Why Do They Call Themselves Satanists (And Other Fun Facts About Group Structures)


They claim they don’t follow any concepts of Christianity, including those surrounding Satan. They don’t worship or even believe in Satan (those folk call themselves Luciferians, not Satanists, mainly to differentiate themselves from Satanists). Most members are actually atheists, typically with no spiritual views, or if they do have them they are few and limited. If you ask them why they call themselves Satanists, they’ll come up with all sorts of insane and convoluted answers that may partially tie into the philosophies of Satanism. Ultimately though, it isn’t truth.

The real reason they call themselves Satanists is product branding. If they called themselves something else, like say Levayism, then very few people would have heard of them and their membership would be limited to those few who actually care about what Levay thought. But Satanism had a reputation long before the Church of Satan opened its doors. People already had an idea of what it was. And centuries before Levay came along there was already a long line of customers forming who wanted to be Satanists, but had no where to go.

Generally Pagans are a very poor lot. Ceremonial magicians can go either way, some are rich, more often though they have expensive tastes and a poor work ethic though. So for groups like these to form groups in the community, they need to think of creative ways to fund themselves. One method is the pyramid scheme. You have a short few who do the serious work, the inner circle, and this group is funded by the much larger outer circle. Everyone only has to put in a little, and that little bit is enough to fund the smaller inner circle group and keep it operating.

The problem is the inner circle will eventually get to big. Generally the allure of these groups is spiritual progressions, particularly making it into the inner-circle where the best secrets are. Now as an example, if you figure it takes five outer-circle members to fund each inner circle member, that means every time you promote a member to the inner circle your outer circle has to grow by five members. When the group’s growth peaks there’s a lot of room to hand out inner-circle promotions, but eventually it slows down. It might seem as if one could sustain the group indefinitely by sparsely handing out inner-circle promotions, but then we get into another problem. You don’t need a gross gain of five members, you need a net gain. And if you aren’t promoting them into the inner-circle fast enough, they’ll leave and go to a different group. In the end the group falls in on itself.

The CoS was not the first group to employ this method, but it was the first to effectively combine it with product branding to circumvent its worst flaw. The word Satan draws in a lot of members. And these people don’t want to be promoted or get enlightened. They come for other reasons. They want to show off to their friends, be bad-ass, be a rebel, screw with their parents, fuck with Christianity, whatever. They pay their dues, and the Church makes them a member, even gives them a card to show off to other people. And in turn these dues fund the magickal work, and in some cases even the private income, of a select few Satanists. It’s a method that could possibly be sustained indefinitely, because the outer-circle is large whereas the inner-circle can be kept small.

Of course there are other methods to employ too. You could go the route of fleecing the rich. Basically you find well-to-do types and convince them to enter into your group, and then get them to make large donations to it. There is the ‘some second rate things in life are free’ types. These people hold meetings and rituals in parks and at local restaurants and bookstores. The very rarely do any real work. There’s also the pay to play model employed by groups like the New Agers, but this only works if, like the New Agers, the average member of the group is upper middle class with money to burn on books, tapes, seminars, vacations, ect.

4 Responses to Why Do They Call Themselves Satanists (And Other Fun Facts About Group Structures)

  1. starofseshat says:

    Spot on! And in my mind it’s a typical example of the consumerist, pop culture attitude in occultism today. Use, abuse and exploit people with psychological ticks to fund a lifestyle the lazy-arse reactionists would like to be accustomed to.
    If your self-definition is a knee-jerk reaction, a rebellion against something, then you are still defining yourself by the thing you proclaim to deplore, even if as a negative image. How much more impressive it would be to stand truly independent, put in some hard graft, and search for true gnosis.
    Most often people who organise such cultish groups around them like to think they are maverick independents, when actually they are the worst kind of spiritual prostitutes with multiple pimps they rely on to support them.
    I now step down from my soap-box :-)

  2. Rob says:

    I don’t attempt to keep it much of a secret that I don’t particularly care for Satanists and the Church of Satan (and most of its offshoots). I’ve seen quite a few really stupid Satanists, and quite a few who genuinely confuse teenage angst and rebellion with spirituality.

    However if someone wants to be a Satanists because they think it’s cool or they want to see the response it will illicit from others or they think it would be funny to see their mother’s face and then make her tolerate her Satanist children raising her grandchildren as Satanists, I’m not going to hold it against them. It’s their spiritual path after all, and I’d actually recommend the Church of Satan to them. A one time fee of $200 buys membership, and beyond that you really only need a couple small purchases, like your own Satanic bible. Considering some other religions that would traumatize your parents would fleece you for everything you have and then have you work in a mine eighteen hours a day for room and board to get even more out of you, Satanism is rather cheap, and definitely a good value. And even though they have meetings and books and such, they don’t make you attend or read them, so it doesn’t even cost effort or time. All you need to join is that $200 membership fee.

    What I’m mostly concerned about are the people who join up with Satanism and stay on that path believing that it’s supposed to be a legitimate spiritual path, or that it will help them find kindred souls, spiritually speaking, to befriend. These are people who not only spend some money for something they didn’t want, but also may end up dedicating years of their life to it and may walk away entirely disillusioned with spirituality all together. I think that by exposing these groups for what they are and how they operate it allows potential members to make an informed decision about what they’re buying into before they make an investment, of their money or themselves.

  3. Rashidah says:

    You should do a blog for The Joy of Satan.
    They are a bunch of sad teens with a crazy leader.

  4. Rayne says:

    This is a completely ignorant article. All the information here is wrong. Athiests do not ever call themselves satanists. Nobody calls themselves satanists. Satanists is a slang term others use for luciferians because they think it’s all the same. Athiests take no part in any type of higher being. They do however believe in SOME things. Just not higher powers. Before you decide to write entire ARTICLES on the internet about a subject, check your sources and actually talk to a few people from the prospective religious groups yourself. This is pretty disgusting… don’t ever give anybody advice on any type of subject related to this again because it’s blatantly wrong.

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