Satanic Responsibility (1)Posted: March 21, 2013
When I set out to write this post it quickly became clear I wouldn’t be able to cover everything I wanted to say on this subject at once. So this will be an overview and I will write several more posts on Satanic Responsibility in different areas of life in the coming weeks.
There will of course be a few people reading this who may assume that Satanists don’t have much sense of responsibility at all and certainly don’t consider anybody or anything beyond themselves… Satanism is a left hand path after all, and aren’t such people totally selfish and self centred? And don’t they have a rule which states ” Satan represents responsibility to the responsible, instead of concern for psychic vampires?” To me such views and assumptions indicate a complete misunderstanding and ignorance of what Satanism is. I would argue that, in fact, Satanism places greater emphasis on personal responsibility than most other religions and philosophies I know of. It was one of the key things that lead me to become a Satanist.
Whether they are theistic or atheistic; Satanists do not believe that Satan or any other entity is going to jump in and fight our battles for us. We do not believe that any supernatural entity has ordered us to obey a moral code which is set in stone and can’t be argued with. We believe that “we” are the authors and arbitrators of our moral and ethical behaviour. WE make our own choices and we take the consequences of those choices. This is not abdicating responsibility; this is assuming full responsibility for our own actions. I think this is an authentic and noble way to live; frankly, I think we occupy the moral high ground.
You will not find Satanists saying “Well I have nothing personal against Bob because he is gay, but you know God says homosexuality is wrong so I will go along with my church in shunning him.” You will not find Satanists saying “Listen, I know you can’t afford to look after another child and that giving birth may kill you or ruin your life in other ways but the priests say abortion is wrong so who am I to argue?” You will not hear Satanists saying “Well I know nothing about the individuals on this plane but my teachers tell me that our Holy Book says it is okay to condemn them all to death because I will go to heaven.”
Those of us on a left hand path may look at things from the perspective of self but that does not actually mean we are purely selfish. It means we take responsibility for our own thoughts and actions. We don’t pass the buck. When we get things right, yes we will claim the credit (even if that breaks some social conventions) but if we get things wrong we don’t blame God or anyone else; we take the blame and the consequences. Basically we are trying to be grown ups in a complicated world rather than waiting for our spiritual Daddy to make all the hard choices for us.
So what of the rule quoted at the start of this piece? Well the truth is we don’t have rules. Anton LaVey who composed the nine Satanic rules was just a man. The rules he came up with were supposed to be challenges to the social conventions of the time. They were supposed to make people stop and think. They were supposed to make people question the assumptions that other moral codes were based on. For Satanists they are starting points for thought and discussion. They are very much open to interpretation and it is easily and legitimately possible to ignore them altogether.
My interpretation of the phrase ” Satan represents responsibility to the responsible, instead of concern for psychic vampires,” is that we are responsible for our own thoughts and actions but we are not responsible for the thoughts, actions or assumptions of others unless we have done something to influence those behaviours. For example if I overtly flirt with somebody or use my knowledge of witchcraft to increase somebody’s attraction to me I do bare some responsibility if they fall in love with me and get hurt. On the other hand if I have done nothing to foster such feelings in another person their state of mind if I reject them is not my responsibility. (Which doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t care). If myself and a colleague are both trying for the same promotion and I unfairly engineer a situation that makes them look bad so that I am promoted and they are not, then I am at least partly responsible for their disappointment and may have to take the consequences of that. On the other hand if I win the promotion simply because I am better at my job I am certainly not responsible for my colleague’s disappointment and possible ill feeling towards me.
The bottom line in all cases is that we are totally responsible for our own actions but we are not responsible for the actions of others unless we have influenced them or unless we choose to be. (That of course is another choice we have.)
But we live in a complicated world where the reality is that we all affect other people in many ways and other people affect us. As Satanists we may begin with ourselves but we are not blind to the needs of others or the interconnectedness of the world we live in. In future posts I will try to think about how Satanic Responsibility can and does function in such a perplexing and intricate society.