Satan as a Symbol
By Vladislav ~ Member of The Sect of the Horned God
Although the phenomenon of atheistic religions (there are many as Satanism is not unique in this regard) should be known to the average educated person, many people are confused when they hear of someone calling themselves a Satanist without believing in the literal existence of Satan.
It is often claimed that the LHP Atheist is emotionally addicted to “Satanic imagery” or “It’s just Dawkins in gothic clothes” and even “They would be more honest by identifying themselves as just Atheists.”
While there is an absence of belief in Satan (or any gods) as a literal being in modern Satanism, to reduce it to “Just Atheism” indicates intellectual laziness or very limited knowledge of what the core of Atheism is actually about. Dawkins, Marx, Nietzsche, Rand, Comte, Hume, Hill, Sartre, Russell, Schopenhauer, Spencer, Democritus, among many, did not believe in existence of deities, nor did they have not much in common. Each of them created a unique system of thought where much more than just the absence of god could be learned from (In fact, there is more diversity in Atheistic philosophies than in Theistic). LaVeyan Satanism as an Epicurean philosophy / Social Darwinism / Objectivism / Secular Humanism with Satanic trappings would be more accurate than trying to dissolve it under a broad “Atheism” label. But this is still not correct since LaVeyan Satanism differs from each of the above mentioned.
What Theists do not realize is that their own claim and use of Satanic (or any other, e.g. Egyptian, Pagan etc.) imagery is nothing more than self-deceit only for sake of glamour, and would apply, as well, (or even more) to themselves, if accepted with all its consequences. First, it takes much more substantial self-deceit to actually believe in literal existence of deities. Second, many Theists themselves use imagery and symbolism on top of their superstitions, although they are not always aware of it.
Let’s assume that the Theist in question does not actually believe in a deity in the form of a being with horns and tail, or a donkey resembling Set, and that his concept of this deity is little bit more abstract and ambiguous. It can be, for example, some “(anti)cosmic force” which controls evolution or wants (note that subtle anthropomorphism) to destroy the cosmic order. It could also be the “principle of individual consciousness,” without which/whom individual consciousnesses would not exist. In this case, the horns, tail (or the donkey head), the name “Satan” (or “Set”) and any associated imagery and names are largely of symbolical nature, since this Theist would admit that his deity – his lame metaphysical concept, does not actually have horns, and the name “Satan” is not inherent to it. So if this Theist asks: “Why are you calling yourself Satanist if your worldview is just Atheism wrapped in satanic imagery? It would be more honest to label yourself an Atheist”, he should then be aware that he could be asked similar question: “Why are you calling yourself a Satanist if your worldview is just superstition wrapped in satanic imagery? It would be more honest to get rid of the delusional mumbo-jumbo and fancy imagery you believe in so it will be exposed for what it is” Choosing examples, I stayed in the realm of a Satanist, but this applies to any other theistic religion.
Thus, symbols and metaphors are used even in theism, whether its proponents are aware of it or not (otherwise, they had to admit they are on that “comic book level of their religion”). Sketchily understanding of this notion has led some people to conclusion that the two approaches differ only seemingly. This is not true. The difference is in what the symbol is used for and what is behind it. Using a rational approach, it represents natural phenomena that is not in conflict with scientific the understanding of the world, nor can they be considered superstitions which fills gaps in current knowledge. For example, indulgence, life, death, sexuality, freedom, justice, some aspect of the self etc, and are in no way supernatural. If a rational individual regards this phenomena as sacred, he may feel the need for their symbolic representation in the form of mythological deities in order to engage the same layers of mind which respond to dream and art. But he never crosses the line between knowingly using metaphors and confused childlike magical thinking ascribing causality, will, mind and purpose where there is none.
Belief in literal existence of deities does not make the use of mythology and satanic imagery more valid, as some often argue. It is quite the contrary. In the case of theists, use of trappings and symbolism (for which he reproaches the rationally inclined satanist) only conceals ambiguousness and uselessness of that very supernatural concept he believes in.