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About the Joy of Satan system of respectful demon evocation

by Diane Vera

Copyright © 2003, 2005, 2006 by Diane Vera. All rights reserved.

Below are my opinions about the system of demon evocation presented on the Joy of Satan website. (See All About Demons, including Summoning Demons and Guardian Demons.)

JoS has the most comprehensive system of respectful demon evocation I've ever seen anywhere. The various now-defunct "Demonolatry" sites presented some basic information, but not a complete system. The Joy of Satan site does present a complete system, along with lots of detailed instruction in magick techniques.

Though the system is in many ways flawed, the Joy of Satan site owner Maxine Dietrich is certainly to be commended for her pioneering efforts. The Joy of Satan system is, in key ways, a vast improvement over the old, disrespectful grimoire methods. Surely it is preferable to be on friendly terms with whatever spirits one calls upon. This is only common sense.

But the Joy of Satan system does have some big flaws too:

  1. Although I haven't heard any reports of JoS adherents getting attacked by the spirits they've called upon, they frequently do complain of attacks by other spirits whom they believe to be angels of Yahweh. Quite a few JoS adherents have talked like Christians complaining about demonic attacks, except that JoS adherents complain about angel attacks instead.
  2. The noteworthy point is that most other theistic Satanists and occultists do not have this problem. Why? Probably because most other practitioners of ritual magick know better than to try to evoke or channel spirits of any kind without first mastering other, more basic ritual techniques such as banishing.

    Instead of advising novices to master basic ritual techniques before attempting to contact spirits, the JoS site advises, instead, that novices do a dedication rite ASAP. Supposedly the fact of having done a dedication rite makes it safe for a novice to plunge head first into nearly all the other activities on the site. But, as we have seen, it doesn't. Furthermore, it is NOT a good idea for a novice to do a dedication rite, in the first place, because the novice is thereby making a premature commitment, sort of like getting married to someone you just met yesterday. (See my article Pacts and self-initiation.)

  3. The JoS system is lacking in sufficient reality checks. In the older lore, the reputed dangers of summoning spirits are not only that they might attack you if you're not careful enough, but also that they may lie to you, or that you might be contacting a spirit very different from the one you think you're contacting. The Joy of Satan methods seem to have greatly reduced (and perhaps eliminated outright?) the first category of danger, at least from the evoked spirits themselves (though not, as we have seen, from other spirits). But the Joy of Satan system of magick does not adequately address the problem known in occult circles as "astral deception," which includes not only deception by spirits or astral entities, but also self-deception on the part of the magic(k)ian. It may also include impersonaltion, by other spirits or astral entities, of the spirits you think you're summoning.
  4. People in the Joy of Satan group will often say that a demon told them this or that, or that they have "Father's word" that such-and-such is true. And, based on what they claim to have been told by either "Father" or demons, they've developed what most other theistic Satanists would consider to be some rather wacky beliefs, including neo-Nazism and a belief that the Demons are really ET's, with physical bodies, who spend a lot of time in telepathic contact with humans. As external evidence for some of those beliefs, they cite the work of such writers as Zecharia Sitchin, whose books are dimissed as nonsense by scholars. (Are the scholars who dismiss him all wrong? Unless you have independent scholarly knowledge of the relevant historical, linguistic, and astronomical issues yourself, you're in no position to judge -- and certainly in no position to conclude that Sitchin is correct.) So, if you decide to use the Joy of Satan methods, don't assume that everything you are "told" by spirits is the absolute truth. Take it as possibly very good advice, but no more than that. Also, a Ouija board is no more reliable a source of absolute truth than any other means of contact, even though it may sometimes give startling results.

    Showing respect for Satan and the demons is very important, but not the be-all and end-all. Satan also wants us to think for ourselves, not to look to Him to hand us the absolute truth on a silver platter -- especially about matters that may be inherently beyond our comprehension. If you ask metaphysical questions (like "Who and what is Satan?"), expect to receive answers that are, at best, metaphors.

  5. In most occult traditions, attaining "knowledge and conversation" with one's personal "Guardian Daemon" (or "Holy Guardian Angel," or "genius," or whatever) is not something one accomplishes immediately, but is generally thought to be a longterm project. JoS urges novices to start communicating with their "guardian Demons" almost immediately - another likely source of self-deception. (See, for example, The Holy Guardian Angel: a tricky little devil by Ed Richardson, on Phil Hine's site.) In any case, nearly all occult sources would agree that contacting one's guardian is something you have to do by your own efforts - NOT by having someone else divine the name of your guardian via a Ouija board.
  6. In my experience, a lot of JoS people have seemed paranoid, insecure, closed-minded, and very irritable, not only in their own forums but also on those relatively infrequent occasions when they have ventured forth into other forums such as my own Theistic Satanism forums, where quite a few of them have displayed a marked tendency to take theological disagreements personally.
  7. On the other hand, in my experience, people who have taken a more cautious and systematic approach to learning magick typically seem a lot saner overall. Many of them tend to be a bit hot-tempered too, but at least they typically seem far less emotionally brittle, less inclined to hold irrational grudges, and generally more self-confident and more at ease with both themselves and other people.

    I invite the interested reader to verify these observations for oneself.

    I don't think these observations are mere coincidence. They are evidence for the wisdom of the more traditional approach to learning magick.

Despite the JoS system's many serious flaws, and despite the neo-Nazi sympathies of the JoS's leaders, the advent of the Joy of Satan group is nevertheless a historically pivotal - and in some ways beneficial - landmark in the development of the theistic Satanist scene.

Besides being the first site to offer a complete (though flawed) system of respectful demon evocation, JoS is the first Satanist website to offer such comprehensive (though flawed) instruction in magick in general. Any group that wants to compete with the JoS will now need to offer similarly comprehensive - but hopefully sounder - instruction to the general public. And, in general, public knowledge is better than secret knowledge, because public knowledge can be scrutinized, critiqued, and thereby refined by more people. Also, public knowledge reduces the ability of would-be leaders to exploit seekers by doling out alleged occult secrets (whether real or fake) in exchange for money, sex, obedience, or whatever.

Also, JoS is currently (since the demise of the late-1990's Demonolatry group) the oldest large, influential, continuously online (since spring 2002) group of people unashamed to say that they worship Satan as an actual entity. Most LaVey-derived Satanists, including theistic ones, have a problem with the word "worship," which they equate with groveling. Unfortunately, the JoS folks often do seem to grovel before Satan, whom they portray as having some rather Jehovah-like attitudes (e.g. "There is no god but Myself. ... Knowing this, who dares to worship the false gods of the Koran and the Bible?") However, if you believe that Satan doesn't need or want human slaves, then it is certainly possible to worship Satan (in the sense of expressing love and respect for Him) without groveling. Anyhow, the rise of the JoS has facillitated the growth of other groups of people who worship Satan in a more self-respecting way.

More generally, by being so radically different from LaVeyan Satanism, the JoS has contributed to the theological diversity of the Satanist scene - which, in my opinion, is a good thing even if one regards the JoS theology itself as complete nonsense. Only with theological diversity will Satanists truly be encouraged to think for themselves. And one thing nearly all theistic Satanists agree on, at least in theory, is the idea that Satan wants us to think for ourselves.

In addition, I suspect that the JoS and similar religions featuring the idea of "ancient astronauts" just might have the potential to play a key role in countering the growth of fundie Christianity. In late 2002 one young JoSer, who has since left the JoS, reported that he had succeeded in deconverting his entire family from Christianity using books by Zechariah Sitchin. (They became atheists, not JoSers and not Satanists of any kind.) I'm inclined to believe he was telling the truth, and I suspect he's not the only one. Historically unsound though they may be, "ancient astronaut" theories like Sitchin's are more easily comprehended by uneducated readers than more mainstream scholarly critiques of the Bible would be. And, if masses of people are going to believe nonsense, it is far safer, for the political and social freedoms of the rest of us, to have them believing in a variety of different and opposing kinds of nonsense than to have them all united under the banner of one particular kind of nonsense such as fundie Christianity or Islam.

Fortunately, as of fall 2005, the late-1990's Demonolatry group is back now, reorganized under a new name, providing a saner and sounder alternative to the JoS. The OFS Demonolatry website itself isn't nearly as comprensive as the JoS site, but they do publish what appears to be a very comprehensive set of books.

Update (July 7, 2009): The JoS website has been accused of plagiarizing many authors. For details, see Exposing The Joy of Satan Website

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