On Leaving my Leadership Post in The Satanic Temple
I am stepping down from my post as Co-Chapter Head of the Satanic Temple - Seattle Chapter, effective at the end of this month (June 2019). It's been an amazing ride, and I am so grateful to everyone who has contributed to making our Chapter a vibrant, successful community. I feel confident in the abilities of our remaining Chapter Head, Siri Sanguine, and the rest of our leadership. I have no doubt that they will do a fantastic job.
One of the First Chapters
I started TST Seattle way back in 2014, less than two years after the founding of the Temple itself. TST was vastly different than today. To the best of my knowledge, the only existing chapters before us were Detroit, Maine, New Orleans, St. Louis and San Antonio. There wasn't a lot of chapter experience for us to start with; we were the first tentative blossomings of what would eventually become a blizzard of TST groups. It was the wild Satanic frontier out here in Seattle, on the other side of the country from New York where the national TST org was loosely based at the time.
At the time we started and for about a year afterwards, there wasn't much in place in terms of Chapter support. There was no National Council, and most of our guidance came directly from TST spokesperson Lucien Greaves and his co-founder Malcolm Jarry. We would go for many months at a time without hearing back from them.
Chapters from this beginning were meant to be largely autonomous branches of the organization ─ and that's been true this whole time; we still have great latitude as to how we want to run things and what actions we choose to do. I have some leadership experience, but building a ground-breaking Satanic community up from scratch was a challenging, monumental task. Few had done this before, and I had to make up many solutions as I went along.
The Organization Grows and Matures
Over time, both our chapter and the greater TST org started smoothing out the kinks and improving things. We learned a lot through trial and error, noting what was working and what wasn't.
After about 10 months of our chapter's existence, I was able to ask some of our more involved members if they would accept more responsibility, and I created our Strategy Council leadership group, which has served us well til this day (and we're considering leadership expansion in other directions as well).
At the national level, TST created a National Council that would direct the Chapters instead of forcing the two overworked founders to deal with countless administrative details. Response times became much quicker, and as they went along the National Council started codifying standard processes and policies that help the whole machine run better. We've had great experiences with our National Council rep, Chalice Blythe, who has been our rock through all of this, and I have massive respect for all our National Council members, who put in countless hours making this all happen (especially Amber, who is currently slaying it with welcoming the huge numbers of new TST members and groups).
TST has grown from 3 people to over 100,000 in the first six years of its existence. And thanks to the recent documentary Hail Satan? that is reaching a wider audience, we are seeing the beginning of a record growth phase that promises to take our membership numbers to the next level. It's an incredibly exciting time for us.
My hope is that with our expanded membership, we will be able to take on even more theocracy and be able to better challenge the Christian Dominionism that has overtaken the nation. Reproductive rights are on the chopping block, LGBT rights are being rolled back in the name of God, and Christian fundamentalism has seeped into every level of our government, driven by lawmakers who believe that all citizens should be forced to submit to strict Christian bible-based law. There is an urgent need for people to stand up to the powerful evangelical coalition and fight to reclaim our nation. The struggle for justice is built into our core values as Satanists, and we take an active role in fighting for human rights against those who would use religion to deny them.
The Gift of Satanic Community
In these past four and a half years since our founding, I've had the great honor of helping a close-knit Satanic community spring up, grow, and mature. I feel privileged to know each and every one of our members. I would have never imagined that a community like ours could exist: one where everyone is accepted as they are, without pressure to conform or obey, where individuality is celebrated instead of stamped out.
Because the Satanic Temple is founded on Enlightenment ideals of compassion, tolerance, equality and reason, it attracts those who make those values a priority, and it shows in the caring I see members give to one another and the strides they make towards change. Working alongside kindred spirits doing activism and community service can be life-changing. So many people have told me, after a lifetime of being rejected by society and/or family, "I didn't think I would ever find a connection with others until I joined TST."
This has been both the hardest and most rewarding role I've ever taken on. I feel my whole life was a training ground for this job, and I will always see this as one of the pinnacles of my time on this earth. I am incredibly proud of our chapter and all our years of success. This is Year Five and in my opinion, this religious organization only keep getting better.
Why I'm Stepping Down
Being a TST Chapter Head was a great journey, but now it's time to begin the next phase in my Satanic path. One reason it's time to go is that my disabilities have gotten too bad. I've struggled with chronic pain (and the severe depression it can create) for many years, and it's gotten so bad that I don't feel I can effectively serve as chapter leadership anymore without seriously compromising my health.
But there's also a highly positive reason for my departure. I've been working on a book for the past few years that is related to the Satanic movement, and now I'll have the time and energy I need to devote myself more fully to it, as well to the articles for my Satanic blog. I feel that I can now best serve the Satanic Temple and the religion of Satanism with my writing, and I'm really excited that I get to focus on it going forward.
I'll still be an enthusiastic member of the Chapter, and now I'll have more energy units ("spoons") for hanging out with my Satanic community at social events and work parties ─ for instance, I'll be able to rest up so I can go on the annual TST Seattle camping trip next month. I'm very much looking forward to all the fun things I'll be able to do now that I couldn't make room for before.
I have no doubt the chapter is in good hands; it's doing well and it's stable and going on full steam ahead, so I have total peace of mind about stepping down, knowing the TST Seattle community will not only survive but grow and thrive.
A huge "thank you" to all of y'all out there in TST-land; I've had the time of my life being part of this organization and I know the future holds even more for us. Though there have been many difficult parts of this job, it's been an overwhelmingly positive experience.
It is here among the outcasts, the misfits, and the outsiders that I've finally found my home, my infernal family. It's given me the deep purpose and meaning to my life that I've always been searching for, never knowing it was here along in the hearts and minds of my Satanic kin.
I'm incredibly grateful for this chance I've had to touch lives and help drive back the forces of theocratic oppression.
Now more than ever, I am proud to call myself a Satanist.