Satanism, Vampirism & Chthonic Traditions

Satanism and Vampirism get tied together in the public media stomach. Not everyone can tell Hunan from Mongolian, and both come off as "Chinese food" -- but a chef would never confuse the two. The same goes for Satanism and Vampirism: the two get confused (all Goths who have sickened at the question, "do you worship the devil?" raise your hands!), more often from the latter to the former, but occasionally in the other way as well. Especially if your Satan-wear happens to be predominantly black. But it's often true that every lie does contain a seed of truth, and many associations do have some kind of cultural root. It may in fact be the case that Vampires are a subset of the Satanic genus, albeit a minimal one.

The practices of Satanism fall into three classes, those being...

* the worship of an entity, either organic or incorporeal, regardless of whether this "worship" involves a becoming-like that entity or a subservience to it;
* the giving of precedence to individual drives and perspectives over and above that given to social mores (i.e., a Nietzschean "master morality"); and
* the use of the morality of the second, combined with techniques utilized to achieve the state of the entity in the first.

The first class is essentially an advanced or refined version of animism. It recognizes the presence of some type of force or quality in nature which is stronger than the worshipper, and with which he or she may identify. (The force or quality is not often identified, although it may be symbolized; animistic thought does not permit the abstractions necessary for logical isolation and reasoning.) An example of this type of religion, albiet a not necessarily Satanic one, is that of ancestor worship. In animistic terms, a person's parents provided the force which set their life in motion. In order to sustain it and enhance it, preferential treatment is given to the ancestors, so that they will not withdraw this force. Further development of this practice leads to religions such as that of the Temple of Set, wherein the object is to enhance this given force and take control of it oneself. Hermetic techniques do this but view the force in question as "light;" Satanic techniques view it as "dark," and tend to involve actions that are similar to the conception of the force itself. In individuals with little psychological maturity (children being primarily animistic previous to puberty), Satanic versions of this often involve pact-making (e.g., bargaining with parents, authority figures and other "Titans") and destructive activities (i.e., the types of actions which the force is conceived as producing). More refined versions of animistic Satanism involve techniques which are designed to help the individual identify with the force itself, especially in terms of self-concept.

Chthonic Greek religion (that which preceded the well-known Olympian stories and rituals) is primarily of this type, but is focused more on aversion and purification than on identification. At least this applies to what we know of its practices. However, it is a definite possibility that a variety of it which was aimed at identification was indeed practiced, given human nature as it is. This would give some rationale to the persecution of witches, making it more than simply a matter of the persecution of pagans or attractive and eccentric women: such individuals would have been considered active threats by the local population, as they were seeking to bring forth those forces which the major societal rituals were designed to banish. The persecution of such individuals would become a concern of the civil authorities and the lay citizenry -- which is what happened in most inquisition-type scenarios. By associating old pagan figures and practices with these Chthonic forces, entire pantheons could be relegated to the position of being hostile, this position already having been tacitly accepted by pagans as real; and this makes the pagan conversions in Europe much more sensible than if explained by saying that the pagan peoples simply accepted (or were forced to accept) a wholly alien creed.

The second class of Satanic practices forms the basis of modern "acknowledged" Satanism. It rejects the animistic position entirely, but along with it rejects the societal identification that animism provides. Pagan animistic concepts help to provide the actual sense of clan kinship; rejection of this produces the state of misanthropy common to Satanists of this type. Nietzschean Satanism tends to stagnate unless the individual perceives, conceptually, that action and development are necessary. Nothing is worshipped, as nothing is perceived as a force to worship; nothing is identified, because conceptually, nothing can be gained by such identification. At most, such practices manifest in the use of symbols, but ones with interpretive value only: pale shadows of the Jungian archetypes. Such Satanism is Aristotelian in Nietzsche's sense of the term, occasionally lacking any Dionysian element at all.

The third class of Satanism is effectively a hybrid of the above two, and it is what we would expect if a Satanic tradition did develop out of Chthonic religion: it would be animistic in its dominant character, but would require the abstract reasoning ability of the second class of Satanism in order to break with dominant societal trends out of anything other than psychosis. By developing the ability to selectively engage in animistic perception (what contemporary authors would likely call "right-hemisphere thinking") under the analysis and direction of an Aristotelian intellect, it is theoretically possible to identify and "feel" (again, contemporary authors would likely call this "holistic perception") the animistic forces one desires to work with and become, and then direct both oneself in the proper activities to produce such states and direct them. Whether it is possible to actually become such a force and direct it is the concern of magical techniques and should be decided on the basis of experience.

Vampiric practices and stories are identical in scheme, even mythologically. The figures involved are usually nobles, warriors, or those people slain under unjust circumstances, as well as those considered irredeemably hostile in their lives; and these are also the figures averted in Chthonic rites. Heroes were Chthonic, as were the Erinyes and Eumenides; and those individuals who were criminal or blasphemous in nature were not only excluded from the performance of certain rites, they were sometimes the targets of them -- proxies for the expelled forces themselves. Masks of Chthonic figures were often placed on kilns and doors in order to keep such forces back: a use decidedly similar to that of the Crucifix in Vampire stories, especially considering that it contained the figure of Jesus, who, like Orpheus and Heracles, had descended to the Chthonic realms and returned. The methods used to dispatch a Vampire vary according to culture, but this is most likely due to the variety of practices used to dispatch evil spirits in the story's country of origin. Garlic cloves and the like are probably degenerate forms of the offerings given to Chthonic entities in order to placate them; the coffins that Vampires sleep in are most likely the pits that such offerings were made in, and in which such spirits were supposed to reside (using the Greek stories as an example).

The methods of becoming Vampiric most likely have their origins in these stories as well, but with a decidedly animistic twist. A person's blood, for example, is not only the life fluid, but also (in animistic terms) the force of kinship. We still have echoes of this in sayings such as "blood is thicker than water." When a person becomes a Vampire, they are allying themselves with the forces that oppose their kin; the forces that their society's rituals are designed to avert. To do so requires a change of blood, in a sense. It requires a severing of kin identification and a resulting identification with the Vampiric (in the ONA's terms, this is the process of rising above the Wyrd of one's culture and imposing one's individual Wyrd upon it). This can only be done in the presence of another Vampire, who accepts the individual into their fold; otherwise it is not so much a kinship as it is a complete severing. (American Iroquois stories refer to windigos as a class of these individuals: those who have separated themselves from the circle of life, and consume human flesh in an attempt to reconnect themselves.) The process is a metaphorical draining of the old blood and replenishment with the new.

Likewise, a person develops as a Vampire by committing certain types of acts, among them being "feeding." In the stories this is portrayed as either the taking of the blood or the life force of the prey, who is almost inevitably a human. Sometimes this results in the prey becoming a Vampire themselves; sometimes not. Viewed in the context of the above, this is not so much a physical destruction and transformation as it is a change in loyalties or in the direction of a clan (or society). By taking the kin association of the individual and twisting it or removing it, the Wyrd of a society may be changed. This is identical to the Aeonic direction ("Sinister Strategy") of societies as practiced by traditional or class three Satanic groups. Likewise, by simply taking members of a clan as prey and thereby eliminating them (the equivalent to Satanic "culling"), a society's direction may be changed -- its future generations can be composed, gradually, of a dominantly different genetic character. And by creating other Vampires (i.e., other Satanists), a society may be more and more strongly influenced.

In sum, Vampirism and Satanism, when the correct type of the latter is considered, are identical. Neither can be completely understood without understanding the nature of the other; and by understanding both, the effective practice of each may be enhanced.

Author: Malcolm Sadorian of Stygian Publishing


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