Note: If you have been following my work for any amount of time, you know that I do, in fact, consider myself a Satanist. I’ve written a great deal on the subject, and you can read that wealth of information by following the Satanism category. If this is the first time you are encountering my work, I suggest exploring that category so you will (hopefully) be less confused.
Despite my self identification of Satanist, I don’t leave the church. Many of my dearest friends are devout Christians, I still interview Christians, I still review Christian books, and I still work at a church (which shall remain nameless, so they don’t get hate mail about me.) Why?
(A caveat: I speak only for myself. Not other Satanists or the Satanic Temple.)
I don’t see my Satanism as anti-Christian.
Rather, I see my Satanism as post-Christian. It is a derivative of Christianity, but not necessarily opposed to it. I see myself as opposed to unjust and undue authority, and there is plenty of that within Christianity, and without. This allows plenty of room within healthy Christianity for me to explore and have community.
I understand that this is hard for many Christians to understand. Why take on the label of Satanist if you are not opposed to the (metaphorical) Christ and all his works? The answer is because, quite simply, not everything is about you. The label of Satanist is, by and large, not for religious conservatives to get furious over, but it is for us, the Satanists. We have our own communities, our own potlucks, our own picnics, our own podcasts, our own places of ritual, with no Christians present. I’m a Satanist because I love the symbolic representation of Satan as the unbowed will and icon of the outsider, not because I love pissing off Christians.
Because I reject false binaries.
As I’ve already been screeching about for months now, religion vs. atheism is a needless and painful false binary. I want to encourage all religious communities to be more open to nontheism, because I think it is how the deeply religious, like myself, will more readily embrace skepticism. This holds true for Christianity, and I see no reason why I can’t be a nontheist who occasionally enjoys going to church. I also think my presence there can encourage more openness towards nontheism.
Rejecting false binaries is also a central practice of my Satanism. One of my favorite Satanic images is that of Baphomet, originally illustrated by the occultist Eliphas Levi.
In this illustration, we see a western occult representation of the Yin and Yang: the union and reconciliation of opposites. Within the image we have masculine and feminine features, angelic and demonic, and the mudra pointing up and down. This symbol is a reminder to me to reject the false binary of Christendom vs. Outsiderdom. I still cherish much of my Christian heritage, even as I reject its horrific abuses. Satanism helps me embrace the full complexity of my Christian experience, helping me understand that I need not throw the baby out with the bath water. The snake did, after all, offer Adam and Eve knowledge of good *and* evil. Therefore, I must acknowledge good and evil wherever I see it.
Satan is also the great trespasser, and in this way I, too, am trespassing. I consider it sacred to trespass societal boundaries, while others will no doubt see it as a defilement. In my Satanic practice I choose to remain within Christian community because this is how I embrace my own life as Baphomet, representing within my very being the reconciliation of opposites.
Because it is healthy to flow between different symbolic structures.
Religious words and symbols are not absolute. They don’t correspond to any objective reality. The symbol of Satan within modern Satanism is a radically different being from the Satan of Christianity. So too with God, church, and any other religious word or symbol. Rather than get trapped within a single, brittle symbolic framework, I find it healthy and challenging to move fluidly between different constructs.
The Satan of Christianity is the representation of all evil and horror. The God of Christianity is the Ground of Being, ultimate reality. Satan within modern Satanism is a symbol with no objective reality, who represents the never-ending struggle for justice and enlightenment against undue authority. God, in this orchestration, is not the ground of being but a despotic tyrant, representing unjust authority on earth. The two symbolic structures could not be more different, and one is not more “true” than the other. It is a fun exercise in mental flexibility to move between communities who hold opposing views of the same symbols.
Because we need each other
Christians need Satanists, and society needs heretics. And, more to the point, I need you – to point out my blind spots, to break down false boundaries, to choose to overcome your (and my) prejudices to fight for a better world.
Because it’s fun
Here is, I think, the primary reason I and just about everyone else engages in (healthy) religious practice: it’s fun. I think it’s fun to be what I am. It’s fun to learn from others, explore religious symbolism, and be an ecumenical slut. And Satanism is the most fun of all. And why is that not, in itself, sufficient excuse?
Love my work and want to support it? Please consider becoming a patron so I can continue to bring you interesting content every week. Also, don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list so you don’t miss another podcast, blog post, or cat picture.