Sunday, May 29, 2011

Loving Opposition

 One of the things that most visibly sets me apart from other pagans(once you get beyond the "Luciferian" confusion) is the fact that I am vocally opposed to the Abrahamic faiths.  As always, I must immediately clarify that I am not the enemy of any given Christian, Jew, Muslim or Mormon, I love all of humanity, even if sometimes they disgust and enrage me. Rather, I am the enemy of their God.  Of course, the individual mortals who are likely to whip up some of that disgust and rage in me will tell you that anyone who does not worship their God is His enemy... and that is the very first of my reasons.

In the Bible as I know it, it's never exactly said outright(or if it is, I've missed it), instead it says over and over in a hundred ways that if you do not absolutely devote yourself to God and doing His will with every word and thought, then you are weak and will fall into wickedness.  Moreover, in other places(or sometimes the same place) it states that you must already be wicked and prideful if you don't immediately embrace God on first hearing of Him and His works, obviously there could be no other reason not to embrace such a loving and nurturing father-figure.  In the Qu'ran it says it much more plainly, "God is the enemy of the unbelievers."(Sura 2:98) 

Of course this leads to something I mentioned in my first article wherein I tried to define some of my personal path, which is the feeling of superiority through group-allegiance.  All non-believers are the enemy of God, and therefore the enemy of His children.  Of course, in some places in the Bible(I am by no means even remotely as familiar with the Torah in its original form, nor the Qu'ran) it also says things like "Love thy neighbor"(Lev 19:18) and "Judge not lest ye be judged,"(Matt 7:1) not to mention "You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brother's eye."(Matt 7:5)

But as I've said before and will continue to say, these passages are the sort that any fundamentalist, evangelical, or really anyone else who claims to be a faithful child of God can easily forget or decide is trumped by things like "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?"(2 Cor 6:14)  Which is one of the milder ones, but exactly the kind of thing that can, in the mind of a believer, justify discrimination in the workplace or at school.  From there it starts to get less pleasant, with other passages like:

"Whoever sacrifices to any god, except the Lord alone, shall be doomed."(Exo 22:19)

"Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge or of the priest who represents the LORD your God must be put to death. Such evil must be purged from Israel."(Deu 17:12)

"Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst. But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images For you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." (Exo 34:12-14)

"If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people."(Deu 13:6-9)

And here is where the average Christian apologist will say something along the lines of "That's just the Old Testament!  After God sent His son down to die for the sins that were only wrong because He said so in the first place, it was from then on all about love and forgiveness!"

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it." -Jesus (Matt 10:34-39)

"But Ash!" some might say, "That's just Jesus telling his followers to throw their children out of their house or disown their parents(conflict with the Fifth Commandment, by the way) if they don't convert to Christianity!"  Well fine then, how about:

"But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them--bring them here and kill them in front of me."(Luke 19:27)  Still, some apologists will wail, "You're taking that out of context, you're trying to trick us by using our own book, just like we've been warned!"  Well of course you've been warned never to trust what a disbeliever tells you, that's part of any cult indoctrination.  As far as context, this is the ending of one of Jesus' parables, and no matter what context you put it into, it means "kill unbelievers."  If you twist it into something different, you should start next on how Leviticus says that homosexuals are supposed to be taken to death metal concerts, not actually put to death.  And the point still remains that it's very easy for a preacher to get up in front of a group of people, whip them into a furor, and repeat that line by itself, or the whole parable for that matter, and incite hate of The Other in them.

But I'm getting off-track with listing all those examples(There are more if you choose to look), my core point still remains.  The holy scripture of the Abrahamics can be read by one with a loving and open mind, and they'll find loving and open messages, but many who read or preach it are more concerned with their self-righteousness as part of that group-allegiance and making sure that all those of their group feel the same way so that they do not start to question some of the many, many hypocrisies intrinsic to their faith.  So, let's talk about those who God's children are meant to view as enemies, here are a few:

Every Wiccan in the world, most of whom follow the tenet of "An it harm none, do as thou wilt,"(The Wiccan Rede[short]) or some variation thereof as a core belief.  (As opposed to Christians, who rarely repeat the golden rule aloud in my experience, except when they're telling other people not to be cruel to them, and I've only ever heard someone leading a congregation mention it 3 or 4 times in all the church services I've attended throughout my life)

For that matter, all Pagans who follow the Right-Hand Path and accept the tenet of not doing harm.

Taoists and Buddhists(often the same thing, but not always), most of whom are practicing pacifists.

Native Americans who dare to cling to their ancestral traditions.

Steve Wozniak

Linus Torvalds

Carl Sagan

The Dalai Lama


Members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

These are the people who God and His son have declared to be Their enemies.  The faithful will argue that these people are the ones who have chosen to be God's enemies of course, and they can immediately be taken off the naughty-list if they just hand over that "precious gift of free will" then bend knee, beg forgiveness, and devote the rest of their life's actions, words, and thoughts to the glorification of God, begging again for forgiveness whenever they stray into loving their wife more, thinking the sexual thoughts their whole body and brain was wired for, or any of the other thousands of sins outlined in the Big Book of Rules.

I do not hate the Christian, the Muslim, or the Jew.  I hate their God for telling them they are superior to others because they've chosen to give up their free will to Him.  I hate their God for telling them that, at best, they should shun anyone else, at worst kill them, with all manner of pestering, lectures, derision and threats inbetween.  I love you my brothers and sisters, and I hope someday you will reclaim your free will, and judge other people for yourself based on their hearts and their minds, rather than feeling contempt for them simply because they don't belong to your group.  But I hate your God, and I always will.  Not because I am wicked, not because I am deceitful, not because I am full of pride and wrath...  But because He is.

Oh, and by the way, since in the minds of some this is all heading toward another great Holy War(This last month is an excellent example of how some people positively drool at the prospect of armageddon)...  I'm fairly sure of which side I'm on, the side that doesn't pick fights with pacifists, and the side that doesn't advocate rape and slavery.

"As you approach a town to attack it, first offer its people terms for peace.  If they accept your terms and open the gates to you, then all the people inside will serve you in forced labor.  But if they refuse to make peace and prepare to fight, you must attack the town.  When the LORD your God hands it over to you, kill every man in the town.  But you may keep for yourselves all the women, children, livestock, and other plunder.  You may enjoy the spoils of your enemies that the LORD your God has given you."(Deu 20:10)

I will close this particular post with another old quotation, though this one is unsourced.  "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."  Except, in this case, "The enemy of my friend is my enemy."

I remain Ash the Free Man

Friday, May 27, 2011

Who is Welcome Under the Umbrella?

My wife is more active in the pagan community than I am currently, and it was she who brought this round of the debate to my attention.  I started typing a reply to one of the subsidiary articles and, by the time I'd hit "post" on it, I found that I had actually written a longer reply than the original post.  It's just one voice in a comment box, and that is often the role I play in such debates, the perpetual outsider raising his voice at certain points to express a minority viewpoint among the minority.  This time, I'm not fully satisfied by such efforts however, and it was for that reason(as well as re-typing and re-uploading the first post on my blog defining and laying out some of my path for the curious) that I started this blog.  I don't know whether this post will gain acceptance in the larger part of the debate, or if only a handful of friends and friends of friends will ever see it, but still I am compelled to write it out.

I read through these posts, and I see three primary complaints among those who are distancing, or thinking of distancing themselves, from Paganism.  Some feel that the term does not describe them at all, and that they would rather have a label like "polytheist," which says what they are, rather than "pagan," which says what they are not.  Some feel that the term is too generalized as a whole, that there is not enough to unite our disparate beliefs and paths and that they'd be better served by the lot of us breaking up into smaller groups.  Some feel that the term "pagan" is inherently "wiccanate," either through the perceptions of the non-pagan community... Or in some cases, that it honestly should have such a connotation. 

Through the posts and the comments on them, I'm seeing a great deal of conversation between Wiccans, Reconstructionists, and representatives of all manner of Earth-based faiths, Ancestor and Spirit veneration practitioners and Old World religions.  I'm not seeing much from the Left Hand at all... Which is why I felt that our side of the argument should be represented, and since I've yet to see anyone else speak up(if someone has and I've missed it, my apologies if I re-cover your ground), then it falls to me.

For those who think the term "Polytheist" better describes you, perhaps it does.  Not all of us worship multiple Gods though, some of us are Animists, some of us worship a Multi-Faceted Godhead, some revere ancestors and spirits, some don't worship a God at all, and exist in a solipsist universe eternally experiencing itself...  Whereas, the people you're attempting to distance yourself from most, the Wiccans, are Polytheists just as much as you are and they're still in the same category as you, whether you like it or not.  If you're only interested in distancing yourself from Wicca, you're not going to be successful, and if you think that you'll escape the negative connotations "pagan" has...  Good luck, it's only a matter of time before those who would cast aspersions on us learn to add that word to the usual litany of "Gays, muslims, pagans and liberals."  Or just refuse to differentiate anymore than they do between "Pagan" and "Wiccan."

For those who feel the term is too general...  I always thought that was the intention when we decided to make it our word in the first place.  To have one place, one name, one banner that could be united under by all manner of believers in polytheism, animism, personal gnosis, or any other "fringe faith" that could easily be ground under the heel of massive organized religions who still have adherents, zealots, and bought mouthpieces at every level authority.  It gave solitary practitioners and those with small, isolated groups of worshippers a sense of community together.  It gave us a central ground where we could unite, discuss, grow, work, play, worship and, when necessary, fight together.  

Maybe some of you are now growing tired with the term, with the sort of drama and infighting and pettiness that is bound to occur whenever you bring too many people together.  To those, I ask you to think back, to remember when you were taking your first few fearful and cautious steps on your own path...  Most of you, I think, were relieved if not overjoyed when you found out that there was a Pagan Community that was not only willing, but eager to accept you for who you were, who you had been, and who you someday might be.  The more we fracture, the less of that safety net we have for new practitioners.  

Moreover, if we break up into a thousand subgroups, we lose the progress that we've made in taking an active role in finding the cults and those who would manipulate and do needless harm among us and pointing them out as unsafe.  As a whole, Pagans have proven better at self-policing than many other singular or aggregate communities of faiths that I've seen.  We are willing to accept many differences in one another(or we used to be), but we maintain standards of conduct and legality, and we highlight the dangerous elements, shun them, and warn the novice away from them.

Some of you are Asatruar, Kemetic, Hellenismos, or members of another group of Reconstructionist or Old Religion with several hundred, several thousand, or even tens of thousands of adherents world-wide.  You think that your section of the faithful is strong enough to stand on its own.  Perhaps it is, for now.  But ask yourself, how many who use the same term to identify themselves really practice and believe in the exact same manner as you do?  Have you never had internal arguments about minutae, or who deserves veneration for what, or how a rite should be practiced? 

You're going to have reformations and splinterings within your group.  People will eventually start to feel that "Hellenismos" no longer describes them, they are "New Hellenics," while others become "Children of Zeus."  Most of us left the faiths we were raised in and found our own at least partially because we were individualists.  If we do not find some larger grouping to hold onto, eventually we will all break back down to unconnected independent covens and suspicious solitary practitioners.  With no chorus to speak for our needs as a whole, our individual voices will be lost in the storm of public debate, and whatever progress we've made toward equality and freedom will stop, and then erode.  We have centuries left before it truly becomes acceptable in the Western World to practice a faith that doesn't have a definite, unbroken history stretching back for a millennium or more.

Then there are those who don't like the current connotations that "Pagan" has, mostly that in too many minds it is similar to, if not synonymous with "Wiccan."  This, I fully agree, is a problem that needs to be addressed, both outwardly and inwardly.  Outwardly, there are many who do not, or choose not to understand the difference.  The former is easily remedied with some fairly simple explanation(I like to use squares and rectangles), the latter will be remedied only by time and perseverance on our part.  

If you've grown tired of explaining the difference to outsiders...  Well, I apologize, but do you really think that you're not going to get tired of explaining the difference between your particular path and those of other Polytheists?  Doesn't it end as the same conversation even if it begins a little differently?
You've chosen a path of individual knowledge, do you really think you'll ever reach a point where you no longer are asked to explain it by others just because you put a different category name on it?  

For the others, are you really going to just let those who willfully and even spitefully choose to paint us all with the same brush drive us apart?  It sounds like falling for a classic "divide and conquer" strategy to my(admittedly somewhat paranoid) mind.  Why is it so preferable for someone to be unable to immediately define the difference between your path and Vedic Hinduism than between your path and Wicca?  

Which brings me to the inward-problem we must address with the perceived synonymic meanings of "Wiccan" and "Pagan."  People ask "What is a pagan?" and it's difficult to give them a simple answer sometimes...  But then, it should be.  Thinking that you can boil down something as complex as any spiritual belief-system, let alone multiple ones, into a simple, easily-remembered statement is a fallacy.  The simplest way I've ever found to define it is simply this: "Pagans are those who do not belong to the Abrahamic and other long-standing dogmatic religious traditions who choose their own paths of worship, often based on ancestral tradition, earth-reverence or animism, energy work/magic of varying kinds, or other forms of spirituality outside the mainstream."  It's not perfect, it's not simple, it's subject to frequent change, and no two people will ever exactly agree on it.  Sounds like a perfect description of any of us, and of all of us.

Oh, and to those who think that the word "Pagan" either cannot be salvaged, or should be freely given over to the meaning of "Wiccanate..."  There's already a word for that.  It's spelled W-I-C-C-A, often modified by another word like "Gardnerian," "Dianic," "Alexandrian," "Eclectic," or several other I've heard and doubtless dozens I have not.  "Pagan" is everyone's word, and I, for one, am not willing to simply give it up...

Which, finally, brings me to the original point I had wanted to make and not seen fully expressed yet.  Some who practice the less-common or completely individual paths feel at times like they are outsiders in a larger group of Pagans who share multiple traditions.  This is an understandable feeling, but one that I think can slowly be minimized, if not completely overcome, as our community continues to grow and evolve.  Also, there's the fact that even if you do not wish to partake in the rites of other Pagans, there is still the solidarity both spiritual and legal that I mentioned earlier that benefits all of us.

However, that is the passive feeling of being an outsider, which I do not wish to belittle, but others have spoken to more thoroughly and better than I can.  What I wanted to address was the ostracism that I and others are sometimes subject to among what is meant to be the most inclusive of communities.  I spoke of the finding, highlighting, and shunning of cults and the charismatic manipulators among us for the betterment of all as a positive thing, and I truly believe it is, so long as it does not become...  Yes, I must use the term, "a witch hunt."

Now, rather than speaking as a Pagan in general, I speak as a follower of the Left-Hand Path in particular.  I have never been a Right-Hand Path practitioner, I used to define myself as "grey," when I was still uneducated enough to think that there were truly "good witches" and "bad witches," but I have never willingly accepted The Rede, nor have I made any secret of that fact.  I have been a member of the Pagan community for nearly 15 years now, never a leader, never a loud voice, but always present, and so it is in all confidence that I tell you this.

There is a growing movement among, for lack of a better term, 'extremist' practitioners of the Right-Hand Path to exclude the Left-Hand Path entirely from the Pagan community.  I don't know if it's the source or symptom, but I certainly do not think it is coincidental to the fact that "Pagan" is being used more commonly by those who are inside the community to mean "RHP" or "White Witch" or "Follows the Rede" in some form or another, and that those who use it such believe that anyone who does not willingly accept the stricture to do no harm belongs with the Satanists(despite the fact that orthodox Satanism is atheist) simply because they don't want us associated with them.  

This is not always a matter of quiet exclusion or re-definition, either.  I've had years to grow used to people, even other Pagans assuming I was a Satanist.  What troubles me most is that fewer and fewer are interested in listening to the explanation of how little I actually have in common with one.  The inherent hypocrisy of a Pagan who lumps a belief they do not understand or do not wish to understand in with Satanism should not be lost on any of us, I feel.  

Which is the reason for the title of this article.  I've been told more and more frequently over the years that I have no right to call myself Pagan, and I've seen others told the same.  Not just Luciferians like myself, who there may be some small margin of forgiveness for that kind of confusion with.  I've seen the same said to Celtic worshippers of The Morrigan, to Asatruar who revere Loki, Hellenic followers of Ares, Sethites,  Chaotes, and anyone who freely wears their Left-Hand Path allegiance, or simply and openly says that they do not accept pacifism as a viable personal philosophy.  

The Left-Hand Path is part of Paganism, or at least, it once was.  There are many of us, many times many, and though we may not always be as active or integral a part to the regular functioning of the Pagan community as a whole, we have always been with you.  We may not agree with you on everything, but the vast majority of us respect and love you as reflections of ourselves, why have some of you stopped doing the same for us?

We have long been treated as the skeleton in your closet, the 'uncultured' relative who embarrasses you.  We have borne it with good grace, for the most part, because we fully understood why, and most of us found it a bit amusing.  Those who do not want to admit the Left-Hand Path has a place in Paganism are those who want to present Paganism as a non-violent, utterly friendly and harmless group of belief systems.  At least, that's what I like to believe, because the alternative is that you really think that you're somehow superior to us, and I'd hate to think that of you.

I read on more than one post that Wiccans in particular are concerned that it feels like everyone else is abandoning them.  They're asking the others "Why are you leaving?"  I posit that perhaps you should ask yourselves, "What have you done to make us want to leave?"  Or even, "What should you do to make us want to stay?"

I'm not suggesting anyone should change their faiths to suit others.  Nor am I saying that I expect some kind of reparation for the unkind words I've had spoken to and of me by people who should have had more wisdom and love in their hearts.  All I am asking, is that those who wish to remain part of the Pagan Community, who wish to see it continue to grow and thrive, pause for some introspection.  If you really feel that you can't belong to a larger group that includes those who share such differing beliefs as I and my non-RHP brothers and sisters...  Do you really all want us to go, too?  Or can you grow a bit and accept our differences the way we accept yours, with understanding, if not agreement?  If you can't, maybe "Pagan" is just going to become another word for "Wiccan."

...But not while I remain Ash the Free Man.

Free Luciferianism

When I'm interacting with other spiritual people, I usually tend to speak in hypotheticals and open-ended statements.  I've learned not to give too much information about my own faith away without being asked; not because I do not believe fully in a free dissemination of information, nor because I regard my spiritual path in any way as secretive, no, it is because on naming my path, I am perpetually plagued with a panoply of prejudices and preconceptions.  

"What is your spiritual path?"  Starts this conversation I've had so many times, and always I take a steadying breath, repeat a litany of calmness within my heart, and brace myself as I respond.
"Free Luciferianism."
"Oh, so you're a Satanist?"  Is usually the response I get when I'm lucky.  When I'm unlucky(which grows more frequent as years pass), it's more on order of, "You're a Satanist!" and, when speaking to a Pagan rather than an Abrahamic, "You have no place among Pagans, everyone knows Satanists are just inverted Christians!"

"No, I'm not a Satanist, I'm a Luciferian, there are as many differences between the two as there are between a Wiccan and a Thelemite, or, for that matter, between a Wiccan and a Christian."  This is usually where I start making my own judgements of the person I'm talking to, based on how they continue.  Those who have open minds and open hearts will ask the differences, and it will begin a conversation where we share our beliefs, contrast and compare our moralities, and usually both walk away from the conversation wiser and with a fresh perspective both on our practices and on those of others.

However, through the passage of years, that outcome, which in itself is a spiritually fulfilling practice for me, becomes less and less likely.  When first I started on the Left Hand Path, I could expect most who call themselves Pagan to be interested in hearing what my faith actually is and making an informed decision of whether they wanted to be associated with me after, and for most Christians to just tell me flat out that there was no difference and toss me on the Satanist junkpile(by the way, there are many very friendly and personable Satanists and Setites who are wise, educated, make excellent friends, and are generally a pleasure to know, but I'll leave that for another time).  

In recent years though, that seems to have been turned on its head.  More often now I'll have an Abrahamic who is honestly interested in understanding other religious and spiritual beliefs ask me any number of thoughtful questions, and some have even become good friends to me thereafter...  Whereas more and more I find myself shunned by Wiccans and those who seem to regard the Right Hand Path as the only path, branded Satanist and told I am not welcome, because they do not want my foulness associated with the purity of their path.

What thoughts and perceptions I have about why this should be so are also a topic for another post someday.  In this initial blog post, I intend to define some of the core tenets of my path and explain some of the key differences between it and Satanism(as well as some other branches of Luciferianism) as well.  You're not likely to find Free Luciferianism as a topic on any kind of spiritual aggregate site, nor should you expect to find a central foundation for the dissemination of it.  It's a path many have trod throughout the years, and it has had variations and names, even as I've described it to others on occasions, they've remarked on how similar my system of belief and morality is to their own thoughts and concepts.  Free Luciferianism is the name I gave it, and I welcome any other to call themselves as such, so long as they do not, while carrying that label, try to acquire gain in return for their wisdom, or attempt to act as an intermediary between other persons and the supernatural.

We will begin where we must.  What is the difference between Satanism and Luciferianism?  Aren't Satan and Lucifer the same being?  

Since this whole article is about labels and groupings, for the purposes of the explanation, I break Satanists down into three separate groups.  While these three certainly don't encompass every possible belief of every practitioner who identifies as a Satanist, they do cover the three largest groups and the three broadest perceptions people of varying amounts of knowledge and disinformation on the subject have.  There are certainly other beliefs and practices held by those who label themselves "Satanist," and I apologize if this gives offense.  I also am not truly a scholar on all of these subjects, so if I make any glaring factual errors, I am always glad to be corrected and grow wiser for it.

1. LaVeyan Satanism - Members of the Church of Satan, who follow the tenets of the Satanic Bible and other works of Anton Szandor LaVey.  In general, LaVeyan Satanists practice a mixture of atheism, solipsism, and hedonism.  They do not worship Satan as an individual with horns and goat's feet who lives in Hell and tortures sinners for eternity.  Rather, they use the Satan archetype as an example, and their most important tenets deal with individuality, and acknowledging and fulfilling all of one's own desires without worrying about how one might be perceived by others.  Most LaVeyan Satanists who practice any form of what might be termed "worship" are worshiping themselves or their own inherent potential.

2. "Scare Your Parents Satanism" or "Heavy Metal Satanism" - There is a reason why actual worshippers of Satan as he is presented in the Christian traditon are few and far between.  Who would voluntarily wish to worship a being who wants nothing for them but harm and destruction?  Most of those who willingly say something like "Hail Satan!" and actually mean it, fall more into these two categories.  This is what some people might refer to as "an inverted Christian," but in reality, they are closer to "an inverted Wiccan."  Angry at the world, at themselves, or at others(usually authority figures), they are(however temporarily or long-term) embracing destruction and hate and willful sin(as they perceive it) as an act of rebellion or revenge.  They tend to draw their beliefs and sacraments from movies and books published in the last decade or two that claim to have ancient knowledge and rituals, but contain no reliable references to their sources.  Most who start on this path eventually either go back to Christianity and eventually tell stories about how they "went through a witchcraft/satanist phase" or seek a more well thought-out Left Hand Path.

3. "Goat-Sacrificers" - First of all, I want to start this explanation by saying I mean and have no disrespect for those who incorporate ritual sacrifice into their practice, such as some practitioners of Vodoun, Asatru, Kemetic, Celtic or Hellene paths.  When I refer to a "Goat-Sacrificer," what I mean is someone who has either taken Black Masses from the questionable sources mentioned under "Scare Your Parents/Heavy Metal," or invented their own.  Where the SYP/HM might drink and drug, break and burn things, incorporate sexual rites, and speak ritual chants in badly translated Enochian or Latin...  These are the practitioners who will sacrifice an animal(or a human if they can get one), paint themselves with/bathe in the blood, and dedicate themselves to the destruction of all things good and pure.  This type of practitioner's greatest desires are to harm, kill, and destroy all purity and happiness.  They don't exist except in movies and sensational news stories.

Now that we've defined those groups, we'll contrast some of the basic tenets of the more common branches of Luciferianism.  

1. Knowledge - Where the highest pursuit of most Satanists is fulfillment of their desires and personal empowerment, the highest pursuit of most Luciferians is knowledge.  To a Luciferian, knowledge is pleasure, empowerment, and fulfillment all in one package.  We seek it at all times in all its forms.  What happens after is an area where Luciferians differ, however, and that will be addressed below.

2. Morality - As do most followers of the Left-Hand Path, almost universally(there are always exceptions), Luciferians are encouraged, if not expected, to evaluate their personal morality and define their own code of conduct.  While some might reflexively think that this would lead to all Luciferians practicing enlightened-selfishness like a LaVeyan at best, and acting like heartless monsters at worst...  Some make the same arguments about atheists, and they just don't hold up.  In practice, most Luciferians are intelligent, educated individuals who understand the concept of Game Theory and realize it's in our own interest to cooperate with others... and at the core, we're human beings just like anyone else, it's in our nature to love and against our nature to hurt others without provocation.

3. Magic/Ritual/Energy Work - Almost universally, Luciferians all practice this to some extent.  Some are Chaotes, some work Black Masses, some use simple, non-ritualistic energy working, or simply pray, or any one of a dozen other means to achieve the same end.  Ultimately, we all try to use our knowledge of the metaphysical and of ourselves to attempt to manipulate the world around us to some extent, or to understand it on an even deeper level.

Now that we've gone through the groundwork, the question is, what is so "Free" about my practice of Luciferianism, and why did I have to give it a fancy name?  Well, to begin with, beyond the three things named, I have some very differing opinions about other areas of practice and belief from the "orthodox" branches of Luciferian, and I neither want to be confused with them, or have them confused with me.  I will now set out the tenets of what I define as Free Luciferianism.

1. Honesty - I am a great lover of sarcasm, hyperbole, and irony...  But in discussing or conveying information of any importance at all, lying or telling half-truths is just wrong.  In my personal morality system, it is a greater wrong to lie to a person than to insult them, steal from them, or cause them harm...  Because you are doing all three at once.  I may not always choose to volunteer information without being asked, but when I am asked a question, I will always answer it as honestly and thoroughly as I am capable.  More importantly, perhaps, I must constantly re-evaluate my beliefs, my morality, my words, and the stands I choose to take to be certain I am being honest with myself as well.  If ever I find I have deceived myself, and in doing so, deceived another, it is my obligation to apologize to them and make right the wrong I've done.

2. Knowledge - As I addressed under the main Luciferianism section, knowledge in all its forms is sacred to the Luciferian mind.  However, one of the first areas where I came into conflict with other Luciferians was about how knowledge should be handled once it is gained.  Some groups, like the Order of the Phosphorus and the Temple of the Dark Sun jealously guard their knowledge, sharing it only in pieces, and feel that knowledge should be "earned," parceling it out to those they deem "worthy," and awarding degrees and levels based on "achievement" as judged by others and only allowing you access to "deeper mysteries" when you have proven "ready."  Please pardon my abuse of quotes in the preceding sentence, as the written word is not always a good medium for expressing one's tone of voice as it conveys sarcasm, irony, disdain, or any of a number of other emotions.  

Knowledge(and I mean true knowledge, not knowing what your favorite celebrity's reproductive organs and secondary sexual characteristics look like in detail, or whether your neighbor indulges in consumption of what are deemed "illicit" substances, or anything else that's individual and private), is the right of all who would seek it.  Some argue that the wrong knowledge can be dangerous in the wrong hands, but I ask who truly has a right to judge what hands are right, and what hands are wrong.  It is the duty of the learned to teach all that they know, and for the ignorant to seek the learned.  And while the imparting of the 'basic' and 'fundamental' knowledge to children and college students is a full-time job worthy of a reasonable rate of pay... Treating any knowledge as "secrets" and requiring respect, authority, or undue sums of compensation(I'm looking at you, anyone who's ever published a book on the occult with a price-tag over $30 or expected $100's-1000's in return for pre-written/recorded "seminars" and "courses" that took several hours of your life, once, to compile), is...  I'm not even sure there's a word that carries the true level of disdain and outrage it makes me feel, since I've rather liked and respected most of the prostitutes I'd ever met.  I suppose the best parallel I can draw is to the kind of Evangelical who bilks the elderly and gullible out of their money in return for pre-written prayers and empty promises of salvation.

3. Introspection - While it was touched briefly upon in previous topics, it deserves its own, because it is one of the most important aspects of my philosophy and spirituality.  I am constantly examining and rethinking every belief I have, every fact I know, and every word I speak in seriousness.  If I find logical, moral, spiritual or factual inconsistencies in my beliefs, my words, or my actions, then I must own up to them.  I must not speak in ignorance, nor press a viewpoint I have not completely evaluated for myself.  Cognitive dissonance and willful ignorance are two of the root causes of many of the world's problems.  However, I do not simply hold myself to this, when I see another person espousing a belief or opinion with a glaring inconsistency in it, it is my duty to point it out and elaborate if they still do not see it.  Which leads into...

4. Willful Ignorance - On finding someone expressing a position(whether it be a personal viewpoint, a larger set of beliefs or traditions, or a "fact" that is anecdotal or disproven) that is riddled with falsehood, ignorance, or cognitive dissonance on the speaker's part, as I said, it is my duty to confront them with it.  I must make a reasoned, polite argument to illustrate the inherent flaws with what they've said as gently as possible, not resort to any form of ad hominem, straw-man, or other dishonest debate tactic, and give them time for their own re-examination and introspection.  If, rather than having civil discourse with me, they choose to immediately fall into a circular argument, straw-man me unhesitatingly, or fall into ad hominem, they are now, in my view, the Willfully Ignorant.  Willful Ignorance is the worst form of dishonesty, and quite possibly, the worst "sin" a person is capable of, to my particular spiritual views, for from it stems all self-justification for hate, bigotry, murder and tyrrany.  The three most common forms it in are the belief of superiority through group-allegiance, the belief in the sanctity of tradition simply due to being traditional, and the repetition of a perceived authority figure's words and viewpoints.  If, even after being confronted with the inconsistency of their view or belief, they refuse to even consider examining it for themselves, and resort to one of the dishonest tactics mentioned, or simply just start shouting their view over and over again...  It becomes my duty to continue the argument in some cases, not because I expect to convince them that there are fallacies in their view, but because there may be others listening or observing the conversation, and I still have a chance, whether through honest discourse or resorting to my own rhetorical trickery(fair is fair), to make the willfully ignorant person and, by extension, the view they are espousing, look as ridiculous, wrong, or outright offensive as it truly is on thorough and honest examination.  Not all views are equal simply because they are held by a certain number of people, and not every idea deserves respect.

5. Metaphysics - Here is where I start going wide afield of most other practitioners.  My view on the metaphysical is a shifting thing that I have been working on through varied studies, meditation, ritual consultation, and introspection for over half of my life.  As it stands...  My view is somewhere on the spectrum between theism, agnosticism, and solipsism.  I perceive the world around us as simply a stage, or an illusion of sorts, where we may grow, learn, and experience ourselves and eachother throughout many phases of existence.  I am a believer in the idea of demiurges, rather than deities.  That the Gods we know, worship, love, or disdain are not the source of all creation, but a higher level of existence than the mortal soul...  For now.  Which is where the solipsist element comes in...  For I believe every soul is a divine spark, and that we are all on the long journey to Godhood and beyond.  Is it any wonder why I then innately distrust any God who demands I acknowledge their superiority and accept their truth as absolute?

6. Lucifer - Probably one of the areas where I am most likely to differ with most of the orthodoxy of Luciferianism.  I venerate(not worship) Lucifer in his aspect as the Light Bringer and the Rebel.  There are many arguments to be made about the Satan being a Hebrew term for a choir of hateful angels and whether Lucifer was originally a God in his own right, a rebellious Archangel, or a Babylonian King.  There is no definite "truth" in many matters of the metaphysical, and this is one of them.  The aspect of Lucifer I venerate is drawn from a combination of the Bible itself, Milton, the Book of Enoch, varying other sources of questionable authenticity, and my own thoughts and meanderings.  

The Lucifer I venerate is the one who rebelled against what he saw as an unjust system being headed by a tyrant and chose a difficult path of suffering and likely unwinnable war over an easy one of bondage.  I choose the term "venerate," because the Lucifer whose path I follow would be insulted by worship, and seeks no dominion, only equality and freedom.  I place high with him other beings and powers like Lillith, Azazel, Semjaza, and all his chorus of Watchers.  In addition though, I venerate those deities who encourage freedom and the search for knowledge and wisdom in their followers like the God and Goddess of the Wiccans and most of the deities worshiped by the majority of Pagans, Polytheists and Reconstructionists.  Which is not to say that I worship them, because the term, in my mind at least, incorporates an acceptance of one's inferiority to the object of worship, and that is anathema to me.  I do not think, though, that most of those Beings whose rituals and revelries I have joined would bear me ill will, for always have I entered in nothing but respect (and in most cases, love)for Them, Their rituals, and Their followers.  If I had not that respect, I would politely decline the offer.

In my particular brand of rituals, I invoke spirits, I make small offerings and sacrifices in return for requested assistance, or often simply meditate on my own knowledge and ignorance and what I can do to improve myself.  I use runes and symbolism powered with my own spiritual energy, I do not ask for blessings, I do not try to cast energies out.  Rather, I welcome all things in and attempt to make bargains and reach understandings with them(and not for my soul or the blood of virgins, either; usually a bit of liquor, the right kind of plant, or maybe a bit of salt and bread is enough, often, simply the mutual respect between us is sufficient, for many who deal with such entities have ideas about 'binding' and using them).  

Still though, I do not object to others worshiping their God/dess, being, or ethos of choice...  So long as that God does not command them to kill other people for being different.  Which brings me to...

7. "Non Serviam" and Opposition - The first half of this is easy.  As Lucifer said, and I have said many times, "non serviam."  I accept no authority over me except that which I choose to give.  I do not comply with a police officer because their uniform makes them superior to me, I comply with a police officer because they are armed.  I do not listen to a priest/ess's word and accept it as absolute truth because someone else has invested them with the authority to speak for a God/dess, I listen with curiousity, and determine for myself whether I agree or not, and whether they are wise enough to deserve my respect.  I would not join the army if a new draft were imposed because the President, Congress, or any elected official has the right of authority over me, I would either join or flee based on my evaluation of the war being fought.

Now we come to what, for many Pagans who look beyond the title, is the crux of the problem.  The Lucifer who I revere found the God of Abraham repugnant, and so do I.  I have known, respected, befriended, and shared fellowship with many Christians and Jews throughout the years(less so Muslims, likely because I have encountered far fewer).  Those who truly have read their holy scriptures for themselves and come to their own personal understanding and compromises with their God are often decent, kind-hearted, wise people, who will be the first to admit that their religion holds a lot of hate in it that needs to be overcome.  I could wish that they'd find or start a new spiritual movement fresh without all that horrid baggage of blood and tyrrany and fundamentalism, so that they could freely proclaim their faith without having to be apologists...  But they are bound in tradition, they have accepted their fallacies and cognitive dissonances, and try to be as open-minded, humble, and kind as they can.

My problem is with their God, and those who claim to speak for Him.  Begin with the unfairness of the Tree of Knowledge scenario(brutally punishing children for doing something wrong when not only do you know that they are, but you intentionally made them incapable of understanding what wrong is), then move on from there, through Noah, Moses, Job, and on and on...  All the way up to "I'm sending my Son down to the world to die for the sins I created you to commit and it's all your fault even though everything is according to My plan!"  You don't even have to get into any Apocrypha like the Book of Enoch(whereby teaching us metalworking and medicine, and loving human women was enough for the Watchers to be forced to watch their children slaughtered despite their pleas as they were bound for all eternity[Yes, I know the Nephilim were supposedly eating people and such, but I'll debate that sort of thing elsewhere]) before, if you observe objectively... You(or at least I) must conclude that YHVH/Jehovah/Allah is the most abusive father who has ever existed.  

This being had it written in His holy book that children must respect their parents, no matter what sort of people their parents are, or else those parents have every right to beat or even kill those children.  That is not surprising.  That is why I rebel alongside Lucifer.  I could go on and on listing a thousand reasons, but I believe that is sufficient for now.  I cannot respect that God.  I cannot just lightly accept that His followers should be treated with the same respect as a Wiccan or a Buddhist when only one of those three is exhorted multiple times to slay my wife, my son, myself, and most of my friends and loved ones for their various sins.  

The fact that there are other places in that same scriptures that countermand some of these directives is not an excuse, just another example of how flawed the belief system is, because the ignorance, the superiority complex, the hate, the guilt, the blood, and the orders to do murder are still there, are still taught everyday; not just in Jihadist training camps, but in churches, mosques and synagogues all over the world by those who claim to speak for God.  

Which is not to say I go out and kill Christians or do them harm, because then I would be no different from those I despise(not to mention that it's been tried and they breed too fast).  No, I use what has always been the weapon of Lucifer.  I use knowledge.  I know scripture better than most Christians, and I debate them in open forums whenever we are before an impartial audience.  I make posts on the internet whenever the other viewpoint needs to be represented.  I offer information willingly and freely to any who begin to question their Abrahamic faith, not to convert them to Luciferianism(I do not believe on proselytizing), but to open up all possible paths to them, hoping they'll choose another one which isn't paved with blood and guilt and slavery, whether it be Wicca, Buddhism, or any of the Pagan and Polytheist paths that I know enough about to point them to a better source of knowledge than I.

Does this make me the inverse of a Christian?  I don't think so, unless you're basing it on the fact that Christianity is about exclusivity, superiority, and maintenance of hierarchy and ignorance.  If those are the reasons, then I will gladly accept the label.  

8. Freedom - I opened with Truth and Knowledge, and now that my reader(if they have not grown too bored and stopped) understands my view on Luciferianism, I will close by re-iterating and clarifying some of my views on the third major tenet of my spirituality, Freedom, as they've been distributed throughout the preceding text.  I believe in absolute freedom.  Which is not to say anarchy, but personal liberty and rights above all things.  Yes, I even respect the right of an Abrahamic to worship their God, and to hold opinions such as that I should not be allowed to raise children and homosexuals should not be allowed to marry.  However, that freedom only extends within the bounds of their own mind.  They have every right to speak these thoughts, but I have every right to speak mine in return...  They do not have the right to do anymore than that.  No one has a right to impose their personal morality on others.  No one has the right to require another person to do, think, feel, or say anything they do not wish to, or to stop them from doing any of those that they do.  No individual or group has the right to strip the rights of others without just provocation(imprisonment for a harmful crime).  No person, no spirit, and no God has a right to declare the actions or thoughts, or inactions of others that do no harm as "sins" or "crimes." 

This code is simplistic, as all codes must be.  At times I must adapt it to the situation, at times in the past I have been forced to make a change here or there after introspection, and what is presented is neither the whole of my moral code, nor is it enough of a code for most people to live by.  There are gaps, there are parts that I will likely add, alter, or take away as I proceed along my path...  But that is because I am a sentient, free soul, I am the seed of a God, as are you, my dear reader, and above all...

I am Ash, the Free Man.