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#28535 - 08/17/09 11:30 AM Nietzsche's Dionysus and Satan
hard_rainus Offline

Registered: 04/02/09
Posts: 5
"...For, as it happens to every one who from childhood onward has always been on his legs, and in foreign lands, I have also encountered on my path many strange and dangerous spirits; above all, however, and again and again, the one whom I have just spoken: in fact, no less a personage the the God Dionysus, the great equivocator and tempter, to whom, as you know, I once offered in all secrecy and reverence my first-fruits-the last, as it seems to me, who has offered a sacrifice to him, for I have found on one who could understand what I was then doing.

In the meantime, however, I have learned much, far too much, about the philosophy of this God, and, as I said, from mouth to mouth-I, the last disciple and initiate of the God Dionysus: and perhaps I might at last begin to give you, my friends, as far as I am allowed, a little taste of this philosophy? In a hushed voice, as is but seemly: for it has to do with much that is secret, new, strange, wonderful, and uncanny.

The very fact that Dionysus is a philosopher, and that therefore Gods also philosophise, seems to me a novelty which is not unensnaring, and might perhaps arouse suspicion precisely amongst philosophers;-amongst you, my friends, there is less to be said against it, except that it comes too late and not at the right time; for, as it has been disclosed to me, you are loth nowadays to believe in God and gods. It may happen, too, that in the frankness of my story I must go further than is agreeable to the strict usages of your ears?

Certainly the God in question went further, very much further, in such dialogues, and was always many paces ahead of me...Indeed, if it were allowed, I should have to give him, according to human usage, fine ceremonious titles of lustre and merit, I should have to extol his courage as investigator and discoverer, his fearless honesty, truthfulness, and love of wisdom. But such a God does not know what to do with all that respectable trumpery and pomp. 'Keep that,' he would say, 'for thyself and those like thee, and whoever else require it! I-have no reason to cover my nakedness!' One suspects that this kind of divinity and philosopher perhaps lacks shame? -

He once said: 'Under certain circumstances I love mankind'-and referred thereby to Adriane, who was present; 'in my opinion man is an agreeable, brave, inventive animal, that has not his equal on earth, he makes his way even through all labyrinths. I like man, and often think how I can still further advance him, and make him stronger, more evil, and more profound.'

'Stronger, more evil, and more profound?' I asked in horror.

'Yes,' he said again, 'stronger, more evil, and more profound; also more beautiful'-and thereby the tempter-god smiled with his halcyon smile, as though he had just paid some charming compliment.

One here sees at once that it is not only shame that this divinity lacks;-and in general there are good grounds for supposing that in some things the Gods could all of them come to us men for instruction. We men are - more human-."

I posted this long quote because I do not assume that everyone has a copy of Beyond Good and Evil (this quote is from section 295).

I have seen Nietzsche on lists of proto-Satanists, so I know that his thought is generally considered "Satanic," but I have never found a discussion of his ideas concerning Dionysus and Satan. It seems to me that Dionysus is Satan as envisioned by many (most?) Satanists. However, his statements above seem to indicate that he believes Dionysus to be something real, but in what sense is left rather vague. Does anyone else have thoughts on this?

#28620 - 08/18/09 09:01 AM Re: Nietzsche's Dionysus and Satan [Re: hard_rainus]
Meq Offline
active member

Registered: 08/28/07
Posts: 861
Looks like you beat me to it - I was about to post on this passage myself, part of which features in my signature (abridged to fit).

I've added spacing to your Nietzsche quote, since Nietzsche's block paragraphs are better broken down to reduce eyesore on a computer monitor, and because it makes this passage easier to follow.

Nietzsche talked of a dialectic between Dionysus and Apollo, ancient gods who to him represented emotion/passion and reason. Earlier philosophers such as David Hume and Arthur Schopenhauer had made the distinction between passion and reason, and suggested that emotion tends to rule reason, rather than the other way around. After Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud made the distinction between the id and ego, which also correspond to passion and reason respectively, and like Hume, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche insisted on the primacy of the id or emotion.

Dionysus, therefore, represents pure unbridled passion and emotion, the force of will which propels humans forward and is the source of all their motivation in life, much like the Freudian id, and includes many supposedly 'immoral' or 'amoral' impulses. To Nietzsche, this is the Will to Power, in his view the primal human motivation, which calls upon the individual to become, as he put, "stronger, more evil and more profound - also more beautiful!"

In some Satanic circles this force is represented as a Black Flame within the individual, and it may also be called Satan. Some may attribute a supernatural component to this, however it may be understood naturalistically/atheistically (with no supernatural component whatsoever).

Nietzsche's ideal human being, the Superman, is a strong, evil (by conventional moral standards), profound and beautiful creature; which the force of Dionysus, the Will to Power, propels human beings towards. Only a few reach such elite status, however - Nietzsche himself never claimed to, nor did his fictional Zarathustra.

Again, many Satanists represent this ideal as Satan, the strong, proud individual who has the force of will to blaze his own trails through life. In as much as it is emulated by the Satanist, this Superman concept is related to the ancient Western and Eastern philosophical notion of the Sage, adapted to its own ideals and values.

Those of a transhumanist bent may take this still further, in a Darwinian sense as a possible evolution of Homo sapiens into a more powerful species of man. One may use Dionysus or Satan to represent the force which resulted in human beings evolving from less intelligent and thus less powerful animals into their current state. This same 'force' may be used to evolve human beings into a still greater species.

Many like myself, however, prefer to view this concept in a more individual way, as something I can personally strive towards while I am alive. Although I tend not to walk the path of idealism, Nietzsche also offered an account of mental health and what is needed to become a strong individual by throwing off the shackles of Judeo-Christian morality and embracing a more life-affirming way of life.

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