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 rise of the green mayor – Sadiq Khan and the politics of clean energy

At an event at Tate Modern, Sadiq Khan pledged to clean up London's act.

On Thursday night, deep in the bowls of Tate Modern’s turbine hall, London Mayor Sadiq Khan renewed his promise to make the capital a world leader in clean energy and air. Yet his focus was as much on people as power plants – in particular, the need for local authorities to lead where central governments will not.

Khan was there to introduce the screening of a new documentary, From the Ashes, about the demise of the American coal industry. As he noted, Britain continues to battle against the legacy of fossil fuels: “In London today we burn very little coal but we are facing new air pollution challenges brought about for different reasons." 

At a time when the world's leaders are struggling to keep international agreements on climate change afloat, what can mayors do? Khan has pledged to buy only hybrid and zero-emissions buses from next year, and is working towards London becoming a zero carbon city.

Khan has, of course, also gained heroic status for being a bête noire of climate-change-denier-in-chief Donald Trump. On the US president's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Khan quipped: “If only he had withdrawn from Twitter.” He had more favourable things to say about the former mayor of New York and climate change activist Michael Bloomberg, who Khan said hailed from “the second greatest city in the world.”

Yet behind his humour was a serious point. Local authorities are having to pick up where both countries' central governments are leaving a void – in improving our air and supporting renewable technology and jobs. Most concerning of all, perhaps, is the way that interest groups representing business are slashing away at the regulations which protect public health, and claiming it as a virtue.

In the UK, documents leaked to Greenpeace’s energy desk show that a government-backed initiative considered proposals for reducing EU rules on fire-safety on the very day of the Grenfell Tower fire. The director of this Red Tape Initiative, Nick Tyrone, told the Guardian that these proposals were rejected. Yet government attempts to water down other EU regulations, such as the energy efficiency directive, still stand.

In America, this blame-game is even more highly charged. Republicans have sworn to replace what they describe as Obama’s “war on coal” with a war on regulation. “I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump announced in March. While he has vowed “to promote clean air and clear water,” he has almost simultaneously signed an order to unravel the Clean Water Rule.

This rhetoric is hurting the very people it claims to protect: miners. From the Ashes shows the many ways that the industry harms wider public health, from water contamination, to air pollution. It also makes a strong case that the American coal industry is in terminal decline, regardless of possibile interventions from government or carbon capture.

Charities like Bloomberg can only do so much to pick up the pieces. The foundation, which helped fund the film, now not only helps support job training programs in coal communities after the Trump administration pulled their funding, but in recent weeks it also promised $15m to UN efforts to tackle climate change – again to help cover Trump's withdrawal from Paris Agreement. “I'm a bit worried about how many cards we're going to have to keep adding to the end of the film”, joked Antha Williams, a Bloomberg representative at the screening, with gallows humour.

Hope also lies with local governments and mayors. The publication of the mayor’s own environment strategy is coming “soon”. Speaking in panel discussion after the film, his deputy mayor for environment and energy, Shirley Rodrigues, described the move to a cleaner future as "an inevitable transition".

Confronting the troubled legacies of our fossil fuel past will not be easy. "We have our own experiences here of our coal mining communities being devastated by the closure of their mines," said Khan. But clean air begins with clean politics; maintaining old ways at the price of health is not one any government must pay. 

'From The Ashes' will premiere on National Geograhpic in the United Kingdom at 9pm on Tuesday, June 27th.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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