This is not a post about the collection of LaVey’s essays published under the same name (although that is a great and often hilarious book that I will write about one day). Seeing that I believe Satan “…serves as an external metaphorical projection of [my] highest personal potential,” I thought this to be a fitting title for a narrative about how I realized that I was a Satanist.
In 1996, I was 10 years old, and Antichrist Superstar was just released. Back then, new music and videos were released on MTV, which is where I saw and heard Manson for the first time. Without going into too much detail, I had a lot of turmoil happening in my family at that time, and looking back, I was definitely depressed. My parents were splitting up, and it was ugly. I was moving homes every few years, which meant changing schools and having to make new friends every few years (there was no social media, so moving to a new school was basically like starting a new life). It impacted me in a huge way, and I always felt different than other kids because of that.
When I saw Marilyn Manson on TV for the first time, not only was I hooked by the sweet sounds of hardcore rock, but I also totally identified with the feeling of the music. Hey, I was angry too! I didn’t care about boy bands. The sound of distorted guitar and angsty, screaming lyrics soothed me. Phrases like “I wasn’t born with enough middle fingers” and “there’s no time to discriminate, hate every motherfucker that’s in your way” pretty much exemplified how I was feeling. And it’s through listening to Manson that I was first exposed to Satanism, a word I had never heard.
In 1996, the internet was pretty much AOL-based (a few other search engines like Yahoo! and AskJeeves existed too). I don’t remember exactly how I looked it up, but I very well may have Asked Jeeves ‘what is Satanism?’ And Jeeves brought me to an online posting of The Nine Satanic Statements.
When I read The Nine Satanic Statements on some AOL page or a black and green website, I remember thinking that it made so much sense. I agreed with all of it. I loved it. But I was like 10 years old, and I couldn’t tell my Catholic mom and conservative Jamaican dad that I wanted to learn more about Satanism, they probably would have shipped me off to military school. So I kind of forgot about Satanism for the next 20 years.
Even in my very early childhood, I never really understood the point of religion. My family went to church sometimes and celebrated all the Christian holidays, but we also celebrated Hanukkah since my grandfather was Jewish. As early as I can remember, we went to a Methodist church, where I later also attended preschool. Everyone there was so nice. Instead of sitting through the service, I got to go to Sunday school, which was a little bit of learning about the bible and a lot of coloring, playing dress up, and eating snacks. Then after the service was over, our parents would come get us and we’d go upstairs to a gymnasium where there were more snacks (jelly cookies), and overly-sweet fruit punch served in dixie cups. Hey it was cool, it was fine, whatever.
Shit got real when, in third grade, my parents switched me and my brother over to a Catholic school. It was weird to wear uniforms, but it was even weirder that we just, out of the blue, changed religions and started going to the Catholic church. I didn’t really question it too much because, as a kid, you basically just go where your parents tell you. But it was definitely confusing. It was so different from the church we went to before, and for fuck’s sake the services were so long, annoying, and full of rituals that everyone seemed to know but no one ever explained to me. How does everyone just know when to stand up, sit down, and kneel? What are these prayers that everyone somehow just knows off the top of their head? No one ever taught them to me, so I was clueless. But most importantly, why wasn’t I allowed to go in the line up to the priest to take communion like everyone else?
Soon I learned about the whole line thing – I had never made my Holy Communion, so I wasn’t able to aCcEpT tHe BoDy Of ChRiSt. Which was honestly fine with me because the idea of eating Christ was strange, but as a third grader, I didn’t have much choice in the matter. Since everyone else in my class had already done their Holy Communion in second grade, my parents sent me and my brother to some classes and a few months later we had some ceremony and we were allowed to go in line. Yay.
But even as a seven year old, things in the Catholic church didn’t feel right to me. The biggest change was that my dad pretty much stopped coming to church with us. We never talked about religion at all in my house, so no one ever explained why this was happening, but I learned later that my dad was not baptized as a Catholic, so he wasn’t allowed to take communion. The few times he did attend mass with us, when everyone got in line to get communion, he had to sit behind in the pew alone. It didn’t feel right. There were a few times I remember just staying in the pew with my dad because I didn’t want him to be alone, it seemed kind of fucked up to leave someone out of what’s seemingly supposed to be a community gathering. Again, no one ever talked about religion in my house, so I had basically no context, but the whole thing just didn’t feel right.
The next year, in fourth grade, I learned that our class would be going to confession. Our teachers told us the procedure of what to say and advised us on how everything would go down: we’d go into a closet (basically) with a priest, who was behind a screen so we couldn’t see him; then we had to say some Catholic ritual phrases that I don’t remember; then we had to confess what our sins were, ask for forgiveness, and pay our penance by saying a shit ton of prayers with a rosary.
Horrified is not a strong enough word for what I felt about this at eight years old – you’re telling me that I have to go sit in a closet with a mystery man and confess the bad things I’ve done? I WAS EIGHT. And I was a really good kid! I hadn’t done anything that I would even consider to be bad (I was genuinely a very well-behaved child). Panic-stricken, I decided I would have to lie to get myself through this situation. So I lied to the priest, and told him I hit my brother. He told me I was forgiven, I said a bunch of prayers on my baby blue rosary, and that was it. Even eight-year-old me realized what bullshit it was, and my feeling has not changed. (There was another kid in my class that also did NOT want to do confession. Rightfully so, because he was Jewish. We both got notes from our parents to get out of it the next time.)
After fourth grade, we switched to a non-religious school and my parents actually started getting divorced (a fact that my mother chose to reveal to us in a minister’s office, mind you), so I stopped thinking about going to church. Most of my friends at my new school were Jewish anyway, so no one ever talked to me about church. It was awesome!
Fast forward to my adult life, around 2016. I’d just discovered podcasts, and since I had about 2 hours of commuting time everyday, I would DEVOUR episode after episode of my favorite shows, one of which was Last Podcast on the Left. In one of the early episodes I listened to, the hosts about Satanism, and one of the hosts was (is) a Satanist himself.
As I listened, it was like a light bulb flickered on in my head – SATANISM! I remembered researching it as a kid, and how much it had resonated with me. Until this point in my adult life, I considered myself atheist, maybe agnostic for short periods of time, but honestly it didn’t matter what word I used because it had no impact on my life. Religion was a non-factor for me, spirituality was not part of my life, I didn’t need it. Based on my experiences with churches as a child, I knew that church was not for me and it was totally fine.
Once I re-discovered Satanism, I did some research online and fell back in love with it. I knew that it was who I was and had always been. And based on the philosophies of the Church of Satan, knowing that was enough – there were no services to attend, no praying, and no accountability to anyone but myself. I didn’t even have to officially join the church (“You don’t have to join our organization to consider yourself a Satanist, you only need to recognize yourself in The Satanic Bible and live according to the tenets outlined therein”). Additionally, from the Church of Satan FAQ: “Unlike most churches, we have no set activities, meetings or contacts. We are not a congregational religion.” No weekly meetings, no formal requirements to join, it was everything I wanted in a religious experience.
In 2018, I was devastated by an illness that left me completely bald. I didn’t know if I would ever have hair again.
It fucking gutted me. I always thought I was a strong, cool, confident person, but man, unexpectedly being 100% bald will really shake you to your core. My hair was always an exciting part of me (I had very long dreadlocks for 13 years, and even once I cut them off, my hair was still really cute and curly and different from anyone I knew). Not having hair, and not knowing whether I would ever have it again, forced me to do some soul-searching about who I was on the inside. It sounds cheesy until you go through it and realize that’s what’s happening! It was through this process that one thing became crystal clear to me; that was that I was a Satanist, 100%, through and through.
As a commitment to myself, I officially joined the Church of Satan as a registered member in 2018. Since I had read The Satanic Bible, I was never even ever tempted to join an organization like The Satanic Temple. It didn’t align with my understanding of Satanism, and aspects of their tenets and the activities they put on were quite obviously contradictory to LaVey’s writings, so I never wrestled with the decision of which Satanic church to join. The Church of Satan is Satanism, and that’s that!
Now as I sit finishing up this post, we are at the dawn of a new decade. I’ve recently seen research from several sources showing that Millennials are nearly three times more likely than Boomers to say they don’t believe in God, which makes me think many members of future generations won’t endure the same religious ambiguity and confusion that impacted me at a young age. I’m at a point where I can reflect on my life and see that, even before I ever knew what Satanism was, as a young child, I was a Satanist at heart. And as a fully-realized and increasingly out-of-the-closet Satanist, I am the strongest, happiest, and most powerful that I’ve ever been. I’ve taken control and made decisions that are taking me on a path towards being the best, most holistically authentic person that I can be. I’m on a path towards living my most exciting, holistic, and vital existence!
I AM A SATANIST! BOW DOWN, FOR I AM THE HIGHEST EMBODIMENT OF HUMAN LIFE!p. 45
All quoted material comes directly from The Satanic Bible by Anton Szandor LaVey, unless otherwise linked or noted.
Interpretations and opinions are my own; I am not a spokesperson for, not endorsed by, the Church of Satan or any other entity.