In fact, you might be one and not even know it.
Do me a favour, would you? Close your eyes for a minute and tell me what you think about when I say the word: Satan. Did you picture a red fiend with horns, a pointy tail and a pitchfork? Or did you, imagine a specific figure, say, an angry, orange old man, like several Twitter users during the 2016 US Presidential elections? Irrespective of whatever (or whomever) you thought of, it must have been a terrible, ugly monster, someone who is the embodiment of all that is evil and cruel. In that case, allow me to clear some misconceptions you might have about him.
For starters, the Devil is far easier on the eyes than what the Church leads us to believe (See the statue of Le génie du mal).
Many believe that the fabled serpent in the Garden of Eden story, who provoked Eve to eat the forbidden fruit and thus, teaching man about good and evil, was in fact, Satan. He’s often compared with the Greek titan, Prometheus, who was banished by Zeus for introducing fire to mankind. Satan is also known as “Lucifer” which literally means “bearer of light”. Satan stands as a symbol of pride, passion and liberty.
This is exactly what today’s LaVeyan Satanists believe in. Started by Anton LaVey in 1966, the Church of Satan is an atheist body who don’t revere Satan himself, but what he stands for. Simply put, they believe in being their own person, rejecting herd mentality and valuing the genius in people. Satanist philosophy finds its roots in the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Ayn Rand, H.P. Lovecraft and many more. It’s less of Devil-worshipping and more of worshipping yourself.
Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t condone animal or human sacrifice, theft, rape or child abuse. In reality, the Eleven Commandments of Satanism specifically admonish unwarranted violence towards animals and children, and sexual harassment, something the Bible itself overlooks. It encourages its followers to be inquisitive and open-minded. As a matter of fact, Satanist Ashley Palmer told the Independent, “Satanism aligns with the scientific discoveries of evolutionary biology, and recognises that the natural world is stratified, exceptional talent and genius is rare, and the universe doesn’t care.”
However, this isn’t what most of the people know Satanism as. The mass Satanic Panic in the 1980s and 90s was a dark time in American history, which in a way, was the repeat of the Salem Witch Hunt — replete with ritualistic murders, animal sacrifices, prostitution rings and false accusations that led to public distrust and mania.
Yet, this is another instance of violent cults deliberately twisting and misusing an ideology for their own vile benefits (think: ISIS). The base of Satanism still lies in individualism and non-conformity, while respecting others’ ideas and beliefs.
So, if you believe in these principles, I’m afraid, you, my friend, are a Satanist.