I’ve been out of the Internet-Satanism community for several months now. I lost interest in the drama and nonsense, the amount of talk and the lack of action. I have no expectations that those who participate in forums on-line should do anything; they are Satanists and are entitled as individuals to do whatever they like. I just felt that I was wasting my time, that I have better things to do than debate, troll, and entertain others.
I do peak in now-and-again, just to see what is going on. During that time, I have seen yet another Satanist group/club/institution emerge. And, that is exactly how I thought about it, yet another redundant and pedantic banner for people with no internal sense of direction to seek it externally and think that they found the answer to… whatever. For whatever reason, the group is doing very well, attracting the disenfranchised and disappointed who have fallen away from other such efforts.
Which is probably why, recently, I took a look to see what was going on there.
Frankly, most of what I have seen so far is simply more of the same. There is, however, a glimmer of potential which sparked a thought in my mind, so I am not writing this new effort off just yet. The thought that was sparked, as I looked and evaluated what I saw in this new group, was what would the next successful, lasting institution in Satanism look like? With so many models of redundancy and failure to point to, what would success look like?
First, let us consider the one truly successful model we have in modern history: The Church of Satan. A part of its success has purely to do with its being founded in California in the 1960s. The time and environment was perfect for such an enterprise. California was on the edge of cultural-exploration. New ideas about spirituality and philosophy were being embraced and explored, so a church dedicated to Satan was no more or less radical than many of the radical ideas being presented at the time. The 60s also saw what I consider our society’s shift from spiritual childhood to spiritual adolescence. Until that time, questions of religion were limited to the accepted norms of our society; children followed the religious edicts of their parents. In the 60s, people began to truly question the necessity of religion as a whole and the institutions that made-up their spiritual options. Our predominately Christian society was beginning to consider the whole kit-and-kaboodle of God, Jesus, and Satan as silly, but still had enough respect for the myths to be awed by Satan as a concept.
Today, like the rest of the Christian mythology, using Satan symbolically is akin to adorning yourself in Dungeons-and-Dragons make-believe, and believing in Satan is similar to believing in Santa Claus. Neither suggest the function of a mature mind. The Church of Satan, which saw some moderate success in the 60s, 70s, and early 80s, would not be nearly as successful in today’s environment. It would be considered as backward and antiquated as the fundamentalist snake-handlers of Christianity.
The Church of Satan, and the brand of Satanism it espoused, was successful in its time because it questioned that very need for blind-faith, and dared suggest that it was better to have a philosophy based on what could be observed about human-nature versus a suggested spiritual ideal and a set of consequences for failing to meet that mark. The Church of Satan established a very clear and concise explanation of its “new” philosophy, and offered itself (initially) as a central hub for those that agreed with this philosophy to come together, share ideas, collaborate, explore taboos and new concepts, and enjoy the company of one-another.
This was also its flaw; the people it attracted who truly embraced the philosophy quickly realized that a central agency was not necessary, and those who remained lacked the spiritual and intellectual grit to be without a banner to flock to. Anton LaVey ended the grotto system because the grottos that were models of Satanism were potential rivals for his church, and the grottos founded by sycophants were a poor reflection on his church. The regular get-togethers at the Black House came to and end because the people who felt a need to go were ever-less about invigorating the proceedings and ever-more about simply being a part of something “special” or just being entertained while having nothing really to offer.
The Church of Satan is not the only model of success in history for us to look to, but it did build on many of the models from the past. There are several lessons to be learned from both its success and its waning. The problem is that most who look to learn from those lessons only look at the lessons of success and assume that they will do it better. They rarely consider why the Church of Satan is failing and take steps to correct for those problems. The next lasting Institution in Satanism will have several ear-marks that will contribute to its success.
It will be initiated by a small, core group who live in close proximity to one another. This group will already meet regularly and participating in events together. They will have a common interest in the mutual success of their individual endeavors. They will be involved in the personal lives of the others, and they will be supportive of one-another in a familial manner without actually being a family. The members of this group will live in separate residences and have mutually exclusive forms on employment, bringing a varying degree of expertise and different perspectives to their efforts. Their interactions will be predominantly face-to-face, with interaction through the Internet serving only to coordinate their face-to-face meetings.
It will be founded upon a goal that is mutually beneficial and necessitates a group-effort. This goal will be more than simply existing, more than being another Satanist group. It will be an effort which will enrich those who are participant, in-line with the philosophy of Satanism, and better achieved through a combined effort. The founding of a group will be a consequence of the effort to achieve the goal, and not the reverse.
It will have a precise foundation, a delineated operating procedure, and a clear structure. The goal(s) of the group will be clearly expressed and understood by all involved, as well as the means of achieving those goals. Responsibilities will be delineated. The means of measuring success will be established. This will be a naturally organic process, with changes being made as the group grows and evolves.
It will be an enterprise with a clear financial motivation. To be realistic, almost any endeavor will require a financial motivation, if only to support the cost of achieving the goal. Earning a profit is an additional motivator. Furthermore, simply having an institution purely for the betterment of your fellow Satanists is in opposition to the philosophy of Satanism. The institution will unabashedly pursue profit, and ignore any fool who cries foul about their efforts to earn a buck.
It will not be an overtly Satanist Institution. The goals of a successful Satanist Institution will be appealing to society in a broad sense, as it is founded in a philosophy rooted in the understanding of mankind as it is, not as it deludes itself to be. To limit your efforts to just the infinitesimally small segment of the population that openly declares itself as “Satanic” would be like shooting yourself in the foot before running a race. More people agree with the values of Satanism but are put-off by the pomp and posturing than people who consider themselves Satanist. You also quickly become bogged down in the “what-is-Satanism” debate, endlessly going around with keyboard-heroes who insist that Satanism is ultimately defined by the individual but chastise anyone who doesn’t share their particular view on Satanism. It is far wiser to champion the values of Satanism, however the group may define them, than to declare yourselves as a “Satanist Group”.
Its founders will be fully invested in the success of the enterprise. Each member engaged in its initial phases will have placed their own success fully in the success of the institution. The formation of an institution will not be seen as a means of propping themselves up, but rather that the investment initially made will see a far greater return. The success of the institution, for the founders, is the means by which all other goals are met.
It will have multiple venues and consist of several different tiers. The validity of your goals and values must not be allowed to be lost over issues about their source. Therefore, a viable Satanist Institution will operate through several different fronts, each focusing on a different aspect of the over-all agenda. Each front will operate as a venue through which the values and agenda of the group can be introduced to different people in ways that cater to their interests and tastes. Advancement leads eventually to the introduction of deeper tiers and knowledge of how the various operations are interdependent.
It will have a social and political agenda. Satanism is a philosophy, and those who embrace that philosophy prosper when society’s edicts are more in-line with that philosophy. A Satanist Institution, regardless of how that philosophy is defined, has a vested interest in steering the greater society in a direction that is more aligned with that philosophy. Even if the institution espouses an apolitcal stance, there is a need to be aware of and take steps against obstacles that would seek to force submission to a particular political edict, especially if those edicts oppose the institutions values defined by their Satanist Philosophy.
It will be exclusive. The next successful Satanist Institution will not attempt to embrace and unify all Satanists under one banner. Indeed, it may very well encourage further division. It will also not engage in trying to convert others to its philosophy. Instead, a successful institution will survive based on its values and principles alone, pursuing its agenda and letting those values and the success of the group to speak to those who share in its ideals. It will be exclusive to those that share its values, agree with its methods, and are themselves willing to invest and take action as a participant. Success will not be measured by the membership roles, but rather by what goals have been achieved.
It will cater to the success of its members and encourage individual development. The group’s efforts will facilitate the efforts of the individual. Part of the next successful Satanist Institutions philosophy will be that its success will be built on the success of its members. The Church of Satan approached this idea by recruiting and promoting only those people who were successful in society, but had little actual impact on that person’s success. The next successful institution will offer information, encourage the development of specific skill sets, create opportunities for networking, herald the initiation of new projects, and promote the efforts of its members.
It will have a clear path for advancement within its own structure. Once goals are declared and an agenda is set, the function of officers within the group become almost purely administrative. Honorariums aside, the next successful Satanist Institution will have little place for meaningless or self-important titles. Advancement would be based on the needs of the group, who wants to fulfill those needs, and who is best suited from those candidates.
It will be designed to become viable in its own right, without the need of its creators in order to function and prosper. This is of utmost importance to the viability of any institution. If it exists purely based on the energies and efforts of its founders, then it will not out-last them. It will be a cult of personality, one where no direction or structure was firmly established, thus those wishing to carry on have no idea what they should or should not be doing. Early on, the founders of the next successful Satanist Institution will themselves take on a subordinate role to the institution itself, establishing a pattern by example to be emulated for future success.
Given that such a group would be covert in its Satanist leanings, how would one find, let alone participate in such a group? The only way to become a member of such a group would be to demonstrate through your individual efforts the values embraced by such an institution. Through your own dealings, you would eventually wander into the awareness of such an organization, perhaps even participating unknowingly in such a group. If and when it was necessary for such a group to make you aware of their existence and offer you a position within it, such an invitation would be made. Such an institution will be the next phase in Satanism.
Such institutions are probably already in operation.