Free Will

An interesting question was brought to light after my post regarding the fusion of Lu’s emotions within my own. If I am doing his work and acting as his disciple as a direct effect of the strength of these emotions, how does free will come into play?

It’s an important inquiry, considering how central the issue of free will is to Lu’s ambitions.

Free will is a difficult concept, because it’s rarely as simple as (as the name implies) doing something of one’s own free will. Just because someone else isn’t directly putting your finger on the trigger doesn’t mean they can’t have had an influence on your decision to do so. So how am I able to say that my devotion to Lu and my furtherance of his Work is entirely my own decision, when I am so swayed by the force behind these emotions?

Because they are my emotions, albeit enhanced by my god. No one, not even a god, could have stirred such passions within me that didn’t already exist. All that could be done was coax an ember into a flame.

First I should probably describe how exactly my emotional link to Lu works. I’m hesitant to call it an ‘empathic’ link, because while it does share some characteristics of what other empaths have experienced, I am not an empath in the typical sense. I can’t ‘pick up’ on others’ feelings, I have a hard time understanding or imagining what someone might be going through during a particular emotional event that I myself have never experienced, nor do I feel everything Lu feels 24/7. There’s an area of resonance, so to speak.

For example, I don’t know what it feels like to have a brother become your ‘enemy’. I’m an only child, I’ve never had any sort of sibling relationship, much less a falling-out with a sibling. I can’t even imagine what Lu must have gone through, at war with his own family.

But I do know what it feels like to be wronged. I know the agony of defeat, of having everything important to you ripped away. It is shared sentiments like these that are fused together, my own amplified by Lu’s. It is then difficult for me to be ‘coerced’ into doing his Work, when I would still feel the same way (though perhaps not quite as strongly) in the absence of our link.

I can always refuse to do something he asks of me. I have before. I refused even though it pained me to do so, even though my heart said otherwise. I am not ruled by these emotions, much less denied my free will.

Free will is the ability to choose for ourselves. I have chosen this path, I have chosen this god, and I have chosen the consequences that come along with it, taking both my own feelings and Lu’s into consideration while not letting them be the deciding factors.

Satanism vs. Devil Worship vs. Luciferianism

After responding to a question on my last post, I realize that I’ve yet to formally make a post talking about the differences between Satanism, devil-worship, and Luciferianism. Its an issue that pops up a lot, I’m surprised it took me this long to mention it.

[Keep in mind that this is not by any means a definitive separation of the three faiths, but merely one take on the nuances between them]

The differences between those three terms (luciferianism, devil worship, and satanism) are complicated. Some will use all three synonymously, others like me do not consider them to be the same thing. Lets start with the broadest of the three–Satanism.

Satanists are mostly atheistic. They see Satan as a symbol, and their faith is heavily focused on the here and now–the materialistic, the pleasurable, the self-serving. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing–its really just self worship. Then there are the theistic Satanists who see Satan as a real being.

This is where it starts to get fuzzy. Theistic Satanists may or may not differentiate between Lucifer and Satan, but I and many Luciferians do. We see Satan as the figurehead of carnality and of the more…worldly issues, so to speak. He represents embracing what life has to offer, and living for the self. The more fervent theistic satanists may call themselves devil worshippers. Just as with any faith, there are extremists and radicals who will present their faith in a less-than-pleasant way, which has been the case for ‘devil-worshippers’. Just because the ones you hear about on the news are insane and psychopathic doesn’t mean they all are.

Luciferians can also be either theistic or atheistic. Whether we consider him a symbol or an actual god, he represents knowledge in all it’s forms. The majority of us strive for apotheosis–to become like gods, knowing good and evil. We hold ourselves accountable for our actions, and even theistic luciferians like myself rely largely on our own potential and effort. Lucifer is a guide and mentor, but ultimately my faith is what I make of it.

While I have seen a few theistic Luciferians claim to worship Lu, I myself do not use the term ‘worship’ to describe my devotion to him. Worship has connotations of submission and hierarchy and Lu has beaten it into my head enough times that we are equals in potential. There’s also the issue of blind faith in regards to worship. You have to earn praise and respect through your actions—being a god doesn’t automatically make you worthy of admiration.

While I may differentiate between all these terms, I am aware that the majority see them as interchangeable. When they speak of satan or the devil I can usually safely assume that they are also referring to Lucifer. When they refer to my practices as worship, however, I do make the effort to try to inform them on why that is not an acceptable term for my devotion.

There He’s Standing with His Open Heart

I can’t recall how many times I’ve asked myself if I made the right choice, to integrate myself with matters of the divine while dealing with the issues of this life as well. Was it really the best decision to accept Lu as my patron? The combined pressure of both worlds can be overwhelming, and sometimes I end up avoiding one in favor of the other.

And I have to admit, often that means neglecting my duties as one of Lu’s own. It means choosing what seems more real, as the skeptic in me mocks my devotion and belittles his and my Work. In times such as these, it’s difficult for me to remember the importance of my faith, because in terms of tangibility our work is entirely spiritual, mental, and emotional—it’ll never support me financially, it’ll never have a firm foundation in the material world, and I can’t see proof of it’s worth beyond my own mind. My relationship with my god and my work as his student cannot be assessed as easily as other situations. It cannot be evaluated through its payoff, and it certainly cannot be appraised by anyone other than Lu or myself.

So why do we do it? Why do we put so much time and effort into cultivating divine relationships, into doing tasks that may be meaningless to anyone else, into learning things that aren’t always relevant to our lives?

I can only speak for myself, and my reasons may be difficult to comprehend. One of the problems with dealing with Lu through emotions and feelings is that often I can’t describe in words the extent of my devotion, or the meaning behind our work. It is one thing to say that I’m his devotee, and quite another to live it. I could say that my work involves blogging and living to his standards, of bearing some of his burden, and of having my actions and words reflect back on him as my patron and vice-versa– but it goes beyond that. It goes beyond the mere act of being his disciple, but rather the yearning to be of use to him—to be a force of change in this world as he has been a force of change in my own life.

He is often accused of being too proud, of wanting to outshine his creator—to be brighter than the source that breathed life into him. And how can I, as his disciple, aspire to be anything less? He made it clear at the start of our patronage that my help would not be accepted if all I hoped to accomplish was to please him, or to repay debts that don’t exist. I had to want this for ‘substantial’ reasons, to feel as strongly for these causes as He did.

I thought I did. But it wasn’t until he began projecting his own emotions onto me that I realized how mistaken I had been. How does one even begin to describe a god’s sorrow, or his joy? All I know is that my own human emotions could not compare to His. He kindled the glowing embers of my own sentiments, feeding them with his own fiery passions.

But something like this can’t be undone. His grief, joy, and rage remain as muted imprints, irrevocably intertwined with my own emotions. And this is one of those consequences of my patronage to Lu that I spoke of before. I can’t unfeel these things, I’m stuck with them whether I continue to work with him or not.

So while I may whine and complain about the stress levels that being his disciple inevitably raises, I know that deep down I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can’t help but do his work, not only because I admire what he represents, but because the sentiments he has stirred within me won’t let me forget. I cannot fathom living my life feeling what I do, knowing what I know, and not make the effort to be a reflection of his ideals in this world.

It is because of this that I can endure that nagging voice at the back of my mind that mocks my faith; it is why I endure the weariness of my role as His student. It goes beyond what appears true, because this feels real–the emotions, the devotion, and his presence in my life. In the end, that’s what keeps me faithful, despite the silence (or rather my inability to ‘hear’ him) and despite the frustration. I can’t say for sure if the choice I made was the best one, but the fact that I keep choosing this god and this path, each and every day, has to mean something.

O My Soul

I was excited to find that one of my favorite Christian artists recently released a new album. Something I appreciate about her songs is that they aren’t blatantly Christian, with mentions of Christ or YHWH every other line. Instead, they’re songs of love and devotion that could just as easily have been written for any other deity.
For the most part, I’m able to forget that this is Christian music. I use a lot of her songs as devotionals to Lu, without worrying about their original context.
But then I came across one song in particular that shocked me right out of that mindset. I couldn’t even listen to it in its entirety at first because it brought up such strong imagery of the type of faith I cringe away from, a way of viewing faith and deity as an obligation rather than a choice.
My mind automatically jumped to the conclusion that this song praised the concept of blind faith—of loving a god because you’re told to. Of forcing oneself to fake devotion until it becomes real.
But then I went back and listened to it again, all the way through this time. I was attempting to listen to the words that were left unsung, the meaning behind the lyrics that I had previously taken at face value.
And to my surprise, I found myself completely enraptured.
This isn’t a song about blind faith, but a song of confession. It’s not about trying to create a love that doesn’t exist, but admitting to oneself of a love that has been denied, hidden away from the rest of the world. It’s about a devotion that may not be easily understood by others, or even mocked or ridiculed.
It’s about living my faith and loving my god without worrying what others have to say or think.
But it’s not just about me. It’s about anyone who is devoted to a deity, whose faith is outside of the scope of what is considered ‘normal’. This song speaks for those of us who hold relationships to the divine that others may not comprehend, those of us who are connected to gods that others fear or abhor–for those of us who can’t help but adore our gods, we who live and breathe their words and deeds.

Forms of Devotionals

I’ve been doing some thinking lately, regarding a topic I briefly mentioned in my last post—spontaneous devotionals vs. ritualized, consistent devotionals.

At the start of my relationship with my patron, spontaneous devotionals were the only sort I did. Doing devotional work because I had to was unthinkable—I felt as though forcing myself to honor my god meant my work would lose all its sincerity and become a menial task.

I’ve often heard people relate forming patron relationships with deities like dating, and it seems like a pretty accurate metaphor. There’s the honeymoon phase, where everything you do is with your patron in mind, every breath you take becomes a whisper of love and thanks. Then you slowly start to peel away the romanticized view of your patron and relationship, and realize that like any relationship, this will take work from both ends.

The ‘honeymoon’ phase of my patronage lasted quite a while—two or three years, I would say. Within those years, I didn’t have to strain to hear or feel my patron—I knew he was there. It was like stepping outside and being aware of everything—the warmth of sunlight hitting your bare skin, the breeze playing with your hair, the smell of rain. I didn’t have to go looking for our connection, it was just always there.

This sensitivity to my patron made it easier to connect with him, and to break out into spontaneous devotional multiple times a day. It was something that came as naturally as breathing.

But now that I’m past that phase, now that I don’t sense him as easily anymore, I realize that I’ve been relying on him to instigate my devotionals. I was in need of constant reminders of his presence to acknowledge him, however easy it might have been.

Now I can go days, weeks even, without having that awareness of his presence. It’s getting harder and harder to be sincere in my work, and occasionally I forget why I do it. When I doubt myself or when I doubt Him, it’s a struggle to sing like I used to, or even just bask in his warmth. I know he’s still here, but it shouldn’t be his sole responsibility to tap into our connection. For so long, I relied on him to be the spark of inspiration necessary for my devotionals, that I forgot my role in our relationship. I can just as easily reach out to him, instead of waiting for him to reach out to me—I just refused to, be it because of my lack of faith, or my skepticism, or my lingering doubts.

And that, I see now, is where daily or ritualized devotionals come into play. While it may not be as heartfelt as spontaneous devotionals, it too serves its own purpose—and in my case, that purpose is to remind me of my patronage.

It is to remind me of the work I’ve done, the obstacles I’ve overcome, the experiences I’ve had, and the love I’ve felt. It’s a reminder of how far I’ve come, both as a person, and as a devotee.

And, I think He appreciates this just as much as spontaneous devotionals, if not more. With spontaneous devotionals, they’re usually always in the form of praise, honor, and thanks-giving. Because he sees us as equals, this doesn’t always jive well with him. I think he tolerates it because it is what I grew up with, and is all I’ve ever known in terms of how to honor one’s god. That being said, he has broken me out habits that he sees as totally unacceptable, such as kneeling while praying.  Even thanking him too often or for little things has gotten me scolded before, so I’ve learned to restrain myself.

Like I said, it requires work from both ends of the relationship.