In the beginning there was nothing. What a grand way to begin! Nothing says “authority” like starting at the very beginning.
In the beginning there was nothing. Can you imagine it? Of course you can’t. For imagination to happen, there has to be an imaginer: you. Which means there is not nothing. There is still you.
In the beginning there was nothing. When you try to imagine it, you conjure up an image of being without distinction. No demarcation lines between “this” and “that”, no boundaries between “foreground” and “background”, nothing to identify as a thing that can be distinguished from that which is not that thing. It is what you might call “Void”.
Only you can’t call it “Void”. By giving it a name you are creating a category: a distinction, a label. When you assign a name you designate the subject of that name as a Named Thing, and therefore not nothing. So let’s pretend that it has some kind of unpronounceable name, some kind of taboo name. The very first act of creation, then, is your action of creating a category, a name.
In the beginning was the Word. This is the start of your own creation story: not in the historical sense, but in the philosophical sense. How do you create the universe you live in? What are the basic building-blocks of your world view? Choose whatever you like: it’s your universe, after all. Your basic building blocks may be atoms or logical axioms, beliefs or goals, relationships or moral priorities. They may be a combination of all of these things. That is your philosophical beginning, a foundation on which you can build the entire structure of your universe.
The United Aspects of Satan is a religion, but it doesn’t outline “The Way It Is” with pomp and authority. We start with the idea that everybody builds a unique personal worldview. Your worldview is made up of every aspect of the universe that you live in and experience: from the personal to the social, from moral to metaphysical, from pragmatic to ideological. It is something you create with your assumptions, your experiences, your values, and your will. And like anything you create, you should be constantly working to hone and improve it. This is just as true for your personal philosophy as it is for your professional accomplishments or your relationships. You are the one in charge, and you should never cede control over your worldview to anyone or anything else. Certainly not to a religion.
In the beginning was an Idea. The United Aspects of Satan represents a loose collection of philosophical building-blocks. Some values, some metaphysical axioms, and some basic methods for how to approach life and the world around you. It ties these ideas together with a set of symbols–the personas of the eight demonized gods–that can help you to apply the philosophy in concrete, real-world situations.
The United Aspects of Satan doesn’t have followers. There is a difference between being a follower, and being a traveler who notices when others happen to be walking in the same direction. Satanism isn’t a religion you convert to: that implies that you’re changing your world-view to fit the needs of the group. Satanism is a religion that you already have inside you. When you read about the building block ideas at the core of the United Aspects of Satan, you may find that you were already walking that same path, even if you didn’t use the same symbols or words. You may say to yourself, “That’s the philosophy I came up with myself! That is what I already believe!”
How will you know if you’re a Satanist?
In the beginning was an Idea. So it’s time to begin.
[This essay was originally published as the introduction to The Little Black Book, available for free through the United Aspects of Satan website.]