Tag: philosophy

Thelemic Values: A New View on Morality

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Ye Olde Morality

Most Westerns are familiar with the Ten Commandments that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai – the ten “thou shalt not”s. This system of ethics as set forth literally in stone by God and delivered through Moses is practically the perfect symbol of what I propose to call “old morality.” Old morality consists essentially in the belief that there is an absolute law of conduct, often rewarded with promises of heaven or some kind of pleasure and punished with verdicts of various types of suffering, even eternal suffering in a fiery “Hell.” This notion of absolute morality is most apparent in the Jewish religion, with its ten commandments (Judaism actually has 613 commandments in total), but it also appears in both Christianity and Islam (the “five pillars of Islam”). Both of these religions are characterized by their insistence on sin and the punishment of hell following sinful actions. These types of absolute morality are also apparent in many forms of Buddhism where they have “sila,” which consists usually of five “thou shalt not”s. In some forms of yoga, there are what is called “yama” and “niyama” which are essentially five “thou shalt”s and five “thou shalt not”s.

Now, this old morality being by definition founded on a notion of “absolute moral conduct,” is also necessarily quite inflexible. Not only did Moses invoke God as the source and authority of his commandments, but they were set in two gigantic tablets of stone.

In the course of history, one might say that these commandments, Jewish and otherwise, were necessary for that particular time. It can be agreed that many of these guidelines were (and still can be) effective if employed in the right circumstances, in the right cultures. For example, Continue reading


On Being a Pagan, by Alain de Benoist

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On Being a Pagan, by Alain de BenoistOn Being a Pagan, by Alain de Benoist
Ultra, 0972029222, 240 pp. (incl. notes and index), 2004

Originally published in 1981 as Comment peut-on etre paien?, the book was translated into English by Jon Graham and republished in 2004 by Ultra as On Being a Pagan.

I can only imagine that new title and cheesy image of Odin on the cover are intended to lure Neopagans and new agers anticipating fanciful stories harking back to the good ol’ days of yore, yet the paganism of de Benoist is decidedly not a “return to the past”, nor an attempt to regain some “lost paradise”. Instead this book offers something far more profound. Continue reading


The Satanic Scriptures, by Peter H. Gilmore

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The Satanic Scriptures, by Peter H. Gilmore
Scapegoat Publishing, 0976403595, 302 pp., 2007

To the Satanist, Satan is not a conscious entity to be worshipped, rather it is a name for the reservoir of power inside each human to be tapped at will.

When Anton LaVey’s died in 1997 his wife, Blanche Bardon, assumed his place as the head of the Church of Satan. In 2001 Bardon ceded her position as High Priestess, and promoted Peter Gilmore and Peggy Nadramia to High Priest and High Priestess respectively; positions they still retain today.

The Satanic Scriptures comprises of a collection of essays written between 1987-2006, many of which were previously published in The Black Flame, the magazine founded by Gilmore and Nadramia which served as the official magazine for the Church of Satan. Unfortunately, apart from the odd reference to current events, there’s no clear indication when individual essays were written, a shame as it would have helped provide context for some of the opinions voiced.

The essays focus heavily on Satanic thought, practice and guiding principles as directed by LaVey and the Church of Satan. A student of music, Gilmore presents the reader with an overview of his favourite “Satanic” composers and brief guide to their works.

One of my favourite essays in the book discusses the misguided enthusiasm of some newcomers to Satanism who don’t quite “get” it, yet desire to “prove” themselves great and powerful to the world. Gilmore writes: “Satanism’s championing of self-empowerment is used against Satanism itself when over-zealous amateurs decide they have a mission to represent Satanism.” Indeed, this tends to result in bizarre high school groups, or the proliferation of the absurd and hastily created websites which littered the Internet in the late 90s (a practice which continues today, I’m afraid to say). Needless to say, it doesn’t reflect well on the novice Satanist, or the Church of Satan.

As Gilmore comically notes “As far as I can tell, the rest of the world’s religions and philosophies don’t have this problem, and this is generally because they preach submission. When someone reads The Holy Bible, he doesn’t immediately go out, make a website-Vatican emblazoned with the Papal Seal, claim he is a Cardinal or Pope, and ordain correspondents as Priests, Bishops and Arch-Bishops”2. The man certainly has a point.

The last section deals with ritual, after a brief note on the subject, and a dedication rite, three larger rituals are detailed: a Satanic wedding, a Satanic funeral using Anton LaVey as the example, and a Norse-inspired ritual called the Rite of Ragnarok. Following is a brief biographical essay on Gilmore written by his wife, Peggy Nadramia.

The Satanic Scriptures provides a larger context for what it means to be a Satanist today, and makes an admirable follow up to Anton LaVey’s Satanic Bible.


The History of British Magick After Crowley, by Dave Evans

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The History of British Magick After Crowley, by Dave Evans

The History of British Magick After Crowley, by Dave EvansThe History of British Magick After Crowley: Kenneth Grant, Amado Crowley, Chaos Magic, Satanism, Lovecraft, The Left Hand Path, Blasphemy and Magical Morality, by Dave Evans
Hidden Publishing, 97895523700, 435 pp. (incl. appendix, bibliography and index), 435 pp. (incl. appendix, bibliography and index)

I’ve known Dave Evans online for a number of years, so I was excited when he said his book had finally been published, and looked forward to reading it. His doctoral dissertation in history forms the basis for The History of British Magick After Crowley, and as such it is structured in an academic format, opening with a detailed explanation of his methodology, and his involvement with both magick and academia.

Magicians are not known for their strict adherence to objective truths, and much of the traditions are oral, or rely on in-person contact. The academic approach taken with his work may seem threatening to some, challenging myths and records which have endured simply because they’re oft repeated. Evans has done an admirable job sifting through the available data to bring us what can be verified, and provided a detailed record of his sources. Continue reading


Review: And Banish With Laughter, by Soror Diotima

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And Banish with Laughter, by Soror DiotimaAnd Banish With Laughter, by Soror Diotima
Konton Publishing, 4903462056, 267 pp., 2006

Please understand from the very beginning that Diotima is, among many other things, a chaos magician and that (simple) fact colours her perceptions and her presentations. If you are one of those individuals who have a craving for the logical and “scientific” approach to things, you may find this book difficult to appreciate.

Diotima strives, how successfully is for the reader to determine, to make one think. She isn’t interested, as far as I can tell, in readers thinking like her; she just wants them thinking. And, since most folks don’t do that too often, it may be a novel experience for many.

In spite of the image the title may conjure up, this is not Continue reading


Review: Philosophy of Magic, by Arthur Versluis

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Philosophy of Magic, by Arthur Versluis
168 pp, 1986

This is a quick and short read. I liked some aspects of this book, but I’d also have to disagree with this author on a lot of his views. He tends toward a very mystical approach to magic, that its done mainly for spiritual purposes. He considers the use of it for practical purposes to deviate from the true goal of magic. The influence of Eastern mysticism is pretty apparent in this book. He also had a lot of inaccurate information on alchemy, trying to reduce to solely a symbolic activity. In this his book echoes the trend of a lot of authors that have attempted to reduce magic to pure symbolism.

It’s an interesting read for a mystical perspective on magic. Some people will like it better if that’s their approach.


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