Friday, May 27, 2011

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.

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