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#44690 - 12/07/10 01:02 AM Seven Footprints to Satan - a Review

I recently read an interesting book and wanted to write a brief review of it for interested members.

The Book is called Seven Footprints to Satan and was written by Abraham Merrett in the late 1920’s.

I discovered this book when I was working my way through the Satanism section of the Temple of Set reading list. This work is listed as 6D (TOS-5) and (LVT 5) and in line with the warning label attached to level 5 works should be treated with respect and care.

The storyline of the book is interesting: a well known treasure hunter/explorer is kidnapped and brought before a man whom everybody refers to as Satan. The treasure hunter/explorer is offered a choice by Satan: he can play a game of Satan’s devising or he can refuse, in which case he will be released, but will have to deal with the wrath of Satan in his day to day affairs.

The explorer chooses to play Satan’s game. If he succeeds then he will become Satan’s master and Satan will bring him great successes and riches etc. If he loses to Satan then he may end up owing Satan a service; or becoming Satan’s servant for a year; or in the worst case scenario, may hand his life over to Satan for Satan to do with as he sees fit.

The treasure hunter/explorer gambles and ends up becoming Satan’s servant for a year. The gambler begins his service to Satan, has a love interest and intrigues against Satan with allies, and finally manages to win through against Satan and then escape with the girl and the sidekick to safety and happiness.

All of this was interesting, but it wasn’t really what I was reading the book for. I read this book primarily because I was very interested in this character called Satan and most particularly by the magic he practiced and the methodology underpinning his magical practice.

This Satan is so skilled at Lesser Magical practice that most of the characters in the book believe that he is a genuinely supernatural entity as per the Judeo-Christian worldview. He appears to be able to read minds, he never seems to lose and cannot be beaten, he seems to knows everything that is taking place and is always in a position to take advantage and win out come what may.

The Satan of Seven Footprints to Satan is the ultimate string puller or puppet master. He is like a chess player who carefully maps out an elaborate game plan and then step by step moves each piece in order to bring about the win. He is precise and intolerant of mistakes; he assigns roles to his servants/associates and provides detailed instructions and tools which must be followed and used precisely. He tells the players when to be somewhere down to the second and he tells the players where to be and what to do minute by minute.

This Satan is an expert in cold reading others. His perception is indeed almost supernatural and that perception comes from not only an understanding of the psychology of the one he addresses, based on factors such as gender, race, physiology, body language, speech etc., but is also due to an understanding of the possible range of reactions one can feel and demonstrate when confronted with a particular stimulus. Satan employs the Command to Look to hold, or to bind, or to upset, and to convince. He is deeply cynical and is under no illusions whatsoever. He is an unemotional and cold calculating machine who is solely concerned with his own ends. His eyes are brilliant and steely and his emotional range seems to be always underpinned by self interest, cynicism, evaluation, intolerance, and suspicion.

Satan does not subscribe to a set of values imposed by society. He is the generator of his own values and those values are meant to serve his own ends and are constantly revisable and fluid based on what is required at what time. He designs game plans which lead to unacceptable criminal actions being undertaken which I do not agree with. I do like his selfish nature though and his obsession with creating his own personal world, or universe, filled with beauty and rare treasures. I also like the idea behind his amusing games and the way he treats others around him like tools or more or less useful players in the game. He rewards well and punishes harshly based on performance. He is judgmental and very discerning.

I have always liked the image of the Satanist as the puppet master behind the scenes or as the powerbroker working in the shadows. This particular Satan is a powerful magician.

In the early part of Dr. Aquino’s CoS ebook you can read about the kheft and those who are offered the kheft - that strange liquid potion which drugs the drinker into thinking that he or she has acquired real freedom. I am not sure, but I think this notion of the kheft in the CoS ebook may have come from this book by Merrett.

Satan has his servants and then he has his slaves and he keeps his slaves happy and compliant by offering them a drug which they crave. It is a drug which provides the illusion of happiness and freedom, but in reality is a way of keeping his slaves compliant and under command. The cynicism and the contempt with which these slaves are treated is dark indeed. Seeing this part of the story as a sort of allegory for real life is rather dark as well, but very interesting and worth some further thought.

There is a lot in this book to think about in this one, my thanks Dr. Tremendous book.

#44710 - 12/07/10 03:00 PM Re: Seven Footprints to Satan - a Review [Re: ]
Michael A.Aquino Offline

Registered: 09/28/08
Posts: 2514
Loc: San Francisco, CA, USA
"Satan's" statement concerning his philosophy struck me as not only meaningful in itself, but so appropriate to Anton LaVey that I drew that comparison in The Church of Satan:

 Originally Posted By: "Satan", in Seven Footprints to Satan
Call it - amusement. It is for amusement that I exist. It is for that alone that I remain upon a world in which, when all is said and done, amusement in some form or guise is the one great aim of all, the only thing that makes life upon it tolerable. My aim is, therefore, you perceive, a simple one. But what is it that amuses me?

Three things. I am a great playwright, the greatest that has ever lived, since my plays are real. I set the scenes for my little single acts, my farces and comedies, dramas and tragedies, my epics. I direct the actors. I am the sole audience that can see every action, hear every line of my plays from beginning to end. Sometimes what began as a farce turns into high tragedy, tragedies become farces, a one-act diversion develops into an epic, governments fall, the mighty topple from their pedestals, the lowly are exalted. Some people live their lives for chess. I play my chess with living chessmen, and I play a score of games at once in all corners of the world. All this amuses me. Furthermore, in my character as Prince of Darkness, which I perceive that you do not wholly admit, my art puts me on a par with that other super-dramatist, my ancient and Celestial adversary known according to the dominant local creed as Jehovah. Nay, it places me higher - since I rewrite his script. This also amuses me.

The second? I am a lover of beauty. It is, indeed, the one thing that can arouse in me what may be called - emotion. It happens now and then that man with his mind and eyes and heart and hands makes visible and manifest some thing which bears that stamp of creative perfection the monopoly of which tradition ascribes to the same Celestial adversary I have named. It may be a painting, a statue, a carved bit of wood, a crystal, a vase, a fabric - any one of ten thousand things. But in it is that essence of beauty humanity calls divine and for which, in its blundering way, it is always seeking - as it is amusement. The best of these things I make from time to time my own. But - I will not have them come to me except by my own way. Here enters the third element - the gamble, the game.

Collector of souls and beauty I am. Gambler am I, too, and as supreme in that as in my collecting. It is the unknown quantity, the risk, that sharpens the edge of my enjoyment of my plays. It is what gives the final zest to my - acquirements. And I am a generous opponent. The stakes those who play with me may win are immeasurably greater than any I could win from them. But play with me - they must!

This novel really cries out to have a proper movie made from it. Since Brando isn't around any more to be "Satan", I'd go for Michael Ironside, or possibly Arnold Vosloo.

There was a 1929 silent film version made, but it was an oddly-campy disappointment. [Not available on DVD, but see some reviews here; it can also be streamed online via some subscription services.] Leading lady Thelma Todd was most famous for comedies, and met a sufficiently grotesque & mysterious death to be necroglorified in Ken Anger's Hollywood Babylon.
Michael A. Aquino

#44721 - 12/07/10 07:41 PM Re: Seven Footprints to Satan - a Review [Re: ]
Aklo Offline

Registered: 08/03/10
Posts: 158
The movie for this one sounds like something we should all see, to compare with things like Nosferatu and particularly The Cabinet of Dr. Cagliostro.

 Originally Posted By: J. Theakston
The film starts off very atmospheric, with the editing done so that when you think one thing is occurring, it's really something else. The whole theme of the film is very early art deco, and it is a pleasure to see Sol Polito's master camera-work, even if it is ravaged by the hands of time.

The film in style is not unlike Christensen's other film, HAXAN(1922), with bizarre orgies, scantily clothed women, bizarre characters and obtuse sets that overshadow characters at times. The whole atmosphere of the movie is a low key sort of insanity, and even with the wide sets seems claustrophobic.

Unamericans, here's the book
Behold, I send you forth as wolves among sheep; eat Lambchop for supper and fuck Bo Peep!

#44723 - 12/07/10 08:03 PM Re: Seven Footprints to Satan - a Review [Re: Michael A.Aquino]

A movie of Seven Footprints to Satan would be great stuff.

This reminds me of something and I just wanted to change the focus of this thread a little.

I was thinking about Dr. LaVey and the philosophy of “Satan” provided in the above quote and more or less marvelling at it and at LaVey.

Then I began to think about Tyrell from the film Blade Runner and the work and thinking of the later Dr. LaVey. (These thoughts are my own and may not relate to LaVey at all.)

Tyrell lives and works in that enormous glittering black trapezoid in a black fiery landscape (age of fire) and in a society which has fallen more or less into chaos.

Tyrell is an acknowledged genius, another great chess player, who creates his own people for more or less unknown purposes. Tyrell seems to have taken “Satan’s” philosophy from Seven Footprints a step further, but possibly in a different direction.

The film suggests that these artificial people benefit human beings by acting as labour on other worlds, or in defending human beings or serving as pleasure models etc. Ostensibly these “people” have a function for us, but I am not so sure. I, in fact, think that Tyrell has created his people to act to further his interests, to be pawns in his game.

It is also not so much a question of creating interesting games, with ultimately flawed human beings, as actors for amusement, but rather the creation of artificial human beings to play a particular role with clockwork efficiency and to pinpoint perfection so the end game is reached with minimal difficulty and the greatest possible probability.

Tyrell is amused in so far as he enjoys the complex puzzle, or the problem of playing God. He primarily enjoys the extensive thinking behind the creation of artificial intelligence and the problems of creating the artificial human companion.

This interest in the puzzle of the creation of artificial humans is one aspect. It is difficult for me, however, to get a complete picture of Tyrell as he is hidden away inside his environment, but I imagine that the type of society he lives in is more or less totally dominated by him or by people like him.

I, in fact, get the horrible impression that everybody, besides Tyrell, is a replicant and that Tyrell has replaced all the human beings with his own artificial human companions. “Satan” loves beauty and is a collector, he loves amusement and games, but Tyrell’s purpose is more difficult to define. He enjoys the scientific puzzle, and the means to an end, but the end is not so clear or else the end is just domination for domination’s sake. Or maybe Tyrell defines his own success or experiences joy by witnessing what he has created and what he can achieve with the assistance of his “people.”

“Obviously” the appearance of the blade runner, the need for the blade runner suggests that there is an anomaly in the system, that Tyrell may have made mistakes with his “people” or else these artificial humans have blown a gasket, or become aware of themselves in undesirable ways Tyrell’s death is a piece of morally based rubbish, which annoyed me a lot, as if this master chess player, this master magician has to pay for his success, for what he has done to “us” or “them.”

Blade Runner is one of the greatest Satanic films I have ever seen, and Merret’s book is one of the greatest I have ever read.

#44732 - 12/07/10 10:38 PM Re: Seven Footprints to Satan - a Review [Re: ]
Clarence Offline

Registered: 01/14/10
Posts: 61
Aklo, I think you probably meant The Cabinet of Dr Caligari:

The Cabinet of Dr Cagliostro sounds like a porn-spoof. Which may well be the case for all I know. If so, my apologies. \:\)

I also gained immense satisfaction from Seven Footprints... Finding great similtude in Scorpius, of Farscape fame. Arch-manipulator and comic fool, by turn.

Insofar as every author is a god of sorts, I might also throw Requiem for a Dream out there. The author [Hubert Selby Jr.] might be seen as an invisible hand guiding his creations towards their doom. His cameo as a laughing, and rather sinister prison guard in the film adaptation leaves little doubt as to his intentions.

Edited by Clarence (12/07/10 10:44 PM)

#44734 - 12/07/10 11:04 PM Re: Seven Footprints to Satan - a Review [Re: Clarence]
Aklo Offline

Registered: 08/03/10
Posts: 158
meant The Cabinet of Dr Caligari

Great catch, thanks

a porn-spoof

LOL, no, but, now I want it to exist so that, we could watch it. Dr. Aquino includes a Caligariesque / Marat-Sadistic ritual in his COS from the bad old days about The Madness of Andelsprutz (appendix 4) which didn't make it into Rituals for whatever reason. And the Marat / Sade itself is one of the most famous "psycho dramas" for our purposes. "Pray pray O pray to him ..."

Requiem for a Dream
Hmm, hadn't thought of it that way. But I had thought of A Scanner Darkly just so, so it's not too great a stretch. I will watch it again and see, thanks.
Behold, I send you forth as wolves among sheep; eat Lambchop for supper and fuck Bo Peep!

#44762 - 12/09/10 12:02 AM Re: Seven Footprints to Satan - a Review [Re: Aklo]

I thought I might add another post here with some extra thoughts about the quote Dr. Aquino has posted above from “Satan”, in Seven Footprints to Satan.

These are some further thoughts. I am interested in the type of perception demonstrated by “Satan” here in this quote. I remember one of the more interesting aspects of The King in Yellow was the books emphasis on the vision of the artist and the object he/she clinically studies; the cold gaze of the viewer which captures, freezes and objectifies. As an allegory I like the story of the young artist who drops organic matter into a clear liquid pool of cold artistic vision and pulls the transformed matter forth as frozen sculptures, drained of life, yet filled with a stone white beauty. I think “Satan’s” love of beauty, of beautiful objects is underpinned by a similar sort of objectifying vision. I will not attempt to speculate on the way LaVey looked at art or beauty, but wonder if it was similar in nature.

The other form of perception I thought “Satan” demonstrated was the one I had previously described as almost supernatural. I feel that this additional form of perception is flavoured by the cool objectifying artistic vision briefly described above and highlighted in some of the chapters of The King in Yellow.

What gives it the so called supernatural flavour is that it is directed at human beings and is specifically designed to correctly read the thoughts and unspoken intentions of human beings. It carefully and critically examines the target and determines the probable current thoughts and motivations of the target on the basis of an accurate picture of the target’s character and context within which the target appears. It also succeeds by leading the target through question and answer, by suggesting a course of action or thought, by implanting thoughts, or by producing agreement, or by convincing. This is the area of cold reading I think, the area where the skills of a Stanton Carlisle work, and needs to be studied in great detail I think, though I am not sure one can learn this stuff – it may be a case of you either have it or you don’t.

I think there are a number of views of Satan, but this one in Merrett’s book is one of the more interesting. “Satan” here appears to possess the vision of “God.” I feel that “Satan’ possesses the ability to constantly view the totality or whole, the gestalt, with its multitude of elements. Objectifying is important again, but what is just as crucial is the ability to clearly see all the parts in the picture, what each part is and what its limitations and its skills are, what role the parts have in the picture and whether the whole thing will work together. I liken this type of perception to the formal logic behind a work of abstract painting, a Mondrian with its varied coloured elements or parts in the grid, or possibly to a Cubist work, particularly one of Picasso’s synthetic cubist works.

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