By Vexen Crabtree 2014
Some people have an inherent need for ceremony, ritual and dogma in their lives. As the modern world disposes of organized religion, the historical provider of these elements of life, people are taking up alternative religions. The instinct towards symbolism is a result of our evolution through a pre-literate phase of development both in history and as an infant. Satanism provides ritualistic and dogmatic trappings without the waffle of many other religions. This page also takes a simple look at how the growing interest in new religious movements and the New Age relates to Satanism and human nature.
“Human beings have a natural tendency to enjoy myths, stories, epic tales, supernatural wonder and other fascinating elements from the worlds of our imaginations. Karen Armstrong writes that "Human beings have always been mythmakers"2. We love creating, and telling these stories. Over time they are altered, embellished, made more amazing and told with greater confidence3. Every culture has a central creation myth4. Such epic stories are exciting, they give life meaning, and feed our egos by making us think we're the concern of the creator of billions of galaxies. For some people it goes further; the stories become the basis for ceremonial retellings, ritualistic behaviour and strict dogmatic beliefs. And they find themselves compelling other people to adhere to the same principles in order to respect the great story.
Classic sociologists such as Weber and Geertz taught us that religions allow people to deal with existential anxieties "about how to understand the natural and social environment" by developing world-view cosmologies; modern sociologists have not found reason to disagree5. Although modern science and knowledge have eroded most of the influence of religion in many countries, mythic answers are simpler and make it easier to understand the universe (and are easier to tell) than the dry and complicated evidence-based stories that come from science.
“Myths can be debased and uprooted. All that happens is that modern myths and rituals replace the traditional ones, for myths and archetypes are an inherent part of the human psyche. Human beings appear to need a religious underpinning both to their personal and to their social lives. At the personal level, human beings need a mythology within which to frame their identities and the meaning of their lives.”
As traditional Abrahamic religions are fading away in the modern world, a suite of new movements have arisen to (partially) take their place including the New Age and Pagan religions. New stories are replacing old ones.”
The problem was that there was no sensible and non-superstitious religion that employs powerful symbols that center on our needs and hidden desires. That is... until Anton LaVey brought forth Satanism!
Anton LaVey writes on the modern materialistic and scientific insights we have into the world, in particular he emphasizes the success of psychiatry in replacing spiritualism and the priestly ministry. He then states:
“This is all very well and good, BUT - there is one flaw in this new state of awareness. It is one thing to accept something intellectually, but to accept the same thing emotionally is an entirely different matter. The one need that psychiatry cannot fill is man's inherent need for emotionalising through dogma. Man needs ceremony and ritual, fantasy and enchantment. Psychiatry, despite all the good it has done, has robbed man of wonder and fantasy which religion, in the past, has provided.
Satanism, realizing the current needs of man, fills the large grey void between religion and psychiatry. The Satanic philosophy combines the fundamentals of psychology and good, honest emotionalising, or dogma. It provides man with his much needed fantasy. There is nothing wrong with dogma, providing it is not based on ideas and actions which go completely against human nature.”
The increasing interest in all aspects of Paganism, Shamanism, the New Age, new religious movements, the occult and alternative religion is caused, according to multiple authors, by the lack of ritual and religious trapping of science and materialism combined with the lack of trust and truth in the major religions. Satanism, as a materialistic philosophy combined with ritual and religious imagery, satisfies the need for dogma and ritual. As Satanism is also anti-religion and pro-freethought, it allows for activism and energetic adherency which are both things that many people are drawn to. As a force for the future, Satanism is an indestructible force on the battle field where the gods of the past have all been declared dead interests, and all religions false.
“For [the psychologist, Carl] Jung, religion could play a positive role in human life: 'Man positively needs general ideas and convictions that will give meaning to his life and enable him to find a place for himself in the universe.' Religion thus acts as a form of therapy, explaining and reconciling human beings to the pains and suffering of the world.”
Dogmatic statements about our place in our universe answer such questions as why am I here and what should I do with my life. Religions' contain dogmatic answers because, as of yet, science does not know how to approach such questions, and philosophy has tended to be too waffly and self-referential. Satanic answers include the will to happiness, and the settings up of personal ideals and interests which are then indulged in. It is common sense in non religious countries such as the UK that the point of our lives is a personal aim, such as love or happiness, or the socially orientated to do good. Satanism affirms these and holds that Satan stands for and wills that you indulge in whatever your aims in life are.
There has been an explosion of interest in unusual, novel, untraditional, magical, counter-cultural and Earth-centered religious movements. They have some common features9 and share a number of common pull-factors attract people to new religious movements9, even including Satanism despite it being somewhat different to the rest of the New Religious Movements.
Anti-consumerism and anti-materialism.10. Anton LaVey's writing are full of anti-consumerist rhetoric, going to great lengths to analyse popular culture and distance himself from it. He was thoroughly pro-materialist, but, in a refined and exquisite way rather than in the shallow and meaningless way in which the herds are materialist.
The rise of individualism13 and protections for freedom of belief means people are free to pick-and-choose which religion to embrace.
Religious groups that arise from a particular cause will attract those interested in that cause. Satanism has no concept of a central list of areas of concern, but, many Satanists are secularists and find cause in opposing the entrenchment of religion in the public sphere. Aside from that, Satanists themselves are often tough-willed and opinionated: i.e., suitable as activists, and many so act under the guise of Satanism.. Two of the most popular amongst NRMs are:
Environmentalism is commonly proclaimed by all kinds of pagan, Celt, pseudo-Native and New-Age groups, and they attract many people who are similarly passionate about protecting the planet.13,14,15,16,17. Satanism is naturally pro-environment, although, this is the concern of individual consciences rather than a facet of Satanic ethics. See: Satanism and Environmentalism.
Feminism-friendly movements such as Paganism and Wicca attract many like-minded folk.13,18. Although now some of LaVey's writings on women are clearly dated, and sometimes even embarrasing for Satanists, at the time LaVey's sermons on women were empowering and liberating, and many women were drawn to Satanism because of the lack of suppression and misogyny which is to be found in mainstream religions. See: Sex and Sexuality in Satanism, the Religion of the Flesh: 5. LaVey and Women.
For detail, see:
Current edition: 2014 Oct 04
Last Modified: 2017 Dec 12
Originally published 2002 Nov 13
Parent page: The Description, Philosophies and Justification of Satanism
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(2005) A Short History of Myth: Volume 1-4. 2008 Kindle edition. First published in Great Britain in 2005 by Canongate Books Ltd.
(2002) Contemporary Celtic Spirituality. This essay is chapter 2 of "Belief Beyond Boundaries: Wicca, Celtic Spirituality and the New Age" by Joanne Pearson (2002) (pages p55-102).
(2000) The C of E: The State It's In. Paperback book. paperback first edition, 2000. Originally published in UK in 2000 by Stoughton.
(1996) The New Age Movement: Religion, Culture and Society in the Age of Postmodernity. Paperback book. Published by Blackwell Publishers Ltd, London, UK.
(1996) The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. Paperback book. 2001 re-issue. Published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
Little & Twiss. D. Little and S.B. Twiss
(1978) Comparative Religious Ethics: A New Method. Published by Harper & Row, New York, USA. In Reeder (2011) p347.
(2002) Religion, Science and the New Age. This essay is chapter 5 of "Belief Beyond Boundaries: Wicca, Celtic Spirituality and the New Age" by Joanne Pearson (2002) (pages p173-224).
(2002) Aspirational Indians: North American indigenous religions and the New Age. Paperback book. This essay is chapter 3 of "Belief Beyond Boundaries: Wicca, Celtic Spirituality and the New Age" by Joanne Pearson (2002).
(2002, Ed.) Belief Beyond Boundaries: Wicca, Celtic Spirituality and the New Age. Paperback book. Published by Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Aldershot, UK, in association with The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.
York, Michael. Principal Lecturer in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology and Director of the Sophia Centre at Bath Spa University College, UK. Previously a post-doctoral reasearcher at the Academy for Cultural and Educational Studies in London.
(1995a) The Emerging Network: A Sociology of the New Age and Neo-Pagan Movement. Published by Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, MD, USA.