When I converted to Satanism on Walpurgisnacht night, April 30th, 2011, I shaved my shoulder-length brunette hair off at the root and donated it. Thus began a two-year-long spiritual transformation that’s taken me from a starting point of strict empirical atheism to an end point of performing transcendental meditation to commune with a goat-god.
It’s a path that even within the Satanic community represents a minority. Most Satanists are former Christians, were raised in a Christian household, or attended Christian schools, which bred within them a ferocious animosity toward all things establishment. They adhere to a creed that supposes all assertions of the supernatural are a form of mental oppression, and freedom of mind may only be obtained through the scientific method.
To their credit, as an atheist going to high school below the Bible Belt, I can see where they’re coming from.
However, as I began exploring the implications of the message Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan in 1966, espoused in his many writings, it became clear to me they were not conducive to a belief in Satan as a mere symbol or allegory. As Michael Aquino, a former administrator of the Church of Satan and founder of the Temple of Set (a transcendental Satanic church worshiping Him in the form of Set, an Egyptian deity) in 1975, wrote:
“The paradox of conventional Satanism was that the Devil was understood to be a force of nature, thus being derived from and ultimately dependent upon ‘God’ in some way. He may make a lot of noise, but in the final analysis he is part of the same all-inclusive machinery of the Universe/God; even his ‘rebellion’ is part of God’s Universal scheme. Satanists, accordingly, might be able to play a good game – but ultimately the deck is stacked against them. They cannot win.
The Church of Satan avoided this paradox by the simple technique of refusing to confront it directly. An atmosphere of psychodrama atheism prevailed. Satan was ceremonially invoked with great fervor, but in non-ceremonious surroundings even the most die-hard Satanists hesitated to take a position concerning his reality. If references to his existence were made, they were vague, cautious, and hypothetical.
This attitude prevailed throughout all levels and branches of the Church. Even Anton LaVey, when speaking of the Devil, was wont to employ such euphemisms as ‘the Man Downstairs,’ or to speak more cryptically of ‘forces’, ‘vibrations’, ‘angles’, and ‘atmospheres’.” (Black Magic)
This sentiment complimented a growing unrest that had been brewing inside me from the start: that something exists beyond the ability of human infrastructure to box in.
The essential chaos of the universe becomes evident while reading modern studies of the quantum realm, where only probabilities of measurement are possible.
It was during these readings that I realized all systems of measurement in science are little more than a language humans have developed to describe the mechanisms of the universe. And though it is an evolving language, constantly developing new techniques for describing previously unobserved behaviors, it is a mere language nonetheless. The universe is not beholden to obey it. In fact, it very often doesn’t.
If we suppose all empirical knowledge is based on sensory experience, and we also suppose our sensory experience is at worst flawed, at best relative, then the conclusions we draw from the observations we make using our sensory organs can never be objective. They will only ever come asymptotically close, skirting the x-y axis ever-nearer without ever so much as grazing it.
My philosophical journey to explore the implications of total metaphysical relativism aligned well with the sentiments expressed in theistic Satanic doctrine. The essence of Satan, I learned, is individualism, radical self-reliance, and the fulfillment of personal ambition. Such principles are contingent upon an understanding of the self as a separate unit from its surroundings, including its society, its environment, and even its own body. The self, extrapolated to its furthest logical extreme, is a soul – an entity capable of exacting agency, with no arbitrary features limiting or bolstering its chances of doing so relative to anyone else. John Rawls called this concept the “veil of ignorance” in A Theory of Justice.
And once you entertain the notion of a soul, a floodgate of questions emerge. What is it? How does it work? What mechanisms allow it to interact with the vessel it uses for empirical experience – i.e., your body? Most importantly to the Satanic scholar, how do you exploit it for your own ambitions?
This is what reinvigorated my lifelong interest in the occult – and what took me down the path of demonology and chaos magick.
In my endeavor to learn more about theistic Satanism, I began this blog to encourage daily research on the subject. Although the outcome has been an outpouring of support and gratitude from Satanists and scholars of the occult alike, I assure you my motivations were far from altruistic. Teachers are taught by their students as much as their students are taught by their teachers; I began with a stack of books only three high to work from and ended with dozens of emails full of .pdfs from people all over the world interested in contributing their own research to my pet project.
Now, barely two months after the blog has begun, it’s already earned me the flattering, but entirely false, distinction as an “expert” in the field of Satanism.
I consider my spirituality a work in progress. It evolves as I learn more, experience new things, and entertain new perspectives. Though I’ve tried on several occasions, it also eludes my ability to write down in one neat, tidy doctrine.
As I mentioned before, I believe all systems of universal measurement, religious or scientific, have their various plot holes and inconsistencies – inconsistencies that are answered by one another, yet also reinforced, generating a perpetual whirlwind of questions, critiques, and debates. I also believe the truest picture of the “objective” universe – if such a thing exists – is formed only when you examine observations through all of these lenses.
This is the primary charge of Satanism: to critically analyze everything.
This is also why Satanism, despite boasting many adherents worldwide (particularly in the age of the Internet), can never be summed up in a book (or series of books). It’s why no one person can speak for the totality of Satan’s character, or answer definitively the question of His existence (for it is antithetical to the Satanic creed to follow a “messiah” of any kind). It’s why the diversity inherent in Satanism, often perceived as a weakness – a failing of the spirituality to “get its act together” – is, in fact, one of its greatest strengths.
It’s why I, the fringe within the fringe, can still meaningfully contribute to a larger-scale dialogue about Satan, without that “fringe” status affecting the validity of my opinion.
And if I can, so can you.
I’m pleased to have you all as allies in my quest for the nature of Satan, and while I am especially pleased to hear you’ve all been enlightened by my postings, I assure you I’m no expert, and I’m certainly not fit to teach. No one is! All the mindful Satanic scholar can do is present information related to their creed for public scrutiny and empower their readers to formulate their own opinions. This perspective undermines every argument for authority you’ve ever heard. Which, in a roundabout way, is exactly what I’m trying to accomplish, using the mantle of Satan. What better representative?
So keep reading. Keep learning. Keep questioning. Never settle on a comfortable answer. And know that everything I’ve done, you can do too — I’m only as much an expert as you are.