In a world obsessed with image and branding it is occasionally suggested that Satanists should rebrand themselves with a new name, as if a new name will exorcise two thousand years of negative narrative against Satanism. In truth most Satanists care nothing for what others think, but for practical reasons must hide their Satanism from others because of the negative stigma that is attached to Satanism.
Satanism is a word, it is what the individual Satanist brings to the table that defines what Satanism is to that individual, rippling out to define Satanism to the rest of the world. Satanism to me is a powerful and effective paradigm, but there are too many people who enter Satanism who pollute the Satanic worldview with mediocrity and stupidity. I offer three strong qualities of Satanism, and how some fail to aspire to these qualities.
1. Critical Thinking.
Many come to Satanism because they asked questions whilst involved with the organized religions such as Christianity, their questions met with hostility, silence or ineffective answers. These individuals turn to alternative religions and philosophies for their answers, arriving eventually to Satanism. The ability to question, to look for the truth behind the manipulation, ignorance and falsehood is the mark of a liberated wise individual.
Too many come to Satanism, taking upon themselves this name, but seem unable or unwilling to accept the quality of critical thinking. These people set up and join groups such as Joy of Satan which embrace the same desire of the organized religions to deny the quality of critical thinking of their membership. One Joy of Satan member wrote on a recent Satanic forum that he was kicked out of JOS for asking questions; he like most former JOS members on leaving that group express an incredible naivety and lack of understanding of Satanism, born out of the suppression of critical thinking in that group.
Individualism is a major quality of the Satanist, the individual who has embraced a path away from conformity and slavery to the herd. Many in Satanism are critical of the organized religions, the sheep-like behavior of most of the followers of those religions. Large numbers of Satanists ironically behave like sheep, flocking to the group farms of groups such as Joy of Satan and Church of Satan. It seems to me a sheep in the Roman Catholic Church is no different to the sheep in the Church of Satan.
A Satanic quality is that the individual has chosen to be the primary authority in their own life. Large numbers of Satanists have chosen to place groups, dogma, other Satanists and even Satan as the primary authority in their own lives, they choose to put themselves in the position of a slave to an external authority.
In the Joy of Satan, the spaceman they call “Father Satan” is always the master over the Satanist, and the leader of JOS, who profitably milks the JOS members like so many cows, tells the members how to think and act. Peter H Gilmore and his partner runs Church of Satan as a personal business, charging gullible Satanists $200 plus other fees for a membership card of his “church” without any other benefits. The COS seeks to be the primary authority of Satanism in their members lives, defining all aspects of Satanism as per the definitions of Gilmore and Anton Lavey, expelling members who disagree with their views.
A name is defined by the qualities the Satanist brings to the name.
The name Satanist is a word, it becomes whatever qualities Satanists bring to the word. I am sorry to suggest that over half of Satanists are little different from any follower of the organized religions, a sheep dressed up like a Satanist. Embracing critical thinking, individualism and the choice of placing all external authorities as second in authority to self in the individuals own life are in my opinion the three initial basic steps the individual Satanist should be taking if they really value being a Satanist; a change of name is meaningless.