What the Modified can learn from Satan
Anton LaVey, the late founder of the Church of Satan, a modern spiritual movement that preached self-determination and self-empowerment as well as a rejection of societal norms (including mass religion) and embracing individually defined ritual for personal gain, defined the fifth of nine “Satanic sins” that all free individuals should avoid as “Herd Conformity”, writing,
Clearly “the modified” have rejected the herd. Unless massive changes happen in mainstream society, body modification by definition forces the individual to stand outside the herd, whether in secret or in public. Simply by taking that little step of putting a small piece of metal through your navel, or permanently etching a design under your skin, you become something other than faceless.
Not that stepping out of the herd guarantees success. While LaVey did call on his flock to practice discretion when it suited them — or, as my father once told me, “if you’re going to be a sociopath, you can be more effective if you don’t advertise the fact” — he also felt that there were times when it was important to be public about one’s allegiance. When asked how Satanists could achieve mainstream success and world domination, he replied,
Many famous people joined the Church of Satan at the time that LaVey wrote those words — Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, the Eagles, Tina Louise, Sammy Davis Jr, and a multitude of others who chose to remain anonymous — and similarly, many well known celebrities and other people of influence are members of BME and body modification enthusiasts. I wish I could list them here in a way that didn’t violate their right to privacy, but unfortunately body modification carries a higher stigma in the 2000′s than Satanism did in the 1970′s. As a result, the vast majority keep their interests a secret, even when they rise to positions of power that would be difficult to erode no matter what they pledged to publicly.
In any case, the modified should learn from that statement and follow its advice. The easiest way to disprove the theory that the modified are degenerate losers that’ll never amount to anything is by not only succeeding in life, but by being better than them at everything. Not only does the modern Western world test truth by measuring success, but more importantly, whoever wins gets to set the rules for the next round of the game… Right now there are many rules in place designed to keep us down; only by asserting ourselves and succeeding can we change those rules — whining isn’t going to change anything.
Our biggest advantage may be that we, at least for a moment, were able to reject the shackles that enslave and imprison the herd — and if we could do it once, we can do it again. In order to exercise control over the herd and solidify their position the powerful (wealthy families, corporations, banks, governments, and so on) impose a way of living that is detrimental to achieving success and rising through the ranks. So what do we need to do?
But once you’ve achieved some modicum of success, how do you spread that influence universally? LaVey’s Satanism sought not only to liberate its members, but to liberate humanity, and it recognized that to do that it ultimately would be faced with destroying its philosophical nemesis, Christianity.
In our case, we need to ensure that we do a few important things to get started:
Because I am a proponent of “friendly isolationism”, people often write me and say, “Shannon, why do you always have to be so ‘us-and-them’… wouldn’t it be better to build bridges instead?”
To me the idea of building a bridge is ludicrous. Why would a free person want to build a bridge to a slave colony? If anyone should be building bridges it’s them — to escape their boring prisons! The only reason to open a dialogue with the unmodified is to allow them the opportunity to take a step in the right direction — toward our way of life, a way of being that doesn’t place fearful boundaries on our bodies as defined by skin… a way of life that provides powerful tools that can guide a person to enlightenment.
Now, don’t get me wrong — I’m very aware that there are many paths up the mountain and that the view from the top is probably the same — certainly there are free and enlightened individuals that choose not to undertake body modification personally. I’m reminded of the scene in Once Were Warriors (a highly recommended movie that addresses the need to bring the values that allowed people to survive oppression and slavery into modern lives) when a facially tattooed Maori asks his younger brother why he doesn’t wear the traditional moko. “I wear mine on the inside”, he replies, and there’s certainly truth to that statement.
But it’s not that easy. Just because a person says “I choose not to be modified” does not mean that they actually made a choice. Hiding under your blankets at night because you are afraid of the dark is very different than loving the light. Their “choice” may well simply mean that they are afraid to step into a self-determined and self-responsible way of living.
Assertion: Body modification is the most accessible and safest “key” to unlocking the doors to personal freedom, individual affirmation, and spiritual enlightenment that I’ve ever seen. We, the modified, need to work hard to succeed in life, and through our actions ensure that this key is protected and can reach as many people as desire it.