Five and a half years ago I wrote a post which showed how my Pagan sensibilities were starting to change, to be re-examined and reviewed, uncovering what I felt more deeply about the figure of “The Horned God”. You can see from that post that I was still Pagan then, but while others seemed to be searching for THG in historical deities they could hold up, to claim their link with a discontinuous past, I was placing him (at least in significant measure) with The Devil.
Now I have actually been a Satanist for six months I feel like doing something of a mirror process in looking at the Devil that I love.
In my move towards Satanism there was actually a parallel process going on, of embracing the importance of secularism. 10 years ago I was fully behind the move for religious recognition of Paganism, but not so long after that I realized that our rights to religious freedom were actually dependent upon secularism, not religious recognition, and the latter demand started to look like a red herring. It wasn’t so long before my commitment focussed on personal religion, and a redefinition of the term, but it was only this year that I really rejected the idea of a “place at the table”, in favour of getting rid of the table. I’m fine for all kinds of beliefs and fandoms being accorded equal respect, but that includes Trekkies, goths and metal heads on a completely equal basis with Christians, Jews, Hindus and Muslims, and absolutely no competition with individual based human rights. Take it or leave it, but I am not interested in religious privilege, which in the name of reason, moderation and respect needs to be destroyed.
As for my Satanism, I’ve always taken an experiential approach to my spirituality, and am basically a pragmatic polytheist. Not interested in “Creators”, thanks very much (the Universe revealed through science is awesome enough just as it is), and I have no shame with respect to the fulfilment I get from what other people might consider my “imaginary friends”. Me and Harvey are doing just fine, thank you. My gods and demons are real to me, but honestly, I’m secure enough to not be offended by alternative views.
But just as I looked at the Horned God directly and emotionally, and found the Devil to be a significant part of him (and a sympathetic Devil really is the Horned God, better than anything or anyone else I can think of), I have had to look at “Satan” and see what it is that I feel there.
I have taken an agnostic approach, as I did not have any visceral, psychic or emotional connection with the idea of Satan as such. I’m of course aware that Satan is a symbolic concept to many modern Satanists, while he is a discrete being to others, and a pantheistic principle to some demonolators. My connection, as I have already said, was with a Devil figure I found earthy, sexual, powerful and loving. But it is Satanism that really spoke to me.
Some have connected “Satan” to Enki (who I have no connection with), or to Set. But I already have a relationship with Set, and it is very important to me, and very connected with the principle of self-actualization, but Satan is something distinct to me personally.
I have a series of associated experiences, impressions and feelings which have consistently come with the name of Satan, and these are quite characteristic. They are cool, spacious, free, unencumbered, lacking in any kind of irrational fear. If I said they were liberated, that would be correct, but not in the sense of breaking free, rather in the sense of always having been free. If I was being astrological, I would say Satan is very Aquarian. Everything is open to question, and question is not a challenge, but a clarity, a lucid space and awareness. At the heart of it there is choice.
Does this make Satan a god, an entity, an archetype, a state of consciousness, the application of a philosophy? I have no idea. It doesn’t require the elimination of agnosticism, or the assertion of certainty. Everything becomes open and simply as it is. It is perfectly ok that we don’t know, and that fundamentally we do not know anything beyond the mystery of consciousness itself. But it is perfectly invited that we should find out, everything that we can. That is the “Satan” that I know.
I think that is why Satanism is such a delightful and interesting philosophy. You might think that to be a Satanist you would have to espouse the kind of causes that The Satanic Temple does, but it isn’t so. You might think that you have to follow the “might is right” Ayn Randism of Anton LaVey, but it isn’t so. You might think that you have to believe in Satan, or alternatively not believe in any kind of supernaturalism, but it isn’t so. You might think that you have to be primarily adversarial in your approach to life, but that isn’t so either.
The reactions to Satanism cause a kind of storm, but the eye of that storm is calm. The associations of Satanism are delightful and creative, but they are contingent upon choice. Your choice. No surprise then, that people whose individual identities or circumstances have placed them in figurative storms have sometimes found a (necessarily) perverse, but very real shelter here. Not to hide, but to look out clearly on a world where they are complete, individual equals. I personally associate it with “Enlightenment” values of reason and questioning, with some of their libertine philosophical enquiry, finessed with Thelema’s sovereignty of the individual, and the romance of witchcraft, The Devil and his darlings. But that is just my formulation of it.
Hail Satan. It’s the gentlemanly thing to do.