Oh don’t look away because I’m bringing up Satanism. I’m writing this specifically because of how misunderstood Satanism is. The public perception of Satanism tends to mix between teenage upstarts who wear mostly black and want attention, or the darker side, the psychotic devil-worshipping cultists who drink blood and eat babies. The first one is kinda accurate, because teenagers will identify as a Satanist but they’ll have a fairly skewed idea of it, and probably just want attention. The second one was to spread fear of ‘outer evils’ and villify non-Christians. It’s easier to say “Satanic” than to actually differentiate between all the Old World religions destroyed in the name of Christianity.
I’d like to mention that by Satanism I mean the Church of Satan, the first organised public Satanic movement, formed by Anton Szandor LaVey in 1966. He named the Church thus because LaVey chose Satan for a symbol; rebellion, temptation and passion. Satan, formerly Lucifer, is portrayed as a tragic hero in Christian mythology in the greatest tale of a literal Fall from Grace. Luciferianism, an off-shoot of Gnosticism, reveres Lucifer as the liberator, and the lighter of ways. Even in aspects of Christian mythology he’s not initially portrayed as evil; why wouldn’t you want to eat from aTree of Knowledge?
Anyway, LaVeyan Satanism is not a group that has anything to do with witchcraft, devil worship, demons, dark magic, or anything of that sort. That is a very common misconception I mentioned, perpetuated by the Church because they have serious issuesdealing with competition and non-Christian mindsets. Any ‘dark ritual’ or ‘hail Satan’ done by a LaVeyan Satanis is typically intended as mockery or an expression of showmanship. The Church actually encourages atheism, as it’s more a philosohy than a typical religion.
The name really doesn’t help with the image, but that’s part of the point. It’ll keep the ignorant and the fearful away, and that’s just fine with the Church. In the 1980s, a moral panic began in the United States but spread to other parts of the world. “Satanic Ritual Abuse”, wherein the mainstream media cottoned onto a book published in 1980 about a supposed child survivor of Satanic rituals. It was almost entirely dismissed as describing impossible circumstances and was thoroughly debunked. But hey, let’s not let the facts get in the way of a crusade!
This led to a vogue of copycat cases, serious conspiracy trials, and the church lapped it up. It damn near began a new Burning Times. It even set back psychology some years when fundamentalist Christian psychiatrists were advocating against disassociative identity disorder, and were instead suggesting that people suffering that mental illness were possessed. Yes, we still live in times where people are scared of the dark.
But enough history, let’s learn about the Church. Let’s begin by dispelling another myth; human and animal sacrifice is a disgusting concept to Satanic ideals. Animals are purely primal creatures and are ultimately innocent. The only aggression ever encouraged by Satanism is vengeance. Not merely taking an eye for an eye, but teaching that if someone acts with hostility towards you, they are to be destroyed, or made to submit. Satanism teaches that humans are animals like any other, and we shouldn’t reject that truth, or our natures.
Lex Talionis is the Law of Reprisal, wherein Satanists are taught to “do unto others as they do unto you”, rather than “do unto others as you would have them do unto you“. This ideal prevents a Satanist from wasting his or her positive moods on someone who simply doesn’t deserve it.
There are nine Satanic sins, those being Stupidity, Pretentiousness, Solipsism, Self-Deceit, Lack of Perspective, Herd Conformity, Forgetfulness of Past Orthodoxies, Counterproductive Pride and Lack of Aesthetics. Fairly standard sort of list of bad traits to have, no? Personally, I’ll take these over Christian ones any day. I love me a bit o’ wrath. There are also Nine Satanic Statements and Eleven Rules of the Earth. I’ll just leave a link to them here, elsewise they’ll take up a lot of room on this page. Traits such as intellect, independence, creativity and ambition are treated as virtues within the church.
The Satanic Church is a meritocracy; your achievements and personal ability define your status, regardless of family or social class. Might is right, and the better rule over the lesser as natural order. That comes back to the animalistic nature of humans. The strong survive and the strongest rule. There’s a strong presence of superiority in the church, because it attracts from a wide array of very confident, able people.
Self-exploration and personal progression are encouraged by the church. Satanists are meant to be distinctly individual people who chart their own path through life and explore the inner self. Maybe I could recommend the Sith Lessons to them. In this sense, however, Satanists can identify as the ‘god’ of themselves. To quote the present leader of the Church, Magus Peter H. Gilmore…
Satanists do not believe in the supernatural, in neither God nor the Devil. To the Satanist, he is his own God. Satan is a symbol of Man living as his prideful, carnal nature dictates. The reality behind Satan is simply the dark evolutionary force of entropy that permeates all of nature and provides the drive for survival and propagation inherent in all living things. Satan is not a conscious entity to be worshipped, rather a reservoir of power inside each human to be tapped at will. Thus any concept of sacrifice is rejected as a Christian aberration—in Satanism there’s no deity to which one can sacrifice.
I couldn’t put it better myself. Mostly because I’m an amateur theologist and he’s running the show. I think, in summation, Satanism is misunderstood, but I find that it’s intentional, designed to keep away people who wouldn’t suit the church. I don’t identify as a Satanist because I have more compassionate ideals and couldn’t fully commit to it, but I do quite like where they’re coming from. What drew me to Satanism as an area of study is a conversation I had online where I was told that the Sith of Star Wars were loosely based on LaVeyan Satanism. True or not, I can seriously see where that guy was coming from.
And in the end, it doesn’t matter what you think about religion, I just hope I’ve cleared the air between you, the reader, and the Church of Satan. There’s a lot of misconceptions, and they’re called that for a reason. There’s a lot more to the Church than is known, and much more than meets the eye.