Sacrilegious and Sexy AF: The Rise of Integral Satanism?

Originally published at:

Hofman and Daemon, former members of The Satanic Temple in New York, and founding members of the Satanic organization LORE: The Satanic Collective of NYC, join Bruce Alderman and Layman Pascal on The Integral Stage to talk about the history of Satanism and the new Integral and Metamodern-ish forms of it that are currently emerging.

A question for Integral Christians (or anyone really, but Christians in particular) — did you watch the “Sacrilegious and Sexy AF” interview? What did you think of the discussion? Are there any perspectives or contexts uncovered in that interview that you found interesting or important, or perhaps even informs your own thinking and/or faith?

One of the things I noticed while publishing it was a strange and oddly strong magenta/amber (but mostly magenta) feeling of taboo. Which is funny, because if this was a discussion of an “archetype of evil” from a different culture or tradition — say, an integral enactment of Kali (who I personally find more intimidating than Satan!) — then no one would have batted an eye. But there is something about “satan” that really gets under our skin, in ways that I don’t think are always conscious to us.

Which made it a good subject for us to explore, I think — especially for Halloween, when we have a bit more permission to carry our freak flag into the dark. But still, I noticed that I definitely had my own weird child-like superstitions bubbling up for me while publishing the piece, and it was a nice opportunity to look at and work with some of that undigested material.

So I am curious what your experience was, in terms of both your initial reaction, as well as your response to the actual substance of the discussion.

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I’ll venture a response here. The title was provocative and a little jolting and aroused my curiosity, and I must say, I found it hard to take my eyes off Daemon’s horned headdress and mask, and particularly the square eyes behind the glasses, riveting! My experience is that Integral Life usually handles edgy material in a classy sort of way, so I was interested to see what this was.

I did not have any discomfiting feelings; in fact I laughed a lot. More on that later, but I do want to say something about why no one might bat an eye if the conversation had been on Kali rather than Satan. Christianity and its motifs, including the Prince of Darkness, is of course pervasive in Western culture and penetrates the psyche, I think, of even some non-Christians. Kali, coming from the Eastern traditions, is more “removed,” and with that distance, is easier to dismiss. Plus, Kali’s dark and fierce side has been sanitized to a large degree in and by and for Western culture.
Also, while one of the three main goddesses in Hinduism, she is still just one of many goddesses and gods, and people associated with Hinduism often are in relationship with more than one god or goddess as they each offer different lessons, and have different “pulls.” And importantly, unlike Satan in Christianity, she is not posited as a sole antithesis to “good.” And in fact, people who relate to/with her as a subtle archetype or actual high-subtle being often do discover Kali’s multi-dimensionality, one side of her being love, which is acknowledged in Hinduism, but there is no similar consideration in mainstream Christianity; Satan is pretty one-dimensional particularly in fundamentalist Christianity.

That taken care of…the vibe that came through for me in this discussion was, appropriately enough given it was the eve of Halloween when I watched it, trickery! Or more specifically, I sensed the Trickster energies at play in culture around satanism. In this particular discussion, there was the surprise jolt of the Unexpected, there was the underlying theme of chaotic creative power and emphasis on reconciliation and integration of “contraries” (which is a name for the Trickster archetype in certain cultures–‘contrary’; this reconciliation and integration of opposites is also of course about shadow). One of the LORE guys spoke of the play between absurdity and seriousness, and that is definitely Trickster energy. Re-reading Blake’s “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,” I wonder that Blake himself might have been in Trickster mode writing that; he even has a line in there: “Without contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion. Reason and Energy. Love and Hate are necessary to human existence.” Passion, desire, sensuality, lust–these are all incorporated in the Trickster archetype in many cultures. I wrote about Trickster at length in another topic on this site (under the “Uncategorized” category, the topic “Trump as Dark Shaman” introduced by Layman), so I am not going to repeat all of that here, but that was definitely the sense I was having of Satan as presented by this discussion, as an instrument for Trickster, and it was the sense I was having of the conversation itself, for ultimately, the Trickster energy is a “wake-up call” as I see it, an opportunity to wake up to the possibility of greater Freedom and Truth and Wholeness, and also laugh a little along the way…

I have also viewed certain satanic groups as channeling Trickster energy; for example, the Satanic Temple group challenged the Phoenix, AZ City Council three or four years ago, and actually were instrumental in change. The Council routinely allowed leaders from different religions to offer an invocation before the start of a Council meeting. Someone from the Satanic Temple group signed up to do so, which caused quite a stir, and resulted eventually in the Council voting to do away with the invocations, and instead have a minute of silence or silent prayer before the meeting, rather than allowing the Temple group to do its invocation.

All of that said, I think this topic does have to be handled carefully, with due regard for the beliefs of certain religious groups, and individuals. I have worked in healing settings in the past with people who have been simultaneously undergoing exorcism rites or de-possession procedures through their churches (and it’s not just the Catholic church that has such procedures.) I have also worked with several people involved in satanism, one of them a member of Lavey’s Church. When psychological disturbance and/or substance abuse combines with religious beliefs in the powers of darkness and magick practices, it can get pretty gritty. While the LORE guys and this discussion differentiated themselves from the “baby-sacrificing” brand of satanists or anything remotely akin to that, most people have never heard of or considered a kind of satanism that isn’t “evil to the core,” so it all tends to get grouped together, and as Corey says, “gets under our skin.”

Finally, a message to Bruce if you’re reading this. How about a Polarity Dialogue on TIS on the topic of hierarchy? In looking at LORE’s website, I noticed remarks about the group being anti-hierarchy, which seemed to be referring to dominator hierarchies, so I understand the anti stance, particularly given LORE’s feminism. But there is a lot of that floating around in the Integral community, so a debate that goes into hierarchy in depth, argues both sides of it, would be pretty useful, I think. Thanks.

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I haven’t watched it yet. Mostly because I haven’t had time, or haven’t prioritized the time. But I will say that I noticed some negativity/resistance/repulsion rising up when I saw the posting. An immediate response of “Integral Satanism!? Really???”

Then when I read the description I thought, well, this might be interesting… but still with some feelings of tentativeness. Corey, thanks for sharing your own feelings of what was coming up for you when posting this.

LaWanna, thank you for your wonderful, thoughtful response to the video. I agree: there’s a trickster energy about their project, with the mixture of the absurd, sacred, and profane that that usually involves. (Daemon read, and was really moved by, your post, and says he will post a response to you once his membership to IL is approved).

I appreciate the general caution or reservation a lot of peole have around this topic. There really are toxic, destructively negative or “evil” forces or energies in this world, that shouldn’t simply be laughed off or winked away. I have a very good friend who became enamored of the “dark side” back in high school and attempted a ritual suicide. I’ve encountered “heavy, dark, evil” energy in people or places several times – in night-terror-like “demonic” visitations when I was young (I put up a mighty fight), in the eyes of a child I caught torturing an animal, in the deep woods where I encountered evidence of serial rapes or murders, in some sadhus or aghoris who seemed to be mad or to have immersed themselves in darker modalities, etc.

But my general attitude about this particular LORE / FAUST project is informed by my experience of practicing tantra, especially when I lived in Indonesia and India. I saw how deeply it was feared and reviled by many common (even well-educated) people, and I knew the reality of what we were learning and studying. There certainly were some tantrikas who practiced black magic and seemed to be indulging lower energies, harming sentient beings, etc. But the tantric schools I practiced in used the darker and more fearsome aspects of being to work with shadow, to challenge self-fixation, and ultimately to cultivate altruistic regard for all beings. These groups were still distrusted by mainstream “outsiders” but much of that was from ignorance, and from an inability to differentiate the great diversity within tantra.

On the topic of hierarchy that you mentioned at the end of your letter … yes, that’s important to explore. I’ve discussed it with Layman and we may do a video on that at some point, so thank you for the suggestion.