What Is Satanism?

By Don Webb

Satanism is a protest behavior that may or may not be connected with persons beyond the protester. It uses as a symbol Satan, the bogeyman of Judeo-Christian mythology, who in the Western world is the primary symbol of the revolt against cosmic injustice.

Protest behaviors are brought about when the inner world of a person, henceforth referred to as the Subjective Universe, is completely out of harmony with the conditions prevailing in the other world, henceforth referred to as the Objective Universe. In a healthy individual protest behaviors are a way to make the whole person aware for the need of change in their lives. In unhealthy individuals protest behaviors are obsessive and symbolic only, and are a sign of individuality making its last stand against the Objective Universe.

The figure of Satan is chosen since he represents the revolt from God. Belief in "God" or "Satan" is not the criteria here. "God" is a great symbol for everything that surrounds a person, and conditions them. "God" is the town you live in, the people you live with, the paperwork you have to fill out to do something as simple and healthy as run a small home business, and that velvet-rope maze that you have to go through to get to an airplane ticket. "God" represents all and everything that has accumulated since the beginning of time, that most people in their lives firstly come to accept and secondly to valorize. "God" is easy to hate or love, but like the weather hard to do anything with.

"Satan" is not the only figure that may be used against "God." If you see the patriarchal society as the source of all evil, the "Goddess" is the likely figure of choice for your spiritual dissent. However Satanists avoid this symbol, not because of a fear/mistrust of the feminine, but because the symbol becomes so easily a replacement for the figure of "God."

To make such a revolt, even symbolically, presents four areas of strain in the life of the rebel. Firstly the social matrix in which the rebel finds herself will not be supportive of the revolt. In most cases this is desired on some level. We are deeply aware that we are social creatures and that we have to enlist the help of others in our Quest for freedom. Sometimes the easiest way to get their aid is to anger them, so that we can use the pressure without to aid us in our change within. But beyond the "it's neat to piss people off" stage there is a human want for approval and affection that either ends the revolt, or ends the family matrix. Only those destined to inner strength can manage to revolt and be a family member. Secondly the notion of "good" -- meaning social norms -- has to sorted out from the idea of "Good" -- meaning those things that increase and deepen the experience of healthy humans. Since both "good" and "Good" belong in the constellation of ideas of "God" -- the rebel has to rethink everything, and he will make mistakes. Thirdly since the figure of Satan in the postmodern age is an Image, the material that makes that image so powerful (mainly movies and rock-n-roll) does not offer an adult role model as does the literary Satanism of Anatole France or Mark Twain. Figuring out what to do after you've worn that inverted cross for six weeks is a strain that most can't take due to the paucity and weakness of their own imagination. In fact it was due to that very weakness that they fixated on image rather than thought. Fourthly there is an utter lack of in-depth material on philosophical Satanism. Most of the information about Satanism is either psychological studies of protest behavior, Christian propaganda, or material written to convince an audience that they are already (in some obscure fashion) lord of the earth. This lack of Lore ends the revolt for all but the most self sufficient.

It might be thought that leaders of Satanic movements would find these conditions deplorable. Indeed far from it. By having a situation that encourages certain responses, Satanists -- which include all sorts of the scum of the earth -- will self select to a better sort of individual, UNLESS their bad behaviors are simply enabled by those around them -- giving us the rather sad picture of a thirty-five-year old man in a faded black T-shirt living over his parents' garage and saying "Hail Satan!" a great deal. Each of the four areas of strain provide a strengthening in those that overcome them. In the area of family and job relations, certain things occur. The Satanist must develop inner strength to continue in his practice. He must demonstrate his competence and commitment to the social matrix in which he lives so that his practices are tolerated. He must develop a tolerance for the beliefs of others that does not slip into a weak-minded belief that all systems of human thought are equal. This provides for emotional training. If the Satanist is, however, enabled, or simply deals with the strain by running away for good -- he or she will never have this training and the protest behavior does not lead to a strengthening of individualism, but merely to an infantile acting out of fantasies that cannot effect the Objective Universe.

Secondly the notion of "good," "Good," and "God" provide a useful struggle for the Satanist. On the path of human ethical development, the moment when she realizes that wearing short black skirts isn't on the same moral plane as, say, murder the Satanist realizes that a large part of society is a game designed for the efficient movement of energy and money by unquestioning obedience. This moment of awakening happens in the lives of most people, certainly without the stimulus of Satanism. And in the lives of most people this awakening goes away, long before it can effect the nature of either personal or human affairs. For the Satanist however the image of Satan focuses that attention long enough for it to become part of her personal inventory. This has a positive effect on avoiding entanglements in the world, by shutting off arguments based on sentimentality and thus causing the media of the world to have an Awakening effect, exactly the opposite of what they are designed to have.

Thirdly the strain of lack of direction because of the imagistic nature of Satan provides two benefits. Firstly since an image rather than a text is centralized, the Satanist is forced to make changes in his consciousness based on (hopefully) rational means -- and that any such changes are *individual* syntheses, rather than group think. However since this is hard work -- in fact making changes this way is so hard humanity pretty much dropped this methodology three thousand years ago -- most people make no changes. They merely become Eskimo Pies, "Dark on the outside, light on the inside." Secondly, the Satanist must create personal mythological and aesthetic models for self-guidance. This remains why Satanism has and will have such a great effect on music and the arts. But again this requires a depth or Self (or as the world would say, "talent") so most such products are as uninspired and amateurish as the images which inspired them. Thus a below-mediocre Satanic culture is maintained that drives away people cursed with good taste.

Lastly, the lack of Lore forces four sorts of development on the serious Satanist. He must look to other persons (either historical or of his personal knowledge) to be role models. He must find people that produced both a change in themselves and the world through the mechanism of revolt. This leads to a certain deepening of self as one chooses heroes, whether artistic revolutionaries like Goethe or political ones like Gandhi. Beyond role models the question of practice comes to mind; movie images of Satanist chanting may be great -- but what do they chant? This leads to a certain "Satanic anthropology" that begins for merely aesthetic reason, but broadens into the study of the structures of the human psyche. Again the moment that people have to do something harder than pick up a tome in their local occult store, most of the weak are weeded away. The creation of lore will (at a certain level of development) require that the Satanist speak. This means that he or she must learn certain communication skills on the one hand, and truly have thought about what they are going to say on the other. This self-selects for articulate thoughtful people. The weak, who will always be with us, will have another approach -- getting on late-night radio and quoting the scripture of another person (usually a bald one). Lastly since the dissemination of such material is difficult in a world ruled by vast corporations who have a vested interest in not promoting individuality -- the Satanist (normally an anarchistic lot) -- must voluntarily band together, which provides for both a social matrix and sets up for cultural change. It must be stressed however, that Satanism is not about cultural change as a goal. If one merely identifies with a cultural/political change and one succeeds, one is made redundant and weak -- and if one fails, one is bitter and an object of fun. Cultural change, like muscles gained working in a gym, is not the goal of the individual -- but a pleasant side effect and way of measuring progress.

Satanism, an unorganized social movement, arises out of the protest behavior called Satanism. The nature of that behavior against the grain of the social matrix is one that will of its nature lead to rapid self change (for the few) and rapid self deterioration for the many. It is easy to locate any number of the later to speak on the talk show circuit, but the former seek to give a rather more precise message to the world than can easily be encapsulated in a sound bite.

It should be noticed that there is a fundamentally developmental path in the strains caused by Satanism, which act synergetically on the person with focused attention. These strains -- by the nature of their resistance -- can empower an individual in his or her work with the world; however they are ultimately an exterior pressure which can only take you so far. For an even more select group in this already select group, there arises a need to develop internal (non-reactive) forces for self change. For these people there are Initiatory Schools. These Schools are the most feared part of the Satanic movement, since they can not be easily dismissed as a way to sell more albums, market cool bumper stickers, or get a spot on the Springer show. I simply want to leave you with the observation that the School is no more the object of Satanic practice than social change is. It, too is a by-product, whose excellence or mediocrity reflects the work of those involved with it. The object of Satanic practice is, has been, and will remain the Self.

Six Satanic Saws:

I. It is not about who you are, or what you do, but what you Become.

II. It is not about some guy with horns and a cape, but remembering your own (forgotten) better nature.

III. It is about becoming the constant in all of your life equations, not the variable.

IV. Its failures are easy to see and describe; each Success is unique, powerful and mysterious.

V. It symbols change, but its essence remains the same -- swim against the stream to be a powerful swimmer.

VI. It can not be accepted by mass culture, but its Nobles can be accepted by people of good will and sharp minds, on a one-by-one basis.