A self-described “religion of blood, slime, darkness, sorcery and tentacles!” it is hard not to like the Cult of Cthulhu. Their materials show a wealth of influences, from the obvious (Lovecraft and LaVey) to the perhaps unexpected (Gurdjieff and Ouspensky). Similarly, Cult members engage in discussions on topics ranging from ritual work to physical fitness.
We recently had a discussion with CoC High Priest Venger Satanis regarding his Cult, as well as his current writing interests.
BLK – Let’s start with the most basic of questions, for those unaware; who is Venger As’Nas Satanis?
VS – A good question and a fine beginning. An only child in a middle class family born and raised in Wisconsin. I’ve always been an outsider, anti-authoritarian, and the proud holder of strange beliefs… things like black magic and the occult sciences. Today, I’m the father of two young daughters, husband, still in cold ass WI, 39, and focused mainly on writing.
BLK – Michael Bertiaux used to hold Lovecraftian sex magick rituals in the cold lakes of WI, and there have always been very bizarre occult scenes or personalities there. Why do you think that is?
VS – I’m not sure what it is about Wisconsin. Are we the polar opposite of Florida? WI has had its fair share of serial killers, weirdoes, and occultists. For me, sex is the ritual… it is the magic. Once, I was having sex with this girl while I watched the 1970’s Dunwich Horror. It was at the end when Yog-Sothoth is summoned from an altar on top of a hill. The condom broke, too. I was almost surprised that some hybrid Old One wasn’t spawned!
BLK – Speaking of summoning Old Ones, and broken condoms: you are the founder and High Priest of the Cult of Cthulhu. Please tells us of the genesis of this organization.
VS – The Cult of Cthulhu was conceived on August 20th, 2004. Living in a one bedroom apartment on the top floor of the building I jointly owned with my parents, a dim green illumination allowing me to read a few prepared words, I invoked the dark forces by name… Cthulhu, Yog-Sothoth, Azathoth, Nyarlathotep, Tsathaggua, and Shub-Niggurath in order to give birth to a new age, a new aeon, and an order championing the inherent Satanism I found within Lovecraft’s Mythos.
I consider the CoC ritually established or born on Walpurgisnacht 2005, an homage to Anton Szandor LaVey, as well as, H.P. Lovecraft. But I wasn’t alone for that ceremony. I was able to organize a convention with S.T. Joshi and Robert M. Price as the special guests of honor. There were about a dozen people whispering, “ia Cthulhu fhtagn” as I ritualized the Cult of Cthulhu’s nascency.
BLK – How has the organization developed since then, and what are some of its core purposes?
VS – Since foundation, the Cult has been both wildly successful and devoid of meaningful manifestations, depending on the day. It’s a struggle to keep busy in the right direction when there are so many false paths open to us. I’ve written two official books, CoC bibles, if you will; and enough essays and articles to fill a third.
The organization was meant to live and spread the Fourth Way teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky within a Left Hand Path context. Self-deification is our chief aim, always has been, always will be. Of course, the slimy green tentacles of cosmic horror only add to the eldritch mélange. The Mythos gives us visual aid, a different kind of structure. The Left Hand Path is like a code of conduct, whereas Lovecraft’s shambling alienage is more a code of aesthetics.
BLK – You mention LaVey. Beyond your haircut, you have something in common with him that seems to be lacking in most contemporary occultists, and that is a sense of humour. All of these would-be occult “masters” are running around trying to sell their courses or books to “make you powerful”, but they all look too serious and/or miserable. What is your take on this?
VS – Indeed, a sense of humor is required. Is that because the manipulation of reality is nonsensical? Or perhaps sorcery warps one’s mind over time? I laugh like to make jokes, make people laugh, and I don’t take myself too seriously. Blurring the line between humor and horror can be extremely powerful. Then folks don’t know what to think! That reminds me of LaVey in his anecdote of ridiculing some guy by acting out the most clichéd, low-budget Vincent Price type “Satanist”.
Power comes from looking the part, but it’s an inner quality too. LaVey has influenced my development, so maybe it’s natural for me to resemble him in some superficial way. Hopefully, there’s an aspect of him within also.
For those curious, our website is: www.cultofcthulhu.net
BLK – In my youth, a religious counselor told me that Dungeons and Dragons leads to occultism. It worked opposite for me, as I had already been introduced to the occult, and in moving to a new town I wanted to find people who were into such things as well. I thought that if this counselor was correct, I might as well look into gaming groups. This started a love for old-school Jolt-cola fueled nerd-fests that occasionally still break out at our Kompound. People would be amazed to see that the beautiful women of BLK throwing d20’s on their downtime. You have started a blog on the subject of old-school RPG’s. What led you to create this?
VS – I was never told that Dungeons & Dragons was satanic or dangerous. In fact, I think I was encouraged to read, play games, learn new words, draw, calculate simple numbers in my head, and socialize with other kids. Paper and pencil tabletop roleplaying games like D&D helped a lot of youngsters. Wouldn’t be surprised if that’s why adults in their 30’s and 40’s are smarter and more capable than any other generation.
But if the “satanic panic” drove you to D&D, then more power to those foolish priests! There seems to be quite the renewed popularity of geeky stuff like RPGs, sword and sorcery literature, 80’s cartoons, etc. What can I say except awesome!
Regarding the blog, I decided to take a break from leading the Cult of Cthulhu. I needed a rest, plus wanted to see how the organization would do without my hand upon the wheel. Well, it decided to hibernate in my absence. Meanwhile, my old hobby kept calling me. It’s funny how Lovecraft seeps into almost everything I love. There are many Lovecraftian influences on D&D, for example.
BLK – As well as regular contributions to your blog, you have recently released Liberation of the Demon Slayer, an adventure module that is sure to delight adult gamers who remember going to Waldenbooks every month to see the latest TSR offering back in the day. Can you tell us what the idea behind creating this module was, and a little more about it?
VS – I wanted to see if I could write a module for the old school renaissance which was bringing original D&D and AD&D back into vogue. Actually, I wanted to see if roleplaying was still for me, as my interest kind of died over the years and after the latest editions of the game. So, the writing was initially for me. Then, I realized I had something pretty cool and wanted to share it. Then began the months of writing, re-writing, and all the other joys and hassles that come with publishing. Finally, Liberation of the Demon Slayer was born!
BLK – The initial reviews for LotDS look very promising, and we presently have a copy on our gaming table. Are there any plans for more such adventures?
VS – Yes, I’m excited about module #2. It’s called The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence. Since Liberation was a dungeon crawl, I wanted to balance that with a wilderness trek over three linked islands. It’s going to be even heavier on the weirdness, science-fantasy, gonzo, and Cthulhu Mythos than module #1.
BLK – “weirdness, science-fantasy, gonzo, and Cthulhu Mythos” – Sounds like a good time!
VS – We’d love for everyone to check out our Kickstarter, which has much more detail about this project. This is the 1st time we’ve attempted one and it is off to a good start.