Who or What is Satan?
It is often asked, if it is necessary for a Priest or Priestess of Satan, to actually believe in the existence of Satan? In one sense the answer must ultimately be, yes. Simply put, if you are a member of a Priesthood and your answer is no, then I ask you, who in the hell are you a Priest or Priestess of? If you do not recognize Satan in some sense, as being factual to some lesser or greater degree, then how can you truly belong to any sort of Priesthood of Satan.
The next tricky question there presents itself. Who or what is Satan? The answer is surprisingly straight forward, and yet simultaneously complex. Satan is whatever you, as a member of the religion define or determine this principle to be. Once you have recognized and acknowledged this principle, Satan then can, and does exist. Opinions of and experiences with Satan often vary greatly among the initiates of the religion.
Here is a brief list. There are probably many more that could be added to this:
An intelligence or entity which operates both separately, and at times in conjunction with that of our own psyche, and not just as an aspect of it.
An "indwelling essence".
A god of mankind's creation.
A thought form that is both self-aware and independent of its creators. Tulpa, or Egregore.
A God, self-created.
A neter - a necessary principle of creation affecting the Subjective Reality and the Objective Universe.
A purely Platonic Form.
Not a Platonic Form, but an ideal. A representation of man’s own nature.
All of the above.
The key is, as I've said above, Satan is whatever you define him to be. We are not and should not be required to adopt one view over the other. This would be antithetical to the philosophy of genuine Satanism. Blind faith would make us no different to the other major religions of the world who are dictatorial in nature and do require you to adopt a literal belief in or disbelief of "one true God" as a hard line fact. Leaving little to no room that the existence of such a "God" is debatable. Those who wish to not only insist, but equally enforce their belief or disbelief of such a god onto others are, in my opinion, deluded, politically motivated, or fanatic, and are in no way seekers of truth or interested in investigating and developing their own spirituality.
What makes the Religion of Satanism different is that each comes to his or her own understanding of Satan through personal experiences, contemplation, and investigation of the individual psyche, humanity and the world around us. Thus resulting in our forming our own definition, however complete or incomplete it may be. Our methods of approach to this research are varied, and produce different results.
So can we reconcile the difference and maintain a balanced attitude toward one another's perceptions, without insisting that one must be more accurate than the other? I say yes.
Those who come to perceive Satan as the "dweller within" have discovered and experienced the source of the Satanic in the Subjective Reality as opposed to the Objective Universe. Their prime concern is themselves, and it is within that they find the answers to the mysteries they seek. This is certainly a valid approach when viewing the Left-Hand Path as the path of self-initiation. Whose “Xeper”, as the Setians call it, are we seeking if not our own, and isn't this what we are all striving for?
Aquino’s Word of Set could be seen as supporting this approach in the statement "Arise in your glory, behold the genius of your creation, and be prideful of being for I am the same - I who am the Highest of Life."
For those who perceive Satan as an external influence, the source of the Satanic has been discovered within and inspired by the Objective Universe rather than ones own Subjective Reality.
The Book of Coming Forth by Night lends itself to this approach with the statement, “Speak to me at night, for the sky then becomes an entrance and not a barrier."
One could assume from this statement that Satan or in this case Set, resides somewhere among the stars, or is simply to be looked for outside of oneself.
If we believe that Satan has awakened the Black Flame within mankind, then it is this “Gift of Satan” that has allowed our fellow Initiates to achieve conscious recognition of the self. "I am within and beyond you," bridges the gap between the variations of approach and their results.
There are however always dangers and pitfalls to watch for when opting for one belief over another. We should always try to take care to avoid such pitfalls. Becoming “territorial”, for example, about one's belief in religion. The "I'm right; you're wrong; if you don't agree with me, there's something wrong with you" syndrome. This is often a good example of signs of insecurity in one’s own faith.
Belief derived solely on the hearsay of others, is yet another common trap we should strive to avoid. This really doesn't do much to increase your personal knowledge. Recognition in this case would be questionable at best, or completely dismissive all together. Your definition and knowledge of the nature of Satan can only truly be found via personal experience, and a personal discovering of your own relationship to the concept.
Belief in one view and denial of any other, out of fear of being penalized or ridiculed by one's peers is a sign of weakness, uncertainty, and inability to think freely. It is extremely limiting. It’s sad but this happens all too often in Satanic Organizations, and frankly stupendously ignorant should the differing views have the same root or be nearly identical, save for a few differences. We should strive to never brow beat our brethren into our way of thinking. Being biased and discounting the beliefs of another could be said to be discounting the beliefs of the other. What is more is that holding desperately to one's belief may cause stagnation of that belief if it is based on inadequate or incomplete or outdated information.
Those of us who have encountered, and believe in Satan himself, or any Demons, can develop an exaggerated opinion of our ability to contact and understand Satan's position. Thusly leading ourselves astray by doing what we think Satan wants. We can blind ourselves to his truth by limiting our own perceptions.
For those who believe that Satan dwells within us, or that we are our own Satan or Demon, this doesn't mean that we can stop questioning, clarifying, investigating, testing our position and what we think we are, or that we simply can't continue to improve and grow.
All are possibilities that must invariably be considered.
Thus it is in conclusion our faith in a very real Satan, while undeniable, must remain fluid. Satan can be many different things to many different individuals. To ascribe Satan one archetypical facet would be simply folly.
Satan is probably best described as simply that “Dark Undercurrent of Energy in Nature.” Or as they may say in Star Wars, “The Dark Side of the Force.” It is an ironic, if not apt description of an entity that moves so many lives.
So now it is up to you to decide. Who or what is Satan to you.