Jake Block

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We All Hurt


by Jake Block

“I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that’s real

The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything

What have I become?
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end”

— Hurt (The Johnny Cash version)

I first heard the song “Hurt” when I was alone in a dingy, low rent motel room in Seattle, Washington. I had volunteered to do a “stress test” to help determine the effects of stress while working in wartime conditions. It was a grueling 72 hours of hard labor, uncomfortable catnaps, and little food or water. Completely exhausted, we were placed in rooms alone in a dingy motel with no restaurant or bar… just a dingy room in a dingy place. There was simply a box lunch… a ham and cheese sandwich, small bag of chips, an apple and 2 bottles of water.

I turned on the TV, hoping to relax before dropping off to sleep and landed on MTV. Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt began to play and in the darkness of that room where I sat, tired and beaten down by exhaustion. It was the first time that I realized that suicide was indeed an option for those who felt this way on a daily basis with no hope or end in sight, and to be honest, as awful as I felt in my exhaustion, if I had access to a weapon in that moment, who knows what I would have done.

And in the darkness of that lonely room in Seattle, for all I have accomplished in my short (at that time) 38 years on earth, I heard the song speak to me of what WAS and, if I stayed on the same road, what would, most likely, be the trajectory of the remainder of my life, however long that might be. I handled it as I would any other obstacle, during that time in my life. I got angry and I got up and exercised to give myself a second wind and get the negative thought under control.

That was MY method. It worked with MY attitude. But, like that little black bag on the airport carousel, there are many little black bags… and attitudes too.. so what works for one might not work for others. And in this world of billions, there are those who have come up with some interesting and diverse methods of gaining or relinquishing control to regain some semblance of order in their lives…

She walked into “the room.” It was a familiar place, that she had visited before. She sat down with her escort, chatting amiably with him and those who, bidden and unbidden, made their way to the seats around her to listen to her thoughts and dreams, wants and needs without prejudice or judgement. They could not cast the first stone, nor would they, if they could, for in this place of pleasure and pain, all were equally aware that to cast that stone would be to cast it at themselves. They too had dark thoughts and dreams. They too had come to “the room.”

After a few moments of cordial interactions, she would kiss her escort deeply and lustily, not caring that those around her were watching her with laser focus. They were allowed. This was part of the ritual, setting the stage for the psychodrama that had begun the moment she had, at home, put on the most alluring clothing and applied her most attractive makeup. As she prepared, her mundane world and the cares within it slipped from her mind and new, sexually stimulating thoughts of “the room” filled her mind. She began to feel the rush of adrenalin and the need to release her tensions and cares was strong… so she made her way to “the room,” where it as dark and warm and saturated wit the energies of the many who had come before.

She began to take off her clothing as the men around her smiled appreciatively. There was no pretense or feigned innocence, as they all knew why they were there, and what was to occur. The only question would be that who amongst them would be active participants in the ritual now in motion, and who would simply be a witnesses to it, donating their lusty thoughts to the energy of “the room.” She laid back on her lounge seat, and multiple men began to touch her everywhere, and the more hypersexualized she became, the bolder they would respond, eventually asking her permission to do more… and more. She would grant some requests, denying others, and having limits on what she would allow that all would have to follow, with her escort faithfully enforcing her restrictions.

The woman wasn’t all that unique. Her methods of coping might not be the same as other women in her everyday situation might have chosen, but for her, they were the most effective in helping her relieve the constant stresses and heavy responsibilities that were the hallmark of her career choice. Doing her job, she had to be in control. She had to make snap decisions that, if wrong, could get herself or others hurt badly, AND cost her employer an enormous amount of money in compensatory damages. Her sexual release in this manner allowed her to NOT be in control, and to allow herself to feel the exhilaration of illicit, erotic contact, with her escort there to make sure things did not get out of hand. Satisfied and relaxed, she could return to her daily life of stress and duty, until the next time the need to release would lead her back to “the room.”

Different people try different things to cope. We all probably know of at least one person who will sometimes use pain to feel in control of an uncontrollable situation. “Cutters,” will sometimes cut themselves when under severe stress so that they can concentrate on the pain their body is experiencing, rather than the pain their mind is having to cope with in dealing with personal or business problems. Surely, cutting oneself can be sometimes dangerous an difficult to hide, but its cathartic effects make the risks more acceptable.

I am aware of at least five men in the world of business who routinely wear women’s underwear beneath their business suits. They have told me that it provides a calming effect from the pressures of finance and commercial enterprise. Outwardly, they held the reigns, but they could feel the silken garments against their skin, and it seemed to comfort them, and one gentleman told me that he hoped it also helped him be more balanced in his decision making processes, reminding him to add a bit of the “feminine” to his often heavily masculine demeanor.

Another man that I know works out intensively on the weekend, desperately trying to purge the feelings of anger and frustration that he has as a police officer dealing with his beat in a poverty torn middle city. He sees the crime and the predation of men and women who in their own efforts to cope with their stresses in simply surviving, foist them on to others — strangers and friends alike. These become the unwitting victims for their rage and contempt for the lives they lead, because they dare not lash out at those who have the ability to fire them.

In the world of BDSM, which encompasses a wide range of activities that involve, bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism and masochism, you can find any number of ways that men and women might try to gain or relinquish control of life’s situations in order to cope, using powerful psychodramatic rituals to achieve the sense of calm and balance that they so need in their lives. The idea of turning one’s physical safety over to another is something that most of us would find hard to do, but when a person’s life is dependent upon their being in control of a multitude of situations that can instantly and adversely affect the lives of others, one often finds that they need a physical release from that stress in order to affect and maintain a state of balance.

Sometimes people can come up with interesting passive ways to relinquish control and gain some measure of comfort and security, even while they sleep. One woman related to me that she slept much sounder and more restfully when she wore nothing but a pair of regulation steel handcuffs to bed. There might be other components, such as masturbation or listening to an erotic novel audiobook, but the main component was is the wearing of the handcuffs, which were a gift to her from her lover.

These people aren’t “mainstream,” and their methods of coping with the stresses of life are probably not those that 98% of the population would choose. But then, the reason that they have chosen the options they did could well have been that they AREN’T your cookie cutter citizens, and the choices others who are mainstream might not have provided the satisfying relief of stress that they, and those like them, might need. There might well be a correlation between extreme individuals and extreme stress management strategies.

And yes… there are many who just sleep, watch TV or drive to Vegas for the weekend, same as it ever was.

During my time on this planet, one thing that I have heard over and over was that “life is hard,” or that hell is on earth, and I’m sure that people were saying that since the beginning of time, because you know, life IS hard. Now, OUR life isn’t as hard as the same way that the first “humans’” life was hard, and I am certain that 20,000 years from now, someone of that time will opine that as hard as THEY have it, those poor bastards from the 21st Century are lucky to be alive, as they strap themselves in to their Acme Stress Eraser 9000 and flip the switch that returns them to a state of somatized bliss in 30 minutes while they look at pretty lights flashing in the dark.

It’ll be all peaches and cream when we reach theat Brave New World that Aldous Huxley wrote about, when we can simply sip our narcotic “soma” from a can and the world will be a place where reality becomes a euphoric hallucination of contentedness and social harmony. Or like the world of Zager and Evans’ song, In the Year 2525, “In the year 5555, your arms hanging limp at your side, your legs got nothing to do; some machine’s doing that for you.” Isn’t it remarkable that in almost every “utopian” visage of the future, something, be it a man made machine, or man made government turns it into a dystopian hell? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKQfxi8V5FA)

So too, I imagine that the stressors of life that we see now would appear to US as just another fresh hell that we have to find some way to contend with, both physically and emotionally as well. Will we still resort to our current means, our comforts and deviancies that bring us the solace we need, or will we march on, like time itself to those remedies unthinkable to us in our (at this time) primitive existence? I assume that we will find our own way to cope, simple or complex, as will others, and we will deal with stress as we do today, in our own way and in our own time.

Life for many people is a series of hurts and pains and disappointments that they must either overcome or find someone (other than themselves) to blame them on. We all hurt. How we handle it makes all the difference.

“And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt”

Dead End

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.

Those Who Stand and Wait

by Jake Block

“When I consider how my light is spent,
   Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
   And that one Talent which is death to hide
   Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
   My true account, lest he returning chide;
   “Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
   I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
   Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
   Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
   And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
   They also serve who only stand and wait.”
— Sonnet 19 (John Milton)

They say that the toughest job in the military is being a military spouse. The reason for this is that the service member might be the one in the line of fire, anywhere around the world, and that is “just part of the job” of being one of the troops of the United States, or any other nation whose troops are engaged in hostile action, but the spouse of that troop is always left at home to wait and wonder if their spouse is alright, or if they have been injured or killed in the line of duty. This, of course, also extends to those who we rely upon for our safety and security in the civilian sector as well; our policemen, firemen, and National Guardsmen tasked with our daily safety and security.

Those of you who know me are aware that I served in the military for 20 years, with two tours in Vietnam. During that time I was married, and my parents and siblings were aware when I was in harm’s way, more or less, in Vietnam and elsewhere around the world. In those times, you don’t really think about it. You are concerned more with getting the job done safely and getting yourself and your troops back home, alive and well. Years later, after I retired, my mother told me that during the times I was in some area of conflict, she would never watch the news on TV, and she lived in dread of seeing a military sedan pull into the driveway, delivering the message that I was dead.

Most military men don’t see that much fear from their husbands and wives when they are in a combat zone or deployed to an area of conflict. The isolate nature of deployments limits it, as does the natural tendency of people to play down any fear or anxiety they might feel, so as not to further stress their loved ones in harm’s way. My parents, who had been around during WWII and the Korean Conflict never sent me bad news from the family while I was in Vietnam, cautiously guarding whatever peace of mind I might have, in an attempt to spare me any more stress in an already stressful situation. There were plenty of stressful moments when I received mail from my wife and friends, but I knew that there was little I could do from 8,500 miles away.

Those who are in harm’s way on the home front are acutely aware that their families and friends know of their plight and the angst that is generated by knowing the danger their loved one is in, and not being able to help them in any way. Police, involved in violent confrontations with criminals, or in the handling and suppression of riots or other mob actions face dangers as deadly as any soldier on any battlefield in the world. Those who stand and wait for them to return home know the fear of that sedan pulling into their driveway, or the call summoning them to the bedside of their sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, or sisters of brothers. Their job is dangerous. It can be expected that things like this can happen to them as part of the job.

But there are also “civil servants” connected with the enforcement of codes and laws that are out there in the field. We don’t expect them to be in harm’s way from violent or lawless people. Mostly we fear injury to them from accidents or natural causes… acts of god, they are often called… no malevolence… just bad luck. This makes it even more fearful and stressful when they are involved in incidents of violence to which they were never intended to experience, when their lives are put in harm’s way and the consequences can indeed be deadly. I can tell you from personal experience as one who would stand and wait, the fear one feels as the danger unfolds is real and palpable.

Britt and I were chatting via Messenger, recently when she abruptly announced. “I’m being called in for a man with a gun. I’ll check in when I can.” I told her, “Please BE SAFE, and I love you,” but she was already on the move. Britt is a “public servant,” and an Animal Control Officer. It’s not uncommon for her to be involved in the routine removal of animals from minor crime scenes, or in response to a civil complaint. We are sometimes interrupted on line or when we are together. The call could come at any time and she would be out the door responding to whatever emergency she needed to take care of and then, once handled, she would return and life would go on. Sometimes a little drama, sometimes some humor, sometimes a little anger, and yes there were times of danger where she might have to get physical with a vicious animal or problematic human… but the notice, “Man with a gun” immediately launches things into a whole new level.

So, communications gone flat, I sat there for what seemed to be hours, waiting to see the screen react with its little dots, showing an inbound message being composed. Nothing happening… quiet on the web… but I knew that she would be safe. There were armed cops and a SWAT team on the scene. What could possibly go wrong. She’s a non-combatant… surely she would be held back until the area had been cleared by the cops. They should know what they were doing… should is a tricky word, you know. When a .357 Magnum round whizzed past her and slammed into something behind her, she made herself as flat to the ground as she could, and I’m sure she wondered, “Why would rounds be coming from a building that had been cleared?”

Another round… she noticed the cops around her adjusting their elevation. They were firing on the attic… and then there was, for a brief moment, a man with a gun on the roof. Two shooters! Then there was one, and soon, the firing stopped. Her body now moved on automatic, snatching up “Captain Ahab,” the catch pole she was known for carrying… also known as the “Mississippi Kneecapper” by those unfortunate enough to attempt to stop her or keep her from completing her assignment. Flanked by armed and alert cops, she made her way into the building to secure any animals that might need to be removed and transported to the shelters.

Now chaos began to give way to order as the crime scene became an investigation site. People began to move more efficiently and less strategically to do their jobs. As she loaded her animals into cages in her van, and stowed her gear, she radioed in that she was ok and safely on the way back to the kennels. Once there, she processed them quickly and efficiently into “the system,” looked them over for injuries and spoke softly to them, helping them decompress from the trauma they were feeling. Paperwork completed, she made sure they were comfortable in their crates and had fresh, cool water to drink and treats to eat. Then she was off to the mandatory action debriefing at police headquarters.

Only now, hours later, did the dots appear on my screen. Time was still running slow and it seemed like long moments before the message posted, “I’m back. I’m ok.” I could finally breathe again. I knew she was safe and unharmed, but it would still be a few hours, after she returned home, took a long, hot shower, a nap and ate something before I would hear her voice on the phone. She seemed a lot calmer than I would have imagined, and she wanted to know if I was OK. The lady has guts.

Even in the military, you spend a minority of time actually under fire, and in most cases, it sometimes feels like just another job. “90% boredom and 10% sheer terror,” I’ve heard it called, but from day one, you have that target on your back, just waiting for someone to sight in on it. You learn to accept that, and you learn to cope with it as just a part of the job. Stressful, sure, and you learn to think along the lines that as long as everyone goes home alive at the end of the day, it’s all good.

Like I told Britt, “Someone shooting at me, no problem. Someone shooting at you, BIG PROBLEM.” In a few hours I finally learned to have an even greater respect for the military spouse who sits at home and waits for that phone call or letter that tells them their loved one in harm’s way is safe. It was nerve wracking. I found that it became the center of my existence for as long as the crisis lasted, and even while talking with her hours later, my heart was in my throat. One can rationalize it and say that it’s a matter of perspective, based on the amount of information that one has on the scene, vs the information one has while waiting at home, but the stressors that one has at home, I think, are more acute. In the field, you know pretty quickly when the danger has subsided, but those who stand and wait might have to wait a long time to know that their loved one is safe, and that life as they know it has not been permanently altered, and not for the best.

Thanks to those who answer the call and serve their community and nation… but thanks as well to those who love them and spend those hours, days, weeks, months and even years in fear and waiting.

They also serve.

Ambushed by the Lost and Found

by Jake Block

You get to your destination after a long journey, unpack, and get ready to enjoy your stay. You’ve got everything stowed away and in order, when the bag that you lost years ago on Dysfunction Airlines finally lands at your doorstep. Now, you remember the bag, but for the life of you you don’t remember what the hell might even be in it. The years had, in you mind, dulled whatever importance that little bag might have had, but looking at it there on your doorstep, bulging and straining to be contained by stout straps and zippers you realize it was from “that trip.” The trip from HELL… and your mind shudders. You’re torn by conflicting emotions as to whether you should just toss the bag in the trash, or open it and see, when suddenly and without fanfare, the straps and zippers give way and the contents of the bag are now something you have to deal with. You were having fun, but now…

No matter where you journey, you will always be carrying baggage. Some times, all you will have is a basic valise, just enough to get you through the night, and other times you will nee to take everything but the kitchen sink along with you. You will always think that you have exactly what you need, but that will seldom be the case, and you’ll wind up at the local 7-11 buying tooth paste at 3AM in some sleepy little town in Alabama, or Imodium to, well… you know what Imodium is for… when you can’t handle the spices in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. These are just the normal minor pitfalls of traveling from here to there in life.

When you think of life itself as a journey, the amount of baggage we end up with is emotionally staggering. Our baggage in life is emotional, rather than physical, but no less heavy to carry in our heart and soul. Our memories may be of blissfully happy times, and these are the pieces of emotional baggage that we enjoy carrying, however like that unwelcome lost bag from an unfortunate trip via Dysfunctional Airlines, there are times that baggage is recalling emotional strife, dystopian memories of past horrors in our lives, the fears and self doubts that plague us come to the fore.

I know that most of us have an incident in our past that, no matter how hard we try to block, and no matter how many years go by, can flare up in our memory just as sharp, clear and painful as they were when they happened in life. You close your eyes and try to sleep and the visions are as vivid as yesterday, even though years, decades and even more than half a century has passed. In my case, the incident that can plague me occurred when I was 12 years old, 59 years ago. All of that time cannot dull the pain of a violent sexual assault by a stranger, when I was a kid in E. St. Louis, IL.

The things that are packed within the baggage that we try to forget in a terminal some place deep within our minds can and will return to us at a time of their own choosing, when we think that we have succeeded in eluding them and their grip on our minds and psyches. Like “Room 101,” in George Orwell’s novel “1984,” they are “the worst things in the world.” Now, what is the worst thing in the world for me might be something that you can handle quite easily, as you’ve never been touched by them in a traumatic context that affects your life. But for you… the nightmares that can make you scream:

“At each stage of his imprisonment he had known, or seemed to know, whereabouts he was in the windowless building. Possibly there were slight differences in the air pressure. The cells where the guards had beaten him were below ground level. The room where he had been interrogated by O’Brien was high up near the roof. This place was many meters underground, as deep down as it was possible to go.

It was bigger than most of the cells he had been in. But he hardly noticed his surroundings. All he noticed was that there were two small tables straight in front of him, each covered with green baize. One was only a meter or two from him, the other was further away, near the door. He was strapped upright in a chair, so tightly that he could move nothing, not even his head. A sort of pad gripped his head from behind, forcing him to look straight in front of him.

For a moment he was alone, then the door opened and O’Brien came in.

‘You asked me once,’ said O’Brien, ‘what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.’

The door opened again. A guard came in, carrying something made of wire, a box or basket of some kind. He set it down on the further table. Because of the position in which O’Brien was standing. Winston could not see what the thing was.

‘The worst thing in the world,’ said O’Brien, ‘varies from individual to individual. It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or fifty other deaths. There are cases where it is some quite trivial thing, not even fatal.’

He had moved a little to one side, so that Winston had a better view of the thing on the table. It was an oblong wire cage with a handle on top for carrying it by. Fixed to the front of it was something that looked like a fencing mask, with the concave side outwards. Although it was three or four meters away from him, he could see that the cage was divided lengthways into two compartments, and that there was some kind of creature in each. They were rats.

‘In your case, said O’Brien, ‘the worst thing in the world happens to be rats.’

A sort of premonitory tremor, a fear of he was not certain what, had passed through Winston as soon as he caught his first glimpse of the cage. But at this moment the meaning of the mask-like attachment in front of it suddenly sank into him. His bowels seemed to turn to water.

‘You can’t do that!’ he cried out in a high cracked voice. ‘You couldn’t, you couldn’t! It’s impossible.’

‘Do you remember,’ said O’Brien, ‘the moment of panic that used to occur in your dreams? There was a wall of blackness in front of you, and a roaring sound in your ears. There was something terrible on the other side of the wall. You knew that you knew what it was, but you dared not drag it into the open. It was the rats that were on the other side of the wall.’

‘O’Brien!’ said Winston, making an effort to control his voice. ‘You know this is not necessary. What is it that you want me to do?’

O’Brien made no direct answer. When he spoke it was in the schoolmasterish manner that he sometimes affected. He looked thoughtfully into the distance, as though he were addressing an audience somewhere behind Winston’s back.

‘By itself,’ he said, ‘pain is not always enough. There are occasions when a human being will stand out against pain, even to the point of death. But for everyone there is something unendurable—something that cannot be contemplated. Courage and cowardice are not involved. If you are falling from a height it is not cowardly to clutch at a rope. If you have come up from deep water it is not cowardly to fill your lungs with air. It is merely an instinct which cannot be destroyed. It is the same with the rats. For you, they are unendurable. They are a form of pressure that you cannot withstand. even if you wished to. You will do what is required of you.

‘But what is it, what is it? How can I do it if I don’t know what it is?’

O’Brien picked up the cage and brought it across to the nearer table. He set it down carefully on the baize cloth. Winston could hear the blood singing in his ears. He had the feeling of sitting in utter loneliness. He was in the middle of a great empty plain, a flat desert drenched with sunlight, across which all sounds came to him out of immense distances. Yet the cage with the rats was not two meters away from him. They were enormous rats. They were at the age when a rat’s muzzle grows blunt and fierce and his fur brown instead of grey.

‘The rat,’ said O’Brien, still addressing his invisible audience, ‘although a rodent, is carnivorous. You are aware of that. You will have heard of the things that happen in the poor quarters of this town. In some streets a woman dare not leave her baby alone in the house, even for five minutes. The rats are certain to attack it. Within quite a small time they will strip it to the bones. They also attack sick or dying people. They show astonishing intelligence in knowing when a human being is helpless.’

There was an outburst of squeals from the cage. It seemed to reach Winston from far away. The rats were fighting; they were trying to get at each other through the partition. He heard also a deep groan of despair. That, too, seemed to come from outside himself.

O’Brien picked up the cage, and, as he did so, pressed something in it. There was a sharp click. Winston made a frantic effort to tear himself loose from the chair. It was hopeless; every part of him, even his head, was held immovably. O’Brien moved the cage nearer. It was less than a meter from Winston’s face.

‘I have pressed the first lever,’ said O’Brien. ‘You understand the construction of this cage. The mask will fit over your head, leaving no exit. When I press this other lever, the door of the cage will slide up. These starving brutes will shoot out of it like bullets. Have you ever seen a rat leap through the air? They will leap on to your face and bore straight into it. Sometimes they attack the eyes first. Sometimes they burrow through the cheeks and devour the tongue.’

The cage was nearer; it was closing in. Winston heard a succession of shrill cries which appeared to be occurring in the air above his head. But he fought furiously against his panic. To think, to think, even with a split second left—to think was the only hope. Suddenly the foul musty odor of the brutes struck his nostrils. There was a violent convulsion of nausea inside him, and he almost lost consciousness. Everything had gone black. For an instant he was insane, a screaming animal. Yet he came out of the blackness clutching an idea. There was one and only one way to save himself. He must interpose another human being, the body of another human being, between himself and the rats.

The circle of the mask was large enough now to shut out the vision of anything else. The wire door was a couple of hand-spans from his face. The rats knew what was coming now. One of them was leaping up and down, the other, an old scaly grandfather of the sewers, stood up, with his pink hands against the bars, and fiercely sniffed the air. Winston could see the whiskers and the yellow teeth. Again the black panic took hold of him. He was blind, helpless, mindless.

‘It was a common punishment in Imperial China,’ said O’Brien as didactically as ever.

The mask was closing on his face. The wire brushed his cheek. And then—no, it was not relief, only hope, a tiny fragment of hope. Too late, perhaps too late. But he had suddenly understood that in the whole world there was just one person to whom he could transfer his punishment—one body that he could thrust between himself and the rats. And he was shouting frantically, over and over.

‘Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!’’
— Nineteen Eighty-Four (Part 3, Section 5) by George Orwell

The “monsters of the Id” that are contained in that baggage we have worked so hard to lose and so hard to forget are the things that could take our carefully constructed worlds apart, showing us to be less in the eyes of those who have come to love and respect us. They can strip us of our self esteem and dignity, making us as vulnerable now as they did “then,” when they first wreaked havoc upon us. They are the stock in trade of psychologists and psychiatrists who spend years in auditing us to mitigate the trauma of the time when these things terrorized us and held us in their thrall, unable to escape their grasp on our minds.

It is in our baggage… the pieces that we leave behind, accidentally on purpose, to be stored for us in that psychic lost and found that we reclaim our freedom, our dignity and our humanity, at least for a time. But we all know, deep in our heart of hearts, that that baggage is likely to turn up at the most inopportune of times to plague us once again. We can only hope that when it does we will be strong enough to fight those battles anew and, hopefully, be fortified by those in our lives who truly love us and will stand by us, no matter what darkness in our past is revealed. It is then that we will understand that despite the “US” that we fear to be revealed, the “US” they see and love will be the light reflected upon us from their eyes.

Until that time, we hope that our baggage remains in that cosmic lost and found.

Points of Light on a Dark Passage

by Jake Block

One of the interesting things that one will notice about those who travel earnestly along the Left Hand Path is that they seem to share a rather dark aesthetic. This extends to almost every facet of their lives, from literature to art, to music, to clothing, and living accoutrements. Most times, Anton LaVey’s living conditions resembled a “Holodeck” simulation of a film noir genre movie from an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. By this, I mean that he immersed himself in the trappings and ambiance of the era to which he felt most comfortable, being that of the 1930s and 1940s, recreated in his 1966 to 1997 world.

Outside of his home on California Street in San Francisco, things were buzzing and humming to the world as it was, and the static of life was palpable from the bumping and pumping of rock and roll, to the sound of jets in the distance launching from SFO, to the mournful sound of foghorns on the San Francisco Bay. One would be surprised to see this anachronism of the past on California Street against the backdrop of a modern, vital city, except that this was, after all, San Francisco. Dichotomies and anachronisms were pretty much a normal thing here where Chinatown butted up against the bump and grind strip clubs on Broadway, and the Haight-Ashbury district’s counter-culture butted up against the serenity of Golden Gate Park.

Such dichotomies were to be expected here… but not so much in the lair of the city’s resident devil . Those who only visited what was known as The Black House were restricted to two rooms of the residence where LaVey might entertain such guests and give perfunctory interviews to journalists. The Purple room with its old books, LaVey’s paintings, the infamous tombstone “coffee table,” fireplace “secret passages,” etc, were backdrops for public consumption. Those who were invited to The Black House saw a bit more, perhaps the Main Ritual Chamber, and Den of Iniquity in the basement, where LaVey’s hand made creations shared his world in a bizarrely beautiful personal “corner bar.” Interesting and memorable to be sure, but there were places that the few were privileged to go that might surprise those who stood on the sidewalk and gawked.

While it’s true that LaVey was a big fan of the dark aesthetic, it doesn’t mean that he was a total Luddite, resisting technologies and modern conveniences when they were useful and personally beneficial. If you knew where to look, and had access to the rooms, you would find a two racks of synthesizers that he used to create his music, a Macintosh computer, an IBM Selectric typewriter, state of the art amp and turntable, video cameras, cameras from a Leica to a Canon AE-1 Program, color TV and more. Bits of out of place modernity to be sure, but LaVey was wise enough to incorporate the technologies that could ease his life, without becoming dependent upon them, or allowing them to become intrusive of his overall vision for his place of alternative reality.

The “dark aesthetic.” It’s a bit like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about pornography (Jacobellis vs Ohio [1964]), “I know it when I see it.” Even amongst Satanists, there’s no concrete definition, or standards that must be met to qualify, but it seem to be a moving target that many try to hit. I’ve met some pretty “dark” Satanists over the years, very gothic and stark, and a lot of “Halloween Satanists,” as LaVey called them, who fill their house year round with kit and kitsch, who buy out the black shirts in every store they see. It becomes almost a uniform for the nonconformist, with little room for self-expression.

The dark aesthetic is, I think, intrinsic to the practice and philosophies of many Left Hand Path “currents,” however, I also think that many use it not as an enhancement to their personal leitmotif, but something less empowering. It loses its power when we treat it as a decorative backdrop, or a stage setting before which we can be on display and “scare the rubes.” At these times, the aesthetic becomes more of a crutch to support our fragile egos than any enhancement. Take it away, and we become the naked emperor, deluding ourselves in to thinking that the glory and grandeur we envision ourselves to be covered in actually exists, when the reality is, people see right through it… and us.

When it’s simply part of the costume and does not serve to bolster reality, it loses its power and instead of helping us appear to me Muhammad Ali, with his face contorted in rage as he stands over his unconscious adversary, we appear more like the cartoon boxer, comically pumping his fist before he throws is “knockout punch” against an equally ludicrous enemy. Any adversary worth his salt can see the telegraphed punch coming from a mile away and simply bob and weave, rendering it as impotent as the clown who threw it.

While I have indeed met dark and brooding people on the Left Hand Path, I’ve also found that even though many enjoy that dark aesthetic in their lives, they also find time to enjoy the rest of their world and the brightness and joy of life wherever they find it. It belies the myth of the necessity for the Satanist to be some dark and dour agent of Satan, and casts the shadow of doubt onto those who are perpetually so. One would always do well to remember that Satanism, at least in the LaVeyan mode, is a study in contrasts and the dichotomous nature of the universe and life as we know it!

Now, most of you know me as a long term surviving traveler along the Left Hand Path, and with over half a century of experiences and personal insights, I know that it’s sometimes a dark passage, to be sure. But I have also had ample opportunity to enjoy the bright spots that exist on the route of passage as well. Even during the darkest of times in my life, there have been flashes of brightness and joy. In Vietnam, for example, there was a night that we all spent on our stomachs, as low to the ground as we could physically be, expecting that at any moment, a mortar shell or an enemy rocket would land and we would blink out of existence. Still, we managed to spend our time joking through the night until we saw the sky brighten and we could begin a new day, still alive… and still joking.

Along my travels, I’ve found that some of the best and brightest of Satanists I have met were not those who cloaked themselves in the fashionableness of saturnian darkness, but those who let their personal joy shine through and still maintained their diabolical edge. They too enjoyed and respected the dark aesthetic, but knew that it was just one facet of themselves as Satanists, certainly, but in the greater sense of self, just a tool to be used and not a defining aspect or who they ultimately were as individual adherents to a philosophy that stressed individuality and shunned herd conformity, no matter what that herd’s philosophy and aesthetic might be.

Here within The Sect of the Horned God, we get some serious work done in “thought processing,” and self improvement, all the while maintaining our often far left views along the path. Yes, I am a hard-core Satanist, and unflinchingly look at this world as my second biggest challenge of change, the first being my self, “Adversary One.” I demand constant improvement in myself and expect to see it in those who would stand by me as well in the area of self development and the gaining of greater and greater autonomy in the face of local and national governments, hell bent on suppression of individual thought and freedom. It can be, and often is, serious work that requires steely-eyed determination and an iron will.

You’ll find that Thomas and Lisa, Dark Fool, Dimitri, Anton Wolf, Rhonda and Larry Favero and many others are equally focused in the work we need to get done both on ourselves and The Sect. We all appreciate the dark aesthetic as well, but learned that it is a tool, and not a rule that we can use to our advantage, but also that over dependence on its allure could typecast us and become a millstone of expectation around our necks. Those of us who deal with the public, its motivations and reactions can tell you that, clearly, people respond more the a centrist stance that gives them more latitude in their dealings with others the regarding radical fringes of religion, politics of philosophy.

To be blunt, I am sometimes disheartened that after the half century from when LaVey introduced the Church of Satan’s philosophy to the world that so many in the world have still not figured out that the dark aesthetic is simply the flip side of life’s coin. Being somewhat of an anachronism myself, I am still a bit perplexed when I see people so thrown back into that subsets of left hand philosophies that they attempt to hard-split the sliding scale of black and white, with all of its gradients an textures to embrace one and not the other. Take it for what it’s worth, but I have found that the ultra-right or altruism and the ultra-black of nihilism cancel one another out in the minds of the rational who know that absolutes demand exception, and are subject to the whims of chaotic dissension. 

I’ve often said that life is like an epicurean banquet with a myriad of tastes and textures to try and enjoy, so with all of the flavors of life that one could sample from simple meats to prime rib and beyond, I am at a loss as to why anyone would forsake the savory blends of spices and infused flavors in favor of predictable, pedestrian and often pretentious “baloney.” Still, there are indeed Satanists who avidly embrace only the dark aesthetic of the Left Hand Path and feel they have nothing to gain by embracing the bright spots that they might encounter along the way. Fair enough. Their lives, their rules.

I’ve found that the words from The Satanic Bible hold a message for me that has worked in my life. They might provide some of you with a bit of inspiration, as well.

“The eternal flame of power through joy dwelleth within the flesh of the Satanist!”

— The Book of Satan V:13 (The Satanic Bible)

My Own Personal Chaos

My Own Personal Chaos
by Jake Block

“chaos | ˈkāˌäs |
complete disorder and confusion: snow caused chaos in the region.

• Physics behavior so unpredictable as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions.
• the formless matter supposed to have existed before the creation of the universe.
• (Chaos) Greek Mythology the first created being, from which came the primeval deities Gaia, Tartarus, Erebus, and Nyx.”

Chaos can be complicated to some when it is couched in terms of magic and its involvement in the creation of one’s mental construction of an “Is To Be” as a result of one’s ritualistic intent. The idea that “chaos” can sometimes interfere in ritual and magic is fairly well known by this point, but I would like you to consider that it is simply another “element of nature,” in that it is there whether we believe in it or not… or choose to employ it or not.

I look at her wrist often, in moments rare or mundane, and I can’t help but see her chaos star, even as she gently cares for her pet snake, who is as apt to take a bite out of her as it is to enjoy her caress. Chaos, visual and active in real time. She’s a bit chaotic, and I have found that her chaos, sometimes as if on call, can temper my often rigid sense of order and mellow me out when the resistance of the universe seems to frustrate me. Now, I know that some of you will think that chaos and “mellowing out” are ideas in opposition, and like matter meeting antimatter results in mutually assured destruction.

It’s my feeling that chaos is simply an element of change that we all must learn to embrace or fight against throughout our lives. Chaos doesn’t care which you choose, being that its nature is inevitably linked as an either/or force for control both in the positive and negative sense. Like any tool, its propensities for good or ill are totally based on the craftsman wielding it, but as any true craftsman can tell you, you can be an expert with whatever tool you choose, and sometimes “things happen,” and what you intended to be a work of art suddenly becomes something else altogether. Chaos can exist in nature, in philosophy, certainly in magic and in interpersonal relationships as well.

Where chaos can indicate an infusion of randomness and disorder into an already chaotic situation, in our case, it softens the iron grip that I tend to have and allows me to bend without breaking, in seeing the humor and mirth that can be found even in the most dire of situations. In returning to her… my own personal chaos… she smiles and the sun shines, and when she cries, the tears can break my heart, but in either case, she can change the nature of my pain to something else, more manageable and pliable than before. It’s as if in simply being there to bear witness to my life, as well as be a part of it, her emotional investment becomes a beneficial mitigating factor that smooths even the bumpiest of roads. I think that from the very start, we’ve been good for each other in that way. People almost immediately “noticed a change” in me that I can only attribute to her.

I look at the pictures of us and it’s in my eyes… and in a softening of my overall demeanor. I’m not the outwardly appearing badass that I had sculpted over my life to let people know that I wasn’t someone to mess with, and that I would not fail. I feel, and seem to see, a man who’s still a dominant force, but with a softer edge, standing next to a lovely vision that is her. My chaos… my love. Out of nowhere, thinking of her, and I realize, and for the first time in my life, my heart is beating.

So I have to conclude that chaos in and of itself is not a “good or bad” thing, and certainly if it causes a positive effect when it comes on the scene, one would do well to embrace it and honor its coming. The negative aspects of chaos can be mollified or mitigated, once they present themselves, by choosing another course of action that still gets them the outcome they desire, but through another route… another operation… another stance.

Ordo Ab Chao (Order From Chaos) is a well known maxim, but equally true is Chao Ab Ordo (Chaos From Order.) It’s a cycle that we should pay attention to, because chaos takes root where order has weakness. Thus, when we are working to influence the world around us, we have to attempt to be as complete and meticulous in our planning as we can be, for chaos is insidious and relentless in working as a magical element of change. All things change naturally, and at times that change might be fortified by the influence of chaos. While this is often true, chaos need not be chaotic. If one recognizes it for what it is and works with it, rather than against it, chaos can be a catalyst for dynamic change in virtually any situation.

The Power of Shattered Expectations

by Jake Block

You can confirm people’s doubts about you by performing below an expected level, and you can pleasantly surprise people by performing above their expectations. We see this in our everyday lives with friends, co-workers, family and even those who lead our nation in peace and in war. These are metrics by which we as a society have chosen to stratify, handing out letter grades in schools, bonuses for employees who exceed their job goals, medals and promotions for those in the military ranks, and reelection for those in the political arena. We tell people that they have done well, or that they might need some form of remedial education to help them reach their highest potentials, thereby giving them the chance to succeed.

There are, however, times when our expectations for people are shattered when they go so far beyond what could reasonably be expected that we are confounded, confused and awed. A few exceptional people come to mind, like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates who, once successful and wealthy went on to astound us by becoming beyond exceptional as individuals, entrepreneurs and global citizens. Giants of science, from Albert Einstein to Stephen Hawking, Isaac Newton, Copernicus, Tesla, Pasteur and others changed our world and our visions of a future world to come. World shaking minds and visionary masters are foreshadowed by their accomplishments, and are the people who make others take notice and do things that make you say, “Hmmm?”

Ok. Let’s take it down a few notches from the stratosphere of human stratifications. Can the average person shatter the expectations that others have for them? Can they defy the limits of cultural or societal expectations enough to make those around them say, “Hmmm?” And, can their accomplishments actually change anything? There are TV shows that show us the unique skills of average people, and millions tune in to see just what they can do.

For example, Michael Lotito, is known as “Mr. Eat-All” and is famous for eating metal and other things you and I probably wouldn’t. He’s eaten tons of metal, seven TV sets, two beds, shopping carts, bicycles and a small Cesna airplane, which took him two years to complete. One commentator said of him, “I don’t know what’s worse, the thought of him chewing and swallowing the metal or what it might feel like coming out!” “Hmmm?”

Isao Machii holds several Guinness World Records as an Iaido Master, incredibly skilled with swords. This would be amazing in its own right, but he is also possessed of superhuman reflexes. Machii says this is accomplished by processing sensory inputs at a speed most can’t… and of course countless hours of practicing his skills. Knowing this, it is still amazing that he is able to use his sword to cut a BB gun pellet in half mid-flight. Accuracy and speed beyond that of the vast majority of humans. “Hmmm?”

I have often been told that my infrared photography is amazing, and I have always wished that I could also see in that spectrum of light. Tetrachromatic Artist Concetta Antico CAN. Tetrachromacy is “the condition of possessing four independent channels for conveying color information, or possessing four types of cone cells in the eye.” It is an extremely rare condition and and gives Concetta the ability to see 100 million colors in the full spectrum range of visible and invisible light, including ultra-violet. “Hmmm?”

These very rare people who, for some reason, nature has blessed with superior abilities and skills can shock and entertain with their gifts. You and I can be entertained by them and we can imagine what it would be like to make the world around us stop for just a heart beat, stare and give an appreciative expression of, “Hmmm?”

Now, after a lifetime on the planet I can get some idea of how that must feel, because recently there are times when I too, and Britt with me, have been amused by the collective sighs of those around us, the sometimes audible sounds of chatter, and clearly the “Hmmm?” sound. I’m serious… it’s enough to make you go, “Hmmm?”

Now, most of you have seen us through our picture on our Facebook pages. I’m an older guy, gray hair, gray beard and a bit worn around the edges. I do try to dress well and make a nice appearance, which isn’t that difficult, given that the sartorial expectation of today’s culture isn’t that high. Britt is a very attractive woman who dresses extremely well to compliment her beauty and stature, with beautiful eyes, a winning smile, and “legs for days,” which I as a leg-man, appreciate. OK… we also know that we aren’t your expected couple. I’m older than her, which is condemned by many, and she’s “out of my league,” aesthetically according to the standards of the day. OK. Not that either of us gives a rat’s ass what society thinks.

But, it’s an interesting phenomenon that when we dress up and go out we seem to cause a stir simply by just being there. For example, we have gone out to dinner, and people stop to look at us as we walk into the restaurant, with her holding my arm or hand, to whisper to each other, their faces giving them away in thinking, “HOW?” and “WHY?” would THAT lovely woman be with THAT older guy? We spend the evening enjoying each other’s company, but many in the restaurant seem to find us more interesting than the expensive steak on their plate. If we might share a drink and a kiss, we’re usually being stared at for moments after. (Hmmm?)

We went into a theater in the Memphis area and people unashamedly turned to look at her (I’m under no illusion they are casting those appreciative stares at me), and we became part of the entertainment for them. If you asked some of the single men in the place what the movie was about I would bet that few could tell you. And again, you could see the expressions of “HOW?” and “WHY?” on their faces. When they passed us going out, many made eye contact with us and smiled and nodded. (Hmmm?)

Any time we are going to and from somewhere from our hotel room, it is not uncommon for people to come up to us to ask a question or comment, perhaps on where she got her dress, how long we have been together, how happy we seem to be, and always the look in their eyes, asking, “What’s the story?” Britt is always gracious and engaging, and I try to be friendly and enjoy the humor in the situation. But clearly, simply by being there and vastly exceeding what they had expected us to be, we had made a change in their experience. On one occasion, a couple of attractive ladies even asked us to join them for drinks, but… well… we had better things to do! (Hmmm?)

Perhaps we were just enough of an attraction or distraction to break through the ennui most live with day to day, or perhaps we were providing a challenge to their long-held expectations of normalcy. But in doing so, in shattering the expectations they had for us and the environment to which they had chosen for the night, we had made a change… we hope for the better… in the way that they might perceive people presenting in an unfamiliar, unorthodox or unique way, be it a gay couple, mixed-race couple, or any other combination of those who come together to share their lives, including couples like us. For those who think that an older guy and a younger woman is strange, I’ll remind them of the old saying, “Just because there is snow on the roof doesn’t mean there isn’t fire in the hearth!”

I’m reminded of an old song sung by Frank Sinatra…

“Oh, the days dwindle down
To a precious few,
September, November…
And these few precious days
I’ll spend with you.
These precious days
I’ll spend with you.”
— September Song (Walter Huston)

Hole To China

by Jake Block

“As for your high towers and monuments, there was a crazy fellow in town who undertook to dig through to China, and he got so far that, as he said, he heard the Chinese pots and kettles rattle; but I think that I shall not go out of my way to admire the hole which he made.” 
— Henry David Thoreau (Walden Pond [1854])

Sometimes you realize, “I’ve gone as far as I can go,” and here your journey ends, even though you can see down the road that you are on, as far as the eye can see.  It is here you dig in and make your stand.  You could go further, but you now realize that where you were heading simply isn’t where you now want to go, or more precisely, it isn’t ultimately where you want to end up.  It’s one of those things that’s neither Left or Right Hand path, but totally involved with the individual life path of every individual.

At one time or another, I think every kid of my age thought of digging a hole to China in their back yard.  Sometimes you dug a few shovelfuls of dirt and then moved on to something else or you dug deep enough in the yard for your exasperated father to come out in the yard in his slippers, newspaper in hand, telling you to stop that nonsense and get in the house and do your homework, and you WILL fill that damned hole in the morning!  Now, your father didn’t give you a reason why, and it’s doubtful that the average father, circa 1950s, would even know, but my plan to dig to China from Belleville, IL was doomed from the get-go.

Kids know very little of the navigation of such a project… in your untrained mind, you just know that China is a big place, and if you dig through the earth, voila!  There it is.  The reality is that directly on the other side of Belleville, IL is a whole lot of WET.  The Indian Ocean is deep and far away from the target, and even if you made it through the earth and survived the ascent to sea level, all you would see in any direction is water and perhaps the fins of hungry sharks.  Your best chance of digging through to China is from Argentina, but it’s not much of a chance.

Digging to the other side of the planet is pretty much an engineering impossibility. Even if it were possible, you’d have to pass through temperatures that are actually hotter than the face of the sun.  The furthest that humans have ever dug into the Earth is at the Kola Superdeep Borehole, a 7.5 mile-deep drill hole in northwestern Russia. That’s deep, but it still doesn’t come close to cracking the Earth’s thin continental crust.  So it’s no wonder so many kids give up that goal, but most simply transfer it to another destination along their life path.

But we still dig our holes along the path and they become our homes for a season and then we move on.  These represent a series of errors in planning, failed careers, failed relationships and sometimes, just the unquenchable desire to move on, looking for something, somewhere down the road.  It’s in our blood, and probably hardwired into our DNA, as man has been searching for “something” since his earliest days as a sentient being.  We choose a path we want to take from a line on a map, or blaze a trail along unexplored lines of sight, hoping, intuiting, and wild ass guessing that it will be THE PATH that will take us to where we want to go.  Seldom, if ever is it a straight line, and in truth, often involves more twists and turns that an unravelled ball of twine.

It sometimes feels as if life is like one of the primitive “moron mazes” of early computer games.  “Take two steps north… you die… restart.  Take two step south… you meet a penguin… stab penguin… you die.”  If you “play” the game the outcome is ultimately decided from the moment you start, like some divine predestination.  You get to think that acting as directed is as it should be, when we really want to do what is best for us.  We accept the games, even with their limitations because they are safe, but deep down inside, all we want to do is get further down the road where we are sure our reward awaits.  Where is our pot of gold?  Where is our happy life?  Where is our fortune and glory?

Seldom do we realize that often along this path, the only real reward is in making it a bit further down the road, perhaps a little more enlightened than when we started.  Most stall out and stay where they fail and substitute going one for digging in, in hopes of one day making it to China or Shangri-La or Abha or Heaven.  Digging an endless hole to China is an unwise and unprofitable venture, as is feeding a bad investment with a stream of of money or propping up a failed emotional affair with hope that you can turn a cold heart warm.  You’re far better off to cut your losses and move on than to have faith in the success of anything that is doomed to failure.

At one time or another, we will all dig our holes to China, whether romantically enamored or blinded to the realities of a situation, and there will always be those who will attempt to save us from our folly… or hinder us so they can move ahead in a folly of their own.

Bubbling Up To Freedom

by Jake Block

“Goodbye to all my friends at home,
Goodbye to people I’ve trusted.
I’ve got to go out and make my way
I might get rich, you know, I might get busted,
But my heart keeps calling me backwards
As I get on the 707.
Riding high, I got tears in my eyes;
You know you got to go through hell before you get to heaven.”
— Jet Airliner (The Steve Miller Band)

I know a woman, as we all probably do, who is making her mark and kicking ass in the world.  She has a good job and a comfortable home, pets that love her and a community that knows her worth.  She’s intelligent, attractive, a wonderful artist, sexy as hell, and coincidentally, or perhaps not, a traveler on the Left Hand Path.  You probably would never know it to look at her, although you might get an indication in the steely eyed stare and dogged determination that drives her on.  And it might surprise you to know that in her past, she had been called to the dark, terrible edges of the abyss and clawed her way back into the light.

I won’t go into her history, because it’s nobody’s business but her own, but I will say that for those out there who are into the old “my pain is worse than your pain” game, I can tell you, no one would have blamed her, had she just said, “Fuck it, I’m done,” and given up the ghost.  Tragedies come in a sliding scale and there is a point at which every one could say that the life they see ahead of them just isn’t worth the pain they would have to endure to get to where the sun shines again.  But her battles of self delivery were terrible and she prevailed.  End of story… no.  You see, she didn’t just walk into the sunshine of a brand new day like in some Lifetime Network tear-jerker TV movie.  She carefully plotted the road to personal redemption and  rebuilt her world from the ashes around her.

Again… easy in the eyes of those who have never been there, but in order to make such a triumphant rise from the ashes of one’s defeat, there has to be a sacrifice and its one most are loathe to make.  You must give up your precious “PMS.”  That’s right.  You have to realize that PMS will not only keep you stuck in the mire, but prevent you from any movement out of it.  No, not pre-menstrual syndrome… we’re talking here of our very own, personal hell, our “Poor Me Syndrome.”

You can be as valiant in your own mind as you care to be, and slay the dragons of your imagined perils, but unless you learn that you aren’t the victim of the story, but its author and its protagonist and its antihero all rolled into one, and all subject to feeling sorry for oneself, it’s just another tale of woe, going nowhere.  The world is full of valiant knights and damsels in distress, living lives of quiet desperation, secretly hoping for someone to save them from themselves and their inertia.  That wasted effort, that hoping to be rescued by someone, is the primary cause and sustaining energy of the “Poor Me Syndrome.”

Now, our heroine wasn’t born adept in handling her inner demons and those foisted upon her by those who used and abused her in every sense of the word.  The reality is, no one can anticipate the chaos life or what the selfish needs of other people can do to bring one’s life to a point where its very existence forces one’s hand to action.  She reached a point where survival, Necessity Supreme, brought her clarity of vision and the realization that if she was going to wait for someone to save her from her dilemma, she was lost.  Salvation was going to have to come from within, taking that first painful step, then the next and the next, until she not only could walk, but RUN.

American outdoorsman Aron Lee Ralston is famous for having cut off his own arm with a dull pocketknife, after he had become trapped for five days in Utah’s Bluejohn Canyon while rock climbing.  When interviewed by a reporter who asked how he could have made all of the cuts necessary to carve the flesh through his arm, he smiled wanly and said, “The first cut was the toughest.”  The road to freedom from emotional enslavement involves a thousand cuts.  The cuts might not be as bloody, but they can be just as painful and traumatic.

You can’t affect change in your life on a meaningful level without some degree of painful personal effort.  Unless there is a price to be paid for your freedom, it lacks value and you can justify backsliding and recidivism that will stall or negate any progress you have made.  Going back must be more painful than going forward, and the bridges you burn to keep yourself from retreating will will eventually be revealed to be gateways to happiness.  Whatever the means, however, if you want freedom from your oppressor, be it an individual or simply your past, you must act, and not rely on others to free you.

There is a phenomenon called the “Deep Blue” effect, in which those who are deep diving in the sea reach a point where darkness overtakes their environment, and it becomes confusing and difficult to tell up from down in the dark depths of the sea.  This can be deadly as, in his panic, a diver can make a wrong choice and swim deeper, rather than rising toward the surface.  This can cause fatigue and waste precious oxygen in tanks that are already close to depletion.  Time too is precious, and many a diver has been lost due to inexperience and confusion.

An experienced diver watches the bubbles from the oxygen tank and soon knows that he will be safe.  Bubbles rise to the surface, as should he.  Once you know which direction leads to freedom, you can plan and work toward the goal.  Let each of those bubbles guide you and give you faith, not in some mythological being, but in yourself, that you will not fail in surviving this ordeal at the abyss.  Let each bubble bring you closer to your freedom from those who would oppress you and keep you from reaching the freedom you desire and deserve!

“Thus shall you make yourself respected in all the walks of life, and your spirit — your immortal spirit — shall live, not in an intangible paradise, but in the brains and sinews of those whose respect you have gained.”
— The Book of Satan III-9  (The Satanic Bible)


by Jake Block

Recently in a thread here on The Sect’s pages, there was a statement made that by identifying as a LaVeyan Satanist I had “limited myself.” Now, I don’t know, nor do I care by what criteria the individual, and those who chimed in behind him have decided that I must somehow live up to their standards of Satanism as they conceive it to be. Anyone who has read any of the 350 essays that I have written here for The Sect should be able to see that I am hardly some parrot for LaVey. I write on many topics that are “applied Satanism,” in action and not the practice of LaVey’s brand of Satanism, and in doing so, I do not now, nor have I ever suggested that his brand of Satanism was the be all and end all of diabolical thought.

So, my dear readers and friends, my identification as a “LaVeyan” Satanist is not a limitation, but a reminder of where my journey begins, and a “North Star” to bring me safely back home to where I began, should I go astray. It in no way limits me. No more than having studied hundreds of books and concepts of the “occult” and the Left Hand Path automatically elevates me to some rarified position of honor or scholarly degree, for without understanding of these concepts, fortified with decades of application and experience, I might as well be at square one, and all the while deluded into thinking I know the path’s destination, let alone that I had even found the path in the first place.

LaVey himself never proclaimed his brand of Satanism to be preeminent. The modern-day Church of Satan might make some claims of preeminence, but while I have nothing to say about their policies and practices, neither am I in any way a member of that organization, nor so I follow any dictates that they might care to issue. They are their own organization and follow their own path. The Gilmorian Church of Satan is not the LaVeyan Church of Satan that I know. Like a Bull Mastiff and a Pomeranian, both are dogs, but think of them as the same at your own peril.

The Nineteenth Enochian Key points to this, in the words, in the last passage of The Satanic Bible:

“Oh ye pleasures which dwell in the first air, ye are mighty in the parts of the Earth, and execute the judgement of the mighty. Unto you it is said: Behold the face of Satan, the beginning of comfort, whose eyes are the brightness of the stars, which provided you for the government of the Earth, and her unspeakable variety; furnishing you a power of understanding to dispose all things according to the providence of Him that sitteth on the Infernal Throne, and rose up in the beginning, saying: The Earth let her be governed by her parts; and let there be division in her; the glory of her may be always drunken and vexed in itself. Her course, let it run with the fulfillment of lust, and as an handmaiden, let her serve them. One season, let it confound another, and let there be no creature upon or within her the same. All her numbers, let them differ in their qualities; and let there be no creature equal with another. The reasonable creatures of the Earth, and Men, let them vex and weed out one another; and their dwelling places, let them forget their names. The work of man and his pomp, let them be defaced. His buildings, let them become caves for the beasts of the field. Confound her understanding with darkness! For why? It repenteth me that I have made Man. One while let her be known, and another while a stranger; because she is the bed of a harlot, and the dwelling place of Lucifer the King.

Open wide the gates of Hell! The lower heavens beneath you, let them serve you! Govern those who govern! Cast down such as fall. Bring forth those that increase, and destroy the rotten. No place, let it remain in one number. Add and diminish until the stars be numbered. Arise! Move! and appear before the covenant of His mouth, which He has sworn to us in His justice. Open the mysteries of your creation and make us partakers of the UNDEFILED WISDOM.”

Ok, I know. It’s a lot of reading, and it’s always easier if someone unpacks it for you. Here are some of the salient phrases you might understand. Note that I relate this analysis to Satanism, as LaVey would have intended.

“The Earth let her be governed by her parts; and let there be division in her; the glory of her may be always drunken and vexed in itself.” What this alludes to is the idea that division is the natural state there is wisdom in the chaos of division.

“One season, let it confound another, and let there be no creature upon or within her the same. All her numbers, let them differ in their qualities; and let there be no creature equal with another.” Things change over time. Diversity is natural, and it is also natural that there should be stratification within that diversity. People are different… not equal… but different. This is universal and not racially based. Each individual has his/her own strengths and weaknesses.

“One season, let it confound another, and let there be no creature upon or within her the same. All her numbers, let them differ in their qualities; and let there be no creature equal with another. “ Survival of the fittest. The strong prevail and the weak die out.

“The work of man and his pomp, let them be defaced. His buildings, let them become caves for the beasts of the field.” All things are temporary. Nations rise and fall, it is natural, and even the greatest of man’s structures fall to ruin.

“The lower heavens beneath you, let them serve you! Govern those who govern! Cast down such as fall. Bring forth those that increase, and destroy the rotten.” You (as a Satanist) are in a position of power. Use it. Work your way into positions that can make life better for you and yours. “Cast down such as fall,” refers to not propping up the weak with your vital essence. Let them fail as you survive. Raise strong and intelligent people to carry on, to destroy those who are inept failures. This does not necessarily relate to a violent destruction, but not supporting those who, for lack of a better term, talk out of their ass, rather from experience.

“No place, let it remain in one number. Add and diminish until the stars be numbered.” Grow and prosper as Satanists. Add to our number, but there also will be losses. Keep going until Satanism prevails.

Throughout LaVey’s thirty-one year tenure as High Priest of the Church of Satan, he spoke in his articles in The Cloven Hoof of his organization being separate and apart from others. LaVey did not see Satanism as a coalition of disparate groups, and was not into making allegiances with groups not under the aegis of The Church of Satan. He did, however acknowledge that such groups did exist with their own rules and culture, as in his essay, Utopia, Unity and Other Pleasant Diversions in the May/June X A.S. (1975) edition of The Cloven Hoof, where he wrote:

“When asked, “What do you think of (such and such) group who call themselves Satanists?”, my response is always the same: “First tell me what they think of us.” Marginal Satanic groups can result from diverse causes and conditions. Wanting to be boss is one. Some require more institutionalized activity than is readily available. Others seeking titular variety find our degree system too constraining. Some are under the misapprehension that they are unable to join the C/S unless invited or sponsored. There are many others who just want to do their own thing, a suggested in our literature. When acknowledged as inspiration and guideline, we welcome with understanding and good wishes the existence of other Satanic groups. It would be out of character to condemn one for expressing his or her ego. Conversely, if any group is outspokenly hostile to us, while aping our tenets in thin disguise, I cannot help but evaluate its origin as either in resentment or disgruntlement.

“Amidst all kinds of factionalism. sectarianism, stratification, and obfuscation related to the Church of Satan as an organization and Satanism as a movement, one lesson can be learned: In unity there is weakness, in dispersion there is strength. If this sounds like Orwellian double-think, it is. But it works. So-called unity, which develops beyond a small circle, breeds factionalism in any organization, unless overt dispersion is encouraged.

The Church of Satan is a pivotal point around which much revolves. I respect a Satanist who can recognize a natural need for a pivotal point yet maintain individuality; move in varied circles, influence those without, infiltrate, and when possible, emerge with flying colors; and eschew inter-mural rivalries.

Unfortunately, that is a big order to fill, even among Satanists. Therefore, group activity which leads to cliquishness, which leads to factionalism, is bound to occur. If there is merit that evolves from factionalism, it is the separation and isolation process it provides. Factionalists are usually so preoccupied with their own importance and dissatisfaction that they honk their horns loudly, and invariably at each other. They keep things lively, they act flashy, and the customers (the public) are entertained. They provide and effective contrast to the aloof and self-sufficiency of supportive and constructive Satanists, who inhabit the Pleasure Domes I anticipated in my earliest C/S writings.

The Church of Satan, often denigrated but seldom ignored, encourages stratification.”

And finally, there seems to be some strange and misplaced belief out there that clergy level component of The Church of Satan is some happy little bowing cadre of cheerleaders and mother and father confessors just sitting by their phones waiting for you to call and unburden yourself to Satan, like some inverted vision of Catholic confession. BUUUUZZZ!!! Wrong again. This should be put to rest now:

“This might be a good time to make a point concerning the Satanic Priesthood. Our Priests and Priestesses are neither obligated nor expected to take you by the ear and stuff Satanism down your throat. Their title is first and foremost a recognition of their personal magical skill and intellectual acuity, and the Church is primarily interested in their continued personal development. If they choose to give of their time and energy to work with other members of the Church, then we trust the members in question will appreciate this as an individual gesture of confidence in them. Because that is precisely what it is. Consider the oft-quoted phrase that “The Church of Satan has not merely lifted the coin; it has flipped it over.” Our clergy are not shepherds caring for hoards of cretins who haven’t the brains to think for themselves. Our purpose is to identify and nurture those who are self-starters. Consider that.”
— Anton LaVey (The Cloven Hoof Sept/Oct XVIII AS [1973])

For those of you who think The Church of Satan gives a damn about people’s crackpot theories about what Anton LaVey “actually meant,” or that they are looking to bring in to the fold those out there on the web, wandering about like some kind of inverted John the Baptist, selling their personal “kumbaya visions” of some great, all inclusive form of Satanism, they are NOT. You’re thinking perhaps of The Satanic Temple, or some other Johnny come lately cabal of oh-so-enlightened diabolical gurus. The Church of Satan under LaVey’s watch and, I would surmise on the watch of Peter Gilmore as well, really couldn’t care less. In their vision, these people only strain the chaff through a sieve that keeps them at the “arm’s length” of stratification.

Whatever your preconceived notions are, based on your limited understanding of Anton LaVey from his three conceptual books (The Satanic Bible, The Satanic Rituals, The Complete Witch [The Satanic Witch]) that form the basis for the concept and codifications of The Church of Satan and its history, or of Me, from reading my hundreds of essays here on in the Sect of the Horned God, or Thomas LeRoy or Lisa Corrine from their videos, or Dark Fool, Dimitri, Maitiu O’Glassain , Etu Malku, or even The Orders of The Sect and those who in their earnest studies have progressed from curious neophytes to Cenobites and beyond, you are trying to finish that 1000 piece puzzle of a black cat at midnight in your mother’s basement, with critical pieces of that puzzle missing. To compound your dilemma, you have forgotten what the hell the puzzle was supposed to be in the first place!

Cue the outro, sing it “Baba Lon.”

“Don’t write me off
Just because I’m old and gray,
Hey, if you don’t shuffle off,
You’ll be old and gray some day,
Oh I ain’t washed up
No, that’s just a filthy rumor,I
I’m a hip old pop,
Late bloomer, baby boomer,

Don’t write me off,
I’m cool and quaint and handsome.
Don’t write me off,
I’m a pool of ancient wisdom.
Don’t write me of
Like some old pathetic has been,
I’m still pickin’,
I’m still grinnin’,
Doing shit you can’t imagine!”
— Don’t Write Me Off (Lon Milo DuQuette)

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The Orders of The Sect of the Horned God

The Order of Pan
The Order of Cernunnos
The Order of Prometheus
The Order of Dionysis
The Order of Shiva