At the end of July I had the opportunity to attend the 2nd International Left Hand Path conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. I had an absolutely great time, and I was going to come home and write a blog post for August detailing the things that made the trip so much for me. Unfortunately, things did not go to plan.
On Saturday, August 9th, Police Office Darren Wilson shot and killed an unarmed teenager named Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Ferguson is a suburb of St. Louis, which happens to be seven miles from where I live, or about a five minute drive. I’ve had family who have lived in Ferguson almost all my life, so I have intimate knowledge of the area and the people who live there. And as I watched the city, and entire country get swept up in the events of early August, I pushed back my blog post because I knew I would want to speak out on this subject. Now, over a month later, I finally feel that enough has been disclosed to allow me to write this post.
You may be wondering what the shooting of a teenager in St. Louis has to do with Demonolatry, Satanism, or anything spiritually related for that matter. The connection between the two is community. After leaving the Left Hand Path conference, I was filled with hope regarding the occult community as a whole. It was a weekend full of the exchange of ideas and beliefs. Some ideas were commonly held, while others were less mainstream, but regardless of their popularity, respect was given to all. It showed me that even while we may not agree on some things, this community is capable of coming together. And then no more than a week later, I watched a city in my hometown rip itself apart. The duality of the situation was not lost on me, and it brought a lot of things into focus for me.
In early July a good friend of mine came to me about a conference he had found on Facebook. It was less than a month away, and July is trade show season for the industry I was working in, so I knew it would be hard to get away. But I managed to get the time off, and in a few short weeks we were packing our bags, hopping in a rental car, and heading to Indianapolis.
This being my first occult-themed conference, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. My background is in technology and gaming, so the cons I had attended previously were of a different vein entirely. My pre-arrival expectations were mixed. Marriotts were generally nice hotels, but who knew how the staff would treat us when we arrived. Some cons have attendance in the thousands, with people wearing all types of costumes and gear. I was really, really hoping to not see too many vampire fangs or werewolf tails. Of course, I expected there to be a small number of serious practitioners scattered throughout. I was honestly expecting something very gimmicky, but was still hoping to have a good time and maybe find some stuff to buy. I was pleasantly surprised on all fronts.
As we pulled into the Marriott, it was obvious this was a nice hotel. Massive parking lot, multiple buildings, really nice decor. We headed to the lobby to check-in and the place was gorgeous. The staff, who were obviously aware we were there for a LHP conference, were nothing short of courteous and professional. No strange looks or glares that were half-expected. We were treated like honored guests, and that set a tone for the entire weekend. The conference planners have to be absolutely commended on their choice of venue. The rooms were great and made available to us at very reasonable prices. All-in-all the hotel itself could not be beat.
The Conference Area
As I said before, my past con experience is with events like GenCon, BlizzCon, E3. Massive events with thousands of people in attendance. When we walked into the conference area for the first time, it was definitely a surprise. It was one room with a stage, and some vendor tables ringing the walls. Certainly a huge contrast to what I was used to and expecting, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It made for a very intimate conference where attendees had a great opportunity to ask questions and interact with the presenters. Something that would have been impossible in a much larger and crowded venue.
Another expectation confounded, attendance at the conference was definitely not what I was used to. At most, there were probably sixty or seventy people in the room at peak attendance. But there was not a vampire fang or werewolf tail to be found. Every person in attendance looked mature, educated, and serious. It quickly became clear that the weekend would not be about gimmicks or image, but rather real occultists sharing information on their craft. The presenter list was impressive and the attendees looked to be serious about learning. The weekend looked like it was shaping up to be more than I thought it would be. A really pleasant surprise.
The vending was a perfect example of a trend I found running throughout the entire con. Quality over quantity. While some cons may have more stuff to buy, and more vendors to choose from, everything at this con was really well done. High quality stuff across the board, at pretty reasonable prices. Some of the art was very pricey, but at the same time, it was worth it. I brought a lot of cash to spend, and still didn’t have enough to walk away with some of the art I wanted. Luciferian Apotheca was in attendance, and had a great selection of t-shirts(which I practically bought out) as well as jewelry, books, and other items. I look forward to seeing what pops up at the next conference.
Unfortunately due to time constraints, I wasn’t actually able to see all of the presentations or presenters over the course of the entire weekend. In truth however, I’m not sure it would have been possible to see them all without gluing your ass in a chair for the entirety of the conference. I did however want to give a brief overview of the presenters that I did see.
Bill was the first presenter of the conference, and I was particularly interested in seeing his presentation. Unfortunately, due to some poor planning on my part, I actually missed it. I still wanted to mention it though, as Bill is a highly respected magician and long-time employee of Pathways, one of the premier metaphysical stores in the St. Louis area. They run events and workshops constantly, some of which are run by Bill, so if you are ever in the area, it’s a must-see. Bill spoke on the Lucifer-Christ archetype. Again Bill – Sorry I missed it!
Laurelei was a wonderful presenter who shared a presentation titled “Siren, Succubus, Seductress: The Devil’s Bride.” A traditional witch with strong leanings towards the Dark Goddess, Laurelei spoke on the historical and mythological themes that involve sirens, succubi, and the seductress archetype. The connections and common trends she brought to light were very enlightening and moreover, seeing such reverence and respect shown towards the Dark Goddesses was incredibly refreshing. Lorelei is an author, presenter, and even makes custom ritual robes by request.
Talk about a great presenter. Taylor spoke about manifesting wealth, and a lot of his ideas were rock-solid. He put a strong emphasis on doing your own part to make any magical working a success, as well as being specific. These were common themes amongst many of the presenters. The personal responsibility one has to the facilitation of a magical working, and then the importance of not only specifying what it is you want, but also what it is that you do not. Taylor also had some fascinating ideas regarding the maintenance of a shrine devoted to your personal wealth, in addition to any others you may have. Really interesting stuff. Taylor is an author, presenter, and business coach. Check out his book, Manifesting Wealth.
A member of both the Luciferian Research Society, as well as the Greater Church of Lucifer, Jeremy gave an excellent presentation on lucid dreaming. Methods on how to attain a lucid dream state, as well as how to hold it once achieved. He also shared some basic activities and exercises one can try while in a lucid dream state. Solid stuff, even if a bit elementary. Moreover, Jeremy is just a great guy and I had a wonderful time talking to him. I really look forward to seeing him at the next con.
David is the author of Quantum Sorcery and gave a presentation under the same name. Easily one of the more interesting and enlightening presentations of the conference, Quantum Sorcery explores the connections between magic and quantum physics. How magic can be explained scientifically, and how it works. A fascinating presentation and an absolute must-read book.
Ken Henson is probably one of the most knowledgeable and intelligent occultists I have ever met. He’s also a damn good artist. His presentation was focused on alchemy, and his unique opportunity to research at the Lloyd Library and Museum allowed him to share a wealth of information on the subject. He was tasked with essentially reading every book in the library and then summarizing his findings for those who ran the library. After hearing his presentation, it was painfully obvious that the opportunity had not been squandered. I took more notes during his presentation than any other. If you ever get a chance to see him speak, you will not be disappointed.
Andrieh is a seriously active magician. You will see him doing podcasts, webinars, confererences…the list goes on. He actually gave two presentations during the conference, though I was only able to see the first. While the presentation itself was very elementary on basic sigil magic, one thing I did quickly learn is that Andrieh is an incredibly gifted speaker. He had a strong command of the stage and at times his voice was booming across the room. He presented his ideas in a clear and direct manner, and his Q&A session was particularly good. The other presentation Andrieh gave was on Atavistic Shapeshifting, and I believe he may have some materials available online for anyone who would like to learn more.
There aren’t many people in the occult community who don’t know who Michael Ford is. A prolific author who has written book after book challenging us to change the way we think about ourselves and spirituality. Ford gave a presentation titled “What is Luciferianism?” and you can probably guess what it was about. Surprisingly, at least to me, Ford did not seem to be the most comfortable public speaker. To his credit, he had great slides that allowed him to touch on a point and then expand upon it using his vast personal knowledge, but he just didn’t seem as comfortable on stage as other presenters. A main talking point for Ford was the importance of personal responsibility and accountability. Being the biggest factor in your own personal advancement. While most of the information he presented can be found in his books, it was still great to be able to see him speak about something that he is obviously so passionate about.
I saved Corvis for last because I have the most to say about his presentation. “Secret Societies, Satanism” is certainly an interesting title, as was the presentation itself, but perhaps not for the right reasons. Corvis is a representative of the Church of Satan and while his presentation was more of an overview of Satanism and secret societies in a historical context, he made it a point to speak out about the division in the Satanic community. Promoting a more accepting and tolerant view of different Satanic beliefs is something that sets Corvis apart from his CoS compatriots, something that he even alluded to during his presentation. I personally found it very encouraging, and hope to see more members of the CoS adopt a similar stance in the future. Unfortunately for Corvis, and all of us that attended the con, his Q&A session devolved into something that it really didn’t need to be.
Apparently there were some old-guard members of the CoS in attendance and they took the opportunity to direct some of their ire towards Corvis. I’m not saying they didn’t have good reason to do so, but in my opinion, it was the wrong place and the wrong person to address the issue with. Corvis came to talk about unity and a more accepting CoS. They focused on the history and turmoil that caused their departure from the CoS. That is like getting pissed off at the repair guy because a neighbor’s kid broke your window. It makes no sense. The most disheartening thing about the entire situation is the fact that it was literally the only time during the entire conference that things turned even a little bit ugly.
Now, for someone like me, who has made the advancement of Satanism a priority in life, this was really bad. In the midst of an impressive display of community cohesion and solidarity, it was the Satanists who had to start lobbing the hand grenades. It was discouraging and exemplified perfectly why many in the community distance themselves from the term Satanist.
Why is this a problem? Because one thing the conference showed me is that the world, and this country in particular, needs LHP occultists and Satanists now more than ever. In a time when greed, ambition, and profit mongering have dominated the cultural landscape, I cannot think of two things that are needed more than personal responsibility and accountability. And those were two of the most common themes talked about during the conference. I learned that the LHP community really is made up of intelligent, educated, and responsible people who have all the tools to make the future of our planet and people a much brighter place. But not while we are hidden. While we are on the fringes and shadows of society, looking in. And Satan could be the unifying factor that we need. Regardless of anything else that is commonly held or believed, Satan has always been the Adversary. And who amongst us can say that they are not fundamentally averse to the traditions and habits that are shaping our world today? This country needs people who are willing to make choices based on research and fact, instead of religious dogma and popular opinion. This world needs people who can accept ideological pluralism without being threatened. Our children need to be taught to be compassionate, generous, and responsible out of an obligation to uplift the human race, and not in an attempt to hedge spiritual bets. The walkers of the Left Hand Path hold the keys to success in the next century, and as Lucifer is the Morning Star, the Light Bringer, under his name we could all be united, working towards the illumination of our race.
The shooting of Michael Brown is both important and relevant to the Satanic and occult struggle because it shows us once again what we must be willing to go through in order to enact change. It also shows us exactly how not to go about it.
Regardless of your opinion on the matter, the entire situation was bumfuzzled from the start by both the police, and the community at large. There really is a need for change in the cultural landscape of St. Louis, and this tragic event could have been a catalyst to make it happen. Unfortunately, with how things were handled, that opportunity has been lost.
The main reason why I waited so long to say anything at all on this subject is because no one really knew anything, for a long time. It was all just speculation and conjecture. Now that we do actually have some facts, it is still just as murky as to whether the officer was truly justified or not. We know Brown was shot multiple times from a distance. We know there was a struggle, but not who started it, or how badly either party had been injured. We know that Brown was young and unarmed, but also very large and had reason to avoid being stopped by police. Even with all of these facts, we still don’t have enough information to definitively judge what happened. But one thing is clear, the situation was escalated further than it had to have been, and the community was not satisfied with how the situation was being handled. This was the beginning of the real opportunity at hand. The community had been driven past its apathy. Pushed past its indifference. People had been compelled to care.
The very first night of rioting was different than those that followed it. The QuickTrip was not just looted. That building was broken into and destroyed. Demolished. Then they burned it to the ground. It was one of the only moments during the whole ordeal that could truly be described as an act of rage. People in the area that witnessed it described it as such. Angry, enraged people taking it out on a building. The looting that was common place during the subsequent nights of rioting was nothing but pure opportunism. The Foot Locker was not destroyed. Neither was the weave shop. They were robbed, plain and simple.
This difference highlights the existence of two very separate groups that were born from the Michael Brown shooting. One that truly did want to protest in order to pursue justice and change, and another that wanted to take advantage of the situation. The second group used the unrest and demonstrations as cover to commit crimes and loot businesses. This is where things began to unravel. The looting and blatant criminal activity cast a negative light on the demonstrations and took attention away from the true issues at hand. The movement had effectively been hijacked by people who wanted to use it for their own gain. The protesters didn’t do enough to distance themselves publicly from the looters. They didn’t acknowledge the effect this behavior would have on the viability of their issue. This is a mistake we cannot afford to make as Satanists. We need to get vocal. The silent majority must be willing to denounce those in the vocal minority who would subvert our progress towards personal gain.
It’s a commonly known fact in this area that St. Louis cops do whatever the fuck they want. There are people who will not live within the limits of St. Louis county purely because they do not want to have to deal with the cops. False charges, harassment, abuse, it’s all pretty commonplace here. So an extremely heavy-handed response from police in response to these events was pretty much a foregone conclusion. This was another huge opportunity that was squandered. Had the protesters simply taken ground and held it peaceably, defiantly, the police would have still used the same tactics to disperse the crowd. Especially if they had assembled in a busy, active area of town. The pictures coming out of Ferguson would have told a drastically different tale had they done so. There is no doubt that the residents of Ferguson had good reason to be extremely angry. And even more-so when the police started firing teargas into front lawns. But by “fighting back” the protesters gave police all the justification they needed to continue doing so. As hard as it may be, non-violent focused defiance has proven much more effective over righteous indignation and retribution. It’s hard to justify telling the persecuted that the answer to their problems is more persecution, but that is the case. History shows us this to be true. Ghandi’s success is achieving Indian independence was a result of his willingness to be persecuted even further than he already had been, in order to obtain his dream. He was detained and jailed for years before the independence he fought for was finally realized. When political prisoner status was not being afforded to IRA prisoners in Britain, a hunger strike was held that ultimately claimed the lives of ten prisoners. But it also got one of the prisoners elected to parliament during the strike, garnering worldwide media attention to their cause, and inspired demonstrations, protests, and similar hunger strikes in countries all over the world. In either of these cases, would they have been as successful if they had led riots and become violent? Would the public opinion and pressure from international communities have been the same in either case, had the protesters not been simply peaceful, and yet defiant?
Would this picture be as powerful, as iconic, had the young woman stomped the man’s head in with the rest of the crowd?
Does this image illicit the same reaction? Does it carry with it the same call to social action?
What about this one?
These are hard questions, that don’t necessarily have a right or wrong answer. But the questions themselves carry with them lessons that we cannot afford to miss. While our struggle as Satanists or occultists may be more symbolic than physical, we must still be willing to endure the social and political tear gas that will be fired at us. We must be determined to pick up the mantle of Satanist and then be an example to the world of what that means. And when the stereotypes are cast our way, and it becomes a burden to be seen in that light, we must be willing to make the choices that are personally sacrificial and yet communally beneficial. We must stand defiantly in the face of their attacks, until it becomes clear to all that we are not who they think we are.