The Keeper of the Gate

The seventh Core Value of the United Aspects of Satan is derived from the Aspect of Pan: “Indulgence in the pleasures of life.” What might come as a surprise to many is that Satanism is a joyous and life-affirming religion. With no eternal bliss to look forward to beyond the grave, Satanists indulge in the present and make the most of the short time they have.

Admittedly, this is sometimes easier said than done.

We live in a chaotic universe, and we are often subject to forces beyond our control. We are also limited in many ways by our genetics, our culture, and our upbringing. It is sometimes difficult to find happiness in our circumstances, especially if we are not in a position to change our current life trajectory without a great deal of hardship and sacrifice. When one is managing to survive by the skin of his teeth, “Indulgence in the pleasures of life” might seem like an empty platitude, yet it is precisely these times when he or she should heed the call of Pan’s pipes.

Attitude makes all the difference.

Attitude is the keeper of the gate, and pleasure may only come when one’s attitude is aligned with the concept of receiving pleasure. Pleasure, then, is a skill, and one that can be perfected through discipline. Then the persistent aligning of one’s intention to the result of pleasure will yield more pleasure. Through focused intention, applied with persistent effort, one can complete the mental alchemy of transmuting the lead of one’s difficult circumstances into gold.

That isn’t all. Once one has achieved a state of pleasure, persistent, focused attention can increase the amount of pleasure one experiences, as well as create multiple layers of subtle nuances beyond what one can immediately perceive. To the hedonist who has advanced beyond the simple intentions of the neophyte, these deeper realms of pleasure are to be pursued with the solemnity and focus of a Shaolin monk.

To the Satanist, the pursuit of pleasure is his or her religion, and pleasure is to be pursued with religious fervor. Difficult circumstances are therefore of no consequence, for the denial of pleasure, no matter how difficult to obtain, is a sin against the Satanist’s own self.

Hail pleasure! Hail Satan!

Real Transformative Experience

The sixth Core Value of the United Aspects of Satan is derived from the Aspect of Belial: “Individualism and individual accomplishment.” By individualism, we mean the rights of individuals to have freedom of expression, freedom over their own bodies, and freedom to, within reason and respect to the freedoms of others, live life on their own terms. By individual accomplishment, we mean that people should strive to fulfill their personal goals and enjoy the rewards, both tangible and intangible, of mastering themselves and their abilities.

Today’s message will focus on individual accomplishment and the transformative experience of fulfilling one’s goals.

Transformative experience is something that I believe is sought after by the practitioners of almost every religion. However, my variation of Satanism places no value on experiences that do not yield practical, measurable results. You will not find me locked away in a ritual chamber, muttering ooga-booga nonsense over weirdly-drawn symbols by flickering candlelight. Unfortunately, I have no magical advice to offer, because magic is not real. Period.

In the place of magic, I practice something I call “persistent effort towards a well-defined goal.” I know that sounds a little wordy, and it doesn’t bring to mind any kind of hip, occult clothing and accessories, but what persistent effort towards a well-defined goal lacks in style, it certainly makes up for in substance.

The first part of the transformative process, then, is to have a well-defined goal. Now, I have discovered a trick to creating goals that I want to share, because most of you, myself included, would not write out a REAL well-defined goal if asked to do so. You’d write down something that would satisfy your ego for the moment. Then you would follow through with all of the effort that you put into the New Year’s resolutions that you’ve already broken.

So here’s the trick: Before you try to write down a well-defined goal, make a comprehensive list of all of your interests. Put down everything that you like, no matter how silly, just get it all on a piece of paper.

Once you’ve done that, you are ready to figure out what your real goals are, and by “real goals” I mean things that you will actually have the passion to pursue. Look at your list and rank the items in order of level of interest. Now you are ready to set goals that you actually care about.

I think it is important to take the time to explore your true interests before writing down your goals. For one thing, it prevents the writer’s block you might encounter from not knowing where to start. For another, the goals that you create from a list of your own interests will be reflective of what you truly desire, not what you think is expected of you. Aspect of Belial, remember?

Now create a goal around one of your interests by deciding on something that you would like to accomplish with regards to that interest. Decide on a reasonable time frame to accomplish the goal, and then divide the time frame into manageable segments. Decide where you expect to be by the end of each time segment.

Then get started, and keep going until you’re finished.

Note: This process is simple. It isn’t always easy.

Goal-setting and goal-striving are the closest things to magic that I practice, and I assure you, accomplishing your goals will yield the same kind of transformative experiences that you could seek from more esoteric pursuits, but with the added benefit of actually accomplishing something. Plus, it spares you the embarrassment of doing a bunch of ooga-booga.

Hail accomplishment! Hail Satan!

Satanic household chores

In my household, we have a very Satanic way of dividing up the domestic work. If I’m bothered by the number of dirty dishes in the sink, I wash them. If I don’t have the energy to wash them, I don’t. But I don’t ask my partner to wash them either. If xe is bothered, xe will wash them. If not, the dishes don’t get washed… until they build up to the point where someone has both the energy and inclination to do it. Then it gets done.

Usually I wash the dishes, because my threshold for “being bothered” is much lower. But it’s my choice. Nobody tells me that it’s “my chore”, and I never resent being the one who does it because, ultimately, I do it because I want the dishes to be clean: that is my own desire.

By contrast, I never mop the floor. I probably will never mop the floor, because I find it boring and messy and aggravating. My partner finds it relaxing, so xe mops the floor. This is how we divide up all of the tasks: not by edict, not by assignment, not by command or imposition of will of one person on the other. Whichever person minds doing the chore less, or wants it done more, ends up doing it. The result is what scientists call a “self-organizing system.”

Satanic Household CleaningI say that this is a very Satanic method for dividing up the chores, because it reflects multiple values of the United Aspects of Satan. Neither one of us is putting demands on the other. Neither one of us is bargaining or holding the other person hostage. Each of us is reflecting the aspect of Belial by performing the tasks we want done the most, at the time that we want it done. We are reflecting the aspect of Satan by refusing to let conservative traditional cultural and religious proscriptions tell us which partner is “supposed” to carry out what task. And we are reflecting the aspect of The Leviathan by understanding that we are working together, even as we individually pursue our own priorities: I know that xe dislikes cleaning the toilets more than I do, so I take on that task… and let xir mop the floors instead. I am mindful of how my actions impact the entire household, without begrudging or placing demands upon anyone else’s independence.

You might think it silly to use something as mundane as household chores as a way to expound on Satanic morality; but really, what is the point of morality if you can’t apply it to the day-to-day operation of your life? That is what life is, after all, minute by minute and day by day, the million little choices that you make.

I also think household chores are a good illustration of Satanic morality, because many people have a misconception that Satanism is a kind of lone-wolf, beating-your-chest individualism. This is a leftover from the outdated “Might Makes Right” attitude in the original “Satanic Bible” by Anton LeVay (I’m tempted to refer to it as “the Old Testament of Satanism”). But for the United Aspects of Satan, individualism is strengthened by community, just as every community is strengthened by the independence of its individuals.

And what better way to illustrate that then to think about a household, and the way you manage day to day tedious chores with the ones you love? The relationships that are the healthiest allow for both mindfulness of how each person affects the other, as well as individualism and independence of all of the people involved.

Many people don’t realize it, but that dynamic — individual mutualism, coordination without the imposition of will — is deeply Satanic.

Ave Satanas.

We Are Legion

The fifth Core Value, “Community for the creative freedom and betterment of every person,” comes from the Aspect of Leviathan. While the Biblical leviathan was a type of large sea creature, the philosopher Thomas Hobbes used the concept of leviathan to represent the structure of society and legitimate government as a kind of giant creature. Thomas Hobbes’s book, commonly referred to as Leviathan, is one of the earliest and most influential works regarding the use of a social contract.

The United Aspects of Satan recognizes the importance of community for, among other reasons such as basic survival, a means of working with like-minded individuals towards the accomplishment of various goals.

To quote from The Satanic Narratives: A Modern Satanic Bible by Damien Ba’al, “Through communal emergence, you can create a very powerful adversary. One that can bend the world, just a little, to the desire of your will. One that can affect change to a greater extent than any one person. It is the closest thing there is to magic. It’s power is limited only by the community and their combined creative energies.”

There is a belief among some Satanists and some Satanic organizations that community is antithetical to Satanism and that any attempt to create community is to adopt a “herd” mentality. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Consider, in this modern age, how disconnected people are from each other, separated by race, politics, cubicles, and flashing screens. Competition, not cooperation, is rewarded by those who have an interest in keeping the common people from banding together. People give away their power because they have been conditioned to believe that they are unable to make a difference.

It is the Satanist who must decide first and foremost that he or she will not resign to defeatism. He or she must commit to continuous personal growth, to develop new skills and new energy reserves for living life successfully and on his or her own terms. A community of Satanists devoted to this common purpose, who will offer their services to mentor each other in various skills and disciplines, can create the most formidable adversary that the powers that be could ever know.

Then when we go about our lives, witnessing the disconnection and apathy of the common populace, we can say to ourselves, “I am Legion, for the knowledge and skills of my brothers and sisters are with me.”

Hail community! Hail Satan!

The Balancing Act

The fourth Core Value, “The use of logic, reason, and empirical evidence to shape our morality,” is derived from the Aspect of Baphomet. Those who are familiar with Eliphas Levi’s famous illustration of Baphomet will recognize the creature as a symbol of balance–human and animal, male and female, dark and light, to name a few things that Baphomet represents. Baphomet is also a symbol of reason, a representation of the weighing (or balancing) of evidence in order to perceive one’s circumstances correctly and therefore make choices in accordance with right thinking.

For the theist who acts in accordance with “God’s will,” right action is not determined by reason but by blindly following the dictates of deity. We as Satanists cannot afford to make this mistake, nor do we act in a contrarian manner towards what ideas are presented in holy books simply for the sake of being contrarian. There are some who identify as Satanists who think and behave in this manner, but they are simply being contrarian. Satanists do not choose to do the reverse of theists in an effort to be “evil,” they decide to act based on reason and not the marching orders of God.

When a supernatural deity is out of the picture, the Satanist is then accountable to himself or herself. He or she must not only take personal responsibility for his or her actions, but he or she must also act in a way that is true to himself or herself. Knowing oneself is key to determining right action. One must behave honestly and consistently with his or her values. He or she must possess the self-disciple necessary to constantly re-evaluate his or her actions through introspection.

If a wrong is committed against the self, he or she should resolve to amend his or her actions. If a wrong is committed against another, he or she should reach out to the other person and try to correct the wrong. Being accountable to oneself means taking responsibility for one’s actions, not blaming one’s faults on external factors, especially not a supernatural source.

To the Christian, forgiveness is given freely and immediately, for even the most egregious of offenses. To the Satanist, forgiveness, even the forgiving of oneself, is something that usually has to be earned. What is earned holds value, and we value right action that is balanced by reason and self-knowledge.

Hail Baphomet! Hail Satan!

Thy Inner Light

For this third installment of the series of Sunday Messages concerning the Core Values of the United Aspects of Satan, I am going to first give you all a little insight into what I intend to convey with each Sunday Message. As I have stated before, my intention is to offer a perspective that might not be immediately obvious upon reading the plain text of the Core Values. I also want to present information in a way that demonstrates how the religious philosophy can be applied for personal growth. Unless our philosophy can be applied, it is useless.

Today I want to expand upon the thoughts I shared in the first Sunday Message, where I stated that not all forms of arbitrary authority are external, and in fact, throughout our lives we develop a caucus of internal voices that can shape our beliefs and actions. As I stated before, when those inner voices become limiting, they should be rebelled against in the same way that one would rebel against a tyrannical government.

Our third Core Value, “Scientific and philosophical skepticism,” which comes from the Aspect of Lucifer, can be applied in these circumstances to disrupt the limiting beliefs that we mistakenly view as certainties. There are times when we accept false data and then use that data to reinforce limiting beliefs about ourselves. The data is accepted as “proof” of our supposed limitations. By shining the Light of Lucifer upon ourselves, we can break free from these mistaken beliefs.

For example, when I was a child in junior high and high school, I became convinced that I was “dumb at math.” Every bad grade I received only reinforced this idea, by serving as “proof” that I was at best a C or D-level student. It didn’t matter that, in the sixth grade, I received a Presidential Academic Fitness award signed by then-President George Bush, Sr. No, once junior high came around, math just got too complex, and previous accomplishments had no bearing on the fact that I just knew that I sucked at math.

My aversion to math caused me to avoid taking more challenging levels of subjects that now, at the age of 36, I find fascinating: physics, computer science, robotics and aerospace engineering, and chemistry. I chose to study theater and creative writing in college, for which I am pleased, but my educational route was definitely light on math and science requirements.

Only once I was honorably discharged from the US Army did I realize a significant change in my ability to do math. I took a number of job placement tests that required an assessment of mathematical ability, and I scored very well. When I went to college again to pursue a second degree, I performed very well in my accounting and business statistics classes, and while these subjects my not be as challenging as trigonometry and calculus, I at least never experienced the same level of anxiety as when I was a child, and I did not automatically assume that I would do poorly. In fact, I received Bachelor of Science degree in Management and Organizational Development with honors.

So what happened? How did I go from being convinced of my mathematical stupidity to finding the challenge of math to be enjoyable and surmountable? The answer had a lot to do with the way that I was psychologically broken down and built back up as a young soldier.

The challenges that I faced in the military psychologically broke me down and built me up. I learned to trust myself and trust how formidable I could be in the face of a challenge. I also adopted a new way of thinking that was more practical and skeptical (by often entering situations in which it became necessary to doubt my circumstances), so I was developing the kind of thinking that was suitable for the subjects of math and science.

I’m not saying that anyone would need to do anything as extreme as enlist in the military to develop a healthy skepticism of one’s perceived limitations, but that with attention and discipline, one can learn to change his or her way of thinking. The US Army change my attitude about myself, and my attitude changed what I had assumed were my limitations.

Attitude affects one’s limitations. A negative attitude often gets mistaken for reality. What one receives as “proof” of his or her limitations is often the effect of one’s attitude upon his or her efforts. I’m not saying that anyone need enlist in the military to break down these self-limitations, but through disciplined self-assessment and skepticism, one can begin to see a clearer picture of his or her true abilities. This is how you find Lucifer’s light.

There is a method that will improve this process dramatically: Challenge yourself, with persistent effort, against what you believe to be your limitations. You just might surprise yourself with the new “proof” that you obtain.

Hail Satan! Hail skepticism!

The Reset Button

The second Core Value of the UAoS is “Perseverance in the face of opposition,” which comes from the Narrative of Ba’al. While we as Satanists face opposition from a predominantly Judeo-Christian religious society, at least in the Western world, we share an enemy with many of our detractors: the daily grind. In fact, the daily grind is probably the bigger enemy for most. Unless you are among the financially elite, there is probably a good chance that you work for a living. Whether you have a boss or are your own boss (which means all of your customers are your bosses), you probably owe something to a banking institution or maybe just need to eat every once in a while.

Some of you may be fortunate enough to do whatever the hell you want to do whenever you want to do it, but statistically this is not the case. You’ve got to be responsible, roll up your sleeves, and go about providing a needed good or service for society.

And that can be mentally and physically exhausting.

Even doing work that you love can be taxing on your mind and body. There was a time when nothing could provide greater joy to me than performing theater, but after each performance I barely had the energy to walk and talk. Then I became so accustomed to the run of a show that, once the show was over, I didn’t know what to do with all of my excess energy. I was practically bouncing off the walls.

I recommend that you find a way to rejuvenate yourself, to hit the reset button after the great, gray beast of everyday life has mauled you for showing up to the office.

The secret, I believe, to perseverance has more to do with healthfully maintaining your energy levels than tensing up to bare down on every challenge that you face. I’m not going to tell you how to do that, because that’s something you have to figure out on your own, but I do suggest that you think in terms of looking for ways to constantly hit the reset button when taking on a challenge.

Hail perseverance! Hail Satan!

Rebellion Within

As you may know, I have recently written a list of Core Values for the UAoS, based upon the philosophy presented in Damien’s book, The Satanic Narratives: A Modern Satanic Bible. I intend for my first bunch of “Sunday Devotionals” to take an in-depth look at one of the Core Values and, hopefully, present a different perspective than just what is intended by the plain text.

Today I would like to touch upon the aspect of Satan, and the first Core Value, “Rebellion against arbitrary authority.” First, I would like to say that I am aware that the term “arbitrary authority” has already been used often in the Modern Satanic community, so I am not pretending to coin a phrase by including it in the Core Values. I am simply using the term as a way of showing that Satan is a symbol of rebellion, without prescribing what level of rebellion is right for every Satanist. Each individual must decide for himself or herself how he or she chooses to deal with established authority.

The point I would like to make today is that not all forms of authority are external to the individual. As we grow and develop, we establish an idea of “them,” that invisible caucus made from previous life experiences, that gives shape to our actions by reminding us of past successes and failures. This invisible caucus can be helpful or hurtful, depending upon how we fare from heeding its advice.

Make no mistake about it, the panel of voices in your head is a form of authority that you have created and given power. It can have an even greater effect on your success than external forms of authority, because it is the only thing that can rob you of your motivation and cause you to quit before you have even begun.

When you feel that this type of established authority is no longer of benefit to you, there is only one Satanic solution to the problem:

You fucking rebel against it.

Nobody, not even the invisible caucus that presides over your thoughts and feelings, should ever make you give up on your goals. Tell “them” that if you are going to fail, you will do so spectacularly, but you will act on your own terms. Success is never guaranteed, but you are guaranteed to fail if you quit before you have even begun.

Hail rebellion! Hail Satan!