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Summary of my beliefs
by Diane Vera
Copyright © 2003 by Diane Vera. All rights reserved.
Below is a brief statement of my theological beliefs.
First, I lean strongly towards polytheism -- or, more precisely, henotheism. I believe in the likely existence of many gods, but worship only one, Satan.
My own spiritual experiences have revolved around Satan. Other people have had spiritual experiences involving all sorts of other deities. It would ba absurdly arrogant of me to claim that only my own kind of spiritual experiences are real, whereas everyone else's are false.
I regard both Satan and the Christian "God" as just two of the many gods that likely exist. I am not inclined to regard either of them as cosmic dieties, i.e. I am not inclined to regard them as omnipotent, omnipresent, etc., just a lot more powerful than humans.
Given the randomness of Nature, and given the workings of life on Earth, with nearly all lifeforms feeding on other lifeforms, it seems very unlikely to me that the cosmic God, if there is one, is all-"Good" in any humanly meaningful sense, or desires the kind of personal relationship with humans (or with groups of humans) that the major Western religions believe. Therefore, any deity who does desire such a relationship with humans is unlikely to be the cosmic God.
For whatever reason, the Jewish/Christian/Islamic "God" seems extraordinarily hungry for human attention, promising eternal life to his followere (a conveniently unveriable promise) and threatening eternal punishment to those who reject him. Perhaps Yahweh is a vampiric entity who feeds on human energy -- including the energy of different groups of his followers spilling blood over their differences, Or perhaps he's just a power-hungry tyrant.
The more aggressive religions of Yahweh, hardcore Christianity and hardcore Islam, face an enemy they call "Satan." The entity whom Christians call Satan, seen as a powerful enemy of the Christian "God," appears not to be the same entity as "ha-satan" of the Book of Job.
In the Old Testament, "ha-satan" is not a proper name, but a common noun phrase meaning "the enemy," and is used to refer to all sorts of enemies, including human ones, and even Yahweh himself on at least one occasion. In the Book of Job, "ha-satan" is the heavenly prosecuting attorney, adversary of humans in the court of Yahweh. As such, he is not an enemy of Yahweh, but a servant of Yahweh. In the book of Job, there is not even a hint of enmity between Yahweh and "ha-satan," who tortures Job not merely with Yahweh's permission, but at Yahweh's prompting.
On the other hand, the New Testament "Satan" (proper name) is clearly an enemy of Yahweh, and a very powerful enemy. The New Testament speaks of Satan as "God of this world" or "God of this era" (2 Corinthians 4:4), "Prince of this world" (e.g. John 14:30), "Prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2), and as a being with enough power that he could, with even the slightest hope of being convincing, "tempt" Jesus by offering him power in exchange for worship (Matthew 4:9). And Christians traditionally lump together "the Devil, the world, and the flesh."
All of this suggests that Satan is a very powerful entity indeed. Christian theology, of course, regards its "God" as by far the more powerful of the two entities. However, in both the New Testament and the actual attitudes and behavior of hardcore Christians, there are strong hints that the two are much closer to evenly matched than their theology officially admits.
My own concept of Satan is based on a reinterpretation of the Christian concept of Satan, not the older Hebrew "ha-satan," and not an attepted reclamation of any older deity. (For more about the difference between "Satan" and "ha-satan," see my list of onlike resources on Satan, "ha-satan," Lucifer, and the Nephilim on my Counter-Evangelism site.)
I do reclaim some ideas from pre-Christian-style polytheisms. I see the quarrel between Satan and the Christian "God" not as a cosmic war between two fundamental principles but, rather, as a much more limited and local affair. If there are multiple finite deities, it is not unreasonable to suppose that some of them might not get along well with each other. I do not see Satan as being at war with the Creator of the cosmos, or with the cosmos itself.
What exactly does Satan do that is so "Evil" from a Christian point of view? Mainly, prodding people to question the Christian God, and sometimes leading large numbers of people away. Hardcore Christians define "Evil" as rebellion against their God. But the Enlightenment-era breaking of the Christian monopoly has been, historically, a good thing in terms of human freedom, material well-being, and progress. (Many of the American founding fathers, for example, were Deists, not Christians.)
Satan relates to humans in a way very different from how the Christian "God" does. The Christian "God" seeks vast hordes of human worshippers. Satan seems to want some human worshippers, but not very many. For the most part, Satan makes trouble for Yahweh on the human plane not by competing for worshppers, but simply by inspiring people to think for themselves. Satan champions, among other things, independent thought, creativity, and human empowerment (in Christian terms, our "Evil" desire to "become as gods"), e.g. via science and technology.
Historically, hardcore Christians have often felt threatened by major advances in science and by new forms of art, music, and philosophy, all of which have at various times been blamed on the Devil. Thus, many hardcore Christians have grudgingly acknowledged Satan as the Muse of Western civilization.
The idea of Satan as Muse is consistent with my own spiritual experiences, which have involved a more intense version of the same kind of "dark energy" (for lack of a better term) that I ALSO feel when I am in the flow of a creative activity -- any kind of creative activity, ranging from playing music to solving a challenging mathematical problem.
Satan is also perceived, by most theistic Satanists including myself, as having destructive aspects as well as the above-mentioned creative aspects. In both His creative and destructive aspects, Satan can be thought of as a god with an affinity for change and chaos. (By "chaos" I mean chaotic processes, of which human creativity is an example, as also is biological evolution.)
I regard Satan as a very complex, protean, multi-faceted being, not a one-dimensional archetype or "principle." Thus I do not regard the Prince of Darkness as, for example, the "Principle of Isolate Intelligence" (as some Setians call Him), although "Isolate Intelligence" is one of the things that Satan does encourage in humans.
I, like probably most theistie Satanists, experience Satan as a dark, chthonic entity, Whom I also associate with creativity and independent thought. These are among the manifestations of Satan in the human realm, and I think most theistic Satanists would agree on these manifestations, even while disagreeing on what we believe to be the essence of who/what Satan is.
Different theistic Satanists believe Satan to be a variety of different things: "the All," "the Principle of Isolate Intelligence," "the Being and Principle through which pure Mind converts and emanates as material creation," or even an essentially humanlike, though more advanced, physically embodied creature on some distant planet.
It seems to me that the fundamental nature of Satan and other gods is, in all likelihood, beyond what we humans can comprehend, at least at our present level of evolution. We are like the blind men and the elephant, each touching different parts of the elephant and getting very different impressions. All human ideas about the gods are likely to be, at best, vast oversimplifications. We should not expect to be able to nail down exactly who/what Satan is.
For me, it is enough to say that Satan manifests, in the human realm, as a "dark" chthonic entity and as the Muse of our civilization -- a civilization which, like Satan Himself, has many facets and thrives on change. May we all become fit vehicles for the Muse by developing at least some of our creative talents to the best of our ability and -- very importantly -- by learning how to think clearly, as well as by developing our psychic abilities.