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 New Age religion relates to Satanism and human nature.
With the decline of organised religion, decentralized individualist spiritualisms have ascended, such as the New Age spectrum of beliefs. Some authors have concluded that religious-like behaviour is an expression of humanity that will not go away.
“It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the weight of evidence seems to favour the general thesis that religion is so psychologically and socially bound up with the human condition that it is unlikely ever to disappear.[...] Spirituality is being explored in some unexpected areas of Western life (such as the world of business) and may incorporate a range of beliefs informed by anything from the world religions to ideas about UFOs and dolphins.”
“It seems to me that the resurgence of interest in native mythologies, and the mysticism of the East, all reflect a widespread yearning for a religious framework based on deep inner experience. Shamanism can certainly help us here.”
“The interest in Paganism today in the UK and the USA may be interpreted as a response to an increased dissatisfaction with the way the world is going ecologically, spiritually and materially; people are disillusioned by mainstream religion and the realisation that materialism leaves an internal emptiness.”
An instinct of this kind is not admitted only by the New Age movement and esoteric religious writers, but mainstream religious scholars have tried to understand this too. Mostly, they "realize" that mankind has in innate need for their particular religion but occasionally they appear more friendly towards the idea that such a Human inclination has a basis in the general Human psyche. The Anglican Christian author Monica Furlong makes notes on the reformation and its purge of imagery, icons, objects and many symbolic aspects of Christianity:
“Behind the repudiation of the ceremonial by the reformers lay a radically different conceptual world, a world in which text was everything, sign nothing. [...] It would take centuries for the Church of England to acknowledge and try to recover what it had lost [...]. In its place text ('the word') became in its own way a different sort of worshipped image, one which sometimes excluded feeling and the deep movements of the unconscious mind which ritual had faithfully fed. It is not, of course, that poetry or powerful preaching cannot express feeling, but that part of our human consciousness is pre-literate, both historically and in our personal childhood experience, and the whole of our experience cannot necessarily be captured by words. It may be important to lay wordless experiences alongside the wordy ones, as in music, colour, form, movement and smell.”
This is recognition that our need for such things is based not on God-given instinct, but a subconscious biologically-based leftover from our preliterate days, and our preliterate youth. When symbols, as in early religion, were much more powerful and imposing because we had no words. Symbolism and ritual form part of our development, and part of our needs, in life. Monica may not have meant to highlight such a fundamental way that atheists look on religion: as a misguided answer to some biological impulse. Science and humanism don't satisfy this impulse for some people, because of the lack of symbolism and ritual.
“For 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.
“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. At the social level, some ideology is needed to give people a vision of their history, their present place in the world and their future direction, to act as a focal point of unity, an agreed framework for public policy and a justification for the public rituals that affirm social cohesion. Where formal religion no longer provides this underpinning, various alternatives have evolved. At the social level, 'pseudo-religions' such as Marxism and nationalism have been successful partly because they do provide an alternative picture - a myth of history and a direction for the future.”
People like things that take their minds off the mundanity of life. Where religion fails, football takes over. For the more spiritual, the New Age takes over where traditional religion has died off. For the more diabolically minded, who reject religion and the herd mentality that results in following a football team or political ideal, which is the same as the inability to think independently, there is a problem if the individual also wishes to make strong dogmatic and religious sounding statements about the world. The problem is that there is no sensible and non-superstitious religion! That is... except Satanism.
Once the study of religious compulsion has moved to biology a vast array of new tools and methods become available to us for studying religious experience. Combined with the modern understanding of psychology, history and sociology, there is little about the causes of religion that we do not understand. I will quote Monica Furlong again, on genetics. Once we acknowledge that something has a biological and instinctive cause sometimes hereditary patterns become apparent.
“God in the Genes
A BBC television series on twins in July 1999 produced some interesting evidence from the huge research project on twins by Dr Bourchard of the University of Minnesota. [...] The twins, now grown up had identical genes but had had different upbringings, often strikingly so in terms of class, wealth and education. In spite of separation, and different nurture, the life resemblances were shown to be extraordinary. [...] One of the most interesting findings was that both twins either were or were not religious, which Bouchard felt was a strong, if not conclusive, argument for the fact that 'being religious' has a genetic component.
If this is the case one must assume that in the 'ages of faith' when virtually everyone claimed Christian allegiance, some simply went along with it and picked up the universal jargon, rather as an unmusical child in a musical family could scarcely fail to learn the musical vocabulary even if untouched by music at a deeper level.
Yet it seems as if we now have the opposite situation - that of living in a society in which the practice of religion [...] seems to matter little, which poses problems for those who have a religious gene.”
This hereditary component of the religious instinct is common sense: Some people are more predisposed to the mentality of the religious adherent than other people. She makes a note that some people just "follow" the popular religion through social pressure, which is also a point I make in "Institutionalized Religions Have Their Numbers Inflated by National Polls".
Another scientific discovery is what is sometimes called "The God part of the brain". Spiritualists point to this part of the brain, which appears to be activated during religious and spiritual experiences, and claim that this is proof that there is a spirit world of some type and this is our "sixth sense" capable of perceiving it. However, materialists such as myself interpret this part of the brain as the cause of the events, and it seems it is worth noting that perhaps this part of our brain is less active or ignored in those without the "religious gene". In relation to the way people have different self-affirming experiences in life it seems that between this and psychiatry we have a good understanding of the cause of our religious instincts and a basic potential explanation for why many do not have such a need.
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.
“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.”
Shamanism (1996). Published by Element Books.
Encyclopedia of New Religions (2004, Ed.). Hardback. Published by Lion Publishing, Oxford, UK.