The Black Flame article - Has Satanism Changed for You Too? by Reverend Campbell

Has Satanism Changed for You Too?

an article & video for The Black Flame—April, LII A.S.

When I first heard about The Satanic Bible, I was in 7th grade. It was a frightening and exciting thought, that there would be a bible devoted to Satan’s religion. (I came from a LDS religious background.) My friend, whose brother supposedly had the book, refused to even bring it to school, which only added to the mystery.

My first exposure to the religion of Satanism was The Devil’s Notebook, a collection of essays addressing ideas that were new, interesting and thrilling for me to consume and contemplate. This infused a sense of intellect to the religion that my earlier imaginings hadn’t even considered. The book’s background aesthetic was one of ancient script on a field of red adorned with the Sigil of Baphomet. Satanism was both style and substance. When I finally got my hands on The Satanic Bible later that year, its simple and impactful design filled my imagination with rituals, nude altars and power! The Sigil of Baphomet on a field of black spoke volumes in its simplicity. Then you turned it over and you are hit with the striking and strange visage of Anton LaVey. Talk about a one-two punch of impactful design! The next book I consumed was The Secret Life of a Satanist. Up until this book, Satanism was Anton LaVey to me.

I knew the Church of Satan existed prior to my reading of these books, but the presentation of the religion was always from the Doktor. My understanding of Satanism continued to evolve the more I read newsletters like The Cloven Hoof and books like The Satanic Scriptures and The Fire From Within. The more I studied, the less centered around LaVey the religion became. Certainly, as the founder of the religion, I appreciated his thoughts and ideas, but I quickly perceived a separation between the man and his creation.

By the time I heard of his death, I had been identifying as a Satanist for years. I knew I had always been a Satanist, before I even knew that name. My unwarranted concern for the religion’s longevity was eased when Blanche Barton and later Peter H. Gilmore were appointed the High Priestess and High Priest of the Church of Satan respectively. At that time there were lies and rumors being spread, and the future of the organization put into question simply because its founder had passed. This was a strange notion to me—I understood LaVey as the founder of the Church of Satan and the religion of Satanism, but not the entirety of either.

As the years passed and my studies progressed, my perspectives on the religion and founding organization that defined and defended it from its inception, continued to evolve. I didn’t see Satanism solely as a philosophy, rather it struck me as a living entity, continually in flux—informed by its administration and members, their contributions and creations. As members came under and at times left the tent, each brought with them some different understanding that helped inform my own. The vast diversity of its members views on sociology, politics and personal expression are what set this organization apart, enriched it.

As a grown man, I am baffled at the naive thought that Satanism was simply the rituals, nude altars and power I perceived it to be as a child. Now, to me it is so much more than the philosophy, because it is a philosophy of action. This means the religion itself is informed by its adherents’ real world accomplishments and exercises. It is alive in the single mother working two jobs to provide her children with opportunity, and in the politician passing legislation supporting the maintenance of individual freedom. It is alive in the artists who express themselves through their work and tradesmen who provide invaluable services for their community.

Satanism hasn’t actually changed, but my understanding of it has attained greater breadth and depth. The Satanic Bible and The Satanic Scriptures are founding documents, they set this religion’s stage, but that is just the very beginning of the complex production that is each member’s life. It is when you leave that auditorium and gaze out to the open horizon that Satanism truly begins—confined only by your willingness to explore it. When Anton LaVey spoke of exercising your demons, I saw it as more than creative pop-culture wordplay. We must exercise our “Satanic muscles” by using them in as many ways we can—our interactions in the real world, our individual successes in achieving our goals are the active summoning of our inner demons, unleashing them into the world!

Satanism has useful ideas contained in books, but these are just potentials waiting to be realized. It takes each individual putting them into action for Satanism to truly live. That is vital existence.

Hail Satan!