Following on from a conversation that I had with my church community the other day ("Can Christians eat Hell Pizza") - as well as a very bizarre blog post I recently found through the Twitterverse - I have been re-examining the philosophy of (LeVayan) Satanism to see what I think about it. That is not to say, "whether I like it", since I largely don't. It is merely as an intellectual curiosity.
Despite its obviously negative traditional theistic roots and the ordinarily bad press that baby eating, goat killing image that some American media sources like to push on Satanism (interestingly, LaVey actually decries and commands against all such things in his Satanic Bible), modern CoS Satanism is an iconoclastic, extreme-libertarian, atheistic, materialist philosophy that views - and revels in - Satan as a symbol of humanity's carnal nature.
CoS Satanism is not without its share of spells and other magical mumbo-jumbo, but their rituals revolve around carnal pleasures rather than anything else traditionally expected. I won't go into any details here but, needless to say, the magic rituals would have more general appeal to a pubescent male than a professional butcher.
I found a couple of interesting journal articles exploring the subject. This quote is from Lewis, J.R. (2001) "Who Serves Satan? A Demographic and Ideological Profile." Marlburg Journal of Religion, 6(2):
The problem with [the stereotypical/uninformed] kind of analysis is that Western society is long past the state in its cultural history where Satan and Satanism can unambiguously be equated with evil. The difficulties inherent in Russell's assertion [that Satan is, by definition, evil] become evident as soon as one entertains its corollary, namely that Christ and Christianity are by definition good. However positively we might regard Christianity, few of us would be willing to characterize the influence of the Christian tradition as an unalloyed good. Although we might wish we could make such simple, straightforward associations, the fact of the matter is that the cultural images of Satanism and Christianity we have inherited are complex and often ambiguous. We do not have to look any further than everyday speech to perceive how thoroughly Satan's sinister associations have been diluted: We live in a world where, without a second thought, we consume Deviled ham and Devil's food, "play Devil's advocate," describe certain locations as "hellholes," go out and have a "Devil of a good time," wake up "feeling like hell," and so forth.
In short, Satan has come to represent much more than the ultimate bad guy. Though Satan and his minions sometimes still play their timeworn roles as representatives of pure evil, our culture has also invested the Devil with many positive, attractive traits. A prime example of this is sex: Because of the Christian Church's traditional negative attitude toward sexuality, the diabolical has come to be associated with sex and sensuality. Satan has also been portrayed as a proud, clever, creative non-conformist willing to question the status quo. In the modern world, all of these characteristics are regarded as positive traits (at least theoretically). It is difficult to understand modern religious Satanism without taking into account of this reevaluation of the Prince of Darkness.
I'm still analysing and processing the topic, so don't expect anything too profound at this time. But I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the issue of Satanism, Satan (the literal Being), Satan (the symbol), or anything else.