by Jake Block
Most of the world sees the stereotypical Satanist as some moody, angst-ridden curmudgeon who distinguishes him/herself by their singular disdain for any form of amicable social interaction… unkempt, argumentative, foul mouthed… you know the type. There are certainly plenty of those to go around, as you can see on just a short excursion through the wonderful world of the world wide web. They overshadow those who are, by nature or by design, crafty enough to be different, even in a herd of nonconformists conforming to stereotypical archetypes.
Adolf Hitler once said, “When my generals cover themselves with medals, I shall distinguish myself by wearing none.” Now picture Hitler in most of the historical films in which you have seen him. He is generally a serious looking man, and elegantly understated in his manner of dress. There is no doubt in looking at this man, who is in charge. He epitomizes control and authority in his actions. But even in his often stern visage, he is quick to smile and seemingly sees humor in the world around him, and affection for those he holds close.
The moral? Don’t judge a book by its cover. Many Satanists are like that as well. Their image and reputation precede them, like lightning before the thunder’s crash, but once you get past that thick shell they often cloak themselves in, there is often an tender and intensely flavorful core.
There are some qualities that I find common in most successful Satanists. Some possess them to greater or lesser extents than others, but I’ve found that those who possess them epitomize what LaVey spoke of when he wrote about Strength through joy. This isn’t to say one HAS to have these qualities, but they seem to be those that allow them much more leeway in the world to work as they will, while confounding those around them who see that they don’t fit the mold of a Satanist, from what they had been led to believe.
Humor is one of the things that I have found often is a hallmark of the Satanist. I’m not talking about the kind of humor that those who posture as Satanists seem to find necessary to splash across any available website or page. Yeah. You think a dead baby in a dumpster is funny. We get it. Move on. What I am talking about is the ability to see the humor in a situation that could be serious enough to many people, and applicable to their daily lives. An old joke comes to mind.
A man was told by his doctor that he had about 24 hours to live. So he called his wife and said, “Honey, I’m dying and the doctor tells me that it will be tomorrow. It’s sad, but tonight, we will try to forget it and live. I will take you out to the best dinner of your life and we’ll eat gourmet foods and drink fine wines, and then we will go out dancing and make love until dawn…”
“Hey, buster, you just wait a minute!’ she said, “That’s all fine for YOU, but I have to get up in the morning!”
It’s a Joie de vivre that, the seriousness of daily existence cannot extinguish, in contrast to simply proving to people how outlandish and antisocially humous one can be to prove a point; giving people a show, whether they want one or not. It’s an acknowledgement that life can be cruel (to Satanist and non-Satanist alike,) but in that acknowledgement, not forsaking one’s humanity, but embracing that “it could always be worse.”
Intellectualism is another trait that I have seen amongst the most successful of Satanists, being able to look at the world around them and logically evaluate the circumstances and the practicalities that make things the way they are. By doing so, they are better able to understand the world around them and find ways to mitigate any adversities that arise from day to day life. Education is the key to unlock such powers within one’s mind, and that education can come from traditional tutoring in academic skills, for sure, but also from experience gained during one’s life in working and dealing with people on a daily basis. But even then, one has to have the ability to apply what one has learned to their daily lives and “do the math,” of “if I do THIS, I can reasonably expect THAT.”
Many Satanists these days seem to think that education is a wasted effort, and that the only thing that they will ever get out of formal education is a piece of paper saying they attended classes for “x” number of years. That could well be the case if one attends that schooling with the idea that they are somehow going to gain knowledge simply by being there, as if they can sit on the books and osmosis will eventually carry that information up to their brains. They’re missing the point of education in that it’s not about rote memory and being fed facts that seem to make no sense or have any relevance in today’s life. It’s about training the mind to think in ways that will allow them to gather and sift facts to determine situational relevancy.
Speaking to the intellectually challenged is akin to trying to explain to a kid why an arch is one of the key architectural features that allow for the building of cities, bridges and more. They have no frame of reference for the scientific or factual basis of most any subject, so their untrained minds are susceptible to magical thinking and short, easy answers offered to them by charlatans who ascribe any action or reaction to some supernatural being or diety. “You don’t need to think for yourself… all the answers are here in this book (you name it), but why read it for yourself or delve deeper? I can tell you what it all means.” Like Cliff’s notes for life.
Successful Satanists I have known share a love of learning and knowledge with successful people I have known from any walk of life. They never let their curiosity die, and insist on finding the answers to riddles that confound and excite them. A person with an active, inquisitive, challenging mind is extremely difficult to control, because his natural nature will always be to ask, “Why?”
Along with this comes a life-long sense of wonder at the world we live in and the ever changing and ever expanding pool of knowledge we as a species are amassing, but at the new questions that each of these advancements put forth for us to ponder. There is an old adage: “Just when I thought I had all the answers, somebody changed the questions.” Life should always be like that, and those successful Satanists that I have known embrace that paradigm joyfully. It’s not a challenge to their intelligence to say, “I don’t know.” It’s an invitation for them to kick that sense of wonder into gear and find out, exploring the truths and the foibles of every aspect of life as it applies to them, certainly, but also to look into the “what ifs,” indulging their minds in exploration and possibility.
What a sad life this would be if we had all the answers. There would be no need to strive, no need to progress and no need to look into the stars at night and let the mind imagine galaxies far away, or even what lies over the next hill on that long road out of town. That sense of wonder is definitely a trait of a successful Satanist.
Successful Satanists that I’ve had the pleasure to have known also are adept at interpersonal relationships, even with those they can disagree with on a daily basis. I’m not talking about being an ass-kisser or shying away from confrontation, but choosing one’s battles wisely and well, and being prepared to wage them in a way that reflects credit upon them for their skill and their knowledge. Arguing a point when it matters takes a degree of finesse and knowing human nature. Arguing to argue takes a mouth, a closed mind and time to waste on trivialities.
We all know people who will argue that the sky isn’t blue… that the Bible is the word of God… that there are cities on Mars… that there is a vast conspiracy of… They may not believe what they are arguing for or against, but they must argue. They MUST be seen as relevant and an authority on every subject and every idea put forth, often changing their positions midstream when the weight of facts contradicts what they “believe to be true.” Corner them with fact or logic and they will fall back on high school debating terminologies as a way to diffuse the situation and pivot to a new point of contention. Fail to indulge them in their manipulations and inevitably, and in pretty short order, they will fall into name calling and personal insults. Next stop, the tactic of playing the victim, bemoaning your bullying of them. You won’t let them talk. You twist their words… it can go on and on and on, longer than even this paragraph. Do you really have time for them? If so, you need a hobby.
Personally, and speaking for others I’ve known who are successfully navigating the world as Satanists, I just don’t have time for it. The time one wastes in arguing with an idiot or some self-appointed zealot for (you name it) can always be used for more important things, and is time one can never recoup. So my advice is simply not to fall into the game of eternal adversarialism. Say what you mean, mean what you say and leave it on the table. If someone doesn’t like what you have to say, they don’t have to read it or listen to it. Simple as that.
Zach Black once said something in context that, while humorous, is accurate. The most powerful two words you can have when someone doesn’t agree with you and wants to waste your time in arguing incessantly are, “Fuck You.” Sometimes you just have to move on and not allow others to commandeer your valuable time to fill up the empty spaces in their lives.
Diane LaVey once said, “Satan always was and IS a gentleman.” Gentlemen can disagree, but class and dignity will often carry the day, leaving blustering fools to be seen for what they are.
These are but a few of the traits that I have found to be common denominators in the successful Satanist, and indeed we could expand that list far beyond this short essay. It’s not my intent to define what a Satanist ultimately IS, because as has been pointed out over the years, defining a Satanist should be like trying to nail Jello to a wall. The nature of the beast is to ultimately confound definition, forcing people to rely upon anecdotal evidence provided in the third person, and stereotypes that the more visible (and almost always most pretentious) display. Like mining for treasure, the bits and pieces of wisdom they gain become further episodes for their own sense of wonder in trying to figure it all out and KNOW.
I wish them luck.
I wish US luck in further confounding them.