Jake Block

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Comes A Time

by Jake Block

You know, I really like beef in most of its forms. Steak, burgers, goulash, on pizza, ribs, brisket, kabobs, tips, you name it. I never met a bull I didn’t like, grilled, fried or in a casserole. Now, there are some side effects and consequences for eating too much beef, from high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, and even some cancers. In India, it can be a dangerous act, as there are “cow vigilantes” who believe that killing a cow is tantamount to murder. In fact, recently, popular preacher Sadhvi Saraswati suggested that those who consumed beef should be hanged in public.

Another Hindu bovine activist, Chetan Sharma said, “Cow is also the reason for Global warming. When she is slaughtered, something called EPW (Emotional Pain Waves) is released, which is directly responsible for global warming.” OK.

Meat is good and tastes great, and it’s a source of iron that is essential to the diet of most people. Iron builds blood. Iron can help to eliminate fatigue, it can boost immunity, it can treat anemia, it can improve concentration and even help you sleep. The good and the bad. They have to be taken in context and in total to decide the truth for oneself. I could eat red meat every day, and for a number of years I did.

Comes a time when you might have to reconsider the things you love and that hold importance in your life. My love of red meat still is with me, but health concerns have forced me to modify my consumption. Turns out that I developed a condition that red meat and the iron therein causes complications and a worsening of the effects. The only thing I could do was modify my behaviors to make the best of the situation. I found that by drastically decreasing my intake of red meat and the iron that it contains, I could mitigate the impact of the condition and, with controlled indulgence, I could still enjoy the taste of beef once in a while. Meanwhile, I can replace red meat with chicken, turkey, pork or fish, none of which contribute to my condition.

Most people never come to the realization that quite often, most of life’s problems, whether they be health related or in the realms of emotion and interpersonal relationships can be handled in much the same way. Anton LaVey once wrote, “The rule of Satanism is: if it works for you, great. When it stops working for you, when you’ve painted yourself into a corner and the only way out is to say, ‘I’m sorry, I made a mistake, I wish we could compromise somehow’, then do it.”

It works for the dilemma of indulgence over compulsion, need over want, and even good over evil. If what you are doing works, ok. If not, find a way to either make it work for you or drop it. It’s not rocket science, brain surgery, or even magic… just good, common sense life management.

Failure to react to people or things, even if at one time essential to our lives, but that have since turned into a liability is neglecting a detriment to our emotional or physical health, and should be dealt with quickly and decisively. Many people have a reluctance to do that, based on a sense of guilt and loss, that if they had done A, B, or C, the situation would never have turned against them. But this assumes a level of control that isn’t readily accessible, especially when there is a human component to the situation at hand. We have to remember that while we can influence, we can seldom control the actions of another.

Coming up onto my 70th year, I can tell you that I have modified the hell out of my life over the past decades. Dietary changes, lifestyle changes, business changes, love changes and even changes in personal beliefs are just a part of individual growth that we all must suffer through, if we are fortunate enough to survive them.

The nature of associations with people change, even if you have known them for years, and at one time took great pleasure in your association with them. The old adage, “familiarity breeds contempt,” has meaning in some of your oldest “friends” who, because of their longevity and their close associations, forget that even with friends, there are boundaries and there are conditions that must not be disrespected. Those who do respect your boundaries and conditions can be life long friends and associates and enhance the quality of your life as an equal partner in the relationship. But there will always be those who, for some reason, seem to demand your friendship and loyalty while paying lip service to friendship and respect when it comes to their commitments to you.

We’ve all heard about, of have actually been people who have stayed within the restrictions of a loveless marriage “for the sake of the kids,” and who, for decades shared a sexless and emotionally limited existence until their children were grown and had lives of their own. Everyone is surprised. No one had any idea that there had been problems. To the couple, from their perspective, they just can’t believe that the ordeal is finally, blessedly over. The couple stayed together for the sake of their kids, but at what price to their own physical and emotional health? Would it have been better to break up earlier and simply assist with the separation of parents by telling their kids the truth, and then finding ways to cope, just as millions of other parents do?

It’s a far from rare scenario. And indeed, a lot of it is culturally dictated, in that we are brought up to believe that one’s interpersonal commitments are sacrosanct. This is especially true in the realms of marriage and family, but there is a definite spillover into the world of business and politics as well. It over-values the contractual nature of our dealings with others, and assumes that all parties to whatever agreements we make will honor those agreements equally and faithfully.

But there are times when our faithfulness might not be reciprocated, or when we no longer have a meeting of minds on what we want and need in a partner… sometimes, for reasons we may never fully define, things just don’t work out. You then owe it to yourself and others involved directly in your life situation to modify your associations and or behaviors and move on to something and/or someone new that can replace your currently defective relationships and help you to return to a forward momentum that will allow growth and satisfaction, rather than the dissatisfaction, stagnation and decay of a relationship gone wrong.

Way back in 1965, the Lovin’ Spoonful’s song, Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind, gave some sage advice that I recognized, even at sixteen. It was that time in youth where everything and nothing at all made sense on one level or another, and as a kid, you were just trying to make life work, without really yet understanding what life actually was. So when John Sebastian sang his lyrics, they rattled around in my mind for a few moments and, magically, some things came together.

“Did you ever have to make up your mind?
And pick up on one and leave the other behind?
It’s not often easy and not often kind.
Did you ever have to make up your mind?

Did you ever have to finally decide?
And say yes to one and let the other one ride?
There’s so many changes and tears you must hide.
Did you ever have to finally decide?”

Over the years, through many tears and hard times, with all the compromises and set asides that life demands, we sometimes forget that it’s often just as simple as that. Make up your mind, decide what you want and make the changes in your life that you need to move on and be happy. Sure, someone is going to be disappointed, and someone is going to lose. That’s the nature of the game, but there comes a time when you have no other choice than to play it, and trust that you’ve made the right choices for YOU.

“Move on. It’s just a chapter in the past, but don’t close the book just turn the page.”
― Brooklyn Copeland

See Thyself, Know Thyself

by Jake Block

I have always had a “goatee” style beard, even when I was clean shaven in the military, and even before I shaved at all. What I mean by this is that in my mind’s eye, I always knew that that’s how I should look. Call it vanity, call it personal aesthetic… it could just be that I really like the look. It worked well for Anton LaVey, Ming the Merciless and Mitch Miller (there go the Google searches), and each of them had their own personal version of the beard that was identifiable with them.

I don’t think that people ever see us as we see ourselves, unless we find a way to show them who we really are in our mind’s eye. We all have layers to our personalities and to our psyches as well. In The Compleat Witch (or What To Do When Virtue Fails) by Anton LaVey (reprinted as The Satanic Witch) we also learned that we have a three-layered composition, like a story one must read carefully to find real meaning. 

What people see of us on the outside, he called The Apparent. You see me as an man. You see my build and the outwards signs of my situational existence. The third level he called the Core, which is what I am at my deepest and most profound level. Quite often this will mirror the outer layer of of the person, and together can be considered to be “The Majority Self.” The outer layer will often present what the inner level wishes the world to see. But what of the middle layer?

LaVey called the middle layer the “Demonic Minority Self,” and is generally what the Majority Self strives for. It is most often seen as an opposite sex image. What he sees as the opposite, to complete him. For example, if he is a masculine “macho man,” he might long for a feminine, delicate woman to be his mate and life partner. it is this layer that one appeals to in order to gain influence and control of an individual.

All of this is on a subconscious level. We normally don’t expend effort to project what we are to the rest of the world. Nature takes care of that. Our Demonic Minority Self deals more with the way the Majority Self responds to and can be influenced or manipulated by others in mirroring that inner version of ourselves in matters of love or interpersonal relationships.

But what if we DO want to project and display ourselves to others on another level? I’m speaking of a manufactured image that would not only mirror our Apparent and Demonic core, but enhance it… amplify it… so that people not only see the basics of our physical selves, but a more complete version of ourselves as WE see ourselves in our personal vision, and that vision can change from time to time as mood, challenges to our current incarnation and/or manipulative need changes. You can liken it to “duck-facing” in a selfie, where one mocks the camera to become a caricature of one’s reality.

Nature provides examples from the animal world where the animals one sees can change their physical appearance as the threat levels in their world change. They can “puff up,” like the puffer fish or common cat, to make themselves look larger and more formidable to an adversary. They can change their coloration to camouflage themselves and blend with their environment, like chameleons against rocks or foliage on the land or squids and octopi in the sea. But for a dramatic demonstration of this effect, you can look to the Japanese owl that can transform itself in several configurations to meet a perceived threat. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRXT_TrUbiw

As a photographer, I am quite aware that the picture someone wants me to take is seldom based on absolute truth. Most often, they want a photograph that is a “projected truth” that they wish to claim as their public persona. In the reality of day to day life, they’re probably quite different, but they see the occasion of taking a photograph as akin to building one’s own alternative reality, much as one would do in the creation of a personal altar or home that becomes their sacred space of introspection where the world is not what it IS, but what they would wish it to be. This is the reason that people dress up for photos, perhaps in a boudoir setting, or armed to the teeth sitting on a hog. They can take refuge in the fantasy and gain security and control in a world where, quite often, the reality is quite different than the one they would project.

We can call these “vanity shots,” or “tweaked Majority Self photos,” or any other name we wish to coin them, but in essence, they are the visions of dreamers brought to light; thought forms brought forth and given life through the will to power of those being depicted, using the medium of photography to make visible what is in their mind and, until catalyzed in the images captured on film, or digitally, remain static and privately held. But in bringing them forward for the world to see, the subject makes his or her claim on a bit of sovereignty and personal power.

For most of my life, I have been doing the same thing, not realizing it at first, and then almost as a way of self documentation of changes in my life and the way I wished to be perceived. I was a kid in high school when it started, quite incidentally, when I was “jumped in” as a member of the State Street Boys. I was a clean-cut kid, not prone to trouble, but not afraid to mix it up when I needed to. So, one day in 1967, when I slipped on my white Nehru club jacket with the Maltese cross on the collar, my girlfriend at the time snapped a shot (pic A). It marked me pretty much as what I was, young, cocky and thinking I had it made.

The photo was seen only by myself and my girlfriend and really meant little to me. I knew the vision in that polaroid photograph. It was nothing new. But SHE saw something new and something that spoke to her on a different level that the one she saw in the flesh and blood “me.” She loved me, but she said she understood the “me” she saw in the photograph, and wanted to know more. She wanted to know the “why” of the look in my eye, the straightness of posture. The inner story that only that image in the photo could tell.

Years passed and, at certain times, I found that I wanted to renew my self-vision and projection. This was most often founded on a time of introspection and in the realization that as times changed, so too did I, for one reason or another. I’ve never really tended to do “selfies,” as they call them today. But these self-portraits still have the power to speak to me today and bring back the memories and the changes in my personal and/or philosophical direction at the time.

In the shot I called “Gambler,” from 1978 (pic B), I was pretty heavy into gambling… poker and blackjack… and was a ranked member of the Rhein Main Poker Club. It became my “image” and hung on the wall of the clubhouse where we gambled. Indeed, it was a self image and personal revelation, because when I wasn’t at a table with cards in my hand, I was a career member of the US Air Force, stationed at Rhein Main, Germany. Others saw it as an “alternative” me, and said that the “me” they knew in the military was an altogether different “me” that they knew, going all-in with a winning hand.

By 1990, I was beginning my new career as a civilian and was working toward my managerial position in the company I worked tor. Here I was projecting the confidence and professionalism that was needed to rise amongst my peers and succeed. Notice the foreshortened image of The Magician tarot card on my coffee mug. I saw this as an homage to the Lesser Magic of manipulation and positioning that I had called upon to open doors to the business path that I was on. 

The early 2000s saw me changing again, as I completed my corporate career and retired at age 52. (pic D) Time now my own, I could indulge in a more playful image, free from the need to earn and produce for others, and in that time, I was more free to project the “rougher” side of my nature and the indications that I was my own man. I’d spent my time doing for others, and reaping the rewards of success.

By 2010, I was known for my writing, and my photography and spent a lot of time behind the desk in my office, working on both. (pic E) My wife called this my “blue period,” where it seemed that I was confident, and happy working at things that meant something to me on a personal and creative level, rather that working to make money. I saw it as using my skills in the arts of writing and photography as a study in magical alchemy, where i could, like Rotwang the Magician in the Fritz Lang movie METROPOLIS, use my magic to influence the world around me from the quiet solitude of my office in my out-of-the-way home. All I needed was a sexy robot and Tesla coils.

And now my present self-image (pic F), that of elder-statesman in a long life, winding down. I’m a bit “toned down” and wear only my Sect of the Horned God lapel pin and a simple pentagram pin beneath it. My colors are the traditional colors of Satanism, coincidentally my favorite colors of black, crimson and silver. The door is closed, but symbolized my intention to exit at some time unknown to me, but surely coming.

We, each of us, have multiple dimensions to our personalities to our lives that we recognize and project from time to time our whole life through. What we are in our mind’s eye at 17 is going to change at 20, 30, 40 and so on, so long as we are growing and expanding in our consciousness and our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. Much like a set of nested dolls, we mirror LaVey’s concept of the Apparent Self, Demonic Minority Self and Core, but all the layers in between as well. It is those extra layers that give us our flavor and our uniqueness as individuals.

Seeing ourselves helps us to know ourselves and to examine our personal goals, and things important to us, and the way we wish to present ourselves to our friends and the world in general, who may never even know us. It’s been an educational and fulfilling exercise for me. You might enjoy it as well.

No Sale

by Jake Block

I was recently asked when I sold my soul to Satan, and did I receive my success in the bargain. I chuckled at the question, and the gentleman didn’t quite understand what I found so funny. I looked at him and said, honestly, “John, I never sold my soul to Satan, and I never made a bargain for anything. I’m not a Satanist because of any bargain. I’m a Satanist because it’s natural for me to be a Satanist, and I got my success in life because I worked my ass off to be successful. Nobody, man nor god “gave me” anything. Moreover, you can’t make a bargain with someone who doesn’t exist for something that doesn’t exist.”

Now in his “southern born and bred mind,” this just didn’t make sense. He had a book that he had always been told was written by GOD that assures him that there is a Satan and that Satan will bargain for your soul. In fact this book even showed how Satan attempted to buy the soul of none other than Jesus, the son of God. He even quoted it from memory. Matthew 4:9 in his “Holy Bible.” 
“All this I will give to you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.”

I asked, “John, do you really believe this?” He assured me that he did, and that this book was the unerring word of God. I shook his hand and said, “Well, John, there’s really nothing that I can tell you.”

Communication has to come from a place of commonality… the parties have to understand each other on some level. While I think I understand where John is coming from, because I have read his book and that of the Jews and that of the Muslim and that of others who surrender their humanity and their lives to those gossamer ideas that become gods simply because those who believe are assured that in giving up one’s desires on earth, they will gain great rewards in heaven. To John, that would translate to “Those who don’t believe are assured that if they give up their great rewards in heaven, they will receive their desires on earth.”

John sees life as a coin toss… one side or the other, and can’t comprehend what Satanist would call the “third side option.” The idea that one can control one’s own destiny isn’t something that is in the book. You either surrender to GOD or be destroyed in the fiery pits of Hell. All is predetermined, and all are subject to the Will of GOD. Now, John understands success. He’s a fairly successful man himself, and he will admit to working hard for his money and the small luxuries that that success can provide for him and his family, but he insists that that is all part of “God’s Plan,” and if God did not wish him to prosper, he would be poor. And of course, God needs the 10% tithe that John’s success assures.

So John finally responds, after thinking, and tells me that I must be giving SOMETHING to Satan, perhaps I too must tithe for my success. The confusion showed on his face when I explain that we don’t tithe. We parted company with a shake of the hands, and a strange look on John’s face, like he’d just been sold a bill of goods. In his binary world, he just couldn’t accept that third side option. So he would continue his life the way it had always been. He would raise his family, go to church on Sunday, work hard and tithe to his God. He would be happy and secure in his faith, and that’s ok.

It’s not my job to argue with those who don’t see the world as I do. Our best argument is in quietly living well, despite what others might think of us and how miserable they think we should be without the love of Jesus. They think we have sold our souls to Satan for our successes, but they have given theirs freely and pay their God for the privilege. It’s not for me to say that he and millions of others are wrong… I’m not invested in their lives.

As for me, I’ll go on, godless and free, and definitely not for sale.

Estate Sale! Get Your Bargains Here!

by Jake Block

With the recent death of my friend Typhon Draconis, it brought home something that as a son of a mortician I have always known. You never know when death is coming for you, but rest assured, it IS coming. The older you get, the odds are in your favor that its coming will be sooner than later, but even then, unless you decide to take the matter into your own hands and leave this life in an act of suicide, you just have to wait and wonder like the rest of us.

According to my doctor, using his handy-dandy computer program and 40 years of experience, he estimates that with my medical history, it’s a good bet that I will live at least another 7 years, to age 77 (74%), and all things being equal, I could live to the ripe old age of 82 (+/- 3 years)… “barring unforeseen circumstances.” My heart is good, lungs are good, I’ve never smoked and drink so seldom that I am considered a non-drinker. No drugs, other than those I need for known medical conditions. So there it is!!! Time to sit back and take it easy.

Not quite.

“Shit happens,” as they say. You can be on a winning streak at the craps table, rolling the bones and making pass after pass, but in an instant it can all change, and frequently does. That perfect 7 is great on your opening pass, but when your point is 5, a 7 is the last thing you need to see when the line is loaded and you’ve just made 22 consecutive passes. You can go from flush to flat in the blink of an eye. You can play a a blazing game of racquetball in the morning and have a massive heart attack walking to your car in the afternoon. Time’s up… party’s over.

It’s a good reminder to take care of business while you can and to keep as few loose ends untied as possible, so that someone else doesn’t have to attempt to “guess” at what your final wishes might have been as far as your funeral wants and the disposition of your personal property. I have a Will, but it’s well over 20 years old, and have acquired a lot of things in that time that need to be disposed of after I die, or they’ll just end up on Ebay or in a garage sale unless I take the time to catalog them with photos and the name and address of the people that I wish to bequeath them to.

Hundreds of books, some rare, some signed, some just “different,” that might mean something to someone, rather than nothing to someone who finds them on a garage sale table for 25¢ per book, figurines and altar pieces that a Satanist would appreciate, but that someone around here would consider only as trash, 50 Tarot decks, some rare and valuable, crystal balls, camera equipment for days, toys by the shelf-full, watches… you name it. It behooves me to put a little thought into the pieces I really care about and match them up with those I think will enjoy them and care for them.

Now is the time, I think, when I can look at things dispassionately and make rational decisions, rather than after being told by my doctor to “get my affairs in order,” because when that happens, I’m afraid that getting things organized will probably be the last thing on my mind. Knowing myself, when that time comes, I would spend my time in a car, looking for one last great shot before I lay down my cameras for good.

Most people don’t plan for the end, and tend to prefer to not even think about it. I’ve gone to estate sales where I find an interesting or uniquely personal treasure and think that were it me, I would have made sure that my relative or friend got that little treasure as a remembrance of me. But there it is, in a pile of chipped and worn bric-a-brac, for sale for a buck. It’s almost like a poignant and melancholy footnote to the life of the former owner.

Selling One’s Body To Survive

by Jake Block

You don’t have to put on the red light.
Those days are over,
You don’t have to sell your body to the night.
You don’t have to wear that dress tonight;
Walk the streets for money,
You don’t care if it’s wrong or if it’s right”

— Roxanne (The Police)

A correspondent recently told me that she’d just had a short period of time in which she resorted to prostitution in order to make ends meet. It wasn’t something that she planned on doing, but when the pressure of meeting the bills that she had to pay and the loss of a job she needed to pay them met that critical crossroads, she had to find some way to come up with a way to “keep the wolf at bay.” She reasoned that she enjoyed sex, and that in the long run, it really wasn’t much different than going on a date with a man, where he might buy dinner and drinks, and if things went well, she might end up in bed with him. This was simply cutting out the dating and getting right to the sex, and the words from Pink’s song “U + Ur Hand” went through her head. “Keep your drink, just give me the money.”

So, she decided to give it a try. She rented an inexpensive room in her town, conveniently located near several bars, got dressed in an attractive outfit and walked out the door. This was something she felt she had to do, and not something she necessarily wanted to do. But it was her body and she could use it to survive. She did this once in a while over the next year and a half until she was able to land a job with decent pay in a town several miles away. She’s kept it quiet all of the years since, because, as she told me, “Even my parents wouldn’t understand. They never offered to help, but would disown me if they knew.” She hoped that I would not look down on her as well.

My response was that “sometimes you do what you gotta do to survive.” Now, during my long life, there were times when I did things that I didn’t want to do for money. I damn sure didn’t want to prep the dead for embalming for my father, or clean delivery rooms, and I didn’t want to load trucks or clean the processing vats in a spaghetti plant… but they paid a little above minimum wage and were a lot more enticing than working at the local slaughter house. And there were times on the street where I did what I did to get a few dollars from someone who probably needed them as much I I did, but were weaker. But I did what I needed to do until my opportunity presented itself, and then I was wise enough to grab it.

So, before we look down our noses at women who do what they need to survive, we have to consider what we would be willing to do to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads; to provide for our wives or husbands and children, so that they can have at least the basics of life to hold the family together until their break comes. I have respect for people who will do what they need to do to survive, always looking for something to better their lot in life, never giving up, even though sometimes in might seem that life itself has given up on them.

I have more respect for them than for the people who refuse labor that they think is beneath them because they think that life owes them a living just for being there. I’ve heard women say, “I’m going to find a man with money to marry, and then I will never work again.” To be honest with you, I have actually heard one man make that same statement, although I have a strong feeling that a lot of others hold those sentiments in their hearts. I believe that any honest labor is worthwhile if you accept pay for doing it and execute your responsibilities honorably. There are those, though, who honestly believe that they are above labor in the service of anything but themselves.

Now, I know there are those who are thinking, “Is he saying prostitution is ‘honest labor’?” I’m not saying that it’s LEGAL labor, but if one’s survival and ability to provide for one’s children’s basic needs is in jeopardy, who the hell am I to judge? Indeed, we are seeing a beginning trend in some areas to decriminalize prostitution because it is a crime that can be linked to poverty and survival, when personally engaged in, and not as a part of a human-trafficking or child prostitution enterprise. These aspects of the overall act of prostitution are compelling someone to prostitute their bodies to enrich another, and not, therefore, survival-based crime.

Lest one misconstrue personal prostitution as a third-world phenomenon, it is legal in a number of progressive countries among which are Denmark, Finland, Costa Rica, Argentina, Canada, Belgium, Belize, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Netherlands and Mexico. In the United States, it’s legal in certain areas of the state of Nevada.

According to The Huffington Post, “In case you had any doubt, there is big money in sex. Atlanta’s sex trade was worth a whopping $290 million in 2007 alone. Miami’s sex economy was worth $235 million, and Washington D.C.’s $103 million. The numbers above, produced by the Urban Institute, leaves out Kansas City, the eighth city studied in the report, because of a lack of data.”

And while it’s been said that prostitution is a victimless crime, and this would be essentially true in a personally based transaction (sex for pay), women who engage in prostitution for a temporary career or as a way to inject un-reportable cash into their personal economies know that it’s definitely a supply and demand business… and there is definitely a demand. Huffington Post’s investigation found that there’s is a racially diverse clientele: “Asian (2.8%), Black (16.7%), Latino (19.4%), White (38.9%), and Unspecified “all races” (19.4%).”

The realization that poverty and the need to survive is being recognized in some areas within the United States is telling. For example, “cities like Seattle and San Francisco have not just “decriminalized homelessness” or “decriminalized poverty” — they have increasingly decriminalized crime. Over the past five years, the classification of survival crime has expanded well beyond stealing the proverbial loaf of bread. In California, for instance, Proposition 47 downgraded theft of property valued at less than $950 to a misdemeanor, meaning that the police are unlikely to pursue even habitual shoplifters and thieves. The predictable result: a statewide rise in petty theft. Seattle and King County recently released new guidelines calling on police officers to stop arresting individuals for all “homelessness-related crimes,” with the goal of “eliminating racial disproportionality” and ensuring that policies “do not penalize homelessness and poverty.” Meantime, city and county prosecutors have dropped thousands of misdemeanor cases against “vulnerable populations.” All this has caused widespread frustration among residents and law enforcement officers. As one veteran Seattle cop told me: “We have basically stopped enforcing the law against the homeless population. Political leaders don’t want it and prosecutors won’t pursue charges. It’s a waste of time.” In New York City, the NYPD has backed off from arresting people for subway fare evasion, on the grounds that enforcement has a disparate impact on the poor; fare-beating has risen sharply since the new policy was enacted.”
— Christopher F. Rufo (Director, Documentary Foundation)

That is not to say that one’s poverty is carte blanche authority to break the law, however it is clear that in some quarters, poverty can sometimes be seen as a mitigating factor in the bending of some economic barriers to assist them when possible. Petty crime is most often hardest on those who can least afford to live, and unfortunately, as we have often seen, the punishments doled out to those who commit petty crimes are often skewed more heavily toward the poor than to those of some means. Rufo opined that sometimes, in more progressive municipalities, “Justice might be lifting the blindfold a bit,” when it comes to the poor.

Surely, there will be some who read this essay, and say, “Jake Block is telling women to resort to prostitution, if they are poor.” Nothing could be further from the truth. What I am saying is that prostitution was, in this woman’s case, a way to temporarily alleviate some of the burdens of poverty and job loss. It is not a panacea for the grip of poverty that many women and men feel on a daily basis. It is most probably not the solution that I would choose, were I in a similar situation, but I definitely would take jobs far below my demonstrated earning potential to make ends meet. There is no shame in being poor. The only shame is in giving into it and making it your master.

The Last Groundhog

by Jake Block

At least once a month, someone emails me or pm’s me with some question about Anton LaVey and why he did this, or why he did that,” or “what he would think about,” or “would he have liked me,” etc. During my years here at The Sect of the Horned God, I’ve done my best to answer those questions and others, so much that at times I feel like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog’s Day, except that I never get the chance to bed Andie McDowell. These questions cover a few short years of my life that I spent as an Administrator for The Church of Satan, and I value the lessons and the insights I gained while there, but there were 32 years before and 33 years after I left that encompass the totality of my years. While Satanism, as a base philosophy, became concretized during my younger years, it’s been enhanced and strengthened and indeed refined during all of the years that followed, up until today.

Groundhog’s day is past, and this groundhog will no longer entertain the crowds. I am a firm believer in the Seventh Satanic Rule of the Earth, being, “Acknowledge the power of magic if you have employed it successfully to obtain your desires. If you deny the power of magic after having called upon it with success, you will lose all you have obtained,” but if you have actually read the over 250 essays that I have written for The Sect of the Horned God, you’ll realize that the majority aren’t about LaVey or things that LaVey had written. Certainly I quote LaVey, when it fits, but I also quote Mark Twain, George Orwell, The Bible, The Koran, Presidents, Philosophers and, on one occasion, Mr. Wizard The Lizard from Tudor Turtle cartoons.

Most of what I write is Satanism in a living form, and the lessons that I have learned in living my life openly as a Satanist over the past 5 decades. It’s how I’ve taken what I learned as a Satanist and applied it to survive and thrive through twenty years in the military, through the “Satanic Panic,” up to and after the death of Anton LaVey and these 22 years (and counting) past. Indeed, there were lessons to be learned from LaVey and others back when I was a young adult, but without personal effort and personal drive, I would be just another guy who used-to-was, regurgitating the same old same old to those who would learn to do the same. That’s no different than those who learn their “holy books” by rote and quote them on demand to a herd of sheep too brain-dead to find their own message in the words.

Like everyone else, I would like to be known for my own contributions to the continuing evolution of Satanism and the Left Hand Path, because I’ve put some unique insights and concepts out that go far beyond what anyone can learn in just the Satanic Bible, the Compleat Witch or The Cloven Hoof. And that is not to say that those volumes are not important… I cherish them… but I’m not Anton LaVey or Anton LaVey’s spokesman. I stand on my own as a Satanist of the post LaVeyan era. That doesn’t mean I will lie back and nod like and idiot when someone falsely quotes or mischaracterizes LaVey or his principles as I knew them. But realize, my philosophy, that which your read in my writings is my own, developed over the past decades beyond any hands-on affiliations with The Church.

The ONLY thing I am a member of, either on line or in real life is The Sect of the Horned God. It is there that I “strut my stuff” and lend my assistance to the organization’s growth and educational goals for its membership. I strive for the Hyperborean ideal that transcends Satanism or any other “ism.” It stands on its own and as a beacon for others to follow.

Enjoy what I write, if you are so inclined, and take from it what you will. But I’m sorry, friends and neighbors, but I’m pretty much burned out on interpreting the life and philosophy that pretty much speaks for itself, in the life and legend of Anton LaVey.

So, if you want to see a groundhog do the same old song and dance every year take a trip to Gobbler’s Knob and wait for Punxsutawney Phil to prognosticate the weather. If you want to know what I think on Satanism as I view and live it, you know where I am.

“If you gotta play garden parties, I wish you a lotta luck
But if memories were all I sang, I’d rather drive a truck
And it’s all right now, learned my lesson well
You see, ya can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.”

— Garden Party (Rick Nelson)

Gettin’ Together

by Jake Block

A friend recently asked me why I don’t get together with people more often and just “hang out.”

It’s true. I don’t socialize a lot, but I have been to some of the more “specialized events,” such as the Left Hand Path Consortiums, as an attendee, photographer, exhibitor and even as a presenter, and I have been to different events around the country where I might interact with people. I’ve met some wise and wonderful people at such events, and gotten a lot of people-watching time. I’ve been able to meet an interact with people like Thomas and Lisa, Dark Fool, Rhonda and Larry Favero, Tau Pneumatikos, Michael and HopeMarie Ford, Jeremy Crow, Typhon Draconis, Eric Vernor, Toby Chappell, Onyx Crystal, Helene Arts, Pat and Dawn Newland, Lydia Workman, Lucien Pharoe, and others, and it’s been good.

I do enjoy traveling on occasion, although not nearly as much as I used to, and it’s not just that travel has become a hassle, but that the hype of getting to the destination often exceeds the payout realized once one actually gets there. There’s a full day, sometimes two of traveling just to get there, then there are some hotel rooms that don’t quite make the grade, food in some sketchy restaurants… and some that are 4 star in appearance and reputation, but leave you praying to the porcelain god long into the night. Bad weather, bad drivers, a Garmin that gets lost, driving with a headache… sigh.

Being that I live in the middle of nowhere, no place is “conveniently close.” If I travel with Devora, it’s a full day getting to her place to pick her up, and then an over night stay so that i’m not brain dead by the time we get to the final destination and get checked in to our room. By the time we do that, and get the room set up for a couple of day’s stay, it’s time for bed again and it’s two days down before I even see anyone. When the next day come and we actually begin seeing people, talking and entertaining, time seems to speed up and before you know it, it’s time to pack up and do it all again to get back home.

Now, when I was in my 40s and even up until a couple of years ago, I could do it and actually look forward to the whole thing. These days, I just wonder when I get an invitation to this or that, “am I up to it?” And it’s not that I have become a doddering old man, frail in frame and given to lapses of cognitive abilities. I’m still well and able. I’ve just come to realize that I need to conserve my time simply because it’s the one thing that I have less and less of in my life. The lines from DREAMLINE by Rush run though my mind:

“We are young,
Wandering the face of the earth,
Wondering what our dreams might be worth,
Learning that we’re only immortal
For a limited time.

Time is a gypsy caravan;

Steals away in the night,

To leave you stranded in dreamland.

Distance is a long-range filter,

Memory a flickering light

Left behind in the heartland.”

While I may like to “get together” with others, I know that conservation of time, energy and resources are the key to my continued creative output in writing, photography and exploring the cosmologies of thought and philosophy that I have come to embrace over my short and irreplaceable time here on earth. I’m retired and my time is pretty much my own. it’s a commodity that I need to be concerned with squandering, because when it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s kind of like the old quote from Mark Twain: “Buy land. They’re not making it anymore.”

This is not to say that I am holing up in my comfortable house, never to be seen again, but concentrating on a better use of my time, in realizing that having lived a life well and good, time is the only thing that I need. If things work out where I can combine “hanging out” with someone in the course of working on something that I want to do, so much the better! But my priorities at this point in my life are to maximize what time I have left but rest assured that, as Lon Milo DuQuette put it, “I’m still writin’, I’m still fightin’, doin’ shit you can’t imagine!”

“Jo – Jo” Shipman

by Jake Block

When I called for a 20,000 pound tie-down chain set from the front of the plane, it would only be a few seconds before I would hear the heavy footsteps and rattling metal of “Jo -Jo” Shipman hurrying down the length of the C-5A cargo bay, dragging two heavy duty chains. Always able to anticipate my needs, “Jo-Jo” also brought two ratchet devices, used to anchor the chains to the aircraft cargo floor, attached to the chains and ready to go.

“Chain drop!” “Jo – Jo” called out as they clattered loudly down beside me as I lay on my back under the front axle of a deuce-and-a-half that was in the forward position. It was a damned heavy truck, weighing 13,030 pounds and was a bitch to tie down, so it didn’t move in flight. I was applying the last of the tie down chains and devices, and then “Chalk 27” (the 27th plane in the mission group) would be ready to go. Load complete. Cross the chains at 60°, attach the ratchets to the floor grommets, spin the ratchets tight and get off the plane. End of shift.

I slapped “Jo-Jo” on the back as we headed for the forward stairs. “Good work, “Jo-Jo”! You might just make it after all.” “Jo-Jo” grinned and chuckled, “Ain’t no big thing, Sarge.”

I knew hundreds of troops during my 20 years. Not all were as good as “Jo-Jo” Shipman, but they were all generally hard workers, working a hard job. We’d always called J.J. Shipman “Jo-Jo.” Nobody ever really questioned why… it just was… we all had nicknames from time to time that stuck with us from unit to unit, base to base, and even just crew to crew. Hell, at one time my nickname was “Ratspit,” as in “mean as ratspit.”

“Jo-Jo” was a valuable member of my crew and I was surprised when I got to work one morning and there, in my in-basket was a notice from my supervisor that simply said, “Airman J.J. Shipman” is hereby relieved of duty and is in custody pending immediate discharge. This meant that this was to be a “sundown discharge.” The base commander had terminated someone’s enlistment and wanted them off of the base and returned to civilian status by the end of the day. As crew supervisor, it was up to me to make that happen. I went into my supervisor’s office and asked what the hell had happened.

Chief Master Sergeant Jennings looked up from his paperwork and said, “Shipman’s out; was apprehended last night on base and was charged with being a homosexual. Shipman apparently made a pass at an SP (Security Policeman) in civilian clothing at the Airman’s Club, and was taken in, pled guilty and the Base Commander wants Shipman gone TODAY.” He took a drink of coffee and then looked me square in the eye and asked, “Did you know Shipman was a homo?”

Now, only a fool would answer that question to the affirmative, because in the early 1980s, homosexuality was a discharge offense, and knowing someone was a homosexual and not reporting it would get you a one way pass out the gate, right behind them. I just shook my head “no” and signed my name on the “out” board. Chief Jennings threw me “Jo-Jo’s” car keys and told me to drive Shipman home, but call the office before I did and they would send a car to pick me up.

So, from that point on, it was a matter of fitting the processing that normally took a couple of days into one, making sure that my troop was divested of all military equipment, identification and privileges and returned to civilian status with a “less than honorable discharge.” I liked Shipman, but it was something that I had to do, even though it was well known that I didn’t care what you did in your bedroom, or with whom you did it. Was I surprised that Jo -Jo Shipman was gay? Not at all. Most of us knew — or suspected — who on base was gay, but so long as a troop did their job and didn’t cause us any grief, it wasn’t that important to those of us on the day-to-day working level of operations. “Jo-Jo” Shipman was the best woman I had ever had on my crew.

And you know, truth be told, aside from some of the more hardcore lifers and the homophobic element that you could find in pretty much any organization back then, most of the working NCOs that I knew felt the same. Of course, people could come up with all kinds of reasons why “them queers would ruin the military,” most of which were ignorant on the face of it all.

“You know homosexuals are always on the make and looking to hit on other men (I don’t think I ever heard an argument about lesbians) during duty hours.” This argument made no sense, because heterosexual men were pretty much always on the make and looking to hit on anything in a skirt during duty hours, off hours too.

“I wouldn’t want a homosexual in a foxhole with me!” This made no sense for two reasons. First, we were in the Air Force, and in all of my time in the Air Force, other than pulling bunker guard in Vietnam, neither I nor anyone I ever knew had been in a foxhole alone, let alone with any one else. And secondly, if you are in a foxhole, behind a wall, or anywhere else under fire, worrying about having someone propositioning you for sex would be very low on your worry list. My only concern would be getting my ass and my troops the hell out of there alive.

But then came “Don’t ask, Don’t tell,” and eventually a lifting of the ban against homosexuals in the military on a test basis. For the first time in the history of the United States, patriots could serve in the military and be gay, so long as they didn’t show it, or say that they were gay. For all of the predictions of gloom and doom that had preceded the event, very little disruption was noted. The military of the United States was too professional and, thanks to the endless wars that our government had committed us to, too damned busy to let it bother us!

Times changed in the military, and we were used to it. Up until the end of WWII, black and white soldiers, and sailors had different experiences within the military. We saw blacks and whites begin to intermarry. Then we saw women being integrated into career fields that had previously been restricted to men. The official acceptance of LGBTQ members is simply another change that needed to be made.

Now, here in America, after a long, hard fight, you can marry pretty much anyone you want to and while there are certainly those who don’t approve of it, for whatever reason, it’s the law of the land. It’s a damned shame that patriots like “Jo – Jo” Shipman, and thousands of others were told “You’re kind isn’t good enough to fight,” when they have been fighting since Valley Forge, and have died for their country in far off battle fields around the world since we became a sovereign nation with a military to enforce our will and national policy. Millions more civilians have fought, been discriminated against, refused the same basic rights that are granted to others in whatever nation they reside.

Think about the things that really matter in this world, and the idea of two men or two women enjoying each other sexually should be pretty close to the bottom of the list. There are those who will say, “I don’t want them hitting on ME.” Ok. Now, the chances of someone who is gay “hitting” on an obviously “straight” person are always there, but very low. Just as a heterosexual person isn’t rushing to gay bars to troll for a lover, those who are gay aren’t going to the local Joe’s Bar to see how many straights they can snatch from the herd to have their way with. And what if someone gay or bisexual DID hit on you? Last time I tried the word, “No” still worked. And yes, I have been asked by another man if I was interested, and yes, he took no for an answer. But even if I HAD accepted his offer, it would be nobody’s business but mine, the female(s) I was involved with and the other man’s.

Now, if asked and you refused the offer of sex with some one of the same sex, and they continued to pursue you, well… then you can be as forceful as you need to be with your refusal, just as you would with someone of the opposite sex trying to manipulate you for sex. It’s not going to be a major problem in your life in either situation, unless you let it, or the other person violates you in an act of rape, in which case, all bets are off. Get them any way you can… criminally, civilly or, if worse comes to worse, Lex Talionis is always an option.

I’ve pretty much lived by LaVey’s interpretation of “the Golden Rule,” being, “Do unto others AS they do unto you.” And in most of life, “Jake’s Wallet Test” is my go-to philosophy. If something is happening that I don’t approve of, and I don’t have to be involved in, I simply look into my wallet and see if there is any money missing. If not, it’s just not that important. When it affects me directly, I can take actions to control the situation. But until that time, I’ll just quote “Jo – Jo” Shipman.

“Ain’t no big thing, Sarge.”

Take The Long Way Home

Take the Long Way Home
by Jake Block

When one becomes too involved in the work-a-day world and too concerned with “getting ahead,” there is a tendency to forget that our span of years on this planet is limited. We throw ourselves at problems, insuring, at least in our minds, that our security and survival needs are met. The paycheck keeps coming in and the food is on the table… if we are ever at home to take time to eat it. Most people put life on hold to succeed, and feel that there will always be enough time to enjoy life, perhaps in their “golden years.” Few people realize that the golden years are actually brass and, while retirement may seem a glorious goal while one is working 12 to 16 hours a day to become successful, it is seldom the carefree time that is imagined and rarely the posh and comfortable time of our dreams.

If we wish to make it to those “golden years,” we must learn to relax and to become attuned to the world around us today. There must be time to shut out the cares of the day and savor the freshness of the morning dew on sweet grasses and to walk alone on the shores of a quiet beach at sunset. Now, I’m no advocating that we return to the dubious mentalities of the 60’s, when the height of personal expression was to “tune in, turn on, and drop out,” since neither isolating oneself nor clouding the mind with drugs is an acceptable answer to the pressures of life. There’s a solution that’s much simpler and much more close at hand. Take the long way home.

Being from the San Francisco Bay Area, I became accustomed to the traffic jams that are a part of daily life. I spent many hours in that purgatory of chrome and steel and asphalt on my way to and from appointments or functions, and have felt the frustrations that can boil to the surface when some idiot causes traffic to grind to a standstill. Before you know it, the body begins to respond, instinctively. The pulse quickens, breathing becomes labored and angry and the blood pressure begins to rise. Horns honk, setting the nerves on edge. The heat from the engine begins to erode the air conditioning and even the normally relaxing music from a favorite radio station becomes and irritant. It’s time to take the long way home.

Some time before I reached that point, I’d have journeyed the backroads of the area, trough restful stands of mighty oak trees, and down highways where the omnipresent Mt. Diablo, with its stony peaks stands as a silent sentinel to the Concord-Hayward fault lines. I’d explored the bay on roads roads that welcome the weary, offering vistas of beach and sand, or climbed the winding highways through the mountains, peering into the semi-darkness, enjoying the sight of a family of deer grazing on sweet grasses and clover.

Being that I know it’s going to take “X” minutes or hours to get from point B from point A, I will many times choose one of these more restful roads over the “convenience” of the freeway. I may spend an extra half hour on the road, but it’s on MY terms.

On this journey to or from my destination, things change. I intentionally vary my musical selections. Normally, I like driving music that mirrors the “uhrsong” of my life. You’ll hear music with a strong and compelling beat; hard rock, speed metal, heavy metal of acid rock pouring from my car (ask your kids… they’ll know the difference.) When I need to take the road less traveled, I might choose Rachmaninoff, Gershwin, or the smooth strains of a Cole Porter tune. I’ve deliberately slowed things down; brought things into a more even perspective that will allow for more introspective thought. Even here, there are alternatives.

From the moment a child is sprung unwillingly from the womb of its mother, it is subjected to a world hostile to its needs. Where once nourishment and a warm feeling that would someday come to be known as love were instantaneously granted, there is a strange and cold place of rough hands and rougher fabrics scrubbed against the skin. Sleep becomes the first escape from the trauma and, separated from the only world the newborn has ever known, the mind begins to soothe formed psyche with the soft whooshing memories of “mother sounds,” warm darkness, of floating and the muffled murmurs of human speech through the walls of “the world.”

For those who enjoy this type of escape, tapes of these sounds are available and, while this barrage of “white sound” is usually employed to soothe anxious and sometimes sleepless babes, many adults find peace with these tapes as well. Others opt for sea sounds or forest sounds or, “if the earphones fit,” Indy 500 sounds. It’s all up to the individual.

It’s remarkable in this age of personal freedom and demands for privacy that the only places we are normally alone is in the bathroom or in our cars. This is one of the major reasons that most people reject mass transportation, even if offered to them in an attractive package, such as BART in the San Francisco Bay Area. They need the solitude of the commute… being alone in the confines of their own auto. It’s a validation of personal space and personal freedom through and expression of privacy and control.

Sure, we’re concerned with the environment, and we know that extra cars clogging the freeway will mean extra pollution, but we need to be alone, no matter how open and gregarious we might seem, and all need the time and space to decompress.

The mind is like a pressure cooker and, when the effects of job stress and overpopulation begin to close in, the cumulative effects quite often are seen in neurosis. “Burn out” is a common, everyday manifestation of overcrowding and stress. It can be seen in laboratory rats, in seals crowding the rocks in the Galapagos Islands and yes, boys and girls, in us as well.

What’s the answer? Can we find solace in a prescription from the local Dr. Feelgood? He’s trapped in the same cage as you and I. Granted, his cage might be a bit better, but it’s a cage, all the same. Drugs and alcohol have long been “recreational escapes,” but when you come down, the stresses will still be there and the hangovers only compound the pain.

My answer is the long way home. Solitude on one’s own terms.

Driving in a storm is a minor example of compartmentalism of thought, in which one allows the mind (or one should) to focus its concentration on the task at hand because of its rather complicated and hazardous nature. Think of how driving is in really bad weather… peering intently through the windshield, acutely aware of the traffic, the pouring rain, sleet or snow. You know where and when things are happening around you. The radio may be on, you children may be screaming, but unless they’re a major distraction from your major task, they’re ignored. At times like these, the stress or work, a shaky marriage, and even the heartbreak of psoriasis fade into inconsequence. The task is driving… the need is survival. Once you’re reached your destination, the mind allows for realignment of priorities and a decrease of adrenaline levels… you relax.

Ok… now picture a drive in which you leave the stresses of the freeway, traveling down country roads. There are pastoral scenes to see… horses grazing on succulent grasses, flocks of sheep, like a white cloud across the meadows and even a family of deer, alert and aware, making a rare appearance from their forest home.

During your drive along this peaceful path, you may allow for a positive refocusing of thought. Allow your mind to take in the sights and sounds around you as you drive, enhanced by alternatives to your normal musical selections. Ease the seat back into the comfortable position you’ve found for long trips. Relax. Let the miles speed by as your subconscious takes control of the manual operation of the vehicle.

You’ll notice a distinct difference by the time you arrive at your destination, and if you allow yourself to carry over that relaxed feeling once you’re arrived, you’ll find that the stress and problems of the day will be much easier to bear. So you may have to leave a few minutes earlier… or you may arrive a bit later. You’ll have redefined the journey on your own terms and will have gained just a bit more control of your life. Isn’t that worth a few moments?

Take the long way home.

Shhhh… It’s A Secret

by Jake Block

The enigmatic words ““¿NOV SCHMOZ KAPOP?” appeared as the last words of many an issue of The Cloven Hoof, the official newsletter of The Church of Satan. If you only knew how many times we would get a request to know what those words meant in English… or French… or Spanish… or Romanian. We would answer those requests in the same way. “It’s a secret.”

Nothing holds the attention like the promise of the revelation of a secret untold. I asked the question myself, because the words were somehow familiar to me, and I had the feeling that I had seen them in writing somewhere. It seems that everyone else who asked had seen it “someplace” as well. So, when I asked, LaVey told me, “It’s a secret, Jake.” I was determined that one day, I would know.
The way I found it was simply dumb luck, sitting in a stack of old newspapers. It was in a “topper” or cartoon strip usually found at the top of a print sheet, by the cartoonist Gene Ahern, called, “The Squirrel Cage.” The protagonist of the strip was a little bearded hitchhiker who spoke his own nonsensical language that seemed to mean “something,” but was, of course, gibberish. The only consistency in the hitchhiker’s gibberish was the phrase “¿Nov Schmoz Kapop?”, which most people concluded must mean “something,” but actually didn’t. Many people assumed that it meant “Going My Way?”

I took my findings to LaVey and laid them before him as he was sitting at the kitchen table, having a cup of coffee. He picked up the note, and as he read, a smile came to his face. He looked at me, put his finger to his lips and said, “Shhhh, Jake. It’s a secret.

LaVey enjoyed The Squirrel Cage as a child from its earliest appearance in the funny papers on June 21, 1936 in his birthplace of Chicago, IL. Gene Ahern, the cartoonist was also a Chicago resident. Ahern would transport the little hitchhiker to his succeeding comic strips until 1953, when he retired his last strip, Room & Board. Ahern died in 1960.

When LaVey formed The Church of Satan in 1966, the Cloven Hoof followed soon after, and when LaVey finished typing in that 1st issue on his IBM “Selectric” typewriter , he smiled as he keyed “¿Nov Schmoz Kapop?” as a tribute and personal “thank you,” to Gene Ahern.

So you too now now the truth. “¿Nov Schmoz Kapop?” — It don’t mean nothin’!

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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