So what does it mean to "worship the Devil"? Is it stepping on crucifixes? Blaspheming Christianity? Desecrating graveyards? Burning down churches? Dressing in black and listening to Norwegian black metal? Rubbing your hands together gleefully and cackling madly as you read the obituaries?
Well depending on who you ask, the phrase can mean virtually anything. But what does the phrase actually mean to people who really do consider themselves Devil worshipers?
To answer this question, we must first consider the word "Devil." Just who or what is the Devil?
If you ask your local Bible-thumping Christian (I'm sure you won't have to look very hard to find one), they'll tell you that the Devil is just an angel created by God, who tried to take over God's throne and was kicked out of heaven for His pride. Now He roams the Earth, trying everything in His power to destroy the souls of women and men.
But this Devil worshiper says, "Wrong!"
If you ask your local fluff-bunny Wiccan (who might be a bit more difficult to find than her Bible-thumper cousin), she'll probably tell you, first and foremost, that the Devil isn't real. She'll probably say that "the Devil" is really just a Christian bastardization of her pagan Horned God. That's why the Devil always has horns and hooves on television; He stole them from Pan!
But again, this Devil worshiper says, "Wrong!" Both of these ideas - the "fallen angel" and the "bastardized Horned God" - are fairly recent interpretations of the Devil in the history of human ideas. And the Devil is something which has always been with us.
Did you know that the Devil is not mentioned anywhere in the Old Testament? Sure, there's a fellow called "Satan" in the book of Job, but he's far from being the Prince of Darkness and arch-Enemy of Jehovah. Instead, the "Satan" in that story is just a heavenly prosecutor who tests Job's faith, at Jehovah's command. No, the idea of the Devil doesn't show up in the Bible until the New Testament.
But did you know that there is not a SINGLE verse in the entire New Testament which refers to the Devil as an angel? It says that He "masquerades as an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:14), but that's quite different from actually BEING an angel of light. It also indicates, in passages like Matthew 25:41, that He has angels in His service. But nowhere in the entire book does it actually say that HE is an angel!
The New Testament uses a number of titles to describe the Devil - perhaps the most prominent being "the prince of this world" (John 12:31) - but the only part where it actually describes what the Devil IS, in and of Himself, is Revelation 12:9:
"The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray."
That's right, folks. The Biblical Devil is not an angel or a satyr, but a DRAGON. And the writers of the Bible were not the first ones in history to talk about a "great dragon," either.
The idea of a great serpent of darkness who lives in or encircles the Earth and wages war against the heavens, goes back to ancient Persia, Egypt, and even Sumer. In Persia, the Zoroastrians named Him Ahriman, and they blamed Him for all pestilence and pain in the world. In Egypt, the dragon was called Apophis, and He was believed to swallow the sun god each night. The Sumerians called Her Tiamat, and believed that the entire physical world - including their own flesh - had been fashioned from Her being.
In all times and places, this chthonic snake deity has always been used as a scapegoat by the conventional religions of the time. The farther back we look, the more we find that the Devil was originally just a personification of night, chaos, and the flesh.
It's easy to see why the ancients would have been afraid of the night. They didn't have artificial light like we have today, and it's always scary when you can't see. It's also easy to see why they would have been afraid of chaos, because even the slightest bit of disorder could have wrought the death of an entire tribe. But why were they afraid of the flesh?
Modern psychology has brought us a long way. Nowadays, everybody has heard of that thing we call "the unconscious." That is to say, most people understand today that the conscious self is merely the tip of the iceberg that is you. And the conscious self often cannot see all of what lies hidden underneath itself. The unconscious is where the flesh meets the spirit, and the lusts of the flesh rise up and move us as unconscious urges.
Deep in the darkest regions of our souls, we humans are ultimately nothing more than just another kind of animal. We are very formidable and intelligent animals, but we are still animals. We all experience animal urges, and sometimes they can seem frightening and disturbing to us. So many people try to repress and ignore these urges. But this only makes them all the more frightening.
The Dragon of the underworld frightened the people of ancient times because She not only represented the external forces of darkness and chaos, but their internal counterparts as well. Such is why She became their scapegoat, their "Deity of Evil," which has come down to us today as the Christian and Islamic Satan. The Devil is the great Beast, a titanic force of animal power and lust that pridefully rebels against the forces of order and civilization. And He does not do this in spite of humans; He does it through us.
But wait a minute. Another popular name for the Devil today is Lucifer, which means "light-bearer" in Latin. How did this come about?
Isaiah 14 mentions a Babylonian king - Nebuchadnezzar - who tried to prove himself superior to the Jewish god, and who was ruined for his pride. The original Hebrew calls him Helel ben Shahar, or "Daylight, Son of Morning." When the Church fathers were translating the Bible into Latin, they used "Lucifer" - which had previously been used by the Romans for Venus, the morning star - to replace Helel ben Shahar. Then they claimed that Lucifer was really a fallen angel - the Devil - and not a mortal king.
So it would appear from this that the Devil is only wrongfully named Lucifer. But this does not change the fact that if you say the name Lucifer on the street, most people who hear you will think about the Devil. It seems strange that an entity associated with the unconscious and our animal urges should be called the Bringer of Light, doesn't it?
But wait. Have you ever heard about the author who struggles with writer's block for the longest time, and who then has a sudden "flash of inspiration" that enables him to continue writing? Or how about the scientist who can't figure out why his experiment isn't working, and then the light bulb suddenly goes off inside his head? Where does this "flash of inspiration" or inner light come from?
It comes from deep down inside ourselves. It comes from the unconscious. Eureka, I think we've got it!
You see, the unconscious is not just some terrible monster that you should be afraid of. It is a source of creativity and inspiration, from which the light of knowledge rises! The Egyptians feared the Dragon because it seemed to them that He, as the personification of night, swallowed the sun in the evening. But it could just as easily be said that the night gives birth to the sun again in the morning. Darkness and chaos are not always destructive or "evil," for they can also bring forth that which is creative and new. Historically, this has always made people who are ultraconservative very nervous. Hmmm, perhaps it is not inaccurate to call the Devil Lucifer after all!
So now we have established who and what the Devil is. He - or She - is an ancient, chthonic force that "lives" in the nighttime sky, within the Earth, and deep within ourselves. He is a spiritual force that disrupts order and stasis, and yet He also brings light and knowledge. But what does it actually mean to worship Him?
Contrary to what Christian conspiracy theorists might tell you, the Devil has hardly ever been worshiped in human history. Those who appreciate and celebrate Him have always been few and far between. This is because historically, humans have prided themselves on turning a blind eye to their true animal selves. Even today, many people believe that they are somehow "enemies" with their bodies, that their bodies are "evil" and tempt them to "sin." The popular religions of the world all preach that we must oppose our flesh and be "good" so that we can experience some kind of reward after we die.
And yet the flesh continues to exert itself. In first-world capitalist countries, where people don't usually have to kill their own food, ultraviolent movies and video games have become popular. And even though the majority of people don't think it's "right" to discuss sex in public, television commercials showing scantily-clad young women are filling the airwaves. And even though pedophilia is a major taboo, the women in these commercials keep getting younger and younger.
This is all because our unconscious animal urges have to find some way of expressing themselves, and nothing will stop them. Nothing. Turning our backs on them only makes it worse.
People who worship the Devil understand that they are animal organisms, and that they are subject to unconscious, animal urges. They understand that they are their bodies, they are their flesh, and that the shadow aspects of their selves are part of who and what they are, no matter how upsetting or disturbing these aspects might seem. They understand that the more one knows about those dark aspects of the self, the less one fears them. And the more one embraces the Beast, the more one can benefit from Him.
But lest I make this all sound purely symbolic, a person who worships the Devil understands that He is far more than just a symbol or personification of ourselves. Those of us who actually worship Him - as opposed to just "making pacts" with Him or trying to control Him, as some other Satanists do - have experienced His presence as something that is very literal, very real. He is an awesome God who fills our very souls with His spirit, and who blesses us in many ways. I myself have met and experienced the Devil as a personal entity while on the brink of death only a few short years ago.
Take from that what you will, dear reader, but know that this divinity does not exist in some faraway paradise that you can only enter upon death (and if you've been "good"). This divinity is right here on Earth, all the time, and there is a part of Him in every single organism that lives and breathes. He lives inside you, He lives inside me, and we do not have to deny ourselves in order to experience His divinity. The Dragon of the underworld emanates light from within our own hearts and souls, and if we use it wisely and remain faithful to our inner selves, we can make life all the more fun and enjoyable for ourselves and each other.
So what does it mean to "worship the Devil"? It isn't stepping on crucifixes. It isn't blaspheming Christianity. It isn't desecrating graveyards or burning down churches or dressing in black and listening to Norwegian black metal. It isn't rubbing your hands together gleefully and cackling madly as you read the obituaries.
Worshiping the Devil is honoring and revering the sanctity of darkness, the beauty of chaos, and the holiness of the flesh. It is the celebration of that which makes us human, and that which makes us who and what we are as individuals. It is embracing the Beast, the chthonic Snake God who brings forth light. All hail our holy Prince of Darkness!