Ixaxaar Publications have been around for a good length of time, and have a well-deserved reputation for producing beautiful editions which mirror the dark philosophies they espouse. This edition of Johannes Nefastos’ Fosforos is no exception, issued as it is in three editions: 1100 hardback copies covered in faux leather and impressed with a sigil on the front board (the edition being reviewed here); 145 copies bound in cloth in a slipcase; and 55 copies bound in black goatskin. In perfect truth, there is beauty in darkness, and Fosforos epitomises the Ixaxaar philosophy to perfection; certainly, there is no finer recommendation I can make here. Yet, the outward appearance is a mere distraction – the real beauty lies within.
This is a necessarily complex book, yet at its heart there lies a simple truth. And this, when all is said and done, is what philosophy in its broadest meaning seeks: the sublimation of complexities into simple yet universal truths. Nefastos is an able wordsmith, but it is not the word itself which composes the meat of Fosforos, but the layered meanings hidden behind them. With them, the magician encourages us to look and act beyond culturally-enforced assumptions about the nature of what we term as good or evil, knocked into us from an early age by parents, teachers, and priests, and in turn the reader is being asked to strip away all that he or she has known heretofore, what they understand by the spiritual (in the religious and social senses) nomenclature defined as what is good and what is evil.
The core at the heart of this treatise is painfully self-evident, and many will have known (consciously or subconsciously) what the author sets out all their lives, and this is only confirmation. He talks about the Oneness of All, which is an attribute of the Spirit: the further we are from that spirit, the further we become enmeshed in Duality, which is an attribute of Matter. Therefore, for all intents and purposes, we are to understand that the idea that Good and Evil exist as discrete and separate (and identifiable) entities is a lie. A simple enough proposition, one might think. It is, yet there is far more subtlety and complexity to this philosophical framework than at first reading.
As I understand it, the adept sees good and evil as being the same in essence, that one exists in the other, and that one is necessary for its “opposite”. In the material world, the duality represented by the two short four-letter words serve as nothing more than comparison, the one to be set against the opposite, as a means to define acts and character. A clichéd example should suffice here to illustrate: by common assumption, a Christian is seen as a “good” person, while a “Satanist” is demarcated as an “evil” person. The epithets are nothing more than convenient but misleading labels, ignorant as people are that all that such hypotheses do is to perpetuate the matter/duality state keeping humanity in subservience to materialism and the material world. What is sought by the magician (of whatever stripe), and the aspect which should be searched for by all those who would seek to know Spirit/Godhead, is not balance in the traditional sense, but a realisation that Spirit — in its rarest essence — contains both elements and subsumes their qualities to become one. Nothing could better encapsulate this than by iterating what Nefastos himself says (or, rather, infers): that God in his Heaven cannot exist without Satan in his Hell, and vice versa. In plainer words, that both entities are not divisible beings but are two in one and indivisible, the qualities and essences of one being necessary to the other.
From a personal perspective, let’s just say that Nefastos confirmed some thoughts I’ve been having for a good many years. Traditional modes of separateness, along the lines of social spiritual constructs like Christianity or Satanism, are both unnecessary and ultimately unhelpful. One is as bad as the other in their more extreme manifestations and, indeed, Nefastos goes as far as to say that such a rigidly polar self-identification as being Christian or Satanist (ie. good/evil) is a species of evil in itself. The same goes for Religion/Science. In order to overcome these metaphysical hurdles, one must be prepared to absorb the other into its world-view, not just as ideas, but as fundamental truths and verities. Once that has been accomplished then, and only then, will Truth (with a capital ‘T’) emerge.
That then, is a basic, if necessarily wordy, explanation of the system of thought underpinning the whole. The rest of the book goes into some depth (including its practical ritual applications), highlighting the need to understand that darkness and light (Satan/God) each have a pivotal role to play for the seeker of Truth. Satan can be read as darkness and ignorance, yet one must never forget that his other name, Lucifer, means Lightbringer, a means of shining a bright beam upon the filth of ignorance. The “Philosophy of Perdition” and the “Philosophy of Death, as outlined in the book, are not to be seen as physical actions, rather as abstract metaphysical ones. Death, in its broadest and most meaningful sense, is nothing more than change from one state to another: consequently, one must undergo a spiritual death in order to effect change from ignorance to enlightenment. “Death” and “Destruction” are relative terms, and elastic in meaning – in magic and occultism itself (and in Buddhism too), the destruction and dissolution of the ego is the prime objective. Here, as I understand it, it’s seen as something far more subtle and intricate – the dissipation of ignorance and the welcoming of consequent knowledge gained is that which is most sought after.
The above exegesis should emphasize the strength of Fosforos as a coherent system of occult thought – the complexity of spiritual existence and its attainment explained and understood in its ultimate simplicity. More than anything, it clears the mind of the burdensome fog of misunderstanding, deliberately fostered by those individuals and institutions who feel threatened perhaps by the idea that their truths and philosophies are but castles built upon sand. After all, “salvation” (as is promulgated) is a thoroughly misused and abused concept which should have been done away with years, nay, centuries ago: it is neither helpful nor effective in terms of a collective shepherded by an intercessionary prophylactic. Instead, it is a necessity, now more than ever one feels, that is thrust upon the individual who understands the notion that one must work hard for “salvation” or, more correctly, enlightenment, and that it is a personal responsibility. Moreover, the lines of communication must be direct and without filters, without the stultifying roadblocks of materialistic dualities getting in the way of full understanding. Only then can the student see clearly.
Fosforos is a necessary tool in the quest, as signpost and road-map, as well as a timely corrector of insidious assumptions designed to hinder progress. Make no mistake: this is a deeply philosophical book, replete with difficult and abstract concepts, no less true for their sheer complexity. It will repay careful and lengthy study – one must not just read the words but delve between the lines as well, teasing out the layers and meanings. To some, it may appear immediately self-evident: to others, it may take years to fully deconstruct. But then, no one has ever averred that the journey was going to be easy.