The last time I posted an update on Nine Keys of Abyssal Darkness was about six months ago. I therefore thought I’d say a bit about that here today. Doing so helps me take stock of where I’m at, in addition to satisfying others’ curiosity re: current progress. There’s also some links to previous blog entries in here, for those who may have only started following recently…
I’m now at a point where I do not foresee any significant amount of revising ahead for the following Keys:
- First Key: Reflections on the mythology of Satan and the spiritual and ethical values implied in such narratives. For a foretaste of this kind of reflection, see my previous series on empathy as a Satanic value.
- Second Key: Examines ingredients of toxic ideologies that Satanism is opposed to – e.g. what about Christianity, specifically, is the problem? For a hint at the kind of fanaticism I attack regardless of who’s doing it, see this entry on how certain people act when confronted with problematic books.
- Third Key: Zeal, wisdom, honor, empathy and perseverance as Satanic virtues. This Key I quoted at length in this entry about honor.
- Fourth Key: The nature of the Abyssal Void of Darkness; what are Tellurian, Celestial and Sinistral spirits; the afterlife; etc. These sorts of topics tend to crop up most on this blog when I’m talking about black metal, e.g. here and here.
- Fifth Key: Four Tenebrous meditation exercises that I’ve devised, utilizing Order of Nine Angles (ONA/O9A) sigils. Here’s something I wrote previously about meditation, and here’s something I wrote on the issue of being “O9A-adjacent” (i.e. this blog’s most-linked article, for obvious reasons).
- Seventh Key: Theory and practice of Tenebrous ritual magick. Recent relevant entries include this one on suspending disbelief during ritual, and this one on banishing.
For all of these chapters, it’s mainly just formatting clean-up that I still have to do, e.g. final proofreading, maybe re-do a few sigils, etc.
Revision of the Second Key
A quick aside: I’d thought I was basically done the Second Key months ago, but some recent reading changed my mind. It didn’t trigger a huge edit, but did cause me to alter my framing and emphasis in a few places.
The book in question is The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, by David Graeber and David Wengrow. It’s a very long book referencing a large number of anthropological studies whose significance the authors see as underrated. What emerges challenges assumptions that were still common when I was an undergrad in university. For example, it illustrates how i) hunter-gatherer groups actually are not automatically/inherently egalitarian; ii) agricultural societies are actually not inherently more hierarchical and less free than hunter-gatherer ones; iii) plenty of traditional societies entailed more individual agency and less xenophobia than stereotypes about “superstitious” ancient/tribal people tend to suggest; etc. Also a fascinating “European Enlightenment fails to acknowledge it actually got all its best ideas from Indigenous cultures” thread throughout.
The relevance of all this to my project was re: my definitions of Apollonian, Magian and Faustian. By defining these as patterns present in all human minds to varying extents, I reject Spengler’s/O9A’s ethnic-essentialist tendencies. I do, however, associate particular attitudes, institutions, etc. (both positive and negative) with the dominance of a given pattern among a given society’s members. Reading Dawn has proved helpful to me re: how to articulate this without unintentionally falling back into certain stereotypes. Lots of good counterpoints and correctives to perspectives presented in other similar-genre books I’ve read in the past, too.
I’ve often heard it said that left-hand-path walkers would do well to read broadly beyond occultism. Personally I’d recommend The Dawn of Everything to anyone so-inclined.
Revision of the Sixth Key
I figure I’ve now fixed the problem I mentioned with the Sixth Key as best I can by myself. Anything further on this front will likely depend on professional editing advice.
I decided, however, that I wasn’t happy after all with the actual divinatory write-ups for each token. This was triggered partly by broader, more academic reading I’ve been doing about the tarot recently. Another contributor, though, was just deeper reflection on the mechanics of the divination system itself. My ideas about what exactly a diviner can do with divination differ in both subject-matter and emphasis from other diviners’ ideas. In connection with this, I’ve realized some ways in which I can further improve upon the usefulness of the omens.
Due to all this, something I’ve become preoccupied-with lately has been in-depth analysis of my divination system. e.g. exploring questions like, “what do all suits’ queens have in common with each other, vs. how exactly are they different”? Or, “how do these two cards, whose meanings sound kind of similar, actually differ”? (I use cards/suits/queens here for ease of understanding via familiarity with tarot – my actual terms are different.) etc.
This kind of thing is time-consuming. It also generates lots of written content I can only really use in blog posts after I publish Nine Keys. Which factors into why you are only getting an update post at the current time. ? That said though, I anticipate making rapid progress with this in June. My past experience has also been that writing revised divination descriptions is something I can do a lot faster than many other tasks related to getting the book done. Thus, though it’s a lot of self-created work, I don’t expect this to affect my publication timeline much.
Troubleshooting in the Eighth and Ninth Keys
As I said in my last update, the Eighth Key takes longest to refine, due to requiring experimentation. I’ve have done some of this (less than I’d like), but still have a ways to go. Some issues I’m investigating include:
- Does it help to use a “summoning triangle” with my methods of communion? If so, is this a focal point for the entity (i.e. requiring its sigil)? Or for the magician (i.e. using some other marker for “entity goes here” would work just as well)?
- Does using the collective Nekalah sigil get you just whichever of them feels like showing up? I used to think this, but experience increasingly suggests otherwise…
- Why do techniques that work well for me indoors seem to work so much less well outdoors? Is there a problem with the outdoor location? If so, is it a practical problem (e.g. uneven ground), or a spiritual one (e.g. “someone else” lives here who doesn’t like me and my “friends”)? Or am I just unpracticed with outdoor rituals, failing to consider astrological stuff I don’t find matters indoors, or etc.?
The issues above in turn potentially affect initiation instructions in the Ninth Key. Fundamentally, the issue is, “what’s the most intimacy with these entities I can guide folks to via reliable ritual instructions”?
Lastly, my experiences increasingly suggest significant differences between Nekalah re: strange impressions & sensations when they show up “in person”. This is definitely something interesting enough to be worth researching more. You can only commune with these things so often, though, before the experience becomes too draining to manage. (And/or driving yourself insane… though it’s kind of late for worrying about that now in my case… ?) So even if it’s just fairly brief info I’m looking to add, figuring it out will still take time.
Time-consuming though some of what I’ve described above may be, I should have lots of time in June-August. I’m therefore striving for, by the end of summer, at least having a firm release date in sight.
Are there any other self-published occultists in the audience? If so, any “things I wish I’d known the first time I published” -type tips you could offer, or etc.? Let me know in the comments.