A Tale of Two Bells: Satanic Replication
We recently got a new ritual bell for the Satanic Temple’s Seattle Chapter. My personal ritual bell had been doubling as the Chapter's since our foundation, but now we have a dedicated one. For me, upon contemplation, these two bells symbolize replication, budding, and genetic propagation. Like many dynamic systems and life itself, the Satanic Temple's growth has been organic and self-organized.
We are growing by leaps and bounds. I’ve seen figures of over 50,000 members worldwide for TST. New Chapters are being recognized around the world at a fast pace, with many pre-Chapter groups also springing up to start the road to eventual Chapterhood. I've gotten to meet a lot of new Chapter Heads over the past year, and it's been exciting to see us expand to serve so many communities.
I believe a lot of this growth boils down to the elegant design laid down by TST’s founders in the beginning. The Satanic meme is replicating in a similar fashion to biological system. I see the Seven Tenets and our core narrative of Satan's rebellion as the blueprint for TST Satanism in much the same way that DNA codes for our biological construction.
But the creation of the individual Satanic path and the individual culture of each Chapter goes way beyond just copying the basics. For instance, even though we act according to the same guidelines and set of values, our Arizona Chapter has a different culture than our Seattle Chapter. These differing cultures arise from having different surrounding communities, different interests, different opportunities or hardships, and many other factors that make each Chapter unique. The same is true for each individual Satanist─we all have different ways in which we approach Satanism.
The basic code at our foundation remains the same, but how Satanism is expressed is by design highly individualistic. Biologically speaking, this mirrors what is called the epigenetic portion of our genetic code─factors that affect how the genes in our DNA are expressed. Every person and every Chapter is going to have a unique way of expressing Satanism. Variation and difference is woven into the fabric of Satanism.
I think the TST idea is spreading like a fast-growing organism because right now there is both a need for a new, secular religion and for resistance in the face of burgeoning theocratic tyranny. Our Satanic ideas are taking root and thriving.
People seem to have an inherent need for a community with shared values and purpose─what religion usually provides. But TST doesn't require you to abandon reason and believe in superstitious, archaic nonsense. We are a religion with just a few simple, common sense ethical rules, and we are specifically anti-dogma. With our focus on personal sovereignty, we celebrate rather than shun difference; conformity is not expected. I think these aspects appeal to many who are fed up with Abrahamic religions.
Our shared archetype of Satan gives us an example to follow: fight tyranny. And there is tyranny aplenty inherent in theocracy right now─we really have a lot of work to do to win freedom and human rights for all. There is a sense of purpose that comes along with this activism and community service, because we are pushing the needle. We are making a difference on many fronts. It’s very rewarding to be part of that.
I still don’t see TST ever being popular and mainstream. The misconceptions tied to the word “Satan” will probably linger in society for a long time, and it provides a natural barrier to entry. Not everyone is willing to take on the mantle of the Outcast. But I expect to see TST’s growth continue as long as theocratic elements threaten our freedoms and rights. I'm grateful to the foresight of TST's founders, who created an elegant blueprint for this fast-growing, organic community─a code that can be replicated while also allowing for individual expression.
If you're curious about epigenetics, this video is a good short introduction:
Lilith Starr is Chapter Head of the Satanic Temple's Seattle Chapter, and the author of "The Happy Satanist: Finding Self-Empowerment."