Satanist’s View on the Self: Fractal and Deific
In human’s inner world, rich and diverse, there is no single commanding center. On this, modern psychology agrees with the ancient Eastern teachings like Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism. The conscious ego gives the delusion of a commanding center, but in reality it is a mere observer that reflects on its surroundings, a traveler in a small boat of focused attention in the vast sea of impressions. However, despite the absence of an obvious commanding center, our psyche does have a center of gravity, located deep inside. This center of gravity is multiple by its nature, with so many facets that it becomes very hard to identify it. The ego is just a small part of this center of gravity — and being the part that we comprehend more easily, it is often mistaken for the whole. This is much like a dream, where the hero (=the ego) slays the monsters, but fails to comprehend that these monsters are his own fears and hopes, and that he, along with all other parts of the dream, is a proxy of the dreamer himself. The dreamer exists and is very real, although his reality is on a different, deeper level than that of the subjects of his dream. In a similar way, our deeper inner Self exists and is the real driving power behind the choices we make and, more generally, behind the patterns of our life. Any development and personal growth would mean improving and synchronizing the way that the Self works, empowering the Self to interact better with all its (ours) integral parts (such as ego) and with the surroundings.
From the scope of occult, the Self, which we (at The Thirteen) also name after an ancient Sumerian term “ME”, is the subject of the sinister alchemical Great Work (opus magnum), the result of this Work, and the very process of the Working. Although the Self is a concept that has many parallels in various cultures, our approach is somewhat unique. We see ME as a non-homogenous system consisting of two major parts united in the labor of Love (in Crowleyan meaning), and possibly a legion of minor parts. The two major parts are very unlike each other, and are known as Nature and Will, Mercury and Sulfur, and under many other names and guises, such as perhaps ka and ba of the ancient Egyptians or p’o and hun in Taoism. These two major parts are not intermixed into homogeneity, but interact while having plenty of empty space between them, like for example the Planets and the Sun. In addition, multiple swarms of minor planets, asteroids and comets could symbolize the third component of ME, also known as Salt and by many other names.
This symbolic example blends alchemy, astrology and theurgy. It also illustrates the idea of non-locality, fractality of ME, its multiplicity, since many different objects are viewed as parts of the same essential force. Besides, planets can be viewed hermetically as more than just physical bodies — Venus is alchemical Copper, passionate love, number 6 and many other wonderful things. Ancient Sumerians believed that the ME of the deities are multiplied by their temples, priests and offerings. In the same way, bits of our ME project into everything we do in our lives — our deeds, books that we write and artifacts that we craft, people that we influence, places that we are fond of, and ideas that we support. In fact, when a Magician dies, his ME (not ego or human psyche) can persist through death, being transformed by it, and continue to affect the world as a part of human culture, as a ME of a deity. Thus, an occultist is not a simple mortal: as above so below, and men are like gods. To take the astronomical analogy one step further, men are at the same time fractal parts of godly entities, and also gods in their own right — in the same way as our solar system along with many other solar systems is a part of our Galaxy. Think of planets moving around the Sun — and at the same time Sun moving around the Black Hole that is the center of our Galaxy. And the Galaxy is moving too, with a breathtaking speed, around larger centers of gravitation, and so on.
The comparison of an expanded ME with the singularity of a black hole is not accidental. While the surface of a developed human psyche resembles an analogy of the Solar System, with a polytheistic Olympic pantheon of deities patronizing the surface of our emotions, passions and energies (the classical antique Greco-Roman pantheon which lends names to our solar system planets is a good example), the deeper layers of human psyche are much darker. It was discovered by post-jungian psychologists, such as James Hillman or Miller David (see for instance The New Polytheism, Harper & Row, 1974), that once we remove monotheistic oppression from psyche and allow the inner polyphony to appear from the underneath, we can start to approach in awe the mysterious, dark, numinous Self, which is another guise for what we call ME. By its nature, this Self is antinomian towards social standards, as it contains both the conscious and the non-conscious, known and unknown, acceptable and not acceptable by the society. It is unique, personal and unlike any other, but at the same time trans-personal and links to the collective unconscious levels. It is inside and outside; it is more than one thinks that he is. Thus, such Self is fearful for the uninitiated, because it can devour social personas identified with a human ego. At the same time such Self grants humans a deeper, deified existence in return for overcoming the fears. Thus, for example, Stanton Marlan, a post-jungian psychologist, speaks of the Self as the “Black Sun” in human psyche (however, “Back Hole” would be even a better analogy). When viewed as the power behind any true initiation, ME is viral, expansionistic and infiltrating. As a serpent that seeks and charms its prey, it attracts and mesmerizes. Nietzsche suggested: find the courage to look into this Abyss once, and it will look back at you for all eternity. While a person’s first approach to ME is often accompanied by chaos and confusion (see, for instance, the rich imagery for alchemical nigredo), one can learn to work with the inner polyphony and multiplicity of Pandaemonium, and hence introduce a henotheistic approach described above.
Many aspects of ME, both in microcosm and macrocosm, were well understood by oriental religions and described as Atman-Brahman unity, as Tao or as anatman. For instance, ME is the root of its own existence — remember the alchemical “in order to make gold, you must have gold”. ME can be anything it Wills to be, but it does not exist or manifest independently of all the other things: it is empty in the Buddhist sense, as it lacks intrinsic existence. In terms of quantum physics, we could call this superposition of multiple states, resolved into a definite state only by an observer, but stateless when remains unobserved. Hence, ME is invoked by dependent generation — a process of cause and effect which enslaves the profane, but frees and deifies the initiate. An apophatic “neti neti” (“neither this, not that”) search for ME brings ultimately the same results as the opposite, confirmative approach, since the transcendent ME is beyond both existence and non-existence, beyond object/subject or observer/observable dichotomies. The described approach can be seen as an illustration for Aleister Crowley’s vision of mystic’s Atheism as one of the highest, though misunderstood approaches that one can take on religion. Being transcendent, ME at the same time is very natural, and very much “of this world” — because there is no “other” world. This is what Buddhists (like Nagarjuna) mean when saying that nirvana is not really different from samsara.
The mysterious ME does not have a beginning. It does not have an end. It was before one were born, and will be after one had died. An occultist should live by ME, live as ME, reveal and manifest it, multiply and strengthen its aspects. In an alchemic sense, an occultist takes a very natural and common, all-encompassing thing with limitless potential, materia prima — and by applying his Will, turns it into a complexity of evolved materia finita. The nature of ME does not change with time, but ME plays in joy (compare to concept of lila in Hinduism) and evolves, like a growing child. The ability of ME to evolve is really important and often misunderstood, especially by the Westerners that are trying to follow Eastern doctrines. Yes, deities are able to evolve and evolve indeed — and so do people — otherwise it would be a very dull world. Any god incapable of evolution, falsely promoting himself as an “Absolute”, would also “castrate” his own creative ability.
Similar to celestial bodies, manifestation of ME is governed by rhythm and synchronicity, and has a certain vector of movement. There are rhythms, cycles and patterns that repeat themselves on various levels in the process of evolvement towards higher complexity. These repetitions do not copy each other, nor are they random. Development and its phases (such as nigredo, albedo and rubedo, if we take the alchemic approach) is spiral rather than stagnant and cyclical, and each mahapralaya (the great dissolution at the end of any Great Work) signifies the start of a more complex, beautiful and wonderful Great Work. One huge contribution of the West and, notably, Nietzsche to the old religious debate is the clear understanding of this urge of Nature to evolve and surpass itself, to become more than it is. This is the essence of LIFE, while some traditionalist societies read it backwards and call it EVIL, as was emphasized by Anton LaVey. This is the root of the sinister in Satanism: we dare to say that everything has to evolve.