“Rational Satanism gave me the motivation to walk again”

How did you become a Rational Satanist?

I am Native American (Ojibway/Cree) and I currently reside on an isolated reservation in the northwestern part of Ontario, Canada. Though, I took up the title of Satanist, I did not always follow my chosen philosophy. Making mistakes and fully knowing the possibility of the consequences that would follow from making these decisions.

About 6 years ago, I got stabbed in the side of the neck, the blade made it’s way through my spine, severing most of my spinal cord. I was paralysed from the neck down. They could not simply stitch the wound up, as spinal fluid was spraying out. They had to drain my spinal fluid every 4 hours for a month via spinal tap in my lower spine.

My initial thought was, “How can I end myself?” I thought of who would do me the favour of relieving me of the hell that was in my head, I even thought of chewing my tongue out in the middle of the night…but that would not work, as they had to drain every 4 hours.

It wasn’t until the doctors told me that I was never to walk again, that something inside me stirred. In that moment, I replied, “Fuck you, watch me.” I no longer take things for granted, even down to the simple movement of a finger. Life is too short to worry about negative occurrences. The day I have, solely depends on myself.

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Have you recovered completely from the incident?

No, I have not recovered completely. I have nerve damage and can’t feel about 40% of my body, which throws stamina out the window for physical activities. I go through chronic pain daily, from the stabbing to the spine, and also from the spinal tap that they did to drain my spinal fluid.

It was Will that drove me to push myself, learning to walk again was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to accomplish. I guess you can say it was the Rational Satanist inside me that gave me the motivation to walk again. I don’t think on how to be a Rational Satanist, I just am. I don’t know how else to be.

For me personally, It’s true freedom at its finest. Even before I heard of the Church of Rational Satanism, I was a Rational Satanist. I require the same Will daily to work, I find it empowering every single morning I walk to work, I contemplate on what I went through I should be on disability receiving monthly cheques, but I would rather work for a living. I’m not down for the count.

What are your family’s attitude toward your beliefs?

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I actually don’t know how they feel about my chosen path, I’ve never discussed that with my family. I’m sure that they’re not overjoyed, frankly, they probably don’t care at all.

I rarely discuss my personal beliefs, as they fit into my subjective view (10%, irrational thought) on matters of magic, ritual, and the metaphysical. So, I would not discuss these things with family. I know that most of them have no understanding on what Satanism is, nor would I want them to. This is a personal choice of mine, I don’t require them to understand.

As a Native American, the teachings of my people held a closer resonance than other teachings I came across. The thing was, I saw these teachings as weak, and needed my philosophy to be self-serving.

I took LaVey’s system and used the teachings (The 7 Grandfather Teachings) as a palate to devise my own philosophy. I came across The Church of Rational Satanism via Facebook in the fall of 2013. I had not heard of CoRS prior to requesting membership to the Facebook group.

That is where I found and adopted the concept of 90% 10% critical thinking. It is a concept any Satanist can utilise, whether they are atheistic, pantheistic, or theistic (and everything in between). I am a Rational Satanist, my personal beliefs are my business.

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I went to a Rational Satanic ritual

Rational Satanism is built upon a 90%/10% philosophy, for which 90% is applying rational satanic logic to your everyday life (which I’ve covered extensively), but the 10% of Rational Satanism which covers ritualistic magic and other personal practices was something I wanted to explore…

For the purpose of my project and for the people reading, to investigate a Rational Satanic ritual I had to not only observe what goes on, but also take part in one if I was to truly immerse myself in the experience. But most importantly I wanted to see if a satanic ritual would actually work!

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For the purposes of the ritual I had to come with something I wanted to change in my life. The change I came up with was envy. I’ve started to become rather envious of my brother and his achievements. After leaving university he instantly got a full-time finance job in London on a hefty salary, owning a superb flat and having a lovely girlfriend. I too wanted this success yet I also wanted these envious emotions banished from my life.

After arriving in London and meeting with the Rational Satanism members at the ritual location , I was pretty damn nervous. I mean one of the riskiest things I’ve probably done in life is paragliding off a mountain in France, so taking part in a Satanic ritual would surely put me out of my comfort zone.

The altar consisted of several candles, a blank black picture frame, incense, a small clear glass ball surrounded by hands, and images that inspired feeling of personal success.

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Before the ritual I had to dress in a full robe with a hood (which considering I was wearing glasses at the time, made me look remarkably like Harry Potter).

I was then told by the ritual host to rub mandrake root into my wrists which contains deliriant hallucinogenic tropane alkaloid to make the psychological impact of the ritual more intense. After the ritual host sat me down, my heart at this point was beating so fast I thought it would pop out of my chest. What on earth would happen to either me  during this ritual?!

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Dark drone music was booming in the background, the candles were lit and the ritual was ready to go. I was told by the host to lean forward with my shoulders hunched  and focus all my attention towards the picture of my brother which would bring envy emotions to the surface.

I then moved my eyes to the black picture frame looking at my own reflection. I was told to put my hands into a cup to symbolise as giving motion passing it over to the central candle. I felt my hands scorch under the heat of the candle supposedly ridding the envy from my body.

I was then told to pull my shoulders back and sit up straight.”Watch as the flame flickers and the smoke rises taking the emotions away with it.”

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I then had to move the picture of my brother behind the white candle and focus on the central candle. I was told to visualise the light being absorbed into my body taking deep breaths through my nose to breathe in the light. “As you breathe in the light start to imagine yourself as a successful person” he said to me.

I then moved the black frame towards me, placing it on the head of the body on the table. Looking at the frame of my reflection on the body of the successful person. Focusing how my face looked inside the picture frame, I had a deep look into my reflection looking at the achievements I’ve already made.

I had to sit up and say something which I felt inspired success “some opportunities knock but most present themselves when you beat down the door.” I was instructed to take off the robe, stand up straight and pin back my shoulders , breathing in the positive energy. Releasing the palms of my hands to face the altar to accept the change inside me the ritual came to a close. I then snuffed the candles with the altar room turning to darkness.

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How was I feeling at this point? WEIRD! I can’t quite put a finger on how I was feeling. I did feel extremely positive about myself, and didn’t seem to have a care in the world (which is the polar opposite to the nervous wreck I was at the start.) But I have no idea whether it was the ritual which had the effect of feeling successful, or the fact that I simply  had a few minutes to contemplate my own success, allowing me to focus on something completely different from the madness of University. I imagine it was a bit of both!

According to the host, whenever envious emotions towards my brother surface, I should be able to mentally picture the central candle and the smoke rising from the incense to harness those emotions and replace them with positive, successful thoughts.

How was this ritual a ‘rational’ one? Well, there was no blood magic, no human altar or even a sense of death or destruction, so in that sense I’d say yes it was a rational satanic ritual. Did it work? Time will tell…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Rational Satanism got me through an abusive marriage”

Claire Holbrook, 39 and mum of three claims Rational Satanism helped her through some of her darkest days.

Married to her husband for 19 years, they were happy for the majority of them. However when Claire’s third child came along, their relationship rapidly deteriorated. Her husband became mentally controlling of Claire causing significant breakdown within their marriage.

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Claire’s three children

“After my husbands bi-polar diagnosis, things became progressively worse. He refused to go to work, get out of bed, or look after the children.”

He hit me round the face and shoved me into the wall so hard, I had no idea what he would do next

Claire told me that at this point she was struggling to cope. The toll of having a distant husband with bi-polar, three children to look after, a job, and medical complications became a daily struggle for her.

“After my cervical cancer op I was back at work a week later with a baby strapped to my back because it was what I had to do to get on.”

Although Claire tried to manage her husbands condition, one evening in October of last year their relationship hit an all-time low.

“In October last year I came home after work and my husband was in a terrible mood, after an argument we had in the kitchen he smashed a bowl on the floor in anger. I started to sweep the floor, he came over to me and took the broom from me smacking me across the face with it. He then shoved me against the wall so violently it bruised the whole of my chest. At this point I had no idea what he was going to do next.”

Soon after the incident Claire came across someone she knew who told her about Rational Satanism. After learning more about the group and its members she figured that Rational Satanism mindset resonated with her. That mindset being- that she needed to take charge of her own life.

“Something in me woke up and I thought hang on a sec this isn’t right. There’s no point me praying to somebody in the clouds to make this mess go away, I had to take charge of this relationship and bring my life back around which is something Rational Satanism taught me.”

My husband believed Rational Satanism was an illness I would wake up from

She became affiliated with Rational Satanism and got more involved with talking to them and told me that the group was great for her to have a laugh when she was down and alone.

“I don‘t have any family, things at home were really bad and whenever the kids were in bed, there was always someone online to talk to, telling me the things I needed to hear to make me stronger.”

I asked Claire if she told her husband that she joined Satanism,  which she told me that after telling him, he believed Satanism was an illness she would wake up from.

According to Claire the adoption of the satanic philosophy means that she no longer ‘takes crap form people’ . Although she lives still lives with her husband until she finds new accommodation, he no longer bothers her. Claire told me that this was mostly down to improved confidence and the fact that she now gets what she wants out of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Catholic Preist to Rational Satanist: why I turned from god

Crystal River, a sunny seaside town in Florida with a plethora of churches and a large Christian population like many towns in America.  Little do they know that a local resident and member of a UK based Satanic organisation is attempting to catalyse a rational Satanic movement in the gateway to ‘bible belt’ America. 

Crystal River The population of Rational Satanism in the UK is growing, however it’s spread to the US has had limited success. Estimates of people interested in the religion over the atlantic is around the 200 mark, comparatively low to the UK which sits at just above 2000. I spoke to Yaakov Litman a proud atheist on the challenges he faces in getting more people attracted to Rational Satanism in the US, and why he made the move from god.

I got to write sermons from the other side

Yaakov Litman, was born in the US with his family originating in Russia. He was a priest in the Independent Catholic Church Movement for 17 years until 9/11 happened and turned to the First Church of Satan. “I got wrapped up in an individual that was running this group and for a time it was great! I got to write sermons from the other side.”

However the figure Yaakov had been emulating turned out to be a conman. He left the First Church of Satan and tried going back to god. “There were some crazy people in the First Church of Satan, which is part of the reason I left.”

After going back to god, Yaakov hit a brick wall and said he could no longer lie to people. “I had the church beaten into my head but once you start asking questions, why?- a question the church doesn’t want you to ask, you question why things have always been this way. It just wasn’t good enough for me anymore.”  After sampling various religions, he eventually came across The Church of Rational Satanism based here in the UK which according to Yaakov gave him direction in life. “Rational Satanism gave me a direction to go down which for somebody who was a priest for 17 years I really needed one!”

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I’m a 50 year old man and have a 21 year old wife. I’m doing well and living Satanically!

He told me that he felt the Church of Rational Satanism focused on Satanic philosophy and making improvements to your life. “I think the proof is in the pudding, if something works in life I stick to it. I’ve seen visible improvements, and seen my relationships change for the better. Look at me, I’m a 50 year old man and have a 21 year old wife. I’m doing well and living Satanically.”

He further claims that Rational Satanism is about living life to the full. “I spent 17 years telling people to deny their feelings and emotions. With Satanism it’s about getting what you want from life and living life to the full. After my mum had two heard attacks it made me realise that you only have a certain amount of time.”

I went on to ask Yaakov what his town would think if they knew he was a Rational Satanist. He told me that he keeps most of his work online. He’s also permanently disabled, so spends a lot of time writing posts and trying to get people connected to Rational Satanism and his other outlets.

After joining Rational Satanism, Yaakov was named as a representative of the organisation and told me the challenges they face to get people interested from areas in the country where even saying the word ‘Satan’ is a crime.

“About ten miles down the road there’s a town which officially banned Satan over ten years ago. It was a crime to worship or follow any satanic organisation. I can tell you that Satanism is alive and well in that town.”

In finding out the success of the organisation here in the UK I was surprised that in the US only 200 people were interested. “People are afraid here. It’s what keeps people away. They think we’re sacrificing babies and killing small black cats.” Yaakov showed me his cat and I can tell you that the rumours are false (although he didn’t look too happy being woken up to be on camera).

Yaakov made me realise something with this project… Rational Satanism isn’t just a UK bound religion. It’s attracting people from all over the world.

Can ‘rational’ Satanic minorities push the Church of Satan out of the UK?

Today I was extremely lucky to be able to speak to top Satanic Scholar and editor of ‘Contemporary Religious Satanism‘ and the ‘The Devil’s Party’  Jesper Aagaard Petersen on the surge of minority Satanism.

How are rationalised Satanic subcultures gaining weight in the community?

“The original Church of Satan was rationalised to begin with. However a big part of Rational Satanism’s success stems from an interest in organising and publishing to attract lots of non-affiliates into this broad, satanist movement.”

With Rational Satanism releasing their fourth book in such a short time frame, many seem to be joining the religion because of it’s fast pace. 

Jesper added: “Many Satanists feel that the old religion has to do something new in order to survive.”

Could we see the Church of Satan fall in the UK?

“The beliefs and practices of the Church of Rational Satanism will continue to develop but they will not kick the Church of Satan to the kerb. As a group it is much too established and successful to just disappear because of competition.”

How are new Rational Satanic groups re-branding themselves to make the religion more approachable?

“The Church of Satan has integrated rational and esoteric thought from the outset. The stronger focus on rationality as well as pushing the elitist and magical thoughts to the margins, is new and something more groups will adapt in the future.

One of the way’s to get people to believe in Satanism as a peaceful and law abiding new religion is to focus on the philosophical and individual aspects rather than being transgressive or elitist, which is what we are currently seeing with new satanic groups entering the fold.”

Are there any legitimate contenders to the Church of Satan in the UK?

“They have been very critical of competition from the beginning. In their opinion if you’re disagreeing with Church of Satan principles you’re not a Satanist. From a historical point of view it is reasonable to point to the Church of Satan and say they established modern religious Satanism. Nevertheless, things have evolved since then and many legitimate alternatives exist.”

Why are these minorities are forming?

“If you look at the post internet period, a lot of Satanists feel annoyed or cheated when they have to do things a certain way. They feel the Church of Satan is closing any discussion rather than opening one, making any new developments a problematic issue for the Church of Satan.”

I spent Halloween with some Rational Satanists

I’ve had some pretty interesting Halloween nights over the past few years, such as last year when I went to a party as a zombie bride, or the previous year where I attempted to crowd surf a hedge, but this year was the wackiest yet. I spent the day with people which according to my mother would offer me as a human sacrifice.

I arrived in High Wycombe to be greeted by Rational Satanists in an old country pub. After a few introductions they said “So you’re the human sacrifice today then?” (I nervously laughed) contemplating whether my fate would be consigned to a burning stake in some dark pit, or whether i’d be tucking into a nice pub roast, fortunately/unfortunately neither were in store.

After chatting to several of the members it occurred to me the vastly different backgrounds the Rational Satanism members come from. One man works in mental health caring for children, there was a karaoke artist and one man was a bouncer for a club in Bristol. The stigma of satanists spending their lives worshipping the devil in a cave, sacrificing a goats immediately lifted, these people had real jobs and dare I say it- appeared normal?!

IMG_5677As the night progressed I found out some fascinating reasons why these individuals have turned to this Satanic alternative. A large majority including the founder Lee Banks were all originally a part of the Church of Satan and left because it apparently wasn’t going anywhere. These Rational Satanists wanted a religion which they could call their own, yet not have to pay to become a member or conform to a hierarchy structure.

Lee Banks, the founder of Rational Satanism told me why he set it up and why he left behind the Church of Satan.

“I was always the odd one out, and seemed different to others, the Church of Satan was great at the time. Going into my early 20’s, the system wasn’t working anymore. I looked at things a different way, I suppose you could say I had a different outlook to Satanism. However the Church of Satan refused any alternative perception of the religion. It’s their way or no way, it doesn’t allow for you to look into other things.

It’s caused entropy disorder within Satanism. Look at how many Satanic strands have popped up in the past ten years. The Church of Satan is clearly stuck in the past.”

People had come from across the country to be in High Wycombe. From Wolverhampton to Jersey it was clear to me why people travelled hundreds of miles to come together…

A satanic group that is adapting to 2015. 

Satanists are born, not made

Rev. Ashley S. Palmer, a predominant Church of Satan reverend in the UK and creator of a Heathen and Satanic clothing ASP Apparel, gave me the low down on why he turned to Satan.

“Satanists are born, not made. Satanism is not for everyone, and we encourage folks to become who they are”.

Ashley claims that there’s no conversion process to being a Satanist, and that you know deep inside if you are a Satanist, even if it takes you a while to find out.

“My initial journey down the “left hand path” started by listening to metal bands. This was my first introduction to supposed Satanists, and although most turned out to be insincere, they were certainly anti-Christian, and this message coupled with Satanic symbolism was extremely influential and exciting at the time.”

Have you ever been sceptical of the Church of Satan?

“As a natural non-joiner I was initially very sceptical of the Church of Satan and assumed that they were a devil worshipping cult. It was only after eventually studying genuine Satanic literature  that I realised that I was indeed a Satanist. To my surprise and relief I discovered that genuine Satanism had nothing to do with the spiritual occult nonsense that I cringed at whilst reading death/black metal lyrics, but was instead a rational religion and philosophy which perfectly matched and complimented that of my own.”

But finding out why Ashley turned to Satanism was only half of the story. I also wanted to find out why people are leaving behind the original LaVey Church of Satanism to one of the fastest accelerating Satanic alternatives- Rational Satanism.

Why are people leaving behind the original church?

“Many folks initially attracted to our symbolism, aesthetics and elements of our philosophy eventually run into areas of disagreement and may then either jump elsewhere or start their own version to fit their beliefs (commonly supernatural mysticism such as literal devil worship).”

Others seem to simply resent the fact that LaVey got there first and need to be an instant “High Priest.”

But are Rational Satanism and the Church of Satan really poles apart. They both claim to be ‘rational’ so what makes them inherently different?  I’m still yet to find out.