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Topics - Frater V.I.M.

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General LHP Discussion / Dr. Hyslop excerpt on Survival of Personality
« on: April 12, 2018, 09:15:10 am »
Here's a particularly interesting excerpt from Dr. James Hyslop's Life After Death: Problems of the Future Life and Its Nature (1918). It's from chapter V, "Modern and Scientific Doctrine." It's a rather long excerpt . . . but totally worth it if you have the time. I figured folks here would find this extract interesting/informative. Here ya go:

If a psychic researcher tells you that materialism is the only theory that can be maintained by science, the philosopher may rise and say that he does not believe that science supports materialism and perhaps that he does not believe in materialism as having any foundation whatever in its support. But he usually evades the question of the survival of personality. He has no missionary zeal for immortality and stigmatizes psychic research as unnecessary for the defense of survival. He may ridicule the psychic researcher for saying a word of apology for materialism or for admitting that materialism has any strength or support whatever. Indeed many a philosopher will speak in confident tones that materialism has long since been refuted and abandoned and perhaps sneer at you for being ignorant of the history of philosophy and scientific opinion generally.

But this type of mind is easily reduced to silence. It knows where its bread is buttered and that, if it boldly advocated materialism or recognized its strength it would not be wanted in a philosophic chair where the interests of religious faith have to be defended, or at least not antagonized. He can conjure up a meaning of the term which he can deny and save himself the danger of friction with those in authority. The fact is the term “materialism” does service for two totally different conceptions and unless this is recognized, the philosopher will have things all his own way. These two conceptions define or determine two distinct types of materialism. They may be called naive and philosophical materialism. In the controversies of the past no such division has been adopted. Indeed the parties opposing materialism did not dare admit the two types, as it would embarrass them in the concealment of their views on immortality, about which they did not wish to say anything and which they did not dare oppose. They might permit the public to infer what they did not admit or believe, and they wanted to escape any defensive word for the theory.

Now it was naive materialism that the philosopher has always denied. He either did not deny philosophic materialism, or he evaded a confession of belief in it for the same reasons that led him to deny the naive form of it. Naive materialism is based upon sensation and the ideas which most men have when forming their ideas of things from it. It is closely related to one form of Realism, presentative Realism as distinct from the hypothetical. Presentative or naive Realism supposes that the external world is exactly as it appears in sensation. It asserts that we see things as they are and does not think that we get our knowledge of reality from inferences or by some internal faculty which is above sense. It takes the world as it is revealed in sense perception. It is directly opposed to what is called Idealism which is supposed to deny the criterial nature of sensation in the judgments of reality and an external world. That is, Realism and Idealism are the two opposing theories regarding the nature of reality. Idealism is most closely associated with intellectual and non-sensory processes in the judgments of reality while Realism is more closely associated with sensation and sensory processes in those judgments. Realism assumes that the material world is rightly known in sensation and Idealism that it is rightly known only by intellectual and non-sensory processes. The opposition between them is quite radical.

Philosophic materialism, however, is not based upon sensation or any conception of reality dependent on sensation. It is as much based upon the intellectual processes as Idealism. In all its history it has eschewed sensation and sensory criteria for reality. The atoms of both the ancient and modern philosophers were supersensible, quite as supersensible as spirit. In that respect philosophic materialism is at one with Idealism and always has been. It would be as distinctly opposed to naive Realism as any form of Idealism.

The fact is that there are two pairs of antitheses here whose definition may clear up the confusion. One is the opposition between Materialism and Spiritualism and the other is that between Realism and Idealism. The first pair are metaphysical theories about the nature of reality; the second pair are epistemological theories about the source of our knowledge of reality. This distinction will mean that a Realist may be either a materialist or a spiritualist, and an idealist in the theory of knowledge may be either a materialist or a spiritualist in metaphysics. But there is no necessary antagonism between philosophical materialism and Idealism as usually held. It is only when a man equivocates with the term Idealism, especially the historical and accepted meaning of the term, that he can find any opposition between it and philosophic materialism.

It was the result of Kant’s reflections that this confusion arose. Kant recognized that it was Materialism and Spiritualism that were opposed to each other. But as his arguments about immortality resulted in an agnostic conclusion, the term Spiritualism was dropped as an unsustainable theory, and the meaning of the term Materialism was changed over to the sensational conception of the situation and Idealism opposed to it. Kant does not talk about Realism. He says little about Materialism other than that it is the correct antithesis to Spiritualism, while his adoption of Idealism and his silence about Realism leaves him with a tacit alteration of the term “materialism” in subsequent thought for an antithesis to Idealism, and that consecrated the naive sensory conception of it as the one which could easily be denied, while the philosopher could remain agnostic or silent on the question of immortality. In the antithesis between Materialism and Spiritualism, if you deny Materialism, you must affirm Spiritualism and with it survival. If you deny Spiritualism and with it immortality you must affirm Materialism.

In the antithesis between Realism and Idealism, the assertion of one denies the other. But considering that naive materialism or Realism and philosophical materialism are not convertible, the denial of naive materialism does not imply the truth of Spiritualism. Nor does it imply the falsity of philosophical materialism. The two theories may be as strictly opposed to each other as the other two antitheses. But it is the interest of the philosopher to deny “materialism” in order to escape the accusation of denying survival, and so he hits upon that conception of it which will save him the necessity of argument on the latter issue and he can leave the plebs to infer what they please. It is philosophical materialism to which psychic research is opposed and whose strength it frankly concedes, from the standpoint of normal experience, and all scientific results in that field. It may also oppose naive materialism, but not because it fears its denial of immortality, but simply because it is idealistic in its theory of knowledge. The denial of sensational or naive materialism affirms Idealism, but it does not affirm Spiritualism. But the defender of Idealism is quite willing to have the plebs believe that it does affirm it, so that he may escape the duty to give further evidence. It is not naive materialism that the psychic researcher apologizes for, or defends from the standpoint of normal experience, but philosophical materialism and the philosopher who evades this issue is either ignorant of his calling or he is deliberately equivocating.

Nor does the philosopher who opposes materialism, when ignoring or ridiculing psychic research, gain anything by saying that he does so because materialism cannot explain consciousness. He knows that, if he admits consciousness to be a function of the organism, he gains nothing by denying naive materialism, and so he conjures up some way to say that materialism has never reduced consciousness to any equivalent in physical phenomena. He denies the application of the conservation of energy to mental phenomena. He denies the causal nexus, the material causal nexus, between physical and mental phenomena. He asserts with great confidence that physiology, biology, and other sciences have not reduced and cannot reduce consciousness or mental phenomena to any physical equivalent. He expects by this either to prove the existence of soul or to enable him to evade the issue. He never seems to discover that, if you did so reduce it, you would absolutely prove the spiritualistic theory. He does not see that his own position does not carry survival with it and that he only paves the way for skepticism and agnosticism, which he thinks he has refuted by denying the success of reducing mental to physical phenomena. To make them interconvertible would be to make them identical in terms of the conservation of energy and that would be to make mental phenomena always existent, at least as parallel with physical or as continuous with it. That would be a conclusion which he either opposes or denies where it would be his interest to affirm it.

Now it must be emphasized that philosophical materialism does not depend on proving a nexus of the same kind between physical and mental phenomena. It does not depend on affirming that it can reduce mental phenomena to physical ones. Its problem is not primarily an explanatory one in that sense of the term. It is not “explaining” consciousness in terms of its antecedents. It is concerned with evidence for a fact; namely, the dependence of consciousness on the organism for its existence, not for its nature. The philosophical materialist may not know any more about the nature of consciousness than the opponent of materialism. He is not trying to “explain” consciousness in terms of antecedents or equivalents. He is occupied with an evidential problem. What he contends for is that all the evidence is for the fact that it is a function of the brain, whether he can tell how this is possible or not. It is not how it depends on the brain, but the fact of it that concerns him, and he maintains that all the facts and evidence of normal experience favors that view, and he will abide his time in determining how this is possible.

The man who asserts that we have not reduced consciousness to its physical equivalent is only equivocating or indulging in subterfuges, if he supposes that this has anything to do with the main question, which is a question of fact, not of understanding. The modern question is an evidential one, and less an explanatory problem. “Explanation” has various forms and we cannot pick out one of them, after the analogy of the conservation of energy, and neglect others. It is this equivocal import of the term that has led to the emphasis of evidential problems, or at least encouraged it. In any case, science is primarily interested in the evidence for the genuineness of facts and explanation is secondary in importance. It does not seek how anything takes place until it proves that it does occur. The first problem of philosophical materialism is the evidence that consciousness is so associated with the organism as to create a presumption or proof that it is a function of that organism, and once that is established evidentially, it awaits refutation. It does not require to understand all the mysteries of mind before defending its thesis as a fact. Its maxim is not, “How can I understand the relation of consciousness to the brain?” but “What is it as a fact.” It relies upon a simple set of facts to support its claims. It finds that consciousness is always associated with physical structure and organism and that, when this structure disappears, all evidence in normal life that a particular individual consciousness still exists disappears with it. Barring the consideration of psychic phenomena there is no escape from its contention. You may think and say all you please about the failure to “explain” consciousness. That is not its task or at least not its first task.

Evidence is the first duty of every sane intellectual effort and all philosophic speculations about the nature of consciousness have passed into the limbo of the imagination and illusion. Science has come to dictate terms to philosophy in that respect. It demands that any hope of a surviving consciousness must base itself on facts which prove that the standard of philosophic materialism is not final in its conclusions. It is right in insisting on the correctness of its method, and this is the uniformity of coexistence and sequence as determinative of what hypothesis shall be entertained in regard to the relation of consciousness and the organism. If you wish to refute philosophical materialism you must isolate an individual consciousness and have evidence that it can act independently of the organism with which it had normally been associated. This is the method of difference or isolation as distinct from that of agreement or association.

All that philosophical materialism can do is to ignore supernormal phenomena—or disprove them—and concentrate the emphasis upon the normal facts of experience which show the association of consciousness with the organism and the absence of normal evidence of its continuity when that association is interrupted by death. It thus conforms to the maxim that regulates all convictions in normal life about everyday affairs, and if it cannot employ the method of difference, or isolation, there is no appeal from its verdict. But psychic research comes in with the proposal to apply the method of collecting facts which prove that this consciousness has continued in existence in a state of dissociation from the physical organism. These facts attest or favor the hypothesis that we get into some form of communication with discarnate consciousness, and while that communication is not the object of the research, it is a part of the conclusion from the facts which can be proved to be indubitably supernormal. But the main point is that philosophical materialism can be challenged only from the point of view of evidence, not from that of explanation.

This evidence consists summarily in supernormal information that constitutes facts in support of the personal identity of the dead. It may require more or less to establish this fact, but it is the type of fact that I am defining here. The necessity of doing this is that we no longer take the medieval point of view that the existence of soul guarantees the survival of personal identity. Instances of secondary personality among the living, or even ordinary amnesia in normal life, tend to raise the question whether a soul might not survive and yet not retain any memory of its personal identity. The theosophist who accepts reincarnation defends this point of view universally. Hence it is important to ascertain whether the same stream of consciousness with its terrestrial memories survives as determining the only practical interest which anyone can have regarding immortality or survival.

It is to this issue that psychic research is devoted, and it challenges philosophical materialism, not in regard to any contention about the nature of either the soul or consciousness, but in regard to the fact of supernormal knowledge and survival. It does not dispute the fact that the evidence in normal life is predominantly for materialism. It only contests its sufficiency. Naive materialism it can ignore, as that is either harmless or has to be transformed into the philosophic type before it can have any interest for intelligent men. That is only a convenient foil to one’s cowardice, ignorance, or hypocrisy. It is the basis of ethical materialism which does not dispute survival, though it may dispute the ideals that are supposed to determine salvation in any world whatever, material or spiritual. It is philosophic materialism that constitutes the enemy of spiritualism, and science has so fully determined the method of solving all problems of fact that it demands and must have the evidential problem solved first.

I have said that circumstances make this problem one of personal identity, not the nature or the dignity of consciousness. That personal identity can be proved only by the most trivial facts. It is not to be proved by learned revelations or fine literature, either really or apparently coming from a transcendental world, but by trivial memories of the discarnate. The case is like evidence in a civil court. It is not a man’s style in literary productions that are invoked to prove a crime, but his boot tracks or some mark on his body. The more trivial and exceptional the fact, the better the evidence. It is the same in the proof of survival. We must have the most trivial facts in a man’s memory to prove his personal identity, and they must either not coincide with similar facts in the lives of others or they must articulate with a large number of incidents in the life of the individual so that the collective mass of them cannot be duplicated in the life of any other person.

The problem, then, is not the nature of matter nor the nature of consciousness. We may assume consciousness to be anything, if we desire. While we can hardly conceive it to be a mode of motion, we are too ignorant of its nature to deny that possibility, as we cannot conceive such motion in matter as is assumed in the undulatory and corpuscular theories of light, heat and electrical phenomena, though the evidence points to its being a fact. Any attempt to prove a spiritual interpretation of life by appeals to the nature of consciousness is doomed to failure, not because we know that consciousness is something distinct from physical phenomena, but because we have no means of proving that distinction beyond the most superficial appearances. There is no doubt that consciousness does not appear to be a mode of motion and that it does appear to be very different from it, but the naive mind cannot see superficially that sound is a mere mode of motion and this is still more true of light, heat and electricity.

In science we are constantly forced to go beyond appearances and are as constantly in the supersensible world for determining the nature of phenomena and seek for the explanation of them. For all that we know consciousness may be one of the “occult” physical forces, so that we have to seek the solution of our problem independently of all theories about the nature of it. The problem has become wholly one of its connections, and not of its nature. It is evidential, not explanatory primarily in terms of its antecedents. What we know in normal experience is that consciousness is always associated with physical organism and when that physical organism perishes, we lack the evidence in normal experience of its survival or existence independently of the body. The evidence proves connections of a uniform kind and if consciousness is not a function of the body with which it is connected there must be evidence of its dissociation and continued existence, or we must stand by the agnostic doctrine that we do not know, or accept the materialistic hypothesis as the only one on which there is any positive scientific evidence.

The materialism that is based upon sensation and the view that the nature of reality is represented in that sensory phenomenon is totally irrelevant to this issue. In all science and philosophy we transcend sense perception as the criterion of reality, though it is necessarily an intermediary in the determination of it. Hence philosophical materialism may hold good even when sensory materialism is denied, and that is the position under consideration. Philosophical materialism is based upon the connections of consciousness regardless both of its nature and of the theory that sensory experience is the measure of reality. The issue has gone far beyond the problems of the nature of anything and rests upon the scientific demand for concrete evidence of a fact. Any phenomena that are provably supernormal and representative of the personal identity of the dead will justify the hypothesis of survival of an individual consciousness, and it is not concerned with any explanations of how it is possible, but merely with the question whether the facts do not prove the fact of continuance after death. That is, one set of facts is construed as evidence of another fact whether we know its nature or not. For instance, we have evidence that evolution is a fact, though we do not base the admission on any knowledge of the nature of matter.

Again we have evidence as to the shape of the moon, though we have never seen one-half of it. The evidence is for a fact, not for a theory of the nature of that fact. Hence the first step in the present problem is to estimate the evidence for survival as a fact, and we may then enter into speculations as to how it is possible. We can study the nature of a thing only after we admit it to be a fact. It might even be true that survival is the essential feature of the nature of consciousness and that this survival might not be involved in or implied by any other characteristic of it. Hence the first thing to do is always to prove the fact and then we may discuss metaphysical questions.

Now scientific materialism is based upon the proved connections of consciousness, not upon theories of the constitution of matter nor upon theories of the sensible or supersensible nature of reality. It is not concerned with any metaphysical theories of matter or of anything else. It simply asks for evidence of facts. Does consciousness depend on material organism for its existence or does it not? What facts have you to prove that it can exist independently of the organism? If we know it only in connection with that organism and have no evidence for its existence in dissociation from that organism, we must at least remain silent in assertion. The materialist will have the first right of way so far as the evidence goes. The idealist cannot, and in fact does not, contend that he has evidence for survival. He only lingers in the limbo of an extinct metaphysics for a faith in survival, not for evidence. Philosophical materialism still survives after sensational materialism has been abandoned.

Now the evidence for the fact of survival is abundant enough, whether you regard it as scientifically proved or not. For the present writer it is scientifically proved by such abundance of evidence for personal identity that he does not deem it necessary even to enter into a summary of it here. Readers must go to the original records and discussions for this evidence. We have here to consider only the difficulties and objections in accepting that evidence as conclusive. There are just three of these to notice. They are (1) what we mean by spirit, (2) the theory of cosmic consciousness, and (3) the place of telepathy or mind reading in the problem.

I take it that one of the difficulties with the spiritistic hypothesis is the conception which many people have of “spirit.” The intelligent scientific man and the philosophers ought to have no difficulty with this matter. Unfortunately both classes are as involved in illusions about it as the layman. Or if they are not under illusion about it, they are accusable of intellectual dishonesty about it. They may take either horn of this dilemma that they please. The psychic researcher, where he has any scientific knowledge at all, is not fooled regarding what may be called the nature of spirit. He simply regards it as a stream of consciousness with its earthly memories intact and he may not speculate as to how it may subsist. He simply claims evidence for the fact of its continuity and leaves open all questions as to its ground or basis.

Most people form their ideas of spirits by the pictures of them which artists, newspapers, and periodicals make of them, or from the pictographic representations which their own imaginations make of such things. There is no adequate thinking of them as causal agents supersensible to their apparent effects on the mind. They think of them in terms of their sensory experiences, precisely as they do in all philosophic matters. It is easier to talk about them in terms of sensory pictures than to recognize the facts. Art, poetry, literature, magazine pictures, stories of apparitions, theosophic representations; that is, sensory thinking and the needs of communications with each other about them, make men imagine that spirits necessarily have the forms with which they are represented, either in the symbolism of the various arts or in the representations of supernormal experiences. Besides these, many alleged communications, and in fact genuine communications about them, represent them in bodily form. The doctrine of the “spiritual body,” the “astral body,” or the “ethereal organism,” represents them as having quasi-material form, and it is quite natural for minds, which are not accustomed to think in terms of supersensible or transcendental causes, to think of them as merely realities like physical ones, except that they do not appear to normal sense perception. All this may actually be true, so far as the present writer is concerned. He is not stating the common conception to refute it or to ridicule it, but merely to show that it is the common conception, and then to point out that it does not say the last word in regard to what the causal reality actually is. No doubt the appearance of “spirits” in apparitions and in the representations of communications about them encourages ordinary belief in their quasi-material reality and form. But art, imagination and popular pictures add to this until it is almost impossible to make the public see the limitations under which any such ideas can be maintained.

Philosophers who abandon sensation and sensory experience as the criterion of the nature of reality, physical or otherwise, ought not to have any difficulties with the problem. They are always telling us that “spirit” is not sensible in form; that it is not physical in appearance; that it does not occupy space; and in every way eschewing the sensible representations of it. But when they wish to accuse the psychic researcher of folly, they attack the common mind for its conceptions and do not take the trouble to educate or redeem it from its naive ways of thinking. It suffices for them to employ the antithesis between matter and mind, an antithesis which they may have pushed beyond its legitimate limits, and thus to disqualify the pictorial representations of spirit without making their own clear or tenable. They may be dealt with separately here. We are at present concerned with the common tendency to conceive spirits as they are pictured in the imagination.

Now the present writer makes no such representation of them. He simply conceives “spirit” as a stream of consciousness, or as a group of mental states with a memory. Or if this sounds too much like a so-called phenomenal definition of it, he will say that “spirit” is that which thinks, feels, and wills apart from the physical organism. This definition does not assert or imply the existence of such a thing, but only says that it will be this when found, and the evidence of psychic research sustains the fact that it does exist.

The evidence that it is something is found in the facts which show that the stream of consciousness can exist independently of the organism. It is not necessary to decide what a spirit is in terms of comparison with something else as a condition of admitting its existence. All that we require is to know that the evidence points to the continuity of a particular personal stream and its memory apart from the organism and then we may leave to further investigation the determination of its place in the scheme of reality. We may make it some fine form of matter, if we like, as even the Epicurean materialists admitted, or we may make it some form of “ether” or supersensible reality that does not have the properties of matter. The physicists of the last century had no difficulty in sup posing something of this kind in their system of imponderable “fluids.” Their ether and corpuscles of to-day only repeat the same general ideas in other terms. They assume a whole system of supersensible realities which are as far from the perception of the senses as any Cartesian “spirit.”

It is only the habit of conceiving “spirit” as the negation of matter that has created the real or apparent difficulty with the problem. But physical science has made us so familiar with imponderable “fluids,” with ether hypotheses, with inconceivably small corpuscles, with ions and electrons and the like, that there can be no difficulty in imagining something of the kind to explain the attachments of personal consciousness as a function or activity of it. But all these metaphysical hypotheses are not necessary in the scientific problem. We may concede that consciousness may attach to any of the philosophical postulates, and limit ourselves to the accumulation of the evidence that it can exist as a fact independently of the organism. We therefore adopt no other conception of it for our first step in the solution of the problem than the idea that personality is a stream of consciousness, a group of mental states having a memory and center of interest. This does not require us to picture it in the form of an astral or spiritual body, even though there may be such a thing as the condition of that consciousness existing now and hereafter.

This method of approach to the problem simply analyzes it into separate issues. If you may like, one of them is the phenomenal and the other the metaphenomenal or noumenal problem. The first is the scientific and the latter is the metaphysical question. We may or may not regard the latter as either legitimate or soluble. One school of men, those devoted to what is called empirical science, will say that the nature of anything is an insoluble problem and it is not necessary to dispute the issue with them. The other school may feel that it is entirely possible to get an answer to their question, but we do not find it necessary either to affirm or deny this possibility. It is certain that the phenomenal question must first be settled before the metaphysical one can be taken up, if science is to have any word in the solution of it.

In the present age science and its investigation of facts raise the standard of evidence in all problems, and it has to be satisfied before the speculative mind has any rights. The phenomenal problem is simply that which endeavors to ascertain facts that require us to suppose that consciousness is not a function of the physical organism. We have shown that, as long as we know consciousness only in association with the body and as long as we have no evidence for its continued existence after the dissolution of the body, we at least have no evidence for the fact of survival, whatever we may believe about its possibility. To affirm it with any degree of confidence as a fact, not merely as a possibility, requires us to produce facts which necessarily imply that continuity. Science has pressed its claims and evidential problems so far that a pious belief is no longer sufficient to decide the issue even as a working hypothesis. The belief lives on only as an emotional hope, a will to act on its possibility whether we have any assurance, even the slightest, or not. But minds in that condition cannot argue the case with any success. They can only go off into solitude and assert it without proof or evidence. But if we can obtain facts such as veridical apparitions or mediumistic communications that are indubitable evidence of supernormal knowledge and of discarnate personality, we may challenge the dogmatism of materialism with its insistence on an hypothesis which it never proved, though it had the evidence of normal experience in its support.

What we do is to insist that “spirit” is, or at least implies, the existence of an independent stream of consciousness which we shall not picture to ourselves as a quasi-material form, even though we ultimately find such a thing to be a fact. We subscribe to the philosophical conception which always finds that naive sense conceptions are not the final standards of reality.

The phenomena in psychic research which reinforce this view are those of apparitions and the pictographic phenomena in mediumistic communications. These latter offer the solution of all the perplexities in apparitions. The one thing that invited ridicule in apparitions was the existence of “spirit clothes” and allied phenomena, such as the cigar manufactories, the whiskey sodas, and brick houses of Sir Oliver Lodge’s son. The same phenomena or conceptions are reported ad nauseam in the literature of Spiritualism and have always given the scientific man and the philosopher pause when asked if he believed in such things. But the pictographic process in the phenomena of mediumship is the clue out of this perplexity. It shows, as we shall indicate later, that thoughts in the transcendental or spiritual world, in the process of transmission, become phantasms or hallucinations representing quasi-material things, or apparently physical things. The first temptation is to interpret them from the standpoint of naive sense perception and so take them just as they appear to be; that is, to represent “spirit” as a reality exactly like matter in all but its ponderability.

But the examination of them shows indubitably that, whatever the thought may be, its representative in the mind of the living percipient is a phantasm, not a material reality, and that once admitted, we have a clear explanation of apparitions and all quasi-material realities within the domain of psychic experiences. This requires us to think of “spirit” as we would of a physical object which becomes visible only by luminous vibrations which are neither visible themselves nor similar to the object, if the ordinary philosophical and scientific theories be assumed as correct. We abstract from the appearance and interpret it in the light of causality, not of identity with the phantasmal representation. We can postpone or defer the causal theories until we have more knowledge. We simply have the evidence that the conscious and personal stream of mental states exist still. How they may exist is a secondary question.

I may now take up the second difficulty which seems to harass some minds. It is the cosmic reservoir theory, sometimes also expressed as that of the cosmic consciousness or anima mundi. Professor James used the former expression and a number of other people the latter form. The conception which Professor James used evaded all questions of personality in the cosmic basis for explaining mediumistic phenomena purporting to be communications from the dead. The other expression is but a subterfuge for the idea of God. Professor James had picked his idea up from some irresponsible thinkers like Thompson Jay Hudson and a few French writers, and it meant that our mental experiences are impressed or deposited on the cosmic ether or physical Absolute and that mediums are lucky enough to tap that reservoir at the appropriate point to obtain the memories of the right person and read them off as you would the symbols of a phonograph plate.

Now Professor James had no evidence whatever for the existence of any such cosmic reservoir. It was pure imagination, an irresponsible invention without defense or apology for itself, and then relied on analogies which do not apply to the problem. You cannot invent hypotheses in this or any other field. They must first be shown to be facts in normal life and phenomena before we can appeal to them for explaining these new phenomena, and Professor James produced no reason or facts for assuming such a theory. Grant the existence of it, what evidence had he or anyone else for the assumption or assertion that our thoughts were impressed on it? If they were impressed, how could a medium read off the impressions? The analogy of the phonograph record does not hold, and neither does any other physical record of the kind. We have first to agree on the symbolic nature of such a record to make it intelligible to ourselves, much more to others. We might conceive thought or mental states making impressions on sensitive plates, but how could anyone else read them when we cannot transmit thoughts to those who understand our own language? We can only transmit mechanical effects and not thoughts. We have to interpret mechanical effects which have first to be agreed upon as symbolical of certain mental effects or sensations. Professor James is thus in an a priori wilderness of impenetrable density and complexity, with all sorts of assumptions and analogies without evidence and without intelligibility. There was no scientific excuse whatever for advancing such an hypothesis. It only fools the groundlings and does not deceive intelligent scientific men.

On the other hand, if thoughts are deposited in the ether or in the cosmic reservoir and are directly legible by mediumistic minds, why this selectiveness to stimulate or impersonate the discarnate? Why does not the mind of the medium represent an inextricable confusion of myriads of thoughts deposited from all sorts of people and superposed upon deposits of whole generations of human beings? Had Professor James no sense of humor on this point? Could credulity stretch itself farther? It is the finite selectiveness of the facts which you have to explain, especially when that is accompanied by phonetic confusions just as we would expect them in any spiritistic efforts to transmit thoughts through an organism having phonetic difficulties like the phonograph. You cannot look at the facts in the most superficial way without seeing the inherent absurdity of such a theory, and it would never have had a moment’s consideration, even by laymen, if it had not been for the popularity of Professor James.

Moreover we may go farther. If our thoughts and memories are thus deposited in the cosmic reservoir, so that they can be seen and read by the medium in the selective way that must be assumed to account for them even approximately, what is the difference between that and “spirits?” Any continued existence of my memories in that reservoir is tantamount to my personal identity. That conception must imply or involve my present existence in that reservoir. My present thoughts are mere centers of activity in that reservoir and I have no objection to that view of them. As latent impressions in that deposit reviving them is only a manifestation of memory such as I have now in my thoughts. You cannot set up a reservoir after death without assuming that it is here before it and I either have no evidence for the foreign deposit of my thoughts in that reservoir or I am the same part of it now. This latter view includes my survival as easily as it does my present existence. The same thought will appear in the examination of the second form of the hypothesis and I need not elaborate it further now.

But the critic might say that the thoughts are not impressed upon this etheric or cosmic plate as thoughts, but merely as mechanical signs of them and that they are interpreted by the medium. But I have already answered that conception of the case by demanding that we produce evidence that consciousness produces any such mechanical effects anywhere, even on the brain. That evidence has to be produced before the hypothesis can be advanced to explain supernormal knowledge. The theory of Professor James would dispense with telepathy of any and all sorts. There is no use to suppose that a medium or anyone else is reading a living mind in any instance, but only that he or she is reading the plate in the cosmic reservoir! You explain everything or nothing by such an hypothesis, and I am sure that science will demand some sort of evidence that consciousness produces such impressions on a cosmic receptacle before it will permit its application in the way assumed by Professor James and others.

The hypothesis of cosmic consciousness as a supposed rival of the spiritistic theory is amusing. It differs from the cosmic reservoir theory only in the implication of personal as distinct from impersonal reality as the background of things. It is either identical with one form of the spiritistic theory or it has no relation to it whatever. Dr. Hodgson held the theory of cosmic consciousness and definitely asserted that he preferred to say “spirits” as a more intelligible form of expression for what was expressible in terms of a pantheistic view. This is easily proved. The cosmic reservoir theory has to depend on mechanical impressions on the ether or cosmic receptacle and has its plausibility in the assumption that the deposit is not a mental state while the perception of this impression by the psychic restores the original datum to existence in the mind of the percipient. It was laden with improbabilities and impossibilities, but the cosmic consciousness theory starts with the idea that the Absolute is conscious or is consciousness, and then supposes that our thoughts and memories are deposited in it and tapped by the medium’s mind.

But the deposit of any thought or memory other than its own in the cosmic consciousness either repeats the cosmic reservoir theory with telepathy assumed between the individual and the cosmic mind or it implies that our present mental states are a part of the cosmic consciousness. Either view assumes that we are now an expression of that Absolute; that our personality now is a spark of it and to think of it as perishing is impossible. The memory of our present states would be the same thing as continued existence, because that is all we are now. The monistic theory must make our personality a stream in the cosmic mind and that secures the possibility of its continuance. All that we require is to ascertain the facts which show that existence in it and the persistence of it in the memories of the cosmic mind as deposited in it by our being a part of it, a stream of it, now. It is absurd to suppose that a theory of cosmic consciousness establishes any a priori argument against survival. The pantheistic theory must inevitably imply that survival.

The whole difficulty at this point was caused by misunderstanding the philosophy of Spinoza. He denied the “personality” of God and the personal immortality of the soul. So far he would seem to be clearly opposed to survival of personality. Bat you cannot interpret his denials rightly without taking account of his affirmations. He also affirmed that the rational part of man was immortal and that thought or consciousness was an essential attribute of God. Why then did he deny his personality and personal immortality? The answer to this is very simple.

Early Christianity accepted the Pauline doctrine of the spiritual body. It at the same time set up some sort of antithesis between matter and mind. It supposed that matter did not have any of the properties of mind and that mind had none of the properties of matter. But it did not remain entirely consistent with this. Its doctrine of a spiritual body implied that the spirit occupied space and as long as space was not regarded as a property of matter, it would not discover any inconsistency. But its dualism developed into a radical and absolute antithesis in the philosophy of Descartes. This philosopher maintained that mind and matter had no common attributes whatever. The essential attributes of matter were extension and motion, but without consciousness. The essential attribute of mind was consciousness without either extension or motion. They had no resemblances to each other in any respect whatever. It thus deprived personality of any spatial quality. It could not hold to the doctrine of the spiritual body because that occupied space. As the popular doctrine of personality or a person implied that the mind or soul occupied space, Spinoza, when he adopted the philosophy of Descartes and transformed it from dualism into monism, had to deny the survival of “personality” because he had to deny that it was a spatial datum; namely, he had to deny the doctrine of the spiritual body as held by St. Paul and his followers. In denying “personal” immortality he was only denying the survival of a spatial reality. He was not denying the survival of the stream of consciousness. If he had assumed what some of the philosophers assumed; namely, that “personality” was a stream of consciousness, he would have affirmed personal survival. He actually affirmed the survival of the rational part of man and this rational part was the stream of mental states which were not spatial. It was only a question of terms and of the way we should conceive or represent the soul. His conception of God can be treated in the same way. In denying his “personality” which was conceived as a “spiritual body” and so human in form he was trying to eliminate the anthropomorphic conception of the divine. Though he admitted that God occupied space and had consciousness as an essential attribute, he denied his personality only as anthropomorphically conceived while that conception of personality represented in mental states was attributed to him as distinctly and emphatically as any theistic theory. Again it is only a question of terms and their definition. Now he is said to have said that at death we are absorbed in the Absolute or God just as a drop of water is in the ocean. This simile has been taken as showing how our personality is lost or annihilated. We live a life of individuality and then are absorbed or lost in the infinite. But those who refer to this as indicating how we may be destroyed are only hugging an illusion, and if Spinoza used the analogy he was deceiving himself as well as others; for according to his own philosophy such an annihilation was impossible. It was the spatial form that was absorbed, not necessarily the mental stream. If he wanted to contend for personal annihilation, he should have more distinctly defined his fundamental conceptions or given up the survival of the rational part of man. The analogy of the drop of water is exceedingly illusory. If the drop of water be an indivisible unit, it is not lost in the ocean or the Absolute. It retains its individuality, just as the atoms do in physics and chemistry, or the ions and electrons, assuming that they take the place of the ultimateness of the atoms. A drop of water cannot be lost in the ocean, any more than a shot can be lost in a quart of them, if it have the individuality of a shot.

But the fact is that a drop of water is a divisible and collective whole. When it is put into the ocean, it may divide and there is no discoverable line of demarcation between it and the surrounding environment. If it be indivisible, it may not be distinguishable from its environment by perception, but it will preserve its individuality, just as a drop of oil will do in water. There is no objection to this closer spatial relation of a drop of water thrown into the ocean than when apart from it, as an analogy for survival. That is, I should no more object to survival on that analogy than on the one that talks so glibly about separateness and “individuality.” For individuality is not so much spatial separation as it is indivisibility, even though it is perfectly continuous with its environment. Moreover, if a drop of water be divisible it will not actually divide without interference from external agency. It might be put into the ocean and forever remain as it was, if no disturbance from the surrounding water or other external force acted on it. So we may press the case from either of two points of view.

If we press the analogy between mind and a drop of water we have two conceptions of it. First assume that the drop of water is divisible; that is, complex. It might be absorbed in the ocean and divided into its parts and so lose the individuality that it had as a whole. But this depends absolutely on the existence of an interfering force outside itself. It has no internal tendencies to dissolution. With Spinoza’s God as consciousness he would have to show that this external force has any will to destroy either its creations, if that be the description of the facts, or the mental streams which are a part of its functional action. On the other hand, if the drop of water be an integer and indivisible, even the outside force would not divide it, but it would preserve its existence. Apply both suppositions to the soul. If complex, its destruction depends on the will or action of the Absolute. If simple and indivisible, it comes under the head of the indestructibility of substance or God which Spinoza taught. Hence the analogy is exceedingly deceptive.

But this incident of the drop of water does not represent the real position of Spinoza philosophically. It was because of his verbal denial of immortality and the “personality” of God that so much opprobrium attached to Pantheism. Prior to his time Pantheism lived on friendly terms, or at least often did so, with Theism, and only the phraseology of Spinoza led the church finally to oppose Pantheism. But I know no better position to absolutely prove personal immortality, as we define it. In modern thought personality is not conceived as a spatial datum, but as a connected series of mental events with a memory, and on the pantheistic doctrine we are now a stream in the consciousness of God and there can be no escape from survival, unless we abandon the conservation of energy and make the whole cosmic order dependent upon the whims of the Absolute. On the supposition that the Absolute or cosmic consciousness may destroy us at will, the whole question of survival will depend on matters of fact; that is, on evidence: not on metaphysical theories about the indestructibility of either substance or energy. That is the view already taken in the analysis of the problem.

On the other hand, if we accept the pantheistic theory or that of cosmic consciousness as eternal, we have no escape even in the metaphysics of the case from personal survival, as we are now simply a stream of functional activity in that Absolute. The hypothesis of a cosmic consciousness would prove survival instead of disprove it. It is only the doctrine of a spiritual body that it may question, while that of personality as a stream or connected series of mental states with a memory would secure its persistence without any violence whatever to theories of cosmic consciousness, and in fact would be implied by them.

There is the next objection to the spiritistic theory. It is telepathy. I do not regard it as a relevant objection, but because it has a popular acceptance as such, it has to be considered. I shall not discuss it at length, as I must refer readers to the elaborate discussions of it which I have given in many other places. It would take up too much space here to treat it exhaustively. But I may call attention to some things not elaborated before. They are historical considerations.

In the first place scientific men outside of psychic researchers do not admit the existence of telepathy as an explanatory hypothesis. It is used almost exclusively by laymen who are either afraid of it or do not know what it means. It is universally employed to-day as other hypotheses were used in the last generation and abandoned as men were laughed out of court for using them. Pick up any book written for or against Spiritualism during the last fifty years and you are likely to find all sorts of abandoned hypotheses defended in them. Many writers conceived the rival theories as Mesmerism and Spiritualism, or Hypnotism and Spiritualism. Many talked about animal Magnetism as the explanation of the facts. Many resorted to Odylic force. Many explained the phenomena by electricity, usually referring to table tipping and physical phenomena. Some said “psychic force.” But all of them avoided “spirits” as setting up the “supernatural,” and thought that any irrelevant term would serve to eradicate the simplest and most rational explanation of the facts, though it is true enough that physical phenomena alone are not evidence of spiritual realities or even explicable by them until associated with intelligence. But the mental phenomena were not explicable by Mesmerism, Hypnotism, Odylic force, animal magnetism, or even by “psychic force,” unless the definition of it involved “spirit” as it would have to do, if you gave it any intelligible meaning whatever. But all these theories have gone the way of illusion, and no intelligent man would to-day be caught defending them. They never had any real scientific recognition. They were only popular evasions. But telepathy has taken their place and the public throws that in your face, with all the assurance that it had in Mesmerism, electricity and other absurd explanations. You cannot reply to it satisfactorily because those who use it have not scientific intelligence enough to discuss it rationally. It is but a word which is supposed to exclude “spirits” because we find some facts that are not primary evidence of their existence. It is just a shibboleth like all the other ill-advised coinages of terms without explanatory meaning. There is no danger that any really scientific man is going to be deceived by the term. I shall only summarize the points which make it wholly irrelevant to the problem.

1. Telepathy is only a name for facts still to be explained. It is not explanatory of anything whatever. It is but a name for mental coincidences between two living persons that are not due to chance coincidence or normal sense perception and that are not evidence of discarnate spirits. This definition of it begs no questions as to either the directness or indirectness of the connection between minds. It states what we know, all that we know and only what we know. The process for explaining the facts is still to be found.

The conception of it as merely naming the facts prevents it from being logically or scientifically used as a rival theory of phenomena illustrating the personal identity of the dead. Those who apply it so, must show what the process is that is involved and also first settle whether that process is a direct or indirect one.

2. Assuming that telepathy is explanatory and direct between living people, the only evidence for it is based upon present active mental states of the agent and percipient That is A’s present mental state is transferred to B. A is the agent and B the percipient. But that hypothesis will not explain all the facts on record. Many of the supernormal incidents are not present active states of A, the sitter in mediumistic phenomena, so that any use of the term telepathy must extend it to include what A is not thinking of at all. There is no scientific evidence whatever that A’s subconscious is tapped. It may be so, but it lacks scientific evidence in its behalf, and until it has this, the hypothesis of telepathy, even in this extended form has no scientific right of application.

3. Again assuming that telepathy can tap the subliminal, many of the facts obtained in mediumistic experiments were never known by the sitter and could not be secured from his subliminal. You would have to extend your telepathy to include tapping the memories of any living person not consciously connected or aware of the work going on at a distance. There is not one iota of scientific evidence for such an hypothesis. It is not any more reasonable than the supposition that the memories and thoughts of all living people, including those who have died prior to the present living generation, though their lives coincided partly with those of the living and partly with a past generation, extending into the indefinite past, are transmitted to the subconscious minds of all other living people and can thus be picked out by the telepathic psychic. Indeed you do not need telepathy on the part of the medium at all in such a case. She is supposedly the repository of all living thoughts and of all the thoughts of the dead, so that she has only to pick out the right incidents to impersonate the discarnate. That is far simpler than your selective telepathy as it applies it to every thought of living people and makes the selection depend on the mind of the medium working on other minds. But I venture to think that no one is audacious enough to seriously consider such an hypothesis, and the selective telepathy of credulous laymen is no better than that. But you will have to assume it to make any headway against the spiritistic theory. It refutes itself because there is not an iota of evidence for it.

4. Telepathy, as a selective process, has no scientific support whatever. The only evidence for it represents A as active on B. But the conception of it employed to rival the spiritistic theory implies that B is selecting from A his subliminal memories and when it can not find the appropriate ones there, it hunts up a distant relative or friend and supplements its data from the mind of A by some from the minds of C, D, E and others. Prove that this takes place in incidents which completely reproduce the personal identity of the living, and you may then give the spiritistic theory a bad hour.

5. The conception of telepathy which some writers have accepted and among them more particularly Mrs. Sidgwick that it represents a supersensible process of communication between minds generally (1) between living minds, (2) between the living and the dead, and (3) between the dead themselves, is one that completely annihilates its opposition to the spiritistic hypothesis. You can use it to supplant spirits only by regarding it as exclusively a process of supersensible communication between the living. But grant that spirits exist and that they communicate with the living by means of telepathy and with each other by it, and you have no resource in it for setting aside spirits as an explanation of all the facts.

6. Telepathy is an evidential criterion, not an explanatory process. If we knew the process in it, we might make it explanatory, but as it is only a name for the facts, it can serve only as an evidential limitation upon the spiritistic hypothesis. That is, telepathy is a name for supernormal information of what is in the mind of the agent and what the percipient receives so that it cannot serve as evidence for the personal identity of the dead. Evidence of this personal identity is absolutely essential to the spiritistic hypothesis and as mental phenomena of the living only are not evidence for survival, any transfer of this purely living knowledge cannot be regarded as evidence for the existence of the discarnate. That is why it is called telepathy, not because the facts are thereby explained, but because they are not evidence of spirits. Consequently a mere limitation of the evidence is not an explanation of the facts.

7. Telepathy is not a universal explanation of psychic phenomena. There are whole groups of them to which it cannot be applied even on the utmost extension of it as a process. There are (1) Premonitions, (2) Clairvoyance technically defined, (3) Dowsing and (4) Telekinetic phenomena either with or without the association of intelligence. In the end we shall require some general explanation of the whole group of psychic phenomena and that cannot be telepathy, even if we conceded that it is explanatory in its nature. If we find spirits necessary to account for premonitions and clairvoyance as conveying information about concealed physical objects whose place of concealment is not known by any living person, we shall have to give up telepathy as in any way relevant to the phenomena representing the personal identity of the dead.

8. There remains one consideration against the use which people make of telepathy as an explanatory solvent, but it is less conclusive than those which have been discussed. It is the reversal of the process of explanation. What if spirits be the general explanation to which telepathy must be subordinated? That is, instead of explaining all the phenomena by telepathy, why not explain telepathy by spirits? The popular mind extends telepathy to cover all phenomena referred by Spiritualists to foreign beings. But as it is undoubtedly not an explanatory hypothesis at all and spirits are explanatory, may it not be that the latter will explain what telepathy does not account for? The position taken by Mrs. Sidgwick in extending telepathy as a process common to the living and the dead by so much favors this view. It would remain, therefore, to ask and answer the question whether all supernormal interactions between minds, whether incarnate or discarnate, might not be due to the intervention of spirits.

The first and forcible objection to such a view would be that the facts are often so trivial and so lacking in reason that we do not like to think of spirits as engaged in such capricious and meaningless interventions, when if they can intervene at all, they might do better things. For instance, a wife sees a phantasm of her husband’s throat bleeding and learns when she sees him that her experience coincided with the fact that he had at the time received a cut in his barber’s chair. It was not serious and there was no apparent reason in the situation to make it important enough to have foreign intervention of the kind. Probably most telepathic coincidences are of this kind. Those that are strictly such have no evidential characteristics to suggest either the existence or intervention of spirits and hence it is not easy to assert or believe in the intervention.

But this objection comes from the assumption that we must know why the message is transmitted. But we are not concerned with the purpose of such events at first. There are two things to be decided first. They are the fact and the causal agent. Why they occur; that is, the utility served by them is not the first thing to be settled. The very fact that telepathy is not explanatory and that it is extended into the interactions between all minds, living or dead, shows that we have not limited it as we require to do when making it a rival hypothesis to spirits. The latter explains some things which telepathy between the living does not explain. Why not, then, extend the operation of spirits to cover what is admittedly not explanatory at all, when we know that the spiritistic hypothesis is explanatory?

From the a priori point of view spirits can be applied and extended as well as telepathy, and having the advantage of actually being explanatory, there is special excuse for the extension, and then it would only remain to test this hypothesis by ascertaining what the facts are. Our total ignorance of what the process is in telepathy is so much in favor of subordinating it to spirits which, even though we may not know the process, we do know to be legitimate references for the character of causality, and that is fundamental to any hypothesis, prior indeed to any specific process required. The reason why the message is transmitted, to repeat, is not the primary issue. It might be important, if we were assured that all telepathy and all spirit communications were intentional on the part of the agents. But there is much evidence to prove that many messages from the dead are involuntary and unintentional. Whether they are all so is not tenable as yet. But it is possible that even intentional messages do not come until they become automatic and spontaneous, and the capricious character of many telepathic coincidences favor the same view of them. They are rarer in character and meaning than spirit messages, a fact which favors by so much the view that telepathy between the living has far greater limitations than the believer in it supposes. But leaving that undecided, it is clear that there is no such rationale in either telepathy or spirit messages as would force us to the acceptance of any specific purpose in all of them. Once concede that some of them are unintentional, due to sporadically occurring conditions which allow of leakage between minds, and we then have the possibility that even when the interaction is really or apparently purposive, it coincides with automatic conditions that conform to the law of involuntary communications. Grant the latter and we have a clear explanation of the triviality and apparently casual character of the messages. The larger field of consciousness, whether in the telepathic or the spiritual agent, so occupies the attention and interest of the agent that only marginal incidents slip through and it may be necessary to get the intentional message into that marginal field of automatism to secure its transmission. The intervention of spirits may not always imply clearly what goes on, though it be complicated with purpose that gets expression only in conditions of automatism which it may be hard to secure. It is all a question of evidence. Let me look at some facts that suggest this reversal of the application of telepathy.

I had a report from one man of a number of good experiences in so-called telepathy and he happened to say nothing whatever of his other experiences. When I inquired into his life and other experiences he was surprised that I would suppose they had anything to do with his telepathy, and I found from him that he always felt that he was assisted in his telepathic experiences, having frequently had an apparition in his life of a woman who acted as a sort of protector or guide. Through Mrs. Smead, a few months after his death, Mr. Podmore, about whom Mrs. Smead knew nothing but his name and the fact that he was skeptical, said that telepathy was due to spirits and that they could carry a message instantly. It was not evidential or verifiable, but the interest lay partly in the fact that it was put into the mouth of Mr. Podmore who had been such a veteran defender of it and partly in the fact that Mrs. Smead had not speculated about telepathy at all, and might as well have put the statement into the mouth of any other person not so relevant to the situation.

A much more important set of facts was connected with the experiments between Miss Miles and Miss Ramsden. The first set of them was published by the English Society and they contained certain incidents which appeared to support the idea that telepathy might obtain memories and subconscious mental states from the agent, Miss Miles. For many things obtained by Miss Ramsden were events that happened on the same day on which Miss Miles sent her telepathic message and were also not intentionally transmitted by her. This suggested a lot of inquiries by myself and I found that Miss Ramsden had had other experiences than telepathy and that Miss Miles also had had all types of psychic phenomena. She had had apparitions, did automatic writing, was able to produce telekinetic phenomena, and did dowsing—finding water—both by clairvoyance and the use of the divining rod, and what is more important, could always tell when her telepathic experiments were successful by the raps that she heard indicating the success. This last phenomenon was not due to telepathy.

Now I had my report on the phenomena of the two ladies in press and in page proof when Mr. Myers purported to communicate through Mrs. Chenoweth and made an allusion to telepathy, remarking that its success depended on the carrier. I saw at once the meaning of this and to avoid making suggestions, I simply asked what he meant by the carrier, and the reply was that “telepathy is always a message carried by spirits.” This was not verifiable and we cannot refute the belief that it was a subconscious statement by Mrs. Chenoweth who is tolerant of that view. But the spontaneousness of the allusion and the connection in which it was made favors the possibility that it is genuinely transcendental in its origin.

Another instance is still stronger. Mrs. Verrall who was psychic and a lecturer on Greek and Latin Literature in Newnham College, Cambridge, England, believed in telepathy as an explanation of a large number of her own phenomena and those of Mrs. Piper. She was a member of the American Society and knew my position on the possibility of explaining at least some cases of telepathy by spirit intervention. She died in July, 1916, and early in October purported to communicate through Mrs. Chenoweth. She very soon referred to telepathy and coming back to it a second time said that she was not so certain since her death as she was before it that telepathy explained her phenomena and that my hypothesis of spirit intervention might be true. She said she was investigating it, remarking also what was true; namely, that in life she had thought some things were not due to it. She showed a decided leaning to the possibility of my theory. Mrs. Chenoweth knew nothing about her except that she did automatic writing and that she was dead, having seen the mention of her death in Light, the English Spiritualist paper which she takes, or rather the Club to which she belongs. Mrs. Chenoweth knew nothing of her views about telepathy or spirits. Though it may not be proof that foreign intervention is necessary in telepathy between the living, it is interesting to remark that this change of mind characterized two psychic researchers who had died and who had believed in its more general application when living.

I am far from contending for such an hypothesis. I merely regard it as conceivable in spite of the objections applied to it. As we do not know whither telepathy is a direct or an indirect process between the living, the field is clear for any conjectures we may choose to apply, and I am as tolerant to spirits in the case as I might be toward telepathy. We are too ignorant of the process to deny one any more than the other, and I only await evidence for one or the other hypothesis. All the evidence in certain instances tends toward it and only because it is not conclusive must we await more decisive facts. But we are entitled to urge our ignorance as a reason for not being too cocksure that telepathy does not involve spirit intervention. I am not concerned with the position that science requires us to assume telepathy and to stretch it to the breaking point before applying spirits. This assumption is often stated as the duty to assume the “natural” before applying the “supernatural.” But I boldly affirm that science does not require, or even does not permit us to assume telepathy against spirits, except in an argument. When applying scientific theories we are required to assume the explanation that explains and not to make any con cessions to the mere skeptic. In an argument with the skeptic designed to convert him, we are obliged to concede all he demands about telepathy and to stretch it to its full length, but this is a policy of conversion, not a policy of explanation. Regardless of skeptical habits of mind science binds us to explanatory hypotheses and so to the testing of them whether we convert anyone or not. With a skeptic I might concede possibilities in telepathy, when arguing to convert him, that I would not concede in making scientific explanations. We are doing ad hominem work in conversion, but ad rem work in explanation, and our duties are different in them. So I feel no obligations to defend my respectability with skeptics by pretending to have assured beliefs where others may have a better scientific foundation, though I may conduct my discussion as if I did.

I should not even plead the consistency of spirit intervention as an explanation, as a defense of it scientifically. We must have more and better evidence, though consistency would suffice, if there was any assured disproof of telepathy as an exclusively living affair. It will require more evidence than I have presented to establish foreign intervention, and I propose it here more as a possibility than as an assuredly tenable position.

If we knew what the process of communicating is and whether space limitations affect it as they do any relations between living people, we might readily determine whether spiritistic agencies solved the whole problem. For we have some evidence that space affects telepathic phenomena between the living, when experimentally tried, and it is as certain that there are a large number of coincidences which are not affected by space limitations. They are often classified under telepathy, but there is no proof that they belong there, while actual experiments, as far as they go, favor the effect of distance to hinder telepathic transmission. Now in real or alleged messages from the dead, we sometimes receive the statement that they can tell what we are thinking or doing simply by turning their attention to us. I have noticed the same phenomenon as affecting control. That is, if the subconscious turned its attention to someone seen as an apparition, rapport is apparently established at once with that person and direct control will begin with impersonation in the first person, though I suspect that the subconscious, under the influence of automatism, is producing the whole result with modifications transmitted from the person with whom it is in rapport.

This would suggest the view that space does not affect spirit action and they certainly often show that they disregard it when communicating or exhibit knowledge that has to be obtained at a great distance. They also claim that their perceptions are extended beyond ours. Now if this be a fact we can well imagine that transmission might overcome space limitations as well as perception. Accepting this fact they might be the instant transmitters of thoughts which they receive from the living either in the vicinity or at a distance, and their success would depend upon the variable conditions affecting the percipient and the question of voluntary and involuntary messages. But in spite of this possibility we have not yet obtained secure evidence that it is the general fact. There is some evidence that it is the fact in certain instances, but we lack a criterion for determining whether the cases not exactly like them come under the same law.

Satanism / Azazel-Pan: Devil-God of the Witches
« on: December 22, 2017, 08:45:20 am »
[This is an article I wrote a little while ago for my blog, "Satanic Witchcraft in the New Aeon" ( The usage of excerpts from folks like LaVey and Crowley may seem almost out of place to some, considering how the article focuses on Hebrew demonology, Greek myth, and medieval witch-cults. But they are not there merely for filler or to make a short piece of writing longer. Instead, it's to emphasize how these different areas of the occult and religion touched on in the article are not mutually exclusive at all to me, but are rather facets of one Diabolic whole. (This little intro was longer, but I edited it down on 12/30/17 cuz after looking back at the original, it seemed a bit needlessly wordy.]


He had plucked the hazel rod
From the rude and goatish god,
Even as the curved moon's waning ray
Stolen from the King of Day.
He had learnt the elvish sign;
Given the Token of the Nine:
Once to rave, and once to revel,
Once to bow before the devil,
Once to swing the thurible,
Once to kiss the goat of hell,
Once to dance the aspen spring,
Once to croak, and once to sing,
Once to oil the savoury thighs
Of the witch with sea-green eyes
With the unguents magical.
Oh the honey and the gall
Of that black enchanter's lips
As he croons to the eclipse
Mingling that most puissant spell
Of the giant gods of hell.
- Aleister Crowley, The Wizard Way

There has been, and may always be, much argument among witches as to the identity of “the Devil,” the Horned Lord of the Sabbat. For many, He is the rustic, pagan satyr, identified with the Greek Pan, symbol of Nature and Life, and also with the Gaelic Cernunnos, or Dis Pater, Horned Lord of the Underworld. In the minds of certain practitioners of the Craft, “Satan,” and “the Devil” are merely insults towards this gentle Faunus, placed in the mouths of poor witches by their torturers/confessors, and as such, are anathema to “genuine” witchcraft.

But there was, and is, another form of the Craft altogether, which recognizes that while the God of Witchcraft is indeed a survival of Pan, things change. And in the case of European paganism, the reality is, things changed drastically, a LONG time ago. The cults of the Old Gods DIED. The charming theories of Margaret Murray aside, there was no pre-Christian underground resistance movement devoted to a purely pagan Horned Lord still alive and kicking in the medieval and early-modern eras. No, by the time of the witch-crazes that ravaged Europe for centuries, the religious life and language of the common people had long been that of Judeo-Christianity.

The witch-cults of this era were born out of an extreme sense of desperation in the face of a brutal feudalism headed by a hypocritical Church. When the “God” of Abraham and even the “Christ” of his new faith failed them, the people did indeed turn to the Old Gods, and this was made easy for a largely illiterate class by the fact that the Church had kept the Old Gods and their figurehead, Pan, alive all this time in her own way.

Pan had never died at all, as had often been claimed in the early days of Christianity. Indeed, He had never even left the popular consciousness: He was now the Devil, and His presence was felt and feared throughout all of Christendom, as surely as He was previously felt to be coursing through all of Nature itself as Pan. And it was to this Devil, this “Satan” or “Lucifer,” that the medieval witch offered her prayers, and He was approached consciously as the “Devil” of Christendom.

However, even though He was acknowledged to be the same metaphysical being known as “Satan” in Judaeo-Christian mythology, it is clear that the witches held very different ideas as to the scope of His power, His origins, and his inherent “goodness” or “badness.” And in this, the witches were not consistent, with some holding theologies closer to the orthodox Christian conception, and others confessing beliefs influenced by varying amounts of heretical Christian doctrine, half-remembered paganisms, folk-belief, and any other scraps of various mysticisms which the particular witch may have come into contact with.

European Witchcraft was not nearly as organized and systematic as some authors would have us believe. We should speak of “witch-cults” in the plural rather than in terms of one collective “witch-cult,” for it is clear that it was a decentralized “movement” wherein the various cults and individual witches were shown to hold wildly divergent views. However, as decentralized as Devil Worship was in medieval Europe, there were certainly common threads that run throughout, and as a whole, European witchcraft can be said to be a recognizable phenomenon with certain traits generally common to most manifestations of it.

To return to the identification of Pan with the Devil, it is often asserted that the “mix-up” was entirely arbitrary and cosmetic. However, there is a bit more to it than conflating two entirely unrelated characters for political gain. The idea that it is just a cheap name-swap with no basis in any previous theological tradition rests upon two assumptions, both of which are incorrect:

1) It is asserted that Pan, being emblematic of Nature, is in no way comparable to the Christian concept of Cosmic Evil; and

2) that the Judaeo-Christian fallen angel “Satan” was never envisioned as anything close to Pan or a satyr before Christianity came to power.

To assert the first is to misunderstand a central teaching of Christianity, especially in the early Church: in Christian thought, Nature IS Evil. Nature, from the actions of Satan in the mythical Garden of Eden, had fallen under Satan’s power. By the time of the Apostles, the Devil had become the “God of this World,” and the Christians were hoping daily for Christ to return and destroy all of this “sinful” creation, and close the book on our story forever. The Christians, not being a foreign cult from a foreign culture, but instead, a movement born and raised in the pagan Roman Empire, were entirely aware of who Pan was, and aware of the high status he had achieved in the Mysteries as the Soul of the World, the All. In the eyes of the Christians, He was the Soul of Nature still . . . the Soul of a “fallen” and “sinful” Nature. In short, the Evil One who tempts man with every “evil,” fleshly desire. The God of Nature. The God of “Evil.” The Devil.

And this Devil, under the name “Azazel,” centuries before the title “Satan” had become His most common name, had indeed already been envisioned in the cult of JHVH as the leader of a species of half man, half goat spirits who inhabited the wilderness and lusted after mortal women. As recorded in the book of Leviticus, the ancient Israelites were wont to offer unto Azazel, the dark leader of the se’irim (satyrs), a goat laden with the sins of the people, leading it into the wilderness to die. This was done more as a way of returning unto Azazel what was his, the sins that he was believed to have inspired, rather than as a form of worshipful sacrifice. Although elsewhere in Leviticus, the Israelites are squarely condemned for outright worshipping the se‘irim and offering them actual sacrifice, as opposed to merely using Azazel as a “scapegoat” for the sins of the people.

That Azazel, like the later “Satan” of Christian theology, was blamed for tempting man and being a source of “evil” is confirmed by His role in later Hebrew texts such as the books of Enoch and in the Apocalypse of Abraham. In the former, Azazel is one of the leaders of the Watchers, a class of angels tasked with watching over man, but fall from their station by mating with mortal women and teaching man “forbidden” arts. In the later, the apocryphal Apocalypse of Abraham, the character of Azazel has clearly grown to the stature of “the Devil” as recognized in Christian and, later, Islamic theology and doctrine, and while still retaining the same name as the Goat God of the se’irim, is now described both as a bird, a winged creature reflecting his angelic nature, and as a monstrous seven-headed dragon with twelve wings.

In time, the beliefs surrounding Azazel, the fallen angel who caused men to fall with him and who now lurked in the wilderness with his hordes of goat-spirits, grew through contact with the Egyptian Set and the Persian Ahriman. And under the influence of these foreign demonologies, the Mosaic cult’s fear of Azazel magnified, and his role as the arch-enemy of JHVH was slowly but steadily strengthened, until something resembling the “Devil” of medieval Christendom emerged. The title “Satan,” formerly employed mostly for angels loyal to JHVH but charged with testing and opposing mankind, in time came to be applied to the Devil almost exclusively. As early as the 2nd century CE, in the works of the Church Father Origen, we find the names Azazel, Satan, and yes, even the title “Lucifer,” all applied to the theological concept of the Devil, the fallen angel and “God of this World.”

In Islam, the name Azazel continued on as a preferred name for Shaitan, the Devil, being used to denote the Devil before his “fall,” with “Iblis” (Despair) being used for afterwards, in a mirroring of the eventual Christian convention of using “Lucifer” for before, and “Satan,” for after His “fall.” Azazel is also the name of the Devil used by the Yezidis, where He is once again the Lord of this World, although loved and worshipped for it, rather than despised. Here He is honored as Melek Taus, the peacock angel, and is seen as the personal manifestation of a deistic “God.” As LaVey noted about the Yezidi beliefs concerning Azazel (Satan):

“The Yezidi interpretation of God was in the purest Satanic tradition. . . . If there was any semblance of a personal manifestation of God, it was through Satan, who instructed and guided the Yezidi toward an understanding of the multifaceted principles of Creation, much like the Platonic idea that the Absolute was itself static and transcendental. This concept of ‘God’ is essentially the position taken by the more highly evolved Satanists.” - LaVey, The Satanic Rituals

In this connection, it may be interesting to note Crowley’s identification of the author of the Book of the Law with this Devil-God of the Yezidis:

“Aiwaz is not (as I had supposed) a mere formula, like many angelic names, but is the true most ancient name of the God of the Yezidis, and thus returns to the highest Antiquity.” - Crowley, Cephaloedium Working

So, in the name Azazel, and the myths and traditions surrounding it, we have not only the pre-Christian origins of the Devil’s explicit link to the satyrs, but the history of a being who progresses in scope from mere local goat-spirit, to a fallen angel of cosmic scope and power; an Infernal dragon who draws the stars down with it in its “fall,”; a rival to the Abrahamic “God” himself. This, in a twisted mirror-image sort of way, is not entirely unlike Pan’s rise from local patron of sheep herders to mystical source of All in the ancient Greek mysteries. And it just may be that the early Christian identification of Pan with their Devil may have been a case of recognition of their ancient foe, with more substance to their position than many are willing to concede.

In conclusion, the point of this article has not been to suggest that one is not a “real” witch if one prefers strictly pagan, pre-Christian terms for our Lord. The Gods are older than any human language or system or theology, whether Heathen or Christian, heretical or orthodox. How an individual approaches the Lord of the Sabbat, and what names and titles they use for Him, is entirely a personal matter, and “thou hast no right but to do thy will.” But, to once again quote LaVey: “Even if one recognizes the character inversion employed in changing Pan (the good guy) into Satan (the bad guy), why reject an old friend just because he bears a new name and unjustified stigma?” With that, I’ll leave the reader with a few choice excerpts from varied sources that I feel are pertinent to the topic:

“Azazel belongs to the class of ‘se‘irim,’ goat-like demons, jinn haunting the desert, to which the Israelites were wont to offer sacrifice . . . the Book of Enoch . . . brings Azazel into connection with the Biblical story of the fall of the angels, located, obviously in accordance with ancient folk-lore, on Mount Hermon as a sort of an old Semitic Blocksberg, a gathering-place of demons from of old . . .” - The Jewish Encyclopedia

“Throughout Germany the Blocksburg or the Brocken, the highest peak of the Hartz Mountains, was the great meeting-place of the witches, some of whom, it was said, came from, distant Lapland and Norway to forgather there. But local Blocksburgs existed, or rather hills so called, especially in Pomerania, which boasted two or three such crags.” - Montague Summers, The History of Witchcraft and Demonology

“This ‘Devil’ is called Satan or Shaitan, and regarded with horror by people who are ignorant of his formula, and, imagining themselves to be evil, accuse Nature herself of their own phantasmal crime. Satan is Saturn, Set, Abrasax, Adad, Adonis, Attis, Adam, Adonai, etc. The most serious charge against him is that he is the Sun in the South. . .We have therefore no scruple in restoring the ‘devil-worship’ of such ideas as those which the laws of sound, and the phenomena of speech and hearing, compel us to connect with the group of ‘Gods’ whose names are based upon ShT, or D, vocalized by the free breath A. For these Names imply the qualities of courage, frankness, energy, pride, power and triumph; they are the words which express the creative and paternal will. Thus ‘the Devil’ is Capricornus, the Goat who leaps upon the loftiest mountains, the Godhead which, if it become manifest in man, makes him Aegipan, the All.” - Aleister Crowley, Magick

“The primal power was also symbolized by the Uraeus Serpent which crowned the Egyptian gods, or the horns which protruded from the brow of the Great God Pan, the Greek All-begetter. It is the risen Kundalini, identical with the Set-Pan-Baphomet-Mendes-Phoenix chain of symbols. . . . The number of Shaitan is 359; that of Aiwass, 418. Together they total 777 which is the total numeration of the Paths of the Tree of Life. Therefore Shaitan-Aiwass=The Totality of Existence and Non-Existence=All=Pan.” - Kenneth Grant, The Magical Revival

Satanism / Ceremony of the Nine Angles with Aquino Commentary
« on: December 21, 2017, 02:16:48 am »
When I first read The Satanic Rituals as a teenager, I assumed that all of the bizarre passages in the  "Ceremony of Nine Angles" were little more than spooky, weird sounding gibberish meant to facilitate a psychodramatic response. Even after learning of Aquino's authorship of that ritual years later, I still didn't put much thought into the wording of the rite, thinking it was merely Aquino employing meaningless yet powerful sounding gibberish instead of LaVey. Still, even later, after learning that Aquino sometimes liked to employ Lovecraftian terminology in a serious capacity as sort of alternate ways to refer to Satan and the Powers of Darkness in a manner somewhat akin to Kenneth Grant's usage of Lovecraft (although in a style a bit more refined and sane than Grant), I still hadn't really given the old "Ceremony of Nine Angles" any serious consideration as to what it was trying to "say."

Recently, I became a bit more interested in the symbolism of the Order of the Trapezoid (mainly its original pre-'75 Church of Satan incarnation) and started revisiting information I hadn't looked at in a long time, and honestly hadn't really absorbed properly when I had first browsed through it years ago. I re-read through Aquino's "Commentary on the Seal of the Nine Angles" with a more serious mindset towards the subject matter than I had way back, and was fairly impressed and mystified with what it details about the original "Ceremony of Nine Angles" from The Satanic Rituals. What I had always regarded as mere spooky mumbo-jumbo with no inherent meaning was in reality Aquino seriously exploring the metaphysical origins of Satan, the Daemons, Man, and the Universe from a Satanic and pre-Setian perspective, merely cloaked in the terminology of Lovecraft.

The commentary presents a cosmological view from Satanist Aquino that is not quite what one would expect, as it's not merely the story from the Diabolicon condensed and reworded with a Lovecraft theme. In fact, it seems to me to present a view rather divorced from, and perhaps a bit more sophisticated, than that explored in the Diabolicon. Here there is no hint of Satan and the Daemons being merely finite characters engaged in a war with the organizing principle of the cosmos. On the contrary, they are ultimately the source of the Universe. Of particular interest to some of the contributors to this forum will be some of the comments Aquino makes about the nature of Set/Horus in regard to these ideas.

I assume that Aquino's "Commentary on the Seal of the Nine Angles" will in all likelihood already be familiar to a good handful of the members here, especially those with a Setian background. However, I'm not making this post to merely draw attention to its existence, nor am I simply presenting Aquino's Commentary as it can readily be found on the website of the Order of the Trapezoid. Instead, I decided to take the liberty of presenting the "Ceremony of Nine Angles" in its entirety from The Satanic Rituals, and inserting Aquino's Commentary into the text of the ritual itself, so as to put the Commentary more firmly into its proper context as an explanation of a Church of Satan ceremony. I find that reading the ritual this way, with Aquino's Commentary, instead of looking at the two texts apart from each other, is a far more useful and illuminating venture than viewing each alone.

As Aquino points out in the Commentary, the ideas explored here originated firmly in the "Age of Satan" and were a part of Aquino's metaphysical speculations (or nœtic visions?) as a Priest of the Church of Satan, despite the never-ending attempts by many to divorce such things from the Church. As such, I thought it proper to make this post in the "Satanism" section of the forum rather than the "Setian" area. Enjoy!

[Aquino's Commentary is in italics]

The Satanic Rituals, 1972

Generally speaking, some of these angles were taken from Pythagoras, who talked in terms of the significance of “numbers” rather than “angles.” From my readings on the subject, I am convinced that Plato’s discourses upon geometry and the significance of the various “Platonic solids” are essentially taken from Pythagoras’ work, just as Pythagoras came up with these notions following his lengthy stay in Egypt as a priesthood initiate. Fascinating how these “trails” just keep going backward until they vanish into the mists of pre-recorded history.

Bear in mind that the Ceremony of the Nine Angles was composed within the conceptual and iconographic limits of the Age of Satan. Nor was it intended to be an extensive, exhaustive “last word” on the angles or other included concepts; it was conceived as a nœtic vision and Greater Black Magic expression. The following comments pertain to my ideas at that time and deliberately avoid embellishing the Ceremony of the Nine Angles with the more sophisticated concepts to which I have since been sensitized through my own work and the many brilliant examinations by other Setians.

[This ceremony is to be performed in a closed chamber containing no curved surfaces whatsoever. No open flames are to be present in the chamber, except a single brazier or flame-pot to be used where indicated. General illumination is provided either through controlled starlight or moonlight, or via concealed ultraviolet devices. Above and behind the altar platform should appear the outline of a regular trapezoid. The celebrant and participants all wear masks or headpieces to blur or distort the true facial features.

All participants assemble in a half-hexagonal formation facing the large trapezoid emblem. The celebrant stands before the altar, facing the participants. He raises his left hand in the Sign of the Horns:]

N’kgnath ki’q Az-Athoth r’jyarh wh’fagh zhasa phr-tga nyena phrag-n’glu.

Let us do honor to Azathoth, without whose laughter this world should not be.

[Participants answer the gesture.]

Ki’q Az-Athoth r’jyarh wh’fagh zhasa phr-tga nyena phragn’glu.

Honor to Azathoth, without whose laughter this world should not be.

Kzs’nath r’n Az-Athoth bril’nwe sza’g elu’khnar rquorkwe w’ragu mfancgh’ tiim’br vua. Jsnuf a wrugh kod’rf kpra kybni sprn’aka ty’knu El-aka gryenn’h krans hu-ehn.

Azathoth, great center of the cosmos, let thy flutes sing unto us, lulling us against the terrors of thy domain. Thy merriment sustains our fears, and we rejoice in the World of Horrors in thy name.

Ki’q Az-Athoth r’jyarh wh’fagh zhasa phr-tga nyena phragn’glu.

Honor to Azathoth, without whose laughter this world should not be.

[Celebrant lowers hand, then renders the Sign of the Horns with his right hand. All participants echo the gesture.]

N’kgnath ki’q Y’gs-Othoth r’jyarh fer-gryp’h-nza ke’ru phragn’glu.

Let us do honor to Yog-Sothoth, without whose sign we ourselves should not be.

Ki’q Y’gs-Othoth r’jyarh fer-gryp’h-nza ke’ru phragn’glu.

Honor to Yog-Sothoth, without whose sign we ourselves should not be.

Kh’run-mnu kai Y’gs-Othoth hrn-nji qua-resvn xha drug’bis pw-nga s’jens ni’ka quraas-ti kno’g nwreh sho-j rgy-namanth El-aka gryenn’h. Ky’rh-han’treh zmah-gron’t k’renb phron-yeh fha’gni y’g zyb’nos vuy-kin’eh kson wr’g kyno.

Yog-Sothoth, master of dimensions, through thy will are we set upon the World of Horrors. Faceless one, guide us through the night of thy creation, that we may behold the Bond of the Angles and the promise of thy will.

Ki’q Y’gs-Othoth r’jyarh fer-gryp’h-nza ke’ru phragn’glu.

Honor to Yog-Sothoth, without whose sign we ourselves should not be.

[Celebrant raises both arms away from him at a sharp angle. Participants do likewise.]

Z’j-m’h kh’rn Z’j-m’h kh’r Z’j-m’h kh’rmnu. Kh’rn w’nh nyg hsyh fha’gnu er’ngi drg-nza knu ky cry-str’h n’knu. Ou-o nje’y fha’gnu qurs-ti ngai-kang whro-kng’h rgh-i szhno zyu-dhron’k po’j nu Cth’n. I’a ry’gzenghro.

The Dæmons are, the Dæmons were, and the Dæmons shall be again. They came, and we are here; they sleep, and we watch for them. They shall sleep, and we shall die, but we shall return through them. We are their dreams, and they shall awaken. Hail to the ancient dreams.

I’a ry’gzenghro.

Hail to the ancient dreams.

[The celebrant now turns to face the altar.]

Kh’rensh n’fha’n-gnh khren-kan’g N’yra-l’yht-Otp hfy’n chu-si whr’g zyb’nos thu’nby jne’w nhi quz-a.

I call now to the unsleeping one, the black herald, Nyarlathotep, who assureth the Bond between the living and the dead.

I’a N’yra-l’yht-Otp.

Hail, Nyarlathotep.

I’as urenz-khrgn naaghs z’h hlye fer-zn cyn. I’as aem’nh cicyzb vyni-weth w’ragn jnusf whrengo jnusf’wi klo zyah zsybh kyn-tal-o huz-u kyno.

Hail to thee, black prince from the Barrier whose charge we bear. Hail to thee and to thy fathers, within whose cycle thou laugh and scream in terror and in merriment, in fear and in ecstasy, in loneliness and in anger, upon the whim of thy will.

I’a N’yra-l’yht-Otp urz’n naagha.

Hail, Nyarlathotep, prince of the Abyss.

V’hu-ehn n’kgnath fha’gnu n’aem’nh. Kzren ry’gzyn cyzbnamanth El-aka gryenn’h kh’renshz k’rahz’nhu zyb’nos y’gothe vuy-kin’eh nals zyh.

In thy name let us behold the father. Let the Old One who reigneth upon the World of Horrors come and speak with us, for we would again strengthen the Bond that liveth within the angles of the Path of the Left.

[The celebrant stands directly before the altar, clenching both fists and crossing the left hand over the right against his chest.]

I’a Sh’b-N’ygr’th aem’nh El-aka gryenn’h. I’a aem’nh kyl-d zhem’n. I’a zhem’nfni n’quz n’fha’n-gn ki-qua hu-ehn zyb’nos.

Hail, Shub-Niggurath, father of the World of Horrors. Hail, father of the hornless ones. Hail, Ram of the Sun and deathless one, who sleepest not while we honor thy name and thy Bond.

I’a Sh’b-N’ygr’th.

Hail, Shub-Niggurath.

[The Goat of a Thousand Young appears. All participants clench their fists after the fashion of the celebrant.]

I’a aem’nh.

Hail, father.

I’a aem’nh. Hail, father. Shub-Niggurath: Phragn’ka phragn. V’vuy-kin’e f’ungn kyl-d zhem’n k’fungn zyb’nos Z’j-m’h kyns el-kran’u. F’ungnu’h zyb-kai zyb’nos rohz vuy-kh’yn.

I am that I am. Through the angles I speak with the hornless ones, and I pledge anew the Bond of the Dæmons, through whose will this world is come to be. Let us speak the Bond of the Nine Angles.

I’a aemn’h urz’vuy-kin w’hren’j El-aka gryenn’h. F’ung’hn-kai zyb’nos rohz vuy-kh’yn n’kye w’ragh zh’sza hrn-nji qua-resvn k’ng naagha zhem v’mhneg-alz.

Hail, father and lord of the angles, master of the World of Horrors. We speak the Bond of the Nine Angles to the honor of the flutes of the laughing one, the master of dimensions, the herald of the barrier, and the Goat of a Thousand Young.

V’ty’h vuy-kn el-ukh’nar ci-wragh zh’sza w’ragnh ks’zy d’syn.

From the First Angle is the infinite, wherein the laughing one doth cry and the flutes wail unto the ending of time.

First Angle: Unity. The concept of the Universe as the totality of existence. Note that this does not admit to monotheism (except in the sense of Deism), because there is no room for conceptual distance between a God and a worshipper. The “laughing one” is Azathoth, who is “blind” and an “idiot” because in a condition of perfect unity there is naught else to see, not any knowledge of anything else possible. [Understand, of course, that I was taking H.P. Lovecraft’s gods rather beyond his story-telling version of them. I don’t in the least represent these as Lovecraft’s own ideas, although I rather think that he would not have found fault with such elaborations.] In geometry a singularity identifies a locus only; there is no extension in any direction. Even the locus is “both there and not,” since it has no dimensions at all. Hence there are an infinite number of loci, for example on a one-inch-long line: an interesting mathemagical paradox.

V’quy’h vuy-kn hrn-nji hyl zaan-i vyk d’phron’h El-aka gryenn’h v’jnus-fyh whreng’n.

From the Second Angle is the master who doth order the planes and the angles, and who hath conceived the World of Horrors in its terror and glory.

Second Angle: Duality. The profound and necessarily total change of unity into symmetry and polarity (and its symbolic representations: Horus and Set, Yang and Yin, etc.) The “orderer of the planes and angles” is Yog-Sothoth, who is, as the shaper of energy and matter, described as the author of Earth in its matter/energy/evolutionary configuration. Note that in pure duality there is no room for judgment between the two; there is only one or the other. In duality geometry creates a single extension (a line).

V’kresn vuy-kn k’nga d’phron’g kr-a El-aka gryenn’h p’nseb quer-hga phragn uk-khron ty’h-qu’kre vuy-kin’e rohz.

From the Third Angle is the messenger, who hath created the power to behold the master of the World of Horrors, who giveth to thee substance of being and the knowledge of the Nine Angles.

Third Angle : This is a very critical stage, because the existence of a third element introduces the notion of choice between the two opposites, either absolutely or relatively (Aristotelian system) or of choice to aspire or not to aspire to universal perfections (= Platonic/Pythagorean system). This is Nyarlathotep, otherwise Set, otherwise Lucifer/Satan, otherwise Prometheus, otherwise Thoth, who has created the power of perspective and the independent psyche of judgment. Here “knowledge” becomes possible. In geometry we now have the triangle, which is the most rigid of figures and also creates a two-dimensional plane. Note that, per the Book of Coming Forth by Night, the Horus/Set relationship actually fits into a threefold matrix rather than a twofold one. Set is an independent Intelligence with perspective upon the non-conscious objective universe on one hand and the chaos of the anti-objective universe (HarWer) on the other. The simple Horus/Set duality results from primitive Aristotelian thinking (so kick me, Tharrud Terclis!).

V’huy vuy-kn zhem’nfi d’psy’h dy-tr’gyu El-aka gryenn’h f’ungn-ei si’n si-r’a s’alk d’hu’h-uye rohz.

From the Fourth Angle is the Ram of the Sun, who brought thy selves to be, who endureth upon the World of Horrors and proclaimeth the time that was, the time that is, and the time that shall be; and whose name is the brilliance of the Nine Angles.

Fourth Angle: The Ram of the Sun (Shub-Niggurath/Amon) is a manifestation of the “awakened” human psyche as energized by the Messenger. It is thus that “Satan” is known to humanity: a personalized reflection, as it were, of the results of the Messenger’s Working. Satan’s other name (Lucifer) is that of light and enlightenment, hence the “brilliance” of the Nine Angles. With the number four we have geometrically a three-dimensional displacement in space. Hence existence of matter and energy becomes possible. Hence time becomes possible, as the measurement of change in matter and energy.

V’cvye vuy-kn kh’ren-i kyl-d zhem’n lyz-naa mnaa r’cvyev’ykre Z’j-m’h gryn-h’y d’yn’khe cyvaal’k h’y-cvy-rohz.

From the Fifth Angle are the hornless ones, who raise the temple of the five trihedrals unto the Dæmons of creation, whose seal is at once four and five and nine.

Fifth Angle : Humanity as the physical vehicle for the expression of the Satanic psyche as discussed in the Fourth Angle. Concept of the body as a necessary medium for the self-realization of the psyche, at least in its early stage. Translation of this into physical representation of supra-energy/matter Forms such as Set via the creation of images, building to temples, etc. A temple with five trihedrons is a four-faced pyramid (as Giza), the 4/5/9 seal is the seal of the Order of the Trapezoid: a marvel of integrated, interrelated 4/5/9 values. As noted elsewhere, even the addition of 4+5+9 = 18, which takes you into the “returning’ qualities of 9 as expounded upon in Anton LaVey’s “Unknown Known’ in The Satanic Rituals. In geometry 5 creates the pentagram, hence the Golden Section, hence the concept of perfection. This is why to Pythagoras (and his priestly mentors) 5 was the most sublime of numbers, and why the pentagram was used as the seal of the Pythagorean Brotherhood.

V’quar’n vuy-kn fha’gn Z’j-m’h ki-dyus dyn-jn’ash cvy-knu ukr’n hy-rohz.

From the Sixth Angle is the sleep of the Dæmons in symmetry, which doth vanquish the five but shall not prevail against the four and the nine.

Sixth Angle : If Crowley considered his Tenth Æther to be accursed, then this would be the accursed (or should I say “hexed”!) of the Nine Angles. It is the hexagon and hexagram (also the seal of the Jews, authors and proponents of the world’s most nihilistic and self-hating monotheism.) The hexagon corrupts the Golden Rectangle; it adds an angle and a line to the pentagram and pentagon, thus destroying them. Six is symmetry obese and unnecessary (two and four are quite adequate for the principle). The seeds of the destruction of the hexagonal forms are carried within them, however, for they necessarily embrace two trapezoids (the four) and the pentagrams defined by those trapezoids (the five); hence 4+5 (the nine).

V’try’v vuy-kn djn’sh dys-u n’fha’g-nir Z’j-m’h r’n hykre’snvy’k kr’n-quar.

From the Seventh Angle is the ruin of symmetry and the awakening of the Dæmons, for the four and the nine shall prevail against the six.

Seventh Angle : The destruction of the status of monotheism by the addition of a line/angle to the hex. The legacy of the First Beast of Revelation and his sevenfold Seal and Star of Babalon (A.·.A.·.). The forces of the Æon of Horus overcoming those of the Æon of Osiris. Yet the only thing that can be said of seven is that it is an effective destroyer of six. It has no creative properties of its own; it has neither the strength of symmetry nor the magical powers of its asymmetrical predecessors (1,3,5). Proponents of six-isms instinctively fear seven: They warn about such things as the seventh son of a seventh son, of the Seven Towers of Satan in Yezidi legend, of the Seventh Seal, of the Jewel of the Seven Stars. Seven is thus a harbinger of doom to six: a shadowing-forth of the Apocalypse to come. Geometrically and numerically, like the Æon of Horus, seven has an “identity crisis.” Additions or multiplications or powers of seven yield all sorts of random values and relationships.

V’nyr vuy-kn hrn-njir vu’a lyz-naa mnaa r’nyrv’y Z’j-m’h gryh’y d’yn-khe cyvaal’k hy-cvy-rohz.

From the Eighth Angle are the Masters of the Realm, who raise the temple of the eight trihedrals unto the Dæmons of creation, whose seal is at once four and five and nine.

Eighth Angle : The temple containing the trihedral angles is a truncated pyramid: the power of the trapezoid perfectly manifest in a Golden Section-based three-dimensional structure. Thus its architects are the Masters of the Realm (the all-embracing term for the IV°+ in the original Church of Satan): the Sorcerers who beam from their towers the Powers of Darkness to rebuild the world corrupted by six and shattered by the seven, and their seal is the Seal of the Order of the Trapezoid (seal of the Priesthood of the original Church of Satan).

V’rohz vuy-kn i’inkh-v zy-d’syn ur’bre-el hy’j whreng’n nakhreng’h yh’whreng’n kyenn’h.

From the Ninth Angle is the flame of the beginning and ending of dimensions, which blazeth in brilliance and darkness unto the glory of desire.

Ninth Angle : The culmination of this dynamic process: the Black Flame in its perfection: the “will to power” of Nietzsche in a glory of desire: the extension of the Enlightened Will and Initiated Psyche throughout all dimensions of space, time, and thought: what in the Æon of Set would be Uttered as Xeper.

K’fung’n zyb’nos Z’j-m’h kyns el-gryn’hy.

I pledge the Bond of the Dæmons, through whose will this world hath come to be.

Ki’q zyb’nos k’El-aka gryenn’h.

We honor the Bond upon the World of Horrors.

Ki-iq kyl-d zhem’n.

Hail to the hornless ones.

Ki-iq Sh’b-N’ygr’th aem’nh El-aka gryenn’h.

Hail to Shub-Niggurath, father of the World of Horrors.

Zhar-v zy-d’syn.

Unto the beginning and the ending of dimensions.

Zhar-v zy-d’syn.

Unto the beginning and the ending of dimensions.

[The Goat of a Thousand Young no longer appears. The celebrant faces the participants.]

Ty’h nzal’s kra naaghs n’ghlasj zsyn’e ty’h nzal’s za’je oth’e kyld zhem’n f’ungh’n. Nal Y’gs-Othoth krell N’yra-l’yht-Otp. I’a Y’gs-Othoth. I’a N’yra-l’yht-Otp.

The hounds are loose upon the barrier, and we shall not pass; but the time shall come when the hounds will bow before us, and apes shall speak with the tongues of the hornless ones. The way is Yog-Sothoth, and the key is Nyarlathotep. Hail, Yog-Sothoth. Hail, Nyarlathotep.

I’a Y’gs-Othoth. I’a N’yra-l’yht-Otp.

Hail, Yog-Sothoth. Hail, Nyarlathotep.

James C. Kirby, artist and Priest of Set, passed away on Oct. 31, 2017. A little while before his crossing over, he gave this wonderful, and very empowering, interview on Fritz Fredric's podcast, "Daimonosophy 2.0." I highly recommend giving it a listen. You can do so here:

The story doesn't exactly end on Oct. 31st, however. In Aquino's latest book, IlluminAnX, there is a pretty surprising dedication page included. The book is not only dedicated to the memory of James Kirby, but also includes a postmortem communication from Kirby to Aquino. The communication is claimed to have been received the very next day after Kirby's passing. Here is the dedication page from Aquino's IlluminAnX in full for those who are curious:

Dedication to
James C. Kirby,
Master of the Temple of Set

IlluminAnX was written during the month of October 2017 CE. This same period saw the failure of AmeXet’s physical body, which led to several discussions between us concerning the contents of MindStar and the subjects addressed herein. He concluded his own incarnation with dignity and grace on October 31, celebrated by Pele, Neter of Volcanic Fire. The next day, through his Muse Claire, he wrote me:

Thank you my Friend. The advice you provided made a world of difference and allowed space for this Work to come into being with sublime beauty. By far the most powerful and precise Work I have ever done. I don’t know what is next but the anticipation is extreme. There is an authenticity to this Work that must be explored more thoroughly in our school. The merit it has revealed is stunning and worth deep scrutiny. Never has my magic been so clear and stunningly effective and my vision so absolutely validated in tangible form. This Work fulfills my Understanding of our power as Immortal Beings. I’m off to see what sort of mischief I can get up to next.

Setianism / Old Man Aquino: No Chill
« on: December 08, 2017, 07:37:06 pm »
Old Man Aquino: No Chill
Excerpts from Aquino’s “600 Club” Posts

For the past while, I've been lurking 600 Club for the express purpose of watching Aquino go off on people. Besides the entertainment value of it, it's fascinating seeing how candid and blunt Aquino has been getting about his personal views on topics pertinent to Satanism and Setianism. I don't know if it's just because he's older and closer to the grave or what, but he's apparently started caring way less about beating around the bush about certain topics than he previously did in former years.

As I've been reading his posts, I've also been compiling what I feel are the best gems into a collection. Originally I had been doing such for my own personal amusement/education, but, I started to think that maybe others who aren't fond of digging through the mess that is the 600 Club would also really appreciate seeing Dr. Aquino's insights that he's been sharing there. So, I figured it would probably not be too out of line to share some of the very best of these excerpts here. I hope ya'll enjoy.

(I wasn't ENTIRELY sure if such a post would be unwelcome, seeing as how it's a collection of posts from another forum outside of here, but, on the other hand, I noticed there is much interest in Aquino's views on these boards, and I thought it would be a shame for such clear expositions of Aquino's thoughts to go unheard outside of 600 Club. If this post is out of line in any way, don't hesitate to delete it and let me know I was in the wrong!)

Punchline: Atheism is wrong. There is comprehensive intelligence behind the existence and operation of the OU.

(1) Physical science explains only the observed regularity of natural events (e.g. “natural law”), to the extent these are observed and recorded (“scientific method”). But science does not, and cannot explain the why of natural law: why it exists as it is, and not otherwise nor absent (chaos). What is obvious is that the entire body of natural law is omnipresent and omnipotent universally; it is enforced as absolutely on the Moon or Saturn as it is in Berkeley. This creative and enforcing force requires a creator; it is nonsensical to attribute it to “accident”. That creative agency is “the gods/God”. This is inescapable proof of their/its existence and power.

Dimestore atheists usually try to argue against gods/God because they demand “miracles” (violations of natural law) as proof. They’ve got it backward: If natural law were breakable, that is what would disprove actual divinity - or at least show that the “natural law” in question was not completely known, thus accounting for its apparent “violation”.

(2) Atheism prefers evolution to creationism. That’s fine if you go no further than the simplicities of the J/C Bible. However it’s idiotic to posit that the complexity of natural existence and law is completely random and accidental. The construction and operation of your pet cat, from brain to tail, is a stunningly complex whole which could not possibly have resulted from millennia of random recombination.

(3) While you’re having fun with “evolution”, ask yourself why there should not be innumerable variations in construction and intelligence, not just a few very sharp divisions. In a completely accidental evolutionary environment, there would be many varieties between humans and “low intelligent” apes.

Summarily the OU is ordered by the "natural Neteru" [or "God" for simple-minded monotheists]. This is a "deistic" reality [look up "Deism"]. It can be apprehended and appreciated, but there is no point in asking it for "exceptions" (special attention, favors, punishments, etc.). All of that stuff in the slave-religions is just White Magical selfdeception.

The phenomenon of what we originally perceived as "Satanism" and later undersrtood fully in the Temple of Set is that human consciousness is distinct from the above, giving it both perspective and discretion.

That's the whole enchilada [in one 600C post].


600 Club User:
[Satanism] is all based on the volumes of work by Frederick Nietzsche.

Aquino Response:
No. Nietzsche denounced Judæo-Christianity, but as an Existentialist, not as a Satanist.

It is fashionable among avowed Existentialists to not define “Existentialism” on the grounds that it is inherently descriptive, not prescriptive of human behavior, and that, not being systematic, it varies completely from individual to individual. Hence it can be observed, and the term assigned, only descriptively after-the-fact; and no conclusions governing others can be drawn from it.

Thus Existentialism is not so much a philosophy as an anti-philosophy: a rejection of academic philosophy as being too abstract and non-experience-based as to be real and relevant to humanity.

The Existentialist therefore does not begin with an intellectual definition of humanity generally or himself individually. Rather he interacts with situations and circumstances in which he finds himself, and gradually builds up a self-image based upon his impressions and actions. This is the meaning of the Existentialist slogan that “existence precedes essence”. 

Taoism begins with perception and acceptance of individual consciousness, followed by deliberate rejection and abandonment of it in order to reduce the individual to a completely-compliant aspect of natural law: a being governed by instinct rather than intellect. 

The Existentialist has the same de facto goal, but goes the Taoist one better by denying that he has an intellect to be destroyed in the first place. For him the intellect is a mere illusion, an insane conceit. He insists that the metaphysical genius, the “philosophical individual”, never really existed at all, and that “authenticity” results from realizing this and resigning oneself to a mere stimulus/response-reactive machine.

Such passionate self-denial and -destruction is not only counter-intuitive, but emotionally torturous. The stress reduced Existentialists like Nietzsche to incoherence, and others like Sartre to compulsive horror (“nausea”) at the “obscenity” of existence generally.


Aquino on atheist/symbolic Satanists in general:
The more I read here from persons whose only experience with the "Church of Satan" is post‐1975, the sorrier I feel for them. Up to 1975 the Church was a very open, friendly, happy, and ‐ how can I put it? ‐ kick‐ass organization. Sure, there was an occasional jerk, but such was utterly incidental to the overall pleasure and exuberance of the Satanist experience. Anton bounced around the country visiting Grottos, whose members heralded him at ceremonies, took him to dinner, and showed him the town; there was a lively succession of interGrotto activities, regional conclaves, newsletters everywhere. In those pre‐Internet times the personal, telephone, and postal activity was a constant cascade.

And of course it was an organization of "joiners"! Most people who encountered the Church didn't know squat about Satanism, witchcraft, Black Magic, and all the other topics of interest. They joined the Church precisely to learn about these things, test‐drive them individually and cooperatively, influence & prank society, and have some pizza & root beer betweentimes. The initiatory degrees were all methodically refined and formalized over the years; if a Warlock II° or a Priestess III° from anywhere walked through the door, everyone knew to what extent they had their Satanic shit together.

Did I forget to mention that we all believed in the literal existence of Satan and the Dæmons/Powers of Darkness? Hey, that's why it was called THE‐CHURCH‐OF‐SATAN. Was there a lot of metaphorical use of Satan's name too? Sure, as with any divinity and its cultural influences throughout history. Today I am still stunned by the number of atheists, both post‐75‐Anton‐affiliates and others, who have this bizarre, even frantic compulsion to style themselves "Satanists". Yes, it's a cooler name than "Atheist" or "materialist". Yes, it just makes you sound pretentious, silly, and glamour‐wistful if you really, finally, aren't one.

I sought to preserve something of the great Magical Mystery Tour of the real Church of Satan in my Church of Satan ebook, which if you haven't yet read I invite you to download. I wanted ‐ still want ‐ to take you back there, share the adventure, meet Satan face‐to‐face as we all did.

As for the crisis of 1975, it was sudden, shocking, and incomprehensible. Thereafter we tried to pay as little attention to what was happening under the Church's name as possible, frankly because everything we did hear was degrading, embarrassing, and depressing. I can't tell you how many times I had to apologize to people that it wasn't anything like that 1966‐75; that's one of the reasons I finally took the time to write the ebook.

What I see today under the area of "Satanism" is, in a word, chaos. Anton, Gilmore, Densley, et al. fucked the concept up so thoroughly in the last 34 years that it's a wonder anyone bothers with it anymore. People occasionally ask me to recommend a good purely‐Satanist religious institution; I can't think of one anywhere on the planet to which I would recommend a discerning adult. Can any of you?

Just look at this Forum, which is as sincere and serious a venue for Satanism as I've currently encountered. The undercurrent and outbursts of defensiveness, bitterness, and frustration here are palpable. These things don't just happen spontaneously; they are the result of idealism shattered, curiosity disillusioned, the creative impulse thwarted. At its core, Satanism is an atomic explosion in your soul; like Dr. Frankenstein you "want to see it at its full power". You absolutely don't have time for villagers with torches.

As some of you know, the Temple of Set includes a number of specialized Orders , for Setians with concentrated interests and experience. Some years ago we wondered about an Order of Satan, for Satanism ‐ the idea being to recapture the original vision that we had left behind us in 1975. We concluded that we couldn't do it ‐ not because we couldn't do a great pageant of it, but because we had all gone so far beyond that idiom that it would be pointless beyond Halloween‐party theatrics. Once having met Obi‐wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker cannot just go back to his farm again.

So what can I say to today's aspiring Satanists: the real ones who have the courage, honor, and dignity to, as per G.B. Shaw, "promise him your soul, to stand up for him in this world and stand by him in the next"?

I would first exhort you that, if sincere, this is the highest and most noble affirmation you will ever experience. All that it brings to you, all the doors it opens, all of its dangers and delights will follow from this sacred moment. And no, you will never be able to go back to the Tatooine farm again either.

I would not bother advising you to disregard the atheists trying to clothe themselves in the magic robes of Satanists. They do not fool the Prince of Darkness, nor you, nor even themselves. They are but dust in the wind.

600 Club User:
I can't account for what Hippy-Dippy shit you people were into in the 60's and 70's. I can only speak to the reason I personally adopted 'Satanism' as a descriptor for what I was already doing.

Aquino Response:
Satanism as a religion posits a metaphysical as well as a physical reality. That was intentionally the premise of the original Church of Satan.

What I'm seeing today is mostly a denial of metaphysics, in favor of a mere description of one's hedonistic lifestyle, in which "Satan" is merely a hood ornament.

As detailed above, that would place you more as an Existentialist than a Satanist. This is meant descruptively, not insultingly. 

The objection that I've most often encountered here is that "everyone can design and define 'Satanism' to suit himself". Once a term is reduced to personal whim, if ceases to have meaning in discussion.

600 Club User:
What is wrong with acknowledging that you use Satan as a being/archtype during rituals, but don't believe outside the chamber that he's going to ring your doorbell? Why does it have to be all or nothing? 

Aquino Response:
If you're playing a game, there's nothing at all wrong with it.

600 Club User Response:
I do not play at anything and do not take this shit lightly. I use Satan in my rites and etc. I don't think he is going to be ringing my doorbell just like I don't believe some sex demon is going to ravage me in bed tonight. I understand what I choose to be my own reality. I can tell the difference between what happens in and outside the ritual chamber and how I cause things in my life to occur.

Aquino Response:
First of all, no personal insult intended: My comment was simply meant matter‐of‐fact ‐ that either you perceive and respect Satan as a metaphysical reality or you don't. If you do, he does not exist to be switched on and off at your preference or convenience (which is what Christians routinely do with God/Jesus), but is a permanent, living presence in your consciousness. If on the other hand you don't, then he is not that, and there is nothing more that I need say. Your decisions are of course your own to make.

600 Club User:
To somehow insinuate that the elevated degrees were somehow less in stature or less meaningful than when you were elevated is ludicrous. Nothing was just given out and those of us who earned... I stress EARNED... our stripes (Certificates of Degree) were no less proud of them and the work we put in to get them than you must have been. If that is indeed your assumption, I take it as a personal insult.

Aquino Response:
In all the years since 1975 I have never once encountered, read of, or heard of a "priest", "magistra", "magister", and now "magus" of the "Church of Satan" who wasn't an utter embarrassment to the concept. These designations all had formal, carefully‐developed significance adapted by the Church from their historic origins in the S.R.I.A., the G.D., and the A.A. The degree‐system of the Church necessarily had a Left‐Hand, not a Right‐Hand Path orientation, of course, and the Priesthood of Mendes was a unique addition, growing from the Church's original 1968‐69 concept of having both priests and ministers. If you want to champion Densley as a "magistra" and Gilmore as a "magus", far be it from me to restrain you.

600 Club User:
Can't we all just worship Satan-- or worship Satan but claim we're just pretending to-- and leave it at that? If you hold the Satanic Bible as representative of Satanism, isn't it enough that these 'satanatheists' assent to the majority of the book's philosophy and thus understandably identify as Satanists, and stop harping on them just because they weren't alive to be privy to some esoteric secret that-- according to you-- became irrelevant almost 40 years ago?

Aquino Response:
I have continued to agree that anyone can call himself whatever he wishes, for whatever reason or no reason at all. My [equally continuing] caution is that S/Sist/Sism have generally-assumed & accepted meanings outside the 600C clubhouse, and that it's a good idea to consider whether, as Dad said, TFYG is worth TFYT, that's all.

Beyond that there is the simple question of integrity. We've seen this in the absurdity of the post-75 "Church of Satan", which is neither a church [as a worshipping institution] nor does it believe in Satan [as a worshipped metaphysical entity]. Both terms are bullshit, for no reason other than spooky glamor. Indeed they say so: "Here I am on YouTube standing in front of a B[aphomet] and calling to Satan, but of course I don't believe a word of any of it." If they see nothing lunatic about this, and you don't either, who am I to bring up things like emperors and clothes?

So if you're going to appropriate a famous term and then either use it falsely or try to massage it around into something you can neojustify, whom are you really fooling?

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