Satanism is not what it has become

I’ve been accused before, probably more than once if I cared to pay attention, that I am misrepresenting Satanism. Disregarding the fact that I never have claimed to represent anything, nor do I ever talk about it on social media because it’s a private religious practice for me, I feel like it’s those who make such accusations who are the ones who missed the mark. Satanists who organize and claim to lead the movement, religion, organization, or whatever they call it, have corrupted it and arguably done a lot of damage. It all becomes petty and embarrassing drama in the end, and we again look like fools.

I consider myself a Satanic Pagan. I have been a Satanic witch since I was fourteen, and I was responsible enough to know the source I learned it from, Joy of Satan Ministries, was horribly wrong and misrepresentative of… well… everything. JoS was merely a white supremacist cult appropriating the title to a group of people who couldn’t have been further from the core of the meaning of Satanism. Not only were they grossly racist, but they were also delusional and arguably in need of a psychiatrist. And that’s coming from someone with several severe mental health diagnoses who has learned, through the years, to keep their head on straight.

I started to venture into medieval texts because I was hungry for knowledge from the source — as close to any kind of source as I could get. It became one of my special interests, and I started reading the Bible for the stories without putting much belief in many of them. Revelations was a favorite chapter. My demon spirit guides have told me most of it is bullshit, which I already knew. Christianity and its teachings never did me any favors, and it excused my abusers to my face, so I won’t get into all of that. Most importantly, when I asked for help and begged for guidance, one side answered while the other remained silent. I met my first demon spirit guide then.

I discovered older works of Demonology and read what I could of Solomon, and I read old grimoires with humor because they were more for entertainment than anything valid. You’d be a fool to go through a ritual to trap a demon in some kind of magic circle and beat them with a switch. Demons aren’t inherently evil at all but other entities that exist in planes humans don’t fully understand, but they also wouldn’t take kindly to being treated like someone’s bitch, nor would anyone. They demand basic respect. They’re ancient kings, ministers, and princes with knowledge beyond what we can possibly know, after all.

I delved further into older texts and began to form my own idea of Satanism, but I stumbled upon Anton LaVey’s Satanic Bible which I read quickly. I looked up to him and admired what he had to say until I came across a YouTube channel by one of his relatives, and a video posted there hit me in the gut. In the video, Anton LaVey and others were gathered in one of his performative rituals, and he insulted not only gay people, transgender people, and people who were not white, he uttered white supremacist ideology and harmful homophobic and transphobic rhetoric. He preached that white cisgender people were above all of them — the ‘freaks’ he so often claimed to stand up for and be a part of.

A hard lesson had been learned to not blindly look up to anyone, especially when it came to religion and spirituality. I was in my mid-twenties and I realized I didn’t need anyone to lead me, and I certainly didn’t need to subscribe to someone else’s idea of Satanism to be valid. That’s not what Satanism is at its core, and some people just miss the mark. Some people join these organizations because they think it makes them a ‘real’ Satanist to be a part of a church or organized group.

Which is the very thing Satanism is supposed to be against.

I did join the Satanic Temple a few years back, but I did so in support of their activist goals as an activist organization, such as abortion rights, equal rights for all, and they were doing some great things to clear up Satanic panic rhetoric. I in no way joined because I felt I needed to be a part of something to be a valid Satanist, but as the years have gone by, the Satanic Temple is falling victim to the very same mistake and I want to distance myself from it, as well as any other organization or church that may pop up in the future.

When you organize religion to become big enough, and a person claims to represent that religion, it becomes corrupt. Period. And anyone who claims to be ‘the one true Satanist’ or the only allowed representation of Satanism is a part of the problem, and they arguably have no idea what the core of Satanism really is. They contribute back to the problem and play right into the Christian playbook. (I’d like to note here that I do not hate Christians. I don’t care who practices what, as long as you’re not forcing it on anyone or hurting anyone with it. I do, however, hate the trauma and damage the church has done over many years.)

One of the main issues I see often, as I started this entry with, is that other Satanists will barge into a comment section of another Satanist and claim they are not valid. In that, they are insinuating that their way is the correct way. That is what Satanism certainly is not. Most importantly, a common Satanic rule is to not bother someone who isn’t hurting you. So they’ve already missed the point the second they choose to bother someone who isn’t interacting with them.

All of that said, while there is no one correct way to practice Satanism, there are certainly ways that are not acceptable due to the principle of the matter and the core meaning of the religion itself. Satanism is to seek out knowledge, be the best you can be for yourself, and to reject ignorance. Satan was punished for these things as were the other angels who fell, but none of these things are inherently wrong. Knowledge is personal power, and it also means to do your damn research, don’t start petty drama (including cancel-culture and hive-mind behavior) because it often involves half-truths, assumptions, and a lot of emotions, and don’t assume things about other people nor put someone down who hasn’t bothered you or caused you harm. This is all just basic common courtesy and choosing not to be a dick.

Satanism, to me, is a private and personal thing. The idea of conforming to any type of church ideology just feels performative and misses the mark, but many find value in gathering as Satanists at a church or organization, and that’s valid. I understand the need for camaraderie where the world often isolates and criminalizes us, and the idea of having a Satanic wedding is pretty badass. So I don’t fault anyone for that because, ultimately, that’s how they choose to practice Satanism, whether it be in an atheistic way or theistic way.

It’s when these churches, organizations, and the people who speak for them begin to push their ideologies on others, as well as claim they are the one true representation, is when I start to see a pattern often formed with corrupt organized religion. Gathering together and enjoying something or doing a good cause is one thing. Claiming ownership of it is the problem, especially when so many bad actors already make us look bad.

My way of being a Satanic Pagan witch is for me and only me. I will never claim it is superior or the right way to do things. I have Satanist friends who are devout atheists, and I equally have spoken to good-natured Satanists who are theistic like me. We don’t challenge each other to accept our way or the other. We accept that the idea of Satanism is to live and let live, unless the person in question causes serious harm.

I think some Satanists forget, too, that being a Satanist doesn’t mean you have to be a tough and edgy asshole. Dressing in all black, being counterculture, and other things related is definitely my scene, but I’m not going to force tough love or look down on others for being different from me. We’re human beings and we experience pain, love, and other vulnerable emotions. To deny that we can at times be weak or need help, or show weakness as a strength, is to deny what it means to be human. Being kind to others is not un-Satanic. You don’t have to be an angry, tough edgelord to make whatever point you’re trying to make.

It doesn’t matter what your sexual orientation is, your gender identity, your skin color, or any other factor about you. It doesn’t matter if you are kind, an activist, or wear your vulnerabilities openly. If you say you are a Satanist, you are one. No one can barge into your space and take it from you because they missed the memo.

I am a non-binary trans man, gay and gray-ace, autistic, plural, and an artist and writer, and an activist for mental health awareness. I write about my vulnerabilities and my trauma to help others feel not so alone and to educate, and I hope to be one more hand in the world that helps things become a better place. And I am a Satanic Pagan witch, and no one, regardless of their bloated ego, will take that from me.

©2021 Shane Blackheart

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