Satanism and Satanic Influence
It is a fact – seldomly understood and appreciated – that most individuals follow the creative lead of a few. It is also true that some of this majority absorb the creativity of others and bring it forth again – sometimes slightly altered, to claim as their own, and that this whole majority needs the stimulus of new forms, ideas, and ways, born via a creative genius or two – to vitalize them and begin the process of internal and external change.
The recent history of Satanism gives evidence for this. Various types of Satanism have emerged over the centuries, as have various exponents of it. Historically, Satanism is often taken to be – by those unacquainted with the Left-Hand Path – as Diabolism; that is, the invokation of the Devil and the making of a pact with Him. This evidenced in the medieval Grimoires and in those who were accused of such things. Later, various individuals were regarded as ‘Satanic’ and as teaching a form of Satanism, the most familiar being Crowley. Still later, various organizations emerged, each claiming to be Satanic and each teaching what they regarded as authentic Satanism. The most significant of these are the Church of Satan (Anton LaVey), the Temple of Set (Michael Acquino) and the Order of Nine Angles.
Central to all forms is fear – of the powers, entities invoked. Hence the use of various forms of protection such as ‘circles’. The ‘pact’, so familiar from the grimoires and accounts of Diabolism, was one between a master (the Devil) and a servant (the sorcerer). Implicit in all forms of Grimoire-type Satanism, is the belief (deriving from the Nazarene religion) of Satan as a fallen angel ultimately ruled over by ‘God’- there is always the possibility of being ‘saved’. The archetypical Diabolist was a lapsed or practicing Nazarene, whose conjugations brought excitement and a sense of the ‘forbidden’.
While ‘Thelema’, as a doctrine and belief, is regarded as many non-Occultists as ‘Satanic’, there is very little real Satanism in it, or indeed in Crowley’s own life and works. The work of Crowley is, in many ways, a continuation of the Eastern esoteric groups groups and societies active before and during his own time-a type of Westernized Tantra, heavily imbued with qabalism. The archetypical follower of Crowley is someone versed in Occult doctrines and mysticism, who seeks through sex and other rites certain states of consciousness, and who is oriented toward a belief in Thelema as a new faith/creed.
Church of Satan
The church achieved a high media profile due to the showmanship of LaVey. He expounded a philosophy of unenlightened egotism and self-interest, together with a belief in carnality. The rituals were in the tradition of the grimoires and imbued with qabalistic symbolism/notions (including some deriving from Crowley). Further, the Devil was dispensed with as an external power – making the LaVey type of Satanism more of a practical belief system than a dangerous (in Occult terms) undertaking.
Temple of Set
The Temple of Set was and is, essentially, an intellectual development of the Church of Satan. To the original was added an intellectual infrastructure (deriving in part from various mythologies and traditions) and an organizational structure with the aim of making Satanism a ‘new’ religion, acceptable to a significant number of individuals. Both the Church of Satan and the Temple of Set (The latter more so than the former) insist upon belief in their own version of Satanism – and expect the adherent/member to accept/conform. There is thus a fostering of dependence by the individual upon the group (and in particular, the leader[s] and Master).
Order of Nine Angles
The Order first emerged into public view in the early 1980’s (eh), and basically taught that Satanism was a means to attain self and Occult insight and abilities, and that this could only be done on an individual basis via direct, personal experience.
The archetypical CoS member was a black-robed figure who played a ‘role’, and who placed ego-fulfillment and pleasure before everything. LaVey was accepted as a ‘Master’ and an authority to be revered – and a personality cult developed. The archetypical ToS member is someone who has read a lot of Occult literature, who engages in discussions with others about their beliefs and practices, and who like the charisma and appeal of being a ‘Satanist’. Often they dress for the part – and need a group identity, a sense of ‘belonging’. They also accept Temple authority and are content to let an organization confer advancement upon them (in the form of titles and positions).
The archetypical ONA member is the lone sorcerer/sorceress struggling – via practical (and sometimes dark) experiences toward self-attainment, guided by the teachings of the Order, and by occasional meeting who has gone that way before.
Each of the above manifestations will be considered in turn. But what, then, is Satanism? By what criteria can such a manifestation be judged? First, let us consider what Satanism is not. It is not an acceptance of conventional morality or ways of living; it is not a belief, or a faith which causes a rejection of the the reality (and harshness) of life; it is not a refuge for the failures, the cowards and the weak. Satanism is about pride, an acceptance of individual worth. It is about defiance – challenging the accepted, seeking to know the unknown and seeking to discover, to explore and conquer: a refusal to bow down or give in. It is about excellence – of going beyond what is, in personal terms; of achieving a greater awareness and understanding than the majority. It is a desire to experience the limits of living, to strive for thegods…
Diabolists are insipid, rather pathetic – a historical curiousity only: a footnote in the psycho-pathology of the Nazarene religion. Crowley was a rather under-developed egotist lacking the character to develop real self-insight. He could and did manipulate others, and did possess some Occult powers (intuitively) and some understanding of the Art of Magick. His followers are trapped by the flaws of his system – chief among which, are the self-stupefaction and self-satisfaction (and tus the illusion of development), rather than real self-insight and thus Occult abilities.
CoS members (and to a lesser extent those of the ToS) accept a sanitized Satanism – a ‘safe Satanism’, where the Darkness is said to be only within, where it cannot threaten them. They also are stuck on the bottom rung of Occult understanding – seeing nothing beyond the confines of the ego and the carnal. The ToS claims to go further, but there is little or no practical experience of evil, of the Sinister, of those Dark Forces which are part of the Cosmos – there is instead an an inteelectualizing. There is also no going to extremes in living, no ordeals which challenge (and make) character – no quest for personal excellence. Instead, there is the security of an organization, the acceptance of Temple authority and mandates. In brief, the fostering of a type of mental servitude – in belief and in practice. All these are contrary to what Satanism is.
Only the ONA understands and practices Satanism as it is. insisting that Satanism is about individual self-development in both real and Occult worlds, and that this can only be achieved by long, hard dangerous and toilsome experience. Furthermore, the ONA has exhibited a creativity and an understanding which makes all other manifestations pale into insignificance. Thus, it is not surprising that it has been so influential over the past few years.
This influence has, however, seldom been acknowledged – other groups and individuals often borrowing the teachings, methods and ideas and claiming them as their own, this ‘borrowing’ not being confined to ‘Satanism’ or LHP groups in general. This is both natural and necessary – giventhe sterility of creativity which exists and has existed in such groups, and given the nature of the human species in general, and the Satanic in particular.
The chief contributions of the ONA, toward an understanding of Satanism in particular, and the Occult in general, may be described:
1. Satanism and LHP as a means to individual development, leading to Adeptship and beyond – via practical experience and ordeals (qv. the grade rituals).
2. The emphasis on developing both the mental and physical character of the individual.
3. A greater understanding of Magickal (and Occult) forces – and thus their nature – via the development of the concepts of causal and acausal, and an abstract system to represent this, enabling conscious apprehension (as opposed to belief and superstition).
4. The re-structuring of magickal symbols and forms in archetypical terms – in particular the Septenary Tree of Wyrd and the Deofel Quintet (the latter explicating the archetypical, particularly in the ‘real world’ from the viewpoint of the Sinister Novice).
5. The creation of a Sinister Tarot whose images are Sinister, and thus imbued with Satanic energy.
6. Revealing and significantly extending Aeonic Magick – enabling any individual to undertake such works.
7. The emphasis on an individual Initiate working alone and achieving practical goals – without accepting in a religious way a higher authority – and making this achievable by all via the publication of practical guides to all aspects of Satanism (Naos, Codex Saerus, Sacraentum Sinistrum, Thernn, etc.).
8. Bringing an awareness of the Dark Gods – of the Sinister energies/forces which exist and which have been symbolized by ‘Satan’/the Devil…
9. An emphasis of the personal qualities – the character – of a Satanist, enshrined in the concepts of Excellence, Honour, and the motto “die, rather than submit to anyone or anything”.
10. A re-affirmation of the positive, life-enhancing nature of Satanism as opposed to the stereotypical image of obsession with with death and decay – a movingaway from the image/role of the Satanist as a showman-type ‘Devil’/Mephisto figure obsessed with with carnality and pandering to his or her own weaknesses, and seeking media attention, toward the secretly-working lone sorcerer/sorceress concerned with their own development and works of esoteric Sinister Magick…
A perusal of literature, statements and other such causal forms by other groups and individuals, since the manifestation of the ONA, will show the extent of its influence – of how, in a subtle way, such individuals and groups have been changed by a Sinister organization. Such changes, and such influence, will grow, although it may well go unnoticed by all save the few genuine Adepts.
-Order of Nine Angles-