Saturday, May 24, 2008

Responses to Julian Karswell, so far

So far, I've written three posts to Julian Karswell on my blog. In forward chronological order, they are:

Below, I'll copy and paste the first section (out of eight sections) of the third post, discussing what I see as the central issue between Julian and me:

In a post titled Nature of the Beast, Julian brings up one of my biggest problems with LaVeyan Satanism:

Most Satanic thought is predicated on the creation of a vaguely right-wing state where people would prosper according to their abilities. Strangely most of the Satanists I have had contact with, or read about, have been creative, thoughtful and non-violent (unless pushed). They often have 'alternative' lifestyles and sexualities. A Satanic state, given human nature, would very quickly become a state run by those with the skills to make the most money, for the benefit of the same! I've met enough of that type of person (and their Philistine ways) to know that sensitive arty types, and sexual 'deviants' would be the first against the wall in such a state.
Are Satanists really turkeys voting for Christmas?

You've hit the nail on the head here, Julian. That being the case, why do you continue to equate "Satanism" itself with LaVey's "vaguely right-wing" value system? Why do you continue to use the term "Satanic state" to refer to LaVey's ideal society, or something very similar to that?

It seems to me that Satanists need to move away from advocacy of pure capitalism and "social Darwinism" and advocate, instead, an agenda which would actually benefit the "sensitive arty types and sexual 'deviants'" who are, in fact, Satanism's core constituencies.

What, then, is Satanism? See the What is Satanism? page on my Theistic Satanism site.

For an example of a form of Satanism I think is far better suited to Satanism's core constituencies than LaVeyan Satanism, see Hekate and the Satanic School by Tim Maroney (circa 1990, edited 2002).

In another post, Julian talks about what he calls the Children of Leviathan: "creative, unworldly, given to interests in the occult and arcane aspects of life ... attracted to the shadows rather than the light, delving into the hidden things and nature’s secret ways, rather than accepting the readily presented norms."

That's a pretty good description of what I think Satanism (or Satanisms) should be about, while at the same time encouraging practicality.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Recommended books for theistic Satanists and LHPers

In the General feedback thread, asudarkdreams wrote:

Hello, this is my first post (question) so I hope it has not been asked too many times before. Since most occult books have been written or watered down by RHP authors, can you send me some recomondations? I just can't seem to find anything "different" at the stores I usually shop at.

First, I can't send you anything at all, because I don't have your email address. (Had you posted your request on my WordPress blog, I would have automatically been given the email address you used to register on In any case, this is the kind of topic I prefer to discuss on a blog rather than via email.

Probably the best book for theistic Satanists these days is The Complete Book of Demonolatry by S. Connolly. I would also suggest other books listed on this page of the OFS Demonolatry site.

If Chaos Magick interests you, look into books by Peter Carroll and Austin Osman Spare. However, I would suggest first reading the online introductions to Chaos Magick listed on this page of my Theistic Satanism site.

If the Temple of Set interests you, look for books by Edred Thorsson and Don Webb. Also you might want to read Michael Aquino's Church of Satan history, which can be downloaded from this page on the Temple of Set site.

And, of course, no Satanist's library would be complete without Anton LaVey's Satanic Bible and Satanic Rituals. (Just don't regard LaVey's SB as an infallible "Bible," please.)

Other readers, feel free to recommend books in comments below.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Satanism and politics: Question for Julian Karswell and other LaVey-based Satanists

Recently Julian Karswell, a LaVey-based symbolic Satanist, has posted friendly comments both here on this blog and on my LiveJournal blog. I appreciate his friendly attitude, although he and I evidently disagree on many things.

Like many of today's public or semi-public LaVeyans, he seems to see his Satanism primarily in societal and political terms, as an advocacy of political views consistent with LaVey's attitudes. Of course, this implies a definition of "Satanism" itself as "the worldview of Anton LaVey," a definition I staunchly reject.

I was intrigued to come across the following admission on Julian Karswell's website, regarding one of his societal goals: "This cannot be achieved under the name of Satanism."

In general, I've noticed that LaVeyans (and even some non-LaVeyan Satanists, for that matter) have a knack for picking political agendas which, in most cases, not only "cannot be achieved under the name of Satanism," but which also cannot be achieved without the support of all those right wing Protestant fundamentalist/evangelical Christians who believe that Karl Marx was a Satanist.

This leads me to ask two questions:

1) If your social and political agenda "cannot be achieved under the name of Satanism," then why call it "Satanism" at all?

2) What kind of political or social agenda could be achieved under the name of Satanism -- or, at least, would not be significantly hurt by association with the label "Satanism"?

I'll leave it to Julian Karswell, and to any other LaVeyans who happen to be reading this, to try to answer the first question. I'll try to address the second question, which I personally find much more interesting.

To what kind of social or political cause could the figure of Satan, seen in a positive or at least non-negative way, actually be relevant and appropriate in a way that large numbers of people could appreciate?

The only conceivable such cause, in today's world, would be one which calls public attention to the threat posed by the growing power of those religions which believe in a Devil (as a figure of absolute evil), i.e. the more conservative forms of Christianity and Islam. A successful "Satanism"-related social movement would need to focus on - and satirically revel in - the way in which many of the values of modern secular society are vilified by fundamentalists, both Christian and Muslim, as "Satanic." (Sort of like the Church Lady, for those old enough to remember.) It would need to appeal to a significant fraction of the many people who do not believe in a Devil.

And the vast majority of such people are leftists, liberals, or political moderates. For the most part, they are not right-wingers. Thus, LaVey's right wing views, on many issues, are completely counterproductive in terms of a social agenda that is, in any way, publicly identified with a label like "Satanism."

By the way, Julian Karswell's campaign "against charities involved in social intervention," if successful at all, is likely to affect primarily secular charities. It is not likely to have much effect on religious charities, especially fundamentalist/evangelical-oriented charities, except perhaps to cause some reshuffling of personnel. Thus, its main social impact would be to strengthen fundamentalism.

P.S., 5/17/2008: Julian apparently lives in the U.K., judging by the U.K. references in many of the posts on his blog. As I'll explain later, it does make sense to me for Satanists in the U.K. to support what are now considered right wing positions on various issues, such as immigration policy. But things are very different here in the U.S.A. More about this later, probably on my blog.

More on the definitions of "Satanist" and "Pagan" - response to Chell

In the comments below Hrafnkell's post Are Satanists Pagans?, someone named Chell wrote:

From Diane's post:
"The vast majority do NOT simply accept Christian beliefs except for siding with the Other Guy."
To believe in the "Other Guy," don't you have to accept at least some Christian beliefs? Where is the line drawn on those beliefs, if at all? So for Satan to exist, Christianity must be correct.

Wrong. First, many Satanists are atheists who don't believe in any gods at all, but see Satan as only a symbol. Among theistic Satanists, who do revere Satan as a deity, there are many different theologies. For examples of some of these theologies, see What is Satanism?. See also The varieties of theistic ("traditional") Satanism.

And if it is, Pagan Gods must not be worshipped.

Since when were Satanists noted for retaining Christianity's prohibitions?

Chell has a blog of her own, called "Chell's Roost." In a post titled Is this even possible?, she wrote:

Christianity is considered a monotheistic religion. But a post on Hrafnkell’s blog, a blog linked from there, and some e-mail chitter chatter has me thinking about this. In Christianity, it is believed there is one God. Yet Christians might pray not only to Jesus, but to Mary or saints (some derived from Pagan Gods) the way they pray to God, and might even honor them the way a Pagan might honor a God. This, to me, smacks of worship. How can Jesus or Mary answer a prayer that they cannot hear? And is it not divinity that gives them the ability to hear and answer those who call on them? Even if their divinity comes from their “one” God, that of Pagan Gods does not. To call on a Pagan God, does one not have to first believe in that God, even if he has relabeled her a saint? So do Christians actually worship beyond one God?

First, not all Christians pray to saints. As a general rule, Protestants don't and Catholics do. Furthermore, Catholic theology makes a distinction between "dulia" and "latria." (See the online Catholic Encylcopedia article on dulia.)

My question here is about polytheism. Along with the question on Hrafnkell’s blog about the possibility of a Satanist being a Pagan, can a Christian be a Pagan? That seems a preposterous stretch, like asking if red can be green,

A more interesting question is what Chell thinks of the African diaspora religions and other similar hybrids of Christianity and non-Abrahamic religions. Also, what does Chell think of the Western occult tradition?

"What is Witchcraft?" - some suggestions to Christopher Kimberley

Here on Google/Blogspot, I recently came across a blog called What is witchcraft? by Christopher Kimberley, jam-packed with news stories, from around the world, about everything having to do with witchcraft. The majority of the news stories are about witchhunts. Some are about actual practitioners of various witchcraft traditions, and some are about ritual crimes. The witchhunt stories are primarily from Africa, as one might expect, but there are witchhunt stories from other places too, including Saudi Arabia and India. This blog has the potential to become an excellent research resource.

Some suggestions to Christopher Kimberley on how to make it more useful:

1) Add a label list to your side panel. You're already using labels on most of your posts. A label list on the side panel could serve as a topic index. (For an example, see the label list here on my own blog, on the side panel, just below the blog archive.)

2) On all posts from henceforth, use one of the following general category labels, or something similar, in addition to the kinds of labels you are already using now:

  • witchhunts - for all stories about witchhunts

  • practitioners - for all stories about actual practitioners of some witchcraft or magical tradition

  • ritual crimes - for all stories about ritual murders and other crimes for magical purposes, or alleged magical purposes

With the above improvements, your blog could become an extremely handy and valuable scholarly and journalistic resource.

Gwydion Tiamat's precaution against hate crimes against Satanists and Pagans - P.S. to my response to Hrafnkell

In a comment beneath my previous post, "Are Satanists Pagans?" - response to Hrafnkell, Hrafnkell posted a link to the Washington Post article A Capital City With The Devil in the Details? by Dan Morse, Wednesday, April 9, 2008; Page C01.

The relevant part, on page 2 of the article, says:

The Washington Monument ... was described by Bay, the South Carolina author, as a filthy, phallic and satanic homage to the god Baal.

Unlikely, said an avowed Satanist from Laurel.

He agreed to meet at the Washington Monument recently, strolling up the Mall in a long black robe and passing through a throng of sun-drenched tourists. A government contracting employee, the 37-year-old spoke on the condition that he be identified only by his satanic name (Gwydion Tiamat). Friends' houses have been firebombed, he said, and they're just pagans.

A husband and father and the director of the East Coast office of the Brotherhood of Satan, he said "a couple of thousand" Satanists live in the Washington area. This is a group that is widely misunderstood, he said: Members don't sacrifice cats; they're not out to hurt people; they simply acknowledge that humans are carnal animals and enjoy the freedoms and indulgences that flow from that understanding. "Having a whole Sara Lee strawberry cheesecake, for example," he said.

And in one sense, he mused, while looking toward the Lincoln Memorial and the infinite regions beyond, McCain is right.

"Satan," said Tiamat, "is everywhere."

I find nothing here contradicting my earlier interpretation of Gwydion Tiamat's remark about his friends who were "just pagans." Again, it seems to me he's saying not that these particular friends of his were also Satanists, but that, if even his Pagan friends' houses got firebombed, then he, as a Satanist, would be in even more danger.

I seriously doubt his estimate of "a couple of thousand" Satanists living in the D.C. area. I think a couple hundred would be more like it, if that many.

There are, after all, far fewer Satanists than modern Pagans, even in anonymous media like Internet forums. I've seen estimates of between half a million and a million modern Pagans in the entire United States. I would not expect the number of Satanists to exceed 5% of the number of modern Pagans, which would give us a maximum of 50,000 Satanists in the entire U.S.A. More likely I would expect there to be between 10,000 and 20,000 Satanists in the entire U.S.A.

The Washington Post article starts out as follows:

Presidential candidate John McCain keeps calling Washington the city of Satan. Turns out he's not alone.

"McCain was right," said David Bay, speaking by phone from Lexington, S.C., where as director of Cutting Edge Ministries he has long asserted that Washington's streets are positioned to usher in Lucifer as "the ultimate master of Government Center."


Using Dupont and Logan circles as northern points, Bay instructs, you can trace various interlocking streets to form a demonic pentagram, one that bores directly into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

This is followed by a brief summary of typical anti-Masonic claims, followed by a brief retort from a Mason.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"Are Satanists Pagans?" - response to Hrafnkell

On a Google/Blogger blog called "A Heathen's Day," Hrafnkell wrote a post titled Are Satanists Pagans?, which begins as follows:

The claim made by David Bay, of Cutting Edge Ministries, that the Washington Monument is "a filthy, phallic and satanic homage to the god Baal" is rightfully dismissed by Gwydion Tiamat, a self-professed Satanist. He wisely chose not to go by his given name because, as he says, friends' houses "have been firebombed." And anyway, as he says, "they're just pagans."[1]

Footnote [1] refers to "Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, May 10, 2008, "D.C.: The devil's City?" by Dan Morse. Originally published in the Washington Post" - an offline source, apparently. Anyhow, Hrafnkell goes on to say:

My jaw dropped. Satanists are Pagans?

Are they?

Did Gwydion Tiamat say his friends were Satanists? Or did he perhaps mean to say something like, "Look what happened to my friends who not even Satanists, but just Pagans. All the more so am I in similar danger, as a Satanist"?

Since the source is apparently offline, I can't easily look up the original context to see what was actually meant. Oh, well.

Next, Hrafnkell goes on for a while with the usual Pagan spiel about how Satanism is not Pagan.

Hrafnkell, please read my article What is Satanism? . Note especially the following:

There are many kinds of Satanists.

For most of the past forty years, the most public Satanist spokespeople have been atheistic symbolic Satanists, who do not believe in or worship Satan as a literal entity, but who regard Satan as a symbol of independence, pride, individual ambition, etc. The best-known symbolic Satanist organization is the Church of Satan, founded by Anton LaVey.

There is now a growing movement of theistic Satanists, who do believe in and revere Satan as a deity.

There are many kinds of theistic Satanists. The vast majority do NOT simply accept Christian beliefs except for siding with the Other Guy. The beliefs of most theistic Satanists are based on sources other than just Christianity.


Many theistic Satanists are polytheistic and regard both Satan and the Christian "God" as just two of the many gods. Some believe that all the gods, including both Satan and the Christian “God,” are really just very advanced extraterrestrial humanoids. Others are polytheistic in a more traditional spiritual sense.

Hrafnkell, please see also the following articles of mine:

I would suggest that you also read other pages in the section To Wiccans and other Pagans and occultists on my Theistic Satanism site. Most of it is addressed to Wiccans, but much of it is relevant to Heathens and other hard-polytheists too.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How they'll clean up after you at a Maltese hospital

A little comic relief, from the Times of Malta:

Illum says that claims that a birth at Mater Dei Hospital had satanic connections have lead to the blessing with holy water of all places where the mother was before, during and after the birth. Sources told the paper that during her stay in hospital, the woman often spoke on satanism and asked the priest who was giving Holy Communion to stay away.

- Malta and international press digest, Times of Malta, Malta - May 10, 2008.

Laurie Cabot, "expert" on "non-traditional faiths"? - blooper on animal sacrifice

The news story What washed up on the Keansburg beach? by Alyssa Passeggio (Bayshore Courier, New Jersey, U.S.A., May 9, 2008) reports the discovery of animal remains along Keansburg beach, including (1) garbage bags of headless chickens and (2) bones and hooves of deer, goat, or sheep. Cops think these are animal sacrifices and have arrested two Aborishas (Santeria practitioners).

The news story mentions a similar finding last year, on which Laurie Cabot (a well-known modern Pagan Witch) is paraphrased as blaming "a ritual performed by individuals practicing Santeria, San Paulo, Voodon or Satanism."

It's possible she was misquoted. But, if Laurie Cabot really did say "Satanism" or even "Devil worship," then she's utterly wrong.

The vast majority of Satanists, even most theistic Satanists, staunchly reject the idea of animal sacrifice. (See Animal sacrifice and Satanism on my page about Animal Sacrifice on my Theistic Satanism site.)

And the small minority of today's theistic Satanists who perform animal sacrifices would be unlikely to sacrifice chickens, sheep, and goats in particular, for reasons I explain here in my longer post on my LiveJournal blog: Laurie Cabot - willfully ignorant about Satanist views on animal sacrifice?

Anyhow, I also question the cops' claim that the recent New Jersey incident, in particular, has anything to do with a Santeria sacrifice. Garbage bags seem like a very non-traditional - and not very reverent - way to dispose of a sacrifice.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Dennis Wheatley's novels

Much of the pop cultural image of Satanism is drawn from the novels of Dennis Wheatley that were published back in the 1950's and 1960's. Those novels are now being reissued, according to the news story A new lease of life for the Devil by Vanessa Thorpe, The Observer, on the website of The Guardian (U.K.), Sunday May 4, 2008.

I have copies of two Dennis Wheatley novels. I never read all the way through them, but I remember noticing one interesting (to me) thing: Whereas Anton LaVey and a lot of subsequent Satanists associate Satanism with extreme pro-capitalist views, the Satanists in Dennis Wheatley's novels were associated with Communists.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Blaming "Satanists" for Catholic clergy sex scandals???

The recent flurry of Italian Catholic public pronouncements about "Satanism" might be, in part, a response to an October 2007 sex scandal involving a Vatican official, Monsignor Tommaso Stenico, director of one of three Vatican departments that make up the Congregation for the Clergy, the Vatican “ministry” for the clergy.

An undercover TV reporter caught Msgr. Stenico, on video, propositioning a young man. When confronted, he tried to excuse himself by claiming that he himself was really just doing another undercover investigation. He claimed he was investigating an alleged conspiracy of "Satanists" who were out to seduce clergy.

More details, plus links to news stories, in a post Blaming "Satanists" for Catholic clergy sex scandals??? on my LiveJournal blog.

Friday, May 2, 2008

More about Satanism and the Catholic Church in Italy

I just now came across Satanic Cults in Fashion in Rome, Says Priest by Jennifer Riley, Christian Post, Tue, Apr. 22 2008. Nothing new, really. Mostly just a shorter version of the CBN article I wrote about in my previous post.

Again we have the claim: "The overwhelmingly Roman Catholic nation of Italy has an estimated 800 satanic cults, with more than 600,000 followers." This article then melodramatically adds: "But Rome, home to Vatican City and the pope, is where the fiercest spiritual battle is taking place."