Jake Block

Snatching Defeat From The Jaws of Victory

by Jake Block

“The true test of anyone’s worth as a living creature is how much he can utilize what he has.”
— Anton LaVey

The quote, “Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat” has been attributed to US Representative James Seddon (1815-1880) of the State of Virginia, in describing the heroic actions of a military regiment during the Mexican – American War (1846-1848), relating how its heroic actions in battle had gained a victory, where defeat had been almost certain.  It is to suddenly win a contest in which its loss is a foregone conclusion; a success gained through skill, effort and good judgement.

Heroes can arise from dismal beginnings, defying all probability and expectation that they will succeed, to become much more than anyone could have expected.  Certainly you have heard of some of them, like Oprah Winfrey, who grew up in poverty in rural Mississippi to build a multi-billion dollar entertainment empire, or author J.K. Rowling, who began in poverty, but possessed a passion for writing that led to her creation of the Harry Potter series of books that sold over 500 million copies which then garnered her a share of the $7.7 billion movie franchise.  The dyslexic and underperforming British child who dreamed of wealth and power was Sir Richard Branson, creator of companies and services including the Virgin Airlines and upcoming Virgin Galactic space tourism group and a personal wealth of over $4 billion.  You can find them in every field of endeavor, those who could be expected to fail, but won despite the odds.

Certainly, not every person who is born of modest means can achieve stratospheric successes such as these, but it is certain that those who grasp opportunities and use their personal skills and resources wisely, can and do succeed even when odds are not in their favor.  Thus, they snatch that victory from the jaws of defeat in their own lives and quite often, their successes either directly, or indirectly, assist others within their personal spheres of influence… that is, if they too grasp opportunities and make the most of them as well.

But then we have the opposite side of the coin in those individuals, and I’ll bet you the proverbial dollar to donut that you know at least one, who talks a good game, but never seems to reach the goal.  Even when seemingly possessed of all of the attributes one would assume success, they always seem to trip before they cross the finish line.   They epitomize the idea of “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory,” in consistently failing when the odds clearly seem to be in their favor.  When this happens, you can almost hear them singing a blues riff, perhaps from Born Under a Bad Sign by Cream:

“Born under a bad sign.
I been down since I began to crawl.
If it wasn’t for bad luck,
I wouldn’t have no luck at all.”

But, is it “bad luck,” or the cumulative effect of choices made over a lifetime?  I am of the belief that chronic failure is a learned condition, and requires a certain degree of misspent skill to maintain that negative paradigm, just as much as the habitual winner requires skill to maintain his positive momentum, against the odds.  This pattern will reveal itself, I think, in the choices one makes throughout one’s life, where they opt for the “easy way,” versus the path that requires preparation, effort and follow-through.   Another pattern, unfortunately, is that of self-sabotage through habits and practices that undermine our efforts to succeed.  You can be blessed with good DNA, and even that fabled “silver spoon in your mouth,” but if you make rotten choices in life, you’ll find that even with the best of tools to work with, without purpose, desire and follow through, it’s all for naught.

Unfortunately for us, the ne’er-do-wells of the world have a deleterious effect on those around them, dragging us into the dramas and traumas of their lives that are of their own making.  That is, if you allow them to.  Just as what we know as the “psychic vampire” can play upon the emotions of their victims, the chronic failure can also be draining to his/her victim’s momentum in life and the levels of success that they might attain.  The old saying, “Birds of a feather flock together” has meaning in that those of us who work our plans to become successful and good providers for our families find support in those who share the same values as we do, and it is amongst those people we can gain positive benefits from our investments in time, information, skill sharing and emotional support.  The best that we can expect from those who wallow in their failure is a sense of depression in watching their consistent failure.

I’m not going to waste your time trying to give you my personal pathway to success, because if you’re a ne’er-do-well, I’d only be wasting my time and  yours as well.  To be perfectly honest with you, there are people that simply can’t muster the wherewithal to get ahead and thrive.  Be it a problem in genetics, in philosophy, or a simple deficiency in one’s survival imperative, there are some who just can’t or wont put in the effort needed to make their mark in the world.  The world is littered with the bleached bones of those who’ve fallen behind.  Their demise can at best provide a guidepost leading to the direction of their failure, or inspiration and motivation for others to avoid their missteps on the evolutionary road to survivability.

We all fail from time to time, and one might even speculate that those who NEVER fail never truly try, but go for the low hanging fruit of diminished expectations.  True success requires false starts and mistakes that eventually show us the way to succeed and thrive.   However, one must resist the siren call of entitlement without the elements of effort and merit.  

Success, like failure, requires practice and a compatible skill set.  It probably doesn’t matter to a habitual loser, but for those of you who care about the finer things in life that success can bring,  Dr. Bryan E. Robinson, Ph.D, writing for Psychology Today, has identified “Ten Ways to Snatch Victory from the Jaws of Defeat.”  I’ll present them for those of you who are sincerely trying to succeed in life, and hopefully there might be some “trickle down effect” for those ne’er-do-wells who happen to read them as well.  So, here for your consideration is Dr. Robinson’s list for success:

  1. Grow a thick skin and expect rejections and setbacks.  Commit yourself in advance to facing the many “smackdowns” you will encounter, like all successful people do.
  2. Ditch the desire for comfort and be willing to go to the edge of your emotional pain so you can be fully present with what lays beyond the barrier.
  3. Cultivate creative sustainability. Think of yourself as an elastic band that bends and stretches to a certain point before you spring back higher than you fall.
  4. Turn roadblocks into steppingstones. Pinpoint opportunity contained in difficulty. Make it a goal to use negative challenges—no matter how painful, frustrating, big or small—as lessons from which to learn. Ask, “What can I manage or overcome here?” or “How can I turn this matter around to my advantage?”
  5. Refer to previous experience. Reflect on past obstacles you’ve overcome. Point to lessons learned and underscore ways you have grown stronger through life’s hard knocks.
  6. Take risks. Find that one place in your life where you’ve been hiding, then stick your neck out from your comfort zone. Ask what edge you can go to. Seek challenging experiences that help you bloom instead of low-risk situations that keep you safe in a bud.
  7. Identify self-doubts that have crippled you from growing fully. Harness them—instead of running from them—and channel them into useful fuel so they don’t paralyze you.
  8. Stay off the roller coaster. Manage the ups-and-downs by treating success and defeat equally. Celebrate the highs but don’t take them anymore seriously than the lows, and don’t take downturns anymore seriously than upswings.
  9. Catch yourself when you fall. After a setback or discouraging situation, you bounce back quicker when you support yourself with loving-kindness. Instead of kicking yourself when you’re down, be on your own side, wish yourself well, and be your best advocate as you progress on your journey to success.
  10. Eschew the what-the-hell effect. This attitude only adds insult to injury. You’re never defeated until you quit. Face letdowns by taking the towel you want to throw in and use it to wipe the sweat off your face then hop back into the saddle on your journey to success.

In the minds of many, if you are on the Left Hand Path, you already have at least two strikes against you, so don’t expect those who identify with being on the Right Hand Path to give you any credit for any successes you have or will gain.  By the same token, don’t delude yourself into thinking that by simply choosing this path less followed, you’re automatically beneficiary to the magical cache of those who have come before.  There is gold to be mined and there are rewards to be gained in success and the benefits of being a winner in life, but it’s going to require commitment and effort and tenacity on your part.  If you can’t promise yourself that you’ll do what’s necessary to succeed, then perhaps the effort is beyond your capability.  You’ll never know until you try, try, and try again.

Left-Eyed Voyeurism

by Jake Block

“If a photographer says he is not a voyeur, he is an idiot.”
— Helmut Newton (1920 – 2004)

In a previous essay, I referred to myself as “an inveterate leg man,” and that’s true, but like all snapshots, just a few pixels of the entire frame of a photograph that supports the statement, although in focussing on another area of the same vision, a different conclusion might well be the truth one sees. In photography, I find expression in those off center, seemingly less important details that others might ignore, but to me are as exciting as the fragment of flesh a voyeur might glimpse as he peers through a keyhole.

I focus through my viewfinder with my left eye.  By simple 50% chance, I’m already seeing things differently than my “right-eyed” colleagues, and it underscores my personal belief that photography itself is inherently a left hand path skill, art and magical exercise.  The reason for this has nothing to do with one’s dominant eye, but in concepts that one considers, if one is to consider them at all as a photographer, rather than someone who just takes pictures.  It is in this sense, at least, that a photographer is a voyeur, observing all, in minute detail, analyzing each movement and each position for meaning.

There is eroticism in the simple act of being human, as long as one has need and desire.  One might deny this, out of cultural programming or some overly cautious sense of propriety.  It is in the viewing of the sensual and sexual side of our being that we can embrace not only the darker aspects of our nature, but begin to understand the whole of it and how that darker side supports and enhances us on the levels that we decide to show to those around us.  How you choose to exercise your eroticism is a personal affair, but discretely sharing it with others is pretty much necessary, if you plan on inviting them into your world.

Being a photographer, one can appreciate the voyeurism that naturally occurs when you find your eye glued to your viewfinder while practicing your art, and you’re always practicing your art.  Of course, voyeurism need not always be sexual in nature, although a good photographer with a good eye and imagination will almost always find capturing that aspect of the masculine and feminine to have an appreciative audience.  Voyeurism is typically thought of as sexual, but to my mind “street photography,” and photographs of strangers involved in simply living offers the well rounded voyeur an almost endless variety of  stimulating and thought provoking subjects from which to choose.

Street photography, when done right, allows the photographer to be that “fly on the wall,” there, but not significantly “there enough” to influence the environment surrounding it.  Often hidden in plain sight, photographer and gear blend into the scenery, where they are free to collect images and themes most would miss.  It can be a fun and compelling sub-genre of photography that several famous shootists have resurrected over the years, with the most successful being Alan Funt’s “Candid Camera” series.  The same techniques can be applied to erotic photography as well.  While the photographer is unavoidably “in the action,” the goal is to minimize the impact of that presence.  A good erotic photographer is silent, for the most part, and if one must speak, it is in a whisper, so as not to break or influence the mood, and they will stay in the background as much as possible.

“Back in the day,” before digital photography, aside from an eroticist’s “go to” Polaroid camera, options for the average couple to engage in erotic photography for personal use was highly restricted.  Unless one had their own darkroom set up in their home, finding someone that would print photographs with nudity was pretty much a hit and miss proposition, often governed only by the developer’s personal morality.  Going to the local “photo hut” or processor at the mall weren’t the best options because quite often, those who ran these place were members of your community that you might run into in the local market, movie theater or, heaven forbid, CHURCH!  So, if you were like me, and you were known to be sexually liberal, you would get a phone call from a gentleman (sometimes a lady) who would like to know if you took “personal photos.”

I was known (and still am) as a “creative freelance photographer,” and I wouldn’t hire out for just any photos.  I refused to do weddings, shake and takes (awards ceremonies), kids, or any one under 20 years of age.  I was known for my landscapes, abstracts and creative portraits.  After a few moments of conversation, the caller might sheepishly ask, “how about personal fantasy shots, you know, boudoir and well… my wife and I have vivid imaginations.”  Once I told them that I don’t judge people on their personal lifestyles, they began to relax, and often their spouse might get on the phone as well.  With no worries abut being judged for their personal kinks and fetishes, the idea of having personal photos to enjoy now and in the future took on a more joyful tone.

Now, there are some photographers that will tell you that they don’t have time to notice the sensuality of their subject, or anything that is being done on film, or digitally because they are too busy with the technical aspects of photography.  I would be the last person to tell you that erotic photography isn’t a stressful format for any photographer, because by it’s very nature, it demands that you get the shot in camera the first time, as your clients can be very unforgiving if you become known for screwing up a shot and needing to ask the client to resit for their photographs.  That said, neither would I tell you that it isn’t a pleasurable and stimulating genre.  You’re working with people who are at their most attractive and most often, most physically aware, sensually.  They’re dressed (or undressed) to impress, and you’re there to document and, if possible, elevate these moments from mere picture taking to “art.”  Of course, at that moment, the photographer is a voyeur, and happily so!

I could make the argument that erotic photography can, in varying degrees, run the gamut  from joyful to dark, but always a slice of life for those being photographed, in which one chooses to document themselves are they are at some significant moment or age within their span or years on this planet.  People are almost never this or that, good nor evil, light nor dark.  They might choose to present themselves as such, using photography as the medium for their propagandized image, and I will readily admit to this, myself.  Over the decades that I have produced “selfies,” as we now know them, I have always edged mine left of center by degrees, depending on what I would project to the world.  Self voyeurism is certainly ego-driven, and planned to provide only a thin slice of one’s whole, and daring the viewer to look without blinking to imagine the rest that is there, but unseen.

Things can be photographed with bias as well.  I’ve taken shots around the world that were just shot for memories of some of the good times I’ve had, and then I have taken shots to capture the “atmosphere” of a darker moment, as well.  I once saw a shot that someone had taken of a large drainage pipe coming out of a grassy hillside, and emptying into a small stream.  It was a bucolic setting that brought to mind walks in the countryside as a kid, the smell of warm grass and the buzzing of insects as I walked in the summer heat.  And then, I saw the same shot with a minor modification that totally changed its “feel.”  Someone had spray painted the words, “Free Hugs,” in a rough scrawl, with an arrow pointing toward the darkness inside the drain pipe.  Now it became darker, with an ominous feel that had a disturbing edge.

Two photographers can take a shot of the same basic scene at the same time and produce pictures with two distinctly different photographs, using only things that are relative to the equipment being used, and hot having to resort to the “tricks” of computer gimmick programs like Photoshop or some other boxed product.  Long before digital cameras made cheats possible to the masses, any photographer worth his salt knew how to strategically darken or lighten parts of a photograph in the darkroom for atmosphere, or use filtration to manipulate light, and what the camera’s F stops and varying aperture settings were for.  You could do so much with minor manipulations to black and white and color emulsions.  And then there were the specialty films that worked with different  spectrums of light, other than the “ROY G. BIV spectrum” that we think of as what we can see… visible light.  The eerie quality of infrared and ultraviolet films could be used to shock the senses of the viewer to the dark side of photography.  There is a reason why I still use them today!

The ease of digital photography and availability of photo processing software has taken much of the art of photography away and turned it into a point and click option for those who are used to the instant gratification of today’s world, rather than the effort of spending hours crafting a shot in the dark room, to make it yours and yours alone.  And the sad part is that many “photographers” of the day don’t know the difference.  I’ve had some of them ask me what “presets” I use in Photoshop to give my photos a particular quality, and then refuse to believe me when I tell them that I neither own Photoshop, nor have any idea how to use it.

This isn’t to say that there is no place in the world for cell phone photographs and photoshopped images.  Some of the cell phone optics are quite good, and can put a lot of creative power into the hands of those who need it, and can’t afford or have no access to higher end cameras and the capabilities that they can provide.  But I mourn the loss of the types of photographs that “legitimate photographers” produced of old, especially in the darker and more erotic edges of the photographic world.  I’m forever nostalgic for the time when one focused through the camera’s view finder, rather than the “little TV screen” of live view.  My Nikons have selective live view, but like the utilitarian toilets on a plane or a burger from Mickey D’s, other than in an emergency, I’m afraid they’re things that I can just do without!

From my left-eyed view of the world, things are always a bit darker, and that’s the way it should be.

Slipping Into Darkness

Jake Block

“I was slippin’ into darkness
When they took my friend away,
I was slippin’ into darkness
When they took my friend away,
You know he loves to drink good whiskey 
While laughing at the moon.

Slippin’ into darkness,
Take my mind beyond the dreams
I was slippin’ into darkness,
Take my mind beyond the dreams,
Where I talk to my brother
Who never said their name.

Slippin’ into darkness,
All my trouble so I choose
I was slippin’ into darkness,
All my trouble so I choose
I got a wife and a baby, 
Now my love hath gained its fame.

Slippin’ into darkness,
When I heard my mother say
I was slippin’ into darkness,
When I heard my mother say
What’d she say what’d she say
You’ve been slippin’ into darkness,
Pretty soon you gonna pay”
— “Slipping Into Darkness” by WAR

After one has been on the Left Hand Path for a while, they begin to hear seemingly similar terms that convey different things to people who have been on The Path for many years. One of these terms is “darkness,” and its unusual opposite term “The Darkness.” This can be confusing to some, but to those who’ve taken the time to reason it out, it’s really not that difficult to understand. Darkness and The Darkness only appear to be similar, but to understand the difference, we must differentiate between “darkness” and “THE DARKNESS,” semantically.

“Darkness” is the absence of light, and where two very real human conditions play. They are Nyctalopia: “Night blindness, impaired vision in dim light and in the dark, due to impaired function of certain specialized vision cells (the rods) in the retina. (“Nyctalopia” comes from the Greek “nyct” (night) + “aloas” (obscure or blind) + “opsis” (vision), and is sometimes called nocturnal amblyopia”), and Pareidolia: (the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern. The scientific explanation for some people is pareidolia, or the human ability to see shapes or make pictures out of randomness. Think of the Rorschach inkblot test). Nyctalopia or “night blindness” allows our sense of pareidolia to take hold. When nyctalopia is paired with pareidolia, we see chairs or other shapes in the darkness become the fearful monsters of our childhood. It causes a lack of perspective that is translated in the mind as uncertainty and fear. While these conditions normally affect the very young and impressionable, unless one comes to understand them, as they mature, can cary forth throughout one’s life.

The mind in “Darkness” is the place where we fear; where we don’t know or understand the things that seem to be beyond our control, and oppress us, even when we claim mastery over them. If you “live in darkness,” it’s not the absence of light, but the lack of appreciation for the freedoms that The Darkness can provide. This being unfortunately true, the majority of people never find The Darkness as being synonymous with the Left Hand Path, but without the recognition that there is indeed a difference between simply being in darkness and a part of The Darkness, interacting with it and embodying it as an integral part of the greater whole we call “the self,” we can only flounder in fear and questioning of what pareidolia and nyctalopia provide.

While “Darkness” is generic, “The Darkness” is specific. Darkness is egalitarian and The Darkness is more elitist in nature. Darkness can be benignly chaotic, resulting in confusion and it scattering of thought, while The Darkness is a place for the honing of contemplative skills in which the “what ifs” of chaos can become tools for analysis and development of pure thought. Darkness allows the mind to be in control, where random synaptic firings can, as in dreams, bring often disparate thoughts and ideas into contact, one with the other, in a semblance of harmony while not necessarily in usable format.

The Darkness, however, calls upon a different application of our relationship with our own mind, in which we consciously direct our thoughts and questionings for further processing within our mind, to make greater use of its capabilities than mere dreaming and base calculations. Thoughts and dreams applied to The Darkness become more vibrant, realistic and lucid. As thinkers and dreamers, we become better able to understand and indeed manipulate our somnambulistic visions, all the while feeling awake, aware, and able to control events depicted at will.

And in this we can see the essence of The Darkness as part and parcel of The Left Hand Path on an individually defined basis. It becomes a place where we can go within for answers, solitude, sanctuary and alternative reality, and even a personal science lab to comprehensively test our theories, in contrast to the limitations of the day-to-day “reality” of those who have yet, if ever, to find it, and must look forever outward for the answers that they seek.

We prefer not to find ourselves “slipping into Darkness,” but communing with The Darkness on our own terms where and when we desire. We prefer to see The Darkness as a source of freedom and personal sanctuary where we can consider and define the nature of our mental processes for ourselves, rather than simply allowing Darkness to take us where it will to interpret dreams and desires in its soup of consciousness. In The Darkness, one retains personal sovereignty, whereas one surrenders it in the dreamland of Darkness.

The mind in The Darkness is a place where we can think and be, learn and grow, contemplate, speculate and scheme, but also where we can put our thoughts and plans into action consciously and deliberately, on the physical plane. If we dwell in The Darkness, we reap our own rewards. If we keep slipping in to darkness, “Pretty soon we’re gonna pay.”

“Darkness is only the perception of a mind unable to see beyond its limitations,” but The Darkness is the realm of possibility, the catalytic chamber from which change is not only perceived, but brought forth, first in the mind, and then in reality.

Magical Ambidexterity

by Jake Block

Many otherwise brilliant people in the world are limited by their inability to grasp concepts that fall outside their scope of consciousness.  They resist attempts to shake up the tranquility of their world, for to do so would eat away at their psychic foundations.  When Galileo postulated that the moon was covered with mountains and that Jupiter possessed several moons of its own, the control, the Catholic power structure of the day, was quick to condemn him as a heretic.

To suggest that there was any means of comprehending physical order in the majesty of the universe was to contemplate suicide.  This was often the rule, rather than the exception.  We now know that the great thinkers of history were of course correct in their assumptions of natural order, but have we as a civilization become more enlightened because of their sacrifices?  Sad to say, I think not.

We now recognize the reality of the Five Pythagorean Solids… they can be proven mathematically.  But should one suggest that the great Pythagoras was incorrect or incomplete in his computations, there would be a hew and cry throughout the “enlightened world.”  Time would prove the mathematics either faulty or true, but the resultant schism in the scientific community would continue for decades.

The schism that has divided the “occult community” for thousands of years is the black and white division of good and evil.  While there is of course, no strict delineation between “good” and “evil,” most refuse to admit the shades of gray that allow them to practice “magic” in any of its forms.  When one successfully manipulates the path of one’s destiny through force of Will, the result is seen as “good.”  But in the final analysis, there must be an equal and opposite reaction for every action.

In an oversimplification, let us use the example of John Q. Magician.  John needs a job.  So does Joe.  John uses his magical abilities, (either through ritual or manipulation) to get the job.  He gets a pay raise and life is beautiful again.  It is good.  Joe, on the other hand, does not advance.  His bills press, he can’t make the payments on his credit cards.  Joe see’s John’s advancement as “evil.”  While this may be an exercise in perceptions, it indicates the grayness of “good and evil” on a small scale.  Joe is of the firm belief that “God will provide.”  To accept the  fact that the scales against him could be tipped in John’s favor by magic would be as foreign to him as Galileo’s theories were to the Catholic Church, hundreds of years ago.

The idea that magic is neither good nor evil is generally at odds with the cultural concensus.  It eliminates the expectation of the eternal conflict of malevolence vs benevolence, and relegates them to the status of mere tools in the magician’s belt.  Formidable tools, to be sure… the “power of the gods” in the hands of man.  To eliminate the supposed universality of “good and evil” suggests that all other “universal laws” might be subject to the arbitrations of the magically gifted, ultimately giving man the power of veto over God.

There are those who condemn the works of magicians seen as “Left Hand Path,” such as Crowley, Spare and LaVey, as self-serving and manipulative, while glorifying the “Right Hand Path.”  Anything done in the name of “magic” on the left is interpreted as “evil,” while the same practices are labeled “good,” when done by a magical practitioner from the right.  If a theory has validity, is it any more credible when written by the right hand or the left?  The healthy mind makes no such distinctions and works in ambidexterity, seeing concepts such as “magic” not in a supernatural light, but simply natural tools that can be utilized as a psychological edge.

Whether in cooking or in magic, the most effective plans call for a combining of the ingredients that will benefit and sustain the user.  It matters not that the original concept is formed by any individual or group, for their direction may or may not be that of the magician using them at any given time.  Provided that the magical operation harms no animal or individual, the magical essence is the only issue.  This concept forces one to reconsider the preconceived notions of “good and evil,” abandoning them for the “need of the moment.”  Good and evil, in the magical jargon, are irrelevant to the practice of magic.

It is a mark of hypocrisy that a “competent magician” performs a ritual cursing of an enemy, all the while proclaiming “white light and joy.”  All the universe is a study in balance.  Just as there is love and trust and goodness, there is a dark side to every soul.  To recognize this balance and to control it is the beginning of power as a magician.  If one is to offer one’s services and perform such rites for personal gain, it is a thing to be done.  Good, evil, or indifferent, he who would accept the magician’s mantel, must also accept responsibility for the reaction wrought by action.

In The Afterlife

by Jake Block

“In the afterlife, 
You could be headed for the serious strife.
Now you make the scene all day, 
But tomorrow there’ll be Hell to pay.”
— In the Afterlife (Squirrel Nut Zippers)

In an online correspondence with a colleague by email, I was asked what LaVey thought about the possibility of there being an afterlife, and if I felt that it was a real possibility, now that I’m “in that age group” for whom death is of certain concern.  He then went on to say that the reason he found himself wanting to believe in the concept was that he had “so many questions to ask people like Moses, Plato, LaVey, etc.”

I told him that my personal belief was that death is just another damned thing you have to do, and once that last “task of living” is complete, there is no more.  No afterlife, no singing with the angels, no heaven or hell, no memories.  Not even an enfoldment of one’s personal essence into the “eternal pool.”  The Latin “tabulae rasam,” or “clean slate,” is closest to my belief on the matter, not quite oblivion, as ones fingerprints on life as a whole could still be evident, at least for a while.    I then told him that LaVey and I did have that conversation one evening, and he was pretty much of the same thought on the matter. 

I also told him that we’d spoken about the concept of speaking with others in the afterlife, should such a place or plane of existence  exist in death.  LaVey was of the opinion that those one might be able to converse with in death would be limited to those one had actually known in the reality of life.  If you had not been alive and had not met Moses or Plato during their lifetime, you still would not be able to communicate with them after death.  This would presume the idea of some universal intelligence into which one would automatically be assimilated upon one’s death, and this was a concept that LaVey had no belief in, at the time of our conversation.  However, if this were possible, LaVey asked, “Why would Moses, Plato or anyone else have an interest in speaking with “Joe Blow” from the 20th Century, in the first place?”

Then, my friend asked me if there were people that I would like to have the ability to interact with after death.  In all honesty, it’s not the first time… or the tenth… that I had been asked that question and, if someone had asked me this same question at various points in my life, my response would probably have been very different than it would be today.  If, and that’s a big “IF,” I could believe in the concept, I could come up with any number of people from whom I would seek enlightenment or clarification on things that have historically been ascertained in their philosophies or historical importance.  As for persons… individuals with whom I had shared some form of relationship… I could probably limit that contact list to the number of fingers on one hand.  And in reality much fewer than that, to possibly none.

The reason is that I’ve pretty much taken the measure of people in general, and those of unique closeness in my life specifically, that I’ve hoped to be open and honest enough with me in real life that I would want to carry on a relationship with after death.  But again, my answer might have been different at various points in my life, dependent upon my personal relationship and understanding of a given individual at that time.  I know I might sound cynical and jaded, and I suppose that I am.  Like most people, I’ve found that “love, trust and friendships” ebb and flow like the tides, and where we might be emotionally connected with an individual that we think and sincerely hope will be someone we can place our trust and faith in, time and tides bring changes that we might never suspect.  I’ve trusted the words and promises of those who’ve loved me and found them to be lacking and self-serving, with validity that had substance only in the heat of the moment, but waning when applied to the realities of life.  Over the course of my life, it’s brought me to the feeling that “I would like to believe you, but time will tell.”

IF there WERE the possibility of communication and relationships “in the afterlife,” to be quite honest, there are only two creatures thus far in my life whose love and loyalty have touched me deeply enough, that I can absolutely say would make me cherish the belief in an afterlife and look fondly to it.  It’s perhaps telling that neither was a human being.  Both were cats that spent many years with me until their inevitable deaths. 

Seytan was my beautiful, white Turkish Van cat that I got as a kitten while stationed in Turkey in 1972.  She and i were inseparable for 17 years, through “thick and thin,” with the kind of bond that one seldom finds with anyone, regardless of species.  She died in 1989, and I mourn her still.

WYSIWYG was a handsome yellow rescue cat that came to me in 1998 and we became “thick as thieves” for 15 years, sharing the same type of relationship that I had with Seytan, but more like a father and son who would take on the world together and have fun doing it.  He died in 2013 and, like Seytan, I mourn him still.

These are the types of associations that I would consider worthy of existing “beyond the veil of death,” but I don’t think that, in the long run, people can pull them off, as it seems to be a mark upon our species that close associations and the demands of trust seem to cast a harsh light on the idea that “familiarity breeds contempt.”  Truly, relationships between people where loyalties and love are inviolate over a lifetime seem to be as “rare as hen’s teeth,” and I would think that only the purest of these could carry through beyond the grave… if at all.

So, philosophically, I find myself unable to believe in the concept of an afterlife, as well as the possibility of communication between those who would share that realm, should it exist.  I’d prefer that clean slate and a severing of the ties between the living and the dead.  It might hold hope for others, and if it gives them comfort in the face of death, it serves a valid purpose.  Unfortunately, it’s just a concept I am unable to wrap my head around, even as the gap between life and death shortens with every passing year.

Expectancy and the Elephant in the Room

by Jake Block

“We must not pay homage to any of the sacred cows presented to us, including the roles we are expected to play ourselves.”

— Anton LaVey 

There is something important here that we must contend with.  It is from expectations that we formulate much of what we consider to be our reality.  Summer is expected to be hot.  That’s why no one really remembers the heat of last summer because, after all, it was just summer.  Winter is expected to be cold. That’s why no one really remembers the cold of last winter because, after all, it was just winter.  However, if it should snow in San Diego on the fourth of July, or if it’s hot enough to have a “bikini beach party” in Oslo, Norway on December 25th, people will remember and talk about it for years to come.  The reason is that these things could not be normally expected to happen.

Society also has expectations for those who are a part of that society.  Butcher, Baker or Indian Chief all have their roles to play and their image to portray.  Conformity is the grease that helps the wheels of commerce turn, and the world of business and advertising is ever ready to stoke the fires that burn brightly to attract consumers like moths to a flame.  Soon, the buzz is on, and “everybody is doing” the newest fad, be it the newest restaurant, the newest style or any other trend that can generate a dollar, or give “the control” just a bit more leverage.  There’s power in controlling the masses by supplying them with entertainments and meaningless baubles to keep their minds occupied and help them forget about the difficulties they can face in just trying to make a living in search of their Constitutional guarantees of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  For this, they will give their hard earned dollars and thank you for taking them.  For this they will surrender.  For this, they will conform.

We Satanists, Luciferians,  Dark Pagans and other travelers along this Left Hand Path are “the other” in their world.  Be that as it may, we too have our roles to play in their cosmology.  Two or three millennia of myth an imagination, two thousand or so years of Abrahamic legend and lore, a thousand years of historical perspective, 124 years of movies from silent to talkies (The first “horror film was the 1896 production of Georges M’eli’es “Le Manor du Diable” [The House of the Devil”] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEAlhnXfThE), late night TV creature features, and the real-life movie counterparts of evil, from Crowley to LaVey, have given them the blueprint and the nomenclature of “the beast.”  Our shared history with other humans on the planet has likewise  played a role in our perception of how we should look, act and think to fit their expectations, and those we are programmed to accept as well.

Various types of “Left Hand Path” persons, at least in the beginning, often attempt to emulate those from whom they receive inspiration and tutelage.  Can you imagine the number of goatees and shaved heads amongst Satanists in the seventies that were inspired by Anton LaVey?   Even in the 1980s, there were times that the Black House that I could feel as hairy as a hippie.  And here’s a little factoid for you… I am probably the only man you will ever meet who can say that he Norelco’d  (shaved) Anton LaVey’s head.

We like to think of ourselves as the ultimate nonconformists, but truly, in the reality of things, the first thing that nonconformists do is to set rules and expectations for their particular brand of nonconformity, thereby making it somehow superior to all other brands, which, to those viewing from outside their group, are virtually one and the same with the others of the genre.  They’re often so close that the lyrics of the 1960s Patty Duke Show theme can come to mind. 

“They’re cousins, 
Identical cousins and you’ll find, 
They laugh alike, they walk alike, 
At times they even talk alike…
You can lose your mind, 
When cousins are two of a kind.”

Those within each and every conforming nonconformist group can split hairs with the best of them, but when they do look alike, talk alike and act a like, they provide the society of which they are a part with an identifiable stereotype.  It’s always been that way.  There were the “Beatniks,” the “Hippies,” the “Mods,” and others before the modern day phenomenon of seemingly analogous Left Hand Groups.  And like the groups mentioned, those identifying as Left Hand Path have, either purposely or coincidentally, opted for distinctive visual cues, jargon and actions that have come to me expected by society in general, serving to draw focus, speculation and often undue negativity based solely upon these factors.

When I hear people complaining that we as “the other” are prejudiced against by the society as a whole, I’m not surprised… sometimes I am a bit amused.  Of course we (or perhaps I should say they) are going to be prejudiced against.  They’ve set themselves up for it by being visible enough to be noticed in the manner in which the society… the control… expects them to be.  They be come the cat that the mice have collared with a bell.  They can’t move with stealth, flying under the radar of society, because that damed bell always gives them away.  It’s like the lady in red at a funeral, who tries to appear quiet and aloof, while all the time, her manner of dress screams, “LOOK AT ME, DAMN IT!” 

Trust me, as the son of a mortician, she knows that by simply being there, out of the range of the expectation of normalcy, she’s going to be the center of attention.  Certainly more noticed than the quietly contemplative old woman who’s head is bowed in reflection as she reaches out to gently touch the hand of the corpse in sympathy, deftly slipping the expensive diamond ring off of her dead friend’s hand.  While the wife of the dead man is weeping, a few around her might be comforting the widow, but many more will be surreptitiously ogling the lady in red’s well turned ankle.  Men around the room might be giving a solemn nod and a wan smile at some story about their friend who has passed, but they’ll be thinking about the lady in red with her blood red lips and matching stiletto heels.

OF COURSE THEY NOTICE!  They’d have to be blind NOT to.  And while they are being captivated by the predictability of “the other,” who stands out in society as the stereotypical lady in red, or Satanist, or Beatnik… the expected distraction… they miss the real threats in their midst.   They’ll be outraged that someone would brazenly steal that valuable ring off of a dead woman’s hand in the middle of a crowded funeral, but will they expect the grieving “friend?”  Will their mind make the connection, or will it throw that element of suspicion toward “the other?”  History shows us that the scapegoat for any societal ill or indiscretion will always be “the other,” at first blush.  It is “the other” that the cops are talking about when they round up “the usual suspects.”  It’s the way of the world when we play the hand that’s dealt to us, as we are expected to, rather than playing our own game and confounding the expectations of others. 

You know what?  In my perverse little mind, my “third side solution” to this little crime of outrage, is that the sad little thief in mourning and the lady in red are working together to pull off the heist in full view of the crowd of mourners.  They use the expectations of others to open the door of opportunity and capitalize on their society’s myopia.  They’re the magicians, masters of the illusion, who used flash and flourish to draw the eye, while the other hand worked the “magic.”

Comedian and culture critic Bill Maher opined,  “This country is not overrun with rebels and free thinkers.  It’s overrun with sheep and conformists.”  You can count on it.  The rebels and free thinkers aren’t those in in the uniform of conformity, even as nonconformists, for they know that a herd will always be a herd in search of someone to show them the way.  And ALL herds think that their herd is something special in a world of herds distinguished by little more than a color or a way of speaking.  All herds do what all herds DO, whether they are a herd of the holy or a herd of the profane.  The Satanist uses this knowledge to be the unknown known in a world of expectation.

“What does a Satanist do?  It’s not what a Satanist does, but what he or she doesn’t do.  The cliché, “Everybody’s doing it,” can be inverted into, “We are not doing it.”
— Anton LaVey

Reality and Realizations

by Jake Block

While there is no doubt that the continuing pandemic is causing pain on any number of levels for the vast majority of people, there are things that I am noticing that I probably would have missed without this period of necessary isolation and introspection. Now this applies only to me, but I would think that if we all look at things objectively, you too might find some unexpected outcomes, both positive and negative.

Of course the negatives seem easier to find these days, because we can’t help but notice the things we’re having to do without, from jobs, in some cases, to the ready ability of foods and delicacies that we once considered staples of our diets, to shopping where and when we wish on the economy, rather than on the Internet, relying on Amazon or some other delivery service to supply our needs. We’ve also gone from many choices to, in most cases, a more manageable set of options, and that applies for just about everything from blue dress shirts to a choice of movies to watch on cable TV.

One thing that I have also realized, for good or bad, is that in my isolation, there were some people that I routinely missed while they weren’t around, that sense of distance and desire has waned considerably. While I was never that enamored of many people, I’ve come to the realization that with a very few exceptions, there aren’t that many people that “I can’t live without.” Certainly there a few that I miss, and there are a few that I might mourn, should they succumb to the Covid 19 virus, however we’re animals who must consider necessity supreme, in that our survival is of paramount import. This of course also applies to our immediate family who live with us, and are in this mess with us, but pretty much everyone else is in their own lifeboat and ultimately need to fend for themselves.

It could be that once the pandemic wanes, and things return to normal… or what will pass as the “new normal”… in the post pandemic world, feelings now lost of suppressed may return. I don’t think, however, that “normal” will be anything like that to which we were accustomed, but whatever “normal” becomes, those of us who survive and thrive will adapt.

Herding Mentality

by Jake Block

The old cartoon by Rich Tennant still makes me smile.  In some ways it makes me think of the way Satanism used to be and what it seems to have become these days, at least for the younger generations of  those who claim the name of Satan.

We started distancing ourselves from the herd as part of the “satanic doctrine” early on into the LaVeyan school of thought, and in the decades that have followed, it’s become ingrained in the fabric of Satanism that we are not “part of the herd.”  However, in removing ourselves from the fold, a certain segment of Satanists then, for some unknown reason, adopted the idea that since we are not part of the herd, we should therefore be the “shepherd.”  We should now guide the flock, forgetting that being guided was the reason we rebelled in the first place.

To me, it seems to be part of a phenomenon that I’ve noticed in pretty much every facet of human interaction in which people part from one another over some philosophic or emotional issue.  Those who battle hardest to dissolve the relationship then spend an inordinate amount of their time and energy in trying to control the actions of the group or person they fought so hard to be rid of.  In my mind I hear the Funk Brothers backing up Diana Ross and the Supremes as they sing that Motown hit, You Keep Me Hangin’ On.

“Set me free,
Why don’t you baby?
Get off my life,
Why don’t you baby?
‘Cause you don’t really love me,
You just keep me hangin’ on.”

While Satanists are fond of referring ourselves to wolves, far too many of us are actually behaving more like sheepdogs.

Our time and energy would be much better served if we were to leave the herd and then place our time and energy into bettering ourselves, rather than clinging to those we rejected in order to live our lives the way we wished to.  If they survive or fail, let that fate be on them, as it is with us, on our own terms.  You have to understand that as “the control” couldn’t impose the ways of the herd on us, neither can we… or SHOULD we… attempt to do the same to those who remain comfortable within the supposed safety of the herd.  As it would be an unproductive use of our time to attempt it, logic dictates that our time and effort could and  should be placed elsewhere.

Never fear, for there are plenty of “good guys, do gooders and mob manipulators” out there that will still be there to steer them and steal their freedom, and treasure too, if they can.  There are also those who claim their own lanes on the Left Hand Path who, unbidden, have taken up the role of light bringers and saviors to those poor, unenlightened fools.  Let them waste their time, if they want to, hopefully freeing up even more time for us to devote to bettering ourselves, while they try to teach pigs to sing.  We have better and more productive things to do, for as those of us who are now “long in the tooth” learned back in the ‘60s, “Never try to teach a pig to sing.  It wastes your time and annoys the pig.”

The Ancient Chant “OWHA”

by Jake Block

When I read some of the superstitious, fear-based drivel on the web, I am not surprised at the state of the nation and the world, because if people will fall for the kind of mindless logic that tells them that gods and spirits rule their lives, then how hard is it to believe that they will hand over their liberty and self determination to a leader who is incompetent, but fuels their fears that the other… the outsider… those not like them are somehow at the root of all of their troubles. From there, it’s a short, slippery step to entrusting that leader with despotic and dictatorial powers to save them from the menace at hand.

The gullibility of a large number of people on the web is sometime humorous, but mostly disheartening for those of us who would like to think that now, in the 21st Century, people might be a bit more enlightened and forward thinking, and not so ready to swallow some of the “spiritual gobbledegoop” that passes for wisdom on the web. I take heart though, in the knowledge that there will always be that sub-class of humans that will, through their gullibility and trepidations make them manipulable to the superior Will. Still, they can also be a nuisance with their never ending questions about what god, goddess, angel, devil or demon they should beg for assistance to gain their heart’s desire… and there is ALWAYS something their heart desires.

I tried for many years to explain to these “askholes” that most of the things that we desire in life are easiest to get with personal effort and drive, gaining the knowledge that we need to affect our financial situations, or in the case of their never ending quest for “love,” simply in making ourselves better and more attractive people to the opposite sex. The fact is, young ones, that most problems in life can be taken care of by resorting to personal interventions, rather than begging to that “hairy thunderer or cosmic muffin” in the sky. Often times, many “personal problems” wane if we simply let go of them, and stop poking at them with the sharp stick of our anxiety.

Still, there are those for whom simple logic and personal efforts will never be the answer, for they know that only the gods could vex their lives so, and only some other god can assuage their misery and that feeling of impending doom. “Please, Jake,” they would implore of me, “surely you know of some chant, some prayer or some sacrifice I can use to affect change! It’s a lot of effort to do things on my own, and it takes so much time to get the things I really want that way. You have the things I want. You seem to be happy and content with your life. What “magic” did you use?”

They don’t want to have to endure the callouses on their hands and on their minds that come as a result of hard labors. Nor do they want to have to learn new things, read more, take more chances or pay one’s dues. They don’t want it when there is snow on their roof, but while there’s still a raging fire in their heart. They won’t understand that snow on the roof is a sign that you’ve worked hard and built your house well. When your house IS built well and insulated against the elements that stand against it, you can live comfortably without sacrificing so much energy to keep that fire going. Life is more comfortable in the warm glow of contentment with the things you have attained.

The late, great Canadian legend Leonard Cohen wrote, “They say that there’s a secret chord that David played and it pleased the Lord,” in his epic song Hallelujah. They hear the words, “It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift,” and assume that he’s not singing in allegory, but passing on the secrets of life in song. Secrets there are, but Cohen is speaking of the work of living, seeing where one has failed, repenting of the errors in his ways and working to change. And when one has made those changes… “Hallelujah.” “The minor fall” means the error of your ways, and “the major lift” refers to the elation of realizing you can do better. Cohen even displays this feeling in the chord progression of the song… “F, G, Am, F.”

They won’t listen to the litany of sacrifices that someone in their “golden years” has made to become “comfortable” and “successful” in their lives. No, they want to be on their knees, in some magic circle, or scouring the tomes of the ancients for some scrap of wisdom that will grant them their heart’s desire. Well, never press a man with a perverse sense of humor to provide you, for free, the life experience that he has found worked for him, when you really have no intention of trying them yourself. You’re more interested in the chants and the prayers. Ok. Here’s your chant, provided to me by a “god of a man,” many years ago. Follow these instructions and you will be enlightened.

The Ancient Siamese OWHA chant. You must initially speak the words of the three phrases slowly and then, faster and faster until your mind will indeed find its revelation! The three phrases are:


Chant on. Chant on.

Philosophical Tontine

by Jake Block

“Tontine | ˈtäntēn |


an annuity shared by subscribers to a loan or common fund, the shares increasing as subscribers die until the last survivor enjoys the whole income.

a scheme for life insurance in which the beneficiaries are those who survive and maintain a policy to the end of a given period.


mid 18th century: from French, named after Lorenzo Tonti (1630–95), a Neapolitan banker who started such a scheme to raise government loans in France (c.1653).”

This concept was taken up by certain French and American soldiers fighting in the deadly trenches of Europe during World War I.  In this iteration, soldiers of the same platoon or squad would secure a bottle of wine, over which they would make a solemn pledge to guard it, and the lives of all of the others in their group throughout the war and beyond, to maintain their camaraderie until there was one lone survivor, who would be given final possession of the sacred bottle.  Then he would in the presence of others for whom he held affection,  drink one last toast to those now dead, before he too joined them in death.

But even farther back in world history, we can see the sentiment in the rise of Giovani di  Lorenzo de’ Medici (1475-1521), a Catholic Cardinal who in 1513, was elevated to Pope of the Church of Rome, becoming Pope Leo X, who then infamously said, “God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it.”  He then went on to use his position to loot the treasury through his extravagances and political machinations, ultimately culminating in the rise in influence of the German priest, Martin Luther who, in 1517, nailed the famous “95 Theses” to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church.

“To the victor belong the spoils,” was a sentiment coined in 1832 by the American Senator William Learned Macy (1786-1857).  In this relative expression of the concept, it referred to the cut-throat politics of the age, in the election between the incumbent President John Quincy Adams and his rival Andrew Jackson, and is seen as the incident that inaugurated the age of American partisan politics that exists to this day.  It was the sentiment that “We’ve survived the political wars, so now we’ll do what we want to do.”

It’s pretty much a dead concept, these days.  Or, is it?  So, on to today and beyond.  We live in a world of change.  Lives change, circumstances change, and so too do philosophies that we might embrace at any given time.  However, most often upon the death of those who were either the innovative force or the catalytic influencers of what, during their lifetimes, became a viable and self sustaining school of thought, a void becomes apparent.  Nature, abhorring a vacuum will in time work to fill it with one who either supports the philosophy or one who can adapt it to the current times and guide it into the future.  

Philosophy, at its core, is the acceptance of a mental construct that (ideally) results in behaviors consistent with that construct, in those who claim adherence to its principles and/or tenets.  Otherwise, it’s just an opinion of one or the few.  A valid philosophy has a life of its own and sustains those for whom it holds a special meaning.  It grows with acceptance and it thrives, as those who embrace it thrive.  Its decline is the sign of some fault found within its construct or, sadly, a decline in its acceptance as those who support it find another philosophy more malleable to their circumstance, need and desire.  It’s natural that it happens, and just as natural that someone will be the last to hold true to the essence of a philosophy.  Just as BC became AD, and 1966 became the year 1 Anno Satanas, so too will there come a time, when the last holder of the dream that was born in 1966 will pop that bottle of wine.  Unless he dies as alone as it can sometimes feel, he’ll share it with a friend and he may whisper the words, “I drink to the past with honor and respect, and to the future in resigned trepidation.”

The Satanic philosophical tontine is an inevitability.  One can only hope that someone who follows can bring it more closely to it its original vector, or surely in time, it will morph to something else perhaps more palatable for a generation yet unborn.

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