Raised in a conservative Catholic country and a likewise household, during religion classes at school we would often be warned of falling for Lucifer’s temptatious whisper. Pentagrams and sin, heavy metal and homosexuality, freedom of expression beyond social implications and breaking the mould – those were the dangers us kids were paranoiacally discouraged from. Only recently did I understand what philosophical (not religious) satanism1 is, and why it’s the best way for me to live.
It’s All In Your Head
Satan, God, heaven and hell – to me they aren’t physical entities or places, as religious fundamentalist would like us to believe. Above all, they’re ideas which oughtn’t to be understood explicitly. Surely, this abstract way of thinking is way more complex than seeing the Bible and the Church’s teachings as literal. The answers aren’t so clear. It leaves one confused and questioning. But to me, this freedom – even if inevitably veiled in eternal perplexity – is the only way to try to make sense out of human existence in the vast, dark, and cold universe without deluding yourself.
Remembering my childhood Catholic upbringing, satanists were the punk baby-eaters, essentially evil and immoral. As we see from religion to religion, from church to mosque, and from priest to kohen, each attempt to question – not categorically refuse, but play with ideas in an attempt to find one’s own answers, as opposed to the pre-made dogmas – is momentarily played down to lunacy, whose gripping possession can only be undone by exorcist rituals. Surely, the great hypocrites at the top of the ecclesiastical ladder, the corrupt and wicked “shepherds of the people,” don’t want their followers to have their own say. People are easier to control (not lead) when they blindly listen and each seed of doubt, a proof of thinking, is deemed satanist demon worship.
And the dark symbolism? A pentagram necklace is just a piece of metal shaped in a certain way. I’m not an essentialist, and to me it’s obvious that symbols mean whatever you want them to mean. We, humans, gave them particular ideological connotations through years of cultural development, as opposed to their being eternally and unchangeably of a certain meaning. The swastika is the perfect example of that – once (and in some places still) a Hindu symbol of good fortune now seems to be associated exclusively with the Nazi regime.
To be honest, I believe that in most cases following the gothic, emo, or metalhead attire is just a style that somebody likes. Let people wear whatever they want to wear and don’t come at them with a cross if they listen to Slayer. It’s just an aesthetic, an opinion, a preference. Why care and limit their freedom?
Yes, there might be some real-life satanists hooked on occult practices. They’re equally birdbrained as those Catholic fundamentalists.2 Just saying; end of discussion.
What Is God?
Fairy tales aside – Lucifer is an idea, not a fallen angel. In this article, I’m taking the stance of a pantheistic atheism3: what we understand through God is everything that surrounds us, including ourselves. All living beings and inanimate heavenly bodies came from one infinitely small point of infinitely great mass, which created the Big Bang, hence birthing the universe. Heavy materials and other elements are created in massive celestial explosions – collisions of supermassive black holes at the centre of galaxies, super- and kilonovas, etc. Humans are made of star dust, the same matter, hence in that way we’re biologically connected to the giant burning spheres of dust in faraway cosmos.
Time is an illusion. We experience it differently depending on what we’re preoccupied with. To paint a picture, a few theses: time is not static, can be warped by gravity, and the past can’t be changed. Following this thought, we only live in the present. In my understanding, if you travelled back in time you wouldn’t create paradoxes, for you’d just go to another present that you’ve always been a part of. All coincidences happen for a reason, and so on. This is the predestination paradox that leaves us without any free will whatsoever. The very same idea recurs in astrology and contemporary spirituality: all your personality traits, major events in your life, as well as the daily ones, are already written in the stars.
Try to put it all together in your head: unity of the universe, the illusion of time, predestination. Hence, God is the universe. All the beauty and the ugliness is God. Everything that happened, happens, and will happen is God.
Still, there’s so much suffering in the world. Still, I seem to be hopeless and make mistakes because that’s who I am, and I can’t fight it. Still, the sorrows of famine, war, and death are all but necessary – they’re all incidental and immaterial on the big scale. To me, they don’t have the right to exist.
In Buddhist philosophy, this notion is similarly drawn: there is no human free will, and we’re all pawns in the hands of the universe, in the blood-stained fingers of God. If I kill you, it was never my choice – it just happened that a sharp metal object was grasped within the carbon matter that I call my hand, and in the cosmic dance it found itself stabbing you. 4
Freedom is a fundamental value to me. I glorify rebellion. Every day in every way I try to make my life a revolt against the universe: the God who is indifferent to suffering.
A French Kiss
Albert Camus’ writings, especially his essays The Myth of Sisyphus and the following The Rebel encapsulate the philosophy of absurdism quite rightly. Illegible as they might be – on occasions impossible to understand if you haven’t studied philosophy, history, and anthropology, as they’re based on references, pingbacks, and comebacks – they were a great resource for me to find a way to overcome nihilism and suicidal thoughts.
Humans are beings with a superb capacity to seek meaning, yet the universe’s purpose is either beyond our comprehension, or the cosmos is in itself meaningless. In The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus tells us to imagine Sisyphus happy: at ease with his inescapable condition and seeking to make the best of it despite the gods’ ruthlessness. Camus’s hero of the absurd is the one who refrains from both philosophical suicide (giving up the search for meaning and settling on pre-made religious dogmas etc.) and suicide in its primary understanding of taking one’s own life. The hero of the absurd gives their own meaning to the universe, lives free of ideological and social restraints, and challenges God’s indifference to us petty humans – and especially our pain.
Morality is relative, and to me, philosophically refusing to step in line, rebelling, and forfeiting systemic religion is a morally superior stance to blindly following the whimsical teachings of religious gurus, whose only goal is to control, opress, and divide. Like Lucifer, my life is the romantic cry against God who breathed life in humanity (through the Big Bang and evolution, rather than the creationist gibberish) and tries to justify suffering through predestination.
I have become the hero of the absurd, living my life to the fullest despite God’s bitter indifference to it. Today I’m feeling better and each day is unique. Even if it sucks, I’m alive and still trying.
That’s what rebelling against God, against the universe, against destiny really is – it’s a way of living. Not blindly following a religious dogma that artificially creates the illusion of meaning; not committing suicide when faced with the absurd of existence; not dressing a certain way, listening to certain genres of music, or eating babies; but waking up each day, being aware of every living minute of your life, forfeiting identity, false meaning, and hope, and being free in the present. Every day, in every now, trying.
1 The terms religious and philosophical satanism is what I personally call these approaches, so they might differ from the Wikipedia definitions. Here: religious satanism entails occult practices, whilst philosophical satanism is used in relation to Camus’ rebellion against the absurdity of existence (spoiler alert).
2 Excuse my hurling abuse, I needed to release my frustration in some way. I understand I shouldn’t do it and that I could offend somebody.5 I am a sinner. Keep scrolling.
3 The term atheistic pantheism is what I personally call this notion, so it might differ from the Wikipedia definitions. It’s all about advanced definitions of God. Hella fun.
4 If you want to learn more, check out this talk by the one and only Slavoj Žižek.
5 A footnote to a footnote? How meta. Anyways, my abusive critique is of those ritual-enthusiasts who believe in the mystical falsehoods, rather than those followers of LaVey who consciously, somehow cynically, perform rituals to satisfy the human need for the esoteric. Whatevs, don’t kill virgins or eat babies. On the whole, don’t hurt people.