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The purpose of blasphemy in Satanism

by Diane Vera

Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2006 by Diane Vera. All rights reserved.

Is Satanism all about anti-Christian blasphemy? No. Rebellion against Christianity is not the sole or main focus of most kinds of Satanism -- at least not for the majority of those Satanists who remain Satanists for more than a few years. For most longterm Satanists, the central aim is self-development of various kinds -- "to become as gods." For some theistic Satanists, the central point of Satanism is simply the veneration of Satan. For myself, theistic Satanis is about both the vereration of Satan and an encouragement of thinking for oneself.

At least some Satanists (I'm not sure how many) have never felt any need for rites of blasphemy at all. At the opposite extreme, some are blasphemy fetishists.

In between these two extremes, there are many Satanists for whom blasphemy -- and not just anti-Christian blasphemy -- serves some worthwhile short-term goals, primarily as part of self-initiation, or as an occasional catharsis. Likewise other kinds of ritualized taboo-breaking.

There are also some theistic Satanists (a small minority, as far as I can tell) who practice rites of blasphemy regularly as part of a declaration of exclusive allegiance to Satan.

Some may ask: Why bother to blaspheme a "God" that you don't believe in? If you're an ex-Christian, the idea of deliberately blaspheming the Christian "God" may seem downright silly to you ... yet still, at the same time, vaguely scary somehow.

The point is to face those vague fears head-on.

By facing subconscious fears, you can overcome irrational inhibitions. Ritualized taboo-breaking can help you learn to think more independently -- on a deep level, not just an intellectual level. And it can open a gateway to your subconscious mind, thereby helping you to become more creative and perhaps even opening a door to psychic and spiritual development.

IMPORTANT WARNING:  A rite of blasphemy can have the above beneficial effects only if you are adequately prepared. If you do it prematurely, it will not help you at all but will only intensify your fears and de-stabilize you mentally. For example, a rite of anti-Christian blasphemy should be performed only after you have fully rejected Christian theology on an intellectual level. If you are an ex-Christian, make sure you have fully examined the arguments against traditional Christian beliefs. (See the arguments against traditional Christian beliefs on my Counter-Evangelism website. It might also be a good idea to participate in some inter-religion debate forums for a while.) You are definitely not yet ready do a rite of anti-Christian blasphemy if you still believe or even seriously consider the possibility that the Christian Bible is an infallibly inspired and historically accurate document, or if you still believe that the Christian God is the ultimate cosmic God, or if your only reason for rejecting Christianity is a moral objection to the cruelties of Yahweh as portrayed in the Bible. You should have solid and well-thought-out reasons, on an intellectual level, for rejecting many different aspects of Christianity, including traditional Christian metaphysics, and you should also have explored at least a few other religions and worldviews, to gain perspective. So, even if you've pretty much given up most Christian beliefs but haven't yet fully examined them and haven't yet spent time learning about other religions, you are not yet ready for a rite of blasphemy. I would recommend spending at least a year examining the arguments against Christian theology and exploring other religions and worldviews before you perform a rite of blasphemy.

Theistic Satanists vary in our beliefs regarding the Christian "God." Some of us believe that the Christian "God" is not real at all, in any sense, in which case the purpose of blasphemy against the Christian "God" is purely psychological, as it also is for symbolic Satanists. Other theistic Satanists do believe that the Christian "God" is in some sense a real entity, though not exactly the sort of entity that Christians believe he is (e.g. not all-powerful). For these theistic Satanists, blasphemy against the Christian "God" may also be seen as serving other purposes in addition to the psychological ones I've mentioned, the exact purposes varying with the particular Satanist's theology. For example, it can be seen as a way of banishing the Christian "God's" influence from one's life. Or, for some, it can be seen as a way of drawing closer to Satan on the basis of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." Still others believe that all gods, including Satan, are really just aspects of one God with many names, and that, by blaspheming Christian symbols, one is just blaspheming a harmful mythology or "idol," not really blaspheming God.

Those theistic Satanists whose beliefs are too close to Christianity are likely to be de-stabilized rather than helped by a rite of blasphemy. But for others it can be liberating, if done with adequate preparation.

The idea of ritualized taboo-breaking as a part of occult initiation or religious rebirth is not unique to Satanism. Some Tantrik Hindu sects have an initation rite called the "Ritual of the 5 M's" involving the deliberate breaking of orthodox Hindu taboos. And, of course, in many parts of the world, new converts to Christianity are asked to perform a rite of blasphemy against their old religion, destroying their old "idols," etc.

What kinds of taboos should you break? Depends on your upbringing. If you were brought up Christian, then a rite of anti-Christian blasphemy is appropriate. If you were brought up, say, by Communists, then perhaps some ritualized politically incorrect talk might be better. If you were brought up by neo-Nazis, play some music by nonreligious ethnic Jews, and perhaps write and recite some poems in praise of some ethnically Jewish scientists, artists, etc. whom you personally admire. If you were brought up by vegetarians, treat yourself to a filet mignon. (Eating meat is one of the "5 M's" of the Tantrik ritual.) Whatever you do, it should be something that you are comfortable with on an intellectual level, yet still find deeply frightening or otherwise disturbing on an emotional level.

If you're an ex-Christian -- especially if you had an oppressively strict religious upbringing -- you might want to perform a solemn, formal ritual renunciation of all three persons of the Christian Trinity. Another traditional rite of blasphemy is saying the Lord's prayer backwards. Another is the infamous Black Mass.

Another ritual, similar in purpose to rites of blasphemy, is John Allee's variant of the idea of a pact with the Devil. Here, too, the main point is to confront one's fears head-on.

Some Satanists from non-Christian backgrounds use the Christian "God" to symbolize a generic "herd mentality" (because we live in a majority-Christian culture) or to symbolize various popular secular ethical, social, or political ideas that the Satanist may object to for whatever reason. I personally do not recommend this. If the Christian "God" was never a part of your life to begin with, then there is no need to bring him into your life in an antagonistic way. Instead, use more direct symbols of some of the things you were taught to regard as unquestionable sacred cows.

(By the way, it's not true that today's prevailing secular humanist ethic is just a residue of Christianity. There are many other factors that have played a role in shaping modern Western culture besides Christianity. But that's a story for another article I'll write later.)

I do not advocate breaking ALL taboos. I do advocate questioning all taboos, However, after questioning, one may conclude that at least some taboos (such as, for example, the taboos against rape and against molesting children) are in place for a good reason (even though at least some of the current hysteria about them might not be justified). The only kinds of taboos I would suggest actively breaking are those which now seem senseless to you on an intellectual level, but which nevertheless are deeply ingrained on an emotional level.

Again, it is very important to make sure that you are fully prepared, on an intellectual level, to reject whatever it is you have decided to blaspheme. Do not do a rite of blasphemy on the spur of the moment without first examining, intellectually, the thing you are rejecting. Be fair and honest with yourself. Carefully examine the arguments both for and against the thing you are rejecting, so that you can make an informed decision. The purpose of the blasphemy rite is to help you banish any remaining purely irrational fears, after you have made a well-informed and well-thought-out decision on a rational level. Also before you perform a blasphemy rite, you should explore a variety of alternatives to the thing you are rejected.

I recommend that rites of blasphemy be performed in the privacy of your own home, or some place where Christians and other mainstream folks won't see you or any evidence of what you're doing.

Vandalizing churches is not cool. If you vandalize a church, not only are you asking for legal trouble (most church vandals do get caught), but you also risk making trouble for Satanists in general, not just yourself. Let's not spark another "Satanic crime" panic, please. Furthermore, vandalizing churches does nothing to weaken Christianity. On the contrary, it strengthens a congregation's sense of community as they band together to repair the damage. Remember, Christianity thrives on "persecution." If you wish to oppose Christianity publicly as well as in a private ritual, then it would be far better for you to oppose it via counter-evangelism rather than via public desecration, and via rational arguments rather than via displays of hate.

To have the desired effects, a rite of blasphemy should be deliberately scary and solemn. However, outside the context of the ritual, it's also important to be able to laugh about these matters and not take ourselves too seriously. To ex-Christians, I recommend the counter-evangelistic humor sites listed on my Counter-Evangelism site. I also recommend the Church of the Subgenius, which lampoons many different religions -- including Satanism. Too many Satanists take ourselves too seriously. We need to learn to laugh at ourselves.

As I said earlier, rites of blasphemy are not the main focus of most forms of Satanism. In other, more routine rituals, I recommend focussing on Satan Himself, not His enemy. However, if you personally do feel a need or desire to perform rites of blasphemy often, that's up to you to decide.

Also, Satanists are not obliged to hate Christians (or people from whatever background you come from). The point of rites of blasphemy is to help you free yourself from the unwelcome lingering effects of religious (or other) indoctrination that was forced on you. If a person happens to be genuinely happy being a Christian, then fine. But Christianity doesn't fit everyone's natural spiritual orientation, and some people do need to be set free from it.

I recommend a rite of blasphemy as part of self-initiation. However, self-initiation should involve more than just rites of blasphemy. In addition to a rite of blasphemy, I also recommend this self-initiation rite, which focusses more on Satan Himself.

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