Doomsday Prepping For The Satanic Dominion And Other Birthday Musings

By Helle Bent

Greetings and salutations righteous rebels! Get out your leather jackets, hoodies, capes, scarves, and combat boots and rock that shit like we got somewhere to go because it’s FALL! Perfect weather for an upcoming doomsday election, eh?

Autumn in New York is wickedly sublime despite our entering the eighth month of a pandemic. (I can’t believe that’s a real and true sentence I just wrote.) But in good news, we Scorpios (and soon Sagittarii!) are about to celebrate the successful completion of another go around the sun. Hail Fall Children! Each year I honor all things Helle Bent with an unapologetic month-long observance including various Festivities Of Indulgence and daily treats dedicated to falling in love with myself all over again. I send myself gifts with adoring notes and I refuse to acknowledge any grief over calories or how I choose to spend my time and money (usually books, meals, candles, and jewelry). Other joys include my annual spa appointment, daily compliments in the mirror (of course), and wearing with pride the more dramatic outfits that rarely see actual daylight. I also make sure to do at least one nice thing for someone else (usually a stranger) every single day. It’s an enchanting time to be alive.  

The annual HelleBender rejects all things undesirable. I do this because I can. It is up to me to celebrate myself in a way I deserve. Everyone should do this, you are worth celebrating! You’ve survived SO MUCH! Each person deserves the right to at least one day meant just for them, and fuck waiting on other people to give you what you can better provide for yourself. This is one of few certainties in my cold dead heart and why I love birthdays so much. As Satanists we are the architects of our environments, our castles, our dominions, and we are the gatekeepers and conductors of the energy within its walls and borders. Do no harm, take no shit, decorate with deliciously pretty things.

Wear autumn’s decay like a perfume … – @prvserpine

As the date of my birth falls in early November, I’d like to reflect for a moment on the time I turned [censored] in the year of their misunderstood if not entirely fabricated lord 2016. The day was overcast and somber, both in weather and mood. My poor hungover fingers fumbled for the power button on the remote to make sure I hadn’t imagined it all. HelleBender 2016 was coming to a close and my act of self-compassion that day would be to stay home and mourn with a mimosa. A friend sent me flowers. Another adamantly insisted I meet her for dinner. The city had the dejected vibe I’d only ever felt after 9/11.

Social media sponsored the stunning reveal of people’s true natures, helping me skim the shitty ones as their unbridled hate floated them to the top of the pool. I saw that an entire society needs to agree on a basic bottom line for decency, otherwise those deficient in shame and personal accountability will pillage, without regret, all that they can. Having been left standing naked alongside the emperor, the reality set in that ethics are voluntarily self-imposed and essentially imaginary, so when consequences are removed, things no longer have meaning. Nothing matters. Chaos and evil reign over conscience, and the unethical emerge victorious never having to answer for their assaults on humanity. It was also the year I bought my first-ever refrigerator, I learned how to fix a leaky faucet, and I switched from regular manicures to gel.

HelleBender 2017 hailed a milestone birthday. Shedding the last of my fucks, I proudly entered what would be a life-changing year to kick off my new devilish decade. I fell in love with someone who managed to carefully revive my joyless atrophied heart, and whose personal demons would work tirelessly below my radar towards eventually breaking and burying it once again. (I never imagined I’d be able to sum up that relationship into one sentence, and yet, here we are.)

The interesting thing about personal triumphs and tragedies is that they don’t cease to consume a person amidst the backdrop of more vivid societal ones. Life goes on, as they say. Even though we were lost in a fire swamp of fascism, the country now run by a vile ROUS in a red hat, I still had a broken heart, laundry, and mortgage payments to attend to. The world’s rapid descent into disorder simultaneously added to and put into perspective both the importance and the precariousness of my own everyday existence. (I know, that’s a lot.) Further, the idea that it was entirely up to me to decide how I would navigate through my fog was empowering. You are not taking this wheel from me, not today Jesus! Anyway he and his holy spirit buddy were busy manipulating sports games (as is my understanding) and idly watching American officials torture, kill, and forever traumatize entire populations at the border. I was busy watching whatever movies my poor brooding heart needed in that moment.

If I’m to heal (and hail!) myself while helping to save the world from evil self-proclaimed christians and their criminally abhorrent godliness, well, this requires a stamina that cannot be sustained if the House of Helle Bent exists in disarray. In other words – put the oxygen mask on yourself before attending to your needy kid. Take care of yourselves, darling demons! You can’t go very far in a car with no gas. The world needs you rested and hydrated and ready to kick ass.

Being an introvert who requires an absurd amount of alone time to recharge, it unsettled me back in 2019 to learn that, after the gruesome bludgeoning of my delicate heart(I’m fine!), my tried-and-true tricks ceased to provide any refuge. There was a hole in my gas tank. I was neither rested nor hydrated and I felt heavy and slow and broken. My body was a cinder block sinking into a sea of tears and alcohol. (I said I’m ok!) Time stood still, and I eventually realized that all I had to do was exist. Time was actually on my side as long as I stopped fighting it, like those maddening automatic rotating doors with the “do not push” stickers. Fuckers. I WANT TO PUSH. This awareness meant I could relax a bit, however impatiently, in my bubble with the reluctant trust that I never let myself drown. I’d be ok eventually. If only the country weren’t ablaze with venom and lunacy. Sigh.

A months-long rip current of mourning, self-medication, and hazy introspection finally spit me back out into the real world where, you guessed it! The shitshow was getting progressively shittier. If you were waiting for a happy ending, 1) I don’t do those, and 2) we haven’t even gotten to 2020 yet. Buckle up blasphemous buttercups. Your Helle Bent is broken-hearted, hungover, dizzy and disoriented, with heavy eyes and leaden limbs, and still has fucking bills to pay, plants to water, and a job to keep.

The prospect of a less than stellar HelleBender 2019 undoubtedly helped trigger my gradual resuscitation. This particular year warranted some heavy duty artillery to keep my emotional adversaries in check. Repeated attempts to remind myself how fucking spectacular I am would eventually bring back the familiar feelings of optimism and self-appreciation to the House of Helle Bent (which is really a castle but I adore alliteration). Drawn shades and windows were opening. A bat flew out of the attic and into the kitchen and made me some tea. A selection of woodsy-scented alter candles were lighting themselves beside the cozy fire in Satan’s Fireplace and Pillow Pit (in the southern wing, opposite the Solarium of Sins). When everyone fails, I always have me. And I am reliably awesome. But sometimes a spirit needs to rest.

2020. The year that is also a curse word and an adjective. What can I possibly say that cannot be more poetically illustrated by any number of memes? 2020 can go fuck itself. With that, I’m choosing to think it will also turn out to be the year we each learn that we are capable of feats once thought impossible. I am also choosing to pluck some flowers out of the flaming radioactive horseshit so, if you’ll indulge me for a moment, a whiskers-on-kittens type of list to shift the focus from the ghastly apocalyptic scenery to a more serene perspective.

Helle Bent’s List of Still OK Things in 2020

1. Coffee. And tea. But in this moment, coffee. Specifically, the mug I just put down so I can type this.

2. Art, artists, and creative outlets. (thank you all for reading the self-indulgent pile of words that spills out of me.)

3. Music. My favorite bands. Prancing around my living room like an idiot.

4. My Satanic Siblings. Our super cool and good-looking community.

5. Tattoos.

6. People who rise from the chaos, unafraid of speaking truth to power. Hail the rebels and unlikely heroines.

7. Dark chocolate fudge brownies.

8. Hysterical laughter, especially in inconvenient places, and the people who laugh with you.

9. Our furry familiars. Love to the animals.

10. Videos of children falling down. Always funny.

11. Presents. Giving and getting.

12. Books.

13. A clear night sky.

Feel free to add a few. Now that you’re all warm and fuzzy…

I’m infernally grateful for the Luciferian cards that were dealt to me. Ongoing unspeakable atrocities are happening at this very moment and they could be happening to you or me, if we were born one second earlier or later. That said, gratitude doesn’t pay my bills or knock sense into my elderly republican parents, and I’m sick of having to qualify each concern with “at least it’s not worse.” For the past four years, every picture of my life has been photobombed by an orange dumpster-fire. These few years are so notable, they’re going to bookend every thought, experience, and memory in the Helle Bent Hall of Records, Recollections, and Anarchist Archives. (Located past the Pillow Pit, through the Devil’s Doorway into the east wing. Keep LEFT at the pitchfork, not RIGHT. I am not cleaning that up again.) You will find “Before 2016” to the left, aglow in the morning sun. 2016-2019 will be on your right underneath the “verboten” sign. 2020/Covid has its own shelf in Lorraine and Ed Warren’s artifacts room that even Annabelle won’t go near. For the love of all the news involving republican christian leaders being disgraced by their gay extramarital affairs, pleeease let 2020 be the last flaming bookend. I want a shelf not covered in cheeto dust and ashes.

The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions. – TST Tenet II

We have one last chance to make sure we don’t feel the devastation we felt four years ago. One last chance to make sure the next four years don’t work their way into the opening sentences of hundreds of thousands of more eulogies. Truth and integrity have to count for something and humans have to matter. The voting process, like human decency, requires universal participation or it doesn’t mean anything. The bad guys win. We let our communities down if we don’t count ourselves among them – it’s an all or nothing game. Satanists have a societal obligation, a civic duty if you will, to use our voices and our votes to speak up against injustice. Do it for RBG, her successor, the country, and everyone who is fighting harder for all of us than even we are. If our votes weren’t important then they wouldn’t try so blatantly hard to suppress them. Don’t give them what they want. Don’t be ok with their dismissal of anyone. YOU FUCKING MATTER.

From behind the veil of New York City heat and humidity, HelleBender 2020 eagerly awaits its cue for a grand entrance (it’s a diva, and refuses to get out of bed when it’s over 62 degrees). I fully intend on maintaining my observances as scheduled and I may have even started early this year (not sorry, I love books and yes I needed all of them). Will this be the year I finally try something pumpkin-spiced?? It’s never a bad day to be kind to yourself, even and especially in an apocalypse. Blinding deafening chaos outside requires a sturdy serenity inside. Light those candles. Get that house in order. Enjoy the crisp breezes, bright leaves, and piercing screams of anarchy this exquisite time of year brings. Visit your local bookstore!

Separately, remember that voluntary inaction when something is within your control (like voting!) is an active choice relieving you of any rights to complain about anything ever again. Silence benefits the oppressor just as lazy, shameful “protest votes” benefit the winner. Vote like it’s a middle finger to the last four years and to anyone who ever tried to shut you up. Vote early and in person if you can.

Happy birthday fall children! May the world right itself soon, may fascism stumble into a deep open grave (with spikes at the bottom), and may the hateful RedHats follow it in there (metaphorically of course). May we work as a collective to promote justice and achieve the desired outcome, and may we be able to look back and say we did the right thing as best we could. Here’s hoping HelleBender 2020 ends on a high note. (Also it’ll be my first sober one so please vote, I can’t do these four years over again.) Now, I have some candles to light and books to jump into …

Hail Satan. Hail Lilith. Hail thyselves.

Share

My Abortion, Gaslighting, and YES! Abstinence Pledge Cards!

Art by Waganetka

By Helle Bent

Hello again sizzling Satanists!

Well isn’t 2020 turning out to be the 45th Presidency of years? Full of insufferable creatures hostile towards life and any display of sensibility. Holy motherforking shirtballs what I wouldn’t give for some good news. I’m so close to giving up that I’ve exhumed my oversized Genesee Cream Ale t-shirt from 1997, made from 100% abrasive cotton, pet hair, and ice cream stains, so that I can at least do my giving up in appropriate dress.

So. In 1999 I had an abortion. (Forgive me, did you need a segue?) In 1999 I became pregnant, I did not want to be pregnant, so I had an abortion. In 1999 I began the moral transition from my “Christian” anti-abortion (anti-everything) upbringing to my more exploratory phase, since life may have proven a bit more complex than I was originally taught. 1999 was a notable year (still no 2020 though, seriously Holy Hell what is going ON??).

For the unindoctrinated: Making god angry is very very bad. Obey the rules: eternal bliss. Ask questions and it’s straight to Hell with you … Not in this life, no… uh, next one, after this one. Honestly, it’s brilliant. Ensure obedience by preying on people’s fears and senses of entitlement and elitism, and promise rewards impossible to redeem. Speaking of brilliantly conceived stories, um hey Joseph? What exactly happened with your wife again?

To briefly set the scene: 1990s, I fell into the cult of Jesus because I found out churchy things were the only activities that didn’t elicit Murder She Wrote type scrutiny from my mother, and my life goal was to be left alone for like a minute. The youth group at my best (okay, only) friend’s church offered escape via opportunities like volunteering, field trips, and overnight retreats – all places my parents weren’t, but other cool teens were! Turns out my elation over my newfound independence made me an enthusiastic disciple, furloughing my naturally curious spirit for the time being. Of my two choices, Jesus was where the party was at, and this happiness was evidence enough for me that the holy spirit was doing its thing. Freaks and Geeks fans – I was half Lindsey half Millie.

For those of you familiar with addiction, it’s no surprise that I conflated coincidence with actual cause and effect, attributing this joy and sense of belonging to Jesus himself, seeking out more of him when I needed comfort or escape. Our group once attended a days-long Jesus rally at a convention center in DC where thousands of teens rocked out to Creed-wannabes, signed abstinence pledge cards (really! True Love Waits!) and watched skits – SKITS! – about pre-marital sex and the catastrophes that befell the sexually active (pregnancy disease emotional turmoil death and eternal damnation, obvs). And that, darling demons, is the crooked foundation on which my moral and religious fundamentals were built. I share this with you so that you may imagine my terror in the bathroom where I stared in blurry disbelief at that fucking pregnancy test, in 1999.

The motives behind the anti-abortion pro-birth movement (please don’t call them pro-life) may vary, but the rationale they taught us is as follows: as soon as their god decides a pregnancy should take place, the body no longer belongs to the person who is pregnant, and their right to autonomy is off the table. It’s god’s now! Anyone who thinks otherwise is wretched and disobeying god’s will. And of course if it’s not in line with the work of god, it’s the work of Satan (can I get a Hail Satan?) and this might be the only time these people have ever judged a person for what’s on the inside.  

The “Christian” enthusiasm for their so-called sanctity of life turns a bit toxic when a hierarchy is established, prioritizing unconditionally these new cells “god has willed into being” over the existing human in whom these cells have implanted. This priority now allows for any means necessary to further this “holy” agenda in the name of their god and the greater good. We already know that rational thought does not work on the self-righteous folks who believe they’re doing the work of their lord, while arguing that forced birth is simultaneously a blessing and a punishment. As a young, impressionable, religious idiot, this was me (I’m so so sorry and I atone for this daily). I didn’t have to worry, though, because I wasn’t going to have sex until I was married! I signed a pledge card!!

So yeah, in 1999 I had an abortion. I am not sorry. For me, it was my only choice, and it wasn’t nearly as traumatic as I was told it would be (I speak for myself only). That feeling of sweet relief exists in my bones to this very day and I happily, proudly, hold on to it with gratitude. It’s my amulet, my solid reminder that I am the architect of my own life.

Now. One would think this experience was enough for me to begin questioning what I was taught. Enter the art of cherry-picking! The perfectly acceptable practice in the organized Christian religions wherein one may pick which rules apply to oneself, and with unironic fervor persecute folks who break the other worse ones. YES! Mark me down for pre-marital sex and abortion (and drugs and heavy metal). But hey, at least I wasn’t one of those devil-worshipping queers. (Spoiler: LOL!! Hey youguyz guess what!!!)

It’s tough to unlearn years of conditioning. In 1999, I wanted in on whatever school of Christian moral philosophy allowed for personal exemptions like infidelity and divorce. Ignorance and delusion were necessary to my happiness. How else could I make sense of everything? If Jesus is the only truth, and my instincts contradict Jesus, then my instincts are wrong. Yikes. But if they don’t know me, how do they know what’s in my best interest? I’d put in so many happy years making it work, I was ignoring the signs that I was being gaslit.

For over 15 years I didn’t tell anyone I’d had an abortion. I didn’t feel guilt or regret, but I felt shame like I’d done something horribly embarrassing, like a failed attempt at birth control was a character flaw I needed to hide. This feeling was more traumatic than my actual abortion. Silence and shame are tools of oppression and they build upon each other exponentially. The removal of either is the death of the other. (Look what happened to racism.) As soon as I came out of the abortion closet, others were eager to come out to me too, they just wanted permission to feel ok about it. Why have we not been talking about this? Because of the shame. So I ended my silence. Following their rules would have ruined my life and they could not have cared less. Fuck them. There is nothing compassionate, healthy, or rational about mandatory pregnancy and forced birth.

Theists take great pride in their blind faith as a measure of their strength and loyalty to their god and religion. Questions are disrespectful and imply doubt. In 1999 I was running gravely low on blind faith, so my inquisitive and exploratory side woke up and took charge.

I soared off a cliff and just hovered there, stiff, until I looked down and fell. There was nothing below and little did I know I’d be plummeting straight to Hell.

ACT II

Greetings from below! I landed just fine, please don’t worry. Satanists are a supportive bunch. My eternal gratitude for welcoming me with infernal arms. It’s delightful down here!

Looking back with Satanic eyes, I see clearly the struggles caused by not yet belonging to myself. The toughest hurdle for me to clear was giving myself permission to ask questions. “It’s god’s will” was no longer reason enough. It was lazy deflection, and it was not a real answer. How is knowledge ever a bad thing? What reasons could institutions possibly have to punish free thought? I wish I’d asked myself this earlier.

I don’t believe everything happens for a reason. I believe in chaos and coincidence, and that it’s up to each individual to make sense of their world in a way that suits them. “Everything happens for a reason” is no different from “it’s god’s will” – it’s dismissive, it minimizes the work I put into my life, and I find it insulting and tantamount to gaslighting.

With experience came wisdom and the realization I’d been brainwashed. The world is full of evil that no god should ever allow. Only humans are capable of such vulgarities. I decided that if there is a supernatural being, it’s not their Christian one and it neither fears nor takes credit for my use of the brain and the free will it gave me. My accomplishments are mine. My faults are mine. The responsibility to make sense of my life is mine alone. Thanking someone for the harm they chose to inflict so that I may learn a lesson is sick. It’s a major red flag in any unhealthy and abusive relationship. Even if it teaches me to swim, I will not owe anyone thanks for throwing me off a cruise ship. I doubt my swimming was their intention but if it was, then fuck them with an even pointier stick.

Though how convenient, that entry into their heaven is not based on measurable deeds but rather a simple magic apology capable of wiping away all accountability. I cannot let myself forget what I’ve seen. Those who make the rules have something to gain from them. If the powers that be want to ban abortion, start asking why. Who is in charge? Who generally needs access to abortion and how has our government and society historically viewed this population? Who suffers most without access to care and why, and who remains comfortably ignorant and largely unaffected? Who is threatened by a potential change in any power dynamic? What are the benefits to universal reproductive freedom and why would anyone possibly object? When you use your god as the reason for my oppression, I reject you and your entire system. This is just one spoke in the gruesome execution wheel of fascism. When a government bases legislation on the unfounded beliefs of any religion, no one is safe.

The Satanic Temple, forever in my heart, has entered this fight and I could not be more thrilled. The battles chosen by TST are why I joined. They make sense. They are fair and logical and promote justice without omission or hypocrisy. (To learn more about TST’s Reproductive Rights Campaign click here.) Satanic abortions are legal folks!! Maybe I can put my old Genesee Cream Ale t-shirt away after all.

Abortion is a human right regardless of morality and I don’t intend to exhaust myself repeating the same old arguments on which we all (hopefully) agree. Because those arguments are irrelevant here. If it’s even up for debate what is growing in my uterus and I want it removed, I’m getting it fucking removed. My uterus is not a bed and breakfast. It is no one else’s place to determine if my reasons are valid. My body is inviolable, subject to my own will, alone. If their god is mad at me for that, that’s cute, I’ll add it to today’s list after I pick up some more ice cream and Baphomet candles for my alter but it is no one’s concern because I do not legally or morally report into their god in the first place. I belong to me and I decide how my life goes, and I’d like to be respectfully given at least the same rights and considerations as their mistresses.

Lastly, being pregnant is a feeling no cis-male will ever know, yet they love to tell me how to feel about it. They need to shut their wordholes and get the fuck out of my uterus. Unaffected people have no legitimate authority to be anything other than supportive. You are not me. You will not live my life for me every goddamn day. My life is mine.

Thyself is thy master.

HAIL LILITH! Hail Satan. Hail thyselves.

Share

Compassion and the Art of Not Shoving People Into Traffic

Thank you for all of your Baphirmations Satanic Bay Area!

By Helle Bent

Greetings from the fiery pits of Hell! Although New Yorkers just call it August.

As the apocalypse slowly plows through 2020 like a near-sighted octogenarian driving the wrong way through a toll booth, I remain cozy in my one-bedroom apartment awaiting the exciting news that the virus has magically vanished, as promised by our government. Until then, I, like others in my responsible science-loving Satanic community, am doing my best to stay healthy and informed.

With lots of extra time on my hands, my apartment is now spotless, my 85 plants are repotted and thriving, and I took up knitting and foreign language study! I’m completely kidding. I’ve been watching what’s probably an unhealthy amount of tv and movies and listening to ASMR on YouTube when my anxiety flares up. My brain isn’t capable of much more these days.

Listen, Apocalypse Brain is real. We are in fight or flight mode whether we know it or not and things like creativity and the ability to focus take a back seat to not dying. Our brains are on constant high alert. So I haven’t been too hard on myself for not being more productive. I live alone (happily), I am grateful my circumstances are not more severe, and I’m doing my best to maintain my sanity. So what’s a Satanist in isolation to do? Sounds like it’s time for some good ol’ introspection.

This particular cartwheel through my cranium started with gratitude for TST’s first tenet and my inferred inclusion of the Self when practicing compassion. No one else will look out for me the way I will; it’s up to me to affect my circumstances as best I can. That includes giving myself a break and showing myself the same compassion I so freely extend to my loved ones – something we should all do unapologetically. Yet this is the tenet with which I struggle most.

Being an overly empathetic person to begin with (to my displeasure), I feel everything intensely, especially the discomfort of others. It’s an effort for me to not always take on the responsibility of making sure everyone is at ease in a social setting. I am well acquainted with that feeling, and if I can help, I will. I just know that I have always been deeply appreciative of a friendly gesture when I felt uncomfortable and I assume everyone feels as uncomfortable as I do. Groups of people can be outright torture.

My concept of compassion, though, is inextricably linked with my sense of justice. In a perfect world everyone would be genuinely kind to everyone else, curing a slew of societal ills. But on this planet there exist scumbags with few redeeming qualities, and they ruin it for everyone. What if my showing someone compassion means a lesson is left unlearned? An offense is left uncorrected? What if I deem the person unworthy of my benevolence? What if it causes me great pain to be civil to someone? I believe empathy is a skill and compassion is a choice (though I’m open to debate on this).

Example. There is someone at work who repeatedly asks me the same question. She refuses to learn this one simple thing. It’s quick and easy. She could write it down. She could search for my emails from the last six times she asked me. Her toddler could memorize it and recite it back. She has the power to easily acquire this information herself but she would rather bother me. Every. Time. She is either stupid or lazy and I respect neither of these qualities so in communicating with her, anything less than sarcasm would feel disingenuous. A particular trigger for me is when capable and kind humans are forced to cater to those who are either lazy, dangerously ignorant, or narcissistic. And the world is full of this (cut to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner). For me, it’s dishonest to be nice to people I do not respect.

The “within reason” at the end of the tenet is crucial to my practice, holding me responsible for my judgement. But I often wonder if the magnitude of my emotional reactions is unreasonable. These reactions are capable of hijacking me. However, being an introvert, I live largely in my head so most folks don’t see the path between my initial emotional reaction and my eventual outward response. This path took years of hard work to forge. With every necessary instance I force my rational mind to interrupt my emotional tendencies with mindful reflection. It’s exhausting.

If we’re lucky, we have a ride or die friend who will help us bury the bodies before daybreak. Why am I more likely to be empathetic and forgiving towards someone if I care about them personally? My friend could steal an ambulance and set a house on fire with people still inside and I’d assume she had valid reasons, but if someone is taking their time in the supermarket checkout lane, they most certainly deserve a horrid unspeakable death for their refusal to hurry the fuck up. Although the level of “horrid” depends entirely on how quickly I want to get home and how heavy my basket is. Ok so maybe my reactions aren’t always the best judge of appropriate punishments for indiscretions. But I know I am not alone in this.

We are our own gods. There is no supernatural hand of justice coming down from the sky to fix everything. We are responsible for governing ourselves. So when I see any imbalance, any human taking more than their fair share, anyone choosing to remain oblivious to others around them, any person who preys upon the kindness of others, or refuses to help themselves and excepts everything to be handed to them, this ignites my inner rage. (Fine yes I have a lot of triggers.) I know everyone has battles to fight. People are dealing with truly terrible things. My rational mind knows this, and knows the right thing to do. Just be cool. Don’t be a dick. I know all of this. But what if I want to be a dick just this once?

The tenet states to act with compassion and empathy. It does not state that everyone is always worthy. I find this significant. There have been days that have found me fragile and raw and barely able to hold myself together. We’ve all had them. No one owed me anything. I may not have deserved the compassion that was shown to me, but I sure as Hell appreciated it. I physically felt it lighten me and I will never forget that feeling. All we really have is the hope that others will live ethically, respectfully, and not treat us like shit. So I have to be one of these people I expect others to be. Like voting or that miserable group project in high school, we all need to do our part or the results may be less than desirable. Also I abhor hypocrites; I can’t allow myself to be one.

Compassion is easy when people are lovely, but there is no value in arbitrary criteria – any exception can be rationalized. Religious and right-wing fucknuts know this well. We are all fallible and have different ideas about what merits leniency. If I can’t define concretely and objectively who is worthy of basking in my brilliant sunshine and grace, then maybe attempting to remove criteria altogether is in fact the logical way to begin successfully practicing this tenet. (Yeah I picked the wrong pandemic to quit drinking.)

If I want to proudly call myself a Satanist, I have to strive to be compassionate towards all creatures (regardless of personal triggers), and *not* push into traffic the assholes who are very slowly walking with their heads in their phones. If I allow the application of my ethics to become subjective, then I am no better than the aforementioned religious and right-wing fucknuts. I may one day find myself on the receiving end of the unreasonable emotional reaction from someone less stable and mindful than yours truly, and I don’t want that to be ok.

Lastly, a bonus item for self-reflection: compassion towards the Self is more difficult because there is no outside person to challenge us, no one to define any measurable repercussions. We stand unchecked. If we talk to others the way we talk to ourselves, it might constitute abuse. Be kind to yourselves, beloved Satanists. We are all fallible. And you’ve already come this far.

Hail Satan. Hail Lilith. Hail thyselves.

Share

“In God We Trust” is Literally Depressing

Change.org petition to remove the Baphomet statue from…somewhere…

Organized religion plays a major role in daily life around the globe, even in the lives of individuals who claim no religious affiliation. In our own society, laws, social relations (such as a second-class role for women), common language terms, and customs such as major holidays are significantly influenced by the practices of a particular religion. When minority religions ask for equal recognition under laws, or when non-religious citizens ask for freedom from religiously influenced laws, often those groups do not get equal consideration.

The Satanic Temple has been in the news over the last few years regarding this type of religious bias. Most recently, the issue regarding Mississippi revising their racist state flag to a discriminatory Christian flag has put TST back in the spotlight for announcing a lawsuit if this design choice moves forward. There of course is backlash to anyone challenging the religious status quo. We’ve seen this sort of backlash before. A wave of threats to destroy the Baphomet statue as an outcry against protesters damaging & removing confederate statues is the most current example. This sort of response demonstrates how deeply Christian ideologies are imbedded into public thought. The same sort of violent negative response is rarely, if ever, directed towards Christian monuments or symbols in the public sphere. Even individuals who aren’t religious do not seem to overtly decry Judeo-Christian influences in the public realm of society because it is so normalized.

I have heard many people argue that these sorts of issues are not a big deal or not that serious. It’s often asked why an objection is being made over something like the Mississippi flag or the ten commandments monument. One answer is that if these seemingly mundane indiscretions are allowed to infiltrate the public domain, it makes it much easier for religiously influenced laws to be passed that impact us all. I would also argue that these smaller violations of our freedoms are not inconsequential and that they have serious long-term effects. Public displays of a dominant religion has a psychological impact on the public. A 2013 study in The Journal of Environmental Psychology states that feelings of happiness and well-being are improved by environmental and physical surroundings, but that “the effects of physical surroundings on psychological states are not necessarily direct, however, and could also be mediated by group-related factors, self-concepts and social identities…People suffer psychologically when they are convinced that their in-group has not been accepted or has been excluded from an important social context such as a neighborhood, workplace or classroom.” In another study by Schmitt, Davies, Hung, and Wright (2010) on the psychological consequences of Christmas displays in public spaces on citizens who did not celebrate the holiday, the results indicated that the well-being of those who did not celebrate the holiday was harmed, while the well-being of those who did celebrate was enhanced. These researchers did a second study targeting specifically Christians, Buddhists, and Sikhs. The second study concluded that the non-Christians had the same negative psychological results mediated by feelings of exclusion. Neither the Christian nor non-Christian participants of these studies thought they would be impacted in such psychological ways by the displays. This research team found that dominant cultural symbols in public spaces can diminish the feelings of inclusion on minority groups and lead them to suffer from negative mood and low self-esteem. In addition, the presence of a dominant cultural symbol conveys who establishes the society’s norms and that those who do not share the same culture or beliefs are omitted from consideration.

Another fun psychology fact determined in a 2019 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, was “that those with a religious or spiritual understanding of life had a higher incidence of depression than those with a secular life view. Regardless of country, the stronger the spiritual or religious belief at baseline, the higher the risk of onset of depression. They found no evidence that spirituality protected against depression…” So multiple scientific studies have determined the detrimental effects on the human psyche not only of public religious displays, but of theistic religion itself.

We must take every attempt of religious domination over the public very seriously, no matter how small it may seem. Not only is it a matter of freedom and liberty, but of our mental health.

Share

Anti-racism with Satan

Witches Sabbath (The Great He-Goat) by Francisco Goya

June 2020 is developing into a unique moment in history that has brought together seemingly unrelated issues and highlighted the intersectionality of oppressions. Black Lives Matter protests have marched across Pride month with outcries against police brutality in the U.S. and around the world. It echoes the Stonewall riots, which black transgender women—who’ve often been victims of police brutality–were an integral part of. These women have been forerunners in the struggle against racism and the defense of LGBTQAI+ rights.

All these struggles have been embedded in American history with each one flaring up at certain times, usually after a major public tragedy. While mass demonstrations regarding these issues normally occur after a flagrant incident, the underlying issues are systemic and insidious. Even though there have been minor advances in each cause, it is the system that enables these oppressions to persist that must be dismantled and restructured to enable the abolition of racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, police discrimination and other abuses of power. Because of this hierarchical system that allows for white supremacy and privilege, saying “Black Lives Matter” is so important. To deny acknowledgment that some lives matter more in our society is the paramount reason why this phrase is crucial. The pushback against the BLM rallying cry insisting that all lives matter is ignorant and naïve. Yes, all lives should matter equally, but the reality is that some are valued less. It is easy to claim “all lives matter” when you haven’t experienced firsthand the other side of the racist system. If all lives did matter equally, it wouldn’t be so hard for everyone to say these simple three words, “Black. Lives. Matter.”

Multiple facets comprise the current wave of civil unrest that deserve closer scrutiny. The power of protest, when protests turn into riots, how society reacts to both, destruction of monuments, the politics of civil unrest, the policing of society and the militarization of police are just a few of these facets. While all these conversations are important, the one glaring commonality among them is racism. If we take a closer look at each of these issues, racism plays a role. Racism is built into every aspect of our society and systems we live by. Being that this is the case, racism needs to work into how we educate our children, how we choose our leaders, how we consume and spend our money, and every facet to the way we conduct ourselves in our daily lives. Black people and people of color are forced to consider race every day; it is a privilege if you don’t have to.  

Racism and all other forms of oppression are contradictory and completely incompatible with Satanism, particularly The Satanic Temple’s Satanism. Of course we have all been raised within the current white supremacist and patriarchal culture and so have internalized a lot of racist and other discriminatory thought, but through Satanism and the tenets, we can start to unpack and dismantle the system within ourselves and work towards dismantling the system externally. In a 2017 Washington Post article, TST co-founder, Lucien Greaves states, “…it must be said that nothing could be more antithetical to modern non-theistic Satanism than racist ideologies. We embrace a large diversity of individuals from a wide spectrum of political and cultural backgrounds, but we’re all unified by our respect for individual rights and pluralism.”

We are unified under Satanism, by the tenets, and by our collective urgency to obliterate racism and the systems that allow it to remain a part of our lives. Racism is our adversary; it’s an obstruction of justice and we must resist it and think critically to overcome it. As Lilith stated in the Alphabet of Sirach, “I will not lie below. We are equal to each other inasmuch as we were both created from the earth.”  

Finally, to cite the Invocation, “Let us stand firm against any and all arbitrary authority that threatens the personal sovereignty of One or All.”

Hail Lilith! Hail Satan! Fuck Racism!

Share

The Universal Maternal

Maternal figures and other portrayals of feminine power are represented in most myths and religious folklore. There are numerous female deities, Goddesses, and other feminine spiritual representations, both positive and negative in practically every culture around the globe. By looking more closely at the stories and characteristics of these figures, you’ll begin to notice that there are some common themes that transcend cultural and historical boundaries when it comes to the feminine in religion.  

Greek and Roman mythology, like other civilizations, have multiple Goddesses who represent fertility and motherhood but also war, creation, protection, the harvest, the earth, and many more. One such Goddess is Cybele, who ancient Greece adopted from older traditions. A shrine of Cybele dating back to 6 century BC is inscribed with what translates to “Mother of the Mountain.” Later, in the Greek tradition she was known as “Mistress Cybele the Mother” or “Mistress of Animals.” When the Romans adopted her, she was known as Magna Mater or “Great Mother.” A cult of Cybele was formed that included ecstatic frenzies and descriptions of male followers ritually castrating themselves. Initiations into the cult included the sacrificing of bulls with the blood used to symbolize purification and rebirth. Women were usually the priestesses of the Cult of Cybele and if there were male priests, they would castrate themselves and wear women’s clothing. Cybele has become a symbol of feminism and is even honored among some in the transgender community.

Another representation of a Mother Goddess in Greek mythology is Gaea, in Roman culture she is known as Terra. Gaea was basically the Earth itself, the creator of all. Similar representations from other cultures include Tiamat, from Ancient Babylon, who was the primordial Mother of the World. Two African Goddesses who were considered “Mother of All” are the Egyptian Goddess Isis and the West African Goddess Yemaya. Isis gave birth to the most powerful Gods and was considered the “Divine Mother of Egypt itself.” Yemaya is a Goddess of the ocean and considered “Mother of All.” She is also widely believed to have a connection to the Christian Virgin Mary. Devi Adi parashakti in Hinduism is the Divine Mother and viewed as the universal creative force, also known as Mother Nature. Durga represents the protective nature of motherhood as well as the power of the One God in Hinduism. From Durga’s forehead came Kali the Goddess of Time. The Irish Goddess Danu is associated as an Earth Goddess as well as the mother of a race of supernatural beings, and the Celtic Goddess Brighid was thought to watch over women in childbirth. The Norse Goddesses, Freya and Frigga are the Goddesses of war and peace, sexual freedom and marriage respectively. The Greek story of Demeter and her daughter Persephone personifies maternal protection with Demeter braving the Underworld to save her child.

As seen in some of the descriptions above, a major theme among Mother Goddess traditions is the relation of the maternal/ feminine to the Earth. To this day both secularly and non-secularly the planet is commonly referred to as “Mother Earth.” The reference of the Earth being female is similar to many of the Mother Goddesses having nurturing as well as destructive characteristics. The Earth gives life as well as destroys it. In most traditions, the feminine is closely related to nature, the wild, and animals. This wild nature is also attributed to female sexuality. This animalistic view of female sexuality is something that patriarchal religions have characteristically tried to “tame.” Where multitudes of Goddesses commonly had multiple consorts and gave birth to many Gods, Christianity came in and exalted the Virgin Mother.

The Virgin Mary’s importance or prominence varies within different sects of Christianity. For example, Catholics venerate her and consider her “Blessed,” and Protestants believe she was just an average woman who was the mother of Jesus. The Virgin Mary is also part of the Islamic faith where she holds the title of “Our Lady,” or Qānitah which indicates she is completely submissive to God. In the Quran she is also referred to as “Tahira.” Tahira means “one who is purified,” and delineates her as one of the two humans who have never been touched by Satan.

Continuing the focus on Abrahamic religions, with the pure, submissive virgin mother figure, we also get the opposing impure, disobedient, female “mother” figure. Two prominent characters who fit that description are Eve and Lilith. Both Lilith and Eve have multiple backstories. Eve is sometimes considered the first woman and the first mother on Earth. Depending on what story you read, she was either made from Adam’s rib or both Adam and Eve were created at the same time. An interesting take on the creation story is found in rabbinic literature where it is interpreted that Adam was created as both male and female. God then decides that Adam should not be alone and creates Adam and Eve as two separate beings. In Hebrew, Eve can be translated to “source of life.” In many depictions, Eve is the first human mother, and the transgressor. She is seduced by the serpent, tempts Adam, and as a result causes the fall of man. She is cursed, and all women after her as a result, with pain in childbirth, menstruation, and both men and women are no longer immortal. Most religious leadership used this story to ensure women’s submission. What are known as “Early Church Fathers,” the men who established the foundations of church doctrine, interpreted some writings of the Apostle Paul regarding Eve in a way that promoted the silence of women and their submission. A major influence of early Latin Christian texts, Tertullian, taught his female followers that they were “the devil’s gateway.” In Milton’s popular portrayal of Eve from his epic Paradise Lost, when questioned about her transgression, she simply replies, “The serpent me beguiled, and I did eat.” Even given her storied disobedience, the Catholic Church recognizes Eve as a saint, and a feast day for Saint Adam and Saint Eve is celebrated on December 24 in many regions. Many Christians cast Eve as a villain, but there is no denying the texts, Eve gave us the gift of knowledge. Eve reminded us that we do have free will.

Lilith, more specifically, gave women a sense of freedom and independence. The history behind the legend of Lilith is somewhat mysterious. Some say her name comes from the Hebrew lilit, which can be translated to “night creature” or “screech owl.” Other ancient texts have descriptions of lilitu, which can be translated to demons or spirits. Related terms are found in other ancient texts that could have influenced the common understanding of the figure of Lilith, but the most recognized story comes from Jewish mythology. In this story Lilith was created for Adam from the same material that he was created from. When Adam wanted her to lie beneath him, she refused saying that she was his equal. Adam countered, saying that he was her superior. Lilith, seeing they would only fight, flew away. When Adam told God of this, God sent angels after Lilith asking for her return and she refused. She was then cursed to have 1000 of her babies die every day as the mother of demons. Because of her refusal to submit and her determination for equality, Lilith in modern times has become a symbol of feminism and female independence.

Many Satanists not only use Satan as a symbol of rebellion against authority, but Lilith as well. Neither would bow to arbitrary domination, fear, or tyranny. Eve, too, sought knowledge and is a symbol of our release from ignorance. The value and respect of the maternal and the feminine was clearly a part of humanity throughout history. Patriarchy, especially through patriarchal religions, has tried to suppress, dominate, and devalue women and the feminine to maintain control. Fortunately, the symbols they created to enforce their misogynistic goals have done just the opposite and have become a source of feminist inspiration for many. Feminism, and female portrayals of power are not just inspirational and constructive for women identifying persons, feminism and feminine power are beneficial and inspirational to anyone who identifies as a man as well.

So, whoever fills the role of the maternal in your life, we hail them! If you fill the role of the maternal, we hail you!

Hail Lilith! Hail Eve!

Share

Hares giving gifts, slaughtered lambs, & COVID-19

April is upon us, and with it comes Spring, Easter, Passover, and ongoing social distancing. It was a struggle to decide whether to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic for this month’s blog, or to shift focus to other topics in order to give our readers a bit of a reprieve from the crisis. We’re going to do a little of both.

The major religious holidays that occur during the month of April all have some themes in common. Basically, these holidays are a celebration of Spring, no matter how twisted the stories are. Of course, there is Good Friday, which celebrates the torture and crucifixion of Jesus, followed by Easter, when Jesus rises from the dead three days after he is buried. The Easter bunny works his way into the celebrations by way of Germany. According to German Lutheran folklore, the “Easter Hare” is a sort of Santa Claus/ Krampus figure who judges whether children are good or bad. He carries Easter eggs and other goodies in his basket to bestow on the good children. Ancient legend describes the bunny as a hermaphrodite who could reproduce without losing its virginity, and for this reason is associated with the Virgin Mary in ancient artwork and texts. Okie dokie.

Then there is Passover. In the Book of Exodus, the Israelites are enslaved in Egypt, so Yahweh appears to Moses as a burning bush, as one does, to tell Moses to confront the Pharaoh. As if appearing as burning shrubbery isn’t enough to show his power, Yahweh imposes ten plagues on the Egyptians, the final one being the death of every first-born. The Israelites are instructed to slaughter a lamb and mark their doors with the lamb’s blood so that Yahweh does not confuse them for Egyptians and murder their first-borns since his all-powerfulness stops at being able to locate where his would-be victims live.

Both of these holidays “borrow” their central themes from older traditions. The custom of celebrating death and rebirth during the Spring season dates back to ancient cultures. One source of this theme comes from the Mesopotamian Goddess, Ishtar, known in Sumerian literature as Inanna. One translation of this story explains that when her husband, Tammuz (Damuzi in Sumerian) dies, Ishtar goes into the underworld to find him. She is punished for doing so, and all life on Earth stops reproducing in her absence. After she is missing for, you guessed it, three days, her servant pleads with the other gods for her return. They are permitted to be resurrected for six months out of the year, which is how we get the seasons. This same story of death and resurrection is seen in the Egyptian myth of the murder and dismemberment of Isis’s husband Osiris, of her resurrecting him and then ultimately having a son, Horus, in the Greek story of Persephone’s abduction by Hades and her mother Demeter braving the Underworld to bring her back, in the Roman myth of Cybele and her lover Attis, and among many others.

Another connection the Christian Easter holiday makes is through the Pagan celebration of the Goddess of Spring, Eostre or Ostara. There is much debate as to whether the Benedictine monk, Bede, born in 673, invented the Goddess, or if there is credible evidence otherwise. A discovery made in 1958 of over 150 votive and altar offerings dating back to the first century with inscriptions of the names of Goddesses who were venerated has given sway to the acceptance of Eostre as an accepted ancient Goddess. In Jacob Grimm’s 1835 work, Deutsche Mythologie, he states, “OstaraEástre seems therefore to have been the divinity of the radiant dawn, of upspringing light, a spectacle that brings joy and blessing, whose meaning could be easily adapted by the resurrection-day of the Christian’s God.” In the Wiccan Wheel of the Year, there is a holiday named for the Goddess, and in other forms of neopaganism She is venerated.

As we can see, it is common across time and beliefs to celebrate Spring as a season of renewal and rebirth. Spring has positive psychological effects on our mood and mental health. In many parts of the world it brings the warmer months and increased daylight. We hear the birds start singing and insects buzzing. We see the flowers and trees start to bud and bloom. After the long, dark, and cold winter months, we feel increased urgency to go outside more, socialize, and make the most out of the warmth and long days. Presently we find ourselves in an unprecedented and surreal situation. The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to go against these natural springtime urges. With the high religious Spring holidays upon us, we are seeing many Christian and Jewish leaders defying the advisories and orders of social distancing and non-essential closures to observe their holidays. There have been many reports from around the country and the globe where leaders of the major religions have made proclamations that prayer will cure people with the virus or keep people from even contracting the virus. That their god will keep them safe. That a lack of belief in their god is what is causing the pandemic and if we would all just pray, pay tithes to their churches, ask their god for forgiveness, or any other number of superstitious claims, the virus will magically disappear and we will all be saved. It is an egregious abuse of power to ignore medical expertise and put the health and safety of countless people at risk. If your religion makes you question your personal safety and the safety of others, then there is something incredibly wrong with that system. If people in leadership roles of your religion are asking you to disregard the warnings of medical and scientific professionals, then you should really start to question that religion. Most of us are feeling the stress, strain, and anxiety due to the lack of physical social interaction, fear of the virus, and cabin fever, but we are all in this together. Utilizing technology to socialize and see loved ones and people in our communities is incredibly helpful. We urge you to reach out if you need support.

The Satanic Temple also has an official holiday this month. April 30 is Hexennacht, which is very appropriate given the current circumstances. Hexennacht for The Satanic Temple is “a solemn holiday to honor those who were victimized by superstition.” It’s an “occasion honoring those who fell victim to superstition and pseudoscience, whether by witch hunt, Satanic panic, or other injustices.” TST’s Suggestions for Celebration:

  • Feast with mead and sparkling wine (or nonalcoholic equivalent).
  • Grey Mass.
  • Destruction Ritual with bonfires, music, and dance.

All of these can easily be adjusted to practice indoors and communally via virtual means. In lieu of bonfires, you can use candles, if you are unable to obtain the suggested beverages, substitute with anything you wish that you have on hand. There is no official way to celebrate, feel free to personalize your holiday. This Hexennacht is going to be a powerful one due to the current situation we find ourselves in and all the above stated superstitious rhetoric that is going to cost people their lives. As a religious community rooted in compassion, empathy, reason, and science, we should use this day to reflect on our current state of the world, honor those who have had dangerous religious practices forced on them, and who are denied medical attention due to their religion.

Again, we are in this together. We can still celebrate the renewal of Spring while adhering to the safety guidelines. Open the windows and the shades to let the light and warmth in. Reach out to your community by phone or web when you need to and hail yourself! We will get through this together. Hail Lilith! Hail Satan! Hail science!

Share

Consider the 90% aka Happy Women’s History Month

Let’s talk Women’s History Month. Starting out in the early 1980’s with Congress requesting that the President declare just one week during March to observe Women’s History, eventually all of March was proclaimed by Congress and the President as Women’s History Month. On March 7, 1982, the inaugural Women’s History Week, President Reagan stated,

 “American women of every race, creed and ethnic background helped  found and build our Nation in countless recorded and unrecorded ways… As leaders in public affairs, American women not only worked to secure their own rights of suffrage and equal opportunity but also were principal advocates in the abolitionist, temperance, mental health reform, industrial labor and social reform movements, as well as the modern civil rights movement.” Women of all kinds have always worked towards progress, have always been forces of change, and have always been integral in this nation’s, as well as global history.”

Similarly to the often hostile questioning, “Why is there a Black History Month but no White History Month,” “Why is there a Gay Pride March but no Straight Pride March,” there’s usually someone also asking, “Why should we have a Women’s History Month when there’s no Men’s History Month?” The answer is the default for most facets of society are set to cis, white, heterosexual male. Having months, marches, parades, days, exhibits, etc. highlighting those groups that have been marginalized throughout history are important to help change the default, and hopefully remove a default altogether. Bringing stories of women to the forefront will help normalize them and remove them from the realm of “the other.” Education is extremely important, and teaching people of all ages, but children especially, the whole of history is vital in representing truth and strengthening equality.

Another common and often hostile reaction to Women’s History Month is in response to the inclusion of transgender women in the celebrations and recognition during the month. To this I say simply, fuck off. All women have been marginalized, all women’s voices have been repressed, all women have experienced some form of discrimination or harassment, whether subtle or overt, at some point in their lives. Trans women are women period. They have suffered in the same ways as all women, and in vastly different ways as well. To continue the horrific trend of exclusion, of othering, of discrimination is abhorrent. Trans women have contributed to and strengthened our society throughout history, and like all women, they are still struggling for recognition and respect. The current administration is doubling down on its attacks on transgender rights and the bodily autonomy of all women. Instead of adding to the divisiveness, intolerance, discrimination, and hate, we should be learning from each other, listening to all voices, representing all lived experiences, and moving towards equality. When people question whether trans women are “real” women or whether they belong in a Women’s March or to be celebrated during Women’s History Month, they are fueling the attacks on these women. They are supporting the laws that prevent these women from entering bathrooms, from being accepted in domestic violence shelters, or adopting children. They are complacent in the epidemic of murder of trans-women throughout the United States and its territories. No one should be complacent in the face of bigoted opinions, even when the behaviors do not seem extreme. Even small acts of discrimination add to the atmosphere of unmitigated hate.   

This month and beyond, celebrate all women who have been cast out of history. Teach and learn about a broad range of experiences and all histories. This month we lift up the likes of Lucy Hicks Anderson who in 1945 proclaimed, “I defy any doctor in the world to prove that I am not a woman,” and “I have lived, dressed, acted just what I am, a woman,” and Mary Jones, a sex worker of color in the mid-1800s who refused to give up her identity in the face of arrest, insults, and discrimination, and Sylvia Rivera who was bullied as a child, kicked out of her home, and still went on to co-found STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), a group dedicated to providing housing and support for homeless queer youth and sex workers in New York City in the late 1960s; and countless others who in the face of discrimination, threats, violence, and hostility went on to create, advance, help others, and promote compassion, equality, and education.

Forbes Magazine recently had an article with the results of a United Nations analysis that indicated 90% of people around the globe have biases against women. Many think human society has made great strides towards gender equality, but when 90% of the world continues to hold irrational and insidious prejudices against women, there is little to celebrate. Use this month to reflect on your own internal biases against women. Use this month to critically think about media, advertising, and other ways women are used and represented commercially. Use this month to start conversations about transgender women and women of different backgrounds and cultures. Think about white feminism and white female privilege. Think about men and how sexism and the devaluing of the feminine affects them. Reach out to our male allies and feminists of all genders. Remember Women’s History Month is not just about white, cis-gender women. Let’s celebrate the feminine in everyone, lift up ALL women, show gratitude to our feminist allies, but also remember that we still have a lot of work to do. Let’s also take every opportunity to teach compassion, to listen to all voices, make space for all lived experiences, and forge a community of respect, freedom, and kindness truly for all.

Hail Lilith! Hail Satan! Happy Women’s History Month.   

Share

FUCK RACISM!

Satanism has a long history of being misinterpreted, misused, and negatively portrayed. One of the most insidious of these distortions is the alignment of racism with the Satanic. There has been a long literary tradition establishing that which is “dark” as evil and that which is “light” as good and this theme is strong within mythology, folklore, and most major religions, especially Christianity. This color association has unfortunately been exploited to spread hateful and malevolent ideologies and fuel racism and white supremacy well into modern times.

There are many examples that illustrate the light/dark: good/evil thematic. Early folklore describes Satan as a “black man,” and though there aren’t explicit descriptions in the Bible of Satan, other sinful or negative forces are described as being dark or black. Art during Medieval times tended to portray figures of an evil nature as darker than other figures and in Medieval theater actors would wear black masks when they played demons. According to the Black Presence Project, “…by the time of Elizabeth I and the advent of the slave trade, some writers were portraying ‘blackness’ as satanic and sinful, while ‘whiteness’ was purity and virginity, as (supposedly) embodied by the queen. At the same time, however, images of Black people had become trophies – a means of displaying one’s wealth and power, based on ideas of racial superiority.” A work of art entitled “The Devil’s Ball” encapsulates this sentiment of evil and “blackness” that ranges from the 18th century onward. The Black Presence Project describes it as, “…one of a series of satirical cartoons by Robert Cruikshank. It is a vivid example of the gross caricatures made of Black people in the 18th century. Cruikshank portrays the African as a devil with thick lips…” Modern examples of this color dichotomy in popular culture range from Star Wars and its light and dark forces to the more Satanic themes of “The Bible” miniseries which created controversy because the Satan character purportedly resembled Barak Obama, and the movie “The Witch” that made Black Phillip a mainstay in Satanic subculture.

For all the insidious and deceptive influences on Satanism, there have been many positive, anti-racist, and progressive artistic representations of Satanism as well. The reading of Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost as an anti-hero and figure of rebellion against tyranny, whether it’s correct or not, lead many artists to depict Satan in a favorable light. Neil Gaiman’s take on the Lucifer Morningstar character in the comic Sandman and his new role on the TV show Lucifer depict him sympathetically. In music, Twin Temple takes a feminist stance on Satanism and the band Zeal & Ardor created a magnificent album entitled The Devil is Fine that asks, “What if American slaves had embraced Satan instead of Jesus?” In an interview with Revolver the band’s creator says, “…it struck me as odd that American slaves adopted the beliefs of their oppressors and masters in their very personal music. If they sung the spirituals truly for themselves, it’s hard to believe that they incorporated Christianity into it. So [embracing Satan] seemed like an interesting form of rebellion, at least in my head.”

When it comes to racism in ideology, the rising of Identity Christianity in the late 1800s, which subscribes to extreme racism, claimed that the devil was black. A later interpretation from Charles Carroll’s 1900 book The Negro a Beast or In the Image of God, states that white people descended from Adam and non-white people descended from “pre-Adamite beasts.” They are adamantly against couples of mixed races, so much so that James Alfred Aho’s The Politics of Righteousness: Idaho Christian Patriotism, states that identity preachers claim according to the Bible, “the penalties for race-mixing, homo-sexuality, and usury are death.” Some of the most notorious hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Republic Army, Aryan Nations, and the Universal Church of God identify as Identity Christian.

The hypocrisy within Christianity and its views on racism and Satanism are not only apparent in readings and interpretations of the Bible, but in its contemporary preaching as well. In a 2018 article in Christian Living titled “Racism is Demonic” Andrew Menkis states, “When discussing racism, we must not forget Satan…God ‘has delivered us from the domain of darkness…’ Believers are soldiers in the fight against Satan and his evil, including racism.” He goes on to quote Jesus, “When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” The above statements are an example of how these belief systems reinforce the idea that darkness is evil yet attempt to claim racism as Satanic when the correlation was spurred by their very own theistic doctrine.

It is apparent from historical documentation that the false assumption believing racism is somehow Satanic was devised by early supernaturalism and further developed and propelled by Christianity for self-benefit. While it must be acknowledged that Satanism has lacked diversity in its development, The Satanic Temple is staunchly anti-racist and inclusive. In a 2017 Washington Post article, TST’s co-founder, Lucien Greaves, in addition to countering the pious insistence that racism and evil are products of the supernatural or a literal Satan states, “Finally, it must be said that nothing could be more antithetical to modern nontheistic Satanism than racist ideologies. We embrace a large diversity of individuals from a wide spectrum of political and cultural backgrounds, but we’re all unified by our respect for individual rights and pluralism.” TST is continuously working to be as inclusive as possible and ensure all voices are heard. Most recently, the Satanists of Color Coalition was launched within TST “for Satanists of Color to talk about issues, subjects, and experiences that [they] face in [their] communities.” The tenets embrace compassion and justice and part of TST’s mission “is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people.” There is no place for racism or hate of any kind in Satanism. As Lucifer states in The Sandman, “They use my name as if I spent my entire days sitting on their shoulders, forcing them to commit acts they would otherwise find repulsive. ‘The devil made me do it.’ I have never made one of them do anything. Never. They live their own tiny lives. I do not live their lives for them.”   

Share

The Same Ol’ Roaring Twenties

A new year, as well as a new decade is upon us. The numeral alone symbolizes multiple anachronistic themes. 2020 is seemingly a number out of science fiction that signifies some far-off futuristic time period with flying cars and colonies on other planets. It also brings with it a sense of nostalgia, a sense of the past. The “roaring twenties” have returned with jazz parties and a swingin’ sense of style. 2020 is the past and the future all twisted together right here in the present.

While we haven’t gotten flying cars or off-planet colonies just yet, the electronic age is in full swing. There are cellular phones where actual voice calling is probably the least used feature, other contraptions that you need only speak to for them to perform many different tasks, and communication to every country around the globe is possible in multiple ways. A vast amount of information is at most people’s fingertips and can be found in mere seconds. All these things seemed impossible not that long ago, but the swiftness in which technology has evolved and continues evolving is staggering. Technological advances during the 1920s were a main feature of that decade as well, but there are some more frightening ways in which our present is like the 20s of the 20th century. That era saw increased restrictions on immigration, politicians who used slogans such as “America first,” a decline in labor unions, and increased consumerism and corporate control. Today we see harsh restrictions on immigration and refugees, slogans like “make America great again,” and union busting on a national scale with increased corporate power.

Women gained the right to vote in America in 1920 but there was still a host of restrictions and discriminations that continued to work against them. Women could participate in “appropriate” professional fields but could legally be fired if they were pregnant. There were restrictions placed on what was appropriate for women to wear at work as well as in public spaces, and these are only a couple of examples. Today women are still struggling for paid maternity leave and reproductive health coverage. They are still criticized on how they dress in public and sources from the White House have indicated that the president instructed female staff need to “dress like women.” The trend of women in the 1920s gaining minor advancements yet still struggling for full equity continues with increased female representation in many spheres but with the battle for basic bodily rights and general respect ongoing and becoming more urgent every day.

Racism and other forms of bigotry were rampant during the 1920s with the Ku Klux Klan having an estimated 6 million members. There were lynchings, race riots, a rise in anti-Semitism, and a trend towards the belief in eugenics. Segregation was still prominent and zoning rules dictated where non-white families could purchase homes. In entertainment, the jazz craze was gaining popularity and dance halls were a main attraction for youths of all races. Jazz was a musical genre created by African Americans and mostly played by African Americans, yet the dance halls were segregated, and the music itself was eventually co-opted by whites. America today has seen racism, anti-Semitism, and hate crimes rise again to startling heights. While we now have laws against race discrimination, there is a strong movement of white nationalism. While there are hate crime laws now protecting people from certain forms of abuse, anti-Semitic attacks and the murder of trans men and women have seen an uptick across the country. Hateful ideologies which were once out in the open eventually simmered, although never disappearing fully, eventually became outlawed and outdated. But now the hate that was driven underground is once again out in the open. The KKK and other neo-Nazi organizations are openly holding rallies and recruitments, swastikas are graffitied in public places, anti-LGBTQ laws are surfacing in our state and federal governments, and laws to control female bodies are sweeping the nation.

Religious conservatism is another area where our present is emulating the past with its ideologies seeping into our laws and government in alarming ways. Religious conservatism reared its head throughout the 1920s fueling the drive towards prohibition and denouncing science. An important example of this is the famous Scopes trial in Tennessee in 1925 with the banning of evolution from being taught in schools. John T. Scopes was put on trial for teaching it anyway despite the law and was eventually found guilty. The details and basis for this trial no longer seem like distant history. An Ohio bill that prohibits penalizing children who answer scientific questions incorrectly if those answers align with religious beliefs has passed in their state House of Representatives. Indiana is currently attempting to pass legislation that requires schools to place “In God We Trust” in every classroom at the school’s expense. Dominant religious doctrine is infiltrating our public lives in numerous other ways with strong political backing and widespread public support.

Living in a future that in many ways is emulating an America of 100 years ago is exceedingly distressing. But there were forces like John T. Scopes, the numerous suffragists, W.E.B. Du Bois and all the contributors to the Harlem Renaissance and anti-segregationists, the pioneers of the “Pansy” and “Sapphic” crazes that celebrated the LGBTQ community of the time that all created, danced, educated, and defied their oppressors. They dared to live their truths freely which made the roaring twenties a joyous time despite the terrible challenges many people were facing. The roaring twenties of today also has many inspiring individuals and communities who are striving to make this world a more accepting place for all of us. There are leaders among us refusing to give in to intolerance, religious oppression, and hate of all kinds. We belong to one such community. The Satanic Temple is filled with like-minded individuals who value and respect the adversary of unchecked authority. We will continue to defy oppression and seek justice. We will continue to dance, create, educate, pursue knowledge, and defend our freedoms. Welcome to the new Roaring Twenties. Happy New Year and Hail Satan!

Share