Dark and BitterPosted: August 21, 2014
One of my favourite sayings, which is true for me, is, “I like my coffee black like my soul!” Sophie and I also prefer the dark and bitter types of beer and of course dark chocolate. Is this because we are Satanists? Of course not! I am sure more than half the population enjoy black coffee and a large number of people enjoy dark chocolate and bitter beer, most of whom are not Satanists…
There is a point to this though. Some things which are described as dark and bitter are more socially acceptable than others. In truth most people enjoy things which could be described as dark and bitter but they wouldn’t want to be described as dark and bitter people. Neither would we because such a description usually has very negative connotations. However in the vast spectrum of how things are, and how thing could be, we do position ourselves on the left and identify more with the dark side. Our souls are indeed black and we think they are beautiful that way.
That might disturb some people, but I wonder if they would be any less disturbed if we described ourselves as sweetness and light? I think a lot of people these days are rightly suspicious of anyone or anything that is described as being all sweetness and light. Some of the philosophies we disagree with the most are those which accentuate the merits of sweetness and light to the detriment of all else. While Christianity is often thought of as the nemesis of Satanism, actually some Pagan and New Age philosophies are even more diametrically opposed to our beliefs. We don’t believe the world can be a better place just by wishing it. We don’t believe everything will be okay as long as you think positive thoughts. We don’t believe a smile always makes things okay. We don’t believe in “The Secret” or “The Celestine Prophesy”, although the authors of these modern wisdoms have certainly made a huge profit from them! We don’t believe it is always good to turn the other cheek or that forgiveness is always good or appropriate. We don’t believe that kindness always wins out or even that it is always the best response to a situation. So we are certainly not all sweetness and light and if we are honest with ourselves (which is the essence of the Satanic perspective) we are much more dark and bitter. That is the territory we know best and the point from which we reach out to the world.
Of course it is from that point that we find balance and harmony. Any regular readers of this blog will know that balance and harmony are absolutely essential to us and that in our opinion these concepts should be central to everybody whether they are right hand or left hand path, Satanist, Buddhist, Pagan or Christian… We will no doubt return to the themes of balance and harmony another time and what we have already said on the subject is easy to look up. But that is not the point of this post. This post is to acknowledge that as Satanists we do actively work with and value the darkness and bitterness within us. The parts that other religions and philosophies generally hide, ignore or run away from.
So this post is unapologetically about things which are described as dark and bitter, things which we find within ourselves or which as Satanists we seek out and work with in our daily lives and in our religious rituals.
Few things are steeped in as much darkness and foreboding as death. For that reason many Satanists use imagery and symbols associated with death. I sometimes think that this aspect of Satanism is over emphasised even within our own community for reasons of shock and awe; but still I acknowledge that it can serve a purpose even for myself. Sophie and I have a skull on our altar and we burn red candles on it which symbolise and simulate blood. It puts us immediately in touch with those dark fears and horrors; those realities of death that our culture generally separates itself from. The truth is most of us will age and all of us will die. Our society has separated itself from this fact in a way that was less so in the past. People used to live in bigger, extended families where the generations mixed and illness and death were frequent realities that all people experienced. As a result the fear of death probably has more power over us than in former times. Sophie has lost a parent and I am loosing my mother to dementia; I find getting closer to the organic reality of death, the actual blood and bones is unexpectedly comforting and empowering. Death and ageing scare me less and in fact give me a point of contact with every human who has ever lived. Death is part of our life cycle.
Fear is also something society runs from. Well sometimes that is appropriate, the emotion of fear is primal and is designed to keep us safe and helps us to avoid or run from things that can do us harm. But when it is inappropriate or out of control it can limit us and weaken us. We try to face our fears, to understand what they are and where possible to conquer them. For that reason we do perhaps expose ourselves more to images and aspects of horror. For slightly different reasons we also tend to empathise and sympathise with the archetypes and antiheroes of horror; the oppressed, the different the misunderstood… It wasn’t long ago for example that all witches were generally seen to be evil. Why? Because they had powers and abilities the authorities of the world resented and feared and wanted to control or destroy. We don’t deny that evil exists but we do challenge those who have for so long defined what it is.
We work with energies that some call demons or dark spirits, and in calling them that the implication is that they are evil. Some of them may be, but we prefer to come to our own conclusions about the energies and entities we engage with rather than rely on descriptions and warnings of their enemies.
We try to keep our opinions and view of the world and the people who live in it realistic rather than rosy. We are optimistic about some things and pessimistic about others. We know that shit happens. We can see beauty in the darkest of art because that is often the most honest portrait of our world. We understand there can be more love and warmth in the heart of the downtrodden whore who is familiar with people’s darkest vices, than in the platitudes of the well to do preacher or the kindly spinster who has never fully engaged with the world.
And we indulge our darker vices too. Those pleasures which are often frowned upon or most misunderstood are a landscape we often enjoy exploring. Exploration implies discovery. In seeking pleasure in things that may bend rules or break conventions we learn more about ourselves and the world. Moreover exploration implies finding the best way to do things. People did not find the best route to Australia, the source of the Nile or the South Pole without sailing dangerous waters or taking a lot of personal risks. Of course in doing these things you expose yourself to danger and sometimes get hurt. We accept those risks, whether it is diving into a waterfall or trying a new sexual technique. Would Marco Polo or Captain Cook have preferred to stay safely wrapped up in bed? Exploring the dark side of all things means taking some risks and defying some conventions. It does not however mean sticking your head in the oven to find out what happens. When it comes to sex and other routes to pleasure and growth, exploring the darker side of things requires intelligence, research and a degree of common sense.
I wanted this post to at least hint at those things which constitute the dark side to us and to be up front about the fact that we enjoy and participate in activities which could be perceived in that way. They are often things which go against the grain of popular and religious taste and morality. And yet… My guess is that a lot of people enjoy many of the things spoken of or hinted at here. The dark side is not such a foreign place.
The dark side is also where our anti social and immoral impulses and desires reside. It is where you find hate and jealousy, it is where violence and savagery often lurk. It is where you might find the desire to kill, to hurt or to maim. The point is that EVERYBODY has some or all of these emotions and impulses within them. Perhaps in some they just remain dormant. In others they cause outbursts of damaging behaviour. And in a significant minority these base feelings and desires become the route cause of sociopathic and psychopathic behaviour. We choose to consciously tackle those darker emotions and impulses within us, sometimes through the activities mentioned before, in order to balance ourselves and become more productive and whole. As Satanists we acknowledge that darkness is within us (as well as light) and rather than ignore it or let it fester and grow poisonous, we work with it and use it our personal growth.
I repeat, balance is important and I am sure Sophie and I will stress that in future posts as we have before; however… There will always be people who prefer their coffee white and very sweet; and that is fine, but there will also be those of us who prefer to drink it strong and black. Spiritually the same holds true. We are simply being honest about who and what we are and we think our dark souls are beautiful.