Church of Azazel > Beliefs & principles > Rising Gods
The rising Gods of the modern West
by Diane Vera
Copyright © 2006, 2009, 2012 by the Church of Azazel. All rights reserved.
- The rising gods and their role in the pantheon of the Church of Azazel
- The rising gods
- Criteria for inclusion among the "rising Gods"
- The (hopefully) forthcoming five independent spiritual movements, one for each rising God
- Polarities and pentagram points
- The rising gods and Satan
- Call to the rising gods of our age
- Sources and feedback
- The rising gods and their role in the pantheon of the Church of Azazel
Our primary god is Satan/Azazel. He is the main focus of our devotion.
On a secondary basis, we also revere and call to a set of five other deities: Lilith, Prometheus, Ishtar, Pan, and Lucifer-of-Sophia. Collectively we refer to these five deities as the rising gods of the modern West.
With only one exception - Prometheus - these five gods are all revered by large and rapidly-growing numbers of people, the vast majority of whom are not Satanists. All these gods - including Prometheus - have been honored at least symbolically by many people in the modern West starting in at least the 1800's.
But all have been, also, either equated with Satan or associated closely with Satan (e.g. Lilith has been seen as the wife of Satan/Samael, and Ishtar a.k.a. Astaroth has been seen as a high-ranking devil in the infernal hierarchy). All have been regarded as "Satanic" to an extent beyond Christianity's traditional tendency to see all non-Christian gods as "demonic."
And they all - including Prometheus - are associated with unique and highly desirable features of modern Western culture that are under heavy attack by Abrahamic (Jewish, Christian, and Muslim) fundamentalists and traditionalists.
We see them as distinct from Satan, but we see them as acting in the modern Western world in ways that effectively oppose the Abrahamic would-be monopoly. Hence, to any modern Western polytheist who opposes the Abrahamic would-be monopoly, and who does not limit oneself to the pantheon of one particular ancient culture, it makes sense to call upon these five gods as allies.
Christian fundamentalists would most likely see our five rising gods as demons and as mere servants of Satan. We see the relationship between Satan and the five rising gods as much more complex than that. We see them as deities in their own right, not just servants of Satan.
We see all five rising gods as having important commonalities with Satan. But we see Satan as a being more protean and multi-faceted than any of them, with the possible exception of Ishtar, and we see Satan as having a trickster aspect as well. We see Satan as a being who enjoys challenging stasis and dogmatism of all sorts, not just Christian/Islamic dogmatism. He challenges not just Christians and Muslims, but also the worshipers of the rising gods - and, for that matter, Satanists too - when they get too dogmatic or fluffy. Satan also has a "darker" feel than any of the rising gods, with the possible exception of Lilith.
Given the Church of Azazel's here-and-now approach to theology, we see religious and cultural trends as the main indicators of how the gods are dealing with humans in a given time and place. We see the gods' interaction with humans as something that changes from one era to another and from one culture to another; we do not see the gods as universal, timeless constants.
The five rising gods are all associated with a post-Christian social and cultural order that has been emerging in the West since the mid-1960's, and which the Abrahamic fundamentalists/traditionalists fervently oppose. (Actually it has been emerging since the 1800's or earlier, but only in the mid-to-late 1960's and early 1970's - an era of extremely rapid cultural change - did it begin to become massively popular.) We believe that Satan has helped this emerging order come into being. But we do not see Satan as being committed to any particular social or cultural order.
The five rising gods are each associated with positive principles which we affirm. On the other hand, we see Satan as a being who challenges oppressive dogmatism of all sorts, including any tendencies of people who champion our own principles to turn those principles into oppressive dogma.
- The rising gods
In medieval Jewish demonology, Lilith was considered to be the queen of the demons, the wife of Satan/Samael, and the mother of many demons including succubi.
In recent decades, Lilith has attracted quite a few worshipers, including not only some Satanists but also some Pagans and quite a few Jewish feminists. See, for example, The modern Lilith on The Lilith shrine. See also The Lilith Institute, a feminist women's spirituality website.
The vast majority of Lilith's worshipers are not Satanists. Yet they celebrate a medieval myth of Lilith that is remarkably similar to the Islamic myth of Satan/Shaitan/Iblis. Lilith and the Islamic Satan were both said to have disobeyed God in the exact same way, namely by refusing to bow down before Adam.
Today, Lilith is seen by many as a feminist role model. Her worshipers today also associate Her with sexuality and sexual freedom, especially nonreproductive sex and various traditionally forbidden forms of sexuality.
Lilith's traits, as seen both in medieval legend and by her modern worshipers, correspond closely to social trends of the past two centuries and especially the past several decades. Hence, we regard Lilith as the rising Queen of our age. In 1966 C.E., Anton LaVey proclaimed the beginning of the "Age of Satan," which could more accurately be called the Age of Lilith.
Until the 1800's, Lilith had always been seen as a malevolent demon, nothing more. In the 1800's, there began to be some sympathetic or semi-sympathetic artistic and literary portrayals of Lilith. But not until 1970 or so did a favorable view of Lilith begin to be popularized outside of elite literary and artistic circles. Lilith is now seen in a favorable light by many feminists and by many people in the alternative spirituality scene, though She is still associated with "infernal" imagery. We believe that the relationship between Lilith and human society has in fact changed, thanks to modern technology. The things associated with Lilith today - including sexual freedom, nonreproductive sex, and feminism - are all very much affected by the level of technology. In many older societies, sexual freedom would have been inescapably deadly. In today's world, it need not be deadly as long as people make responsible use of the relevant technologies.
Lilith today is also associated with the modern, glamorized image of "vampires" in an era which has forgotten the utterly unglamorous origin of the vampire myth. Vampire beliefs were originally a superstitious explanation of the many deadly contagious diseases that have since been wiped out by medical technology. "Vampires" today are associated with the dream of eternal youth, a dream with which many people today are obsessed, and which may someday be attained via medical technology. Until then, even the modern glamorized "vampire" remains an "infernal" creature. If and when the dream of eternal youth is ever attained, it would certainly deal a heavy blow to Christianity and Islam, given their focus on an alleged afterlife, and it would also almost eliminate any need for reproductive sex.
Lilith is revered not only by feminist Pagans and by many other people in the alternative spirituality scene, but also, as a mother figure, by some people in the "Vampire" and "Other Kin" subcultures. These subcultures are very different from feminist Goddess religion but share one important common element with feminism: the creation of alternative family structures. Lilith vehemently rejects traditional patriarchy and creates a variety of new kinds of family, despite the knowledge that Her families will be persecuted.
Of all the rising gods of the modern West, Lilith is the one associated with those facets of modern Western culture that are under greatest attack by Abrahamic fundamentalists and traditionlists. For that reason, our ritual call to the rising gods focusses more on Lilith than on the other rising gods.
In ancient Greek myth, Prometheus was a Titan (elder God) who was punished by Zeus for stealing fire from heaven and teaching humans how to use fire.
The use of fire by humans was one of the first forms of technology. In various ancient myths, some gods have favored human scientific and technological achievements, while other gods have opposed them. An example of the Biblical god opposing a human technological achievement can be found in the myth of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9).
The Tower of Babel story is commonly interpreted as condemning pride, not technological achievement. But the story itself suggests that sheer human technological ability, not just pride, was what the Biblical god was worried about and wanted to put a stop to.
Nevertheless, technological taboos generally don't last very long. The ancient Greeks did not have a general taboo against the use of fire, to avoid offending Zeus, just as Jews, Christians, and Muslims do not have a general taboo against building towers. In Greek myth, Prometheus was punished by being chained to a rock, but was eventually freed by Herakles, by which time Zeus no longer held a grudge against Prometheus. It would seem that the divine opponents of technology do get used to it eventually. Technologies are subject to taboo only when they are relatively new. Today's technological taboos pertain mainly to the medical and biological fields, such as stem cell research and the teaching of evolution in Bible Belt schools.
During the past two centuries, many opponents of Christian religious interference in scientific research or education have instinctively gravitated to the myth of Prometheus. In most cases, these defenders of unfettered science don't worship Prometheus as a god; most of them are atheists. (For example, one of the leading atheist/humanist/skeptical publishing companies is Prometheus Books.) However, because many of today's defenders of science have gravitated to the name "Prometheus," we consider "Prometheus" to be an appropriate name for a god of science and technology in today's world.
In ancient Greek mythology, Prometheus was not only the bringer of fire but also the creator of the first humans and a god who "teaches all the arts," including both what we would now call "the arts" and what we would now call "technology." (The word "technology" is derived from the Greek word "techne," meaning "art" or "skill.") The Church of Azazel does not take literally any creation myth, including the myth of the creation of humans by Prometheus. But we regard at least some aspects of the Greek creation myth as symbolically appropriate, insofar as humans cannot survive without at least minimal technology
Satan/Azazel, too, is a god who favors science and technology. The myth of Azazel in the Book of Enoch has many parallels with and may have been influenced by the myth of Prometheus. However, Satan/Azazel is a much more protean, complex, and multi-faceted being, associated not only with technology but also with wild places untouched by human technology.
Today's science and technology are the central defining feature of modern Western culture, without which many of its other unique and most desirable features would not be possible. Therefore it makes sense to include a god of science and technology among the rising gods of the modern West.
Technology changes everything. Many things that were once deadly have been rendered harmless. Conversely, many things once relatively harmless are now potentially deadly.
Ishtar was the high "Goddess of Goddesses" of ancient Babylon. She was also known, elsewhere in the ancient Middle East, as Astarte or Ashtoreth. In ancient Sumer, the world's oldest civilization, She was known as Inanna.
The Babylonian Ishtar was the first known historical instance of a syncretic Goddess similar to modern Wicca's "The Goddess." The ancient Babylonians beleived that many earlier goddesses were aspects of Ishtar, just as many of today's Wiccans believe that all ancient goddesses are aspects of "The Goddess." (For details, see this page about the Goddess Ishtar on Shrine of the forgotten Goddesses.) Like modern Wicca's "The Goddess," Ishtar was very multi-faceted. For example, Ishtar was both an Earth-goddess and "Queen of Heaven," and She was both a Goddess of love and a Goddess of war. Other modern Wiccan ideas about "The Goddess," too, such as the myth of Her descent into the underworld, seem to be derived primarily from the ancient myths about Ishtar - or other ancient middle eastern Goddesses Whom the Babylonians equated with Ishtar. In one of today's most popular Goddess chants ("Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna"), at least two of the named Goddesses (Astarte and Innana) were equated, by the ancient Babylonians, with Ishtar.
While we have many disagreements with Wicca, it important to recognize that Wicca and related forms of modern Paganism are one of the most significant and vigorous religious movements of our time. In the modern West, they are the fastest-growing alternative to Abrahamic monotheism. Unlike many other new religions, they have managed to grow rapidly without blatant attempts at proselytization. And many Wicca-based Pagans are drawn specifically to "The Goddess," more so than to "The God." Hence, if the Wicca-based Pagan movement continues to grow rapidly, "The Goddess" will soon be the Abrahamic god's number-one competitor for human worshippers here in the modern West, just as Ishtar/Astarted was in the ancient Middle East.
Moreover, although the Wiccan Rede ("An it harm none, do what ye will") may be way too simplistic as an ethical principle, it is at least far less limiting and far more compatible with the individualism of the modern West than are the strictures of Abrahamic fundamentalisms and traditionalisms. Wicca also champions a needed counterbalance to modern technology - an appreciation of the Earth and the wild. We need our technology, but, for the sake of our children's well-being, the modern West also needs to be mindful of our impact on the Earth.
Ishtar/Inanna is a Goddess of both civilization and wild Nature, especially sexuality. She is also a Goddess of justice.
In today's world, Ishtar has special affinities for the following categories of people:
- Nonmonogamous women. In Babyolonian myth, Ishtar was certainly nonmonogamous.
- Transwomen. In ancient Babylon, Ishtar's priestesses included the nearest ancient equivelent of transwomen: eunuchs who wore women's clothing.
- Sex workers. The worship of Ishtar, in ancient times, included temple prostitution.
- Soldiers and veterans. Ishtar is a Goddess of war as well as a Goddess of love and sex.
- Those feminists and other activists who have fought to get rape and sexual harassment taken more seriously as crimes, and to uphold the rights of crime victims. (See the myth of Inanna and Shukaletuda, in which Inanna hunts down a man who raped Her in Her sleep.)
- Activists on behalf of people unjustly imprisoned (as Innana, in ancient Sumerian myth, needed the help of Enki to free Her when She was imprisoned in the underworld).
Ishtar/Astarte is also revered by quite a few theistic Satanists these days, most likely because "Astaroth" is a high-ranking demon according to various well-known grimoires. The name "Astaroth" is a variant of "Ashtoreth," a Hebrew insulting nickname for Astarte/Ishtar. Astarte/Ishtar is also one of the most demonized Goddesses in the Bible. To this day, She is vilified, by anti-Satanist grand conspiracy ideologists, as an especially "Satanic" Goddess.
By "Pan," we mean the god revered by many modern Pagans and occultists as "Pan," who is not necessarily identical with the ancient Greek god Pan. The ancient Greek god Pan was a god of fertility and a god of shepherds, whereas most modern Western Pagans and occultists are neither shepherds nor very concerned about fertility. (Even though the word "pagan" originally meant "country hick," most modern Western Pagans and occultists live in cities or suburbs, where, if the crops fail in one region, the supermarket chains will simply buy their food from someplace else. These days, the leading de facto fertility god is not Pan but Jehovah, to whom many Bible Belt farmers pray to bless their crops.)
"Pan" today is one of the names of Wicca's "Horned God," who is seen as a multi-faceted god encompassing many ancient male gods. Multi-faceted though He may be, He is seen and appreciated primarily as a very down-to-Earth deity. Today's Wicca-based Pagans revere Him primarily as a god of the wild, associated with pristene forests and the plants and untamed animals therein. As such, He stands in de facto opposition to Jehovah, who is traditionally said to want humans to "fill the earth" (Genesis 1:28, which some ultra-Orthodox Jews take as literally a command to have as many babies as they can possibly squeeze out). The "Horned God" is also associated, strongly, with sexuality, sensual pleasure, and masculine vigor. And He is associated with music, especially the more vigorous and sensual kinds such as rock music and the various genres of dance music.
In today's world, Pan has special affinities for the following categories of people: (1) bisexual and pansexual men, (2) musicians, and (3) therians.
There are many similarities between Pan and Satan, starting with the traditional "horned" image of both. Satan and Pan are both primarily very down-to-Earth beings, associated with wild places, sexuality, sensual pleasure, and the more sensual genres of modern Western music. But modern Pagans insist that Pan is not Satan - and we agree, though for different reasons. We see Satan as more multi-faceted, associated with science, technology, and the human will to power, as well as with the wild, whereas the modern Western Pan is much more strongly associated, specifically, with sexuality and the plants and animals in wild places.
Sophia was an ancient Gnostic goddess of wisdom. In some ancient Gnostic writings, She was identified with the serpent of the Garden of Eden myth. She was believed to have brought spiritual wisdom to humanity, in opposition to Jehovah, who was regarded as the Demiurge - an evil, very insecure lesser god who created the physical universe and tried to keep humans ignorant and isolated from the spirit realm. In The Hypostasis of the Archons, "the female spiritual principle" (apparently Sophia) Herself came to Adam and Eve in the form of "the snake, the instructor." (See also The Genesis Factor by Stephan A. Hoeller.) In some other forms of Gnosticism, Sophia did not appear to Adam and Eve Herself but sent an emissary ("Lucifer" or the Gnostic "Christ" - very different from the Christ of orthodox Christians) who appeared to Adam and Eve in the form of the Serpent. Among many other differences between Gnostics and orthodox Christians, the Gnostics were much more individualistic.
Although the ancient Gnostics did not identify Sophia or the serpent with Satan/Azazel, many forms of theistic Satanism have made a similar use of the Garden of Eden myth, seeing Satan as the Serpent who brings wisdom or knowledge. Some theistic Satanists (including Herbert Sloane's pre-LaVeyan Lady of Endor Coven) have adopted other aspects of the Gnostic worldview as well, such as the idea of Jehovah as the Demiurge. However, most of today's theistic Satanists - including the Church of Azazel - do not share the world-hating views of many of the ancient Gnostics. Many of us - including the Church of Azazel - also do not regard the Abrahamic god as the true Creator of the cosmos, even as a Demiurge.
These days, there are also quite a few "Luciferians" who revere a "Lucifer" whom they insist is distinct from Satan, and whom they see as a bringer of spiritual or occult wisdom, in many cases similar to the Gnostic myths about Sophia and/or Her emissary. The "Lucifer" of modern Luciferians, too, is often seen as a "Serpent of Wisdom" and is often indentified with the serpent of the Garden of Eden myth.
Many of the more influential occultists, including Eliphas Levi and H.P. Blavatsky in the nineteenth century and the Feri Witch tradition in the twentieth century, have had an explicitly "Luciferian" component to their belief system.
The name "Lucifer" originated as a Latin common noun meaning "light-bearer." We regard "Lucifer" as a valid name for Satan/Azazel, because it has indeed been used as a name of Satan for nearly 2000 years. But, historically, the name "Lucifer" has also been used to refer to, among others entities/concepts: (1) the planet Venus as the morning star, (2) a minor ancient Roman god identified with the planet Venus as the morning star, and (3) Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:19 and Revelation/Apocalypse 22:16, in the Latin Vulgate). Obviously these are all distinct from Satan/Azazel. There is not a one-to-one correspondence between entities and names. Historically, the name "Lucifer" has been used in different contexts to refer to an assortment of different entities/concepts, not just one.
Given the many modern occultists who have experienced a "Lucifer" whom they see as a bringer of occult wisdom, and whom they insist is distinct from Satan, it makes sense to regard their "Lucifer" as an entity distinct from Satan - despite the obvious similarities. We see their "Lucifer" as a spirit who specializes in inspiring esoteric spiritualities and philosophies, whereas we see Satan/Azazel as a more multi-faceted entity, one who draws people's attention to the material plane as well as to the occult realms, and who encourages people to take care of themselves on a material level.
It makes sense to include a muse of esoteric religions/philosophies in our pantheon of rising gods. Some of the esoteric religions have given rise to new popular religions, thereby sparking religious diversity, in opposition to the Abrahamic would-be monopoly. Moreover, one esoteric philosophy - Hermeticism - historically played a role in the development of modern science.
We do not, by any means, completely agree with the worldviews of the occult traditions. From our perspective, they have too much of a tendency to overgeneralize. (For example, not everything has polarity. Electromagnetism has polarity but gravity doesn't.) We see the occult traditions as having too much of a tendency to think in cosmic terms, and we see them as having too much of a tendency to pigeonhole deities in correspondences to elements, planets, Sephiroth, etc., thereby reducing these gods to one-dimensional stereotypes rather than appreciating the gods as full-fledged unique and multi-faceted personalities.
Nevertheless, the occult traditions clearly do contain wisdom that has had a major shaping influence on today's world. Even their weaknesses can be seen as an over-reaching of their strengths.
So it makes sense to include the "Lucifer" of many modern Western occultists in our pantheon. But, in our rituals, we need some way to distinguish the "Lucifer" of non-Satanist occultists from "Lucifer" as an aspect of Satan. Since many neo-Gnostics sharply distinguish "Lucifer" from "Satan" but at the same time do associate "Lucifer" with "Sophia," we will use the name "Lucifer-of-Sophia" to refer to the Muse of occultism, esoteric spirituality, and religious innovation. (On the other hand, we will refer to our other "Lucifer," the Air elemental aspect of Satan/Azazel, as "Lucifer-Azazel.")
Lucifer-of-Sophia can also be thought of as a muse of enlightened, non-dogmatic forms of spirituality in general, not just occultism. Just as ancient Gnosticism was far more individualistic than ancient Christianity, so too modern Luciferianism is a highly individualistic form of spirituality. Therefore, Lucifer-of-Sophia can be seen as a muse of individualistic spirituality and the appreciation of religious diversity.
- Criteria for inclusion among the "rising Gods"
It is not expected that most Church of Azazel members will relate equally well to all five of the rising Gods. It is expected that most Church of Azazel members will feel close to Satan/Azazel and to just one or two of the five rising Gods. It is also expected that many Church of Azazel members will feel close to one or more deities or demons who are not part of our official pantheon.
It has occasionally been suggested that we add more deities to our pantheon.
As explained in more detail in the next section below, the Church of Azazel aims eventually to have a structure which will accommodate theistic Satanists with a wide variety of personal pantheons. In rituals of both the Church of Azazel congregation itself and five hopefully-forthcoming distinct-but-overlapping groups devoted to each of the five Rising Gods, there will be occasional opportunities to call on other deities and spirits that are not part of the Church of Azazel's official pantheon, but are closely related.
But the Church of Azazel does have its own distinct paradigm, and the five rising Gods were selected based on specific criteria. These criteria are:
- Each of the five rising Gods has been strongly demonized with the Abrahamic tradition and/or has otherwise been (more so than non-Abrahamic deities in general) historically associated with Satan, within the Abrahamic tradition and/or within Western culture generally.
- All these deities have nevertheless been held in positive regard by large minorities of people in the modern West, including Satanists, but not just or primarily Satanists.
- Each of the five rising Gods is strongly associated with one or more major modern societal trends which are strongly opposed by the religious right wing, i.e. by those Christians (and Muslims) who most strongly believe in a Devil.
The above-mentioned modern societal trends are vital to the Church of Azazel's paradigm. We aim to attract people who passionately champion these modern trends. And our very epistemology centers around our observation of modern religious and social trends, some of which we welcome and others of which we abhor, e.g. the dramatic resurgence of the crazier, more demon-obsessed forms of Christianity. (See A brief introduction to the Church of Azazel paradigm and Our core beliefs and their here-and-now basis.)
We do NOT claim that our choice of gods has any ultimate cosmic significance. We believe in the likely existence of many other gods, and we respect the variety of human spiritual experience. Our official pantheon consists of those gods who are most relevant to the goals and passions that unite us -- in addition to a deep, harder-to-define reverence for Satan/Azazel Himself.
The (hopefully) forthcoming five independent spiritual movements, one for each rising God
It is envisioned that each Church of Azazel congregation, once fully-formed, will consist of five coven-like subgroups or "Cabals," one for each Rising God.
As part of the work of building a Church of Azazel congregation and its Cabals, we aim also to build five other, larger spiritual groups, distinct from the Church of Azazel, one group for each of the five Rising Gods.
Details about these planned groups have been moved to a separate page.
Until all five groups are actually launched, the goal of creating them will be kept in mind in the affirmation of our common purpose.
Polarities and pentagram points
The pentagram is an ancient symbol which has had many different meanings through the millenia. It has been used by many different groups of people, in all orientations - point-up, point-down, and sideways. The point-down pentagram first acquired a "Satanic" connotation in the writings of Eliphas Levi, a nineteenth-century occultist, in his book Transcendental Magic.
We use a point-down pentagram to represent the five rising gods, each of the five rising gods corresponding to a point:
- Lilith (bottom point)
- Prometheus (top right point)
- Ishtar (left middle point)
- Pan (right middle point)
- Lucifer-of-Sophia (top left point)
Each line of the pentagram represents a complementary pair of gods, as follows:
- Lilith (bottom point) and Prometheus (top right point)
- Prometheus (top right point) and Ishtar (left middle point)
- Ishtar (left middle point) and Pan (right middle point)
- Pan (right middle point) and Lucifer-of-Sophia (top left point)
- Lucifer-of-Sophia (top left point) and Lilith (bottom point)
These pairings correspond to points of both tension and interdependency within modern society. For example, most of today's attacks on science and technology focus on matters which pertain to Lilith and/or Ishtar as well as Prometheus. The religious right wing opposes birth control technology (associated with Lilith) and evolution (associated with Ishtar, Goddess of life on Earth). Not very many people today attack science and technology in general on religious grounds.
There is some tension over science and technology among the enemies of the religious right wing too. For example, some (though by no means all) feminists (associated with Lilith) have dissed scientific methodology as a "male" thing, not acknowledging its value for women. Too many "feminist psychologists" also uncritically endorsed the "Satanic ritual abuse" scare of the 1980's and early 1990's, dismissing the relevant science regarding human memory. Similarly, some (though by no means all) folks in the ecology movement have advocated that we ditch modern technology, whereas we believe that any viable solution to ecological dangers must involve a more intelligent use of science and technology, not the abandonment thereof. It is hoped that Prometheus devotees and Ishtar devotees might be able to collaborate in, for example, defending the scientific consensus on global warming.
The complementary pairings of the five rising Gods are as follows:
- Lilith (bottom point) is "infernal" whereas Prometheus (top right point) can be seen as "heavenly." Prometheus is "heavenly" both in the ancient mythological sense of having stolen fire from heaven and in a more literal modern sense - the key role played by observations and explorations of the heavens in the development of modern science and technology. The medieval Jewish myth of Lilith and the ancient Greek myth of Prometheus both have strong parallels with, respectively, the Islamic and Second Temple Era Jewish myths of the "fall" of Azazel. Another connection between Prometheus and Lilith is that the things associated with Lilith (sexual freedom, nonreproductive sex, and feminism) are all dependent on technology. Conversely, modern science would not be possible without Satanic/Lilithian pride: the great scientists refused to bow down uncritically to traditional ideas about the universe, but, instead, insisted on verifying ideas for themselves.
- Ishtar/Inanna (left middle point) is a Goddess of both civilization and wild Nature. She thus represents a vital balance in human affairs. There are various ancient Sumerian myths involving interaction between Inanna and Enki, who has some strong similarities to Prometheus (top right point). However, an important difference between Enki and Prometheus is that Prometheus was believed to teach technical skills only, without giving people civic wisdom, whereas Enki was believed to have originated the idea of a justice system and taught Ishtar how to be a great judge.
- Ishtar (left middle point) in Her aspect as a Goddess of wild Nature has some obvious similarities to Pan (right middle point). Although unconnected mythologically, They can be thought of as the Earth-based Goddess/God polarity so beloved by a great many modern Pagan Witches. And indeed, the idea of gender polarity really makes sense only in terms of life here on Earth. Gender is not cosmic. Gender is, as far as anyone knows for sure, a feature only of the more complex species of animals and plants here on Earth. Any ascription of gender to anything else is purely symbolic and at least somewhat arbitrary.
- Pan (right middle point) is associated with fleshly pleasures, whereas Lucifer-of-Sophia (top left point) is associated with spiritual insights. (We see these two as complementing each other rather than in opposition.) The imagery associated with both Pan (horns and hooves) and Lucifer-of-Sophia (the Serpent of the Eden myth) have been strongly associated with the Devil in modern Western culture and throughout most of the history of Christianity; but these two deities are both sharply distinguished from the Devil by the vast majority of their own modern devotees. (We too see them as distinct, though related.)
- Lucifer-of-Sophia (top left point) is "heavenly" whereas Lilith (bottom point) is "infernal." Both are strongly associated with individuality. Both are part of an emerging social and cultural order in which human individuality is accepted and championed to a greater degree than in many past cultures.
To us, the central pentagon of the pentagram represents the emerging post-Christian cultural and social order in the modern Western world - an order that has been emerging slowly since the late 1700's (with a rapid jump in the late 1960's) and will continue to emerge insofar as the Abrahamic reactionaries don't succeed in smothering it. The central pentagon can also be thought of as representing the Church of Azazel and its group egregore. But the central pentagon is not to be identified, specifically, with Satan/Azazel Himself.
Satan can be thought of as both pervading and surrounding the entire pentagram. But the pentagram represents something distinct from Satan. The pentagram, especially its central pentagon, represents an order which Satan has helped to bring into being, but which Satan also challenges as well as encourages. Satan is not attached to any order.
Note that, in our pentagram symbolism, the five points do not correspond to the four elements plus the quintessence, as they do in some other systems. However, in our rituals, we do use the usual correspondence between the four elements and the four directions, and we use a correspondence between aspects of Satan/Azazel and the four elements plus quintessence.
For more about the symbolism of the pentagram, see our page about the point-down pentagram.
The rising gods and Satan
As stated earlier: The rising Gods are each associated with positive principles which we affirm. On the other hand, we see Satan as a being who challenges oppressive dogmatism of all sorts, including any tendencies of people who espouse our own principles to turn those principles into oppressive dogma.
Even people who support what are basically good principles, from our point of view, can end up doing horrible things out of a blind overcommitment to those principles. As Nietzsche famously wrote in Beyond Good and Evil, "He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster." (Note: The Church of Azazel does not necessarily agree with Nietzsche's worldview in general.)
One example of blind overcommitment to a basically good principle has been the tendency of many feminists to support the "Satanic ritual abuse" scare. (See "Satanism" scares and their debunking: A brief introduction on my website Against Satanic panics.) The "Satanic ritual abuse" scare was, in part, an outgrowth of the child abuse survivors' movement, driven by the legitimate concern that child abuse had not previously been taken seriously enough as a crime. But this legitimate concern, carried to a blind extreme, led to hundreds of probably-innocent people being arrested and in some cases even convicted, plus thousands more families being torn apart due to highly questionable "recovered memories."
We call on the five rising Gods to aid us in bringing about the kind of society we want, and to aid us in defending our ideals against the religious right wing. To these ends we call on Satan too. But we also see Satan as a being who challenges us to see where our ideals, if followed blindly, may lead us down a counterproductive path.
Satan is also a being who challenges us to face down our fears. Many Satanists are fond of macabre imagery.
We see Satan as a transcendant being who should not be put in a box by associating Him too closely with any particular social order or set of ideals. But a thriving religious group naturally tends to put itself in an ideological box, for the sake of its own cohesion. Thus, too many Satanist groups have tried to squeeze Satan into the confines of their own dogma, making themselves look ridiculous in the process. If you put Satan in a box, He'll turn you into an absurd parody of religious dogmatism until you finally realize how ridiculous you are. Too many Satanists have fallen into this trap, screaming that their own group's ideology is the one and only "true Satanism" and lumping all "right hand path" religions into one big undifferentiated, vastly oversimplified stereotype.
To help us avoid such pitfalls, we warily construct our own "box" - our group egregore - not from any pigeonholed view of Satan, but from the ideals associated with the five rising Gods. Doing so frees us to approach, with reverence, Satan as the Infernal Mystery.
The rising Gods themselves, too, should not be viewed as mere personfications of the principles they are associated with. We revere them too as multi-faceted beings. Nevertheless, there is widespread agreement on specific principles that these deities are associated with. Satan, on the other hand, is most commonly seen as a generic boogeyman - associated, by those Christians and Muslims who most strongly believe in Him, with everything outside their own little box. Thus we see Satan as a being who challenges us to look outside our own little boxes, to see ourselves and the world more objectively, rather than fall into blind us-and-them thinking.
(For more about Satan and His relationship to the other gods, see Our core beliefs and their here-and-now basis.)
Call to the rising gods of our age
The following call is recommended at the beginning of a typical Church of Azazel ritual, to be followed immediately by a longer invocation to Satan/Azazel.Hail to the rising Gods of this age,
Gods of the world we love!
Bringer of pride and forbidden pleasures!
Destroyer of the traditions of tyrants!
Bringer of fire and knowledge!
Great Goddess of old and of today!
Mother of the free!
God of the wild!
God of fleshly delight!
Serpent of Wisdom!
Queen of the forsaken realms,
Rising Queen of our world,
Queen of this age!
Gods of the world we love,
May we stand firm against the tyranny of Your enemies!
Lilith is emphasized because (1) She represents those aspects of modern Western culture that are under greatest attack by Abrahamic fundamentalists and traditionalists (and by traditionalists of various other religions too, for that matter), and (2) She is the most quintessentially modern Goddess, never having been revered as a Goddess before the past century.
In addition to its use within a Church of Azazel ritual, our call to the five rising gods can also be used in rituals performed by Church of Azazel members together with eclectic Pagans or occultists who are not Satanists.
Sources and feedback
I would like to put together collections of information about each of the five rising gods. Here are the beginnings of these collections:
This will take a while, since I have lots of other things I need to do. In the meantime, if anyone wants to help out with this, I would very much appreciate it.
General feedback about this page is also welcome. Feedback on this page may be posted either on my theistic Satanis blog or on the Meetup message board of the New York City proto-congregation of the Church of Azazel.