Who is Satan? The Accuser and Scapegoat

Satanists use the symbol of Satan as a representative of various philosophical ideas, social instincts, intellectual ideals and theological statements. Here is an introduction to all of these aspects of Satan.


1. The Modern Symbol of Satan

Satan is good and evil, love and hate. It is the gray; the totality of reality undivided into arbitrary dichotomies. Satan is not a real being, not a living entity, not conscious, nor a physical thing that can be interacted with. It is a symbol, something ethereal, something that exists as an emotional attachment and personal dream. Just like Buddhists do not worship Buddha, Satanists hold up Satan as an ultimate principle rather than an object of literal worship. Satan inspires and provokes people, so, like all (honest) religions the ultimate point is self-help. God-believers have a different opinion on what Satan is, but their opinion is a result of their religion, steeped in mankind's ignorant past. Satanism's Satan is much more eclectic and multicultural than to be defined by Christianity or Islam.

Satan is the dark force in nature representing the carnal nature and death of all living things. The vast majority of the Universe is cold, uninhabitable and lifeless. The only part of the Universe that we know contains life is tied to a system of predator-and-prey: the natural world is violent, desperate, bloody and amoral. If there is a god, it is surely evil. Satan, and Satan alone, best represents the harshness of reality.

The religions and gods of the world result from human wishful thinking. They are delusions, lies, methods of control, suited only for the gullible and stupid, serving to hide the nasties of life from view, making people unprepared, emotionally stunted, and subservient. Satan is rebellion, intelligence, anti-religion, anti-god; the accuser, the doubter. When Satan replaces God, the blindfold is discarded.

“Does the dreadful form of personified evil only prompt you to smile?”

"The History of Magic" by Eliphas Levi (1860)1

All the elements of Satan I have just mentioned are discussed in more depth below and on the essays linked from this page.

Satan is inseparable from good. It only exists in our limited minds as we try and explain the world. A Satanist does not treat Good/Bad as Light/Dark. The descriptions are arbitrary. The Dark Force cannot be avoided, tamed, ignored or resisted against. We create it as we view the world. Every Satanist defines it differently. We feel it all the time - it is our ego, our intelligence and our errors all warping to form our observed reality. It is the potential for nothingness that exists wherever there is something. It is real life, necessity and materialism.

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Satanism is not a white light religion; it is a religion of the flesh, the mundane, the carnal - all of which are ruled by Satan, the personification of the Left Hand Path.

"The Satanic Bible" by Anton LaVey (1969)
The Book Of Lucifer III p52

Most Satanists do not accept Satan as an anthropomorphic being with cloven hooves, a barbed tail, and horns. He merely represents a force in nature - the powers of darkness which have been named just that because no religion has taken these forces out of the darkness.

"The Satanic Bible" by Anton LaVey (1969)
Book of Lucifer IV p62

2. Satan is the Dark Force in Nature: The Violence and Blood of the Natural World

There are millions of mammals on this planet. We are all on the top half of the food chain; under us are billions upon billions of subjected life forms from bacteria and mould to insects and fish. The higher up the food chain you are, the more multiples of creatures have died to provide you with sustenance. Nature is violent, amoral, uncaring, deadly and dangerous. Simple survival is not a luxury afforded to many creatures for very long.

What religion, in the name of truth and honesty, reflects the violence and desperation of the natural life? What religion upholds the symbols that nod a head to the sacrifices of brutal reality? Real life, below the surface of our noble conscious existence, is so immoral, short, pained and traumatic that not many face it. They turn away and look towards distracting figureheads of love and happiness. They deceive themselves. Real life; the life of the world, is not often represented or illuminated by religious texts or preachers. People want religion to be an escape from the truth. Satanism is not a religion for such people.

"Satanism: The Natural Religion" by Vexen Crabtree (2005)

3. Satan is Death

Satanism is about reality. In reality, all living beings die. There are no exceptions. Satanism, in embracing life and indulgence, is in effect striving against death. However, it is inevitable that death will eventually win. Satan, representing reality and the Human condition, symbolizes the victory of death. This eternal truth is more meaningful and potent than deceitful symbols of life, of reincarnation and of other spiritual pipe dreams.

"Satan is Death: 2. Satan Represents Death" by Vexen Crabtree (2003)

4. Satan is Doubt

Satan represents Doubt. God did not want Adam and Eve to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Allah did not want his creation to doubt his word. In both theologies, it was Satan, the most intelligent created being, who stood up against this enforced ignorance. Satan tells mankind: Search for knowledge, even in taboo places. Shaitan told the Djinn: Let us test God's word, let us not mindlessly believe all that God says. Although these myths are irrelevant to the modern world, the role of Satan is very much relevant to our lives and our search for knowledge. Enlightenment is the ability to look past stated truth and dogma, and Lucifer is the Crown Prince of Satan that represents our search for enlightenment.

"Satan Represents Doubt: Satanic Epistemology: 3. Satan represents Doubt" by Vexen Crabtree (2002)

Without the wonderful element of doubt, the doorway through which truth passes would be tightly shut. [...] Now is the time for doubt! The bubble of falsehood is bursting and its sound is the roar of the world!

"The Satanic Bible" by Anton LaVey (1969)2

Satan is the champion of being human, the messiah of your mind, the idol of ideal behaviour and intelligent conduct, and above all, the accuser of organized religion:

I question all things. As I stand before the festering and varnished facades of your haughtiest moral dogmas, I write thereon in letters of blazing scorn: Lo and behold; all this is fraud!

"The Satanic Bible" by Anton LaVey (1969)
The Book of Satan 2:1

5. Satan is Not Real

5.1. Atheism and Anti-theism

Satanism, like Buddhism, is atheist. But this doesn't mean we don't oppose the idea of god. All atheists are opponents of gods. A god is only as powerful as its followers so every atheist denies every god that little bit of power, even if (s)he has no active interest in religion or anti-religion. But so many atheists are meekly conservative in their opinions towards gods. Not so, the Satanist. Satanists are explicit atheists, and proud of it, much like Humanists.

Satanism is not Devil worship. That comes as a shock to many who haven't explored our philosophy and it is the prime misconception outsiders have regarding the Church of Satan. Our founder Anton Szandor LaVey asserted this stance from the beginning. [...] If we examine his work, it is clear that he never changed his mind about this, nor was belief in the Devil ever some secret "inner circle" practice of the Church of Satan. [...] From a 1986 interview with Walter Harrington of The Washington Post:

"Satan is a symbol, nothing more," LaVey says. "Satan signifies our love of the worldly [...]"

[...] Accepting the axiomatic premise that no gods exist as independent supernatural entities means that Satanists are de factor atheists.

"The Satanic Scriptures" by Peter Gilmore (2007)3

Book CoverThe Devil has the most extensive perspectives for God; on that account he keeps so far away from him: - the Devil in effect, as the oldest friend of knowledge.

"Beyond Good and Evil" by Friedrich Nietzsche (1886)4

A Satanic mission: The abolition of the concept of God by gradually increasing the intelligence of the Human Race. All our symbols represent ungodly and healthy doctrines that develop the Human Race towards being independent of religion, making us accountable for our own actions, forcing us to take responsibility for the Earth and society, all without the dominating presence of belief in god, eternal punishment or heavenly rewards. Satan is life, good and proper.

The word "Satan" originates from a transliteration of the Hebrew word "an opposer" or "an accuser": And therefore a Satanist is someone who follows this route - the opposition. Like the Shadow Government we do not endorse the status quo unless we can justify it for ourselves, which is a rare event. Satan came to symbolize opposition to the Church, not through our own actions but by the words of those who wished to rule over us in the name of a fictitious God.

A sociologist of comparative religion, Professor Christopher Partridge, once described Satanism in a most effective manner:

Book CoverSatan is understood more in terms of a useful icon that encourages self-interest and individualism, and promotes opposition to institutional religion and the dominant culture. Indeed, in this sense, Satanism is essentially a self-religion or human potential movement, which utilizes the rebellious, offensive and provocative symbolism the figure of Satan provides.

"Encyclopedia of New Religions" by Christopher Partridge (2004)5

5.2. R. Merciless: Satan is Not Real

In 1999 R Merciless posted a brilliant illustration of this position to Usenet:

Communists do not believe in a deity called Commun but they do revere and hold up communes as an ideal.

Taoists do not worship the god Tao but, instead honor the philosophy and symbolism of the Tao.

Atheists do not worship the god Athe. Instead, they seek to live a lifestyle that is a-theist, i.e. "without god(s)."

Ventriloquists do not bow down and beg before the demon Ventriloqu. They study and practice the art of ventriloquism.

In the same way, many who use the term "Satanist" to describe themselves follow a cogent philosophy of life modeled upon the mythical literary character known as Satan, honoring his qualities, his rebellion and applying his name to the natural forces which so many white light religions oppose.

The narrow use of the term "Satanism" to mean only the worship of a devil deity misses the more robust and complex nuanced development of the word over the past 33 years or so. Perhaps considering it through the above contexts will help to understand the broader definition. Or perhaps the stupid and narrow-minded will continue to fail to grasp the concept.

Posted by RMerciless on alt.satanism (1999 Sep)

I add to the above post by R Merciless: Do Buddhists worship Buddha? No, Buddhists respect, revere and strive to be like Buddha, but they do not worship him.

Satanism is not the religious worship of any deity, good or evil, but rather a religious uptake of a humanistic philosophy. We recognize ourselves as gods, and we hold our own perspective on life as holy and revere our own experiences as the only truth we can ever know. Satanism is the utter rejection of the spiritual way of theistic religions, and acceptance that we are animals who've evolved in the same way as any other complex organism.

5.3. Self Worship and Human Potential

Man has always created his gods, rather than his gods creating him.

Book of Lucifer 1:1
"The Satanic Bible"
Anton LaVey (1969)

Religion and worship must be honest. If you are going to put your heart, desires and motivations behind an object of devotion, there is no point lying to yourself about the nature of your psychological projections. The source of this objectification of your ideas about reality is your own mind. The abstract nature of god, however convoluted, is your own creation. That's why all the gods of history have had human emotions, cared for humans in particular, put the Earth at the center of their schemes, cared about what us human wear, think, do and feel. Gods have even looked like us. Let us discard such wishful thinking and admit that we're making it all up. In Satanism, we do not worship others or ideas. We worship ourselves, as we are the source of all the great things we adore. Self-worship is the most honest form of religiosity.

Book CoverTo the Satanist, he is his own God. Satan is a symbol of Man living as his prideful, carnal nature dictates. [...] Satan is not a conscious entity to be worshipped, rather it is a name for the reservoir of power inside each human to be tapped at will.

"The Satanic Scriptures" by Peter Gilmore (2007)6

In Satanism, Satan is an archetype, a representation of certain qualities that the Satanist embodies including rational self-interest, avoidance of oppressive mentalities, the questioning of all, and a perseverance towards success and human potential.

Rev. Matt Paradise www.satanism101.com (2000)

5.4. Happiness: Satan is the Point of Life

Satan is said by some Satanists to represent their loves in life, their hobbies: the internal things that make them happy. For one person, a stable job is Satanic. For another, physical fitness is the most Satanic thing; for another intellectualism is more Satanic than finance or fitness. All agree that failure is unsatanic... so Satan represents the points of life for Satanists. Anton LaVey comments on this and says that if collecting trains is a Satanists' thing, then that is his religious rosary and that is Satan's Will.

"Satanism and Happiness: 3. The Finding of Happiness in the Points of Life" by Vexen Crabtree (2002)

6. If There Is a God, It Is Evil

The existence of such large quantities of suffering, despair, pain, of natural disasters such as earthquakes, of the death of the unborn and the immense suffering of lovers & kind-hearted people means that god is evil and intentionally creates life in order to create suffering. That all life exists in a food chain means that life is completely tied to death, and such a barbaric biological cycle could only have been made by an evil god. Also, that such a god appears not to exist, or actively hides itself, is a source of confusion, conflict, war and stress and is again more likely the antics of an evil god. Given the state of the natural world, it is impossible that a good god exists. It is more likely that an evil god exists, but, it is sensible to assume that there is no god of either type. Even if there is not a god of either type, as the dominance of death and violence in the natural world, a result of nature being abused by life and not being designed for life, I think the evil symbol of Satan is the best representative of the state of reality and the universe, whether or not an actual evil god exists.

If God did exist and was evil, it would undoubtedly lie and tell everyone it was a good god and that it loved them. It would create maximum confusion by preaching multiple conflicting religions. It would create heaven and make it hard to get to in order to tease and torture people into making their own lives hell. As all of those things happen, if there is a God, it is doing the things an evil God would do!

Once I recognized and accepted this state of affairs and adequately called myself a Satanist, I could concentrate my life on happiness, love, stability and peace. Because I know and understand that death always wins, that life is temporary, I waste no time on short-term whims that reduce my quality of life, or of those around me, and I waste no time with spiritual pipe dreams. Recognizing Satan as the personified meta-figure of reality is self-affirming, life-affirming, positive, honest and clarifying.

"God Must Be Evil (If It Exists): 5. Conclusion" by Vexen Crabtree (2003)

7. Satan is the Anti God

7.1. Satan in World Religions

See: "Satan and The Devil in World Religions" by Vexen Crabtree (2014). The menu of that page is:

7.2. The Opposer of the Gods

God has a weakness. The gods, in total, have a weakness. Their weakness is that they don't exist. The biggest threat to gods and religions is truth. Satan represents truth. Satanists, even LaVeyan Satanists, are the greatest enemies of God. We are not only anti-god in an emotional sense, but we actively worship truth, symbolized by Satan, who is also the enemy of god in a powerfully symbolic sense.

If you read "The Satanic Bible" by Anton LaVey (1969) you will find the list of seventy-seven infernal names preceded by the Four Crown Princes of Hell, including Satan, the rebel. These names come from lots of different cultures and lots of different time periods. They all have one thing in common: They were seen as the primary force working against the dominant Gods within the cultures from which they are taken. The Church of Satan could have been called The Church of Set (Egyptian), The Church Of Shaitan (Islamic), etc, but the most famous adjective to describe our Church is Satan. The accuser, the rebel. Satanism is the unreligion, whose adherents side sternly with the opponents of the concepts of gods in all their forms. Given that the COS is a Western phenomenon, it is only right to adopt a figurehead named in English.

Satanism is a rich and eclectic religion, and our figureheads are diverse and from many cultures. To fully understand what Satan idolizes you cannot rely on merely the imagery of Satan, but on the imagery and doctrines of the Four Crown Princes and the seventy seven infernal names.

8. Righteous Satan Theologies: Satan is True, God is Evil

Some theologies and theories place Satan as a saviour and a defender of righteousness, and the white light God as an evil oppressor. Most common is the acceptance of Satan as a "true" correct symbol used to represent crisp reality, with God as the negative symbol of delusion. Satanic religions hold to this idea even if they lack the actual belief in a real god or Satan. These are common themes in Satanic music, and are also present in nearly all schools of thought that are labelled as Devil Worship. Some ancient Gnostic religions also hold that the good-seeming god is evil, whereas there are other more obscure good forces in life.

"Righteous Satan Theologies: When Satan is Good" by Vexen Crabtree (2002)

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By Vexen Crabtree 2010 Oct 21
(Last Modified: 2014 Feb 04)
Originally published 2000 Jan 01
http://www.dpjs.co.uk/satan.html
Parent page: The Description, Philosophies and Justification of Satanism

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References: (What's this?)

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Anon
Chatto Book of the Devil. Hardback. Anonymous.

Gilmore, Peter. High Priest of the Church of Satan (as of 2001+).
(2007) The Satanic Scriptures. Hardback. Compendium of texts. Published by Scapegoat Publishing, USA. Many essays are new editions of older texts by Gilmore.

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.

Levi, Eliphas
(1860) The History of Magic. Translation and Preface by Arthur Edward Waite, 1971, first edition of Waite translation was 1913. Eliphas Levi is the writing name of Alphonse Louis Constant. Published by Rider & Company, London, UK.

Ling, Trevor
(1997) Buddhism and the Mythology of Evil. Oneworld Publications, Oxford, UK. First published 1962 by George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. (1844-1900)
(1886) Beyond Good and Evil.

Partridge, Christopher
(2004, Ed.) Encyclopedia of New Religions. Hardback. Published by Lion Publishing, Oxford, UK.

Footnotes

  1. Levi (1860) p35.^
  2. LaVey (1969) Book of Lucifer introduction.^
  3. Gilmore (2007) chapter "What, the Devil?" p207-210. Added to this page on 2012 Jan 13.^
  4. Nietzsche (1886) p94.^
  5. Partridge (2004) p336-342.^
  6. Gilmore (2007) essay "Satanism: The Feared Religion" originally published 1992. Gilmore is the High Priest of the Church of Satan. Added to this page on 2007 Sep 23.^

© 2015 Vexen Crabtree. All rights reserved.