Religion has been a cornerstone throughout the existence of humanity, providing a sense of purpose through something greater than the self. Many religions throughout time have placed emphasis on the service to a higher power – to live life in accordance to the spoken or written rule in order to be granted eternal paradise after death.
Mayan religion called for the sacrifice of both animal and humans alike to please their many gods.
Catholicism calls for following a strict set of standards such as communion, frequent prayer, and the attendance of mass.
Hinduism calls for the loving devotion to the Hindu deities, mediation on oneness, and dedication to varies religious ceremonies in order to break the cycle of reincarnation.
The list of religions can go on endlessly spanning the history of Man, each with their own positive and negative aspects. However, each individual that claims allegiance to any specific religion is ultimately seeking happiness through the means of a spiritual community and a higher power.
Satanism is no different than other religions in the sense that it’s members are seeking happiness. The only difference between Satanism and many other mainstream religions is the emphasis of worship: while other religions place an emphasis on deities and higher powers, Satanism places the emphasis on the Self – the idea that we are, essentially, our own Gods. Satanism is a highly individualistic religion that supports indulgence and freedom, but also a mutual respect for other individuals.
I reached out to “The Church of Satan” in hope to interview one of their members, to which I was contacted by one of their priests: M.A Mandrake.
M.A provided me with some great insight into what happiness means to someone from the background of Satanism, but even more than that, he proved that individuals who practice Satanism are no different that those who embrace other religions – he is simply an individual trying to find happiness in a world saturated in negativity.
10 Questions About Happiness
1. How do you define happiness?
M.A: Personally, I define happiness as the simplest manifestation of joy. I see joy as an enduring habit of gratitude that can frequently coexist with discomfort or sadness. Unlike happiness, which I see more as a mood.
That almost sounds like an academic thesis statement by a new age guru, and I am neither. But I’ll stand by it!
2. What has been your happiest moment in life so far?
M.A: That’s a tough one. I’ve experienced transcendent happiness through everything from romance to ice cream. So I’ll just try to remember a few moments in which I’ve experienced irrepressibly giddy delight: drawing a particularly successful cartoon, a party that ends with stimulating conversation until dawn, watching a squirrel eat an acorn, performing a really wacky character voice for a cartoon or video game, committing gluttony at my favorite steakhouse…
How long do we have here? I try to enjoy every moment of life as much as possible, and have had countless moments of unbridled happiness.
3. Is your idea of happiness any different than 5 years ago?
M.A: My idea of happiness is definitely changing. Or at least my understanding of it. Five years ago, being in a romantic relationship was very important to my overall happiness. Now, I’m realizing how happy I am being single. But this is more of a recent recognition than an actual change.
4. How has being a priest for the Church of Satan brought happiness into your life?
M.A: For one thing, it was a surprise! Priesthood in the Church of Satan is by invitation only, and based on how well the hierarchy sees you applying Satanism in the real world. So I take it as a great compliment that the organization representing my religious philosophy trusts me with this role. It’s also a pleasure to help represent Satanism in interviews like this.
I should mention that I would’ve been happy anyway. As we often say, Satanists are born, not made. But being part of the Church of Satan is a major bonus!
5. The Church of Satan is often wrongly lambasted, painted as the figure head for evil, and looked upon with fear- do you feel that this negatively impacts the feelings of happiness among your members?
M.A: Judging from my experiences and those of other Satanists I know, it can be frustrating when we are falsely accused of behaviors that aren’t even Satanic. It was beyond frustrating, and even dangerous at times, during the Satanic Panic of the ’80s and ’90s.
But we’re Satanists. We don’t wear Goodguy Badges, and we don’t fit into any neat category. There’s always someone on any side of any issue that sees our Third Side as an unforgivable heresy. And that’s just fine. If we were too uncomfortable with an adversarial stance, most of us would probably be vanilla atheists.
In other words, not really. We’re still happy!
6. What does happiness mean from the perspective of Satanism?
M.A: Every Satanist sets his or her own standards for happiness.
Our religion is carnal and individualistic, so perhaps the only thing we agree on is that happiness—however you define it—is only available to us here and now. This ephemeral life is our one opportunity to indulge in this universe of sensual and intellectual stimuli.
We also agree that anyone’s freedom stops at the end of the next person’s nose. So we feel free to enjoy life in any way that doesn’t hurt anyone who doesn’t deserve it. (Or want it!) And if an indulgence becomes an uncontrollable compulsion, or weakens us in other ways, we either slow down, stop, or face the consequences. Freedom and happiness are, like all things in Satanism, intertwined with a sense of personal responsibility.
Many everyday moments of happiness can be truly religious experiences for Satanists. Some of us may have unusual preferences, and that is encouraged as long as it is legal.
With all that said, there is no single standard for happiness in Satanism.
7. What is something that non-practicing Individuals can learn from Satanism to better improve their overall well-being?
M.A: After we’ve answered their questions about Satanism, many people have told us that the entire philosophy makes sense. Except for the “S-word.” So even if someone is spooked by Satanic symbolism, they can still get something out of our principles of individualism, secularism, meritocracy, and justice. Studying Satanic literature is also a great starting point for discovering groundbreaking philosophies and fascinating historical figures you might have otherwise missed. If a Satanist gets excited about someone or something, that’s probably worth looking up!
8. What has been the lowest point in your life in regards to happiness? What helped you most past it?
M.A: My lowest point in life was a struggle with clinical depression during my mid-teens. Therapy and medication helped for a while, but my love for life helped much more.
Depression never really affected my self-esteem, just my mood. So my lows have rarely been truly dismal. And for that, I am grateful. Not to any deity, but to myself, to my loved ones, and for my good luck.
And over the years, I’ve learned that every loss, except for one’s own life, is something we can survive. Once you’ve survived, you have another opportunity to thrive.
Again, I’m feeling like a guest on Oprah. But as cheesy as it feels to say, I can’t seem to deny a word of it.
9. What is one piece of advice you wish you heard when you were younger?
M.A: I’m not good at feeling regret. Not that I’m a sociopath, but regret feels pointless. Nothing can be done about the past, so I focus on learning from it to build an even better future.
It’s like “guilt-free snacking.” Why should I feel guilty for a snack? If it was unhealthy, I still don’t regret it. It was delicious! If it gives me a tummy ache and pops my belt, hopefully I’ll take the hint.
So I really don’t have an answer for this. I try to respect every step of my personal evolution for what it is, even in retrospect.
10. Are you happy?
M.A: Yes. I am consistently one of the happiest people I know. And so are the people I know. Probably because so many of them are Satanists. We’re not the ONLY happy people, but our philosophy sure makes it hard to stay miserable!
My Take Away
Through my conversations with M.A I learned that he and I both share similar backgrounds: We both come from divorced parents, we share a love for cheesy humor, we both enjoy exploring creativity, and we both love to question common ideas.
His idea of happiness being a manifestation of habitual gratitude is something we can all embrace. To be grateful for all that we have and for all that we’ve been through, no matter how hard it is or how trying it has been, unlocks to door to happiness and gives us the strength to move forward.
The individualistic principles and philosophies that Satanism teaches can greatly benefit everyone’s quest for happiness. It explores the ideas that you’re allowed to be happy without feelings of guilt or remorse, that you’re not a bad person for feeling natural emotions, and that the potential for greatness is within us all.
“10 Questions About Happiness” are posts that explore what happiness means to different people. These people come from all walks of life – some are successful in their respective careers while others are struggling to stay afloat, some live exciting lives while others live day-to-day. Happiness to one person may be completely different to another – the goal is to find what happiness means to different people and how we can apply it to our own lives.
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