Recently my friend Aleph asked me a question about my shift in outlook in respect of Satanism. I answered Aleph on the thread, but I thought the question deserved a response post. This was Aleph’s question:
“I am curious about what appears to me to be an emerging shift in your outlook as regards Satanism. You seem disillusioned with the current of Satanism, but nonetheless seek “the Satanic”. I wonder, what does “the Satanic” mean outside of Satanism? I assume you are seeking it in paganism to some degree, judging by your reference to pagan revivalism, but I would like to be certain on this matter”
There are two ways of answering the first question for me, both of which I feel are valid.
From the polytheistic point of view Satan is an entity, and both the influence of, and interest in that entity can be considered Satanic, without necessarily involving “Satanism” formally, unless one wishes to define such as Satanism. If you pushed me, of course I would not deny that I was a Satanist, it is a matter of pride and inner recognition, but I don’t feel that Satanism is in a constructive phase of “speech” (and even that feels like it is saying too much). Nevertheless, I can be considered a polytheistic Satanist, or a Satanic polytheist personally, or a “Devil Worshipper”.
I do view Satan as an entity, a god, and one which has I believe been known by different names in different cultures.
You can also view the Satanic as a “current” in the magickal and spiritual sense, and this also can manifest in ways more diverse than formal Satanism.
I do see Paganism (in the broad sense, which I know is not academically nuanced) as a natural home for people working with this current, and I see the current as a natural interest of a section of the Pagan population. Many of us are actually Pagan essentially, as well as Satanic, though we tend to be rejected by other Pagans. Occultism also forms such a home, but where occultism has had fraternal aspirations it has generally been accompanied by a philosophical structure which one could maybe term para-religious, if not actually religious. Thus a great deal of occultism exists in a monotheistic cosmological and moral substrate, though that has been somewhat broken open in the wake of Crowley’s work. So even if one were an occultist first and foremost (but wanted to be able to work with others), there would still be implicit quasi-religious connotations somewhere, and Paganism is the obvious (and I would say original) fit there.
The Left Hand Path is something of a lingua franca here I feel. Satanism has I think opened up a characteristic and insightful spiritual form, and an original one in modern terms, extended into Setianism to my mind, more especially aspects of Aquino’s work. But a form of Paganism remains my natural choice I think, as a polytheist. I do however feel the importance of The Devil needs to be preserved, which has been the opposite of what has happened with popular Paganism.
I also view Satanism as the manifestation of a spiritual current within the Christian era, whether one views that as people who actually worshipped Satan (which I believe there were), or a manifestation within the imaginal world of that era (which would itself be magickally significant). I consider this manifestation of the current to be of key significance, as it takes into account not just the inherent quality or essence of the current, but also our historical movement through the last period of our human development. Thus Satan (the particular emanation of the intelligence, being and source of the aforementioned current) is the most direct and uncompromising access to this current that we have in some ways. It is at the least something I believe cannot be avoided.
I have indeed gone through a shift in outlook, but this is not so much due to an intellectual disillusion with modern Satanism (though there is that also), but feels more inner directed for me. I honour my relationship with the being I call Satan (or variously Set-Shaitan, Satan-Set-Saturn etc), but calling myself a Satanist is not really a big part of that. I feel modern Satanism has said enough in its regard, and too much which detract from the current itself.
Several major flaws have emerged for me. One is the mistaking of individuality for conscious ego. This relates to the True Will and its essential residence in the subconscious. Naturally we attempt to make things conscious, but it is a deluded hubris to treat conscious individuality as object, rather than process and relationship. “Self-realisation” is a process of descent for me, not ascension.
Secondly (quite possibly not unrelated), is the focus on isolation and “individualism” at a quite extreme expense of relationship and interdependence. There are qualities to the current which are disruptive, destructive, separative and oppositional (and necessarily so), but to focus on these purely, to the exclusion of the relationship and interdependence which is the substrate of manifest life would be to essentially hit the eject button on life. I say “would be”, because people don’t actually do it, they seem to just talk about it and fake it. It’s fine as performance art or entertainment, but it isn’t what it says on the can. It can’t be.
I think looking back to Paganism, without losing track of the essential current is how I see things going, in terms of work with the Satanic current, which I jokingly referred to as “Route 55” in a previous post. Hopefully no one will take the term Route 55 too seriously. As Oscar Wilde said, some things are too important to be serious about 😉