Church of Azazel > Structure > Rising Gods
The (hopefully) forthcoming five Cabals and five larger independent spiritual groups, one for each rising God
by Diane Vera
Copyright © 2013 by the Church of Azazel. All rights reserved.
It is envisioned that each Church of Azazel congregation, once fully-formed, will consist of five coven-like subgroups, known as Cabals, one for each of our five Rising Gods.
As part of the work of building a Church of Azazel congregation and its Cabals, we aim also to build (or help other people build) five other, larger spiritual groups, distinct from the Church of Azazel (though overlapping in membership), one group for each Rising God. These larger groups will aim to include non-Satanists as well as Satanists, whereas the Church of Azazel itself (and its Cabals) will be limited to polytheistic Satanists. The five larger groups, though founded by Church of Azazel members, are intended to be organizationally independent of the Church of Azazel, ideally not controlled by Church of Azazel members but led by councils of people from a variety of polytheistic and occult paths, of which the Church of Azazel would be just one of many.
It is hoped that these larger independent groups will help to end the isolation between theistic Satanists and the rest of the alternative religion/spiritual scene.
It is hoped, also, that these larger independent groups will become (at least as one aspect of their activities, though not as their sole or main focus) spiritual rallying points in opposition to the Christian religious right wing, e.g. calling on Lilith for aid in defending women's rights (including abortion rights), lesbian rights, transgender rights, and the rights of "dark" subcultures, calling on Prometheus for aid in defending science education, calling on Ishtar for aid in defending transgender rights and the rights of sex workers, calling on Pan for aid in defending wildlife and the rights of gay men and bisexuals, and calling on Lucifer-of-Sophia for aid in defending the rights of religious minorities.
Each member of a Church of Azazel congregation will be expected to be a member of at least one of the congregration's five Cabals, each devoted to one of the rising Gods. Members of each Cabal will be expected to help build the larger independent group of devotees of the Cabal's particular Rising God, and to participate in the larger independent group's rituals and meetings, as well as in meetings and rituals of the Church of Azazel proto-congregation itself. It is intended, if at all possible, that a Cabal of the Church of Azazel not dominate the larger independent group, but be just one of many groups, representing a variety of Pagan, polytheistic, and occult paths, that participate in the larger independent group.
The rituals of a Church of Azazel congregation itself, all five Cabals meeting together, will emphasize Satan/Azazel and the elemental Princes (seen as aspects of Satan), and may occasionally include other deities and spirits with a strong association with Satan, e.g. demons from the grimoires. The rituals of a Church of Azazel congregation itself will pay respects to all five of the rising Gods but will usually not focus on any of them, focusing instead on Satan/Azazel and the elemental Princes.
The five larger independent groups, which will aim to include non-Satanists, will not invoke Satan or the elemental Princes in their rituals, although they might have subgroups that do. For example, a group of Lilith devotees might have a more-private subgroup which invokes Lilith's consort Samael, another "Satan" whom we see as distinct from Satan/Azazel.
Two of the larger groups, those for people drawn to Prometheus and Lucifer-of-Sophia, are devoted to Gods of knowledge. As such, the leaders of these groups will need to be highly educated. The leaders of a group devoted to Prometheus will need to be well-educated in science and technology, and the leaders of a group devoted to Lucifer-of-Sophia will need to be well-educated in anthropology, psychology, comparative religion, and history, especially the history of religion and occultism. Formal education is not as important for the leaders of the other groups, whose deities are associated more with passion than with intellect. But it is desirable, if possible, that the leaders of the other groups too be thoroughly familiar with the mythology, both ancient and modern, of the group's deity, and be sufficiently well-educated to avoid pseudo-historical claims.
For each proto-congregation of the Church of Azazel, it is now envisioned that both the five cabals and the five larger independent groups will be launched in the following order:
- Groups of Lilith devotees. To be launched first. Both the Lilith Cabal of the Church of Azazel and the larger independent group of Lilith devotees are expected to attract staunch, passionate opponents of the religious right wing, an opposition central to the Church of Azazel's paradigm as a whole. Thus the Lilith Cabal will be an essential tone-setter for the Church of Azazel as a whole, because many Satanists (espcially in the NYC area) are ignorant about the religious right wing and/or do not care about it. The Lilith groups will welcome people of all genders and sexual orientations, but might hold occasional women-only events and will make a point of being queer-friendly. (Male and heterosexual members of the Church of Azazel should keep in mind that women's rights and GLBT rights are key battlegrounds in the fight against the Christian religious right wing in general. They are among the main issues now tearing apart the major Christian denominations, most notably the Episcopalians/Anglicans.) It is expected that most members of the Lilith groups will be concerned, at least to some degree, about women's rights (especially reproductive rights) and GLBT rights, and that some will also be concerned about the rights of people in "dark" subcultures such as the Goth, Vampire, and BDSM scenes.
- Groups of Prometheus devotees. The Prometheus Cabal will be another essential tone-setter for the Church of Azazel as a whole, to encourage critical thinking and science literacy on the part of all core members and prospective core members of the Church of Azazel. It is hoped that both the Prometheus Cabal of the Church of Azazel and the larger independent group of Prometheus devotees will attract those Satanists, Pagans, and occultists with an interest in promoting awareness of science and opposing pseudo-science within the alternative spirituality scene, and/or who oppose the evangelical Christian religious right wing's attempts to interfere with science and science education (espeically the teaching of evolution). Members will be encouraged to familiarize themselves with those areas of science that are contested by major sectors of the religious right wing, such as evolutionary theory and global climate change, and/or which are misrepresented by many people in the alternative religion scene, such as Newton's laws, quantum mechanics, and "bioelectricity." Both the Prometheus Cabal and the larger group of Prometheus devotees will probably need to be at least somewhat hierarchical, with some sort of membership ranking on the basis of scientific, technological, and artistic/literary knowledge and achievements, in order to maintain its integrity and avoid being taken over by people advocating pseudo-science as science.
- Groups of Ishtar devotees. An Ishtar Cabal will probably be an especially helpful group for those Church of Azazel members who come from a highly religious conservative Christian background, because it will encourage the study of known ancient Middle Eastern history that is contrary to the Bible. (But it should be noted that many Satanists do not come from a highly religious background.) Both the Ishtar Cabal of the Church of Azazel and the larger independent group of Ishtar devotees will welcome people of all genders, sexual orientations, and professions, but will keep in mind Ishtar's historical association with eunuchs, cross-dressers, and sex workers - and Her association with soldiers and veterans too. The Ishtar groups will not do "temple prostitution." However, it is hoped that the Ishtar groups will attract supporters of the rights of sex workers as well as supporters of the rights of transgender people. It is also hoped that the Ishtar groups will attract military Pagans and people concerned about the criminal justice system, both from the point of view of ensuring that criminals (especially rapists) are punished, and from the point of view of ensuring that innocent people in prison are freed. (The latter would include, for example, efforts to free the many probably-innocent people still in prison as a result of the Satanic Ritual Abuse scare.)
- Groups of Pan devotees. Like the Ishtar Cabal, the Pan Cabal of the Church of Azazel will be especially helpful to those Church of Azazel members who come from a highly religious conservative Christian background, because it will encourage the study of ancient Greek and Roman religion, including the apparent sources of some of Christianity's ideas. It is hoped that both the Pan Cabal and the larger independent group of Pan devotees will attract supporters of the rights of gay, bisexual, and pansexual men, although the Pan groups will welcome people of all genders and sexual orientations. The Pan groups may also be of interest to Therians (who feel that they have nonhuman animal souls). It is hoped that the Pan groups will also attract supporters of personal freedom in general, e.g. advocates for the reform of drug laws, and supporters of the protection of wildlife.
- Groups of Lucifer-of-Sophia devotees Will be launched only after we attract enough people who are already well-educated about the diversity of religion and occultism and who value scholarly integrity. Both the Lucifer-of-Sophia Cabal of the Church of Azazel and the larger independent group of Lucifer-of-Sophia devotees are expected to be of particular interest to Chaos Magick users, but will also welcome religious liberals from all traditions. The Lucifer-of-Sophia groups are expected to be very free-wheeling in terms of their practices, but at the same time will need to uphold a fairly high educational standard, requiring their members to attain (if they don't already have) a wide-ranging knowledge of world religion, mythology, spirituality, occultism, and the history of religion and occultism. So as to maintain standards, the Lucifer-of-Sophia groups will probably need to be organized somewhat like a hierarchical magick order -- though with checks and balances, of some kind, to avoid ossifying. Leading members should also be knowledgeable about psychology, anthropology, and the social sciences in general. It is hoped that the Lucifer-of-Sophia groups will also attract activists who promote religious tolerance in general and separation of Church and State.
All five Cabals of the Church of Azazel and all five larger independent groups will aim to network with other parts of the Pagan and occult scene. The Lucifer-of-Sophia groups will aim also to network with religious leaders of all other paths too (including even the most liberal forms of the Abrahamic religions), who are sufficiently open-minded.
The core members of a Church of Azazel congregation will include regularly-attending members of the five Cabals. Core members, like other members, will be expected to participate in at least one of the Cabals devoted to a Rising God. In addition, prospective core members of the Church of Azazel will also be expected to spend some time learning (e.g. via participation in a group like New Yorkers Against Religion-Based Bigotry) about the Christian religious right wing and about the recent resurgence of the crazier forms of the Abrahamic tradition. Also, those prospective core members of the Church of Azazel who come from strongly religious Christian backgrounds will be encouraged to engage in counter-evangelism projects (with the aim of counteracting the fundamentalist/authoritarian mindset, not converting people to Satanism or to any particular path).
As of January 2013, here in New York City, larger independent groups exist for devotees of Lilith (founded in January 2010) and for devotees of Prometheus (founded in September 2012). A Lilith Cabal of the Church of Azazel was launched in January 2013.
Until all five Cabals and all five larger independent groups are actually launched, the goal of creating them will be kept in mind in the affirmation of our common purpose.