A Satanist’s Letter To His Children
by Jake Block
Sat the devil talking to his son
Who wanted to go
He cried, “It’s getting too warm for me down here and so
I’m going up on Earth where I can have a little fun
The Devil simply shook his head and answered his son
Stay down here where you belong
The folks who live above you don’t know right from wrong
To please their kings they’ve all gone out to war
And not a one of them knows what he’s fighting for
‘Way up above they say that I’m a Devil and I’m bad
Kings up there are bigger devils than your dad
They’re breaking the hearts of mothers
Making butchers out of brothers
You’ll find more hell up there than there is down below
”Kings up there
They don’t care
For the mothers who must stay at home
Their sorrows to bear
Stay at home
Don’t you roam
Although it’s warm down below, you’ll find it’s warmer up there
If e’er you went up there, my son, I know you’d be surprised
You’d find a lot of people are not civilized”
— Stay Down Here Where You Belong (Irving Berlin – 1914)
The song above, written by Irving Berlin (born Israel Isidore Baline 1888-1989), was one that LaVey felt had meaning for Satanists who felt the tug of society to engage and become immersed in its mechanics, and hoped that they would see clearly and in so seeing, would think better of it. It’s a very “Satanic” song in the devil’s tradition of calm wisdom and even humor in the midst of trauma and, of course, paradoxical, in that the writer, Irving Berlin was an orthodox Jew who, in writing this diabolical ditty, had also written what is often cited as the quintessential Christmas ballad, White Christmas.
Berlin was no stranger to controversy, as in the 1920s, his scandalous marriage to the Roman Catholic daughter of multimillionaire Clarence McKay, Ellin McKay, caused the wealthy financier to disown her when she married a Jew. Berlin had begun his American experience as an impoverished immigrant from New York’s Lower East Side, in an ethnically Hassidic neighborhood. Berlin enjoyed astounding success and wealth of his own as a composer of some of the most iconic and best loved songs of the age. It seems then somehow appropriate that I, a childless Satanist, writing now from America’s “Bible Belt,” should now be writing this epistle to you, many being young enough to be my children… or grandchildren.
Many of you have read my essays in The Sect of the Horned God, and I appreciate the well wishes and kudos from those who have contacted me regarding the content that I have provided. I would like to think that in some small way, I might have helped prepare you for the world around us, hostile and cold as it can sometimes be.
Here are a few ideas that you might want to consider. They’ve served me well these many years, and you might find something of value in them as well.
1. Don’t identify or register yourself as a member of any political party. Maintain your status as “independent.” Ideally, a Satanist should cherish independence and autonomy of thought as regards their personal life, and that should extend to their political affiliations as well. If you are “independent,” you can feel free to cast your vote not for a specific party, or even a specific candidate, but for those whose interests mirror your own, left right or center. Independence also hinders the politics of mass, wherein any given candidate can automatically count upon your vote simply because of the herdism that is the nature of party politics. If the politicos want and need your vote, independency is the way that individuals can band together to bend the platforms of personal and party politics to better support their personal needs and agendas.
2. Build a “suggestive world” unto yourself, even in the midst of your need to survive and thrive in the “apparent world” around you. When one is philosophically different than pretty much everyone else around them, there is a level of stress that threatens to draw them in, blending their essence with the aggregate whole of society until it’s an indistinguishable, bland sameness.
If only a room in your home, have a place where you can be what you see yourself to be in your mind’s eye. Defend it jealously and guard against the urge to make it simply a catch-all room, where items that should be cast off are saved for some “what if rainy day.” This space, be it a house, a room or simply a corner that represents you in a snapshot, the you that you open only to a precious few, will be your refuge and your armor against a world outside that is constantly in conflict with your personal gestalt. It will try to define you on its terms, even as you choose to define yourself.
You can do this relatively cheaply, or you can go all out, as Anton LaVey did with his Black House in San Francisco. The moment you crossed the threshold you entered “his world,” where his furnishings and comforts all reflected his love of a time long gone, when things were more simple, more civil and more balanced, at least in his memorialized depiction of that time. Find that pace in life that calls to your “soul,” even though, in reality, it might no longer exist. A well wrought fantasy can serve you well when reality and fighting to survive can be oppressive and crushing to your spirit.
There were times that I knew that LaVey was not in a good place emotionally. He had problems in his relationship, just as you and I might. He had problems at times financially, just as you and I might, and there were times that he just didn’t want to deal with the negative bullshit that the world seemed intent on forcing onto his shoulders.
But it was precisely at these times that he took refuge doing the things that he felt joy in. Music, filled the dark night when he sat at his keyboards and touched the keys. Magic. His eyes lit up when he played little games with Klaxon the cat or Basil Ratbone, his large, gray rat. Magic. Rereading a loved passage from one of the many books on his shelves could soften his mood, as could a laugh with a friend who came to call. Magic. The the magical things in your life be like armor, and soon, you’ll find that your mood and your demeanor will lighten and give a much needed rest to a weary mind. There will always be times when you’ll have to fight the world around you and those whose job it seems, is to vex your existence, but when you are here in your place of solitude, it all will seem too far away to matter.
3. Laugh! Laugh through the good times and the bad. There is always something that can be funny in almost any situation. Find that kernel of humor and nurture it. Fine something to laugh at especially in yourself. Don’t take yourself so seriously that you become unable to enjoy the simple act of being.
If you find yourself treating those you look up to with too much reverence, realize that they sometimes fart in the elevator, dribble soup onto their tie, step in dog shit, or any of the many social faux pas that plague us all. Realize too that you are capable of some pretty bone headed moves at times as well, and that there are times when the best thing you can do is shake your head, chuckle to yourself and move on.
I remember when my brother Butch was killed by a drunk driver. It was a sad time in the family, and as I sat along side the rest of our sad family in that congregated mass of sadness, listening to some of my brother’s favorite music being played on the piano by one of his close friends, John Viviano. Now, as he played, he looked over to where I sat, gave me a small grin and a wink and played a few upbeat bars of “How Dry I Am,” a song my brother used to sing sarcastically when things were going wrong. And when John stood up, took a bottle of Falstaff Beer from his jacket pocket, popped the top and took a long pull, all of those who knew Butch laughed. John put the half empty bottle of beer on the flower table next to the casket and laughed with us, and we all knew that somewhere, Butch was laughing with us as well!
Sometimes, my friends, if you don’t laugh, you have to cry.
4. Do what you can, but reject the folly of altruism. Realize that life is inherently unfair, and that the trials that we all go through from time to time build strength and resolve to purify us by fire. There’s no need to rush to the aid of others, and indeed, unless someone asks for our intervention, it’s best to mind our own business. Many people are drawn to the concept of Satanists as “the other,” and being set apart from the mundane masses we see as the herd, but then, for some masochistic reason, allow themselves to be drawn into the drama of societal inequities, and become obsessed with finding some way to remain part of that herd while, at the same time demanding autonomy and separation. If you have to be “either or,” the wisest of us choose proudly and consciously to be “the other,” and there’s no shame in that.
You can’t take the problems of the world on your shoulders until your needs for comfort and survivability for you and yours are satisfied with enough of a buffer between you and the wolf at the door to make expendable resources available to others. Truer still, you can’t take on the ills of the world in the name of others without degrading your own emotional well being. Stay down here where you belong.
“Life is 10 percent what you make it, and 90 percent how you take it.”
— Irving Berlin