by Jake Block
One of the more enigmatic phrases in Satanism is “Necessity Supreme.” In the 50 years that I have been actively involved in the philosophy, I’ve only seen it used twice, and both times as an element of ritual.
First, this passage from L’Air Epais, The Ceremony of the Stifling Air:
“And now at last authentic word I bring,
Witnessed by every dead and living thing;
Good tidings of great joy for you, for all:
There is no God; no fiend with names divine
Made us and tortures us; if we must pine,
It is to satiate no Being’s gall.
We bow down to the universal laws,
Which never had for man a special clause
Of cruelty or kindness, love or hate;
If toads and vultures are obscene to sight,
If tigers burn with beauty and with might,
Is it by favor or by wrath of fate?
All substance lives and struggles evermore
Through countless shapes continually at war,
By countless interactions interknit:
If one is born a certain day on earth,
All times and forces tended to that birth,
Not all the world could change or hinder it.
I find no hint throughout the Universe
Of good or ill, of blessing or of curse;
I find alone Necessity Supreme;
With infinite Mystery, abysmal, dark,
Unlighted even by the faintest spark,
For us the flitting shadows of a dream.
O Brothers of sad lives! they are so brief;
A few short years must bring us all relief:
Can we not bear these years of laboring breath?
But if you would not this poor life fulfill,
Lo, you are free to end it when you will,
Without the fear of waking after death.
How the moon triumphs through the endless nights!
How the stars throb and glitter as they wheel
Their thick processions of supernal lights
Around the blue vault obdurate as steel!
And men regard with passionate awe and yearning
The mighty marching and the golden burning,
And think the heavens respond to what they feel.”
— Excerpt from L’Air Epais, The Denunciation (Anton LaVey, The Satanic Rituals*)
* “The Denunciation” is actually part of a poem by the 19th Century poet James Thompson (1834-1882), used for its dark and brooding qualities depicting the loss of hope and depression. Thompson was, at this point, dealing with alcoholism and chronic depression at his home in Scotland where, in his isolation and downwards spiral, he began to doubt everything he had once held true, including, at last his deepest friendship with lifelong friends. It depicted his bleak pessimism in a dehumanized, uncaring urban environment. His poem, published before his death, was critically acclaimed, but could not alleviate his depression and lonely death.
To what then does the phrase Necessity Supreme refer? In a very real sense, it is what remains after all else one believes in or cares about is stripped away. It’s all one has left… the most basic and fundamental survival needs, relating to what in Latin is called “primordius,” the point at which all the organism needs to survive, i.e., air, water, food and warmth. It is the point at which everything else that, arguably, makes us “human” becomes luxury, and one is unconcerned with philosophy, emotions like love and hate, to concentrate only on the next breath, the next heartbeat to survive.
From the 19th Century to the 21st Century, some men and women find this same loss of belief as a “nihilistic primordium” when, questioning their place in the world and then, even the validity of the world they thought they knew, they find themselves just surviving until at last, one spark, faint and black, in the form of a philosophy or a friend, and sometimes both, ignites into a flame. Then, giving up just a small portion of the energy needed to survive, we nurture that flame with our own essence, a bit more every day, until it sustains us, even as we sustain it… The Black Flame of Satanism, our Necessity Supreme.
The words of Metallica come to mind and remind me of what is elemental and what is true, at least in my life:
“I never opened myself this way.
Life is ours, we live it our way.
All these words, I don’t just say,
And nothing else matters.
Trust I seek and I find in you.
Every day for us something new.
Open mind for a different view,
And nothing else matters”
— Nothing Else Matters (Hetfield/Ulrich)
Yes, and in the end, “I find alone Necessity Supreme.”