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… (incomprehensible mumbling) Let all the children say ‘We hate love. We love hate’….”

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… 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… 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… different decade, same shit.

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

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… 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…”

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….”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… 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

 

The Satanic Temple is not The Church of Satan, deliberately.

I have all of Anton LaVey’s books on my shelf. They’ve been there for 20 years. I’ve read them (along with a host of other related books and topics). They aren’t particularly well written, and they are heavily embellished with borrowed ideology from other sources (e.g., Rand and Redbeard). When I was younger they were everything to me. Enthusiastically I was what we now call a LaVeyan Satanist. I was also less informed and less emotionally mature. I didn’t know where Anton clipped and pasted his ideas from then.

There are still a ridiculous amount of LaVeyans asserting that since Anton named Satanism it is defined by his (their) preference of what Satanism means. Recently I listened to a boring monologue in which the speaker was incredulous that some TST members had never read The Satanic Bible, while publicly disassociating with TST because it isn’t “real Satanism” AND ironically quoting Anton as saying “If I didn’t create Satanism then someone else less (or demonstrably more, IMO) qualified would have.”

Aside from the absurdity that even Church of Satan Satanism was ever intended to be static and refuse/resist to adapt or react to social evolution and new information (which is the purveyance of Christianity and other theistic religions), there is a very plain and publicly available reason that some members in TST may not have read The Satanic Bible; it is not canon, and it is not necessary to what TST is. Indignation about that fact is irrelevant, we have extensive reading suggestions of which many also influenced LaVey and his curated creation directly or indirectly. His books don’t fall onto those lists. It’s not because we are “hiding” them or denying CoS existence. It is because the only things we have in common with CoS are that we both champion individuality (albeit in practice very differently) and have an atheistic/non-theistic religion with Satan as the symbolic herald. That can be said in two sentences. Digging into what those mean is best done in better written and researched books and dissertations other than The Satanic Bible.

Our Satanism is humanitarian and activist. It is delineated by literary tradition more so than from the occult. This is very clearly explained and elaborated on in our FAQs. William Blake’s writings predate LaVey’s by more than 150 years. Milton predates LaVey by 300 years. Any such influence found in LaVey does not negate these works from influencing and inspiring us directly via the primary sources. Revisiting Anton’s quote above; “someone else” did create a new Satanism, and whether you think we’re “less qualified” is irrelevant. We aren’t concerned with, or insulted by, the limited intellectual abilities of boring anachronisms that insist Satanism look just like it did 40 years ago despite new sociological information and the invalidation of “Social Darwinism” as a functional social theory. What exactly is Satanic, liberating, or fiercely individualistic about an invisible religion of 60s hippy culture reactionist sentiments in 2016? Personally I just think of that as the 80s, which is incidentally the decade Anton most failed to illuminate given his opportunities to address The Satanic Panic.

We intend to indulge in the positive rewards of a religious community, despite theist, other-Satanist, or non-Satanist atheist protests and tears. Memes aren’t just snarky pics on the internet. Our canon is a list of varied authors and media, it is a collection of diverse ideas and works into a cohesive vision, and it is adaptable because of that.  Memes are formed in just that manner and they can influence a whole culture. Anton created one in the late 60s in the culture phenomenon that was San Francisco, and we are here in the 2016 doing so with even more knowledge available to us.

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Photo; Chris Switzer

In the end, I suspect that these folks who joined TST for the party and recognition felt the need to very publicly quit when they found out that many of the actual individuals who are passionately practicing actual rebellion against actual tyranny and injustice ingrained into our society weren’t quiet about it. This is a philosophy of action, rejection of arbitrary authority, and inquiry.  That is wholly Satanic.

 

The Sabbat Cycle; Awaken

The Satanic Temple and the producers of the movie The Witch are presenting a four part Satanic ritual in four cities. The ritual was conceived prior to being sent a copy of The Witch and the movie thematically contextualizes the message of The Satanic Temple.  On The Satanic Revolution Jex explains the inspiration for the partnership;

We are empowered by the narrative of The Witch: a story of pathological pride, old-world religious paradigms, and an outsider who grabs persecution by the horns. Efforts to oppress and demonize the heretic prove to be a path to destruction. The witch does not burn but rises up in the night.

The first part of The Sabbat Cycle was called Awaken and happened on Ash Wednesday at The Jane Hotel ballroom in Manhattan. Photography was strictly prohibited and limited to approved photographers. The Satanic Temple inversion of ritualised abstinence was ritualised indulgence and awakening to our carnal nature in rebellion against restrictive religious traditions. Guests received dove’s blood and ash marks on their foreheads from two celebrants clad only in nylon stockings. They incanted “This is the mark of your Awakening” as they made these crosses.

The Jane Hotel was established in 1908. The weathered antique art noveou decor perfectly complimented The Sabbat Cycle Awaken. The ballroom had a lodge feel and featured a taxidermy ram over the mantle. Large couches were arranged around long coffee tables filled with black candles and red flowers. A small stage to the side of the room was laid with eucalyptus branches and flanked by two large leather rhinoceros floor cushions. A second level and smaller lounge was accessible via a split stair case and was restricted for the first part of the night leading up to the ceremony. Guests mingled under a large disco ball missing many of its mirrored plates. They enjoyed the fruit and macaroon plates and open bar for most of the evening while dark ethereal music played. A large television in the corner of the ballroom featured a live feed video to a room in the hotel where a Dominatrix and her male subject.photo7_Lphoto4_L.png

When the ballroom filled to capacity Cornelius Loy performed a theremin set on the small stage at the side of the room. His music was haunting, dramatic, and appropriate for a Satanic gathering as the instrument has long been associated with occult counterculture and Satanism in particular due to Anton LaVey’s enthusiasm for it. As his set reached a climax two lines of nude men appeared at the door to the upstairs lounge and slowly decended each side of the split staircase opon which they stopped and faced the crowd. They were followed by two women and Jex who took the center of the platform. The theremin music continued as she gave a speech from which the following excerpt came:

The Devil- a personification of evil as defined by the dictates of a corrupt moral institution. The witch, an expression of independent female sexuality and power within the human history of carnal repression. These are not medieval designations… If you stand here as free-thinking, self-governed and godless you too are considered an enemy of God and a patron of Satan by many in your community and by those who represent you in your government.

Two wrapped objects were presented to the lowermost men on the stairs. As the speech continued the objects were passed up and familial kisses were exchanged between the men. The objects were revealed by the women at the top as a pigs head and a long dagger. The pigs head was motheringly held to breast as  the dagger was brandished defiantly as the speech concluded.

At this a very large black and white American flag was unfurled from its hidden place inside the eucalyptus branches lining the bannister of the landing and the participants ascended the stairs to the upper lounge which was then opened to all guests.

With the ritual concluded participants passed out cards with a room number so that the guests could go peak in on the dominatrix and her sub they had been watching on the video feed all evening.  Smaller versions of The Satanic Temple American flag were also distributed to guests with the message “This flag is a symbol of the new American Era. Place it in spaces that will benefit from Satanic insight. Join the #SatanicRevolution.”IMG_20160210_183644463

The rest of the evening was debaucerous yet relaxed. Guests sat and spoke on couches or mingled in small crowds while more lascivious guests played semi discretely in corners and shadows. Enthusiastic conversations about the symbolism of the ritual were in abundance. The pigs head , a symbol of fecundity and abundance, being significant in several artistic, occult, and literary traditions such as Lord Of The Flies.

The Satanic Temple of Detroit put on a great experience. More than a party, it was fun and invigorating. It was inspiring and …awakening.

(I will add images to this blog as they are released) Recently also covered by Vice. 

The Sabbat Cycle: Rebel. LA

The Sabbat Cycle: Convoke. Austin TX

Continue reading “The Sabbat Cycle; Awaken”

Satanic Names: Tips, Tricks, and Dire Warnings.

Naming your new Satanic identity is a creative process fraught with apprehension and self doubt. The work involved often leaves an individual seeking professional therapy to reaffirm that they’ve made the best decision. “What if people think my name is cheesy?” “I want to be something original and recognizable from a movie like The Omen or The Crow but it seems that there are already dozens of other folks with those names…” “I’m totally down with Satanism in the last month or two and I need a name that reflects my sincere dedication.” I will share my personal experience and some tips because I’ve been down the Left Hand Path for a few minutes. I’ve also seen a few of the shrubs along the way that everyone has pissed on. (They smell funny but some folks hang about there anyway, so whatevs.)

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Photo/art courtesy of Mr.Christina on Instagram

Your Satanic name should say something about both who you are and what you aspire to be. It can also express your ability or limitation for humor and snark. Thumbing our nose at superstition is a favorite pastime for Satanists. Most of us aren’t picking names that are the equivalent of wearing a taupe three piece suit. Satanic name concepts are not remarkably different from more commonly recognised religious or subcultural names. Hippies and Wiccans have very natural (as in derived from nature) sounding names. Other pagan types tend to mix in some mythological names with the nature theme. Drag queens often pick names full of puns and bawdy sexual or gender relevant humor. All of these being distinct from the names transpeople take because they are secondary or additional identities. These are additional characters in our tool belt to help inspire us to the goals and changes we seek in the world around us.

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Severely Mame, NYC Drag Queen and night life host.

First, let’s talk social media. If you’re using your new name on Facebook review their “real name” policies. Nothing sucks more than to invest months loading pictures and accepting friends just to have some asshat report your obviously weird sounding name as a pseudonym and lose all of that. Be prepared (or get prepared) to defend it. I’ve had mail sent to me under my preferred name, and I have membership cards with that name on them. Facebook will require pictures of those plus a third state picture ID (whose name does not have to match) that has a date of birth that matches the DOB on your profile. Facebook has received a lot of criticism concerning how their “real name” policy affects LGBT and religious minorities or people who just don’t want to be found. They’ve loosened the restrictions and this is the best solution they’ve deigned to offer.

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This dude’s name, incidentally, was the main character from The Crow.

People are often meanies on the internet. Especially when they are adverse to what you have to say but aren’t confident in how to challenge it. They will often feel compelled to comment anyway so your shiny new name is a low hanging fruit. Sometimes, as with the case of The Crow above, they will lash out bitterly at your aesthetic preferences when they don’t know that you are following every thread on every article or blog you publish that gets shared (because life is lonely and your ego may fill that well of despair). These violations will often trigger and traumatise you. When you are done weeping you may want to change your name again so that everyone will stop laughing at you. Take a few moments and think about all of the hard work you put into selecting your new pseudonym, the endless hours of Google and lists of demonic or occult names, and ask yourself if it is worth it to appease caged folk who are just likely as lonely and hurt as you. Listen to some Marilyn Manson. “They’ll never be anything at all.”  It gets better.

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More wisdom from The Crow.

It’s true, Peter Gilmore may never approve of your new name. Such things are beneath Lord Gilmore. However, those of us who are actually involved in frequent dialog with strangers online may wish to compartmentalize our associations. Even when our family and friends know about our Satanism there is no need to have your “real” social media account and friend list subjected to all of the weird interactions that a vocal and visible Satanist often incurs. Everyone can worry about their own self importance and take whatever measures suit and amuse them while avoiding possible discomfort or embarrassment.

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I often wake up to some of the weirdest shit.

When I chose my name I chose a first name that I always liked, Ash. Then I looked for a suitable demonic name that would preferably also provide some alliteration cause fuck you, FUN. I was thrilled that wikipedia validated that, not only was the perfect sounding name available, but the demon in question perfectly suited ME! It was infernal destiny.

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Astaroth wikipedia entry.

So, be as frivolous or SO SERIOUS as you like. Check out some demonic or occult name lists. Look at some of the witch names in Anton LaVey’s own book The Satanic Witch. Do whatever you want, because after all you’re a Satanist, but also consider the results. What you have to say (or not) is up to you and will stand on its own. Don’t spend too much time defending your tastes unless it is amusing you to do so.

Ave Satanas, friends.

 

A Satanic feminist.

…We have more to do when women are denied access to reproductive healthcare and vilified as murderers by those
selected to represent them in the government.
The word of god has been evoked time and time again to justify opposition to the civil rights movement, to squash
women’s liberation, and stand in the way of same-sex marriage.
This is not “religious freedom.” The inclusion of all is not oppression and the voices of the minority are not without
value.
This cannot persist and we must awaken…

Jex Blackmore of The Satanic Temple in this ceremony (filmed by Matt Anderson) on the Michigan state capitol steps.

I am a Satanist. I am also an atheist, and a feminist. It is that last identity which still meets conversational derailment in the Satanic community (particularly outside of The Satanic Temple) with disappointingly plebian anecdotal misrepresentations. On days when I feel particularly masochistic I can count on discussing feminism with the plebs who frequent newbie atheist/Satanist forums to provide abuse I require. The frustration is the same, people who should know better but refuse to.

Limited concepts of feminism like this one from the Church of Satan are far too common for a community of people who have taken an identity that they know is expressed in wide gradation across a spectrum of individuals. Note Blanche Barton’s fixation on looks and dress in this piece. She affirms that a Satanic woman can be sexpot, independant, business savvy mother, but falls short on reinforcing that they can also be any combination or singularity of those. Essentially she’s set the bar higher for women than men. Then she discourages people from identifying as a feminist because Satan should be the only identity a woman needs to empower herself. Keeping with the most negative connotations she can muster for her audience concerning feminists she enables legions of mansplainers to set off into the world hunting witches, er, feminists to shout down.

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Photo: Seattle Times

Feminism exists across a range of thoughts and expressions. You won’t like all of them. I certainly do not care for TERFs (Trans- Exclusionary Radical Feminists), but (and I shouldn’t have to say this to Satanists, of all people) they aren’t all the same. Welcome to third wave feminism. Concepts like the ones in The Satanic Witch are included, but not solely representative of or based on The Satanic Witch like Blanche implies. Incidentally many of us are now interested in the development of a possible fourth wave of feminism, as with Satanism ideologies that become dogmatic and do not adapt to new information and cultural shifts become inviable relics.

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When people take on an identity, like Satanism or feminism, it is to contextualise their world and is layered over their prior experience and motivations. It is bizarrely hypocritical for Satanists to paint broad strokes about feminists based on their imaginings of how many of “the worst kind” of them populate the identity. Even if you imagine the women most independent from men who have the least concern for the male gaze or “acceptably” gendered attire, I don’t understand the intransigence. Who’s atrium are you tossing stones at Mr Blackest Flame who values individualism and rebellion against the tyranny of arbitrary social standards?

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Simple definitions.

Recently I was discussing feminism with a Satanist friend. He is a passionate supporter of women’s equality and reproductive rights, and he told me his criticism of the term feminist is that it encompasses so broad a scope of ideology as to be useless. He is correct in that, by itself, its use doesn’t inform the observer of possibly relevant details outside of “supports women’s equality”. That that feels redundant to many people. Because of the range of people who identify as feminists one doesn’t know for example if they’re discussing women’s only space issues with someone who is referring to legitimate concerns or a TERF who is prone to hyperbole and histrionics regarding anyone who was ever assigned as “male” in their life based on their genitalia. But if we consider that people who identify as Satanists, from the small theistic minority to atheistic Satanists, literary verses mystically delineated, and consider the pliable definition of Satanism then the objection to feminism being too loosely defined sounds disingenuous or incomplete.

Identities are personal. We do not recruit and aren’t inclined to convince people to try ours on. I have atheist friends who get what we are about but don’t particularly find that Satan mythology resonates with them. I have Satanist friends who are by definition feminists but don’t choose to wear the title. This is fine, but it’s not fine to stereotype groups of people based on ignorance and unfamiliarity. Satanists asserting narratives of castrating feminists out to create a new female ruling class expose their own stupidity and misogyny and illustrate why feminists exist and continue to speak. They also affirm why I am a Satanic feminist.FB_IMG_1452208617457

Satanic organizations: inside the outsiders

 The Invention of Satanism is a scholarly analysis of the cultural history and threads that motivate the creation and various permutations of Satanism. Recently its authors wrote an article called Old Nick on The Net; On Satanic Politics. What they stumbled upon in the comment thread that inspired their article is a debate that outsiders to Satanic discussions aren’t familiar with. It’s just under the radar of what people with only a cursory interest in Satanism (or little at all) tend to notice.

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I recommend this book above any other of the recent influx of books from Satanic yogi types.

To folks who have little experience with Satanic culture it is surprising to learn that there is a diversity in it at all, let alone that we often engage in heated words with each other. We are a culture of people that embrace and utilize our otherness, so it can be excused when an observer looks and sees a great black mass instead of shades of ebony, sable, and jet. Even many within Satanic organizations are having a conspicuously hard time grasping the nuance of what each organization tends to attract culturally when they want to also be included but dont share much interest in that organizations goals or common concerns outside of being Satanic.  

Satanism is a religion (or philosophy to those who can’t shake their aversion to the colloquial usage of the term religion) of individualism. There are some very broad common cultural strokes to be noted, but being based on a long running compelling character who has been adapted and used so frequently and with such versatility does still lend itself to a great bit of personal interpretation. It is a correct observation that the strife between Church of Satan members and The Satanic Temple members does often come from their approach to politics, but that singular explanation to many of us seems to feel more like the symptom than the cause. This post delves into The Satanic Temple’s lineage from more literary sources than mystical or occult ones, which is in contrast to Church of Satan.

Everything not explicitly perceived as Christian in origin or practice has been labelled as Satanic by one religious group or another. This aggressive othering of things or people outside of Abrahamic tolerance is an important component of the creation of Satanism, like a negative integer that pulls the sum to the left instead of driving it to the right. Add to this individuals who feel or are different and have felt or observed the harmful effects of othering and challenge its practice and you get Satanism. This is much like being Queer in contrast to LGBT in that it is not an identity one is born or indoctrinated into, but is chosen by the individual.

There are many examples of similar reclamation in minority groups and identities. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a former Muslim atheist activist who proudly identifies as an Infidel, a pejorative that is nearly as riddled with irrational hatred as Satan in Islamic culture.

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This means one could argue that in many cases the kinds of people most concerned and alarmed about the existence of self-identified Satanists are the same ones assisting in driving enthusiasm for the Satanic and more Satanists.

From all of their communities we hail, and from all of them our individual personalities and affinities have been shaped and influenced. Results vary based on ability, motivation, experience, and interest, but the desire towards unrepentant individuality and self sovereignty remain consistent. We call it Satan because we aren’t concerned if you can’t suspend your conditioning or superstition and in many circumstances we count on it and use it to expose that same conditioning and superstition.

This brings us to the rift we were discussing in the first place. People group together based on their viewpoints and approaches to life. There would not have been a need to form The Satanic Temple if an existing Satanic group consisted of more members who had interests outside of Satan and sub-popular subversive culture. A metaphorical construct of a fictional character is not enough to make any claim that we “all have the same goals” and should try harder to “work together” instead of “bicker”.

( Note here that I’ll take Satanic bickering about a fictional character over any other religious argument about who is in danger of going to hell and should be killed any day. The No True Scotsman fallacy is just laughable in Satanic arguments, but often deadly in dogmatic ones.) 

Most Satanic groups other than TST are social in nature, with members often expressing an aversion to politics or that have beliefs or that don’t mesh with core tenets of The Satanic Temple, such as beliefs that don’t fit “our best scientific understanding of the world”. It is from these people that I most often hear the mewling about Satanic groups needing to work together because they have the same goals and it is to these folks that I say; No, we don’t.

Satanism isn’t the totality of the conversation or culture The Satanic Temple has. While many Satanists are still convinced that spookiness is an inherent power they weild, and complaints surface that The Satanic Temple is “defanging” Satan, those complaints expose the fear that the only Satanic power they’ve ever imagined they master is being stripped away. But, nobody interesting thinks Satanism is scary anymore. The only people that do aren’t informed enough (and will never allow themselves) to ever draw any distinction between Richard Ramirez or Peter Gilmore anyway. Sorry bout it. Smart people who don’t know much about Satanists more often imagine us as LARPers than demons or “the alien elite”.FB_IMG_1451104947514

The flip side to that is that very few, if any, Satanic Temple members signed up to be associated with Men’s Rights Activists, or secular pro-lifers, or “Satan is my cosmic daddy force” types. Few of us want to hang out with the kids who can’t aim their rebellion effectively or thoughtfully and pour blood on Virgin Mary statues then call the press cause FTW that’s metal LOOK AT ME. Satanists are very interested in art and individual expression, but again results will vary depending on ability…

So, while the authors did a balanced job of identifying politics and the approach to them and pointing out a few misrepresentations and ad hominem manipulations, there is an underlying set of differences beneath which drive those different approaches to begin with. All of the Satanic groups exist because they attract different people with different cognitions, values, and agendas. Most of us find ourselves where we belong in that spectrum.FB_IMG_1448857419662