Taboos and Blasphemy

Challenging and breaking taboos is often a key aspect of Satanism and other left hand paths. Indeed our natural tendency to do just that may be one of the signposts that lead us to this path in the first place. I believe it is good to challenge and break taboos a  lot of the time. It is something I am unapologetic about doing myself. In this post I intend to explain why; however I do think there are limits to the usefulness or appropriateness of breaking taboos and I will speak of that too.

A taboo is something which is generally seen to be proscribed or forbidden by society. Very often the reason why it is forbidden is obscure and so is the authority by which it is forbidden. We are left with a general belief that something is wrong or bad but are not encouraged to question why it is seen that way. In reality the root cause of something being seen as taboo is very often religious in nature and the authority for something’s prohibition comes from the God or church which has dominated the social structure in a particular place. Thus, where I live many things which are taboo are seen that way directly because of the Christian church. A church I don’t believe in. A church whose teachings I oppose.

A case in point is homosexuality. Pretty much the only reason that homosexuality is still seen as taboo in many areas is religious. In my part of the world the “Moral Authorities” who are most violently opposed to homosexuals having equal rights are  the powers of Christianity and Islam. There is in fact nothing whatsoever wrong with homosexuality and the attitude of the religious agents of social control have done great harm and caused great suffering to homosexuals. I am bisexual myself and presently in a relationship with a woman. In effect every time we have sex I am breaking a taboo.

So, sometimes it is good to break taboos simply because the premise on which they are based is entirely wrong and the moral authorities should be challenged.

As Satanists we are obliged to think about and question everything ourselves and rely on our own judgements. Moreover we don’t submit to the doctrines or authorities of any other religion, especially Christianity. Therefore we pretty much have to break taboos on a daily basis. It is in a sense our mission to confront and illuminate the lunacy of  many of the moral values our society has inherited from it’s Christian history.

But all people break taboos sometimes and it can be psychologically helpful to our own development. The chances are that your first drink, your first cigarette, the first time you masturbated, had sex, experimented with drugs, got a tattoo or read a book your parents wouldn’t approve of; you were breaking a taboo in some context or other. We all challenge the rules as we grow up in order to decide who we want to be, and carve out our own personalities. We don’t always continue with all the things we try, but most of us do experiment. We do break the rules. And very often we get a kick out of it too. The kick can be addictive and there are inherent dangers in all addictions, a point I shall return to later… But to an extent we all need to break taboos in order to grow up and live full and satisfying lives. I could have remained a non drinking, non smoking, pure and blameless virgin who never questioned anything and kept within the boundaries all the time and always did as society required. In which case I would have nothing to say or write about and would consider my life a waste. Besides, I’ve never had any desire to be a robot or a sheep.

Many taboos are also culturally and geographically specific. In the west we generally find the idea of eating dog to be abhorrent while in other countries it is considered a delicacy. We don’t mind eating sheep or cows though; even nice little bunny rabbits! I recently saw a travel documentary which featured some children in Indonesia innocently collecting dragonflies and then roasting them on sticks and eating them. The point is that most taboos are based not on some universal law we all share, but on the subjective beliefs and practices of specific communities.

There are of course some taboos which do have some logic behind them. I will certainly never break the incest taboo. Not because some unnamed authority says it is forbidden, but because I am aware of facts that lead me to think it is a very bad and potentially harmful activity. Whatever creed we profess, if we decide to break a rule we should do so thoughtfully and mindfully and be prepared to take the consequences. Some rules are there for a reason and we need to develop the intelligence to recognise such things. Satanism is not alone in detesting stupidity.

One area of taboo that is particularly popular with Satanists is blasphemy. As defined by thefreedictionary.com blasphemy is

1.

a. A contemptuous or profane act, utterance, or writing concerning God or a sacred entity.
b. The act of claiming for oneself the attributes and rights of God.
2. An irreverent or impious act, attitude, or utterance in regard to something considered inviolable or sacrosanct.
In all of those senses  I blaspheme. Let’s start with 1b;   The act of claiming for oneself the attributes and rights of God. This is fundamental to Satanic belief. We see ourselves not necessarily as gods yet, but certainly capable of developing to the degree that we are as gods. Moreover we declare our self autonomy and our right to be ourselves regardless of the views and rules of others. Ironically while I personally have no objection to other people questioning and disagreeing with that belief they would in effect be blaspheming against my religion. What makes blasphemy okay sometimes and wrong other times?
In my rituals and everyday life as a Satanist I blaspheme in all the other senses of the definition. I have no desire or intent to harm or insult individual people who practice other religions; many of whom I respect enormously as people. However I reserve my right to disbelieve and to underline my disbelief in the theology and practices of particular religions. I think this is an issue all people should think seriously about. We are all comfortable and feel safe within the communities we live in; but what if something we do or say which is acceptable in our own community is seen as blasphemy to another community? And what if the other community decides to take retribution? We live in a time and place where this happens. Ironically it is often those who would be most critical of my right to blaspheme, who are most upset  and genuinely endangered when another community sees their beliefs as blasphemous. Some people may be appalled by my beliefs and practices, but they should at least recognise that I don’t condemn people to death for blaspheming against my beliefs. This is despite the fact that Satan has probably been “blasphemed” against more than any other god. Indeed it is hard to find any text about or image of Satan that is not riddled with prejudice, derision and falsehood.
In blasphemy and the breaking of other taboos we define ourselves by the choices we make and the  declaration of what we don’t believe or what we object to.
For the most part therefore I think the propensity to challenge and sometimes break taboos is healthy and productive. It can be taken to extremes however. As I said earlier, when breaking a taboo it is common to get a kick out of doing so. We are physical/chemical animals and when we go out on a psychological limb, certain chemicals are released which create a natural high. People can become addicted to that. All addictions can make us lose focus and can prevent us from devoting more energy to more important things. Clearly the physical and psychological effects can sometimes be very dangerous. I have met a few “Taboo Junkies”; not all of them are Satanists but we do seem to have quite a few of them. I have actually heard one person say “Can somebody suggest something because I am running out of taboos to break!” Personally I find that kind of taboo chasing to be puerile and infantile.
While Satanism does encourage us to challenge taboos, it challenges us us even more to do all things with wisdom and intelligence.

3 Comments on “Taboos and Blasphemy”

  1. As i have commented before on Satanism in general, regarding breaking taboos, in our youth we often break them for the thrill of it, as something to rebel against and even to shock people, but as we mature and realize what our real will is then we just break society’s taboos naturally. “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. Love is the law, love under will.”

  2. This is one of the most honest and refreshing views of ‘taboos’ that I have read in a long time. Your point of view avoids the repetitive in terms of philosophical and cultural (not to say that I don’t enjoy a great debate), but once in a while, it’s good to see someone get to the heart of this particular matter in the ‘here and now’. ~Mistress Babylon


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