Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Discussion on literature other than by the Star of Azazel.
Posts: 1215
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 10:22 pm
Location: Espoo

Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Post by Wyrmfang »

Chapter I: Introduction

The introduction is quite lengthy as for an introduction, and it still doesn´t include a structure or a summary of book´s arguments. There´s a lot of stuff about theoretical points of departure and previous research on relevant themes. I think this is all well grounded; summaries are boring, and this is a theoretically ambitious work containing material from various sciences and topics.

The theoretical/terminological discussions include themes such as the meaning of discourse, myth, supernatural, feminism, Satanism, esotericism and occultism. I don´t see a point in going to a detailed analysis of these discussion (unless someone takes up a particular theme), because Faxneld´s views are quite commonsensical all the way. It is mainly about choosing the most suitable theoretical tool for this particular study, and mapping the existing definitions and previous study. I think the most interesting theretical tool here is the idea of a counter-myth. A counter myth is a philosophical, political or theological tool of opposing ideas implicit or explicit in a hegemonic myth by maintaining the central elements of the myth but at the same time inversing its message. This is obviously what Satanic feminism is first and foremost about.

Faxneld´s argumentation seems to be quite sensible in the sense of avoiding extreme theoretical frameworks. For example, he discusses extensively on the relevance of the writer in literary studies. Faxneld rejects both an overly psychological reading and the surprisingly popular (it seems) stance that the actual life of the writer has no relevance whatsoever. When it comes to gender, Faxneld identifies himself as a feminist and a social constructionist, but rejects some of the extreme stances on the field, such as the view that biological sex has no role to play at all in the formation of gender identity. etc. Still, I don´t get a lukewarm feeling, which is a great combination.

My remarks are quite scarce, but I didn´t find a plausible way for a more in detail analysis without losing the point. If anyone has questions regarding the basic starting points of the work, we discuss a particular theme more closely.
Posts: 1092
Joined: Sun Sep 12, 2010 7:57 pm
Location: Satakunta - Limbo

Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Post by Kenazis »


God’s Hangman: A Concise History of Satan

First Faxneld makes a point that Christian doctrines of Satan are not “biblical”, but later formulations of early Church Fathers. Then follows different ways that word “Satan” is represented in Old Testament and New Testament. It most often used as title for someone acting as an adversary (satan), but also as personified being as in the Book of Job.
Satan as some evil individual being seems to come from non-Jewish sources, such as the Persian dualistic good god Ahura Mazda and evil god Ahriman, and their struggle. Texts like Book of Revelation where the Satan is seen as ”evil angel” has influenced the interpretation of Old Testament texts that originally wasn’t describing Satan. Systematic Christian diabology were laid by Augustine who saw Devil as fallen angel and the tempter of Eve n the Garden. Even the Luther who tried to “purify” the corruption of Christian dogma and church left the traditional and non-biblical traits of Satan in “his Christianity”.

Genesis 3: Foundation Text of Christian Misogyny?

Genesis 3 has had great influence of western culture and social structure. What is the purpose of this story? Eve being first to listen the serpent and eat from the fruit sets the failing more upon the shoulders of Eve, and not on Adam’s. In this part of the chapter Faxneld presents different serpent and Eve related things like that in the Old Testament the serpent is mainly negative force except Moses’s serpent, Serpent of the Eden is never said to be Satan in Genesis 3, and Eve is never described to be temptress of Adam in Genesis 3 (Eve just gives the apple to Adam). These kinds of interpretations come later. For example, Paul’s letter to Timothy, the Genesis 3 story is used to justify the idea why woman must remain silent and submissive. Also, God says to Eve “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”. This is one more example of Genesis 3’s patriarchal statements that has been later used and justified to submit women under the rule of men.

Of Serpents and the Gateways: Gnostics, Church Fathers, and Reformers

Serpent was seen the bringer of gnosis/knowledge by the Gnostics. To free the humans from the false paradise of the evil demiurge who was acting as God. This idea reverses the story of the Adam and Eve and now instead of Fall, good God and evil serpent, the story tells of the awakening, evil god and good serpent. The title is pretty clear about the topics discussed here. Interestingly Faxneld points out that (according to Jeffrey Burton Russell) Luther and protestants in general were even more mistrustful against women than Catholic Church because their returning to more primitive Christianity.

`Superior; For Inferior who is Free´: Eve in Milton’s Paradise Lost

Even this might be the most interesting part for many, I mainly pass writing about this. Eve was described to being easier target to seduction of Serpent because she shunned the higher intelligence less. Adam is seen superior to Eve, resembling the God more.

The Devil is a Woman: Representations of Satan as Female

While the Devil being angel and thus has no specific sex, the Devil has been presented both as man and female. Like the human and animal should not be mixed, also the gender-bending could be seen as blasphemy. It has been common to picture the Serpent of Eden with woman’s head and sometimes also with female breasts. This was frequently the case from the late twelfth century until the late sixteenth century. After this the human features are dropped again and the Serpent becomes reptile again. There are several examples presented where Satan is female or partly female (like Michelangelo’s Temptation and Expulsion (1511), Sistine Chapel ceiling & Albrecht Dürer’s Der Engel mit dem Schlüssel zum Abgrund,1497-1498).

Breast and Beard: Baphomet, Hermaphrodite Icon of Transcending Duality

Here is of course discussed about the famous Baphomet engraving of Éliphas Lévi found in his book Dogme et ritual de la haute magie (1855). Even the famous picture of Baphomet comes from mentioned source, the name itself comes originally from the trials of Knights Templar (1307-1312). It’s possible that the hermaphrodite nature comes from the Lévi’s feminist sympathies. Lévi has been big influence to H.P. Blavatsky and Aleister Crowley. There’s also briefly mentioned the connection between Baphomet, Astral Light, Lucifer and the Holy Spirit.

`Her Fatal Embrace´: The Demoness Lilith in Jewish Mysticism and Folklore

I think Lilith is familiar to many and there’s so much about her, so I don’t write much here. Raphael Patai (+ others also) have theorized that Lilith has Ancient Sumerian roots. A female night spirit called Lilith appears in the Talmud. Also in Isaiah 34:14 Lilith is mentioned. There are two conflicting theories of creation of humans in bible where we get impression that Adam had wife before Eve. This first Eve is usually seen to be Lilith. Alphabet of Ben Sira is the oldest text where Lilith can be found. This text influenced the more known text Zohar.

`Ever since te Days of Eden´: Lilith among the Gentiles

Lilith appears quite early in gentile texts. For example, St. Jerome (347-420) notes that Roman vampire creature Lamia is called Lilith among the Jews., Historia Libri Genesis (by Peter Comestor d. 1173) mentions her, and in Anthropodemus Plutonicus (1666, by Johannes Praetorius) describes Lilith as demoness and child-murderer. Lilith never became part of the mainstream Christian teachings but entered public mind of gentile Europe through the writings of Romantic authors such as Goethe’s Faust. Prior to mid-twentieth century Lilith played small role in non-Jewish esotericism and it is mainly Arthur E. Waite we are to thank Lilith been now known outside of Jewish esotericism. H.P. Blavatsky, Éliphas Lévi and Aleister Crowley all mentions Lilith, but she is not central in their text in any way. Blavatsky rejected Darwin’s theory of evolution and she uses Lilith as symbol of animal females with human men, result being half-men know as satyrs which are the origin of present-day apes.

`Protomartyr of Female Independence´: Lilith Becomes a Feminist Icon

At the end of the nineteenth century Lilith had turned into something of a feminist symbol. In Demonology and Devil-Lore (1878, by Moncure Daniel Conway) Lilith is being described as first wife of Adam, and Eve created only after Lilith refusing to be inferior to Adam. Eve was created from Adam’s rib to make clear that woman is dependant on man. Lilith become the wife of Satan/Samael (seen as feminist sympathizer). Also, Ada Langworthy Collier’s poem Lilith: The Legend of the First Woman (1885) describes Lilith in proto-feministic way.

Kissing the Devil’s Posterior: Folklore, Witchcraft Trials, and the Malleus Maleficarum

This subchapter deals mainly with the witch-trials and Malleus Maleficarum (Witches’ Hammer, 1486). Witches sabbaths were gatherings were Christian behaviour were inverted in many ways. Malleus Maleficarum is the most famous book that was aimed to detect and prosecute witches. Malleus Maleficarum is filled with misogynist and hateful content against females.

Demon Lovers: From the Lustful Watcher Angels to Incubi and Romantic Heroes

There is a long history of sexual encounters between human and non-human entities. In Apocalypse of Enoch is the story of Watcher Angels (bene-ha Elohim=sons of God) who copulate with human women. These so-called rebel angels also teach humans various things like spellcasting, use of herbs and metalworking. One of the Watchers (named Gâdreêl) is even said to be the one who tempted Eve in the Paradise. In the Apocalyptic apocryphal text, The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs (ca.109-016 B.C.) the women is blamed for actively seducing the angels. This moves the emphasis from evil angels to lustful females. While the story of Watchers is not included in canonical texts, it was and is well known. Many artists have made some works relating to Watchers, like William Blake, Lord Byron and John Flaxman. Demon lovers in wider sense has been popular theme for a long time. There’s nightly demons, the incubi and succubi. Interesting theory about the nightly sexual demons is that they were possible explanations made why nuns – or adulterous wife – got sometimes pregnant. And of course, later there’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula and such.

Concluding Words

Faxneld proposes three types of female types that has close relationship with Satan:
1) Eve: the prototypical first female transgressor, who succumbs to temptation and hubris
2) The witch: a sinister rebel against proper womanhood and member of Satanic cult that inverts the values of Christian society
3) The demon’s lover: erotically involved, voluntary or not, with the Devil or his demons
All stereotypes frequently overlap.

My concluding words: I must say that this book is a treasure chest of knowledge and source-material. Very interesting stuff to read and same time clear, easy, but academical text. Long text, but there was many sub-chapters so I decided to do it this way writing some essential and/or most interesting things from each sub-chapter.
"We live for the woods and the moon and the night"
Posts: 2168
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 7:59 pm

Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Post by obnoxion »

Kenazis wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 12:01 pm The Devil is a Woman: Representations of Satan as Female

While the Devil being angel and thus has no specific sex, the Devil has been presented both as man and female. Like the human and animal should not be mixed, also the gender-bending could be seen as blasphemy. It has been common to picture the Serpent of Eden with woman’s head and sometimes also with female breasts. This was frequently the case from the late twelfth century until the late sixteenth century. After this the human features are dropped again and the Serpent becomes reptile again. There are several examples presented where Satan is female or partly female (like Michelangelo’s Temptation
This tradition lives on in Mel Gibson's filmatization of the Gospel story in "Passion of the Christ". Both Herod and Satan are depicted effeminite men. Herod seems to represent the pleasures-softend monster, sporting a beard with a showy make up. Satan is slender and etherereal, giving the impression of a cunning poisoner, insted of the muscular extroverted war hero.
One day of Brahma has 14 Indras; his life has 54 000 Indras. One day of Vishnu is the lifetime of Brahma. The lifetime of Vishnu is one day of Shiva.
User avatar
Posts: 646
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2019 6:20 pm

Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Post by Polyhymnia »

I've still got a little bit left of this chapter to read, but thank you for such an in depth summary, far Kenazis! Very straight forward and easy to read. I like the summaries of all the little subchapters. Very tidy. I don't think I can recall a time where I've ever seen the devil depicted as a woman, so that was very interesting for me.
I was brought up in a household that taught me that women were to be subservient to their husbands because they represented God in the home, and if a woman were to defy that principle, it was because Satan had ahold of her and that spirit of rebellion needed to be broken.
This book is definitely bringing up alot of emotions for me, but I'm really enjoying it so far!
"Limited love asks for possession of the beloved, but the unlimited asks only for itself." -Kahlil Gibran
Posts: 2168
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 7:59 pm

Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Post by obnoxion »

Polyhymnia wrote: Fri May 31, 2019 6:43 am I was brought up in a household that taught me that women were to be subservient to their husbands because they represented God in the home, and if a woman were to defy that principle, it was because Satan had ahold of her and that spirit of rebellion needed to be broken.
This type of thinking must be familiar to everyone living in Christian climates, and for me it is just so difficult to comprehend how this sort of thinking gets so much emphasis in the lives of many Christians.
Kenazis wrote: Wed May 29, 2019 12:01 pm While the story of Watchers is not included in canonical texts, it was and is well known.
I think The Book of Jude does channel this tradition into the New Testament. It is strange, in a way, because Jude is so zealous for Orthodoxy.

Then we get the mention of the Giants in the Genesis. And this is obviously enough to get the fire going. Sometimes you can emphasize a thing by writing a lot about it. But sometimes you can emphasize by writing very little about it. I am quite certain that it is this latter case with the subject of the Watchers and the Bible. Living Christian tradition always attaches herself to the legend of the Watchers. And this is why it is such a Holy thing - because it strives through times on mere innuendo.
One day of Brahma has 14 Indras; his life has 54 000 Indras. One day of Vishnu is the lifetime of Brahma. The lifetime of Vishnu is one day of Shiva.
User avatar
Posts: 4250
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 10:05 am
Location: Helsinki

Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Post by Nefastos »

Chapter 3: Romantic and Socialist Satanism

Chapter three was a mixed experience, discussing more political forms of Satanism than the previous chapters. On the one hand, these are things which do not interest me personally. On the other, that is why this chapter held information that was new to me. Another challenge loosely connected to the first one is that I tend to see a political tendency in Faxneld's personal agenda. Luckily his writing is so polished that it usually remains neutral until you dig quite deep. And even in that depth, it of course might be my misunderstanding to see political favoritism where none is intended.

Using the apparatus I construced for my master's thesis, authors discussed in this chapter mostly fall to the cathegory of "rhetorical Satanism". To use Faxneld's own categories of Satanism sensu stricto vs. Satanism sensu lato, this rhetorical Satanism would be the latter, underlined. I consider these categories being a bit unoptimal though, since in page 25 Faxneld wrote that only one person in the whole book actually fits precisely to "Satanism sensu stricto" category, one might say "Satanist proper".

Faxneld p.106 wrote:Satanism was a prominent feature in several works by three of the major English Romantics: Blake, Byron, and Shelley. Especially the latter was quite persistent in his celebration of Lucifer.

Blake would be my favourite here, but nothing much is said of him, and what is, is read in this light of "rhetorical Satanism" (how Blake spoke of evil when he actually meant good). Shelley is discussed much more, mainly his work "The Revolt of Islam", that I instantly grabbed the book when finding it in an antiquarian bookstore a few days ago. (The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Oxford University Press 1927. Nice series by the way.) I have not much to say about Revolt itself yet, though. Author's preface certainly underlines societal aspects, of which Faxneld seems particularly interested.

Faxneld p.74 wrote:Romantic and socialist Satanism, then, was anything but a marginal phenomenon.

"Socialist Satanists" mostly mean anarchists: Godwin, Proudon, Bakunin, Kropotkin.

I am very sad that Bulgakov is not mentioned – not here and not elswhere in the book – even though his work presents the most radiant case of "Satanic Feminism" I can even think of. What could be said about Margarita's flight over the city alone, and the havoc her broken heart wreaks upon the political milieu -fed critics who drove her loved one to insanity! And Satan himself! What an absolutely majestic figure! I blame my becoming a Satanist partly to this book alone... (Master and Margarita, Bulgakov ~1940) Once again I cannot but think had the leaving out of this masterpiece been a political choice. But perhaps Faxneld will give answer to this omission at some later point?

Much of the "Satanistic" writings of the authors discussed in this chapters stem from the ground mentioned in page 76: "we automatically sympathize with the loser". This is a somewhat dangerous psychological fact we should try to remember, particularly in the brotherhood which revers the archetype of the scapegoat. The one critized is not automatically the hero just because he carries the blame at some point.

In his conclusion Faxneld lists eight reasons for this use of Satanist rhetorics, but I think that these reasons are obvious enough to list here in their entirety: for an academic or because of other reasons focus- and list-oriented reader can find the eight points from page 107. (For example, the eighth reason is: "The language of Christian myth was familiar to the audience and therefore rhetorically convenient to use", while the first reason points out how such rhetorics want to parody the more conservative a view.) In short:

Faxneld p.77 wrote:The reign of God becomes analogous to that of the despotic and arbitrary authority (...)

Particularly in Shelley, –

Faxneld p.80 wrote:God is demonized as a despicable autocrat

Although we must also remember Shelley himself writes in the preface to The Revolt of Islam that small-seeming but actually huge difference (also present in theosophy and the philosophy of the Star of Azazel) that –

Shelley p.37 wrote:The erroneus and degrading idea which men have conceived of a Supreme Being, for instance, is spoken against, but not the Supreme Being itself.

Faxneld gives a following good summary and a point of warning against too easy readings:

Faxneld p.91 wrote:It is worth stressing a final time that non of the English Romantics who are well-known for celebrating Lucifer – Blake, Byron, Shelley – unequivocally praised the fallen angel throughout their careers. They all continued writing about him, occasionally idealizing him but later on more often using him as a stereotypical symbol of evil. As we have seen, many of the texts that have been considered examples of Romantic Satanism also display a great deal of ambiguity in their portraits of Satan.

Concerning the special (or, Blavatsky–Ervastian with accentuation and twist) Satanism of the Star of Azazel, a quote from Geogre Sand's Consuelo (~1843) is close enough to repeat (emphasis mine):

Faxneld p.91 wrote:The eponymous protagonist of the tale has a vision of Satan where he tells her: 'I am not the demon, I am the archangel of legitimate rebellion and patron of grand struggles. Like Christ, I am the god of the poor, of the weak, and of the oppressed.'

Baudelaire's Flowers and his Litany to Satan get mentioned too, naturally:

Faxneld p.92 wrote:Where English Romantics occasionally whitewashed Lucifer and made him entirely a righteous rebel, Baudelaire's portrayal is all times more complex, representing a transitional stage between politicized Romantic Satanism and a later Decadent variety.

From Mikhail Bakunin, Faxneld presents a following statement, which is compeletely inverted version of what I personally think:

Faxneld p.95 wrote:'If God is, man is a slave; now, man can and must be free; then, God does not exist.'

My own view on the subject is presented by Bulgakov's Satan, Woland, thus:

Master and Margarita, I wrote:'I beg your pardon,' retorted the stranger quietly, 'but to rule one must have a precise plan worked out fror some reasonable period ahead. Allow me to enquire how man can control his own affairs when he is not only incapable of compiling a plan for some laughably short term, such as, say, a thousand years, but cannot even predict what will happen to him tomorrow?'

One more interesting note, scattered though these pickings of mine are. A name compeletely new to me, Henry M. Tichenor (1858–1924), has pointed out the following (emphasis mine):

Faxneld p.105 wrote:'Jehovah is the god of the master class' and hence Satan is logically the god of the oppressed. This, he insists, is not an unorthodox view: 'That Jehovah is on the side of tyranny, and Satan on the side of freedom, has never been disputed by the Church.'

This is actually very well put, although horrible. In my other reading group, the one in which we read through the Bible & have now read all the Books of Moses, this becomes painfully obvious all the time: God is not on the side of justice universal, but on the side of justice of His own. Now this is the theodicy that can drive one mad.

* * *

In these comments of mine I have put more emphasis on things I slightly disagree with Faxneld, as you see. Do not take this is a wrong way: it is only because I respect his work so much & appreciate this book to no end that these slight differences come to focus. Another reason besides this personal zoom is perhaps my habit of reading this book in academical context, in which I have used it before. In such circles, it is always a good thing to say something new (that is, something involving criticism or changing of the point of view) about the source text.
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
Posts: 1215
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 10:22 pm
Location: Espoo

Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Post by Wyrmfang »

Nefastos wrote: Tue Jun 25, 2019 2:04 pm Chapter three was a mixed experience, discussing more political forms of Satanism than the previous chapters. On the one hand, these are things which do not interest me personally. On the other, that is why this chapter held information that was new to me. Another challenge loosely connected to the first one is that I tend to see a political tendency in Faxneld's personal agenda. Luckily his writing is so polished that it usually remains neutral until you dig quite deep. And even in that depth, it of course might be my misunderstanding to see political favoritism where none is intended.
In the introduction Faxneld says openly that he is a feminist and a social constructionist. Given that, as you said, Faxneld´s study is quite sharp and objective, I think it is only honest to make explicit one´s political agenda in this kind of work which verges to political issues, for there is always an agenda, and when one is conscious of it, it actually incereases objectivity rather than vice versa (on the condition that one does cynically set objectivity aside).

In my view, it is his social constructionism which appears more problematic, at least based on the book so far and one conference presentation I saw from him. I might very well miss something for I´m not fully able to follow everything that Faxneld says, but it appears to me that he does not properly recognize the tension or even opposition between esotericism and social constructionism. Of course Faxneld isn´t probably a committed esotericist, but he seems to discuss esotericism and social constructionism as unproblematically compatible.
User avatar
Posts: 646
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2019 6:20 pm

Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Post by Polyhymnia »

Chapter 4: Theosophical Luciferianism and the Feminist Celebrations of Eve

Introduction: The intro gives a very brief rundown of the who and when of the establishment of the Theosophical Society. Faxneld states that very little has been discussed about Blavatsky’s Luciferian leanings, and that in this chapter he will delve into the influence of Theosophy on feminism at the time, the connection to socialism, romantic literature, and art, give us some background on Blavatsky herself, and examine closely her celebrations of Satan.

‘A Buddhist pantheist, if anything at all’: The enigmatic Madame Blavatsky

Faxneld starts this section with the observation that accounts of Madame Blavatsky’s life have been written from points of incredible bias from polar views of adoration and criticism.
Claims were made that were not able to be corroborated, but she has defenders alongside the critics. Here Faxneld doesn’t spend too much time on a biography, but notes some key factual years (the founding of the Theosophical Society in 1875, relocation to India in 1879, death in 1891). It is noted that she comes from a line of independent women who defied the conventional ideas of how women were to act at the time, with her grandmother being a self taught botanist and her mother being a feminist author.
Honestly, the more I read about Blavatsky the more I feel I would have quite liked to meet her in the flesh. It was rare for the time to find a woman like her who was known to swear like she did (alot, apparently), dress like she did (rather outlandishly), and possess the type of humour she did (quite black, from my understanding).
She identified as a Buddhist Pantheist, but seemed to do so only at the insistence she describe her spiritual orientation. She vehemently disliked Christian theology, but it appears she may have found some value in the Christ mythos, despite being against the idea of a personal god.

‘Without distinction of race, sex, caste, or color’: Theosophical counter-discourse

In this chapter Faxneld attempts to explore the very complex relationship the Theosophical Society has with socialism, as both Blavatsky and Olcott were very critical of social reform and the socialist activism of the time, but had close associates who were dedicated socialists.
It seems that the central tenet of universal brotherhood within theosophy lent itself naturally to more socialist streams of thought, despite that not being the intent, and may explain why the Theosophical society found itself with quite a few socialists in its ranks. It’s also interesting to note that Blavatsky’s successor was Annie Besant, who was, as Faxneld puts it, a “socialist agitator”.
[[Side note, I went down the rabbit hole to learn a bit about Annie Besant and unearthed info I didn’t know before about the attempt to groom a world leader (Jidda Krisnhamurti) and all of that was quite fascinating to learn about.]]
‘[T]here is nothing of the woman in me.’
Blavatsky rejected traditional womanhood, but it’s stated that she was not one for political reform movements, therefore would not have identified as a feminist. Nevertheless she made significant contributions to feminism by challenging the status quo in regards to the ways women were seen at the time.

‘The Father of spiritual mankind’: Satan in Blavatsky’s two major works

This part greatly interested me due to the Secret Doctrine being the current book in the reading circle hosted by Lodge Phanes, in which I’m also participating. I feel Faxneld does a good job of presenting the facts in an unbiased manner. He briefly shows us the different ways both Isis Unveiled and the Secret Doctrine were accepted in the worlds of academia and theosophy. This chapter made me feel much better about my confusion while reading the secret doctrine, because even though my version has been severely abridged, I still struggle with comprehension. This struggle is seemingly shared with many.
Though both books were collaborative efforts, it’s believed that the views on Satan and the restructuring of biblical narratives were constructed solely by Blavatsky and not her associates.
Faxneld then points out a few examples of how Blavatsky’s views changed from one book to another. Both her views on reincarnation and Satan change. In Isis Unveiled, Lucifer is introduced as an antagonistic, yet necessary, vital force. In the Secret Doctrine we see not one, but two chapters dedicated to Satan, and he has changed into a positive symbol who brought light to mankind. We also see a Gnostic-Satanic counter reading of Genesis 3 which cements Blavatsky’s views on Lucifer as a good force.

‘For the intellectual independence of humanity’: astral light and the prince of anarchy

This section highlights Eliphas Levi as Blavatsky’s main inspiration for her views of Satan, though it seems she believed his views were constrained and less evolved than they should be due to his Roman Catholicism. Faxneld doesn’t delve too much into Levi, and I was surprised that there was no mention to the iconic Baphomet, but he does mention Levi’s contribution to Satanism as equating Satan to the astral light, a concept which most occultists will be very familiar, and one which Blavatsky was able to build upon with her pro-Satanic writings.

In this chapter I feel it becomes apparent that Faxneld errs more on the critical side of Blavatsky. Though he doesn’t outright criticize, he takes extra care to point out perceived flaws in her conduct (contradictory elements in her writing, misreading/misinterpreting Levi, plagiarism). I do believe the intent is to just present facts, but I feel there’s a bias that becomes more and more apparent in the way he writes. Did anyone else feel the same way?

‘An assertion of free-will and independent thought’: Debating the devil in Lucifer

Here we’re introduced to Blavatsky’s publication, Lucifer. We witness a debate between one Reverend T.G Headley and Thomas May where the latter claims the Devil and God are one in the same, and that the Supreme power is both dark and light, and the former argues that the two are separate. The editors of Lucifer (Blavatsky and co.) side with May (and we see a rather uncomfortable exchange where the reverend feels misrepresented), and this guides us into the next section where Faxneld explores how this pro-Satan view spread, as May’s views could not have influenced Blavatsky since the Secret Doctrine would be published only a month after this debate in Lucifer.

Blavatsky’s Satan and diabolical socialism, art, and romanticism

Here we see possible sources and influences on Blavatsky’s views, along with other pro-Luciferian strains of thought popping up at the time in other, predominantly political and artistic, circles. We see how the new romantics adoration of satan influenced many socialistic ideals on rebellion and liberation.

Blavatsky took a concept already somewhat widespread and applied it to the esoteric world.

‘The real meaning of those particular chapters’: Blavatsky’s feminist counter-reading?

We see mention of Baphomet here, but I was surprised to see that there’s not much mention of it in the Secret Doctrine, despite previously citing Levi as one of her largest influences. There is some speculation that Blavatsky may have been a hermaphrodite, but it is clear that Blavatsky heavily identified as a male, and taking it back to page 115 we see her stating, “[t]here is nothing of the woman in me.”
We see the huge role (though whether or not it was intentional or not is still to be determined) that Theosophy played in the destabilizing of gender roles and becoming a champion in the feminist movement of the time thanks in large part to the reimagining of the Fall from Genesis 3 from Eve’s weakness into Eve’s strength.

HP Blavatsky, Satanic Feminist?

Brief rundown of Buddha being the most referenced in her index in the Secret Doctrine, followed by Christ, then Satan. Some speculation here as to whether or not one could really label Blavatsky a Satanist, given that her interpretation of Satan was very different from the Satan presented in the Christian mythos. However, her pro-Satan views laid the foundations down for future esotericists constructing Satan-centric systems.

I couldn’t help but form a link between Blavatsky and Jung in relation to certain aspects being ignored within their respected circles. Blavatsky with her pro-Satan views within Theosophy, and Jung with his occult leanings within the realm of psychology.

Faxneld then speculates on Blavatsky’s motives to include pro-Satanic rhetoric in the Secret Doctrine. He really paints a picture (for me, at least) that the Theosophical Society was established and enabled to rise due to the perfect storm of sociopolitical and artistic events and movements of the time. The Fall, specifically, was a very relevant topic at the time within feminist circles, so the counter-reading served as a good jumping point for theosophical principals to spread.

‘The pleasant paths of progress’: Feminists making a heroine of Eve

We see Genesis 3 being rejected by women as early as the beginning of the 19th century. I’m willing to bet women objected to it much earlier, but it was only documented from that time onwards. Though re-interpreted in feminist circles, the reading did not take on specifically pro-Satan themes until Bakunin and Blavatsky. Towards the end of the century, we see Eve turned from weak-minded, easily tempted Eve into Eve, the brave liberator who chose knowledge.

The Woman’s Bible, a Theosophical project?

This section offers a look into the social standing of the Bible at the beginning of the 19th century. It suggests that the Bible was considered an unquestionable work from God himself, and the criticism of it was mostly unthinkable. We see this infallibility start to crumble with the emergence of radical discussions and ideas, such as Darwin’s theory of evolution, the debate around Genesis 3, and the rise of the Theosophical society. We see how the Women’s Bible (1895, 1898) was heavily influenced by Blavatsky’s writings, and it’s noted that several contributors were Theosophists, and those who weren’t Theosophists were still enthusiastic of the feminist leanings brought forth by Theosophy, whether deliberate or not on Blavatsky’s end.

‘Exonerate the snake, emancipate the woman’: Counter-reading as a liberatory tactic

This section made me extremely grateful for a space like this, in the SoA, where I can learn and grow freely, shoulder to shoulder, with my fellow brothers and sisters. It’s been many years since I’ve been made to feel inferior due to my physical sex, and I feel very blessed to have been born in a time and place where women aren’t refused drugs to ease their birthing pains ‘lest they should interfere with the wise provisions of Providence in making maternity a curse.’ :lol:

Here Faxneld talks about Stanton’s use of the counter-myth being very much the same as Blavatsky’s, and how both chose to honour the bible as an important book, but only if interpreted correctly. We see more of the same romantic artistic (pro-Satanic) influences on Stanton as well, which I feel offers a wider lens of just how far those influences stretched.

‘Please do not speak on the bible question’: The wages of confrontational tactics

It was no surprise to me to see that the Woman’s Bible was received as a very controversial piece. We see how it ruffled the feathers of many pious men and even women alike, who were happy with the traditional patriarchal version of Genesis 3 which kept women in a very subordinate place.

I find it interesting to note that these deeply rooted beliefs are still often found, especially in rural communities. Growing up with my father being the preacher of a small community Lutheran church, I remember my father taking the place of a woman lay-minister, and the general consensus was that it was time for a man of God to come and take his rightful place at the head of the church. In fact it was very uncommon for me to see any women at all involved in anything beyond playing the organ or preparing meals.

But, onward! We see Stanton’s fall from grace within the National American Woman Suffrage Association due to her radical stance on Christianity and its oppression of women. Her counterpart in the Woman’s Bible, Frances Lord, was even more radical and saw the church and Christianity as an adversary. We’re able to see a pretty clear picture of Blavatsky’s works, though not outrightly Satanic, planting the seed (already heavily influenced by previously discussed positive portrayals of Lucifer) for future pro-Satanic discourse disseminated through works like the Woman’s Bible and the counter-readings of Genesis 3 further establishing Lucifer as the liberator of women and other oppressed people.

Final thoughts

A very interesting and detailed look at the evolution of Satanic Feminism in the 19th century, and specifically how Theosophy played a heavy hand in its emergence. I feel this chapter even gave me a greater understanding of the SoA in taking that Satanic light a step further, putting us right in that evolutionary line leading back to Blavatsky. Very interesting.
"Limited love asks for possession of the beloved, but the unlimited asks only for itself." -Kahlil Gibran
Posts: 2168
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 7:59 pm

Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Post by obnoxion »

Chapter 5: "Satan as the Emancipator of Woman in Gothic Literature"

As belief in witches and demons was ceasing among the educated, these motifs expanded into Gothic fiction. In this genre, which was largely considered "lowbrow" and"female" scene in the sense of lacking complexity, Satan and woman were constantly connected. The tone of the Gothic fiction tended to be moralizing, and the sympathies towards women or Satan to be ambigious.

Gothic novel first begun in England in the latter half of the 18th century, and grew international first through Germany and French. The term Gothic comes from the name Germanic Tribes that Roman empire fought in its twilight. In was later used of architecture as a synonyme for monstrous, medieval or barbarous. It was also used admirably as a more poetic style compared to classicism.

Gothic literature is known best as atmospheric horror stories, a form of dark romanticism. However, the scholars have "seen the genre as thoroughly preoccupied with metaphysical and religious questions." I myself subscribe to this theory that Gothic genre in part functions "as replacement for religious longings that had become difficult to satiate using the traditional means", even a substitute for the religious mysterium tremendum.

A compelling view is that the basic interpersonal structure of a Gothic novel is lifted from Genesis story of Adam (hero), Eve (heroine) and the Serpent (villain). The central figure is the versatile Eve, who has four distinct roles:

1. Pure and noble consort prior to temptation.

2. A guileful temptress anxious to involve her companion in her own disastrous folly.

3. A suffering woman in the world of travail subsequent to the expulsion from the Garden.

4. A character who is not a temptress, but who is tempted herself by Satan. In this model there is little or no role for the Adamic hero.

The Gothic world is a fallen world, where good and evil mix unevenly and disturbingly. Instead of angels, the supermundane are represented by ghosts, vampires and werewolves. The protaconists despair in a labyrinthine world, where magnificent ruins stand like monuments of lost golden age. Dreams, visions and hallucinations freqvently intrude, adding to the sense of being confused and lost. Although Gothic Satan or villain - sometimes there is no supernatural entity but satanic qualities are projected on a human character - is often inspired by Miltonians Romantic Lucifer (Frankenstein's monster in Mary Shelley's novel paraphrases Milton's Luciferian line "Evil, be thou my good"), he is less philosophical, and more intended "to evoke terror and strong feeling", but still having some positive straits. Satan also retains his Medieval role as the "cosmic villain and punisher of the wicked"

Gothic literature more often than not revolves around "an ambivalent discourse concerning transgression, where the transgressive is often portrayed in a fashion that is not strictly condemning". Thus, despite the said moralizing tone of the Gothic novel, the actual moral lessons tended to be sort of unclear. (Often, at least from my perspective where tend to see much spiritual vigour in the Gothic tale, the overtly hypocritical endings give a sort of liturgical or ritualistic impression, as if they were intended as banishings.) I feel this is still the preferred set-up of most horror movies, where the horror begins by often semi-unintentional breaking of some obscure taboo, which carries unproprtioned consequences with which the moralizing is twisted into near extinction. I feel that in both cases (which I see parts of same legacy, with marked turning point occuring, I think, in Bram Stoker's "Dracula") the ambivalence and the transgression function as the vehicles for the Gothic paradigmata that meet the realigious longing as a replacement the mysterium tremendum.

Per Faxneld reviews a selection of Gothic classics. Mostly these novels were enthusiastically received by the reading audience and some of the most notable contemporary literary figures. The critics, however, were mostly unfavourable. Curiously, many of the writers of early Gothic fiction seemed to be genuinly judging of their progressive anti-heroes.

Jacques Cazotte: "Le Diable amoureux (The Devil in Love)": The writer was involved in the French Occult underground, and both Eliphas Levi and Gerard de Nerval have noted the novel's air of relative authenticity. The hero of the story gets involved with a demoness Biondetta, who, despite the ultimate ambivalence of gender (the character is calle he and she sometimes in a same sentence), is a strong and relatable Satanic female character. In Germany it influenced E.T.A. Hoffman's short story "The Elemental Spirit" (1821).

William Beckford: "Vathek" (1786): The writer was one of the richest men in England, who was excluded from the high society due to having a homosexual affair with an underaged son of an aristocrat. Vathek is an orientalist tyrant in imaginary Arabia, who is pushed to carrier of black magic by his strong mother Carathis and enthusiastic wife Nouranihar. Patriarchal power is undermined (Vathek sets fire to the beards of Islamic authorities), and the strongest and the most Satanic character of the three anti-heros is Vathek's mother.

Matthew Gregory Lewis: "The Monk" (1796): The novel was highly succesful. A Monk named Ambrosio has a romantic affair with young girl, Matilda, who is revealed to be not unlike Cazotte's Biondetta. The Satanic female empowerement excels in Matilda's words: "Oh! that I were permitted to share with you my power, and raise you as high above the level of your sex, as one bold deed has exalted me above mine!"

Charlotte Dacre: "Zofloya, or the Moor" (1806): Inspired by The Monk and Miltonic themes, but with female protaconist. The two prominent females - the Satanic Victoria and the meek Lila - are both defeated by the Devil.

Charles Maurin: "Melmoth the Wanderer" (1820): Melmoth is an immortal wanderer, the Devil's emissary and apologist: "Enemy of Mankind!... Alas! how absurdly is that title bestowed on the great angelic chief, - the morning stae fallen from the sphere!" Melmoth is cobsidered by some to be the greatest Satanic character in literature. The text is complicated and the narrative scheme polyphonous. Modelled after the legendary Wandering Jew, Melmoth is close to that other great immortal anti-hero of the Gothic novel - the vampire.

The female vampire was the complete reversal of the nurturing mother, and was seen as completely unholy as the witch. Also, according to some witch-lore, after death a witch could turn into a vampire. The Catholic Church had denied the reality of the vampires in 1744, and almost immediately the vampire became a literary motif, made use by literary giants like Robert Southley (Thalaba the Destroyer, 1797), Lord Byron (The Giaour, 1813) and Baudelaire (in two of his poems in "The Flowers of Evil", 1857).

The French Romantic Theophile Gautier continues to show his known distaste of Church in his "La Morte amoureuce" (1836), with courtesan Clarimonde who turns into a vampire after death, continuing his love affair with the hero Romuald. The villain is the elderly Abbe Serapion who destroys the sympathetic vampire. The inspiration from Cazotte's "The Devil in Love" shows in the story.

Sheridan Le Fanu's "Carmilla" (1872) the lesbian vampire is such threat to patriarchy that it tales a stoic league of nobelman father, a priest, a commissioner, and two doctors to dig up her body from the grave and annihilate this "monstrous an indulgence of lusts and malignity of hell". Like Clarimonde above, Carmilla can bee seen as an antithesis of passivity expected of females. Vampire Carmilla shares a beautiful sentiment with another woman in the book: girls "are like caterpillars while they live in the world, to be finally butterflies when the summer comes", making a poetic correspondence with summer and death.

Bram Stoker's "Dracula" (1897) must be the most famous vampire fiction in the world. I mentioned befote that Stoker's "Dracula" is a marked shift from Gothic toward more modern style of Horror fiction. Faxneld writes in a footnote: "If Dracula should be defined as Gothic is another matter, however. Since there is little or no ambigious merging of goodness and wickedness, and evil is ultimately completely eradicated by the pious representatives of order and virtue... Moreover, though Mina is "seduced" (or symbolically raped) by the Count, she is redeemed, thus nullifying her fall. This, too, must be considered quite different from the typical Gothic narratives". Also, unlike most other Gothic novels discussed here, "Dracula" got favourable reviews but was not an instant bestseller.

Count Dracula and his female vampires are a clear echo of the Satan and the Witche's coven, which especially the child sacrifice scene brings home. Of the female characters, I find most versatile to be Lucy, and though regretably I cannot go into her nuances at length, I will say that she has been most beautifully portraited in Herzog's filmatisation of "Nosferatu". In the book, Lucy writes to her friend Mina: "Why can't they let girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all this trouble? But this is a heresy, and I must not say it". Lucy seems destibed to vampirism, and when she transforms, she becomes witch-like, attacking children. Mina, Lucy's friend, is an example of a decent woman. Yet there is a gender-wise interedting scene where Dracula feeds Mina blood from a wound in his chest. Gothic vampirism is a female affair, where Count Dracula is an exception, and even he is only interested in transforming women into vampires. Be that as it may, almost certainly neither Le Fanu nor Stoker ment their vampires as positive role models for women.

Last example is of werewolf-lore that has actually been gathered from the unpublished archives of Estonia. The Finnish-born Aino Kallas' "Sudenmorsian" (1928, translated to english as "The Wolf's Bride" in 1930) is set in 17th century Estonia, which was under Swedish rule. The forester Priidik marries Aalo, who has the Devil's mark under het breast. When Aalo hears wolves howling, she becomes mesmerized. Aino Kallas wrote the book in amazing archaic style which doesm't seem to translate to english to the same extent, but the transformation into a werewolf is so vividly described: "And in herself and in the world around her she felt a deep change, and all things were strange and new, as though she now saw them for the first time with her bodily eyes; like to our first mother Eve, when at the snake's bidding she ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in Paradise."

The Devil, as the Spirit of the Forest (Diabolus Sylvarum), is here very much a liberator for the woman, and it really seems that Aalo should have chosen Satan over her family. However, the book ends in tragedy. Basically, Aalo wants to have the best of the two worlds, but ends up being denied both. And this is the unredeeming world of the old Gothic. Also, what we see from the quote above is, that we have here yet another Gothic novel that has as its skeletar structure the 3rd chapter of Genesis, which has proven to be the very well-spring of the Gothic novel.

Aino Kallas really was an independent woman and a feminist in her own time. At least in original Finnish the book is a magical read, and the research on Werewolf-lore behind it commands awe. She seems to have actually performed a feminist counter-reading of the source materials. Unlike the vampires, Aalo never attacks children. So though she leaves het firstborn at home to run with the wolves, this hardly qualifies as demonic evil.

There seems to be also evidence that Aino Kallas had familiarised herself with novel of explicit Satanic femimism "Lolly Wllowes" at the time of writing "Sudenmorsia". The "Lolly Wllows" was written by Sylvian Townsend Warner, to whom the 12th Chapter of Faxneld's book is dedicated.

Summa summarum, Gothic novelists seemed to be of the Devil's party without knowing it, to use the often sited words by Willim Blake of John Milton. Faxneld says there was something in the air back then. And isn't that always the case? Just like there was something in the air in the 90's with the Black Metal scene. Things seem to happen to a large degree despite the people involved. First the leaves in a few tall trees start to rustle at the edge of the forest, and soon the whole forest joins the symphonic fugue. And when the wind turns, and the woods are silent again, there is no way to conjure a similar storm again. But exactly because the Gothic tales are born more of winds than of men, they are lasting. And each era will find in them something old, and something new. Or so do I feel, personally, as a lover of Gothic literature.
One day of Brahma has 14 Indras; his life has 54 000 Indras. One day of Vishnu is the lifetime of Brahma. The lifetime of Vishnu is one day of Shiva.
Posts: 1215
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 10:22 pm
Location: Espoo

Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Post by Wyrmfang »

It is my turn now, and I recognized I had somehow skipped September in the schedule and marked myself to October. If it doesn´t bother anyone, we could go with that, I am very busy at the moment (noticed afterwards I had completely missed my turn in the Jung reading circle).
Post Reply