Satanism Minus ChristianityPosted: November 21, 2012
I probably would have become a Satanist many years earlier were it not for the fact that in my mind I still associated it very much with Christianity. I am not Christian; I don’t believe in any aspect of Christian myth, doctrine or dogma, so why would I want to associate myself with a religion and philosophy that seems so entwined in Christian practice and belief? It would be pointless and senseless. After a lot of reading, research and reflection I came to the conclusion that Satanism can stand alone. However I do have some concerns that Satanism is still perceived as largely a by-product of; or antitheses to, Christianity. Most disturbingly some Satanists seem to view it that way as well.
So what happens if we subtract every possible aspect of Christianity (and the other Abrahamic faiths) from Satanism? What are we left with? What do we gain? What do we lose?
The first thing to go is any notion that Satan and Satanism are bad or evil. The only accusations to that effect come from the Abrahamic scriptures and doctrines; once those accusations have been removed we can re-evaluate who and what Satan and Satanism are from a neutral perspective. There are even some Satanists who will resist this approach. The fact is that there are some amongst us who revel in the image of being mad, bad and dangerous to know.
So when evil is gone, what is left?
It seems to me there are two basic strands of Satanism which can survive and stand alone either separately or together once all Christian elements have been removed. The first strand is the atheistic type of Satanism, the various branches of which can be traced back to Anton LaVey. There are still references to Christianity in these branches, notably in the writings of LaVey himself, but in essence Satan is seen here as a symbol of resistance to and rebellion against any type of orthodoxy. It can be seen as a Humanist movement which extols the virtues of individualism and independent thought. It is a philosophy that demands we question and test conventional values and morals. But it is not immoral or even amoral; just as in science, after the results of the testing and experimentation are known we adapt our beliefs and behaviour in line with the results. Taboos are broken in the pursuit of wisdom and knowledge. This form of Satanism should be forward looking and foster personal integrity and responsibility. It is for people who are genuinely searching for answers and who are brave enough to live with the answers they find.
The second form of Satanism that can survive and stand alone without influence from the Abrahamic scriptures is the theistic strand. There is evidence that the early Jewish tribes-people were in frequent contact with communities that worshipped other Gods and indeed may once have been polytheistic themselves. By extension it is clear that their ideas about Satan developed in opposition to the cultures they wanted to separate themselves from. There are many historical and archeological pagan traditions that predate the Judao-Christian culture that venerated Gods any one of which could be the genesis of the entity we now know as Satan. Moreover many of the pictorial and descriptive images of Satan closely resemble the Horned Gods of Pagan Europe that were despised by Christian “missionaries”. In short Satan is a deity who is older than the Abrahamic traditions and for those of us who feel an attraction to the concept of deity, Satan becomes an ancient energy to tap into. An untamed Lord of nature who lives by nature’s rules rather than the constraints of Christianised society.
One thing that remains true of both strands of Satanism even after all traces of Christianity are removed is that by design and by tradition it is a Left Hand Path. It is self centred and ready and willing to start off in the dirt. It acknowledges aspects of human behaviour and of the human condition that Right Hand Paths tend to avoid, fear or steer clear of. In that way it offers those of us who are more naturally inclined to the darker aspects of life and beauty, a route to spiritual progression that seems distant and closed in Right Hand Paths. Just because we don’t desire everything to be sweetness and light does not make us bad people incapable of personal and spiritual development. Therefore I would argue that psychologically and holistically Satanism, as perhaps the modern vanguard of the Left Hand Path, is an absolutely essential avenue of spiritual progression for many of us.
Christianity may regard Satan as an enemy. But Christianity is certainly not Satanism’s main enemy. Our enemy is ignorance and prejudice and that is always much easier to see in others than ourselves. I think; indeed I hope, we are coming to a watershed in our religion’s development. In my opinion we need to leave the comfortable enemies of the past behind in order to be more relevant as a standalone philosophy of the future. Anton LaVey was wrong to tie Satanism and Christianity together in the ways that he did. It is time to divorce. It is time to move on.