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[Chalice] Christians and Pagans [Chalice]
and Satan, Oh My!

Presented February 20, 2000 by Paul Miller

How did I end up doing this talk, anyway? Maybe because we Pagans are so often falsely accused of being Satanists. I've never been to a black mass, or associated with practicing Satanists as far as I know. With the exception of a conversation with one ex-Satanist-turned -Pagan, my learning on the subject is pretty much from books rather than from personal experience.

I will share with you what little I know about Satanism , and compare it to the religions I know the most about, Christianity and Paganism, which the Satanist scornfully calls "white light religions". So now that we have established my qualifications, which are minimal, here we go . . .

What is a Satanist?

There seem to be as many kinds of Satanists as kinds of Christians. In every religion, there are fundamentalists who believe anyone not of their particular sect is a Satanist. Every religion has been accused of being in cahoots with the Devil. We Pagans, in particular, are oft thus accused by fundamentalist Christians, who, being blessed with knowledge of the Holt Spirit, have no inclination, or perhaps no capacity to learn about other religions. They know all about "them Paganists goin' to the Church of Satan in the Woods". Indeed, they should know all about Satan, as he is a Christian deity, not a Pagan one, and as far as we Pagans are concerned, The Christians can have him.

Kinds of Satanism:

Gothic Satanism is the profoundly evil religion popular in the middle ages. The Catholic Church has published many authoritative works on this religion, such as the Malleus Malificarum, the standard textbook and instruction manual for the inquisition.

Gothic Satanism includes such practices as selling one's soul to the devil, desecrating Christian icons, ritual infanticide, and copulating with demons. It is also completely fictitious. It was invented by the Christian church as a means to control and dispose of anyone they didn't like.

During the inquisition, or the burning times, as we Pagans call it. Thousands, or maybe millions, of people, mostly women, confessed to practicing this forbidden religion, which did not exist. It was, of course heresy to deny its existence. I have little doubt that if subjected to interrogation by the inquisitors, even the Apostles Peter and Paul would have confessed to worshiping the Devil. I am not the first to suggest this, of course. The first guy to say it was also burned at the stake along with the other heretics and witches.

If, indeed, Satan was involved in the inquisition, it was the Christian Church doing the Devil's work.

Satanic Dabblers: These are usually rebellious teenagers seeking an alternative to the status quo, or sometimes heavy metal rock bands seeking notoriety. These pseudo-Satanists, or devil-wanna-be's, use ritual instructions from the Satanic Bible, sometimes combined with ideas from Hollywood thrillers and Christian propaganda. They may gather for a black mass, put a curse on the high school principal, and paint some Satanic graffiti. Fortunately, it is usually a passing fad, which they quickly outgrow. They wear pentacles, but neither Pagans nor mainstream Satanists want anything to do with them.

Bad Guys: Then there are some really bad actors; psycho-killers and such, who claim to be under Satan's control so as to justify their crimes. Most Pagans and most Satanists don't buy the excuse "the Devil made me do it". I don't care if Satan told you to run your family through the vegematic. It's still your karma, buddy, and you're responsible.

Church of Satan:

Now, what I really came to talk about is the so- called religious Satanists: the mainstream of Satanism. The biggest denomination is the Church of Satan, founded by Anton Szandor Lavey in San Francisco in 1966. In 1969 he published his manifesto, the Satanic Bible.

It is a most interesting philosophical book, with a sufficient variety of blasphemies to offend even the most casual Christian or Pagan. It even offended me at times, and that's an accomplishment. I agreed with parts of it, too. When LaVey lambastes conservative religious dogma, I often thought, "yeah, by Lucifer, that's right!" It also contains practical nuts-and-bolts instructions on working magic, much of which applies to green witchcraft, or white magic, as well as black magic.

The Satanic Bible starts not with 10 commandments, but with 9 Satanic statements. Satanists really like the number 9; maybe because it's one removed from Jehovah's perfect 10. Let's compare them to Christian and Pagan beliefs.

The 9 Satanic statements are:

1. "Satan represents indulgence, instead of abstinence."
Satanists take pride in being the ultimate party animals. We Pagans also dearly love our cakes and ale, and other earthly pleasures. The Wiccan charge of the Goddess says, "All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals." Everyone agrees there are times for abstinence, but I think a little indulgence is good for the soul. Score one for the Satanists.

2. "Satan represents vital existence, instead of spiritual pipe dreams. Life is the great indulgence - death the great abstinence. Therefore make the most of life here and now! There is no heaven of glory bright, and no hell where sinners roast. Here and now is our day of torment. Here and now is our day of joy! Here and now is our opportunity! Choose ye this day, this hour, for no redeemer liveth!"
To a Satanist, life is a party, so party hearty until the lights go out. To the Christians, if I may be so presumptuous as to speak for them, life is more like being in school. If we behave ourselves, and pass the final exam, we graduate to pursue a rapturous career as a blessed soul in heaven. To Pagans, life is more like life. This is our heaven, and our hell, made more like heaven by living close to our Mother the Earth Goddess.

3. "Satan represents undefiled wisdom, instead of hypocritical self deceit"
I agree. My spiritual path is a search for knowledge and wisdom. If we want to believe something, it is all too easy to indulge in self-deceit. Christians and Pagans and Satanists all do it. Doubt is the seed of wisdom. When we are most sure of ourselves, it is easiest to deceive ourselves. Thus, the fundamentalist in any religion is the most likely victim of self-deceit. Anton LaVey sounds like a satanic fundamentalist to me.

4. "Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it, instead of love wasted on ingrates."
Jesus says, "Love your enemies for even a hypocrite loves his brother." I haven't the goodness in me to love my enemies, but often the best you can do, as a wise Pagan friend of mine says, is "Kiss 'em on the forehead and set 'em in the light."

5. "Satan represents vengeance, instead of turning the other cheek"
Here's a nice meaty topic for discussion. The Satanic bible is loaded with vengeance. Satanism is a wonderful religion for somebody who really enjoys being pissed off. If you'll open your bible to the "Book of Satan - the Infernal Diatribe" Chapter III, Verses 7-9, it says:

"Hate your enemies with a whole heart, and if a man smite you on one cheek, SMASH him on the other! Smite him hip and thigh! For self- preservation is the highest law!
"He who turns the other cheek is a cowardly dog!
"Give him blow for blow, scorn for scorn, doom for doom - with compound interest liberally added thereunto! Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, aye four-fold, a hundred fold! Make yourself a terror to your adversary, and when he goeth his way, he will possess much additional wisdom to ruminate over. Thus shall you make yourself respected in all walks of life, and your spirit, your immortal spirit- shall live, not in an intangible paradise, but in the brains and sinews of those whose respect you have gained."

-Whew! It gets worse, but I'll stop there.

Neopaganism teaches to do no harm. Of course, if I have to kill a robber to prevent him from killing me, I will. Self-defense is not vengeance. Justice is not vengeance. Vengeance is contrary to both true Christianity and Neopaganism.

Vengeance can serve as a deterrent, but more often it leads to a vicious cycle of compound revenge. Therefore, I must doubt Mr. Lavey's wisdom on this point.

Ever mind the law of 3-fold return. That is, Wiccans believe whatever we do, good or bad, returns to us times 3.

Jesus says turn the other cheek, even if fire-breathing Christian evangelists have forgotten. Here's one last reading on the topic of vengeance:

"By the rivers of Babylon, where we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion… …Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem: who said Raze it, raze it, even to the foundation thereof. O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be , that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us Happy shall he be that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones."

That's not from the Satanic Bible. It's from the King James Version, Psalm 137.

6. "Satan represents responsibility to the responsible, instead of concern for psychic vampires"
I say "Kiss 'em on the forehead, and set 'em in the light"

7. "Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than most that walk on all fours, who, because of his 'divine spiritual and intellectual development' has become the most vicious animal of all!"

"Man, the animal, is the godhead to the Satanist. The purest form of carnal existence reposes in the bodies of animals and human children who have not grown old enough to deny themselves their natural desires. Therefore, the Satanist holds these beings in sacred regard."

This supposedly, is the basis for the Satanist rule to never hurt small children, and not to hurt an animal, except for food or in self-defense. It should be perfectly clear that the Church of Satan does not condone animal or child sacrifice. I agree with kindness to kids and critters, but not because I admire their selfish satanic nature. We are the animals capable of contemplating the consequences of our actions. And, thanks to the serpent in the Garden of Eden, we know the difference between good and evil. We are the responsible adults of the animal kingdom. We should be better than the other animals, and teach our children such.

8. "Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification."
Isn't this a repeat of the first statement? Well, it just wouldn't do to have only 8 satanic statements, would it? I agree that pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth can all be good things sometimes. It is compulsion and excess that destroy the perpetrator. Know when to say when.

9. "Satan has been the best friend the Christian church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years."
Sure, why else would the Christian Church have promoted Satan so enthusiastically? Pagans have no Satan or any manifestly evil God in our pantheon. I should also point out that the Christian Satan and the Satanic Satan aren't the same guy either. To the Church of Satan, He is not literally an evil spirit, a fallen angel, the cause of all misery on Earth. They don't believe in a supreme sentient spirit being. To them, Satan is a metaphor for the dark side of human nature. There are other satanic denominations, such as the Temple of Set, who do believe in gods in the traditional sense.

So, how similar are Pagans and Satanists? Kinda, but not really. We both rebel against conservative religious dogma. I've even said unkind things about the religious right myself. We both celebrate pleasures of the flesh, but that is not our highest goal. Satanism is patriarchal. Paganism honors the God and Goddess equally, with the Goddess being often more equal than the God. Satanism promotes anger and revenge. Paganism does not.

I'm told that many Satanists are really nice guys, but Satanism tends to attract angry, bitter, frustrated men who want to reclaim their rightful place as masters of the Earth. They say, "Blessed are the strong for they shall possess the Earth. Cursed are the weak for they shall inherit the yoke." Mostly, it's a religion for skinheads.

Satanism is a religion of the flesh, and not of the spirit. You could argue it's not really a religion, but just a black magicians' guild. (As some say Unitarianism isn't a religion, it's a book club.) The Satanist icon is not an inverted crucifix, but rather an inverted pentagram. This confuses Christians to no end, so let me explain. A pentagram is a 5-pointed star, often inside a circle. Four of the points represent the physical elements; earth, air, fire, and water. The fifth point represents spirit. Satanists put the fifth point on the bottom, because the spiritual is less important to them than the physical. Satanism is a religion of the flesh.

The Pagan pentagram usually has the fifth point up, as our religion emphasizes the spirit. That's why my copy of the Satanic Bible sits upside-down on the shelf, so the pentagrams printed therein point up.

©2000 Paul Miller

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article:
Miller, Paul. 2000. Christians and Pagans and Satan, Oh My!, (accessed July 7, 2020).

The Quincy Unitarian Church Home Page.
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