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