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.

Freedom has no value in religion

Isn’t it ironic that Christians, especially in America, talk about freedom? Why? Because Christianity, and religion in general, has no value for freedom. All that freedom Christians talk about is probably just them trying to justify Christianity and make it compatible with the American philosophy, which, otherwise, it isn’t (but that’s a later topic).

In most, if not all religions, freedom has no meaning or no value at all. You live, or are expected to live, by predetermined standards, and whatever you do is already pre-ordained by a god who supposedly knows what is and what will be. There is virtually no such thing as freedom in religion.

Really, the only freedom religion values or cares about is the freedom to spread the word, follow the faith, or worship the god, as well the false freedom called “freedom from sin” or “freedom from desire” (as it is in Buddhism), which in reality simply means being an uptight, over-moral, religious drone, or an empty husk who has cut himself from his humanity. Also, the Bible seems to mention the freedom to choose to be slave.

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a covering for evil; live as God’s slaves.” – 1 Peter 2:16

Yep, the Christian Bible actually says we should live as God’s slaves. And Christianity wouldn’t be the only religion. Pretty much all religions require submission to a god, law, or perscribed doctrine (the latter two especially if a religion is atheistic, but all religions require submission to a doctrine). That is a commonality in all religions. And this is how religion cannot and does not value freedom.

Why I hate religion as a concept

This is about religion in general, as you can guess. I am anti-religious, that much is already clear from previous posts (that doesn’t make me an atheist). Though I respect some religions, like Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto, pagan religions, and even Satanism to a small extent, along with other religious ideas, I still very much hate religion as a concept. Why? I’ll tell you.

It turns virtues into moral obligations

Virtues, by definition, are characteristics that make one admirable in people’s eyes. They are characteristics of moral excellence, not necessarily laws of morality. What religion does is socialize, if you will, virtues and turn them into codified moral laws outline how you should behave or not behave.

It turns mythology into doctrine

Mythology and religion are not the same. Mythology is great. At it’s heart it’s about storytelling, an art form as old as mankind himself, right down to when we first started gathering around fires and telling each other stories, long before the English language had been invented. Religion, on the other hand, is designed around creating a moral doctrine or dogma for you to follow in hopes of acheiving salvation or so-called spirituality (religion doesn’t real spirituality, but rather uses spirituality as a hook to lure fools in). To do this, it transforms mythology from almost spiritual storytelling to a matter of faith.

It socializes tradition into law

Traditions are customs that different people have and that have been passed down by enough generations. Religion, however, turns that into a religious law for all people to follow. Even little beliefs among religious people become full on doctrine, such as when the belief in the Assumption of the Virgin Mary became dogma, and thus mandatory.

It furthers social control and the power of the state

It seems as though religion has always had a special relationshop with the state, the authorities, and the ruling classes. Those sorts of people have always use religion to falsely justify their authority, especially when their authority unjustified. Popes, Lamas, Ayatollahs, and other such religious leaders have attempted to impose their dogma on whoever they see for ages now, and they work within secular authoirty. Religion has been in bed with state for so long, that separation of religion and state is an important issue of modern times.

It ruins war

War is always spoilt and corrupted when you try to use religion to support it. I’m not saying that war is never right, but I’m saying wars can be unjust if religion is used to support it. Through religion, war is turned into a campaign of religious cleansing on the part of both sides (if both sides are religious), with only the religious viewing it as “fighting the good fight”.

But in the end…

All religion ever was is a mass cult

All religion has ever consisted of as a concept is the idea that if you worship our god, follow our dogma (moral or othwerwise), and believe what we tell you, you’ll get into heaven, achieve enlightenment, or some other form of salvation or spirituality. In fact, salvation has always been the hook to lure in those who aren’t strong or wise enough to save themselves or forge their own path. It’s nothing but a cult-like entity, with no worth other than to the desperate, the weak, and the gullible. The sad thing is, even if we get rid of religion, what’s stopping other dogmatisms from replacing it, as long as people are weak and in need of a voice telling them what to do so that they can save them, rather than take the initiative to save themselves. I wonder what the next religion will be?

That sounds likely, don’t you think?