The Satanic Temple is not The Church of Satan, deliberately.

I have all of Anton LaVey’s books on my shelf. They’ve been there for 20 years. I’ve read them (along with a host of other related books and topics). They aren’t particularly well written, and they are heavily embellished with borrowed ideology from other sources (e.g., Rand and Redbeard). When I was younger they were everything to me. Enthusiastically I was what we now call a LaVeyan Satanist. I was also less informed and less emotionally mature. I didn’t know where Anton clipped and pasted his ideas from then.

There are still a ridiculous amount of LaVeyans asserting that since Anton named Satanism it is defined by his (their) preference of what Satanism means. Recently I listened to a boring monologue in which the speaker was incredulous that some TST members had never read The Satanic Bible, while publicly disassociating with TST because it isn’t “real Satanism” AND ironically quoting Anton as saying “If I didn’t create Satanism then someone else less (or demonstrably more, IMO) qualified would have.”

Aside from the absurdity that even Church of Satan Satanism was ever intended to be static and refuse/resist to adapt or react to social evolution and new information (which is the purveyance of Christianity and other theistic religions), there is a very plain and publicly available reason that some members in TST may not have read The Satanic Bible; it is not canon, and it is not necessary to what TST is. Indignation about that fact is irrelevant, we have extensive reading suggestions of which many also influenced LaVey and his curated creation directly or indirectly. His books don’t fall onto those lists. It’s not because we are “hiding” them or denying CoS existence. It is because the only things we have in common with CoS are that we both champion individuality (albeit in practice very differently) and have an atheistic/non-theistic religion with Satan as the symbolic herald. That can be said in two sentences. Digging into what those mean is best done in better written and researched books and dissertations other than The Satanic Bible.

Our Satanism is humanitarian and activist. It is delineated by literary tradition more so than from the occult. This is very clearly explained and elaborated on in our FAQs. William Blake’s writings predate LaVey’s by more than 150 years. Milton predates LaVey by 300 years. Any such influence found in LaVey does not negate these works from influencing and inspiring us directly via the primary sources. Revisiting Anton’s quote above; “someone else” did create a new Satanism, and whether you think we’re “less qualified” is irrelevant. We aren’t concerned with, or insulted by, the limited intellectual abilities of boring anachronisms that insist Satanism look just like it did 40 years ago despite new sociological information and the invalidation of “Social Darwinism” as a functional social theory. What exactly is Satanic, liberating, or fiercely individualistic about an invisible religion of 60s hippy culture reactionist sentiments in 2016? Personally I just think of that as the 80s, which is incidentally the decade Anton most failed to illuminate given his opportunities to address The Satanic Panic.

We intend to indulge in the positive rewards of a religious community, despite theist, other-Satanist, or non-Satanist atheist protests and tears. Memes aren’t just snarky pics on the internet. Our canon is a list of varied authors and media, it is a collection of diverse ideas and works into a cohesive vision, and it is adaptable because of that.  Memes are formed in just that manner and they can influence a whole culture. Anton created one in the late 60s in the culture phenomenon that was San Francisco, and we are here in the 2016 doing so with even more knowledge available to us.

Photo; Chris Switzer

In the end, I suspect that these folks who joined TST for the party and recognition felt the need to very publicly quit when they found out that many of the actual individuals who are passionately practicing actual rebellion against actual tyranny and injustice ingrained into our society weren’t quiet about it. This is a philosophy of action, rejection of arbitrary authority, and inquiry.  That is wholly Satanic.


Author: Ash Astaroth

Ash Astaroth is a skeptic, a transhumanist, a feminist, and a Satanist atheist living in NYC and working for The Satanic Temple of NYC.

14 thoughts on “The Satanic Temple is not The Church of Satan, deliberately.”

  1. Interesting read.
    I myself do not see my self as satanism and find the modern version of CoS not at all my cup of tea.
    I have tried to read The satanic bible but find it hard to read, it’s like LaVey got a hot potato in his mouth.

    What I like with the TST is the fight for individuals right in the US. Myself not an American but loveing America find it sometimes to fanatic when it comes to christianity. People fight more for the right to have a gun than the right over their own bodies or the right of their own belives and the free word.

    To me, I am amazed that people do not recognize the work that you do and how truly American it is, being a land build up by imigrants running from persecution in their old home countries.

    Keep up the good fight!

  2. I stand behind you all the way, but find it difficult to understand how organizations as CoS, ToS and TST came to be, giving they consist of highly individual individuals. Does self sufficient wolfs really need a pack?

    1. Wolves do not need a pack, but are much more effective in a pack than alone. Humans, like wolves, are social animals, and do not do well alone from a mental and emotional health perspective. The key here is whether we choose to band together or are forced to, whether we choose our companions or they are chosen for us. Define yourself, lest you be defined.

    2. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. So no matter how individual we may be, we can join together in the common fight.

  3. Everything about this was perfect. I’ve often said that Satanism can be a powerful framework for humanitarianism and social equality, and that Satanism is inherently feminist.

    Thank you for writing this, you put it more eloquently then I ever could.

  4. Here here.

    If TST doesn’t jive with what all Satanists want, I think that’s fine. Not all Satanists have to be TST members. Personally, I’m quite happy there’s a Satanic group that reflects the values of 21st century activism. It’s about time.

  5. Great article. Perhaps a point for discussion is that I find the continual references to ‘feminism’ in TST material to be a bit of a problem.

    I understand why the reference to women really shows the difference between CofS and TST. The pic of a bunch of women on their knees worshiping (?) the horny Anton next door to a pic of a (female) spokesperson of TST really shows the difference between the two organisations. And perhaps a sign of the times.

    But why does feminism in TST seem to have this privileged status? Additionally, there are women (eg, moi) who are deeply suspicious of ‘feminism’. It just isn’t true that all women, everywhere, are worse off than men, and that is what feminism seems to say.

    The ‘feminist’ campaigns that the TST gets involved with are great (abortion access, contraception, the fetishisation of the fetus, etc). But I see these as human rights issues of concern to everyone, and not just those with vaginas.

    I do not know why there seems to be such a heavy emphasis on feminism and not, for example, class inequality, queer politics, racism, etc. It seems as if feminism is given this privileged status as being somehow ‘integral’ to Satanism – in a way that being anti-racist etc is not.

    1. I covered my feelings on Satanic feminism in an earlier blog on here. A few things: the reproductive issues we support are ones that predominantly affect women. It’s disingenuous to pretend that men have the same oppression and issues that affect women. Ignoring that white men have privilege in our society is what continues oppression of minorities and women. Frankly I disagree that women are treated “equally”. We also are antiracist and pro racial, sexual, and identity equality. Your discomfort with the term feminist doesn’t erase the observable oppression of women that happens culturally every where we look and that is what those of us who identify as feminists seek to address. To view it from another angle, why identify as a Satanist at all since all religions are “equal”? Right? Following your logic would lead us to say why identify as anything other than human…

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