Tomorrow begins year LVI, Anno Satanas.
This past year has been one of distress, a “sturm und drang” roller-coaster ride abetted by a global pandemic that caused numerous deaths and the collapse of many enterprises, reminding us of the fragility of the societies we’ve crafted. Many take social constructs for bedrock, but certain events prove them to be but gossamer configurations, torn asunder with a swiftness that alarms the naive, confirming the fundamental cynicism of those of us who carefully observe our history.
There is a leaden inertia to the social order. Humans strive for instant gratification, resisting preparations for any possible coming privations, typically brushed aside in a mad orgy of “getting while the gettin’ is good.” We thus, too often, fail to stock the larders, manage medicaments, or build the shelters needed for incipient vicissitudes. The prophets of possible negatives are condemned as “chicken littles” during times of smooth sailing, but when the “sky falls” as it did in 2020, then there is a hue and cry about a lack of warning. Yet the alarm bells had been rung, and fingers were jammed firmly in ears until willful ignorance could no longer sustain the delusion of unobstructed eternal satiety. This behavior is sadly fundamental in the beast called Man.
In the mythology of the ancient Greeks, we encounter the Titan Prometheus, who symbolizes forethought. He was said to have brought humans into existence; he then stole the gift of fire from the Gods for humans to use, thus championing sciences and the arts, encouraging intelligence and preparation—all that is best in our species. Zeus, the dominant Olympian deity, punished this noble being for his transgression, chaining him to a rock for eternity, his liver being consumed daily by an appointed eagle, only to regenerate so his torture could continue. He was later liberated by the demi-god Heracles, and today his legend remains a savvy warning: There are authoritarians who will quash your freedom, denigrate your intelligence and attempt to squelch your creativity. If we might maintain that precious flame of forethought, we can prepare for the times when such forces contaminate our civilization.
Ludwig van Beethoven, whose 250th birth anniversary occurred on December 16 in 2020, wrote a third symphony in 1803 which shattered the paradigms wrought by his colleagues Haydn and Mozart. It was inspired by the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, whom progressives then thought would be a liberator, fulfilling the positive concepts of the French Revolution. When he later declared himself an emperor, embracing tyranny, Beethoven scratched “Buonaparte” from the title page of the score and renamed it Sinfonia Eroica—Heroic Symphony. This precedent-shattering piece is often considered to be the first symphony of the Romantic Era, which celebrated individualism. The fourth movement finale is based on ten variations of a theme Beethoven had used in his allegorical ballet score, The Creatures of Prometheus, wherein that Titan introduces ignorant mankind to the sciences and all of the creative arts.
In celebration of the genius of Beethoven and his advocacy of science, the arts, and self-determination, I suggest you listen to his powerful symphony and perhaps let it infuse you with a determination to also carry that Promethean torch. May these mighty sounds stir you with the best that is possible from our species so that you might be inspired to be counted amongst the Creatures of Prometheus.
From our Black House—in what we call The Witchcraft District here in the Haunted Hudson Valley—to your comfy and secure bastions, High Priestess Nadramia and I offer our blessings to all of you, the unconquerable individuals whose pursuit of vital existence will never be stifled. May we begin to emerge from the chaos of this past plague year to guide our destinies towards hard-earned satisfaction!
As is our tradition, we raise our glasses to our kind—Satanists, fellow secularists, freethinkers and all advocates of the best qualities of our species—marking the dawn of a New Year of burgeoning health and renewed prosperity:
“Here’s to champagne for our real friends, and real pain for our sham friends!”
Joy to the flesh—forever!
Shemhamforash! Hail Satan!
—Magus Peter H. Gilmore
Illustration: “Prometheus Brings Fire to Mankind” by Friedrich Heinrich Füger (1817)