Are Satanists born or made?

As I’ve written about here, some major Satanic groups use the idea that “Satanists are born, not made” in order to maintain control over Satanic discourse and justify programs of elitism and exclusivity.

Church of Satan member and independent scholar Cimminnee Holt has written to suggest that the real purpose of her Satanic organization’s oft-repeated dictum is to invert a formula from the second/third-century CE Christian Church Father Tertullian to the effect that “men are made, not born, Christians.” Contrary to Christianity, Holt argues, Satanism promotes no aspirational rigor for what it means to be Satanist beyond understanding, embracing, and fully living your own human nature and natural predispositions.

Of course, birtherism in service to a notion of Satanists comprising an “alien elite” is the very definition of racialized thinking. It justifies classification of self v. others along the same sort of natural-unnatural axis that non-Satanists, Christians especially, resort to in order to enforce heteronormativity, for instance. White nationalists appeal to much the same notion in order to legitimize their particular ugly agendas.

Looking back on my own life, I do see certain traits that marked me, from a fairly early age, as ripe for Satan’s harvest. Such traits include a certain moral flexibility, a pronounced sensual focus on physical pleasures and the body, a thoroughgoing antipathy to authority, perpetual outsiderhood even in the company of otherwise similar individuals, and the like. 

But I wouldn’t personally place too much emphasis on this kind of “incidental Satanism,” as even LaVey himself in the section of The Satanic Bible entitled “Some Evidence of a New Satanic Age” argued that aspects of modern American life and culture—like greed, materialism, prosperity focus, sensuality, and hyper-sexuality—already mark our modern time as one in which a certain incidental Satanism is already very much in the air all around. LaVey sampled the prevailing winds and intuited that he was inhabiting an era in which “a new religion, based on man’s natural instincts, [could and should] come forth” with the name that Christian outsiders have traditionally used in order to demonize it. “It is called Satanism,” LaVey wrote.

In the end, I’d say that vacillating overmuch over whether it’s “ok” to decide to come to Satanism later in life and make oneself a Satanist through an act of self-declaration already kind of cuts against the grain of what it means to actually be and to live as a Satanist. Who cares about what elites think does or does not make you a Satanist? About whether your life up to the present moment in some way evidences an inner “Satanic streak” or spark of the so-called “Black Flame”? If it wasn’t kindled in you before, you can damn well light the match yourself.  

The point is: if you’re reading this, you might already be considering yourself a Satanist or at least a probable or possible one. And I, for one, say: Great! Keep reading, learning, and, most of all, Sataning in your very own, unique and carefully crafted way.