My thoughts on the new Spiritual Satanism

There’s a new development here in the sphere of us WordPress Satanists, that is Satanists are currently active and are part of a blogosphere here on WordPress. My friend Summer Thunder has started a new group for what he refers to as Spiritual Satanism.

When you research the term Spiritual Satanism on the Internet, the term is typically described interchangeably with theistic Satanism, if not simply seen as another name for theistic Satanism. However, the term also has its associations with a group known as Joy of Satan.

I used to be very active on Yahoo Answers when I was a teenager, and often times when I talked about religion and Satanism I would come across people from Joy of Satan, usually shills who posted the same wall of bullshit about how Satanism was actually sun worship and how Satan was the creator deity Enki among various other nonsense. They are a neo-Nazi cult that seems to have started years ago with a woman named Andrea Herrington (aka Maxine Dietrich). Although they have the trappings of theistic Satanism, much of their philosophy is at odds with Satanism and certainly contradicts the basic ethos behind Satanism. In Satanism, the individual is the object of focus and Satan is a device, a symbol, a guiding idea to which the individual may relate, and the individual is the master. In Joy of Satan however, there is a certain emphasis on the “glory” of your race. Specifically, the race of the “Gentiles”, typically meaning either white or Aryan (although I have heard there are a few non-white members of the group), as well as the perceived “evil” of the Jews, which is also bound up with their militant opposition to Judaism and Christianity, and the individual’s relationship with Satan (who is erroneously interchanged with the deity Enki).

But there is another Satanist out there who uses the term Spiritual Satanism to describe her beliefs. Her name is Venus Satanas, a self-described witch who has written essays on the subject of Satanism from an independent perspective. For her, the term Spiritual Satanism entails a form of Satanism that is completely self-directed, centering on your relationship between you and the concept of Satan, in terms of a spiritual form or doctrine free of the constraints of religious dogma and the boundaries of group-based ideology (as personified by organizations such as the Church of Satan). You bow not to the ruler of heaven, nor supplicate Satan as the lord of hell. Satan is a being, or a force, the individual aligns with on his/her own terms. She refers to Satan as a god in some of her postings, so I am inclined to think she is a theistic Satanist who plays by her own rules. To be a Spiritual Satanist, for Venus Satanas, is essentially to be an independent Satanist, not affiliated with any organizations that would limit the thinking of the individual Satanist, but it is from something of a spiritualistic perspective. In this sense, it is her way of reconciling spiritualism with Satanism, and for that I suppose it’s no surprise other Satanists would single her out as merely a “self-styled” Satanist.

Now, I for one welcome any attempts from Satanists to appropriate the term Spiritual Satanism in any capacity that is outside the Joy of Satan. I would be interested in the term Spiritual Satanism having its own sort of identity separate from theistic Satanism, though I suspect it will be treated as a subset of theistic Satanism. At any rate, I think it’s good if Satanists take the term as their own as they wanted to do so and distinguish themselves from Joy of Satan.

Summer Thunder has a Facebook group for any Satanists who either want to be Spiritual Satanists, already consider themselves Spiritual Satanists (hopefully not the JoS types I mentioned earlier), or are simply fascinated by the concept. The group is a UK-focused group called Spiritual Satanists of the UK, and anyone who’s interested can join if they want.

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The Belle Plaine issue

There has been an update to the story of The Satanic Temple’s Belle Plaine monument which I would like to cover. Last week, Belle Plaine has seen protests from people who are opposed to the erecting of The Satanic Temple’s “Joe” monument, largely Christian groups who are opposed to the idea of anything Satanic being erected on public property. A free speech zone was established by the city of Belle Plaine in response to previous protests by Christian groups who opposed the removal of the Joe monument. The idea was that the space would be opened all temporary private monuments. The Satanic Temple used this opportunity to try and get their own monument displayed there, but this of course drew protest from Christian groups who opposed the very idea. On Thursday, Belle Plaine eliminated the free speech zone, barring all privately owned monuments and leaving their respective owners with 10 days to remove them. This of course means that the Satanic memorial monument will not be displayed in Belle Plaine.

So basically, because The Satanic Temple decided to try and place their Satanic funeral monument in a public space, and Christian protesters decided to show up in response, Belle Plaine has decided that, rather than just allow both, they’ve decided to make it so that none of them can be displayed at all. Good job Satanic Temple.

The event also attracted the attention of FOX News’ Tucker Carlson, who interviewed Lucien Greaves of The Satanic Temple to talk to him about the monument, as well as Satanism from the perspective of Greaves at least. Now let me get one thing straight: normally I like Tucker Carlson. Ever since I started hearing of him taking on all kinds of idiots and loons not just on the left but on the neoconservative right, as well as craziness from Washington and the mainstream media, not to mention he’s a living meme as well because so many of the people he interviews bring out that famous face of bewilderment, he became the only reason I bother with FOX News at all. But when introduced to The Satanic Temple and to Satanism, it seems Tucker Carlson had a hard time dealing with it. Tucker accused the group of going out their way to deliberately horrify Christians (which I don’t think is entirely accurate), he basically dismissed Satanism as a “silly made-up religion” because it wasn’t as established as Christianity, Judaism or Islam, and he tried to legitimize Lucien’s belief system on the grounds that Satan was a Christian symbol, never mind that as a Christian (to my knowledge at least) his God was lifted from pre-Jewish Canaanite paganism. It seemed to me like Tucker was being really unfair to him, and he seemed to be arguing from a position of ignorance.

But I don’t think Lucien performed very well either. He started the interview by pretty much dodging Tucker’s questions about what the core beliefs of Satanism are before eventually describing it from the standpoint of The Satanic Temple. To Tucker’s credit, it did seem like Lucien wasn’t always very straightforward. What bothered me in particular though was that towards the end of the interview about how Satanism was not just about resistance to tyranny and religious authority, but also diversity and multiculturalism. So in other words, Lucien on national television proclaims that Satanism, for him at least, is just textbook social liberal philosophy dressed in the devil’s clothes. I view Satanism as, fundamentally, pro-individualism and pro-freedom. And the ideals of diversity and multiculturalism, as they are practiced today, are nothing more than covers for illiberal – if not outright authoritarian – social engineering, rampant soft bigotry and racism, the erosion of Western civilizational values (including individual liberty) in favor of cultural relativism and willful prostration in the face of the threat of Islamic terrorism. I know that Tucker was unfair to Lucien for the most part, but if he’s trying to tell me that *this* is what Satanism means he should frankly throw his pentagrams to the floor. On the whole, the interview was a dumpster fire for me and one of the lesser moments in Tucker Carlson’s otherwise fine show.

And that, in a nutshell, is the most recent development in the Belle Plaine chapter of The Satanic Temple’s activist campaign.

A sect unto myself

In May and June this year, I released five posts concerning the subject of Satanism, some of which might have touched on its sister philosophy Luciferianism to a lesser extent, in response to a personal schism. I wanted to take the time to explore the original essence of Satanism and its chief archetype(s), as well as the modern zeitgeist of Satanism, releasing detailed and often quite hefty posts on the subject, all in an attempt to rediscover and redefine my place here. After some thought, I think I’ve got an answer to that from which everything else about my spiritual system and path can continue.

The title of this post is lifted from a phrase attributed to Thomas Jefferson, more specifically his letter to a man named Ezra Stiles in which he told him “I am a sect by myself, as far as I know” to explain how he affiliates himself religiously. Although Thomas Jefferson was a rationalist and skeptical of religion, he personally sympathized with the philosophy of the Christianity and the teachings of Jesus. He viewed Christianity, in the familiarly religious or theistic sense, as a perversion of what he must’ve thought was the original teachings of Jesus. He describes the result of this perversion as “the structure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words”. In this sense he could have been termed a Christian rationalist or something to that effect. Although I suspect he observed some form of dogma, his way of thinking wasn’t bound by the limits of dogma, or at least not obviously so. In fact he was so unbound by Christian religious dogma, that he went so far as to write his own edition of the Bible, which is divested of superstition, supernatural phenomenon and mysticism, save for some exceptions, leaving only a vision of the teachings of Jesus influenced by a naturalist and rationalist worldview. In a way, he made his own doctrine, or more or less his own adaptation of a belief system he either considered himself a part of or sympathized with

I think I see in myself a similar approach. When I wrote the five posts about Satanism on May and June, there was a particular goal I had in mind: to assert the core essence of Satanism, to defend this essence from the threat of philosophical subversion by, ironically, those who claim to espouse Satanic philosophy – namely the likes of the Satanic Temple. After I wrote the fifth post, concerning my own issues, I got two responses from fellow Satanists that I believe gave me some interesting answers. I got reminded of the possible dangers of dogmatism that I might encounter in my pursuit of a Satanic essence , particularly because, while I don’t consider myself a complete LaVeyan Satanist, my conception of the essence of Satanism was and is strongly aligned with the teachings of Anton LaVey. Now the reason for this is pretty much because the evidence regarding the origins of Satanic philosophy points towards Anton LaVey, with no evidence of any actual self-identified formal Satanism prior to 1966, but strict adherence to LaVey can be a dogmatism in its own right. The Church of Satan was an organization that was guided solely by LaVey’s will, or whim, until his death, and now it remains as a shadow of its former self.  It holds true to at least some of LaVey’s original philosophy, even after having given up some of its essential characteristics years ago, but at the cost of embracing a kind of strict fundamentalism which insists that if you are a Satanist and you aren’t a LaVeyan Satanist or a Church of Satan member, you aren’t a Satanist plain and simple.

Anyways, the solutions offered by my fellow Satanists tend to represent much the opposite: a dynamic, intelligent approach to morality for whenever one is concerned with morals, a flexible, evolutionary approach to principles and dogma – with a keen eye for the original ideals and principles of course. With some optimism and an eye for self-actualization included along for the ride. That to me seems not just healthy, but a good pathway towards an ideal individualism. In a way, is this not the purest, atomic essence of Satanism? The pursuit of individualism?

To that end, to truly embody the original, unadulterated Satanic philosophy, and meet the challenges, inquiries and schisms I have considered and will probably continue to meet in the future, the answer is to be the sect unto myself. To practice a Satanism guided not just by the ideals that LaVey would have championed, by everything else I value, my other spiritual and moral goals.

In practice, as a clarification to those who may have been wondering, the belief system I follow is essentially Satanism, but I intend on taking a Luciferian approach to it, couched in a humanistic framework, influenced also by a number of other ideas – historical tradition, Greek philosophy, rationalism, aspects of Western paganism, Taoism, aspects of other Eastern traditions (ie Hinduism, Buddhism etc), perhaps chaos magick, pepperings of Setianism, some influence of Randian Objectivism, and some personal ethical inclinations I guess. Part of me’s even tempted to look into Thelemite ideas, even though I personally dismissed it in previous years for being basically an RHP philosophy. Here, practice of Satanism through pure individualism, and finding things that work, can assure the survival of my Satanism for years to come, hopefully leaving me much stronger in the face of schism. Hopefully I won’t be as much of an overthinker by then.

Orc – William Blake

Oh, and just a few notes before I conclude:

  • I’ll still have some posts dealing with Luciferianism, particularly at least one aspect of personal divergence and a post where I finally deal with the subject of deific masks.
  • I have learned that theistic Satanists have taken to claiming the term “Spiritual Satanist” in reference to their own beliefs systems, possibly in an attempt to divorce it from its previous attachment to Joy of Satan. Perhaps I may write about my own thoughts on this eventually.

My place in the Satanic zeitgeist

And now, Part 4 of the big project I have about Satanism, this one concerning my own recent sense of tension about Satanism in recent months. This will not be too much like the last four posts as it’s more of a personal piece rather than an attempt on my part to unpack a subject intellectually. I will be elaborating on my tensions, dilemmas, issues and questions, or just general thoughts on the subject, through various subjects and dichotomies, so that I can get it out to my Satanic or Luciferian buddies for further discussion.

 

Egoism vs egotism vs altruism

If I’m being entirely honest, this has been influenced by high-profile events of last year, the reaction surrounding them, and how I feel they reflect on society as it is now. I remember when the Pulse nightclub massacre took place in Orlando, Flordia, wherein 50 people were murdered at said nightclub by a self-loathing Muslim who hated gay people and hated himself because he was gay. In the aftermath, I saw an interview with Guardian columnist Owen Jones which ended with him leaving the set and pouting like a child because they kept talking about any subject other than the fact that the victims happened to be gay and he “as a gay man” wanted to talk about it so badly. Basically, he took a 50 people getting murdered and made it all about himself and the fact that he himself is gay. That to me was inexcusable. Not only did he seem intent on obfuscating the true impetus behind the massacre, but he did it out of an identitarian sense of narcissism. For some reason I never got round to talking about that particular issue until today, but haven’t forgotten about it.

For all my egoism, at least within the context of my spiritual philosophy, I have grown tired of some individuals who care for nothing but themselves. Especially in the political sphere of things. There’s too many people who care only about themselves with regards to their vision of the country or the world, and they don’t care what anyone thinks because if they disagree with them they can ignore their concerns and impose their will on them anyway, even if they don’t like it and even if it’s only the people doing the imposing who believe it to be a good thing. Likewise, I have recently expressed sorrow over doing some things in my life solely for my own advancement, that is for the benefit of advancing to high position in a career and perhaps receiving a high enough salary from it.

And then there is something to be said of the issue of principle. Even though, as a Satanist, I might be expected to put any sense of principle to the side in favor of self-interest, and I have talked to other Satanists on this subject before over the years, but I find I am more likely to consider an outcome based on the success of a principle. For instance, I would rather be poor and free than live in a rich country in which we have no real liberty. I am sure that to some other Satanists, this is questionable. In a rich country I at least have the chance to pursue a better quality of life if I keep my mouth shut, so to speak, but in a poor country I might have less options and less money. But I would rather that if it meant I would live in a free country because I would prefer that the principle of liberty is alive. And not just for myself either: I don’t live in a free society unless the people in general share that liberty. Otherwise, there is only one person who has (or the few who have) license or permission to do what he/she wants (or they want), but there is not liberty for the all people. Is that truly freedom? Michael W. Ford, for instance, says that every deed is selfish, but I find myself questioning that at times. If I tend to put principle over other matters in certain instances, to what extent can that truly be called purely selfish? Or what about love? Emotional love I mean not simply sexual attraction. How much of love can truly be labelled a purely selfish thing?

 

Morality/ethics

Morality is a funny thing. I’ve always had it at the back of my mind at least, never totally gone without concern for it. In fact, I will probably write a post eventually on the subject of a conception of personal morality that I deliberate on and will plan to apply to myself consistently for the foreseeable future. But in general, the idea of any sense of moral understanding is never something I have had no interest in. In my day I have been shown examples of behavior that, by my own standards, I can’t describe as anything other than ethically or morally wrong. But then, the notion of objective morality is tricky. I don’t think I can argue that my moral principles are the absolute. For me I have had a question on my mind? What if we understood morals and ethics as something that we can base on the world around us, but that changes with our understanding of that world, and therefore it is possible consider perceiving morality similar to understanding the laws of nature, our understanding of which changes over time as we gain knowledge of the universe? Does it still make for subjective morality, or does it make for the possibility of at least barely objective morality? What I assume, though, is that it is clearly not valueless solely because it isn’t a physical thing. At which point, in any case, the real question then is the value of morality.

That said, I hate the label moralist often because it is always attached to people who wish to turn their moral compass into a code of law for all men and women to follow regardless of their own personal compass. Not to mention, the attachment to such stifling moral principles as the kind of religious values of Christianity, or at least the kind of Christianity provided conservatively religious Christians. If all moralist meant was someone who placed value on moral or ethical principles, who knows maybe I would be called that. But it’s got more baggage than that. I hate the progressive view of morality too. They think it’s either utterly malleable to the whims of some grand, immaculate, millenarian conception of social progress – that is, something is morally correct because “IT’S THE CURRENT YEAR GUYS!!” – or it’s based on almost the same religiosity and sensitivity as the kind provided by the Mary Whitehouses of both yore and modernity.

 

Self-preservation vs self-transformation

This is a fairly recent question, but it touches upon a key difference between Satanism and Luciferianism. Satanism is the philosophy that places emphasis on self-preservation, while Luciferianism talks about self-transformation. I have thought about it at some point, and I don’t think I have fully answered it, but there is still the question: what is ultimately more important to me? As much I have often felt that there is probably something core and essential to my personal being, and as insistent as I often tended to be only a few years ago, how much of me is really the same throughout the entirety of my life? Perhaps I haven’t discarded what is essential to me, at least as I see it, but there can be no denying that I have evolved throughout my life. I value self-preservation in the sense of preserving the characteristics that I consider integral to my personal sense of identity, but at the same time, is it not true that the self is a thing that grows and grows, constantly, ideally towards a better form? At which point, isn’t the better ideal to pursue the growth, evolution and transformation of the self into the best form that it could possibly attain?

Another main difference between Satanism and Luciferianism is that Luciferianism advocates the pursuit of a higher self. Michael W. Ford’s literature on the subject speaks of the Daemon, which is equated with the concept of the higher self. I’ve often associated the term ego with self because of the fact that the word ego literally means self. But is that all to the self though? Perhaps Lilith Aquino of the Temple of Set I think illustrates this point adequately in The Pagan Library (if that is really Lilith Aquino):

Glorification of the ego is not enough; it is the COMPLETE psyche, the entire Self or soul, which must be recognized, appreciated, and actualized.

 

God, and the gods

Although I am an apathetic agnostic and I don’t have much investment in the God vs No God debate, I do sometimes think about the concept of God, or the possible lack of one, from time to time. I still have yet to answer the question of deities vs deific masks and need to read more. That said, I think deific masks may be the likely view I take on rather than literal theism due to my issues with the idea of literal theism. In the end, I would value myself and my fellow Man above the rule of a literal God. Most literal deities probably want your worship more than anything else anyway. And with God, like I said some time before, I don’t care if God is real because I will probably not worship a literal God.

Although the Left Hand Path tends to be all about self-deification, I’m often at a point where I don’t like to take godhood too literally. I think I’ve often said that when LHP traditions say you ought be your own God it simply means you ought to be the master of your own life. Is a way of interpreting this, then, not self-mastery, spiritual autonomy? I suppose demi-godhood is simply the metaphor.

 

Hedonism vs eudaimonism

Hedonism is the doctrine that the primary value in life regarding happiness is the pursuit of pleasure, and the goal of life to maximize pleasure and the avoidance of pain. This can involve emphasis on the avoidance of negative or unpleasant experiences. Eudaimonism, by contrast, views the cultivation of happiness as dependent on self-realization and the practicing and cultivation of virtue. This can involve the development of personal strengths or emphasizing meaning and purpose as valuable to life. Both of them put the happiness and well-being of the individual at the core of their set of priorities, but differ in their conception of what happiness means for the individual.

The reason I mention this is because I have been doing some thinking on them. I feel I have seen a problem with at least certain aspects of hedonism regarding today’s social justice types. If hedonism at its root is the maximization of pleasure and the avoidance of pain and negative experiences, then what else do we call this attitude wherein the primary desire of life is to live in a world where they need not hear of anything bad? Where no inkling of negativity may penetrate the minds of today’s youth? Where the desire not to be divested of a comfortable life outweighs all other values? At the very least it could certainly be described as hedonism gone mad. I worry that such an attitude my result in my generation remaining as a generation of lotophagi – those who eat of the lotus of blissful ignorance, rather than the apple of the knowledge of good and evil that would otherwise spawn true freedom and virtue. Not only that, but I have been thinking that it is the desire for self-development and meaning that, for me, outweighs temporal pleasure, just that I think the enjoyment of temporal pleasure can be a positive thing. Perhaps that’s the issue of balance, that can answered by eudaimonism and epicurianism. Still, part of me thinks that a sense of value creates happiness in people that pleasure in the hedonistic sense can’t provide.

 

Revenge

An eye for an eye, lex talionis, if a man hits you on the cheek smash him on the other. For a while, this has been a troubling thing for me. It’s based on the idea of “do unto others as they have done onto you”. But I have been running into a constant theme when discussing arguments: is it right to do something to others that you think they have done to yourself or others, when you are opposed to the very idea of that thing being done to you as a principle. Like doxing. The argument against doxing is based on the premise that individuals should have the right to privacy, and not have to worry about being harassed or threatened by people who gain their information. If you are doxed or someone you care about doxed, isn’t it then wrong to dox them? If you think it’s wrong to bully people as a general rule, is it right to bully someone who bullied you? If you got raped, and you are obviously against rape, what then?

 

Those are all the dilemmas I have for now that are pressing and relevant at the moment. Hope I can get some comments from my LHP buddies. Peace out.

Mythological Spotlight #8 Part 2 – Lucifer

Constantino Corti’s depiction of Lucifer

Description

The light bringer, the representation of the morning star. In popular imagination he is typically seen as synonymous with Satan, due to his identification with the myth of the fall from Heaven. Over the years the character of Lucifer has acquired traits associated with adversarial figures because of the role of the light bringer’s concordance with other traditions and stories, and the way they interpreted the bringing of light and the ascension of the morning star. Depending on who you ask, he is either a benevolent figure, a trickster, an evil king of demons or somewhat more ambivalent; an angel, a demon or a man.

 

History

The name Lucifer means “light-bringer” or “morning star”, and seems to be a personification or deification of the morning star.

The earliest appearance of a morning star deity is generally found in the ancient Canaanite deity Attar (also known as Athtar or Ashtar). Attar is mainly known for a Canaanite myth wherein he attempts to take over the throne Baal (aka Hadad), the deity of storms and fertility, with the support of Asherah while he is killed by his rival Mot, the deity of death, but proves to be unworthy of the throne. He is identified with the planet Venus, much like the goddesses Ishtar and Aphrodite. In fact, it is believed by some scholars that Attar may have been a male equivalent of the goddess Athtart or Astarte, or even started out as a male form of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar. The Arabians also worshiped Attar not just as a male deity of the planet Venus, but as a weather deity responsible for rain and thunderstorms, as well as a fertility deity whose fertility is dispensed through rain thus symbolizing the power of the sky as a generative force. The Arabians may also have been recognized him as a war deity. These characteristics mark him as a similar deity to Baal, and it is even suggested that Attar may have been overtaken in Ugarit and Canaan as the warrior deity of fertility and bringer of rain.

Attar may also have been associated with another deity: Chemosh; known to the Hebrew Bible as the Abomination of Moab. Chemosh may have been an important rival of the Jewish deity Yahweh (later YHWH), and at one point the two deities were pretty similar to each other. Both Yahweh and Chemosh were war deities and the deities of a specific tribe or nation (Chemosh for the Moabites, Yahweh for the Israelites), but Yahweh eventually became angrier. Chemosh was also worshiped alongside Ashtar as a syncretic deity called Ashtar-Chemosh. It is important to note that Chemosh might have been identified with the morning star through his syncretism with Attar/Ashtar, but there is little that suggests Chemosh himself is intrinsically linked with the morning star.

The morning star appears in the Bible, specifically the Book of Isaiah, where refers to someone who has supposedly fallen from the grace of God.

How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!” – Isaiah 14:12

The term “morning star”, or Helel ben Shahar, is often substituted for the name Lucifer, and the Isaiah verse is used to link Satan with Lucifer in Biblical tradition. The problem: who is the morning star in this instance? Morning star, and by extension Lucifer, is used as an epithet in the Bible, rather than a name proper, similar to how Satan is used as a title in Judaism. In the Book of Revelation, Jesus identifies himself as the morning star.

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” – Revelation 22:16

Is Jesus, then, Lucifer? And if Lucifer is supposed to be the same as Satan, what does that make Jesus then? What does it make Satan? Not to mention, the title of Lucifer has apparently even been applied to John the Baptist. So what about him? Instead, the morning star of Isaiah is typically identified as a human, more specifically a king of Babylon who is struck down. The king in question is usually named Nebuchadnezzar II. He is known as the king who ordered the construction of the famous Ishtar Gate as well as the purported Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and the walls of Babylon which were famous for the fact that they were so broad that you could race chariots on them. He is also known for leading the expansion of the Babylonian empire through the conquest of the Scythians, Cimmerians, Arameans and Israelites and the defeat of the Assyrians and the Egyptians. He made Babylon one of the largest and most powerful cities of the ancient world, and . He is however portrayed negatively in the Bible, perhaps because he was also responsible for Jews being held captive in and later exiled from Babylon, as well as the destruction of the original Temple of Solomon in 587 BC. Of course, that is one speculation. It is said that the title Lucifer could’ve been applied to any other king. Chapter 14 of the Book of Isaiah is intended to be a prophecy regarding a king who was then mighty but will seen face defeat and fall from glory. Indeed, the king is accused of holding in his heart ambitions of ascent to godhood.

You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.

I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’” – Isaiah 14:13-14

The epithet of the morning star, with its brilliance, is supposed to signify how great the king was or believed himself to be, in order to stress the magnitude of his fall. Lucifer, here, was the title of a human; a human who stood against the Israelites in his quest to expand Babylon and thus he was seen as standing against YHWH himself.

Speaking of Helel ben Shahar, there was an Ugaritic deity named Shahar associated with the dawn. He has a twin brother named Shalim, who is considered a deity of the dusk. Both of them are sons of the sky father El. They are called upon in an Ugaritic hymn to protect the fields and their harvest. Some sources speak of a deity named Helel, who it is claimed tried to usurp the throne of El/Elyon but was defeated by , and they claim that this myth is the precursor to the prophecy of the king of Babylon in Isaiah. However, not much is known about this pre-Isaiah myth.

It is often said that the earliest instance of the name Lucifer being There is another Biblical story that is used to link another Lucifer figure with the idea of a fallen angel. The Book of Ezekiel recounts another prophecy against an ancient king, this time against a king of Tyre, an ancient Phoenician city which was sieged by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar II between 586 and 573 BC. Ithobaal III is said to have ruled Tyre between 590 and 573 BC. The prophecy states that, like the king of Babylon, the king of Tyre viewed himself as a living deity, who had grown proud because of the wealth that he had purportedly amassed through his skill in trading and his wisdom, and that the “Sovereign Lord” will send barbarians against the king in order to kill him. There then follows a lamentation from the “Sovereign Lord” in which the king is compared to an unnamed cherub, who was the “seal of perfection” in the garden of Eden, adorned with all manner of precious stones, but was driven from the mount of God for having being filled with pride, desecrating sanctuaries and trading dishonestly, thereby having sinned against YHWH. Again, there is no implicit attachment to Satan found within the prophecy itself, and the prophecy refers to a human character, with the comparison. There is also no direct reference to the morning star, just that the theme is similar to that of the prophecy in the Book of Isaiah.

The idea of Lucifer as a demonic fallen angel crystallizes in the Middle Ages, replete with infernal artwork depicting him as a horned, animalistic devil. This is no doubt due to the identification of Lucifer with the Satan whom Jesus beheld falling from heaven according to the Gospel of Luke, and of course the pantheon of pre-Christian deities who were used to create the visage of Satan. By this time, there is also the influence of Dante’s Inferno to consider, which had a powerful effect on the Christian, not to mention collective, cultural imagination. In it, Satan is trapped waist-deep in a lake of ice in resentment for the crime of having betrayed God. By this point, Lucifer had already been linked to Satan by the Church and Christian tradition, with the pride and his self-deification of earthly kings identified with the morning star being used to explain the fall of Satan. The seven deadly sins were already codified into Catholic tradition by Pope Gregory I well before the Middle Ages, and in the 15th century these sins were related to specific demons. In the case of Lucifer, it is probably not an accident that the sin related to him is pride.

The closest thing to an actual deity named Lucifer is the Greek deity named Eosphoros (aka Phosphorus, Heosphorus). Eosphoros was the Greek deity of the morning star, which was the planet Venus as it appeared during the day. His name meant “dawn-bringer”. His counterpart, Hesperus, represented the evening star. Both Eosphoros and Hesperus are associated with the planet Venus, and they seem to represent different phases of the morning star. They are also depicted as bearers of light or torches. The two deities are generally accepted as synonymous with or complimentary towards each other, because the morning and evening star are both references to Venus, or rather Venus in certain phases.

This theme may not necessarily have been new to the Greeks. Paul Collins suggests that, in Mesopotamia, Attar and Ishtar may well have represented male and female aspects of the planet Venus, with Attar representing the morning star and Ishtar representing the evening star, and one aspect representing war and the other representing love and sex.

Phosphoros is also a title given to Artemis, the Greek goddess of hunting and the moon. In Rome, this has resulted in the name Diana Lucifer, depicting the goddess Diana as the bringer of light.

The name Lucifer also appears as in a positive context within, of all religions, Christianity. In the Middle Ages, there existed heretical sect of Christianity known as Luciferianism – not to be confused with the modern spiritual movement known as Luciferianism. The medieval Luciferians believed that Lucifer was the actual creator of the world and mankind who was once in heaven before being unjustly expelled by the Christian God, who is seen as the true evil deity, along with his host of angels. They believed that one day Lucifer would eventually overthrow the Christian God. Because they believed the Christian god to be evil, they did all they could to displease him so that they may be worthy of joining with Lucifer in the afterlife. It was basically an inversion of the Christian doctrine concerning good and evil. The sect was, naturally, persecuted by the Catholic Church, with many adherents burning for their beliefs. There is also an older sect of Christians who were known as Luciferians in the 4th century, but they did not worship a being named Lucifer in any capacity. They were rather named after a Roman Christian bishop who happened to be named Lucifer Calaritanus (aka Lucifer of Cagliari), who staunchly defended Catholic orthodoxy and opposed the doctrine of Arianism – a sect that rejected the notion of the Holy Trinity and held that Jesus was created by and indistinct from God. The sect was dedicated to his views on early church doctrine and to the deposing of Arian clerics and excommunication of Arian bishops. Some Gnositcs, consider Lucifer to be a messenger of the true and unknowable God, or an opponent of the Demiurge, even going so far as to identify him with the serpent of Eden. This is, of course, an alternative interpretation of the Genesis account, which tells of the serpent as just a talking serpent. Some Gnostics also believe that Lucifer is identical to the Greek Prometheus.

Lucifer is very often compared to Prometheus, based on the premise that Prometheus stole fire from the gods (or more specifically Zeus) so that he could give it to mankind, thus imparting knowledge. This is unsurprising, given the nature of the Lucifer myth. Lucifer is seen as having gone against the heavens themselves, defying either God or the gods either because he disagreed with their position on how to run the cosmos or simply because he prized the throne of heaven for himself. Either way he was cast down. Prometheus, whether he liked it or not, betrayed the gods so that he might bring the fire of Olympus to mankind, and for this he was chained to a rock until eventually being rescued by Hercules. It’s easy to see how one might draw similarities between the two. Beyond that, however, there is no obvious connection between the two (for one thing, Prometheus has nothing to do with the morning star). Some of this connection stems from the premise that Lucifer and the serpent of Genesis are the same being. According to the Genesis account, however, the serpent has nothing to do with Lucifer, or Satan for that matter. It’s just a clever talking serpent. I suppose the main connection drawn between the two is in the role they play, being dispensers of a kind of forbidden knowledge after all (the knowledge of fire vs the knowledge of good and evil). That said, I think a stronger case can be made between Prometheus and the Grigori – the angels in the Book of Enoch who became attracted to human women, were cast out of heaven and decided to gave the forbidden knowledge of the angels to Man.

Over the years Lucifer has had many roles in newer spiritual or occult traditions before the 21st century. The Anthroposophists considered Lucifer to be the embodiment of the side of Man that is imaginative, creative, artistic, spiritual and idealistic, as opposed to Ahriman who represented the rational, materialistic side of Man. Helena Blavatsky considered Lucifer to be “the spirit of Intellectual Enlightenment and Freedom of Thought” who guides the intellectual progress of humanity and sparked the initial awakening of the soul of Man within the bodies created by Jehovah. The Process Church of the Final Judgement views Lucifer to be one of the four “Great Gods of the Universe” alongside Satan, Jehovah and Jesus. They consider Lucifer to be a deity of light, love and sex responsible for the creation of women. Eliphas Levi considered Lucifer to be the name of a force that he claims was identified by the Hebrews as Samael and Satan by “other easterns” (an identification which, as we’ve established, the historical evidence does not support), and he believes that the “Lucifer of the Kabbalah” is not an evil being but rather “the angel who enlightens, who regenerates by fire”. He has also stated that Lucifer is an angel who shunned heaven so that he may illuminate the “unworked fields of light”, but would not recognize him as an angel of light unless he submitted to “the eternal order”. In his description of the pentagram, he also seems to hint Lucifer as a force of light, in contrast to a force of dusk and darkness, and yet seemingly two sides of the same coin. Albert Pike of the Freemasons has given praise to a figure named Lucifer, which may have led him and his organization to be accused of worshiping Lucifer or rather of worshiping Satan, but it is unlikely that this figure actually is Satan in any way. His views on God and Lucifer were the subject of an infamous hoax by Leo Taxil intended to smear to the Freemasons. Gregor A. Gregorius considered him to be a brother of Christ, while his organization Fraternitas Saturni was of the view that Lucifer is a higher “octave” of the principle of Saturn (with Satan being the lower, implying that the two are two different phases of the same concept), associated with the Logos. Manly P. Hall is said to have praised Lucifer as “the individual intellect and will which rebels against the domination of Nature”. Aleister Crowley at one point identified Aiwass, the spirit Crowley claimed to have heard, with Lucifer, whom he considered to be a solar and phallic force. The Gnostic interpretation of Lucifer found new genesis through the ideas of Ben Kadosh (real name: Carl William Hansen), who views Lucifer as the rebel who gives Man secrets that were forbidden by the Christian church. He also equates him with the Greek deity Pan, and the alchemical element of gold.

In the modern era, Lucifer as an icon found his own spiritual movement, drawing from aspects of the philosophy of Satanism. Luciferianism is a movement with multiple manifestations and more than one organization representing a form of Luciferian philosophy. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Assembly of Light Bearers, formerly known as the Greater Church of Lucifer, based primarily on the ideas of contemporary Left Hand Path occultists Michael W. Ford and Jeremy Crow. Lucifer, for this brand of Luciferianism, is an adversarial figure associated with pride, intelligence and self-liberation, and a desire to climb ever higher on the path of personal evolution towards a maximization of personal potential (a kind of “apotheosis” if you will), and an opponent of blind faith and restrictive religious dogma. His historical attachment to the planet Venus is very much accounted for, but he takes on some adversarial characteristics associated with beings like Satan, Samael, Ahriman or Azazel. He is mostly treated as an archetype, whose qualities are to be applied to any individual who desires to follow the Luciferian path, but some adherents take a more theistic approach. Another organization is the Neo-Luciferian Church, founded by Michael Bertiaux and Bjarne Salling Pedersen. This organization takes a more Gnostic approach to Luciferianism, apparently influenced by Western esoteric tradtion, Gnosticism, Voodoo and the works of Ben Kadosh. They view Lucifer as basically the light-bringer in the original sense, alien to Christianity and having nothing to do with Satan. In fact, there seem to be many Luciferian groups out there today, with their own take on Lucifer and Luciferian philosophy.

 

Conclusion

To summarize again: Lucifer begins in Mesopotamia or Canaan as a deity of war, fertility and the planet Venus named Attar, who sought the throne of Heaven. The morning star was symbolized as other deities as well, one of whom may well have rebelled against El. In Greece he was a non-violent deity who simply brought the light of the morning star, an archetype that gradually metastasized into the concept of bringing the light of knowledge and enlightenment. He also came to be associated with powerful men who may have been seen as godlike, and who in their apparent actions towards the Israelites came to be seen as enemies of YHWH. He became attached to the ideal of Man seeking divinity, which may have linked him to a rather humanistic mythological ideal of the knowledge of the gods being spread to humans by beings who, in doing so, betray the gods. This was Satanic, adversarial, to the Christians who stressed that faith in God was key to salvation, and the idea that Man can grasp the divine on his own was the height of hubris, of sinful pride. This is perhaps how Lucifer transformed from merely the morning star, to the Satanic rebel against God. Like Satan, then, Lucifer is a concept that has evolved throughout the ages, probably for considerably longer than Satan considering that the deification of the morning star originates in Mesopotamian polytheism while the concept of Satan (not more broadly the principle of cosmic evil) evolved from Judaism. Lucifer became the epitome of the ideal of Man seeking the throne of heaven that he may sit upon it, through his own exertion, and through like the morning star or perhaps the Promethean archetype he spreads the light of the morning star, or of fire, to shine on Man. To me, thinking about it on my own, it seems fairly obvious how Lucifer came to be as he is. That the morning star is also the evening star, by virtue of the both of them being Venus, can be very easily interpreted as Lucifer, as a Venus-based archetype, containing both light of day and the darkness of light; or, the archetypal quantities of light and darkness. Perhaps this is what Michael W. Ford is hitting on.

Mythological Spotlight #8 Part 1 – Satan

For Part 3 of my planned series, I offer you a special Mythological Spotlight dedicated to comparing the archetypes of Satan and Lucifer, both of whom are important mythological figures within the current of Satanism, as well as its sister philosophy known as Luciferianism. The main impetus for these two posts is simple: although Satan and Lucifer are treated in the popular imagination as similar entities, if not the expressly synonymous, the two characters are known to have two separate historical origins within two distinct contexts. I hope that in these posts, I will adequately demonstrate how this is the case.

I had originally intended to wrote a single Mythological Spotlight comparing Satan and Lucifer, essentially making for two Mythological Spotlights in one. However, as I was writing it I decided that the single post would be excessively long, so I decided to split this into two part. The first part of this Mythological Spotlight, of course, concentrates on the character of Satan. The second part is in progress should be released soon enough.

Satan smiting Job with boils, as illustrated by William Blake

 

Description

To Christians, he is The Devil, The Beast, That Old Snake, 666 and other names, the being that leads people away from God’s will and into sin and will soon do final battle with God. To Jews, he is just another angel of God, just that his main function is to test the faith of Mankind. To Muslims, he is Iblis, the one who refused to bow to Adam and revolted against Allah in order to become the master of the djinn. To Satanists, he is the embodiment of Man’s true nature, and the representation of Man as he ought to be. To others, just a bogeyman made up of all manner of pre-Christian deities designed solely to revile pre-Christian religions. Satan is a character with a complex and storied history, and one that continues to evolve.

 

History

Satan seems to have originated as a title in Hebrew lore, meaning “adversary”, “opposer” or “accuser”. It could have referred to anyone, often including a human, who served as an obstacle to the individual believer. Sometimes it can refer to an invisible or illusory obstacle placed by YHWH. The most familiar context of the name is that of a specific angel, or a specific kind of angel, found within the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh; one who tests the faith of Man, argues his sins to YHWH and creates difficulties for humans under YHWH’s command. This is the angel typically identified as Ha-Satan, or “the Satan”, the angel cited as the original Satan. This Satan is the angel who features in the Biblical story of Job, who thought that Job was only humbly serving YHWH because he gave him a blessed life, and that if he took it all away he would stop praising his name. YHWH accepted the challenge, and so he ordered the Satan to take his misfortune away from him and ruin his life. As an angel of YHWH, the Satan requires the permission of YHWH before he can act, and cannot act independently according to Jewish lore.

Since Satan is a title, “the Satan” or Ha-Satan is not necessarily a proper name, but rather a title referring to the role played by the angel in question, the identity of the Satan of the book of Job has been the subject of some debate. The name Satan is typically used to identify the Satan of Job, perhaps to relate to the Christian concept of Satan. However, traditional and apocryphal Jewish sources consider the identity of the Satan of Job to be Samael, also known as the angel of death. Little appears to be known about Samael, and opinion of Samael can vary wildly within Jewish tradition. Samael is either the prince of evil itself, a being unaligned with the heavenly host or even outside of it, which is the view held in some later or more apocryphal texts, or as simply an angel who, though pernicious and often malevolent, is still a servant of YHWH and is simply playing his role in YHWH’s order of things, which aligns with the view of the concept of Satan held within mainstream Judaism.

In the Ascension of Moses, an apocryphal Jewish text, Samael is identified directly as the angel who tests Job, apparently to weaken his faith so that he may collect his soul:

There was another angel in the seventh heaven, different in appearance from all the others, and of frightful mien. His height was so great, it would have taken five hundred years to cover a distance equal to it, and from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet he was studded with glaring eyes, at the sight of which the beholder fell prostrate in awe. “This one,” said Metatron, addressing Moses, “is Samael, who takes the soul away from man.” “Whither goes he now?” asked Moses, and Metatron replied, “To fetch the soul of Job the pious.” Thereupon Moses prayed to God in these words, “O may it be Thy will, my God and the God of my fathers, not to let me fall into the hands of this angel.”

The Lost Apocrypha of the Old Testament by Montague Rhodes James identifies Samael as The Devil, the opposite of the archangel Michael, and is described as a being .

And Moses said unto Jesus the son of Nauë, ‘Let us go up into the mountain.’ And when they were gone up, Moses saw the land of promise and said to Jesus, ‘Go down unto the people and tell them “Moses is dead.”‘ And Jesus went down unto the people, but Moses came to the end of his life. And Samael tried to bring down his body (tabernacle) unto the people, that they might make him a god. But Michael, the Chief Captain, by the command of God came to take him and bury him, and Samael resisted him, and they contended. So the Chief Captain was wroth and rebuked him, saying, ‘The Lord rebuke thee, devil.’ And so the adversary was vanquished and took to flight, but the Archangel Michael buried the body of Moses where he was bidden by Christ our God (and no man saw the burial of Moses)

It is noted, however, that as Michael’s opposite Samael is also seen as the compliment to Michael in some way. Samael is the prosecutor and the adversary of Mankind and Israel, while Michael is its defender. As not only the Satan par excellence but also the prince of “satans”, the prince of the powers of evil, Samael is very much a figure synonymous with Satan similar to how we may understand him today. But nonetheless, this Satan is still viewed as a servant of YHWH, just a servant who fulfills a negative function – that of bringing misfortune, tempting people to sin and arguing the sins of Man or Israel to his master, which brings him into conflict with Michael.

At a later period in Jewish history, specifically during the Babylonian Exile, the role of the Satan begins to change because of the influence of Persian teachings, namely those of Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrianism stressed the dualistic monotheistic view more akin to modern Christianity and Islam – that of a single Supreme God who is the embodiment of goodness, light, truth and justice, juxtaposed against his opposite; the embodiment of evil, darkness, falsehood and wickedness, a concept encapsulated as The Lie. During the time of the Babylonian Exile, the Jews came into contact with Persian beliefs, and after that period Judaism became more in line with Persian teachings. And so the concept of Satan became more and more aligned with the idea of an evil opposite to God (YHWH). Samael became attached to this idea in Talmudic and apocryphal sources to the point that Samael is viewed as the architect of evil, sin and the fall of Man, as well as having mated with Eve and even either planting or playing the role of the serpent in the Garden of Eden thus being responsible for their fall from Paradise.

At this point it’s worth noting that the link between any Satan and the serpent of the Garden of Eden is questionable at best. The connection between the serpent of Genesis and Satan seems to stem from a verse from the Book of Revelation which reads:

And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth,” – Revelation 12:9

However, Genesis makes no reference to Satan in relation to the serpent in the myth of the Garden of Eden. The myth originates in Jewish tradition, which does not recognize a singular literal or personal Satan. Not to mention, the serpent of Genesis used to have limbs, but had his limbs removed by YHWH through a curse as punishment for tempting Adam and Eve, and is consigned to live as a snake, whereas the Beast of Revelation doesn’t appear to resemble a proper snake in both appearance and behavior. In all likelihood, the serpent of Genesis was just a serpent, unaffiliated with YHWH or any Satan, who perhaps happened to be particularly clever. Returning to Revelation, the dragon is previously described as “having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads“. You may recognize this sort of creature as the mount of the Whore of Babylon, whose appearance indicates a symbolic reference to Ancient Rome, the adversary (or perhaps, the “Satan”?) of the early Christian movement, or more specifically John – the man who wrote Revelation. It is an expression of an empire or civilization believed to be rife with sin, wickedness and blasphemy and which persecuted the believers of God/YHWH. It may also be an expression a more ancient mythological motif of conflict between a warrior figure and a dragon or serpent, such as the Old Testament battle between YHWH and Leviathan.

There is another angel in Jewish lore who is associated with the concept of Satan and is identified with the Satan of the Book of Job: Mastema. Mastema is an angel who is believed to carry out punishments on the orders of YHWH, as well as a commander of evil spirits who harass humans. He is often retconned in the pseudepigraphical Book of Jubilees as an evil force who either motivates YHWH to do strange evil things or as a someone who does some of those things instead of YHWH. For instance, he is considered to be the one who persuaded YHWH to challenge Abraham to kill his son Isaac, and the one who persuaded the followers of Moses to commit idolatry. There is also a strange instance in the Bible where YHWH tries to kill Moses, but the story gets rewritten so that Mastema becomes responsible for the attempted murder. He is also written to be the one who aids the sorcerers of the Pharaoh to oppose Moses, and is seen as the angel responsible for the death of the firstborn sons of Egypt as part of the Ten Plagues sent by YHWH. Like Samael, Mastema was not necessarily an enemy of YHWH, rather a servant of his whose role is to tempt the souls of men, obstruct and hinder them, and argue their sins. YHWH even allows him to keep a portion of demons under his service before the great flood. Indeed, in much the same way as Samael may have become synonymous with the Christian Satan, it is this sinister function that has led him to be treated not as an angel in service of YHWH but rather a devil who opposes him, to that point that Mastema is often treated as synonymous with Belial.

Returning to Zoroastrianism, Ahriman is an important influence on the character of the Christian Satan. He was, from the outset, evil incarnate. Also known as Angra Mainyu, Ahriman is the embodiment of evil and “the Lie” and opposite of Ahura Mazda (though the Gathas position him as the opponent of another being, Spenta Mainyu; an aspect of Ahura Mazda) and is believed to be the creator of all manner of nasty creatures that seek to bring harm to humans. Much like the Christian Satan, Ahriman is the deceiver according to Zoroastrian tradition, and he is the chief and/or creator of a group of demonic beings who are referred to as daevas (which was originally the Hindu term “deva”, referring to a class of deities that resided in the heavens). The entire universe is presented as being divided between Ahriman and Ahura Mazda, with both sides fighting for the souls of Man at large.

Within mainstream Christian tradition, the names Samael and Mastema seem to have lost relevance, and the chief opponent of YHWH comes to be identified simply as Satan. If anything, the Christian Satan seems to be identified with Beelzebub, who in Jewish lore was the lord of the flies who represented a rival deity to YHWH. The Book of Revelation also identifies him with the beast with seven heads, who we have discussed earlier in this post. However The Ascension of Isaiah, a mostly Christian apocryphal text, identifies Samael (or Sammael) as Satan, though the same text also identifies Satan with Belial (Beliar), the angel of lawlessness, who is also considered the ruler of this world. The being is recounted as having possessed King Manasseh in order to bring about Isaiah’s martyrdom. The Christian role of Satan no longer resembles the Jewish conception of The Satan as a prosecutor and accuser on behalf of YHWH, but the opponent of YHWH and the ruler of Hell, whose temptations lead the souls of humans to Hell and their doom and damnation, who will according the Bible eventually be judged by the resurrected Jesus and imprisoned in the very Hell he is supposed to rule over. In fact, the role of the ruler of the underworld, and his iconic appearance from the medieval period going forward, has noticeably more in common with pre-Christian pagan beliefs about the deities of the underworld – such as Hades, Nergal or Yama – than the original Jewish tradition. He certainly took on many characteristics associated with the pre-Christian pantheon: horns associated with Ba’al, the trident associated with Poseidon, goat features including hooves associated with Pan (not to mention his famously lustful attributes) and his dominion of the underworld a trait of Hades (which funny enough became an alternate name for Hell). He is also identified with the Beast of Revelation, or the Great Red Dragon chasing after the Woman Clothed in Sun. That he is identified with a draconic beast the way he is in revelation suggests, to me at least, that Satan has transformed from merely an angel in God’s service to an apocalyptic force of chaos set against God, and that this is his ultimate role in things.

In Christianity, Satan and Lucifer are typically seen as synonymous, typically based on certain Biblical verses. But, as will be explored much further in Part 2, there is nothing in these verses that actually connects Satan with Lucifer. The Book of Isaiah is typically used to show how Satan was once the morning star before he fell, when in fact the morning star seems to be referring to a king of Babylon. The Book of Ezekiel is similarly cited to show how Satan was the greatest of the angels before his fall, when in fact it is a king of Tyre being compared to an unnamed angel. Indeed, the explanations for how he turned from simply the Adversary of Job to the Beast seem strange to me.

In Gnostic Christian tradition, Samael appears as a name of the Demiurge – the malevolent or incompetent deity who creates the material universe as a prison for the souls that presently inhabit the body of Man. Since the Demiugre is treated as basically Satan, being the opposite of the true and perfect God described by the Gnostics, this is essentially stating that Samael and Satan are identical. In a similar tradition, adherents of the Bogomil sect believe that Satan created matter while God created the soul of Man. The Bogomils identify Satan as Satanael, an angel who also appears in the apocryphal Second Book of Enoch as the name of the leader of the Grigori (or the Watchers), a group of angels who fell from heaven after becoming infatuated and attracted to human women and sought to teach humans various forms of knowledge that were previously kept by the angels (in the first Book of Enoch, the leader of the Grigori is named Samyaza; the two are sometimes seen as synonymous).

The apocryphal lore surrounding the Grigori, and the identification of their leader as Satanael (whose name you may note means “Adversary of God”), may have influenced the Judeo-Christian character Satan as we know him, by positioning him as a rebellious angel who fell to the Earth and spread forbidden knowledge. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if this is partly how the serpent became seen as related to Satan – after all, the serpent performed a similar function by tempting Adam and Eve towards the forbidden knowledge of good and evil. And perhaps this is how Satan came to be seen as the Beast? The Enochian Satanael was later rewritten by an occultist named Faustus Scorpius, founder of a group known as the Order of the Left Hand Path, to show Satanael as the one or first angel in heaven to realize the concept of self-consciounsess and hence rebelled against the Demiurge and his heavenly host. He was defeated by Michael and his angels, but still set out to spread self-consciousness and freedom to Man.

In Islam, Satan is known as Iblis. Iblis was a djinn – a being made of fire, as opposed to the angels who were made out of light – who was banished from the heavenly realm for refusing Allah’s command to bow to the first human he created. Like the Christian Satan, Iblis is seen as leading souls away from Allah through temptation and actively opposes Allah’s will . Although it is generally agreed that Iblis is a Djinn, some Islamic scholars think that Iblis was originally an angel, much like Samael.

Perhaps the most famous interpretation of Satan is the one found in John Milton’s epic Paradise Lost. In this work, Satan was once an angel in Heaven who served God, but rebelled along with a third of the heavenly host, only to be defeated and be cast down into Hell, where he decides to establish his own kingdom, uttering the famous phrase “Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven”. I can assume that this draws from the attempted connection by Christians between Satan and the Lucifer figures of the Bible, but it is through this depiction that the traditional conception of Satan emerges, rather than the actual scripture of Christianity or Judaism. Here we see a more romantic interpretation of Satan, and arguably a heroic Satan – the first instance wherein we see Satan as the rebellious figure, standing up to God, and arguing the case for his unjust character. Indeed, I suspect this is the source of the Satanic Temple interpretation of Satan as the eternal rebel standing up to tyrannical authority. The irony being, of course, that before John Milton Satan doesn’t seem to be shown as much of an enemy of God until the Book of Revelation, the verses typically shown before hand to refer to Satan’s fall having nothing to do with Satan. And before all of that, it was a Satan that was working with tyrannical authority, that of YHWH.

Because of the prevalence of Milton’s Satan in the popular imagination, Satan has been compared to a Greek mythological figure known as Prometheus. In fact, the author of the drama Prometheus Unbound wrote a preface explaining his personal judgement that Satan is the only character resembling Prometheus. Prometheus is a being related to the Titans (that is, he is a son of one of them), the personification of foresight and knowledge. He was the creator of mankind who stole the fire from Mount Olympus and gave it to mankind, for which he was chained to a rock by Zeus. The fire of Olympus came to be a symbol of Man’s enlightenment, reason and knowledge, which was withheld by Zeus. Before stealing the fire of Olympus, Prometheus was considered an ally of the Olympian gods, thus the act of stealing it for mankind’s benefit was an act of betrayal of the gods. In a way, there are some characteristics he thus shares with Satan. Other than, however, there is no direct connection. Many connect the two through the serpent myth, asserting that Prometheus was like Satan who brought the forbidden fruit to Adam and Eve. But, as has been established, the serpent of Eden is not actually Satan.

Another influential interpretation is the story of Mephistopheles, the demon who appeared to Faust in his eponymous legend. In the legend, Faust summons Mephistopheles, who offers him his service for a period of time, at the end of which Mephistopheles claims his soul for eternity, leading it to Hell. This tale echoes into the modern world as the archetypal “deal with the devil”. Mephistopheles is explicitly a representation of the Devil, of Satan perhaps, and it seems to play on a characteristic that Jewish apocrpyha associated with Samael – that of taking away the souls of humans.

The archetype Satan found within Satanism is based on both the Miltonian conception of Satan, the Judeo-Christian notion of Satan as The Adversary and the opponent of the values associated with YHWH and the background laid by several magickal traditions in their description of Satan. Eliphas Levi describes Satan as “the goat of the Sabbath”, associated with profanation and darkness. Stanislas de Guatia views Satan as “the foul goat threatening Heaven”. The same inverted pentagram we know today from the Church of Satan actually comes from the works of Maurice Bessy. Indeed, whenever an inverted pentagram appears in historical magickal works, it is typically meant as a symbol of the inversion all that is good, which would be symbolized by the upward-pointing pentagram. Satan is also aligned with materialism in many spiritualist traditions, and indeed his symbol is taken as meaning matter prevailing over spirit. Curiously, Stanislas de Guatia’s Satan pentagram features the name Samael. It would seem to denote Samael as the negative opponent of Adam. Anton LaVey took the Satan of Judaism, Christianity and Western magickal tradition and made him a positive figure, the advocate of Man as he ought to be as defined by the philosophy of Satanism.

Finally, Satan is frequently compared with the Egyptian deity Set. Both Satan and Set are considered to be evil beings, but it is claimed that they are connected by the name Set-hen, a title purportedly attached to Set. I have been unable to find a lot of evidence for the “Set-hen” theory, with few resources available outside of Satanic circles and even then not much is elaborated. The claim seems to amount to the idea that “Set-hen” sounds like the modern Satan, therefore it’s a match. However, there are many characteristics that Set shares with the modern Satan. Much like the Jewish conception of Satan, Set was not always seen as an evil being. He was originally a deity of storms, the desert, and war. Similar to Apep, he was seen as a personification of chaos and destruction, but unlike Apep, Set was seen as very much a part of the natural order of things, his chaotic influence a necessary component of balance and harmony in the cosmos. Later on he came to be associated with foreigners. He was also considered a troublesome deity, perhaps most infamous for murdering his brother Osiris after he was seduced by the goddess Nephthys, who was supposed to be his wife, which led him to conflict with the sky deity Horus. However he was also the protector of the sun deity Ra, and at one point also considered to be one of the principle deities of the cosmos, alongside Amun, Ra and Ptah. After the Hyksos invaded Egypt and brought with them their religion, Set rose to prominence through his identification with the Semitic deity Ba’al (with whom he shares many characteristics). After they were driven out, Set’s association with the Hyksos and foreigners in general led him to be seen as an evil being who invited the conquest of Egypt by foreigners. Eventually he become almost synonymous with Apep, and lost his role as a protective deity. In Greece, Set was equated to Typhon – a monster personifying chaos and volcanic forces who lead the Titans against Zeus when they kill Dionysus.

Today, the character of Satan is alive and well and still continues to be invoked as a bogeyman, particularly in conspiracy theories wherein he is somehow one of the main benefactors. For instance, he believed to be the deity worshiped by the Freemasons, the “Illuminati” and the New World Order. Some even believe him to be the true God of the Muslims and Jews, which of course is historically and religiously illiterate. A similar point can be made about the Islamic world, where the Great Satan is a term used by Islamist regimes and Islamic terrorists to refer to demonize the United States of America. However, in the modern world, his character is also still influenced by John Milton’s characterization of him, and today the Miltonian Satan is also used as a political tool by some of those who wish for the expulsion of religion from the public sphere. Satan is often conflated with an idol named Baphomet – originally the name of the idol the Knights Templar were accused of worshiping -, a symbol that in occult traditions generally refers to the unity and harmony of opposites in the universe and not strictly to the Devil; although Baphomet has proven influential in shaping the image of Satan. And of course, Satan is a celebrated icon in the subculture of heavy metal music, where many songs, albums or musical careers are dedicated to him to this day. Not that the vast majority of heavy metal fans and musicians are Satanists or Satan worshipers per se. For metalheads, it’s just that he happens to make for awesome music.

 

Conclusion

In summation, Satan, as a concept, begins in Judaism wherein it refers to an adversary in general or to a specific angel who carries out punishment in the name of YHWH, before gradually evolving into the archetype of evil, chaos and sedition against God, to being equated with the bringer of knowledge and freedom and thus being seen as the opponent of dictatorial rule, and today the concept of Satan is influenced by both religious and literary tradition. In a way, the concept of Satan remains something of a historical scapegoat, with many people citing the Devil as the inspiration for many a malicious act on the part of themselves or of their enemies. Indeed, even among Christians different sects have been seen as in league with Satan for their heresy against the Church. And as I said earlier, if you go down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theory land it’s not too long before you find a Satan or two used as a scapegoat for many complex problems in the world. But the concept of Satan has also taken on many other meanings. Indeed, as Adversary, he can perhaps be seen as a force of passion – that is, the passion that has the potential to either lead to evil things, or drive life as we know it towards greatness and progress. In the end, the idea Satan eventually becoming the opponent of the Absolute, rather than just an accuser of Man, makes some sense when you consider the development of Jewish and later Christian tradition. At one point the Jews considered evil to be a part of God’s machinations. But, at some point the Jews suffered what would have been a great indignity, if not outright injustice, towards their faith. It is difficult to conceive that God would destroy his own temple to punish the Jews in some way. It was perhaps naturally to think that it was the work of something that was set against God. Samael then would’ve made for a terrific scapegoat, given he was the angel whose role was often an unpleasant one. Satan was once a title, and then became something of a scapegoat in the Christian tradition, but perhaps it can be said that Satan eventually took on a life of his own.

The Church of Satan vs The Satanic Temple

Welcome to Part 2 of my series of introspective posts about Satanism, and the wider Satanic zeitgeist. In this post, we will have a look at the two Satanic organizations with the largest profile that I can think of –  the Church of Satan and The Satanic Temple – and observe the differences between the two groups and the split that it represents in the wider zeitgeist of what is considered to be modern Satanism.

The famous (or perhaps infamous) Satanic Temple depiction of Satan as a Baphometic figure

First, I think some essential background surrounding the two organizations is in order.

The Church of Satan was established in 1966 by Anton LaVey as something of an alternative to both Christianity and the hippie movement of the 1960’s, promoting radical individualism, egoism, rational self-interest and hedonism, using the figure of Satan as the embodiment of Man as a carnal being and as he ought to be, with some dark spirituality and occultism thrown in to some degree (though LaVeyan Satanism typically sees it as a pageantry, and the Church of Satan nowadays doesn’t emphasize these aspects, but we’ll get into that a little later). At first it was organization teeming with the potential of what might be called Satanic magick, which aspirants rising up the hierarchy through their own works, and there was sometimes even talk of some vaguely spiritual ideas surrounding Satan and magick, but it has since evolved into a more secular and outright purely atheistic organization.

The Satanic Temple was founded in 2014 by Lucien Greaves and Malcolm Jarry as an activist organization, using the icon of Satan as a window dressing for what is essentially secular liberal (or social liberalism) activism. They are known for encouraging (or arguably trolling) the US government and Christian groups into accepting the rollback of religious presence and activity in certain areas, perhaps most famously with their campaign to erect a statue of Satan on Oklahoma Capitol Hill in order to protest the presence of the Ten Commandments monument, which has since been removed (though apparently a bill has recently been passed allowing the monument to return).

There are a number of differences between the Church of Satan and The Satanic Temple. Perhaps the most notable is their focus. The Church of Satan is not focused on political activity or lobbying, and currently has no desire to change the world around them in that vein. The Satanic Temple, on the other hand, is well known for its political activism and has staged many events aimed at promoting separation of church state and numerous other political causes generally aligned with the “left-liberal” side of the political spectrum. Besides the Satan statue, they’ve raised money for the adopting of highways, launched an after-school program designed to counter the kind offered by Christians, held protests in support of Planned Parenthood, held a “pink mass” over the grave of the mother of Fred Phelps to make the Westboro Baptist Church think they were turning her soul gay (stay tuned for my thoughts on that shit), erected Satanic “nativity scenes” to counter the Christian tradition of the Jesus nativity piece, held a black mass at Harvard Church and held various ritual ceremonies to protest Christianity. The recently commissioned a public Satanic monument in Belle Plaine, Minnesota, over the presence of a Christian religious monument. The Church of Satan, however detached from LaVey’s original spirit it seems to be in modern times, stems from LaVey’s original philosophy, which stresses focus on self-empowerment, embraces an egoistic view in the mold of Ayn Rand, and prizes radical individualism over egalitarianism. The Satanic Temple, in contrast, asserts its primary goal as encouraging “benevolence and empathy” among all people. They keep the LaVeyan understanding of Satan as an embodiment of Man’s nature, implying they share LaVey’s philosophy of Man as a carnal and selfish being, but they also embrace what seems to be an altruist tack via the rather wishy washy conception of benevolence to all things (again, we’ll get into that in greater detail later on).

Now despite what I have said and will say against the organization, there is still much that can be said to the organization’s credit. I would still praise their Satan statue campaign targeting the Oklahoma Ten Commandments monument, solely on the grounds that a religious monument’s presence in a house of secular law might present a conflict of interest. After all, does this place represent secular law or the laws of “God”?  I also approve of their general stance against child corporal punishment in public schools, and kind of support their After School Satan program because it involves nothing more than the insertion of an alternative set of ideas in a free and open market of ideas, though I don’t necessarily approve of their ad campaign. I also understand that they have a “Grey Faction“, which is devoted to debunking Satanic Ritual Abuse theories and anything of the like, I approve of their sentiment that religion can be divorced from the irrational thinking and pure superstition that is characteristic of the familiar organized religions and associated generally with faith (a sentiment which, if you think about, was also found in the Church of Satan back in the day and I suspect is also shared by organizations such as The Sect of the Horned God), and their founder Lucien Greaves is at least somewhat aligned with the classical liberal political tradition, as evidenced by his condemnation of other Satanists who tried to disrupt an event that Milo Yiannopoulos was holding because they didn’t like him spreading “hate speech”.

However, this is where my praise of The Satanic Temple ends, and my many criticisms begin.

Honestly, their most recent campaign (the Belle Plaine monument) seems to remind me that they might not solely be motivated by separation of church and state, or at least I don’t think they have the same view of what that means. In an article of Star Tribune, a local Minnesota paper, Lucien Greaves (who is referred to as Doug Mesner) says this about the group’s intentions.

It’s a sad state of affairs when any one religious group feels persecuted because they don’t have exclusive privilege on the public grounds,”

What the heck does this mean, exactly? Is he trying to say that non-Christian religions are persecuted because of the lack of non-Christian monument? Does he want religious privilege? It seems kind of vague, but it come across as saying that the biggest priority here is a perceived religious privilege. This is a veteran monument we’re talking about here. I am pretty certain that the use of a cross, while it might be connected to Christian faith, may also be used to convey a more universally understood meaning pertaining to death. A cross, associated with funerary monuments, is instantly understood in popular imagination as being associated with death/passing away, though perhaps that is because Western culture is still undeniably influenced by Christianity in some way. Whereas with the Satan statue issue I sympathized with them because they objected to the presence of religious symbolism in a place of secular law, this issue seems to be them up in arms about the presence of Christian symbolism at a memorial park. I really don’t see the issue and I don’t care what religious symbolism is there. If I think about it, their way of opposing integration of church and state seems to amount to protesting the presence of Christian symbolism and acting like they don’t have the freedom to establish their own religious presence. Like with their counter-nativity scenes. I approve of The Satanic Temple creating their own nativity scenes, because it is just them putting their own cultural artifacts out into the public, but the motive here seems to be all about diversity of religious representation or railing against the mere idea of a Christian nativity being displayed in public. And these people actually went out of their way to protest a football game, dressed like goth rejects, all because a Christian led a pre-game prayer and they took it as evidence that one group has exclusive privilege, for which I do not see any proof. It’s almost like how SJWs look at how white people being the majority demographic in a given Western nation and somehow construe this as granting an intrinsic social privilege to that demographic, of course without offering any evidence beyond “white people in government and big corporations”.

Also, there’s something about their idea of the “pink mass” that bothers me. Besides the fact that they were basically dancing on the grave of Fred Phelps’ mother because they don’t like Fred Phelps’ thoughts on homosexuality (and neither do I, for the record), the premise of the mass is basically to, at least figuratively, turn the soul of a deceased person gay. My problem with this premise is that The Satanic Temple seem like the kind of people who would be against conversion therapy for turning homosexuals into heterosexuals, but because Fred Phelps was a vocal opponent of homosexuality that makes turning his mother’s soul gay a good thing? That seems like such a petty and pathetic thing to do over a man’s “hate speech”, as it would be termed by the media. Almost as petty is when they considered performing a similar ceremony for Fred Phelps himself after he died in 2014. It’s a bit like that notoriously bad Bill Nye Saves the World cartoon that depicts straight white men as a vanilla ice cream who proposes conversion therapy for his gay/bi friends and who needs to be turned gay through seduction so he can have a bisexual orgy with them.

Come to think of it, I can’t say I’m surprised that the same kind of media that praises Bill Nye’s stupid cartoon sketch as “slamming Christians” and “explaining the absurdity of conversion therapy” (by saying that it’s OK to push a kind of conversion therapy on straight white men) praises The Satanic Temple as bringing Satanism into the mainstream by showing their progressive credentials, shattering Christian intolerance by displaying public intolerance towards the mere presence of Christian symbols at any one time or place.

To be perfectly frank, I am annoyed with the fact that Satanists in general are being compared to Christians because of The Satanic Temple. “The truth is that Satanists are actually…saintlike” claims Comicverse for instance. Bullshit. Satanists are in truth more like cats than saints. I don’t strive to be a saint, not least by the standards of sainthood and morality put forth by both traditional Christian morality and the progressive ideology that so pervades modern media. Lest we forget that the Catholic idea of Sainthood allows for malevolent individuals like Mother Teresa (an ally of dictators and lover of the suffering of the poor) and Juniperro Serra (who seems to have converted the native population of California to Catholicism by force) to be canonized as Saints and treated as benevolent figures. Not to mention, if your idea of “saintlike” involves performing spiritual conversion therapy on people for merely having a bigoted opinion, you need to re-evaluate your moral compass. How would you like it if I dragged you to a clinic that provided actual conversion therapy, or had you mailed to Iran in hopes that you’d undergo forced gender assignment, because you think people who don’t like buttsex are evil? Are you going to say then that I am a saint for doing so, or for having the kind of mindset that would think this is OK? Salon (ever the most cogent outlet and totally not ideological driven at all these days 😉 ) actually ran an article back in 2015 claiming that Satanists are truer to the words of Jesus Christ, a sentiment echoed by many TST-obsequious articles on Patheos, at which point I must draw a line. I am nothing like Jesus Christ, and nor are most Satanists I know, nor do we try to be. I am not about loving thy enemies, I don’t want love for all things and all people without a shred of hatred in my heart, I don’t want religious pluralism to be replaced with hardcore traditionalism (Jesus, after all, advocated for Jewish conservatism as opposed to moderated and Romainzed forms of Judaism, and opposed the Roman Empire which, although it demanded the worship of an emperor, tolerated any religion that welcome a sacrificial rite to the Roman emperor), I don’t want universal benevolence in the name of the kingdom of the sky, and I don’t want your socialism-lite Christianity either. But crucially, I and most Satanists aren’t as violent and crazy as Jesus was according to the Bible. If you think that I and many Satanists have anything in common with Jesus, let alone your Bernie Sanders-esque conception of him, I’m sorry, but you are deluded I will treat you as such.

It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that the Church of Satan has expressed disapproval of The Satanic Temple’s activities. Their current leader, Peter Gilmore, went on record to denounce The Satanic Temple as “a parody of Satanism rather than a representation of some actual philosophical or religious organization”. Whatever else can be said of Gilmore and the modern Church of Satan, and not much of it is positive from what I have seen in the Satanic blogosphere, I honestly don’t blame him for expressing that sentiment, given what The Satanic Temple seems to be these days. I mean, what exactly is so Satanic, for instance, about stressing universal compassion and benevolence and particularly going out of your way to basically bodyguard random Muslims because you think they’ll be stigmatized, while the religion of Islam is so against Satanism that its practitioners would be punished with death if a society were run in accordance with Islamic doctrine. But, in fairness, am I so surprised that Gilmore got flak for this sentiment given the isolationist nature of his organization and the fact that he want so far as to claim that the Satan statue was “pedophilic” in nature? I would say no. I would say that Gilmore didn’t do the organization any favors, and in the eyes of many Satanists he served to deepen the image of both himself and his organization as cranky, cantankerous (in itself far from unrespectable in my opinion), isolationistic, intolerant and out of touch, which to me is kind of a shame because, while it is true that the Church of Satan has been dismissive of other Satanic organizations as as not really Satanic (or even just filled with bad Satanists), I do understand and respect the fact that part of Gilmore’s objection to the Satan monument is that he doesn’t like proselytism. He views Satanism as something that should come naturally to a person who reads about it and decides that he/she sees him/herself embodying that philosophy, and the literary archetype of Satan to some degree, and sees The Satanic Temple as doing the opposite – proselytizing their outlook through public political activism.

We actually get a curious snapshot of the division between the ideals of The Satanic Temple and The Church of Satan in the wake of, of all things, the election of Donald Trump as 45th President of the United States of America. According to Rooster, The Satanic Temple witnessed a sudden increase in membership within almost two days of the election. The Satanic Temple views this as an opportunity to push their organization as a vanguard of political resistance against a “theocratic” regime under the Republican Party. The Church of Satan (which apparently also saw its share of increased online interest), by contrast, is noted as being less opposed to the idea of a Trump presidency, with Church of Satan reverend Raul Anthony noted as a Trump supporter. Their article, I must mention, was about as obsequious to popular progressive narrative on the subject as many Western media outlets on the subject of both The Satanic Temple and Donald Trump, painting the Trump viewpoint as essentially theocratic, even though Trump himself seems to be less religious than the textbook religious Republican to the point that he does not oppose gay marriage and seems to be, if anything, pro-gay. And their characterization of the Church of Satan as endorsing “Trumpian” beliefs is about as uncharitable as it is borderline character assassination. What exactly does a Nietzsche or Redbeard-inspired might makes right style view have to do with the “America First” ideology, which appraised objectively amounts to essentially a populist, nationalist, perhaps paleoconservative outlook? What does exactly Trump’s rhetoric on “law and order” have to do with “If a man smite thee on the cheek, smash him on the other”? And if they are related, doesn’t that make him (gasp) a secret Satanist? Wouldn’t that rather undermine the whole “Trump is a Christian ideologue” narrative, especially given that Christianity is supposed to be a Bernie Sanders religion according to these American media outlets? And “greater men should rule over lesser men”? Quite a peculiar thing to say about someone who spent his campaign on a decidedly populist, anti-establishment tack.  Though I must say, the quote from Raul himself doesn’t paint his side of the story in a good position. He is quoted as saying “you have to hate”, which I think is a misrepresentation. Yes, love is not the only thing in this world that you need, I agree with that, but you don’t *have* to hate anyone who doesn’t deserve it. Satanism simply says on this matter that you should be free to hate who you feel is deserving of hate – people who mistreat you, people have wronged you or your loved ones, people who do not give you your due as you toil in this world etc.

And speaking of Donald Trump, we come to my biggest problem with The Satanic Temple as of late: their alliance with feminism and progressive identity politics. I’ve covered this before on my blog, but the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration was marked by protests and riots in Washington DC, and I found out that The Satanic Temple had been seen attending the anti-Inauguration protests, claiming that they want to stop Donald Trump from “destroying all of your rights”. Immediately following this was the Women’s March, a giant incoherent virtual signal organized people with no unifying cause other than “fuck Donald Trump”, but happened to be led by anti-liberal ideologues like Linda Sarsour and Gloria Steinem, and perhaps most notorious for a crazy ass Ashley Judd’s slam poetry, one of the speakers having a criminal record and the elevating of the hijab as the symbol of women’s liberation, while the women of Saudi Arabia live with it as a symbol of religious oppression as is mandated by Islamic doctrine. And yet I find that, again, the Satanic Temple decided to join the Women’s March in solidarity with their nebulous cause. Not only that, but they also promoted a “civic engagement party” being hosted by three two-bit progressive bloggers, most of whom work for the Huffington Post (which I also covered in a previous post). In addition, when I look at the Satanic Temple’s website, it seems they have co-opted feminism not just for the purpose of supporting “reproductive rights” (which, judging from their support of Planned Parenthood, seems to amount to the belief that having abortion clinics sponsored by the tax payer and propped up by the state is a fundamental human right). And guess who is on the vanguard of “Satanic feminism”? None other than The Satanic Temple’s Jex Blackmore, the very same woman who took the folk horror movie, The Witch, and tried to co-opt it as part of some kind of progressive revolutionary agenda.

What is my problem with this, exactly? Well, in the case of The Witch, it basically amounts to them attempting to co-opt a piece of entertainment media as part of their own ideological movement, the same thing that progressives have been doing to video games and comic books in recent years. As for the rest, it is them deciding to embrace progressive ideology and embracing a philosophical/political identity that is proving to be increasingly divorced from actual Satanism. I will say it unequivocally, I think feminism has nothing to do with Satanism, nor should it. Feminism, at least in its current form, is an identitarian movement that regards women, and gender itself, as a social class, wherein all its members have shared interests (like how Marx viewed every member of the working class as having the same collective interests, or how white nationalists and supremacists view white people as all being part of one big family), wherein the ideologues who lead it claim that feminism represents women, and their interests, and an attack on feminism is an attack on women. I find that this is inherently anti-individualistic, and thus I find it is anti-Satanic. Progressivism in general is infested with much the same identity politics, except that it’s not just feminism. They have their own brand of identity politics wherein various groups of non-white people are treated as constantly vulnerable political classes that need to be shielded from a white supremacy that they themselves project onto a society that, when examined objectively, is not a white supremacist society. This too is anti-individualistic, thus is opposed to part of the core of Satanic philosophy. For the Satanist the individual, and the interest of the individual, matters more than any notion of a shared racial or sexual identity, and the individual is treated as an individual, with his/her own desires, interests and goals, rather than as a social class, let alone based on arbitrary characteristics. But apparently, despite being an organization ostensibly interested in promoting Satanism, The Satanic Temple views progressive identity politics and social justice as an acceptable component of its activism.

This puts modern Satanism in a lamentable predicament: Satanism as we know it began in the 1960’s as a rebellious alternative to the burgeoning flower power counterculture of the time, establishes itself as a movement opposed to both religion and political correctness in its time, placing individualism and egoism above of these values, only in to, in the 2010’s, have a public image that is not being dictated by a progressive organization that ostensibly seeks to reinvent Satanism and bring it to the mainstream, by divorcing Satanism from its original ideals, to the point that is seems like it is using Satanism as a means of militant atheist political activism. And the Church of Satan, despite Gilmore’s arguments, will not do much to remedy this situation, because they keep to themselves too much, resting on their past glory instead. In addition to this, the Church of Satan been shown to be kind of a money-grubbing organization. In order to join you have to pay the organization a $200 membership fee, for you receive a crimson card signifying your membership. That in itself would be ridiculous enough were it not for the fact that, according to my friend Satanicviews’ investigation of their finances, the money you give to the Church of Satan goes not to the organization and its cause but instead into the pockets of Peter Gilmore and his wife. And if you do decide to join the Church of Satan, your membership will take 16 weeks to process, and once you are a member you will be required by the organization to observe the doctrine/dogma of the organization itself, without fail, on pain of expulsion, which kind of violates the spirit of Satanism as embracing individualism over the dogmatism of organized religion. So, unfortunately, you are basically paying $200 to join an organization where you have to agree with Peter Gilmore’s version of LaVeyan Satanism and not diss other members of the Church of Satan or be cast out. And remember, if you’re not a member, CoS members will consider you to not be an actual Satanist, because their ideological prerogative demands it.

We are, thus, presented with a modern face of Satanism that is characterized by a stark factionalism between two established organized entities: one of them markedly conservative with regards to Satanic philosophy, despite itself being removed from LaVey’s original vision, plagued by elitism, isolationism, dogmatism and (I’ll say it) greed, and the other a bunch of progressive activists who use Satanism, or rather a form of Satanism divorced from its original ideas, to spread “equality for everyone” and fight for separation of church and state by pissing and whining about the merest breath of the American Jesus freak in public society, while embracing pepperings of the kind of identity politics and cultural infiltration that is currently killing the Democratic Party in America and the progressive movement in general, all so they can stick it the perceived Christian patriarchal order of things, which, when examined objectively, starts to become a shakier premise. This to me cannot be described as anything other than a farce. A weird psychedelic Satanic ashram led by the metalhead doppelganger of Osho would be a better public face of Satanism than this.

But hey, as bad as it is, at least there isn’t a giant Satanic Panic on top of all of this, like there was in the 1980’s. And at least if you don’t want to be in either organization, there is much less dependence on religious community in Satanism than there is in, say, Christianity or Islam.