Since her first media appearance in 1965, Zeena has been the subject of hundreds of sensational and biased journalistic reports and interviews. Having been raised in a publicity-hungry media circus, she saw from an early age what a sad spectacle the courting of public attention can be. She later received an invaluable if unasked for education in the myth of "objective journalism" during the height of her mainstream public presence in the United States media from 1985-1990 and in the European music press during her 1988-1993 tour of duty with Radio Werewolf. Preferring to allow her work to speak for itself and indifferent to public opinion, Zeena has granted only a very few interviews since 1993 to carefully selected specialty publications. The following examples offer a representative sample of interviews from the various phases of Zeena's spiritual and artistic evolution. The webmasters will add more as time allows. In her capacity as Hemet-neter Tepi Seth of the Sethian Liberation Movement, Zeena only grants interviews to serious scholars of religion and mysticism and/or practicing adherents of a spiritual path. Decades of experience has taught her that spiritual initiation is too complex a topic for standard journalism's limited "sound bite" and lowest common denominator perspective.

Konstantinos Interviews Zeena and Nikolas Schreck, 2004

Konstantinos is the author of Summoning Spirits: The Art of Magical Evocation, Vampires: The Occult Truth, Contact the Other Side: 7 Methods for Afterlife Communication, and Gothic Grimoire: The Companion to Nocturnal Witchcraft. His interview with Zeena and Nikolas Schreck was conducted during his research for a forthcoming book. It is published here with his permission and as interviewer, he retains copyright of the interview.

KONSTANTINOS: One of the core considerations of anyone seeking out a religious organization is obviously authenticity or some guarantee of finding the Truth with a capital T. (...)

NIKOLAS: Realization of the essential truth that informs all experience and consciousness should be the ultimate aim of any genuine course of initiation, no matter what path one's disposition draws one to. However, my own experience toiling in the esoteric vineyards has not convinced me that the majority of those who seek affiliation with religious organizations are actually in search of the Truth with a capital T.

Unfortunately, a great deal of contemporary religious searching is not motivated by a sincere and disinterested dedication to discover the Truth whatever that Truth may be. Rather, the lion's share of spiritual seekers are motivated by a desire to have their own pre-decided convictions and prejudices given some form of validation by others. What this usually comes down to is a trivialized utilization of religious, mystical or magical terminology and trappings to bolster the low self-esteem and/or fragile egoic projections of the searcher by identifying with a belief system that provides some sort of support for his or her human persona. In other words, much of what passes for a religious search in the modern Western world is little more than escapism, play-acting, social conformity, and other forms of self-delusive fantasy.

ZEENA: To my observation, a genuine religious search for the Truth is exceedingly rare. To properly embark upon such a journey, it would require that the seeker is willing to open himself or herself up to fearlessly exploring the ever-elusive mystery of the cosmos without a pre-conceived notion of what he or she may find in the process. Such an exploration can be both wonderful and terrifying, but few set out for that search with any sort of realistic understanding or preparation. The seeker would have to completely accept that he or she might not only be totally wrong about so much which was previously held to be true, but also would have to be willing to experience the severe blows of disillusionment which must precede ecstatic flashes of enlightenment; that would require a genuinely adventurous and dare-devil constitution. One of the unavoidable phases of any authentic religious quest is the confrontation with the hidden aspects of one's own self (or perhaps I should more accurately say selves). This confrontation with the self must effectively force the initiate to overcome the limitations of the ego and socially conditioned personality.

There are certainly many brave souls throughout the world who are prepared to surrender their clouds of inherited baggage in order to move closer toward the trans-personal Truth of divine consciousness. However, most human beings who have been reared with the creature comforts of the spiritually vacuous industrialized Western world will cease their search at the first signs of physical, psychic, or mundane resistance; or as soon as they encounter the difficulties of dissolving deeply entrenched self-delusions. The catastrophically low spiritual standards of the modern era confirm the Eastern left-hand path concept of the Kali-Yuga, the Northern idea of Ragnarok, the many Meso-American prophecies of imminent spiritual terminus, and even the Book of Revelations' Apocalypse. Look at the world around you, and tell me that it appears to be filled with people genuinely in search of the Truth!

The Storm, which embodies the chaotic god Seth, actively works to avoid degenerating into the stasis of an "organization", a word that has no use in relation to our movement. Such rigid, bureaucratic institutionalizing would utterly contradict the destabilizing and dissident nature of our god. The spark of numinous union with the divine that authentic left-hand path initiates seek can never flourish in the confines of organization, which is why the Storm operates on a fluid and flexible organic basis as a mutating and decentralized open-ended movement. Conventional, organized religion, in its most decadent form, is an inert parody of the genuine religious experience every bit as much as modern occult organizations are degenerate parodies of forgotten religions.

NIKOLAS: Many would prefer to undergo their own physical extinction rather than surrender any of the defense mechanisms of the ego. But the Truth cannot even begin to be observed unless one is willing, indeed eager, to surrender one's personal subjective overlay so that the observed and the observer, the Self and the Other, can come to know each other in the ecstasy of eternal union. To be authentic one must discard the inauthentic, but the overwhelming human preference for the superficial, the distracting and the trivial tends to preclude this radical embrace of the Truth from occurring with much frequency. Furthermore, there is nothing more dangerous to the status quo and the structure of social hypnosis than the Truth, and therefore vested interests have always worked actively to prevent the Truth from being known.

ZEENA: To seek the Truth is automatically a calling for the innate dissident and the subversive; how many are willing to give up safety and security for the perilous life of the spiritual revolutionary? How many are willing to truly learn that their own cherished concepts are wrong? Striking provocative or mysterious poses in the safety of an Internet mailing list is far easier than taking the risks involved in the hard work of genuine initiation. This is why a dedicated search for Truth will always be a minority pursuit, regardless of what path or persuasion.

KONSTANTINOS: (...)I'm of the opinion that we create deities and name them, and that religions are really just identifying in human terms the energies that have existed in primal form from the beginning. Can you share your views on this idea of deity creation, including where you feel Set fits in?

ZEENA: Actually, I completely reject the anthropocentric idea that man created the gods. This idea seems to me one of the greatest and most arrogant follies of the modern era, dating back to the so-called age of enlightenment; then given new emphasis again at key points throughout history such as with the industrial age, in post-Marxist secular humanism, and most recently with post-modern (or as I refer to its adherents, post-mortem) trends of hollow, ironic nihilism.

My personal understanding of Seth, and of all the gods and spiritual hierarchies of beings, is that they are not in any sense the creation of man, but that their existence preceded mankind and will continue when mankind ceases to exist. But perhaps this is what you mean by "energies that have existed in primal form from the beginning". However, "energies" suggests that the gods are a property like light or radioactivity or gravity. While the manner in which the gods manifest may well appear similar to those properties, I perceive Them as actual sentient spiritual beings possessed of consciousness and the ability to communicate with and influence mankind.

Each god has a distinct function or purpose necessary to the continuance of all things in the universe, Seth included. Contrary to what many so-called contemporary "satanic-Setians" of the pseudo-religious milieu may wish to believe about Seth (namely that he's a gentlemanly god of politeness, ethics, isolation, and is basically interchangeable with Milton's suave Satan character from _Paradise Lost_), he is in fact a brutal terrorizer historically known to be the mightiest of physical strength and incessant force; he is the epitome of everything destructive, abhorrent and anomalous in nature, yet he is essential to the creative destruction necessary for the continuance of life. If one learns to recognize the purposes and manifestations of different entities in our everyday lives, one can't help but see that the ancients understood the greater ecological purpose of the gods far better than contemporary humans can even understand the simple mundane concepts of ecology, let alone on a cosmic scale.

To provide a clear example of what I mean: a lamb born with five legs, a spontaneous forest fire of devastating destruction, an albino, a solar eclipse, a hermaphrodite, a war, freak weather conditions, or an executioner, are all disruptions to the natural flow, order, or status quo of the universe and therefore are intrinsically Sethian. But obviously the traits and purposes of other gods are equally tangible in the mundane microcosmic and eternal macrocosmic eco-system which perpetually offset and challenge the functions of my god.

Consider some of his euphemistic names: The Butcher, The Slayer, Malign Magic, Lord of the Thigh (the name of Warrior gods), The Terrifier, The Enemy, The Overmastering, The Confederate (in the sense of leading a gang of terrorists). These names, dating back some 5,000 years, were not simply labels for gods intellectually created by a group of clever individuals. They were names which organically developed based on human observation and experience of a reality which was amply obvious to the ancients before the advent of the monotheistic, Abrahamic religions which contributed to the collective sterilization of all human intuition and extra-sensory awareness.

So to return to your original question, "Do we create deities and name them? ": I believe that only through arduous discipline over a very long time we may have the chance to create ourselves into deified beings. However, I do not believe that humans can create new gods (like characters for a comic book) anymore than humans can create another sky, an ocean, the air, or the white noise between radio stations. The closest humans can come to such an idea, aside from their own self-created spiritual beings, would be (as I believe you suggested), to attempt to articulate in human terms the traits, functions and effects which gods display to mankind.

NIKOLAS: To turn to the example of Seth in this regard, it is true that several human cultures have given regionally appropriate names to this ultimately nameless and universal cosmic trickster of creative strife, indomitable strength, anomaly, and liminal border-crossing. The Egyptians called Him Seth or Sutekh, the Greeks Typhon, the Nordics Loki, the Mesoamericans Tezcatlipoca, the Africans Ghede, to name some of the better known manifestations. However, a close analysis of these various religious traditions will reveal that these are different names for the self-same being, with some culturally determined variations. And even the names, under inspired inspection, can be seen to be integral aspects of the spiritual essence which they identify. The noted Egyptologist Erick Hornung once described Seth as a "phenomenon" and indeed since every god may make Itself known through hundreds of "natural " and "supernatural" manifestations, one may at times perceive a deity as an energy, but it is a sentient energy.

I cannot stress clearly enough that Seth (like the majority of deities known to comparative religion) is a discrete consciousness with His own will and distinctive attributes, in no sense a mere "archetype" or "Form " or "symbol". It is true that such mundane social forces as politics, law, language, trade, organized religions, and warfare have led to a great deal of human reinterpretation of the various deities. To name but one historical example, we can easily see the great difference between the original Near Eastern deity known as Yahweh and the much later interpretation of this god that was popularized through the official and approved version of the Bible.

When we consider that Egyptian religion developed over a period spanning more than five thousand years, and is now being developed again after a long sleep, there can be no wonder that the figure of Seth represented and "identified in human terms" in the changing Egyptian religious literature also changes. The theurgist can pierce the veil of human reinterpretation and socially motivated exegesis of a given deity and contact the eternal essence of the god in its pure state. Indeed, this act of divine communion is crucial to the process of self-deification.

KONSTANTINOS: On that general topic, how do you feel demons fit in to such a cosmology? Are they sinister servitors of nature, or servitors we call into being?

NIKOLAS: I have found the spiritual realm to be as populated with as many diverse species of beings as the material realm that surrounds us on earth. Most of the creatures human beings designate as demons are simply gods and goddesses that have fallen into disrepute or been marginalized. However, there are a vast number of entities operant in the metaphysical dimensions whose behavior accords with the Western concept of demons, whether that behavior take on forms humans would find to be gremlin-like, incubus and succubus-like, elf-like, and countless other variations.

Whether the word "demon " is the best blanket term to describe these beings that are not quite gods is a whole other question, but that such beings exist and can be observed to interact with the material realm I have not the slightest doubt. Whether one calls these beings elementals or demons, spirits or entities is merely a semantic preference that can be debated endlessly according to taste. After all, its unlikely that the many spiritual beings that have always interacted with mankind refer to us as "humans", so why should we assume that they like being called "demons"? We are as strange them to us as they are to us.

ZEENA: Like all spiritual phenomena, the reality of these beings is beyond the logical limitations of language, and intellectual contemplation of their activity can only allow the most superficial understanding. Contemporary Western occultism flounders in a Sargasso sea of half-understood magical terminology that usually obscures a lack of authentic experience in the spiritual realm. I believe that traditional shamanic cultures have made a far more viable and superior study of, and means of working with, these beings. But even their understanding is limited by the necessarily provincial agenda of local tribal culture.

Any understanding of the phenomenon of demons must begin by admitting how imprecise the use of the word "demon " has become. As we explained in Demons of the Flesh, there is a world of difference between the contemporary popular understanding of the word as funneled through the essentially negative and "evil" interpretation of Christian demonology and the original use of the word in ancient Greece, where the daimon was understood to be an ambivalent morally neutral spiritual essence informing every human being, akin to the Roman concept of the genius or the later "guardian angel ". I personally use the word daimon only to refer to the trans-personal essence of the human soul.

However, this does not mean that the beings Western demonology refers to as "demons" do not exist (just that I wouldn't refer to them as such). On the contrary, I have encountered such creatures many times, my earliest recollection being around three years of age when I received a startling and electrifying "touch" on my spine by a being I referred to then as a "ghost" due to my limited vocabulary and knowledge, but it was certainly a sort of daemonic awakening in its nature. Understanding what are commonly regarded as "demons" requires a far more complex study and practice than traditional Western demonology allows. Their existence has been chronicled from the beginning of history by every human culture.

NIKOLAS: To elaborate on Zeena's last comment, in Egypt, I've observed the summoning of djinn, and could see that the phenomenon was essentially similar to the evocation of goetic demons with which I had earlier experimented. In Haiti, I also witnessed the calling forth of beings comparable with western demonic conjuration. One thing that the Arabic, Western and Haitian demonology has in common is that most of these entities are actually just degraded folk forms of former divinities who have literally fallen from their archaic prestige to become "demonized". In Egypt today, even under Islam, local magicians still call upon Seth as the djinn who rules over Tuesday.

For instance, let's take the demon Ashtaroth. There is no doubt that the demon Ashtaroth is a confused derivation of the ancient Near Eastern goddess Ishtar, also known as Astarte or Babalon. If one examines the majority of the traditional demons of Western magic, one discovers that they are almost all diminished renditions of beings that were once accorded the dignity of divine status. So in my own magical practice, my attitude had been why fuck around with half-assed latter-day Christianized versions of these entities when one can communicate directly with the pure gods and goddesses who were the demons' original prototypes?

ZEENA: I suppose there is some value as a sorcerous practice in creating thought-forms or egregores, or calling servitors into being as an exercise in demonstrating the power of the imagination to create physical change. But in my own practice of religious theurgy I concentrate my efforts on direct communion with and integration with the divine in its purity, as I seek to transcend rather than become more deeply immersed in the creations and projections of the sheerly human mind. As far as differentiating between spiritual entities that are "sinister servitors of nature, or servitors we call into being " I experience the entire cosmos, including the mind, as one unified totality. Therefore, I make no separation between what is natural or what is called into being - it's all nature. From a non-dualist perspective, the seemingly individual mind that might call an entity into being is also one with nature, just as nature is a fully sentient part of the greater universal mind. But I do make a distinction between the functions of all energies, whether demons, gods, or man-made characters which have taken on a life of their own; they are each unique and yet interconnected.

KONSTANTINOS: The powers for which magicians rely on demons do seem real, having experienced them myself, but do you feel there's anything more potent about using such beings (as opposed to other magic) other than enhanced psychodrama?

ZEENA: Yes, I absolutely believe that the invocation and evocation of spiritual entities is an infinitely more potent phenomenon than merely "enhanced psychodrama". If the powers of these beings were not real, there would be no reason to contact them. Psychodrama may be useful for secular psychological therapy but it is of no value at all to the work of liberation and self-deification. Psychodrama, like most Western psychology, merely addresses the human ego and persona (usually to repair a malfunctioning ego/personality rather than to dissolve it). It does not truly approach the eternal psyche, or soul, in its literal sense. And it certainly precludes communion with the divine.

Furthermore, I find the concept of human magicians "using such beings" to be an erroneous arrogance typical of modern occultism. No spiritual power of any force can be "used" by humanity, for these autonomous intelligences are far more powerful than humanity can even imagine. Human initiates may be able to awaken the divine/demonic powers within themselves through theurgy but to imagine that gods or demons will submissively follow the bidding of man -- like Barbara Eden in "I Dream of Jeannie" -- is a conceit that grossly overestimates the human's place in the cosmic order.

Let's place this in some perspective; a human is such a miniscule, fragile and vulnerable organism compared to say the ocean, an avalanche, or a volcano, all of which are powerful enough to snuff out human life in seconds. Now, a god -- any god - is greater still than those natural phenomena. What lapse of common sense is required to think that such an entity could be used by any human. Again, the gods are not symbolic archetypes, or character representations of our relatively tiny minds. They are omnipresences which manifest in all things, our minds included, but not the other way around.

There is one final point about psycho-drama in relation to theurgy worth mentioning. The ancient Hellenic dramatic tradition was indeed meant to activate in the actors portraying gods, muses, the deceased, fates, or personalities of legends and sagas, an act of literal possession from said entities. There are many accounts still in existence of those spiritual thespians who, after portraying a being in a particularly powerful way, or over many years of playing the same role, would even begin to be regarded by the townspeople as something not entirely human anymore, a sort of borderland living demi-god (a phenomenon which occurs even today in a mutated, ignorant form by the audiences of contemporary performers, actors, and celebrities who obviously have no background in theurgic performance!). Of course this tradition of embodying the soul of a character or deity in dramatic presentation is prevalent in many ancient or primitive cultures, as well as contemporary third world shamanic traditions and Voodoo. It's just that the Hellenic theatrical tradition is most commonly known and well documented. To my own experience, this is the only appropriate and effective use of drama in terms of sorcery and communicating with and for the gods.

Drama, like all the arts, has its origins in religious ritual.

KONSTANTINOS: How would you explain the primary differences between approaching Set through the ToS, The Storm, or through a personal link? Is an understanding of him easier when in a group current, and if so, are we really tapping into an egregore linking to Set that way? (Sort of like GOTOS linked to the Saturn Demiurge for the FS?)

NIKOLAS: Seth, like any spiritual being, is an objective phenomenon that exists. He can be approached with equal effectiveness through a group or individual approach. We're talking about entities that predate the existence of mankind so obviously there is a rich history of them being contacted long before any human organization was formed.

The Storm is by definition a Sethian religion which understands itself as the human incarnation of the Seventy Two Fiends of Seth, the Companions and Co-Conspirators of the god who serve as His Army. Therefore, working together closely as a circle of comrades in the left-hand path kaula tradition is crucial to our interpretation of our relationship with our god. We have found it more rewarding and more magically advantageous to forge an understanding of our god in the context of a collaborative environment of co-religionists than on a purely individual basis.

However, any human being can potentially create a personal link with Seth or any other deity - one certainly does not need a group to create such a bond. Egyptology shows us that the Seth experience came to humans long before dynastic Egypt created a formal Sethian clergy or any physical temples of Seth. For example, when I made my own first unambiguous contact with Seth in 1983 CE during a voyage to Egypt I was not involved with any group at all. In fact I had an extremely low opinion of most of the magical groups I had encountered. Many of those who have entered the Storm Working experienced individual Sethian religious experiences before making their bond with the religion of Seth.

ZEENA: I see no resemblance between the supposedly noble and ethical "Platonic Form of Isolate Intelligence" that Michael Aquino arbitrarily calls "Set" and the actual god commonly known by that name. As I know from experience, anyone who affiliates with the ToS will not find himself connected to the true Sethian egregore at all, but will instead have plugged into the self-created Satan-Lite fantasies of Michael Aquino; delusions which are paradoxically opposed to all available reliable and scholarly accounts of the nature of Seth. I'm the first to admit that I made a colossal error in believing that there must surely be some trace of Seth to be found in an institution which so impudently bears His name; perhaps there would be some "secret" inner Order of Seth beyond the Holiday Inn buffets, medallion worship, and "fancy-talk". But the biggest secret of all about the supposed Temple of Set is that, to borrow a phrase from Gertrude Stein, there's no There there. After seven years of being privy to that corporation's inside dirt, gossip, back-biting, middle-class family values, and extremely unethical behavior, I became it's High Priestess on June 21, 2002 by a majority vote of the board of directors, a.k.a the “Council of Nine”. Still stupidly believing I could educate and reform the Org somehow into a legitimate religious body, I regarded that event as the last test to finally know if there might not be one last stone unturned where a teensy shadow of Seth was hiding. But sadly all I ultimately learned was that from the inception of the Temple of Set, it's founders never wanted it to be anymore authentically Sethian than a pathetic Tuesday night Catholic bingo party and pot-luck, which is how it remains. When it finally dawned on me that I was most likely one of the very few truly Sethian things that ever happened to that group (i.e., the authentic Sethian spirit of discord and anomaly in opposition to their stasis and stultifying routine), I knew that this terrified group of poseurs was nowhere for one who embraced The Terrifier. So I engaged in yet another authentic Sethian act and - Deserted.

As for understanding the staggeringly erroneous idea the Temple of Set has about my god, you needn't just take my word alone; only a few days of comparing the available ToS literature to the authentic Sethian tradition as recorded in history will prove that the ToS has almost no connection to the god Seth save for nomenclature. The organization that blasphemously calls itself "the Temple of Set" does not reflect any understanding of the god Seth as He has ever been known. The only exception might be Don Webb's half-hearted and cautious concession to some factual data in his books. But even he, as one-time High Priest and CEO of that organization can't fully embrace the totality of Seth as he continues to accept the standard-issue Aquino designed chastity belt that all initiates receive upon entering the Temple doors.

KONSTANTINOS: Set is obviously a sexual creature, and you point out in Demons of the Flesh how the tales attributed to him were definitely of the "forbidden" type, critical to Eastern LHP. What are your plans for furthering this sex-magic link? Will the Storm focus more heavily on the fusion of Eastern LHP and what we've come to use the term for in the West?

NIKOLAS: There is simply no such thing as a left-hand path or an authentic veneration of Seth without sex, so of course sexual mysticism and magic plays an important part in the Storm's process of self-deification, just as it would in any legitimate sinister school. So we are not really "furthering the sexual link" so much as simply making manifest the erotic aspect of the sinister current that Western misinterpretations have neglected due to misinformation. A principle difference between the left-hand path and the right-hand path is after all the utilization of physical sexual practice in the sinister way.

So it is literally absurd to say that one is practicing the left-hand path if one's religious devotions do not include sexual union with the Other. Similarly, even the slightest familiarity with the erotic cast of Seth's mythology and actual presence should make it obvious that anyone calling him/herself a Sethian would also be a sexual creature. Even the traditional Egyptian representation of the god's face and the Was scepter that bears his features are obvious phallic symbols expressing Seth's insatiably lustful nature.

ZEENA: The way the term "left-hand path" has been used in the West since as long ago as the height of Madame Blavatsky's career has been completely erroneous. So the Storm totally rejects the popular Western occult subculture definition of the left-hand path as simply being another phrase for Satanism/black magic/selfishness/solipsism. The Storm certainly does not seek to create a fusion between the authentic Eastern left-hand path and the simple-minded occult mish-mash that some Westerners ignorantly call "the left-hand path". In fact, we desire to surgically remove ourselves from such inauthentic modernist concepts so that our bond with the sinister current may be pure.

However, as the Storm clergy states in our Charter Agreement:

"Our utilization of the left-hand path methodology of awakening that originated in India as the Vama Marga (left way) is not a faithful recreation of medieval practice that was effective for transgressive Asian initiates, but is of little relevance to transgressive Western initiates. Rather, the Storm applies the working postulates and practices of left-hand path mysticism and magic into forms more effective for modern Western psychological and cultural conditions, without relinquishing the authentic and universal core of the practice. For instance, the left-hand path, wherever it is practiced, uses the overcoming of taboos and phobias, often related to death or sex, to overcome social and internal conditioning and open the way to total liberation. But the taboos and phobias of the Eastern initiate raised in a Hindu or Buddhist environment will obviously be very different than the taboos and phobias of an initiate raised in the peculiar mixture of post-Judeo-Christian and atheist-rationalist thought that dominates the West.

"Therefore, the Storm realizes that the proven methods of the left-hand-path must be continually reinvented for Western practitioners if radical transformation, and not shallow ritualized mimicry, is to be actualized. Our cultures (West and East) are so divergent that the uncritical adoption of mystical physiology in the form of such traditional Eastern left-hand path concepts as Nadis and Chakras into our practice is just as impractical as appropriation of the traditional five M's ceremony."

KONSTANTINOS: The ToS actively embraces traditional Western LHP symbolism and atmosphere, finding the Prince of Darkness identifiable to say the least. Would you say this embracing of Hollywood type imagery is conducive to initiation or a hindrance?

NIKOLAS: The left-hand tradition recognizes that in the Kali Yuga all spirituality is debased and vulgarized to match the low level of human understanding in such a corrupt time. The kind of immersion in mainstream fantasy entertainment cultivated by the pop-culture obsessed escapists of the Temple of Set, Inc. and many other occult organizations of its ilk provides a good example of how the language and iconography of genuine spiritual traditions are desecrated into trivial mind-numbing entertainment for the lowest common denominator of the population. That's not only a hindrance to initiation, it defeats the purpose of the initiatory quest for truth entirely. I would have to disagree with you that there is any such thing as a "traditional Western LHP symbolism and atmosphere ". What the ToS and other modern "Satanic" offshoots of LaVey's business venture are doing is recycling pop culture imagery devoid of any spiritual value or significance to the left-hand path tradition as it actually exists. Playing around with Hollywood imagery or Lovecraftian horror fiction as is so common in modern occult circles may be a fun pastime but it can't be dignified as representing a genuine religious tradition, it's simply a role-playing game for stunted adolescents dressed up in misunderstood metaphysical terminology. Such play-acting has more in common sociologically with the secular phenomena of Star Trek conventions and the Renaissance Faire than with any true religious tradition.

K: The siddhis you talk about in the book are fascinating. Did you wish to
share any experiences you two have had with some of them?

NIKOLAS: We feel that describing one's mystical and magical experiences to beginning initiates who haven't yet had much experience can inhibit their own initiatory development, since it's human nature to seek to duplicate role models provided by others. It's sort of like describing sex to a virgin - unless you've experienced it, other people's descriptions of it are not going to be very helpful. It can also degenerate into egotistical braggadocio, especially to those who have yet to go through these experiences for themselves.

Therefore, we prefer to teach the techniques and disciplines that can awaken the siddhis. Then, when the student naturally finds that they are manifesting, I'm willing to discuss my own experiences with them to provide some guidance as they go through the process of transformation. All I will say here is that the siddhis (Sanskrit for "perfections " but generally understood as magical powers), seem to be objective phenomena that any karmically prepared individual who takes up the serious practice of meditation will eventually awaken in themselves. I think they are a normal part of the natural human magical talent which our species has lost during the past centuries of conditioning into rationalism and positivism, but can be regained through meditation. The other thing I would say about the siddhis is that Western magicians who go through the symbolic rigamarole of ceremonial magic to develop magical powers would probably find that the simple act of daily meditation is a more powerful arouser of these thaumaturgic talents in the mind than the empty repetition of pre-written melodramatic rituals. Through clearing the mind of extraneous thought through meditation, rather then cluttering the mind, the initiate becomes closer to the divine, and therefore activates semi-divine capabilities. Of course, many Eastern meditation teachers, in right-hand path Buddhism and Hinduism, insist that the siddhis should be ignored when they happen, since they are presumably a form of delusive maya. The left-hand path meditator, who accepts rather than rejects maya as a part of the bewitching nature of the cosmos, seeks to awaken the siddhis and to master them.

KONSTANTINOS: You both have experienced rifts with LHP organizations over the years. Even the organizations themselves seem to rise and fall with a rhythm, and even at their peaks they never possess a roster that quite makes sense (the Satanic Bible was a bestseller, for instance, but the CoS only had a few hundred active members, right?). Would you say there's something about those drawn to the sinister that almost guarantees failure to thrive in a group?

NIKOLAS: No, not at all - the traditional left-hand path has always been based very strongly on the intimate interaction between a trusted circle of initiates. The REAL left-hand path is focused on the transcendence of the ego, a process of liberation which can only be effectively engineered in a group setting, working in union with other initiates practicing the same discipline. Since sexual ecstasy and transpersonal love are integral to the sinister current, it should be obvious that the left-hand path cannot function in a vacuum, but absolutely requires the development of deep relationships with others on the path whose initiation you actively support. Building the kind of trust and rapport needed for such radical initiatory interaction is extremely difficult and can only be solidified through many years of trial, challenge and shared adventure in personal meetings. Considering the fickle dilettante mindset and lack of long-range stamina and discipline that characterizes the modern homo sapien in the pushbutton Internet age, I doubt that the authentic left-hand path will ever appeal to more than a dedicated hard core of initiates in the West for the foreseeable future.

The fraudulent LaVey/Aquino distortion of the left-hand path, however, is based almost entirely on the exaltation of the ego, and that's an important reason why that phenomenon stagnated and "never quite made sense."

Actually, the rifts I experienced with the Church of Satan and the Temple of Set, (which in retrospect I see as unified symptoms of the same disease), happened precisely because neither of them were left-hand path at all. For the record, I never joined the Church of Satan but was made an honorary member by Anton LaVey in February 1988, an "honor" I formally rescinded in disgust in April 1990. The Church of Satan was simply a cynical mercantile personality cult and the reason it failed to thrive as a group is largely because it had no other compelling raison d'etre other than to bring in $100 membership payments from the gullible, the "rubes" and "marks " that LaVey had so much contempt for because they paid for admission to his shabby carnival. Furthermore, even if we are to take the "philosophy" of the Church of Satan seriously for the sake of argument, what kind of thriving group could possibly be formed on the principles of selfishness, laziness and solipsism? Someone who ascribes to the "Nietzsche for Dummies" glorification of the ego extolled by The Satanic Bible would be unlikely to be motivated to participate in any group, which is one reason it never grew beyond a certain point. The Temple of Set, despite its claim of having transcended the LaVeyan ethos from which it grew like mold, is similarly devoted to the All-American pursuit of selfish self-indulgence and ego-motivated manipulation rather than enlightenment.

ZEENA: The reason why the sinister tradition has not thrived in the West thus far has nothing to do with any intrinsic aversion of the truly sinister initiate to group participation. The failure you refer to is largely a result of the catastrophic distortion of what the sinister way really is, thanks to the misinformed definitions of the left-hand path produced by Blavatsky, Crowley, LaVey and their imitators.

The Storm has taken on the difficult mission of building a valid left-hand path tradition in the West for the 21st Century. But we also understand that we have our work cut out for us in so doing while simultaneously correcting the misconceptions of the past. I know that to do this properly and permanently, it won't just happen overnight, but I also know that I've had the stamina to forge ahead thus far, after decades of obstacles. If I can do it, so can others who will be instrumental in creating a stronger, healthier foundation of something enduring and true.

Having been weaned since birth on the most blatant misuse of the phrase "left-hand path" along with other obscene mendacities, I feel personally duty-bound to correct public misconceptions promulgated in the past by my own family. My war with the "Black Pope" LaVey was always a holy war, which of course is utterly incomprehensible to the atheistic personality cult he created. Having had to go through my own deprogramming and reeducation as to the true nature and history of the left-hand path, I've come to believe that the brainwashing of generations of young, impressionable minds into believing the left-hand path was an uniquely LaVey created "philosophy" was but one of the many insanely egotistic and irresponsible stunts of my progenitor. I'm not saying I have any sympathy for cretins who don't wish to be enlightened, indeed even fight against it; just that it continues to be my karmic destiny as avatar of a warrior, enemy god to provide the necessary blows to illusion for those who might be rattled out of their slumber. Anyone who was shaped by the modern "Satanic " ethos would run screaming from the idea that to achieve true left-hand path liberation they must surrender the same precious little egos that they've been instructed for years to "indulge" in! But this is also a reflection of the larger problem of the modern magical subculture in general, which sees the practice of magic as an extension of one's temporal persona rather than a transcendence to divine states of consciousness requiring interaction with literal deities.

KONSTANTINOS: Regarding the general secret nature of occult orders, would you say that in any way adds to power? Or is it more likely that revealing secrets to the many only adds to their battery of power?

ZEENA: The secret nature of most Western occult orders is simply a means for individuals without any power or wisdom to pretend they are in possession of great and dangerous secrets that are beyond the ken of mere mortals. This is nothing more than the primitive play-acting of little boys pretending to be secret agents or writing TOP SECRET on their treehouse. This Freemasonic-Golden Dawn hocus-pocus may be an acceptable game for children, even adolescents, but grown adults indulging such fantasies borders on the pathological. I'm extremely suspicious of secret society organizations that zealously guard their information from outsiders because such behavior invariably breeds an insular and paranoid approach to the world that is greatly limiting and can often lead to manipulative abuse of an aspiring initiate's trust. This is why it is the firm policy of the Storm to provide our written documentation publicly. If anyone outside the Storm can use our techniques or benefit from our experience by trying to put it into practice themselves, that only adds fuel to the Sethian left-hand path movement. The more the messages of Sethian liberation are spread, and the methods utilized, the better it is for the continuance of the movement -- which I hasten to add is not any one person or group but is a current, like a river flowing from generation to generation. Until recently the river bed has suffered a centuries long drought, but we're bringing it back to life! And the only way that can effectively happen and last is if we make our material as open to anyone who wants it as possible. The fundamental difference between active participation in the Storm and in just trying to get what you can from the written material is that active participation in the Storm involves personal training to become proficient and knowledgeable enough to pass on the teachings to others.

NIKOLAS: Often the obsession with secrecy is a marketing device to add glamour to a spurious enterprise, when it is not simply the result of losers cloaking themselves in secrecy as a boost to their sagging self-esteem. One of the most laughable examples of this sort of occult secrecy was the case of supposed "Priests of Set" in the Temple of Set who were terrified that their relatives or friends outside of the Temple would discover that they were "Priests". Can you imagine any kind of legitimate religion in which the purported clergy are too frightened to make themselves known publicly?

"I may be a socially maladroit non-entity but I know something really important that I won't tell you," is a pretty pathetic formula for initiation and is not much more sophisticated than the method of an insinuating, gossiping housewife. It is true that left-hand path initiation is traditionally conveyed one-on-one but there is a difference between deliberately withholding "secrets" and transmitting specific personally tailored guidance in a suitably sacred atmosphere. Making one's self fearlessly open and vulnerable to the totality of experience is part of left-hand initiation, so I see no reason why secrecy should play any part in the sinister tradition in the West.

The Storm movement is an open religion, not a secret occult order, and it was founded on the principle that the Sethian Work of sinister liberation is best achieved by making all useful disciplines and techniques likely to lead to enlightenment as widely available as possible. The true "secrets " are laying right out in the open for all to see; the trick is to awaken sufficiently to discover them for yourself. Ironically, the secrets are usually very simple things that only make sense to those who have undergone certain experiences that provide them with context. However, even if secrets are made widely available, there will always be conspiracy theorists and mystery-mongers who suspect that something is being kept from them.

KONSTANTINOS: While it's sort of the worst fear of publishers and their legal teams, there is a lot of evidence suggesting that certain hallucinogens actually have no harmful or addictive effects, and do aid in mystical experience. It strikes me as an ultimate taboo (legally and socially) or forbidden act for our time. Any thoughts on the subject, perhaps on the claims that DMT results in heavenly shamanistic visions and DPT in hellish ones? Can these states help along one's ability to connect with the unseen, especially in the LHP?

NIKOLAS: The traditional left-hand path, whether in the Indian Vama Marga, the Nordic Seidhr, or the Dionysian mysteries, to name just a few expressions of the universal sinister current, has always made use of the so-called hallucinogens (better known as entheogens) as a short cut to mystical and visionary experience and as an opener of perception and arational thought. Seth is a god of intoxication, and the Mesoamerican Typhonian deity Tezcatlipoca was specifically linked to the psychedelics used by the Aztec priesthood and which continue to be used in shamanism today. Intoxication and the use of marijuana is a major part of the Aghori left-hand path sect in India, and the place of soma in the Indian mystical tradition and of other psychedelics in the Greek mystery religion (including the oracles of Delphi) is well known.

The suppression and criminalizing of legitimate scientific research into these substances after the popularization of them during the 1960s was a deliberate attempt to prevent humanity from seeing beyond the veil of normative consciousness. Meditation, sexual yoga, skrying, breathing exercises, transgressive experience, lucid dreaming, trance, kundalini, and other methods being taught in the Storm can alter and expand consciousness permanently and in a deeper more enduring level than the temporary use of drugs. All experiences attainable through chemical substances can be achieved through other means and the left-hand path initiate should be able to enter mystical raptures without the use of drugs. However, we consider the psychedelic substances, including DMT and DPT - if used in a sacred context and in moderation - to be useful tools to left-hand path initiation. As for "heavenly " and "hellish", these are rather subjective terms - the left-hand path initiate is prepared to confront the totality of reality including those aspects of the divine that are terrifying and hideous (Sanskrit bhairava ) in nature. The nightmare is sacred to Seth, so one man's "bad trip" may be the Sethian's paradise. Who seeks to become a god can't pick and choose only the pleasant parts of the cosmos - all of reality must be boldly faced and integrated.

ZEENA: I agree with Nikolas' comments and would also add that after engaging in certain meditative practices consistently (i.e., daily), over many months and years one's physiology and chemical balances in the brain change and may be more readily manipulated through various techniques which can actually recreate the short term effects of ingested substances. Because of this change which occurs within the brain chemistry, it often will also change the effects of ingested drugs, medications, and other chemical or plant substances. So even whatever benefits might be gained from the use of additional substances, it's likely that augmenting it with a meditation discipline will enhance or alter that effect.

All too many would-be magicians follow in Crowley's misguided and self-destructive footsteps, using these substances in an undisciplined recreational or dependent manner to replace the natural techniques of consciousness alteration they are incapable of achieving. Rationalizing the use of external or supplemental substances due to personal weakness or the need to anesthetize one's self from an intolerable existence would be better addressed in a therapist's or psychiatrist's office rather than any occult Order or initiatory group; a suggestion I have had to delicately offer at times to those who clearly are not mentally/psychically balanced enough to embark on any sort of consciousness altering exploration, whether through organic means such as trances and meditation or through the use of mind-transforming substances.

Similarly, to trivialize the use of sacred, consciousness-altering substances as entertainment or as a distraction from the strenuous work of initiation actually becomes a hindrance to one's liberation. The sinister tradition has never been adverse to potentially dangerous or risky methods of awakening. But we have learned that the idea of applying "sex and drugs" to spiritual development particularly excites the imagination of the sensation-seeking, and no amount of rational discourse will dampen their prurient interest. However, from the perspective of the left-hand path initiate, all practices that may lead to awakening are considered to be sacred encounters with the divine as it manifests in the material world around us.

Copyright 2004, Konstantinos