Real quick, here’s the first chapter of my book, Hunt Manual: 21st Century Demonology & Forteana. You can pre-order the ebook right here, or pick up a paperback or hardcover when its all released for Halloween 2021! I hope you dig the excerpt.
[Good & Horror]
“… I hope to act as a voice for many who feel the same way as I do, and to give expression to the shattering emotion, which the unvarnished spectacle of divine savagery and ruthlessness produces in us… These experiences come upon man from inside as well as outside… He must be affected by it, otherwise, its full effect will not reach him, for in this way he transforms the blindness of the violence on the one hand and of the effect on the other into knowledge.”
Introduction of ‘Answer to Job’
“Fresh off the axe, man, you know where to find me –
Just what, exactly, do you think you’re doing here?
Do you remember how you got here?
Do you even know where you are?
You’re in the middle of the wilderness, and you’re alone out here with a stranger. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen you before in my life.
I have a knife, too.
Are you scared? Well, maybe you should be – but you should also know that I didn’t bring you out here, and I only intend to defend myself, should I have to.
But, seeing as how you don’t seem to remember much about this situation before I woke you, you’ll just have to take my word for it, won’t you?
Hmm… Yeah, if I were you, I wouldn’t be so trusting either. I’m a little irritated by all this, to be perfectly honest with you – I come to this cabin I have out here because it’s so remote. I come for peace. I didn’t come here to make friends with a vagabond, or nutcase, or whatever you are… But if you don’t know where you are – and I believe you about that – then you don’t know what a great danger you are in just by being out here.
If we can get to know the good in each other, I hope you’ll be able to excuse my curtness, but these woods can be an unforgiving place. There’s a reason the cabin is peaceful in my eyes: people don’t like to come out here…
You’re lucky I found you first.
Well, I actually have two knives. I’m going to give you the smaller one, but if I give you one, will you trust me enough to come to my cabin? It’s not far from here.
Look: this isn’t ideal for me either but I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight knowing that you’re wandering around out here. Let’s be realistic, you’ll probably find the cabin eventually. If you’re not eaten alive.
You’re not going to want to try your luck out here, trust me. My knife is the least of your worries.
What’ll it be then? Kind of an unsettling situation you’ve gotten yourself into, one way or the other…
Alright, well, follow me then. We need to hurry if we’re going to make it back by sundown.
Keep your knife ready if it makes you feel any better and for god’s sake, follow me. These woods are very deceiving and dense. They look damn near the same from any given direction.
There’s something strange about the air here. I could tell you things about it, but all in due time. Suffice it to say, there seems to be a quality to the atmosphere that makes putty out of time. Things bend and shift, drift in and out, come and go in the blink of an eye, but many things are still mainstays around here – and not for the better. It would surely be easier if the misgivings of the woods were more transitory, but we are not so lucky.
Well, you’re not. And I’m not particularly concerned – I came out here by choice. I am not the only one either. There are many others like me scattered throughout the wilderness, but I rarely come across them.
The point of this place is solitude.
Some, like me, come and go as they please. Some stay out here forever as studious hermits. I don’t think I’d recommend staying out here forever, but it seems to suit the most eclectic.
Even if one learns the art of the hunt, the inherent danger of this place is still present, but it becomes something… different. Your connection to it changes. It is hard to explain.
Suddenly, you are no longer afraid of the monsters in the woods, but you should respect them with the distance that they, in turn, know to maintain. I don’t think they fear me, but they know that I am… proficient, you could say. I am more of a hassle than they are looking for, and I’ve proven it.
All the same, I don’t let any light leak out of my cabin at night, and I have many booby traps sprinkled about these woods, at more and more concentrated levels as we get closer to the perimeter of my cabin.
Come to think of it, you definitely would have died, even if you’d found the cabin at night.
It’s a good thing I had a second knife on me.
Yes, I am always prepared out here, but that’s not out of fear. When you till the soil for crops, you have to maintain a standard of proficiency and quality to reap the crops you seek – and my weapons, traps, and training I have gathered not out of fear. They are my standard procedures to maintain my quality of yield.
There it is, up ahead.
Do you see the carcasses on the stakes?
What do they look like to you?
No, I’m not trying to be cheeky. They seem to look a little bit different to every person but along the same lines. They sure aren’t human. They don’t have names either. People call them different things, and instead of trying to sift through all these different names, I just decided to call them…nothing. But in any case, they are only one of the many things out there. These carcasses are just part of my soil’s quality, metaphorically.
It’s all about maintaining a standard of quality.
Yes, up the steps with me. Right this way – there’s the front entrance.
Inside you go.
Yes, I’m the only one here, aside from my pet forest spider.
I call him Diver.
I mean, it’s not technically a spider, but it might as well be. Ten legs, extremely fast and silent, can jump great distances, weave webs like woven steel if given enough time… and the spider’s about the size of your torso. He’s sleeping right now, and he’s quite friendly with me, so you shouldn’t worry. Although you probably still will.
Well, in you go already – I’d tell you there are no booby traps, but you’re just going to have to see for yourself. You have no idea what my word is worth yet anyway.
WELL then, what do you think? Not bad around here!
It’s just your ordinary cabin, really. Spacious enough, with a strong chimney and fireplace, all the basic amenities you would need, albeit with a rustic look. Perhaps even a little antiquated. Don’t worry, I make sure to keep it smelling nice. I burn sandalwood in here all the time and keep things clean.
Then again, I’m sure it’s not the aesthetics of my cabin that you’d be concerned about in this scenario…
No, your concerns don’t have much to do with this cabin at all. They have, for the moment, everything to do with me still, don’t they?
I gave you the knife, but it could still be part of some sadistic plan I have, couldn’t it?
Well, I’m not keeping you here. There are no chains or even locks on the doors since I have all the booby traps, but there is also no trust. How will you sleep at night? How will you trust anything I have to eat or drink?
Well, we can share a meal from the same dishes. I have a potpie in here that we can halve, and there is some tea here that I will pour from the same pitcher. Will this satisfy your skepticism, watching me serve these things and taking the first bite…?
See? Consumed without a hitch.
Now, please, sit down. Let’s discuss this a bit more.
The fact of the matter is that I don’t want you to be in fear, but if you weren’t afraid, then I might be. Fear is natural. There is a certain trust – or perhaps better put, a bond – that comes with fear. If you were out here, unarmed, and you weren’t concerned, well then I might seriously wonder who sent you here and what both of your intentions are. But I see the fear in your eyes, and to be perfectly honest, in these circumstances, it’s initially comforting. Because it makes sense, you see? So I do trust you for the moment. And now I shall do what it takes to return the favor and give you something you can trust. We start with common food and drink and build from there.
Let’s talk a little bit. “Put your hands on the table!”, as the old saying goes. This is a “circle” of trust only now being established, and if you are not eating, I would appreciate you keeping your hands where I can see them. I will do the same. Feel free to hold your knife too; however, I will be using both hands to enjoy my meal.
As we talk and eat, the night will settle in a bit more and you will begin to hear the bellows, howls, and moans of the forest. You will understand with your senses that the forest is not a place for anyone at night and that my bringing you to this cabin was simply to keep my conscience clean.
However… I’m afraid that in keeping my conscience clean for this moment, I will encounter with you a series of increasingly complicated circumstances in order to keep said conscience relatively unstained… and I am admittedly less than enthusiastic about this… but I would also be lying if I said that others hadn’t done the same for me in different ways. It is the least I can do, provided of course, that we establish and maintain this circle of trust.
Frankly, you’ll need my help to get out of here. You could maybe make it out on your own – but I wouldn’t suggest anyone takes those odds unless they have to.
With this in mind then, I’d like to ask you some questions. What do you consider to be good and evil? Do you think there are grey areas? How much of this dichotomy is subjective, and how much is objective?
No point in beating around the bush here.
These are some of the questions I have spent a great length of time pondering out here, but I bring them up because these are also the questions you must also ask yourself out here… so you can decide whether I am indeed someone you can trust.
What’s that you ask?
Well, we’ll just have to see about that, won’t we…?
The concepts of good and evil are certainly subjective. Mostly.
But subjectivity these days has been slighted. In today’s scientific materialist paradigm, most of us have been born into this mindset that if we take care of our environmental surroundings, the mind will be at ease.
It’s not always true.
Some things simply originate from the psyche, and no matter how you arrange your circumstances or amenities in your environment, it will not alleviate the pressures found within the psyche. The modern skeptical materialist would like to tell you that your subjective experience, your notions of free will, and your very emotions are nothing but neurophenomenological byproducts of environmental and genetic circumstance – that you are the thermodynamic friction that occurs when you rub environmental pressures up against a genetic code.
And to keep being perfectly candid with you: that’s a great way to look at life, but that’s only three-quarters of the truth. There’s an a priori Kantian essence to the human condition of which materialists will be hard-pressed to measure the substance. Of course, this does not mean that they are unable to quantify it. These materialists are just asking the wrong questions – using control methods that are far too finite and limited to penetrate the subject matter they seek to illuminate.
Sometimes the psyche just simply isn’t where the trail of breadcrumbs ends. Sometimes it is, but other times it is only where the trail begins.
I have to make this distinction before I philosophize good and evil with you because my notions of good and evil will likely sound quite deterministic – and I suppose they are – but not in the sense that you might think.
I suppose I should first explain to you just where, exactly, you are.
This place… it’s the darkest recesses of the psyche. People call it different things. I’ve heard it called the Goblin Universe many times. See, people like to toss around ideas like “light” and “dark” when speaking of the psyche, and some of those people have more research behind their statements than others. But at its best, these allegories attest to the psychodynamics of the mind – the allegorical “physics of the psyche” (hence the term “metaphysics”).
With the Yin and Yang symbol of Taoist alchemy, in all its poignant simplicity, it becomes a bit easier to wrap your head around the vast and nearly limitless studies surrounding the mystical Hebrew Trees of Life and Death. With each tree comprising the ten levels of heaven and hell, the material world smashed between, we find an ancient archetypal diagram of how the psyche and the cosmos intersect in quite a fractal, thermodynamic way.
As above so below.
While the origins of some of these practices might not be as ancient as some would like to believe – for example, Egyptian mystery priests were most certainly not using tarot cards, but they were certainly practicing their form of astrology – there are many heuristic methods with which a person’s psychical determinism might be gauged with greater clarity. It would appear that similar to the Taoist motif of learning to be a conduit for the Tao, the Tree of Life is meant to provide a catalog of ancient archetypes that a person may use to maneuver their way through the physics of the mind.
And, as is important to remember, archetypes are psychological structures embedded in the psyche from evolutionary pressures, and these symbolic models are reflections of those structures. Furthermore, they are important because they influence comparative religion as a whole, and thus, are deeply embedded in the adaptation process of the human species. This will be far from the last time we discuss this point.
But let us settle on the understanding that these models have their purpose, and that these physics of the mind specifically relate directly to chaos theory, and therefore, the fact that thermodynamics is a demonstrably accurate allegory.
But what is light and dark, truly? Dark is the unconscious mind, the Divine Feminine, the loving Mother that harkens the Tree of Death if you cross her progeny. The Father’s wrath is more easily typified by war and barbarism – the Mother’s more by the mystery of the darkness, hence the Mother’s symbolism of the Moon and the term “lunacy”.
So how is that evil?
Well, it isn’t. Not archetypally.
But what happens when the Tree of Death has been harkened? What happens when you’ve fallen too far, and you’ve found yourself face to face with the thresholds of Hell? Well, you’d either find yourself at the bottom of the ocean, or you’d find yourself here: in this cabin with me.
You see, the Mother and Father work in tandem. It’s the sacred alchemical marriage – a multiplicity of symbolism that implies a functional feedback loop between the microcosm and the macrocosm of existence. So the Mother’s wrath doesn’t just stay at the bottom of the ocean; no, of course not, it lurks here in the wilderness as well. The land is, of course, the Father’s archetypal realm, and so at the behest of the Mother, Father has created a whole host of terrible nightmares that have haunted humanity and made us question our sanity for thousands of years.
But let me remind you, my friend: the archetypal, Great Mother and Father are forces of the cosmos. They are neither good nor evil, but symbolically the sacred alchemical marriage represents harmony. And like any marriage, this too can fall into disrepair. This disrepair, more often than not, will result in trauma, and things we might then consider as evil.
Let us remember that the humanization of these deities comes at the intersection of our evolutionary pressures and our imaginations, but even if the humanization of these principles is purely symbolic, they are still principles nonetheless, and they are sacred.
It is up to the Logos, the alchemist, or the proverbial “hero of the journey” to carve out their vantage point to the Mother and the Father. But the Great Parents, the Yin and Yang, are never punishing. Even at their worst, when they are most distorted because of our sheer distance from them, they have our best interest.
No, great problems arise when we come into contact with other things admist the distortion. Things that exist outside of the Mother and Father. Things we can scarcely begin to understand. You see, amidst the distortions – like a weak bandwidth – it appears that some things can piggyback off the emanations of the diurnal forces of nature, and they can take the shells of these emanations and turn them into a great many things, and use them as they please.
This distortion of the sacred emanations is this forest, and it is the breeding ground for those unholy things that lurk here. This forest is the dark night of the soul. It is the gaping mouth of madness.
Good and evil are too often deified, instead of being harnessed by the scrutiny of science.
Yes, I’ll rail against scientific materialism, but I’m not in opposition to the scientific method.
You see, in western Abrahamic mythology, God equals the objective, which also equals authority, which therefore implies that those without authority should only focus on the collective and that all of this is inherently good (including the authority) and that any focus on the self is evil.
And of evil: the Devil sits at the helm of the subjective, which is a focus on the self, which complicates our allegiances to both the authority and the collective oftentimes. But this also seems to imply that there should be no authority at all, and if there is, it should immediately be dismantled.
The evolutionary value of this classical Good versus Evil viewpoint is evident enough. The self was largely irrelevant to the collective’s survival in more primitive and ancient times. In today’s day and age, if we sacrifice the self for the collective, then we will find collectively that there will be nothing left. There is no collective without a self, just like there is no self without a collective. This is not tripe. It’s fractal mathematics and if you don’t understand how this applies to the realm of the psyche, you’re missing some quintessential pieces to your understanding of the human mind.
This slow, evolutionary crawl of the human being had to, at some point, have a period without self-consciousness without identity and without that “I am” sentiment at all. What does this mean of Kant’s a priori then? It seems like a logical deduction that there would have to be some level of human adaptation where the brain functions could finally even begin to formulate any sort of the mental concept of “I am.” These days things are quite a bit different even if we are largely the same, but too few people stop to truly consider how much our concepts of the self – and even our biological capacities for the self – have formed and adapt.
Humans are very different beings than we were at the real beginning of this all, and so much of the focus of our evolutionary crawl in the modern era has been a focus on the subjective and the individual. Some of these foci have been disastrously shallow and naïve. But looking at the deeper picture with the advent of industrialism previously, and the internet in more recent times, the very nature of the human experience certainly seems to be drawing us further and further inward in many cases.
It is as if our own genius and self-destruction as a species have culminated into one giant coin-flip that’s going to get us burned either way. Either we will purify ourselves in the flame or perish.
Truly, the more you start to consider the dichotomy of good and evil, the more you have to look at the aspects of purification. Chemically speaking (or alchemically shall we say) purification has to do with the refinement of processes, whether they are psychological or physical. But like the flagellations of a monk destroying his own flesh to “refine his original sins”, warped from a sentiment of religious humility that was pure in concept, we see that purification can and will often equate to confrontation from a sociological standpoint. Saying that a chemical refinement process is a “confrontation” is an odd humanization of it, but the comparison does play out.
So whether this is a confrontation of a simple scientific process, an inner self-confrontation, or a physical confrontation amongst two living beings, we can assume that the idea of “purification” denotes a level of confrontation.
Well, how can you tell that you have been purified if we’re not talking about chemical processes here? What if we are talking about our psyches?
For starters, psychology and psychiatry have shown us methods of observing, measuring, and modulating our behaviors in ways demonstrably for the better. This much is certain, but there are so many different forms of therapies out there that it seems some people spend their whole lives trying to find something that simply “works.” While searching is not a bad thing, sometimes we need to simply begin the journey instead of endlessly debating what path we should take. Sometimes we all need help from the outside world, but other times we’ve got to grab our shovels and dig deeper inside of ourselves. This doesn’t mean we should throw scrutiny out the window – but have some faith in yourself and participate in the heuristic method. You’ll be surprised what you learn and yourself and your life.
There are tangible, methodical ways to improve one’s dispositions, and truly on that heuristic level, this is what untainted, genuine spirituality is – whether it be religious, mystical, or otherwise, because there are many different terms for people’s different approaches to the divine.
The term “heuristic”, if you are unfamiliar, is a self-education adaptation process where the human uses its observations plus its imagination of possibilities to solve problems. The empirical methodology of science surely uses the imagination, but in a way that takes a backseat. The heuristic method makes the imagination the lynchpin that holds together the empirical observations. Long before modern science, a heuristic understanding was the only method a human being had to form a conclusion. Sometimes these heuristic truths are quite truer than we might have expected, and sometimes they don’t amount to much more than superstition.
I’ll give you two examples: porcupines don’t shoot their quills, and you can’t catch a disease from a smell unless we discuss it in terms of chemical warfare. But these are both very common beliefs that humans have had in the past, and depending on the person and culture, they very well may still have these misunderstandings today. But if you think you’re going to catch a disease from a bad smell, you probably are more likely to stay away from toxic things, and the same avoidance logic follows for the porcupine concept as well. These things, while not entirely true, do have some sort of pro-adaptive value to them. You see: while the heuristic outcome might not be entirely true, the group of facts or circumstances it brings together might bestow a greater adaptation than we are prepared to fully understand.
So, you need to consider that human beings use metaphysical concepts and spiritual beliefs to gauge greater aspects of their existence, things they simply cannot yet understand. They might be able to understand it with time, but not at the given moment. Sometimes these beliefs can be racist, misogynist, manipulative, and therefore just made up for the benefit of psychopaths and sociopaths, but many spiritual traditions are based on this more wholesome heuristic developmental process of our culture.
People use these heuristic methods to decode this innate, allegorical “physics of the psyche”, and of course, this term of allegorical physics within the psyche is, in turn, heuristic. And heuristically, humans use gods to set up templates for their ideals, to measure benchmarks of purification and refinement through morality and ethics.
But here lays one of the biggest knots to untangle with good and evil, a point that morality, ethics, and ideals all bring us to: righteousness.
Firstly on the matter, we know that history is written by its victors. This saying is repeated often, but it is less remembered that the victors also take the gods of the losers and turn them into new devils – if the gods aren’t just mishmashed together as a method of control. It is a classic and unfortunately likely outcome from thorough sociocultural domination, and we can see these notions in effect still today. This is a very apt starting point in the notion that our deities and even our metrics of good and evil do not exist outside of the human perspective. However, what good and evil are symbolizing are very real things. How far out into reality these things emanate is anyone’s guess, but it clearly plays a large part in the human adaptation process and could have something to do with the earth’s electromagnetic field and orbit around the sun. Suppose this to be just as good a conclusion as any.
Consider as a stepping-stone, “good”, “purification”, and “evil” as a process of “confrontation”, but we won’t be stopping there because we really must be trying to escape the externalization of this dichotomy. It would appear that the threshold of good and evil arises with a person’s psychological relationship to confrontation and purification as two sides of one coin. Will a person’s confrontation lead to purification?
It depends on a variety of factors. What are the circumstances of the confrontation? Was it avoidable? What is to gain? Who suffers in the end? Who or what are you confronting?
Empirically, we cannot say that confrontation is wholesale evil, and we cannot say that purification is wholesale good. The Satanists inspired by Anton LaVey have an atheist “religion” based on the proper conduct of confrontation, espoused by the very stance they take against Christianity. On average, Satanists are good, ethical, moral people (despite what some Christians may think) and many of these Satanists have good reasons for disliking Christians.
On the other hand, Satanists can sometimes be very nihilistic, hedonistic, sometimes masochistic, and even sadistic, since the only other focus aside from confrontation is hedonism. But LaVeyan Satanism, from its roots, has always espoused a surprisingly genuine and rigorous ethical code.
Christians, of course, have a strong ethical code. Christians are often known for being very good-natured people, but they are also known for organized pedophilia and a whole slew of prejudices.
To someone that is not deeply pigeonholed into a belief system, it is clear to see that this argument can be made down the list with any given religion.
It only follows logically that no one religion can be entirely correct, since each still scarcely understands what they are talking about. Something like the Bible is not the perfect word of God – it is the proverbial word of God distorted my humankind’s heuristic imperfections. By that same logic I see all religious and metaphysical texts to have sprung, so it’s important to state that our ideas of morality and ethics are not exclusively tied to spirituality – but it’s equally very important to remember that this is from where they arise.
Empirically and heuristically, it is evident that what you choose to do with your symbols, your ideals and your beliefs plays a large role in whether or not they are divine or demonic, cathartic or neurotic. I’m not convinced that these things choose where they stand in our belief system – we pick where we place them whether we realize it or not.
So, with all that in mind, what’s the real difference between a god and a devil?
I think you have to underst –
Do you hear that?
It’s the howls, bellows, and screams that I mentioned earlier. They’re starting to awaken. I have this cabin soundproofed for this very reason, but it doesn’t matter much when you have a window open.
Unnerving? Oh, no. I came out here to relax. I’m only in danger if I choose to put myself in it, and should I do that, then it is all for the love of the hunt.
It is admittedly offputting though. It took me some time to get used to it. Some would say that you shouldn’t get used to it, and they might be right. But they’re only right for them. I’m not sure if it’s wise to stay out here, but everyone could stand to have a good pilgrimage now and then. As for me, I take the time to not only pilgrimage to the heavenly outlets but the hellish ones as well.
Damn, they’re getting into it out there. I think they’re putting on a show for you.
They’ve smelled the scent you left out there.
Oh, they’re waiting for you now.
I’m really glad I found you. It’s a lot worse than being mauled and eaten.
They do unspeakable things out there. Not because they choose to do such things either…the thing is, they are the unspeakable things.
But not everything out there in the woods is terrifying… some gems lurk among the horrors. Diamonds that hide in the rough. This is another reason that some adventurers stake their claim out here. Untold horrors survived will behold untold riches.
In any case, I don’t fall asleep to the sound of those bloodthirsty oafs. If they happen to leak a little through the soundproofing, I’ll listen to music, or if I want something a little less involved, I’ll listen to the sound of some ocean waves or something. I don’t have any ocean waves for you to listen to tonight – I didn’t expect to have a guest. But lucky for you, I have earplugs.
The soundproofing around here will help a lot, believe me. On a rare moon though, they will work themselves into a fit like a damn hurricane.
Oh, yes. They’ll be screaming all night long.
You’ll come to realize sooner or later that fear is absolutely useless from our current standpoint. You will have to realize this if you want to make it out of here. You may recognize the imminence of danger and mortality all you like, but fear – fear is useless. Do not fear. Among other reasons, they smell it out there. Their appetites are whetted by your stress and trauma.
But even that, of course, can be used to your advantage. Everything must be recognized as a tool out here, down to even your stress-related neurochemicals. If you can manage just enough dread, you can honey-pot those wretches and have them begging soon enough.
What, me? Sadistic?
Sometimes, I suppose… but not towards humans. I don’t have that in me.
Speaking of which, I have a guest bedroom, but I’m afraid you won’t be able to use it. It’s been the room that Diver has always claimed. And those forest spiders will eat a dog and take an arm off a man – I’ve seen both with my own eyes – so you don’t want to sleep in there. But don’t worry, I already checked to make sure he was in there and locked that door for the night. We’ll do introductions later.
Well, one year, I came back to the cabin and found its web-nest in the guest room, but it stayed in the guest room even though it could have destroyed the whole place before I even found out. For the life of me, I have no idea how it even got in here past all my booby traps. If I left that bedroom window wide open, nothing could make it far enough to try to squirm inside. But somehow, Diver comes and goes as he pleases. I’ve never seen anything like it! I was so impressed that I just gave him the room.
I’m absolutely enthralled by the little monster, and after I started feeding it steak, it warmed up to me. These days, the damn thing will just about play with me as a lapdog would.
And if you tried to sleep in there, you probably wouldn’t see him, he’d wait in the shadows, web you up while you napped, then pounce on you like a wildcat as you awakened.
It would suck.
Well, I’m off to bed. Here are your earplugs. There are some blankets and pillows in that closet, and you can sleep on that couch there.
Oh! And there’s quite a large bookshelf behind that corner there, should you not be able to sleep. I have a feeling that between me, the spider, and the screamers outside, you’re going to have a little bit of trouble.
Try not to worry about it too much. They might not be able to get in here, but they can still smell your terror if you stink enough. Just remember, if you rile ‘em up, then you’re not gonna get any sleep.
Have a good night.
Written by: Anthony Tyler