Satanism - it isn't for everyone

In his final contribution to the Faith Column, Umberto Ray explains why he is pleased Satanism lacks

As any Church Of Satan representative such as myself will tell you we know that Satanism is not for everyone. None of us expect to stand here espousing the tenets which form the bedrock of this religion and have every man and his dog knocking at our door seeking to throw in their lot with the dread prince of darkness. We would not want it any other way. We are not looking to entice the naive with promise of delight. The poet Charles Bukowski warned “Beware the average man – everything he does will be average.” Our challenge therefore remains - We Are Looking For A Few Outstanding Individuals!

Experience has taught us that Satanists are born and not made. For this reason we do not seek attention or to ensnare the saintly in the twisted web of deceit that so many are convinced we attempt to weave in the name of all things unholy. We realise our decree is not one that bends in acquiescence to the devices of mass consumption.

It is for this reason we declare ourselves the alien elite, proudly remaining emancipated from the tedium of mediocrity creeping into society, art, politics, literature and the media - comfortably sliding into bed next to all those who have subscribed to its mores and paid up in full. Our brand of elitism is one of ethics, not ethnicity. It is one that espouses the merits of the just and curses the rotten – those who would seek to deny the carnal pleasures of life and man’s own declaration of Godhood. I have no desire to offer the asinine listeners of Radio 4 hope by appearing on “Thought For The Day.”

However, over the last few days I have provided here an ephemeral glimpse through the veil that, for the casual onlooker, shrouds much of our adamantine philosophy in mystery. At the very least I hope I have proved entertaining enough to open up a few lively discussions and flung open the gates of hell to those individuals who most naturally resonate with us and will thus seek to further their knowledge by exploring the tenets within the pages of The Satanic Bible.

As an existing member of the church I am often asked how I came to become one of the many and varied individuals who make up what is The Church Of Satan. For me personally, it was some time during the late 1980’s when, sitting in the waiting room of a car repair shop, I casually picked up a newspaper and opened it at random. I was immediately drawn to a small photo in the corner. It was a picture of a shaven headed fellow with a goatee beard. I remember he rather reminded me of Ming The Merciless from Flash Gordon. But his scowling countenance possessed a twisted smile that was part personification of malice and part mockery, as if at the same time challenging the reader to ask himself the question “is he serious?”

The man was, of course, Anton Szandor LaVey. I cannot even remember what this filler article was about beyond the fact that it was a disparaging piece marking LaVey out as possibly the most evil man on the face of the earth. But it was the footnote at the bottom that caught my attention – “LaVey authored The Satanic Bible in 1969.” The very next day I rushed into a bookshop in Birmingham City and bought the book.

What I discovered was that yes, he was serious. In Blanche Barton’s authorised biography of LaVey The Secret Life Of A Satanist she mentions that his office desk bore a plaque engraved with the maxim “Beware of those that bow down before you – they might be reaching for the corner of the rug.” This amusing little anecdote pretty much sums up my own impressions when I first read LaVey’s bible. And that was whilst he was indeed serious, Satanism is rather like the stand-up comedian who’s implicit truths are delivered on a skewer of sardonic laughter that stabs the very heart of those deserved folks who, with a bit of luck, might die laughing.

The “joke” is on them. And we will be in no rush to alleviate their discomfort; after all, in the words of Herbert Spencer “the ultimate effect of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.”

Umberto Ray is predominantly known as a poet and his work has appeared in magazines and anthologies around the world. His first book, The Blood In My Veins, was published in 2005. He has been a CoS member for several years and was ordained into its priesthood on Walpurgisnacht, 2007.
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The Women's March against Trump matters – but only if we keep fighting

We won’t win the battle for progressive ideas if we don’t battle in the first place.

Arron Banks, UKIP-funder, Brexit cheerleader and Gibraltar-based insurance salesman, took time out from Trump's inauguration to tweet me about my role in tomorrow's Women’s March Conservative values are in the ascendancy worldwide. Thankfully your values are finished. . . good”.

Just what about the idea of women and men marching for human rights causes such ill will? The sense it is somehow cheeky to say we will champion equality whoever is in office in America or around the world. After all, if progressives like me have lost the battle of ideas, what difference does it make whether we are marching, holding meetings or just moaning on the internet?

The only anti-democratic perspective is to argue that when someone has lost the argument they have to stop making one. When political parties lose elections they reflect, they listen, they learn but if they stand for something, they don’t disband. The same is true, now, for the broader context. We should not dismiss the necessity to learn, to listen, to reflect on the rise of Trump – or indeed reflect on the rise of the right in the UK  but reject the idea that we have to take a vow of silence if we want to win power again.

To march is not to ignore the challenges progressives face. It is to start to ask what are we prepared to do about it.

Historically, conservatives have had no such qualms about regrouping and remaining steadfast in the confidence they have something worth saying. In contrast, the left has always been good at absolving itself of the need to renew.

We spend our time seeking the perfect candidates, the perfect policy, the perfect campaign, as a precondition for action. It justifies doing nothing except sitting on the sidelines bemoaning the state of society.

We also seem to think that changing the world should be easier than reality suggests. The backlash we are now seeing against progressive policies was inevitable once we appeared to take these gains for granted and became arrogant and exclusive about the inevitability of our worldview. Our values demand the rebalancing of power, whether economic, social or cultural, and that means challenging those who currently have it. We may believe that a more equal world is one in which more will thrive, but that doesn’t mean those with entrenched privilege will give up their favoured status without a fight or that the public should express perpetual gratitude for our efforts via the ballot box either.  

Amongst the conferences, tweets and general rumblings there seem three schools of thought about what to do next. The first is Marxist  as in Groucho revisionism: to rise again we must water down our principles to accommodate where we believe the centre ground of politics to now be. Tone down our ideals in the hope that by such acquiescence we can eventually win back public support for our brand – if not our purpose. The very essence of a hollow victory.

The second is to stick to our guns and stick our heads in the sand, believing that eventually, when World War Three breaks out, the public will come grovelling back to us. To luxuriate in an unwillingness to see we are losing not just elected offices but the fight for our shared future.

But what if there really was a third way? It's not going to be easy, and it requires more than a hashtag or funny t-shirt. It’s about picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves down and starting to renew our call to arms in a way that makes sense for the modern world.

For the avoidance of doubt, if we march tomorrow and then go home satisfied we have made our point then we may as well not have marched at all. But if we march and continue to organise out of the networks we make, well, then that’s worth a Saturday in the cold. After all, we won’t win the battle of ideas, if we don’t battle.

We do have to change the way we work. We do have to have the courage not to live in our echo chambers alone. To go with respect and humility to debate and discuss the future of our communities and of our country.

And we have to come together to show there is a willingness not to ask a few brave souls to do that on their own. Not just at election times, but every day and in every corner of Britain, no matter how difficult it may feel.

Saturday is one part of that process of finding others willing not just to walk a mile with a placard, but to put in the hard yards to win the argument again for progressive values and vision. Maybe no one will show up. Maybe not many will keep going. But whilst there are folk with faith in each other, and in that alternative future, they’ll find a friend in me ready to work with them and will them on  and then Mr Banks really should be worried.