Beast Wishes

Satanists disdain the season -- they'd rather be carnal than good for goodness' sake

Nasty traded God for Satan, but before he could explain to his parents that he wasn't worshiping Satan, that Satan was just an archetype of nature's power, a symbol of unashamed self-interest, they'd sent him to a psychiatrist. When that didn't work, they simply forgot his conversion. Now he wears khakis and button-down shirts when he goes home to visit, and everybody ignores the elephant.

"My closet's full of costumes," he says, shrugging. "I was a nattily dressed little child; I used to wear clip-on ties to school even when it wasn't picture day. Now I prefer old Beatnik stuff -- powers of darkness. Most Satanists do pay attention to their wardrobe. It's not important to have good looks, but you need to have a look, a style. Remember, appearances are everything."

Outside the restaurant's glass window, the theists stroll by, their elbows weighted with bags of wrapped, beribboned presents. Ramadan, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa -- seems like a tough time of year for a Satanist. "It's the solstice," corrects Selene. "Besides, so much of what's become Christmas is not Christian anyway." Do they ... er ... exchange presents? "I plan to this year," says Nasty, glancing at Selene. "Oh?" she asks, meeting his eyes and blushing. "One of our Satanist friends gave us presents wrapped in Christmas paper," she says in a rush, "with a little pentagram on top."

"Now, Halloween is very important to us," inserts Nasty, describing a party that weekend at which they were "very naughty, put in all our fake fangs and just basically celebrated the dark side." Returning with the cream, the waitress sets it down very carefully on Nasty's saucer and backs away. Nasty adds that on the actual Eve, he and Selene just held a small private ritual, using magic for some personal goals. "There are satanic ceremonies, which are basically pageants," he says, "with a lot of pomp and circumstance but no tangible goals sought. Then there are rituals by one or two people for very specific goals: I want my son healed, I want that promotion, I want that bitch dead.'

"The meek will inherit the earth -- about 6 feet of it," he quips, stressing that Satanism isn't humanitarian. Then he talks urgently about repairing the environment and building a world where no one need fear or want. "It's not altruism," he insists. "We live on this planet. If there is a whole underclass of diseased, infected, ignorant, unemployable people, how does that benefit us?" Selflessness is a cowardly abdication of personal responsibility, he adds. Christians condemn the self as evil; they want to die to the self, lose it, kill it. "If you're trying to shed the self, how better to do that than to do things you wouldn't do for yourself?" asks Nasty. "Sacrificing everything in this life for the next ... keeps the crowds controlling themselves."

Forget transcendence, he advises, and forget turning the other cheek. Satanists are big on vengeance, although it's usually played out in a court of law -- or with a whoopee cushion. What matters is getting your own back. "Psychiatrists are finally beginning to see that this whole thing about forgiveness is not so good," adds Selene, "because it's not real."

And Christ? "He's a symbol. None of us went to school with him." Nasty's chuckling, trying to keep things friendly, but his next litany is bitter as cyanide: "If you obey the Father, you are nothing but a child. 'Give yourself over, stop thinking. Let go, let God. Don't analyze, just believe.' And this whole concept of original sin, that you are born dirty, born wrong and broken -- in Satanism, a child is born perfect. They get fucked up, excuse my expression, as they learn shame, fear, terror and guilt. But they start off magical."

Nasty and Selene met only last year -- "We both forgot to breed," Selene volunteers cheerfully -- but they've watched Satanists with children struggle. "The few I've known homeschool and try to take the time to give their kids a different perspective," says Nasty. "One of the ideas we've kicked around in the Legion of Loki is a charter school, an incubator for Satanic culture and values, a place where they are taught to think for themselves. We've even talked about a Satanic daycare, so parents would have a place where their children's personhood is respected, where they are not going to be molested or warehoused, and the play is not designed to break their spirit.

"We have an incredible ability to fool ourselves," he adds suddenly. "We say, "He was an altar boy, or a priest -- how could he possibly do all that stuff?' Or the noises you're hearing from behind the door: "Well, of course they can't be that.'" Conventional churchgoers accuse Satanists of mirror-imaging Christianity, flattering by spiteful imitation. But Satanists worship no anthropomorphized deity, not even Satan himself. Dante's three-headed Lucifer lived in an icy lake at the center of the Earth, past a pool of boiling blood and fiery rings of sand, but Nasty calls Satan "an allegorical figure, kind of like Santa or the Easter Bunny: Very real and yet never has been; both an aspect of ourselves and a greater ideal." The Satanic priesthood, he notes, cannot be entered. It must be conferred -- as it was on Jayne Mansfield and rocker Marilyn Manson. The writings of Machiavelli, Nietzsche, Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw and Ayn Rand also resonate with Satanists. Any current figures they'd be willing to embrace? "Jesse Ventura," Selene offers. "He says it like it is."

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