A1: In Jewish, Christian, and Islamic mythology, Satan is an angel who, after initially [in the _Old Testament_] being a questioner or challenger of God's goals and decisions, led a revolt against God and the loyal angels, was defeated, and was banished to an underworld called Hell, to which the same mythology also dooms inadequate or disobedient Christians and Muslims. [The Jewish afterlife in _Sheol_ is not Satan-run, and is generally applicable to obedient & disobedient humans alike.]
Over the Christian centuries, gods from competing religions were incorporated into Christianity's Satan and Hell, hence the Pan-like renditions of Satan, the use of the Roman "Lucifer" as an alternate name for him (sometimes used to identify him "pre-fall"), etc.
Q2: WHAT IS SATANISM?
A2: Satanism is the belief in the existence of Satan as a sentient being or spirit in the universe, and the worship of Satan and obedience to his perceived principles, standards, and goals. As Satan is defined as a metaphysical being - Devil or Archangel, such belief in him constitutes a religion or superstition rather than a rational philosophy or an indoctrinated ideology.
Q3: CAN ONE BE A SATANIST WITHOUT BELIEVING IN THE EXISTENCE OF SATAN?
A3: Not if words are to have their generally-accepted meanings. A Satanist is one who believes in Satan, as a Christian is one who believes in Jesus Christ, a Buddhist one who believes in the Buddha, and a Muslim one who believes in Mohammed. A person professing to be a "Satanist" but denying the existence of Satan is simply using the term for ulterior purposes such as personal glamorization or commercial exploitation. If that person denies the existence of all metaphysical beings, he is thereby an atheist, not a Satanist. If he professes to believe sometimes and not others at his whim, he is a hypocrite.
Q4: IS SATANISM AN ORGANIZED RELIGION? IF SO, WHAT ORGANIZATION(S) ARE RESPONSIBLE OR RELIABLE?
A4: Prior to 1966 Satanism existed only in scattered, short-lived instances as anti-Christian social gestures, but never as formal organizations. Christianity often represented "heretical" individuals or organizations as "Satanic", but this was mere propaganda. Thus the Knights Templar, Yezidis, Freemasons, Illuminati, Thelemites, and a variety of pagan & Rosicrucian groups were frequently labeled "Satanic" when in fact they were nothing of the sort.
In 1966 San Francisco occultist Anton Szandor LaVey founded the Church of Satan, which functioned as an authentic, sincere religion until 1975. In that year LaVey denied the existence of Satan, and redefined the Church as simply his personal commercial venture and fan club. Thereby the "Church of Satan" ceased to be an authentic Satanic religion and became simply a business front, though LaVey and his representatives continue to sell memberships and to advertise the "Church" as both "Satanic" and a "religion".
At the time of LaVey's 1975 announcement, a majority of the Satanic Priesthood and membership rejected what they considered to be his corruption and prostitution of the Church, and resigned _en masse_. These Initiates founded the Temple of Set as a replacement for and successor to the Church of Satan. The name-change also reflected the founders' realization that "Satan" was inescapably a decadent propaganda caricature of a far more ancient being. In predynastic Egypt Set was not an "evil" god, but rather the stellar counterpart to the solar Horus. [Only in later Osirian myth - the basis for much of Judaeo/Christian mythology - would Set be corrupted into an "evil" figure.]
Besides the Church of Satan and Temple of Set, other organizations and persons have from time to time proclaimed themselves to be Satanic and to represent Satanism. If sincere, they would have to believe in Judaic, Christian, or Islamic mythology and to worship its antithesis-Devil. If insincere, they merely use "Satanic" terminology for glamor, shock, or commercial reasons.
Q5: IF THE TEMPLE OF SET DOES NOT BELIEVE IN JUDAEO/CHRISTIAN/ISLAMIC MYTHOLOGY, WHY DOES IT CALL ITSELF A "SATANIC" RELIGION? WHAT IS IT DOING HERE ON ALT.SATANISM?
A5: For the last two thousand years most of the social cultures in which the Temple currently exists have been dominated by one or more branches of Judaeo/Christianity. This influence is far more pervasive than most people consciously realize, extending into these societies' most basic assumptions about law, justice, ethics, social mores, family units, and metaphysics. It is easy to not be a member of a Christian church, or to call oneself a non- Christian; it is far more difficult to escape from J/C social conditioning.
Within this climate many of the aspects of Set are symbolized in religious imagery by the *positive* attributes of the J/C Satan. While Judaism, Christianity, and Islam created their "Satan" distortion of the Set _neter_ of ancient Egypt in order to fashion an "evil scarecrow" to intimidate and control their societies, they could not help endowing "Satan" with such Setian attributes as independence, creativity, honesty, artistry, and intellectual genius - as these *same* attributes, except in severely controlled and approved forms, are "sins against God" in J/C/I culture.
Therefore many persons of Setian disposition and potential first become aware of their true nature through an unusual interest in and attraction to "Satan" and Satanic imagery. [This was the case of the Temple of Set as a whole, which from 1966 to 1975 - as the Church of Satan - was exploring the Left-Hand Path from within J/C terminology.] Hence it is sometimes necessary to use the "Satanic" metaphor to initially communicate with J/C-socialized individuals concerning Setian interests and capabilities they otherwise find difficult to express. Once such persons understand what they are actually awakening in themselves, they are more easily able to recognize and jettison the entire cage of J/C reference-points, then enter a much larger universe as Setians.
Q6: WHAT IS BLACK MAGIC? HOW DOES THE TEMPLE OF SET TEACH IT?
A6: Black Magic is consciously-directed alteration of one's environment through obscure natural (Lesser Black Magic) or non-natural (Medial Black Magic) means, or apprehension of the Forms/Principles of the natural/non-natural universe (Greater Black Magic). The Temple of Set teaches both theory and practice of LBM/MBM/GBM, along with individual and social ethical considerations to which the Initiate must be sensitive in order to use such magical knowledge creatively, constructively, and responsibly. [Descriptions of "Black Magic" as involving human or animal sacrifice, rape, or other illegal or reprehensible practices are merely Judaeo/Christian propaganda, and have no basis in truth whatever.]
Q7: IS SATANISM CRIMINAL? WHAT ABOUT ALL THE ALLEGATIONS THAT SATANISTS PRACTICE HUMAN/ANIMAL SACRIFICE, CATTLE MUTILATION, CHILD MOLESTATION, CANNIBALISM, GRAVE-ROBBING, ETC.?
A7: Authentic Satanism (i.e. the 1966-75 Church of Satan and the 1975-present Temple of Set) is emphatically non-criminal and, if anything, far more decent and socially mature than any conventional religion. As it is based on principles of creativity, beauty, freedom, courtesy, tolerance, and pleasure, this is inherent in its design.
Since its inception, Christianity has made use of the most horrific propaganda to attack its competitors. For many centuries it was the Jews who were accused of human sacrifice, cannibalism, [Christian] child sexual abuse, etc. - and persecuted accordingly. As the Church of Satan and Temple of Set were founded in a period of extreme religious tolerance and experimentation in the United States, such propaganda was initially not a serious problem to them. In the 1980s, however, a revival of Fundamentalism sponsored a wave of unprecedented "Satanic crime" hysteria, first in the United States and then in culturally- close nations such as Britain and Australia. By the mid-1990s, many studies by responsible law-enforcement and academic institutions have thoroughly exposed and discredited the "Satanic crime" myth, although some Fundamentalists still try to promote it. The Temple of Set maintains a database of the most current and prominent of these law-enforcement and academic reports.
It is unfortunately the case that the Fundamentalist propaganda campaign has convinced some sick or maladjusted Christians that the way to practice "Satanism" is indeed to perform the destructive and perverse outrages prescribed by the Fundamentalist propaganda. When such Christians go on emotional rampages, they may follow that model and call themselves "Satanists". Obviously the Temple of Set denies them this title, just as the 1966-75 Church of Satan denied it to them. However this phenomenon illustrates the dilemma that the Church of Satan regularly confronted [and which foreshadowed the Temple of Set's rejection of J/C mythology altogether]: that the god *it* represented as good and constructive was the *same* one defined by the world's three largest conventional religions as evil and destructive.
Q8: HOW CAN ONE FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE TEMPLE OF SET?
A8: The current General Information Letter is available upon request. Write to: Executive Director, Temple of Set, Post Office Box 470307, San Francisco, CA 94147, USA. Or provide a *postal* - not E-mail - mailing address to Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q9: WHAT ABOUT ANSWERING QUESTIONS ON ALT.SATANISM?
A9: Earlier postings on this newsgroup by Temple of Set representatives were responded to politely by most other participants, but also resulted in some rudeness by a few individuals who find the truth about Satanism inconvenient.
Our solution is to simply post this FAQ periodically on the newsgroup henceforth. All disrespectful responses will be ignored/killfiled, whether posted here or sent separately to the Temple. Courteous, sincere inquiries may be answered *privately* if a postal or Internet address is provided.
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