Changing Satanic Perception: Acceptance and Gratitude
Since I retired from my position as TST Seattle Chapter Head in June, it's been challenging settling into my new role in the Satanic community. It's so different from the leadership I gave five years of my life to. I thought I could still contribute to the Chapter's work in many ways, but my health has declined so sharply that I have to save my energy for surviving the pain on a day-to-day basis. However, the Chapter has been extremely understanding, and various folks have actively made sure I still felt connected.
It's hard not feeling productive. I yearn to finish my next book. I yearn to follow my dreams. But instead I have become severely disabled, unable to do much, living in poverty with my partner who is also disabled. It's terrifying not being able to work and support ourselves.
But our community has helped us so much. The Seattle Chapter had a great blossoming when the new leadership came in after me, and one of things that was implemented was our SatanFam initiative. We do a lot of community service, but now we have also turned inward to meet the needs of our own TST Seattle community.
Members are encouraged to make requests for help, and other members volunteer to make it happen. We've now moved two people, helped feed two people after their surgeries, and more. We're using tracking spreadsheets, even!
But I've used the "SatanFam line" most of all. I asked for help installing a new faucet. I asked for help fixing my wardrobe staples. I've asked for help with a diagnoses and a cat carrier so we could care for Chloe, the neighbor's cat that we've taken responsibility for, and members have gifted us with enough to get him neutered, vaccinated, and seen by a vet when he got a tail wound.
I've really felt weird about being so needy. In most ways, even at 47, I feel like I'm already a village elder, unable to care for myself and needing to depend on others to survive. It's enough to exacerbate my depression. But the incredible responsiveness my community showed to all these various cries for help has astonished me and helped keep me from deep despair.
In addition, people across the world have let me know just how much they appreciated my book on Satanism. Some Satanic communities have told me my writing helped their group get up and running. And a bunch of Satanists near and far pitched in and surprised me and my partner with a complete, delicious turkey dinner for Thanksgiving, with all the sides, fixins, and pie. Yum!
So wave after wave of love and appreciation has come to me from the Satanic community, and I've been here wondering why, thinking I've been unworthy and a hole of need ─ just a failed writer who can't stand on her own two feet. But I've pondered it, and I think the answer lies partly in the fact that I myself have sent wave after wave of love into the budding Satanic community.
Right before I became a Satanist, I devoted myself to living always in love ─ what I vowed was "I am a priestess of the dark path of love." I have striven my whole life to live a life that is 100% sacred, like a Zen monk, but with various witchy paths instead. And then I became a Satanist and immediately started doing whatever I could to find Satanic community.
Not long after that, when I didn't find what I was looking for, I began putting my limited energy into actively creating and growing that community. I worked as an editor running a Satanism blog on Facebook, primarily LaVeyan. But when I saw TST appear in the Satanic landscape, I knew I had found my people. I wanted that community here in Seattle, and when I found out there wasn't yet one, I was willing to work my ass off to get it, even if I had to build it up from scratch.
I remember the first public meeting we had for interested people in a local library. After, we all went out to dinner and talked for hours. It was incredibly exciting. I felt like I had finally found my family. We could talk about things most others barely tolerated or were dismissive of, but were so important to us all at heart. My brain lit up. And since then, the folks we've attracted have worked to build an incredibly vibrant community dedicated to compassion and justice.
Across the world, a beautiful bloom of Satanic community has spread, bringing together people who are all very different, yet share the same sense of kinship within the Satanic Temple. And now I think I am starting to understand my role, not as a failure, but as a family member. The love that I gave is returning back to me many-fold.
What I most need to work on in my mental health right now is finding acceptance of my disabilities. Even though my pain and depression are so severe that many days I question why I'm still here, I still need to look them in the eye, understand that I am indeed limited (with very hard limits!), and do the best I can to accept them as part of me. I have to stop driving myself to be productive, because I just can't. I would do it if I possibly could, but this body won't, no matter how much I beat myself up.
The humbling experiences I've had over the past six months are starting to sink in the message that I'm not actually an imposter or a drain on my community. The last member who came over to help said it helps her too to help me ─ "I like helping, it makes me feel good." Such a far cry from the dog-eat-dog world of Social Darwinism in LaVeyan Satanism! TST is a truly compassionate bunch and I already see us doing great things globally with the help of our strong community connections. Passionate Satanists working together get a lot done!
I will dwell on gratitude that people have helped me, said kind things, even made art to thank me! TST Seattle painted a beautiful thank you sign that the Chapter carried in the Pride Parade that I couldn't attend. A member of TST UK, across the ocean, drew a lovely likeness as well!
I am Lilith, Mother of Demons, and even if I'm now in the proverbial Satanic nursing home, my "child," the community I helped birth, is giving me the love and care that helps me make it through this invalid life. I am so grateful. Hail Community! Hail Satan!
Lilith Starr is the author of "The Happy Satanist: Finding Self-Empowerment.