March 22, 2016

Satanism and Eugenics

Image via Genotopia
One of the most controversial subjects in Satanism is eugenics. What is it? Eugenics is:
"The science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics. Developed largely by Francis Galton as a method of improving the human race, it fell into disfavor only after the perversion of its doctrines by the Nazis. (via Google)
One of the key things to take from this discussion is that eugenics only fell into disfavor after it became synonymous with Nazi Germany. It is truth that many people in the world saw eugenics as the next step for humanity, and even people on the receiving end of forced sterilization programs frequently agreed with the stated intent of making the human breeding pool stronger and healthier. While the genetic modification highlighted in Gattaca (1997) is still science fiction, the legacy of eugenics is science reality. For example, North Carolina had one of the longest running involuntary eugenics programs in the USA, and nobody should ever let the US federal government pretend to forget about the Tuskegee syphilis experiment.

Noble as the goals might be, in practice what history has shown when it comes to eugenics is utterly horrifying. And while Anton LaVey, the founder of Satanism and the first high priest of the Church of Satan, waxed eloquent about eugenics in several of his books, it's wrong to say that he wanted to reinstate the eugenics programs of the past. Satanists embrace the individual's choice to completely own his or her own body and do with it what he or she desires. So while a Satanist wouldn't deny another's right to bodily autonomy and choice to conceive, a Satanist would absolutely support mapping the human genome; designer babies; and - as the primary emphasis in this essay - voluntary sterilization.

As far as government eugenics programs went in the past, the idea was that the "right" people would be permitted and encouraged to breed more, and the "wrong" people would be sterilized to prevent their pollution of the breeding pool; however, as history has shown, the delineation of "right" and "wrong" typically split between "white" and "everybody else." Certainly, the mentally retarded and those born with congenital defects were automatically candidates for sterilization, but it's conspicuous how other candidates were selected.

But just because government-run involuntary eugenics programs were put to an end for obvious reasons, this doesn't mean that the practice of eugenics has stopped. There are many families today who choose to receive elective abortions when a fetus is revealed to be a girl. I support abortion-on-demand, and I myself don't see anything wrong with a couple who want to decide the gender of their child. In the present, the only option for controlling gender is to abort non-conforming fetuses, but in the very near future parents will be able to choose the child's gender at will. But to be even more practical about voluntary eugenics, this just means birth control. How many people practice some form of birth control? The most basic form of eugenics is a question: "Conception: yes or no?" Millions and millions of people answer this question with a variety of contraceptive tools and methods. Some even go so far as to accept voluntary sterilization.

Why would somebody choose to be sexually sterilized? I can't answer for everybody, but I can answer for myself: I got a vasectomy this morning. This was very important to me primarily because I'm absolutely, completely, and 100% done with having children. I think kids are great, I just don't want any more of them. 

My (almost) 4-y/o daughter has just fully potty trained, and that is a process I don't ever want to have to each ever again. Potty training aside, my daughter and her older sister, my step-daughter, get along great. I'm so lucky to have two beautiful girls in my house who get along so great. Adding another child to the mix would utterly disrupt the family life we've achieved and might as well be a hard reset to the relationship I've been building with my step-daughter. All my time and energy would go to the newborn, and that's something I don't want to do to either of my girls. 

Not to mention the lasting damage and stress another pregnancy would place on my wife? I love her bunches and bunches, but c'mon, ladies - tell me I'm wrong, but being pregnant for 9 months and then being chained to caring for an utterly helpless meat sack baby for at least three years until it's ready for full-day daycare or getting into junior kindergarten? That's nearly four years of your life that you won't get back again, and good luck trying to coordinate work, school, or almost anything else around a newborn. And don't even play it like having lots of kids doesn't make you crazy: my mom had four kids - three her own, one step-daughter - and not only is she crazy, but my brother, sisters, and I all made her that way. I really like my wife sane, and that goes a long way to keeping me from taking a job as a long-haul trucker so I can be away from home 25 days out of the month.

And as long as we're being honest with ourselves, my wife and I miss having great sex. Before the baby came along, we were having the best sex we've ever had at any point in both our lives. We'd learned how to achieve simultaneous orgasm on a regular basis, and it was glorious. 

You know what else was glorious? Not using a condom. I get that a condom is a really great way to prevent unintended pregnancies and also prevent STD's, but in a monogamous relationship STD's aren't an issue and a well-timed rhythm method prevents conception. But you know, while my daughter wasn't an accident, she wasn't planned, either, and that's what happens when you go on vacation, deal with stressful relatives, come home and forget exactly which day of the month it is. Call me Pistol Pete, because it only took one encounter for us to get pregnant. My wife and I had been talking about having a child within the next year or two, but hadn't settled on a date. Turns out, a date settled on us!

So I really want to get back to spectacularly great sex, and I really don't want to use a condom because I can't feel a damn thing with one of those on. But then, I'm also done checking the calendar every time I want to get frisky with my wife. Who's a totally hot yoga teacher-trainer, by the way, and yes - yoga teachers do make better lovers! And again, perhaps in the category of "too much information," but climaxing together is so deeply romantic and fulfilling, and I want to be able to enjoy that with my life partner without worrying about calendar dates.

Another alternative we have available is for my wife to go on the pill, get an IUD, use a female condom, or use a spermacide. For long-term relationships, the pill is selling yourself short because it stops the ovulation cycle and all the sexy secretions that go with it; IUD's aren't risk-free; female condoms are the most un-sexy thing ever invented; and spermacide alone is only 70% to 80% effective. And, regarding pills or other injections, this doesn't even get into hormonal changes that can cause a whole host of other problems. Plus - when I got on the waiting list for a vasectomy a year ago - my wife was still breastfeeding, so anything that could wind up in the breast-milk was a non-starter.

And sure, my wife could get a tubal ligation, but for a woman to get a tubal ligation requires general anesthesia, laparoscopic surgery, and a longer recovery time compared to a vasectomy. Which, again, wasn't a great solution since my wife was still breastfeeding a year ago, and as busy as we were with both of our business, it wasn't a good choice for us, which is why the best solution was for me to get a vasectomy because it's day procedure done with local anesthetic and so the doctors say will have me back on my feet in a couple days. 

So how did we get to this morning? After nine months on the waiting list, I got an appointment with the local urologist, Dr. Aziz, for an initial inspection of my man-parts and tentative date for me to join the next vasectomy clinic. I was initially scheduled for a vasectomy in February, but it filled up and I got pushed back to March. I got a phone call from the lovely receptionist at Dr. Aziz's office who told me everything I need to prepare for the procedure, which also includes shave prep. As far as man-scaping goes, I keep a trim lawn, but I've only ever shaved my man-parts twice in my entire life, and both times I swore I'd never do it again because the hair growing back is insanely itchy. That and it just looks ridiculous. I mean, seriously: shaving your man-parts make you look prepubescent, and the only people who like that are Catholic priests.

At any rate, I showed up at the minor procedures clinic this morning in the local hospital at 7.45am, got checked into a holding room, and changed into a couple surgical gowns. By 8.20am, I was in the surgical room getting prepped which included being covered with multiple layers of sterile sheets, having my man-parts painted with what felt like ice-cold betadine, and being instructed by the nurses that after the sterile sheets went down, I couldn't move anything. That left only my neck and head exposed at the head of the bed, and my man parts hanging out of a hole in the sheet in the middle of the bed. By 8.35, Dr. Aziz had prepped, he came into the surgical room and asked the nurses to start prepping needles.

Up to this point, I was doing great, and then Dr. Aziz started injecting the local anesthetic. Now, it needs be said that - the way this was explained to me - nine times out of ten, a vasectomy is a mostly painless procedure with very little discomfort. But, as it turned out, I was that one time out of ten when the anesthetic didn't do what it was supposed to do. Dr. Aziz started on my right side, and the injections caused immediate and intense pain. When I cried out, Dr. Aziz laughed nervously and said to his nurses, "So, uh - what's in these needles? Water?" I couldn't see the nurses' faces, but their voices sounded unimpressed: "No."

Three shots of local anesthetic on the right side got followed by another two, and that blocked the pain of the scalpel incision and later the stitches, but I felt a lot of everything else. And by "everything else," I mean when Dr. Aziz reached through the incision, grabbed and cut the vas deferens, burned the ends shut, and then clamped them shut. Actually, I didn't feel any of the burning, but yeah - everything else.

Image via Mayo Clinic

In the picture above, do you see the clamps put around the vas deferens? In my procedure, the doctor burns the ends shut, folds them over, and then clamps them. You wouldn't think it, but those clamps hurt when they go on. If you want to know what it feels like, grab your sack, isolate one of the boys, and squeeze the shit out of it. I don't understand why it feels like that, but it does, and absent anesthetic doing what it's supposed to be doing, it hurts like hell.

Oh, and notice in the picture how the top end of the vas deferens is still, you know, attached? The only way to get enough slack and do the work necessary is for the doctor to pull it out of the incision made in the scrotum. For me - because the anesthetic didn't work the way it was supposed to work - it felt like getting kicked in the groin while at the same time getting my testicles ripped off. that's what it felt like. And shame on me for not being a tough guy, but I cried. It was really fucking painful. But, as my nurses and the doctor told me, this isn't the case for the majority of people who get a vasectomy - I just got unlucky because my body didn't respond to the anesthetic.

And for the folks who are counting along with me, that was only the right side: I had to do it all over again on the left side. 

This was made even worse because ever since a really stressful and terribly painful surgery in 2010 - my right lung collapsed and required thoracoscopic surgery - my personal nightmares revolve around being helpless, in pain, confined to a hospital bed, and unable to move. So as you can imagine, this minor procedure that was described to me as mostly painless turned out to be a nightmare combination of Saw and Hostel. I don't think that my suffering was legendary even for Hell, but it was a new personal record.

Dr. Aziz was understandably frustrated that I was in pain and that he was looking incompetent. You might think that I think he's incompetent, but I don't - the guy's done over 5,000 vasectomies, so he knows his business. But yeah, he was frustrated because he knew that I was thinking he was incompetent. He needed me to calm down, so they gave me a dose of ativan half-way through the left side. He finished his work, they moved me back to the temporary room where I'd left my clothes. I spent the next 40 minutes waiting for my body to stop shaking, and when I was well enough to get up I called my wife and she drove me home.

Since I got home just before 11am this morning, I've been laying on my back with my legs elevated and rotating bags of frozen peas and frozen corn onto my crotch. And you might not know it from the way I'm typing, but I'm totally stoned on dilaudid right now and it's still not managing all the pain I'm having. So the doctors tell me, the dull ache and throbbing pain should be finished by the end of the second day, but if those 1-in-10 odds play out for me again, it's going to run into the third day. Time will tell, won't it?

Something strange I've noticed since I got home is how I can't relax. Truthfully, I'm exhausted: I went to sleep around 2.30am this morning, and only got about five hours of sleep before I was up to catch a cab to the hospital. It's after midnight right now, so you do the math. I should have crashed out by now, but my body is still tense. I don't know for certain, but I'm guessing that the trauma to my man-parts is stimulating a prolonged "fight or flight" response. 

Or maybe I'm just still really fucking fried after escaping my own personal torture chamber? It's a good thing that the doctor gave me all my follow-up instructions in writing, because - just like my lung surgery in 2010 - my mind is already erasing, confusing, and blurring all memories of this experience. Ever see Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon (1950)? The whole movie could be expressed one sentence: "That's not how I remember it." And that's exactly what my brain is doing to me right now: it's already changing what I thought happened, and if you asked me about the whole experience tomorrow, I'd almost certainly tell you something different than I'm telling you today.

Where the hell was I? Eugenics. Voluntary sterilization. Yeah, I'm really tired, I can't sleep, my nerves are fried, and I'm a little bit high on dilaudid, so I'm going to end here. I started this as a discussion about why I as a Satanist embrace voluntary eugenics, then it turned into play-by-play telling of my vasectomy, and then it morphed into an Akira Kurosawa film. Clearly, I'm done for the night, so I'm going to call it quits on whatever this is before it turns into something even stranger.

March 16, 2016

Left-hand Tarot #11: The Man with No Name


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Welcome to episode #11 of Left-hand Tarot! Following the pattern I used last week, I'm working in one of my favorite movie trilogies: Sergio Leone's epic "Man with No Name" trilogy, scored by Ennio Morricone, and starring Clint Eastwood in the role of the Man with No Name, and played out across the three gems of classic Western film: a Fistful of Dollars; For a Few Dollars More; and the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. I didn't pick this trilogy for any particular reason, but after I divided the show into segments, it did seem to carry a particular theme? At any rate, I'm going to talk a lot in this episode about my work as a professional Tarot reader, some of my favorite ways to read the cards, racism and sexism plus the importance of diversity; card games; and my latest writing project.

A Fistful of Dollars
For a Few Dollars More
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Post Mortem

March 14, 2016

Satanism & Racism, part 3: the Nine Satanic Sins


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PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4

Welcome to part 3 in a series I'm writing to explore the intersection of racism and Satanism. I've said before and I'll say again, Satanism is going to look like a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Considering the influence of voices like Ayn Rand and Ragnar Redbeard, "vanilla" Satanism is going to naturally lean into Libertarianism, but also shares a fair bit of overlap with the New Right as well as the Alternative Right. Although there are some goals that will be discussed in the next segment - Pentagonal Revisionism - Satanism itself is intended to be a toolkit for enhancing the quality of the Satanist's life; however, this is not to say that Satanism is just "anything goes" - that's hedonism, and arguably also Thelema. 

As discussed in the 9 Satanic Statements and the 11 Rules of the Earth, there are in fact some boundaries that Satanists accept. Or at least, some kinds of behavior or ways of thinking that are considered unproductive and thus to be avoided. To be perfectly clear, Satanists don't believe that these sins create any kind of spiritual debt - first, because there's nobody to tally it, and second because there's no afterlife where it would matter. Instead, Satanic sins are considered shortfalls that impact the Satanist him or herself and because of the consequences' personal nature, the Satanist would choose to avoid these things.

Having said all of that, and remembering that Satanism is a tool-kit intended to enhance the quality of an individual's life almost no matter how he or she lives it, there are different ways that these sins will be interpreted. What are the 9 Satanic Sins? They are: 
  1. Stupidity 
  2. Pretentiousness 
  3. Solipsism 
  4. Self-deceit 
  5. Herd Conformity 
  6. Lack of Perspective 
  7. Forgetfulness of Past Orthodoxies 
  8. Counterproductive Pride 
  9. Lack of Aesthetics 
Stupidity

The #1 big-bad sin of Satanism: stupidity. As a species, humans have evolved a spectacularly large brain compared to body size, and it's a sin to not use the full analytical and learning potential it provides. There are a lot of ways to define stupidity, and some are easy enough: throwing rocks at a police officer, or giving money to Sarah Palin - both choices are patently stupid, and yet people do it anyway. As it concerns a discussion about racism, I happen to think racists are terrifically stupid. After all, racism is a prejudice that precludes individual evaluation based on merit and accomplishments. And while it's true that racism in others can be manipulated for the Satanist's own benefit, it's also true that racism in a lot of others can lead to changes in culture and government that diminish the Satanist's quality of life. For example:
Among the more striking findings cited are a U.S. Department of Commerce study estimating that minority purchasing power would increase from $4.3 trillion to $6.1 trillion in 2045 if income inequalities were eliminated. Research also indicated that “businesses with a more diverse workforce have more customers, higher revenues and profits, greater market share, less absenteeism and turnover, and a higher level of commitment to their organization." By closing the earnings gap through higher productivity, the nation’s gross domestic product would improve substantially. “The earnings gain would translate into $180 million in additional corporate profits, $290 billion in additional federal tax revenues, and a potential reduction in the federal deficit of $350 billion, or 2.3 percent of the GDP.”
As rational and inquisitive as Satanists are, I think it's pretty easy to see why it makes sense to support politics and policies that combat the seriously expensive costs of racism. It's true that there are a lot of dyed-in-the-wool Libertarians among Satanists who fully embrace the marketplace as a tool for either solving everything, or just letting the most worthwhile people, ideas, and policies emerge on their own, and who say that achieving equality is a farce. And you know, I agree with a lot of what they have to say: equality is a farce. Everybody is not equal. They cannot be equal, nor should they be equal.

But if we're going to have a meritocracy supported by the social contract which permits the best and the brightest to emerge, then a level playing field should be maintained. After all, "good breeding" and "privilege" don't automatically ensure quality intellect. Remember Ethan Couch? This kid was born into the lap of luxury, but that didn't stop him from getting smashed and doing 70mph in a 40mph zone, killing four people, and injuring nine others. Incredibly, his defense was that he was so wealthy and removed from real life that he wasn't capable of understanding his crime. 

For reasons that can only be explained by vast sums of money, he escaped prison and was instead sent to a $500,000/yr. luxury drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, then released on ten years' parole, the conditions of which stipulated that he couldn't drink alcohol. And wouldn't you know it? He had a party and posed for pictures in which he was drinking alcohol. His parole officer heard about it, but Ethan skipped out and he and his mother ran away to Mexico. Fortunately, he and his mother couldn't resist the lure of Facebook and ordering out for pizza, so their asses were caught by Mexican authorities and returned to the USA.

Clearly, wealth and breeding count for nothing when it comes to either intelligence or stupidity. Racism is a personally and financially expensive sin that I can't afford to tolerate so I avoid association with racists and offer my support to people and organizations who combat racism.

Pretentiousness

Ah, empty posturing. Regarding the encounter I mentioned in the first post about the 9 Satanic Statements, this is the sin that I was judged most guilty of committing by the critics: feeling oneself to be a "big shot," and using big words without even the ability to provide big actions to back them up. This is pretty easy to encounter in an online setting, and it's even easier to confuse with, you know - stating that there are issues on which you won't compromise.

Contrary to what some commenters said in the conversation that sparked this series, I was not insisting that they have to think identically to me. Funny how "This is how I choose to apply Satanism," can be interpreted as, "Anybody else who feels differently is wrong?" At any rate, according to my critics, it's pretentious for me to talk about the things that I think are important and, as an extension of that, how I choose to support those personal values (versus social norms.)

But you know, if it's pretentious for me to say that the world in which I live can be improved (and as an extension of that, I myself can receive a benefit) by choosing to oppose racism, fascism, and other influences that interfere with the maintenance of a level playing field which permits a true meritocracy to emerge, then it's also pretentious for them to say that the world in which they live can be improved (and as an extension of that, they themselves can receive a benefit) by choosing to support laissez faire capitalism and social Darwinism. Both approaches seek the general improvement of the whole, and as an extension of that, individual benefit.

And I hardly think it's pretentious to play the role of the accuser. Perhaps you'll disagree with me, but I think that if I'm going to take the name of Satan, then it's absolutely appropriate for me to also take the role of the accuser. Again, perhaps you'll disagree with me about what's worth accusing and opposing, and that's fine - there's a lot of room for a lot of different people in Satanism, and while some of them are more compatible with "vanilla" Satanism than others, ultimately almost all of them fit. If you too want to play the role of the accuser and have a hand in guiding cultural and political change in accordance with will, then you go right ahead. I may not agree with you, and I may in fact oppose you, but I won't refuse your right to participate in the process. And while I certainly do argue that racism and fascism aren't Satanic, I wouldn't be the first person to say so: Magus Gilmore explained this quite clearly in his Satanic Scriptures.

Solipsism

Going by the dictionary, the definition of solipsism is, "the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist." This goes hand-in-hand with another sin we'll talk about in a minute - lack of perspective - but in Satanism, it's also taken to mean that the Satanist should avoid the potentially grievous mistake of assuming that anybody else thinks, feels, or acts the same way as him or herself. Don't make any assumptions about why people do the things that they do, or thinking that they share anything in common with you. 

As it relates to a broader discussion about racism, the accusation that was made against me is that it was wrong for me to protest against racism because somehow I was expect others to behave the same as me - and apparently that's wrong. Well, going back to our previous example of pretentiousness, if it's wrong for me to protest racism and want others to feel, think, or act the same as I do, then it's also wrong for others to campaign for the New/Alt Right and want others to feel, think, or act the same as they do. 

Is this a bit of a "Tu quoque" fallacy? Yes, and that's exactly what I think my critics missed in the original exchange: how can they accuse me of what they themselves are also doing? Although, to be honest, I think my critics were right at least in that I was wrong to project my sensibilities onto someone far less attuned than I am; the only thing is, I didn't realize that the someone in question was the people (members or not) in an unofficial discussion group. I said in part 1, but I'll say again here: the original discussion in question took place in an unofficial group, and the criticism I encountered was not from church leadership or spokespersons, but from other members of the unofficial group (whose status as registered members of the Church of Satan is unknown to me.) 

But getting back to the conversation: as before - even with the heavy influence from Ayn Rand and Ragnard Redbeard (among others) - the literature is pretty clear that Satanists don't discriminate based on race, but intelligence. Even in another source book listed on the Church of Satan website - Michael Rose's bombastic Infernalia - it's made clear that people no matter their skin color should be put to the torch if they're unable or unwilling to rise above base stupidity. Since Satanists frequently discriminate based on intelligence, you'd think that accusation and protest against that most stupid and unproductive attitude of racism wouldn't be a source of controversy?

Self-deceit

Going back to the original conversation I mentioned in part 1 of this series, strangely, one of the only two sins I wasn't accused of committing was self-deceit. Don't fool yourself into seeing things that aren't there, and likewise, don't swallow the bait, hook, line, and sinker just because they're presented to you. Discernment and discrimination are necessary elements of self-preservation, but - if we're going to talk about improving the whole and as an extension of that ourselves via our cultural and political interests - it's necessary to look at the cultural and political forces in play. Will politicians prey upon and manipulate cultural dynamics to serve their purposes? Absolutely - that's elementary. But politicians will also seek to perpetuate stupidity among their constituents, all the while hiding with the left hand what they're doing with the right hand. Consider Lee Atwater's scathingly honest remarks concerning the Republican's southern strategy:
You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”
So if you happen to vote Republican because you believe in smaller government, then you go right ahead. But don't deceive yourself into thinking that you're not also supporting a party that has essentially become a white identity group. Again, if you love your heritage and who you are, then it makes sense for you to vote for whoever you believe has your best interests at heart. But me being who I am, I like to look at the bigger picture. The US Census Bureau predicts that the USA will be majority-minority by 2043: a mere 27 years from now. If you find racism and the question of "good breeding" to be important to your world view, then by all means you go with it, but I think you're not only deceiving yourself, but setting yourself up for almost certain failure. In the jungle that is modern society, if you don't adapt and evolve you will go extinct. What is remembered lives, and I guarantee you will be forgotten or resigned to no more than a footnote in somebody else's story.

But let's forget about that for now, and approach this from a more pragmatic angle: Why should white people - or any people? - care about fighting racism and, as an extension of that, embracing multiculturalism? I'll tell you why: it's good business. Diverse workplaces aren't just more creative and better at problem solving, but they're also more productive and profitable. And I'm all about profit. But the thing is, racism gets in the way of this because even when people claim to be fully meritocratic, they still make decisions biased in favor of other people who look like themselves. In this sense, combating racism isn't founded on protecting people's feelings, dealing with white guilt, or disadvantaging white people in the name of affirmative action. Instead, it's a rational response to a costly prejudice that has real-world consequences. 

And, contrary to what the social Darwinists say, this problem isn't fixing itself. Don't deceive yourself into thinking that the marketplace of ideas, or "market forces," will fix this. It's been long known that people will vote against their own interests for wholly irrational reasons. Without people who are willing to accuse and oppose the destructive effects of racism, the problem will continue. So as before, if you think racism isn't worth opposing (or you think it's a worthwhile attitude), then you should make the choice that you think is best for you. But me being who I am, I think it's absolutely in my self interest to oppose racism.

Herd Conformity

Among the sins I was accused of committing when I talked about racism and more broadly the Black Lives Matter movement was herd conformity. Or, as I was accused of doing, following blindly along with the masses without critically evaluating what I'm doing or why I'm doing it. I think I know exactly what I'm doing, and I think I know exactly how I want to get there. Are there people who figuratively jump on the latest bandwagon and adopt it as their own identity without evaluating anything in the process? You bet. Am I one of them? Nope. As stated verbatim regarding the sin of herd conformity,
... It’s all right to conform to a person’s wishes, if it ultimately benefits you. But only fools follow along with the herd, letting an impersonal entity dictate to you. ...
So as you can see, I understand very well how this benefits me. I don't merely repeat the things I'm told, or parrot lines handed to me from a higher authority. Again, there people who apply no critical thought to the message being bleated by the herd, but I'm not one of them. I am my own master, and I serve myself by supporting people and organizations whose end goals support my own. Don't commit the sin of solipsism and assume who or what I am based on your response to the way I choose to apply Satanism in my life.

Lack of Perspective

As I discussed in the part 2 of this series, Satanists are hyper-individualistic. The needs and desires of the self trump anything else, and certain pleasure in the present is far preferable to potential pleasure in the future. Carpe diem, and what not. But at the same time, Satanists are discouraged from retreating so far into their own lives and the worlds of their own making that are unable to "see the patterns and fit things together as [they] want the pieces to fall into place." This sin is intended to teach the Satanist to remember how dangerous he or she is simply as a result of existing and to not be constrained by the imaginary limitations accepted by the herd. But as long as we're talking about existing "on another level entirely from the rest of the world," and avoiding imaginary limitations, I think racism is a pretty good place to start because that's absolutely imaginary: there is only one human race. There is no such thing as different human races. This illusion is a lack of perspective that I happen to think no Satanist would want to carry.

Forgetfulness of Past Orthodoxies

Returning to the original conversation which sparked me writing this series, I was accused of committing nearly all the Satanic sins. Strangely, I wasn't accused of self-deceit or of forgetting past orthodoxies. Perhaps this was merely an oversight on the part of my detractors? At any rate, this sin teaches that Satanists should have long memories and not forget what's come before. You'd think that Christians quoting Ecclesiastes 1:9 would remember that there's "nothing new under the Sun," but they're among the first to forget anything that's inconvenient to their present reality. 

Satanists, on the other hand, are explicitly reminded that they cling to nothing that is no longer deserving of remembrance: we unceremoniously cast the impotent dead into the fiery abyss where they belong. In an age of marketing and media wizardry, that oldest tribal prejudice of racism has been re-branded under myriad names: racialism, race realism, white identity, white nationalism, Christian identity, ethnic nationalism, white supremacy, and more. And while arguments are made for why all those things are different, curiously they all share at least one common denominator: racism. Cut this pie any way you like, but it still comes out of the same pan. At the risk of sounding pretentious, I will not forget. That is why I choose to oppose racism - not in the name of Satanism, but in my own name and for my own purposes.

Counterproductive Pride

Everybody loves to be right, and nobody likes to be wrong, but what happens when you're wrong but you won't relent? You end up looking very stupid. This accusation was made against me for not relenting to other Satanists who believed I was interpreting and applying Satanism incorrectly. And hey, that's cool - everybody's welcome to say how they feel and what they see. But as before, Satanism is going to look like a lot of different things to a lot of different people depending on how they'll apply it. And while I do happen to think that supporting or being associated with people who are fascist or racist, or who sacrifice animals, is the wrong way to do Satanism, I'm willing to be shown why I'm wrong. Present an argument to me that shows either why I'm wrong, or why you're right, and I'll listen to it.

Without dragging anybody into this - because that's not what I'm trying to do - I did contact a few people outside of the original discussion and invited them to share their perspective with me. I wouldn't want to suffer from a lack of perspective, right? I explained in very clear terms that I'm not offended or outraged, I'm confused and I don't understand how some of the views they've expressed are compatible with Satanism. 

And while I've poured myself into the source literature since I embraced Satanism, I'm certainly not an authority on the matter. Am I somehow the only person in a crowd who sees a glaring inconsistency? Or - as I explained to the people I contacted - am I missing something? I think the latter is far more likely than the former, and it should be an easy thing to clear up, but thus far no counter argument has been provided. Which is fine - the people I contacted aren't obligated to respond - but far be it for me to be accused of counter-productive pride when thus far none that I've contacted have shown any interest in presenting a different perspective.

Lack of Aesthetics

What is perhaps the best is saved for last: aesthetics. This is a big source of controversy for people outside Satanism because they don't understand that a Satanist can use a symbol without giving value to the symbol's source. For example, there are Satanists who have done rituals featuring female members dressed as nuns urinating into a chalice, male members dressed in priest's robes and and using a phallus-shaped aspergillum, ritual members dressed in Klan robes, or even rituals that featured the symbols of the Black Sun or the swastika. These symbols and others like them are used precisely because they disturb the sensibilities of others as well as to overtly and ritually show that those participating in the ritual cast off the taboos and limitations imposed upon them by the sheep whose bleating tolerates nothing offensive.

This is also the truth that no matter what anybody else says, you like what you like. Regarding racism, is it true that people tend to prefer the company of other people who look and behave similarly? Yes. If we're going to be honest with ourselves, it's true that people of any color typically prefer to stay within their literal or figurative tribes. Is this helpful? In some ways, yes. Assuming that the whole tribe gets behind a common goal, this can concentrate wealth and keep more power within the tribe. It can also promote security that passes down through the generations. But then, tribalism can also impose artificial limitations and lead to isolation as well as less success and opportunity for the tribe as a whole. Suppose you were one member of a tribe who saw the negative effects and wanted to change it? What might you do to change the minds of others in your tribe so that you could enjoy greater benefits for yourself?

And while the question of equality doesn't strictly apply to aesthetics, it does enter into the discussion since it addresses the same concern as aesthetics: What's valuable? What's pleasing? What do I deem worthy of continuing? There are people fighting racism who want everybody to be "equal," and that's their prerogative. But me being who I am, as I've said several times before, I don't believe all people are equal: one Clarence Thomas is far more valuable than a thousand David Dukes (and that's a generous estimation.) Do I want to see a re-distribution of wealth and resources to make everybody equal? Not at all. But I do want to see everybody treated equally under law, because it is only through the enforcement of a level playing field that the best beasts can emerge in the jungle. Does it make me the best beast I can be if I'm only in my position because of the prejudice of others? Like Ethan Couch who I discussed earlier, that makes me a post turtle
An old rancher is talking about politics with a young man from the city. He compares a politician to a "post turtle". The young man doesn't understand and asks him what a post turtle is. The old man says, "When you're driving down a country road and you see a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle. You know he didn't get up there by himself. He doesn't belong there; he can't get anything done while he's up there; and you just want to help the poor, dumb thing down."
It's not fair, but is that the way the world is? You bet. The world is full of injustice and inequality. The world in which we find ourselves is frequently racist and fascist, and frequently cruel to children, animals, and those unable, or just too weak, to stand up for themselves. Truth told, I'm not very interested in taking turtles off the posts onto which they've been put: I've got better things to do with my time than patrolling back roads and counting fence posts. But I am interested in talking about why it's wrong to put turtles on posts, and being sure that I don't put any turtles on posts. I'll take whatever I can get in life, but if the method of acquiring the things I want results in danger or insecurity to myself or my family, I'm going to choose to make a safer choice.

So the argument goes, "racism is natural!" And I don't disagree: there's a strong biological component to racism, no doubt about it. But you know what else is natural? Lead, lightning, and leprosy, and all of those things can hurt me and my family without requiring me to be involved with them. I don't live in a vacuum, and it's wrong for me to ignore very real dangers that could come back to bite me. That's why I think it's important to respect the social contract and pay taxes to support government programs that repair and replace infrastructure or fund public health initiatives. Again, so the argument goes among Satanists, all these things are just maintaining the herd! Why, if things like disease and infrastructure problems were permitted to run their course, the herd would be thinned and the quality of the species improved as a result. Perhaps there's some truth to that? 

And perhaps you'd like to volunteer to participate in this grand experiment? The lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan isn't just a "black" problem - it's everywhere, but racism definitely played a role in Governor Snyder's decision to knowingly poison nearly 100,000 people split almost 50/50 between white and black. If you were a white person in Flint, Michigan, I bet you'd be angry. You might want to protest and get things changed. You might even be angry enough to want to attack the core issues that lead to this problem.

As far as public health goes, take a look at the flu virus. Every year in the USA, 36,000 people die as a result of complications arising from the flu virus. Meanwhile, ebola - that most terrifying and sensational of viruses to appear in the news - only killed 4,877 in 2014. Let's invoke "survival of the fittest," and let flu thin the ranks! After all, if you're fit to survive then you've nothing to worry about. Let's get rid of vaccines while we're at it - why bother with diseases when the human species clearly can improve by letting these illnesses run their course? I'm not a betting man, but I'd bet that you - whoever you are reading this - aren't willing to gamble with measles or pertussis. And even if you put up a fence or stayed behind a locked door, highly contagious and fully preventable diseases have a way of getting around. I'm not willing to sacrifice myself or my family on an altar of Libertarian ideals, and part of that means recognizing that diseases don't have ideals. Or prejudices, for that matter. Diseases permitted to run rampant among "undeserving" portions of society won't stay put: short of an epic quarantine (and assuming I'm on the right side of the fence), I've got skin in the game.

So by this point, you might thinking that I'm trying to disturb the peace or create dissension, but you'd be wrong. It's not my goal to name names, or drag anybody into conflict. It's also not my goal to re-write Satanism and say how Satanists should be living their lives. Instead, my goal is to show both how I interpret and apply Satanism in my life and that choosing to protest racism (and its costly complications) doesn't make me unfit to be considered a Satanist or - as another critic put it - unfit to be a parent and raise children. 

As always, you're welcome to interpret and apply Satanism differently. We may not agree, and outside of Satanism in the realm of cultural and political protest I may in fact oppose you, but I won't refuse your right to assert your perspective, just as I'd hope you won't refuse my right to assert mine.

March 08, 2016

Left-hand Tarot #10: the Apocalypse Trilogy


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Welcome to episode #10 of the Left-hand Tarot podcast in which I discuss my usual potpourri but place a special emphasis on the polarity that I try to communicate in my readings. This is going to talk a lot about how Tarot is an external ritual used to express an internal philosophy, and my impression that so many of the Tarot readers I met are either ignorant of the gnostic Christianity, kabbalah, and Hermetic philosophy in their Tarot or they just don't care - and believe it or not, that's kind of an important thing to be aware of when you get into an occult system. Prepare yourself for the apocalypse!

The Thing
The Prince of Darkness
  • Tarot is more than a cheap parlor trick: it's a coded language used to represent a deeper philosophy. Are you aware of what philosophy was used to shape your cards?
  • The importance of destruction in the creative process. Or to quote the sage, "You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs."
  • There and back again: a discussion spanning the pendulum swing from chaos into balance into rigidity and back again. Or, the philosophy I try to communicate in my readings.
In the Mouth of Madness
  • The presence of "bad news" cards in the deck isn't a nod to the dark side (although I'll take every nod I can get), but an open statement that the full spectrum of human experiences must be available in the Tarot. If you cut out the bad, you're handicapping yourself as a reader and doing a disservice to your clients.
Post Mortem
  • I reviewed "How to Read Tarot under Any Circumstance," from Theresa Reed and explored the good, the bad, and the ugly. I give the book a C+, but that doesn't mean it's worthless: I definitely got my value. Check it out!
  • Just say "no" to unpaid work. Also, just say "no" to clients who don't respect you. Every time I've met a client who pushed for fast delivery or didn't respect my boundaries I got burned. There have been no exceptions to this rule.