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,
And these few precious days
I’ll spend with you.
These precious days
I’ll spend with you.”
— September Song (Walter Huston)
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 )
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.
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 )
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)
“Watch closely now.
You’ll observe a curious exchange of energy.
Are you a figment of my imagination,
Or am I one of yours?
Watch closely now.
Are you watching me now?
Your eyes are like fingers,
They’re touching my body
And arousing my soul;
Riding the passion arising inside me
How high, can I go?
You’re comin’ with me girl,
I’m gonna show you how.
When it’s scary, don’t look down.
Watch closely now.
Are you watching me now?
I see the hunger arise in your eyes
And it’s urging me on,
Higher and harder and faster and farther
Than I’ve ever gone.
You’re coming closer lady,
Don’t you leave me now.
We’re gonna make it, don’t look down.
Maybe I’m takin’ too many chances
With no net at all.
Maybe I’ll teach you at least that you’ve
Got to be free when you fall.
Watch closely now.
Are you watching me now?
I’m the Master Magician who’s setting you free
From the lies you’ve been told.
When they’re breaking your back,
Bring your last straw to me,
I turn straw into gold.
I’m gonna need you later
When you’re not around.
But I can take it, don’t look down.
Watch closely now.
Are you watching me now?”
— Watch Closely Now (Kris Kristoffersen)
The song comes from the 1976 movie A Star Is Born, starring Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristoffersen, ostensibly about a rising star in the music business, and a star in tragic decline, but the subtext is that we create our own magic, our own ascension and when we misuse it, we lose it; just another fallen angel lost on its way to Paradise.
There are times when we stumble upon a lyric like this that has real meaning for something that is currently going on in our lives. To any other person on any other day, it might just be a rocking song from an old rock star of a past era, but on this day to you, perhaps the key to unlock a whole new phase of life or secret of the universe that you need to succeed. I liken it to a form of pareidolia, in which one might find meaning in random shapes in clouds, that another never quite gets, even though you point it out to them in the cloudy sky.
Many times the “magical lyrics” of a song become stuck in your brain, not so much as some invasive “ear worm,” but in the sense that they seem to pop up and inspire you at the oddest moments of your life. And what seems magical and full of worldly wisdom to me might appear to be simple and pedantic to others. Sometimes the words that inspire you can come from someone that you’ve just met and who, for some reason, have inspired you or become important in some way that you might have never expected. I’m sure that you’ve heard of or know of a person who dotes on every word that a writer writes, believing them to be deep and full of wisdom, but when you read the same book… nothing.
Perhaps you’ve gained a kernel of wisdom from this short essay. I’m just a man, unknown to most, just a name on an internet page you’ve happened to find. You may read my words and think, “This man has something to say, and I appreciate him saying it at this particular time.” Just as likely, you’ll read my essay and think, “What in the hell is this man trying to say? I just don’t get it.” It’s ok, and I call it the “writer’s curse,” in that the brain of each reader makes its own assessments based on what it can comprehend, given the material presented. As a photographer, all I have to communicate with are my images, and as a writer, all I have are my words. Sometimes that might not be enough.
“You think that I don’t even mean
A single word I say
It’s only words and words are all I have
To take your heart away.”
— Words (The Bee Gees)
by Jake Block
— Pontius Pilate
I’ve been asked how I think that gods, goddesses and demons have affected and influenced man’s journey along the Left Hand Path, and while I understand the use of metaphor and myth in this, intellectually, I have to conclude that metaphor and myth are the only ways that such beings could be considered in this question, as all such beings were an invention by man who, in his justification for the things he could not in his primitive nature explain or understand, determined them to be within the province of the very beings he had invented.
I see no reason to deal with that much mysticism and anthropomorphism of the conceptual when the reality of existence as a human being can be and often is far more magical than any tale from the mystics. Man’s journey from there to here is a heroic tale that Joseph Campbell could applaud in its duality, its self-metamorphoses and its triumph in the face of daunting odds. It is the ultimate tale of man reaching for godhood and succeeding.
Consider that one of the earliest known humanoid types is Homo Habilis, or “handy man,” who lived about 2.4 million to 1.4 million years ago in Eastern and Southern Africa. In his earliest incarnation, he could barely be distinguished from the apes from which his divergent strain developed in the Early Pleistocene era. Even at this point, the hominid evolution had been progressing toward the evolutionary strain we would one day recognize as “human” for over 1.5 million years, yet from that dim point in history until the time of Homo Habilis, the concept of “god,” as far as we know, had yet to be formed and expressed in the hominid mind. Man was in survival mode, when he had more pressing things to worry about that if “god” cared whether he copulated with female A or female B.
The more complicated man’s existence became, the more questions he had, simply because of his lack of experience and his lack of problem solving skills that, in his primitive state could only be learned by gaining the experience he needed and inventing the technical fixes to the physical problems as they presented themselves. This is exactly what those men who had superior qualities of intellect and logic did, and it was these men and women who dragged man from the primitive to the advanced.
There were, however, other men and women who, even as today, lacked the skills for innovation and invention or the physical ability to advance change. Moreover, they were mentally hamstrung by the fatalistic attitude that if THEY could not solve a problem with their intellect, then certainly no other could, but the truth was that things were being accomplished and change was being affected. If he could not, and collectively THEY could not, then the only logical explanation for them was that there must be some all powerful being that was intervening in the efforts of man.
But man has never needed interventions of the gods, for the gods were inventions of man; tools to be used when needed and stored in a shed, not to be worshipped any more than a hammer or nail. The problems arose in a conflation of reality and myth that, like the innocent lie inculcated on the mother’s knee to become an accepted truth. In the ensuing ages of man, simple acceptance of origin myths and acculturation of their assumed importance in the evolution of primitive man codified into the realms of religion became not only a control mechanism in the religiously enslaved, but the vehicle for a schism between Homo Sapiens (Wise Man) and what I have termed to be Homo Intellectus (Intellectual Man).
Aside from my personal Atheism, I think that the time for gods, goddesses, demons and any other anthropomorphic entities is long past, especially on the Left Hand Path, were we champion individual effort and achievement, with man’s success in life is not dictated by his faith in the gods, but in individual merit. Those who, for whatever reason, think that man is incapable of survival without these relics of the past need only look at how far man has come in a relative galactic blink of an eye. From living in the trees to modern cities around the world, from barely walking upright to standing at the doorstep of space, from dying of the most basic of microbial infections to surviving plagues, rivaling the potential of any mythological “god” one might care to mention.
Homo Intellectus needs nothing from the gods, save their continued role of coddling and controlling the world of men not yet ready to be free in mind and spirit, but children to be guided and assisted, whether they request it or not. My take on it all is that man should bask in the light of the things he has achieved in the world, and own up to the things that, let’s face it, he has blown in his own ignorance and ineptitude. Yet even there, he has the ability in his individual deification to recognize his shortcomings and mitigate against the effects of his folly.
Let those on the Right Hand Path keep their gods, goddesses, demons and angels, for whatever comfort they might glean from their presence in their lives. Those who, even on the Left Hand Path, share that need will at least have them to commiserate with while the rest of us move on smartly to the future.
by Jake Block
“Every hand’s a winner
And every hand’s a loser,
And the best we can hope for
Is to die in our sleep.”
— The Gambler (Kenny Rogers)
Making bets, either in a casino or in your day to day life can be a curious thing. Either way, there are two ways that it can be done. You can go with your gut and play your hand. The casinos make a lot or money from this kind of gambler who sometimes wins, but most often walks away from the tables, wallet empty, mumbling, “I was sure the next card would be a six!” Then you have the type of gambler who considers his odds, knows how to manage his cash flow, watches the play of others at the table, and when his time come to play, takes one lest chance to consider it all, and then makes his play. The casinos also make a lot of money from this kind of gambler, who sometimes wins, but seldom walks away mumbling, and he’s at least saved enough for a good meal before calling it quits for the night.
There’s an old saying that someone told me when I began gambling. “Don’t gamble when you’re feeling lucky. Gamble when you’re feeling REALLY lucky.” Now, I can and do play a variety of card games, from Texas Hold’em to straight Stud Poker, and when I’m in the mood to sit at a table and just move chips around, I’ve even been known to play the kid’s game “War,” for a buck a card. Given my choice, and time to spend enjoying myself, I’ll opt for my favorite game of chance, Blackjack. I get more relaxation from a 12 hour run at a Blackjack table than most people get from a full night’s sleep! My favorite time to find a place at the tables is between midnight and 5AM, when people who tend to be more card savvy and less prone to rookie mistakes are more likely to be sitting at my left or right.
There’s a song by the rock group Steppenwolf that has the refrain:
“Life is a gamble
Where you search and you ramble,
And you try for the high that will help to see you through;
Life is a gamble and so if you can handle
The uncertainty of tomorrow with me,
Today I’ll bet on you.”
That’s what I like about gambling, both on cards and people, in a nutshell. I treat each about the same. I can read a hand of card as it slowly unfolds at the table, and I can read a person’s intent and motion as their hand unfolds in my life. There are some hands that encourage me, and I bet, but there are more hands that show you the futility of pursuing them, so you fold… or bluff and see how far you are willing to push things before circumstances change or things fall in on you. And that’s key. In all or the time that I have been a gambler, I have chosen to play my hand as it lays much more often that I have chosen to bluff it out, and not from a lack of “heart.”
Most often, bluffing becomes more financially draining than just folding your cards to hope for a better play in the next hand. Like I said, I can read the cards and, experience has shown me that when I see things unfold with people that tend toward a loss, I have to make a decision that is best for me. In cards, I protect my funds, and in dealing with people I protect my emotional capital. Even a hand that starts with a pocket pair of aces can end in a loss as further cards provide information. You learn to be bold and bluff only when you can read your opponent by his expected play based on your experience with him or her at the tables.
An experienced gambler will often play his opponents in much the same way be will play his cards. He will watch his opponents as they play, looking for what players call “tells.” A “tell” is something that a player habitually does that will give you an indication of what his position is during the game. For example, a person who shuffles his chips and then bets big because he has a gook kicker (hole card) to back up what you can see in open play is showing you a “tell.” You mentally catalogue it along with other “tells” you find in them and other players at the table.
People in daily life exhibit “tells” as well. They might not be as prevalent as shuffling chips, but if you deal with them for any length of time, you can indeed pick up on them. Things people do when they are happy to see you, things they do to hide their disapproval, that glance to the left when they tell you a lie all go into my mental catalogue. I might deal with people for a long time, but when that catalogue becomes laden with negative tells, especially when experience shows me that they’re being used when dealing with me, I’m going to move to protect my emotional capital and cut them loose.
It’s hard for me to deal with the self-serving machinations of those who would claim to be my friend or ally. When they try to use my good graces to further their own agendas, they soon find out that I’m nobody’s fool, and while I may sometimes play along to see where their game is going, bluffing isn’t generally my style, so sooner or later, the cards will be laid on the table. Then they will learn that I play to win, and I’m very good at it.
One of the most important things to remember in poker and in life is the old saying, “If you sit in on a poker game, and you don’t see a sucker at the table, get up. You are the sucker.”
by Jake Block
The world changes daily, often influenced by the actions and reactions of others that are sometimes strange, or not in your best interests. This might be because of an election, pandemic, economic upward or downward turn, or perhaps even a major sea change in human understanding of the world. In any case, a new reality might occur, and that new reality might be uncomfortable to deal with.
Ok. Change happens, and change has happened before, and change will happen again. One of the only absolutes in the world is that change happens. But for those of us who have learned that freedom is in the mind much sooner than it manifests itself in the physical world, change is simply an adjustment that can be dealt with.
Deal with it first in your mind. Engineer the world as you would create it in your own vision, much as I might do with a photograph in infrared. Engineer it in your mind and then bring it into reality, in your personal sanctuary and home. That’s the beauty of the satanic concept of one’s personal alternative reality space, whether it be in a ritual chamber for a moment or, like LaVey’s Black House or Rotwang’s abode in the film Metropolis, your own different reality in the midst of the outside consensus.
“Take extra care not to lose what you feel.
The apple you’re eating is simple and real.
Water the flowers that grow at your heel,
Guiding your vision to heaven,
And heaven is in your mind.”
— Heaven is in Your Mind (Three Dog Night)
by Jake Block
You can read it in the Bible, although the same sentiment has been said, perhaps in different words, by various people throughout human history.
“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and. not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”
— Matthew 5:29 (The Bible)
“You will be obliterated. The good of the Body is the Prime Directive.“
— The Return of the Archons (Star Trek – 1967)
It’s a dramatization of a simple medical principle. If an infection or a disease is affecting the body you can try to cure it with medicines, but should that fail, it its sometimes more efficacious to simply remove the source of contagion or corruption from the body, sacrificing that at one time viable tissue for the continued health of the body as a whole. A simple example would be that of the appendix. Now, the appendix is a small organ in the body and, apart from human beings, can be found in over 500 other mammalian species. It’s a thin tube about four inches long. Normally, the appendix sits in the lower right abdomen. A vestigial remnant of our evolution, the appendix acts as a safe house for good bacteria. After intense diarrhea, the appendix repopulates and reboots the intestine with good bacteria before harmful bacteria finds a home there.
Sometimes, it simply goes wrong. When it goes wrong, it is a painful and potentially dangerous threat to the person affected. A rupture of this small organ spreads infection throughout your abdomen (peritonitis). Possibly life-threatening, this condition requires immediate surgery to remove the appendix and clean your abdominal cavity. Removal of the organ is relatively simple and preferable to the damage it can cause if untreated, so it is excised surgically and thrown away. The body can work without it, and its elimination negates its threat to the health of the body.
The body can survive reasonably well when some of the corrupted organs of the body are removed, leaving one unchanged to the casual eye. These are the spleen, stomach, reproductive organs, colon, gallbladder, appendix and kidney. Even some of the body’s most important organs and tissues can be surgically removed and transplanted from healthy tissues, such as the heart, kidney, liver, lung, pancreas, stomach, intestine, cornea, bones, tendons, skin, the islets of the pancreas, heart valves, some nerves and veins, bone marrow, stem cells and even hands and feet.
Another thing that we can do without is toxic interaction with people in our lives. This can be a random shit-disturber on the web, a coworker, “friend,” business associate or even a family member. It’s a strange thing though, in that while we can discard a body part when we need to for out health and self-survival, many people find the jettisoning of people in our lives to be very difficult, even when we know that they are toxic or are using us for their own purposes, disregarding the havoc they cause in our lives. We often know that these people are bad for us, but once they have their claws dug into our souls they’re difficult to dislodge, and the longer we leave them attached to our psyche, the harder they are to excise.
When you find that there is a problem with your body, you don’t hesitate to take actions intended to make yourself well again, and so should it be with toxic influences in your life. In removing those who are toxic, you must proceed with intent, using whatever degree of firm resolve necessary to accomplish this “psychic exorcism.” If you are lucky, just putting distance between you and your problem will be enough. Absence of one’s prey forces them to find someone else to glom on to. Sometimes a more firm approach is necessary, and you will have to inform them that you just don’t have time to dedicate to them any longer. Worst case scenario, you have to do an up close and personal confrontation to tell that toxic person to “hit the bricks.” In the end, it doesn’t matter how you get rid of that contagion oppressing your soul, so long as you DO.
Toxic persons often become obviously so over time, and that person who in the beginning was a loving, carefree type can become your worst nightmare, once that have you under their control. Like any infection, by the time you feel the pain as it festers and spreads, you’re already in danger of it overpowering your existence. You only have two choices. Act, or succumb and be overtaken and morphing from host to victim by someone who professes to care for you, but cares for no one and nothing nearly so much as their self.
There is no denying that the act of plucking the parasite from your life might be painful in and of itself, but after a short time, you’ll appreciate the relief of healing and a return to personal vibrancy and emotional health. Some people need to repeat this self-healing several times until they have cleared each individual toxic presence from their lives, and with each excision, there will always be some pain. The ultimate reward comes, though when you realize that it feels so damned good when the pain stops!
by Jake Block
I’ve been here with the Sect of the Horned God for many years, and in those years I’ve written hundreds of essays that are pretty much me on a page. Anyone who has bothered to read my essays on what I would call “practical Satanism” would understand that in my reality you either are a Satanist or you are something else. I’ve seen so many people attempting to be some kind of hybrid, based on their straddling of two worlds. What I bring here is my personal journey and experience in 50 years of actually being a Satanist, rejecting other paths that have been offered for what has proven to be right, for me.
LaVey spoke about this when he related that in his youth, while playing an organ on the carnival circuit, he would see people at the girlie shows, lusting after the dancers on stage, on Saturday night, and then on Sunday morning the same men would be in the front rows for the church services. Basically, they were sewing their wild oats on Saturday night, and then praying for a crop failure on Sunday. There are people today doing the same thing, here and on other Left Hand Path sites on the web. Hypocritically proclaiming themselves to be committed to the Left, they cling tenaciously to the right.
Too many people just visit the Left Hand Path to peek under the bed, assuming that there will be a monster peeking back at them. It’s simply a way to get that feeling of “eustress,” that “fun-fear” sensation of shock, like Carrie’s hand coming out of the grave, or some Halloween funhouse, knowing that the zombies aren’t really going to rip them limb from limb, but allowing themselves to suspend reality long enough to let their sensation starved minds feel something… anything… to make them feel alive. They talk about being called to “the Abyss,” when the “abyss stares back,” and they “survived their trial.” Next! Their never ending tales of trauma and drama, always bested , become almost like and old time serial drama. The hero or heroine tied to the train tracks, with the locomotive steaming ominously toward them and… CUT… in the next episode, Bobo the Wonder Dog throws the switch and the train is diverted just in time.
Too late, they find out that in the reality of life, when the abyss calls you, it’s no joke. Like the alcoholic or hardcore addict…. who says they can stop when they want to, they find that the abyss calls when it’s deadly serious… life or death… and you are its focus. Sometimes you don’t survive, other times you do, but you will always be fundamentally changed, in some way. The weak and the mighty are all subject to the summoning of the abyss, and only a fool thinks it’s just “some kind of a game that left hand pathers play.”
Life just isn’t some meaningless elective class where you read a book, regurgitate the right answers and move on to the next highest grade.” When you plant yourself on the Left Hand Path, you will only benefit from it if you are indeed committed and willing to sacrifice who you ARE for what you CAN BE. Being neither fish nor fowl isn’t an option for anyone, anymore. To put it into the biblical, one cannot serve God and Mammon… especially if you expect of find the spark of divinity within yourself. If you truly are traveling on the path, you will find that enlightenment, even by degrees, will bring real change to you and your world.
“Those who play with the devil’s toys will be brought by degrees to wield his sword.”
— R. Buckminster Fuller