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Satanism, or theistic Satanism, is a belief in Satan, Lucifer, or the Devil. Those holding such a belief, or beliefs, usually referred to as Satanists or Luciferian, may or may not believe in the biblical characterization of Satan or the Devil. Satan, using a generalized term, may be recognized as either a deity or force, either male or female. Such recognition hardly matters when most would agree, or partially agree, it acknowledges a spiritual entity. Some might even say a mythical entity.
However this entity, spiritual or mythical at times, possesses many attributes. The qualities of the attributes seem dependent upon the theological belief of those describing them. For example, orthodox Christians describe Satan as the father of lies whereas the Gnostics see him as giver of knowledge, or gnois, and place great emphasis on the biblical Garden of Eden story. Theistic Satanism holds that Satan gave man the forbidden fruit, knowledge. This was the knowledge of good and evil, believing knowledge would not be complete without both; therefore, such knowledge can be used to create good and/or evil. Not all Satanists are theists; others may just claim to be Satanists, or Devil worshippers; the main objectives of these latter groups are their objection to good and the promotion of evil.
When discussing Satanism it should be remembered that all three of the world's major religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, derive their idea, or cosmology, of good and evil from Zoroastrianism. In this tradition it was Ahriman, the evil twin, who was always fighting to defeat his good brother Ahura Mazda. This Zoroastrian myth set the good-evil cosmology and struggle for the three future religions. Especially in Christianity, where an all-good creator God exists, and evil presence must also exist. If the all-good God creator a world which is imperfect, the imperfection must come from another source that is not God; Satan, or the Devil, meets the requirement. The name Satan appears late in the Old Testament; but as a servant of God to test man; this idea still resides in the New Testament but many do not place much credence in it because if God is omniscience he does not need Satan to test man since he already knows man's actions. Therefore in Christianity Satan is mainly the source of evil.
Also in Christianity Satan is seen as the Opposer of God, a role also attributed to Set in the ancient Egyptian pantheon which is why Satanism is sometimes referred to as Setianism. But Satan has become more important than Set because in Christianity there is a hell with Satan as its leader and he is busy ensnaring souls, those believing him, away from God for his hell. Unlike Set Satan is not considered a deity but a fallen angel. Satan, called Lucifer, "Light Bearer," according to legend was the most beautiful in heaven but refused to adore man, therefore along with the other angels siding with him was cast into hell as God ordered as the fallen angels. Lucifer's title of Light Bearer frequently causes Satan to be spoken of as the twin of Christ who referred to himself as the light, truth, and the way; this also resembles the Zoroastrian myth.
Another reason for Satan's importance in Christianity is its emphasis on afterlife, eternal bliss in heaven with God or eternal damnation in hell. Although most Christians would be hesitant to admit it Satan is well embodied within their theology. Besides supplying all the evil within God's good world, Satan is a fearful entity and very useful in keeping practitioners in line. Many have claimed the Church has profited by Satan.
In Islamic the word Satan is al-Shaytan, meaning transgressor or adversary as in Hebrew. The common term is Iblis, the Jinn, that disobeyed God and was condemned to serve as misguidance for mankind to test their faith in God. The Iblis is specifically named in the Qur'an but there are many Shaytans.
Many Satanists are offended by all of the negative reaction directed toward Satanism by other religions. However, it must be remembered such negativity is based upon beliefs derived from the Bible and Qur'an in which Satan is the arch enemy of God and the personification of evil. Those Satanists whose wish to oppose what is commonly labeled "good" do not mind this negativity, but relished in receiving it. A prime example of this is the Black Mass, a parody of the Catholic Mass, which is still practiced by certain groups. There seems to be a variety of Satanists as there is a variety of Christians.
However, many Satanists do not worship Satan or Lucifer, the personification of evil, but the force of evil itself that naturally exists in the world. This force they maintain keeps the world in balance. Here, with this belief, they are in complete opposition with Christianity and some Neo-pagan traditions. By holding a natural evil force in the world balances it they obliterate the Christian argument of the constant ongoing was of good versus evil. This natural evil force concept also holds up against some Neo-pagan groups flaunting the persuasion that nature is all good, guided by the Mother Goddess; an appealing argument until a natural disaster such as a hurricane or tornado strikes. This illustrates these negative powers of this evil force are formed naturally.
The worship or praise of this evil force is not considered wrong nor is the use of it. This coincides with the Satanist philosophy, the Nine Satanic Statements which provide guidelines for members of the Church of Satan, which is practical, not dogmatic. This philosophy teaches a realistic love of living life, and not a denial of it. All nine Satanic Statements declare what Satan represents which form the philosophy or guidelines. The first statement is one of self-indulgence, not abstinence. The other statements follow this pattern: vital existence instead of spiritual pipe-dreams, undefiled wisdom instead of hypercritical self-deceit, kindness toward those deserving it instead of love to the ingrates, vengeance instead of turning the other cheek, responsibility to the responsible instead of concern for psychic vampires, man is another animal, sometimes better and more often worst than those that walk on all-fours, who, because of his "divine spiritual and intellectual development," has become the most vicious animal of all; all so-called sins are encompassed as they lead to physical, mental, and emotional gratification; Satan is the best friend the Church has ever had, he has kept it in business.
Accompanying these nine statements or good characteristics of the Satanist are the Nine Satanic Sins: stupidity, pretentiousness, solipsism, self-deceit, herd conformity, lack of perspective, forgetfulness of past orthodoxies, counterproductive pride, and lack of aesthetics.
The Eleven Satanic Rules for living on earth sort of sum up the usage of the guidelines. Most would think they would be devilish, but surprisingly they are not. They mainly concern minding one's own business. For example do not give advice or opinions unless asked; do not share your troubles unless you are sure the other person is concerned; when in another's lair show respect or do not go there; if one in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy; do not make sexual advances unless given the mating signal; do not take what does not belong to you unless it is a burden to someone else and he cries out to be relieved of it; acknowledge the power of magic if you have employed it successfully to obtain your desires because you deny the power of magic after having called upon it with success, you will lose all you have obtained; do not complain about anything of which you need not subject yourself; do not harm children; do not kill animals unless you are attacked or for your food; and when walking in open territory, bother no one, and if someone bothers you ask him to stop and if he does not, destroy him. A.G.H
Greer, John Michael. The New Encyclopedia of the Occulti.
St. Paul, Mn. Llewellyn Publications. 2005. pp. 418-422
Church of Satan. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_Satan>