by Jake Block
“dead end | ˈded ˈend |
an end of a road or passage from which no exit is possible; a cul-de-sac: the path came to a dead end.
• a road or passage having a dead end.
• a situation offering no prospects of progress or development: [as modifier] : a dead-end job.
verb [no object] (dead-end)
North American (of a road or passage) come to a dead end: he kept walking, until the corridor dead-ended.” — Webster’s Dictionary
Roads that dead end are, in general, places that are at the end of community developments, where, beyond that point, nothing much gets done. The land becomes wilder, and the city adjacent seldom, if ever, cleans up the ragged vegetation, instead opting to just let it grow or die on its own, unkempt and fallow… uncultivated and unused. When you come to a dead end, there are only two options; stay where you are, or turn around and go another way.
Philosophically, people tend to find dead ends comfortable. They’re born into a philosophically attuned grouping and stay there, taking everything that they are told about that grouping… of course by the adherents OF that grouping, on faith, possibly backed by a book or canon of some sort. They get upset when someone disagrees with them on their assigned philosophy, and a curious thing is that they generally will work every angle that they can to attract and convert others to share that philosophy with them. They might not even be that clear on the philosophy, but the fact that they can get someone else to agree with them, no matter how murky their understanding, is validation of the “rightness of their cause.”
The Left Hand Path is designed to be a liberation from this personal stasis, and to act as a remedy for mental constipation. By allowing and encouraging the freedom of thought that is the bane of the dogmatic in philosophy or religion. Even here, though, there are those who will, often under the banner of purism and “truth,” seek to turn the freedom of thought and mind into simply another form of absolutist bondage by claiming THEIR interpretations are the only TRUE interpretations of the “inward facing” and introspective aspects of left hand philosophy. They too seek validation and “proof of rightness” in recruiting others to take up their banners declaring “WE ARE RIGHT,” and all others are wrong, and holding to their self-appointed authority, even in the face of solid evidence to the contrary.
I find it strangely disturbing when I find left hand leaning groups having recruitments for their groups. LaVey, during his lifetime, wanted The Church of Satan to be an organization of “non-joiners,” meaning that the church would be peopled by those who found it a natural place for them to be without recruitments or coercions. In all of the years that I have been involved in Satanism, during the LaVey regime, and after, I can’t remember as single time I have ever said to someone, “You should join The Church of Satan,” although I have been asked by many how they might become affiliated. We never said you HAD to be a member of The Church of Satan to be a Satanist, during my time in The Church of Satan, under Anton Szandor LaVey. Our feeling toward the subject was… “‘Satanist’: you either are or aren’t.”
It’s natural for like minded “birds of a feather” to flock together, and still maintain more or less an open mind, while clinging to core concepts. One might be a “vegetarian,” and parse his meaning OF vegetarian to most closely mirror his personal acts and beliefs. In the world of religion, this can become a very, very segmented populace, with three main branches of Christianity, being Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox, composed of over 2.38 billion adherents, and THEN over 45,000 denominations globally (more than 200 in the United States alone.) This also applies to every other recognized religious grouping around the world. Hinduism’s four main traditions, Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism and Smartism are followed by an estimated 1.2 billion adherents. Hinduism hosts over 33 million gods, each with its own followers and sub-sects, and the feeling within each of these groupings is that THEY hold the true interpretation of fact and tradition with everyone else being flawed to some degree. If we extrapolate these examples to encompass all of the 4,000+ recognized religions of the world, all vying for members and converts, we can see the potential and very real consequences, when almost all of them are certain of their absolute rightness.
In the 56 years since Anton LaVey established The Church of Satan in San Francisco, being at that time, “the only game in town,” when it came to Satanism as a viable religious movement, the number of “satanic” organizations has waxed and waned and then exploded with “virtual Satanism” on the World Wide Web, becoming an incestuous mixing and melding of individuals from around the world, ravenously creating websites for fun and profit until any real counting the actual number and membership becomes virtually meaningless, statistically.
Complicating the situation still further are those who, for personalized agendas only they can understand, seek to claim links to Satanism stemming from religions and cultures in which Satanism’s like was virtually unknown, and building websites that appear to have validity (more or less) with computer graphics bastardizing the Sigil of Baphomet with unrelated symbols and texts seemingly linking it with currently recognized Satanic concepts and ideals. Names change… meanings become malleable to the point of being unrecognizable.
And yes, it has become increasingly that these once “organizations of non-joiners” proudly begin to claim that others have no right to claim to be “a Satanist,” unless they align with them and their self-assumed, yet dubious omnipotence. It’s sad to see that within less than one hundred years, much of Satanism’s promise now leads to a dead end.
We on the Left Hand Path know that it’s actually more like a crowded thoroughfare these days, and we must share the road with seasoned professionals and kids just getting their learner’s permits, anxious to show others how skilled they are, and making claims to power that make their proclamations laughable, and those with actual experience and hands on knowledge of the processes wince. While we don’t want to discourage them on their journey, we have to balance credibility with disbelief, and remind them that extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proofs. It’s sometimes a harsh lesson, but one that needs to be made to help them along the way. Still, there are so many gullible ones who read the claims of strangers throwing lightning bolts and summoning allegorical creatures as fact, based on tall tales and a need to believe who, in this blind trust, place themselves firmly on the dead end path.
We who claim the Left Hand Path as our own must do it wisely and with personal and intellectual truth as our guide. If we do this we keep the path open and clear for ourselves and those who follow. If we fail in this and use the path as a control against others, then we fail and find ourselves at a dead end of our own creation.