Taking ownership of Satanism

Satanic statue

Satanic Temple is successfully taking ownership of Satanism from Christianity and Hollywood.

Satan first is mentioned in the Book of Job, used by the Jew to describe an angel of their god who acts in the role of quality controller, testing the people of Israel through adversarial hardships such as famine, disease and invasion.

When the Christian religion came into existence, they used Satan, Satanic, and Satanists to mean anything that was contrary to their religion, thus a Jew, Muslim, Cathar, Pagan or Scientist could be dumped in the same bucket as a follower of Satan.  Satanism never existed until Christianity invented it, and there was no movement that identified itself as Satanists until the 1880’s.

From around the 1740’s Satanism became associated with an extreme form of hedonism by wealthy individuals in the Hellfire movement.  In the 1880’s Satanism as a movement came to media attention after lurid stories appeared about black masses involving upside-down crosses, stolen consecration wafers, sexual orgies, and reversed versions of the Christian masses in several locations in France.

For about another hundred years Satanism was pursued by small groups of people pursuing a similar form of Satanism as that in France in the 1880’s.  In the 1960’s Anton Lavey decided to create an atheistic version of Satanism and defined his interpretation of Satanism in the Satanic Bible and other publications, forming the Church of Satan.  Arguments within the Church of Satan saw several further groups emerge such as Temple of Set under Dr Michael Aquino.

The centralistic and militant form of atheism expressed by Church of Satan including Social Darwinism caused Satanists to form alternative versions of Satanism, the most successful being Satanic Temple in 2014.

It has only been since the 1960’s that Satanists have collectively taken ownership of Satanism away from Christianity and Hollywood, forming their own definitions of what it means to be a Satanist, and self-identifying as Satanists.  Regardless of if the Satanist follows a spiritual or a rational version of Satanism, all agree that the path embraces the primacy of the will and choice of self over group conformity, and a love of life.

Modern Satanists separate themselves from those that either promote or pursue Christian or Hollywood definitions of Satanism of harming people and animals by referring to them as Reverse Christians.  Since the era of Book of Job, the idea of Satan and Satanism has been an evolving process, and it is only in the last 60 years that Satanism has been clearly defined into a positive version contrary to that of Hollywood and Christianity.

There is currently an epic fight going on between Satanists such as Satanic Temple and those such as Christians over the ownership and definitions of what it means to be a Satanist, a battle that is being won thanks to modern Satanists taking an active role in defining their Satanism rather than allowing outsiders to define it for them.

What is Satanism?

I have read the interview of Lucien Greaves of the Satanic Temple with Queerty which he says:

“Yeah, but I think there’s a value in doing it in the name of Satanism, too, because it forces people to reevaluate the arbitrary labels we sometimes put on things. I actually have a long background in studying witch hunts and the idea of Satanism and, in honesty, Satanism is just that: an idea.

When you go back to Old Testament times up to modern history, what we think we know about Satanism is always something manufactured by people more of the Westboro church camp than actual people practicing Satanism.”

I have also read many comments by Satanists on the beliefs and activities of Satanic Temple, who judge them based upon the world view of their own interpretation of what Satanism is to them.  This raises to me a question, what is Satanism? Nobody has the monopoly on truth, but it is good to build a belief upon authentic foundations.

The primary idea of Satanism is around devil worship, an idea clearly manufactured by Christians.  The modern idea of Satanism as per the Satanic Bible is a truth manufactured by one man, called Anton LaVey.  Joy of Satan defines Satan as a space alien, the defunct Cult of Cthulhu depicted Satan as a fictional character called Cthulhu from a fantasy book by H P Lovecraft. Satanic Temple is the latest in a long line of individuals and groups who add to Satan and Satanism their own interpretations.  Those of us who say Satanic Temple is not Satanism, do we hold a monopoly on truth? On what basis do we claim authenticity? on what LaVey claims, a bunch of Christians claim?

To claim authenticity then we Satanists need to go back to the original source of Satan, which is a Jewish book called the Book of Job.  In Job Satan is an angel who is employed by the Jewish god to test the Jews.  In the mind of the Jew they are the chosen people, the god they worship is a Jewish god, and Satan is employed by the Jewish god to test the Jewish people.  Satan is a Jewish word meaning “the opposer.”  In the mind of the Jew anything that opposes them is a test from their god, be it a foreign invasion, a famine or an earthquake.  Satan is employed by the Jewish god to keep the Jew on their toes, a type of watch dog to punish failures to follow the rules, and to ensure quality control through testing.  For this purpose the Satan in the Book of Job is given a degree of independence by his employer, but it is clearly obvious that Satan is an employee testing Jews under the direction of the Jewish god.

It is apparent in the time line that the Satan of the Book of Job, an angel employed by the Jewish god, is different from the serpent that tested Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis, which happened earlier than the Book of Job,  The serpent which is attributed to Lucifer, and is potentially mentioned again in Book of Isaiah, is different to Satan in Book of Job.

If one is being authentic then it becomes a choice of going with Lucifer the serpent, in which case one heads down the road to Luciferianism, or one goes with Satan of the Book of Job, then rightfully can claim to be a Satanist.  There is however no wrong by claiming Satan is a space alien or a fictional fantasy book character, but with the understanding that it is a subjective interpretation without a claim on authority.  The only authoritative claim anyone has on Satan can only be the ones who originally introduced Satan to the world, which is the Book of Job.

Lets return again to what Satanic Temple has been doing, they have been having fun testing people’s claim of authority on the label of Satan and Satanism.  If you return to the original context of Satan in the Book of Job and the definition of the word for Satan “the opposer,” Satanic Temple is being more true to what Satanism is than those long-time Satanists that are being critical of Satanic Temple.  For the moment Satanic Temple is a marketing campaign, but it has the potential to become something more, and when I read their mission statement, tenets and beliefs, though the wording is sloppy and mistakenly mixes Lucifer with Satan, they are acting in the spirit of the Satan in the Book of Job.