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The Ideological War for the Occult Scene

3,582 words

[1]Introduction

It would be utter foolishness to underestimate the influence of spiritual and religious currents usually described as “occult”. While these concepts are not being displayed in mainstream society and most of the public is unaware of what they actually consist of, they have and always had the power to lure and change the worldview of those few individuals who dared to take the occult seriously. Something apparently as silly as books on “Magick” can directly or indirectly form one’s worldview, and therefore be the unrecognized source of his or her political behavior.

The literal meaning of the word “occult” is “hidden”. This is derived from the Middle Ages and early Renaissance, when currents of non-Christian spirituality were persecuted and had to remain concealed. One may argue that occultism always had a socially subversive element, first being juxtaposed to Christianity, and later to the materialism and positivism of the Industrial Age, as if being a shadow of any current zeitgeist. Although Christianity lost its primary role in the Western world, and even old-fashioned, mechanical materialism is nowadays frowned upon, occultism remains a thing, still being able to play the role of society’s “cultural unconsciousness”, even despite its heavy commercialization and vulgarization.

Nonconformist spirituality and nonconformist politics overlap, one form of transgression attracts another. The cultural underground is appealing to many, and there can be no denial that a formative political power of the occult scene exists. Therefore it is only natural that there is an ongoing ideological and memetic battle over the proper interpretation of various occult texts and personas. One has to understand how this battle is actually important, because the occult scene is – even from a materialist perspective – not just a place for bookworms, but also a place of vital experiments with altered states of consciousness, i.e. of practical transcendence, which often have permanent psychological effects on the individual. It mostly fills the void of the absent religion of the West, and as far as I have seen, it can produce the most zealous fanatics. He who controls the political interpretation of various occult currents also controls a wider memetic force than outsiders might think.

Those who are not familiar with the scene might have feelings of prejudice toward the occult as being inherently diabolical, destructive, centrifugal, and anarchistic. This might be true for some forms of lesser and folk magic, which is (or was) based on degenerated forms of pre-Christian heathendom, but it certainly can’t be applied to the movement as a whole. If the occult is the unconsciousness of a society, then it is only understandable that in an egalitarian and relativistic age the occult is filled with a longing for hierarchy and for absolute values. Actually, there are only very few other fields which emphasize on tradition (“tradition” is literally a behavior or belief passed down within a certain group, having a symbolical meaning, and expected to be passed further on) as much as occultism. Many writings of Evola and Guénon can demonstrate this, and it is the latter of these two who highlighted the principle that esoteric (hidden) teachings are not in essential conflict with exoteric (revealed) religion. In fact, he argued that only those who achieve perfection in the strict rules of revealed religion should be admitted to study esoteric doctrines.

The aim of my essay is to explore the ideological war fought for the control of the proper interpretation of various schools of occult thought. My goal is not to be exhaustive, but rather to demonstrate patterns which the Left uses to highjack certain schools which were up until recently viewed as rightwing. I will focus on LaVey’s Satanism and Crowley’s Thelema, but these are only a few of the many fields where the battle is taking please.

From LaVey to the Satanic Temple

Modern and organized Satanism made its first step into history more than half a century ago. Anton LaVey’s (1930-1997) Church of Satan was founded in 1966, and the basis of his philosophy, the notorious Satanic Bible, was released in 1969. To sum it up briefly, modern Satanism does not recognize Satan as a theological being opposed to a theistic God, but as a Dionysian and mostly biological thirst for life. LaVey’s Satan is basically a deified will to power, which is worshipped under the guise of a horned antagonist of God in order to manifest the Satanist’s disdain for Christianity, which is viewed as a religion of the meek, weak and/or hypocritical. This philosophy advocates social Darwinism and “rational egoism”. Indeed, it was often described as Ragnar Redbeard’s Might is Right minus racism and plus satanic imagery.

Because of its simplicity and commerciality, LaVeyanism was often dubbed as “hamburger Nietzscheanism”. No matter how primitive it might seem, one still has to give LaVey the credit for establishing Satanism as a philosophy with more or less explicit rightwing tendencies. From the very start it was opposed to sentimentalism, pacifism, and had a particular contempt for the hippie movement. After some time, the Church of Satan fragmented and spawned many offshoots, some of them deepening the philosophy by adding a mystical element (e.g. the theistic Temple of Set), but the overall practical and political attitude was always one of personal responsibility, sovereignty, independence, and even elitism.

Of course, Satanism was a rebellion against society, but it was not a destructive streak of open crime, ritual murder, rape etc., but rather a symbolical stance against the emasculation and egalitarianism of the modern world. It was a philosophy with a drive for accomplishment, even if crippled by extreme individualism. It didn’t matter whether various forms of Satanism were considered a religion or only a personal philosophy, leftist thinking was not prominent in this subculture.

Well, at least until recently.

The Satanic Temple (TST) was established in 2012. Appropriating satanic imagery and anti-Christian sentiment, this pseudo-religious organization has an open political mission of “encouraging benevolence and empathy among all people”. Gaining wide attention thanks to numerous media stunts, e.g. performing Satanic prayers in school assemblies, celebrating “pink masses” over the graves of Christian fundamentalists, attempting to install Satanic monuments in public areas, etc., TST was very efficient in quickly overshadowing the stagnant Satanic organizations of old.

Although not all previous Satanic organizations were religious in the proper sense of the word, they still retained some form of quasi-ecclesial dogma and ritual. TST on the other hand has no real theological or philosophical basis whatsoever, and is used only as a tool deconstructing established social and religious norms in favor of the rights of ethnical, sexual and other minorities. Their practical activities are based on promoting anything that damages (White) Christian privilege.

It is not exaggerated to say that TST is a leftist attempt to infiltrate the Satanic subculture from within and turn it, or a significant part of it, towards their own goals. All usual elements of leftist activism – pro-choice protests, gay parades, demonization of Western history and identity, and even statements in favor of Muslim immigrants – are present here. However, TST takes their tactics in comparison to other leftist organizations one step further, and that by claiming to be a religious organization. Therefore they present their politics as “key doctrines” of their “faith” and claim that any opposition to these (which include rights to abortion and homosexual marriage) is a violation of their religious freedom which is protected under the First Amendment.

When comparing LaVeyanism and TST, it is obvious that while both have a countercultural attitude and share much of the same symbolism, their cores are absolutely incompatible. It is not even a matter of politics, but more of psychology. While original LaVeyanism opposes the mediocrity of society and is driven by the individual’s will to rise above it, TST rebels against all conservative and patriarchal values, not in favor of something that transcends them, but rather in favor of all that they view as hitherto socially inferior. LaVeyanism has in its appeal for a higher individual and master morality at least a partially creative character and can be considered a rebellion from above. On the other hand, the program of TST is aimed against all established and “tyrannical” White Christian and conservative social norms, attempting to weaken, deconstruct and replace them with rights of anyone who feels oppressed. With their appeal to resentment their activities can clearly be described as a rebellion from below.

Aleister Crowley – Spiritual Aristocrat, or an SJW?

We can witness a similar, albeit partially different evolution in the movement of Thelema.

Thelema traces its beginnings to the year 1904, when Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) received his first revelations, which were recorded in a document later known as Liber AL vel Legis, or The Book of the Law. I would describe this religious system as answering Nietzsche’s call for a reevaluation of all values after the “death of God”, i.e. the loss of the spiritual and civilizational center of the West. Man now has to become a god himself, implementing his Will upon the external world, according to the Thelemic maxim of “Do what thou wilt”. Taking many elements from Western esotericism as well as from Dharmic religions, Thelema presents its own mythos of a New Aeon for mankind, but it leaves up to the Thelemite to take a theistic, atheistic, pantheistic, symbolic, literal, or any other approach to its mysteries.

Looking at Liber AL, it is easy to interpret Thelema as a warlike religion. Just a few quotes:

We have nothing with the outcast and the unfit: let them die in their misery. For they feel not. Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched & the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world. (AL II, 21)

…on the low men trample in the fierce lust of your pride, in the day of your wrath. (AL II, 24)

Pity not the fallen! I never knew them. I am not for them. I console not: I hate the consoled & the consoler. (AL II, 48)

Thelema requires every adept to uncover his own interpretation of its holy books. The last lines of Liber AL (the “Tunis Comment”) even forbid enforcing any rigid and authoritative ways of how to read or even discuss these texts. Still, it is obvious that it requires indeed hard mental gymnastics to turn a religion with a sacred text like this into an all-loving, sentimental and egalitarian movement. And yet, the picture of many nowadays Thelemites is that of liberals, or even of all-out leftists. Why is this so?

From today’s perspective Aleister Crowley might seem as quite an ambivalent person. Although it is well known that the religion of Thelema and Crowley’s persona need to be treated as two separate things, still his life, work and character are often deemed as a “point of reference” when it comes to the interpretation of various questions that Thelema poses.

Very prolific in writing, Crowley produced many texts which might seem contradictory. The Left emphasizes on how he was libertarian in questions of personal freedom and sexuality, the fact that he was bisexual and often displayed various forms of behavior which may be viewed as degenerate. At the same time the Left waters down his elitism, his radical Nietzscheanism, his racist tendencies, his traditional views on gender roles and opposition to abortion. In the end one gets the image of an “SJW Crowley”.

This is done through a systematic reinterpretation of basic Thelemic principles, and through consistent and relentless memetic propaganda painting Thelema as something that it hardly was supposed to be. For example, the categorical imperative of Thelema, “Do what thou wilt”, which actually is a call for the fulfillment of one’s complete vital and spiritual potential, is de facto often taken as an excuse for narcissism, degeneracy and overt individualism, something that Crowley actually warned against.

A verse from The Book of the Law, “Every man and every woman is a star” (AL I, 8), is the leftist Thelemite’s favorite verse, as it is one of the few that he thinks that support his worldview. Although this verse actually speaks about the inner godlike nature and potential of every human being, the leftist interprets it as pro-egalitarian, which is of course false, as there are differences in the real outcome of individuals achieving their inner divinity. Liber AL does not hesitate to call those who fail in this attempt and/or obstruct others from doing so as “the wretched and the weak”.[1] [2]

One point about the historical process of misinterpretation of Thelema has to be brought up before we move on. While Satanists can still hold to the legacy of LaVey’s Church of Satan when dealing with the leftist attempt to distort their message, Thelemites do not possess such a tactical advantage. The historical Thelemic organizations, among which the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) is the most prominent, appear at this point all but seized by liberals and their politically correct newspeak. Although every now and then news of internal conflicts and purges reach forums of Thelemic public online groups (sometimes even going into hysterical outbursts claiming that OTO is heavily infiltrated by the Alt-right), the leadership of OTO is never too late to denounce aspects of Crowley that do not suite their politics, and to promote “diversity” instead.

OTO’s situation is similar to that of the Freemasons, who also originally were a nonpolitical esoteric order later seized by leftist-revolutionary forces. Still, it has to be noted that outside of the OTO rightwing Thelema is active, alive and well, with Augustus Sol Invictus as a notable example.

Fighting Back

So far it may seem to the reader that the Left has been on a successful rampage of pushing the Right out of its own intellectual territory. We would argue that this, in fact, is not the case. In order to achieve their limited victories, the Left had to expose their deceitful tactics. Both TST and leftist Thelemites use methods of discourse which may seem effective at the first glance, but in fact are double-edged swords which can easily be turned against them.

For instance, TST’s adoption of a parody religion, which is utilized to push Christianity out of public space in favor of religious diversity, is actually only a bad camouflage for the obvious fact that these people have no real respect for any religion whatsoever, not even the religion of the minorities, which are used as tools and hostages in their political endeavor. The demand that their admittedly ironical faith is to be taken seriously and as equal to others is a blasphemy and is insulting to all confessions, not just Christianity. Religion is not a joke. On the other hand, the perception of Thelema as a liberal religion came at a hard price on the leftist’s side, as it was achieved by widespread censorship of dissenting voices and by shutting down all serious attempts to confront sensitive topics on online forums. Leftist thelemites often accuse those within their own ranks who have rightwing tendencies of “cognitive dissonance”, yet this is their own projection – just a brief overview of Liber AL and Crowley’s (often even more radical) commentary on it demonstrates that Thelema is thoroughly non-egalitarian.

Yea! deem not of change: ye shall be as ye are, & not other. Therefore the kings of the earth shall be Kings for ever: the slaves shall serve. There is none that shall be cast down or lifted up: all is ever as it was. Yet there are masked ones my servants: it may be that yonder beggar is a King. A King may choose his garment as he will: there is no certain test: but a beggar cannot hide his poverty.

Beware therefore! Love all, lest perchance is a King concealed! Say you so? Fool! If he be a King, thou canst not hurt him. Therefore strike hard & low, and to hell with them, master! (AL II, 58-60)

The positions of leftists in the Satanic and Thelemic scenes are of those who turn the whole initial impulse of these currents upside down, and therefore their narrative within these currents is essentially incorrect. The ideological reconquest of these fields is possible, but it will require a well-thought and systematic exposure of the Left’s deceitful and intentional misinterpretation. Several methods of countering the Left come into mind:

Conclusion

This demonstration of how far the Left was able to tread into the intellectual territory of the Right should be read as a call for counteraction, but also as a warning. Basically no cultural or intellectual field is absolutely safe from infiltration. For instance, it has come to our attention that there are serious attempts by leftists to infiltrate and undermine even such spheres of nativist alternative spirituality as Nordic or Slavic neopaganism.

There is no need to despair in this battle on the spiritual front. The positions that the leftists occupy stand on shaky legs. They have barely anything except their vast propaganda and censorship to offer, as their overtaking of these fields came at the cost of an obvious distortion of what these currents were meant to represent. Truth and eternity are on our side.

The only way how the Left can win over religions is by distorting their message – by encouraging their modernized, washed down, inauthentic “feel good” versions, where the words of prophets and holy men are no longer taken seriously, but are regarded as fanciful metaphors at best, or even ignored completely. Such a castrated approach to religion will never inspire great deeds, will not encourage the building of cathedrals, and will not uplift the spirit of man. What we would get instead is a world where mediocre people of unclear heritage, religion and identity live their one-dimensional lives one next to the other, united not by any transcendental principle, but by its absence – and therefore not united at all. This is what the Right stands to prevent.

Notes

[1] [4] To get a picture of Crowley’s view on politics, look here: https://www.counter-currents.com/2010/09/aleister-crowley-as-political-theorist-part-1/ [5]

[2] [6] The Old Comment to Liber AL II, 25.