By Vexen Crabtree 2002
“The Satanist [...] should have the ability to decide what is just.”
Satanism is individualistic, not legalistic, especially when it comes to morals and rules, which is a feature of left-hand-path religion in general. Outsiders to Satanism sometimes approach the rules and laws too legalistically: they assume that like religions they are familiar with that there is a taboo involved in breaking the laws of Satanism. There is no taboo. It is not compulsory for Satanists to follow "rules". It is not expected. Satanists never engage in debates over whether someone has broken these. A Satanist who absconded another and said "hey, aren't you forgetting this particular Satanic Rule of the Earth..." would be laughed at and generally considered a legalistic sheep. Unless of course that the Satanist in question cannot defend himself, in which case, he's fair game. A left-hand-path religion is where the individual mostly learns for hirself what is right or wrong. According to one's personal beliefs "right" and "wrong" can differ greatly. There are very few absolutes or universals in Satanism.”
Several of the laws and sins given by LaVey serve as general advice that only really applies to the young, immature or overly rebellious Satanists. They serve to deter these people from joining Satanism by making it clear that Satanism is not for them and they also serve to act as advice on how such people can improve their lives by abiding by these rules.
“The difference between indulgence and compulsion [is] indulgence can be controlled, compulsion controls.”
If withholding something from yourself increases a later reward, then the route of tactical self-denial is the most pleasurable route. As a Satanist is a long term tactician, patience and discipline are seen as methods of achieving happiness and ecstasy. According to LaVey, the same reasoning leads us to the conclusion that drugs are bad for indulgence in that they cause an imbalance that, in the long term, reduces the pleasures of normal experience. This is not the extreme compulsive indulgence of the self-destructive, nor is it asceticism. Like the Buddhists say, it is a "Middle Way".
Although Buddhists might hold that all desires and attachments are misguided because they keep us tied to this world where we cannot experience nirvana (annihilation), Satanists are emplored to remain fully committed to the materialism of this world, enjoy life anyway, and not to seek an escape!
“A Satanist will not hesitate to admit to being self-centered, selfish and hard and will tell you that you too, have all these qualities in abundance. Satanism is a wholly self-centered philosophy. But most the Satanists I know are normal, social and friendly beings. What gives? A critic could say that our actions do not match our beliefs.
Humans are social animals. We function as social animals and require social activities in order to remain sane, happy and mentally healthy. Being healthy is a must if you wish to live a long and indulgent life! Most mature Satanists display quite altruistic behaviour. Many Satanists find that making others happy makes themselves happy. Despite the individualism of the left hand path I think that being seen as good, nice or friendly by others is a requirement of our mental health and self esteem. Our ego demands that we are socially acceptable; it makes us unhappy to forfeit altruism, especially in the long-term.”
The page quoted from above discusses the biological paradox and hypocritical idea of 'altruism' in more detail.
Satanism is pro-sexuality. We should all shed the weird and stifling sexual inhibitions preached by the world's traditional religions; Sexuality is a pure form of pleasure, something that satisfies our deepest purpose in life. Modern life allows us to enjoy sex without the risks of unplanned pregnancies and sexual diseases assuming that sense is taken. Satanism supports any fetish, kink or flavor of sexual encounter as long as all parties involved are consenting. We are informed by modern and learned psychological, medical and scientific opinions on sex; there are no dogmatic principles or religious intolerance of sexualities within Satanism. It is very optimistic, positive and healthy: This can only be expected of such a carnal religion of the flesh such as Satanism! Some people like quality, some people like quantity: Just be responsible, take emotions and consequences into account, and above all, enjoy your life!”
“Satanism is not a religion of hate, it is a religion of truth and of humanity. The Human emotion that best expresses our humanity is love. Hate is a dulling of the mind, a primal state that undermines the best Human qualities of intelligence, compassion and progress. Hatred has its place and cannot be done without, but, love is much, much more valuable: The emotions surrounding love are stronger than those of any other state; a Satanist does not deny the pleasure of love, the pleasure of doing good towards the ones (s)he loves, nor the pleasure of simply being in love. Love, affection and attention are necessary parts of a healthy mental life, whereas hate and bitterness can both be left behind (as long as you don't leave your wisdom behind too). Satan represents indulgence, and in doing so, Satan represents love.”
The lack of prejudice and discrimination in the Satanist community mirrors our principles that all people and animals share a common source in mere biology. Satanism is the belief that Humans are nothing more than higher animals - we have no special place in creation other than being lucky to have evolved and survived. When we die we all suffer the same fate of non-existence no matter how good/bad we were in our lives.
There is a form of selective discrimination and it is based on a person's knowledge, power and style. Let's face it, stupid people, invisible people and unimpressive people are not easily accepted into the Satanic community. In the case of stupidity/ineffectualism the exclusion is certain. This type of exclusion is not prejudice but survivalist and occurs after learning about the individual person and not before. Therefore it is not prejudice, in that it is not presumptuous, but it is a dogmatic exclusion.
The following section is taken from "Opposites are Illusions" by Vexen Crabtree (2005):
Good and evil are to many an 'obvious' reality but with thought, the concept of these opposites makes little sense. What is good for one being is frequently bad for another. For example in nature the whole cycle of biological life is based on death and recycling. Hence why major religions have historically been based around these themes, especially vegetation gods who are reborn every Winter Solstice. All predators find it good that prey is available; if you protect the prey you harm the predators, and whilst it is bad from the prey's point of view to be eaten, it is necessary from the predator's point of view. In nature, survival is violent and competitive.
Bacteria4 feed on biological chemicals to survive and breed. What is good for them is bad for us. While antibiotics are good for us and reduce our suffering, their usage creates suffering and death for countless other minor species. What is good for one species is bad for others. While one culture may consider multiple marriage to be a virtue of love and positivity, another considers it an evil sin. What is good in one culture is bad in another. What was good in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible is bad in the New, what is good in the Buddhist Pali scriptures is wrong in the Therevada, what is considered an ethic by one group in society is considered wrong in another. Contraception may be evil according to Catholic doctrine, but, overpopulation causes suffering for all. What the homeless rightly do to survive is a "social evil" to those with homes, and how governments collect tax is evil to the poor person but a social necessity. Good and Evil are impossibly complex, inherently subjective.
Moral subjectivism is not limited to the human concern for other humans. A nuclear attack is bad for billions of people but may well be good for undersea creatures who suffer from our pollutants. Eliminating environmental toxins from our waste may make industry less efficient and slow the economy, but is good for other species. A life-saving vaccine may be good for many people but could be atrocious for the environment and create suffering due to overpopulation.
There are no actions that are "good" or "bad" from the point of view of all peoples, cultures, societies, species and interests. There are no actions that are absolutely good for life, and there are no actions that are bad for all species. There is no "opposite" to good or evil; there is no scale with "good" on one side and "evil" on the other: There are only conflicting subjective interests. It is all personal opinion, compromise and discord. "Good" is not the opposite of "evil" as both concepts are too personal, too subjective and too elusive to warrant definition or resolution as opposites.
“Moralists rarely agree on what morals to follow. So many situations are unique, special and complicated, that it seems impossible to find any absolute morals that provide guides on how to behave in all circumstances. Even when we wisely adhere to the great teachings of ethical giants, we are still subject to our own personal opinions on what they meant. It is impossible to communicate the absolute. If an absolute moral ethic was ever codified, then, interpretation would have to be the main effort, and would be the cause of many disagreements about what the absolute ethic meant. It is impossible to dictate an absolute moral because we all understand things subjectively.
If there is a good God watching over us all, it seems quite clear that such a being has not given us any absolute moral guidelines nor has it given us the mechanism to appreciate absolute morals, nor absolute facts, of any kind. The nature of the absolute means that all people would have to be given the same rules5; not one set to the Hebrews and another to the Christians, and a different set to the Muslims. There are no absolute morals and if there were, Human subjectivism denies us the possibility of us perceiving them. These problems have been a keystone of philosophical thought. Aristotle taught that in moral thought "systems of rules", "exactness" and "fixedness" are unattainable and intrinsically faulty as it is more important that "it must be left in each instance to the individual agents to look to the exigencies of the particular case"6. It is this conclusion - that of the relative subjectivism of each particular case, where most people's concept of justice and ethics correctly begin.”
The reason that there is no access to absolute morals is obvious: there is no (good!) god!
There is a very practical and subtly efficient side to Satanism that Anton LaVey refers to as "the third side of the coin". If you tell your parents you are a Satanist and they throw you out of their house, then you shouldn't have told them. If you are fired for being a Satanist, despite it being 'not fair', was it actually in your interests to let your workmates know? In Satanism, practical realities are more important than idealism: You do not have to tell your parents. Or your workmates. Or anyone at all. You can keep it all entirely personal.
Many Satanists will not reveal their religion to you unless you seem like a good person and may state "atheist" until they trust you. There are too many immature morons out there and sometimes it's easier and safer not to bother. On the other hand, there are those who are confident enough to be able to discuss Satanism with any stranger who happens upon them - this is good as long as you have the talent.
For a good example, check out my text on the The Columbine Girl (who was shot after proclaiming her belief in God).
“Sometimes force is required. Satanism is a religion of real-life and nature itself is violent. We adopt the symbols of violence, blood, death and angst simply because these things cannot be forgotten even though our species is prone to wishful thinking, peace-seeking civilities and nature-denying tree-hugging. Enough! To have balance, to appreciate life, and understand the desperate dangers of violence, you must keep the ideas of violence entertained in your belief system. Acceptance of the symbol of Satan is the best way to ensure that your outlook on life is realistic and in sync with nature.
The Satanist may happen to never engage in violence, but there is always the chance that one day he or his country will have to, for the greater good or for individual protection. It is the same for all people. As a religion of the Earth, Satanism in the name of intelligence and responsibility, requires us to make ourselves capable of physically defending both ourselves and what we consider to be good.
Satanism is much less conducive to random violence, as a Satanist always keeps in mind that he alone bears the results of his actions, both in the long and short term. "Responsibility to the responsible!" is the 6th Satanic Statement. Balance is a key factor, something severely missing from monotheistic Churches past and present. No Church that institutionalized the Inquisition has their internal checks and balances calibrated correctly! We'd rather leave the world as it is instead of reducing it to dust. Stability benefits all but there cannot be total peace: we are honest. Most Satanists live peaceful, stable, happy lives. The myth of Satanic violence evaporates - it simply doesn't happen. It is this fact that proves that the Satanists' attitude to violence is correct.”
“Stratification - The point on which all the others ultimately rest. There can be no more myth of "equality" for all - it only translates to "mediocrity" and supports the weak at the expense of the strong. Water must be allowed to seek its own level without interference from apologists for incompetence. No one should be protected from the effects of his own stupidity.”
Stupidity is the cardinal sin of Satanism: As the cardinal sin, Stupidity is the cause of all other sins. Anti-stupidity is also the source of most Satanic ethics. Most of the above can be boiled down to a discussion of what is most self-beneficial to do and most the time, because of the way our species is, this frequently means social effects are of utmost importance. A Satanist is not stupid and we know that long term consequences should always be taken into account and this is main step in making sure that the strong, yourself, survives. The rest may do as they please.
Sin, that which is bad for the self, is nearly always a form of stupidity and ethics are generally geared towards teaching and educating people to avoid that which is bad for the self. As sin is bad for the self, any system that eradicates stupidity is ethical... or at least hugely desirable.
In physics terms all actions have an equal and opposite reaction. All of our actions have consequences. The worse the action, the worse the consequences will be. This is why stupidity is the cardinal sin of Satanism. There is no divine retribution for wrongs done in life and no karmic system of rewards for the rights we do. We pay directly for everything we do, through direct cause and effect.
Your life can only be willfully changed through your own actions. Satanism thinks more in terms of cause and effect, of Lex Talionis, than it does in terms of morality or ethics.
Satanism has adopted a less literal approach to the Law of the Talon, as retribution and punishment (the effect of actions) may be greater than the actual if people wish, or less, if we wish. Depending, of course, on the cause and effect of the actions of the retributor on himself!
Strategic self preservation actually results in moral behavior, and self empowerment is a route to social stability.
The ethic of Reciprocity is called "The Golden Rule" by Christians and "The Wiccan Rede" by Wiccans.
“The Golden Rule, "do unto others as you would have them do to you", and the Wiccan Rede - "if no harm is done, do as you will" are both expressions of the Ethic of Reciprocity. On account of its simplicity it is the most universal moral code known; appearing in nearly all cultures, being derived from multiple teachers, religions and philosophies at different times in different ways. Greek philosophers in the fourth century BCE derived it from logic as the most basic moral code, and its oldest appearance may be from 1970 to 1640BCE in ancient Egypt, making it at least a four-thousand old doctrine. The Egyptian empire spread its methods of religion and myths worldwide. It has been found in both atheist religions and theist religions, including: African Traditional7, Bahá'í, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Native American, Paganism, Scientology, Shintoism, Sikhism, Taoism, Wicca8 and Zoroastrianism.9 It also appears in secular moral systems: Humanism, Greek philosophy & culture, Marxism10, Roman antiquity7 and Persian7 culture have all embraced it.
Unfortunately, the ethic of reciprocity does not work. It is merely a goodwill gesture, and does not generate or sustain good morals in times of adversity or struggle. It is based around doing what you think is best - it's all down to subjective, personal opinion. Therefore, it only works for people who are already thinking moralistically. It doesn't work on natural thugs, and, it doesn't allow any active, effective or aggressive resistance to immoral rulers. Sometimes, treating people nicely just doesn't cut it when it comes to making positive social change.”
The version that appears in Satanism is "Do what thou will, as long as you harm no undeserving person". I think "as long as you harm no undeserving person" adds a large quantity of realism to LaVey's version. It is ethical to "Do whatever you want as long as you harm no undeserving person". Satanists are not ethical all the time. I wouldn't believe someone if they claimed to be!
I don't expect many Satanists to agree with the Golden Rule as the Wiccans or Christians see it. The former version is not a practical ethic, as Mikko pointed out, and the latter version (turn the other cheek...) is just a plain disaster. I return to Satanism and Social order when talking about Lex Talionis.
It means you must accept they anyone has the same rights as you to do whatever you do (and more, if they don't mind you doing it to them too). Such ethical systems are egalitarian (now that I think of it), just plain wrong, in my opinion! Although, it is still a popular ethic and many (I bet some Satanists do) repeat it. Sometimes it's because they haven't heard it criticised.
In reality, kindness is bestowed upon those people who are grateful or otherwise judged worthwhile. In society, kindness is given most freely to those who reciprocate as normal members of society should. If you do not grant a person respect when they are kind to you, they and people around you will cease being kind to you. Satan, as reality, is harsh. If you are kind to someone and they do not act appropriately then cease being kind because you are not (in many circumstances) going to help them by fuelling their self destructive social retardness. So why have a religion, philosophy or belief system that pretends that it is useful or good to go around being kind to everyone? If society is forever neutral and nonjudgemental then bad behaviour will not be curbed. Meekness breeds social disaster!
Psychic vampires are social parasites. LaVey expands on this in The Satanic Bible11. Those who are capable should rule, those who can do a job should be the ones doing it. Meritocracy. Those who are capable of delivering social justice should be the ones doing it.
For more see:
Current edition: 2002 Oct 30
Last Modified: 2017 Jan 23
Parent page: Laws, Sins and Rules of Satanism: A Lack of Legalism
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Kant, Immanuel. (1724-1804) German philosopher.
(1785) Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals. Amazon Kindle digital edition prepared by David J. Cole prepared by Matthew Stapleton. Translated by Thomas Kingsmill Abbott (1829-1913). An e-book.
LaVey, Anton. (1930-1997) Founder of the Church of Satan.
(1969) The Satanic Bible. Published by Avon Books Inc, New York, USA. Anton LaVey founded the Church of Satan in 1966. A paperback book.
(1992) The Devil's Notebook. Published by Feral House, CA, USA. A paperback book.