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.