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Satanism and Witchcraft
The info I'm sharing is coming from my personal grimoire as well as the Satanic Bible. A few other thoughts from other Satanists have been thrown into the mix; which I'll point out and quote. You may find alot of similarities between Trad Craft and Satanism though not in the sense of core beliefs.
Its only fair for me to add that Satansim is probably the most misunderstood philosophy (religion to be precise) in the world. People of all paths and persuasions have innumerable misconceptions and false ideas about what a Satanist is and even more-so what it is they believe and practice. This lack of understanding doesnt seem to affect any type of Satanist, nor do they feel victimized or do they desire the set the record straight. Quite simply, they just dont give a shit (which I find a highly admirable quality). I'll address these points and why they matter as well.
There are as many kinds of Satanism as there are practitioners (sound familiar?). To simply say, a Satanist does this or that, and hold X beliefs would trivialize a miriad of people. The best definition of a Satanist, IMO is one who absolutely embraces and acknowledges self. They are their own Gods. Individuality is regarded as a priority. Ignorance regarded as the biggest "sin" of all. If you were to ask 3 Satanists to define what a Satanist is its likely you would end up with 4 different and all equally valid definitions. Clear as mud, eh?
I read LaVey's Satanic Bible for the first time when I was about 12 or 13. I've re-read it since many times and while LaVey wasnt quite the master of literary prose he did have certain ideas that appealed to me. I found some of his ideas laughable to be perfectly honest and noticed some grandstanding and sensationalism along with not no subtle marketing much of which came off to me as trying to just rile up the Xians. I don't doubt for a minute that LeVey knew exactly what he was leaving to history and how much of an influence and mark he and his church would hold . IMO, he had an astute grasp of human psychology and behavior which I can only presume was due to acute skills of observation. So, I ultimately took from it what I wanted and discarded the rest as most people with reasoning skills have a tendency to do. The rituals as written didnt appeal to me but like many witchy books, no more than one copies a spell verbatum (I hope!); rather they just use what works for them.
Now then, what is Satanism?
At first glance this may look like a simple question to answer: "Go look it up in the dictionary." would seem to be straightforward enough. In fact, I'll do it for you: Satanism, n. 1. the worship of Satan or the powers of evil. 2. a travesty of Christian rites in which Satan is worshiped. 3. diabolical or satanic disposition, behavior, or action. [from _Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language_, © 1989]
Unfortunately it's not that easy. Throughout history, the label of "Satanism" has been applied variably by the opposing religious factions, by the practitioners themselves, by historical revisionists some time later, and by combinations of the above. I will try to focus on active modern forms of self-proclaimed Satanism, and modern religious groups of undeniably dark character. It should be considered that since dark and/or forbidden gods exist in many cultures other than European-descended Christianity, forms of Satanism other than those familiar to English-speakers do exist and in some cases flourish, but can only be alluded to here.
Not surprisingly, there is no one set of beliefs that comprise modern Satanism. Because there is no set of doctrines or scriptures agreed agreed upon by a majority of Satanists, would-be practitioners must define their beliefs for themselves, based upon a minimum of shared information. The issue is further confused by the fact that, historically, most records of real or imagined Satanism have been made by Satanists traditional enemies, Christians. However a few generalizations can be made: the average Satanist disagrees with much of Christianity, believes in no absolute moral code, and places emphasis on the individual and personal rights. If you think this sounds like Libertarianism, you're right; many Satanists consider themselves Libertarians or feel close to the party on social issues. The one unifying theme among the Satanisms is the last of the three dictionary definitions; one can say with some certainty that all Satanisms and Satanists have diabolical or satanic dispositions in that they are "like Satan." They possess the virtues of antinomianism, self-reliance, rebellion and adversarialism.
There are several divisions one could make as to the belief systems of various "Satanic" groups. This (arbitrary) division was included to point out various currents or influences in modern day satanism rather than an attempt at categorization.
1. The Dabblers: adopt Satanic trappings for a brief period of time, usually for entertainment rather than serious purposes. Many modern youths fall into this category.
2. Churches of Satan: are patterned after the teachings of Anton LaVey. These groups believe in individualism, gratification of the ego, self-reliance and the ideal of the Nietzchean Superman. These groups use Magick as a tool for earthly power. They see Satan as the driving force behind achievement in mankind.
3. Gnostics: can be divided into two major categories
3a. Promethean Gnostics: Believe in a literal "Satan", but believe that the creator of the world (Jehovah) is the evil deity. Satan is seen as the "bringer of light"; a beneficent god. This is an old "heresy" seen in groups such as the Yezidis or the Ophites.
3b. Dark Gnostics: Worship the dark force in nature. These groups follow the whims of a capricious god, which most westerners would see as being "evil." There are a few historical Christian heresies which would fall into this category. Kali worshipers could also be categorized here as a cross cultural example of a "Satanism."
4. Secondary Satanists: follow a faith outside the Christian mainstream. Most would not consider themselves as being "Satanic" and strictly speaking should not be defined as Satanists (as per se with some of the Gnostic groups), but the ignorant often categorize them as Satanists. Voodoo and Santeria could be grouped here, as could medieval witchcraft. Certain forms of Tantric Buddhism could also be placed in this category.
5. Hellfire Clubs: Were a phenomenon of the 18th century, mentioned because of historical relevance to modern Satanisms. The first of these was founded by the Duke of Wharton in the early 1700's. Most infamous was sir Francis Dashwood's Medmenham club (Often incorrectly called the Hellfire Club). Dashwood was a close friend of Benjamin Franklin, who may have been a member of this group. Franklin's description of the Medmeham club's secret chambers is one of the few we have, so his membership seems likely. In any case, Dashwood and Franklin co-authored the "Franklin Prayer Book" (often called the Book of Common Prayer) which is commonly used in America. Another famous member of the Medmenham club was the Earl of Sandwich, inventor of (guess what) the Sandwich. Hellfire clubs were exclusive groups dedicated to much political intrigue, partying, and some occasional occult activities. Other similar groups included the Irish Brimstone Boys and Blue Blazers.
6. Romantic/Promethean Satanists Literary/historical "Satanists" -William Blake, Charles Baudelaire, Maupertin, Carducci, Lautremont and Gabriele D'Annunzio. Artists and romantics with "sympathy for the devil" have a long tradition; Satan being a great patron of the arts.
7. Left-Hand Path Pagans There are several European groups, most of them consisting of small "covens" of several people, that are or could be considered Satanists. Two of the larger of these groups are The Fraternity of Baelder and the Order of Nine Angles (ONA). These groups allegedly have longer traditions, and "more authentic" origins (whatever that might mean). ONA is especially fond of calling itself the "traditional Satanists." These groups tend to have more "extreme" views than the others mentioned, and have little, if any authoritarian structure.
Temple of Set The most vocal of groups which border upon Satanism, is the Temple of Set of Michael Aquino and friends, which splintered away from the Church of Satan in a disagreement over monetary policy. Unlike the Church of Satan, they believe in a literal "Prince of Darkness" who they identify as the Egyptian god Set. They appear uncertain whether they still consider themselves a Satanic group. None the less, their continued presence on alt.satanism, and their history makes them relevant, and some of their resources are valuable, particularly the reading list. The Temple of Set is presently under new management (though their old High Priest, Michael Aquino).
(From Peggy Nadramia:) In modern parlance, the Church of Satan may be called a user-driven organization. Members are involved and advanced exactly as their own desires, abilities and accomplishments dictate. There are no set activities, meetings or contacts. The new member comes to the organization, ideally, with his own goals and plans for achieving them; he presents them to us and is directed in the way that would be most mutually beneficial. The CoS is not looking for people who join and want us to "put on a show," taking them by the hand, introducing them to their new friends, telling them what time to show up for the weekly get-together and what to wear. Satanists are not put in contact automatically, or by geographical proximity; this has been tried and found a failure. True elitists are by their nature very individualistic and neighboring members won't necessarily have anything in common; "just being Satanists together" isn't enough. When we observe members making advances on their own in their chosen fields of endeavor, we will put them in contact with other members running on the same track; we've watched this happen many times and we're pleased and proud to say the results are magical. There are also members who are satisfied simply to join and be counted among the adherents to a philosophy that best embodies their own true nature.
I think its important to address the biggest misconception of Satanic ritual.
Some misleading reports exist about Satanists: they are organized into nationwide cults; they commit ritual murders on a grand scale; they raise their children with psychological disorders; they kidnap people for blood sacrifice; they organize day-care centers and abuse the children placed in their care. A whole class of books exists detailing the exploits of these Satanic groups. The problem with all these works is that they are fictional rather than truthful accounts. Much is claimed based on scanty evidence that would be better explained by another scenario. Claims of involvement with Satanism are made by patients under hypnosis (hypnotized subjects are notorious for their suggestibility and tendency to produce fictions). Other "former Satanists" distort the truth in search of attention and money. These sensationalists never go to the police regarding the criminal activities they allegedly took part in, which calls the veracity of their claims and the sincerity of their remorse into question. Evidence does not exist to support what is said to occur. If the number of murders said to be committed by Satanists was accurate, some bodies should have been found by now. While means have been suggested by which bodies could be concealed, it stretches the imagination to believe that every body has been successfully hidden thus. Evidence in other areas is similarly lacking. Individuals investigating suspected Satanic crimes misinterpret what they find to fit their expectations. The Necronomicon, published by Avon Books, is used as an authoritative guide to Satanic practices. Yet few Satanists take the book seriously in any way, and none follow it to the letter.
This and other things lead some non-Satanists to see what simply is not there. It is interesting from a sociological point of view that many of the heinous crimes presently attributed to Satanists have, in the past, been applied to jews, midwives, lepers, protestants, moslems, witches and essentially anybody the Church or powers that be didn't like. This has been noted in a number of the books debunking the urban legends associated with Satanism. The observant reader may note that there have been a few crimes linked to Satanism. In all cases the criminal(s) worked alone with no connections to organized groups. Some cases have been publicized by the media as being related to Satanism when in fact they involve another religion, as in the Matamoros case, which involved some elements of Palo Mayombe (an African religion), and some rituals taken from popular motion pictures. The lesson to be learned is that although a book may appear in the "Non-fiction" section of a bookstore, that doesn't make it so. There is a copy of an FBI report on "occult crime" archived at ftp.lysator.liu.se pub/religion/satanism/Crime/satanic_crime which shows what the FBI thinks of the claims of fundamentalists. There is also a good file on the subject at the same site pub/religion/satanism/General/general The most definitive book to date on the topic of rumors of Satanic cults involved in ritual murder/abuse is _Satanic Panic; the Creation of a Contemporary Legend_ by Jeffrey S. Victor. Open Court Press, 1992
The following are taken directly from the LaVey's Satanic Bible. I want to strongly point out something here. When people observe the list of "sins" and "rules" and don’t grasp that such terms are used with tongue firmly planted in cheek, while simultaneously missing the point that there is an ethical structure to their philosophy—the "third side" which is so elusive to those limited to dualist thinking. These lists are guidelines and tools based on keen observation of human social behavior, not arbitrary regulations or "shalt nots" handed down from "on high" or belched forth from "down below." Each Satanist is welcome to take ‘em out for a test drive and see how they work. Upon examination most find them to be both accurate and useful. That’s why they adopt "Satanist" as a proper label for themselves. LaVey’s philosophy is completely coincident with a personal approach to living. I cannot stress to you enough how much a sense of humor plays into Satanism. Life is celebrated to the fullest. It is also worth noting that Indulgence does NOT equal compulsion!
The nine satanic statements are:
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 to the responsible instead of concern for psychic 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, or emotional gratification!
9. Satan has been the best friend the Church has ever had, as He has kept it in business all these years!
The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth:
1. Do not give opinions or advice unless you are asked.
2. Do not tell your troubles to others unless you are sure they want to hear them.
3. When in another’s lair, show him respect or else do not go there.
4. If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy.
5. Do not make sexual advances unless you are given the mating signal.
6. Do not take that which does not belong to you unless it is a burden to the other person and he cries out to be relieved.
7. Acknowledge the power of magic if you have employed it successfully to obtain your desires. If you deny the power of magic after having called upon it with success, you will lose all you have obtained.
8. Do not complain about anything to which you need not subject yourself.
9. Do not harm little children.
10. Do not kill non-human animals unless you are attacked or for your food.
11. When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him.
The Nine Satanic "Sins":
1. Stupidity—The top of the list for Satanic Sins. The Cardinal Sin of Satanism. It’s too bad that stupidity isn’t painful. Ignorance is one thing, but our society thrives increasingly on stupidity. It depends on people going along with whatever they are told. The media promotes a cultivated stupidity as a posture that is not only acceptable but laudable. Satanists must learn to see through the tricks and cannot afford to be stupid.
2. Pretentiousness—Empty posturing can be most irritating and isn’t applying the cardinal rules of Lesser Magic. On equal footing with stupidity for what keeps the money in circulation these days. Everyone’s made to feel like a big shot, whether they can come up with the goods or not.
3. Solipsism—Can be very dangerous for Satanists. Projecting your reactions, responses and sensibilities onto someone who is probably far less attuned than you are. It is the mistake of expecting people to give you the same consideration, courtesy and respect that you naturally give them. They won’t. Instead, Satanists must strive to apply the dictum of "Do unto others as they do unto you." It’s work for most of us and requires constant vigilance lest you slip into a comfortable illusion of everyone being like you. As has been said, certain utopias would be ideal in a nation of philosophers, but unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, from a Machiavellian standpoint) we are far from that point.
4. Self-deceit—It’s in the "Nine Satanic Statements" but deserves to be repeated here. Another cardinal sin. We must not pay homage to any of the sacred cows presented to us, including the roles we are expected to play ourselves. The only time self-deceit should be entered into is when it’s fun, and with awareness. But then, it’s not self-deceit!
5. Herd Conformity—That’s obvious from a Satanic stance. It’s all right to conform to a person’s wishes, if it ultimately benefits you. But only fools follow along with the herd, letting an impersonal entity dictate to you. The key is to choose a master wisely instead of being enslaved by the whims of the many.
6. Lack of Perspective—Again, this one can lead to a lot of pain for a Satanist. You must never lose sight of who and what you are, and what a threat you can be, by your very existence. We are making history right now, every day. Always keep the wider historical and social picture in mind. That is an important key to both Lesser and Greater Magic. See the patterns and fit things together as you want the pieces to fall into place. Do not be swayed by herd constraints—know that you are working on another level entirely from the rest of the world.
7. Forgetfulness of Past Orthodoxies—Be aware that this is one of the keys to brainwashing people into accepting something new and different, when in reality it’s something that was once widely accepted but is now presented in a new package. We are expected to rave about the genius of the creator and forget the original. This makes for a disposable society.
8. Counterproductive Pride—That first word is important. Pride is great up to the point you begin to throw out the baby with the bathwater. The rule of Satanism is: if it works for you, great. When it stops working for you, when you’ve painted yourself into a corner and the only way out is to say, I’m sorry, I made a mistake, I wish we could compromise somehow, then do it.
9. Lack of Aesthetics—This is the physical application of the Balance Factor. Aesthetics is important in Lesser Magic and should be cultivated. It is obvious that no one can collect any money off classical standards of beauty and form most of the time so they are discouraged in a consumer society, but an eye for beauty, for balance, is an essential Satanic tool and must be applied for greatest magical effectiveness. It’s not what’s supposed to be pleasing—it’s what is. Aesthetics is a personal thing, reflective of one’s own nature, but there are universally pleasing and harmonious configurations that should not be denied.
I'll add more to the discussion as warranted.
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