A Community by Any Other Name

A Community by Any Other Name

Community is a concept where there is a lot of disagreement on the surface, but it is more a matter of definition and criteria than people seeing it differently.

Within Satanism, the community concept actually hinges on what Satanism is in total compared to what a given type of Satanism is. This varies greatly of course.

The Church of Satan maintains that a Satanic community is impossible. While my general sentiment is one of disagreement, if I were to take their definition of Satanism as a given, I would agree. As their view is that their Satanism is the only Satanism, and their view of this is also quite broad, such a community is impossible.

Within the Satanic milieu, the definition of Satanism in total is very broad. It is much wider than the Church of Satan’s view. However, these organizations have a concept of “our Satanism”. That is usually more narrow than how the Church of Satan sees it. There are exceptions though.

Members of the Church of Satan do belong to communities, and do participate in activism. These are outside interests though. However, I do not think any CoS member would claim that the presence of more than one Satanist within a charity would destroy said charity. I do not think it is like The Highlander where there can be only one.

You could theoretically have a group that was essentially Church of Satan members who are liberal and participate in pro-choice activism. This is an extremely simplistic example. It illustrates the point though. It can be a type of community. They don’t see it as a Satanic one though because it doesn’t define their type of Satanism. Because there are no “types of Satanism” as far as they are concerned, there can be no Satanic community. I agree. Defined as such, a Satanic community is impossible.

While there is nothing so simplistic as a “CoS philosophy plus liberalism and pro-choice activism” type of Satanism, there are organizations as narrowly defined.

Activism tends to be what people focus on with community, but that is a red herring. That is just one possible element. The reason that is the focus is because The Satanic Temple focuses on that, and they are the next largest organization after the Church of Satan.

While The Satanic Temple has this community component, what that means is just as nebulous as every other aspect of TST due to their lack of any cohesive philosophy. There are the tenets and some selections of classic literature where the reader simply extrapolates whatever they wish make of that based on their interpretation.

Arguments regarding the meaning of the tenets will demonstrate well that each given person brings a lot of previously made conclusions to the table. Therefore, the common activism activities are what defines their sense of community, and in conjunction with the tenets, the organization in total.

In the case of the United Aspects of Satan, community is more defined around those who share the philosophy of Ba’alean Satanism. Ba’alean Satanism is the UAoS concept of “our Satanism”. It is very narrowly defined. It is a very small piece of what Satanism is in total. That makes community possible.

When comparing LaVeyan Satanism to Ba’alean Satanism, the focus is usually on the differences in general. There are many things that the two philosophies have in common though. As Ba’alean Satanism is much more narrow, the piece of it that falls outside LaVeyan Satanism is relatively small. However there is quite a lot of LaVeyan Satanism that falls outside of Ba’alean Satanism.

This is because LaVey defined Satanism in its entirety, and therefore in very broad terms. Everyone who came after wanted to make a variation. Usually they were more narrow, some falling entirely within LaVey’s definition, many others veering outside of that to varying degrees.

As the UAoS defines its type of Satanism, community is certainly possible. Individualism remains intact too, because of this narrow set of criteria, laid out in The Satanic Narratives. It is not meant for everyone. People who happen to share it just come together under that shared philosophy.

The UAoS (at least in this way) is no different than the very simplistic example of “Church of Satan members who are liberal and participate in pro-choice activism”. In the view of the Church of Satan, neither is a distinct type of Satanism. This means the aspect of community and the Satanism part stay entirely separate in their view.

LaVey made his Satanism to be inclusive to a certain extent, although very much exclusive in other ways. My type of Satanism was made with a very different purpose. Rather than defining Satanism in general, I simply defined my path. There are other people on this path too, but relatively few. Being a potential UAoS member is a very specific thing.

The specificity of my philosophy, and how very particular I am about it, is one of many reasons I support independent organizations. Maybe they are not exactly on my path, but it is close. Close enough that they can take a slightly modified version of my philosophy and use it to define their own path. They can also center it around issues important to the local area they are in.

You can also have local communities that have a UAoS member or two, along with some Satanists who are just very similar. They have enough in common with the local goals to form their own community together. They are individualists uniting in common cause. This is no different than the aforementioned example of specific CoS members.

This is why differences in views on community are really just differences in how one defines Satanism and their own type of Satanism. If my type of Satanism was as broad as LaVey’s, I would not see community and individualism as being compatible either.

Do not get me wrong, LaVey’s Satanism is very much flavored by his personal path. Just look at the Rand influence within it, for example. But in other ways, it is very broad, which was his intent. Mine was all about my path, partly because it was mine, and partly because I knew many others were on that path too. I stated that intent in The Satanic Narratives, just as LaVey laid out his intent in The Satanic Bible.

It is not that the concept of community is viewed differently. It is just how you define a given type of Satanism that determines if it is possible. Therefore, arguments about the possibility of a Satanic community are nearly always the result of having differing definitions of Satanism.

An understanding of what the other side is saying becomes impossible for each side. That discussion falls back on the meaning of Satanism. That is the impasse for everything as some people do not recognize the concept of variations.

This is the nature of philosophy in general. It branches off into variations. Something like Satanism, which is a collection of philosophies, is going to be even more like that than an individual philosophy. These different variations are going to have different aspects which may be compatible in some, but not compatible in others.

Saying a particular concept generally works or is entirely impossible in ones own philosophy says nothing of its compatibility or lack thereof in a similar philosophy. That is all these community discussions are.