“If you put dark things on your altar you will conjure darkness.”
My mother said this to me during our last conversation. Without context it can be taken several ways. One can read an admonition or warning, or a neutral observation, which is how she meant it.
We were discussing our paths to individuation. She had taken a right hand path, beginning her journey searching for religious or cultural community and then defining herself against or with the collective whims of the community until she had sloughed off what didn’t fit and she found herself left with her own curated and reasoned drive towards personal meaning and context in life. She refined and distilled her personal identity against notions of community standards and beliefs by gradually rejecting that which leads to unnecessary human suffering in the name of community standards and guidelines.
My path was the left hand. I searched first for what my personal missions and standards were. I refined them against what we accept as “just the way it is” to contextualize my self-will and life work and only then looked for religious or cultural communities that I felt may align with my core perception of human reality and struggle and what concepts need my kind of support or insight in the cultural social balance struggle.
My Satanism was always rooted in my critical nature. I am critical of nearly everything that isn’t 100% pleasing or efficient or that doesn’t bring joy, inspiration, and wonder into the world. I grew up being told that the way I think, express myself creatively, or behave is only acceptable within the standards that the larger community I belong to are comfortable with. However, my inner compulsion has always been to rebel against arbitrary control even when it is packaged as concern and useless advice that serves the vanity and lack of accountability of tyrants and sycophants. As a poor neurodivergent non-binary Queer from West Virginia and Michigan working class families living in small towns nearly everything available to me to place on the altar of my identity was a Dark Thing. My mother understands that. Many of my assumed Satanic “friends, community, and family” clearly do not.
I don’t mean for you to believe for one second that I am surprised. I understand more than many do that in our current predatory culture people only understand rational self interest in predatory terms. Satanists in particular are fond of the caveat “within reason”. Which is of course subjective to the individual or collective who has the privilege of deciding or ruling on what is reasonable. This is often how cult leaders maintain their narrative; by using rules and beurocracy to excommunicate members who threaten the cohesion of their control or mission in ways that “look good on paper”.
I was embedded in The Satanic Temple for years. I ran the headquarters for over a year. I founded the NYC chapter and built the local community in Salem we needed at HQ through my networking and work presenting us as compassionate yet rational and enlightened individuals with comparable intersectional goals and aims with other marginalized groups and viewpoints. My self-interest was always to work for or towards something that gave me peace and served my vision of a world where everyone has the resources and freedom of personal expression to deep-dive explore their own individual purpose and insight. This is what Lucifer or Prometheus would value: a society where everyone has access to the means or resources to become their own God or hero and where we could all discuss mutual goals with each other about what that means and take a seat at the discussion table together despite disagreements on tactic, or aesthetic.
My self-interest is collaborative instead of predatory because I have no one worth impressing except myself followed by the friends and family whom have never discarded me despite what disagreements we’ve had. This is anathema to a profit and rule based culture.
I experience reality as a Multiple consciousness or multi. Dissociative Identity Disorder can be iatrogenic, or therapy induced through false or inaccurate memories, but it can also be self-induced, as it is a natural talent and coping mechanism for some of us whose identity construction is more vibrant than others. My experience is valuable, I know this because I am still alive despite decades of frequent bouts of suicidal ideation. Like a method actor I have created identities through which I learned about being human and why people Other each other instead of focusing on their own presentation and individuation. Those characters are my council and keep me alive through trauma or danger, external or internal.
There is always a witch or Frankenstein’s monster to rally against with pitchforks and torches for cheap group cohesion.
I left Salem for NYC because I was not currently working for TST during the slow season as we transitioned towards a different format for the coming year due to slow business. A fire code issue that is common in Salem which prevents zoning for artists to live where they work without fighting for zoning variance (which is usually denied or hard to obtain) meant that if I didn’t get out of the building by the beginning of April it could cost TST 10k in fines. Back when I believed in the integrity, priorities and mission of the organization I felt that I should go back to NYC for a bit and try to get my old job back. I had left it to move to Salem. My chapter, the one I founded, encouraged me to bring myself and all of my stuff back to NYC , along with my elderly cat, Jinx. I was hesitant and thought I should go alone for a month or two and store my stuff near Salem and keep Jinx with friends here while I tried to get my old job or something similarly rewarding back. I was assured by my chapter that “we got you” and the support for me to bring my stuff and Jinx back to NYC and working with my chapter there was comforting.
Within weeks my chapter gradually retracted their support as far as places for me to stay. Jinx ended up in the care of a member I didn’t know very well who seemed like a good enough person. The job I was trying to get back strung me along an protracted interview process while people gradually got tired of having me or my stuff in their spaces all of the time. I started running out of places to stay and slept on beaches and in train stations a few times. I didn’t get to visit Jinx as my mental health declined and I felt more and more isolated and unwanted. I grew distrustful of all of my former friends and associates and wanted to get back to Salem or somewhere else I enjoyed where if I had to get a shitty job and be alone at least it would be somewhere that doesn’t exacerbate the increasing anxiety I was living with. Visiting Jinx became a painful prospect as I felt that I was failing her and myself and that everyone involved seemed to feel the same by the way they were treating me. They all offered the kind of concern-trolling advise people offer when they have no more desire to help and need an excuse to cut ties that looks good on paper. “Get a job, any job, you need money”. I was always clear that if I needed a busboy job I’d get it somewhere other than NYC as a shitty job in NYC wouldn’t make it worth being there. Then when I would discuss my emotional states, which were often unavoidable as I was clearly emotional much of the time, and my suicidal ideation my “community” and “friends” all offered the flippant and useless resources for therapy they thought I needed.
It was their polite way of letting me know that they felt I was crazy and my hardship was my own fault if if didn’t take their suggestions to busboy at a bar or seek free therapy while homeless in NYC. I need security and a home to avoid my darker impulses, not to spend time and resources I don’t have in a city I don’t love talking to therapists about what I already know the problems are.
Then in events that are best described in this post and its comments I was effectively excommunicated. My chapter-mates met me out at a Queer bar they otherwise studiously avoided coming to where I spent time working on my art, drinking s couple glasses of cheap house wine, and charging my phone and handed me any personal items I had left behind at their homes, wished me well, and stated that they will be staying with TST to “change it from within” instead of leaving as an entire chapter like we had entertained as an option while discussing the political inner turmoil in leadership on National Council and in Executive Ministry. I had been raising alarms about hierarchy and checks and balances in the private Chapterhead group, called subversion exchange. My status as a multi identity of characters as behavioral patterns I employ when needed and my growing understanding of “magick” as it relates to Jungian concepts of archetypes and symbols became an easy way to write me off of the show that looks legit on paper and “within reason”. I was never secretive about my multi experience, even as I didn’t define it like DID as a diagnosis proponents do.
I ran out of places to stay in NYC, and had to head back to Salem where I’d always had a place to stay for the summer (and TST knew this). I contacted one of Jinx’s former dads, a long time friend and ex, and he was to reach out to the woman watching Jinx so we could get her somewhere else. I also got support from another old friend not related to TST who said he’d help transport Jinx when/if the time came to do so. In the midst of this I received a message that she had passed accompanied by scrolling by a photo of her frozen in tupperware in a freezer posted on social media. My objection to seeing that was met with argumentative statements about my abandoning her and “ignoring” that she was something I needed to deal with.
Everything I had been doing and speculating privately about in NYC seemed to suddenly be common TST knowledge, everything except for my intentions, of which I frankly and frequently clarified as not meaning to interfere with the campaigns or fundraising of TST using my personal struggles and just desires distance from. I was clearly painted as a selfish monster living off of the backs of others while ignoring their perfectly reasonable advice they offered which is of course evidence of how manipulative and horrible I am.
The popular narrative is that I did a shitty job and mooched off of people in order to launch a shitty self promotional art/philosophical career attempt.
All I have to comfort myself is my art. My art has always been reflected in my identity construction. I become aesthetically as much of a reflection of my internal dialog as I can imagine and execute. If thoughts can have shapes and patterns and color codes then I try to figure out the right combinations to reflect my mind visually. I have been without visual art creation in my life for a while now and am returning to it like an old friend I have missed.
The Salem TST page, which was built up and maintained solely by me, was scheduled for deletion by Executive Ministry. I caught that and cancelled the deletion and unpublished the page. When I got back to Salem I jumped back into my local networking and my own projects. I have a community here and I intend to grow it. I republished the page and changed the name, that sent notifications to those who liked the page who could then “unlike” it since it was no longer the same page representing TST, and I could keep those who “liked” it locally so that I can move on to whatever I am compelled to do next. I also did it in memoriam to Jinx, who had lived at the Temple with me and loved it there, and to preserve pictures that I had taken and posted. TST had discarded the page that I worked so hard on and so fair game is that it was now mine by default of devious outmanuevering and planning.
I also did it as a fuck you.
The TST sycophants leaving insults on the recent posts of the page are examples of why Satanism, by itself, or indeed any monochromatic religion is not viable as a true spirituality or consciousness. They could have simply unliked the page, but the herd can’t resist grabbing pitchforks and being seen poking the burning witch on the stake. Satanism especially as a personal expression and journey, like other religions or cultural identities, is only an effective group activity so long as there are checks and balances against abusive and clandestine authority put in place by the community that it serves. Eventually, as Anton LaVey noted, the simpletons, followers, sycophants, and other grey rabble will always ruin it for the individuals trying to evolve on their own path without clear guidelines in place for the protection of personal expression and thought that may offend or inspire but is outside of what leaders define as “reasonable” FOR you.