The sickening belief in divine intervention

“I had a student in my class,” she said, “whose father worked in the World Trade Center. And on September 11th, when the school made the announcement about what happened, all of the kids were in shock. But she just started crying and crying. And we spent all day trying to call and find out about her daddy, but of course we couldn’t get through.”

The woman, a now retired school teacher, was telling this story to a small group of us this afternoon. We had been discussing tragedies, and our memories of where we were during great events in history.

“Now, her father had worked there for 30 years, and had never missed a day of work in his life. But the day before, on Monday September 10th, he had been feeling really sick, and he picked up some Nyquil on the way home from work. He took it that night. He wasn’t even planning on taking the next day off of work. But he took the Nyquil, and he slept through the alarm, right into the afternoon. He had never missed a day of work in his life, but he missed that day. He had no idea what had happened. We finally got in touch with him at 5:30 pm. He was still at home, feeling sick. He had no idea what had happened.”

“That’s just amazing,” a man replied.

“Can you imagine? He’d never been out sick, never even taken a vacation, but on that day…..” she said, letting her voice trail off wistfully.

“Well, I’ll tell you: that’s divine intervention, right there!” the man announced.

I said nothing.

…but this is what I thought:


Are you saying God chose to intervene in the natural course of human history in this specific moment, and “saved” exactly 1 man while allowing almost 3000 other people to die?

Are you saying that every single one of those 3000 were less deserving of life than this girl’s father?  That the feelings of loss of the young daughters and sons of the 3000 others did not matter enough to warrant God bending the normal natural rules of time and space….. but only the feelings of this one girl did?

Everyone has xir own definition of “god”, and while I roll my eyes at all of them, some of them are at least palatable.  The “blind watchmaker” God who sets the universe in motion at the beginning of time and then refuses to intervene, for example, is a weird contrivance for whom there is no evidence… but at least he’s not an asshole.

The God that this man believes in is a cruel disgusting sociopath who makes a point of reaching into his creation to save a single life while destroying thousands of others. For absolutely no reason.

I didn’t say anything, but I was thinking: The fact that you would choose to believe in such a God is perverted. By raising one person’s good fortune onto some kind of pedestal you are telling the entire rest of the world: Fuck you. In that moment, you weren’t important enough. God was there for someone; God was not there for you.

So when you see a Satanist who seems angry about religion, or angry about God, remember this story. I can’t speak for all Satanists, of course. And not all Satanists are angry. But if you’re ever asking yourself, “Gosh, why is it that some Satanists seem so filled with hatred towards God?” just remember this story.

If a Satanist expresses hatred for someone’s perception of God, there is a good chance it is because that person’s God is hateful.

This is how I reacted to “Have a blessed day”

I was driving in the parking lot of the grocery store looking for a place to park. As I was rolling past a large SUV, I noticed the space beyond it was empty. I almost noticed too late. But I took the tight turn, and pulled into the space. I turned off my car, opened the door, and got out.

“I almost got you there, brother!” came the cheery man’s voice. He had just gotten out of the SUV. “I nearly clipped you with my door!”

“Oh, goodness, I’m sorry…. I didn’t even see you!”  I said, immediately apologetic.

“No, no, it’s fine! I pulled back in time. The Lord was watching over us, so everything turned out ok!”

For a millisecond, my smile was frozen on my face while I tried to decide what to say next.

I went with: “Well, I’m happy for your reflexes! It’s amazing all these little near-misses that happen every day, huh?”

“The Lord is protecting us in ways we don’t even realize!” he suggested.

At this point we were walking side-by-side, both obviously going to the grocery store, so we had no choice but to spend the next 20-30 seconds of our lives together.

“It’s a beautiful day out!” I said.

“It sure is,” he replied, “And it’s supposed to stay that way the rest of the week!”

“Is it? That’s wonderful!” I opined, “And people are saying it will be a mild summer, as well.”

“Lord willing!” was his reply.

We reached the entrance to the store.  He started to walk in, and I paused to pick up a basket. As the distance between us grew, I called out in parting: “Have a great day!”

“Have a blessed day!” he replied with a smile. Again, there was a millisecond pause where I considered how to reply… but then the moment was past, the opportunity was lost. He was gone.

A part of me felt bad, like I had missed a perfect chance! Something simple, like a parting, “Hail Satan!” — spoken with a genuine pleasant smile, of course.

I played out that scenario in my imagination. How would he have reacted? There is no way of knowing for sure. Fear, anger, and attempt to get into a philosophical debate? Who knows. Perhaps he would simply have laughed, thinking it was a joke.

Would he have recognized that I was mirroring his own behavior: offering a pleasant parting remark, in soothing tones and with a smile? Would he have seen my “Hail Satan” as the exact functional equivalent, socially and psychologically, of his “Have a blessed day”, except expressed through the language of a different symbolic system? Would he then have taken the comment in the spirit in which it was intended, and smiled in return?

That is what I did in my response to him. I could have said, “What God?” or elaborated more specifically: “I don’t believe in God.”  But I understood how he meant his remarks, I felt instinctively that he meant me no ill will. So I replied to what I thought his underlying intent was, rather than to his words.

Would he have done the same for me, if I had wished him a parting, “Ave Satanas”?

Oh come on!” the skeptic might reply, “You know darn well how people will react to Hail Satan!  The only reason you could have for saying that is to provoke! Don’t try to pretend your ‘Hail Satan’ would be just as innocent as his ‘have a blessed day’.”

But this is the real root of the issue. Being a Satanist, there is literally no way for me to use a “phrase of blessing” that is true to my own religion without also being aware that it is a confrontational act. If you want to openly be a Satanist in today’s world, you are forced to embrace the aspect of Ba’al. You cannot simply be.

For a Satanist, some acts are simultaneously sincere expressions of deeply-held feelings, and at the same time are also acts of defiance. Like an interracial couple holding hands in public in the 1930’s, saying “hail Satan” is not just one or the other. It is both.

Today, my opportunity was lost. I took the higher road that I never expect others to take. And the man I met has no idea of the path the conversation could have taken. Maybe some day he will feel what it is like to be on the other side of that equation. Maybe some day he will have to pause for a millisecond to think about how he should react, when someone smiles and with a genuine open heart says,

Hail Satan!

True Satanism

I’ve heard enough about “real” and “true” Satanism lately that I’ve decided to share my thoughts on the matter. I find it somewhat amusing that, among different branches of a religious philosophy that claims to promote individuality and freedom of thought, there is so much passion for the establishment of an orthodoxy to which all members must fervently follow.

When considering the lingering effects of the Satanic Panic and the public’s general fear and distrust of all things Satanic, I can understand why many Satanists would want to promote some kind of standard to show that Satanists aren’t out to sacrifice everyone’s pets and cannibalize their children. It also makes sense that, when someone does something horrible in the name of Satan, other Satanists would want to distance themselves from the person and his or her behavior.

I can also understand those who, as a reaction to efforts to make Satanism more “palatable” to the masses, feel as though the baby is being thrown out with the bath water. There are good conversations to have about drawing the distinction between not being a serial-raping baby cannibal yet not being a sappy little goody-two-shoes.

Too bad the True Satanists out there aren’t having any of those conversations.

I’m talking about the Satanists who feel the need to call out others for being “pretentious,” then lock themselves away in their ritual chambers and presume to affect the universe with their magical powers. I’m not going to say that these people aren’t Satanists, thus avoiding the No True Scotsman fallacy, but I will say that for these people to call themselves “real” or “true” is a bit of a stretch, as their esoteric meanderings denote a distinct detachment from reality and truth. As I believe that my variation of Satanism helps me to deal with the real world as it truly exists, not as I would like to pretend that it is during my Harry Potter cosplay sessions, I feel like I at least practice a variation that is more real and true than theirs.

“True Satanist” is a title. How funny that those who seek to claim it are usually the first ones to decry the descriptive and functional titles of other Satanic organizations. If you’re going to claim that someone hasn’t “earned” a title yet call yourself a “True Satanist,” it would at least make sense for you to be somewhat interested in truth, reason, skepticism, and the elimination of, rather than the proliferation of, woo and bullshit.

Hail Truth! Hail Satan!

How to Make a Deal with the Devil

Once you become an outspoken Satanist, it is amazing how many people will approach you and ask how they can make deals with the Devil. When it happens to me, I usually tell them, “You can’t make a deal with the Devil, because the Devil doesn’t exist.” Then I explain to them that as an atheistic Satanist, I see the Devil as a metaphorical construct that represents my values, not a deity to be worshiped or a demon with whom to make pacts.

It usually goes right over their heads, which is fine: once their infatuation with the Devil is over, I expect them to try to make deals with someone or something else. The greatest trick that superstition ever pulled was in convincing the world that there are shortcuts to growth and self-empowerment.

Those who are familiar with some of my other writings know that in the place of magic, I practice something I like to call “persistent effort towards a well-defined goal.” This is not to say that I do not engage in ritual, because the act of devising my goals and writing them down on paper is, itself, a ritual. Neither do I really have to write them down, I suppose, as long as I have decided what they are, but actually seeing the words written down on paper is satisfying to me, because it makes my thoughts appear to be more “concrete” or “real.”

However, there are no occult forces in play. The words I create are just words until I put forth the effort to bring my desires into reality. There is no connection between my intentions and the greater universe. Things Above are not connected to those Below, except by coincidence or wishful thinking.

To those who define magic as “changes in consciousness,” I shall say that doing practically anything causes changes in consciousness, but unless you put yourself in a state of consciousness that actually motivates you to do something, changing your consciousness isn’t a particularly useful or special act. The one thing you won’t find in a book of the occult is the notion that everything you do after you’ve made up your mind, rather than the process you follow in order to make up your mind, is what has the power to create change.

Your Will is the information that travels through your nervous system and results in the un-assing of your seat. It is not a thing that you should childishly enshrine as some kind of special being. I can imagine the number of disgruntled Satanic Witches and Warlocks who are attempting to angrily shoot their beams of Will at me for making such a statement, and I can say that I am experiencing a change of consciousness as a result of that idea: I am becoming amused.

My variation of Satanism has no place for magic and superstition, for I view skepticism and reason as the definitive traits of the Aspect of Lucifer. I know this outlook will likely be disappointing to those who aspire to unlock special, spooky powers of the occult, but if it’s any consolation, I have some really great news:

You are going to die. One day, you will stop breathing, your heart will stop pumping blood, and you will die. I mean deader than dogshit, too. You’re going to be dead as fuck.

If that doesn’t give you a surge of empowerment, then you really haven’t yet come to terms with your own mortality. I encourage you to do so, because once you internalize the fact that your time is limited, you will want to spend less of it muttering nonsense by candlelight, with the hopes of causing changes to your consciousness.

If you want to make a deal with the Devil, this is the deal that I suggest you make: To learn, to aspire, to seize the day, and to let nothing stop you, not even yourself. Dispense with self-deceit and foolishness. There is no power greater than the combination of knowledge and effort.

Hail Satan!

On the Pretense of Power

The universe is not an ATM for wishes. It has no interest in manifesting your desires, no matter how often you pretend to project your psychic beams of hopefulness into it.

The path of the Adversary should not lead you to the same delusions as the faithful. You exist in a universe that is entirely indifferent to your being, except for those times when the universe is merciless. To experience reality as it truly exists, you must cast aside any notions of intercession by benevolent forces.

If it hasn’t happened already, you will one day find yourself in a situation that cannot readily be wished away. What good will your illusions of occult power be then? Better to get rid of your illusions now, before you realize only too late that what you thought was magic was mere confirmation bias and placebo.

I will trade all of the imaginary power in the world to walk in the Luciferian light of truth. I will see my existence as it truly is, my strengths and weaknesses exposed and undeniable. Only then may I act in a way that will cause me to have an effect on my circumstances.

The Adversary is the enemy of falsehoods, even falsehoods that bring comfort and pleasure. Do not settle for the pretense of power, when goal-setting and goal-striving can bring to you the real thing. Let the believers live in their world of shadows, while the shadows flee before the light of Lucifer.

May the light of Lucifer shine upon us all. Hail Satan!

My religious relationship with the Easter Bunny

I do not worship the Easter Bunny. I want to state that clearly from the very beginning, so that there is no confusion. But I do consider bunnies the most important symbol of Easter,  with specific religious significance for Satanism.

Peeps BunniesThe Bunny represents the triumph of the secular over the mystical. Christians still like to tell themselves that Easter is about some kind of weird deal where God bribes Satan, but let’s get real: in America in the twenty-first century, Easter is a widely-celebrated cultural phenomenon that has almost nothing to do with Jesus. It is about consumerism and candy and spring time.  It is about wearing pastels and showing a little skin after a long winter. It is a celebration of the material world, physical transformations of spring, and indulgence in pleasures. The perfect Satanic holiday, all centered on the glorious Bunny.

And as a Satanist, I enjoy subverting cultural norms an expectations. I enjoy taking symbols with one expected meaning, and turning them around to present them as something else. To get people to question their expectations, and move people out of their comfort zones. So for me, the truly iconic Satanist symbol for Easter is…. the Evil Bunny.

We can find the Evil Bunny in many places in pop culture.

Evil rabbit from Watership Down One of my favorite Evil Bunnies appears in the classic animated not-so-much-for-children movie Watership Down: a story all about rabbits. It features a fearsome “bad guy” rabbit, General Woundwort: battle-scarred, vicious, a military dictator of his warren. He’s basically a rabbit version of Hitler.

Frank, from Donnie DarkoThe movie Donnie Darko features a bunny that is not so much evil as ominous. A mysterious creature that looks like a terrifying half-skull rabbit creature appears to Donnie in a vision and tells him when the universe will end!  The creature, named Frank, imparts strange bits of wisdom to Donnie every time he appears. Is it a creature? Is it a person in a scary bunny suit? How can we know for sure?

Donnie: Why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?
Frank: Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?

And of course, there was a running joke throughout the series Buffy The Vampire Slayer that one of the characters (who was formerly a demon) had a fear of bunnies. She even sings a song about them:

“Bunnies aren’t just cute like everybody supposes. They got them hoppy legs and twitchy little noses, and what’s with all the carrots? What do they need such good eyesight for anyway?”

All of this convinces me that the Easter Bunny–or perhaps a nice evil version of the Easter Bunny–is the perfect Satanic religious symbol for this holiday.

Which movie or television show featuring an Evil Bunny will you watch this Easter?

The Myth of the Myth of the Satanic Community

The idea of a Satanic community is only a “myth” to those who lack emotional intelligence and common sense. Those Satanists who can rise above their elitist myopia long enough to make nice and gain the friendship of others are truly masters of one of life’s most important skills: not being a fucking douchebag.

In fact, so many possibilities open up for the non-douchebags of the world–personal, professional, and romantic possibilities–that a self-aware person would puzzle over what anyone could ever hope to gain from acting like a snobby little shit in the first place.

As we Satanists search for the best ideas, separating the wheat from the chaff, let us spare the misanthropic malcontents among us none of the ridicule that they rightfully deserve. For in their devaluation of others, they also devalue themselves, leaving themselves only to hold up hollow accomplishments as “proof” of their supposed superiority. What they lack in their ability to touch others’ hearts and minds, they try make up for with… stuff. They trade the ability to inspire for the ability to acquire, and they are all the poorer for doing so.

A wise person knows that the ability to see value in others, and to help others increase their value, will inevitably benefit him or her to a greater extent than his or her singular efforts ever could. There is a difference between self-interest and selfishness, though a fool will always conflate the two. One who is motivated by self-interest would naturally not want to be treated like an asshole, and one of the best ways to accomplish that feat is to not act like one, to not hold oneself in such high esteem that he or she cannot be surprised by or learn something new from other people of any walk of life.

Some have posited that Satanists would not get along with one another in a community setting, because of each Satanist’s fierce individuality. However, individuality is not a factor in how well one can get along with others. The ability to get along with others is determined by one’s level of maturity and his or her emotional intelligence. Humility, the asset that an immature person views as a liability, also plays a major factor in gaining likability. Maturity, emotional intelligence, and humility are not exclusive to fierce individuality.

Those who hail snobbery as a virtue are a truly sad lot, but worse are the people who allow themselves to be devalued to such a point that they would want to gain the snobs’ approval. Though an “elitist” might say that he or she is only maintaining some kind of standard against mediocrity, the individual who does not feel beholden to the arbitrary standards of others is the one who maintains his or her worth. That person never spends a night secretly hoping that he or she has kissed the requisite amount of ass to be considered one of the cool kids.

This is not to say that Satanists should not have standards for the other people that they interact with. We have no respect for foolishness. But it would be wise to hold maturity and likability in higher esteem than one’s ability to have a lot of stuff, or project his or her superiority onto others.

Hail emotionally intelligent, grown-ass men and women! Hail Satan!

Message from the Clergy

I have encountered questions and misconceptions about Satanic clergy that I feel the need to address. This message is for members of the United Aspects of Satan and the greater Atheistic Satanism community. Thank you for your time and consideration.

The United Aspects of Satan is a religious organization that promotes a particular variation of atheistic Satanism. We use various mythological beings as metaphorical representations of different parts of our religious philosophy and values. These beings, which have been incorporated into the character of Satan as he is generally understood by Western scholars, provide a basis for the ideas that we incorporate into a religious framework. They also embody ideas that go beyond mere atheism and humanism, which helps to answer the often-asked question, “Why do you call yourselves Satanists in the first place?”

The clergy of the United Aspects of Satan help to promote this variation of atheistic Satanism through our philosophical writings and community support. Our reach goes beyond the official members of the United Aspects of Satan and to Satanists who identify with other Satanic organizations, or those who choose to remain independent of organized groups for personal reasons.

We do not, nor have we ever, advocated the idea that our variation of Satanism is the “right” or “only” possible variation. The concept of dictating an “official” version of Satanism within an organization that claims to promote individuality and freedom of thought is laughable, at best. We have no respect for foolishness, so we would not promote such foolish ideas.

The clergy of the UAoS work to facilitate this variation of atheistic Satanism, to answer the questions of those who would like to know more about our philosophy, and to attend to the needs of our members, should they wish to discuss personal problems or need assistance with goals or accountability coaching. This offer extends beyond official membership, however. We offer our support to atheistic Satanists of any stripe who would turn to us for help.

The notion that asking for help is a sign of weakness is incorrect and ultimately self-defeating. Having the insight to recognize one’s shortcomings and to be motivated to do something about them is a sign of intelligence and strength.

As clergy, we do not presume to be all-knowing, but we would like for you to think of us as trusted allies. I know I don’t have the knowledge to address every problem or issue that arises, but I might know how to connect you to the people who do. In that sense, Satanic clergy can act as the social glue that binds together the Leviathan.

One of the most common objections to the idea of Satanic clergy is the idea that we are trying to claim some kind of authority over our members. The best response that I can give to that idea is that one should talk to our members and ask them how much “authority” we presume over their lives. We certainly hope to aid in their personal development–personal development being the basis of Left Hand Path religion–but the goals towards which our members strive are ultimately their own.

Hail Satan!

Carpe Diem Carpe Semper

Today I would like to share some advice related to the aspects of Lucifer and Pan as they represent the search for self-knowledge and pleasure. The attainment of both of these goals is related to an understanding of the self, which can reveal personal barriers to deeper levels of knowledge and enjoyment. While experiences that produce knowledge and enjoyment lead to personal growth, one can, without being aware of what he or she is doing, limit the effect of his or her growth by not being attentive to possibilities for even greater development.

There is always more, until you stop searching for it. To assume a boundary to what you can learn from an experience, or to not bother to further examine what an experience can teach you, is to place limitations upon your personal development. The hardest chains to break are the ones that you make for yourself. You may have some freedom to move within those chains, but you will not go as far as your potential would allow.

pan-portraitFor example, consider the experience of first falling in love with another person. The experience is exhilarating, to open yourself up to another person and allow them to see your vulnerabilities as well as your strengths. But this is also an opportunity for further development, to find very specific nuances of the experience that can lead to greater self-awareness. What is it about the other’s skin that makes you long to touch him or her? What does the other’s vocal inflections and speech patterns reveal about his or her personality, and what makes that interesting to you? Does the other person have a quirk or a tic that you find attractive, and do these behaviors reveal anything to you about the way that you see yourself?

There is always more information to learn about the experience as long as you can find another question to ask yourself. So probe for more information about your experiences as fully as you can, and soon you will discover that it becomes even easier to analyze an experience and draw even more information from it.

My addition to the old Latin proverb, “Carpe diem,” or “Seize the day,” would be this: Seize the day and keep seizing. Do not allow the potential for grasping more information about yourself and your experiences to pass you by. Living life to the fullest means continually expanding your concept of the limitation for where “the fullest” can be.

Hail experience! Hail Satan!

Darkness and the Void

The attraction that many Satanists have towards the darker side of life is often misunderstood. Far from being a form of mere attention-seeking or a symptom of depression, the cultivation of a dark aesthetic can be empowering.

The awareness of one’s own mortality can motivate the individual to have a greater appreciation for life.

The acknowledgement of the chaotic and merciless nature of the universe can wipe away the delusions of specialness that leave one ill-prepared to cope with misfortune once it strikes.

The recognition that there is no meaning to one’s own existence beyond what he or she chooses to make of his or her life is sobering, but also fuel for the fires of ambition.

The understanding that there is no God to save us places the responsibility that we have towards ourselves and our fellow human beings squarely upon the shoulders of each of us.

From the Void comes a hunger for pleasure, a source of perseverance and strength, the desire to achieve something of personal significance, and compassion and empathy for one’s fellow human beings, for each of us is subject to the whims of chance.

To peer into the Abyss long enough that the Abyss peers back into you is to experience the strength and sense of purpose that the darkness brings. Let it flow through you like a river. Let it burn like a flame inside your heart. Call upon it when you reach out for the warmth of your lover. Feel its presence when you must overcome whatever challenge you face.

For within the Void lies unbridled passion.

The neophyte will learn this with time and, hopefully, with mentoring. His or her projection of a dark aesthetic is a fledgling attempt to harness the power that he or she desires. This should not be treated with ridicule, but understanding. Those with experience should guide the neophyte back to the Void, and help him or her to know the reason why he or she seeks power in the first place. Help the neophyte recognize how vulnerable he or she is to an uncaring universe, and then show him or her that the understanding of that vulnerability is the source of wisdom and strength.

May your days be filled with passion, and may you achieve all that you desire.

Hail darkness! Hail Satan!