America’s new Satanists are less about animal sacrifice and more into ‘Paradise Lost’—and they may be our best hope for saving religious freedoms.
It’s 1 a.m., and I’m waiting for a Satanic ritual to start at a loft in Detroit. It’s dark, natch, and smoky, ditto, crammed with people dressed in black. Most of them are young and goth-ish. There are upside-down crosses aplenty, pounding dance music, a porn room and a surprisingly good hors d’oeuvres table—freshly baked Madeleines and gorgeous fruit, on platters grouped around a massive ice-sculpture replica of Brancusi’s Princess X, a statue that’s either a penis and testicles or a woman gazing into a mirror, depending on your point of view.
At this Satanic Temple party, the ritual is finally starting. Satanists, it seems, aren’t always prompt. Detroit Satanic Temple director Jex Blackmore—for most of the evening, she’s been leading a man dressed as a priest around on a leash—steps onto a low stage (prominently featured: a podium and an upside-down cross) and reads from a book.
Let’s be very clear about this: Adherents of the modern Satanic Temple don’t engage in religious or animal sacrifice, and they have no truck with magic, even the kind of low-key supernaturality embraced by some Christian denominations. Satan, to these Satanists, is a literary figure, not a deity—he stands for rationality, for skepticism, for speaking truth to power, even at great personal cost.
While Blackmore reads, two women and one man, all cloaked, file onto the stage. Each puts on a hood, and they lose the cloaks—except for the hoods, they’re naked, and the optics are a bit Abu Ghraib. A few heavily intoned passages later, Blackmore pushes up their hoods and pours wine into their upturned mouths. All three choke on the wine, which doesn’t make it seem less Abu Ghraib. The reading ends, the crowd shouts, “Hail Satan,” and the three devotees smash the wine glasses they’re holding on the ground.
And that’s it. The ritual, Blackmore said, was written by the Detroit chapter and participation is entirely voluntary; it was “intended to empower guests to challenge arbitrary systems of authority, confront archaic traditions and celebrate the Satanic tradition,” she said. The ritual itself “represented concepts of shame, sexuality and normative religions traditions.”
Wineboarding aside, the modern Satanic Temple is about as non-threatening as a group of devil worshippers can get.
Source: The Daily Beast | Nancy Kaffer