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Why I Joined the Church of Satan

To: alt.satanism
Subject: Why I Joined the Church of Satan
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2001 20:00:12 GMT

Why I Joined the Church of Satan

I have occasionally been asked what someone gets when they join the
Church of Satan.  My typical smart-assed answer is, “Not a goddamned
thing.”  The stock answer most Church of Satan officials give is simply
that one’s membership is whatever you make of it.  They are, of course,
absolutely correct but I would like to expand on it just a bit as far
as my own experience goes.

The act of joining the Church of Satan was a magical act of
significance to me for highly personal reasons as a deliberate and
willfully symbolic act of transition and commitment.  So, whatever
I "got out of it" was almost completely internal to me.  It did not
open any doors.  It did not win me any friends.  It did not get me
invited to any secret meetings.  I received no certificate "suitable
for framing" and no membership directory.  Not even a t-shirt.  Just a
small red card with a place for signature.

But joining was an explicit act by which I cast my lot in with the
Devil.  It was for me a necessary expression of my complete alignment
with the principles advanced by Anton LaVey and of my appreciation for
his work and his overt establishment of Modern Satanism as an
explicitly definable religion.  It was my way of saying "Thanks. Yeah.
Me too."  And thus as a symbolic/magickal act was much more potent than
any petty little trivialities normally associated with organizational
membership benefits ever could be.

This made joining the Church of Satan quite unlike joining any other

Why do accountants join an association of accountants?  One reason is
to meet other accountants so that they can share information that might
make them more successful accountants.  There is very little benefit
like that for joining the Church of Satan.  There are no conventions or
annual meetings.  Sure, there is the grotto system to which membership
gains you the right of potential access.  So that is one benefit.  But,
frankly, the internet offers far more opportunities to get to know
fellow Satanists and to exchange information.  The second reason
accountants join an association of accountants is to be able to join
together to advance their interests as a group.  The professional
association of accountants, for example, actively works to lobby the
Congress to keep the tax code complex.  Why do they do that?  So that
there will be more business for accountants!  Doctors, Lawyers,
building contractors, black people, Hispanics, gays, and just about
every other identifiable grouping of people has an organization to do
the very same sort of thing.  Here again, the Church of Satan does not
really do much on that score either.  It does not really lobby Congress
for more rights or special privileges for Satanists, it does not
participate in court cases on behalf of Satanists, and it only rarely
engages in media appearances to represent the Satanic perspective in
public discussion.  Why not?  Because in the grand scheme of things,
those sorts of interaction with the herd are not really worth the

But what the Church of Satan does do is merely exist.  And by its mere
existence as an actual entity, provides Satanism with the minimal
required level of existence as a (marginally) organized religion. Why
is this important?  Because despite the Satanist’s desire to mind his
own business and let the idiotic Christian herd pursue their own path,
there are inevitably the occasional moves by members of the herd to
seek to impose restrictions on religion that could be a problem for the
Satanist.  By merely existing, the Church of Satan removes from them
any opportunity to make the claim that Satanism does not exist or that
it is not a religion.  By becoming a member, I strengthen the existence
of the Church of Satan and, simply by doing that, contribute some small
measure to my own protection.

Inevitably, people ask me if the personal symbolic meaning and this
small measure of collective defense really was worth the $100 that I
sent in.  This is obviously a silly question because if it had not
been “worth it” to me I would not have done it.

But the greatest thing about the membership fee is that it made the
decision non-trivial.  It imposed upon the move a significant enough
cost that I did not undertake it lightly.  From the historical lore of
Satanism comes the mythical image of the black magician promising his
immortal soul to the Prince of Darkness in exchange for his power and
support in life.  In a ritualistic sense, my joining was my pact with
the Devil.  I don’t really believe that I have an immortal soul so
giving that up really didn’t mean much.  The value of my soul was
zero.  LaVey knew that when he said that selling one’s soul to Satan
was unnecessary since souls come so cheaply these days.  No, my mere
soul was insufficient.  I wanted to sweeten the deal.  In the fantasy
of my ritual, I offered up to Satan my soul plus an additional hundred
bucks.  I could then convincingly pretend that I was certainly entitled
to all the powers of Black Magic without limitation because I paid even
more than Faust!  If I had received any real tangible, identifiable
goodies for my money, that would have spoiled the effect and been less

So, if the Church of Satan doesn’t really do much for me and I am
sending them $100, shouldn’t I be afraid that they are taking advantage
of me.  No.  I don’t really care about that.  I am sufficiently well-
off financially that I can blow $100.  Besides, I got my own personal
meaning out of joining.  I don’t really care what happened with the
money.  In fact, I rather hope that the High Priestess laughed out
loud, pocketed the cash, bought herself some sexy shoes and some
politically-incorrect toy for her kid and generally pissed it away on
something fun.  I don’t really care if it did or did not go to pay a
Washington lobbyist, print the newsletter, fund the office or do any of
that other typical organizational club type stuff.

Besides, its pretty obvious that the Church of Satan is not any sort of
money-making scam.  I am pretty familiar with how to run a membership
organization and really make money with it and it is NOT through one-
time fees.  The key to raising a lot of cash with any type of
membership organization is through recurring contributions.  You want
the members to send you money every year or even more often if you can
figure out how to get them to do that.  Professional associations do it
that way.  Christian Churches do it that way.  The NRA does it that
way.  Every junk-mail-sending charity does it that way. Your cable TV
company does it that way.  No, its pretty clear to me that with the
Church of Satan's one-time significant membership fee, Anton LaVey
purposely meant for it to be a singular, symbolic, non-trivial,
memorable act that would have its greatest value in the mind of the
person doing it.  And thus, for me, it was precisely that.


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