Unwitting Satanist

Posted on January 16, 2014 by

Why am I wearing this cape? I like to think the whole thing started when I was six. My dad was addressing the family at the dinner table about how the early-90s were careening into a period of moral and cultural ambiguity, and the conversation was becoming rather circular. A lot of, ‘kids these days,’ and ‘politicians these days.’ So I just threw this out there: ‘You know, there are people that actually pray to the devil.’ My dad turned to me and then to the reservoir of gravy in the middle of my mashed potatoes. And real quick, like almost skirting the statement, he agreed that he did know this and went back to the conversation I had interrupted. But that’s how I found out about out it. Satanism was real.

You’ve got to understand that the 90s in my town were alive with the intervention of angels, who found misplaced sunglasses and helped people win the lottery, and also of demons that haunted homes and tempted children to lie to their parents. My town was a place of spiritual warfare. Parents knew it. Policemen knew it. Most teachers at my Christian school did, too. Pastor Rusty even knew that the town’s Satanic church was expanding.

By the time I was in middle school, the Satanic church had five branches, each in a separate corner of the city. When their locations were plotted on a map, the churches formed a ring around the town, and if lines were drawn on the map in just the right way between each of the churches, their positioning formed a city-wide pentagram. The formation was quite obvious from any helicopter.

The only point on the crosstown pentagram I knew about was behind the new gas station on East Riverside Boulevard. There’s an unusually large burr oak tree, remarkably cemetery-ish. Any time of year there was at least one raven perched on its branches, because the tree is the remnant of the old Satanic farm, where devil worshipers and some witches gathered in black robes to sacrifice captured neighborhood pets and stray cats on Halloween, and incidentally, Christmas and Easter as well.

No, I was never really able to get into the community, per se. But a friend of mine worked at McDonalds and had a copy of the Satanist Bible that he’d won on eBay. He was a “first-fifty-page Satanist,” which to him, meant that he was comfortable with the preface and the table of contents, but he was waiting to get into the magic spells and rites and deviant sex. He advised me to reference some Satanic web-sources before even thinking about opening that book.

Well yeah, I was disappointed with Church of Satan’s lack of spooky imagery and profanity. All the information available was, I’m sad to say, quite sensible. Church founder Anton Szandor LaVey encourages respect among all people, hard work, and responsible satisfaction of desire. Don’t ask why I remember this verbatim, because it’s one of my least favorite Satanic quotes, but here it goes anyway: ‘We Satanists […] offer love to those who deserve it and deliver our wrath (within reasonable limits) upon those who seek to cause us—or that which we cherish—harm.’ Pretty confusing right? Not exactly what you would expect from a Devil worshiper.

Thing is, Satanism was nothing like I’d been warned about. All I had any more were questions. I was starting to wonder crazy things like are angels even real, or like what is right and wrong, you know? Stuff that really makes you think.

It’s all there. Respect. Hard work. Moderation. These were things my parents, teachers and pastors tried to instill when I was growing up. I was under the impression that I’d been observing wholesome, American values, when actually, according to the Church of Satan, I’d been a devout Satanist my whole life.

It was a lonely transition. People didn’t want me around their kids, or pets anymore. But that’s just being a Satanist. But here’s where the cape comes in. I had to get a whole new wardrobe. You know, there is not a single Yellow Pages listing for capes, and I don’t even mean something that’s trimmed like a bat wing, has a crimson lining, or a particularly large collar. I was looking for something simple. Plain black. Didn’t even have to come with a brooch. Just two shoestring like ties in front would be fine.

No. There’s not anything under ‘robes’ either.