Queer Satanism

What follows is the text and slides from my Queer Satanism lecture. In the future I hope to grow and expand upon it (and do a better job of presenting it in person ūüėČ

Think of a time that you felt empowered for being yourself unapologetically. Particularly in an authoritarian setting like a classroom. Now think of how that affected your behavior and presentation afterwards.

Satanism was first an accusation similar to witch that was meant to other and demonise people or cultures. Satanism began appearing as a topic in fictional literature such as La Bas or The Revolt of the Angels (which mentions ‚Äúsatanic priests‚ÄĚ)

Romantic literature portraying Lucifer/Satan as a heroic figure of rebellion against tyranny combined with the fictional mentions of groups of ‚ÄúSatanists‚ÄĚ inspired the imaginations of occultists and social justice advocates particularly in the wake of the French revolution against the ruling classes. They began to see the archetype of Satan sympathetically through its representations in fiction often as a metaphor for resistance to an overreaching government and church and theocratic political and social climate.

In 1966 Anton Lavey founded the Church of Satan. Religious scholars agree that this was the first time that the self identity and religious organization expressly called Satanism appeared though the concepts had been well established before and Anton was not working from a “blank slate”. Since then other organizations such as The Satanic Temple have evolved their own Satanic philosophy and Satanism that is deliberately independant from the Church of Satan.

Queer, originally simply meaning strange or peculiar, started being used as a pejorative towards anyone not cisgendered or heterosexual in the late 19th century incidentally around the same time that occultists and social justice advocates began reclaiming Satan from its previous pejorative use.

The French Revolution inspired people to empower themselves against the tyranny of their government and Church by reclaiming Satan. The AIDS crisis in the 1980s similarly inspired some LGBT people to to reclaim Queer in response to the conformity and complacency they perceived in the LGBT movement and our government which was doing as little as possible to address the deaths of gay men they considered beneath consideration and worthy of ridicule even as they died.

Groups like Queer Nation and ACT-UP rallied around radical resistance and what they saw as a milquetoast approach by the gay community concerning the crisis. The reclamation of Queer began as a rejection of the respectability politics emerging in the LGBT community and a call to arms that being ‚Äústrange or peculiar‚ÄĚ is not an acceptable reason to be denied safety, equality, or life itself.

 

A little glimpse of my own backstory and queer satanic history; I grew up in Marietta OH and went to Marietta High School. I was out at school during the later years of high school. This would have been 94 or 95.

I was fairly well known for being an iconoclast and it seemed to come as second nature to me.. I’ll spare you tons of nostalgic adventure stories but I do want to share one.

We had a rock at the entrance of our highschool which we were allowed to paint. The idea being that if there was one space where students were allowed to graffiti then the rest of the school building may be spared.

Most of the time it had some kind of team spirit shit on it but once it was painted black with a silver swastika and the words ‚ÄúNo Yibs‚ÄĚ(whatever kind of slur that was supposed to be) painted on it.

This juvenile idiocy stayed on the rock for several weeks…

Until my friends and I had the idea to fix it. We bought some black and hot pink spray paint and covered the swastika with a pink triangle and the words ‚ÄúGay Pride‚ÄĚ one evening.

The next day the first period art class was sent out to paint over it after it had greeted everyone on their morning arrival to school. I was the target of heated discussion which derailed every class that I was in that day. No one had paid attention to the swastika on that rock for weeks, but everyone was highly concerned about our school being represented by a Gay Pride rock.

The next night we returned to paint it again with the additional message ‚Äú1 in 10 people are gay‚ÄĚ.

(that was the statistic bouncing around back then)

Again, the art class painted over it during first period. Time was taken out of an entire class period to censor a message that our community was uncomfortable with or hated, and it wasn’t the Nazi message.

I think it is difficult for many younger people to understand the context of how things have changed since 94. We were essentially pre-internet. I spent my time in libraries and bookstores learning about other gay people, Satanists, and their cultures I felt a part of. I had to special order books that were never stocked at local bookstores. Kids did not regularly come out in highschool in small towns in the 90s. There were few LGBTQ alliances or resources available to youth due to the demonization of Gay people as pedophiles or the notion that youth could be ‚Äúturned‚ÄĚ Gay. ¬†I had to sneak into the gay bar a few towns away on nights during the middle of the week to meet other gay people. I say this to help you understand the gravity of what happened next‚Ķ

So, on the third night when we returned…

(what did you think I was just gonna give up?)

So on the third night we returned. We painted the rock with Gay Pride again and on this night we didn’t stop there. We painted the exterior walls of the school as well. For these messages I used lyrics from Marilyn Manson, who had just released Portrait of an American Family. The walls of our school now had two foot tall scrawled graffiti declaring that It was now time for white trash to prepare for cake and sodomy among other expletives.

The volume on the disruptive classroom discussions was now at 11 on the following day. For most of the school I was at best an annoying attention seeker, at worst an evil deviant villain that deserves violence. After extensive arguing and debating in every one of my classes I was called to the office. Everyone knew I had done it though I hadn’t expressly admitted to it.

There in the office Mr. Smicklass asked me if i had had anything to do with the graffiti on the school. I don’t think he expected me to admit to it.

I was more than happy to however. I railed at him about the prioritization of censoring Gay Pride but not a swastika and I implied that I would be seeking to let my friends at the local newspaper know that swastika stayed on the rock for weeks but that the school used class time on several consecutive days to cover up an innocuous message of inclusion.

Mr Smicklass paused for a bit… and then took great care to explain to me the monetary value of the damage I had done to the school before offering some possibly half-hearted words of encouragement about how difficult high-school is for unique people. He then dismissed me to go back to class. No suspension, didn‚Äôt even call my parents. Understand that I was no stranger to suspension for doing far less than thousands of dollars of damage to public property. To this day I am uncertain whether my principal was just a decent human being or if he was scared of the repercussions of public opinion. In any case it was one of many moments I‚Äôd had of empowerment through unapologetic expression where I embraced tactics and phrases that shocked the narrative and exposed it‚Äôs hypocrisy. These moments and their interplay on my inherent nature shaped me.

Criticism of Satanism by atheists often mirrors criticism of queer by LGBT people.

This victim-blaming approach is predicated on the inability of people with a more milquetoast set of interests and expressions to advocate for equality on the behalf of and alongside people that express themselves in ways outside of their own comfort zone for fear of losing the approval of other bland people.

Atheists who often feel maligned as Satanic by theists object to having strange clad people with an affinity for things they find distasteful standing with them on the same goals.

LGBT people who object to the identification of Queer often also resent Pride and specifically members of our community that trigger their internalised sex shame and homophobia. The reasoning being that Queer is a hurtful or distasteful word (to them) so nobody should be using it. They find integral members of our community, like the gender non-conforming or Leathermen and Drag Queens or promiscuous people ‚Äúembarrassing‚ÄĚ to be seen publicly. Rather than examine the approval they still seem to require of the homophobes around them they blame those who don‚Äôt exhibit such a strong desire or need for that approval.

Both of these can be summed up as respectability politics which is how things like gay marriage and military service got prioritized over better legal and systemic protections for queer youth. In most cases of respectability politics the biggest proponents of respectability can be expected to drop out of the discussion once they achieve the goals that affect them personally.

I am sure some measure of effectiveness can be achieved by a certain amount of respectability politics at the right time and in the right circumstances, but it is never a Queer or Satanists first tool and the effectiveness of it has a glass ceiling through which radical social progress and evolution which benefits all communities is never reached.

Reclamation is a tool that people who value individual unapologetic expression often harness. A huge factor of this is the relationship between the personal empowerment of accepting a feared or pejorative accusation as an identity and how becoming that label disrupts the popular narrative. When the herd imagines and names a clawed fang mawed villain capable of influencing or destroying society with ease in the absence of exhausting and conspiratorial vigilance they create an archetype and imbue it with a power that is prefabricated for any superstition deficient defiant group of people who have an axe to grind with a particular superstition or ‚Äútraditional value‚ÄĚ

A current passion point of The Satanic Temple regarding our fights in the public forum regarding separation of Church and State is that we are no longer interested in explaining what we are and stand for to those outside of our community who can’t be bothered to internalise our message or read our websites and articles. Ultimately even if we were Devil worshipping fools or all of the worst things that fevered conspiracists or theists imagine our equality under the law is not subject to restriction based on how distasteful obtuse troglodytes find us to be. We don’t hide anything about who we are and we acknowledge that who we are is by our own design but there is no legal justification in a country founded on secular values with freedom of speech and expression to exclude us from public forums where other religions and their beliefs are represented. We are simply tired of the tone of apologizing and repeatedly explaining ourselves to the intransigent in futile efforts to make them comfortable.

We simply don’t care to labor to achieve your comfort if it interferes with our equality under the law.

These are similar to the feelings that lead up to the Stonewall rebellion and later the reclamation of Queer as an identity during the AIDS epidemic when we watched our president and his cabinet laugh and make jokes about faggots dying while they ignored and enabled more death.

As I mentioned in my recent blog I belong to both the Satanic and Queer communities because of the makeup of my personality and individuality. I wrote recently about how Satanists are the Leathermen, Drag Queens, nerds, and gender non-binary people of the atheist and religious communities. And it is that way because that is the makeup of our inherent personality. We have an aversion to banality and celebrate the unusual and truly free.

Being LGBTQ (and especially the Q) is not just a non-issue in The Satanic Temple, and it’s not something we merely “tolerate”. Coming out and celebrating your own individuality in spite of traditional popular narratives is fundamentally always something that requires no thought to support as Satanists. To that end when we are asked why we are such a haven for Queers and other LGBT people we are often caught off guard by our own neglect to even consider that we wouldn’t enthusiastically encourage the involvement of brave people who champion individual expression and equality in spite of the danger of violence that it puts them in.

In short, being Queer in TST is such a natural fit to us that until recently none of us really thought very deeply about it.

LGBTQA+ Pride, Religion, and Satanic Empowerment.

I began writing this last year before a (possibly closeted) man committed the worst mass shooting in US history targeting¬†LGBTQ people of color in Orlando bar and sanctuary Pulse. Discussions about toxic forms of religion that are inseparable from toxic forms of masculinity are not what I intended to discuss and I won’t be doing so here. I’m also not going to play LET ME GOOGLE THAT FOR YOU regarding the complete functioning definitions or examples of religion for either atheists or theists. ¬†My intent was to promote and discuss¬†the reclamation of religious identity from those who wield it to radicalize, demean, and exclude¬†rather than incorporate, evolve, and include.

These religions and communities we can utilize to support each other both in times of crisis and joy and they are more than suitable replacements for the broken socially regressive death cult religious communities many of us left behind. To those who call for the death of religion I say that you are not being specific enough, and that instead our rallying cry is for the birth of MORE religion based on rationality and/or community above doctrine. My goal is always the positive assertion of my deeply held religious belief despite colloquially based narrow assertions of what the definition of religion is.

Evolve or perish

We can and should take religious identity¬†back from those who’ve rejected it and to balance the milieu of toxic religions monopolizing it when it is convenient for them. When they do¬†reject religion as a self adjective¬†it is because it has become¬†poor marketing for their agenda. If the term “religion” is now so negatively associated that people will go to great lengths to describe themselves as “spiritual not religious” or “having a personal relationship¬†with God” while still enjoying the legal and cultural privilege¬†of their religion then it is beyond past time we gladly take advantage of those same legal and cultural benefits.¬†Let dozens, hundreds, of unique religions bloom and choke out the sole propriety¬†of dogmatic religious ideology. If we are going to discuss personal relationships with our religion or spirituality then I challenge anyone to come up with an example of something more personal than a self selected and maintained personal mythology that provides the context that empowers me to be wholly and shamelessly myself with little regard for social traditions that no longer make sense and thwart progress and individuality.

Many atheists would like to tirelessly remind us that their internalized objection of the term religion makes it an unacceptable choice for secularists (particularly if the religion in question makes their parents or neighbors uncomfortable). In the case of The Satanic Temple I find these arguments similar to those that LGBTQ people hear every year leading up to and during June. The objection being towards those in our community, Leather Men, Drag Queens, Trans people and Queers, taking visible roles in our public celebrations and activities where they can be observed as an expressive and integral part of our community. Satanists are to the religious and atheist communities what Queers, Leathermen, and Drag Queens are to the LGBT community. Sometimes we are being activists, sometimes we are performing, and sometimes we are just celebrating our interests openly and defiantly without shame.

Religious identity is not dissimilar to general cultural identity construction. The point we make most consistently as Satanists is that we recognize and embrace our individual mythologies as personally relevant archetypes and inspirations that you don’t have to partake of if you aren’t inclined to. We don’t follow a religion simply because we were indoctrinated into it by community tradition or default. We are part of an evolving religion that develops without much regard for dogma or social norms which don’t serve a rational purpose. We accept diversity and do not recruit or proselytize. ¬†

The Stonewall vigil for Orlando victims in NYC
The Stonewall vigil for Orlando victims in NYC

Christians often¬†say “I am¬†not religious, I have a personal relationship with God”. Pagans are fond of being “spiritual not religious”. Atheists often reject the term out of personal negative experience and association. The definition of religion defies both of their assertions and evasions. Religion is¬†a term that othered groups should reclaim as the masses of Gray People discard it. Secular and non-theistic/atheistic religions are not new and their foundations are multiplying.

Religion at its best is a¬†rewarding humanitarian¬†fraternity that adds context and value to our cooperative instinct as a social species. Secularists should be encouraging more examples of what religion at its best looks like. Religion is unlikely to go away because of how easily it is integrated with our cooperative community instinct. I believe that the lack of value placed on positive assertion of belief to be the primary hardship most atheist communities struggle with and often fall apart from. The particular content of the archetypes or mythologies a religious community develops around are simply an interesting discussion point that takes a back seat to the results produced by a religious community and it’s goals. In this way most of the dominate religious communities are failing society and hemorrhaging acolytes. Following¬†are two organizations that are inspiring for The Satanic Temple or any other non-theistic, inclusive, or secular religious activist community who also fit the definition¬†for an established religion should they ever decide to declare themselves as such.

“The idea that religion belongs to supernaturalists is ignorant, backward, and offensive.”¬† so for Pride month ¬†I’d like to recognize two communities exemplifying cultural development and inclusive community philosophy who are indistinguishable from progressive humanitarian religions. Should these communities ever file for religious status in order to counter increasingly theocratic public discourse they have the foundations already in place to counter the narrow marginalizing narratives of those superstitious forms of religion attempting to claim sole purveyance of what religion is.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

“The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence¬ģ is a leading-edge Order of queer nuns. Since our first appearance in San Francisco on Easter Sunday, 1979, the Sisters have devoted ourselves to community service, ministry and outreach to those on the edges, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment. We believe all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty and we use humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit.”

I have encountered amazing Sisters in every city I’ve lived in and visited. The are a non-profit organization dedicated to charity, safety, community, and indulgence. Their founding tenets revolve around promoting safer sex, fighting AIDS,¬†and LGBTQA+ rights activism. Watching their individual YouTube videos will display¬†the sincerity of their deeply held beliefs and community. Their initiation process takes at least a year.¬†SisterUnity explains why here along with details on their legal restrictions on political discourse as a non-profit organization:

The sisters were present in every Orlando vigil I have seen coverage of, and their presence was one of comfort and acceptance. These are from their LA Chapter Facebook page;

Radical Faeries

“Generally, we tend to be gay men who look for a spiritual dimension to our sexuality; many of us are healers of one kind or another.

Our shared values include feminism, respect for the Earth, and individual responsiblity rather than hierarchy. Many of us are Pagan (nature-based religion).”

Radical Faeries are not particularly fond of being recorded as such or speaking for the whole group. They tend to operate on a ‘you’ve found us, welcome home’ kind of basis. They have several open sanctuaries where they meet annually. Most of what I can convey about them is anecdotal and comes from always having known individuals from their community due to our parallel social circles and interests. I can say generally that the RFs that I know are quite fond of bright colors, peace, pot, nudity and sex. All who are welcoming are generally welcome in their sanctuaries. Individuals politically and socially tend to be radical in their desire for social inclusiveness and change. I’ve known grifters, drifters, professionals, and public sex enthusiasts to all identify as RFs. They tend towards affinities for pagan observances and rites including mentoring the younger generations of Queers coming of age. They also have overlapping membership with The Sisters as the following video demonstrates. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-f3CO1ouu4

 

 

 

Sigil of Baphomet Origin; A Pictorial History of Magic and the Supernatural by Maurice Bessy

The first appearance of what we now know of as the Sigil of Baphomet appeared on the cover of A Pictorial History of Magic and the Supernatural by Maurice Bessy and was edited down from an earlier version by Stanislas de Guaita that appeared in La Clef de la Magie Noire. First published in French in 1961 Maurice Bessy’s book was translated and printed into English in 1964. the book was¬†quite¬†popular as it went through multiple reprints as late as the early/mid¬†70s. As with other popular easily referenced or obtained material that Anton borrowed, plagiarized, and cobbled together while founding the¬†Church of Satan the current CoS leadership up-sells how he changed or altered it to make use of it on publications. Here is a scan¬†of the symbol from the cover of the book;

Cover scan of a 1972 print. We also have a print from 1968 with the same image

Here is a CoS entry on the origin in which it is presented thus;

While The Satanic Bible was being written, it was decided that a unique version of this symbol must be rendered to be identified exclusively with the Church of Satan. The pentagram was made geometrically precise, the two circles perfect, the Hebrew characters were distorted to make them look more sharply serpentine and ‚Äúcorrupted with time,‚ÄĚ while the goat face was redrawn with particular attention paid toward the eyes.

Which is essentially a long-winded self-congratulatory way of saying¬†that a line drawing/tracing¬†was produced for smaller print visibility on The Satanic Bible and subsequent publications…

It is certainly thematic¬†that Satanists would appropriate imagery that reflects the demonization¬†of older horned gods to express a positive assertion of our own beliefs and values as opposed to exclusively inverting or blaspheming Abrahamic religions.¬†However as I’ve expressed before¬†ad nauseam, I find irony in the ability of CoS to exaggerate the creative and intellectual abilities of Anton LaVey while¬†claiming that he “created something new” that is Satanism and¬†laying sole claim to the identity while downplaying that he simply picked from widely available materials and milieus which resonated with him personally and reflected his hatred of San Francisco hippy culture.

A Pictorial History of Magic and the Supernatural is¬†a reference book for those interested in the occult. Before the internet or Wikipedia most of us relied on books such as¬†this for a quick overview of topics we could then¬†selectively pick and choose to look deeper into. 1960’s interest in things Satanic, demonic, and counter-cultural is clearly and heavily represented within it minus¬†the requisite¬†association and fascination with evil that we find in similar materials from the 80’s and 90’s. Put more simply, it is a relic from a time when a coffee-table book frankly discussing Satanic topics didn’t have to pander to Evangelically inspired superstition and hyperbole in order to sell copies.

While perusing the pictures and captions in A Pictorial History of Magic and the Supernatural with an understanding of how popular it seems to have been it is easy to imagine the widespread influence that it may have had on quite a bit of familiar art and culture that followed. For instance, I cannot help but wonder if William Peter Blatty chose Pazuzu as the demon in The Exorcist after it being featured here;

Pazuzu in the 1968 edition. The Exorcist was written in 1971.

A Pictorial History of Magic and the Supernatural also spends quite a few pages on one of The Satanic Temple’s favorite topics, witches and witch hunts;

The copy of¬†A Pictorial History of Magic and the Supernatural that I’ve owned for years was acquired as a gift from The Brown Elephant, a non-profit thrift store in Chicago. For years it was¬†little but decoration on my bookshelf, (much in the way it served CoS and LaVey by their own admissions) while I wondered at¬†why it had the Sigil on it’s cover. I had incorrectly assumed that the publishers had placed it there to cash in on the popularity of CoS in the late 60s. I know now that in actuality it was likely the other way around with LaVey picking it for his organization from a popular and widely circulated publication. You will¬†never find me denying that LaVey was adept at successful branding and marketing in his day even if he wasn’t as innovative at new content or ideas as some would have us believe…

*insert side-eye

 

 

 

 

 

Walpurgisnacht at The Satanic Temple Salem 2017

Our observance of ritual is as a performative event that is emotionally significant to an individual or community and as an artistic expression of emotional topics.

Initially I was undecided about publicly publishing a write up that includes details of the ritual we wrote for our 2017 Walpurgisnacht event. We worked on the ritual for a couple months leading up to Walpurgisnacht and went through a few drafts as we narrowed it down to an essence that felt right. My intentions are to share the ideas we worked on and hope they inspire and help someone else for their event. Feel free to take from, modify, add to, or otherwise eviscerate and dissect what we worked on for your own events.

Ritual is a form of participatory performance art involving archetypes and feelings and therefore people are often highly protective of rituals and ideas they’ve created.¬†Many writers are protective¬†of their ritual content or ideas being stolen and suspicious of anyone who uses an archetype in a ritual they’ve had also incorporated. ¬†This makes finding other ritual outlines or descriptions to reference difficult. We discovered this while writing¬†out an outline of what Walpurgisnacht looks like at¬†The Satanic Temple. Most of what you will find¬†about Walpurgisnacht or Beltane are¬†descriptions of events without a running program or script of any performance elements.

After some deliberation about our intent and overall theme we decided on a ritual that touches on Walpurgisnacht traditions while also dipping heavily into our literary influences. Below is the script we used along with some notes from earlier drafts and full quotes from literary references that we used modified in both the ritual and to help contextualize our theme.

Amelia, our altar centerpiece guest.

We wanted our theme to reflect both the vestiges of winter being cleared away and the new spring growth. We spent weeks leading up to the event collecting winter brush from around the gallery and neighborhood to weave into brooms and decorations which we then decorated and highlighted with spring buds, leaves, flowers and growth that we picked fresh at twilight in the days leading up to the event. You don’t want to pick these things too far before the event unless you can keep them fresh or they won’t wilt in the time. We really wanted to pull things specifically from near and around the Gallery so we got a bit of landscaping done as well. For most of the evening¬†H√§xan Witchcraft Through the Ages played on the projector to a soundtrack created by Lucien which included Coil and other similar artists. I’ll add that track list as soon as I can get it from him because we’ve¬†already had¬†requests for it.

“With a despairing gesture, Johann turned his horses towards Munich. I leaned on my stick and looked after him. He went slowly along the road for a while, then there came over the crest of the hill a man tall and thin. I could see so much in the distance. When he drew near the horses, they began to jump and kick about, then to scream with terror. Johann could not hold them in; they bolted down the road, running away madly. I watched them out of sight, then looked for the stranger; but I found that he, too, was gone.”

-Dracula’s Guest

‚ÄúYou have ignored the hoteliers warning and ventured out late on Hexennacht, Welcome.‚ÄĚ -Tall Thin Stranger greets audience (Dracula’s Guest reference as the story begins with a hoteliers warning to avoid being out on Walpurgis Night)

The Tall Thin Stranger

Gathered in lecture hall in a rough half-circle. Promethean holds out lit candle to first guest saying;

“The price of enlightenment is never free and marks both mentor and pupil alike. Pass your fingers through the flame, choose a sprig/stick.

After everyone around the room has chosen Promethean asks everyone to repeat after him;

“ I share this gift of light and dark.

(I share this gift of light and dark)

I honor winter past as I welcome spring begin‚ÄĚ

(I honor winter past as spring begin)

Promethean hands the candle the celebrants passed their fingers through to the Tall Thin Stranger. He blows it out saying;

‚ÄúI collect the life from the flame the same as everything.”

Crone/witch walks in front of the altar reading from a spell tome:

‚ÄúThere is a mountain very high and bare‚Ķ whereon it is given out that witches hold their dance on Walpurgis night.¬†Now to the Brocken the witches ride; The stubble is gold and the corn is green; There is the carnival crew to be seen, And Square Uranus will come to preside. So over the valleys our company floats, With witches a-farting on stinking old goats.”

Maiden leads Stranger by the hand and pushes him down to  kneel/bow in front of the altar. Removes his robe (as much clothing as possible to expose as much skin canvas as possible). Places his hands palms over mouth one by one and binds them there with twine.

‚ÄúWe have tied hostile tongues in our enemies mouths that they not whisper uninvited darkness into our season of fertility and rebirth‚ÄĚ

*places bowl of doves blood in front of Stranger

*places a broom on the floor before that

‚ÄúStep over the threshold and place your binding upon the stranger with your chosen remnant of winter or sprig of spring‚ÄĚ

*demonstrates by stepping over the broom and dipping a sprig (maiden selects a sprig because she is spring) in the bowl of dove’s blood and marking Stranger¬†with a symbol upon the head or torso. She then gestures to the next celebrant in the half-circle line (who should be planted to mark Stranger¬†in a place other than where she marked to let other celebrants see that all exposed skin is game for a mark)

The Tall Thin Stranger being bound.

*motions for guests to step up and do the same. Takes the instruments from them after and places them in the cauldron on or beside the altar

Maiden takes the spell tome from the Crone/witch and reads;

‚ÄúFor you see, within every one of us a spark of [Satanism] is glowing. It has out-lasted the thousand years since the old Teutonic times. Once a year comes the truly Free-night. Then the witches, laughing scornfully, ride to the mountain-top, on their broomsticks and the wild desires awaken in our hearts which life has not fulfilled.”

Afterwards the Crone/witch takes the broom to the door threshold and sweeps with an outward gesture 9 times, then points at two people who carry the cauldron from the altar outside (could be significant if instead the witch had her assistants take the cauldron from the Maiden since it is symbolic of fertility. This could be read as an offering specifically from the Maiden to the Witch. We did discuss that we liked the idea of the Maiden also simply being a younger version of the Crone/witch.)

Celebrants follow the Witch outside (Tall Thin Stranger remains bound and does not follow the procession)

Ideally the contents will then be burnt outside. (They were)

Afterwards the Maiden reads;

The witch(es) have blessed our binding and accepted our offering. Enjoy the company of lascivious friends and fiends, drink, eat and lust freely among the blooms and sprigs of spring wrapped in vestiges of winter.

circle of participants at the cauldron

some notes and extra quotes (thank you Chalice Blythe);

‚ÄúFor you see, pastor, within every one of us a spark of paganism [Satanism] is glowing. It has out-lasted the thousand years since the old Teutonic times. Once a year is flames up high, and we call it St. John‚Äôs Fire. Once a year comes Free-night. Yes, truly, Free-night. Then the witches, laughing scornfully, ride to Blocksberg, upon the mountain-top, on their broomsticks, the same broomsticks with which at other times their witchcraft is whipped out of them,‚Äďthen the whole wild company skims along the forest way,‚Äďand then the wild desires awaken in our hearts which life has not fulfilled.‚ÄĚ
Sudermann, St. John’s Fire 1857-1928 

‚ÄúNow to the Broken the witches ride; The stubble is gold and the corn is green; There is the carnival crew to be seen, And Square Uranus will come to preside. So over the valleys our company floats, With witches a-farting on stinking old goats.” Goethe, Faust Walpurgis Night 1829

random notes from comrades on our various Google doc versions;

I really like the Hag ritual of the Parentalia. I’ve referenced the original in the comment and maybe this particular part can go as such:
Once there, the Hag (followed silently by the Tall Thin Stranger) goes around and snuffs out all candles, taking a sip of wine for each one. When she gets to the last candle, she puts the thin man‚Äôs hands up to his mouth (palms on mouth) and uses a cord to bind together the hands of the Thin Man around his head, afterwards proclaiming ‚ÄúWe have tied hostile tongues in our enemies mouths!‚ÄĚ ¬†

I like this bit. Here’s the original ritual:‚ÄúThree fingers tuck three incense lumps under a door,
Where a tiny mouse built a hidden path.
The hag then fastens enchanted cords with dark lead,
And rolls seven beans inside her mouth;
And she roast on the fire the sewn head of the sprat
Smeared in pitch and spitted with a bronze rod.
She also drops in wine. What remains of the wine
She or her friends drink (although she drinks more)
‚ÄėWe have tied hostile tongues and our enemies mouths‚Äô
The hag shouts.‚ÄĚ

The broom being historically representative of balance, the “male” shaft and “female” bristles. We COULD talk about how they became associated with Witches in that they “rode” their broom handles covered in hallucinogens to “fly, but…. Since it’s also seen as a protector to the “gateway” to a ritual space, we can draw a circle around the broom making station. The stations can be the ritual space for making the brooms. That can be discussed as well.

‚ÄúThe price of enlightenment is never free.‚ÄĚ – Prometheus
He is essentially a demi-god with human attributes but also a grandiose warrior side that is now worn with suffering. His robes can be a muted grey or white color wrapped in a Grecian fashion;

With the association of lighting the candles, I like the idea of them wearing a grey, billowy cloak to look like the smoke left after the candles are blown out.

I’ve also seen the Gardens of Adonis story as being one about rebirth. The Gardens were made to encourage fertility, growth and the vegetational death of Adonis, as a life-death-rebirth deity. Was celebrated at the commencement of Spring

I also believe that jumping over the broom was part of the ritual for protection

We also need a cauldron. With the May Pole being phallic, the symbolism of both Beltane and Walpurgisnacht is that of fertility, the cauldron symbolizing the lady who becomes pregnant at Beltane

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doctors Inventing Demons (why I engage in TST Grey Faction)

Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s I lived in a terrifying world. Procter & Gamble, who you may not be aware manufactures nearly everything in your house, was being run by a coven of Satanists¬†just like in Rosemary’s Baby. After school cartoons were subliminally recruiting children into the occult and Satanism by softening them up to sorcery, symbols, and ritual. Young minds everywhere were being prepped for mind control and split personalities to be prepared for¬†roving bands of incognito Satanists to be used to recruit, rape, and sacrifice other children. As I grew into my teens the assault on my virtue continued as I found that most of the music I enjoyed was also a way to indoctrinate¬†me into the occult and away from God and all things good and wholesome.¬†

The book that started the pop-psychology fad/fascination of multiple personality disorder, which was followed by the movie Sybil. A fascination so strong that the support groups surrounding DID today often appear to be a fledgling religion.

It worked. Years of raising alarms about the secret¬†wolves in our midst didn’t distract me enough from the very real and pressing abuse I faced as a queer kid in a Christian religious and mentally ill family in Ohio. Younger folks don’t understand¬†the ubiquitous nature of the Satanic Panic in the 80’s and 90’s. By my late teens my friends and I had started naming and defining our “aspects” (personalities). This was an occult rite of passage for us (so we imagined). The multiple personality disorder (MPD) myth was so popular and captured the imagination so much that it seemed inextricable from the occult we were using to declare independence from our oppressively Christian homes and schools. To that end it felt subversive to embrace having alternate personalities while rebelling against pervasive Christian rhetoric and propaganda.¬†When I see¬†the influx of self-diagnosed DID (dissociative identity disorder) “victims”¬†onto social media like YouTube and Tumblr making “meet the alters” videos I see echos of the role-play and contextualization my friends and I conceived of¬†back¬†then. It’s the veracity of the diagnosis and therapists using it to profit off of the superstitious or vulnerable, not people who create multiple identities or stage names, that is the problem as far as we see it.

The rebranding of MPD has served its purpose of making criticism and conversation about DID very confusing to people. With the current attention and¬†social discourse¬†about invisible and mental illness, DID proponents rely on the civility surrounding mental health issues¬†to keep the diagnosis above reproach or examination. People have expressed to me recently that they were unclear if TST¬†has an anti-therapy stance (we do not) and to remind me that dissociation disorders are widely accepted and recognized by professionals. I suspect that this kind of confusion was exactly part of the plan when they rebranded MPD into DID. They parented it to a family of diagnosis that does have veracity to lend it the credibility that a cursory examination of the history¬†involving¬†DID/MPD doesn’t.

some notes;

1. Dissociative Identity Disorder shouldn’t be confused for dissociative disorders in general. It is¬†classified as part of that family of more understandable and observable disorders but is a more specific and more dramatic diagnosis. As I said after engaging in some of these conversations I suspect that part of the tactic here was to marry it to a¬†diagnosis that is more legitimately accepted by most health care professionals. Dissociation can be used to describe a feeling of “watching” or “being removed” from yourself (particularly in situations of physical or emotional pain) as if you are a stranger to yourself. DID is a claim that the dissociation can be so severe that a whole new personality separate from the self can develop. This is a claim that lacks evidence outside of self-reporting and the minority of therapists who still diagnose it possibly actually creating the experience in clients during¬†sessions.

2. DID is a complex issue to discuss because victims can actually exhibit memories and personalities based on the suggestions of their therapists. If you’ve read any amount of research on how we form and retain memories and how false memories can be created this is easy to comprehend. Unfortunately this creates a situation where the client can actually¬†believe they have different personalities and outlandish memories to go with the extreme trauma that is a prerequisite for DID. After watching a few of the malpractice suits against therapists who diagnosed DID in patients you will often hear statements like; “I went in for¬†depression and left with multiple personalities.” Across the board being diagnosed with DID becomes the beginning of even more hardships and worse mental health for the client. Patients go in to speak with someone about depression and end up strapped to a chair¬†screaming and accusing their family members of abuse in later sessions.

4. Grey Faction doesn’t target victims or clients of these therapists. The organizations and therapists with vested interests in keeping vulnerable people in the DID cycle try to operate quietly among their echo-chambers without challenge. When video surfaces of their antics at conferences they project their embarrassment as anger and paint us as stalking and harassing rape and incest survivors. This is also why there is a dearth of new critical info on DID. It’s too fascinating and profitable for those inclined to supernaturalism and conspiracy to let go of and those of us who do openly criticize the lack of evidence or point out the underlying woo are immediately categorized as pedophile or rapist enablers. See what they do there, if you question narratives of widespread ritual abuse and mind-control cults you must be a rapist pedophile… Few¬†have time or spoons for that kind of dumpster fire.

5. DID is still currently in the DSM-V despite the majority of health care professionals criticism or disbelief of it. For context, it wasn’t that long ago that homosexuality was also in the DSM. The tide has turned on the effectiveness of ex-gay therapy and the destruction it causes and we hope to see something similar happen to DID. Conference organizers and even grassroots believers in DID and conspiracies have done an impressive job of avoiding the public transparency that would ensure the demise of the therapy and when they can’t avoid it altogether they just rebrand MPD/DID to muddy the water¬†and slide back into the cesspits.

They may be able to ignore or brush our petitions under the rug for now, but we won’t stop disseminating the information. All one needs to do is scratch the surface of any of the therapists on our list to see the tin-foil, malpractice, and conspiracies. DID proponents would like nothing more for it to be business as usual at their conferences and we aren’t going to allow them their¬†subterfuge any longer.

February Abyss

The other night I cried as I fell asleep. This morning I woke up dissociated and looked around my strange room and wondered what was wrong with me. I have had quite a few moments over the past month or two¬†where I wake up and as soon as I open my eyes a twinge of sadness sets in right after I get over wondering where I am. Where I am is single in February in a new apartment by myself for the first time in 8 years, and today it wasn’t a twinge but a convulsion. It brought an alien logical realization; ‘Oh, yeah, there’s the depression…’ The realization didn’t make me happier, but it set me up to cope.

February is always a dark month for me. Usually depression has long set in for months prior but if it hasn’t February brings it out. For that reason I’ve always been very fond of Valentine’s Day. It’s brilliantly set in the middle of a month where there generally isn’t much else to look forward to. Distraction as therapy, my husband and I would buy each other all of the stupid things at the drug store for weeks. Teddy bears and frogs holding hearts, cheap heart shaped boxes full of mediocre chocolate, and of course new cock-rings or jockstraps. Valentines day contains echos of other older celebrations civilizations placed in February, celebrations of bloodletting and purging followed by sensual excess. Wise hopeful dreams made into pageants and rituals to relieve the harsh bleakness of the post-solstice, pre-bloom gray. I’ll still take it.

I am glad to be working with¬†a February onset of light depression rather than the year-and-a-half deep crippling one that helped destroy the¬†marriage I am now without though. I still have most of a year of first-withouts ahead of me. I slid under the wire of my first-without my ex holiday season. Tomorrow is my first Valentines-without. I don’t know if I’ll try to leave the house. I didn’t buy any heart-shaped anything holding anything this year and I’ve been able to mostly avoid the stores that remind me of that. Today I slipped on a cock-ring to love myself before I ended up sobbing while leaning into my closet and feeling ridiculous and dejected. I decided to stare out of the window at the snow for a while instead.

I have friends arriving this week. Everything is manageable, these are my mantras. Things aren’t as bad this year. Rinse and repeat until it’s clean and true. Here’s to purging the darkest moments before spring.

 

Antichrist Superstar: 20th Anniversary Reflections

“When you are suffering, know that I have betrayed you‚Ķ (incomprehensible mumbling) Let all the children say ‘We hate love. We love hate’‚Ķ.”

Antichrist Superstar was released on October 8th 1996. I had been a Marilyn Manson fanatic since seeing them and Jim Rose Circus open for Nine Inch Nails in 1994 at Battelle Hall in Columbus Ohio (a show that got NIN banned from the venue after fans dismantled and removed all seating on the main floor to create a mosh pit). By the time Antichrist came out I had seen Marilyn Manson 5 times. The last time I saw them was at The Newport in Columbus Ohio right after its release. When The Beautiful People was released as its first single on September 8th 1996 we got a look at what the next phase of our Satanic art messiah looked like. It was a look that drove Antichrist Superstar to debut at no. 3 On Billboard and Rolling Stone magazine to declare the grunge era over. We were ready for theatrics and ceremony in our rock again. Years of boys playing coy on stage in thrift clothing begged for an aggressively made-up shock-showman rebuttal. Nirvana heralded the end of hair metal, and then Manson brought back the metal, make up, and lingerie in a genuinely disturbing, visceral, and unglamorous fashion that poked a scabbed finger in the eye of both grunge and hair metal. It whipped us into an inspired deviant ecstasy. Beyond the aesthetics of shock the concepts behind the album and band were as empowering to a young Satanist as Lucifer himself handing you the worm-eaten windfall apple of discord.

partially the story of how a theocratic fascistic society creates its own devil and reflection. The Adversary, a consistently Satanic theme and story.
Antichrist Superstar is partially the story of how a theocratic fascistic society creates its own devil and reflection. The Adversary, a consistently Satanic theme and story.

The rock opera is part of a trilogy that was later revealed to be the conclusion released in reverse order. The story is about a boy who becomes a worm, chrysalises into a filthy, scarred, and hateful angel, takes the mantle of anti-Messiah, and then the anti-God. Presumably in the process destroying or dismantling the society that destroyed the boy and made him a worm in the first place. An ouroboros consuming itself along with the world it is coiled around.

(then I got my wings and I never even knew it,
When I was a worm, thought I couldn’t get through it)

because today is black
Because there is no turning back.
Because your lies have watered me
I have become the strongest weed

Here awesome of my favorite performances and tracks from the album‚Ķ with commentary. Prick your finger the time has come. The moon has now eclipsed the sun. The angel has spread its wings. The time has come for bitter things…

The Beautiful People, released a month in advance of the album. We waited with bated breath for the release of this new song and video, making sure we were in front of MTV when it debuted. Marilyn’s grotesquely regal entrance and spoken intro to the MTV video music awards performance in 97 perfectly perfectly encapsulates this song;

“My fellow Americans, we will no longer be oppressed by the fascism of Christianity, and we will no longer be oppressed by the fascism of beauty. Cause I see you all sittin’ out there trying your hardest¬†not to be ugly, trying your hardest not to fit in, trying your hardest to earn your way into heaven‚Ķ but let me ask you, do you wanna be in a place thats filled with a bunch of ASSHOLES?”

me either.

Speaking of assholes we’d rather not accompany in heaven, Im pretty sure one of the ones protesting (a concert, FFS) in this clip of Angel With The Scabbed Wings is the “God Warrior” woman who went on to the infamous episode of trading spouses where she gets unhinged¬†about the pagan/new-age family she stays with. You can tell from her accent and space in her teeth even though they concealed her identity. Enjoy the vintage hyperbole in this clip‚Ķ different decade, same shit.

“He will deflower the freshest crop, dry up all the wombs with his rock n roll sores‚Ķ”

The title track video was never officially released. Apparently they shot it and the record company was horrified enough at the cinematography to bury it. Manson also was not sure it conveyed the proper criticism of the subject matter. It was leaked to YouTube a few years ago. It features Nazi rally footage and tearing apart a bible at a podium, which became and remains the live performance depiction of the song. It contains a similar observation of an earlier assertion from Portrait of an American Family; You cannot sedate all the things you hate. Satanists acknowledge that as long as there is tyranny and oppression our kind will always grow within the culture around us to be the adversary and counterbalance our society deserves.

“Time has come it is quite clear our Antichrist is almost here‚Ķ cut the head off, grows back hard. I am the hydra. Now you’ll see your star.”

“I went to god just to see, and I was looking at me
Saw heaven and hell were lies
When I’m god everyone dies‚Ķ”

The quintessential gnosis of an awakening Satanist. That “God” is just a disingenuous approximation of the individual or groups desires and idealized character, and that there is power in removing the fictional middle man. In this case a deeply scarred individual who would remove everything and everyone who ever created or contributed to the oppression¬†that forged him.

“shoot here and the world gets smaller. Each thing I show you is a piece of my death
Shoot shoot shoot motherfucker
No salvation, no forgiveness
This is beyond your experience”

Man That You Fear was inspired by Manson’s experience of growing up as an outsider and how the reactions of people around him towards his awkward nature made him embrace is identity as Other. I’ve written before about how I believe Satanists to be created (not born) in reaction to their surroundings. I’m not sure thats the best expression of our experience. It is more like we are a special kind of metal that is forged and hammered by the same tools used for iron, but to an obviously different effect and quality. We had the inclinations and predilections already, and otherwise pedestrian exposure wired us differently as an outcome.tumblr_m65us8kcjl1qi2fjlo1_500

In the two decades since its release Antichrist Superstar and Marilyn Manson have deeply influenced (usually without credit) rock and pop music in sometimes obvious ways. Often however, those of us who watched the performances and developments in the early years can only spot the influence from experience. It’s in a dozen bands that sprouted up¬†like bad caricatures of Manson. Its in the performance, videos (see Y Control), and facial expressions of Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Its in the now standard success formula¬†of remaking a vintage song from the 80s. Costumes and make up in movie and stage production, even hip hop videos are soaked with a dark glam that Manson normalized.

and have you ever seen a Lady GaGa video?

Lest you think I’m stretching just search YouTube for “Manson GaGa” or “is ___ a copy of Marilyn Manson” and enjoy dozens¬†of examples. Know your cultural art, its influence/influences, and all of its permutations.

Ave.

“When all of your wishes are granted, many of your dreams will be destroyed.”

Salem Art Gallery, The Satanic Temple’s Temple.

“you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave‚Ķ.”img_20160813_204745

The Satanic Temple officially announced on September 14 that their clandestine Salem, MA headquarters will be opening as a center of operations for the organization and its guests. Salem Art Gallery has been a refuge and base for members and allies of The Satanic Temple privately during its renovations for nearly a year and is the meeting location in the Washington Post article that broke the After School Satan Club story. One of its first events had Adam Parfrey of Feral House exhibiting and discussing the works of William Mortensen in October last year. Salem Art Gallery will begin holding ticketed and invitation-only events for the public on September 23rd. The privately donated historic Victorian property dates back to 1882 and also currently houses the Baphomet monument until it can be donated to a suitable home on state property where religious monuments and plurality are welcome.img_20160914_194451

Salem Art Gallery will open to the public with a permanent exhibition dedicated to the Satanic Panic and witch hunts from the past and present. Grey Faction¬†is the foundational organization within the Satanic Temple which focuses on Satanic Ritual Abuse claims and their current incarnations such as Dissociative Identity Disorder.¬†Members of the Grey Faction, many of whom have personal experience with harmful conspiracy theory masquerading as mental health therapy, curated the Satanic Panic exhibit along with Lucien Greaves.¬†The gallery also features a media room for film screenings, book events, lectures, and educational events. The Satanic Temple’s ordainment coursework that is under development and nearly complete and ritual events such as marriage dissolution rituals and pet funerals are also being discussed as they are underserved but important life events that serve human emotional need. ¬†Yes, weddings will likely happen too… Salem Art Gallery will be the only still existing brick and mortar religious¬†destination¬†for Satanists in the United States excluding the Luciferian Church that opened up in Texas last year. Luciferians do not typically identify¬†themselves as Satanists however.img_20160914_194852

The building is a large Victorian two story home whose public areas are all on the first floor. The media room is large with a projector screen and podium used for lectures and films or videos of interest to the Satanic community. Its circuitous scarlet-walled layout is sometimes confusing to navigate and is probably due in part to its former use as a funeral home. The Baphomet monument resides in a specially constructed structure whose interior decoration is Roman inspired and sits apart from the main building. Artists, performers, authors, writers, and filmmakers are frequent guests as well as chapter heads and members of TST. It is a place well suited to the continuing cultivation of the Gnosticism-hued Satanism of The Satanic Temple. The social and creative culture of The Satanic Temple and Satanism in general is usually overlooked and underreported which inhibits the willingness of many people to understand the religion. Now, with a headquarters announced publicly and more TST cultural events and gatherings being reported on or attended by larger audiences Satanists are prioritizing designing and creating their own culture in a town historically fit for both their insight and influence.

The first exhibits for Salem Art Gallery as the official base of operations for The Satanic Temple will include Mark Porter (the artist who sculpted the Baphomet monument) and sculptor Chris Andres who specializes in Satanic themes and taxidermy style monsters including¬†Baphomet masks and sculptures. Halloween, Salem’s heavy tourist season, will see events not yet announced at Salem Art Gallery with plans to carry on through the entire Holiday season with Krampus events in December and events on into January still in discussion. There will likely be an online component available for members and allies who cannot physically attend events in the space.

 

 

Dissolution, Ritual, and Amputated Identities.

A few days after the Orlando shooting I approached a conversation with my husband that had been buzzing beneath the surface for months. “Are we OK? We are growing apart and can we fix it?” I really wanted to, he was the world to me and all of my future. I wanted to¬†reforge our 7 year relationship as the changed people we are. He¬†had another solution he’d decided on, and we split up. Every future I imagined and had built my faith on was discarded. While we are still financially bound I am now largely alone when I am not with TST people or at work. He has another place to stay most nights, and always had all of “our” friends. I am now East of Eden and trying to construct my new singular life in a city I never wanted to come to and trying to make peace with it all anyway.

Erasmus and Omnius stare out at me in anticipation.
Erasmus and Omnius stare out at me in anticipation.

The night it happened I made myself attend another organization’s activism event with other TST NYC members. That weekend I left for a Salem retreat where several of us from across the country got to see each other again or meet in person for the first time. I left for escape and support and to work and play. We discussed the upcoming ASSC campaign and enjoyed the feeling of immediate comfort that only happens when you run into others from your tribe. In my little over 20 years of Satanism I’ve never joined any other Satanic organization until TST. Their culture was never quite the right fit for me. My political/ social justice/ scientifically informed consciousness was always significantly at odds with most of their membership I encountered. The most important thing a religion provides is community and culture to people of shared interests and beliefs. It provides a family outside of often disappointing genetic bonds. I have found a family, and they are the right people at the right time in my lifeedited_FB_IMG_1463888461149

In October I plan on undergoing a dissolution ritual to put my crushed future in a box under the bed and reconstruct myself from the pieces I have left. Rituals are important and effective to the human mind in ways that are still being researched and discussed. We have small mundane rituals for things we do everyday. Rituals that shape our mind and imagination to executing a task or event. We have all of the rituals for big life events like death, and birth, and marriage…

Divorce or separation rituals are underrepresented. A person who is recently separated often feels incomplete. Half of who I am is gone. My identity cannot be the same anymore and I want to contextualize all of that grief and then rebirth into a moment that excorcises my failure and misery. There are really poignant and inspiring divorce rituals people have done for themselves, and I am relying on myself and my TST family for creating mine.4334

I need to re-imagine who I am in a deliberate way. Ritual can trick the mind into prolonged focus and action. On the other side of my event I want to feel new and different again. Hardened and distilled and all me.FB_IMG_1467481286037

I’ve lost two families, his and the one we planned together. I’ve lost the security of company when I’m lonely and someone who prioritizes me. I lost the only close friend I’ve had for 7 years. I want to stop crying at home and obsessing over everything, real and imagined, that I’ve lost. I want to come out of the other side unable to relate to the emotions I am right now writing down.

I want to be over it and be me again.received_617555201742812

 

Deviled Easter Eggs.

feature Art: Ash Astaroth by Mirter Christina, Mr_Christinax on Instagram

I hate Easter. It reminds me of cheap suits and asphyxiating neck ties, fiery extra long sermons and people eager to show public penance in exchange for popularity and approval. Easter is a bunch of grown-ass adults playing dress up and making a spectacle of themselves in churches while reaffirming their fears of the Others out there. Easter is polyester navy blue and stern looks from red faced preachers with bulging veins in their angry xenophobic foreheads. Easter is adults bawling¬†about¬†some mythological sacrifice and how it enriched and empowered them personally while the whole world burns down around them. On Monday they’ll return to their lives¬†with gasoline and matches.

I became an atheist around 14. There were a lot of factors that informed my awakening, my sexuality, my love of reading, my enthusiasm for science, and the increasingly damaging superstition of my fringe Christian mother. I remember a time when I was very young when my mother displayed contempt for televangelists and did not attend church or talk about Jesus. By the time I left the house it was because she told me that demon possession made me¬†Gay.¬†I’m pretty sure she saw that on her favorite show; The 700 club. She was not well, and her increasing fanaticism was indicative of that. It wasn’t until much later in life that I realised how traumatic my family and religious life had been, and the imprint it left upon me.preacher

My mother insisted on making me go to our baptist church every week. She frequently let me call off of school. I made sure I missed the maximum amount of days I could for school without having to get a doctors note or take summer classes. However, my church attendance was non-negotiable. I kept losing the arguments regarding the futility of making a blue haired, black nailed, pierced punk atheist attend church. In church I got to listen to sermons about evil demonic powers rising up towards Armageddon in our nation, homosexuals and feminists, atheists, Democrats. Week after week folks glanced expectantly at me during the end of service when the pastor called congregants to come up and pray at the altar with him. They called it “dedication”. That was when folks who wanted a little extra attention and validation came up and “rededicated” themselves to Jesus through tears and personal testimony. It was a sideshow of self-involvement. “No thanks folks, I don’t need any more Jesus in my life this week.”

My attitude problems started at a young age
My attitude problems started at a young age

I had tinkered in the occult before acknowledging my atheism. The occult and sexuality were more forbidden in my household than violence. Our school library in small town Ohio was surprisingly well stocked on occult topics in the 90s. Aleister Crowley, Feral house, and Disinformation publications warped and reshaped me. When I was 17 I read a blurb in a magazine (again in my school library) about The Church of Satan. I ordered The Satanic Bible and picked it up at my local bookstore. Everything I did or said became increasingly suspicious to my mother as demonic activity. She threatened to have me declared unruly and sent to a group troubled teens home.

I stopped coming home. I barely lived there. I officially moved out after the second time I came out to my mother, having been forced into it because of her eavesdropping on my phone calls and gossiping with friends moms about me hanging out at gay bars. She tricked me into coming home to help paint over the literal writing on the walls in my bedroom. It was a ruse to have a youth minister, who was also a local policeman who had busted me before, come talk to me about Jesus and the bible. “You can read out of that book till your face turns blue, but like I’ve told you several times now, I don’t believe in those fairy tales and repeating them won’t change that.” That was in spring.

I hate Easter Sunday. Even as an all holiday enthusiast I can’t get down with what Easter is to me. I delight in memes of Lich Jesus, bunnies laying bloody easter eggs‚Ķ And I’ll make it a personal project to reclaim Easter for the heathens, just as we’ve been working at with Christmas. I expect fertility celebrations to take a sharp and decidedly Satanic uptick¬†in the years ahead. Don’t thank or curse me, thank/curse Fellowship Baptist Church. Christianity itself creates many of its own best adversaries.

Art credit: Caspian Lothbrook
Art credit: Caspian Lothbrook