September 20, 2017

Satanic Jihad

In terms of the Satanism-related writing that I'm publishing on my blog, right now a lot of it is to do with the differences (and sometimes the similarities) between the Church of Satan and the Satanic Temple. 

On the side of the Satanic Temple - at least from where I'm standing - there doesn't appear to be much animosity toward the Church of Satan. From what I've observed, the most common sentiment expressed from members and supporters of the Satanic Temple is that the Church of Satan is irrelevant owing to the fact that the Church of Satan as a matter of organizational policy refuses to agitate for any social or political position and has also disavowed any role as an actively engaged leader in public discourse. 

On the side of the Church of Satan, the most common sentiment expressed is that the Satanic Temple is either simply not Satanic or else is some kind "Satanism Lite" without the meaty, spicy undertones of the Church of Satan. Speaking for myself, I reject both those criticisms of the Satanic Temple. I think that those accusations are ignorant and invite anybody who feels that way to not commit the Satanic sins of either solipsism or herd mentality.

It's fair to say that the greatest opposition among travellers of the left-hand path toward the Satanic Temple is coming from members and supporters of the Church of Satan, and speaking as a member (but of course not a spokesperson) of the Church of Satan, this is something that I think is worth discussing.

I have more thoughts on what I believe to be the reason for this hostility than I'm expressing here (and those thoughts may yet surface in a future essay), but the focus of this essay is on what I believe to be separate jihads being waged by each organization. Specifically, I've come to the perspective that the Satanic Temple and the Church of Satan are fighting lesser and greater jihads:
In his work, The History of Baghdad, Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, an 11th-century Islamic scholar, referenced a statement by the companion of Muhammad Jabir ibn Abd-Allah. The reference stated that Jabir said, "We have returned from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad." When asked, "What is the greater jihad?," he replied, "It is the struggle against oneself." -via Wikipedia
Thus, the lesser jihad is the fight against others, whereas the greater jihad is the fight against oneself. 

In this sense, the Satanic Temple's monument campaigns, their contributions to legal battles in support of women's right to bodily autonomy, their support for children to not be beaten in school, and their efforts to expose mental health workers perpetuating the Satanic Panic (and other falsehoods) are a lesser jihad which is waged against others. The overall goal of the Satanic Temple (as seen by an outsider) is to create change in the outside world in accordance with their will.

Likewise, the Church's of Satan nude witch revues, album release parties, curated art shows, use of tools as discussed in The Satanic Witch and The Satanic Warlock to gain power and pleasure, use of ritual as self-transformative psychodrama, and overall emphasis on self-awareness in regards to level of stratification is a greater jihad waged against oneself. The overall goal of the Church of Satan (as much as I understand it) is to create change within the self in accordance with the individual's desire.

If these analogies are accepted as valid--and if you see it differently, you're welcome to comment why--then I believe it's fair to say that on the whole, the membership of the Satanic Temple is more extroverted and involved in other people's affairs, whereas the membership of the Church of Satan is more introverted and involved in their own affairs. Seen from this perspective, the conflict perpetuated between the two organizations is needless and appears to be sustained by people whose identities and sense of purpose are strengthened by artificial conflict.

Or said differently, if the Church of Satan and the Satanic Temple were wolves, they'd not only be hunting different prey but would be hunting in different forests. In the Venn diagram of Satanic priorities, there's scant overlap between the two organizations and as I believe this makes animosity presently observed between the two possible only when it is engineered by interested parties.

Now let it be said that the distinctions I've made here are not only based on my own perspective and what I've seen, but also generalized. It's true that there are members of the Satanic Temple who are less interested in campaigning for justice and more interested in self-perfection and self-satisfaction. And let it also be said that there are members of the Church of Satan who are less interested in self-indulgence and more interested in civil rights and equal enforcement of the law. Let it be said that the canon literature of both organizations embraces both lesser and greater jihad. I'm not arguing that either organization is exclusively one or the other.

What I'm arguing is that I believe based on what I've seen that each organization promotes and encourages a different jihad. The lesser jihad is not "less important," and the greater jihad is not "more important." I think that both jihads are worth fighting, and that Satanic soldiers on each side have more important things to do than to get in the way of the other side's preferred jihad - especially since each side's jihad is complimentary toward the other's.

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