Anarchism, while certainly having a dark side, often tries to stress to the masses that it’s not all fire and brimstone, not simple violence and seizing the means of production. We stress that Anarchism is about mutual aid, about living life freely and to the fullest; we often paint pictures of joyful federated villages where everybody matters and everyone is happy. But where’s the Anarchism for those folks that LIKE fire, that CRAVE darkness, that would go so far as to swear allegiance to the ultimate symbol of Evil and Depravity? You go to the Church of Satan, Anarchist.
I can’t remember exactly how I stumbled across them, though my client work as of late had certainly taken a darker tone. My readings all seemed to involve disasters and divorces, my candles were aimed at breaking hexes or putting them on, even my trips to the graveyard were to make pacts and alliances with Spirits to set certain people straight. Perhaps it was this abundance of “baneful” energy that pulled the church’s facebook page my way. Whatever it was, the sheer fact such a church existed was enough to piqué my curiosity.
The idea of the Devil is an uncomfortable one for modern Paganism: it comes far too laden with Christian undertones, begs the question of moral baggage, and hints at a more infamous side of magical practice most are loath to accept. The many traditions are trying to make themselves palpable to the general palate.
But what has Paganism lost by excluding the Prince of Darkness from its list of acceptable deities? A lot actually, according to Gordon from Runesoup:
“By the time the Devil reaches us here in the era of Apocalyptic Witchcraft, it has picked up and embodied the transgressive, animating force of all life in the universe, the face of a homosexual donkey, the tools for rebellion against the outgoing archonic regime, the blood of two Crusades, a role as Western Europe’s Trickster Spirit, some kind of extraterrestrial initiatory tech literally fallen from the stars, centuries of clandestine meetings in forgotten places and a decidedly Neighbourly hurricane of High Strangeness accompanying it down through the millennia to our sabbats… High Strangeness that persists to this day.”
As a Conjurer I’m free from such spiritual hangups. I’m not trying to make my “faith” suitable to anybody; an air of darkness and mystery is something every Hoodooman and Root-Woman cultivates carefully. Like cigarette smoke we drift in-between the darkness and the light as our work takes us.
After cleansing my home and preparing for whatever spiritual nasties might follow a Satanic Priest I talked with a member of the Church, whom we’ll refer to as Apolloyn, to discuss just what exactly was Lucifer’s role in bringing down Capitalism and smashing the State.
Dr. Bones: “Glad to be speaking with you. Firstly, what is The Church of Satan, Anarchist? Is it a group of Anarchists that follow the Left Hand Path? Are they Left Hand path folks that like Anarchism? How did such a thing come to be?”
Apolloyn: “The Church of Satan Anarchist is an organization based upon the reinterpretation of Satanic mythology through the lens of anarchist thought in order to demonstrate anarchist values such as antiauthoritarianism, voluntary association (generally meaning freedoms of speech and assembly, and the corollary freedoms to refuse to speak or assemble), mutual aid, solidarity, autonomy, and direct action. Anarcho-Satanism critiques State and Corporate hierarchies as pre-conceptually based upon the hierarchies of theism and clergies, all of which rely upon the cultural preconceptions of an imagined “divine” hierarchy.
“Satan is an empowering archetypal symbol of anarchism when the character opposes such hierarchies. However, we don’t necessarily ascribe to a “left-hand path” philosophy… generally, we view the left-hand/right-hand dichotomy as reflective of the different anarchist philosophies of individualism and collectivism, and we seek a balanced (or adaptive and flexible) approach to these positions. Many historical anarchist thinkers, including Godwin, Bakunin, and Proudhon spoke highly of the character of Satan (especially as portrayed by Milton in Paradise Lost), and we are expanding upon their praise. Bakunin referred to Satan as “the original rebel, the first freethinker, and the emancipator of worlds”, and this statement is axiomatic of our organization and foundational to our belief structure.”
Dr. Bones: “Whew, a mouthful and a lot to go into. We’ll start at the top. How do you see the figure of Satan in Anarchism? How is he viewed in this lens and how do you use this spirit/symbol as a guide?”
Apolloyn: “Satan can be viewed as embodying several anarchistic roles or activities. Firstly, Satan can be seen as an instigator of a militant and liberating resistance movement (of angels, against God). Secondly, Satan can be seen as a labor organizer (who organized angelic laborers to effectively go on strike and cease working for their boss God). Thirdly, Satan can be seen as a political prisoner (who was imprisoned in Hell for political activity against God’s governance of Heaven and Earth). Fourthly, Satan can be seen as a fugitive, trespasser, or illegal immigrant (who escapes from Hell and makes an unauthorized crossing into Eden). Fifthly, Satan can be seen as a subversive educator (who inspired humanity to seek forbidden knowledge). Because Satan is a multifaceted and complex mythological character, Satan, as a symbol, can be used to personify the aforementioned anarchist values. Other symbols of anarchism, such as the circle-A or black flag, do not provide such personification.”…