I’m a normie Satanist. With the exception of the occasional pentagram or Satanic Temple t-shirt, nothing about me would give away my Satanic proclivities. I pride myself on being generally milquetoast, polite, and unremarkable. I value kindness, courteousness, and making everyone feel welcome. I’m painfully averse to conflict.
When I do offend people, it tends to be entirely by accident. I indulge in various rituals and aesthetics because I like them or think they are cool, not with the intent to shock others. It never occurs to me to go out of my way to trigger other people, because triggering other people is unpleasant.
I once posted a pic of TST’s Baphomet to Instagram, which features two small children looking up at Baphomet adoringly. A friend commented, “Don’t you think the inclusion of the children is offensive?” I was genuinely surprised by the question. It never occurred to me that the inclusion of children in the Baphomet statue was offensive or shocking. In fact I thought the image was beautiful and inspiring, and I shared it on Instagram for just that reason.
“But how can this be?” you might ask. Satanism is obviously about offending others. It’s about triggering the normies, the Christians, the theists.
This question demonstrates the enormous chasm between perception and reality. The reality is that Satanism is a religion that reveres the Outsider, and The Satanic Temple in particular is a Satanism that fights on behalf of the outsider against tyrannical authority. One doesn’t need to be an outsider to revere the Ultimate Outsider, no more than one needs to be a political revolutionary or a Jew or one of the “least of these” to revere Christ. When my Satanism does veer into blasphemy it is for my own catharsis and fulfillment, and not for the benefit of onlooking Christians.
My identity as a Satanist has much less to do with being offensive to others in the present than it does with having been demonized in the past for being gay, mentally ill, and an uncomfortable asker of questions in a religious setting. I don’t care about seeming offensive now. I am, rather, finding empowerment in my previously demonized identity. I revere the symbol of Satan the Ultimate Outsider who stands for all the oppressed and the fight for equality. That I trigger conservative Christians now is merely incidental.
The assumption that Satanism is all about offense, and that one can’t be a normie Satanist, reveals a failure (or a refusal) to understand that Satanism is a religion. We take for granted that many different kinds of people can be Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, or Pagans for many different reasons, some noble, others ignoble. The same is true of Satanists.
I am reminded of what my friend Priest Penemue said in a previous blog post: “I wish that when people who are new to Satanism try to understand and critique it, they held it to the same standards that they consciously or unconsciously have for their own religion.” The refusal to accept that there can be normal, generally inoffensive Satanists belies the wrong notion that Satanism is nothing more than a trend, a misguided therapy, or an adolescent phase. Anything but a religion.
I will continue to be a Satanist, and I will continue to be woefully normal, and that is not a contradiction.
But that’s just me. What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments below or write me an email. If your response is excellent, I will feature it in my monthly Best Comments series.
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12 thoughts on “On Being a Normie Satanist”
Satanism needs to be a religion for everyone. Yes, blasphemy is a powerful tool but it is not the only tool in our tool box. We need to lean on more than just the right to offend when interacting with non-Satanists.
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Exactly right. There is immense diversity within religion, and I think that as Satanism grows we will continue to see all different sorts of people joining the community. We need to welcome different personality types and expressions with open arms.
You mentioned how this notion that there can be no “normie Satanists” was a failure on behalf of the assailant to understand what Satanism really is. However, I believe this also stems from a failure on behalf of the media, and it’s saturation of our highly theatrical public events. It’s always “Here are the Satanists and look at what they’re doing” instead of “What is a Satanist and why are they doing that?”. The conventional 5-7 minute time slot is nowhere near enough time to even begin unraveling the latter questions. In my view, this demonstrates a very clear insincerity about any media appearance we make. There is never a genuine discourse occurring, as the anchors/interviewers/journalists have already made up their minds about what stance they will take before ever airing a story or interviewing a representative. In this way, the media turns into another kind of theater, one which has been detrimental to the collectivized body of Satanists by creating this image of the edgy, provocative, and irreverent Satanist, irrespective of it’s basis in reality.
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I think you are right about this. I remember watching a well-produced Vice documentary about the Baphomet in Arkansas, and thinking that they totally missed the mark. They framed us as provocateurs and trolls, out to make life difficult for the theocrats. There was almost zero discussion of the deeper religious underpinnings of our public rituals and campaigns, and that is a journalistic failure on the part of the media.
This post hits really close to home. I’m as “normal” as they come – suburban, middle aged mom. I hide my Satanism from most people, especially family, as I too dislike conflict or creating uncomfortable situations. Even on Twitter, I think hard about what I post, due to my mom being a follower.
I only recently started acquiring Satanic-themed and TST clothes, which previously I was uncomfortable wearing outside the house because of my fear of being confronted. I still don’t wear them around family.
While I agree with Ryan’s comment above – that Satanists, especially TST, are painted in a certain light by the media, rather than explored more in-depth, I still think that no matter how open TST and its members are, no matter what the media shows, favorable or not, there are still simply too many close-minded people who will never accept Satanists as anything other than blasphemous, evil people. It’s unfortunate, really, because of all the Satanists – particularly TST members or friends – I’ve met in real life or online are some of the most kind, moral, ethical, and friendly people I’ve ever been in contact with in my 40 years on earth.
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Stephen, this is awesome. I am with you. I am just getting through the day, working my 7-5, and taking care of my family. I do not really advertise my beliefs, but I do not hide them either. I would like a 1’ tall Baphomet statue for my flower garden out front. I think it would just look cool nestled in amongst Russian Sage. I digress. I particularly feel the fourth Tenet in that it is a right of all, and I particularly enjoy a peaceful existence. You follow? Late night and up early for some reason on Saturday… thanks for putting it to words.
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Hi Andrew, thanks so much for your comment. I totally follow, and I’m with you – I’m just working my day job and trying to live a full life. Satanism personally helps me do that.
I joined TST because I care about everything the Tenets reflect. I care first about Science, then logic and reason, finally the care and keeping of society. And I would say the same for myself that you have said about your outward expressions of kindness, your consideration for others, your amiable personality… I don’t feel, in those regards that we differ, yet my religious affiliation and other personal attributes have always been assumed because, one way or another, I reek of “weird”. My appearance and social awkwardness invite preconceived notions and judgement. While things seem more open and accepting now than they were 20+ years ago, there will always be people assuming the worst without even saying ‘hello’. This is a flaw of society.
Where you and I differ is blasphemy.
I was still attending church when a boy I liked decided that I drank goat’s blood and worshipped the devil… I was also 12, trying to fit in with the popular kids and being bullied and ridiculed every day.
With help from my mom, I bought syrup drink mixes and several packs of kool-aid. I filled a water bottle with it. It was intensely black red. The next day I drank “goat’s blood” in school. By the end of the day I had terrified a good portion of classmates, gained new weirdo friends who revelled in my audacity and freaked out enough of my bullies to end a significant amount of daily hell. It was powerful. It opened up conversations that changed the way people thought of me. It flipped a dynamic and put a serial bully in his place. It gave me confidence.
Nowadays I try to use blasphemy to publicly highlight the logical inaccuracies and hypocrisy of a religion that caused many years of self hatred, fear and guilt. It makes me happy to flout restrictions tailored to the wants and needs of oppressive patriarchies to maintain control over money, resources and people. I blaspheme with purpose. At best, I can appeal to reason and maybe open a mind. At the worst at least I’m out there for someone who might need the comfort of someone on the same path.
Thankfully, TST doesn’t dictate to either of us that our way of existing is wrong. It’s a beautiful aspect of the most amazing community that I’ve ever known. And I’ll use the attention I attract to paint a positive picture of what a Satanist can be and maybe spur someone to think about where the expectations of their religion really came from.
You can work on changing perception by fitting in. I’ll work on changing it by playing The Devil’s Audvocate.
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Thanks so much for such a thoughtful comment. I think what you are describing here is an incredibly useful form of blasphemy – one that challenges people and encourages them to question their preconceived notions. I think that is powerful, and useful. As you said, one of the awesome things about TST is that it doesn’t dictate which approach is “better.” We both fit within TST, and I think that’s beautiful. I think we can welcome many different personality types and religious expressions, and that will only make our religious community stronger and more beautiful in the long run.
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