As promised in the PAGAN RELIGIOUS STUDIES echo, here's my brief introductory essay on Satanism (though Corwynt won't be seeing it, alas). I'll confine myself to discussing serious occultists who identify as Satanists. I have no interest in the teen-age glue- sniffing "Satin rulz" crowd, who are into "Satanism" as a way to shock the grown-ups, and who usually (as far as I know) outgrow it. Nor am I interested in criminals who say the Devil made them do it (often, I suspect, as a way to get themselves declared insane).
Since I don't know how much you don't know, perhaps I should start with the usual elementary disclaimers:
There are many alternative explanations and, correspondingly, many different kinds of Satanism. Following is a list of some of the many different possible interpretations of who/what Satan is:
Of the above possibilities, my own personal beliefs lean toward a combination of interpretations #4, 5, and 6. The Church of Satan, founded in 1966 CE by Anton LaVey, usually espouses interpretation #2 and sometimes #5. The Temple of Set is into something like (but not quite) a combination of #1 and #3.
La> If you haven't been around other Satanists, how do you know
La> what is being practiced, is what you would do? I could call
La> myself a Dianic Wiccan, but what I might practice is not what
La> is generally practiced...and there is no way for me to really
La> learn "right way" from "wrong way".
It doesn't matter. Satanism isn't really just one religion, but a category of religions, some of which are radically different from each other. (See my message to Deborah Kest on "Satanism 101".) Since most forms of Satanism do celebrate individuality, the lack of standardization is just fine, in my opinion. The only "right way" or "wrong way" has to do with what works , and this will vary from one individual to another.
La> The reason you are being "punished" I think ostracized<SP?> is
La> a better word, is that most Satanists, and people who follow
La> left-handed Magick/spirituality (folks I know it is not a fair
La> term, but it works for this argument) are considered by many
La> of us the true enemies of Spiritualism that we would practice.
The term "Left-Hand Path" is OK. We use it too. You and I would probably define it very differently, however. What's your definition?
La> Even more than Christianity folks who follow your system of
La> believes are very different than we. Pagan and Christianity,
La> have very similar ideas and ethics, and while not at all
La> tolerant of each other (generally) can live and let live.
La> Satanists et. all on the other hand, have such a different view
La> of life, love and the pursuit of the Divine, it is hard for us
La> to accept you into our midst.
Could you please be more specific? What do you see as the similarities between neo-Paganism and Christianity?
I too see some profound differences between Satanism and neo- Paganism. And I too see enough similarities between neo-Paganism and Christianity that one can meaningfully use a term like "Right- Hand Path", which includes both Christianity and neo-Paganism but not Satanism.
But I also see some profound similarities between Satanism and neo-Paganism (especially Wicca) as well, which set them both apart from Christianity. For example, Satanism and Wicca-based Paganism are both much more tolerant toward sexual variety than Christianity traditionally is. (To be more exact, Wicca is now tolerant toward sexual variety, though there was a time when it was quite homophobic.) And in general, Satanism and Wicca-based Paganism both emphasize individuality in ways that Christianity doesn't.
Also, as I've discussed at length both here and in the PAGAN and PAGAN RELIGIOUS STUDIES echoes, Satanism and most forms of neo- Paganism (especially Wicca) are both part of the family of modern Western magic(k)al religions, with many common roots and many basic magic(k)al concepts in common. We have natural reasons to be part of the same magic(k)al community (e.g. occult bookstores and this computer network). It would be much more pleasant for everyone concerned if neo-Pagans could get used to Satanists, because you are going to keep running into more and more of us whether you like it or not.
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