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Difference between actual satanism and atheism

To: alt.magick.tyagi
From: tyagI@houseofkaos.Abyss.coM (tyagi mordred nagasiva)
Subject: Re: Difference between actual satanism and atheism
Date: 28 Nov 1994 22:52:16 GMT

[from alt.satanism:]  wrote:
 > dve> One of the things that annoys me about both CoS _AND_ ToS is
 > dve> the attitude of both groups' leaders that Real Satanism
 > dve> didn't exist until 1966.
 > Well, you'll certainly find incidents and episodes of
 > anti-Christianity, and anti-Judaeo/Christianity, and
 > anti-Judaism, before 1966. Some serious, some sarcastic, some
 > artistic. But I do not equate these anti-things with Satanism,
 > which I consider a positive religion and philosophy in its own
 > right. For example, most people would not equate "capitalism"
 > with "anti-communism".
I'd be interested to hear more about your concept of "authentic
Satanism".  I agree that Satanism is more than mere anti-
Christianity.  However, I don't consider Satanism to be one single
religion or philosophy.  To me, Satanism is a _category_ of
religions and philosophies involving sympathetic re-interpretations
of the entity Christians call "Satan".  There's an endless variety
of possible positive non-Christian interpretations of who/what
"Satan" is.
 > The closest you might come to authentic Satanism prior to 1966
 > would be in the artistic field: Blake, Baudelaire, Milton, that
 > sort of thing. But even then there is the flavor of mere
 > anti-Christianity.
Although Satanism is more than "mere anti-Christianity", it
necessarily does have an anti-Christian component if you live in a
Christian society, just as a person who lived in a communist society
but favored capitalism would necessarily be anti-communist (or,
conversely, a communist living in a capitalist society would
necessarily be anti-capitalist).
 > What made the Church of Satan unique in 1966 was that it embodied
 > a *positive* approach to Satan and Satanism, although it took it
 > awhile to disentangle all of the anti-J/C baggage even so.
There _WERE_ other forms of _RELIGIOUS_ Satanism that were more than
"mere anti-Christianity".  One example was the Lady of Endor Coven,
described by Arthur Lyons in _Satan_Wants_You_.  Another example was
the group in Boston that a friend of mine briefly belonged to back
in the mid-1960's.  You might not consider these to be "authentic
Satanists" because their interpretation of "Satan" differed
radically from yours.  (They differ radically from mine too.)  But
their worldviews were certainly _NOT_ just an inverted Christian
In an article of yours that I read a couple of years ago, you quoted
Eliphas Levi's statement that "When the Devil is called, he
answers."  Do you nonetheless believe that nobody before 1966 ever
genuinely called on "the Devil" and got an answer?
I can tentatively accept (subject to hearing more details) your
claim that the pre-1975 Church of Satan was in some key ways unique,
though this doesn't make it the only "authentic" form of Satanism in
my eyes.  Perhaps what made CoS unique was that you folks had less
of a felt _need_ for the anti-Christian aspect of Satanism, since
you naively assumed that Christianity was dead.  After all, you were
based in San Francisco, which was and is far less Christian-
dominated than much of the rest of the country.  Also, it's my
impression that most of the early CoS people did _NOT_ come from
hard-core Christian backgrounds (correct me if I'm wrong on this).
My own form of Satanism has an anti-Christian (primarily anti-
fundamentalist) aspect, but does not revolve around anti-
Christianity.  (I'll explain in future messages, when I have time,
what it does revolve around.)  If my _MAIN_ motive were simply to
rebel against Christianity, I would _NOT_ choose Satanism.  There
are other "religions" that excel at blasphemy and, in my opinion, do
a better job of it than Satanism does, e.g. Discordianism and the
Church of the Subgenius.  (Certainly they keep their sense of humor
better than most of the self-described Satanists who post here.) 
Could you please explain why you see Satanism's inherent "anti-
Christian baggage" as a problem?  (I see it as problematic only
insofar as it makes Satanism attractive to overgrown adolescent
rebels-without-a-cause.  You seem to see it as a problem on a deeper
I was hoping to have time to write to you in greater depth this past
weekend, but I didn't.  Maybe next weekend.  For now I'd like to
clarify a few points:
First, I'll briefly mention that I'm polytheistic.  I believe that
different people have natural affinities for different deities.  If
a person has such an affinity, that person will function best if she
or he acknowledges it.  My own deity happens to be the Dark Muse,
a.k.a. "Satan".
Note that I generally use the name "Satan" in quotes.  ("Satan"
means "adversary", and I don't regard the Dark Muse as _MY_
adversary.)  I feel that this entity can be more accurately referred
to by various titles, such as "Dark Muse", "Dark Force in Nature",
etc.  Why, then, do I insist on calling myself a Satanist rather
than identifying "Satan" with some pre-Christian deity such as Set
or Pan?
There are several reasons, most of which I don't have time to go
into now.  For one thing, I think it's intellectually much more
sound to-interpret a religious concept from one's own culture than
to try to import deities from another culture.  This is not to say
we can't learn from the religious ideas of other cultures.  However,
our ability to learn from other cultures is limited.  Unless one
makes it a lifetime project, one can never really understand another
culture except on the most superficial level.  This is true even of
cultures that still exist _today_, with live people that we can
still talk to.  Thus, I question whether even the most erudite
archeologists can really hope to understand something so subtle and
complex as what an ancient deity might have actually meant to the
people living back then, when we can't even ask those people
questions about it; all we have are incomplete written records. 
(Imagine an archeologist several thousand years in the future
drawing conclusions about the Temple of Set's beliefs based on a
copy of _The_Crystal_Tablet_, in an era when the English language
has been forgotten by all but a handful of scholars.)
Hence I cannot, with any degree of confidence, equate "Satan" with
any specific ancient deity (though I can say that "Satan" _seems_ in
some ways _similar_ to certain ancient deities).  I feel much more
confident saying merely that I believe my Dark Muse is the same
entity Christians call "Satan".  Although I have a radically non-
Christian interpretation of who/what "Satan" is (as I'll explain in
a future message), I'm familiar enough with Christianity to have a
reasonably sound basis for making such a re-interpretation.
Anyhow, besides the perhaps-unanswerable question of whether the
entity you call "Set" is the same entity the ancient Egyptians
called "Set", there's also the separate question of whether the
entity _YOU_ have connected with as "Set" (regardless of his
possible ancient identity) is the same entity I have experienced as
the Dark Muse.  I suspect not.  Also, your "Satan" may have been a
different entity from what I recognize as "Satan".  Furthermore, the
basic philosophy of the Temple of Set, as summarized in the General
Information and Admissions Policies document (and as was discussed
at greater length in the Base of Set echo when I participated there
a few years ago), includes some ideas I strongly disagree with. 
More about this later.  Still, I'm interested in hearing whatever
you care to share about your experience of "Satan".  It would be
interesting to discuss how and why you and I seem to have connected
with possibly-different entities under this name.
Diane Vera

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