I am closely and deeply attached to archetypes. Looking back over my life I realise that for me this was a fight or flight response. I very symbolically needed to become my own archetypes to survive my experience. Superstition and tradition had deeply failed me and so I have changed identities as/when needed so thoroughly that I have even changed names and my aesthetic to accompany what I needed to convey to the world about myself at that time. I contextualize myself in my life as a series of characters I’ve played that still reside within me and inform my current dominate Self. Because of this I am very interested in topics of identity construction and evolution in the personal and collective strata. I am also interested in what differentiates those of us who seem much more aware of or close to the collective consciousness of humanity as described by Jung from others and what role resilience plays in that. What exists in some of us that allows us to absorb damage from potentially traumatic events and convert it into the strength of instinctual or seemingly otherworldly insight into all forms of human communication, including nonverbal and technological? Why are some of us inclined to always be “just a little ahead of our time” and feel so compelled to provide the exaggerated and archetypal performance of identitiy to the world in a particular cultural milieu?
For clarity I have to state that though I think of myself as a collection of identities or archetypes I view these as multiple (consciously selected and integrated) identities as opposed to multiple “personalities” or “dissociated” ones. I do not believe dissociative identity disorder should be a diagnosis. However, I do speculate that how I contextualize myself as a collection of identities to cope with life may be precisely why the idea of “multiple personalities” or “dissociated identities” may be so fascinating to people. I doubt that this coping technique, which I consider to be related to the creative mind and therefore also related to feelings of a religious type of conviction, is uncommon. That is perhaps what makes it very vulnerable to manipulation by unscrupulous therapists. In my more conspiratorial and paranoid moods I would even go so far to say that therapists and mental health professionals who still peddle the notion of broken people spontaneously, unconsciously, and unwillingly creating whole new separate personalities as another example of how culturally sensate people are under assault while our insight into humanity is undermined, ignored, and devalued. Many of these therapists create trauma where none may have existed or been experienced as such and then manipulate archetypal expressions of identity out of patients based on falsehoods which create broken confused people with real underlying mental health needs that are then ignored or untreated. “I went in for depression and left with multiple identities” is a common enough phrase to hear when talking with patients recovering from damage caused by a DID diagnosis.
For most of my life I have been culturally drawn to the archetypes of The Rebel that most resonated with me due to my community and family experience. In this I have always felt an affinity or sisterhood with witches, atheists, feminists, scholars, and others that I perceived to be maligned in similar ways as myself. In reflection the Rebel expression that most appealed to me was in The Adversary, of which I adopted identities and roles such as Queer, Feminist, and Satanist. The Adversary asks “why” and demands a reasoned answer. “Why do you get to make the rules?” “Who do these rules benefit?” “Why are you qualified to lead?” “Why is this the norm?” And the Adversary rebels against any unsatisfactory or unproductive answers to questions like those.
Starting with The-rebel-as-adversary as my default “survival” expression or context I can then make space to express other archetypes as extensions or appropriate situational behavioral performances. Sometimes the Adversary then has to become The Warrior Hero, or The Sage, or they are the Adversary because of their experience as The Orphan and therefore also desire to be The Caregiver… Understanding these fractions of my total identity, their motivations, and relationships to each other is my own individuation or “Shadow work” and it is the reality that defines my inner discussion.
A common feature of Satanism is deep and unrelenting self reflection. Of which I am often deeply immersed. I have been trying to understand and fully integrate my shadow (or unconscious reactions or motivations) and my psyche or Self (the presentation of me that I perform for the world) for my entire adult life and I have now been a Satanist for most of my life. Lucien said something to me the other day that struck a chord. We were discussing Church of Satan and our own personal initial draw to them and Anton LaVey. He said that he is incredibly interested in seeing why “old school” Satanists are or were drawn to TST. He was referring people like ourselves that were once drawn to CoS but are involved in other forms of Satanism now. He observed that we were drawn to the parts involving Satan, while the stuff that seemed to just be static noise from Anton’ s own personal fetishes and dislikes never struck a deep or meaningful chord with us. All of the simplistic selfishness and self important proclamations of elitism eventually just became an unpleasant detractor from what we had originally signed up for. Anton was on his own path of self reflection but he made the mistake of confusing his own deeply rooted and recently uncovered personal motivations and tastes as being universally, instead of personally, Satanic. Many of us tolerated it, and I’d be lying if I claimed that I didn’t once buy into notions of Social Darwinism and the inherent elitism of “true” Satanists. Then I grew up. If that sounds flippant and dismissive it is meant to. I’m not sorry.
In that way, I’d say that those of us who understand Satanism as the individuation process of people drawn to the archetype of Satan (whatever that means or looks like given that indivuals experience and capabilities) are the only “true” Satanists regardless of what “church” or temple we belong to. We are the ones drawn to the archetype itself regardless of the dogma, philosophy, science, pseudoscience, or mythology we personally wrap around it. Those that call themselves Satanist yet don’t understand the ludicrously ironic nature of attaching dogmatic “No True Satanist” arguments to an archetype from the collective consciousness are the types I come closest to throwing my own “no true Satanist ” accusation at. I’m left feeling that they are beneath consideration in Satanic discussion because they seem to have signed up for group validation without self reflection or challenging dialog outside of their experience.
Satanists who lack the ability to recognise their own individual archetype of Satan as personal are larval and it is apparent that many of them will never emerge from their chrysalis.