Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Catechism of Lucifer by Johannes Nefastos


Ixaxaar 2013.  80 pages. Decimo-sexto (Sixteenmo). Black and white illustrations.

Available in two editions:

Regular edition: Bound in black fauxleather, limited to 1200 copies.
Leather edition: Bound in full black goatskin, limited to 100 copies.  Sold out at publisher.

"Whoever has come to understand the world has found (only) a corpse, and whoever has found a corpse is superior to the world." -- The Gospel of Thomas




The Catechism of Lucifer first appeared in 2003. It was originally printed in Finnish and limited to 100 copies. Now, ten years later, Johannes Nefastos and Ixaxaar have published this devotional work of Gnostic Luciferiansim in English. The work is presented in the same format as The Catechism of the Catholic Church  Luther's Catechism, being slim, small (pocket-sized), and with a similar text structure and layout, as can be seen by the book's major sections:

For the Reader
Sources
Preface to the English Version
The Ten Commandments (Commandments I-X)
The Commandments - A Path of Wisdom
Credo (Creeds I-III)
Magister Noster (Articles I-VI)
Of Lucifer's Sacraments
Of Demons
Of Magic
Of the Responsibility of the Individual
Of Satan



I must confess: I had my doubts about this book when it first became available. I was a bit dubious, for I was afraid it would be a simple inversion of Luther's Catechism and presented as a mocking satire, much in the way the infamous Black Mass is a satire of the Catholic Mass through heretical inversion. While such acts do have some historical basis, and breaking cultural taboos can be used as a powerful psychological technique for triggering altered states of consciousness, I was concerned that its approach would amount to a trite and polemic gimmick via the reversal of a few key words or themes. However, my concerns were put at ease immediately after reading the author's introduction. The main element differentiating this work from Luther's Catechism is its lack of dogma.  In the introduction the author states,
"It should be remembered that this particular book is about theosophical Luciferianism, and that there are other true aspects of Luciferian gnosis of ascension.  Let us not get imprisoned by these tenets of faith, brothers & sisters, but let us be liberated by them, by the spirit of devotion they try to represent."
This statement makes The Catechism of Lucifer an entirely different animal than the book it is modeled after, the latter being a compendium of strict laws and "truths" that are to be followed to the letter. The titles of some of Nefastos' Ten Commandments appear on the surface to be the standard ten turned on their head; however, instead they are actually a series of deep Gnostic meditations quite removed from the standard Catholic Catechism. He further deviates from the Catholic structure by offering a number of deeper philosophic questions and arguments. In fact, even Christians may find these new Commandments useful, as they may gain a different perspective of their own beliefs by momentarily contemplating their opposites. Other commandments are not oppositional at all to the originals, but are instead a redirection of the concept, such as his Sixth Commandment, "Purify the lust, abandon form-breeding sexuality", which appears to be a refashioning of the original "Thou shall not commit adultery". This commandment also reveals the Gnostic undercurrent of the entire work, which is also revealed in the title of Article VI, "Lead us not into Vanity but Deliver us from the Flesh".




A common belief among Gnostics is that the physical word is imperfect and tainted -- a shabby facade masking higher realms of being. This generally fosters a non-attachment attitude to the physical word, often exemplified in the Gnostic statement, "being in the world, but not of the world". This somewhat mirrors Buddhist beliefs regarding unnecessary attachment to material things and base impulses.  Interestingly, the Gnostic Luciferian approach is 100% opposite of many consider "Satanism" to be, at least that of the LaVey school, which promotes hedonism and indulgence in worldly pleasures.




It is tempting for a lot of so-called "Left Hand Path" writers (a term and distinction I find rather asinine) to completely disregard or criticize all Christian practices in an attempt to expunge all traces of Christian influence, even symbolically powerful mystical elements that Christianity appropriated from earlier sources. Thankfully, Nefastos doesn't throw the baby out with the bathwater, as the saying goes.  He is astute enough to recognize valuable (and somewhat universal) ritual practices, and is able to re-calibrate them to fit his ethos. Why reinvent the wheel indeed.




 Some of the wording in The Catechism of Lucifer is a little over-the-top, such as references to the "Holy Darkness", but it is a forgivable indulgence as it sets a darkly majestic tone and is not out of place for a devotional work. The text includes 24 footnotes throughout the work. The book also includes a number of intriguing quotes from Nefastos' forthcoming work FOSFOROS. FOSFOROS has been bedeviled by production delays, but should be available soon.



The Leather edition is magnificent.  Truth be told, I was speechless upon first receiving it. Its rich black goatskin feels incredible. The leather has a fine "pin morocco" grain and is blissfully redolent of the tannery. The cover design, a inverted cross set within a gothic vesica, is deeply stamped in gold. The depth of the stamp will help protect the gilding from wear over the years. The deep stamping in the leather also gives it a high-relief texture, or an intaglio effect. The spine includes 5 raised bands (one for each point of the pentagram?). There is no title on the spine (though the book description on Ixaxaar's site says otherwise). Head and tail bands are of matching black leather, lending a very uniform and classy presentation. Page edges are black and have a sheen similar to a raven's feather. Two ribbon bookmarks are provided, one gold and one black. This feature is especially handy for devotional works, as the reader may want to mark multiple passages for reflection.



Upon first opening the book one will notice the passage (John 12:25 -- "He that loveth his live shall lose it; he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.") printed in gold along the edge of the inside cover -- a very Gnostic sentiment. It's a nice touch. Endpapers are solid black with a slightly pebbled texture. Interior paper is perfectly suited for the work.  Paper is deep cream color, of moderate weight, and has a wonderful linen texture giving it a very antique look and feel. This is further continued by the books font, Blackletter. The choice of Blackletter was certainly a gamble for the author and publisher. I feel it is a wise choice for this work. Reading archaic fonts can be arduous and difficult for some readers, but most should be able to make it through 80 pages without too much trouble, especially since this book is intended to be read in brief contemplative readings. I feel the font's classic look lends an atmosphere of antiquity that far outweighs any difficulty it may present to readers. A number of detailed illustrations by Johannes Nefastos and M. Rautianen are included throughout the work.

Like all devotionals, The Catechism of Lucifer is something that can be read again and again, or read in small inspirational bites. The book's solid construction and layout reveals a lot of thought was put into its design. The Catechism of Lucifer is starkly elegant without excessive flamboyance. Its beauty would make even the most zealous and fanatical "black book" burner reconsider before consigning it to the flames.




3 comments:

  1. Excellent review of a wonderful little book. I have just the standard version, but I do know the beautiful magic that goatskin binding lends to a book such as this, and can only imagine how nice this book must be in its deluxe form.

    I enjoy your reviews very much, and have a touch of envy over how exceptional your bookshelves must be. Excellent work.

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  2. goatskin sends it over the top into AWESOME

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  3. Thats stuff i want santa to give me

    ReplyDelete