Whats in a name? Satanism

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.

2. Individualism.

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.

3. Authority.

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.

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41 thoughts on “Whats in a name? Satanism

  1. Well said!

    The only people I write off are the leaders of these groups. That is because they have a vested interest in remaining as they are. It’s their narcissistic supply, and no narcissist willingly gives up their source of supply.

    I started out with the JOS. Many of us have. There really aren’t that many places to go to learn, and her site is one of the largest. But I grew out of it quickly. And those “True” Satanists out there will also grow out of this group-think and become individualists. The JOS, Co$ etc are just stepping stones.

    Those people that ask awkward questions and get kicked out of either christian or Satanist church are being done a huge favor, and in time they will be thankful for being kicked out.

  2. Again you’ve nailed it. A name means nothing when its not backed up. Its a bit awkward for me to hold a ‘god’ second to myself as I was taught otherwise, yet sometimes I think its what I need. Without the element of individualism Satanism(or any other path) is incomplete. Herd mentality can breed a kind of dependency that blinds one to their true self, messing with their ability to leave that distinct mark in a million.

    • Following the individual path free from any external authority in an individuals own life is the worthy road to walk I think, as the alternative only leads to slavery and ignorance.

  3. When it comes down to it, Satanism is hard work. It requires us to cut through lazy thinking — our own especially — and know for ourselves, rather than relying on second-hand conclusions. Paired with that is the fact that too many people live with fear as their real guide. And that combination is toxic: laziness and fear. LaVey for all his faults nails it when he attacks herd mentality and stupidity. But his church is becoming what all institutions do after a while: an orthodoxy. “You’re in if you agree with us and out if you don’t. We’re the only REAL Satanists.” And so on.

    Good post, and thoughtful comments.

  4. That’s quite a balancing act. With the way some governments act in the’ interest of the people’ god does’nt need to be a tyrant. To me Satanism has always had a ‘dark ‘feel to it. I am mostly tentative when approaching, but I sense a kind of light in it. It kinda feels like knowing which way to go even if its pitch black all around. I’m curious; do you (or anyone else) experience this?

  5. Hello Chris. You could’nt have said truer words. The narcissism of self-serving Satanic leaders is a toxic element in the way of unsuspecting satanists who simply want to grow and find their identities. While I don’t advocate forcing satanic leaders to be a certain way, it is important to protect young satanists from those who could prey on them. Satan themed killings such as the ones perpetuated at some South African schools through influence of cult leaders (adolescent bullies actually) could have been prevented through reason and the right information. I think its time people stopped following blindly what they do not understand. Great comment

  6. Hello, it’s been a while.

    I’ve been reading Will To Power and Might Is Right and also participating at the 600 club and from all the information I’ve gathered so far (including here) the things you mention in this post are definitely the core ideas behind Satanism, which I’m starting to feel as my own as well.

    My whole life used to be about thinking on the well being of others, caring more about other people than myself, but these past few months I realized that I was a closeted egoist that can still care for loved ones but without concern for whatever happens to the rest. I just wish more people could get out of their bubbles and realize how selfish they are.

    You mention the JoS and CoS as being places for sheep-minded people who need others to tell them what to do, and I’ve seen that myself as well (at least on the CoS.) However I’ve also been pondering about the ONA and while I do not like the idea of senseless murdering, the fact that they do not care about breaking the law and that they are willing to become stronger by say, living alone in the woods for three months seems sort of coherent with the core ideas of Satanism, or am I missing something here?

    Would my life be in danger if ONA members found out that I’m using some of their practices/teachings? (presuming that I stumble upon one of them during my lifetime.)

    Lastly, about Nietzsche: If he was actually against nihilism, why do many people who claim to follow his philosophy call themselves “nihilists”?

    That’s all for now, thanks in advance for your replies.

    • This blog encourages Satanists to find their own unique path free from the baggage of group-minded Satanism. ONA is another example of group-minded Satanism. The ONA lives in the minds of a few trollish fanatics on blogs and forums, there is no evidence any ever lived in the woods for three months on their own, or murder people. They are fantasists who are only tolerated by a few Left Hand Path sites such as 600Club. The ONA are all talk and no walk, their “Satanism” lives and dies on the internet.

      This blog argues that the individual Satanist should be the only authority in their lives, master over their own choices, actions and destiny. By following a group, guru, god or other external authority, the individual gives their power away to those external authorities, becoming like a mindless sheep.

      The law I argue serves the interests of the ruler over the ruled, it is unjust because nobody is treated equally, for instance it is so complicated only a lawyer understands it, the lawyer costs money, the poor are unable to afford the lawyers, so the wealthy always win in the legal system. Noting that the law is unjust, then I have no respect for it. I intelligently work with the law to my own benefit, and I will break the law if it advances my goals. Some think Satanism is about breaking the law for the sake of breaking the law, they are the sheep who usually spend most of their time in jail or on probation.

      Living in the woods or becoming a monk is an extreme form of expression in the Left Hand Path, which might offer some benefits from learning about self and nature, however, the odd weekend or a few hours in nature and alone each week seems to work well for me.

      Nietzsche, like this blog, supports the idea of the individual over the collective, but it seems to me some Satanists will take some of what this philosopher says out of context, and will distort it into something that Nietzsche never supported.

      The relationship of self with others is best built in my opinion based upon mutual cooperation where both sides benefit from the relationship. Often, the individual inherits or collects to themselves negative and restricting relationships that neither benefits themselves or those they are associated with, in which case I argue they should cut the dead and negative relationships away, and build new relationships with those that support rather than hinder the goals of the self.

  7. Thanks for your reply, it’s evident to me now that it’s not worth looking any deeper into the ONA and its teachings, however I read in one of their papers that LHP magic is internal and I agree with this so I hope that doesn’t put me in harm’s way.

    Now there’s something that has left me troubled: I just had a class with an Economics teacher and we discussed the reason why businessmen are ripping the planet apart. He said that their problem was shortsightedness which was caused by their selfishness. Is this the same kind of selfishness satanists have? Why would a satanist care about the planet if profit can be gained in the short term? (Specially if said satanist doesn’t want any children)

    Satanists are against following social conventions, then what happens with the social agreements that are made in relation to objects, such as a chair?

    • Ideally the Satanist accepts responsibility for their own actions, so that if they value and enjoy the planet, then they take steps to ensure they look after it. Most Satanists will probably bring children into the world, thus there is an incentive to give their children, and their grandchildren, a legacy of a healthy and abundant planet.

      The damage to the planet is due to the actions of everyone, the outcome of the consumer system. It seems everyone likes to find a scapegoat for the problems, such as businessmen, but in reality they should look in the mirror, because everyone is part of the problem. Humanity seems incapable of solving environmental problems, so it will be inevitable that human civilization will suffer a serious and potentially total collapse because the life support systems of this planet will fail.

      • That’s actually spot on! I didn’t consider the fact that the planet is getting ruined faster than most people realize and since satanists enjoy nature and its resources they obviously don’t want to fuck them up. Also, I want to leave a legacy on the planet after I’m gone and that’s not gonna happen if there’s no more life. Sadly however there doesn’t seems to be much that can be done to stop the incoming catastrophe and if that’s the case I’ll do my best to be ready when the shit hits the fan.

        About businessmen, it is my belief that they, rather than selfish, are being entirely compulsive since it seems they can’t stop themselves from accumulating more and more money, unknowingly ill.

        And finally, I’m still wondering about social conventions, satanists reject them yet they still accept a table as something to put stuff on because society says it so. Why accept conventions like that and reject the rest? Isn’t this proof that we all need society and swim, to some degree, with the current?

      • Regarding social conventions, I believe that Satanism is a pragmatic outlook, so that something universal as say a definition of a table is accepted, but then more intangible concepts in society such as good and evil is going to be challenged by the Satanist.

  8. ” 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.”

    This sounds like you’re equating the Church of Satan to a money scam.
    Money scams have things to hide. They’ll promise you this or that, but will never deliver.
    I’ve looked over the CoS’s website and there’s nothing promising your riches, beautiful women, mansions, etc.
    There’s this here, though (http://www.churchofsatan.com/join-the-cos.php):
    “We must emphasize that you don’t have to join our organization to consider yourself a Satanist, you only need to recognize yourself in The Satanic Bible and live according to the tenets outlined therein. We don’t proselytize, or otherwise campaign for people to join—that is your prerogative. We have supplied this information which explains how you can affiliate if you so choose.”

    And this:
    “For those who think we ask too much, we suggest that you look to your other possessions and expenses as a comparison. Most people spend far more than this amount on general entertainment. We’ve discovered that most individuals can muster these funds if membership is something they truly desire. Bear in mind that our church has real people doing work, such as corresponding with individuals, and otherwise helping to run an international organization (postage, paper, computers, email accounts, and so on are not free). Our administrative staff’s time is precious—isn’t yours? Also, we are emphatically not altruists. We’re Satanists, so we expect to be compensated for our time and efforts.”

    Keep in mind that this is a LIFETIME membership fee. And it’s a one time payment only.
    I’m sure that you can see the value in joining an organization that represents Satanism.
    Also notice that it states that you DON’T have to be a member to consider yourself a Satanist?
    Not really a scam at this point, isn’t it?

    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.”

    The ONLY authority on Satanism is The Satanic Bible. It was the first to attach a philosophy and religion to that name. Before 1966, the only mention of Satanism or Satanist was from Christian propaganda that was directed at just about everything.
    The CoS merely represents the philosophy put forth by LaVey.
    Each member is free to apply these philosophies in their lives as they see fit so long as it doesn’t contradict that which is Satanism.
    After all, if you’re going to live according to a philosophy or religion, why would you go against it? If it doesn’t work in your life, pick something else.

    Do you have anything viable or substantial to back the claim that the CoS just dismisses people who disagree with every petty thing?
    I’ve only known people to be kicked out of the CoS who were involved in illegal activities or went out of their way to be malicious and threatening to other members.

    Also, Peter H. Gilmore hasn’t redefined anything in Satanism. He has kept with what LaVey established. Can you show me where he’s somehow contradicted what LaVey wrote in The Satanic Bible?
    Have you actually read the book or are you just mimicking what every other CoS naysayer has said?
    These claims you’ve made aren’t uncommon and in all the interactions I’ve had with those who’ve made these claims, there’s been nothing of substance to back them up.

    Please do your research.

    • Thanks for your comment, I disagree. Satanism has always been the path of the individual, and no true Satanists needs or requires an external authority such as the Church of Satan to define their Satanism for them.

      • Satanism is defined by Anton LaVey.
        The CoS hasn’t changed what LaVey established in 1966.
        Believe it or not, the earliest recording of the establishment of something is what you’d assess later “versions” of that particular thing on.

        I’m curious to know how the CoS or LaVey has somehow restricted your individuality.
        Keep in mind that something has to have rules and conduct established in order to be called X or Y.
        Based on your response, I’m not sure you understand my comment.

      • Anton Lavey provides one interpretation of Satanism, his own. The essence of the Left Hand Path, of which Satanism is a part, is that it rises above dogma, group and the control of external authorities, embracing the individual, and the freedom to define and live the individuals own interpretations of Satanism free of the restrictions of external authorities such as the Church of Satan.

        You are correct that CoS has never changed, it lives in the 1970’s and 1980’s, when society has moved on, and a new generation of Satanists have found such old dinosaurs irrelevant to their lives and the demands modern society.

  9. “You are correct that CoS has never changed…”

    No, I stated what LaVey established and I wasn’t referring to the CoS itself changing or not. I was referring to the philosophy:
    “The CoS hasn’t changed WHAT LAVEY ESTABLISHED in 1966.”

    The other issue you’ve brought up in your reply I’ve addressed on several occasions.

    Reading through the rest of what you’ve written regarding LaVey and the CoS, it appears that you have an ax to grind with them.
    If you are so unconcerned with them, then why are you attempting a smear campaign against the CoS?
    It appears to me that you are more reliant on their existence than you would admit.

    You are also claiming the Satanism is essentially every Left-Hand path concept. Even way before a religion called Satanism existed.
    This doesn’t make a bit of sense.
    It also appears that you don’t like to follow rules that are set forth by things.
    Therefore, you realized that to have a blog you need to abide by certain modes of conduct, right? And to ensure freedom to go out and have the freedom to do things, you need to abide by certain laws.

    That must be very unSatanic. You might want to reassess what Satanism really is or start breaking laws to satisfy your misinterpretation.

    I’ve asked you to provide evidence of your claims and you have not. You just continue with your usual baseless accusations.

    And it’s a shame that you’re commended for it.

    • Thanks for your comments. The Church of Satan no longer offers anything of value to Satanism other than the few books written by Lavey. I have written several articles about CoS and organizations like them, and I have no wish to waste time repeating myself here.

      As far as I am concerned I follow my own rules, and respect the rules of others when it is in my benefit to do so. I have no need to follow the rules of Church of Satan, and there is nothing they can do about it. It is in my personal interests to respect the rules of those that provide the WordPress product on which I write this blog, otherwise I would not be able to use their service. The rules of WordPress are hardly onerous unlike the restrictive demands of CoS upon its members.

  10. Yet another would be “savior” of Satanism, claiming the CoS has done nothing from within the comfort and anonymity of their own blog
    If the CoS dismissed everything that didn’t line up with Hp Gilmore and Nadramia’s views, I doubt I’d be hosting a podcast, via Radio Free Satan, that features Black and Death Metal

    Unlike detractor organizations best left unmentioned, CoS Members don’t need to show their Affiliation in public with arrogany media events that interfere with the lives of others

    Anton LaVey defined what Satanism is 50 years ago, and since 1997, little has changed. Magus Gilmore is a more than capable leader of the Church Of Satan, and does an exempliary job at sharpening the tool that is Satanism

    What have you done, lately?

    • Wow, there is an outpouring of love and religious devotion for their leaders and group by Church of Satan devotees in recent days in the comments section of this blog post.

      As I have said in previous posts, the CoS is an irrelevant money-spinner for Gilmore and his wife. A Satanist has no need to accept the definitions and subjective opinions of CoS and its leaders to be a Satanist, nor do they have to affiliate with CoS or read any of its literature to be a Satanist. Satanism has always been and will be the path of the individual, who defines their own Satanism based upon their own needs and situation. Any who allows others, especially groups like CoS define their Satanism for them are little more than mindless slaves to group-minded external authorities.

      • “As I have said in previous posts, the CoS is an irrelevant money-spinner for Gilmore and his wife.”
        Well, they’re pretty bad at it due to the fact that they have rejected people who aren’t compatible with their philosophy AND rejected their money:
        http://www.collegehumor.com/post/6834670/the-church-of-satan-has-polite-rejection-letters

        ” Any who allows others, especially groups like CoS define their Satanism for them are little more than mindless slaves to group-minded external authorities.”
        Also, I’ll say this ONE more time:
        The Church of Satan is merely an institution that represents the philosophy set forth in The Satanic Bible (that defines Satanism, as it was the FIRST to actually attach Satanism to a set of tenets and practices that constitute the classification of a religion).

        “A Satanist has no need to accept the definitions and subjective opinions of CoS and its leaders to be a Satanist, nor do they have to affiliate with CoS or read any of its literature to be a Satanist.”

        Then there’s no need to call yourself a Satanist.
        Labeling something is restricting it to what defines that label.
        If the label encompasses something so fluid, then you can’t really attach a definite label to it.
        It’s like trying to attach a certain shape to water.
        Where religion (water) takes many shapes and other appearances, religion is simply an umbrella term for these would-be shapes.
        Therefore, you can say you utilize religious concepts and take from many forms, but you can’t state that you are one particular form or shape, because what defines the angles doesn’t exist in the hodge-podge of elements incorporated into your beliefs.
        if Wicca is defined as a square, then it should have four shapes. If it has three, then it’s a triangle.

        Get it?

  11. No one’s forcing you to be an active member or to fill those out to be a registered member.
    And no one’s saying that you can’t be considered a Satanist if you aren’t a registered or active member of the CoS.
    There are many other institutions that ask for things that are considered more troublesome.
    The most ‘troublesome’ one is that of asking about drug use or illegal activity.
    The CoS’s stance on this is more than clear.
    And being a religion that associates its name with a controversial figure that has been scapegoated with all kinds of heinous crimes for hundreds of years, I understand their precautions.
    I would even go to say this is probably why the CoS also goes out and informs people (when they are approached) regarding the misinterpretations and misapplications of Satanism.

    Different organizations have different policies that are there to protect them.
    Makes sense, doesn’t it?

    If you don’t like what the CoS says regarding joining, then don’t join.
    What they’re asking is hardly invasive. Unless you like to live completely off the grid (which means not having a phone, internet, bank account, etc.).

    • If you think that the sort of questions that CoS are asking for membership of their group is not invasive then I think you are being delusional. You asked for an example of the onerous demands they make on their membership, and I have given one.

      CoS is irrelevant, its demands, lack of transparency, paranoia and inefficiency unnecessary baggage to the individual Satanist.

      • No. No. No.
        That is the ACTIVE membership questionnaire.
        You can be registered member and not have to fill out that questionnaire.
        What would be invasive is asking for your social security number, bank account information, etc.
        Something that would put you at potential risk and would be unnecessary to joining an organization that doesn’t focus on managing your finances, etc.
        And ad hominem attacks don’t really work here.

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