A journey through religions and their cultures.
As I was flippantly rattling off the Religions I would be living over the next year, Paul listened with interest. He may be a Christian, but he is also religious and while other faiths may not follow the Christ that he loves, the fact they were trying to reach God was enough to be awarded his respect.
Speaking as if I was cataloguing ingredients for a recipe, I finally arrived at Satanism. I didn’t really know what Satanism was; it was a religion I had added mainly out of mischief though I assumed it had something to do with Devil worshipping, a la Damien the Omen. As the word “Satanist” left my mouth, Paul’s reaction was one of visible distress coupled with a fearful gaze I may never forget. For me, the Devil is part and parcel of the same belief, a belief I don’t have. For Paul however, the Devil was the physical embodiment of evil, a fallen Angel destined to fight the powers of good over the eternal resting place of our souls. All the bad, evil and injustice Paul saw in this World, wore the Devil’s face. Personally however, I blamed Miranda Hart.
Paul wasn’t alone in his belief of a physical evil; according to some studies nearly 70% of Americans accept as true that the Devil is a real entity, which shows that the Devil’s attempt to convince the world he doesn’t exist, is failing miserably. What’s more interesting however, is how this belief affects a person’s behaviour. For example, when a person who believes in pure evil is confronted with a fellow Humans transgression (namely murder, rape or theft) they are much less likely to favour rehabilitation, psychiatric help or any form of forgiveness; they are much more likely instead to favour the death penalty, as any attempt to help a person genetically impaired with evil is just a waste of time and resources. I find it somewhat ironic to find that a person who believes in evil is more likely to be driven to act in a generally evil fashion.
The fact that Satan is seen as the embodiment of pure evil is also ironic, as Biblically speaking Satan is by far the kinder character of the scripture. In terms of Deaths alone, Satan is responsible for many less than our hero Yahweh, racking up only ten (those being the collective offspring of Job’s family, which were only allowed to happen as part of one of God’s bets). God however, adding together all of the deaths from sending bears to mutilate families following in-jokes about baldness, to massacring nearly 15,000 Israelites, (ironically because they complained about God’s nasty killing habits) racks up almost 2.5 million, more than Voldemort, the T1000 and Jaws combined.
As the time continued to pass since my conversation with Paul, I thought less and less about Satanism and evil, I was simply too busy being a Christian, Scientologist, or dying of starvation as a Muslim for the darkness to make a nest in my brain. Last month however, my time to raise the devil, enjoy some intimate time with goats and eat babies finally came up. I was fairly excited.
Curling up with my Satanic bible, one eye fixed upon the cloven hoofed ungulates outside my window, I read with interest waiting for the text to suggest I make my move, following dinner and a dance first of course. To my horror, but to the relief of all the horned Bovids in my radius, Satanism required no such interaction. While word of mouth would have you believe Satanism is nothing more than a metaphysical high five to the evil realm, conducting inter species relationships and sacrificing babies, it is in fact a personal, practical philosophy based on the idea that the s/he is their own God. In other words, Satan is a symbol of the identity, an acceptance of our carnal desires. As the author of the Satanic Bible Anton LaVey suggests, Christianity has managed to convince us that traits like greed, lust and jealousy are sinful, nothing more than emotions and desires meant to be repressed and shunned in favour of a more “pure” and “holy” life. But what’s wrong with lust? Without it, unions couldn’t form between people, as relationships are built first upon mutual attraction and then on emotional interactions. Jealousy, although sometimes can be crippling, tells us what we might want from life using others success as a reference, and greed drives ambition, without which society would stand still.
Not believing in an external God has led some to confuse Satanism with atheism, however as Satanists worship themselves as God, it can more accurately be described as Itheism, a definition Apple have filed a cease and desist notice against.
It’s difficult to tap in to your carnality at the push of a button, as a fairly reserved Britishman I’m not sure the animal inside of me is an essence I want to meet. Since LaVey however, Satanism has took many twists and turns in terms of practical application. One such turn has been Rational Satanism which uses logic and science to build a philosophy that instead of breaking down the laws of convention built by religious tradition (as LaVey aimed to do), seeks to dissolve the misconceptions of Satan and its use in supressing rational thought.
If Satanism is the key to opening the door of religious dogma, LaVey released our bodies, and Rational Satanism has freed our minds.