For awhile now, I’ve noticed a number of Satanic creeds in list format being posted on social media. These sorts of posts do strike me as an effective way of introducing unfamiliar people to various forms of Satanism. I therefore thought, why not do one for Tenebrous Satanism? The material this post covers can naturally be found in a number of places on my website already. With Nine Keys of Abyssal Darkness having now gone to print, though, the time seems right for a condensed introduction to the creed my book puts forward.
Introduction: The Tenebrous Creed
The Tenebrous Creed appears at the front of my book, similarly to the Nine Satanic Statements in LaVey’s Satanic Bible. As per the image above, the Creed is as follows:
- Satan is an advocate of the unending Adventure of spirit in the realm of flesh, manifest in life’s multitudinous striving within an ever-evolving world.
- Satan is an adversary of any dogma that denies or distorts the realm of flesh, for such dogmas are insidious destroyers of life.
- Satan lights our way along the path of self-evolution, which we pursue by seeking ever-greater excellence in all of our affairs.
- Self-evolution is fostered by the possession of zeal, wisdom, honor, empathy, and perseverance, which Satan therefore encourages us to cultivate.
- Insofar as the herd’s fears, fads, and fictions hold us back from self-evolution, Satan urges us to stand apart from the herd.
- The witch and the sorcerer recognize Satan not only in the Fire of the Will, but also in the Will of the Fire.
- The Will of the Fire and the will of the sorcerer are one: the advancement of Satan’s cause through the embrace of creative strife.
Some will read this and be struck by similarities to other Satanic groups; others will be struck by dissimilarities. Both are, in fact, to my purpose.
On one hand, I see myself as a participant in what has been recognized as “Satanism” up until now. This is defined not by any single thinker, but by the recurrent rejection of dogma, embrace of self-empowerment, and espousal of harsh realities that all credible “Satanisms” evince – broad Satanic traits that I previously presented in this entry.
On the other hand, I am also self-consciously an innovator and heretic. The commentary that follows speaks mainly to this side of things.
First tenet of the Tenebrous Creed: What is Satan an advocate of?
Satan is an advocate of the unending Adventure of spirit in the realm of flesh, manifest in life’s multitudinous striving within an ever-evolving world.
We here acknowledge a distinction between flesh and spirit. In that regard, my worldview does entail the causal/acausal distinction held by the Order of Nine Angles (ONA/O9A). However, “Satan is an advocate of the unending Adventure of spirit in flesh” also means that mine is fundamentally a this-worldly Satanism.
Yes, I believe in a Dark acausal force behind this world. But I also believe that force embraces and enjoys embodied existence. I am thus, you might say, the opposite of an Anti-Cosmic Satanist. I do not think escaping from or destroying the world are worthy Satanic goals. Making war on the world itself is inherently right-hand-path behavior, especially if motivated by resentment, I would argue. Better to war against the limitations we face in this world, and thereby drive forward both individual and collective evolution.
What I mean by “multitudinous striving” is another thing that sets me apart from other forms of Satanism. I do not disagree with other denominations who paint nature as a realm of competition and bloodshed. I argue, though, that it is no less a realm of mutuality and interdependence. From that standpoint, the Satanist who embraces a too-rampant individualism is the same kind of science-and-reality-denier as the Christian who denies Darwinism. By all means, yes, the individual should strive to evolve as an individual. But we should not in the process forget to honor the relationships with other human beings and the natural world that we inherently take part in as the social animals that we are.
In “falling,” the Fallen Angel chose this world, which is conditioned by interdependence no less than independence, over heavenly transcendence. My Creed proposes that we imitate Satan by orienting ourselves likewise.
Second tenet of the Tenebrous Creed: What is Satan an adversary of?
Satan is an adversary of any dogma that denies or distorts the realm of flesh, for such dogmas are insidious destroyers of life.
It has always been fashionable for Satanists to bash Christianity, and for good reason. But too much of this has degenerated into easy social-media point-scoring, absent real analysis or intelligent critique. In the process, people fall back into lazy patterns of attacking “the other side” while mindlessly defending “their own.” “Their own,” meanwhile, increasingly buys into stupid conspiracy theories, sighs over impossible utopian goals unachieved, and otherwise acts like a religion. This goes unnoticed amid complacent “secular” people assuming they are oh-so-obviously-smarter than the religious that they couldn’t possibly be falling into the same patterns as the dogmas of the past.
When I speak of a dogma that denies or distorts the flesh, I mean any dogma, religious or secular. If you want to find the ultimate enemy of liberty and diversity alike, you are wasting everyone’s time by pointing the finger at whole groups of people or other similarly-simplistic dog whistles. Look instead at what people actually do. Look at who is actually encouraging people to frame themselves as disempowered and resentful victims, fretting about thought-crimes, interfering with the arts and sciences alike, abrasively trumpeting good-guy badges, and refusing to consider even the mildest and most constructive criticism of these practices. Is it people on your own side? Is it you?
The phrase “insidious destroyers of life” is not meant to imply that what I’ve just described is the only or worst problem facing humanity. I would argue, though, that this behavior pattern is diametrically opposed to Satanism’s ideals – self-empowerment, free pursuit of wisdom, etc. – hence, Satanists have very good reason to concern themselves with it. Nine Keys of Abyssal Darkness accordingly devotes a whole chapter to how to detect this pattern and combat it.
Third tenet of the Tenebrous Creed: Where does Satan’s example lead us?
Satan lights our way along the path of self-evolution, which we pursue by seeking ever-greater excellence in all of our affairs.
This is as good a place as any to announce an unpopular view of mine: I hate Satanic elitism. I see a small grain of validity in the blunt truth that Satanism is not for everybody. And let’s be clear too: the O9A current, specifically, is definitely not for everybody! What I dislike, though, are the following counterproductive tendencies I often cross paths with in online Satanic spaces:
- Refusal to take obstacles to self-betterment seriously. Lack of reflection on how people (including oneself) are formed by circumstances – not as an excuse, but simply as fact. Absence of vision regarding how helping someone get on their feet could allow that person to realize potential that would otherwise be squandered.
- Over-identification of traits essential to a Satanist, such as self-reliance, courage, ambition etc. with masculinity. There are both cultural and audience-reaching reasons for doing this, I realize. But you’re thus implying (even if unintentionally) that women are inherently less cut-out to be Satanists than men are. Fuck that.
Now, to be clear, I hate “participation-trophy culture” as much as the next Satanist. The person who sits on their ass and does nothing toward their own self-betterment is owed nothing by life. Satanic elitism, however, too-often drives Satanists to presume that everyone who isn’t exactly as fit, go-getter etc. as themselves can only be weak or lazy. This alienates people who, if only they were given a little support, could become fine Satanists.
What then do I envision in connection with “self-evolution” and “ever-greater excellence”? I envision encouraging all people, whether of greater or lesser ability, to strive always for more and better. Overcoming limitations to live as best we can in the world of matter is what we’re here for.
Fourth tenet of the Tenebrous Creed: How do we follow Satan’s example?
Self-evolution is fostered by the possession of zeal, wisdom, honor, empathy, and perseverance, which Satan therefore encourages us to cultivate.
I put forward these virtues not as moral propositions, but as means to an end – namely, personal excellence.
Zeal pertains both to the possession of desire and to following through on the pursuit of such. It thus flows, just like LaVey’s concept of “indulgence,” from the Tempter / Lord of this World aspect of Satan.
Wisdom entails self-knowledge via pragmatism, critical thinking, and introspective awareness. It is the gift of the Serpent to Adam and Eve.
Honor requires awareness of our obligations to others we share this earth with, so that we may treat them appropriately. When the Watchers entered into relationships with human women, and subsequently saw fit to aid their tribes with angelic knowledge, they thereby honored their loved ones. Honor also entails noble actions such as keeping one’s word and standing up for oneself, as per this previous post.
Empathy entails realistic recognition of the presence of suffering in embodied existence. As Satan forced God to illustrate to Job, we cannot trust a divine being to ensure that life is always pleasant and fair. So if we want life to not be terrible, the onus is on us to adopt attitudes and behaviors that will mitigate the worst, to the benefit both of ourselves and others.
If I had to choose just one virtue as most fundamental to Satanism, I would choose perseverance. Satan models perseverance both in his revolt against the so-called Almighty, and his rule over hell’s inhospitable flames. Perseverance means facing life bravely and steadfastly to the utmost extent that one can.
It is understandable for Satanists to resist moralizing, and posit ethics as something everyone must figure out on their own. I accordingly put these virtues forward not as a prescription, but as tools to assist individuals with said “figuring it out.”
Fifth tenet of the Tenebrous Creed: What should we beware of, lest we fail to imitate Satan’s example?
Insofar as the herd’s fears, fads, and fictions hold us back from self-evolution, Satan urges us to stand apart from the herd.
Three things greatly exacerbate the risk of an individual wasting their potential. The first is blindly fearing what those around oneself fear, avoiding risk of self-challenge and thereby narrowing life experience. The second is chasing after the things other people chase after, leaving no time or energy for one’s true desires. The third is believing what one has been told, without questioning or discovering for oneself. This is what I respectively mean by the herd’s fears, fads and fictions.
Where my take on the herd is somewhat different from other Satanists’, however, is with regard to the imperative to “stand apart.” This is explicitly not “hate the herd,” “destroy the herd,” “freely parasitize the herd,” or “compulsively shit-talk the herd to impress other Satanists.” Despising the herd is, I would argue, still a form of investment in it. In such cases, the herd is still living rent-free inside your head. True freedom from the herd is found in disengagement from external messaging about how to live your life, what to buy, who to check in with before you post on social media, and so on.
What I have no use for too is forms of Satanism that use “the herd” as a prop to contrast one’s own specialness against. The herd is made up of a mass of individual human beings just trying to get through their day. What do you really know about the exact life circumstances, interests, relationships, traumas, etc. of any of those people? Why presume that they are all shitty instead of presuming nothing because you don’t know? By all means criticize the counterproductive ideas people fixate on, but when it comes to the people themselves, I strongly prefer the discipline to stand apart over the emotional sloppiness of hating strangers.
Sixth tenet of the Tenebrous Creed: What does it mean to be a Tenebrous witch?
The witch and the sorcerer recognize Satan not only in the Fire of the Will, but also in the Will of the Fire.
Note: Being a black metal fan, I always like it to be prominently known that the wording of this tenet was inspired by a Watain song. Here’s a past post that delves into that.
Satanic denominations seem to divide fiercely re: theism vs. atheism. Atheists claim they are “real” Satanists based on LaVey’s precedent. Theists claim they are “real” Satanists on account of actually believing in Satan’s existence and venerating him.
Tenebrous Satanism has no use for this dualism. I have no problem with a person being a “secular” Tenebrous Satanist. Such a person can enjoy my book’s take on the mythology of Satan from a literary standpoint, take a stand against repressive dogmas that they encounter, and cultivate virtues like wisdom and perseverance in their own lives – as, I would argue, atheistic Satanists have always done. All of this sort of stuff is what I seek to invoke with the phrase “Fire of the Will.”
However, in its complete form, Tenebrous Satanism does entail supernatural beliefs. We do not “worship” Satan. We do, however, believe there exists a realm beyond the physical, populated by Dark Gods and the Abyssal Void of Darkness itself. The practices of meditation, divination and ritual magick my book describes are all ways of interfacing with these forces. You can approach this as a Chaos Magician would – i.e., a skeptical agnostic – and still achieve results. My belief, however, is that these forces do possess a will of their own. This is what I call “the Will of the Fire.”
A Tenebrous witch is anyone – whether beginner or advanced – who believes in and works with the Will of the Fire via the spiritual praxis my book proposes. However, such an occult practitioner is merely different from the secular Satanist, not “better.” Tenebrous Satanism thus posits that there is more than one valid way to walk the Sinister Path. Instead of dividing ourselves with nonsense occult hierarchies and related status-gaming, let us walk as comrades.
Seventh tenet of the Tenebrous Creed: How is a Tenebrous sorcerer different from a Tenebrous witch?
The Will of the Fire and the will of the sorcerer are one: the advancement of Satan’s cause through the embrace of creative strife.
If Tenebrous witches are occult practitioners in general, the sorcerer is a subtype of witch. Specifically, someone with a pact-like relationship with the Dark Gods venerated by Tenebrous Satanism. This commitment includes undertaking initiation, as described in the Ninth Key of my book.
What is this “creative strife” that advances “Satan’s cause”? Creative strife is manifest in speech, action and works that accelerate the evolution of oneself and/or the world at large. Said evolution is what I mean by “Satan’s cause”: the ultimate goal is a world which is more passionate, insightful, self-aware, creative, and above all, liberated than it would be otherwise. Such a description should hopefully make it evident that, though we venerate the same gods as O9A, Tenebrous Satanism neither agrees with nor seeks the authoritarian or nihilistic ends with which O9A is widely associated.
Central to our initiation protocol is the concept that you need to fix yourself before trying to fix the world. By embarking upon this process, the sorcerer learns self-insight, discipline, and receptivity enough to commune genuinely with the acausal. Only then is one fit to discern the Will of the Fire without just projecting one’s own juvenile ideas about “what Darkness wants” onto it.
What sorts of creative strife might the sorcerer undertake when ready? Writing, producing art, or founding a Tenebrous nexion or activist group are just a few possibilities. But whatever the case, thanks to their initiation the sorcerer will proceed with a level of self-awareness and vision that I feel is sorely lacking among most would-be “revolutionaries” today. To dismiss Tenebrous initiation as “O9A-lite” is thus to miss the point: our goal is to train sorcerers to become effective real-world change-makers, not to try to prove how “hardcore” we are.
It’s not hard for me to imagine the inadequacies that some will perceive in my Creed. The balance I seek to strike between flesh and spirit is sure to alienate Satanists who prefer a creed that is either all-flesh (i.e., atheistic, this-worldly-indulgence oriented) or all-spirit (i.e., Gnostic). I may well also antagonize those who judge my position as too inclusive / not adversarial enough. And then there is the prospect of being misperceived as covertly right-wing or covertly left-wing, regardless of my actual position being that such distinctions are less useful than people like to think.
My response to basically all of these positions within Satanism is: if you already have a creed that works for you, great; I do not claim to be “the one true Satanism.” The aim, rather, is to expand peoples’ minds re: what Satanism might entail. In such an endeavor, constructive disagreement can be both thought-provoking and informative. I do not think that “but Satanism already is X and you are not doing X” adds much to such a discussion, however.
The goal is not to meet past expectations. The goal is to put forward something different that may appeal to those who have not yet found what they were looking for.
Thoughts? Let me know in the comments.