ON SLOTH: WHAT I JUST PLAIN DON’T CARE ABOUT
At certain times, my attitude about Modern Satanism is one of sloth–and I actually find that rather empowering.
Despite what Kevin Spacey’s 90s alter ego seemed to think, sloth, in a sinful sense, does not mean laziness. To medieval Catholics, sloth was something more like carelessness or apathy, specifically when it came to religious matters.
Original no-fap fapnatic Thomas Aquinas called it “sluggishness of the mind” and “sorrow for spiritual good.” I don’t know about anyone else but I’m feeling really narced on here.
Aquinas is the patron of Catholic schools, and thus by default also the patron of unplanned teenage motherhood, so his opinion doesn’t usually count for much. But here he’s onto something: Sometimes I really don’t care about some things. And I can’t help but think of that as gratifying.
Previously, I’ve written about the importance of Satanic semantics–those small but consequential details of doctrine and practice that really matter despite how easily they’re overlooked.
But sometimes I confess a disagreement manifests over some point great or small, and despite the Sturm und Drang everyone else pours into it, I find myself unmoved–slothful, you might say.
I don’t care if Baphomet is not technically supposed to be Satan.
Someone in the replies of Satanism-related social media fracases always has this one in their pocket, like an oversized cartoon mallet, usually whipping it out to cudgel some hapless non-Satanist about the diabolic distinction.
I guess technically this is true, as the name refers to a mysterious idol or just the hovering phantom of apostasy, whereas the illustration represents–well, extremely indulgent 19th century publishing standards, among other things.
But since Levi’s G.O.A.T. goat is the widely accept image of Satanism, this is of course a very natural error to make. Levi himself probably wouldn’t have wanted us conflating his Baphomet with Satan…but he wouldn’t want us putting it on our altars either. At some point, the wishes of a 150-year-old fake Jewish wizard stop counting for much.
I don’t care whether Baphomet has tits.
Some people apparently consider the Mark Porter-designed Satanic Temple monument inappropriate on account of modeling the torso on rockstar Iggy Pop instead of on the Levi illustration.
Per Joseph Laycock’s 2020 book Speak of the Devil, this was a practical legal maneuver: In America, there’s no law against statues of the devil, but there might be one against boobs on public art (depending on the context). So why borrow trouble when you’re making trouble?
This seems perfectly reasonable to me, but some people seem to feel that Baphomet’s rack is central to its identity. Which, ya know, anybody can IndieGoGo their own statue if they want to put their money where their mams aren’t. Personally I think all bodies are potentially beautiful, and Iggy Pop’s more than usual. (“More than usual” being pretty much his whole persona.)
I also don’t care what the Hebrew letters on your Satanic sigil say.
When the Marquis Stanislas de Guaita designed his “goat pentagram” for the 1897 text Key To Black Magic, he placed the Hebrew letters לויתן around its five points.
This he did as a contrast to the accompanying “holy pentagram,” which featured the traditional four-letter name of god in Hebrew plus an additional letter that occultists (incorrectly) believed stood for the name of Jesus.
Art for the 1994 Cradle of Filth album The Principle of Evil Made Flesh (a much better title for de Guaita’s book) featured a sigil with different lettering, this one spelling…nothing at all, apparently, perhaps in Black Metal-tinged defiance of literacy standards.
The gibberish Cradle version shows up sometimes on the Internet or on Satanic merch. It’s an error of course, but ya know, only about 0.12 percent of the population is literate in Hebrew, so somehow I think life will go on.
The misappropriation of Jewish language for nonsense 19th century European fad magic was a non-starter anyway. If somebody wants to replace the letters with earth, fire, wind, water, and heart instead, it’s no skin off my backmasking.
You know what else I couldn’t possibly give a shit about? The correct way to say “Hail Satan” in Latin.
The most popular is “Ave Satanas,” and as far as I can tell that’s right. The Omen soundtrack had it “Ave Satani,” sometimes corrected to “Ave Satana,” or just “Ave Satan.”
The blog Latin For Satanists (oh brave new world that has such people in it) reveals that several variations are “basically correct” and that the Latinized form of Satan changes depending on whether coming from the Hebrew or Greek. All this on account of Bible translator St. Jerome, otherwise most famous for starving a debutante to death.
None of which matters a fig’s ass to me, because you know what I don’t speak? Latin. Because you know what I’m not? Fucking Roman.
If I want to hail Satan, I say “Hail Satan.” Why necrolinguistically shoehorn dead languages into our religious services? If I wanted to play Catholic I’d start with the cool hats.
I don’t care about the difference between atheism and agnosticism. I don’t care if the inverted cross is a Catholic symbol. I don’t care about “magic.” (At all.) If I were a Care Bear, I’d hibernate all year.
Now some people of course do care about these things, and more. Perhaps real Latinists find the language edifying, or the history behind it illuminating, for example. And…that’s fine. Conversely, many Modern Satanists probably do not care about mysterious anti-colonialist Satanist revolutionaries in 20th century New Guinea. It takes all kinds.
The point is, I have the authority to decide what is and not important to my Satanic practice. Because it is my practice.
The potential not to care sometimes–to choose sloth–was hard-earned by centuries of religious reform. We live in the time and place that makes us the beneficiaries of it. Nothing is more radical than deciding for ourselves–and sometimes it doesn’t even take any effort.