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NRMs: Satanism

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I hesitated to write this post because I realize that it may cause some controversy and discomfort for some of my readers.  That said, I felt it was an important new religious movement (NRM) to discuss because it aptly demonstrates how beliefs that seemingly contradict our own, or are foreign to us, can lead to the proliferation of misinformation and false accusations.  Besides, I like to ruffle feathers on occasion –  particularly if that feather ruffling might shed some stereotypes.

Of course, some of the first images that are conjured up when one mentions Satanism are of people who worship the Devil.  This has been largely propagated by those who see the Devil as an enemy of mankind and God.  Images of Satanists have also been framed by Hollywood with movies such as Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist.  Yet, some who call themselves Satanists would find those images grossly amusing or offensive.

Satanism as an atheistic philosophy, invokes the imagery of Satan as a metaphor for rebellion, liberation, individualism, and self-indulgence.  Much like the Romantics, modern Satanists view the mythical figure as the bad boy bucking the status quo.  While there are Satanic rituals, they bear little resemblance to those of which tabloid newspapers and Hollywood blockbusters have imagined.  There are no sacrifices or sex rites.  Some rituals are designed for self-transformation and shedding unwanted emotional distress.  Other rituals may be to mark initiations, marriages, births, and deaths.  You know – the same kinds of life events that non-Satanists might honour.  One of the core tenets of the philosophy is individual responsibility for one’s own actions and choices.  Seems fairly reasonable, doesn’t it?

Followers of Satanism are recognized and protected in various countries that value religious freedom.  This, of course, hasn’t been without controversy – particularly in countries that hold a Christian majority.  Rightfully so, given the myths associated with Satan in their sacred stories.  Examining the archetype of Satan though, depicts this figure as not an enemy of God, but rather a counter-voice to a system of belief that has shaped civilizations around the world.  It’s the voice of the minority, the little guy, and the rabble-rouser.

Once again, I have only presented a brief snapshot of this fascinating, but small, movement.  There’s some great (and not so great) resources out there if you’re looking to learn more.  Some of the best comes from  The Church of Satan  and its founder, Anton LaVey who published The Satanic Bible in 1969.  In it, he lays out the nine Satanic Statements:

  1. Satan represents indulgence, instead of abstinence!
  2. Satan represents vital existence, instead of spiritual pipe dreams!
  3. Satan represents undefiled wisdom, instead of hypocritical self-deceit!
  4. Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it, instead of love wasted on ingrates!
  5. Satan represents vengeance, instead of turning the other cheek!
  6. Satan represents responsibility to the responsible, instead of concern for psychic vampires!
  7. Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours, who, because of his “divine spiritual and intellectual development,” has become the most vicious animal of all!
  8. Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification!
  9. Satan has been the best friend the church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years!

These no non-sense, tongue-in-cheek statements are indicative of the kinds of beliefs you’ll find perusing Satanist material.  Of course, Satan himself has a rich history that embodies much of the imagery just presented.  A great documentary that examines The History of the Devil provides fantastic narrative of how this archetype has changed over the millennia.

The History of the Devil:

M. xo

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  1. mae
    April 14th, 2013 at 17:43 | #1

    Glad you enjoyed the documentary! I thought it was fantastic. It’s amazing how myths adapt and evolve. One of the reasons I love studying religion so much :)

  2. Sue
    April 14th, 2013 at 15:58 | #2

    Thank you for this! I really enjoyed “The History of the Devil”
    It’s sad how the circle has been completed on the whole devil thing. Maybe the ones who fear evil the most are just projecting? :)

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