Healing the Spiritual Rift: Wicca and Satanism

 

Wicca and Satanism have an awkward association with one another.  Both have drawn from some of the same sources, particularly 19th century magical rituals and beliefs.  This visual similarity, exaggerated by Hollywood and and the religious right, has led some to accuse Wiccans of actually being Satanists.

In response, Wiccans often not only object to such an association but also denounce supposedly Satanic beliefs.  They encourage religious tolerance, but only so far as they systematically condemn Satanism as something vile and to be avoided.

On the other hand, Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey’s own writings make numerous digs at Wiccans and “white witches,” accusing them of hypocrisy, self-deceit, and pretentiousness.

The fact is miscreants on both sides are guilty of working with exaggerations, half-truths and misinformation. Anti-Satanist Wiccans are commonly attempting to distance themselves from things that Satanists don’t actually do, while LaVey seems to have only a vague notion of what Wiccans believe, instead presuming we don’t have deep and sincere belief and understanding of what we do.

Sure, there are differences. I am a polytheist, while LaVeyan Satanists are atheists. But, quite frankly, there’s at least as many similarities as differences. “Magic” (and that word can have many different meaning between groups) is about expression of will and emotion. Humanity is a part of nature and we should be proud of that, not ashamed of it. We should follow our needs and wants, but we should also be aware of the ramifications and consequences of those actions and act accordingly. Miscreants should get what they deserve; thus, acting badly will bring trouble upon yourself.  Wiccans and Satanists agree on these points.

The male/female dynamic is prevalent in both Satanic and Wiccan ritual, which should be of little surprise. Both groups are heirs of older occult movements which likewise emphasized the male/female dynamic. The two groups certainly went their separate ways, but the common foundation is still easily evident.

In all seriousness, I suggest to any non-beginner who is tired of fluffy-Wicca sources to take a look at some of LaVey’s works. It’s a very non-nonsense way of seeing the world, yet it bears little resemblance to what Hollywood has told you Satanists are like.

I find much of LaVey’s philosophies perfectly acceptable and a nice change from the “whitelighter” Wiccans who tell us we’re supposed to be all altruistic dolphins and butterflies. He gets overly harsh at times, but you know what? I’m a grown up. I can decide what I should embrace and what I should not. Want to know something else? Self-determination is something Anton LaVey strongly emphasizes. Reading a Satanic book does not make you a Satanist.

The fact that I’d even recommend LaVey’s works will most likely earn me hate mail. Real Wiccans don’t mess with Satanic stuff, it’ll say. Seriously, grow up. Real Wiccans avail themselves of available resources and decide for themselves what to accept as their own. Real Wiccans don’t cower from gossip and rumor about topics they’ve never bothered to study.

But you’ll encourage the Christian notion that we worship Satan! Perhaps, but only in stupid ones, and I can’t fix stupid. Considering that LaVeyan Satanists don’t even worship Satan, the idea that I’m doing so by reading some of their books is rather ludicrous. Besides which, if you’re going to have public opinion dictate your religious studies, I’m not sure if Wicca is really for you.

7 Comments to "Healing the Spiritual Rift: Wicca and Satanism"

  1. July 16, 2014 - 8:02 pm | Permalink

    “Besides which, if you’re going to have public opinion dictate your religious studies, I’m not sure if Wicca is really for you.”

    Thank you for this!

  2. Dave's Gravatar Dave
    January 27, 2015 - 6:58 am | Permalink

    Opening of spiritual rift through astral projection. I can see New York from Kentucky… Possible?

  3. Eric C. Friedman's Gravatar Eric C. Friedman
    February 2, 2015 - 7:15 pm | Permalink

    One of the early New York City Pagan Pride Day events had a sole protester – a Satanist protesting their choice of the late Isaac Bonewitz as the main speaker, because he had gone to such extremes to distance Wicca from Satanism. I had to agree with her. I appreciate this post, as well as your honesty regarding the Thelemic influences on Gardner.

    • Sceadu's Gravatar Sceadu
      November 6, 2016 - 3:59 am | Permalink

      The extremes Bonewits went to in order to distance paganism in general (not just Wicca) from Satanism included blatant lies about the nature of his association with the Church of Satan, the repeated implication that all Satanists were neo-fascists and/or dangerous psychopaths, utterly dishonest definitions of Satanism that Bonewits himself concocted in order to support his claims, lamenting the fact that US law didn’t permit pagan stores to deny service to people simply for being Satanists, and calling for pagans to make efforts to exclude Satanists from pagan events simply for being Satanists. This was specifically what Satanists were upset about, not just the fact that he was trying to distance paganism and Satanism. Just thought I’d mention this, just in case anyone misunderstood and thought it was the distancing of the two that was objected to.

  4. September 29, 2015 - 12:33 am | Permalink

    I just realized I can’t log into FB and post here for some reason because it eats my post, oddly. That’s ok, I’ll rewrite what I was gonna say here.

    I started out in Wicca, but nowadays I am just an eclectic witch. I am however, a modern philosophical Satanist now. There are definitely similarities between the material and Wicca’s because as you said, they pretty much have the same roots. I am not an atheist though. Just a polytheist and I belong to the Aztec religion, you could say, with that.

    I wish this covered theistic Satanist, because they also use pagan gods and can be considered on the umbrella of paganism. Same with philosophical or LaVeyian Satanists. I am really tired of pagans excluding Satanists, not just Wiccans. Even Witchvox does it. Whenever I am around fellow pagans for this reason, unless I know they’re cool, I just exclude the Satanist part. I agree with you that a lot of Wiccans need to put on their big girl panties about it and be more mature on the subject of Satanist.

  5. September 29, 2015 - 1:36 am | Permalink

    I can say though, I am thinking of going back to Wicca, since I started it over ten years. This site has helped me a lot and reading the admin’s posts about her not wanting to identify as one because of some of the fluffiness, has got me thinking….. I more Wiccan than anything else. So, I will probably go back to it. Thanks. :)

  6. November 17, 2015 - 6:26 am | Permalink

    Excellent article. As a young adult, I fell in with a delightful, motley crew of Satanists and Atheists. It was rather a formulative experience, rather shaming me out of my own fluffiness. I will always treasure the friendships I had then.

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