Today there are many branches of Satanism, in fact, modern Satanism is best considered an umbrella term for a wide variety of sets of beliefs and practices. The different belief systems reject western moral laws, replacing them with a combination of a positive self-image and a decided lack of conformity.
Satanic sects share three characteristics in common: An interest in magic, played out as psychodrama or mystical events; the creation of a community which defines the roles of membership as somewhere between people who share a mystical pursuit to those who live according to set of religious tenets; and a philosophy that thrives on non-conformity.
Satanist themselves range from individuals who simply follow a self-centered philosophy. to organized groups with meeting houses and scheduled events. There are many Satanist groups, the best known of which are the Church of Satan and the Temple of Set. They embrace a low level of hierarchical leadership and a loosely agreed-upon and widely varied set of religious practices and beliefs.
Satanists say they follow left-hand paths, life ways which unlike Wicca and Christianity are focused on self-determination and the power of the self, rather than submitting to a superior force. While many Satanists do believe in a supernatural being, they see their relationship with that being as more of a partnership than a mastery of a god over a subject.
Below you will find listed three main styles of Satanist practicesReactive, Theistic, and Rationalistic Satanismand afterwards a sample of what are dozens of smaller sects which follow idiosyncratic pathways to enlightenment.
In the 1960s, a highly secularized and atheistic type of Satanism arose under the direction of American author and occultist Anton Szandor LaVey. LaVey created the "Satanic Bible," which remains the most readily available text on the Satanic religion. He also formed the Church of Satan, which is by far the most well-known and most public Satanic organization.
LaVeyan Satanism is atheistic. According to LaVey, neither God nor Satan are actual beings; the only "god" in LaVeyan Satanism is the Satanist himself. Instead, Satan is a symbol representing the qualities embraced by Satanists. Invoking the name of Satan and other infernal names is a practical tool in Satanic ritual, placing one's focus and will upon those qualities.
In Rationalistic Satanism, extreme human emotion must be channeled and controlled rather than suppressed and shamed; this Satanism believes the seven "deadly sins' should be considered actions which lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification.
Satanism as defined by LaVey is a celebration of the self. It encourages people to seek their own truths, indulge in desires without fear of societal taboos, and perfect the self.
In 1974, Michael Aquino, a member of the hierarchy of the Church of Satan, and Lilith Sinclair, a group leader ("grotto master") from New Jersey, broke away from the Church of Satan on philosophical grounds and formed the splinter group Temple of Set.
In the resulting theistic Satanism, practitioners recognize the existence of one or more supernatural beings. The major god, viewed as a father or older brother, is often called Satan, but some groups identify the leader as a version of the ancient Egyptian god Set. Set is a spiritual entity, based on the ancient Egyptian notion of xeper, translated as "self-improvement" or "self-creation."
Regardless of the being or beings in charge, none of them resemble the Christian Satan. Instead, they are beings which have the same general qualities as the symbolic Satan: sexuality, pleasure, strength, and rebellion against Western mores.
Among the minor sects is Luciferianism, whose adherents see it as a separate branch of Satanism which combines elements of rational and theistic forms. It islargelya theistic branch, although there are some who see Satan (called Lucifer) as symbolic rather than an actual being.
Luciferians use the term "Lucifer" in its literal sense: the name means "light bringer" in Latin. Rather than being a figure of challenge, rebellion, and sensuality, Lucifer is seen as a creature of enlightenment, the one who brings light out of the darkness. Practitioners embrace the seeking of knowledge, delving into the darkness of mystery, and coming out better for it. They stress the balance of light and dark and that each depends upon the other.
While Satanism revels in physical existence and Christianity focuses more on spirituality, Luciferians see their religion as one that seeks a balance of both, that human existence is an intersection of the two.
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