Central to Satanic magic is the concept of the Abyss. The word Abyss comes from the Greek word abussos meaning bottomless [a-, not + bussos, bottom]. In reference to Satanic magic however, it is considered to have a number of different meanings which are used by different groups. Firstly the abyss is more commonly understood as being a reference to the Satanic underworld wherein Satan and his demonic army reside. This interpretation largely stems from Christian sources, most especially Revelations in the New Testament: 'And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven fallen unto the earth: and there was given to him the key to the pit of the abyss. And he opened the pit of the abyss; and there went up a smoke out of the furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.' According to Andrew Collins, writing in The Black Alchemist, (ABC Books. 1988), the Friends of Hekate and associated individuals have used this form of symbolism in their magical activities where they have utilized the apocryphal imagery of the Christian bible in an attempt to construct a magical version of the Antichrist.
A second interpretation of the abyss comes from the Order of Nine Angles who suggests the abyss is located where the world of causality meets with the world of a-causality. Whilst the former is understood primarily as rational and physical, the latter is understood to be irrational, non-physical and magickal. This understanding of the Abyss as a gateway between two different worlds has long past associations with the concept of the Temple as a gateway to the world of the gods. This in itself is interesting bearing in mind that many pre-Christian Temples, upon which Christians built their churches are believed to be situated on ley lines, which carry two currents of energy around the planet. It is this belief that is reflected in the theory that the Abyss is a location point where the magical worlds and the mundane worlds collide. Yet this gateway is also believed to exist within the human psyche at the point where the conscious and the unconscious meet and it is from this point that the Satanic magician draws forth his magical power through the medium of Satanic ritual.
Magical use of the abyss from this perspective varies according to the tradition of the Order of Nine Angles. One may utilize the tarot cards as pathworking images to explore the hidden side of the human psyche, the side that normally remains untouched in the abyss. Alternatively, the individual may undertake a specific ritual that draws forth the powers or energies contained within the abyss as they are, that is without any form of imagery or symbolism. This ritual involves a long and arduous walk - 80 miles over two days for males, 56 miles for females - followed by a ceremonial ritual where the individual invokes the chaotic energies of the Abyss by visualizing a crystal filling with darkness whilst continually chanting the word "chaos." Entrance into the abyss, if successful, will result in changes of consciousness that will culminate in the individual himself becoming such a gate between the two worlds. Speaking less esoterically this means that the individual will, by virtue of the changes in consciousness that include the crystallization of the astral body, be able to manifest magical energies without recourse to the procedure of magical ritual. Symbolism is therefore no longer necessary although it may still be used by the new Master or Mistress.
The third interpretation of the abyss comes from the Society of Dark Lily who teaches that it is symbolic of the journey from Initiate to Adepthood. As such, the Satanist passes through the Abyss over a long period of time in order to attain Wisdom: the 'Abyss is that awful thing you go through or go across to get to where you think you want to be, that is, Adepthood.' The method whereby the Satanist passes through the abyss may vary from individual to individual. The Master who leads the Society of Dark Lily suggests however that there is only one method to cross the Abyss and that is that the individual must 'subdue [his or her] subconscious mind.' By subjugating one's subconscious mind the individual gains complete control over his or her actions and reactions, thoughts and feelings. Here then every part of the individual's mind - both conscious and unconscious (or subconscious) is understood and controlled [This is the goal of Rudoph Steiner’s exercises in the Spiritual Science of Anthroposophy].
One more notable interpretation of the energies representative of the Abyss is the doctrine of the Qliphoth. This concept links the Christian apocryphal tradition of the abyss, or bottomless pit with the Cabalistic concept of energy that was left over from the creation of the universe known as the Qliphoth. The Qliphoth, or 'Kelipth' are described as being 'husks' or 'shells' by Asim MaTheP Lamm. 'They are the waste or litter or filth which the organism of the universe gives off.' From this perspective the Qliphoth can be utilized by the Black Magician to work dark magic, using a powerful form of universal energy. As such, Kenneth Grant, the head of the English Lodge of the Ordo Templis Orientis, more commonly known by its initial's O.T.O., has written a trilogy of books on the subject of using such dark energies. This has been formulated into the 'Typhonian Current,' a system of magic that works with the dark side of the Cabalistic Tree of Life [intimately connected to sodomy and coprophagia].
Although some groups such as the Order of Nine Angles oppose a Cabalistic interpretation of Satanic magic, the O.T.O. uses what is described as 'the esoteric doctrines of the 'black' magick of the left hand path.' Opposition to Left Hand Path Cabalism is largely due to an aeonic approach to magic in general which views the Judeo-Christian esoteric and mystical traditions as being a distortion upon the pagan ethos which lacked any absolute duality. This is indicated by the dual nature of the pagan gods, possessing both light and dark sides, rather than being either solely good or evil.
Working with the energies of the abyss there are obviously innumerable dangers that threaten both the sanity and the life of the Satanist that seeks to pass through or across the Abyss. Reasons for this danger lie in the requirement of specific preparation of both body and mind. According to the Order of Nine Angles the two main problems that may occur are most likely to be 'madness or extreme personal dis-orientation resulting in a 'possessed' personal life and/or loss of vitality... [or] personal delusion about one's own abilities and understanding, both personal and magickal.' Yet for whatever method that is used to cross or pass through the Abyss there can primarily be one of three results. Firstly the individual may renounce the Satanic quest, secondly the energies encountered may cause dramatic changes detrimental to the individual's psyche and thirdly the individual may pass through successfully achieving Adepthood and wisdom.
The first result – that of renunciation – occurs when the individual has gained more knowledge than he or she can cope with. Explanations of such a development can only be inadequate due to the nature of the changes in consciousness that such knowledge brings. Reality, for the individual has changed, everyone else remains the same, but the Satanist now sees things in a completely different way. An analogous example of this experience would be as follows: Imagine you are standing in the hallway of a house. The hall light is already turned on, but, since it is night-time you need to turn on the light whenever you enter a different room. When you enter the dining room you turn on the light and see on the table the severed head of a policeman. This scares you and your immediate reaction is to leave... The analogy is simple, the light is the acquisition of knowledge. But once you have learnt something - seen the policeman's severed head on the table - you cannot unlearn it. Therefore you have to live with that knowledge. The acquisition of occult knowledge concerning oneself and the world is not simply learning how to do spells, invoke demons or make a pact with the devil, rather it implies the acquisition of something that will drastically change the way the Satanist sees the world. It is akin to the eastern concept that life as man knows it is an illusion and that magical traditions can take man from the falsehood of normal uninitiated life, to the truth and meaning of existence. Renunciation, once one has begun to explore both oneself and the world at large, is therefore not uncommon.
The second result of entering the Abyss is far harsher than renunciation of the quest, as this is the path that leads to dementia, delusion and/or death. Primarily this is experienced when the Satanist seeks to encounter demonic, chaotic, negative or darker energies before he or she is ready. Preparation for such invocation is a lengthy process. Cathartic rites such as the Black Mass may be of use here, where the individual re-programmes his or her mind and emotions in order to free him or herself from the unconscious influence of repression, morality and guilt. If there is doubt or uncertainty within the Satanist's mind the energies may manifest in a manner that is detrimental to the Satanist. Many people consider the examples of individuals using black magic, Ouija boards and so forth as always causing harm to the individuals themselves, but this is a misunderstanding, since the individual using such methods must undergo a process of catharsis in order to remain in conscious control of the forces summoned. It is for this reason that some Satanic groups promote indulgence and then control of the animal nature in man [hence the Dionynesian Bacchnalia].
Although outwardly the traditions of the Order of Nine Angles and the Society of Dark Lily both approach and describe the concept of the Abyss differently, there are similarities when one considers what occurs when there is a successful passing of the Abyss. Thus the concept of 'all is one' is found in both systems. Yet both groups advocate the maintenance of individuality in relation to unification with the natural order of the cosmos. Thus there is no loss of self-hood in Satanic tradition, no absorption by the godhead as represented by the Right Hand Path traditions [Monism].
Together with unification with the natural order, is the acquisition of wisdom that is found not only in Satanic and Left Hand Path traditions but also in those of the Right Hand Path. Here wisdom refers to an understanding of the cosmos in essence, as it is. From a Jungian perspective it implies a withdrawal of not only one's own projections but also of all the projections from all other people onto the universe. Everything is therefore understood according to its inner nature rather than its exterior form. This is referred to as 'acausal perception' by the Order of Nine Angles, that is, perception that occurs other than causally and it is this form of perception, partly as a product of a successful crossing of the Abyss, that is said to determine the adept from the initiate.
Lastly the Order of Nine Angles believes that personal Wyrd or Destiny is finally achieved when the individual successfully passes through the Abyss. The Satanist has then passed the personal and become part of the larger natural forces a 'Becoming-One with them' [this is what happened to Hitler] whilst maintaining his or her individuality. Finally, as the Adept guiding the Society of Dark Lily says 'there is no question of choosing to take the Right Hand Path or the Left Hand Path. There is only one route. You either cross or you do not cross. But what you do when you get to the other side is entirely up to you. You then have access to everything.' [i]
[i] Revelations 9: 1-3; Society of Dark Lily. 'Crossing the Abyss' in Dark Lily (Dark Lily: London, 1988); Cavendish. Richard. The Black Arts (Pan Books Ltd: London, 1967); Lamm, Asim MaTheP, The Qliphoth (MaTheP Lamm. 1991); Cavendish, Richard. The Black Arts (Pan Books Ltd: London, 1967),; Grant, K. Nightside of Eden (Skoob Books Publishing: London. 1994), Dustjacket; Order of Nine Angles, 'The Abyss' in Hostia volume I (Thormynd Press: Shrewsbury, 1992); The Right Hand and Left Hand Paths are distinguished primarily in that whilst the Right Hand Path primarily accepts an absolute duality, understood to a certain extent in the belief in an absolute morality, the Left Hand Path accepts an interaction of what may be inadequately termed good and evil; Order of Nine Angles. 'Notes on Esoteric Tradition - X,' in Fenrir vol. IV no 1. (Rigel Press: York, 1996).
25. Society of Dark Lily. 'Crossing the Abyss.' Dark Lily 4 (Dark Lily: London, 1988), pp. 18-19.