Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Discussion on literature other than by the Star of Azazel.
obnoxion
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Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Post by obnoxion »

Wyrmfang wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:02 pm
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).
I think it's ok to skip a month if your busy.
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Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Post by Kenazis »

obnoxion wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:16 pm
Wyrmfang wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:02 pm
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).
I think it's ok to skip a month if your busy.
Ok, for me. Let's skip the month. Wyrmfang october, me november.
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Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Post by Polyhymnia »

Happy to have the catch up month. These chapters are dense.
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Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

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6. Witches as Rebels Against Patriarchy

In chapter 6 Faxneld provides several examples against Maureen Moran´s argument that during the 19th century the figure of the witch served conservative purposes almost without exception. The first counter-example can be found in the historian Jules Michelet´s work La Sorcière, a highly unconventional work which serves more political and aesthetic purposes than scientific ones. Michelet presents Satan in an openly positive fashion and the witch as someone who mediates his inspiration. Michelet´s work evoked immediate condemnation and adoration alike, as it was not only anti-clerical but had socialist and feminist tendencies as well.
On the other hand, the character of the witch was obviously also used for conservative purposes. Both medical and anti-feminist authorities saw a close connection between witches and their demonic possession in the earlier centuries and the contemporary popular medical diagnosis of ”hysteria”. That is, possession was retrospectively interpreted as hysteria, and feminist claims were also associated with this condition. In general, the figure of the witch pertains the same ambivalence between Satanic Feminism and Demonic Feminism, which has come up many times before in the book.

Strictly anti-clerical theosophist Matilda Joslyn Gage was highly influenced by Michelet´s celebration of witches but added her own esoteric viewpoint to the issue. For Gage, the witch was not only a protagonist of individuality against church´s oppression but also an upholder of esoteric wisdom. In contrast to authors discussed above, amateur folklorist Charles Leland claimed that there is a continuous tradition of witchcraft up to his day, at least in Italy where he allegedly gained information including hymns and rituals from a local witch. George Egerton (Mary Chavalita Dunne) published two relatively popular short story compilations which have been recognized as feminist celebration of the figure of the witch. Though herself critical to feminism as a political movement Egerton was thoroughly feministic in mocking the double standards of sexual behavior of men and women. Another author inspired by Michelet is Oliver Madox Hueffer, except that like Gage, he didn´t share Michelet´s enthusiansm of witches as proto-scientists.

When it comes to pictorial art, male artists had traditionally depicted witches as old and ugly with occasional exceptions of semi-pornographic approaches. In the 19th century, however, painters became inspired by witches in mythologies both ancient and later. In these paintings the witch often steals power (for example, a spellbook) that belongs to a man. Some authors have seen feministic intention here, but, according to Faxneld, it is more likely that these themes were intended as warning. Female artists of the period had the witch quite rarely as their subject. According to Faxneld, only Teresa Ries´ sculpture Witch Making Her Toilette for Walpurgisnacht was intended as a subversive piece of art.

Apart from pictorial art, Mary Wigman present several famous dances which were based on the idea of the witch. These dances could be seen as corroborating the ”hysteric-feminist-witch” – narrative, but at the same time they could be interpreted as empowering. The same applies to the witch figures Dane Benjamin Christensen´s movie Häxan. In general the representations of the witch during the 19th century strongly resemble the logic of the ”counter-myth” Faxneld discussed at the beginning of the book. When applied this way to art and literature, I think I begin to understand why Derrida has been conceived as such an influential thinker especially in literature studies.
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Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

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7. SUBVERSIVE SATANIC WOMEN IN DECADENT LITERATURE AND ART

`I took it up as a war cry’: The trajectory of decadence from attribution to identificaction

Decadence an adjective describing a form of literature appeared in the preface to Charles Nodier’s Contes Fantastiques (Fantastic Tales, 1850). Baudelaire also uses it in 1857 in essay to describe the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Scholars date this word even earlier, to Désiré Nisard’s 1834 book Etudes de mauers et de critique sur les poétes latins de la decadence (Moral and Critical Studies of the Latin Poets of Decadence). As with many other terms first used as an insult, also the term decadent where taken into use by the “decadents themselves”.

Subversive or conservative? The ambiguous counter-discourse of decadence & Delineating decadence

What approach and attitude the decadents took for the culture? There are many ways to describe this. For example: seeing the decadent literature as works of celebrating the fall, discourse inverting the hegemonic cultural values, loose ideology where that which is decayed, aberrant, sinful, and lustful is elevated, and commonplace, wholesome, virtuous, and decent is mocked & counter-discourse to bourgeois morality and aesthetics.
Faxneld himself defines decadence as:
1) Regarding art for art’s sake (“evil” can be “good” if it is beautiful),
2) Elitism (contemporary age was morally too stiff or lacking & lacking in aesthetic taste),
3) Intertwining sexuality and death in art (& using the motif of Femme Fatale)
4) Employing some sort of semantic inversion in decadent discourse

`A class of poetry to the devil`? Decadence and religion

Faxneld sees the only unifying factor with Decadent religiosity and non-religiosity being the fascination for ritualism and opulent trappings of religion. While Catholicism seems to be favoured within Decadent authors, there where atheists, esotericists, devout believers and sceptics among the Decadent.
There were also people who were “satanic” in way or another. For example, German painter Franz von Stuck erected an altar to sin, and Belgian painter had an altar dedicated to god Hypnos. Also some Decadents saw/used Satan/Devil as symbol of freedom from opposition etc. But these “satanic” traits are seen only some of the Decadent authors and artists. Maybe more often than symbol of rebellion against church, the Devil was used for its shock-value.
Even most French Decadents only produced isolated Satanic pieces, this was enough to associate the genre with Satanism. But, in Berlin at the time was figure named Stanislaw Przybyszewski for whom the title Satanist suits very well. Przybyszewski might well be the first who attempted to formulate systemic Satanism.

Decadent misogyny, androgyny, and demonic women

This part is about the misogynistic attitude among Decadents, but also mentions few female decadent writers. And there were of course exceptions among the men, not all of them were misogynists nor see the women demonic. (This SUBVERSIVE SATANIC WOMEN IN DECADENT LITERATURE AND ART-Chapter is so long and full of information as the whole book, so I must concentrate my writing effort with these parts/sub-chapters unequally. This wasn’t nothing special or new in my opinion, so I didn’t write so much about it).

`If you cannot be a good, faithful wife, then be a devil!`: Lilith, whips, and demonic dames

In Decadent literature the connection of wicked woman and Satan can be both explicit and present on the level of language and metaphor. Leopold von Sacher-Masoc (1836-1895) is an example of the latter with his book Venus im Pelz (Venus in Furs, 1870).

`The shrine where a sin is a prayer`: Sacralizing the eternal demonic female

At the turn of the century femmes fatales where often given cosmic scope, using demonic imagery. They were goddesses of evil, instead of petty criminals. Decadents wanted to show this image of negative eternal feminine in more positive light. Theodore Wratislaw (in his poem L’Éternel féminin, from Caprices, 1893) is one of those who shows the Satanic femme fatale in desirable form. Poet Algernon Swinburne (1837-1909) – who we can label as proto-decadent – borrows heavily from religious imaginary and style but uses them to praise wicked woman instead of Mary, Christ and God.

`The true father of the infernal church`: The art of Félicien Rops
Apples and phalluses: some examples of the demonic feminine in Rops’s Oeuvre
Woman as`Theabsolute slave of the devil`: Contemporary appraisals of Rops
`Ad Majorem Diaboli Gloriam`: Rop’s own intentions with the pictures


All of the above sub chapters tell about artist Félicien Rops (1833-1898) that made many engravings for Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Verlaine, and others).

Là-bas: A `documentary` novel and its misogynist theological inspiration

J.-K. Huysmans’s novel Là-bas (1891) presented a strongly gendered portrayal of Devil-worshipper. This book was immediately banned from being sold at railway bookstalls (and this of course just made it more wanted and popular). Là-bas includes a description of Black mass. This however was not the thing that was unique or “scandalous” in the book, but the authors claim that the description of Black Mass was authentic and he himself was witnessing it. Was this the case is uncertain. It is pretty certain that at least some of it is fictious. Huysman was influenced by Malleus Maleficarum and this is seen his portrayal of Satanism as predominantly feminine and negative phenomenon.

The flower of evil called Hyacinthe, and other hysterical Satanist women &
Satanism as (sexual) neurosis and anti-capitalism


These sub-chapters are mainly about the Huysmans’s book and who the Satanism is described there feminine and negative phenomenon. For example, the black mass is held in nunnery (not in monastery), most of the Satanist there is female (the homosexual men are described as feminine). Connection of hysteria (mental illness) and Satanism is pondered. Satan is described to be the god of homosexuals and “other pathological sexual problems”.


Fact or fiction? The real-life inspirations for Mme Chantelouve &
´His heroine, that’s me!`: Wanting to be the emancipated Mme Chantelouve


Huyasman was the main character of making Satanism a major issue of debate in France (and also abroad). Arthur E. Waite mentions Huysman in his book Devil-worship in France (1896). mentioning his book Là-bas being the influence for raising the question of Lucifer from obscurity to prominence.
One primary model (there were others) of Mme Chantelouve (one of the main characters of Là-bas) was Berthe Courrière (1852-1916). Courrière was interested in occult, symbols and black magic. It is possible that Courrière was theosophist and influenced by Blavatsky’s writings of Lucifer. Courrière was also mentally unstable and been twice on mental asylum. This could explain the connection of Satanism and pathology, the Huyasman saw was the case. The character of Hyacinthe Chantelouve was fascinating to female readers and many were influenced by this figure.

Satanist superman with a heart as weak as wax: Stanislaw Przybyszewski

Polish Decadent was a self-identified Satanist and spoke behalf of Satan. Przybyszewski was the most consistent practitioners of Decadent tactic of semantic inversion. He wrote text Die Synagoge des Satan (1897) that propagated Satanism. Satanic content of German esoteric order Fraternitas Saturni was influenced by Przybyszewski. For Przybyszewski Satan was the ultimate freethinker, the first philosopher, the first anarchist, and the father of all progression. God and Christianity was the opposite.

Przybyszewski’s witches, the feminization of Satan, and `good evil´ &
Evil women then and now: Przybyszewski’s modern wiches


These sub chapters are about Przybyszewski’s description of witches. He uses semantic inversion and speaking of Satan and witches being evil, the evil here means something good. And the Christian good is something evil.
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Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

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Chapter 8. Lucifer and the Lesbians: Sapphic Satanism

Most of this chapter (p.327-385) consists of presenting of two "Satanic lesbians" at the turn of the 19th & 20th century. The first one is a fictitious one – a heroine in Catulle Mendès' novel Méphistophéla – and the second an actual person: Pauline Mary Tarn aka. Renée Vivien. Faxneld also gives us a bit of literary context of fin-de-siècle in the beginning, and in the end of the chapter more briefly presents to us another gynocentric artist of the time, Marie Madeleine.

Faxneld tells us that female homosexuality was often seen as a "cult" (cf. Lesbian Sappho), and this idea was embraced as an empowering idea also by some pro-lesbian authors. But since in literary decadent movement aesthetical side meant (and still means: compare to black metal movement, and nowadays also more & more occult practice) so much, it is not always easy to see how serious someone's actual convictions concerning some religious aspect are. I.e. is one's Satanism (or "cultic" ideas) more rhetorical or devotional in nature. These, however, are more important questions to me personally than to Faxneld, who is more interested in political and societal impact.

Faxneld, p.339 wrote:[W]here male homosexuals who were too bold – like Oscar Wilde or Fersen – found themselves in the dock facing stern judges, lesbians did not really risk ending up in jail. The treatment of them in literature and art to some extent reflects this more tolerant attitude. The love life of lesbians had a voyeuristic appeal to straight male producers and consumers of art and literature, whereas sexual relations between men were a source of intense discomfort. This is not to say that being a lesbian at the turn of the century was at all an easy thing.


* * *

First case: a lesbian novel.

Faxneld, p.341 wrote:The first more developed treatment of lesbianism combined with Satanism was Catulle Mendès' 1890 novel Méphistophéla.


It is interesting to note that the novel came out the same time when Blavatsky reached the apex of her esoteric career (close to her death in 1891). Faxneld says nothing about the author using a pseudonyme (Catulle Mendès 1841-1909), so we really have a nomen est omen case here: Catulle's work is a black gothic novel of the cheaper end of thrill-seeking literature, depicting all kinds of things one might have called perversions when that word was still in use. Yet it should be rememered that "the goat of Mendes" was most often repeated by Lévi, and –

Faxneld, p. 344 wrote:Mendès was also enthusiastic about Éliphas Lévi, whom he knew in private, and introduced Victor Hugo to him.


Faxneld also says that Méphistophéla's "hairy" demoness of its climactic black mass most likely comes back to Lévi's Baphomet (p.348). (Which he sees as "a gynocentric and misandric vision", which might or might not be the case. See p.349.)

According to Jeanette H. Foster, Méphistophéla was printed several times in both French and English between 1890 and 1910, but Faxneld doubts whether an English translation ever existed (p.345). Méphistophéla seems to be interesting piece of work, much in a vein of the author not so high-reaching but altogether delicious gothic novels of the era, even though Faxneld does not make such a comparison, instead tracing back to Baudelaire & high style decadent authors.

Faxneld, p.350 wrote:Rather than trying to pin down a "final" meaning of the text, it appears more useful to emphasize its polyvocality and lack of consistency. Mendès – or at least the narrator – is obviously fascinated with lesbians as rebels (and as voyeuristic erotic spectacle)


* * *

Second case: a lesbian decadent poetess.

Faxneld, p.354 wrote:Renée Vivien, whose real name was Pauline Mary Tarn (1877-1909) was one of the first women to write openly lesbian poetry.


After discussing Méphistophéla (which Vivien also read and loved) in length, Faxneld turns his attention to this poetess. She wrote in French, and her poems have "been described as among the most technically perfect ever" in that language (p.356). Vivien first published her decadent, Satanic poetry without revealing her sex, but later used her own name. She was angry not gaining enough praise from the critics and stopped publishing.

Even though Faxneld tries to paint an interesting and alluring picture of Vivien, she seems to present the type I loath: an "extreme elitist" (p.356) alcoholic, using her inherited money to create herself a self-image of a misunderstood genius. On the top of everything, after using her life in Satanic debauchery, she naturally turned to Roman Catholic faith just before dying (p.357). Faxneld presents one of her poems, La Genèse profane (The Profane Genesis) in full (both English & French), and to me this great elite poetry seems to hold very little of anything except easy inversion. This is sad, since theoretically Vivien's misandrist philosophy might have been titillating. "Vivien actually did believe there were universal feminine traits" (p.385), and that these were worth praising and worshipping in the context of Satanic spirituality, which is much the way as I see it.

Faxneld, p.374-5 wrote:In the intensely gynocentric world view of Vivien and her lover Natalie Barney, that which was feminine was good, while all things masculine were bad. (...) They viewed fragility and softness as innate female characteristic, not socially produced, and they therefore felt it only natural to celebrate them.


* * *

Third case: a baroness writing dark poems.

Like I said, in the end of the chapter Faxneld introduces us another (possibly) lesbian poetess of the age, Marie Madeleine (1881-1944). This dark heroine similarly most accomplished things by marrying a baron, neglecting her son, and using the inherited money for her drug-use and writing bad poetry. (Here Faxneld does not even try to make it good, p.383.)

* * *

Thoughts of this chapter: Many fascinating things for people interested in literature and feminism (in the word's widest sense), but regarding actual spiritual Satanism and/or occultism we have very little that has any value, outside cautionary examples of how things should not be done.
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!"
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Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Post by Polyhymnia »

This was probably my favourite chapter so far!

Chapter 9: Becoming the demon woman (Rebellious role-play)

I feel this chapter could have also been titled "Satanic imagery as a symbol of female rebellion: the birth of the Occult Femme Fatale in the social consciousness", but that title is quite a bit longer :lol:

In this chapter we get quite an intimate look at several figures who played a large role within satanic feminism during the turn of the 19th to 20th century and slightly beyond: Sarah Bernhardt, Luisa Casati, and Theda Bara.

Though all three women never explicitly identified themselves as satanists or even as feminists, there is no doubt that Bernhardt and Casati employed the use of satanic imagery as an emancipatory act. Bara did, as well, to a degree, but the evidence seems to point to her persona being fashioned by men to appeal to the common woman of the time. Both Bernhardt and Casati are shown to have lived very decadent lifestyles, with their public images being carefully constructed to create the vision of the demon-woman; A woman who men feared and respected, and who women wanted to be.

While looking at Bernhardt specifically we see how the Romantic movement shaped both her career and her off-stage life with the countercultural idea of rebellion, and the Devil as a recurring symbol of that rebellion. Her high standing in society allowed her to live a life free of the patriarchal binds which were apropos at the time, and she seemingly lived her life breaking every expectation of a woman. Her defiance isn't necessarily seen as an act of feminism, as she seemed to have truly lived for her own pleasure, but she definitely helped set the bar for other women, especially those with enough money to truly dramatize the embodiment of the demonic feminine. This brings us to Marchesa Luisa Casati.

Casati lived a very extravagant lifestyle, and had relationships and love affairs with notable people within the Decadent circle. Faxneld suggests that her transformation from socialite to full-fledged demon-woman started with the commencement of her relationship with the Decadent author Gabriele D'Annunzio. Like Bernhardt, Casati was known to use serpents as much of her imagery, and this extended to the use of live ones as accessories, and even a mural of herself as Eve. She threw lavish parties and was known for her flamboyant costumes. What separates her from Bernhardt was an actual interest in the occult and her dabbling in supposed black mass rituals. It's difficult to identify the clear lines where her occult fascination ended and her fantastical role-play started.

Next we examine Theda Bara's contributions to satanic feminism. Where Bernhardt and Casati seem to work autonomously, Bara seems to have been carefully constructed for the sole purpose of movie sales by powerful men. And though this may have been the primary reason for the vamp persona, one cannot deny that Bara was still a popular figure amongst women for her depiction of vengeful, beautifully wicked, femme fatales. For Bara, the demon-woman persona was merely a role played on screen, and she eventually grew to resent that typecasting. She was known to be fickle about whether or not she was a feminist, and her persona in real life was definitely the opposite of what was portrayed on film.

The final part of the chapter touches on the importance of not just devilish jewellery, but of consumer culture as a whole, for disseminating the rebellious counter-culture ideals of the time through regular society when they were formerly only for the elite to flaunt. The start of consumer culture also signalled emancipation for more women as women were now able to assert themselves through their purchases. Where devilish jewelry is concerned, this passage sticks out the most:

“The extent to which the choice of demonic jewellery was a rebellious gesture, and how much it simply represented a pandering to the taste among males for seductive Satanic sirens, is of course impossible to answer. The balance between subversion and internalization of negative stereotypes is constantly difficult to determine in the material treated in the study. One way of looking at the jewellery in question is as ornamentation thrust upon women. However, I propose that we must take a more nuanced view and concede that it could also be seen as part of more or less subversive identity games that women engaged in.”

As a woman, myself, who has enjoyed the darker, demonic feminine aesthetic for my entire life, it has been incredibly fascinating for me to see a branch of where this lineage traces back. Before I tattooed a dekagram on my neck, it was an inverted pentagram, and this was to signify the start of me dedicating my life to The Great Work. The response from mostly men was really quite something. I had strangers walk up to me demanding to know why I’d put something so bold on my body permanently. What it meant to me. Some randomly praised me, though they were very much in the minority. I anticipated the tattoo to be a conversation starter, for sure, but I wasn’t 100% prepared for the aggression that would be directed at me. I ended up changing it to a dekagram sooner than anticipated, and I no longer get those reactions. I imagine to an untrained eye, a dekagram isn’t as blatantly occult in nature as a pentagram.

Final thoughts: The occult femme fatale is very much alive and well.
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Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

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CHAPTER 10: Mary MacLane's Autobiographic Satanic Feminism

"i love the devil. I want him to come for me. When he comes I shall be ready to go with him and oh! I shall be so happy!"

In such style did Mary MacLane (1881 - 1929) add, in numerous interviews, to the notority of her bestseller, "The Story of Mary McLane (1902). The book is presented as a diary covering 13 January to 13 April in 1901, and its central theme is the author's feverish wish to become the bride of Satan. In her book Satan is understoond in the tradition of literary satanism, aligned with contemporary cultural criticism and esoteric ideas. The familiar ideas of diabolical sapphics and demon lovers are central to the her book. Despite these themes, the book quickly found an outlet through a publisher of evangelical literature (from where it was forwarded with some enthusiasm to another publisher, better suited for the text), to which the author send the book because she thought the publisher would appreciate her text's biblical symbolism. The skilfull language of the book was often noted, and it did becom an inspiration to some modern poets.

What strikes me most about the book are the praises to the devil. There are plenty of such quotes in this chapter:

"Who says the Devil is not your friend? Who says the Devil does not believe in the all-merciful law of Compensation?"

Devil, for McLane, is the creator of the world, both plesant and terrifying. The Devil is the bringer of immediate happiness, like the pleasures of sex and eating. Christian God is indiffferent, and Christianity preaches hatered. Thus:

"The Devil is really the only to whom we can turn."

The Happiness that the Devil grants brings one to celebrate also the ghoulish aspects of the sensual world created by the Devil. For example, in a graveyard where a young child was recently buried, McLane contemplates the worm-infested corpse in these words:

"They have eaten the small body by now, and enjoyed it. Always worms enjoy a body to eat. And also the Devil rejoiced. And I rejoiced with the Devil."

In her book, McLane considers also suicide and death with appreciation, but it is the bringer of the sensuous state of Happiness, the Devil, that she adores:.

"Death is fascinating - almost like the Devil. Death makes uses of all his arts and wiles, powerful and alluring, and flirts with deadly temptation for me... But first the Devil must come. First the Devil, then Death... I am ready and waiting to give all I have to the Devil in exchange for Happiness... I am fortunate that I am not one of those who are burdened with an innate sense of virtue and honor which must come always before Happiness... But with me Virtue and Honor are nothing. I long unspeakably for Happiness. And so I await the Devil Coming.'

I've read McLane's book, published under it's original title "I Await the Devil's Coming" (Petrarca Press, 2014), edited with a foreword and notes by Michael R. Brown. The text is annotated and uncensored, and is subtitled as "the feminist classic". I am not equipped to assess the social dimensions of the book, other than they seem under appreciated.

There seem to be very few metaphysical concerns expressed in the diary. Female body, a creation of the Devil, is the highest form of sensual reality - "fine young body that is feminine in every fibre", whereas "the masculine body is merely flesh, it seems, flesh and bones and nothing else". Yet the Devil does seem to represent an ideal male that is able to incarnate in a gentlemanly form. (In her diary she relates how she has seventeen small engravings of Napoleon, which she carefully gazes at before going to bed, until she is "stirred to the depths" and falls "easily and naturally" in love with the picture of the - by then late - French
dictator. So we might assume Napoleon to represent an example of the incarnation of Mary MacLane's Devil. Her Devil also has "steel-gray eyes). Faxneld writes apptly that MacLane's "use of Satan is multi-faceted, with an ambiguity that is likely to have been intentional."

There is an unapproachability to MacLane's Devil that makes her "burning" and "periodical" love for him seem troubadourish. All in all, MacLean's satanism comes across so remarkably proto-LaVeyan, that if she would have been among LaVey's sources, she would have had to be counted as one of the major ones.

The text is itself very much like a private diary in style, and it is difficult for me to judge how calculated this style is, although the text seems clearly written for the purpose of being published. The text is certainly introverted, repetative and astonishingly modern. MacLane is very outspoken about her unique genius, but adds that she is not a literary genius. She writes that her genius is her quality of extraordinariness which "makes itself felt in every point of my life". She admits being influenced by Lord Byron and Marie Bashkirtseff. Yet, and this is a rare example of concrete metaphysical satanism in MacLane's diary, she considers her ideas to be influenced directly by telepathic communications from Satan. Especially she seems to hope from the Devil almost any kind of serious (and hopefully amorous) rupture to the stagnancy to the life of exceptionally intelligent 19-year old bisexual woman, living in the first years of the 20th century Montana. I think the fact that she was only 19 years old while writing the text is very relevant, and MacLean herself said so in later interviews.

MacLane considers herself sensual rather than spiritual person. She delights in eating and doing houshold chores. She is very attuned to and positive about her body, and expresses her thankfulness even to her inner organs. She has a hopeless crush on her older female teacher, but considers herself unloveable and completely unloved, even by her family. Faxneld establishes that MacLane was influenced by Lord Byron and Blavatskyan Theosophy (picked up from attending Theosophical meetings rather than books) and her relatedness to some Satanic ideas in Walt Whitman's poetry. Then Faxneld dismisses conclusively the possibility of MacLean being influenced by Bernard Shaw, Mark Twain, Ambrous Bierce or Friedrich Nietzsche.

Although she does seak a communion with the Devil in coarse things like meat-eating and stealing, she seems to detest hypocrisy. And if her Devil is seldom metaphysical, her idea of happiness is, in the end, so poetical that it approaches the metaphysical. In the dialogue with the Devil at the end of the diary, she, in remembrance of Montana sunsets she viewed with pleasure during her long walks, says to the Devil:

"If you offered me... that which to the blindly virtuous seems the worst possible thing, it would yet be for me the red, the red line on the sky, my heart's desire, my life, my rest. You are the Devil. I have fallen in love with you."

Faxneld quotes Cathryn Halverson, who writes the MacLane's Satan is "an overloaded trope that works in multiple ways". This seems like a fair conclusion to me.

There were some Satanic movements (M.M.L. clubs) among the young female students directly inspired by the text. These had some scandalous publicity with young women who were involved with cattle-thefts and curious suicides, where nude bodies were found dead surrounded by delicious foods. Reading about these happenings, one really gets a sense of particular form of Satanism - or MacLaneism, as the papers called it.
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Wyrmfang
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Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Post by Wyrmfang »

One day late, as it is April already.

Faxneld regards Sylvia Townsend Warner´s (1893-1978) debut novel Lolly Willowes; or, The Loving Huntsman as probably the most paradigmatic example of Satanic feminism. The novel begins with Laura Willowes, a woman in her late 20s living with her ageing father. When her father dies Laura goes to London to live her brother and sister-in-law, who try to get Laura married, which she is not fond of. When Laura is 47 she moves to a remote small village and realizes how unhappy she was in the city with her relatives. Then Laura´s nephew moves to the village, which makes Laura desperate again, and she cries for help. A cat walks in to Laura´s department and scratches her hand so that it bleeds. This is considered as a pact with the Devil, which gives Laura the independence from her relatives and all societal organizations.

According to English literature scholar Smita Avashti, Warner´s novel reflects the typical concerns of feminists of the time; women had had the right to vote, but according to many, it didn´t actually change much. Therefore, the focus changed to individual empowerment regardless of any institutions. Many scholars have also found hidden homosexual themes in Lolly Willowes even to the extent that ”witch” actually means ”lesbian”, but, according to Faxneld there is little textual evidence for such interpretations. However, the figure of Satan is gender-fluid, which had been for a long time something hideous in the Christian culture with strict gender roles. According to Faxneld, Warner has been surprisingly rarely recognized as an author in the tradition which depicts Satan as liberator of women, though it should be quite evident.

The reception of Warner´s novel was mostly positive in both sides of the Atlantic and she became a sort of celebrity. However, many reviewers and journalists misunderstood Warner´s Satanic feminism. Either the emphasis on female emansipation was not noticed or the Satanic elements were interpreted as mere shocking. However, those who did understand these both aspects often regarded Warner as equal to Virginia Woolf.

Now there´s only the conclusive chapter left of the book.
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Kenazis
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Re: Reading circle (Per Faxneld: Satanic Feminism)

Post by Kenazis »

12. CONCLUSIONS

A Cursory chronological exposé of satanic feminism, 1772-1932

Percy Shelley, The Revolt of Islam (1818).
Percy Shelley was the primer mover of literary satanism and, also a feminist. In revolt of Islam he merges the two.

Jules Michelet, La Sorcière (1862)
Expresses a study of historical witch in a light that is not just bad, but gives the witch also some positive aspects.

Eliza W. Farnham, Woman and Her Era (1864)
Celebrated the Edenic serpent as bringer of wisdom. Saw the serpent been the opposite of God who was the enslaver of mankind. Also woman was seen superior to man because she was the first to accept the gift of the serpent.

Moncure Daniel Conway, Demonology and Devil-lore (1878)
Praises the Lilith as the first feminist for her refusal to obey Adam.

H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine (1888)
Saw the serpent of Eden as bringer of wisdom, gnosis, that opens the eyes of mankind to see an to get free from the demiurge Jehovah’s reign. Saw Serpent and Satan as one being.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, The Women’s Bible (1895)
Likens Satan to Socrates or Platon (In Genesis 3). Sees fall and Eve’s pursuit of knowledge as good, not “sinful”.

Mary MacLane, The Story of Mary MacLane (1902)
Mary Maclane causes a scandal when describes over and over again in her autobiography how she wants to marry Satan. Satan for Mary is the great liberator.

Sylvia Townsend Warner, Lolly Willowes (1926)
In Lolly Willowes is another story of Satan being the liberator of women from the patriarchal society’s chains.

Aino Kallas, Sudenmorsian (1928)
in Kallas’ book, there’s yet another story of Satan, liberator of women, but this time it is told with the twist of Satan transforming the woman to werewolf.

In the material that we can, in some sense, classify as Satanic feminism, what motifs are recurrent?
Main motif is Eve’s collusion with the serpent in the garden of Eden, reworked into something positive (Secret Doctrine, The Woman’s Bible)
The Witch (as a proto-feminit figure) is also frequently appearing motif (La Sorcière, Lolly Willowes)
The Demon Lover who liberates (Mary Maclane’s book, Stoker’s Dracula).
Lilith (Demonology and the Devil-Lore).
Satan as a woman or womanly, who is benevolent and opposite of male God (Cazotte’s she-devil Biondetta, Levi’s hermaphrodite Baphomet).

What sort of individuals usually expressed these ideas – what was their social class, level of education, temperament, and political orientation?
The Discourse of Satanic feminism has always been the domain of educated middle- and upper-class individuals, for the perquisite has been the understanding of theology, history and literary, at least on some extent. Individuals associated with satanic feminism are people who can be said to belong marginal intelligentsia. Freethinkers who didn’t have great position of official power because then they would be part of the patriarchal system that satanic feminism was opposing. Radical individualism, revolutionary thinking and progressive attitude were all things that were expressed on some degree.

What was the typical readership of the texts and how were they received?
Conservative reviewers attacked against the texts, but eventually they were wildly popular. These radical texts interested and entertained groups widely and was not interesting just the radical readership.

What hermeneutical strategies were employed when counter-reading the Bible or subverting misogynist motifs in Christian myth?
There are two main methods used by the authors to counter-read the Bible material. First, the one that can be called direct exegesis. This method uses specific Bible passages, quoting and refuting them. Second one is less formal exegetic modus, where there are no direct quotes, but newly created version with another meaning.

How far is the inversion of Christian myth taken?
This varied. Some one just inverted one aspect and keep other aspects unchanged (Like only changing the Satan to be liberating deity and not evil, but keeping the stories of witches with supernatural powers etc). Then there’s sometime God’s position inversed that God is evil and not benevolent.

What seems to be problematic when using Satan as a paragon of feminism, and how do the figures in question deal with this?
Problem of seeing Satan as the male liberator of women from the repression of male dominated culture was answered moving Satan to the area seen as feminine, the nature. When Satan was part of wild nature it was more easily aligned with feminism. Woman’s Bible saw Satan as a Socratic conversation partner, Warner described Satan as old asexual gardener, Collier as a loving husband with ideals of equality, and Vivien expressed the figure of Satan as feminine and opposed the masculine universe. Only MacLane was talking him as virile male lover.
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