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by Amy Krieytaz
[Note: Links last checked and updated on: 02 May, 2005. Sites with an (x) after them cannot be reached. -- Sanguinarius]
Copyright © 1998 by Amy Krieytaz. All rights reserved.
The following is based on messages I posted on the Hall of Memories message board in December 1997 and January 1998. There are several other Satanists, of various kinds, who post there regularly too.
Since I don't know how much you know about Satanism, I'll start by talking about a few basics.
There are many different kinds of Satanists -- many of whom like to say that they are the only "true Satanists" and all others are pseudo-Satanists. In my opinion, such sectarian quarreling is pointless. To me, a "Satanist" is anyone who either reveres Satan as a deity or has a worldview which otherwise prominently includes a sympathetic reinterpretation of the figure of Satan.
There are many such interpretations. The vast majority of Satanists are not simply "reverse Christians" and do not accept Christian theology. Many are atheists who regard "Satan" as a symbol of pride, individuality, rebellion, strength, etc. Others see Satan as a "Dark Force in Nature." Others are into a modern version of Ophidian Gnosticism, which venerated the serpent of the Garden of Eden myth as a bringer of wisdom.
The best known form of Satanism is the Church of Satan, based on The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey. Another well-known group is the Temple of Set. A less well-known group, one of the few which actually worships Satan as a deity, is H.O.M.E. (x)
The vast majority of Satanists do not practice human sacrifice or other criminal activities. Most rumors of "Satanic crime" are unfounded. If others are interested, I'll post some info about one of today's major witchhunts, the "Satanic Ritual Abuse" scare, on which I did quite a bit of reading and some first-hand research earlier this year.
Satanism does attract lots of young people who are in it mainly for shock value and who can be quite annoying. Not all Satanists are like this, by any means. Alas, the more mature folks tend to be less vocal.
Most Satanists reject Christian morality (or at least certain aspects thereof) and hence do not think of themselves as "evil" except in an ironic sense. Most reject the idea of "Good" and "Evil" as cosmic absolutes. "Good" and "Evil" depend on who and what you are. If you are a mouse, then cats are evil, but not if you're a human with a pet cat.
Speaking of "evil," I see that tne Hall of Memories home page refers to "man's insatiable need to be evil." I will note that many of history's worst evils (from the standpoint of most people, at least), such as the Inquisition and the Nazi holocaust, were committed in the name of an alleged greater good.
As previously noted, there is a lot of sectarian rivalry among Satanists. I find especially silly the common claim that "anyone who worships Satan is not a true Satanist." If ANYONE can legitimately claim to be more of a "true Satanist" than the other types, it is those who actually worship Satan as a deity (however they may conceive of Satan). However, the word "Satanist" does historically have a broader meaning. The use of "Satanist" in a sense other than "worshipper of Satan" did not begin with LaVey. It has also referred, in the past, to literary Satanism, a.k.a. the "Satanic school," i.e. sympathetic portrayals of Satan in literature such as in the writings of Twain, Shaw, Baudelaire, etc. (See the Oxford English Dictionary.)
What Satanism means to me
I have vacillated between regarding Satan as a conscious deity and regarding Satan as an impersonal force. In any case, my experiences have convinced me that Satan is more than just a symbol and deserves to be treated with respect -- yes, even "worship" (that dreaded word).
Satan, to me, is "the God of this World" -- this world, the real world, not some pie-in-the-sky ideal world, and not the world of any oversimplified ideological half-truth. Satanism is, among other things, a way to satisfy a need for the dark/"other-worldly," yet to do so in a way that re-focusses one's attention back on hard mundane reality. The sole imperative of my form of Satanism is to stay in touch with reality, and to avoid letting oneself be blinded by dogma -- not just Christian dogma, but any other kind of dogma as well, including "Satanic" dogma. I reject the idea that Satanism necessitates a particular social/political/economic vision.
Here is my take on various "Satanic" dogmas popular today:
Individualism vs. "the herd." Most Satanists regard Satan as a symbol of pride, individuality, rebellion, etc. To an extent, I do too. Nevertheless, many Satanists join groups which manifest blatant and often downright silly forms of herd behavior. I suspect this may be because many Satanists are so focussed on individualism and rebellion that their own herd instincts become their shadow. The reality is that even the most alienated/nonconforming humans still have tribal instincts, as well as a need for individuality. Only if one acknowledges both can one strike a reasonable balance between individuality and tribal instinct.
Laissez-faire capitalism. From my perspective, no one economic system is "Satanic" per se. Rather, it is "Satanic" to advocate whatever economic system happens to be in one's own best interests. I want to live in an economy that works. And, as far as I can tell, the world's strongest economies have been mixed economies of some sort. (On the other hand, other mixed economies have been among the world's weakest economies. I am not an economist or a political scientist and do not presume to know exactly what is necessary to make a mixed economy work.)
Vengeance as an ethical imperative. Revenge/retribution certainly does have its place -- as is acknowledged by most people other than pacifists, who are a minority. However, it isn't always in one's interests. There are lots of situations that really are more effectively handled by "turning the other cheek" (a.k.a. reverse psychology), or by still other methods. It all depends on the particular situation and the person one is dealing with. To be fair, I should mention that even the most dogmatic Satanists do acknowledge some exceptions to vengeance as an imperative; they wouldn't survive very long if they didn't.
"Master morality." Some forms of Satanism aspire to revive what Nietzsche called "master morality," as opposed to the "slave morality" which is the basis of not only Christian ethics, but also the ethics of most secular humanists and liberals. (See Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil.) However, "master morality" pre-supposes a very different world from the one we live in now. Today's reality is that the vast majority of us, however nonconforming some of us may be, are still "slaves" in the sense that we have to work for other people for a living. Even those of us who are self-employed still have to please our clients. Success depends on manifesting what Nietzsche disdained as slavish virtues -- and this has become more and more true, not less so, as the world has become more and more interdependent economically. It's still good to question "slave morality" and to see it in historical perspective, as Nietzsche does, rather than to assume that it is some sort of universal moral law. But a total abolition of "slave morality" is just plain not feasible in today's society.
"The law of the jungle." People who live in real jungles are, traditionally, organized as tribes with a strong sense of responsibility to family and clan. One "law of the jungle" that some Satanists tend to forget is that groups are more powerful than individuals. This observation isn't intended as a put-down of loners alienated from their family and clan. My point is that being alienated doesn't make you an ubermensch, and that you probably aren't destined to rule the universe.
Christianity will die during the coming hard times. Not likely at all. Historically, with very few exceptions (such as revolutionary France), Christianity has always been most popular among the poor and downtrodden. Note the huge number of evangelical and Pentecostal churches in the inner cities. Insofar as there are hard times ahead, there will be more poor people, hence Christianity will become stronger, not weaker. What kills Christianity is good times, not bad times.
Readers unfamiliar with modern Satanism are encouraged to put the above into context by reading The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey and Satan Wants You by Arthur Lyons.
Some websites I've found especially interesting, besides those already mentioned above, include the following:
Later, when I have time, I'll post some info about the "Satanic Ritual Abuse" scare.
Comments? Please write to Amy Krieytaz, c/o Sanguinarius: AKrieytaz@sanguinarius.org. Thank you.