Welcoming The Prince of Darkness and Freeing ‘Iron John’

I recently read The Satanic Bible out of curiosity and with some interest in the philosophy contained therein. Satanism is basically a naturalistic pro-human philosophy blending humanism with anti-religious sentiment – add in some Ayn Rand and some Epicureanism, and a dash of magic and pomp, and that’s basically it.

The contents aren’t likely to strike any liberal-minded person as outrageous or shocking, and overall, it’s a sane, rational philosophy. It’s worth noting that Satanists do not worship Satan, but rather view Satan as “…the personification of the left-hand path”.

While Satanism is sometimes amoral, it is in no way explicitly immoral. No harming of animals unless for food or defense, no unwanted sexual advances. It is indeed rational.

According to wikipedia,”… two major trends are theistic Satanism and atheistic Satanism. Theistic Satanists venerate Satan as a supernatural deity, viewing him not as omnipotent but rather as a patriarch. In contrast, atheistic Satanists regard Satan as merely a symbol of certain human traits.”

The Satanic Bible, while religious, is not theistic, viewing satan as the symbol of human qualities rather than as a literal entity.

As an archetype, His Satanic Majesty (Love that one), is fascinating. Religious guilt indeed exists in the psyche, and so too does the devil – a concept invented by the church. You could call Satan the shadow of the church – a scapegoat, but he’s really the shadow of the human being. And, of course, there is always buried gold in the shadow. But what’s worse, is that putting the darkside in the shadow only leads to a more vicious cycle of disfunction via repression. We somehow think an out of sight, out of mind attitude is the best approach to mitigating darkness, but we’ve all seen numerous cases of “holy”, “wholesome” types with terribly huge shadows. Know any religious types? Repression is a bitch.

Religion – in my opinion – is bad programming, and clearly not an effective vehicle for a virtuous society. The human-centeredness of Satanism provides a far better tao for the person who would rather be whole than good. And while we separate the god and devil archetypes, they are fundamentally entwined within the human psyche – two sides of the same coin, inseparable from each other just as you are inseparable from yourself.

Satanism is sex positive and self-positive. But it’s best quality is dissolving unnecessary guilt over your own animal-like nature.

One of my favorite ideas from The Satanic Bible follows:

“Repressed hatred can lead to many physical and emotional ailments. By learning to release your hatred towards those who deserve it, you cleanse yourself of these malignant emotions and need not take your pent-up hatred out on your loved ones.”

The core tenet of Satanism is not evil, but survival. To that end it is not a philosophy of passive, pacifism. For example, if someone attacks you, you are advised to “destroy them”. Not a comforting illusion but an honest look at life and human nature.

For the record, I am not a Satanist, but Satanism is a minor part of my philosophy. I neither wish to live in guilt nor fear, nor with a large part of my nature repressed.

Alan Watts liked to espouse the view that we are god, which I enjoy, as I believe in Carlye’s “divinity of humanity”; however, if we are god, we are also Satan. There’s a nondual relationship of yin and yang at play, light and dark.

I recall someone once saying to me, “Why would I want to kill my ego, why would I want to kill a part of myself?”, and that’s close to my own views on the Satan archetype, “Why would I want to condemn and abandon a part of myself?”

My darkside, my wounds, my demons, need love too – perhaps most of all.

Satan is lonely. He’s like Scary Terry on Rick and Morty, a monster we invented. Not even us – the church – but one only needs to see the lasting impact of Milton’s Paradise Lost or Dante’s Divine Comedy, to understand the timelessness of the devil and hell metaphors. And I generally think the mushroom strategy of leaving the darkness in the unconscious, feeding it shit, letting darkness live in darkness, is a pisspoor strategy for a whole life, for a complete, self-aware being.

I want daemons not demons.

Demon cones from the word daimon, the latin translation of the greek daimon (δαίμων), meaning: “god”, “godlike”, “power”, “fate”), which originally referred to a lesser deity or guiding spirit; the daemons of ancient Greek religion and mythology and of later Hellenistic religion and philosophy.

And one of religion’s big tricks is appropriating things, in this case, robbing us of the myth and magic of the daemon (Lucifer was a pagan god). Another one of religion’s tricks is control via guilt and fear. Sick shit. Really.

There’s a great little fairytale that I liken to Satan’s existence in the shadow. It’s the Grimm’s Brothers / Robert Bly story of Iron John. Essentially, it’s a story about a boy becoming a man with the help of a wild / hairy man, named Iron John (Eisenhans).

When the story begins Iron John is feared and considered very dangerous, but the boy frees him. Now, turns out, Iron John is a powerful being with many treasures. In the end, Iron John loses all his hair and ironlike skin and reveals he was under enchantment until he found someone worthy and pure of heart to set him free.

The prisoner is us. We just call it Satan.

But that Satan further personafied in man is Iron John.

Here is the story’s ending:

And as they were sitting at the marriage-feast, the music suddenly stopped, the doors opened, and a stately king came in with a great retinue. He went up to the youth, embraced him and said, “I am Iron Hans”, and was by enchantment a wild man, but you have set me free. All the treasures which I possess, shall be your property.”

We are by enchantment of the devil myth “wild men”. We too can be set free, but we have to be willing to embrace the hairy man, the daemon within the demon. And if we can do this, there will indeed be treasure for us. The spiritual and psychological liberation and the further integration of self promise untold riches for us. Things we cannot understand from the shadow. It was Jung who said, “We do not become enlightened beings by bringing light to the dark but by bringing the dark to light.

Physician, heal thyself. Repair your glowing soul, and learn to love the scapegoat that’s been beat to shit. That’s Iron John.

I’ll close with a quote from Satinism founder Anton Levey, “There is a beast in man that needs to exercised, not exorcised.”

Edit: Just came across this, in an Alan Watts audio:

“One of the very great things that C.G. Jung contributed to mankind’s understanding was the concept of the shadow – that everybody has a shadow, and that the main task of the psychotherapist is to do what he called ‘to integrate the evil,’ to, as it were, put the devil in us in its proper function, because, you see, it’s always the devil – the unacknowledged one – the outcast, the scapegoat, the bastard, the bad guy, the black sheep of the family, it’s always from that point, which we could call ‘the fly in the ointment’ that generation comes. In other words, in drama, to have the play it’s necessary to introduce a villain, it’s necessary to introduce a certain element of trouble. So, in the whole scheme of life there has to be the shadow, because without the shadow there can’t be the substance, so this is why there is a very strange association between crime and all naughty things and holiness. You see, holiness is way beyond being good, good people aren’t necessarily holy people. A holy person is one who is whole – who has, as it were, reconciled his opposites. And so there’s always something slightly scary about holy people, and other people react to them in very strange ways, they can’t make up their minds whether they are saints or devils, and so holy people, throughout history, have always created a great deal of trouble, along with their creative results, take Jesus for example.”