg of the path I have ever traveled, steeply uphill and to the left.
The Left-Hand path is a long and arduous trail that will test and tax you, and it will reward you as well. It was never meant to be easy and it was never meant to be a stroll through the sylvan glades. It’s a path of struggle and enlightenment, of personal introspection and the unfoldment of the Undefiled Wisdom, spoken of by LaVey. It is hard, it is long and it is the best or worst journey one will make in their lives, should one choose to take it.
“Everything is costly. and the development of the personality is one of the most costly of all things. It will cost you your innocence, your illusions, your certainty.”
— Carl G. Jung
by Jake Block
When I was younger, I used to get a kick out of the idea of the stereotypical “old guy,” sitting on his front porch, shaking his cane and yelling. “Hey! You kids get off of my lawn!” It seemed to me that he was either in need of a good laxative, or was just an angry old man, but now that I have spent a lifetime tending my lawn and garden, I can see how it can be irritating as hell to have someone trample it underfoot. It’s especially galling when that person can’t keep their yard up and lives in the disheveled eyesore down the street.
It’s not easy to build and maintain a well-manicured lawn. My house sits on over an acre of high quality Zoysia grass, a hearty, lush type of grass that can stand drought, spreads well, and once established requires just maintenance and cutting. So, naturally, I’m going to protect it if someone is inconsiderate enough to assume that just because they live in the same town as me, and it might look like a park, it’s not HIS park, but mine. Leaving his trash as he crosses the area, or letting his dog shit on it is not only a sign of disrespect, but a display of ignorance that isn’t to be accepted or tolerated.
The same can be said about the places we cultivate on the Left-Hand Path. It’s a path we forge on our own, occasionally accompanied by a few hearty souls along the way. But we hack out a small portion of land alongside that hidden trail and spend year or decades in exploration, building and improving our stand, our place of comfort amidst the chaos and resistance that moving further on the path represents. Then from there, we can branch out along the trail, clearing that path and inching our way deeper into the darkening distance, hopefully toward our end goals of enlightenment, power, strength, or whatever we call “our bliss.”
Those who follow well marked trails assume that they own, or at least share in the efforts of those who toiled. They somehow feel that they can criticize and pontificate on the things of which they have read in books, or on their computer screens in the darkness of their dingy rooms. They’ve not mastered their lives, and show it in the things they post, needing others to help them understand their failures “out there,” all the while expecting to be treated like warriors or explorers “in here.” They know not that excuses are the lame and lazy pronunciations of the faint of heart, as they retreat to the web and seek solace and comfort for the lives they lead.
The Left-Hand Path is no place for the timid, the cowed or the whining complainer. Nor is it a place for those yet to be tried at the gaping abyss to declare that they are their own gods. The mouse sees god as the one who provides the cheese. The lion snatches his sustenance from the slavering jaws that seek to prevent his journey, and with each battle he gains a bit of wisdom to use in the future, somewhere along the path. DEEDS NOT WORDS emblazon the signs along the way. Reading a book is not the battle, but a recounting of the battles of those who have gone before, and the first piece of wisdom travelers on this dark path gain is to KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.
So, my friends, those intrepidly leading the way, or those like me, long in the tooth and short on time, when someone stands on that clearing you have hacked out of the wilderness to call home decides to tell you how he could have done it better, having nowhere of his own on which to stand, take it for what it’s worth. Then smile, take up your cane and shout, “Hey, kid, get off of my lawn!” If he’s too arrogant or stupid to heed your words, you can feel justified when you ram that cane firmly up his ass.
by Jake Block
If you identify as a LaVeyan Satanist, sometime, somewhere, someone is going to level the accusation that you’re nothing but and Anton LaVey fanboy. And they could be right. Just as they might be a fanboy of THEIR philosophical school of thought. It could be Nietzsche, Aquino, Jesus, Marx, Buddha, Krishna or any of a thousand choices that one could choose.
Having a hero is no big thing, and at some time in our lives, most of us have had a hero or a mentor that has somehow affected their lives enough for them to hold them at least in respect, if not reverent awe. When it becomes a problematic for us is when we let that hero worship take over our common sense and we begin to view everything in the tinged halo of our hero’s influence. The easiest example of this is in the way that rabid Christians attribute anything positive in life to Jesus, yet exempting his influence for any of the negative aspects of life.
The problem arises when we over identify with the object of our esteem and assume that their words are the be all and end all of wisdom and truth. We see no need to learn beyond his or her teachings, and we begin to see anyone who is not at least as enamored with of them as somehow inferior, or lacking in intelligence that we, in showing of fealty display in abundance. We find ourselves ever ready to quote the “party line,” and develop terms of familiarity for the object of our devotion, such as “my lord,” “his or her excellency,” or “Uncle Anton,” although we may well have never met them ourselves. It’s not a far stretch before we devolve into “bumper sticker logic,” where we distill the words we’ve learned from rote until they will fit on a standard sized bumper sticker. “The Bible says it, I believe it, and that’s IT!”
It’s the wisest of us who learn to heed the words of those we respect and take them to heart without losing our own sovereignty and sense of identity. Add those words to other wise words you hear along the way and you become armed with the wisdom of many, rather than the opinions of one, or the few. Ideas come from many places, and some in areas we’re loathe to tread. While we might always cling to a central core of personal inspiration and impetus, as without it, we might have forever simply followed the herd and is philosophical status quo, we’ll always have a special place for the jolt of enlightenment that rocked us out of our personal inertia.
Quite frequently, people will try to chase down the gossamer threads of thought that might somehow link “philosopher A” to “philosopher B,” and assume that from their writings they were (or are) “in their camp.” LaVey himself did it in labeling certain people as “defacto Satanists,” based on their writings or incidents from their life in which they shared what he might have considered to be Left-Hand thoughts or actions. We can write it off as a benign sort of solipsism, because just as misery loves company, so do people who love and enjoy the life they live. They can then naturally, although imperfectly, imagine others in antiquity who might have had the same thoughts also enjoyed that same sensation of loving life because of it… or in spite of it. It’s more probable, though, that in the context of the times their heroes lived and thrived, association with Satanism as it existed in literature at their time, would have appalled them. Far better and more appropriate to consider those “infernal thoughts” simply thought that fit the bill, rather than pronunciations of satanic inspiration.
When Mark Twain wrote, “We all have thoughts that would shame the devil,” he was writing commentary, not canon. I still love Mark Twain, quote him often, and am an unabashed “fanboy.”
by Jake Block
THIS ESSAY CONTAINS STRONG SEXUAL CONTENT AND MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR SOME READERS.
“Tempted by the fruit of another
Tempted but the truth is discovered…”
— Tempted by the Fruit of Another (Squeeze)
If you find someone that you want to marry, and hopefully wants to marry you as well, then you will, if you are like most people, opt for the traditional marriage vehicles of western culture, being the formal public marriage ceremony or the closed and perfunctory civil ceremony.
In the former, you may opt to spend several thousands of dollars for all of the bells and whistles, have perhaps 100 or more guests, a lavish dinner and reception following, and dancing into the night. Your ceremony might be in a simple church or a grand Cathedral with tons of flowers, bridesmaids and groomsmen galore, music from a simple organ to a professional choir. Your vows might be those of the organizational liturgy or perhaps heartfelt words penned by the bride and groom themselves.
If you opt for a civil ceremony, most often, it will be in a public office, presided over by a Justice of the Peace, who will say the words prescribed for the moment by the state. The Justice of the Peace may use words such as, “You are now joined to each other by love and respect, two qualities you must always remember, even when times are difficult. I wish you the best of luck in your marriage, and it is my honor to introduce Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.” Flowers are most commonly a small bouquet held by the bride. Your two or three accompanying friends also act as witnesses. Your lavish dinner might be lunch at Denny’s or, maybe Olive Garden because of the special nature of the day.
’Til death do you part. Well, maybe… there’s always the third side option, and this is one of those options for those who are traveling the Left Hand Path and are inclined toward magic and ritual. And sex.
While there are some people who do indeed mate for life, and nothing can come between them, there are millions who mate for life, yet have “romantic or sexual diversions” along the way. Doctors David P. Barash and Judith Eve Lipton’s book, “The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People,” was a scholarly work that documented wide cracks in the notion of monogamy, and the notion of mating for life within the animal world. Animals once thought to take one mate for life were tracked and the blood of their offspring was tested, revealing conclusively that straying is common amongst all “creatures great and small.”
There are many books on the subject that further point to the folly of man’s monogamous nature. Books like “The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships and Other Freedoms” by Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton has sold over 200,000 copies, and reviewers say, “For 20 years The Ethical Slut has dispelled myths and showed curious readers how to maintain a successful polyamorous lifestyle through open communication, emotional honesty, and safer sex practices. The third edition of this timeless guide to communication and sex has been revised to include interviews with poly millennials (young people who have grown up without the prejudices their elders encountered regarding gender, orientation, sexuality, and relationships), tributes to poly pioneers, and new sidebars on topics such as asexuality, sex workers, and ways polys can connect and thrive.”
Also, the book “Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means In Modern Relationships” bu Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha challenges us to examine the popular notions of sexual exclusivity. As Dr. Stanton Peale, Ph.D. wrote, “Sex at Dawn irrefutably shows that what is obvious — that human beings, both male and female, are lustful — is true, and has always been so…. The more dubious its evidentiary basis and lack of connection with current reality, the more ardently the scientific inevitability of monogamy is maintained — even as it falls away around us.”
There are literally dozens of books on the subject. What does this tell us? Well, for one thing, “sex sells,” and that’s nothing new, but it also lets us know that a lot of people other than “just us” are thinking that marriage is great, but it doesn’t have to be the only way. Not for love, not for sexuality, and not for healthy, thinking adults to enjoy a non monogamous lifestyle. In a world of “serial monogamy,” where people marry, divorce and marry again as a way to “ethically” handle their need for sexual variety, it’s refreshing to find people who are viewing sexual freedom as normal and workable aspect of a healthy relationship.
Here on the Left Hand Path, we often give lip service to making our own rules and breaking taboos in the name of personal freedom and blasphemy against cultural norms. In Satanism, the eroticism in the male/female archetypical dichotomy is a potent magical theme. And history is replete with evidence for the use of sex in religious and magical workings, from the temple prostitutes of Aphrodite at her temple in Corinth, to the Dionysian and Bacchanal orgies, to the Great Rite of Wicca and beyond. And yes, we can recognize the blatant and hyperbolic eroticism of tantrism and western sex magic rely on the wanton and often salacious sexual activity between two or more consenting adults. Can such power be called upon by two committed persons? Certainly. But history also shows us that there is great power in the forbidden… the taboo… the darker side of sexuality that is often an irresistible force for men and women intent on elevating their sexuality to a magically potent, workable level.
Even amongst the heathens, there are taboos, inequalities and jealousies that must be contended with. In their wish to work with the most esoteric of mysteries, the magics of the mind and body, there are lines that society frowns on crossing for adults. Amongst Satanists, those one would expect to be unfettered by any convention, are injunctions against the inclusion of children, animals, or those who do not wish to be involved in sexual activities with others. Aside from these, pretty much any sexual activity between two or more consenting adults is permissible. Similar taboos can be found in other cultural sub-groupings.
Not all Left Hand Path groups engage in sexual ritualizations, even amongst Satanists. The Satanic Bible, by Anton Szandor LaVey includes the basic script for the Conjuration of Lust, however many modern Satanists (post LaVey) eschew the eroticisms that were considered normal during LaVey’s lifetime. My personal beliefs point to this as a failing, as a source of power lies in the sexual dynamic and the interplay between the male and female, both in metaphor and in reality.
Prior to The Church of Satan, the most active Left Hand Path group engaging in sex magic was Aleister Crowley’s offshoot group of the Ordo Templi Orientis, operating as Thelema. The elevated degrees, beginning with VII° included increasing concerns for sexual activities. The following are descriptive of individual degrees:
“* VII°: adoration of the phallus, both within and without.
* XIII°: Interaction outside the closed vessels of the vagina and the anus. Sexual fluids might be mixed with saliva and then rubbed into the absorbent tissues of the anus and perineum, as well as the external correspondences to the chakras (solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye, and crown.) They might also be used to anoint the anus, then transferred as triune elixir (semen, anal elixirs, and saliva) back to the mouth. The fluids may also be anointed to the eyelids and/or the entire cabbalistic middle pillar.
* IX°: Interaction within the vagina involving either menstrual blood or the secretions of a woman when sexually aroused.
* X°: Impregnation and fertilization of an egg; also the act of creation or succession (for example, the election of the Outer Head of the Order / O.H.O.).
* XI°: two fold
— (i) Isolation in the anus where there is no interaction at all
— (ii) Interaction with excrement and small amounts of blood (when small wounds occur through intercourse),
mucus and, of course, the mucus membranes that lead directly to the blood supply.
Aleister Crowley’s own preference was that “I am inclined to believe that the XIth degree is better than the IXth degree”, diary entry of 26th August 1916. Diary 1913 about a boy showered with “foaming seed”: “While the other in his orgasm receives the waters.” “Let it be no sin to us to have buggered the virle bum.” “While the priest thrusts his thyrsus between boyish buttocks, All is accomplished; come Holy Dove!” http://bluepyramid.tripod.com/index/id4.html. “The Equinox” IV;2, Maine 1998, 405.”With all due respect to Thelemites, most groups that advocate the inclusion of sex within their rituals or practice “sex magic” in its variant forms are less detailed in the whys and wherefores of its operation, although groups involved with tantric sex might disagree, when considering the 64 described sexual positions in the Kama Sutra. To be practical, we can consider that most sexuality centers around masturbation, vaginal, oral and anal sex. In sexual rituals, this will most often be the case, with enhancements being seen in various forms of bondage and discipline, and sadomasochistic stimulative practices.
This is a good place for a common sense warning and some advice for those who would contemplate engaging in sex magic or introducing sexuality into rituals you might participate in. Know yourself and know who you are being intimate with in your ritual interactions. As you can see from the Thelemite model above, by definition, sex magic will involve intimate and physical sexual contact with others also participating in that ritual. In your research of sexuality in magic, you will very seldom see any mention of the dangers of diseases and unhealthy conditions that can be a result of being sexually active with one or more participants. That in no way means that you should assume that for some reason they do not exist. Without protection, or a medical clearance, there is a chance that you could find yourself infected by others with any number of sexually transmissible (and sometimes incurable) diseases. Even WITH protection or medical clearance, there is still a chance, although the odds are more in your favor against it.
Be cautious and know the people you are being sexually intimate with. One group of magically inclined people that I know require every member of their group to be medically tested for STDs, including HIV/AIDS, herpes, chlamydia, syphilis, gonnorrea and Hepatitis every six months. They actually have a physician in their group that does the blood draws for the group himself and keeps the group’s results on file. Even then, they have a supply of condoms in their ritual space and require their use in rituals under the auspices of the Order. To date, they tell me, they have had no problems with sexually transmitted diseases. This, however, is not the norm. Many people who work with sex magic believe that one must have skin to skin contact and the sharing of bodily fluids that naturally occur in human sexual contact. The risks that I might comfortably assume with a long time lover are not the same as the risks I might assume with a more casual contact, such as one in the context of ritual.
To my knowledge there are no reliable statistics on how many people are affected during ritual contact, and therefore I would urge caution, common sense and respect for oneself and one’s partners. A word to the wise should be sufficient here.
It’s important that those who plan on incorporating sex magic into their ritualization be on the same page with their partner or partners in the project. The idea of using sexuality in a magical ritual is to elevate the emotional aspect of the act exponentially, into the realms of hypersexuality. This is done by the extension of the sex act and the intensity of the orgasmic experience. “Two pump chumps” or “pristine princesses” would, in a proper sex ritual, find themselves like fish out of water. And I know that I’m going to sound like an out-of-touch old man here, but despite what one might think, drugs and alcohol are definitely not enhancements.
Another thing to emphasize her is the trust factor, when it comes to those who are drawn to the practice of sex magic. This is beyond the sexual safety aspects of the practice, which are important, but also includes the interpersonal safety and trust issues.
I recently had a behind the scenes on-line conversation with a friend and his wife about sex magic and how they could participate in such a thing. I responded that it was simply another form of magic, and that if they wanted to participate in it, there were any number of ways that could be accomplished. Being that they still had children at home, they automatically rejected the in-home option. The wife said that she shuddered at the thought of having to explain being caught in the act to their teenage son or daughter, and to their knowledge, there were no ritual organizations near them, or wiccan/dark pagan covens that could help them.
They assumed for some reason, that all Satanists probably used sex magic frequently, because of the lurid tales of Satanic orgies and the emphasis that LaVey had placed on magic with the naked altar and in his writings in The Compleat Witch (reissued as The Satanic Witch.) When I told them that there were indeed some Satanists who incorporated sex into their rituals at times, but it was never a prominent form of magical expression, and in today’s Satanism, many Satanists don’t use the naked altar in their ritual practices, much less some wild orgiastic gyrations in the center of naked, chanting devotees.
They told me that they had read my article on Hyperbolic Magic (https://www.thesectofthehornedgod.com/?p=3892), and would like to ask me if I could answer their questions and possibly make some suggestions on how to further their quest for what they felt would be possible for them to do, and where they might be able to do it. What precautions would be necessary… would they need to invoke demons… what were the risks… did they need to do a formal ritual for success? All of these are “good” questions, and ones that should be considered for various reasons of safety, security and of course they satisfaction level that one expects to achieve in the enactment of any ritual.
I would urge caution when practicing sex magic, in that everyone involved must be 100% committed to the act before they attempt the process. The great psychodramatic and emotional forces at work are nothing to play with, in that in engaging in sex magic you are asking someone to commit their body and mind to you in an act of ultimate trust. It crosses lines that for most people should never be approached, much less passed. Most people consider their body to be inviolate, and sacrosanct. Untouchable. This concept can fly out the window in the context of sex magic, where one is working to elevate and extend their experience, driving their body and emotions into the realms of hypersexuality. Borders in magic are often just suggestions, and are often shattered through one’s self determinate will. Consider the powerful sexual response that can happen between two people during normal sexual relations, and then consider the effects of a multiplication in response when one includes others into the mix.
One must be absolutely certain that they are emotionally ready to handle the intimacies and deep trusts inherent in the practice of sex magic before they even consider bringing others along with them on their journey. One must seriously consider not only THEIR desires and needs, but the desires and needs of others who will agree to joining with them in this very intimate and very emotionally connected process.
You have told someone that you intend to commit your body to them sexually in exchange for their equal commitment to you, that you might conquer a problem that has frustrated and harmed you physically, psychologically, financially, emotionally, or all of these at the same time, making your life difficult at best, and devastated at worst. To drag another person in deeper with you to the culmination of the ritual and, after they have stripped their souls bare before you, change your mind and blithely announce that you’ve changed your mind at the last minute dishonors them and disrespects them deeply.
Books have been written about sex magic to help you find your way. Some of these are SEX MAGIC by Frater U.D., Magia Sexualis: Sex, Magic, and Liberation in Modern Western Esotericism by Hugh Urban, Modern Sex Magick: Secrets of Erotic Spirituality by Donald Michael Kraig, Advanced Sex Magic: The Hanging Mystery Initiation by Maria de Naglowska, Urban Tantra: Sacred Sex for the Twenty-First Century by Barbara Carrellas, Enochian World of Aleister Crowley: Enochian Sex Magick by Alaister Crowley, Christopher Hyatt, and Lon Milo DuQuette, and others as well.
The “magic” in sex magic is in the doing, and while many will dream and fantasize about it, only a few intrepid souls will take the risks, the challenges and the passionate path of self evaluation, self determination and self projection that is hyperbolic magic. There are deep and exciting rewards for those who can navigate the hazardous terrain, and it’s not for everyone, but if it were, would it be magic in the first place?
by Jake Block
I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. Many years ago, I decided that the only way to win in the New Year’s Resolution game was to resolve not to play it. It was a silly practice that sets people up for failure again and again, and I’m not a person known to fail, if there is anything that I can do about it. But still, millions make their declarations and give it their best shot at losing weight, making more money, going back to school or whatever, and most abandon the cause that they took up with such passion a few short days, weeks or months later.
I don’t do New Years Resolutions. Instead I practice being resolute. In its dictionary definition, it becomes more of a clarion call to action, rather than an annual wish for change. I’m not looking for change, but a continuation of my life’s momentum and an enhancement of the personal qualities and attributes that have served me from my youth to old age.
| ˈrezəˌl(y)o͞ot |
admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering.”
Some people live their lives in fruitless pursuit of some point of minutia that, if they can control it, would lead to some measure of perfection in their lives. So, year after year, they make changes based on a date on the calendar as a new year’s ritual, hoping against all odds that they might gain control. But a simple resolution means nothing if one is not resolute in their commitment to that cause, and the trivial resolutions that one makes on the turning of the year are seldom of much import, anyway.
I know a woman, and while I love her dearly, comes to mind in this matter. She’s been determined to lose the same five pounds for the 30 years that I have known her. Now, I don’t think she NEEDS to lose five pounds, as she’s hardly “obese” or “fat” in any way… and truth be known, I kind of like a little roundness in the female form. But she tells me and time again that if she could just lose that five vexing pounds, she would be happy. If all that was keeping me, and I suppose most people, from being happy was a matter of five pounds, I’m sure that I would find some way to accomplish that goal.
Life’s circumstance and direction can be changed, but I’m here to tell you that you can’t wait for the end of one year to pass into the next to work on that goal. Changing your life can take a lifetime in and of itself, and it can be a daunting task, indeed. It takes that quality of being resolute that I spoke of earlier, and will mutate as your efforts to change become most intense. You’ll begin with that “five extra pounds,” and then find that your bliss lies far beyond that modest goal. In achieving that modest task, you’ll then feel empowered to take on another and then another until one day you realize that you aren’t the same person that you used to be, but one more powerful and personally driven to perfection, resolute in the accomplishment of your goals.
Be an agent for change in your own life. Be a visionary of what you wish to be. Be active in your own renewal, and know that the change you want will come, so long as you are resolute, and don’t simply rely on seasonal resolutions. Happy New Year!
by Jake Block
“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”
— Alexander Pope
Pope went on to explain, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. … I don’t fear death so much as I fear its prologues: loneliness, decrepitude, pain, debilitation, depression, senility.” In essence, he was warning us that the most visible danger, the one we planned against, was seldom the only danger, and while we might indeed survive our greatest fear, like death from a thousand cuts, things we consider insignificant before the fact, or can’t consider at all, become contributor to our failure, after all.
“Festina lente” might seem an oxymoron (and it is,) but like most oxymorons, the combination of amusingly conflicting terms make a statement that has wisdom, for those who are wise enough to consider their meaning. Jumbo Shrimp, Old News, Open Secret, Deafening Silence, Only Choice, all oxymorons and get the point across, albeit in an obtusely pointed way. The word oxymoron itself is a combination of words in opposition, derived from the Greek “Oxys” (sharp) and “moros,” meaning dull.
“Festina Lente” has been around a long time and can be found in history as the motto or Roman Emperors Agustus and Titus, as well as the Medici family and the British family Onslow, currently headed by the 8th Earl of Onslow, Rupert Onslow. The Dutch Philosopher Disiderius Erasmus was fond of the phrase as well. Aldus Pius Manutius, humanist, scholar and founder of the Aldine Press, illustrated the phrase “Festina Lente” as an anchor (used to moor a ship, or at sea, to slow its movement,) upon which was placed the figure of the dolphin, known for its speed.
When you find yourself compelled to act, be it on a matter of personal import or on a matter of survivability of one’s philosophy or nation, cool your jets and stay your hand for a time to consider and determine if this is the hill on which you would die. There are many warriors of history who, although formidable warriors, are now dead warriors, left to the elements on hills that while, in the heat of passions, seemed indispensable, but lost their value in Pyrrhic victory. Keep your hand on the hilt of your sword, certainly, but draw your weapon only when you have committed to your survival or your death on the firmest of convictions. The coolest heads know that a moment of contemplation can be as great a weapon as the strongest army.
So, what can we learn from this long-lived oxymoronic adage? Consider the consequences before you charge headlong into the fray. Even though you might want to make an immediate impact upon the situation and prevail, most often you’ll find that very little is easy in a world of conflict, and unless you can see a clear path to victory and reward, caution is always indicated. In the end, you will probably get further faster if you take a bit of time before acting. While I know that it might sound strange, I’ve found that in life, the shortest distance between two places is seldom a straight line, but a series of twists and turns that eventually gets you where you need to be.
by Jake Block
Sat the devil talking to his son
Who wanted to go
He cried, “It’s getting too warm for me down here and so
I’m going up on Earth where I can have a little fun
The Devil simply shook his head and answered his son
Stay down here where you belong
The folks who live above you don’t know right from wrong
To please their kings they’ve all gone out to war
And not a one of them knows what he’s fighting for
‘Way up above they say that I’m a Devil and I’m bad
Kings up there are bigger devils than your dad
They’re breaking the hearts of mothers
Making butchers out of brothers
You’ll find more hell up there than there is down below
”Kings up there
They don’t care
For the mothers who must stay at home
Their sorrows to bear
Stay at home
Don’t you roam
Although it’s warm down below, you’ll find it’s warmer up there
If e’er you went up there, my son, I know you’d be surprised
You’d find a lot of people are not civilized”
— Stay Down Here Where You Belong (Irving Berlin – 1914)
The song above, written by Irving Berlin (born Israel Isidore Baline 1888-1989), was one that LaVey felt had meaning for Satanists who felt the tug of society to engage and become immersed in its mechanics, and hoped that they would see clearly and in so seeing, would think better of it. It’s a very “Satanic” song in the devil’s tradition of calm wisdom and even humor in the midst of trauma and, of course, paradoxical, in that the writer, Irving Berlin was an orthodox Jew who, in writing this diabolical ditty, had also written what is often cited as the quintessential Christmas ballad, White Christmas.
Berlin was no stranger to controversy, as in the 1920s, his scandalous marriage to the Roman Catholic daughter of multimillionaire Clarence McKay, Ellin McKay, caused the wealthy financier to disown her when she married a Jew. Berlin had begun his American experience as an impoverished immigrant from New York’s Lower East Side, in an ethnically Hassidic neighborhood. Berlin enjoyed astounding success and wealth of his own as a composer of some of the most iconic and best loved songs of the age. It seems then somehow appropriate that I, a childless Satanist, writing now from America’s “Bible Belt,” should now be writing this epistle to you, many being young enough to be my children… or grandchildren.
Many of you have read my essays in The Sect of the Horned God, and I appreciate the well wishes and kudos from those who have contacted me regarding the content that I have provided. I would like to think that in some small way, I might have helped prepare you for the world around us, hostile and cold as it can sometimes be.
Here are a few ideas that you might want to consider. They’ve served me well these many years, and you might find something of value in them as well.
1. Don’t identify or register yourself as a member of any political party. Maintain your status as “independent.” Ideally, a Satanist should cherish independence and autonomy of thought as regards their personal life, and that should extend to their political affiliations as well. If you are “independent,” you can feel free to cast your vote not for a specific party, or even a specific candidate, but for those whose interests mirror your own, left right or center. Independence also hinders the politics of mass, wherein any given candidate can automatically count upon your vote simply because of the herdism that is the nature of party politics. If the politicos want and need your vote, independency is the way that individuals can band together to bend the platforms of personal and party politics to better support their personal needs and agendas.
2. Build a “suggestive world” unto yourself, even in the midst of your need to survive and thrive in the “apparent world” around you. When one is philosophically different than pretty much everyone else around them, there is a level of stress that threatens to draw them in, blending their essence with the aggregate whole of society until it’s an indistinguishable, bland sameness.
If only a room in your home, have a place where you can be what you see yourself to be in your mind’s eye. Defend it jealously and guard against the urge to make it simply a catch-all room, where items that should be cast off are saved for some “what if rainy day.” This space, be it a house, a room or simply a corner that represents you in a snapshot, the you that you open only to a precious few, will be your refuge and your armor against a world outside that is constantly in conflict with your personal gestalt. It will try to define you on its terms, even as you choose to define yourself.
You can do this relatively cheaply, or you can go all out, as Anton LaVey did with his Black House in San Francisco. The moment you crossed the threshold you entered “his world,” where his furnishings and comforts all reflected his love of a time long gone, when things were more simple, more civil and more balanced, at least in his memorialized depiction of that time. Find that pace in life that calls to your “soul,” even though, in reality, it might no longer exist. A well wrought fantasy can serve you well when reality and fighting to survive can be oppressive and crushing to your spirit.
There were times that I knew that LaVey was not in a good place emotionally. He had problems in his relationship, just as you and I might. He had problems at times financially, just as you and I might, and there were times that he just didn’t want to deal with the negative bullshit that the world seemed intent on forcing onto his shoulders.
But it was precisely at these times that he took refuge doing the things that he felt joy in. Music, filled the dark night when he sat at his keyboards and touched the keys. Magic. His eyes lit up when he played little games with Klaxon the cat or Basil Ratbone, his large, gray rat. Magic. Rereading a loved passage from one of the many books on his shelves could soften his mood, as could a laugh with a friend who came to call. Magic. The the magical things in your life be like armor, and soon, you’ll find that your mood and your demeanor will lighten and give a much needed rest to a weary mind. There will always be times when you’ll have to fight the world around you and those whose job it seems, is to vex your existence, but when you are here in your place of solitude, it all will seem too far away to matter.
3. Laugh! Laugh through the good times and the bad. There is always something that can be funny in almost any situation. Find that kernel of humor and nurture it. Fine something to laugh at especially in yourself. Don’t take yourself so seriously that you become unable to enjoy the simple act of being.
If you find yourself treating those you look up to with too much reverence, realize that they sometimes fart in the elevator, dribble soup onto their tie, step in dog shit, or any of the many social faux pas that plague us all. Realize too that you are capable of some pretty bone headed moves at times as well, and that there are times when the best thing you can do is shake your head, chuckle to yourself and move on.
I remember when my brother Butch was killed by a drunk driver. It was a sad time in the family, and as I sat along side the rest of our sad family in that congregated mass of sadness, listening to some of my brother’s favorite music being played on the piano by one of his close friends, John Viviano. Now, as he played, he looked over to where I sat, gave me a small grin and a wink and played a few upbeat bars of “How Dry I Am,” a song my brother used to sing sarcastically when things were going wrong. And when John stood up, took a bottle of Falstaff Beer from his jacket pocket, popped the top and took a long pull, all of those who knew Butch laughed. John put the half empty bottle of beer on the flower table next to the casket and laughed with us, and we all knew that somewhere, Butch was laughing with us as well!
Sometimes, my friends, if you don’t laugh, you have to cry.
4. Do what you can, but reject the folly of altruism. Realize that life is inherently unfair, and that the trials that we all go through from time to time build strength and resolve to purify us by fire. There’s no need to rush to the aid of others, and indeed, unless someone asks for our intervention, it’s best to mind our own business. Many people are drawn to the concept of Satanists as “the other,” and being set apart from the mundane masses we see as the herd, but then, for some masochistic reason, allow themselves to be drawn into the drama of societal inequities, and become obsessed with finding some way to remain part of that herd while, at the same time demanding autonomy and separation. If you have to be “either or,” the wisest of us choose proudly and consciously to be “the other,” and there’s no shame in that.
You can’t take the problems of the world on your shoulders until your needs for comfort and survivability for you and yours are satisfied with enough of a buffer between you and the wolf at the door to make expendable resources available to others. Truer still, you can’t take on the ills of the world in the name of others without degrading your own emotional well being. Stay down here where you belong.
“Life is 10 percent what you make it, and 90 percent how you take it.”
— Irving Berlin
by Jake Block
“Life is an invitation.”
You’re born and pretty much dependent upon your parents for everything; that’s not going to change for eighteen years, and then you begin to move on your own. This is the beginning of “life,” not as a biological function, but as a personal journey that can take us as far as we are daring enough and prepared enough to go. Life is giving you an invitation. Accept it and go.
Trust me, as you get older, the invitations are far fewer in between. My advice is to keep your mind ready to recognize the opportunities that are presented to you, and have the courage to step out of your comfort zone to grasp them and take them as far as your skills and hunger are able. Then, grasp another and build upon the success you have already attained. Never let people tell you that what you want in life is impossible. It may be improbable, but improbability is not impossibility.
Turning down life’s invitation is an option. Just settle back into the niche that has been assigned to you and do the tasks as assigned. You will probably live a long and relatively safe existence, have a wife and two kids, a dog and a mortgage. Your back will be sore, and you’ll tell yourself, “It’s fine. I have what I need.” You can fall into a habit of living with “what you need,” and never achieve what you WANT.
The problem is that the invitations that life offers you are contingent upon your readiness to accept, based on the preparations that you have made. Life will seldom, if ever, offer you CEO of a Fortune 400 company if you have a 6th grade education, nor will it offer you the mastery sciences or trades, unless you have prepared yourself with a comprehensive education in the associated skills and processes to help you succeed.
So it is with the Left Hand Path. The old adage, “many are called, but few are chosen” applies. A lot of people want to be “a wizard,” or “a Satanist,” or, in the generic, “an occultist.” A relative few actually make it to the point where that can be legitimately proclaimed. Many people will tell you that they have “made it,” because they have purchased the prerequisite books or have managed to find them as pdf files on their computer, but that’s like telling yourself you are a piano master without ever touching the keys. Mastery on the Left Hand Path, if it exists at all, requires more than buying a few books, downloading a few pdf files, or watching a few YouTube videos. These things might pique your interest, but to BE is a matter of DOING. And results matter more than attempts.
As most people know, I have a background in Satanism that began with The Church of Satan, and one might think that that being the case, I might hold the opinion that that philosophy might be superior to any other. While I can say that it has been a source of great inspiration and the springboard to some fine achievements in my life, I am very aware that it isn’t for everyone, nor should it be. If everyone were meant to be in the same herd… and herded people are STILL a herd, no matter how loudly they bleat their individuality, one cannot ignore or denigrate the accomplishments of others outside of their herd. Success simply is. It has no moral or cultural affiliation.
But the success you seek requires much more that simply looking at the memes presented by the thousands on the web, like a cow looks at a new post in its field. It takes no skill, no insight or understanding to simply view and repost memes. The odds are probably 90:1 that the people on the site you post them on have seen them all before. And be honest… you’re posting them at other sites as well. So much for them being “special,” or something people need to see because of their social, philosophical, or religious import. At the heart of it all, they’re simply funny pictures of cats. It they sincerely meant something to you, you should be able to analyze them and explain WHY in a post as it relates to the thread at hand or the overall thrust of the site to which you post them. Sadly, most people who simply post memes by the dozen are intellectually on a par with that cow in the field.
Experience can make the difference, in that you’ve had a hands on encounter with the reality of the processes to which you subscribe. When Crowley wrote about the concept of Thelema, he was writing from direct knowledge through experience and direct observation AND collaboration with others working to prove the processes he described to affect change in themselves and their personal circumstance. This is the reason that his works are still studied and practiced by Thelemites around the world 72 years after his death.
Life is action over inaction, and being involved in one’s life and one’s experience, rather than being an observer who claims “experience” from observations and the vicarious. Those who succeed and gain the rewards of experience and application are those who accept life’s invitation to participate, rather than those who sit in the cheap seats and watch the game.
by Jake Block
One of the ways that success is measured for any product, from automobiles to religion is through a “longitudinal study.” It’s a long term determination of the acceptance and satisfaction of one’s target demographic. A demographic is “a particular sector of a population,” where a statistical analysis can show the satisfaction vs dissatisfaction of that sector along a time line. For example, John bought his first Ford automobile in 1955 and he bought his last in 2000, just prior to his death in 2010.
This would indicate that, overall, John was very satisfied with his choice of Ford products, as during the 45 year run of his vehicle buying experience, he was never dissatisfied enough to change his patterns and buy another brand, despite the often enticing offers from the newer, trendy brands. John found his Ford reliable, adequate to meet his needs, and stimulating enough for him to continue his loyalty to brand. We can get this kind of information because we as a culture are data driven and, to a significant degree, reliant on numerical statistics to guide our economies.
What about one’s religion/philosophy acceptance as one measurable demographic swale… the peaks and valleys of acceptance on a graphic chart that indicate high and low points of the demographic being targeted. Anecdotally, one can see that the major religions of the world are popular and powerful. A survey by the Pew Research in 2011 indicated that there were 2.18 Billion people that identified as “Christian,” an increase of 600 million from 1910. Also represented were Muslims, with a block of 1.9 Billion, Hindus with 1.1 Billion and Buddhists with 0.52 Billions, and Jews with 14 to 15 million. Also represented, in smaller groupings were “Folk Religions,” with an aggregate total of 0.4 Billions of followers from around the world.
In tracking statistics over a period of time, we find that “things change,” as we can see in a more recent Pew Research survey between 2007 and 2014 indicated that “The Christian share of the population (in America) fell for 78.4% to 70.6%, driven mainly by declines among mainline Protestants and Catholics. The unaffiliated experienced the most growth (6.7%), and the number of Americans who belong to non-Christian faiths* also increased.”
* Includes Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, other world religions and other faiths. Those who did not answer the religious identity question, as well as groups whose share of the population did not change significantly, including black Protestant tradition, Mormons and others, are not shown,
— Source: 2014 Religious Landscape Study, conducted June 4 – Sept30, 2014.
How many identify as Satanist? It’s anybody’s guess, as worldwide Satanist as represented a statistical anomaly, fluid and insignificant, globally, since its point of greatest visibility, beginning in 1966. Numbers of hard-core, dyed in the wool Satanists are quite frankly “as rare as hen’s teeth” in the overall religious landscape, and since the LaVeyan emergence in 1966, 53 years ago, no serious attempts to statistically analyze their numbers has yet to be included in surveys. Have we grown as a religious or philosophical option? Without a longitudinal and standardized accounting, we may never really know for sure.
We tend to suffer from a form of myopia, at times, when we look at the number of Satanic and Left Hand Path websites on line. While still a statistically small sampling of the web when compared to the overall religious/philosophic category of web options, one can easily see that any counting based on web activity would be futile, as not only do people change their identifications (Satanist to Luciferian, etc) from site to site, but one individual might list themselves on 100 different sites, and often under just as many “handles,” for overall anonymity, or to press a personal agenda that has been problematic for them elsewhere on the web.
How many people who identified as Satanists back in 1966, and still identify that way today is anybody’s guess. I personally have not changed my identification as a Satanist since embracing the title in 1971. I would assume, based on my personal perusal of those I know on and off the web that I am an anomaly, based on the ever-increasing choices that have been available in the past 48 years. People change, philosophically, based on any number of reasons relative to their personal experience. But are we more in number today than we were a decade or two ago? We will never know until some serious and reputable statistical collection organizations undertake a longitudinal study, and that will most probably be difficult and prohibitively expensive for the foreseeable future.
by Jake Block
If you’ve read my essay work in the archives of The Sect of the Horned God, you might remember a piece I wrote, called The Law of Diminished Returns and Me. In that piece, I wrote, “As individuals we all have the right to determine our personal currency for emotional, intellectual or materiel support of another, be it in kind or in services, but no one gives for free. It doesn’t happen. If you go to the bank and you take the check, you pay interest and you thereby support the dealings and growth of the bank. And like it or not, the bank then has an interest in YOU… you owe. You pay them back and the deal is over… you regain that amount of autonomy you surrendered in the economic exchange. Same thing applies in interpersonal relations. In investing my time and my intellectual or emotional capital in YOU, I will naturally expect something in return, either in YOUR intellectual or emotional support, or if you are unable to provide that… perhaps in loyalty or in some other method of reciprocal support.”
I firmly believe in this “law,” both in business and in interpersonal relationships. As long as there is a meeting of the minds and there is mutual agreement and understanding of what each party of the parts needs, then things are great between us, and we travel down the road together, hand in hand, happy and prospering. But there are times that people say what they think will get them in my good graces, and I might fall for their line in a moment of weakness, or perhaps because I see some unique value in their association, and I will accept them into my circle of “associates.” Going beyond that point to my circle of “friends” and further still into my circle of “confidantes” requires a period of sharing and performance in principal.
Now, I’m not playing elitist when I say that there are some things in people that will eliminate them from consideration to be in my sphere of association. I simply don’t have any interest in some things that others might find stimulating and enhancing of THEIR lives. I long ago learned that if everyone else is doing something, it’s a sure and certain indicator that I shouldn’t. Add to that that there are things that I simply have no common interest in because of my personal choices, and it makes no difference to me it one or one million other people enjoy, embrace or revere that practice or commodity.
For example, those who deal in or use drugs for recreational purposes need not apply. I don’t care what you put into your body on your own time, but I’m not a user of drugs, and other than a beer once in a while, or a glass of wine on a rare occasion, I’m pretty much a non-drinker. So the idea of sitting around people who are drunk on their ass or stoned really doesn’t interest me. Now, I know about drugs from my life on the streets of E. St. Louis, and my time in Vietnam. In both places, there were opportunities to experiment with any number of illicit drugs. In Vietnam, alcohol flowed like water and was so cheap that anyone who wanted a beer… or more… could have it 24/7.
If you’re trying to entice me to invest in one of your get rich quick schemes, I’m sorry, but I’m fairly conservative as to when and where I invest my funds these days. A few hard-learned lessons about sure things over the years has schooled me well, and it’s a matter of “once bitten, twice shy.” Loan you money? Make an appointment with my people and I will get back to you a week from never. Same goes for Tupperware, time-shares, Amway and a host of other pyramid schemes that promise me a fortune in return for “a few measly thousand dollars.” It’s not that I am adverse to stocks and bonds or investing in general. I have stocks that have done well, and are doing well today, but I invested with companies that have a track record of making money in the market.
President George H.W. Bush famously said about broccoli that he never, ever, wanted to see another sprig of broccoli on his plate, whether he was on Air Force One or at the White House or anywhere else in the land. ”I do not like broccoli,” the President said, responding to queries about a broccoli ban he has imposed aboard Air Force One, and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. I’m President of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli!”
Now, I personally LIKE broccoli. I order it at fine restaurants and include it in several dishes I cook here at home, but were I to be in the company of President Bush (unlikely as that is to ever have happened) I would have acceded to his wishes. His circus, his monkeys. “When in Rome…”
I expect nothing less when someone is in MY domain. Those with whom I would share my time are those with whom I share an intellectual, philosophical, aesthetic and yes, even an affinity towards social conventions that are compatible with my own. Now, it is true that you learn a lot from people who are different than yourself; people who have different philosophies and lifestyles, and that’s ok when that learning aspect is what I am seeking. But when I am looking to relax and enjoy, not actively being a teacher or a student, I am most probably going to want to do it with people who enhance my enjoyment of the event, and those with whom I won’t find myself in some drawn out counter-philosophical argument or working with the aesthetic of my personal environment. If I and enjoying a dinner in an upscale restaurant, with a steak and a glass of wine, I don’t want to spend the evening with a radical vegan, teetotaling social activist ranting about how many poor people never get to eat a fine meal in a nice restaurant. They can think or do whatever the hell they like in their own time and place, but when they are in my element, I expect that small concession for my time.
You should as well, because time is the one commodity that we can’t replace or buy more of. And, if you are a Satanist, you’ll surely remember the words of the Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth. “When in another’s lair, show him respect, or do not go there.”
It boils down to respect for others in your life, and the respect that they return to you as a friend, colleague, mentor or student. If we care enough to extend an invitation and respect each other enough to accept one, it’s the least we can do.