by Jake Block
So it looks like things are “reopening.”
One of the things that I have re-learned during the Covid 19 pandemic and “lockdown,” is that even if you are, like me, naturally reclusive to a degree, the mind does not like being compelled to lock down. It’s true, even if your natural inclination is to do so for your own protection, or in the normal maintenance of your need for privacy. Just the fact that someone, somewhere, somehow is exercising an element of control over your movements, IF you would want to move, is stress inducing. It’s akin to compelling a wolf, even if it is your pet, to restrict itself to a small luxury apartment. A cage is a cage, no matter how comfortable it is.
So it looks like things are “reopening.”
That, conceptually, is a good thing, but can be equally unpalatable if it is under compulsion, when someone, somewhere, somehow is telling you that THEY have decided that everything is safe now. “Go out now and be normal, because I am telling you that things are “normal,” and you should disregard the unchecked spread of the virus, the lowering, but still high body count day after day.” My counsel, admittedly based on nothing but what I plan on doing myself, is to feel safe ONLY when you actually feel safe in your own mind, based on what you see and know in your particular environment in real time. You (hopefully) have common sense. Use it.
Lockdown under compulsion can be comfortable, if you find that place of joy within you and use it to comfort the mind. If your place of joy is in music, art, cooking, blissful sex with someone who makes you feel joyful… this is the time to indulge. Indulge intelligently, indulge without compulsion… indulge because it is natural for you to do so, and you’ll find that Milton was right when he taught us that man can make a paradise out of Hell. But be aware as well, that man can also make a Hell out of paradise. It’s all common sense and the judicious employment of “free will.”
I think that Three Dog Night pointed the way in their song from 1968, written by Steve Winwood, “Heaven Is In Your Mind.”
“Ride on the swing
In and out of the bars,
Capturing moments of life in a jar,
Playing with children and
Acting like stars,
Guiding your vision to heaven,
And Heaven is in your mind.
Take extra care
Not to lose what you feel;
The apple you’re eating
Is simple and real.
Water the flowers
That grow at your heel.
Guiding your vision to heaven,
And heaven is in your mind.”
So it looks like things are “reopening.” I’ll join in when I’m ready.
by Jake Block
“Never thought I’d get to meet the devil;
Never thought I’d meet him face to face.
Heard he always worked alone,
That he seldom wrote or used the phone,
So I walked right up to meet him at his place.”
— Meet The Devil (Paul Williams)
This little ditty from The Phantom of the Paradise was playing in my head on the night I first met Anton LaVey. It was a cold night in San Francisco in December, and I was waiting outside of a house in the Potrero Hills area, where I had been instructed to be at 8PM. I had been a member of the Church of Satan for ten years, at this point, but I was still nervous and excited to be there and waiting. It was 8:25, and I was beginning to wonder if I had gone to the wrong address when a nondescript, white ford pulled up and a black-haired woman asked, “Are you Jake?”
I answered yes, and she said, “I’m Wanda Slattery. Dr. LaVey sent me to bring you in.” And we were off. I followed her through the streets of San Francisco as she weaved in and out of traffic. After about fifteen minutes, we pulled into two reserved parking places in the back of a large, dark brick hotel in the Van Ness area of the city. We went through the unmarked glass door and were in an upscale hotel with dark wood walls, tastefully decorated and warm. We emerged from a hallway and I caught a glimpse of a white Christmas tree with white lights in the lobby, and I chuckled. Wanda smiled and said, “Ironic, isn’t it?” I nodded as we got into the elevator and she pressed the button for the ninth floor. “This hotel is owned by a member of The Church,” she explained, “we have use of a suite to conduct business like this.” The elevator stopped on the ninth floor.
On the way to room 909, she informed me that when we entered, she would introduce me and then retire to the other room until needed. She opened the door using a key on her keychain, and not a hotel room key. I followed her inside the door, where it was silent and dark with only a few lamps illuminating the dark walls, living room and a conference room with a long walnut table with eight chairs. She removed her coat and folded it over the arm of a large leather sofa. “Jake, I’d like to introduce you to Anton Szandor LaVey.” I turned to see the tall, smiling figure who had appeared in the conference room. He was wearing a black shirt and jacket, black pants and shoes. Around his neck was his personal symbol, the silver inverted pentagram bisected with the lightning bolt.
We shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. Wanda asked if I we would like something to drink, and LaVey chose bourbon and I requested a glass of white wine. We sat at the conference table with LaVey taking a seat at the far end and i sat at the end closest to the door. Moments later, Wanda returned with our drinks and then settled down in the living room, taking up a steno pad and black ink pen. She was silent and her presence evaporated from my mind as I listened intently to this man I had come to respect more than any other I had known. He knew of me, and spoke of his enjoyment of things I had written over the past ten years of my association with The Church. We spoke of a mutual friend we shared in Reverend Pierre Raguet, and my working group The Melek Taus Chapel from 1973 – 1977. He remembered that as a young Agent that I had coordinated with other members who had remained loyal when, in 1975, Michael Aquino had left the group, later to form The Temple of Set. And then his eyes narrowed on mine.
He said, “I have one problem with you, in that you’re a career military member. I’ve had a member of the military as part of my staff before (Aquino), and at first, he was great. If I told him I would like him to do an essay on the color red, he could give me 5,000 words, annotated, proof read, and ready to print in The Cloven Hoof. Anything I needed administratively, he could provide. The problem is that he acted like he deserved a medal for everything he did.” I know he knew that I was aware of whom he was speaking, so I sat my drink down, thought for a moment an said, “Sir, the difference is that he is an officer, and I am an enlisted man, and even though we are both career military, enlisted men don’t expect or need to be rewarded for everything we do. Part of our job is to make the boss look good, and we know it.” He nodded. Wanda wrote.
And so it went on for over an hour, just a basic interview for someone to work on staff. Then, from outside, we heard the sound of a police siren as it passed the hotel and made its way further down Van Ness, fading as it went. “I’ve always loved that sound,” he said, “it brings with it the chance of mystery and adventure. My life can seem like and old film noir from a novel by Cornell Woolrich. His movies were always dark, saturnian affairs… atmospheric. He’s still alive, you know. His books and movies made him wealthy, but he lives in New York…” Shortly after that, the interview was over. He told me that he enjoyed meeting me, and would contact me after interviewing two more candidates. I assured him that I was ready and able to assist him if he needed me. We shook hands, and I thanked Wanda for her assistance, and I was out the door and on my way.
I drove through the night toward home, my mind filled with the events of the evening and the satisfaction of meeting the man whose book had made such an impact on my life. That feeling lasted three days with me, and I thought that, if my association with him and The Church goes no further, it was enough. Then, on the following Monday, I got a call, late in the evening. I answered the phone and a woman’s voice asked, “Is this Jake?” I told her that it was, and she said, “Be at the Black House at 8PM, Thursday. Welcome aboard,” and she hung up. Message received, and a new adventure in life had begun.
by Jake Block
THIS ESSAY CONTAINS INFORMATION OF A SEXUAL NATURE AND MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR ALL READERS.
La petite mort, the little death, is a metaphoric euphemism for orgasm. The phrase entered into English usage in around 1572 C.E., not specifically as a sexual reference, but in describing a “fainting fit,” or a “nervous spasm.” In the time since then, it has been used primarily (although not exclusively) as a sexual term to describe post orgasmic experiences that include a weakening of consciousness, weakness and erotic exhaustion.
“Life is nothing but a continuing dance of birth and death, a dance of change.”
— Sogyal Rinpoche (The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying)
The power of orgasm, both male and female, has been know for centuries. Sometimes it has been considered part of a mystical experience, a way of honoring “the gods” as a sacrifice of one’s vital bodily fluids in the male model, and the “holy vessel” for intimate, erotic coupling in the female model. Hindu Tantric sexual practices formulated over 5000 years ago still are in practice today, with formal and informal devotees around the world.
The western world has treated sex and orgasm in the rather pedestrian model of cause and effect, goal oriented, biological imperative, and in cold reality, it is. The typical male/female sexual dynamic is that the male pursues the female, seduces her, engages in sex for the average of three to five minutes, at the end of which the male ejaculates. The female might come to orgasm, but it’s not really necessary.
OK. That might work well for a teenagers (dating myself) in the back seat of a 1957 Chevy at the local drive in on Saturday night, but bears as much in common with a magical experience as a shotgun shack in the boondocks compares to a Tuscan villa. In the magical sense, orgasm is not the goal, but an event along a timeline that builds and extends to a greater and more intense conclusion that is both satisfying and exhausting in a way teens at the drive in could never comprehend.
Sex has been a component of magical operations for centuries, both as a veneration of the gods to insure fertility of females for the continuance of the species, but also the viability of crops to sustain the community, as in Dionysian and Bacchanalian orgiastic fertility rites. These primitive processes eventually evolved into organized and standardized magical rituals that incorporated sex and orgasm as vectors of power to achieve a desired outcome.
Some of these initiatory groups, such as the OTO (Ordo Templi Orientis) and Fraternatas Saturni linked participation in the sexually oriented rituals to those of a predetermined ranking within their organizations. While the OTO was well known for the inclusion of sexuality into their magical practices, the Fraternitas Saturni’s erotic rituals were limited in scope. For example, this described ritual was limited to those who had reached the 18°.
“The Five – M Rite
(As presented in the book FIRE AND ICE by S. Edred Flowers (p. 109 – 112 )
This rite is performed by male and female magicians who are bound together by a high level of erotic desire. The pair spend some time in sexual abstinence and in meditation before beginning the rite.
1) Preparation. The temple room is hun with black satin decorated with inverse silver pentagrams. The lodge apron worn during the ritual is black with a gold or red pentagram (reversed). If each of the participants holds the 18°, they wear the respective rings of the degree,
2) Entry. The pair enter the temple room and step within a circle, in the middle of which is a low stool. The male magician (magus) sits on the stool, while the female (medium) crouches between his out-spread legs.
3) Charging. A parchment upon which are inscribed the sigils of the psychogone which is to be invoked is laid on the floor between the “magus” and “medium.” This parchment is odically loaded by means of magnetic passes and rhythmic breathing techniques. This remains on the floor between the legs of the male.
4) Working. The female partner stands and lowers herself onto the erect penis of the male. They complete the act of ritual coitus with the male ejaculating into the vagina or the medium before her climax. After orgasm of the female, she stands and allows the sperm and the collected, magically charged sexual fluids to fall upon the parchment. This parchment then becomes the focus for the development of a psychogonic entity — the purpose of and will of which is directed by the magicians.
These four steps actually constitute only the later part of the complete “Five-M Rite.” Before partaking of this fifth “M” — Sanskrit maithuna (eros) — the magicians will have already partaken of the other four M’s”: mansa (meat), matsya (fiish), mudra (grain), and madya (wine or mead), in a ritual meal.
The aim of this operation is similar to that of several others practiced by the FS: to create living entities that will do the bidding of a magician. This is something quite different from calling upon spirits, angels, or daemons to work for the magician, in that the psycyogone is considered to have been created out of the magician’s own energies (or out of the combined male and female essences).
Another similar practice to create and astral entity or psychogone is called “Astral Procreation.” The ritual may be summarized as follows:
1) A make magician and a female medium enter a magical circle, closed by a pentagram and armed in the four cardinal points with four other inverse pentagrams. She lies face up on a bed or sofa. She is nude with her head toward the south.
2) The magician draws another inner magical circle around the medium and puts her into a deep, magnetic trance. (the original FS documents suggest that drugs — an incense made of hashish, for example — might be helpful!) It is also noted that the room temperature should be very high.
3) The magician sits (in the lotus asana) to the right of the medium. He draws a small magical circle in front of himself and sprinkles seven drops of wine or other alcoholic spirit into the middle of the circle. By means of visualization, breathing and mantric techniques (using the u-vowel), the magician should evoke the image of the psychogone in the small circle. In the circle before him he then places a piece of parchment upon which are inscribed the sigils of the entity to be created.
4) With the left hand the magician strokes the medium’s solar plexus (surya chakra), her heart region (anahata chakra), her sexual area (svadusthana chakra), and finally and most importantly, her spleen region (chandara chakra). As he does this he draws out odic force from each of these centers an directs it through his body from his left hand to his right hand, whic he is holding over the parchment in the small magical circle in front of him. This force is projected in a continuous stream into the parchment. This whole cycle is carried out from seven to nine times. This can be accompanied by singing of mantras corresponding to the entity to be created.
5) The medium is then awakened from her magnetic trance, and rises from her lying position. The magician sits on the edge of the bed or sofa with the circle and parchment between his legs. He pulls the medium toward him and onto his erect penis. They complete ritual coitus. The charged sexual fluids that flow from the vagina after the act are mixed with the alcoholic spirit and used to soak the parchment. Also, three drops of the magician’s blood, drawn from his Saturn (middle) finger, are added to the parchment.
6) The parchment is then dried over a brazier and the ceremony is closed.
A pendulum is used to determine the presence of relative strength of the psychogone inhabiting the parchment. On Mondays and Fridays, both “parents” of the entity may direct more odic force to the entity — feeding it and making it stronger. This increasing strength can be monitored with the pendulum.
The time during the full or waxing Moon are favorable for producing friendly and beneficial psychogones, while during the time of the new or waning Moon dangerous and malevolent entities can be engendered. Also, with regard to the character of these entities, it is noted that although it is largely a matter of the magician’s will to design, the basic character is also affected by the personality of the parents.”
In another example of sexual magic, coming to us from Aleister Crowley can be found in The Book of The Law (Liber AL vel Legis ) by Crowley in 1914 C.E.
“LIBER CDLI (451)
(The 15th Chapter of Liber CDXIV)
Of Eroto-comatose Lucidity (Liber CDXIV) De Arte Magica (Liber 414). Written c. 1914
The Candidate is made ready for the Ordeal by general athletic training, and by feasting. On the appointed day he is attended by one or more chosen and experienced attendants whose duty is (a) to exhaust him sexually by every known means (b) to rouse him sexually by every known means. Every device and artifice of the courtesan is to be employed, and every stimulant known to the physician. Nor should the attendants reck of danger, but hunt down ruthlessly their appointed prey.
The attendants will watch with assiduity for signs of waking; and the moment these occur, all stimulation must cease instantly, and the Candidate be allowed to fall again into sleep; but no sooner has this happened than the former practice is resumed. This alteration is to continue indefinitely until the Candidate is in a state which is neither sleep nor waking, and in which his Spirit, set free by perfect exhaustion of the body, and yet prevented from entering the City of Sleep, communes with the Most High and the Most Holy Lord God of its being, maker of heaven and earth.
The Ordeal terminates by failure—the occurance of sleep invincible— or by success, in which ultimate waking is followed by a final performance of the sexual act. The Initiate may then be allowed to sleep, or the practice may be renewed and persisted in until death ends all. The most favourable death is that occurring during the orgasm, and is called Mors Justi.
As it is written: Let me die the death of the Righteous, and let my last end be like his!”
Two very different examples of sexuality and magic, but indicative of human individuality and the ability to use the mind and body as tools for the projection of will in a Greater Magical ritualization. Of course, these rituals can be used as is, or modified to reflect the sensibilities of those who would participate in them, reflecting those values and workings of their particular magical system.
AS ALWAYS, USE COMMON SENSE AND PERSONAL PROTECTIVE TECHNIQUES WHEN ENGAGING IN SEX MAGIC OF ANY SORT.
by Jake Block
During times of crisis, such as this, it’s not uncommon to see some of the most vocal detractors of Christianity have a change of heart and “get right with Jesus.” For some reason, people seem to think that life threatening events such as tornadoes, hurricanes, plagues, quakes and tribulations of every manner and sort are somehow targeting them, specifically, even though they might be regional, national or worldwide calamities. Guilt can play heavily upon the minds of the weak and insecure.
Over my lifetime, there have been a few times when I’ve been threatened with the possibility of personal doom and even death. I’ve been ill, and thought that I might die, and I’ve been on two aircraft that stood a better than 50% chance of crashing, and there were times in war that it I thought that this might just be the day that my luck runs out. Being that I’ve never kept the fact that I am a Satanist a secret, there have always been those who felt that it was up to them to point out that I could have absolution for my “sins” or a better life, if I would just turn things over to Jesus. In each of these cases, I’ve never once had the urge to hedge my bets, just incase a roll of the dice came up snake-eyes.
While I was in the military, I was laid low by Malaria, that I had contracted when in Vietnam. I was hospitalized while in mid-hallucination, spiking a fever of 105°, and well on my way to the point where organ failure and death are definitely a concern. My wife got me to the hospital and had filled out my admission paperwork, upon which was the question, “Does the patient request a Chaplain?” Of course, she checked the “NO” option on the form. They told me it was touch and go for a while as they had to put me in an ice bath to lower my temperature, got me into isolation and put me on IV fluids and meds.
I slipped in and out of consciousness for the next several hours. My wife told me she was napping in the waiting room, when she heard a commotion coming from the room where I had been placed. She admitted to being amused when she saw the door burst open to see me shoving an obviously concerned Chaplain roughly out the door, while I yelled, “NO. I DON’T WANT YOU HERE! LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!” The ward nurse got there just as I collapsed on the floor. I had apparently come to for a moment while the Chaplain had taken it upon himself to pray over me, and I had pulled the needles out of my arm and gone after him. I remembered nothing of the incident the next morning when my doctor smiled and said, “Sarge, I think you’re going to hell for sure, after last night!” For the rest of my time in the hospital, the Chaplain never bothered me again.
I suppose that the Malarial fever got the better of me and lowered my tolerance. Under normal circumstances if someone had confronted me with an offer to share their religion, I would either have just said, “No thank you,” or told them to mind their own business and do their job.
And this, I think, is my main problem with Christian Evangelicals, and those of their brainwashed ilk, like to descend on people when they are at a low point in their lives, so that they can offer them the “love and comfort of Jesus” schtick. Those who are in crisis are often susceptible to this tactic, and Evangelists never fail to make promises that life will always be better, if you only believe. Of course, you might have to wait until after you’re dead!
Two things that those of us on the Left-Hand Path need to know and remember is that “nature,” and “the universe” really don’t give a damn about us. Good things happen to both good and bad people, and bad things happen to everyone as well, and that, to put it bluntly, sometimes, “shit happens.” You can’t take it seriously unless it’s something that you had a hand in on an up close and personal level. The weather, the capriciousness of destiny, luck, kismet, or serendipity are simply ideas weighted to the positive or negative by the subjectivity of the human mind. What matters is how we handle the cards that are dealt.
Consider as well the idea of the influence and personal interactions into our world by gods, demons or angels. Consider with intellect and with dispassionate objectivity, because unless one can see and interact with beings in reality, rather than sense their “realness” in the gossamer fabric of belief, they are simply conditioned emotional reaction to circumstances. As such, they have no real power over us for good or for evil. These concepts are again human values transposed onto the constructed mythos used by ancient man to explain the unexplainable, due to man’s technical ignorance, intellectual ineffectiveness, and simple lack of experiential evidence to help him explain cause and effect relationships. The now simple relationship between thunder and lightning was at one time fearsome and used to indicate the displeasure of the gods for some action or inaction of man. Humorous to us today, the ancients lived in dread that their failure to adequately please the gods could bring down their thunderous wrath, and those who initially began to understand the weather driven relationship were wise enough to exploit that fear for their own purposes of power and profit.
Those who still cling to the belief in gods and/or devils controlling our lives in some personally interactive way can quite easily conclude that a god angry at humans, might well punish them with a virus in retribution. From there, it’s not a large step toward their considering that a specific group of people might be chosen for punishment. In the mind of the ignorant, this leads to elitist thinking then, that those who were stricken were for some reason inferior or less in favor in the eyes of the gods. So, they do what they can to “get right” with their god, lest they too be stricken. “Getting right,” unfortunately, often entails punishing those they believe are in their god’s disfavor unless they can convert those people to their god’s service, or eliminate them entirely from the earth. It surely must be “God’s will” that they should be gone.
Crisis or no, as rational human beings, we must retain control of our own destinies. As comforting as it might be to think that some benevolent god savior will always hold us gently in the palm of his or her hand, reality must be served. Our sovereignty and survival depends on our being able to have the ultimate power to control what we do in our own best interests. We can’t depend on the infallibility of some ancient deity, simply because some village in some ancient land decided that their sacrifices of sheep entrails might sway a god to their favor, or that the capriciousness of the blowing winds, dispersing a column of smoke from the sacrificial fire surely showed a god’s displeasure. Comforting as it might be to think that life is that simple, the complexities of the world as we know it clearly prove that wrong.
Beware of the mortal man who knows what his god is thinking, especially if his interpretation compels you to abide based on their interpretations. The reason I say this, is that their belief in their particular god or deity might be absolute, however their belief is in no way a mandate to compel anyone else to share in their belief or, quite frankly to even give a damn what the hell they believe at all.
Critical thinking in any circumstance is something that should be practiced at all times. If something doesn’t seem right to you, if there are too many loose ends, or if there is always some just a little too convenient reason for the discrepancies in someone’s working theory, then it’s the wise person who takes a step back from the brink and waits for more and better information, and indeed proof. Marvin Gaye said it best in his hit song, I Heard It Through the Grapevine.
“People say believe half of what you see, son,
And none of what you hear.”
It is said that Karl Marx once opined that “Religion is the opium of the people,” however this is a paraphrasing of his entire statement, which was (translated to English), “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” This can be found in his work, A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. (1843)” This, to me is a more accurate description of the role that religion, with its anthropomorphizing, plays in the lives of believers. They serve as a numbing agent for most who are simply people struggling to survive and unable to understand that the burdens they bear are not personal; that all people have burdens, but learn to cope with them, rather than trusting their fate to the agents of their pantheons.
by Jake Block
“Empty vessels make the most sound.”
Andy Warhol’s statement, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes,” first appearing in a program for a 1968 exhibition of his work at the Moderna Museet, in Stockholm, Sweden has given hope to two generations of wannabes and “special flowers,” who crave the attention of the masses, but have little in the way of credible accomplishments to merit it. Granted, there were “special flowers and wannabes” before Warhol, but no one prior to that time had managed to paint the proper word picture quite so succinctly.
Had Andy Warhol lived until 1991 to see the advent of public internet, I think that even he would have been surprised at the prophetic nature of his comment, but less than impressed at the low bar that the internet set for fame. It soon became a place for the dregs of society to set up shop, with conspiracy theories, racist tropes and nonsensical rants evincing a dumbing down of society on a social networking level. Rather than becoming a tool for elevation and erudition, it became a melting pot of the illiterate and the unsophisticated, projecting an air of elitism.
And for those seeking something of consequence in their lives as they travel from page to page, they see the braggadocio of the internet heroes splashed on the walls of each page that they visit, big-assed memes that say nothing, supported by the sophomoric scrawling on walls that mean nothing to them, save the self-serving drivel they post. But, like the tags of orphan gangs in the ghettos and inner city turfs of the big cities around the world, they hint at importance, with nothing of substance to back the brag.
It’s always been clear to those of us who have paid attention to the way things actually work in this world that those with the least to say tend to say it the loudest. Politics, entertainment and the world of internet influencers demonstrate this concept much better than my poor few words could ever convey. The world has been conned into accepting the idea that truth and facts and reality mean nothing, when lies and “alternative realities” and artifice can entertain the masses. The masses will follow whomever can feed their bellies and keep them entertained. As it was in the glory days of the Roman Empire, so too is it today, in the empire of the plebeian “everyman.” To control the masses, all you need is bread and circus.
Anton LaVey spoke to this long ago, back in 1984, in the November/December issue of The Cloven Hoof, when he wrote:
“The most valuable commodity in the world is stimulation. If you can provide stimulation to others, you can succeed at whatever you wish. A person who is a stimulator is the exact opposite of a psychic vampire. A stimulator energizes. A psychic vampire depletes. It is often thought that some people thrive on misery. They don’t. They thrive on the stimulation that misery provides; it just so happens that misery serves as a welcome contrast to an otherwise boring existence.
Trendiness is seldom stimulating. Comfortable, yes, but not stimulating. Comfort can only run a second place to stimulation. Too much comfort leads to ennui. That’s why most people can only stand a limited amount of happiness. When their happiness becomes unbearable, they take to fighting among themselves in order to experience a break from monotony.
One who is praised for possessing “charisma” is simply one who is stimulating in a positive way. It is safe to say that a dull (un-stimulating) person will not be considered charismatic. Following this analysis, charisma is not necessarily a human quality. Indeed, it could easily be programmed into a robot (and has) who is infinitely more entertaining than those for whom it performs. Perhaps Dr. Frankenstein’s creation was “a modern Prometheus” in more ways than one. Considering the epimetheanism (*after-thinkers) of most humans, any Stimulator is ahead in the pack.
The fact that stimulation can be conferred by any number of non-human qualities shatters any delusion of “human values,” so dear to the human potentialists. A magnificent painting stimulates. So can a musical composition. Or a dead fly in a bowl of soup, because it is out of context. Likewise, a charismatic person is out of context to more pedestrian types surrounding him.
I’m not trying to say that a compelling conversationalist is like a dead fly in a bowl of soup; only that they are both out of context with their surroundings and therefore, stimulating.”
LaVey was a plain spoken man, not given very often to flowery speech and empty discourse. He had his “fifteen minutes of world fame,” and quite deservedly so. He spoke (and wrote) with the clarity of a man who had something of worth to say, and who wasn’t just “talking to hear his own head rattle,” as the “oldsters” used to say. I really wish there were a lot more men and women like him on the web today, but unfortunately, the more I see people prattling on and on, I’m reminded of an old southern saying about the preacher who “could talk and talk until he had something to say.”
I long ago gave up trying to protect people from themselves. If they want to listen to pseudoscience and the mysticism of theists offering supernaturalism and the comfortable mindlessness of it all, who the hell am I to waste valuable time in talking to walls? In 1939, Universal Pictures produced the film, You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man, starring W.C. Fields as “Larson E. Whipsnade.” In the film, Whipsnade says that his grandfather’s last words before they “sprung the trap,” (hanged him) were, “Never give a sucker an even break or smarten up a chump.”
LaVey spoke those same words to me one evening when I was talking about all of the gullible fools sending their hard earned money to support televangelists. They’ve stuck with me, and I’ve always thought it was a lesson well learned. There are no victims, only volunteers, and they’re eager to be taken by the hustlers in politics, in business scams and yes, in philosophy and religion. I’m of the belief that the best way to show up a scam artist, a charlatan or a mountebank is to let them talk. Sooner or later, they’ll out themselves.
Until that time, though, we have to wear our noise-canceling earphones to dull the drone of the empty vessels.
by Jake Block
There’s a road somewhere in your world that you’ve seen, but never traveled. The road has always seemed to invite you to see what lies over the next hill, or around that curve in the distance. You’ve thought about turning and following that road, but the time has never been right. Yet still, that road that trails off in the distance calls to you each time your day to day travels bring it into view.
One of my truths of photography is that there is something to see and learn on every road you travel. It’s not uncommon for me to load my car with equipment, pack a bag, fill the tank with gas, fix a thermos of hot coffee and take off for a three to five day adventure. The only thing that I predetermine is which direction I will initially take. I will often flip a coin three times the first toss determines north or south. The second toss determines east or west and the third determines my general direction choice between the two options. Then I am on my way, and intuition becomes my navigator.
From that point on, I turn on the music and enjoy a wide variety of music as I drive. Eventually, something in my mind will tell me to take the next turn to the right or left and, without questioning it, I comply. I trust in the process that has served me for decades. Somewhere ahead is a picture that I am meant to take, possibly after several turns, trusting to blind luck. I hear someone thinking, “What if you hit a dead end?” A dead end, to me is simply a sign that says, “Go back, Jake… you missed something.” I then backtrack, keeping my eyes and mind open until I get the next intuitive command to turn.
From where I am in Tennessee, I can be in Kentucky to the north in 30 minutes, or an hour’s travel gets me to Memphis, the Mississippi and the west beyond. A drive south can have me in Mississippi and Alabama in an hour, and to the east, the whole of the state of Tennessee beckons, with the roads leading east to Nashville, Knoxville and elsewhere west. One never knows what one can find on the highways and side roads that criss-cross the land.
I tend to think that all of life is much like that. You can follow the well planned and paved roads that have been placed there by people who want to tell you where to go. I’m sure that many people find their “directed adventure” quite entertaining and educational. They’ll see plenty of highway, dotted with planned stops and tourist destinations. You really haven’t traveled until you’ve hit one of the iconic Stuckey’s stores that still dot the highways, for a quick lunch or a world famous “nut log.” I’ve found, however, that some of the best “road eats” are found when thirst and hunger tells you to “get off HERE.” On one trip, traveling with Devora Zada Moon, through Missouri, we did a quick turn to Marceline, which was Walt Disney’s boyhood home.
Of course, we took time to tour the museum and enjoy the many exhibits and curios that can be found there and then we learned of Ma Vic’s restaurant on Main Street. We made our way there for some of the best comfort foods to be found anywhere in the middle of nowhere! But the highlight of the lunch was their famous “Dusty Miller” sundae! Let me tell you that you haven’t had an ice cream sundae until you’ve tasted one of these. It consists of two scoops of delicious vanilla ice cream, two ladles of marshmallow syrup, two squirts of chocolate syrup, two heaping teaspoons of malted milk powder and a maraschino cherry on top! Once outside, the voice in my head told me to grab my camera, and things to shoot were everywhere in this small central Missouri town. An hour later, we were back on the road again to Kansas City, well fed, wide awake and ready for more adventures further down the road.
I can’t lay claim to inventing my form of intuitive explorations. I’m sure that many others have found it as well, with or without cameras. I am sure that I could find something to take pictures of along a super highway, and in the big cities along the way, but I would be taking the same tired old shots taken by thousands of tourists before. And I would have missed the real adventure on that lazy back road. I’m reminded now of the poem by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken.
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
I’m not a man to follow the same path that others happily take. I can’t do it in my every day life, and I can’t do it and remain creative in my thinking and in my art. I might be alone, and I might sometimes be lonely, but through it all, I am me.
by Jake Block
“I wouldn’t want to belong to a club that would have me as a member.”
― Groucho Marx
This somewhat humorous quote was attributed to the late comedian, Groucho Marx, when he resigned from the New York Friar’s Club. His resignation came when he realized that the Friar’s Club was not what he had been led to believe it to be. While he had no problem with the the club’s social nature, which was often just drinking and dining together, he valued his time professionally and personally, and wanted more substance for the time and effort he was willing to contribute.
I can totally relate to Mr. Marx’s resignation, and the reasons for it. I also think that I would resign from a club that would accept just anyone as a member. If a club or an organization simply rubber stamps a big “OK” on applications for membership, with no consideration of an individual’s appropriateness for inclusion, it indicates that the organization has either lost its focus, or has become more interested in numbers than substance.
Few people these days know that Groucho Marx wasn’t just a comedian or a film star, but an intelligent and self educated man, a voracious reader and self described student of the world. He wrote several books and became friends with some of the era’s greatest writers, notably Booth Tarkington, T.S. Eliot and Carl Sandberg. Professionally, he was a comedian, and it sometimes irritated him that he had to deal with people who “thought they were funny,” when in actuality, they were just “inappropriate.”
One of the main reasons that Marx resigned from the Friar’s club was that he had hoped he could contribute to the group with his knowledge of the business side of comedy and he was interested in speaking to others about cultural trends, economics, and the human condition. He was able to separate his humor, which was his business, from his desire to mentor, which was his passion, but despite his stature and his passion, his inclusion in a group of already successful and professional people left him little room to excel. He bridled at the thought of just being just another “Friar.”
So, I could understand Groucho’s personal dilemma. A creative individual is most often a solitary individual, even in a group. When that group becomes a herd, rather than a cohesive force, creativity and leadership is stifled. It was important to him that whatever he did had personal meaning and satisfaction. He said, “I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet, I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”
It’s hard to find those kinds of people today! The Internet has provided a smorgasbord of “clubs” for people to join, all for the cost of a click of their mouse. They don’t have to know anything about anything, they don’t have to participate, and they don’t. I’ve lost count of the number of people who make their way to The Sect of the Horned God’s “like” page, “knocking on the door.” I check the pages of each one that I see, and am no longer even the least bit surprised when I see that there is either nothing there, or they have damned little knowledge or understanding of the concept of the Left Hand Path.
Joining things seems to be another version of Pokemon cards for many people… a fad… something to do. The proof of this is in the number of people who “belong” to any number of these websites. I have seen some people who “belong” to over a hundred websites. Thousands may “join” the website, but perhaps no more than ten people are active at any given time, and of those ten, probably five do nothing but post tired old memes, as if they are meaningful commentaries. Two or three others might add some comment of sorts, and don’t care enough to at at least check their spelling or sentence structure. They don’t care if their poor writing makes their message unreadable or if, on a personal level, makes them look illiterate. If they don’t care, why should anyone care what they have to say? The point is that they “belong.” Most people will endure humiliation, disrespect, and even pity, just to belong. So, “they join” and then try to justify being that square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Their reasoning seldom works.
I couldn’t justify being a part of a herd, even if it was a means to an end, and NEVER just to say “I belong.” In the 1950’s Jackie Gleason and Art Carney starred in a TV program called “The Honeymooners,” in which they portrayed a bus driver and a sewer worker with nothing much going for them in their lives, but they joined “The Raccoon Lodge” with its silly costumes and sillier uniforms to belong with other men, like themselves. They took it seriously, because it gave them an identity in a world in which they were dispensable and therefore invisible… but they belonged. All hail the Loyal Order of Raccoons.
by Jake Block
“I suddenly realized that we were on borrowed time, that time is always borrowed, and that the lending agency exacts its premium precisely when we are least prepared to pay and need to borrow more.”
— Andre Aciman
No matter how long you live, you’ll find that life is much shorter than you need to experience and accomplish all of the things that you really want to do. So, in order to maximize our life experience, we tend to shift time around as much as we can, trying to fit things in, and still have the life that we’re comfortable in living. That works for a while, but we soon realize that shifting things around doesn’t give us more time, but just helps us manage what time we have allotted for the things we need to do. That’s all well and good until we reach a point where there is something else we would like to have in our lives, and then something has to go.
We leave things behind before their time, rationalizing it by telling ourselves that we’ll do something new now, and then come back to them later. Think about it. How many hobbies, projects and fun things in your life have you decided to put aside, meaning to do later. How many have you actually returned to? How many have you just abandoned because your life continues to become more complex and the things that you do now seem more important to pursue? If you’re like me, time happens and things change, and all you can really do is go with the flow of life. You borrowed time to pursue those new goals and interests. Now that time is filled as well.
It’s like your average real life credit crisis, but on an emotional level. You borrow a sum of money because you really want to take that cruise to Mazatlan, Mexico, for the annual Dos XX Beer and Taco Festival. Two tickets, hotel and concert tickets to see Pedro and the Puppies set you back $3200, but it was time to take your relationship with “Jenny” to another level, and this would be a memory you’d have forever! Maybe.
Turns out that the cruise ship was a nightmare, and you spent three days to Mazatlan sick in your cabin, and when you were out on the deck, you were hanging over the rail, wondering when your stomach would finally be empty. The concert was awful. The beer was warm, the venue was oversold, and your “Jenny?” Well, the last time you saw her, she was getting into a limo with the drummer for the Puppies, on their way to their next show back in the states. And to make bad matters worse, your return leg of the cruise was just as bad as the trip to Mexico, but you had to do it alone.
The kicker is that the loan you took out to experience all of this fun will take you over three years to pay off, making minimum payments. That experience you put everything else on hold for not only set you back by three years, but added significantly to your financial debt. Beyond this are the intangible expenses, not monetary, but losses still, on an emotional and satisfaction level.
While I can understand the desire to experience more and more in as compressed amount of time as we can manage, I think that we could do better in the long run by slowing it down a bit, savoring each new experience and gleaning the insights that we can from our experiences, before delving deeper into our need for more and greater adventures. In this manner, while we won’t be accruing a time deficit, neither will we be borrowing against our uncertain future.
Living in the present is key. I know that the present doesn’t seem as sexy as the future. If it was a period in time that the majority of people were getting the most out of, stories and movies about the future would not be quite so exciting to so many people. Nor would movies an books about “the good old days,” where everything was so much easier and so much less frenetic than the world we know today. However, truth be known, it’s always been that way for people, wherever they might be. The future has always been a place to rush forward to, and the past has always been a place to retreat from the cares of the day, but “today” has always been the only true metric for comparison and a reality check on our ambitions, because as much as we might truly wish to press some magical fast-forward button to get to that fantastic future, we first must find a way to invent it, in the here and now.
In 1969, Kurt Vonnegut wrote his book, Slaughterhouse Five, an anti-war novel whose subtitle was, “The Children’s Crusade: a Duty-Dance with Death.” In the novel, as a result of “shell shock” during World War II, the hero, Billy Pilgrim, becomes “unstuck in time,” and is fated to jump randomly through time, both forward and back, reliving his life or projecting to his future. The underlying theme is timeless, in that “history repeats itself.” His experiences during his time-jumps can be disturbing, and has led to the book being banned at least eighteen times, over the years. It ranks as number 29 on the American Library Association’s list of banned or challenged classics. Clearly, the “fast forward button” isn’t that popular of an option for many people.
The book was made into a movie in 1972, starring Michael Sacks, Paul Lazzaro, Eugene Roche and Valerie Perrine.
Mostly unknown to the readers of the book is the fact the the book’s protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, is based on a real life American soldier who was held as a prisoner of war in Germany during World War II. One can judge for oneself if his coping mechanism, that of “time jumping,” indeed helps him cope, or is it in actuality the mind subconsciously opting for flight, rather than fighting the painful realities and traumas one must face in one’s day to day life.
When we borrow time ourselves, in abandoning elements of our life to move on to the next best thing, individuals reveal a naivety that tells them, “the future must be better,” when in actuality, without a firm grounding in the present, the future can become as frenetic and psychologically disenfranchising as today. I would conclude that if one is not well prepared for the future by learning lessons of the past and the present, any progress one might make by jumping to newer modalities on blind faith, and abandoning current technologies might well be limited at best.
There’s no real need to rush to the future to borrow what we hope will benefit us more today. What we might gain from the bargain is seldom worth what we stand to lose in the transaction. Better to use today as a preparation for the future, so that when it arrives, we won’t squander what we gain. The sad tragedy about borrowing time is that you always have to pay it back, often at the most inopportune time, and always with interest.
by Jake Block
“You better mind yer parents, an’ yer teachers fond an’ dear,
An’ churish them ‘at loves you, an’ dry the orphant’s tear,
An’ he’p the pore an’ needy ones ‘at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns’ll git you
— Little Orphan Annie (James Whitcomb Riley [1849 – 1916])
So once again, with this current crisis, it seems that the “Gobble-uns” have come to claim those who have “sinned,” and it doesn’t take long for some sanctimonious old windbag to thump whatever book they want to thump to bolster their case. If someone, somewhere doesn’t obey the law of their god of choice, (insert appropriate god/goddess name here) will come forth… or send their avenging angel of demon (insert name here) to enforce their will against the wicked. The concept is far from new, and gets brushed off and dragged out with every scary, unpleasant or gloomy, catastrophe that nature can dream up, to vex mankind.
C’mon, now, people. We keep telling ourselves that we are better than this, and that we are modern and technologically savvy people who have no need for such superstitions. We’re not the ancients who might sacrifice an unfortunate hunchback to stave off the naturally occurring eclipse of the moon, rather than simply waiting a maximum of two hours for the earth’s shadow to pass. That is, until “something” threatens us on a visceral level, or that we’re not willing to stand on our own two feet and take on “man to man.”
I don’t think that our logical minds really ever contemplate the fragility of our ultimate being on any meaningful level until there is a very real existential threat to our lives and we stand on the edge of the abyss on a metaphorical sheet of black ice. As the odds of our continued existence slip below 50:50, we begin to regress intellectually and the darkest ideas of childhood come closer to the surface in our memories and, out of desperation, we begin to grasp at straws. We remember Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’ “five stages of dying” and in our mind, it’s like an express elevator of doom racing downward, and as we descend through denial, anger, and depression, we make a stop at “bargaining” to take a look around to delay our final descent to the bottom, and the dreaded “ACCEPTANCE.”
This is the realm of the primitive brain’s earliest human functioning, and once again, we are, like our earliest ancestors on the evolutionary scale, struggling desperately to understand what is happening in this strange world, where we are down to a fingertip grip, being the only thing that spares us our ultimate demise. We struggle to find any way, no matter how small, to dig in and edge, millimeter by millimeter back up and away from our final foray into the terrible depths of the abyss. It’s here where those, who can make that ultimate gut check, DO, and struggle to finally raise themselves up to carry on… or they don’t. Sometimes even the strongest and best prepared of us fail. It’s just that simple. Heroes sometimes fail.
Those who believe in gods and goddesses, angels and demons, Jesus and Satan as anthropomorphic beings that are somehow personally connected to them, spend their lives on this “bargaining level” of existence. Left or right hand path are concepts with little distinction. There simply is what “their own personal benefactor” is willing grant them, for a price, and that price is a lifetime of devotion and servitude. Any personal Will To Power is negated when one accepts the circumstantial intervention of deities.
The strangest of dichotomies is at work in this dynamic, as those who cling to personal beings of power, claiming a “Left Hand” philosophy, deny the very existence of the analogous pantheon on the right, even as the cross-referenced equities and qualities are mirrored for both. In this it’s easy to understand how theistic practitioners of the Left are often seen as simply “reverse Christians.”
“Belief” in anything “supernatural” is too much of a stretch for me to make, but for those who choose that branch of the path, if it works for them, the words of John Lennon seem appropriate.
“Whatever gets you through your life,
It’s all right, it’s all right.
Do it wrong, or do it right,
It’s all right, it’s all right.
Don’t need a watch to waste your time.”
It simply doesn’t work for me and others on the Left, nor is the idea of such anthropomorphism in reality, and anything other than metaphoric communing with deities isn’t a part of the Sect of the Horned God’s ethic nor ethos. We can all find ample references for our individual and group acceptances in literature, music, legend and lore.
Consider for a moment these lyrics from The Soft Parade by The Doors…
“When I was back there in seminary school,
There was a person there
Who put forth the proposition
That you can petition the Lord with prayer.
Petition the lord with prayer.
Petition the lord with prayer.
You cannot petition the lord with prayer!
Can you give me sanctuary?
I must find a place to hide,
A place for me to hide.
Can you find me soft asylum?
I can’t make it anymore.
The Man is at the door.”
— Soft Parade (Jim Morrison [1943 – 1971])
In my conclusion, no, you cannot petition the lord with prayer, no matter by what name he or she is known to you, because these are metaphors and not the stuff of hard reality. Most often, you’ll find that when “The Man is at the door,” or you find yourself once again standing at the abyss, calling on a metaphor to save you will be a futile effort. You’re going to have to stand alone and fight your own fight, win, lose or draw. Sometimes you’ll win your battle, but sometimes you will fail. It’s all part of the journey along the Left Hand Path which, as we all eventually learn, you have to travel on your own.
“You got to walk that lonesome valley.
You got to walk it by yourself.
No body else can walk it for you.
You got to walk it by yourself.”
— The Reverend Mr. Black (The Kingston Trio)
by Jake Block
Things were so much easier when I was just starting out as a photographer. I had one camera, and one tripod that I used for just about everything. Before I got it, I propped up the camera where I needed it to be to get the shot I wanted. Finally, I decided that it was time to buy one, because although I was able to hold my camera still and firm, there are times you want or need a longer exposure, so your chances of blurring the shot increase with every second you have the shutter open.
I bought it in Germany for $22. I still have it and use it, although mostly as a stable platform for a group of three infrared converted cameras, or some other secondary use. It’s no real problem, because I have others. Still, it’s like an old friend that I would miss, were it not here.
Some are full size, some are “table top” models, some aren’t actually “tripods” at all, like one of my three monopods, which is basically one leg of a tripod with a ball head camera attachment and adjustable height, or my adjustable “box mount,” with is folds out to allow me to angle the camera in many angles and can be placed on the ground, for low level shots or on a table… or even atop a proper tripod, if I need to. I have tripods that can be inverted so that I can shoot with the camera upside down, or I can use the “boom mode” to suspend the tripod over an object on a table and shoot down from above, or I can adjust the level with bubble guides, and one that has a laser to assist me in being perfectly level for a really close macro or technical shot. Needless to say, but the days of a good, $22 tripod are long past.
Tripods in color, some plain black, some aluminum and some in a space age polymer that are surprisingly light, but strong enough to hold my Nikons with battery grip and a long lens with no problem. Some have spikes in the footpads that can he extended to give more stability in grass or on a dirt surface. Some can be weighted down with a bottle of water or a small weight when working in the wind, and one has a blinking red light to use when you might be standing in or close to traffic so… well… yeah, they saw me coming on that one, for sure. And finally, even though I don’t use my cell phone to take pictures, I have a cell phone attachment that can be placed on most of the tripods, should I ever decide to.
People are kind of like tripods. There are many types, many colors and many sizes, but basically, they all do the same thing, although some do it better than others. Some will stand up to hard times, like a good, sturdy tripod, and some cave in under the pressure and need to be adjusted for strength or they are seldom used when you need something reliable. Some give you great value for your investment in them, while, sadly, some will never be worth a damn, no matter how much you had hopes for them. And there will always be one that you want to have with you as often as possible, because you know they will never let you down.
But in the end, there is one big difference between people and tripods, at least for me. There are some that you bring into your life with great expectations, but soon show you that your faith in them has been misplaced and, no matter how many times you give them the benefit of the doubt, they will always let you down. So, when it comes to people, yes, I have met some that I just don’t like.