Eugène Thièbault (1863)
Cropped - Pollice Verso by Jean-Léon Gérôme
Serpent

Yes, We Have No Occultism

by Magus Peter H. Gilmore

As I have written, we resist all who would try and inject aspects of supernaturalism and theism into what was stated by Anton LaVey to be a philosophy dedicated to rational self-interest, indulgence and the glorification of the material and carnal aspects of life. Satanism supports science and clearly advocates keeping an open mind as we continue to learn more about the Universe. LaVey was always very careful to use terms like “supernormal” or “supranormal” for any atypical experiences which can be documented and examined, as they are part of nature but not yet explained via current scientific theoretical models. They may be unusual events, yet still part of nature.

Satanism supports science and clearly advocates keeping an open mind as we continue to learn more about the Universe.”

Occultism, however, refers to spiritually-oriented systems of thought that typically include supernatural aspects which are fundamental to their premises and practices. As Satanism is not devil worship, it is also not occultism nor are there spiritual aspects underpinning the philosophy. However, since Satanism advocates free thought and exploration of what might be of interest to each Satanist, some of our members might choose to examine various forms of occult thought, both past and present, and this is not in any way "forbidden." It is not encouraged, either. As we advocate freedom of choice in human sexuality, we champion freedom of choice in subjects one might research, but we don’t suggest that our members must examine or embrace things that aren’t part of their personal, natural predilections.

When a subject captures the interest of a Satanist, even if it is some other symbol system, religion or philosophy, it doesn't then become a de facto part of Satanism. Knowing the boundaries between what defines Satanism as a philosophy and what are outside interests or pursuits is crucial for the Satanist and indeed for anyone who wishes to understand various philosophies and disciplines so that their own internal logic (or lack thereof) can be examined with clarity. If one muddles and adulterates these various approaches, one cannot grasp their intended purposes and judge them with any accuracy.

As should be obvious from the many things our members create—from writings to art and music—the Church of Satan does not attempt to limit their interests in whatever strikes their fancy. We gladly promote their creations, since such things are meant as signifiers of each specific unique individual and are not claimed to be part of the definition of the philosophy of Satanism. Our members at times might be intrigued by other religions (from neo-pagan and Eastern beliefs to ancient doctrines), a broad range of philosophies, and disciplines such as yoga and the martial arts of various cultures that often include spiritual components. And the rational basis of the coherent philosophy we defined as Satanism provides an excellent platform for open, critical examination of many perspectives, whether they are rational or not. Our members are free to extract and employ whatever they find in them to be beneficial to themselves.

Satanism is a carnal, not a spiritual, religion, and it is not a form of occultism.”

From the earliest days of the Church of Satan, which was founded during an “Occult Revival” in Western society, aspects of what was then swirling through popular culture were examined in our newsletter, THE CLOVEN HOOF. Some articles were humorous, tongue-in-cheek mockeries of astrology, "pyramid power" and other similar outré subjects that Dr. LaVey called “occultnik,” often meant to see who amongst the membership might be more absorbed in the “occulture” of the time rather than being interested in Satanism as a tool for life enhancement. It should be noted that there were professional astrologers amongst the membership who made money off of popular belief in that pseudo-science. At times these pieces served to flush out those who were trying to insert a creeping theism into Satanism; those who were trying to redefine Satanism in spiritual or occultist terms were invited to depart and “do their own thing.” It has always been a healthy approach. It's kept the core of Satanism quite explicit and useful for our adherents, and has helped those who come to a position that is outside of the defining principles of Satanism to realize the time has come for them to change their self-definition to something else, not to try and shoehorn their incongruent personal ideas into Satanic philosophy.

So, to be clear, Satanism is a carnal, not a spiritual, religion, and it is not a form of occultism. It is an atheist, materialist philosophy that promotes individualism, rational self-interest and the celebration of the one life we have. We see humans as animals and we Satanists do our best to enhance our earthy existence in the universe which we continue to explore—we rejoice in the fleshly life! Our administrators actively discourage people who approach us for membership seeking an esoteric, initiatory spiritual experience. The Church of Satan does not offer that. We do not play "bait and switch," which would be an easy approach toward fleecing the wannabe occultnik rubes who write us daily. Instead, we are quite upfront that there are no secret inner circles or other forms of hidden teachings. Turning away those who have a mistaken perception of Satanism is our constant practice. Time is too precious to waste on those misguided "seekers."

Our members have always been free to investigate divergent doctrines and disciplines, and we expect them to have the intelligence to be able to understand the difference between Satanism and these other approaches towards defining humanity's role in the universe, in whatever ways they are not congruent with our philosophy. The Church of Satan holds to Anton LaVey's original vision of a third side perspective blending aspects of psychology, individualist philosophy and religion into a carnal doctrine defining those rare iconoclasts for whom the challenge of taking responsibility for their lives is an exhilarating path to self fulfillment.