Satanic Community: Making a Difference Together
Photo: The Satanic Temple of Seattle at the 2016 Seattle Pride Festival
“Satanic community” used to be something of an oxymoron. The Satanist was always the Outcast, shunned by most of society, which in most cases also instilled a deep reciprocal mistrust of that society. LaVeyan Satanism in particular advocated an Ayn Randian deification of the self─and the rest of the world be damned. The Satanic Temple’s philosophy is based on an older model of compassion, reason, and equal rights, but still, many of us who joined have spent our entire lives at the edge of society, rejected and hated by those around us. Rugged individualism has been our path up til now, striking out on our own as best we could once we realized there would be no help from our various communities and families.
But something entirely new has come about, thanks to the rise of the Satanic Temple: a global Satanic community, actively working towards common ends. I’ve been privileged to be a part of this community, planting the seeds of it here in Seattle and watching our chapter of the Satanic Temple sprout and grow. I am constantly in awe of how well our chapter works together, despite everyone being extremely different from each other. There are a number of factors I see that tie us together─no small feat for people used to the role of the lone Outcast.
Shared values: The only requirement for membership in the Satanic Temple is the belief in our Seven Fundamental Tenets. These shared values include compassion and empathy, the willingness to fight for justice, individual freedom, equal rights for all, the inviolability of one’s body (something women still battle for), and the value of reason and science. Our last Tenet recognizes that humans are fallible, and if we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify the matter. This spirit of understanding permeates all our interactions; we’re not afraid to admit we are wrong.
These core values radiate out into other qualities I often see in our members. Of course compassion is the hallmark of everyone involved. It is an act of great compassion to fight for justice for the oppressed. There is honesty─and there is tremendous courage. Claiming the title “Satanist” is not a safe thing to do in today’s world. Many threaten us with violence and death. Even if you use a pseudonym and cover your face during public actions, you are running the very real risk of being outed─and that could mean losing your job, your housing, even your family and children. So to not only take on that Satanic role, but also take an active stand and publicly fight against injustice, requires a lot of strength and bravery.
United purpose: As a social club only, I think our community would not be so tight-knit and drama-free. But we are first and foremost a serious religion, with action as our form of worship. It is our sacred duty in the Temple to fight for justice, for compassion and equality. Our religion requires us to take a stand and raise our voices when we see tyranny, bigotry and hate. We follow our core beliefs in human rights by engaging in activism and political change, and that gives us a shared purpose that each of us fervently believes in.
We honor difference: There is no cookie cutter mold for a Satanist. It is a path that encourages individuality and freedom. We all come from different backgrounds; we have a wide range of different experiences. There are young people just entering the adult world; there are older folks who’ve spent their life fighting the tyranny of religion. We may be extremely different, both from society and each other, but we are united in our belief in the Seven Tenets and our willingness to take an active stand against tyranny. Difference and diversity are recognized as strengths within the organization.
We are the only community where we feel comfortable: We are far more than an activist group. For many of us, this is our sole community where we can be free from judgement and bigotry, the one we feel most at home in. Most non-Satanic people have ties to numerous friends, family, coworkers, and/or fellow church goers. Humans are social animals, and we survive best when we have a social network supporting us. It’s where most people get help, housing and job leads, meet potential partners, etc.
But many of us in the Chapter came to this group with no such network in place. For one reason or another, most of us were rejected by society and/or family. For some, it was due to sexual orientation, gender identity, or the unwillingness to adhere to submissive gender roles. We’ve also been scapegoated and bullied simply for daring to question─most often for questioning the religious beliefs forced down our throats at an early age. In so many cases, it was simply because we were different in some way.
Societal rejection has tremendous costs, and so many of us have borne those costs heavily. Loneliness, exacerbated mental illness, self-hate, hardship and poverty─there is much that comes from being rejected by society.
For many, rejection came from their family as well. What should have been a safe haven was instead a source of hate, abuse, and non-acceptance. The love that should have been there during our development was absent, and judgement, intolerance and vitriol put in its place. No wonder so many of us come with such a deep distrust of society.
I suffered many of these costs myself. Rejected and bullied by my peers at a very young age, I internalized a great deal of self-hate. Combined with my depression, it triggered self-destructive behavior and drug addiction for most of my adult life─17 long years. I believed what my peers told me in my youth: that I was broken and worthless. I spent most of my time trying to kill myself slowly with drugs; I nearly succeeded.
It was LaVeyan Satanism and the love of my husband that pulled me out of the destructive cycle. I suddenly realized that it was not me who was broken, but a society that lacked compassion, and I finally found my own power to stop the addiction.
But it’s been my work with the Satanic Temple that has not only kept me clean, but opened up a whole new life, filled with purpose, meaning and a community I love dearly. I see others experiencing community for the first time too. It’s a surprise to so many of us, that we would find such kindred spirits─and have the chance to work with them on something that makes a difference in the world.
We keep busy: Our mandate for action means we are always hard at work on activism projects. We have a special role to play in society: As the outcast, we have awakened and we dare to stand up against tyranny wherever we find it. We fight to protect the rights of all, from women whose reproductive rights are threatened, to LGBT communities targeted by discriminatory legislation. Religious oppression touches so many in society. We are never at a lack for work to be done. It helps us set aside differences to focus on planning and executing effective action.
We have fun: For a group of people who almost all have social anxiety, we get along remarkably well. There is a great deal of levity and laughter. I sense we are finally in an environment where we can let the shields down. It’s hard to be vulnerable and social when you’ve had such a rough past, but each of has known that struggle in our own way, and that connects us.
I’ve been keenly aware of the value in having lots of social occasions for the chapter. Since I started it, my chronic pain has become overwhelming. I only have enough energy to organize, lead meetings, and do behind-the-scenes planning, while my team does most of the field work. I don’t have the energy for social occasions, so I can’t enjoy them myself, but I’ve gone out of my way to plan social events and encourage members to hang out together without me. They usually go out for dinner or drinks after meetings and events; we’ve had movie nights, parties, club nights, and other social events─and this summer we’re going on two camping trips.
When I look at the photos members send back from the actions I can’t attend, I see joy and friendship blossoming there. It touches me that people are enjoying themselves so much. Because what healthy community is not bound by ties of fun and friendship? It’s what keeps us effective as a team in the heat of actions, and it’s what brings me so much happiness as I witness this community growing.
If you had asked me five years ago if Satanic community existed, I would have told you “no”─but I remained hopeful that someday I would find it. It was a stroke of Luciferian luck that the Satanic Temple came on the scene just as I was yearning for such a community. Now the answer to that question is a resounding “Yes! There is Satanic community, and I am grateful to be a part of it.”