The source, the meaning of life. Questions about morality and inevitability in a finite existence as short and inconsequential as the batting of an eye. These are all things we are faced with in the time that we spend here, alone and together, on this small place that we have been given the opportunity to call home. Some may choose to assign a name to this meaning. Some may call this meaning "God." Churches and houses of worship are full of those who find meaning and solace with this interpretation. A light, a source of courage and determination, something that certain people need to live out their lives in a purposeful manner. Others turn to much darker leanings. Finding solace in magic and occult forces, they stretch out towards mysticism.
Me, I can't deal with any of it. I've never been one for pie-in-the-sky absolutism nor any sort of Middle Earth-esque pipe dreams. My life, here as I stand, is but a thought in a vast reaching conglomerate of dying stars, and it is all I will ever know. What I have now, my achievements and my failures, are the foundation in which I have made my place in this universe, and I'm making the most out of what I have to make do with.
For this Halloween edition, we here at the Union Weekly have taken it upon ourselves to introduce you, our very open-minded and intellectual readers, to the Church of Satan. Disregarding its occult connotation, the Church of Satan is neither brooding, black flame hokeyness nor grab n' go Hot Topic nihilism. It is but a means of making do, an allowance of total freedom in regard to our short, and most often cruel, stay on Earth. I spoke with Reverend Marvin "Knife" Sotelo about the origins of the church, the Satanic Chapel's congregation in Los Angeles, and what constitutes a meaningful existence for a Satanist.
THE NINE SATANIC STATEMENTS FROM THE SATANIC BIBLE
BY ANTON SZANDOR LAVEY ©1969
1. Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence!
2. Satan represents vital existence instead of spiritual pipe dreams!
3. Satan represents undefiled wisdom instead of hypocritical self-deceit!
4. Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it instead of love wasted on ingrates!
5. Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek!
6. Satan represents responsibility to the responsible instead of concern for psychic vampires!
7. Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours, who, because of his "divine spiritual and intellectual development," has become the most vicious animal of all!
8. Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification!
9. Satan has been the best friend the Church has ever had, as He has kept it in business all these years!
Union Weekly: According to what I've read, your group (The Satanic Chapel) seems to associate itself with the teachings of Anton LaVey. For those who are unaffiliated with the man or his teachings, can you give a brief explanation regarding him and your ties to the original Church of Satan?
Knife: In a nutshell, Anton Szandor LaVey was the author of The Satanic Bible and the founder the Church of Satan, which is the construct of what is generally known as Modern Satanism or LaVeyan Satanism. He was also a writer, occultist, and musician, among other things. The ties we have with the Church of Satan stem back to the time when most of our founding members were card-carrying supporters of the Church of Satan. But after Anton LaVey's death in 1997, corruption took its toll and the Church of Satan was taken over by a new administration, which moved its headquarters to New York City. Much to our dismay, we felt this to be a disservice and a damn disgrace to LaVey's legacy, so we decided to start our own congregation and continue to run it out of California in a similar way that LaVey did when he ran the Church of Satan.
UW: Many people seem to hold misconceptions about Satanism and what it entails. Please, explain in your own words what Satanism is about. What do you believe are the reasons for its naysayers?
K: We take the name "Satan" as a concept only. Any other connection is just pushed on us by misinformed people. Satanism is freedom. And why Satan? Because he was the first revolutionist; he was the first one to tell God "FUCK YOU." His act of rebellion was the first allegory of freedom. By extension, instead of worshipping Satan, we emulate him.
UW: For the uninformed, there are very distinct differences between LaVeyan Satanism and Theistic Satanism. Can you give us your thoughts on those who worship Satan as a literal deity?
K: There's a lot of disinformation out there, like the idea that "Anton LaVey created and defined Satanism in the '60s, Satanism did not exist before then." Well, to put things to rest, Satanism did exist before then. It was not LaVey's Satanism, but another, far older form which we have come to call Traditional/Theistic/Spiritual Satanism. Jules Bois' 1895 manuscript "La Satanisme et le Magie" declared that there are three Satans: the Satan of the poor who turn to him for consolation, the Satan worshipped for perverse pleasure by depraved and rich people, and finally, the Satan of dilettantes who are drawn away from the true religion by an intellectual interest in mysticism. Traditional/Theistic/Spiritual Satanism, or whatever it has come to be called, is basically a Satanist that departs from the worship of one God.
UW: Clearly there is much more to Satanism than some strange, brooding occultism. Something about this speaks to a deeper understanding of who we are as creatures, what we exist for and what we exist to do. Do you believe by portraying us as creatures of excess, by goading on gluttony and throwing any sort of restraint by the wayside, that you are reducing us to something we have been trying for so long to hide? Is access into our primal nature necessarily a good thing?
K: It's always a good thing, simply because it's sometimes frightening; it's frightening because it takes an unflinching look at the power and complexity of our emotional lives, a power so great that it might in fact destroy us all. It is the unconscious mind, rather than any external demon, that could ultimately lead to our rise or downfall, and what is ultimately so unsettling about it is the recognition that this inner world we experience every day is something beyond our control. You can see that although we are predominately Satanic, Thelemic, and Masonic in nature, Satanism accepts all religious beliefs, styles, races, cultures, ideologies, nationalities, sexuality's etc. etc. As long as those that wish to follow such a path accept the premise that each individual has the undeniable right to his or her choice of reality no matter what their personal religion or choice dictates. We do not try to sway you into accepting Atheism, Freemasonry, Satanism, or Thelemism, for that is not our aim or goal. Our aim and goal is freedom, and it always will be.
UW: Do you think social structures are natural?
K: Of course, society is organized into predictable relationships and patterns of social interaction. Social structures are to some extent independent of the particular individual; they exert a force which shapes behavior and identity. The most general answer to this question is that social order is a human product. Or, more precisely, an ongoing human production. Social order is not part of the "nature of things," and it cannot be derived from the "laws of nature." Social order exists only as a product of human activity.
UW: Satanism is, by definition, a very human ideology. I sense a very strong emphasis on the individual, pleasure over pain, a very basic eat-fuck-and-be-merry attitude. While that may all be fine and well in the present, how does that address the issues of deeper meaning? Does Satanism completely forego philosophical discourse in favor of "in the now" ecstasy?
K: Satanism offers a system to surf realities and beliefs, as you will, without being engulfed, submersed, suppressed, or subservient to any of them, including ours. We are a "free" church in all the possible definitions of the word. And freedom is only found in the mind, because the physical world and its systems, such as society, bind us. With freedom comes a great responsibility to our neighbors in this society. Because as we have seen so many times, one man's freedom fighter becomes another man's terrorist.
UW: Concerning god, what is so wrong with belief? Coming from the viewpoint of a staunch nonbeliever, what can be wrong with belief? A security blanket, as misguided as it is, may still provide comfort. What in religion do you find so detrimental to man's pursuit of truth and/or happiness?
K: Honestly, the only thing detrimental is the shit that gets carried out in god's name or any other said religion: wars, bigotry, televangelists. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with belief. I believe everybody needs something to believe in. When the world is viewed with no set reality, the lies of society are revealed and the bonds of slavery are broken. By not having any set reality or belief, you are not trapped by their rules and are free to start making your own.
UW: I feel like there would be a connection between those who find Satanism desirable and those who value the idea of potential. Satanism itself has cited Neitzsche's Übermensch as an influential theory. What are your personal views regarding the scope of human potential and how it applies to Satanism?
K: Satanism is essentially a human potential movement. Satanists are encouraged to develop whatever capabilities they can by which they can excel. They are, however, cautioned to recognize their limitations, which is an important factor in this philosophy of rational self-interest. Satanists practice magic, the art of changing situations or events in accordance with one's will, which would, using normally accepted methods, be impossible. Religion and worship must be honest. If you are going to put your heart, desires and motivations behind an object of devotion, there is no point lying to yourself about the nature of your psychological projections. The source of this objectification of your ideas about reality is your own mind. The abstract nature of god, however convoluted, is your own creation. That's why all the gods in history have had human emotions, cared for humans in particular, put the Earth at the center of their schemes, cared about what us human wear, think, do and feel. Gods have even looked like us. Let us discard such wishful thinking and admit that we're making it all up.
In Satanism, we do not worship others or ideas. We worship ourselves, as we are the source of all the great things we adore. Self-worship is the most honest form of religiosity. It represents the certain qualities that the Satanist embodies including rational self-interest, avoidance of oppressive mentalities, the questioning of all, and a perseverance towards success and human potential.
UW: If you have anything else that you would like anyone reading this to take away from our little discourse, what would it be?
K: Nothing really, just a big thank you to the people that are reading this. I hope you found this insightful and I hope more of the younger generation will pick up a fucking book. If anyone needs more information on Satanism please visit our official website at www.satanicchapel.org.
Homage For Satan & Thank You!
THE ELEVEN SATANIC RULES OF THE EARTH
BY ANTON SZANDOR LAVEY ©1967
1. Do not give opinions or advice unless you are asked.
2. Do not tell your troubles to others unless you are sure they want to hear them.
3. When in another's lair, show him respect or else do not go there.
4. If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy.
5. Do not make sexual advances unless you are given the mating signal.
6. Do not take that which does not belong to you unless it is a burden to the other person and he cries out to be relieved.
7. Acknowledge the power of magic if you have employed it successfully to obtain your desires. If you deny the power of magic after having called upon it with success, you will lose all you have obtained.
8. Do not complain about anything to which you need not subject yourself.
9. Do not harm little children.
10. Do not kill non-human animals unless you are attacked or for your food.
11. When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him.