No subculture has embraced the concept of Satanism like the Gothic has. Abound with dramatic reds and blacks with graphic depictions of goat heads, pentagrams, hooded figures, and anti-authoritarian sentiments, Satanism perhaps more appropriately aligns with Goth than any other religion, aesthetic-wise. The actual practice of Satanism speaks to a person’s deeply rooted beliefs in the self and the surrounding world—a much more profound system than that of spooky imagery.
We spoke with Mel JFleming, a man of the Satanic cloth, to get a better hold on Satanic practices, as well as what it means to be a Satanist in 2015. Mel is also a card-carrying Goth and a DJ within our community here. Read on for his insight.
Disclaimer: We at PhxGoth do not endorse or condemn practices of any sort of religion, whether it be Satanic or otherwise. This interview was conducted strictly for educational purposes, with no agenda in mind.
1. Satanism has never been one of the more popular religions in the Western world. How does one choose it as a life path? Do personal stories about choosing to convert to Satanism have similar details?
Satanism as a formalized path started in 1966 by Anton Szandor Lavey, who was a philosopher and writer. He felt that religion was making humanity fearful of living up to their full potential of knowledge, personal power and inspiration. He rejected the ideal of a so-called “loving God” who’d throw you into eternal painful punishment simply for questioning his “authority,” or non-belief. He saw the disgusting abuse and hypocritical powers church vicars were having over people, making them emotionall, and intellectually weak, and afraid of their own shadow, because “God is watching.” The constant threat of hell-fire and separation from God is a huge but effective motivator. Most sStanists were religious and suffered this abuse a great deal of their lives.
I became a Satanist because Satan to me means making my own freedom. I am into self-worship and attaining my goals and pleasures to the best of my abilities. In other words, there’s no Heaven for me to try to earn and no Hell for me to fear. I do what I please, say what I please, eat, drink and make merriment, engage in pleasures of the flesh–without of course doing harm to others, and respecting their rights. You only live once. Lavey said, “If all you are going to be is a sinner, be the best sinner on the block.” Satanism is a religion of the flesh. We all have desires that should be celebrated and encouraged, not censored.
2. The Satanic Bible has become something of an icon of the bizarre in pop culture. Are those teachings what set the standard for Satanic ideology, and do they still hold up even today?
It’s only bizarre because people have capitalised in making it so. Satanists since the advent of Lavey have, in television show and movies, made so-called Satanists look strange, mentally unhinged, murderous, violence-prone, sexually deviant killers of babies, attracted to animal and human sacrifice, blasphemous, and a general danger to society. Satanists never created a world war. We didn’t create the Crusades, or the Spanish Inquisition, or the hanging and burning of millions of women and children in “Witch Trials” with the Satanic Bible. The Satanic Bible tells me to live life with confidence, strength, and no fears of man or woman.
3. Satanism is different from any other religion because it does not worship an actual deity. How would you contrast Satanism with atheism?
Satan represents freedom–rebellion from authoritarian, spiritual, and societal forces. He represents the freedom we all desire. It’s atheistic in that respect, although there are theistic Satanists who worship Satan as an actual being–as Satan, not the “Devil.” Anyone who says he/she worships an actual evil character such as that needs psychiatric assistance.
4. Can you tell us about some of the common misperceptions that you hear about Satanism and clear them up for our readers?
We don’t worship an actual “Devil.” Early religion used the characters Pan and Dionysius because of their goat-head and cloven hoof appearances. They were actually the Gods of wine, feasting, song, and sex. They were the Deities of fun and frolic.
We do not sacrifice in any form or fashion. Anyone who does so is sick in the head. We preach the love of self. Personal confidence and power. We’re normal folks with families, spouses, and children. We work in all professions, including the armed forces. We stay as a quiet people because we don’t need to make noise to be heard. We will, however, voice strong opinions when needed.
5. Can you tell us more about the common philosophies that Satanists live by?
Prosper and live. Be confident. You are your own God/Goddess. Be the best at everything. A little selfishness is not a bad thing. Enjoy a great sex life.
6. Do you see a change in people’s attitude toward Satanism compared to, say, 20 years ago?
If I were still living in Europe my being a Satanist would not be that big of a deal. Here in the so-called ”greatest nation on Earth?” People would knock me unconscious.
7. How do the Gothic community and Satanism intersect?
While there are gothics of many faiths/non-faiths, Satanism and Goth both have the philosophies of not wanting your life defined by mainstream fashion or conformity. It takes a lot of courage to be in our communities. There are people out there who’d rather see us dead than live as either Gothic or Satanists. Live as you please, I say. Ave, and Hail Satan!
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