Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Prayer for Atheists & Devil Worshipers

As Magus Peter H. Gilmore explains in The Satanic Scriptures, Satanism's current watchword is: Justice.

As it turns out, it goes both ways: a Justice can watch words. Bear with me.

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court debated the issue of prayers at town board meetings. Normally, this would be of interest exclusively as a matter of separation of church and state. That principle is always significant, and has special implications for Satanists. But, in this exchange, what caught my ear was the conspicuous absence of the very term "Satanist."

Justice Samuel Alito asked for an example of a town hall prayer that would be acceptable to an assortment of religions, including, among others, Christians, Buddhists, and Wiccans. Justice Antonin Scalia, playing Devil's advocate, added atheists and devil worshipers to the list. Despite the laughter in the courtroom, this successfully illustrated that it would still be insufficiently inclusive to address town hall prayers to a generic "almighty."

Getting to my point: Scalia mentions "atheists" on the one hand and "devil worshipers" on the other. Phew! Living up to his title, the Justice did not drag Satanists into this. Since we're already covered by "atheists," Scalia's use of "devil-worshipers" in this case introduces a welcome specificity that doesn't risk conflating Satanism and, lehavdl, devil worship.

It seems like an almost deliberate choice. After all, public figures usually love the word "Satanist." It's even the more efficient choice, being two syllables shorter! But the Justice put in about 66.6 percent more effort, resulting in a much clearer argument that kept Satanism out of the whole mess.

Perhaps I'm more pleased than I should be. The truth is, most people probably still don't know that Satanists are atheists. Nonetheless, this vocabulary-obsessed Satanist was excited to hear a legislator managing not to use "Satanists" and "prayer" in the same breath. (Oops!) I'm very happy to be thrown in with the atheists and not mentioned by name, because the last thing Satanism needs is another ignorant association with theism.

This isn't exactly the answer to our – ahem. Even so, on some level, I think that this little moment demonstrates the potential for public discourse to approach Satanism in a more informed manner. But at the very least, as long as they aren't using our word, they aren't misusing it.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Empathy from the Devil

Satanists are generally expected to be misanthropes. However, we are rarely given credit for being tolerant and understanding. Anton LaVey noted the cathartic candor with which some people communicated with him because he was a known Satanist. Yet I find the same happens to me, even though I rarely tell anyone about my religion. These strangers and acquaintances sometimes even tell me that they're not sure why they're being so open with me.

I think that people open up with Satanists because, though socially critical, we possess an advanced capacity for empathy. Don't mistake this for a Goodguy Badge, though. It simply means that a Satanist is more likely to understand why people exhibit certain behaviors ― whether laudable, dismissible, or despicable.

The Satanist embraces honesty in its truest sense and on every level. Satanism recognizes human instincts for what they are, from our most savage lusts to our loftiest creativity. Unlike other religions, it provides a framework that reinforces productive urges while harnessing, rather than denying, destructive instincts. Operating beyond good and evil, the Satanist emphasizes the principles of indulgence and justice. Along with these values, the Satanist tends to be both inquisitive and imaginative, studying freely and creating prolifically.

With this profoundly aware mindset, the Satanist sees with balanced understanding that which the herd usually evaluates with primitive prejudice.

Lucifer might not always like what he sees, but he doesn't kid himself into thinking everything will be okay. Nor does he despair. Ever the pragmatic realist, Lucifer faces the situation with bold honesty so that he can maximize his own joyous autonomy within the given circumstances.

A Satanist truly knows what it means to look out for Number One. Perhaps this balanced, responsible selfishness is ultimately that to which people respond by, from time to time, confessing their uncensored thoughts and feelings to Satanists.

I think it is safe to say that when someone meets a Satanist, that person usually doesn't know it. But looking into the eyes of a Satanist, the average person is as close as he will ever be to true self-acceptance. And self-acceptance is the first step toward evolution.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ray Bradbury, the Demon Muser (1920-2012)

On Wednesday, the sixth of June, the incomparable Ray Bradbury died at the age of 91.

Something Wicked This Way Comes, his haunting novel about a sinister traveling carnival, is included in the recommended fiction reading list of Blanche Barton’s book The Church of Satan. As diabolically evocative as that book is, though, it was not Bradbury’s greatest contribution to my Satanic education.

My personal favorite Bradbury work is Zen in the Art of Writing, which overflows with passionate wisdom for embracing the genuinely awesome experience of a profoundly creative life. Aside from The Satanic Bible, this has probably been the most influential book in my own evolution. Nietzsche ranks high on that list, too. But Bradbury captured, distilled, and transmitted the Nietzschean lightning within the space of a single, concise, and indispensable manifesto.

It is fitting that Bradbury left us on a Wednesday. That day is named for the warrior-poet god Wotan, who embodies wisdom and the full spectrum of its power, and whose name means “frenzy.” My lifelong affinity for Wotan, also known as Odin, owes a great deal to the empowering, poetic frenzy of Ray Bradbury.

The unrelentingly vital spirit channeled through Ray Bradbury’s art ensures his immortality for as long as there are individuals receptive to his works—those brilliant sparks of his generous “demon muse.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras:
a Triumph
of Indulgence
Over Abstinence

On Mardi Gras, wild revelers
chug wine with Dionysus.
Then, for the next dull forty days,
they bore themselves for Jesus.
-Warlock M. M.

Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is an unofficial Catholic bacchanal, celebrated just before the forty-day observance of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. Lent is, of course, a period of self-denial leading up to Easter Sunday. Many Catholics choose a particular vice, such as candy or alcohol, from which to abstain until the Easter Bunny returns with those delicious chocolate eggs.

But before the abstinence begins, most Catholics catch up on their sins...

The rampant revelry of Mardi Gras is more than just another good excuse to throw a party. It’s among the most honest traditions to evolve in all of Christendom. Celebrants are naturally very reluctant to give up their carnal pleasures for over a month! That’s because it’s unnatural to avoid the life-enhancing indulgences that they embrace, often to excess, during this yearly carnival.

Mardi Gras is a triumph of indulgence over abstinence. It’s a celebration of fleshly delights in defiance of their ritual denial. And in a liturgical calendar that cycles through converted pagan holidays, Fat Tuesday is unique in its development from the opposite direction. Instead of disguising “the gods” as “God,” Mardi Gras brings back some of the fun of pre-Christian revelry. Indeed, despite its creation after the Jesus cult got out of hand, Mardi Gras is, in more than one sense, “pre-Christian.”

Today’s festivities will be particularly rewarding for those who take advantage of the atmosphere without succumbing to compulsive excesses. After all, why drink yourself sick and stupid today, when tomorrow you will have just as many indulgences from which to freely choose?

That said, on a personal level, I am somewhat grateful to Christianity for—I might as well admit it—yet another excuse to throw a party.

Enjoy an indulgent Mardi Gras!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Nose Bubbles
Rado Echoes

In observance of April Fool’s Day, I am sharing photographs of rare novelties from my collection. These are particularly interesting because they are featured prominently in the work of Anton Szandor LaVey.

LaVey found great wisdom where others have found mere amusement, little of interest or, in many cases, nothing at all. This is the true occult. One especially overlooked area of this realm of hidden meaning is that of the prank.

Often perpetrated against innocent friends and acquaintances, pranks are treated differently within Satanism. As LaVey said more than once, it is far more fulfilling to employ unpleasant surprises toward the balancing of egos and as a form of humorous revenge. He also discussed more than one specific gag, including a couple from the old Johnson Smith & Co. Catalogue, which is featured in the Church of Satan’s recommended reading list. LaVey called it his Necronomicon.

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On the dedication page of The Devil’s Notebook, LaVey mentions the inventor(s) of the Sneeze-O-Bubble. In Satan Speaks!, he dedicates an essay to the artful use of a rubber “nose bubble.” I have always deeply enjoyed that essay, and it has seemed to me that its subject is none other than that enigmatic Sneeze-O-Bubble.

I had the good fortune of finding this incredibly rare gag on eBay. It is a set of four bubbles, and they appear to be made of blown glass. Perhaps this is an earlier version of LaVey’s nose bubble. Either way, it is one of my most cherished possessions. I took some time to photograph it for both my own pleasure and this blog.

This is the top of the Sneeze-O-Bubble box. In the background is an open copy of the 1941 Johnson Smith & Co. Catalogue.

Opening the magnificently decorated box, one reveals the faux mucus globules and, nestled beneath them, a pink instruction sheet.

And here are the legendary bubbles themselves. What schnozzes have these delicate baubles graced in eras past? Though crystal-clear, these replicas of inflated snot are among the most mysterious relics in all Americana.

Click for a closer look!

But what good are nose bubbles if you don’t know how to use them? Study this sheet, stick a few Sneeze-O-Bubbles in your jacket pocket, and you’ll be good and ready for that next cocktail party or family gathering. Again, you should also read (or re-read) LaVey’s excellent tips and scenarios for artificial snot in “The Nose Bubble,” from Satan Speaks!

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Another sacred object I have managed to acquire is the Rado Echo Voice-Tester, which LaVey discussed in the documentary Speak of the Devil. This cruel device conceals a particularly nasty surprise. To learn more about it, see the film. It is chock-full of wisdom, including an entire segment about “practical” jokes. That’s where you’ll find an anecdote about this wicked little item.

This is the face of the “voice-tester.” The box is made of cardboard, and the old-fashioned “speaker” is made of cloth.

Here, you can clearly see the tester’s wooden button. Anyone who has seen Speak of the Devil knows what it does. Even if you haven’t, I’m sure that you get the point.

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Enjoy an impish April Fool’s Day, my mischievous readers! And remember: it’s funnier when they deserve it!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Say Your Prayers:
A Satanic Parody of
The 23rd Psalm

From the first grade until the eighth, I attended a series of private schools run by Christians. Two were Catholic, and one was Seventh-Day Adventist. One was simply a Montessori Academy in which my ambidexterity was “corrected” for reasons I now recognize as superstitious. (After all, the left hand is “sinister.”) In the three overtly religious schools, I learned to recite many prayers, psalms, and so forth. Nowadays, I find great pleasure in rewriting one every now and then. When I do, I create syllable-by-syllable parodies, replacing the original theology with Satanic principles. Tonight, I have “Satanized” The 23rd Psalm. Just a little Black Mass before bed-time!

I am My own Master; I shall not want.
I roam and rest and rise and revel freely:
I ride whirlwinds over roaring waters.
I fulfilleth My Will:
I lead Myself in the paths of righteous might for My own sake.

Yea, as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
Beyond good and evil:
The beast within Me,
My brain, and My force—
they strengthen Me.

I prepareth Myself, that I may be quick to ruinate mine enemies;
I indulgeth My mind and flesh; My joys are abundant.

Ample power and increase shall follow Me all the days of My life,
and I will live through My Ego, fulfilled, forever.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Why the Devil Loves
Pee-Wee Herman

[A note to non-Satanists: Before reading this, please understand that Pee-Wee and his creator are not preaching Satanism. This is a highly personal interpretation of the character and his world. It is not to be understood as anything else. Pee-Wee has endured enough scandal already!]

Earlier this month, under the dark of the moon, in a chamber nestled among the Luciferian lights of Broadway, I attended a magical ritual. It was conducted by a sorcerer who has been an indirect mentor to me since my childhood.

This ritual was none other than The Pee-Wee Herman Show.
It might not be terribly obvious, but Pee-Wee Herman embodies several principles that resonate deeply with elements of Satanism.

Those new to Satanism may want to read the Church of Satan Informational Pack, along with other literature, to better grasp some of this. But for the most part, it should be self-explanatory.

Pee-Wee Herman is a staunch individualist. He is immune from any possibility of being changed by anyone outside of himself. Such is his strength of will that, if there is to be change, it will be in the people and objects around him! This can be seen most clearly in his Playhouse.

Pee-Wee's Playhouse is a total environment. He has surrounded himself with imagery, companions, and activities that stimulate, satisfy, and express his ego. It is his sanctuary and, at times, his ritual chamber.

It is also significant that, aside from a few human visitors, Pee-Wee’s primary companions are what would normally be inanimate objects. Through either technology or imagination, most of the items in his world are animated, or even alive. Though some are more anthropomorphic than others, all of these objects serve as Pee-Wee's artificial human companions.

This unique environment is shaped by Pee-Wee’s profound capacity for evocation, which is a key principle at the often-misunderstood heart of Satanism.

Adding to this energy is "the secret word" that, from day to day, tautens the Playhouse's atmosphere with its explosive potential. Secrets are powerful, and this one never fails to unleash a confounding outburst of prankish cacophony.

If you’ve ever seen Pee-Wee on stage, you know how many dirty jokes he and his friends tell. Though distasteful to prudes, these are simply a mischievous celebration of carnality. This is, of course, essential to any truly good life — unless one’s particular fetishes encourage a rare inclination to the contrary!

It's not just the dirty jokes that are so diabolically delightful, though. If, as Baudelaire said, "Laughter is Satanic," then Pee-Wee surely ranks highly among the devils of mythology!

The final major Satanic element of Pee-Wee’s world is more overtly related to magic and ritual. Jambi, a genie (djinn) who lives in a trapezoidal box, is the most traditionally magical part of this environment. He grants wishes, inviting others to join him in a chant that, though it may be gibberish, is given meaning through its esoteric implications. These otherwise nonsensical words are, by their very association with magic, used to heighten emotions for the purpose of projecting and manifesting the wisher's will.

Pee-Wee’s stage show also imparts two more significant magical lessons, which the perceptive can identify without my specifying them and spoiling the plot. The first is that, if one uses magic to bestow a blessing upon another person, this must be done with absolute certainty that success would not bring unhappiness to him or herself; otherwise, it may backfire. The second lesson is that one should not waste magical efforts on anything that could be better achieved through more direct means.

As with just about anything, the ultimate relevance of Pee-Wee Herman to Satanism is as varied as Satanists themselves. This is just a basic survey of themes of general interest to Satanists, at least a few of whom are some of Pee-Wee's biggest fans.

Hail Pee-Wee!

Hail Satan!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An Eye for Carnage:

Anton Szandor LaVey
on the Horror Films of
Herschell Gordon Lewis

A few years ago, I acquired an old catalog. Someone I knew was probably discarding it; I forget. But I kept this white elephant because it struck me as a unique reference for my cinematic explorations. Audio Brandon Films 16mm International Cinema, 1978-79, contains well over 500 pages of films then available for rental by educational institutions, theaters, etc. Instead of a dull list, however, Audio Brandon fattened its catalog with striking stills and critical, even scholarly descriptions by educators, journalists, and other qualified aficionados. Among these contributors was Anton Szandor LaVey, who wrote about Herschell Gordon Lewis and two of his films.

When I discovered that this catalog, whose great worth was already apparent, included material by LaVey, I was all the more excited to have re-discovered this nearly discarded volume. Although this and other editions of the catalog have been quoted in academic works, it seems fairly rare. Especially because I was getting rid of clutter at the time, I felt that I had just narrowly missed losing a valuable bit of Satanic history. Not to mention a veritable encyclopedia of international cinematic history up until the late 1970s!

The following is LaVey’s contribution to this catalog. It involves horror films, as the average reader might expect, but offers keen observations that only the Black Pope himself could have penned. Of course, he could have also written illuminating pieces about many other films in the book, most of which are not horror, and some of which are recommended in the appendices of Blanche Barton’s
The Church of Satan. I, for one, would have relished a book of cinema criticism by the premier pioneer of contemporary Satanism! But at least we have this passage, which in itself includes enough history and insight for a creative manifesto.

Herschell Gordon Lewis

In 1963 ex-English professor Herschell Gordon Lewis decided that the skinflick market was waning, limited as it was to nudie films. Not wishing to make history nor waste time and money in courtrooms pioneering porn, he recognized an unexploited realm of living-color, perfectly legal blood-and-gore cinema that the big companies wouldn’t touch. Though horror and the supernatural had always been good box office, no one had really pulled all the stops. Lewis’ first film of the type,
Blood Feast, was received with such revulsion that it was yanked under protest from many theatres before its bookings expired. Yet it made money and made cinema history, inspiring and uninhibiting virtually every other producer and director with an eye for carnage. Later Lewis commented, “Peckinpah’s blood is much more watery than ours… Peckinpah shoots people. We dismember them!” The discerning viewer will find Lewis’ films to be much more than superficial gore; rather an eerie reflection of the repressed sado-masochism in us all that even the smallest voice inside seldom admits to. From Bonnie And Clyde to The Exorcist, from The Wild Bunch to Jaws, fragments of Lewis’ kaleidoscope radiate.

Two Thousand Maniacs (1964)

A horror version of
Brigadoon, this is Lewis’ tale of a Southern town which was savagely destroyed by Union troops and rises from its swampy site every hundred years. Overlooked by American critics because of excessive gore, it was praised by European masters such as Jean-Luc Godard and classed with Polanski’s Repulsion and Hitchcock’s Psycho. The musical score (also by Lewis) inspired Bonnie And Clyde’s and many other later films. Because, rather than in spite, of its low budget and unknown performers (Connie Mason was a Playboy foldout), amateurism transcends into chilling super-realism. The plot is equal to the best old-school  pulp thriller, combining suspense, kinky sexual innuendo and the supernatural. Made in 1964, Two Thousand Maniacs is rapidly achieving the stature it deserves, now that “respected” filmmakers have saturated the public with bloodier but less effective results. In the genre of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Night Of The Living Dead, the townspeople extras convey the feeling that this film is the Real Thing!

Color Me Blood Red (1964)

A temperamental beatnik artist who occupies a desolately situated beach house becomes dissatisfied with ordinary pigments and materials. Pretty girls become his source of supply in what must be the only
Grande Guignol treatment of the Frankie Avalon / Annette Funicello beach blanket theme. As with other Herschell Lewis films, this is not for the squeamish.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thoughts on
Crime and Justice
Nine Years After 9/11

Today, during the hours just before dawn, I reflected upon the perennial troubles facing the society in which I live, as well as the forces that keep them in check.

I had just finished watching a film that explored, among other issues, some of the most vile behaviors to be found on the worst urban streets. The specifics are not as important as the overall reminder that there are always individuals and groups plotting to infringe upon the freedoms of others. Of course, one need not watch a movie to be reminded of this, but it certainly can stir the blood.

Whether it is a crack-addicted thief robbing someone else's home, Al Qaeda fanatics committing wholesale kamikaze murders, or any other shade of intrusive crime, I am always infuriated when I learn that yet another life has been adversely or lethally impacted by such actions. This is a common reaction amongst Satanists, despite peskily persistent claims to the contrary.

Satanism advocates Justice. In fact, that is the current watchword of the Church of Satan, which fully supports the noble efforts of military and law enforcement agencies that fight for personal freedoms and against the criminals who curtail them.

It is with this universal meditation that I consider the significance of 9/11, nine years after the infamous attacks.

My thoughts are, as always, with those who have lost loved ones at the hands of criminals and enemy combatants.

My gratitude is, as always, with those who have been, and are still, fighting against the enemies of our liberties.

Lex Talionis!