This is a guest post by Warden Sif. Warden Sif has been interested in religion his whole life, and obtained a degree in history and theology. He has identified as a Christian, Deist, Agnostic, Atheist, Apistevist and, at this point, a Satanist. He began following TST’s efforts in 2015 and officially joined a few years later. His Twitter can be found here. He can also be found on BaphoNet Antisocial Network, its associated Discord server and the Sacred Tension Discord server.
After reading Mr. Morehead’s guest post titled “Why Are Evangelicals So Afraid of Halloween?” I was inspired to write further on something he touched on at the end of his article. I’ve tried in the past to emphasize his final point, but I consistently get push back from a fair number of other Satanists:
But understanding the psychological underpinnings of Evangelical prejudices and stances in popular culture toward others is helpful in formulating appropriate responses. Responding in-kind with fear, prejudice and alienation will only exacerbate our tensions in an extremely polarized environment. If you’re angry with Evangelicals over any number of things, including their stereotypes of Satanists, I get it. But I think we need to try to understand their fears rather than reinforce them.
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.
As I’ve developed my personal Satanic Philosophy over the past few years, I’ve received a number of questions from the non-infernal. Questions like: how can you be religious if you don’t believe in God? How do you reconcile Satanic individualism with our human need for community? What’s the point of ritual if you don’t believe in the supernatural? I’ve used these perceived contradictions and questions as a way of establishing a sort of meta-structure for my Satanic practice.
In this episode of Sacred Tension I’m joined once again by my favorite Evangelical John Morehead to discuss the psychology of evangelicals and why they do what they do. John details his research into the emotions that drive toxic evangelical behavior.
In this episode of Sacred Tension I’m joined by religious studies professor Megan Goodwin to discuss abuse within religious communities, Satanic Panic, New Religious Movements, QAnon, her new book Abusing Religion, and more. Find Professor Goodwin here.
I recently had the pleasure of talking to Satanic Temple co-founder and spokesperson Lucien Greaves, and while the whole conversation was great, one thing in particular he said stood out to me.
Due to the phenomenon of ignorant familiarity, many non-Satanists who have never thought deeply about Satanism are all too eager to lecture me on what Satanism is all about. One of the claims of the ignorant non-Satanist is that we are nothing more than militant atheists appropriating religious symbolism as a troll — that we are fundamentally anti-religion.
I’m frequently asked how I, as a Satanist, practice my Satanism. Whenever I get this question I struggle to answer it, because my Satanism is so all-encompassing for me I don’t know how not to practice it. It isn’t as if I’m just a Satanist when I’m writing about Satanism, doing Satanic ritual, or talking to other Satanists. I’m also a Satanist when I’m doing my finances or watching Netflix. Religion is not just something I do, but something I am, and as in most religion the boundary between doing and being is blurred.
But a central aspect of my Satanic practice comes down to something very private: what Cal Newport calls a Root Document. For years now I’ve kept what I can only call my own personal Sacred Text. It is a holistic document, containing the very mundane (checklists for work) and the very sacred (my guiding principles, meditations, and rituals.) It is also a living document, shifting according to what I learn and need.
I recently wrote an article titled On Forfeiting the Word Atheist in which I explored how using the word “atheist” predisposes people to having the least charitable view of me. I’ve gotten so exasperated explaining again and again what the word “atheist” means that I’ve opted for the word “nontheist,” just because it has a different connotation and isn’t as poisoned by anti-atheist propaganda.
To be clear, I like the word atheist, and I see it as identical to the word nontheist. I don’t care if other people use the word atheist, I just find the word a stumbling block when I try to have productive conversations with theists. I have limited patience, and I personally find it more expedient to not use the word.
Along these lines, a reader sent me this question:
“Why then would you self-identify as a satanist when it seems (from your writings at least) that THAT label is also widely misunderstood?”