Is empathy Satanic? Part 3 of 3: Darkness and the Nekalah

The fourth tenet of the Tenebrous Creed identifies zeal, wisdom, honor, empathy and perseverance as foremost values for Satanists. But in what sense is empathy “Satanic”? Part 3 of 3 discusses beliefs specific to Tenebrous Satanism re: The Abyssal Void of Darkness and the Nekalah, and what implications for empathy as a Satanic virtue may be (perhaps surprisingly) derived from these. Read the introduction to this series here.


empathy satanic darkness nekalah

The narratives I’ve been discussing up to this point all originate in an Abrahamic religious context. It should be understood that my interest in them is literary and metaphorical. As such, for me they inform an ethos more than they inform a belief system. At the same time, though, contra mainstream denominations of Satanism, I do believe in “something religious.” This “something,” which forms the focus of the current entry, is yet another factor that informs my take on empathy.

Originally I was going to write this entry just on the Abyssal Void of Darkness. However, the angle I’d initially envisioned I’ve since concluded comes uninterestingly close to the previous Job entry. I also must at some point conquer certain anxieties I have about speaking openly about the Nekalah. This entry will therefore present the former topic as context for the latter. How is it that I, as an adherent of the Dark Gods, can call for empathy when certain other Satanists have been influenced by those same Dark Gods in an obviously-opposite direction? Read on to find out.

The Abyssal Void of Darkness and Satanic empathy

My “Internet-ready definition of the Abyssal Void of Darkness” can be found here. That glossary, however, focuses on defining Tenebrous beliefs. The current entry, on the other hand, focuses on narrative.

On the narrative front, then, there are two angles that I will take up here:

Prelude to the Tenebrous Creed

Nine Keys of Abyssal Darkness opens with the following words:

From the Void we emerge;
in Darkness we dwell;
to the Abyss we go.

Our destination is the same
regardless of whether we keep our eyes closed,
allow the Light to blind us,
or look forward with open eyes.

Let us therefore march onward with our eyes open
and make of our coming forth from the Void
a great Adventure
instead of a cry of despair.

Let us make a home of Darkness,
not for the sake of that which we came from
but for our own sake,
here and now and for the future.

Having lived thus,
we descend into the Abyss without regret,
embracing transformation even in the midst of terror.

And as long as the Black Flame burns within us,
let this be our Creed…

This Prelude constitutes a narrative about “us,” i.e. we earthbound beings of flesh and spirit. It alludes to a predicament we find ourselves in, and a choice we must make in response to that predicament.

The Parable of Adventure

The glossary on this website accompanies the definition of Adventure with the following narrative:

Once upon a time, Darkness split itself into many beings, and those beings set out on an Adventure.

Unfortunately, amid the hardships of this Adventure, some of these beings fell into despair. Despair made them forget that they had undertaken the Adventure by their own free will. They became convinced, instead, that an evil entity had cruelly forced and/or tricked them into it.

These despairing beings then proceeded to ruin the Adventure for everyone else, by discouraging those who would otherwise take bold risks, rationalizing that anything enjoyable that may come of the Adventure is itself “sinful,” and generally whining.

A goal of Tenebrous Satanism is to reconcile all beings with Darkness, so that we can all get on with trying to still have the best Adventure we can.

Whereas the Prelude highlights what would constitute the best choice, given our predicament, this tale speaks to the alternative. Some of us make choices that are adaptive to our situation. Others, however, make choices that are maladaptive. Such dysfunctional choices harm our fellow beings, and ultimately, ourselves as well.

Implications regarding empathy

Both of the Tenebrous narratives I’ve just described obviously paint human existence in dark terms. An inscrutable “something” put us here and drives our continued existence in this world. Said entity enjoys the challenges of existence through us, without caring how unpleasant we ourselves may find the experience.

Some deny this fundamental reality by engrossing themselves in just going through the motions of life. They remain content puppets by avoiding the question of to what extent their puppeteer can really be called ‘benevolent.’

Others deny this fundamental reality by actively trying to flee from it. Traumatized by having caught a glimpse of the hideous form of the puppeteer, they waste away their existence dreaming of an impossible string-snipping.

Finally, there are those who embrace this fundamental reality, despite its horrors. Grasping that they owe all of their own motions to the puppeteer, they cease to be alienated from themselves – and it thereby ceases to matter that technically, they are puppets.

The relevance of all this for empathy is that i) we are all of one origin in the Void; ii) none of us chose to be born into this World; iii) material limitation breeds competition for resources and all manner of related suffering for all sentient beings; iv) conscious beings suffer doubly, insofar as we are on some level aware of the Darkness that animates us, yet struggle to reconcile ourselves with it; v) since Darkness rules supreme behind the scenes, no true escape from existence is ultimately possible.

As I see it, these conditions point inexorably for a need for universal empathy. Life is inherently hard, in a way that conscious beings particularly struggle to cope with. How, then, can we not feel both for ourselves and for others?

Background for Tenebrous conception of the Nekalah

What, however, does all of this talk of Darkness have to do with the Nekalah? The answer to this question is wrapped up in what Tenebrous Satanism believes about spirits.

How do spirits come to be as they are? Tenebrous Satanism believes in a rebirth mechanism that is less moral than psychological in nature. Mental and emotional habits formed in the flesh will determine future existences – whether incarnate in this world, or discarnate existing alongside it, as a spirit. The Tenebrous conviction, however, is that there can be no individual existence that is completely free of contact with the flesh. This means that all existent beings either:

  1. Are currently in the flesh (e.g. humans)
  2. Were once in the flesh, but now exist parallel to it, whilst averting their gaze from Darkness (e.g. ghosts*)
  3. Were once in the flesh, but subsequently came to behold Darkness as a monster, see the flesh as a dungeon, and style themselves as would-be liberators (e.g. angels*)
  4. As previous, but subsequently came to behold Darkness as a mastermind, see the flesh an unfolding plot, and style themselves as would-be co-conspirators (e.g. demons*)

(* Familiar mythological archetypes that I’m throwing around informally here, just to sketch a picture for newcomers to Tenebrous Satanism. See the glossary’s entry on Tellurians, Celestials and Sinistrals for a more precise account of my beliefs about spirits.)

This schema implies a rejection of the notion that spirits can ever be eternal or unchanging. To the contrary, spirits evolve from enfleshed beings. Each “kind” of spirit (e.g. an angel) can in turn evolve into another “kind” (e.g. a demon) over long periods of time.

The key point: If something transforms, a narrative can be told of its transformation…

The Nekalah and Satanic empathy

To then tie the Nekalah in to what I’ve discussed so far:

  • Everything I say about the Abyssal Void of Darkness either directly or indirectly originates in the Nekalah’s revelations to me. Tenebrous Satanism thus conceptualizes them as “Dark Gods” in the sense of “Gods who decided to be co-conspirators of Darkness.” Herein lies the bridge between what is distinctively mine, and what was formerly associated solely with the Order of Nine Angles (O9A).
  • As I just mentioned in the previous section, it’s my conviction that spirits evolve rather than being static entities. And on this front, I’ve heard individual Nekalah relate different “evolutionary biographies” re: how they each came to be what they are now. Herein lies narrative content – content that I take as having additional significance re: Tenebrous Satanism’s take on empathy.

In an attempt to keep this entry’s length from becoming unmanageable, I will not delve into specifics re: individual Nekalah. I instead want to reflect on several “types” of stories that they have used to relate their natures, origins and motives to me. I’ve here observed three broad themes that recur. All have left me thinking far more deeply about empathy than before. All have, in turn, rendered me more broadly and deeply compassionate over time.

Naturally, this is a motivator in why I argue that the Nekalah, though “Dark,” are not necessarily “evil.”

Survivors of cataclysms

In this type of story, the entity was essentially forced to become what it became through cataclysmic circumstances. For example, in the course of being nearly destroyed by enemy spirits, it was forced to seek a refuge-that-was-no-refuge in the Void. Or, its pursuit of some essential good necessitated a descent into the Abyss. Or, it once saw Darkness as a foe that it could fight and win – and subsequently proceeded to not win.

Such stories are alluded to in the appearances I have seen some Nekalah adopt in my presence. One is hideously burned and reeks of rotting flesh. Another walks with a limp, despite being both ‘god’ and ‘healer.’ Several present themselves as having mechanical or otherwise artificial limbs. And yet, there is never any sense of weakness or impotence in such manifestations. There is, instead, a testimony to extraordinary might and endurance. Even in the face of that which has the power to permanently wound the divine, still they survived

These beings bridge the divide between those who proclaim “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and those who retort “no, what doesn’t kill you just becomes what you now have to live with.” In fact, both statements are true. There exist traumas so fundamental and transcendent that even gods cannot shrug them off effortlessly. And yet, their self-evolution continues, unabated, for they refuse the alternative, no matter how much pain they thus endure.

Being confronted with these entities moves me to deeper and more heartfelt reflection upon how my fellow living beings suffer amid adversity. How does one inspire others to continue their evolution, without seeming to dismiss their pain thereby? I find myself never free to disengage from this question.

Disillusioned idealists

This type is the quintessential “fallen angel.” Once, the spirit was a dedicated crusader against the world of matter on behalf of the Light. But then, something happened to destroy its faith in “the cause.” It saw something, and could not deny having seen it. Or, the machinations of its fellow “angels” became too self-evidently Machiavellian. Or, it became otherwise tired of having to lie in supposed service to “the Truth.”

Nekalah of this background often maintain something of their formerly-angelic appearance. Mingled with youth and beauty, however, are darker elements: an aura of antiquity, and the weariness that comes with it; a grave look suggestive of suppressed sorrows; a mark in the flesh, or a dread-inducing relic held in the hands, evocative of perdition. A cold hatred of their former blindness possesses them, weaving thirst for revenge against the Light into their every plan. It is for this very reason, however, that their dedication to advancing the Sinister Dialectic is absolute.

These beings testify to the possibility of a total change of allegiances. They went from being implacable foes of the World, to the most dedicated advocates of Satanic flourishing and self-evolution. One cannot help being struck by how much poorer-off our shared aeonic cause would be without their leadership.

These entities cause me to feel validated in my resistance to several tendencies I despise in our current age: thinking of people as “tainted”; holding past actions against them even after they have apologized; refusing to “let” people change; etc. I know well the perils of too much leniency in such affairs. Still, I cannot help feeling that if I witness Satanists saying things like “I have no pity for that guy – he’s totally fallen from grace,” something’s gone wrong on the empathy front…

Avatars of the Abyss

Finally, there are some Nekalah who went straight from “enfleshed alien monstrosity” to “co-conspirator of Darkness.” They never lived a blinkered existence sheltered from the Abyss, nor resisted the horrors inherent in reality. Instead, they gazed fearlessly into the puppeteer’s mad eyes, and concluded, “I am thee, and thou art me.” Thus, they became the silent Void itself; or, the all-encompassing Darkness itself; or, the voracious Abyss itself.

This is, obviously, where one encounters things of a distinctively Lovecraftian nature. Some manifest as imposing towers of grotesque and undead flesh. Others are humanoid, but wear the tattered robes of long-extinct alien monarchies, savage masks, or impenetrable shrouds of shadow. More abstract forms, such as a faceless monolith or a churning vortex, are also not unusual.

Three kinds of experiences I’ve had with such beings are relevant here. All stem from these entities possessing a deep acquaintance with the suffering that enfleshed existence entails:

  1. Being in their presence causes me to feel a deep sympathy with the suffering of life everywhere, regardless of how alien its form may be to me.
  2. I often have a feeling that they “understand” me in a purely objective, amoral way. This feels more like “empathy” than what I sometimes receive from other human beings, though I struggle to explain why.
  3. The i)-v) I wrote above re: “Darkness” are things I’ve become convinced of via direct experience with these beings.  Identified with Darkness as they are, they are that which imposes these conditions upon us all. We are at their mercy, yet they have none. Woe, then, to us all!

Such experiences have been among the most spiritually-profound of my life. They are thus decisive in my view that empathy should come naturally to anyone who grapples honestly with the harshness of reality.

Closing thoughts

I see Darkness itself as bereft of empathy. It is a purely amoral force. It is, however, because a purely amoral force is the prime mover behind the universe that we need empathy. This ties into what I said in the Job entry re: the need to admit that in fact, there is no cosmic justice.

I would similarly not say that the Nekalah seek to promote empathy among humans. I believe, however, that what they would like to see as far as the future evolutionary trajectory of humans entails both short-term disruption and long-term benevolence. In this, they adhere to the archetype of the Serpent and the Watchers: the act that seems transgressive and “evil” today may be justified by eventual benefit for human beings from a broader, long-term perspective.

I would note, finally, that in the narratives which the Nekalah present to me, I have found much that has caused me to develop a more expansive sense of empathy. I therefore regard myself as living proof that it is not the Dark Gods’ fault that O9A is as it is. Being around the Nekalah is not going to automatically turn you into a Nazi, a terrorist, etc. Yes, some people have made such choices. But other people can choose better, more constructive ways of responding to the Darkness inherent in the Nekalah.

A big part of what I would like to do with Nine Keys of Abyssal Darkness is to help illuminate such ways.

Revision history

This post received a resized title image and minor edits for stylistic consistency on Aug 13/23.

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