Church of Azazel > Beliefs & principles > Needed: new kinds of Satanism
Needed: new kinds of Satanism
A manifesto of the Church of Azazel
by Diane Vera
Copyright © 2006 by the Church of Azazel. All rights reserved.
Satanism is now in a transitional phase.
Thanks to the Internet, new forms of Satanism are emerging. The new forms of Satanism are typically theistic -- believing in Satan as an actual being -- whereas LaVeyans typically regard Satan as just a symbol, not an actual being. We believe that LaVeyan Satanism once served some very useful purposes. But the present era calls for new forms of Satanism.
In the late 1960's, Anton LaVey's Church of Satan was a vibrant new religious movement, on the leading edge of many social and religious trends. For example, LaVeyan Satanism was the first well-known religion to accept homosexuals and to accept various sexual kinks. The Satanic Bible was the first well-known book containing instruction in simple, do-it-yourself magic, a trend subsequently picked up by the Wicca-based neo-Pagan movement, which had previously consisted of initiatory traditions. At the same time, LaVeyan Satanism provided a corrective to some of the more unrealistic dogmas of the hippie movement which dominated San Francisco at that time.
LaVeyan Satanism was all about individualism. It helped spur the development of many other, more mainstream forms of individualistic spirituality. Moreover, Western culture as a whole became a lot more individualistic during the 1970's, an era that has often been spoken of as "the me generation."
The trends toward individualism and individualistic spirituality have continued to grow and to become more and more mainstream since then. They are no longer revolutionary - far from it. Hence there is no further need for individualism per se to be the main focus of Satanism - which, in our view, ought to be on the cutting edge of needed new ideas.
What the Western world needs now is for large numbers of people to work together against the growth and theocratic tendencies of the more fanatical forms of the Abrahamic religions. And, since Satan is traditionally believed, by Christians and Muslims (and by many Jews back in the Second Temple era) to oppose the rule of their God, it would seem only natural for Satan to inspire at least some of His human devotees to work against Abrahamic theocracy.
LaVeyan Satanism was born in the late 1960's in San Francisco, which at that time was hippie central. LaVeyan Satanism was in many ways a reaction to the hippie movement, in some ways opposing it while in other ways carrying its ideals further. In particular, LaVey opposed the pacifism and the "all you need is love" attitude of many hippies. On this point, the Satanic Bible went to the opposite extreme, with a strong emphasis on vengeance.
LaVey's overemphasis on vengeance is probably one of the reasons why, to this day, the Satanist scene is full of such bitter, endless infighting. In fact, neither the extreme of all-forgivingness nor the extreme of vengefulness is healthy. Different provocations are best handled in different ways, depending on the people and the situation. There are some situations where a harsh response is indeed necessary, but there are plenty of other situations where vengefulness is counterproductive.
In the Church of Azazel's opinion, Satanism is not and should not be a single ideology. We see Satan as a being who enjoys challenging dogma and inspiring new ideas -- different new ideas in different times and places; else they wouldn't be new. Therefore, Satanism cannot be limited to any single social, political, ethical, or theological ideology. It might be better to speak of Satanisms (plural) than Satanisn (singular).
The protean nature of Satan and Satanism is consistent with the traditional Christian view of Satan. According to the online Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Devil, Satan inspires "heresies and errors of opposite character" -- far from just one single viewpoint. It is also consistent with the older pagan chaos-dragon concept which most likely influenced the Christian idea of Satan.
Some of today's most vigorous forms of Satanism are more anti-Christian and more "reverse Christian" than LaVeyan Satanism was, and they have much more of a sense of being involved in a spiritual war. So far, these newer forms of Satanism aren't quite what we need either, though they are in some ways closer to the mark.
Some of today's new forms of Satanism are radically different from LaVeyan Satanism. But, so far, too many of even the least LaVey-based forms still imitate some of the sillier aspects of LaVeyan Satanism, such as the overemphasis on vengeance and the macho chest-thumping, unholier-than-thou, assholier-than-thou, I'm-a-more-superior-superman-than-you attitudes of all too many online Church of Satan members. Many of the new non-LaVeyan forms of Satanism, like LaVeyan Satanism itself, are heavy on rhetoric but do not really encourage their adherents to think deeply, despite lip service to the idea of thinking for oneself. Many are also rather cultish in the sense of making excessive demands for loyalty and obedience.
Other new forms of Satanism are more intelligent but still very rooted either in LaVey's ideas or in the early days of LaVey's Church of Satan (which, apparently, wasn't originally as dogmatically atheistic as it later became). Still others are based heavily on the ideas of the Temple of Set, which developed further the idea of individualistic spirituality.
Unlike LaVeyan Satanism, and unlike the Temple of Set, some of the newer forms of Satanism have a very strong sense of being involved in a "spiritual war." But, too often, they have rather wacky ideas as to the point of the "war." One notorious group has embraced neo-Nazism and believes in a cosmic war against Jews, who are believed to be alien reptilians. (Most theistic Satanists do not endorse such notions. See Against neo-Nazism among Satanists.)
Other groups, despite living in the Bible Belt in the 21st century C.E., nevertheless believe in an alleged "cosmic war" which, for some strange reason, still revolves around Anton LaVey's disagreements with San Francisco's hippies of the 1960's. To them, the "spiritual war" is all about championing the virtues of war, vengeance, and pure capitalism, against the alleged pacifism and socialism of the Christian god. In fact, at least in the Bible Belt here in the U.S.A., most Christian "spiritual warfare" advocates are very conservative in their political and economic views. They certainly are neither pacifists nor socialists, nor are they particularly merciful in their ideas about law enforcement. (To the extent that they believe in "turning the other cheek," it applies only to the actions of individuals toward other individuals and especially toward authority figures. It does not apply to the actions of government against criminals or against a nation's enemies.) Other "spiritual warfare" Christians, in poorer countries elsewhere in the world, are more likely to have left-wing or middle-of-the-road political and economic views. But it is clear that Christian "spiritual warfare" itself is not about economics or foreign policy, except insofar as the U.N. and the E.U. are seen as harbingers of the Antichrist.
On the other hand, Christian "spiritual warfare," both here in the U.S.A. and worldwide, is very much intertwined with religious bigotry and patriarchal sexual "morality." At least here in the U.S.A., most "spiritual warfare" Christians do not see Satan in capitalism, or in U.S. war policy, or in the death penalty. But, both here in the U.S.A. and worldwide, they clearly do see Satan in the West's growing religious diversity, and in the gay rights movement, and in feminism, and in popular entertainments that they see as glorifying the occult (such as the Harry Potter books and role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons). However, most theistic Satanists, including even the most "reverse Christian" of Christian-based duotheists, have not yet taken the hint as to what sorts of things they ought to be championing.
We need forms of Satanism that can inspire people to take real, serious, intelligent, and effective action against the growth of Abrahamic fanaticism, not just have temper tantrums about Christianity.
We need forms of Satanism which make no bones about recognizing and opposing the threat of Abrahamic theocratic movements, yet which do not imitate the Abrahamics in ways that only reinforce the Abrahamic mindset, such as by believing in such things as allegedly infallible sacred texts, or by believing that the Abrahamic god is the true creator of the cosmos. We need to keep in mind that Satan is much more than just an opponent of Yahweh.
Regarding some of the other problems in today's Satanist scene:
We need forms of theistic Satanism which truly encourage their members to think, and which do not expect or pressure their members to make premature commitments.
We need forms of Satanism which, to whatever extent they believe in or practice magick, encourage their members to proceed in a sane and systematic manner, rather than diving straight into the deep end of the pool and driving themselves nuts. We also need new forms of theistic Satanism for those who don't believe in magick, or who otherwise prefer a more devotional approach.
And, if we are to succeed in building groups of any kind at all, let alone building alliances, we will need forms of Satanism with codes of conduct which enable their members to work together well with each other and with other people, not just stay out of one another's hair. To that end, LaVey's "Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth" are far from adequate.
The needed new forms of Satanism will probably never become a mass movement themselves. Rather, like LaVeyan Satanism, they could be on the leading edge of various ideas that would then be popularized by other, more mainstream religious and social movements.
Because theology is not a science, and because the full reality of the spiritual world is probably beyond human understanding (at least at our present level of development), a philosophically serious and mature form of theistic Satanism cannot have a "one true way" attitude on theological matters. We therefore need forms of theistic Satanism representing a variety of theologies, a variety of different ways of understanding our experiences with Satan. We need forms of Satanism which recognize their own fallibility, and which welcome the interplay of different ideas among different kinds of Satanists, rather than hoping to "purify" Satanism in their own image.
The two main theological alternatives to Abrahamic-style monotheism are polytheism and pantheism. The Church of Azazel has a polytheistic approach. We welcome alliances with those who have other theological approaches as well.