I converted to Satanism last year. This year, I’ll be celebrating my first properly Satanic holiday: Lupercalia. The Satanic Temple celebrates Lupercalia as a “hail yourself” day. It’s based on an ancient Roman holiday that celebrated fertility in some of the weirdest ways possible.
I won’t be doing any animal sacrifices or whipping, though. I will, instead, be hailing myself with a DIY spa day, celebrating my autonomy by ignoring everyone I know, and tipping my hat to wolves by watching wholesome movies about dogs.
While I don’t personally commune with other Satanists—and, frankly, I wouldn’t call myself a proud Satanist considering how childish and vapid the Satanic community can be—I am very proud of my personal practice because it’s helped me learn to do the impossible: love myself.
Wait, You Worship the Devil?
Not exactly. Before I go on, let’s clarify some things about Satanism. Just like any other religion, there are multiple sects of Satanism, and they’re all pretty different from one another in terms of theology and practice. Some Satanists believe that Satan is a real entity. Others (like me) believe in Satan as more of a symbol. Some believe in magic while others don’t. NONE of them believe in child sacrifice, cannibalism, or blood orgies. Satanism likely has its fair share of crazies and extremists, but I would argue that it just serves as proof positive that Satanism is a valid religion since every religion has its fair share of crazies and extremists. Westboro Baptist CHURCH, anyone?
The two major branches of Satanism, or at least the two I know best, are LaVeyan Satanism (The Church of Satan), the OG Satanism if you will, and The Satanic Temple, which is less mystical and more political. There are more, like the Temple of Set and The Order of the Nine Angels, but I neither know much nor care about them. This ThoughtCo article is a good primer for those who want to know more.
My Relationship with Satanism
My background is an eclectic mix of LaVeyan Satanism and TST Satanism. I’m atheistic but practice witchcraft. I don’t necessarily believe in magic but I do believe in the positive psychological impacts of a spiritual practice. I also don’t consider myself an expert in Satanism but I’ve done enough of the mandatory reading to have what I believe to be solid opinions. That said, everything you read here is informed by my own personal journey. Bear that in mind as you keep reading.
I make no secret of my self-loathing. I’ve been born, raised, and taught to hate myself for being fat, for having a vagina, for being queer, and in other, subtler ways. And of all the things that have helped me crawl out of the pit of self-hatred, Satanism tops the list. Satanism helped me not only come to terms with my humanity but to fully embrace my earthly form.
Here’s a highlight reel of how Satanism taught me self-love.
Satanism Focuses on the Here and Now
A lot of religions focus mostly on preparing your spirit for the afterlife. Christianity tells you not to sin or you’ll go to Hell. Hinduism tells you not to sin or karma will punish you. Even Buddhism tells you that if you don’t let go of all the things you’re attached to you’ll be doomed to an eternity of shitty reincarnations instead of achieving Nirvana.
But what if you don’t believe in an afterlife? What if you don’t even care?
Satanism believes that your mortal existence is FAR more important than what comes after. After all, we don’t even know if there is an after! We have no idea what that after is if it does exist. For all we know, death is just followed by a darkness of which we’ll never be conscious.
So, does it really make sense to focus on something that might not exist, especially when we have needs right now? I say fuck Heaven or Hell, let’s deal with life on Earth first! There’s over 7 billion of us and we all have like 80 years of time to kill. We might as well do something meaningful with that time.
Satanism Recognizes that Helping Everyone Helps You
Satanists can be both theistic or atheistic (I’m the latter). But the primary “god” of all Satanic belief systems is YOU. You personally. The individual Satanist. You are your own god! You are the most powerful being in your life and you deserve worship and adoration from people who make you happy. How fucking empowering and amazing is that?
It’s completely fair at this point to believe that Satanists are self-absorbed assholes and you would probably be right in many cases. But a proper Satanist, including LaVey himself, recognizes that we as individuals don’t exist in a vacuum. Satanism is a religion that celebrates ALL aspects of humanity, including our relationships and places in greater society. Freedom of personal expression, sexual freedom, and basic human rights are all threads of the Satanic tapestry. Half of The Satanic Temple’s Seven Tenets are all about believing in everyone’s individual right to live exactly as they are as long as they’re not hurting anybody. The fourth of LaVey’s Nine Satanic Statements expresses the exact same idea:
Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it instead of love wasted on ingrates!Church of Satan: Nine Satanic Statements
Granted, LaVey is a little more aggressive about it, but I’d argue that he’s right. There’s no point in going out of your way to be nice to someone who is never going to be nice to you. You’re just wasting your energy. To quote LaVey again, “don’t waste your time with people who will ultimately destroy you, but concentrate instead on those who will appreciate your responsibility to them, and, likewise, feel responsible to you.”
Satanism Believes in Questioning Everything, Including Satanism
Curiosity and skepticism are two vital aspects of Satanic belief. LaVey understood that time changes everything and our species’ survival depends on changing, too. To accept things as they are is to stunt the growth of civilization.
Revolt of the Angels by Anatole France centers entirely on this idea. One of the main characters is an angel named Arcade who decides to orchestrate a second uprising against God after finding enlightenment in the personal library of an aristocratic French family circa the French Revolution.
Much as I hated how needlessly fluffy the writing is (it’s a product of its time I GUESS), Revolt told an amazing story with a philosophical backbone made of titanium. I won’t spoil the ending but Lucifer turns out not to be a tempter or evil being but a deeply introspective and curious angel shot down by a belligerent and megalomaniac god.
And not for nothing, but I’ve read a fair shake of the Old Testament and that God is waaay more like France’s depiction than any other I’ve seen.
Satanism Assured Me That Suffering Is Natural but Not the Norm
My adolescence was not easy. The things I went through shaped a lot of my early adulthood and still touch parts of my identity to this day. Saying my relationship with my late father was tumultuous would be putting it mildly. I’m not ashamed to admit that when he died, the first thing I felt was relief. Relief for myself at first but also for him, in a way. He suffered terribly at the end of his life and the vast majority of his abuse was a side-effect of that suffering. That doesn’t make it right, but it does make it easier to reconcile and forgive now that he’s been a pile of ashes for ten years.
Life is unfair and sometimes it’s cruel. There’s nothing we can do about that. But that doesn’t mean we have to like it. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to make things better. And it sure as hell doesn’t mean we should just lie down and accept the things that cause us pain unless there’s a really damn good reason for it.
In fact, not only should we strive to amend unnecessary suffering in our lives, Satanism encourages the active seeking of things that make us feel good. LaVey wanted us to fill our lives with things that spark joy just as much as Marie Kondo does now. He was just way weirder about it.
I’ve learned a lot about personal development and human behavior writing for The Fabulous. So much of The Satanic Bible—the first half of it, anyway—tracks with the philosophies of some of my favorite behavioral scientists like Brené Brown and Dan Ariely. There’s also a correlation to the Stoic philosophy of ancient Greece (something I’ve written about for work), that believes in self-awareness and a constant strive for personal improvement.
Despite being a tool and a DEFINITE product of his time, Anton LaVey really hit the nail on the head with his major religious beliefs and I take pride in aligning myself with them. I disagree with about as much of The Satanic Bible as I agree with — if you ask me, everything after “The Book of Earth” is unnecessary fluff and hyper-mystical bullshit — but not only is that okay, my eye-rolling was preemptively encouraged by the man himself right in the book. He wouldn’t want us to take his word for granted. Satanism encourages challenges and, when necessary, change.
I think that’s ultimately what won me over. In my mind, Satanism consists of three pillars (an Unholy Trinity, if you will): Self-actualization, Education, and Humanity. And frankly, those are three major beliefs I can absolutely get behind.
Plus, I still think the edgy iconography is cool. Turns out it actually wasn’t a phase, Mom. This is, in fact, who I am.