Today I am discussing the main difference between Spiritual Satanism and Theistic Satanism. The two are often confused for each other but they are not exactly the same. The best way to compare them both is to contrast the work of the two main religious and spiritual leaders that have been the most active in the Satanic community in the past decade. This would be Diane Vera and myself (Venus Satanas!)
Satanism’s Past Decade:
I have a lot of respect for the groundwork that Diane had laid forth for the Satanic community in general in the early 2000’s. She is well respected in her field and has enabled Satanism to branch out into a more selective experience. Gone are the days when we were relegated to only choosing the Church of Satan, or face being labeled an outcast devil-worshiper or worse, an “occultnik“.
The era of new Satanisms was lead by a few women who sought to create a new way of living through Satanism. While Theistic or religious Satanism probably existed during the 80s and 90s, as a social movement it was very much underground.
Diane goes into detail on what the Satanism scene was like during the boom of the early 2000’s internet era with her essay: Needed: New Kinds of Satanism. she rightly states that “Satanism is not and should not be a single ideology.”, and indeed, it is not. Satanism is a variety of things to many people. We all have one thing in common though, and that is a central focus on Satan.
As one of Satanism’s most vocal and respected proponents of Theistic Satanism, Diane Vera laid the groundwork for what was to come in religious Satanism as a social movement. She originally began teaching about religious Satanism with the Theistic organization, Cathedral of the Black Goat. After 2002 she branched out and created her own organization, the Church of Azazel and supplemental website. She is one of the few Satanists that has organized public religious meetups for Theistic Satanists. Her Church of Azazel served as an outreach and outlet for those interested in the religious worship of Satan.
I have also worked to bring Spiritual Satanism to the forefront through my website, my blog and my videos. With the new social attitudes concerning Satanism in the early 2000’s people were willing to take a spiritual route. Beginning in 2004, I started teaching about Spiritual Satanism, which diverges from Theistic Satanism on one main point. They are similar but they are not the same.
While Theistic and Spiritual Satanism may seem similar there is something that sets them apart. Theistic Satanism was made for the purpose of religious worship of Satan. It stood opposed to the atheistic, materialistic and philosophical views of the Church of Satan. Establishing the religious worship of Satanism was necessary to evolve Satanism in a useful and meaningful way for so many people.
Theistic Satanism provided a way for those who had a religious view of Satan to worship freely without judgment from their peers. Diane Vera talks about the Church of Azazel’s creed at her website, stating:
“The Church of Azazel embodies a unique form of polytheistic Satanism/Luciferianism. Its paradigm is rooted in both a reverence for Satan/Azazel and a strong appreciation for those aspects of the modern world that are under attack by the Abrahamic religious right wing. Its theology is based primarily on present-day realities and on the relatively recent history of religion, and is not concerned with prehistoric eras or with such questions as the origin of the cosmos.”
Theistic Satanism allows for the worship of Demons and Satan, but does not profess to have ancient origins. I can appreciate this. Too many groups and organizations try to legitimize Satanism by creating a history for it. However, since the acceptance of religious Satanism, and proliferation of Theistic Satanism Orders, Churches and Groups, there are religious Satanists who do believe in an ancient origin for Satan and Satanism. So the definition remains fluid, as always.
However, with Spiritual Satanism worship is not required nor is it part of the practices of Spiritual Satanists. According to my personal definition, Spiritual Satanism allows a person to experience Satanism on their own terms, without having rules, rituals, rites or dogma to guide their beliefs.
At my website, I discuss how Spiritual Satanism is not a religion but a spiritual way of life. It is an independent practice that does not rely on a mythology or a church or organization for motivation and self- fulfillment. Through this independence a Satanists is able to stand out above the crowd instead of being “one of the many”.
The Spiritual Satanist’s Relationship to Satan is described as being separated from religious worship. “Spiritual Satanism is the practice of living as a Satanist through spiritual expression. Spiritual Satanists are not obligated to worship Satan.” You can read the full excerpt at my essay: What is Spiritual Satanism?
There is and always be a need for people to socialize and share their religious or spiritual experience through groups. We can do that nowadays through various social network outlets. As you can see, the difference Between Spiritual Satanism and Theistic Satanism is that Theistic Satanism is religious, with included rites and rituals, while Spiritual Satanism is spiritual, left up to the practitioner to decide their own methods.
Theistic Satanism is religious and is compatible with those who want to seek an organization or church to belong to to fill their spiritual needs, while Spiritual Satanism is independent and breaks away from social conventions to be an personal path, without the need for worship. For more information on independent Satanism visit my site: What is Independent Satanism?
My conclusion is that Satanism was meant to evolve and change with the times. It is not static and archaic like the religions of the past. But, at the same time, religion should not be abandoned by those that need it for personal expression.
I’m also glad to blog today about Diane Vera, one of my favorite Satanists that I’ve followed throughout the years who remains an inspiration to us all.
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