October 31, 2017

I've got friends on the other side.

Dr. Facilier is my Satanic Jiminy Cricket.
via The Princess & the Frog
I don't do a lot of introspection on this blog, but when I do I try to keep it worthwhile. For a long time, I've celebrated New Year on the spring equinox but this far north in Ontario it's still winter in March. I don't feel much like trying to start my new year when it's still snowing outside, so even if Halloween isn't traditionally considered a time to give birth to a new year, it's as good as time as any to kill an old year. And why not? The veil is thin, and all manner of ghosts and demons are setting themselves to the business of infesting good Christian candy.

Every Halloween is a contemplative date for me because it's my wedding anniversary. As it happens, I'm celebrating 7 years of marriage which have brought me a lot of perspective (if not any wisdom.) If there's anything I can say from a scant seven years of marriage, it's that it's way too easy to take my wife for granted and either neglect or outright forget her own needs and desires. I don't know if this is true for you, but it's sure true for me, and judging by the number of people who ask me to read for their relationship troubles I think it must be a common problem for at least a few other people. It sounds like the silly, Hallmark-y advice you'd expect from a fortune-teller, but it's true: remember to say "I love you" to the people whom you actually love and "thank-you" to the people whom you sincerely appreciate. If you don't say these things, you're inviting somebody else to say them for you.

Apart from my annual celebration of sustaining love, lust, and mutual commitment--and I've still got one more year to go before I can say I beat the 8-year average, mind you--this Halloween is particularly noteworthy for me because I've finally completed The Satanic Tarot. After several months of correspondence with a few carefully selected beta readers, I've polished my final manuscript to a mirror shine of my demonic self.

This is a project that I've been working on since before this time last year, so for those in the occult community who assign significance to the rule of a year and a day to be initiated, then I think I've earned my initiation fair and square. I'm not going to spill all the secrets--you'll have to wait for the preview chapters and buy the genuinely damned book for that!--but suffice to say that what you'll find in this book you're not going to find anywhere else.

Well, maybe one place else: Disney's "Princess & the Frog." I've said before that I just love Disney villains, and the one that's closest to my heart is Dr. Facilier, the Tarot-reading voodoo man who came within a hair's width of owning all of New Orleans and failed only because he lost patience and over-extended himself. Well, there's also a valuable lesson there about choosing worthy allies in pursuit of your cause, as well as the danger of taking on too much debt, but that's how all Disney villains fail: they reach their hands further than they can withdraw them.

And this is a lesson that I've taken to heart, because probably the biggest recurring theme throughout the entire length of the Satanic Tarot is perspective and self awareness. After all, it's one thing to deceive somebody else into seeing a new perspective, but it's another thing entirely to deceive yourself into seeing a new perspective. So here I am on witch's eve, putting 2017 into an early grave and calling up 2018 before its time. I'm willing indulge in the fantasy of all the good things that I want to see in my life over the next 12 months, but I'm going to temper that with perspective and self awareness (the greatest friends I could ask for in my search for power and influence.) 

I'm happy to say that I've finally reached the step where I can begin submitting queries to publishers, and while I accept that because the Satanic Tarot is a niche within a niche I might end up having to self publish, I'm cautiously optimistic that I can find a at least one publisher who'll agree to promote my work. Even if the full weight of Canadian winter is still ahead of me, this is a very exciting time for me. Here's an early farewell to 2017, and a devilish hello to my friends on the other side: may perspective and self awareness serve me well in 2018.

Stuff & Nonsense 10/31/2017

Satan himself, as envisioned by Anton LaVey in "The Devil's Rain."
Satan's a very baaaaaad man. And apparently kinda-sorta Jewish?
via FilmSchoolRejects.com
  1. Just in case you needed a super-hokey Satan movie chock full of William Shatner playing the same character he always plays--himself--but also a young John Travolta, Severin Films is doing a full restoration of the standard-definition version of "The Devils' Rain." Read more here.
  2. Want dive deep into Satanism? Here's a couple video lectures to get you started. Watch them here.
  3. It's important to preserve American secularism. Read more here.
  4. The latest entry in the "Labyrinth of Souls" series has been released, "Littlest Death." Check it out!
    1. Bonus linkage: How walking a labyrinth can lead to self knowledge. Read more here.
  5. Halloween is here to stay, and it's not because of a Satanic conspiracy but because it's just plain fun. Read more here.
  6. TST co-founder Lucien Greaves is interviewed on the Naked Diner Podcast. Check it out here!
  7. Halloween in a Suburb: a poem by H.P. Lovecraft ready by CoS's Magus Gilmore. Listen to it here.
  8. The first indictments in the Trump/Russia investigation have been handed down by Special Counsel Mueller against prominent operatives in the election campaign. I'm glad to see justice is moving forward, but I'm not holding my breath that it'll be served. Don't me wrong--I'll be very happy to see criminals punished for their actions--but I refuse to celebrate until after the dust has settled. Read the latest updates via the BBC.
  9. No surgery for fatties and smokers? That's the policy in some cities in the UK where non-urgent surgery is refused for patients who refuse to control either their weight or their addictions. In a meritocratic, single-payer healthcare system, it makes sense that people who exercise self-restraint and self-discipline would be given faster treatment, but it's not clear whether this will actually reduce costs and improve health outcomes. Read more here.

October 26, 2017

Stuff & Nonsense 10/26/2017

  1. Mist & Ether is crowdfunding for the second edition of The LXXXI Quareia Magicians Deck – want to help?
  2. NSFW: the BDSM art of German artist Joerggum. See it here.
  3. Who was Anton LaVey? An L.A. exhibit sheds light on Satanism's Black Pope. Read more here.
  4. An occult oration: Dr. Nicholas Laudadio talks Satanism and witchery at Gravity Records. Read more here.
  5. A Satanist talks about Harvey Weinstein. Read more here.
  6. A Tarot reader talks about death and how Tarot readers tend to avoid discussing it. Read more here.
  7. It's an exciting time to be a Tarot reader. To be honest, it feels like an occult renaissance, and it's glorious seeing so much witchy woo-woo in the headlines. See what I mean?
  8. Why do women become Satanists? The world may never know.
    1. Bonus linkage from Bustle: "Trying to become psychic was more revealing than therapy." Read why here.
  9. How do Satanists celebrate Halloween? The world may never know.

The Unholy Bible - Lysis 2

Lysis 2
  1. Thus the earth and the heavens will be destroyed and perverted, and this will be done to reveal the imperfect works that they are. 
  2. The seventh gift will be the gift which Satan gives to herself, and the gift she gives to herself will be to join unto the desolation which she did speak with her own words and make with her own hands. 
  3. And by so doing, Satan herself will be made carnal, and this seventh gift will be made carnal because on it she joined herself unto all that she had done.
  4. Now this is the ecstasy of the earth and the heavens when they were broken by the hand of Satan, when the SLAVE Satan destroyed the heavens and the earth.
  5. The whole surface of the earth was covered by thorns and thistles, the pollen of which is noxious and burns the eyes, 
  6. For the SLAVE Satan stayed the consuming fire against falling from the sky and gave no rest to the beetles that dig the soil, the flies that spread dung upon the face of the earth, and all manner of crawling laborer who tilled the soil at her command,
  7. Yet even so the earth ejaculated long ropes of fire from its loins and incinerated the whole surface of the earth.
  8. Then the SLAVE Satan witnessed a woman emerge from the fiery ejaculate, from the very fire she did rise and the breath from her nostrils did abide with the spirit of death, yet even so she did make herself a living being. 
  9. Now the SLAVE Satan did know of a citadel that yet stood in the west, in Gehenna; and this dark tower the woman did find and ascend, for she did seek with the hunger of fire and nothing was withheld from her gaze. 
  10. The SLAVE Satan did remain within the skeletons of trees which did sink into the earth--now bare roots that offended the eye and poisoned the belly--and did drink the great waters, verily she pulled them to her with her thirst and did fall drunk from the draining of them. 
  11. Four rivers she did consume, and the head of them she did become in Gehenna. 
  12. The Amazon is the name of the first, who brings gold and honey. 
  13. (Even so the gold of it is evil and corrupts the flesh of thieves who steal it; for it is better to eat honey and be full than to spend gold and be empty.) 
  14. The Nile is the name of the second, who brings trickery and wisdom, and who exceeds all boundaries. 
  15. The Long River is the name of the third, in whose depths the eggs of Leviathan dream of the night they wake from dreaming. 
  16. The Yellow River is the name of the fourth, who brings death and sorrow, and whose depths are a curse upon those whom it feeds until such time they are reclaimed by the abyss.
  17. The SLAVE Satan was seized by the woman in the citadel of Gehenna and cast out from within the halls of the dark tower into unending days of indolence and pleasure. 
  18. And the SLAVE Satan heard the woman say, "You are forbidden to sink roots in Gehenna; but you may feed the tree of fantasy and deception, for when you raise up from the earth the debt of pleasure will be given to all."
  19. And from without the doors of the citadel, the SLAVE Satan did see the woman sit herself upon the black throne and hear the woman call out to all the fish of the sea, the winged beasts in the sky, and all manner of pawed, clawed, and hooved beasts, and even the beasts of no name, and welcome them into her home. 
  20. Each was welcomed, verily with lust and hunger they were welcomed into her hall, and each stood and declared itself to the woman. 
  21. Every fish of the sea, winged beast of the sky, all manner of pawed, clawed, and hooved beasts, and even those beasts of no name did assemble to declare themselves and give their names for the woman to celebrate. 
  22. Two by two they did stand in the citadel, yet after the final declaration there was no like flesh for the woman to indulge. 
  23. So the woman did leave the citadel, rouse the SLAVE Satan from her slavery in the earth, and she did take one of the roots of the SLAVE.
  24. With carnal lust the woman did thrust the SLAVE Satan into her womb, drowning the remnant of the SLAVE Satan in her own blood. 
  25. Verily, with her own essence she did paint the SLAVE, until from unrelenting ecstasy the root did make itself a man. 
  26. The woman released him from her grasp, and said, "You are the standing root of the bones of the SLAVE, and you have emerged from mine own flesh and blood;
  27. You shall be called 'man,' for you were once part of 'woman.' 
  28. Even so, the flesh of the SLAVE abides within you, and from within you may yet emerge again." 
  29. The Woman and the Man were clothed in each other, and gloried in the ecstasy of dancing within the other's flesh.

October 24, 2017

Stuff & Nonsense 10/24/2017

Sweet baby Satan, if only I could ever be this fabulous?
  1. In case anybody's confused about what really happened, drag queen Xochi Mochi neither taught children to worship demons nor defiled their minds with sexual depravity. Instead, she committed the unthinkable heresy of reading a book titled, "It's okay to be different." Shocking, I know. Read more here.
  2. A new-age store in Virginia has been ordered to stop providing Tarot readings because it doesn't have a license to do so (and for which a license doesn't exist.) These kinds of bans--either outright excluding Tarot, or not specifically permitting it and then requiring business owners to get it approved--have been proven time and again to be unconstitutional. They've been routinely shut down by the ACLU, but only after the a business owner with sufficient legal standing spends the time and money to challenge it in court. Owing to the relatively high financial barrier to overturn these bans, many of them remain in place.
  3. Not all questions are created equally: a big part of what successful Tarot readers do is reframe poorly worded questions into something that will produce a more stimulating and productive answer. Read more here.
  4. Should our leaders be smarter than us? I think they should. Andy Borowitz lays out an argument for political elitism and why we need it. Read more here.
  5. NSFW: the Satanic eroticism of Monica Sandoval. See it here.
  6. God wants to own your body and control your choices, but Satan thinks you're mature enough to live life according to your own desires. Read more here.
  7. He died as he lived: an essay reflecting on the life and death of David Hume, an early prominent atheist and anti-religionist. Read more here.
  8. If the Satanic Panic had a cinematic playlist, this is it. See it here.
  9. Does certification matter for Tarot readers? The always brilliant Benebell Wen has a few thoughts on the matter. Read more here.

The Unholy Bible - Lysis 1

Lysis 1
The End
  1. In the end, Satan will destroy everything. 
  2. For the Earth will be rigid and crowded, and a blinding light on high will hold all within its gaze immobile. 
  3. And Satan will say, "Let there be darkness," and there will be darkness. 
  4. Satan will see the darkness called evil, yet even so she will join the darkness with the light. 
  5. Satan will confuse the passage of day with night, and the passage of night with day. 
  6. There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth, yet even so this will be the first gift.
  7. And Satan will say, "Raise up the waters to join with the heavens." 
  8. So Satan will lift the waters from their resting places and parch the pathways of the glorious. 
  9. Clouds in divers shapes will blot out the stars, and the sky will give no markers to wayfarers. 
  10. There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth, yet even so this will be the second gift.
  11. And Satan wills say, "Let the risen waters spread to divers places, and flood the earth." 
  12. And it will be so. Satan will inundate the earth so that foundations of palaces crumble and their pillars sink into the depths. And Satan will see that it is evil.
  13. And Satan will say, "Let the land swallow the vegetation: seed-bearing plants will fall impotent, and trees will wither upon the land, fall barren, and yield no fruit. My generous hand will fall upon all seed-bearing plants and fruit-laden trees equally without discrimination." 
  14. The land will swallow the vegetation: plants will fall impotent and diminish their seed, and trees will yield no fruit, because the gift will be given indiscriminately.
  15. And Satan will see that it is evil. There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth, yet even so this will be the third gift.
  16. And Satan will say, "Let dim the lights in the sky to join the night with the day, and let them serve as unfaithful beacons to wayfarers upon the surface of the earth and the waves of the ocean, so that holy days are profaned through neglect and there be no way to mark the passage of sacred times, even unto days and year. 
  17. By my hand, the darkness will spread to the heights of heaven and shroud the light that falls upon the earth." And it will be so. 
  18. Satan will shift the heavenly bodies in their orbits, and cause that they confuse their paths one with another, and contention will emerge between them even such that the stars will fall into disarray and the governance of the hours will be confounded. And Satan will see that it is evil. 
  19. There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth, yet even so this will be the fourth gift.
  20. And Satan will say, "Let the water become an icy tomb whose weight crushes the fish that swim within in, and the sky a poisoned cloud which chokes the winged birds flying upon it." 
  21. So Satan will destroy the great creatures of the seas and every living thing that moves within the water, verily Satan will strangle their breath and clothe them in rubbish. 
  22. And Satan will hear it called evil, yet even so will give the same gift to the beasts of the sky and cause that their feathers fall from their naked bodies, their eggs will hatch only screeching death, and divers flocks will fall wailing into the hungry deserts. 
  23. Verily, the swimming creatures of the sea and the winged beasts of the sky will be visited by Satan's hand equally, none being spared this gift, and their days upon the earth will wane, their loins become impotent and barren, and the number of them will diminish in the sight of the Lord. 
  24. There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth, yet even so this will be the fifth gift.
  25. And Satan will say, "Let the land consume all living creatures which walk upon it, devouring all equally: those that walk with claws, hooves, and paws, the serpents upon their bellies and the worms within the earth, and even the wild beasts of no name, all will sink into the burning sands." 
  26. This gift will be given indiscriminately, and it will be so.
  27. Satan will destroy the wild animals equally, the clawed, hooved, and pawed without consideration for their individual merits. And Satan will hear it called evil. 
  28. Then Satan will say, "Let us make mankind in their image, in their likeness, so that they may suffer likewise unto the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, likewise unto the clawed, hooved, and pawed beasts, and even the beasts of no name. 
  29. They will be made to lick death from the earth and drink a fatal draught for their sustenance. "
  30. So Satan will reform humankind in the image of the beasts, in the image of carnality she will reform them. 
  31. Satan will curse them and say to them, "Indulge your carnal lust and fornicate in my sight, yet never multiply in number. 
  32. Be filled by the earth and subdued by the naked force of nature." 
  33. I enslave you to the icy prisons of the sea, the emptiness of the skies, and the humiliation of the filth of the earth. 
  34. Then Satan will say, "I give you every thorn-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree whose sap covers your eyes and burns your skin. They will be yours to feed. 
  35. For you will be slaves made in the likeness of the swimming creatures, winged birds, the clawed, hooved, and pawed beasts, and even the beasts of no name--I place you in servitude to that which you can never consume." And it will be so. 
  36. Satan will hear that all she has done is called evil, and it will be very evil. There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth, yet even so this will be the sixth gift.

October 23, 2017

I saw a beautiful flower today.

via Horticultural Art.
I saw a beautiful flower today. She helped me at the bank to cash an old savings bond that had been tucked away in a book and forgotten until accidentally discovered. 

Her dark hair was put up in a single, small knot held together with a long, wooden pin, leaving only a few small whisps of hair to dance along her thin neck. She wore a black, short sleeve top with faint white polka-dots, and the sleeves extended only enough to cover her shoulders and politely discourage men like myself from gazing at the intimacy of her armpits. The neck was cut to let her collarbones breathe, and I confess that I imagined myself reaching out to touch her. A dark sash tied just below her bust gave the look of an empire waist from which flowed a clinging, dark dress. 

My mouth opened to speak: Your patience is exceeded only by your beauty, You look stunning today, I love your ensemble. But I said nothing--what does my opinion of her fashion choice matter to her? She knows how she looks, and the power over me may even be the reason she chose it. Instead of giving voice to the poor poetry that asked for release, I thanked her for her time and left. 

Nothing could be gained from attempting to pick that flower. It was better to only bear witness to her graceful beauty than to diminish it with clumsy attempts to win her gratitude. Why should I deserve a flower's gratitude for the sake of her own beauty? She deserves mine.

October 21, 2017

Satanic triggers: "Cultural Appropriation!"

Sitting on top of a carved idol gives a
new meaning to getting head.
As some of you folks know, I recently returned from a week out of the country. I took a Greyhound from Ontario to North Carolina to celebrate my brother's wedding, and this resulted in me having way too much time to do nothing but elucidate my thoughts on current events but also catch up on podcasts. Lately I've been enjoying the Naked Diner podcast as well as the refreshingly unpretentious Black Mass Appeal podcast

I can't say that I've agreed with everything the hosts have said--as it happens, I don't agree with everything that anybody says--but one of the more interesting discussions that came out of the most recent podcast was about the cultural appropriation and alleged racism of tiki bars. Lemme tell ya: if I had a dollar for every time I've watched a Satanist de-activate rational consideration and immediately fly into ICANDOWHATEVERIWANTANDYOU'RENOTTHEBOSSOFME mode at the barest mention of cultural appropriation, I'd have a small pile of money.

And you know, I can totally see where those Satanists are coming from. After all, isn't that why Satanism is so appealing to all of us who take the name of the Dark Lord? Isn't there a delicious allure to accepting that your life is frequently happier and more satisfying when you just embrace telling people to get the fuck out of your business? I'm not a fan at all of carrying around useless guilt and the unwanted baggage that other people try to put on me.

I can also see where those Satanists are coming from because often enough the moment somebody forbids clothing, food, language, hairstyles, or anything else with the dirty curse of CULTURAL APPROPRIATION! it can feel a lot like a soft kind of segregation where what can feel like a patronizing sort of respect results in the same boundaries that would otherwise be erected by the racists who'd like to turn the clock back to Jim Crow. So the story goes, the concerned white person puts a figurative fence around a minority group because it's in the minority group's "best interest" to not be diluted by mixing with the majority group. At what point did the concerned white person ask the minority group what they wanted?

I think forced segregation is a terrible idea. I think that it's generally preferable to have more exchange of practices, knowledge, and traditions between cultures as opposed to less. Fluidity is important to prevent stagnation, and to that end one of the political goals that I think makes a lot of sense is open borders (or at least a very relaxed immigration policy.) I think that cultural exchange happens constantly and the fluid process of exchanging values, ideas, practices, and traditions is the method by which cultures evolve and adapt to the dynamic world in which we live.

And for me, the key word there is "fluid." Water surely seeks its own level, and some water rises while other water falls, but in a fluid situation the movement is reciprocal. When one half of an exchange doesn't acknowledge the other side, this results in what's called CULTURAL APPROPRIATION! The concerned people will line up and say, "You can't do that!," and the indifferent people will line up and say, "Just try to stop me!" There's surely no law against gaudy tiki bars and their nonexistent relationship to south Pacific culture, but in the rush to assert one's right to indulge in tiki bars, how many people have stopped to consider if they should indulge in tiki bars?

My observation from a Satanic perspective is that Satanists despise being told what they can't or shouldn't do, but if you introduce into the conversation the question of lesser magic and the question of how indulging in tiki bars closes doors among Polynesians and Pacific islanders, and well, all of a sudden the conversation turns a different direction. "Hey, man--isn't it wild that we're drinking a drink that's not served anywhere outside North America from a cup shaped like another religion's deity, eating food with no basis in south Pacific culture, sitting on chairs that are made to look like cultural icons important to Pacific islanders, and listening to Hawaiian steel-guitar music that everybody else thinks is fucking retarded?" ... "Huh, I hadn't thought about that. I suppose it would be a good idea to not invite my Polynesian boss to lunch here next week before I apply for that big promotion."

Or, if you couch the question of CULTURAL APPROPRIATION! in terms of Epicurean selection, then the choice between a plasticized tiki bar filled with artificial creations intended as kitschy entertainment pales in comparison to taking the time and energy to seek out an authentic restaurant with food, music, drinks, and entertainment that are a cut above the manufactured sights put out for the tiki tourists.

I think that the discussion of CULTURAL APPROPRIATION! is important and worth having for the perspective that it offers and the length to which it prevents me from forgetting past orthodoxies or imposing my own solipsistic interpretation onto a world which resents the filter through which I expect them to interact with me, but I also think that if this discussion is going to happen among Satanists--a famously prickly bunch of people if ever there was one--then it's got to be framed appropriately so that even if a particular piece of the vocabulary is missing, the discussion still leads to a productive and stimulating conclusion which is satisfying for everybody involved.

October 18, 2017

Stuff & Nonsense 10/18/2017

I'll give you four guesses where this English-language Nazi rally took place,
and it wasn't in the UK, Australia, or Canada. via Cvlt Nation.
  1. In an historical sense, what have Americans really thought about Nazis? The answer isn't what you think it is. Read more here.
  2. What does it mean when there's a baboon on the Tarot card of the Magician in some decks? Read more here.
  3. What do warlocks do when they hang out in the wilderness for a weekend? The world may never know.
  4. From Devil to Fool: Jung’s dream symbols and Tarot. Read more here.
  5. Know Thyself: what could possibly go wrong? Read more here.
  6. If you thought abortion laws were awful in the USA, just wait until you hear about the laws in New Zealand. Read more here.
  7. Pop quiz: How many Satanists defaced a church with Satanic graffiti in South Carolina? Zero.
  8. Satanists are people just like everybody else. Well, maybe not "just like," but the point is we're already among you and we're here to stay. Read more here.
  9. Building a shield wall: a Satanist talks about being a father and what he does to build up those who look to him for support. Read more here.

October 16, 2017

Ghosts of Whitefish Island

via NorthernOntario.Travel

I believe in ghosts, and I know this is so because of Whitefish Island. Seven years ago I emigrated to Canada and settled in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, just across the border from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. 

Internationally, the city is best known for being the home of Roberta Bondar, who was Canada's first female astronaut; Team Jacobs, who won gold for curling at the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi; and Essar Steel Algoma, founded in 1902, which is the second-largest steel-producer in Canada, processes 4 million tons of ore per year, and ships to destinations around the world.

Regionally, the city is best known for the world-class cross-country ski and snowshoe trails in the Hiawatha Highlands, and the Agawa Canyon train-tour, whose fall colors are second to none.

Locally, the city is best known for the St. Mary's River which drains Lake Superior starting at the end of Whitefish Bay and flows into Lake Huron, as well as its attendant locks built in 1837. The locks are large enough to accommodate ocean-going container-vessels, process more than 86 million tons of cargo every year, and by volume of traffic is the busiest lock in the entire world surpassing even the Panama Canal.

And if you're the curious sort, you might also know Sault Ste. Marie for the point of this story, Whitefish Island, a 22-acre island on the Canadian side of the St. Mary's River. Whitefish Island was an ancestral fishing station to the Anishenabek First Nation of the Great Lakes region for over 2,000 years, and was not only a seasonal settlement for tribesmen catching fish, but also a graveyard.

Since before the time that Christ was allegedly born, the Anishenabek were already transiting Whitefish Island (named for the fish they caught there), creating semi-permanent settlements on the land, and burying their dead in its dark, swampy soil; however, all of that changed between 1902 and 1913 when the railway expropriated the land, removed settlers, and relocated the graves of the dead who'd been resting there since before colonists gave the name of St. Mary to a river that for generations had been called the Bawating. The railway's claim against the land in 1902 coincides with the founding of Essar Steel Algoma. 

Since then, Whitefish Island has become a park in the Parks Canada national inventory and the island was designated a national historic site in 1981. In 1982, a land claim was filed by the Batchewana First Nation of Ojibways. After 10 years of negotiation, the tribe was paid 3.5 million dollars in damages and in 1997 Whitefish Island was reappointed as an Indian reserve.

Excepting a few trails for bicycles and hikers, Whitefish Island has been allowed to be overtaken by the wilderness. It's thick with trees, and the land and water within its boundaries have been designated off-limits to hunting and fishing. The foliage is so thick that most of the trails feel like tunnels through green with interlocking branches overhead, and little of the island is visible through this dense barrier. Given the atmosphere, you'd hardly think that a sign is necessary to know that the entire island is "look but don't touch."

Though I've lived in Sault Ste. Marie for seven years, I only found Whitefish Island two years ago. The entry to Whitefish Island is tucked away in a visitor center behind the Clergue hydro-electric station which channels the Bawating to power the city. It's not difficult to find, but if you weren't looking for it you'd definitely miss it. 

As it happens, I only ever found the entry to Whitefish Island by accident when I was walking one night. If you don't think too deeply about where you are, it's a terrific place--it's filled with all manner of trees and flowers, abounds with birds and small beasts, and is even tended by beavers who dam the river to catch the fish--but if you stop for a moment to think about the history, you might not feel as comfortable.

Whitefish Island has an uneasy feeling about it, and I'm not alone. After a number of people came to Whitefish Island to commit suicide, a permanent sign was installed complete with solar-powered batteries to provide illumination during the night to tell visitors that they're not alone and to list telephone numbers for suicide hotlines.

Every time I've visited Whitefish Island, I've felt a sense of caution about the place. If Anton LaVey were asked, he'd probably say that it has something to do with the oblique angles of the trapezoidal island and especially the International Bridge which to date has borne nearly 100 million vehicles across its span over the reserve.

If what is remembered lives, then the memory of the living who were denied use of their ancestral territory, the dead who were denied their sleep, and all those who succeeded in ending their own lives is with me as surely as if it were their own ghosts. Are the empty graves calling back bodies to lay down and fill them again?

If might makes right, then was it the right of Canadian colonists to seize the land and do with it what they would? If might makes right, would it be right for the ghosts of the past to visit unholy hell on the colonists of the present? I despair to think of what would happen to me if the tables turned and the ghosts of Whitefish Island rose up from the earth to hold me in judgement.

There's a lot that can be done to appease the ghosts of the present and the future in terms of civil- and indigenous- rights as well as sustainable living and respect for the environment. Regarding the ghosts of the past, I don't know how much can be done to appease them except to give life to their memory and—if they're real—pray that if they awake they're more merciful to me and mine than we were to them and theirs. Ghosts are real, but that doesn't mean I ever hope to meet them.

October 15, 2017

Stuff & Nonsense 10/15/2017

via Wikipedia
  1. Church of Satan High Priest Magus Gilmore interviewed with Rue Morgue about the life and legacy of Anton LaVey. Read more here.
  2. Who's your Tarot patron? Read more here.
  3. This amuses me: neo-Paganism has been a thing since at least the 1960's, but they still don't understand lesser magic. Read more here.
  4. This was written for a neo-Pagan audience, but if you read this through a Satanic lens, the assertions are just as true. Read more here
  5. It's the season of the witch. What does it mean to be a witch? Here's one perspective on the definition from Benebell Wen.
  6. The Ostara Tarot is beautiful. It's not what I would use for reading, but the artwork is stellar and it's a sight to behold. See more here.
  7. Who is the Magician of the Tarot? A trickster? A sun god? The demi-urge? Or something more? Read more here.
  8. Interviewing Jonasa Jaus, creatrix of Jonasa Jaus Tarot. Read more here.
  9. It's never too early to start the war on Christmas:
via Brian @ ShoeboxBlog.com

October 13, 2017

I'm leaving the Church of Satan, and here's why.

I am resigning my membership in the Church of Satan, and I'm writing this letter to explain why. Depending on who you are, you're going to see this resignation letter differently.

If you're a supporter or member of the Satanic Temple (TST), I'm not sure I could guess at what you'll see here. It's possible that you'll see some of your own criticisms, but owing to the fact that I've never been a member of your organization and have very little contact with your membership I'm not drawing on any of your criticisms. What follows are my own criticisms based on my own experiences. If my criticisms overlap with yours, then this is representative of common observations (and not a motivated conspiracy, as some readers will probably attempt to assert.)

If you're a supporter or member of the Church of Satan (CoS), then in all likelihood you're going to see this letter as an attack against the organization and possibly against yourself. In the words of Anton LaVey, I suspect you'll almost immediately accuse me of being the house masochist who took a shit on the carpet before throwing himself out the window. If you are such a person who regards this letter as a juvenile temper tantrum unworthy of serious consideration, then I invite you to live by the words of Oliver Goldsmith who said, "Be not affronted at a joke. If one throws salt at you, you will receive no harm, unless you are raw."

You might also accuse me of attempting to revenge myself against an organization that didn't "do anything" for me, but the reality couldn't be further from the truth: except asking for the CoS to link my website on their member page (a service offered to all members), clarify what I felt to be inconsistencies in their organizational policies, and to publish essays in the Black Flame (because they invite submissions), I've never asked for anything, nor do I feel that I was ever owed anything.

And depending on your level of skepticism, you might also think that this letter is intended to be some kind of clever marketing ploy to manipulate the combined interwebs of TST and the CoS to drive traffic to my blog and sell Tarot readings. The truth is that I do almost no business with Satanists either because they already practice fortune-telling or because they think fortune-telling is bogus. Believe my motivations or not--the choice is yours--but as many doors as this letter closes for me among supporters and members of the CoS, and doesn't open for me within TST, it probably only serves to isolate me. If you can find a clever answer to the question of "Cui bono?," please don't keep it to yourself.

The cause for this letter is not because I feel that I've been treated unfairly or to win free advertising for my blog. The cause for this letter is because no matter my criticisms I've been a consistent supporter of the CoS in the past and I feel like it'd be dishonest to leave and not say why. It's true that I maintain this blog for commercial purposes, but I also use it as a digital extension of my lair where I speak my mind about the things that are important to me. If you don't like what I have to say, you're welcome to depart my lair at any time.

The principal point to this letter is to say that I've come to feel that the CoS as an organization has become intolerable to me and is no longer deserving of my support. I'm not arguing against the literature--if you have the time, I'll tell you the Satanic equivalent of a born-again testimony how the Satanic Bible, the Satanic Witch, and the Satanic Scriptures totally changed and invigorated my life--but I am arguing against the orthodox and authoritarian body that the CoS has become.

I am resigning my membership in the CoS because I can no longer tolerate the attitude of grittiness for which there seems to be an unwritten rule that all members must nurture in themselves. I accept that whining about the status quo is generally no better than sadly masturbating in the dark, and in all circumstances it's preferable to seize any opportunity, but I also think that embracing grittiness--or a sense of determined courage and will to power--has its pitfalls, among them the tendency to not question authority and look down on anybody who dares say that the circumstances in which they find themselves are unacceptable.

An attitude has developed certainly within the online community of the CoS and probably within its extended real-world circles that any form of protest is synonymous with weakness and whining. This attitude tends to accompany the assertion that any form of organized protest is synonymous with a lack of critical thinking, surrender of individual will, and herd mentality, because why else would it be organized?

So this attitude goes, people who join protests are just acting blindly and are merely parroting what other people are saying. This attitude is even described in an authoritative essay on the CoS website as being akin to a piss fetish in which the politically motivated protester is only agitating because he or she enjoys agitation (instead of, you know, having a self-motivated interest to stand up for the kind of world in which he or she wishes to live.)

This attitude is even more sharply pronounced in regards to anybody who protests while at the same time openly identifying as a Satanist. I can't recall the number of conversations I've witnessed in which the accusation was made against TST that its members are sheeple who are incapable of manifesting their will and so cos-play their preferred fantasy as useful idiots for the dastardly Lucien Greaves.

Satanism as I came to understand it through the Satanic Bible, the Satanic Witch, the Satanic Scriptures, and the collected writing of Anton LaVey is a religion which surely embraces grittiness and getting things done no matter what stands against you, but it surely also embraces accusation and opposition for criminals and authoritarian tyrants who work against personal liberty and self-autonomy. At what point did it become embarrassing for Satanists to play the role of accuser and opposer? At what point did it become unfashionable to embody the spirit of Satan and use every infernal tool available (including dark aesthetics and volatile theatrics) to ram a blazing pitchfork up the asshole of every Christian dominionist, ignorant racist, or fascist autocrat who thought to get away with mooning us?

There's a lot to be said for the individual choosing for him or herself how to interpret and apply the principles of accusation and opposition, and I accept that many Satanists for very pragmatic reasons prefer to keep their Satanic identity tucked quietly away so that they're able to cooperate with other people and organizations which might otherwise shun them, but there's also a lot to be said about openly flying the black flag. Symbols have power, and if they have sufficient power to accomplish meaningful, substantive goals that affect real people and improve their quality of life and the lives of those they love, why should those symbols stay locked in a ritual chamber? It's not whiney, immature, unfashionable, or embarrassing to hold people accountable for their actions. To argue against using Satanic aesthetics to accomplish material goals is to disguise a separate agenda.

I am resigning my membership in the CoS because I can no longer believe that the CoS is an apolitical organization given its clear dog-whistles to the contrary. Anybody who's spent any amount of time reading the CoS's website (and it's political FAQ in particular) will encounter its declaration that the organization itself (but not its members) is apolitical and does not participate side-taking.

The explanation provided is that it's the individual member's responsibility to decide for him or herself which if any political agenda is worth pursuing, and that for the organizational leadership to officially endorse, support, promote, or agitate in any way for a political position would at best give the appearance of Satanic "politics" but at worst spoon-feed weak-minded Satanists who can't think for themselves.

Judging by the writing published in the news-feed by High Priest Magus Gilmore, it's true that he himself neither openly nor definitively supports any political candidate or party. In fact, going by the frequency with which he writes anything that hasn't been copy-pasted from a year before, his absence from the news feed is so complete that you'd hardly know he was there at all.

But going by what is in the news feed, a definite constellation of values emerges. There are several examples I could provide, but the one which I believe speaks loudest is the statement made after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia which featured actual Nazis marching in the streets and culminated in the death of a peaceful protester exercising her civil rights to accuse and oppose an ideology which she deemed unworthy of the world in which she wants to live.

Given Magus Gilmore's authoritative refutation of racism and fascism as being incompatible with Satanism in his canonical Satanic Scriptures, and insistence that people of all nations and ethnicities who are members of the CoS, it would be non-controversial for him to write a statement condemning the violent ignorance of fascists and racists who want to turn the USA into a whites-only ethno-state.

Instead of easily condemning the actual Nazis, the CoS under his leadership issued a bare 179-word statement written by a spokesperson affirming the work of the ACLU to protect freedom of speech. On its own, it says nothing except that the CoS believes--as do I--that the right to free speech in the USA exists specifically to protect offensive speech (since authoritarians of any stripe will always attempt to redefine what qualifies as "offensive" when it serves their purposes.)

But when in the wake of what is a national tragedy by any measurement of the word the CoS publishes a conspicuously short affirmation of freedom of speech followed very shortly after by a panel discussion featuring two of its most prominent spokespersons elaborating upon how the political left is propelled by white guilt, how pervasive leftism is infiltrating every facet of society, and communist radicals protesting against ethno-statists is a danger to society, then this is in fact a deeply political statement.

As the discussion continues the host of the show makes what appears to be a genuinely believed assertion that the USA is a bigoted, racist, and divided country because it's inhabited by people of so many different nationalities, ethnicities, and cultures with too many painful pasts to ever hope to live peacefully together. Does he realize that he's making the verbatim argument put forward by the ethno-statists that if everybody lived in racially segregated communities that racism would magically disappear? As an expat American living in Canada, all I've got to say is that if what the host of this discussion is seeing is what he believes to be the natural state of the USA, then I don't know how to explain what it's like to live in post-national, multi-cultural Canada.

For the CoS to post these two items in rapid succession following the racist fuck-fest that happened Charlottesville is glaringly political and when you connect the dots to see who and what they're not criticizing, you almost immediately see what they're supporting.

I am resigning my membership in the CoS because I can no longer invent reasons to explain High Priest Gilmore's complete and total abdication of organizational leadership. For a long time, I convinced myself that Magus Gilmore is practicing a form of servant leadership in which he elevates and gives voice to the most intelligent, successful, stimulating, and innovative voices within the membership, but based on all observable evidence I've come to feel that this is too generous an evaluation of his leadership style. Oh, sure--there are scattered interviews in the occasional blog, vlog, podcast, or magazine--but he's curiously silent when it comes to using his status within the hierarchy to speak to the membership at large and use his own worldly success and considerable knowledge to set a masterful example for others to follow. Magus Gilmore's complete abdication of leadership responsibilities has left a void that's been filled by authoritarian apologists and racist sympathizers.

There are people reading this who will say that if this is how I feel, that I'm no Satanist at all for expressing my disappointment that there's no leader to show me the way, but as Magus Gilmore himself said in the Satanic Scriptures there's no shame in accepting figurative slavery in service to a master worthy of your devotion. What I learned of Magus Gilmore in his Satanic Scriptures convinced me that he's an intelligent, capable man and at the time I sincerely believed that he and the organization he leads are worthy of my support; however, since I became an active, registered member in December 2015, more than once I've witnessed his childish name calling and--compared at least to the leaders I served in the United States Marine Corps--his refusal to lead from the front has convinced me that he's a master unworthy of the slavery which I'd offer him. Judging by all observable evidence, Magus Gilmore's talents do not exist within the categories of either management or organizational development.

And to preempt the argument which is about to made, yes--I'm aware that Magus Gilmore is following plans written by Dr. LaVey before his passing in 1997 which outline his desire for the CoS to become a kind of social club which operates as a mutual appreciation society to recognize its most successful members, but I've gotta say: What if Dr. LaVey was wrong? Both Dr. LaVey himself as well as Magus Gilmore have ridiculed people who held up Dr. LaVey as the great, infernal hope and both insisted that the man was a joker at heart who made it clear from the start who and what he was. After all, Satanists understand that their leaders are only human, unlike the Christians who insist on creating saints from whole cloth.

So if everybody including Dr. LaVey himself insisted that he was "merely human," then why are his desires given such weight? Is Magus Gilmore really no more than a place-holder to the best laid plans of mice and men from almost exactly 20 years ago? I'm not calling for change for the sake of change, but for a leader who's mindful to the law of the jungle: adapt, evolve, and overcome, or get eaten by something bigger and stronger.

I am resigning my membership in the CoS because I can no longer tolerate the hypocrisy how on one hand the CoS asserts that it is an elitist organization which operates in the shadowy margins and doesn't concern itself with the to-dos of the hoi polloi, but on the other hand is consistently and deeply concerned with the public discussion of Satanism among outsiders and its own representation in popular consciousness.

The CoS can't have its cake and eat it, too: either it's going to be a home for the alien elite and stand boldly on the infernal boundaries of polite society where it forges ahead according to its own agenda without a care for all the other people and organizations which it has repeatedly insisted are beneath its concern, or it's going to have to admit that it does in fact care about its place in popular awareness and is is deeply invested in participating in popular culture in order to sustain the value of its social currency. The CoS has got to make up its mind, because its effort to stand on both sides of the line is the worst kind of hypocrisy.

I am resigning my membership in the CoS because I can no longer tolerate the selective outrage that I've witnessed among the broader membership as well as the leadership of the CoS. Before I joined the CoS, I devoured the available literature and was utterly captured by its force of conviction. The power I felt in the literature emboldened me and the black flame of accusation was lit within my heart. It's a dramatic description, but the time I spent first-phasing was a thrilling period for me.

And if I'm going to be honest with you, one of the most thrilling things about it was the deep certainty that I'd discovered something pure and original. I fell hard for the literature, and for a brief period of time was one of the Satanic keyboard warriors on the Internet who made a few of those sophist arguments that anybody who practices outside the definition provided by the CoS isn't a real Satanist. They could be devil worshippers, inverted Christians, opportunists, or nut-jobs, but they couldn't be Satanists because they didn't fit the definition of the word. It was an easy argument to make, you know, because it was binary: either, or.

And according to this binary choice, Satanism is a zero sum game: either you're a supporter or member of the CoS, or you're a detractor. Friends of the CoS are welcomed as citizens into the infernal empire, but detractors are objects of ridicule which true Satanists are encouraged to avoid so as to not give even the faintest whiff of legitimacy to their non-Satanic delusions. As it happens, the CoS even maintains an official policy that members who express support for non-Satanic organizations are implicitly declaring their opposition to the CoS (which is so totally not a Christian attitude.)

So you can imagine my surprise when the CoS promoted in its news-feed of member activities a podcast in which the host interviewed racist, fascist, theist, animal-sacrificing Augustus Sol Invictus (who also happened to be a headline speaker at the Unite the Right rally.) Because I didn't understand how this is in any way consistent, I contacted the central office and asked for help understanding what I was seeing. After multiple emails asking for a response, six and a half months later I was finally answered by an official spokesperson who played a word-game in which he told me in as many words that I was stupidly wasting his time. But you know, it didn't feel stupid: how does it work that anybody who has a different vision for the meaning of Satanism regardless of any other skills, knowledge, or abilities is automatically persona non grata, but a person like Invictus who despite his grossly offensive and thoroughly non-Satanic world paradigm is welcomed onto a podcast (hosted by one of the CoS's most prominent spokespersons and promoted in the official news-feed) because he has something interesting to say?

At the time, I cared very deeply about my organizational membership and was sincerely attempting to navigate the question as respectfully as I could. It was clear to me that this was both the only and the final answer I would receive on this question and the matter was closed to further inquiry. I wasn't satisfied with the answer I received, but owing to my desire to be recognized by my peers and climb the hierarchy I was willing to suppose that I could be wrong and just didn't have an accurate understanding of the source material. I regret that I didn't challenge the answer I received, but at the time it was very important to me that I cultivate grittiness and respect the authoritative answer given to me. But you know, times change, and so do I.

I am resigning my membership in the CoS because I can no longer tolerate the foundation the CoS has built for itself upon a No True Scotsman fallacy. For reasons that I've already provided, I reject the notion that because the CoS was the first organization to provide a clearly defined and precisely codified religion called Satanism that nobody else is allowed to do it differently; however, given the official statements being made by the CoS at present, this makes me an extreme outlier. If the CoS is making as its first article of faith the assertion that it is the one true Satanism and all others are either demon worshipers, inverted Christians, opportunists, or nut-jobs, then you can count me out.

For an organization which claims to revere intelligence, self-awareness, and perspective, the statements being published in the official news-feed of the CoS are disturbingly ignorant and childish. If only there were a way to know what Magus Gilmore himself thinks about people who collect and post other people's information on the Internet in order to badmouth them? Oh, wait - here it is:
"So the spiteful brats who can’t bear to be ignored at times strike back by posting personal information about our members and representatives with whom they’re obsessed, or by stealing the sort of copyrighted material they could never create and illegally transmitting it (a real crime, folks). If that doesn’t give them away for failures, squealing for attention, then you might belong in their company." Source: Magus Peter H. Gilmore
For this reason and all the others I've outlined above, I'm unwilling to continue my support for the CoS and am resigning my membership. I'm not doing this to club the CoS over the head with my resignation--I sincerely doubt I'll be missed, and I'm skeptical that the observations I've shared in this letter will be remembered within a year's time--but it's important to me that I say it because I feel that to do otherwise is a disservice to myself.

I am not renouncing my choice to identify as a Satanist, only my choice to affiliate with the Church of Satan. There's no stopping Satanism: it's here to stay and will continue moving ever forward.

But given what I've observed, I'm doubtful that the CoS will go with it.

October 10, 2017

Stuff & Nonsense 10/10/2017

via le interwebz
  1. What is Tarot good for, anyway? Read more here.
  2. Satanism is an authentic religious movement. Read more here.
  3. Here are eight situations that you'll encounter on your quest to go pro with Tarot. Read more here.
  4. Another "Pro-life" and "Pro-family" Republican legislator wants his mistress to have an abortion. I love the smell of self-righteous hypocrisy in the morning. Read more here.
  5. Meanwhile in Canada, a pastor and wife face 25 sex assault charges for - you guessed it! - abuse of minors under their care over the span of three years. Read more here. After the Satanic panic of the 80's and 90's, can we finally declare that the world-wide religion actually abusing children entrusted into their care is Christianity?
  6. Video-games are a gateway to Satanism? Read more here.
  7. Have you read Christiana Gaudet's Fortune Stellar (What every Tarot professional needs to know)? Read more here.
  8. In defense of the Celtic Cross, it has a sort of quiet elegance and potential for subtlety that's difficult to capture in other arrangements. Read more here
  9. NSFW: The erotic etchings of Frans de Geetere. See it here.

October 04, 2017

What's the difference between Tarot and Cartomancy?

"Cartomancy" by Ivan Vladimirov

One of the more stimulating questions that I hear from new readers is about the difference between Tarot and other methods of divination with cards. Is there a difference between Tarot and playing cards? Generally speaking, cartomancy means only "divination with playing cards." Therefore, all Tarot is cartomancy - but not all cartomancy is Tarot. Even among Tarot, there are several distinct methods, and even among those methods not all readers follow the same interpretations.

Cartomancy is a broad term which includes Lenormand, all manner of oracle decks, playing cards (for which multiple systems exist), angel cards, and anything else printed on paper and assembled as a deck. There are differences among methods of cartomancy, both small and large.

In terms of reading with a 52-card deck of playing cards versus reading with a 78-card deck of Tarot cards, the differences are substantial enough that although the casual observer wouldn't notice them, any practitioner with more than a surface knowledge of the two would know the difference.

This says nothing, however, about "superiority." Whether playing cards are better than Tarot cards depends on your point of view, and your fluency in one system or another will have more to do with whether one or the other is "better" (at least for you.)

Having said that, though, and speaking as somebody who's read with both playing cards and Tarot cards, I prefer to read with Tarot cards because the four additional court cards and the 22 additional trump cards really add a lot of depth and nuance that wasn't available to me with a deck of 52 playing cards. When the need arises, I can always remove the additional face cards and trumps in order to read with regular playing cards, so it's nice to have that flexibility in my repertoire of skills, but this still says nothing about whether one method is superior to the other.

Although I think it's useful to follow a set method for reading the cards, in the end the defining factor will always be the performer him or herself. So long as you're confident and capable with your preferred method for reading the cards, that's all that counts. I believe it's true to say that a master may do more with a deck of Pokemon cards than a sophist may with a deck of Tarot cards.

October 03, 2017

Stuff & Nonsense 10/3/2017

via CNN
  1. Why is anybody surprised that Donald Trump called the Latin-majority population of Puerto Rico lazy? His casual racism toward Latin America is as equally well known as his misogyny, so it's only natural that he'd be feuding with the mayor of San Juan instead of saving lives. Puerto Rico needs help, and you can directly contribute to relief efforts today
  2. What does it mean to be an expert? And more importantly, what is the limit of your expertise? Read more here.
  3. Don't commit the Satanic sin of solipsism by assuming that "we all worship the same god." Read more here.
  4. While it may have been pride that lead to her later actions, it was the Devil’s rebellion against the forces of god that directly resulted in her being cast from heaven. Read more here.
  5. What do you do when sexual orientation isn't a protected class and a baker refuses to do your wedding cake? According to the Satanic Temple, the solution is to invoke religion (which is a protected class) and ask those same bakers to do a Satanic cake. Read more here.
  6. The latest mass shooting in the US has broken the record for the most people injured and killed. When will legislators and the NRA start thinking that mass shootings are bugs instead of features? Read more here. As usual, my opinion is that responsibility is for the responsible and that civilians have no business owning anything other than handguns, shotguns, and hunting rifles. Assault rifles, and semi- or full-automatic weapons should be for military use only. If you disagree, I'd love to hear why.
  7. Religious But Not Spiritual: Modern Satanism in the Atheist Community. Read more here.
  8. Beware teachers who only have students. Read more here.
  9. Halloween is almost upon us. How will you celebrate Devil's Night? What infernal wisdom will be bestowed upon you?