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.
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.
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.