The Church of Satan [COS] is in no way a cult.
They don’t recruit; they lack a compound or any real physical property for that matter. They do have a hilarious Twitter account and a wicked sense of humor.
They don’t believe in an actual Satan. They’re not devil worshipers. They don’t worship any kind of supernatural entity. They are a real religion nonetheless. How?
In the same way there are secular Jews.
To the CoS, Satan is a cultural and literary manifestation representing rebellion and individuality. They’re very knowledgeable about the history of Satan (a history which goes way, way, way back, predating Christianity by far).
There is a Satanic Bible.
They have a few publications, a podcast, a website.
I seriously doubt there’s any way this skeletal presence could make them a high control group, let alone a cult. There’s no party line to follow, no indoctrination. Unlike some major religions I could mention.
I’m not a member but I do find them interesting. They have an interesting history and their website is worth checking out. Their ideology is basically one of individuality, of self-respect and honorable behavior. Plus they have a sense of humor– something seriously lacking in all mainstream religions as far as I know.
Founded on April 30, 1966 c.e. by Anton Szandor LaVey, we are the first above-ground organization in history openly dedicated to the acceptance of Man’s true nature—that of a carnal beast, living in a cosmos that is indifferent to our existence. To us, Satan is the symbol that best suits the nature of we who are carnal by birth—people who feel no battles raging between our thoughts and feelings, we who do not embrace the concept of a soul imprisoned in a body. He represents pride, liberty, and individualism—qualities often defined as Evil by those who worship external deities, who feel there is a war between their minds and emotions.
As Anton LaVey explained in his classic work The Satanic Bible, Man—using his brain—invented all the Gods, doing so because many of our species cannot accept or control their personal egos, feeling compelled to conjure up one or a multiplicity of characters who can act without hindrance or guilt upon whims and desires. All Gods are thus externalized forms, magnified projections of the true nature of their creators, personifying aspects of the universe or personal temperaments which many of their followers find to be troubling. Worshipping any God is thus worshipping by proxy those who invented that God. Since the Satanist understands that all Gods are fiction, instead of bending a knee in worship to—or seeking friendship or unity with—such mythical entities, he places himself at the center of his own subjective universe as his own highest value.
We Satanists are thus our own “Gods,” and as beneficent “deities” we can offer love to those who deserve it and deliver our wrath (within reasonable limits) upon those who seek to cause us—or that which we cherish—harm. Magus Gilmore’s essay “What, The Devil?” from The Satanic Scriptures discusses this in greater detail.
Why do Satanists worship The Devil?
We don’t. Satanists are atheists. We see the universe as being indifferent to us, and so all morals and values are subjective human constructions.
Our position is to be self-centered, with ourselves being the most important person (the “God”) of our subjective universe, so we are sometimes said to worship ourselves. Our current High Priest Gilmore calls this the step moving from being an atheist to being an “I-Theist.”
Satan to us is a symbol of pride, liberty and individualism, and it serves as an external metaphorical projection of our highest personal potential. We do not believe in Satan as a being or person.
Do Satanists perform sacrifices?
No. We are atheists. The only people who perform sacrifices are those who believe in supernatural beings who would consider a sacrifice to be some form of payment for a request or form of worship. Since we do not believe in supernatural beings there is no reason for a Satanist to make a sacrifice of any sort.
I heard that Satanism supports sex with children and other ways to harm them—how do you justify that?
Satanism has strong rules prohibiting sexual activity with children and non-human animals. In fact, if a Church of Satan member abuses children sexually or otherwise, his membership is automatically terminated without possibility for re-instatement. The Church of Satan also does not accept anyone who is not legally adult as an Active Member. In Satanism, sexual activity is only advocated between consenting adults.
Do Satanists ritually abuse people?
No. Our ritual is basically a form of self-therapy and is most often done in private. The three basic rituals are presented in The Satanic Bible by Anton Szandor LaVey and these do not demonstrate any type of abusive behavior.
What is “Theistic Satanism”?
There is no such thing. People who believe in some Devilish supernatural being and worship him are Devil-worshippers, not Satanists. Anton LaVey was the first to define Satanism as a philosophy, and it is an atheist perspective. “Theistic Satanism” is an oxymoronic term and thus absurd. In Satanism each individual is his or her own god—there is no room for any other god and that includes Satan, Lucifer, Cthulhu or whatever other name one might select or take from history or fiction.
The Nine Satanic Statements originally appeared in The Satanic Bible, © 1969
- Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence!
- Satan represents vital existence instead of spiritual pipe dreams!
- Satan represents undefiled wisdom instead of hypocritical self-deceit!
- Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it instead of love wasted on ingrates!
- Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek!
- Satan represents responsibility to the responsible instead of concern for psychic vampires!
- 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!
- Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification!
- Satan has been the best friend the Church has ever had, as He has kept it in business all these years!
The top of the list for Satanic Sins. The Cardinal Sin of Satanism. It’s too bad that stupidity isn’t painful. Ignorance is one thing, but our society thrives increasingly on stupidity. It depends on people going along with whatever they are told. The media promotes a cultivated stupidity as a posture that is not only acceptable but laudable. Satanists must learn to see through the tricks and cannot afford to be stupid.
Empty posturing can be most irritating and isn’t applying the cardinal rules of Lesser Magic. On equal footing with stupidity for what keeps the money in circulation these days. Everyone’s made to feel like a big shot, whether they can come up with the goods or not.
Can be very dangerous for Satanists. Projecting your reactions, responses and sensibilities onto someone who is probably far less attuned than you are. It is the mistake of expecting people to give you the same consideration, courtesy and respect that you naturally give them. They won’t. Instead, Satanists must strive to apply the dictum of “Do unto others as they do unto you.” It’s work for most of us and requires constant vigilance lest you slip into a comfortable illusion of everyone being like you. As has been said, certain utopias would be ideal in a nation of philosophers, but unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, from a Machiavellian standpoint) we are far from that point.
It’s in the “Nine Satanic Statements” but deserves to be repeated here. Another cardinal sin. We must not pay homage to any of the sacred cows presented to us, including the roles we are expected to play ourselves. The only time self-deceit should be entered into is when it’s fun, and with awareness. But then, it’s not self-deceit!
- Herd Conformity
That’s obvious from a Satanic stance. It’s all right to conform to a person’s wishes, if it ultimately benefits you. But only fools follow along with the herd, letting an impersonal entity dictate to you. The key is to choose a master wisely instead of being enslaved by the whims of the many.
- Lack of Perspective
Again, this one can lead to a lot of pain for a Satanist. You must never lose sight of who and what you are, and what a threat you can be, by your very existence. We are making history right now, every day. Always keep the wider historical and social picture in mind. That is an important key to both Lesser and Greater Magic. See the patterns and fit things together as you want the pieces to fall into place. Do not be swayed by herd constraints—know that you are working on another level entirely from the rest of the world.
- Forgetfulness of Past Orthodoxies
Be aware that this is one of the keys to brainwashing people into accepting something new and different, when in reality it’s something that was once widely accepted but is now presented in a new package. We are expected to rave about the genius of the creator and forget the original. This makes for a disposable society.
- Counterproductive Pride
That first word is important. Pride is great up to the point you begin to throw out the baby with the bathwater. The rule of Satanism is: if it works for you, great. When it stops working for you, when you’ve painted yourself into a corner and the only way out is to say, I’m sorry, I made a mistake, I wish we could compromise somehow, then do it.
- Lack of Aesthetics
This is the physical application of the Balance Factor. Aesthetics is important in Lesser Magic and should be cultivated. It is obvious that no one can collect any money off classical standards of beauty and form most of the time so they are discouraged in a consumer society, but an eye for beauty, for balance, is an essential Satanic tool and must be applied for greatest magical effectiveness. It’s not what’s supposed to be pleasing—it’s what is. Aesthetics is a personal thing, reflective of one’s own nature, but there are universally pleasing and harmonious configurations that should not be denied.