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