What is authentic Satanic philosophy?

Before we begin first and foremost let me just apologize for keeping you waiting for so long, and let me tell you in advance that the next posts I write may still take up a fair bit of time to write. Spring break proved to be dominated by video games (namely Persona 5, which was released April 4th while I was on holiday), and I still had to do a fair bit of work for university, so those things kept me occupied no matter how hard I tried. Not to mention, the past few weeks represent the last portion of my major project before we have to prepare a public exhibition for our course, so I have been busy. But I hope you have been patient, because now I can begin my series of blog posts on Satanism, from my current stand point.

This of course will be Part 1, exploring what I think is the core of Satanic philosophy, the authentic philosophy which from the wider movement of Satanism springs forth. And without further ado…

Anton LaVey, with masked attendants

Classical Satanic philosophy stems from Anton LaVey, the original founder of the Church of Satan, with particular emphasis to be placed on the earliest form of the Church of Satan philosophy – that is, before around 1975 when the organization became more materialistic and ultimately almost secular in its approach. The original Satanic philosophy of Anton LaVey is typically summed up succinctly in the concept of the Nine Satanic Statements for ease of digestion.

  1. Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence
  2. Satan represents vital existence instead of spiritual pipe dreams
  3. Satan represents undefiled wisdom instead of hypocritical self-deceit
  4. Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it instead of love wasted on ingrates
  5. Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek
  6. Satan represents responsibility for the responsible instead of concern for vampires
  7. Satan represents Man as just another animal; sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all fours, who because of his divine, spiritual and intellectual development has become the most vicious animal of all
  8. Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental and emotional gratification
  9. Satan is the best friend the church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years.

In broader terms, it represents the conception of the human being as pretty much a carnal being. The seven deadly sins, in Christian parlance, is an artifice within this framework – lust, greed, pride, envy, wrath, sloth and gluttony are not only not seen as inherently negative, but actually inherently positive on the ground that these behaviors lead to gratification of the senses. Indeed, while it is said (and I think I’ve said this in the past) that the Church of Satan used to be an organization with more pseudo-spiritual believes, the organization has always believed in a greater importance on the material body than that of the soul – a fact not only attested to in The Satanic Bible, but also in the 1970 documentary called Satanis, in which LaVey can be seen extolling the virtues of the original Satanic philosophy. Satanism by LaVey’s imagining was always aligned with the specifically carnal worldview, but there was more emphasis and value placed on ritualism. The only thing that might make things cryptic is the discussion of life after death through fulfillment of the ego within The Satanic Bible. I suppose this is perhaps an extension of the other central principle of Satanism: the potential godhead is directed towards the self, rather than towards God, and so it is the self, carnal though it may be, that realizes its own godhead. This kind of semi-spiritual immortality does seem to be a rarely discussed feature of Satanic philosophy though, and I can only assume it had faded in importance.

Aside from that, as is pointed out by Michael Aquino in his book Church of Satan, Satanism began with a worldview that was aligned with atheistic materialism. Ultimately, among the prime virtues of Satanism are self-preservation and indulgence. Indeed, some people in LaVey’s time thought that the name “Satanism” was unnecessary, with Humanism being the more apt nomenclature due its flat rejection of conventional religion and its anthropocentric (Man being the center of the Satanic religion after all) worldview. But it was the veneration of Satan as this “dark force” in nature and the presence of ceremony and dogma centering around that archetype, coupled with the presence of magick, that granted Satanism an identity of its own. Over time, as the Church of Satan aged, ceremony and magick seemed to become less of a big deal and the “elite atheism” aspect that has come to be associated with Satanism at large, was front and center, along with the $200 membership fee and Peter Gilmore (oh, but we’ll get to that saga in a later post).

Before we go any further, this raises the question of theistic Satanism: namely, you might ask, where does theistic Satanism fit into this if, so far, authentic Satanic philosophy appears to be strongly LaVeyan in character? The phenomemon of theistic Satanism is that of a decentralized spiritual movement – perhaps more so than the Satanism established by Dr. LaVey – which isn’t to say that the wider phenomenon of Satanism is a very centralized one, far from it. Satanism offers no Popes (you might say LaVey was the only thing close, having gone by “The Black Pope” in his day, and even then this is more or less in name only) to lay down the law for all other Satanists, and it is rather difficult to “herd” Satanists the way the Catholic Pope would herd his own flock. Many movements, in my experience at least, seem to resemble a kind of dark polytheism, not simply worshiping Satan but also accommodating a veritable infernal pantheon of devils, or perhaps they prefer to be addressed gods, such as Beelzebub, Astaroth, Lucifer, Lilith, Belial etc. Some theistic Satanists claim that their religion represents a traditional form of devil worship, other movements are still very much in tune with LaVey’s basic philosophy, except with the absence of the materialism and atheism. Typically they believe Satan is a being that they have experienced in a profound way, and so they , but like their non-theistic counterparts they reject Christian doctrine as well as metaphysics, with the archetype of Satan being the center of a belief system separate from Christianity. If you have a bias in favor of what the Church of Satan currently teaches, you will most likely not consider them to be actual Satanists, just devil worshipers. Conversely, there are theistic Satanists out their who dismiss LaVey in a similar fashion – either denouncing his system as mere Halloween pageantry, or as a decadent humanism (if they’re anything like Euronymous or Jon Nödtveidt). Some theistic Satanists believe that LaVey’s belief system was not actually the original Satanism, but a version of Satanism that he invented in contrast to a much older form of Satanism – whichever that happens to be, however I haven’t seen any evidence of a formal historical Satanism of any kind and no self-identified practicing Satanists before LaVey’s time. Some even consider themselves Gnostic or Anti-Cosmic Satanists, who believe that the material world is a false concept, often cut themselves off from society entirely and advocate for a spiritual return to primordial chaos and darkness and negation of this “false” orderly world, a rather awkward position in my view considering that Satanism is typically more of a life-affirming philosophy, meaning world-affirming not world-negating. But, as I see it, theistic Satanism isn’t necessarily a phenomenon that exists apart from Satanic philosophy, and I am aware of theistic Satanists who respect LaVey and model some of their spiritual system after LaVeyan ideals, and there are many who, while they do worship Satan, still affirm their the idea of their own godhead. Just that they see communion with a metaphysical or literal Satan as the path to affirming that godhead, and are often dissatisfied with the more atheistic form of Satanism found in the Church of Satan or (debatably) The Satanic Temple. In fact, Diane Vera is noted to have described the literal Satan as “a being who encourages us to be true to ourselves, think for ourselves, excel at whatever our talents may be, and do what we can to better our material situation“, which, to me at least, isn’t a million miles away from LaVey’s ideals. Often, however, it simply depends on the individual practitioner or organization, as is the case with what is such a decentralized movement.

Anyhow, Satanism is not an egalitarian philosophy, as is evidenced by the thunderous pronouncement of the Book of Fire portion of the Satanic Bible, wherein the strong are praised and the weak are shunned, embodying something of a might makes right worldview, drawing from one of LaVey’s most profound influences – Ragnar Redbeard . The insecure, the hypocritical, the servile and weak of heart are damned in this worldview. The bold, the strong, the clever and the masterful are hailed as righteous. Indeed the Church of Satan, to this day, is a strongly hierarchical structure, and before 1975 ascendance to this hierarchy depended on merit, based on recognition of prowess (presumably as a magician) and contribution to the organization. After 1975, LaVey decided essentially to allow aspirant Satanic magicians to elevate up the ranks through other contributions such as money, real estate etc. LaVey also envisioned stratification as part of his ideal society, outright stating equality to be a myth in his Five Points Program of Pentagonal Revisionism, alongside the law of the jungle and Lex Talionis.

Satanism, despite making use of an archetype that originates in Hebrew/Christian lore, is a worldview divested of Christian morality and metaphysics. It rejects many teachings popularly associated with Christian teaching, such as “love your enemy”. Before Anton LaVey, anything resembling Satanism as a formal philosophical doctrine did not exist. There was no Satanism, only the diabolical ritualism that was most likely invented by medieval Christian folklorists. The very word “Satanist” originated as a slur or derogatory term meant to refer to people who people who did not conform to tradition, were thought to be heathens or were thought to worship the Devil or evil in general. . When Anton LaVey arrived onto the scene, the dark, devilish ritualism imagined by Christian folklorists was used as a device for what is, objectively speaking, hedonistic psychodrama. A kind of occult-themed pageantry designed for ritual gratification, to grant a sense of meaning or ceremonial substance to the Satanic worldview – which recognizes ceremony and tradition as a need of the human psyche – as well as a form of cultural subversion. Human and animal sacrifice are not only forbidden in this system, but the idea behind such a practice is dismissed as cowardice by LaVey – white magicians murder an innocent lifeforms to appease their God with their death throes sooner than they would offer their own blood.

Curiously, although there was no actual formal Satanism before LaVey’s time, the LaVeyan Satanist conception of Satan as representing Man just another animal has some far older roots than LaVeyan Satanism. If you are an occult aficionado, particularly if you are into tarot, then you may be familiar with the image of The Devil found in tarot decks. You may recognize a horned demon sitting atop and altar, presiding over two nude humans chained to it. Arthur Waite gives a detailed description in The Pictorial Key to the Tarot.

The design is an accommodation, mean or harmony, between several motives mentioned in the first part. The Horned Goat of Mendes, with wings like those of a bat, is standing on an altar. At the pit of the stomach there is the sign of Mercury. The right hand is upraised and extended, being the reverse of that benediction which is given by the Hierophant in the fifth card. In the left hand there is a great flaming torch, inverted towards the earth. A reversed pentagram is on the forehead. There is a ring in front of the altar, from which two chains are carried to the necks of two figures, male and female. These are analogous with those of the fifth card, as if Adam and Eve after the Fall. Hereof is the chain and fatality of the material life.

The figures are tailed, to signify the animal nature, but there is human intelligence in the faces, and he who is exalted above them is not to be their master for ever. Even now, he is also a bondsman, sustained by the evil that is in him and blind to the liberty of service. With more than his usual derision for the arts which he pretended to respect and interpret as a master therein, Éliphas Lévi affirms that the Baphometic figure is occult science and magic. Another commentator says that in the Divine world it signifies predestination, but there is no correspondence in that world with the things which below are of the brute. What it does signify is the Dweller on the Threshold without the Mystical Garden when those are driven forth therefrom who have eaten the forbidden fruit.

In tarot, the Devil represented an attachment, perhaps even bondage, to worldly desires and materialism. He is also seen as representing evil, the temporal, and “falsehood”, presumably from the Christian perspective found in classical magick. In a way, the portrayal of the Devil as associated with attachment to the material is consistent with the LaVeyan notion of Satan as representing Man as the purely carnal.

The Sigil of Baphomet, the symbol most closely associated with Satanism, has its origins in Enlightenment-era Western magickal traditions. Eliphas Levi considered the pentagram, in its upright direction, to be the “Blazing Star”, a sign of intelligence, light and divinity, and in its inverse form the sign of infernal evocations and the “Sabbath Goat”. This is where we get the modern conception of Baphomet, or the Goat of Mendes from. Stanislas de Guatia identified it as a sign of blasphemy, of the “foul goat threatening Heaven” (presumably echoing Levi’s concept of the Goat of Mendes). Paul Jagot identifies it as “expressive of subversion”. The background of the Satan recognized by Anton LaVey is sufficiently old, and given that LaVey himself had a background in occultism I suspect he may have been aware of this.

So to conclude, I think authentic Satanic philosophy rests on some fairly simple principles:

  • Self-preservation
  • World affirmation
  • Affirmation of life, and the lovers of life, over asceticism and those who negate the world around them
  • Rejection of white light spirituality and conventional religion
  • Radical individualism
  • Egoism and rational self-interest
  • Life is not fair and we are not created equal
  • Man as Beast, and as a carnal being
  • Alignment of either godhead or some kind of divine statue with Man or the individuated self
  • Hedonism
  • Celebration of “sin” as the source of gratification and affirmation
  • Satan embodies Man as he ought to be

In this pursuit, I hope I don’t come off as presenting myself as a Pope of Satanism, laying down the tablet of the laws for all Satanists to observe. I am simply interested in the describing the most basic essence of Satanism as a formal philosophy, and I believe the essence of Satanism is something to be preserved and remembered within the wider zeitgeist of the Satanic movement. Rest assured that I have no pulpit, only a soapbox, and I claim no power over other Satanists.

This is, of course, Part 1 of my series on Satanism. The next post will be dedicated to the split between the two main public Satanic organizations outside the Internet: the Church of Satan and The Satanic Temple.

On Adam Daniels, the Church of Ahriman and the “Consumption of Mary”

You know, I honestly thought Breitbart was dealing in click-bait when I saw the headline “Registered Sex Offender to Desecrate Virgin Mary, Burn Koran in Black Mass“. But it turns out that might not necessarily be the case. According to the Oklahoma Gazette, a man named Adam Daniels, who is the leader of a theistic Satanist organization called the Church of Ahriman, is planning to perform a ceremony dubbed “The Consumption of Mary” on August 15th (which happens to be the day of the Feast of the Assumption of Mary in the Catholic calendar) in the Civic Centre Music Hall in Oklahoma City, USA. In an article on the Chruch of Ahriman’s website, it is stated that ceremony is intended as a public event with the aim of educating people about the philosophy of the Church of Ahriman. This is planned to be done through a presentation on the subject mater of Ahrimanism, the branch of theistic Satanism espoused by the Church of Ahriman, a lesson on the significance of the goddess Kali and then the rite itself. The ritual apparently involves a statue of the Virgin Mary placed in the center of a magickal circle, after being covered in menstrual blood, sulfur and the ashes of a copy of the Quran so that it may be “corrupted”. Then participants dance around the statue in order to invoke spirits to decapitate the statue, and a priestess is supposed to smash open the statue in order to reveal a pig’s heart, which she then eats.

I think the rite Daniels is planning is similar  Looking at the picture on the Breitbart article, he appears to be the same dude who organized a public ceremony in which he and other Satanists poured fake blood over a statue of Mary on Christmas Eve. There’s nothing about that display which didn’t come across as pointless attention-seeking with the intent of shitting on other people’s celebrations. The Church of Ahriman has stated that they believe that the truest form of freedom is brought about by “evil” speech or blasphemy. It seems evident to me that this freedom is defined by them as separation from God (which is an entirely legitimate goal of Left Hand Path traditions), at least that can be inferred from the belief that evil speech separates mankind from God. I think it’s possible that the Church of Ahriman could be using displays like the Christmas Eve display and the “Consumption of Mary” in order to further the cause of separation from God from “evil speech” and blasphemy. On the other hand, that’s also possible to do in the private sphere, and they do this strikes me as intentionally getting the goat of Christians.

I suppose a word about the Church of Ahriman itself is in order. They say they are a legally recognized Satanic church, and they seem to base their philosophy and spiritual practice on a combination of theistic Satanism, Zoroastrian lore and Hindu Tantra, with the aim of bringing about a kind of “liberation”. They believe that Ahriman is the god of Hell and the ruler of this world, much like Satan is considered to be the ruler of Hell and the lord of this world, which is fitting considering they believe that Ahriman is the original Satan and worthy of worship and veneration. According to Daniels the church’s teachings are based on the concept of chaos, specifically the chaotic force of change through destruction which they believe Ahriman represents, and he claims that this is what they want to evoke through the Consumption of Mary. They quite clearly believe in literal infernal spirits, literal devils, literal deities and a literal Satan (or in this case a literal Ahriman), as one may except of a theistic Satanist group, and they are quite keen on distinguishing their belief system from other Satanic belief systems, particularly atheistic or humanistic forms of Satanism which they see as bound in conformity to the ideals of secular reason. It might be safe to infer that they are opposed to humanism and most secular ideas. Also, they seem like a more “hardcore” and theistic version of The Satanic Temple sans the political activism, given they always have spats Christians, have engaged in rather public ceremonies and even tried to distribute their literature to children. They also come across to me as a group that believes itself to be at war with the Catholic Church, which wouldn’t be particularly surprising when you consider that they’ve had conflicts with the church in Oklahoma in the past. They’d had a “black mass” before in 2014, which predictably offended Christians, and they’ve been sued by the archbishop of Oklahoma City for allegedly stealing a communion wafer for use in a ritual.

Going back to the rite itself, it is worth noting that they consider Mary to be an Asura. This is obviously a way of tying Mary into the narrative of Kali destroying an Asura in Hindu myth. I’m familiar with the icon of Mary and I honestly can’t think of any Asura qualities that Mary possesses. If anything, I think Hindus would definitely consider her a non-Asura figure and if you put her in Hindu lore she is more likely to be a Shakti than an Asura. The rationale seems to be that, according to them, Asura means “angel”. Asura does not mean “angel”. It originally meant “mighty” or “powerful”, and was originally an epithet referring to the strength and power of a given deity. It was only later that the Asuras began to be considered a separate class of beings who were opposed to the devas. The connection between Asura and “angel” seems to be linked with the Zoroastrian word Ahura, which did indeed refer to a divine or benevolent class of beings. The only being I’m aware of that is referred to as Ahura is Ahura Mazda. The closest thing to angels in Zoroastrianism are the Yazatas or the Amesha Spentas. So the whole idea of Kali “consuming” Mary and destroying her as an Asura seems to me like a stretch designed to suit a blasphemous narrative.

Regarding the accusation that Daniels is a registered sex offender, I have found there is some truth to this. It is documented that Adam Daniels was formerly a member of another Satanic organization called the Church of the IV Majesties, but was expelled from the group in 2010 by one of its founders, James Hale, after they discovered he was using an alias to hide his real name. When they found out his real name, they found out that he had been registered as a sex offender and was charged with “sexual battery of a person over the age of 16” in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma. Needless to say, the Church of the IV Majesties decided that they did not want to deal with registered sex offenders and kicked him out on that basis. From what I’ve heard, he has been accused of having rape fantasies in later years. However, given the drama I sometimes see from leaders of theistic Satanist organizations, I have half a mind to think it could be mudslinging and I haven’t found any proof to substantiate that particular accusation other than stuff coming from Tom Raspotnik, and I’m not sure how reliable a source he is on such matters.

There’s something about Adam Daniels effectively getting the opportunity to burn a Quran I find particularly odd. I remember that back in 2010, there was a conservative Christian pastor named Terry Jones who announced his intention to host an “Internation Burn a Quran Day” in Florida on the anniversary of 9/11. Jones was denounced by the overwhelming majority both in America and the rest of the world and he was even condemned by leaders of international governments, NATO and the UN. Three years later, Jones was actually arrested ahead of another planned Quran burning. Now when a Satanist wants to burn a copy of Quran and use its ashes to “corrupt” the Virgin Mary, the only people I see outraged are Christians. You’d think there’d be a lot of Muslim outrage to the idea of burning a Quran, you’d think the regressive left would be on his case ready to charge him for “hate speech”. But nope. I’m not saying that you should do cry “hate speech” in order to shut him down. It’s just a bit odd that one gets international outrage and the other doesn’t. But hey, who am I kidding? It’s always hate speech when a Christian does it. That’s the dogma of the modern world. I would actually like to give Daniels credit for actually being willing to burn a Quran for the sake of blasphemy (after all, I don’t see many Satanists who are just as willing to mock or blaspheme Islam as they are willing to do the same with Christianity), but it also seems like that’s merely part of attacking Christianity rather than directly attacking Islam.

All in all, Daniels kind of comes across as something of an embarrassment, or at least a joke, to people like me who embrace Satanism and want to avoid drama. It seems to me like he is trying to get some kind of attention. He may well be trying to inform people of his philosophy, and that is all fine and good, but given his previous display it honestly feels like he is mostly getting at the goats of a religion he considers himself to be at war with.

At this point I’d like to stress that I don’t hate the Church of Ahriman. I consider them over the top and they certainly embrace hard theistic Satanist outlook, which I of course disagree with, but I’ve got no major beef with the organization itself. I’m just not a big fan of what they’re doing at the moment.

The future of the Temple of Theistic Satanism

There’s something I’ve been thinking about in the last few months and have talked about sometimes, but now I feel like writing about here in my Heretical Domain.

Back in April I became aware of a new social network site intended for Satanists and everyone else who was interested in Satanism, Left Hand Path occultism, or dark paganism. It was called the Temple of Theistic Satanism and was started up by James Nicholson II, the then-leader of a theistic Satanist organization called the Order of the Dragon. I joined shortly afterwards, and even though there were so few people in the Temple, it was a pretty nice forum of discussion and activity with quite a bit of potential. Though I was a non-theistic Satanist, I think I got along nicely. Then, on September, James posted an update on the site saying that he would have to take the site down for a while because he was in financial trouble that might affect him running the site, so I donated to the site to keep it afloat. But despite the donations the Temple received from myself and others, the site went down on September 29th and hasn’t come back since.

After some time, I had eventually heard that on that same month James was arrested on accusations of reckless endangerment and threatening someone with a shotgun. At the time I thought, “does this have something to do with the Temple being down?”. Naturally, I had been following the story and I saw that, in conjunction with these events, people like Tom Raspotnik and Robert Fraize were basically shit-talking each other and James while describing the incident. Raspotnik spoke mostly in support of James while accusing Fraize of generally being a fraud and a circus clown. Conversely, Robert had used the incident to discuss his “relationship” with James and accused him of being a pedophile, among numerous things. I can’t prove that either of the accusations from either side are true, but to me it seems like some of these theistic Satanist groups have a real problem with fighting and slandering each other for whatever reason.

Anyways, in November, I heard from James himself that he had been released from custody. But that experience changed him dramatically. I had heard that after his arrest he decided to become a Baptist Christian evangelist, which he stated to be his religious beliefs prior to becoming a Satanist, citing dissatisfaction with how he feels his life had taken a turn for the worse after leaving Christianity. It was quite a surprise, and I felt like he was doing it for the wrong reasons, but at the same time you’ve got to do what’s right for you in the end. And the fact is, I was more concerned with two things: one was “oh great, something for Robert Fraize to take the piss out of”, and the other was “what’s going to happen to the Temple now?”. With James’ conversion to Christianity, he resgined his leadership from the Order of the Dragon, and has since been replaced by one Ariel Wright. This means that for all intents and purposes, the Order of the Dragon, the Temple of Theistic Satanism, and all affiliated groups are run by Ariel Wright.

What bothers me about this is that, on the Order of the Dragon’s Facebook page, Wright states that she plans to continue serving the pagan and theistic Satanic community and plans to continue running the groups affiliated with the Order of the Dragon, but it’s been well over a month and I was expecting the Temple to be put back up a lot sooner, but the Temple has not become active again. To me, this means either they still don’t have a plan for the Temple, they’ve sort of forgotten about the Temple, or they don’t care a whole lot about the Temple.

I’m disappointed that the Temple of Theistic Satanism has had to deal with what I see as the sordid affair that it has been through, and that no action has been taken to restore it. It was a real nice place we had going once. Some would argue that it’s a bit too soon and they have issues to deal with first, and some would argue that forums are dead anyway and who really gives a shit. But it’s hard not to feel bad about the Temple still being down, especially despite having donated in order to keep it afloat. It makes me wonder still what’s going to happen to it, or for that matter what the Order of the Dragon is actually doing with it.