Frequently Asked Questions
What are the rules of the Tradition?
People who are looking for a book of rules to live by do not win my respect. Our brand of spirituality isn't based upon a book, presumably inspired by some higher authority.
We are not looking for those who want to argue over their past conditioning or who wish to confine themselves based on their past experiences. We wish to help those individuals who are intelligent enough and courageous enough to not only create a set of rules for themselves, but then live by them. Only this will result in balanced individuals who can function in society.
Do you worship evil?
You can not even define evil without discussing what is good. Therefore, the two are inseparable. One can not understand darkness without experiencing light. One cannot appreciate day, without having night. Opposites compliment, define and complete one another. To destroy all evil in the world means there would be no good left to appreciate, therefore the Shadow Dweller does not worship or disrespect either quality! We value ourselves and nature instead and venerate opposition in balance!
The definition of good and evil is subject to change because it exists only as a perception. "Evil" is a label we assign according to our mood swings to those who are politically incorrect. The ascended masters of Eastern Philosophy become the fallen angels of Western Philosophy. One man's "demons" are another man's "saints." Theologians create gods and devils in man's image, then conflict between them to divide the heart and conquer the soul! They pit spirit against matter, then appoint themselves position of supreme arbiter, divine interpreter of right and wrong, good and evil.
"Good" are the things we like. "Evil" are the things we dislike. It often depends on who or what you are. As Diane Vera says, if you're a mouse, cats are evil, but to the pet owner, cats are heavenly. Therefore, evil is not an essence - it is a value judgment. From a Christian point of view, Satan is "evil." Shadow Dwellers are truth seekers who desire to peek behind such labels.
Of course, there are certain ethical wrongs, but they are set by a society or culture so that all can live harmoniously. Examples of these would be thieving, disrespectful behavior and killing or abusing an innocent.
A chief attribute of the trickster god is the role of Devil's Advocate. The Shadow Dweller illustrates "opposition in balance," wielding contradiction like a scalpel in the hand of a skilled surgeon. Our objective? Closure to this unnatural dichotomy, this madness you call "good and evil." Bringing flesh and spirit together. The establishment of a New World Order, free of guilt, self-loathing and shame, where every man and woman is the god of his or her own life. We look upon religion as the starter of wars and the breeder of hate and intolerance. We believe that people are intelligent enough to instill moral and ethical codes into a societal structure without a threat of an imaginary supernatural being wreaking havoc on an offender.
Are God and the Devil enemies?
Some religions certainly pit the two together in a constant battle of good versus evil, while others seem to illustrate it as a tension that keeps the universe in balance. It is curious that these same religions claim to have "one god." Islamic fundamentalists and Christians define themselves as monotheists, but practice dualism; they imagine a devil opposed to the creator, but creation cannot be divided against itself. If the devil physically exists, then God exists.
Here is another concern. If God created Satan, then God is Satan. You cannot create something unless it is a manifestation of your own will. How can you make a computer if you don't know how? You would have to base it on knowledge of that computer, or in this case, God's knowledge of "evil." So, God is evil. If God created hell, he'd have to know about eternal torment, meaning God is tormented. If God created humans, and humans are imperfect, God is imperfect. Christians blind to reason should refer to Isaiah 45:7, "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things."
Do you believe in hell?
Polybius, the ancient historian, said:
"Since the multitude is ever fickle, full of lawless desires, irrational passions and violence, there is no other way to keep them in order but by the fear and terror of the invisible world; on which account our ancestors seem to me to have acted judiciously, when they contrived to bring into the popular belief these notions of the gods, and of the infernal regions."
As you can see from this quote, it was political and economic leaders who created these religious myths in order to keep people under their power. The ancient Roman leaders gave the people breads and circuses; carnivals, gladiator shows, and a host of underworld myths in order to keep the people ignorant and too busy to think for themselves. People create their own heavens and hells.
Do you believe in a personal god or devil?
Not necessarily. You see, individual perception is everything. Each one of us is the center of a Universe. And if your Universe is an atheist one, then FOR YOU a deity really doesn't exist. On the other hand, if you believe in Allah, Vishnu, Yahweh, Satan or whatever.. then FOR YOU a deity really does exist. The self-assumed delusion becomes one's operational and functional personal reality. We create gods in our own image from a force within our psyche and the universe tends to mirror back what individual consciousness projects upon it. This is the whole idea behind co-creationism. It's that simple and that difficult to understand. Personal reality is NOT a one-size-fits-all situation.
Is Satanism a negative, destructive force in the world today?
The result of manifesting something in your life can be pleasant or catastrophic. In this case, it all depends on how the individual relates to this dark figure. Do you believe in a Devil who was a heroic symbol for some during the Middle Ages, liberating the serfs from the shackles of slavery to an oppressive Church system? If you attach yourself to this hero figure, that will be reflected in your life - you may even become a positive role model for others. But if you follow the current Hollywood trend and worship a nasty Devil who rebels against everyone, chances are, you will become the thing you worship: an outcast - someone who can't work or play well with others - in other words, a loser.
Is Satanism a valid path?
The validity of a spiritual or philosophical path, can only be weighed and determined by the individual because we are essentially dealing with relative truths. If you were to rephrase the question and ask if I believed Satanism helps one to excel, again I would state that it depends on how the individual relates to various aspects of the philosophy and what it reveals to them. People look for a symbol or metaphor to attach blame or praise, but much has to do with the will and intent of the individual responsible and the way in which these symbols are interpreted.
Do you consider yourself a Satanist?
It's fun to play the adversary, but why should I restrict myself to a dark label? Why restrict myself to ANY label? I think of myself as a cosmic maverick, invoking a pantheon of gods and goddesses, experimenting with whatever imagery I choose. I no longer identify with silly labels. To paraphrase the elephant man, "I am not a Satanist, I am a human being!"
Can you define "Right Hand Path/Left Hand Path?"
The Left Hand Path is an approach to knowledge that is dark, hidden, receptive. It is the path of silence and inner revealing through meditation. The passive, feminine, Yin influence is felt here. Its symbol is the pentagram with the point going down, representing the vulva, and the two points up, symbolizing yielding breasts. The head of the goat invokes the earth element and the hebrew letters for Leviathan signify the waters of the abyss. Often referred to as the baphomet, from the Greek "Baphe and Metis" meaning wisdom measurement, the sigil pays homage to the Goddess Sophia. BEING is the primary focus of the Left Hand Path.
The Right Hand Path is an approach to knowledge that is illuminated, evident, active. It is the path of interaction and participation. The active, masculine, Yang influence is experienced here. Its symbol is the pentacle with the point going up, representing an erect phallus, and the points drooping on both sides, the testes. Several artists have depicted a man superimposed on the star or pentacle. The figure to the right was drawn by Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim (1486-1535) for a book entitled "The Magic of Arbatel." Recent attempts to corrupt the pentacle will fail - superimposing the face of the Goddess upon it won't change its true nature. BECOMING (Xeper) is the primary focus of the Right Hand Path.
The Right and Left Hand Path are not opposed to one another and have nothing to do with Western Philosophy or Christianity. To create anything, form and force (Yin and Yang) must work together! A passive idea is worthless unless it is followed by an active deed. Conversely, the doing of deeds helps one acquire new ideas. This is the way life works and the way magic works.
We do not respect one symbol above the other. In ritual, the most likely choice is the one hanging above the altar. If the Working involves sending or transmitting energy, the RHP symbol is used. If the Working involves receiving or absorbing energy, the LHP symbol is used.
Furthermore, you cannot elevate the spirit while condemning the flesh and vice-versa! The truly enlightened individual realizes that all matter is composed of frozen energy or "spirit" and there can never be any separation. The aspiring magician must maintain a BALANCE in his or her perspective and not place one symbol above the other because they compliment, define and complete each other. Truly, the All is One!
Do you believe in two realities?
Yes. The Objective Universe is the one we all share, and it cannot be modified or colored by our own personal views, bias or prejudices. It is the world of solid form - one that can be weighed, measured or analyzed with scientific apparatus. In this world, certain observations can be made with "absolute" certainty.
The Subjective Universe is the one that exists between your two ears. It is the reality you PERSONALLY perceive, arising from conditions within the brain or sense organs and not directly caused by external stimuli. This world is modified or affected by personal views, experience or background. Observations are made with "relative" certainty. It is sometimes said to be an illusory world, because it is affected by your state of consciousness.
The Subjective Universe is a place where thoughts and ideas can and do take form. And when these ideas are focused upon and infused with power from your own consciousness, anything can happen. This is a Universe inhabited by Satan, Jesus, the Easter Bunny, Father Christmas, Saint Peter and the Tooth Fairy... all as "real" or "unreal" as you want or need them to be. This is the place where magic comes from - the place that provided the dream landscape whereupon Einstein concluded E=mc˛. It is a world where anything is possible.
Who Are The Black Brothers?
What did Crowley mean when he referred to the Black Brothers?
The magician begins his journey acknowledging the outer universe and the panentheistic belief that God is in All things. (The All Is One) He then shifts his attention inwardly (the abyss) and realizes that he is the center of a universe, a God unto himself. (The One is All)
Now... the challenge of the magician is to RECONCILE the two, thereby crossing the abyss. The Black Brother refuses to do this and rejects the first formula (The All Is One) in favor of the second formula (The One Is All). He remains mired in the abyss and superficially inflates and barricades his own ego, rather than resolve the conflict between his inner world and outer world. Eventually, one realizes these "super men and women" are unworthy of adulation. Once they've blown their facade, we discover they are human... all too human.
What About Exorcisms?
Originally this word came from the Catholic Church with set rituals and prayers. Priests who were trained would deal in cases such as this. Also, believers were given prayers to say that would help keep 'evil' at bay.
Today's Roman Catholic Church still has trained exorcists, however, they rarely perform exorcisms, and the Church always looks for natural, medical and psychological causes first.
Other religious sects are not so professional in their dealings with their beliefs. Recently here in the United States, two Christian parents were arrested for beating the devil out of their child during an exorcism rite, effectively killing her. Of course, you'll never hear a lead story with the caption "Christian parents kill child" because it would offend many listeners. It is also irresponsible journalism. But if the caption reads "Satanist parents kill child in bizarre ritual," that would be fair game. Since Paul's letters in the New Testament, the devil has served the convenient function of scapegoat and that tradition is reflected in today's news headlines. What this accomplishes is to deflect blame onto an impersonal devil. People need to take responsibility for their own thoughts, words and actions.
The truth is, you won't see these cases of demon possession in cultures that don't believe in a devil. The Christian and Islamic cultures induce this form of socialized schizophrenia by telling you that the animal side of you is "evil"and must be supressed! And so, like a pressure cooker, certain people blow their tops. Their heads spin, and they vomit pea soup. But that's what you get for going against nature - that's what you get for waging war against the "devil," which is really an important and necessary part of you. And so you see, I'm not arguing that these incidents occur, I'm arguing why they occur. And it isn't the devil's fault. It's our fault.
The truth is, there is no objective basis for evil, otherwise it would have consistent features that are clearly definable. Again, I'll use the analogy: To a mouse, cats are hideously evil monsters with fangs and claws that rip you apart. To the cat owner, they are heavenly bundles of fur, who even lower your blood pressure when you pat them!
So, are cats good or evil? The answer I usually get is, "Neither. They are what they are." Well, the same could be said of humans - we are what we are. So, let's stop playing these games of "good" and "evil" because it is causing too many problems. People even crash planes into buildings believing that they are killing Satan. It isn't working. Satan is alive and well and living inside each of us. The only way you are going to get rid of him is to destroy the human race... who wants to be first?
Is the Devil all about repressed thoughts and desires?
Certainly, throughout history, we have seen that people believe that the devil is responsible for thoughts and actions considered "evil" and "wicked." This would include alternative sexual lifestyles, radical beliefs, or anything that is not what could be considered a societal norm.
When Founder John Allee was featured in a Boston weekly entertainment newspaper, he found himself contacted by a lot of transvestites - men who were fond of wearing women's clothes. At first, this confused him, because he could not understand why they would have any interest or feel a connection to what he had to say about Satanism. What he found is that the devil often represents repressed thoughts and desires; those things we never want anyone to know about or that we are ashamed of in our lives. The devil represents those characteristics within ourselves that we find undesirable - that we would rather shove into one corner and totally ignore. Some of these naturally should be explored, others are best given an alternative outlet.
Our question to you as a Satanist is, "Do you really think it is wise to repress thoughts and desires? When a person goes for psychological counseling, they are attempting to focus on certain memories or experiences locked away in the shadows and bring them out into the light where they can be examined. This is why I tell people they should not fear the devil, but attempt to look beyond good and evil in their search for the truth."
I was raised a Christian. How can I deprogram myself?
I believe people have different temperaments. If you are trying to free yourself from the control mechanisms of the matrix, one might try making fun of religious dogma, the tool of the oppressor. For instance, join the Church of the Subgenius! Following are a few quotes from the Discordians;
Give a monkey a brain and he'll swear he's the center of the universe.
All fanatics must die!
Cthulhu saves our souls and redeems them for valuable coupons.
Truly great madness cannot be achieved without significant intelligence.
Every absurdity has a champion to defend it.
One man's theology is another man's belly laugh.
So laughter is certainly one way, but not the only way to free yourself. There is also the process of venting anger which most people disapprove of because they fear violent eruptions. Shielding people from unpleasantness is what our society tries to do, but we have gone too far attempting to create a perfect world for ourselves. Merely suppressing hostility is not the way to establish order!
And so, if a person is raised in an oppressive atmosphere of total religious intolerance and they want to burn a bible or trample a few crucifixes, I say let them! Some people become Hindus, Christians and Moslems and they find spiritual harmony and balance. Bully for them! We are not talking about those people! We are talking about people who have had religion forced upon them. We are talking about people who have been shackled and enslaved by a religion. And when I say "religion," I mean anyreligion. Let us also try to liberate others because, in doing so, we free ourselves! Selfishness doesn't always work in the real world because the real world behaves according to laws of tidal gravity, cause and effect! We get out of life exactly what we put into it.
Another approach to deprogramming yourself is exposure to material condemned by authority figures. Read Mein Kamph by Adolph Hitler the first week, then Das Kapital by Karl Marx the next week. Despite popular claims, it will not rot your brain! If you should perchance read "The Trial of Gilles De Rais," you will not suddenly become a serial child rapist and murderer. But you may get a peek at the dark side of human nature and actually learn something. While you're at it, pick up a copy of "Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom and Other Writings" by Maquis De Sade. Look beneath the surface of all things considered taboo and do not relent!
What about curses?
It is imagined that the witch's favorite pastime is throwing curses upon the weak, the susceptible. In reality, we live by the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." And certainly, if you were to treat another person badly, without just cause, would you not expect to be treated poorly in return? We live in a universe of cause and effect. The rationale for a curse should be to redress the balance once a wrong against someone has been committed.
Yes, the All is One! There is a subtle link between everything and everyone in the universe. The spear in the side of my enemy is a spear in my side also! But why focus on one aspect of the truth? Life is paradoxical in nature - there is an *opposite* truth; survival of the fittest. Death and destruction completes the circle of life, then comes rebirth, regeneration. All are equally important and necessary!
Evolution is determined by the ability to adapt and defend oneself. If I am attacked ruthlessly, I am obliged to protect myself and my loved ones. As a singular aspect of divinity, I will decide when it is prudent to throw a curse upon one of my enemies. My first successful curse was at the tender age of 14 and I was quite proud! Now, nearly four decades have passed; given the same circumstances, I'd gladly do it again.
The daemonic approach embraces the sum total of human experience; love and hate, joy and despair, empathy and indifference. One cannot achieve the pinnacle of ecstasy without having first experienced the very depths of gloom - it's a simple law of nature! As we traverse the Left and Right Hand Path, we find perfect balance and strength at the matrix of this dichotomy. Yes, we inhabit a universe of conflict and duality, but the source of life is the All One, whose center is everywhere.
Do Shadow Dwellers have a moral code?
John Allee believes the best summary was penned almost a century ago by famed poet and mystic, Aleister Crowley:
There is no god but Man.
What is the significance of Crowley's Gnostic Mass?
Here we have a middle path working rife with symbolism and any clear stated intent is muddled in ambiguity. "Significance" is determined by the individuals involved in the rite, each of whom possess a unique set of beliefs which shapes their perception, therefore altering their reality! The "significance" you ask for is in the PERFORMING of the gnostic mass. The priest, deacon and congregation are all going to have their own unique epiphany resulting from the experience.
Harry Furlong XXIII of the Cabal of Cabbage Enthusiasts has to say of Al Crowley's Gnostic mass:
"Well..when I wear my hermetic goggles I see a symbolic representation of the attainment of K&C of HGA and the crossing of the ABYSS. When I wear my catholic goggles I see a diabolical abomination of the mass. When I wear my liberal catholic goggles I see a devotional rite for the Blessed Virgin Mary (as long as the priestess keeps her robe on..) When I wear my THELEMA goggles I see NUIT and HADIT getting it on and AIWASS telling us all the juicy details. When I wear my magician goggles I see a rite to be used to manifest a desire. When I wear my materialist goggles I see a symbolic enactment of the sex act. When I wear my astrophysicist goggles I see the formation of a solar system. When I wear my sci-fi goggles I see our frog brothers from the star system SIRIUS calling us home."
Do you engage in animal sacrifice?
No, although the Judeo-Christian and most other major religions are steeped in it. This is perhaps the most asinine and hypocritical allegation directed at pagan cults by the media. Look at the following example:
Farmer Brown runs a poultry farm in New England. Every Thanksgiving (a national holiday), family members from far and wide come to visit, give thanks and enjoy the traditional dinner. The morning the guests are about to arrive, Farmer Brown grabs the largest turkey he can find and chops off its head with an axe, then prepares the bird for his guests. When the guests arrive, they all sit down, say a prayer, "Bless this, Thy bounty which we are about to receive."
Now the scene I just described is fairly common. Could this be ritual sacrifice? Of course, the religious zealot will rant, "Ritual sacrifice occurs during or prior to the act of killing!" So, let's clarify; If Farmer Brown bowed his head and said a little prayer to sweet Jesus before he chopped the turkey's head off, that would be a ritual sacrifice and therefore, a crime against god and nature. Brown should wait until he is about to eat the roasted carcass, standing as head (priest) of the household, before a long table (altar), saying a glorious prayer before the entire family (congregation).
This "ritual sacrifice" argument is bogus, purely in the eye of the beholder. If a rabbi performs a kosher killing at the local slaughterhouse, it's called "Passover." If a Christian Santeria priest cuts of the head off a chicken, it is called "murder." These contradictions were brought before the U.S. Supreme Court and the Santeria practitioners won! It is legal for them to practice their religion in the United States.
We do not promote or practice the ritual slaughter of animals, but we will defend unto death the right of orthodox Jews, Christians, Santerians, etc., to continue this practice unabated, as long as the slaughter is humane and the flesh properly cooked and eaten. It makes no difference whether you say your prayer before the animal is slaughtered or at the dinner table, after the animal is cooked. It's time pagans quit riding the wave of a make-believe guilt trip invented by orthodox Christians! (The only opposing argument I care to listen to is the sincerity of a non-hypocritical vegetarian.) Shadow Dwellers cherish the free will of all living creatures. Like any animal, we kill for food or survival (clothing, self-defense).
So, what's this ritual sacrifice nonsense really about? It's about religious persecution - a fake argument to punish those religions you disagree with. We have at least learned this from the Satanic Panic of the 1980s.
When reverence for nature is absent, self-respect is diminished. Perception impacts behavior and vice-versa. When an adolescent boy "thrill kills" the neighborhood dog or cat for the sake of cruelty toward the pet or its owner, this is not natural aggression because animals do not "thrill kill" other animals. It is a common symptom seen in the behavior of those later convicted of murder and abuse. When kids look for a defenseless animal to torture, it is because they feel tortured themselves, so they seek a comparable scapegoat. Shadow Dwellers refuse to protect those who would use their religion to showcase aberrant behavior.
If your child is mentally disturbed, get help. Blaming the devil is not going to solve your problem. If any person kills a living thing and it is not a part of a religious situation (such as Santeria) please get the facts. Tolerance is good. To not do something when there may be animals, children and others in danger from a nut (of any religious persuasion) is irresponsible.
Does you encourage sex with minors?
Clearly, an adult having sex with young children is not appropriate.
State laws and opinions differ when we start talking about teenagers having sex with teenagers. It would be more convenient to somehow delay the process until physical maturity matches mental maturity, but that is not reality. It all comes down to choices once again. Stress and conflict exist when there is a divide between our carnal nature and the way we structure our society. You can struggle against basic carnal instinct all you want, but she will have the final say and the last laugh in all situations.
The job of mother nature is to prepare the child's body for reproduction. Your job as a parent is to prepare the child's mind. This is a call to all parents who can read these words; try educating your children! Be diligent, be responsible. Provide a moral and ethical framework - apply discipline when needed. Raise your child to be a responsible young adult, that's all you can do. Tell the truth. Share your insight. Then, let go.
When a child reaches puberty, which is the age of sexual consent according to nature, parents no longer are able to control the child's sexual behavior. You cannot be with that child every hour of every day. If you find yourself acting as moral arbiter in the life of your sexually active teen, twenty, or thirty year old, it's time to get a life! A natural instinct is the urge to protect a child, but only to a certain point - when you go beyond that point, healthy, natural instinct turns to unhealthy, unnatural obsession. Most successful parents will tell you that the vast majority of instilling ethics and morals into your children is done by the time they reach 12 years old. There are laws, existing laws, that protect people of all ages from rape and sexual harassment. We strongly suggest that these laws be enforced.
No one should sexually impose upon an unaware, unconsenting child, or mentally impaired adult for that matter, or senior citizen! But, more often than not, the pedophile accusation is the first yanked from the hat! That thing which threatens our young, be it real or imaginary, is certain to push buttons and trigger defense mechanisms! False morality, outmoded Christian values, prey upon the imagination, subverting this natural instinct to protect our young, transforming this drive into a destructive, deadly weapon; a blunt instrument in the wieldy hands of the cunning puppet master. Take for example the evangelical preacher who cries from his pulpit, "Homosexuals are trying to recruit our children! We must fight to save our kids!"
H. L. Mencken said it best, "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed - and hence clamorous to be led to safety - by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." When people cry wolf, it dulls the scream of the true victim.
As a culture, we are sexually obsessed with our young. You see it in magazines, on television... everywhere! We acknowledge this reaction, even have a definitive term for it; The Law of the Forbidden. Once rooted, cultural taboos become erotic obsessions! Recently, during this new millennium, the city of Boston was shaken when a local archdiocese of the Roman Catholic church released a list of names of priests accused of molesting children. It has happened in our dioceses. It happens in locker rooms in schools. It happens in families. We need to have education and awareness. Children who have better self respect, body image and self esteem will be less likely to "give it away."
It does seem odd that in one state a fourteen year old can get married to the perpetrator, yet in another, she would be sending him to jail. Some states recognize same sex marriages; most do not. Sometimes we have to depend on the parents to work with the flow of nature to raise responsible, productive adults who will respect their own bodies and those of others.
Do you advocate spanking or corporal punishment for kids?
We strongly advise parents to administer Discipline Tempered with Love. Never strike a child over the mere fact that he or she has inconvenienced you. If a child spills a quart of milk, calmly get a mop or sponge and teach them how to clean it up. Do not chase your child around, correcting each and every mistake. Teach them responsibility - make them do it!
Next, it is foolish to protect your child from the effects of folly. Does your child whine and complain when it is time to go to bed? Simple solution. Let them stay up, then drag them to school exhausted the following day. In a few short weeks they'll be putting themselves to sleep!
Corporal punishment should be administered when a child begins to exhibit behavior that could adversely affect their own well being. Stealing bicycles, cars, money from mom's purse - this could one day land him/her in prison. In such cases, corrective actions should be taken.
What are your ethics regarding love spells?
Magic spells can be thrown any number of ways - you should stick with the method you are most comfortable with. What I'm about to do is give you information based on years of practical experience, not "theory" or some Wiccan Rede based on half-truths... yes, you can throw spells to force people to fall in love with you, but if you do it to the wrong person (which is usually the case), you will be very sorry because love spells bind people together!
Love spells are tricky and can lead to obsession. You might think you've found the right man, ignored all the warning signs and wind up in and out of divorce court or even worse, destroying yourself.
Do you use drugs?
It's a very difficult concept for people to grasp that there is a positive side and a negative side to every issue. Ingesting mind-altering substances; beneficial or harmful? The truthful answer is: both. Yes, drugs can expand your consciousness and unlock your hidden creative potential... and yes, this is a path fraught with peril, hazardous to your physical and mental well-being.
In life, there are no guarantees, just as there are no free rides! Seasoned Shadow Dwellers approach each and every issue dispassionately, like scholars. If an issue touches a sensitive nerve, these seekers will quietly retreat and re-examine their own thoughts/feelings toward the object in question, from every conceivable angle! Eventually, they arrive at that lofty plane of indifference, where passions from both sides of the argument are quelled. However, this is often easier said than done - it may require goring one or two of your own sacred cows!
ASTra thus stresses that drug use and drug addiction are not the same thing. Not everyone who uses is an "addict." Media talk shows and news correspondents, for their own greedy ends, always seem to promote ideas which only resonate with the notion of the perpetual victim. All of this is merely part of the overall process by which such agencies attempt to rob you of your volition, and implant their own self-serving agendas in your brain.
What drugs can do, however, that most often goes unexplained, is provide access to the Dionysian (subjective) realm that we close off so often in the pursuit of slave-like everyday "normality." To be creative, access to this realm is a must, and drugs are one -- but, we need to stress, NOT THE ONLY -- way to get there. A reasonable question to ask seems to be: "If drugs are so terrible, then why is it that so much great art has been created by drug users?" Answer: drugs take the user out of boring and mundane everyday reality and the constrictions of the societal superego into a freer mental and spiritual space.
Of course, there many examples of great artists and thinkers who have also been drug users. Coleridge, DeQuincey, Baudelaire, Freud, Crowley, Rimbaud, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Lou Reed, and so on. Interestingly, if you compare work done on drugs, and work done when straight, by many artists, you will find that almost invariably the work done on drugs is far more inspired: in the realm of popular art, a good example would be David Bowie's work from 1970-1980, done when he was a heavy narcotics user, and which towers over anything he's done since. There are no shortage of people in rock and roll alone who've given up drugs and never come close to greatness again. This is no mere coincidence, and the inquisitive seeker needs to examine the reasons for this.
Of course, the artist risks self-destruction in this process of discovery. But to quote Rimbaud, "A poet makes himself a visionary through a long, boundless, and systematized disorganization of all the senses... He attains the unknown and if demented, he finally loses the understanding of his visions, he will at least have seen them! So what if he is destroyed in his ecstatic flight through things unheard of, unnamable: other horrible workers will come, they will begin at the horizons where the first one has fallen!"
Finally, the word to take note of in Rimbaud's exhortation - which differentiates the drug user from the kind of "addict" the media loves to demonize - is "systematized." One undertakes this experiential journey with a goal in mind, not in a random and directionless fashion. As Miles Davis said, "It's when you take drugs and you ain't got nothing to do that you get in trouble." We again stresses that this is NOT, we repeat, NOT, a task to be undertaken lightly, nor is it meant for everyone. It is an option.
The Allee Shadow Tradition advocates the legalization of all drugs and the immediate closure of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) government offices in the United States. Why? We believe in personal responsibility. People must be given right to choose - to make their own mistakes and suffer the consequences of their own actions.
ASTra founder John Allee has his own take on drugs: "Except for caffeine (tea, coffee), I've never used heavy drugs and have relied on meditation to achieve altered states of consciousness, including out-of-body experiences. When seekers ask my opinion on whether or not to experiment, I immediately draw out a list of other options like yoga, rituals, breathing exercises, etc. The fact that I've examined both sides of the issue does NOT mean that I endorse illicit drugs!!
How does the Shadow Dweller end each prayer?
The Buddhist will say, "I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha." The Christian will say, "In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost." The Shadow Dweller exhorts, "As above me, so below me. My Will on earth be done!"
JDA/lca © 2002, 2003, 2004 Allee Shadow Tradition