Too often, one finds esoteric Satanists articulating “what is Satan the actual enemy of?” in an unproductive way. Our “enemy” is supposedly some conveniently-identifiable not-us group, e.g., Magians, Nazarenes, Clayborn, etc. Tenebrous Satanism contrarily contends that this fixation on monoliths is counterproductive. Having a “them” to lazily malign blinds us to maladaptive attitudes and behaviors that are the real problem. Instead, Satanists should recognize and oppose said attitudes/behaviors wherever they arise – including among ourselves. I associate these maladaptive attitudes/behaviors with what I call Dogmagianism. This post outlines some of its subtler manifestations.
Introduction: Magianism vs. Dogmagianism
What is Magianism?
Let us start with “Magian,” since it’s so often the enemy-term-of-choice. “Magian” originates in the work of Oswald Spengler. (Link goes to shortest readable summary of key Spengler ideas I could find.) It’s essentially a civilizational style associated with Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The discourse of the Order of Nine Angles (ONA/O9A) contrasts it to another Spenglerian category, “Faustian,” the civilizational style of Western Europe from medieval times onward. In the best case, Niners echo LaVeyan Satanists’ use of Nietzsche: Christian slave morality bad, noble master morality good. In the worst, “Magian” is code for “Jewish,” “Faustian” for “Aryan,” and the presence of fascist conspiracy bullshit becomes evident.
My conviction as someone O9A-adjacent is that a Magian/Faustian distinction, though problematic, does capture something meaningful, however clumsily. Accordingly, Nine Keys of Abyssal Darkness reinterprets Spengler’s concepts as thought-patterns that all persons and cultures experiment with. Yes, some societies wind up favoring the Magian or Faustian pattern more than others. But this has more to do with individual temperament and collective lived experiences than mere ethnic belonging.
We furthermore affirm that neither of these patterns is all-good or all-bad. Yes, Magianism tends to involve fixation on invisible abstractions, conformist morality, and suchlike features Satanists dislike. I, however, am sympathetic to how conscious beings terrified of existence, comforted by sociality and storytelling, would naturally arrive at such consolations. I also think as soon as you put forward metaphysics and claim other humans would benefit from embracing the same, your own inner Magian is showing. Magianism is thus a thought pattern with an evolutionary warrant, no less than Faustianism or Apollonianism (links go to Tenebrous definitions of these terms). Tenebrous Satanism accordingly does not use “Magian” to identify enemies to Satanism.
What is Dogmagianism?
Healthy individuals and cultures evince some balance (not necessarily equal) of Apollonian, Magian and Faustian elements. Harm results, however, when any of these becomes dogmatically-dominant. And by the standard of Satanism’s values (e.g., indulgence, wisdom, etc.), the most harm results from dogmatic Magianism. Tenebrous Satanism abbreviates this problem as Dogmagianism, and Nine Keys of Abyssal Darkness discusses it at length – i.e., please read my book if you wish to learn more. A few key claims, though:
- Resentment of life’s difficulties and desire for superiority over others are factors that seduce people into Dogmagianism.
- In Dogmagian thinking, life is an ongoing war between saints and sinners, fought via communal purification and elimination of thought-crime.
- Dogmagianism has a propensity to ruin art, science, and other human endeavors by making them subservient to ideology.
- Since Dogmagian communities are hostile to self-criticism, they attract narcissists who utilize the ideology for self-aggrandizement.
- Dynamics shared by cults and abusive relationships are typical wherever Dogmagians congregate: gaslighting, unwinnable conversational games, weaponized ostracism, etc.
Importantly, many manifestations of Dogmagianism have nothing to do with religion. Smug sneering about “Christians” etc. thus trains Satanists to miss the pattern’s manifestation in, for example, secular political movements. Or, for that matter, in certain corners of Satanism itself…
Why claim Dogmagianism is Satanism’s real enemy?
The maladaptive tendencies discussed below both predispose a person toward embracing Dogmagian ideologies, and worsen as dogmatic investment increases. The result is embittered people who experience poor quality of life amid multiple factors that make self-correction difficult. Irritating-yet-trivial behaviors gradually add up to large-scale social pressures obstructive to Satanism. Hence my contention that the real problem is Dogmagian attitudes/behavior wherever they arise. And the appropriate response is to call out whichever individuals display it – i.e., not just snarkily demean whatever people you’ve decided you hate while never reflecting on whether you and your pals do these things also.
Some may be tempted to dismiss some of my below examples as “but that’s just humans being human on the Internet.” My response: If that’s what you think, congratulations on being a complacent herd animal whom Satanism has no use for. Ask yourself, whose interests are served by tolerating the tendencies I describe? My answer: not those of anyone who genuinely values human flourishing and self-evolution.
I must also emphasize strongly that I do not care whether people on the political left or the political right are doing these things. If you cannot “do politics” without doing these things, you are a liability to whatever side you claim to support, period.
Note: This entry’s organization is based on sinister-path conceptions of internal alchemy. The implication is that the aspiring sorcerer who suffers from the first problem will have especial difficulty with the Moon phase of Tenebrous initiation; the second, with Mercury; etc. Due to length considerations, I will not elaborate fully on this matter here. But I leave planetary symbols accompanying each point as something for other sinister-path-walkers to reflect upon.
Seven inadequacies that make Dogmagianism an enemy of Satanism
1. Lack of openness
We begin with a generalized resentment of life’s complexities. As a defensive mechanism, the sufferer gravitates toward the familiar and vehemently rejects whatever challenges preconceptions. One manifestation of this is near-constant testiness toward people who look, act, etc. differently from what they expect. Another is refusal to admit one might not have all the facts, may have trusted authorities who were misinformed, etc.
Certain people will read this and think smugly, “ah, so religious conservatives’ xenophobia and ignorance.” Those same people will become fascinatingly defensive if you point out that not all members of a group they demonize (e.g. “straight white males”) in fact think and act identically. Often these are also people who shoot down ideas they don’t agree with by crying “the science,” yet have never actually read anything substantial on said topic. If someone else’s “science” contradicts their ideology, automatically that is “bad science” no matter the quality of actual research involved. Ideologically-inconvenient facts must be distortions and lies spread by “the bad guys”, never “hey, maybe this is a reality you honestly didn’t know about before that you should take into consideration.”
People don’t need fear of God to narrow their horizons like this. They need merely fear of life. Those thus-possessed will build their own burrow to hide in, whether out of religious or secular materials. Either way, they resent everyone living a freer and more well-informed life than themselves. Little ideological persuasion is needed to convince such cowards to hand power over to authorities for protection from “dangerous elements.” Satanists tend to be non-conformers and boundary-pushers, so such a turn is unlikely to be advantageous to us.
2. Lack of agency
Also known as “self-conditioned helplessness.” People with this issue spend vastly more effort expounding what they can’t do than what they can. They also resent the very existence of people more effective and disciplined than themselves, lest reflection on such peoples’ lives reveal that however little agency oneself possesses, one could nonetheless be doing more with it than one is currently doing.
Insisting on sinfulness and abusing forgiveness to excuse one’s perpetual incompetence is the least manifestation of this today, IMO. More common are two types who look very different from this classic religious “I am but a worm.” The first dedicates their social media to cutesy memes that seem superficially self-affirming, yet all ultimately boil down to “Whelp, another day of me being mediocre, tee hee!” The second makes constant noise about how everything wrong with the world is systemic, while shitting on anything one might nonetheless suggest to improve individual well-being here in the imperfect present we are currently stuck with. These types often cycle between one another, as frustrated nobodies turn to politics for meaning, then get burnt out, etc.
It’s very draining for a Satanist to be constantly bombarded with such content. Essentially it gaslights driven, constructive people into feeling like “how dare you make people with harder lives feel bad by actually achieving things and/or being less miserable than they are.” Yes, in my case, acute exasperation with such dynamics is one factor that drove me onto the sinister path, ultimately re-empowering myself thereby, which was for the best. But can’t we agree that in a more Satanic society, such naysayers would be less socially-dominant to begin with?
3. Lack of personal loyalty
I use the qualifier “personal” here because the problem is not total absence of loyalty. Rather, it is selective loyalty: loyalty to ideology over personal relations.
I want to be crystal clear: I am not arguing anyone should put up with their shitty family etc. Abuse is abuse, and no one is obligated to tolerate it. When religion calls for shunning human associates over doctrinal matters trivial to normal people, though, we call that “a cult.” And it seems to me that there exist secular “cults” who follow this format as well.
First, they teach their followers to see “sin” everywhere. Then, they declare it’s also a “sin” to ever bracket this for purposes of periodically focusing on other human affairs. Result: no longer can people agree-to-disagree or choose to focus on other things they appreciate in one other. The highest priority must always be demonstrating allegiance to the ideology – i.e., distancing oneself from “problematic” associates lest failure to do so render one “tainted” in the eyes of other “saints.”
It is not hard to envision how this kind of person operates in a totalitarian state. Assuredly they’ll rat out friends and family to the secret police. Then, when someone reports them in turn, they’ll sit on the train to the gulag, wringing their hands about ideological sins they’ve now sincerely convinced themselves they’re guilty of, because they are more loyal to the ideology than they are even to their own selves.
It is not just “annoying” when people make deferral to ideology the price of associating with them. When such attitudes become common, they create an environment that stifles appreciation for individual human subjectivity as such. That’s bad both for Satanists and for everyone else.
4. Lack of even-handed engagement
Engaging with the world in an even-handed way means taking both good and bad fortune in stride. “Good” things should be cherished while they last, and their eventual loss accepted stoically. “Bad” things cause suffering, but are similarly temporary, and may be learned from.
A person who does not engage with the world in an even-handed way lacks this sort of temperance. Amid ideological overinvestment, their only “happiness” lies in collective effervescence amid like-minded others. Evangelical churches, political rallies and online mobs are all providers of this drug-like high. More often, though, they can be found angsting about the power and pervasiveness of their ideology’s most monolithically-defined enemy. The fascist pattern of “enemy is simultaneously weak and strong” thereby emerges across the ideological spectrum: “the Devil” for Christians, “capitalism” for progressives, etc.
What people seduced by this pattern fail to notice is that the ideology only spends a small % of time flattering them as “the saved,” while spending a much larger % of time aggravating their sense of helpless grievance at the hands of “unfair” forces of cosmic evil – i.e., brainwashing them into being passive, mentally-ill victims. A “normal” person could seek solace in personal achievements or non-ideologically-aligned friends… but alas, see above…
What Satanists thus need to realize is that it’s not just religion that systematically renders people unable to enjoy earthly life. Any ideology that discourages even-handed engagement with the world does this. As affirmers of worldly flourishing and self-evolution, we should therefore oppose all ideologies that display said tendency.
5. Lack of shadow realization
By “shadow,” I mean the familiar psychological concept that “everyone has a dark side.” Those self-realized enough to admit this are more apt to “own” negative urges (e.g., anger, hatred) and find constructive means of sublimation. Those in flight from it are instead prone to projecting their shadows outward. This authorizes them to seek power over “enemies” as a way of denying Darkness within themselves. The issue is not necessarily that the projection is undeserved (i.e., the enemy may indeed be evil), but that the projector is in denial about the extent to which they are LARPing in their own self-created scenario. The resultant degree of self-righteousness, defensiveness, etc. tends to seem embarrassingly disproportionate-to-circumstances in the eyes of objective observers.
Dogmagianism aggravates this complex in multiple ways. Ideology teaches the adherent to spot “sinners”, whom it blames for everything dissatisfactory in life. “Have a lil’ shadow projection on me, as a treat!” it thus urges its weary stalwarts. This excuses dogmatists from ever having to question why they enjoy behaving thus. “It’s righteous to punish sinners” masks “I’m taking out my own misery on this target because I’m entitled to.”
Lack of shadow realization drives a variety of ideologically-authorized acts of cruelty, e.g. preaching love while taking utter delight in obscene rituals of dehumanization. And what is that but the exact hypocrisy that Satanism has always despised? “You call yourselves children of Light, yet act thus? I’d rather dwell in Darkness!” An ideology need not actually entail a metaphysically-defined “Light” for this question and this response to still make sense.
6. Lack of autonomy
I have in mind here a specific kind of herd-reliance. A person starts out suffering from general insecurity; ideology comes and worsens this by insisting everything is terrible, and there is no hope outside of maintaining one’s belonging within the herd that recognizes (i.e., carps constantly about) this terribleness. As a result, they become afraid to harbor any beliefs or likes of their own lest these be “wrong,” instead becoming a shell-like automaton parroting only ideologically-approved beliefs and likes.
Some may read this and picture fundamentalist parents trying to keep their would-be geek offspring away from fantasy fandoms. The irony though is that in many circles I’ve observed, fandom itself has become obnoxiously ideological. The media in question is ideologically-approved? Then we must masturbate to its greatness, and how dare everyone involved not be greeted with universal accolades! The media in question is not ideologically-approved? Then whoever likes it must support whatever is problematic in it, and couldn’t possibly enjoy it for unrelated reasons!
I have trouble believing people who act thus truly “enjoy” media that checks all their ideological checkboxes. It seems rather that they have been cowed into “this is what liking things means in 2024” and are thus years-long into forgetting what it feels like to spontaneously respond with joy to anything.
Living exuberantly is an important part of Satanism. How can one “indulge” though if one feels obligated to always submit one’s own sensory and emotional reactions to an external authority for validation? If you’re that out-of-touch with yourself, as a Satanist I call that a problem – regardless of whether it’s God or your own political side you’re begging approval from.
A person who lacks openness, doesn’t engage with the world in an even-handed fashion, and is unaware of their shadow projection, is unlikely to cope well with any complex interpersonal situation. All the more so if lack of agency and autonomy has reduced them to a victim afraid of everything, and lack of personal loyalty compromises their ability to form real bonds with other people. The result is someone with no ability to invest meaningfully in allies’ flourishing. Neither will they possess desire or capacity to understand the actual psychology of anyone they see as an enemy.
Like it or not, humans are social animals, and cooperation is what gets large-scale things done. So how does one expect to have any meaningful impact on human affairs with such attitudes?
The bottom line here is that if you swear allegiance to an ideology that insists on imposing its Truth on reality, to the point that it would sooner disengage from or destroy the world to “eliminate Falsehood” than admit complexity and engage constructively, odds are good that you’ll eventually wind up an ineffectual pawn of that ideology. And you are going to end up there – i.e., disempowered, depressed, and aeonically-useless – regardless of whether the ideology in question is religious or ostensibly “secular”.
Not everyone who displays tendencies I’ve described here will subscribe to a Dogmagian ideology. Many will be more prosaic forms of “loser.” And not all Dogmagians will display all the tendencies listed.
My point though is that if you’re a Satanist prone to summing up everything wrong with the world in terms of simplistically pointing at THOTs (Those Herds Over There), you are in fact missing the point and losing the plot. Proudly and simple-mindedly hating “those people” is a child’s take on “the adversarial path.”
Tenebrous Satanism contends conversely that Solzhenitsyn was right: “the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart—and through all human hearts.” The sooner Satanists recognize the wisdom of this and act accordingly, the sooner we can get on with the urgent business of rising above the stagnant morass of counterproductive dualism.
Comments, thoughts, dissent (preferably constructive)? Let me know in the comments.