A Trip Beyond the Ordinary – An Interview with fra. Zetekh of SATURNIAN MIST

Photo by Joonas Juntunen

            The outcome of a long-awaited return has taken form with Shamatanic, and its massive imprint continues to resonate throughout the universal fabric. After reviewing this highly anticipated work, I had the honor of discussing it with the lead warrior and sorcerer, fra. Zetekh, who shares valuable insights into the many influences involved in its creation. Here we explore the unseen forces behind this manifestation, its related topics, along with some of their philosophical details, and also uncover glimpses of what remains becoming for SATURNIAN MIST.

Greetings and congrats on a triumphant return with Shamatanic! It’s interesting that SATURNIAN MIST manages to keep the core satanic ethos of black metal, along with a separate focus inspired by Chaos Magic, and then, consistent with that philosophy, is able to utilize various influences which are all reflected in your sound. What all guides these artistic formulations?

Z: Salute! Ever since the beginning of SATURNIAN MIST it was clear to us that the band must be used as a pragmatic magical tool together with our work with music, occultism, and mysticism. The main thought has always been entangled around the question: ”how to combine the artistic expression and approaching together with our inner spiritual works?” It is our mystified psychodrama (That is what practical magick is anyway in the end!) where we re-enact our inner selves through the means of music, infused with the themes we are dealing with at the time. The Devil’s archetype and Occultism in general has been always the ruling aspects of influence, and endless source of inspiration for us. Later years, following the principles of Chaos Magick we have found more and more convergence with pagan origins of all modern spirituality, which resulted in Shamatanic. We believe there is a shared transcendental reality with same origin behind all the religions, philosophies, mythologies, or any human cultures whatsoever etc. and it’s something we try to experience with the musical expression, because that part of the reality really cannot be explained or defined by words, which is why music seems to be an excellent tool for mysticism side of the occult work.

Were there any significant changes to the songwriting process between your past releases and Shamatanic?

Z: Well, our album making process took longer than expected, because there were a series of health issues taking place in the band after 2017 which stalled the project quite much, so we had much more time to reflect our past works. We contemplated about what worked and what did not, and then acted accordingly and worked very closely with the co-producer Teemu Iso-Kulmala. And Shamatanic is the kind of album where we worked much closer together as a band than ever before.

Shamanism is likely the purest form of spirituality since it’s based on our connection to nature and free from the dogmas of predominant religions. How did you become interested in this subject?

Z: I became interested in all primitive and animistic religions years and years ago, especially Voodoo and Shamanism (Nordic and South American both) because I noticed their archaic ”principles,” teachings and methods appeared to be the same ones that religions and occult movements tried to revitalize and reappraise in the centuries later. Finland has a strong shamanistic legacy, so it was easy to familiarize myself with these topics already at a very young age. But, my first real strong and definitive ignition towards these subjects was actually Michael Bertiaux’ synchretistic outtake on the topic, with his book The Gnostic Voudon Workbook which I got in my hands while still in my teen years. Inspired by this, I started researching Voodoo much more and noticed similarities with shamanistic cultures which I started studying more as well with stronger intent. Their primitive and experience-oriented approaching appealed to my nature very much. And it started painting a picture to me that there indeed might be a shared reality behind all these spiritual traditions. And in all of these primitive traditions, percussions played a pivotal role with their rituals, with what we started experimenting with SATURNIAN MIST already in 2011’s debut Gnostikoi Ha-Shaitan, but which became permanent element on our sophomore album Chaos Magick. Percussions… Drum circles… Shaman drumming… Primitive way to induce trance by excessive energy, to get in contact with the deepest levels of existence and consciousness. This was something that appealed indeed much more to my nature than the ritual form of modern religions which all suggests this must be done in a very calm manner instead. And it was very clear to me that these primitive elements must be added into our music to reach the same effects!

Three new videos were created for the new album. What was involved in their production and do you have any comments on the deeper symbolism they contain?

Z: I have produced and directed a few music videos over the years, so this Shamatanic album shouldn’t be exception either. Videos have become a very important artistic outlet for my expression as well over the years. Finnish composer Jean Sibelius once said eloquently that ”I see that everything is a symbol. A person who can interpret symbols understands the secrets of the universe.” Symbolism (arts) is the keyword with all of my videos, and with these videos for Shamatanic even more so than before. I do not really want to make interpretation guidelines for the videos, I don’t want to snatch the own experience of the listener / viewer, but I can speak of things in general level and about the things that inspired me. Generally speaking, I think there’s no harm to say this which influenced a lot to me in the margin: Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard proposed in his philosophy that individual goes through three stages on the way to the becoming a true self. The aesthetic, the ethical (practice what you preach) and the religious (not in fundamentalistic religious sense, but more of an overall attitude towards life, embracing the void). It’s quite a universal model, no matter whether you were really religious or not, in any sense. And I wanted to emphasis modeling with Shamatanic and with the videos especially. And I also wanted to make the videos work as independent works of art as well, that you don’t have to even know the context and still could enter their world. This is what I always do with my works anyway, I place them in a bigger picture and continuum, but want to make them work also independently.

First video published was presentation of ”Aesthetic” aspect. ”Ill-Mystic” song is an opening ritual of the album which starts this shamanistic journey to the dark side of the Self with strong left-hand path / vamachara orientation. The whole video is built to support this and also to vibe with the album as a whole atmospherically. I wanted to make a lo-fi and dreamlike video, kind of entering into a trance imagery. It was filmed here in the forests of Tampere, Finland and also in Montenegro, Lovcen mountains and Biogradska Gora rainforests in 2019 while I was traveling through the whole country.

Second video ”Blood Magick” is one of the most symbolistic and metaphorical music videos I have ever made to the day and it includes quite lot of nuances even though it’s a relatively short video. I took influences from avant-garde theatre for its drama part a lot. I wrote it together with fantastic artist Lividium, who also made the costumes and performed the role of Succubi. In the context of the album and other videos it represents this ”Ethical” side (so, practice what you preach) of Kierkegaard’s proposition about the three stages of existence, but in a very avant-garde way tied to the album and the song’s lyrics of course. But as an independent video, I loaded it with so many layers of symbolism that it shouldn’t matter if you are not aware of the album context. And it has been interpreted already in so many different ways, so I think it might be best for me not to speak too much more about it, because the interpretations has been actually very rich and I don’t want to snatch that!

Third video ”The End Times” I wrote together with our percussionist, fra. Kult, who also performed the lead role there. And it is the longest music video I have ever directed and produced, and also the most subtle and minimalistic as well. And it follows the same principles than ”Blood Magick,” as it works as an independent work with own individual symbolism which can be understood and experienced without any context, but it is also part of this threefold stages of existence theme. And ”The End Times” represents in this context the ”Religious” stage in this model of Kierkegaard. He used to explain it to be the ”Leap of Faith” which is just one way to say ”Embrace the void” which might appeal to more modern art vocabulary.

The New Aeon, which may have been accelerated by the turmoil of our current times, has been said will bring a revival of ancient shamanic knowledge on magic, but also with a modern likeness and expansion. Some of the music video imagery and content on Shamatanic seems to depict that idea. Was this an intentional part of the album’s concept?

Z: All SATURNIAN MIST lyrics has the same continuity in their bottom narrative. Just read lyrics of ”Temps-Des-Cranes” or “Gnostikoi Ha-Shaitan” from our 2011 debut album, and then ”Root of the Coiled Serpent” or ”Chaos Unchained” from our Chaos Magick (2015) album, and then for instance ”Chaos is the Law” from our latest Shamatanic (2021) album and you see they are all linked. All lyrics are first and foremost ponderings of the inner stages of existence, but whilst I am searching and exploring the next possible levels of spiritual evolution from the inner worlds prioritized, the successful findings are of course microcosmic versions of what this so-called New Aeon actually could be in the wider extent. So it is an intentional part of the album, always has been, but more with focus towards the inside, to the subjective world. I am searching a new form of consciousness, new form of humanity, next level of humanity if you will, and this so-called New Aeon is supposed to be a collective representation of that, so let’s just say that my motifs are the same as with the New Aeon’s, which I think will be the Aeon of Chaos, and it indeed includes revitalizing the old Aeons to be aligned with modern means.

When the album is promoted live, are there any plans or ideas on incorporating shamanic aesthetics into your performance that you can speak of?

Z: Because of the current state of the world our album release show from September got postponed to December 2021 and we just had it last weekend. There are pictures available from the show in our social medias, but yes, the shamanic theme was strongly present on stage there. And we will continue with that for sure!

What are your thoughts on Chaos Magic today compared to when it emerged in the late 1970’s? Do you feel occultism may be nearing its next major development?

Z: I think one point of modern occultism should have been to revitalize the old symbolic and mythological languages to have a power to deliver this so called ”ancient spiritual syntax” to modern mind sets more easily, instead of giving a birth for new forms of superstitions, dogmas, cult mentality and almost losing the touch with this so-called ”syntax.” Now it seems that occultism is just most of the times merely a new edgelord version of good old religious mentalities with altered aesthetic surface, which rarely gets in the touch with this syntax. And this so-called spiritual syntax, or philosophia de perennis, or gnosis, whatever you want to call it, I am inclined to think that it has nothing to do with superstition or religions, but instead of profound connection and understanding of a human to oneself and its surroundings (nature, forces of the nature, universe etc.) instead of egocentric prisons of concepts people build in their own heads. I think the Chaos Magick movement did a really great job with this modernization process, and especially Aleister Crowley who was a pioneer of this before the Chaos Magick movement itself, and even there was no such term as Chaos Magick then when he did his major inputs. The principles are older than the term. It’s basically what ”Occultism” has always been about anyway, as I think Chaos Magick is philosophically kind of metatheory of occultism and practically very effective magical system just adjusted with postmodern touch and scientific mind (which has always been the requirement for the occult work too in the past, to use the most sophisticated means available with your work). Very necessary in order to understand it also, not just experiencing it. However, alas, like all great movements, they easily turn into their own travesties when growing bigger, or becoming mainstream, so I think ”the wanking into sigils in order to get power or promotion at work or in relationships” version of Chaos Magick principles is definitely not my idea of Chaos Magick as this kind of representation lacks the bigger picture and has clearly lost the touch with this ”syntax” I am referring here. But the side of Chaos Magick which is in the touch with other aspects of life too and offers more holistic tools for understanding and being, is still of course there, and I think Satanism, Chaos Magick, and Thelema are probably the best ones of the most known and widely spread modern scholars when it comes to the occultism, and they are still paving the way for this so-called New Aeon most efficiently, still carrying the syntax within. My guess is that when the existential themes (especially absurdism, and something I call transcendental nihilism) gets assimilated more strongly in the spirit of the occult work with practical understanding, then it will happen in the larger context. These themes and aspects are the glue which gets the scientific mind and religious ardour together. The process has been going on for some time now, and the previews of these next steps usually appears first in the form of art, so you might wanna keep on eye with all of the occult and spiritually charged art that comes out these days whether its music or poetry or novels or movies to get a glimpse of the shape of the things to come!

The album insert includes a quote from Carlos Castaneda. How influential were the characteristics of Don Juan when composing Shamatanic? Are there any moments where his essence is especially pronounced?

Z: Castaneda’s works have influenced me greatly the whole of SATURNIAN MIST’s existence, so not only with Shamatanic. Some things I realized intellectually from these works already years ago didn’t really actualize themselves before working with Shamatanic in their fullest extent. The way one lives one’s everyday life is the strongest and most honest ontological and ethical statement about your world view. And if you combine occult art and the way of the warrior as presented in Castaneda’s works, it really changes a person. Don Juan calls it ”Intent,” and in the west it is known as ”the Will.” It is within and between, left unpronounced.

What are some other works or authors you’ve explored recently? Do you find any unexpected inspiration from movies or different artforms?

Z: I just finished Colin Wilson’s fantastic study about (existential) outsiders called The Outsiders. Based on your questions you present to me here, I’d recommend it for you too. It’s not for everyone though, but if you are not familiar with it, check it out! Other than that, I started years ago reading Fjodor Dostovjeski’s bibliography, but the phase stopped some years ago so I have been continuing that recently. I am now re-reading The Brothers Karamazov which I read a decade ago last time, so I felt I need to re-read it now with more life experience at my back pocket. Dostovjeski is a fantastic author, especially how he influenced to existentialism, psychology, and philosophy so much even without being one.

I get influenced by movies, paintings, poems, even tv-series a lot too, and they are not unexpected inspirations for me though. The Seventh Seal by Ingmar Bergman for instance includes very profound understanding about certain things and so does The Holy Mountain of Alejandro Jodorowsky as much as for instance Fight Club from 1999. Hard to not get inspired by them! If one has an open mind and is about to understand something from within, the inspiration might come from the streetlights, sound of the wind, or even from the smell of a coffee as much as it could come from some profound work of art. Mind is a fascinating tool that way. ”White Void of All-Being” song from Chaos Magick album was inspired by the rhythm of my car engine breaking.

Many of your lyrics describe the single-pointed consciousness. How have your perspectives on life, death, and the inner workings of the universe been shaped over time by experiences with this or other altered states?

Z: All my lyrics include some sort of diary undertone (not only SATURNIAN MIST, but other bands too, especially my newest one, industrial metal band KING SATAN), but I always try to write them having literal, allegorical, and anagogic levels as well on the top of that, to try to keep them also in general, prosaic, and poetic level above my subjective experience yet strongly linked there of course. I think all the above mentioned has been dealt with in my lyrics one way or another already, and if not, they will be. And if they are, they still will be, hah! Trust the ones who seek the truth, but run away from those who claim to have found it. And since the question is very open despite having definitive keywords, I think all my lyrics will answer to this better than I could without writing an extensive essay about it. Especially if you read them chronologically. Lyrically and philosophically my main works are the works of SATURNIAN MIST and KING SATAN, and their right chronology is actually not the same as the release dates (of course all can be understood as independent works too, but you asked about the shaping of the views!).

For those interested of the right chronology full-length wise of these bands, it would be this from the beginning to the end. More and more SATURNIAN MIST and KING SATAN listeners have started noticing the continuum there and links there, even though the musical genres are different, but I have never been in the genre business. Or conformity business. Chaos is the law.

Saturnian Mist – Gnostikoi Ha-Shaitan (2011)
Saturnian Mist – Chaos Magick (2015)
Saturnian Mist – Shamatanic (2021) (Yeah, I wrote most of the stuff already in 2016 for this actually, project kind of was delayed a lot, heh)
King Satan – King Fucking Satan (2017)
King Satan – I Want You To Worship Satan (2019)
King Satan – Occult Spiritual Anarchy (2022) (will be out early next year, now it’s December so just as well mentioned it).

A recording of Carl Jung, who of course received criticism from colleagues for his support of occult influences, is also featured on “Altar of Flesh and Blood,” and he speaks on the reality of altered states even though their effects can’t be replicated in a laboratory setting. What are your thoughts on magic as a science, and the efforts to study or explain it through conventional scientific means? Some of Peter Carroll’s work, where he creates equations and uses quantum mechanics to explain its techniques and phenomena, comes to mind as a curious attempt to bridge certain gaps between the ordinary and non-ordinary.

Z: I wrote a poem about magick once which lines I used partially on SATURNIAN MIST’s ”Ill-Mystic” and KING SATAN’s ”All Magick Is Chaos Magick” songs which I want to share before answering.

”MAGICK is real and we are not,
MAGICK is us in one thought
MAGICK is the force of the nature
MAGICK is GOD in circulation”

This said, I think what is referred to as ”magick” or ”magic” is a natural phenomenon which rules or essence we still do not understand that well we could communicate about it as such to others, or harness it with scientific method. But so was electricity at one point, kind of mysterious force, but now kind of a profane and everyday thing. I think we will get there, and quantum mechanics are already flirting with alternate states of consciousness quite much. Science is constantly evolving, and so does occultism, philosophy, psychology etc. However, my beliefs are not really dependent about if something can be proven with scientific method or not. Not all things can be, and whether ”magick” is really a concrete thing or symbolic construction causing concrete changes in the consciousness by believing in it, the results are still the same. But of course, I am inclined to believe that the science will someday understand it better and that it won’t be only understood by mystics, artists, and other wayward freaks mostly by intuition, heh. Epistemology is a tricky thing anyway, just take a look of philosophy’s history and the classic Hume’s Guillotine vs Kant’s philosophy, I agree with both, but with Kant’s suggestion we can still function and develop. They can co-exist!

What are some other occult areas of interest that SATURNIAN MIST might explore on future releases?

Z: It is hard to say really, I think SATURNIAN MIST will go more and more into the experience-oriented expression with more and more mystic emphasis on things, whereas the word and lyrical side will continue (and has continued already, like I explained earlier during this interview) with my other band KING SATAN. At the moment I feel that I have no more things left unsaid verbally with SATURNIAN MIST, but so many things left unsaid emotionally. Mysticism means that the actual reality lies behind the words. That is the ”place” we are most likely going with SATURNIAN MIST’s works next. This is not a promise though, but something we have been talking about. But all are still works in progress as we speak, you cannot really force ”The Work,” so I guess we will be as much surprised as you will too when the next SATURNIAN MIST steps reveals themselves.

Thanks so much for your time and insights! Do you wish to share any final thoughts in closing?

Z: Thank you for a very interesting and profound interview, it is a pleasure to have one with someone who has done their homework also elsewhere as well and not only in music! Gloria in Profundis and Chaos is the Law!

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