Friday, April 20, 2012

Introspective waffling.

I was talking to a witch today, and it came up that I don't necessarily 'communicate' with my god. And now I'm reviewing, in my head, why that is. I'm fairly sure I mentioned several things on that point before, some of it having to do with the disableist, ubermensch attitude of parts of the Satanic community, and insecurity about the functions of my brain.

It can be incredibly hard to navigate a world that is built for people who are neurotypical, especially because there is so little information that's FOR me, rather than ABOUT me. People who have a mental health diagnosis, people who are neuroatypical/neurodivergent, are told time and time again that we are not the authorities of our own reality. We cannot be trusted with self-interpretation, because our brains are 'wrong'. But where does that leave us? It leaves us totally at the mercy and interpretations of people who cannot be bothered to learn about our experience or sympathize with us as human beings.

This difficulty comes into play in every aspect of my life, especially when it comes to learning (I have a highly atypical way of learning), and religion.

I'm kept distant from Satan because I just don't know what the overall effect of intensive, whole hearted faith will have on my brain. I do not know what the meditations and rituals will do to my brain. Some people have speculated that whole hearted faith is a little like controlled psychosis. So what does that mean for someone for whom psychosis is not a tool, but something that can happen in moments of great stress and deprivation, that can be like a bicycle with no breaks running downhill?

Yet the things I heard, during my formative years as a beginner Satanist, were, "Just do it! No fear! No pain, no gain!" and, "Once you make a commitment to Satan, you must ALWAYS keep it, you must be a warrior, you must observe the holidays, you must give thanks." It was very intimidating.

That's why for me, I believe and yet I don't believe, because I need to keep grounded. I have been doing some very light research and it seems like the chaos magicians and I have a similar attitude about belief: That it's a tool.

(To be continued)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Christian Privilege Checklist.

I haven't posted in a while because I recently got a temporary job. This is a big step for me, because up until recently I was completely incapable of work and had no reason to believe my condition would improve. So, I've been too busy to get to a computer long enough to blog. That's why I'm posting something really quickly while I can.

So! I went looking for a Christian privilege checklist. I like privilege checklists because they provide a good deal to think about in an accessible format. Of course, there is always a lot more to do when addressing one's own privilege than reading a simple checklist, but they're not bad to have around. There's also a Straight Christian privilege check list, which, impressively, was written by a thoughtful heterosexual Christian. I'll provide them both.

Christian Privilege Checklist

  1. It is likely that state and federal holidays coincide with my religious practices, thereby having little to no impact on my job and/or education.
  2. I can talk openly about my religious practices without concern for how it will be received by others.
  3. I can be sure to hear music on the radio and watch specials on television that celebrate the holidays of my religion.
  4. When told about the history of civilization, I am can be sure that I am shown people of my religion made it what it is.
  5. I can worry about religious privilege without being perceived as “self-interested” or “self-seeking.”
  6. I can have a “Jesus is Lord” bumper sticker or Icthus (Christian Fish) on my car and not worry about someone vandalizing my car because of it.
  7. I can share my holiday greetings without being fully conscious of how it may impact those who do not celebrate the same holidays.  Also, I can be sure that people are knowledgeable about the holidays of my religion and will greet me with the appropriate holiday greeting (e.g., Merry Christmas, Happy Easter, etc.).
  8. I can probably assume that there is a universality of religious experience.
  9. I can deny Christian Privilege by asserting that all religions are essentially the same.
  10. I probably do not need to learn the religious or spiritual customs of others, and I am likely not penalized for not knowing them.
  11. I am probably unencumbered by having to explain why I am or am not doing things related to my religious norms on a daily basis.
  12. I am likely not judged by the improper actions of others in my religious group.
  13. If I wish, I can usually or exclusively be among those from my religious group most of the time (in work, school, or at home).
  14. I can assume that my safety, or the safety of my family, will not be put in jeopardy by disclosing my religion to others at work or at school.
  15. It is likely that mass media represents my religion widely AND positively.
  16. It is likely that I can find items to buy that represent my religious norms and holidays with relative ease (e.g., food, decorations, greeting cards, etc.).
  17. I can speak or write about my religion, and even critique other religions, and have these perspectives listened to and published with relative ease and without much fear of reprisal.
  18. I could write an article on Christian Privilege without putting my own religion on trial.
  19. I can travel without others assuming that I put them at risk because of my religion; nor will my religion put me at risk from others when I travel.
  20. I can be financially successful without the assumption from others that this success is connected to my religion.
  21. I can protect myself (and my children) from people who may not like me (or them) based on my religion.
  22. Law enforcement officials will likely assume I am a non-threatening person if my religion is disclosed to them.  In fact, disclosure may actually help law enforcement officials perceive me as being “in the right” or “unbiased.”
  23.  I can safely assume that any authority figure will generally be someone of my religion.
  24. I can talk about my religion, even proselytize, and be characterized as “sharing the word,” instead of imposing my ideas on others.
  25. I can be gentle and affirming to people without being characterized as an exception to my religion.
  26. I am never asked to speak on behalf of all Christians.
  27. My citizenship and immigration status will likely not be questioned, and my background will likely not be investigated, because of my religion.
  28. My place of worship is probably not targeted for violence because of sentiment against my religion.
  29. I can be sure that my religion will not work against me when seeking medical or legal help.
  30. My religion will not cause teachers to pigeonhole me into certain professions based of the assumed “prowess” of my religious group.
  31. I will not have my children taken from me from governmental authorities who are aware of my religious affiliation.
  32. Disclosure of my religion to an adoption agency will likely not prevent me from being able to adopt children.
  33. If I wish to give my children a parochial religious education, I probably have a variety of options nearby.
  34. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence and importance of my religion.
  35. I can be sure that when someone in the media is referring to G-d, they are referring to my (Christian) G-d.
  36. I can easily find academic courses and institutions that give attention only to people of my religion.
  37. My religious holidays are so completely “normal” that, in many ways, they may appear to no longer have any religious significance at all.
  38. The elected and unelected officials of my government probably are members of my religious group.
  39. When swearing an oath, I am probably making this oath by placing my hand on the scripture of my religion.
  40. I can openly display my religious symbol(s) on my person or property without fear of disapproval, violence, and/or vandalism.

Straight Christian Privilege Checklist

Here's some food for thought. With acknowledgements to Peggy McIntosh's "Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack"

As a straight Christian, in all these four aspects of life (Marriage and relationships, political and social, growing up and personal development, and life in Christ), the following applies to me:


- I can, all other things being equal, expect to be able to marry my significant other in the church of my choice.

- I can be reasonably sure, if I need prayerful counsel and spiritual guidance in my relationship with my spouse or significant other, that I can find a Christian-oriented counsellor or literature that will cater to me.

- All other things being equal, I have a good chance of finding palatable romantic partners through Christian dating services.

- If I decide to pursue a relationship which turns out badly, I can expect that my Christian friends will only admonish me for a lack of discernment at most - they will not use the failed relationship as evidence of my "brokenness", or use the incident as an opportunity to steer me toward a celibate life, or to change my sexual orientation.

- I can be confident that the loving, nurturing relationship I share with my spouse or significant other will not be likened to incest, pedophilia or bestiality by my brothers and sisters in Christ.

- If I ask a Christian friend for sincere and frank advice about my relationship, I can be certain that they will not advise me to change my sexual orientation.

- If I have been cohabiting or having premarital sex with my significant other, and a Christian friend decides to rebuke us, I can expect that they will, at most, advise us to refrain from sexual contact until we are married - not that we cease our relationship entirely (provided there are no other issues which would make our relationship inadvisable). In any case, their rebuke will not involve a call for us to change our sexual orientation.

- I can hold hands with (or even kiss) my spouse or significant other in a public place without worrying that my brothers and sisters in Christ will shy their children away from the "display".

- I don’t have to worry about being separated or uninvited to a Christian event because of the sex of my spouse or significant other.

- I do not have to worry that the legality of my marriage will be put to a vote - a vote in which the majority of those voting to dissolve that marriage are my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.


- I do not have to fear being fired or being pressured to resign from any Christian-run business or ministry due to the discovery of my sexual orientation.

- I will never feel the need to exclude, isolate, hide, suppress or oppress, a part of who I am within my church, family or my Christian social circles—and be encouraged to do so, simply because of my sexuality.

- I can be pro-gay - even vocally so; and while a good number of Christians will not support my pro-gay stance, I can be certain that they will, at most, admonish me to change my opinion; they will not demand that I cease any and all intimate relationships I may have with any other persons of my sexual orientation.

- I can be reasonably sure that people of my sexual orientation will not call me "a traitor to my kind" for my decision to accept Christ. Furthermore, while I am aware that truly accepting Christ involves sacrifice, some of which could involve estrangement from friends and family (Matthew 10:34-39), I can also be reasonably sure, all other things being equal, that I can find new friends (and possibly a significant other) within the Christian church.

- I can go to a strange church, knowing nothing of their politics or theology, and not dread that the topic of this week's sermon will be the "evil" or the "problem" of my sexual orientation.

- I will never have to worry about a church admonishing or advising my family to disown or repudiate me simply because of my sexuality.

- I do not fear being pressured into treatment or conversion therapy if I am open about my attraction to members of the opposite sex.

- I do not have to fear that doors will be closed on me by fellow Christians in business, investments, connections, employment or references based on my sexual orientation.

- I know that we are all sinners in need of healing - otherwise, Christ's life and sacrifice would not be necessary to the world's salvation, nor would we need His church to guide us in our relationship with God; and since we are all sinners, I know that it is entirely possible that one of my brothers or sisters in Christ might, in a moment of weakness, succumb to temptation. They may, in following this evil whim, vandalize my property, or cause harm to me or my family and friends - they may even commit murder. While I trust in the Lord and realize that such violence stems from our sinful nature and from the twisted machinations of Satan on vulnerable human beings, I can be quite confident, all other things being equal, that any such violence will not be motivated, even in part, by my sexual orientation.


- I can volunteer for children or youth ministry work without being deemed "unsafe" due to my sexual orientation.

- I can be sure that, while growing up, I can expect to be exposed to positive role models who share my sexual orientation.

- I don’t have to worry about my children being taught that their parent’s relationship is an abomination in Sunday school. If I am still growing up and am in Sunday school or a youth group, I will not learn that my sexual orientation is an abomination.

- All other things being equal, I can be reasonably certain that the quality of my upbringing or the competency of my parents will not be brought into question because of my sexual orientation.

- Growing up, I can expect to receive guidance about healthy sexual expression and relationships.

- All education and advice from Christian sources concerning family planning, upbringing and child-rearing will be specifically (and often deliberately) tailored to my sexual orientation.

- My sexual orientation is not a barrier to my adopting children through a Christian adoption agency, or fostering children, so that they might grow up in a Christian home.

- Should I divorce or be separated from my spouse or significant other, and that person should later decide that they wish to change their sexual orientation, or discover that they should had been living as a person of the wrong sexual orientation all along, my church will likely be more sympathetic to my case, should the custody of our children become an issue, regardless of my abilities as a parent.


- I can be sure that no Christian church of any denomination will immediately reject me for my sexual orientation.

- Any time I sin (sexually or otherwise), my sin will not be automatically attributed to my sexual orientation.

- I can probably find favourable reviews in many Christian book, film or theatre reviews of books, films or shows featuring intimate, loving relationships between two people of my sexual orientation.

- I do not, if I choose not to, have to be familiar with various biblical interpretations of my sexual orientation, nor will I be expected to justify and reconcile my beliefs with my sexual orientation through biblical exegesis.

- I have the luxury of choosing which denomination I will belong to or which church I will attend based on their doctrinal stance, missionary or charity work, fellowship programs and statement of faith; I am not restricted in my choices based on whether or not the church affirms my sexual orientation.

- If part of my faith involves the belief that same-sex relationships are sinful, then I can openly call all gay Christians to live celibate lives in order to avoid sexual sin - indeed, a vow of celibacy is understood as potentially beneficial in almost all Christian traditions, in certain contexts (Matthew 19:10-12, 1 Corinthians 7:25-35); however, I am under no such compulsion to live a celibate life myself. For me, living a chaste life does not necessarily mean living a celibate life.

- I don’t have to worry about being segregated from others of my gender at Christian events or conferences because my sexuality is known.

- The church is sometimes described as a hospital for sinners; its pastors, priests, ministers, etc. are the physicians and nurses who help us in our quest to get well. While no one expects everyone to be fully and completely "healthy" at all times (in a church as in a hospital), a physician with an obvious and untreated flu should not be allowed to practice surgery, for the health of the patient. Similarly, it is understandable that a congregation might disallow some members from being active in various ministries, if they are indeed living with an obvious and unrepented sin. I acknowledge that I might be asked to leave my ministry position if I develop habits that run contradictory to a life in Christ (uninhibited alcohol or drug use, a propensity for anger or violence, untrustworthiness, petty theft, etc.). However, my sexual orientation will never be considered an illness requiring treatment, and a barrier to my participation in ministry work at my church. Furthermore, while I acknowledge that, if I wish to rejoin the ministry, I may have to undergo some therapy program, whether in the church or outside of it (Alcoholics Anonymous, anger management therapy, etc.), the cost of these programs are generally low, if not free - much less than therapy or counselling to change my sexual orientation would be, in any case.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the above checklist and the forum. The post was supported and applauded by many members of the Christian forum. It's heartwarming to know that there are Christians like this around, on a group level even.

Monday, September 5, 2011

"Suspicious Suicide"

Most people more than tangentially acquainted with feminism are aware of the media's tendency to obscure, trivialize, and even downright lie about cases of rape. I, however, was not aware that they did it in terms of murders, too.

The story I've been hearing on my TV is that a woman was found hung outside of a window, bound hand and foot, naked. They were calling it a suicide.

My immediate thought is, "How the hell does one manage to hang themselves with their hands and feet tied?" And why the hell wouldn't anyone else wonder this?

It got worse when I looked for the story online. (Link provided here-> )

I found out that her hands were tied behind her back.

Not only is this a feat of Houdini-like proportions, if it IS a suicide (and I'm going to just go ahead and say it's not), one has to wonder what the point of stripping naked and tying oneself up would be. I have been suicidal. I have had serious and deliberate thoughts about how I wanted to do it. None of those plans included stripping naked and doing odd, uncomfortable things like tying myself up. If people give enough thought to their choice of clothing before the deed, they usually choose to wear the least humiliating thing to be found dead in. In addition to that, suicide victims usually try to find the most painless and convenient way to die. I know how I sound right now, and I apologize for not using a more appropriate tone with a grave situation like this. But I am just so confounded and furious with the media.

I'm going to go on the record as a civilian and say:

Rebecca Nalepa was found murdered in Coronado, California. She was thirty-two. May she have justice.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Goths, Emos, Punks, and youth culture.

This was something I had wanted to write about for a while, and I do think it has relevance to Satanism, as far as I believe most issues of justice have to do with Satanism (I don't know that it's a tenet in any of the forms of Satanism similar to what I practice, but I know that liberation is often a theme surrounding Satan), and as far as those who choose these subcultures and identify as Satanists.

It must be said here that although anyone wearing predominantly black, or dressing in a flamboyant fashion, is read by the dominant culture as Satanic, there isn't a staggeringly high correlation, but as I don't have any statistics to quote, I'll speak from personal experience. Most Goths I knew growing up were atheists, and the rest were generally Wiccan or Pagan. But I identified as a Goth, and ended up a Satanist, and I'm sure I wasn't alone.

There is a lot of hatred in American culture for its subcultures. I think a good deal of that spawns from ageism, because it's usually our youth who are representing subcultures. That's most of what fuels anti-Twilight bashing (along with misogyny) which hides behind the reasonable critiques (it portrays abusive relationships), I can see it when I see any commercial that characterizes a young person as a self-absorbed idiot with hir nose attached to hir phone. (The hate is so palpable to me that I actually get nervous while texting around older adults. I still look sixteen, and people don't seem to consider 21 year olds as a separate group from teenagers.)

To America, teenagers are willful, self-destructive, melodramatic, impossible to understand or relate to (and thus not fully human). And anything they like, or wear, is subject to an intense backlash of hatred.

The other part, of course, is standing out. People rationalize away their reaction by pointing out that "all Goths/Punks/Emos look the same", as if anyone could really truly look unique, or live their own isolated culture, or if that were even the goal. The point is not to be original, or unique. It's to be Not You. And by You, that's usually the dominant culture, in whatever form the young person's developing mind is beginning to perceive and label. And of course, we want to be able to spot each other in a crowd. It's not about the viewer. It's about finding, and creating community, and trying in a small, symbolic way to reject the hatred in this world. It's not different from every other person in the world, not different from every other black-wearing kid, it's just different from the usual, and that's enough.

For me, starting to identify as a Goth was me starting to identify that something didn't sit well with me about the world. And in that stage, it really was an elementary "us vs. them" sort of thing. I didn't trust people who wore casual clothes. And I wasn't being given any reason to, because I kept being bullied, and having my reasons for dressing the way I dressed interpreted to me, having people ask me "why" without really caring about or valuing my answers. There was the classic victim blaming that is so easily identified in feminist spaces except for when it applies to young people in black- "You draw attention to yourself," "You alienate yourself from others," "If you don't want to be bullied, just dress normal."

All of the things Goth kids put up with, are easily recognizable as oppressive behavior in social justice communities. The interpreting of the culture by the outsiders, which were often condescending and insulting. The invalidation. "Goth kids only think they're depressed because they think it's cool."

If you ever told someone in the neurodiversity and anti-ableist movement that they just thought they were depressed, they would justifiably give you the verbal smackdown. But kids in black are free game.

I did grow a more nuanced view of the world, that was more than just Kids In Black vs. Everyone Else. I don't think I could have reached that nuanced understanding without having first claiming Goth culture. I began to find words for all the gross feelings I had inside from the world around me- first from books about abuse, and then from feminism, and then from neurodiversity, and so on.

I would like for those who read this post to re-examine any negative feelings they have about our young, and about our young Goths, punks, emos, scene kids, and et cetera. I think they need a safety net the most. And as I get more involved in my community as a Satanist, I want to help build that safety net. Satanism was a safety net for me after Goth culture and before feminism and neurodiversity, and I want all of those things to come together so that we can create safe, validating, and loving groups for young people. They need us. Kids In Black need us. They need us to listen to their reasons and not laugh at them, or explain their emotions to them, or examine them under a microscope like bugs. Young people are so vulnerable, especially those who stand out. Some say we have a choice in whether or not we stand out. We can just put on the jeans and T-shirt. But for those of us who persisted throughout years of bullying, it meant so much more than just cloth. Even now I can't explain what it meant to me, and still does- the best I can say is that it was safety. It was home. It was my own skin. It was a choice in a culture that strongly discourages choices. It wasn't meant to be a groundbreaking critcism of our culture, or completely original. It was just meant to be for us.

Friday, August 19, 2011

My brother.

This is a post I seem to remember promising.

I mentioned in my autobiographical post that I started on the path to Satanism because I borrowed La Vey's Satanic bible from my brother.

So, he was a Satanist before I was. We both strayed from La Veyan Satanism to traditional/theistic Satanism, though our views remained diametrically opposite, more or less. I honestly don't remember this too well. We argued a lot and both considered it a shame that even though we were both Satanists, we couldn't agree on anything. I think he used to believe in the story of how Satan used to be one of god's angels, and I didn't (and don't).

I attended a ritual with him once as a witness. It was a Hate ritual straight from La Vey's bible, calling on a myriad names he likely didn't know how to pronounce or who they belonged to, against his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend, who had been stalking the two and harassing them. His girlfriend, N, claims that on that night she heard weird, "evil" laughter. The target in question's dog ended up dying, which led me to a lot of conflicted feelings. I didn't see why any reasonable demon would kill a dog, and felt guilty for questioning.

A few years ago he came to me with an elaborate story. He said that he'd had a vision of going to Hell, the fire-and-brimstone-and-torture version, that it was incredibly realistic and lasted for hours, and the demons spoke to him and said, "Don't you know, we hate you!" When he told me about this, his eyes were large and bright, and he seemed to be in dead earnest. He concluded his tale with the lament that even though he didn't want to go to Hell, but he couldn't love god.

I told my father about it, but he dismissed it as my brother "telling tall tales". My brother's been full of stories about possessions and spirits his entire life, and if any of them are to be credited, I honestly think he might also share my diagnosis and has been hallucinating.

Well, he's a devout Christian now, so I can only conclude he wasn't just "telling stories". He spends a lot of time trying to convert me, which makes me feel squicky and uncomfortable. It's too bad, but I suppose he's better off- he genuinely tries to be a better person now, and he was more misogynist and racist while he was a Satanist.

I really wish he would get therapy, though. He seems to be trying to substitute therapy with religion. He was abused a lot worse than I was- I mean really brutally. You don't just walk away from that without having problems. And he has kids, so he's especially in danger of passing on the abuse- in fact, he has, as far as I've seen. It worries me.

I went with him one night to his Christian group, and I could have brought a bingo card for all the oppressive shit they hit on. They badmouthed gays, female priests, psychology, and a black reverend all in one sitting. At one point I couldn't help rolling my eyes.

But at the same time my brother is more receptive when I try to teach him social justice concepts- for instance he was very receptive when I told him not to use the word "tr*nny", since it's a pretty bad slur against trans people, especially trans women.

So, there's pros and cons to this. He certainly wasn't doing anyone any good while he was a Satanist.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Nobody's human.

If to be human means to be incapable of dehumanizing other people, then nobody is human.

People will say over and over again, "Well, of course women are people. Of course people with disabilities are human," even though their words and actions and legislations prove that they truly believe otherwise.

If people can say that so glibly, then what they really mean is that "Nobody is human."

If being human depends on looking a certain way, being able to speak the "right" language, being able to make the "right" expressions and gestures, then nobody is human.

If being human means having the "right" emotions at the "right" times expressed in the "right" way, then nobody is human.

And that's why people are so terrified of losing their prejudice, their hate. Because they know as soon as it can be proved, beyond doubt, that they're capable of hurting and hating people, for stripping people of their humanity, then THEY have become the non-human.

The kyriarchy, the dominance and submission paradigm, insists that humanity is not inherent, it is earned. It's not earned through love and compassion*, but human sacrifice. The sacrifice of the soul and the sacrifice of non-human humans.

Even love and compassion are co-opted  by the kyriarchy as long as those in power get to define what love and compassion are.

I'm supposed to understand that the deprivation of my freedom and self-determination is a sign of love and compassion, because those in power know what's good for me. I can never know what's good for myself because self-determination is only for humans.

And people who have more material privilege than me, people with more political power, people who are put in charge of my life, prove their humanity by "helping" me.

Police officers and jailors prove their humanity by brutalizing "criminals".

If nobody is human, anybody can be a criminal.

If anybody can be a criminal, then anyone interested in proving their humanity has to become a jailor, to prove that they are not a criminal.

I'm not a REAL racist. You don't see me wearing a white hood and burning crosses.

Real racists aren't human, after all. And I'm human.

I'm not a REAL racist, because I've read impressive, "objective" academic works about racism.

Real racists don't go to school or read books, because only humans go to school and read important books.

This is why it's important to say that all movements geared toward ending oppression are about liberation, not equality.

Because in the end, if we all become equal by this world culture's standards, then we all end up not being human.

*Even one's ability to feel or show love and compassion is not a standard for humanity. There are people who are incapable of love and compassion, and that does not mean that it follows that they are cruel and violent. There are people who are capable of love and compassion that doesn't look like love and compassion by current standards, or who show it in ways that nobody notices or cares about. The only way to fully accept all types of human as human is if we accept that nobody exists to love us, serve us, be useful to us, make us happy, or fulfill a function. (The exception being, of course, parents and caretakers, and then it's not a matter of their purpose being wrapped up in function, but in that when they give birth to someone (or create conditions in the world that make it impossible to not give birth to children we can't take care of, or create an environment where children who are considered incompletely human can't be cared for properly) we enter into an obligation to meet their needs completely and without expectation of having a "pay-off" for it. It seems absurd in the extreme to me that parents continue to choose to have children, and then complain about how demanding and unruly children are. More about this in a different post.)


I'm not moving just yet, it turns out.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Moving again.

I'll be moving again, and I might end up homeless for a while. That's what happens to the mentally ill offspring of working class parents who believe in 'bootstrapping'.

I'm not afraid of being homeless- I was, already, for a very brief period of time, and this time I won't be alone. I'm mostly just depressed and grimly determined. There are people here who have promised to help me find services in the area I'm moving to, so there's that. I'll make it somehow.

What all this means, of course, is another hiatus. Maybe. I might end up in a low income flat or on the streets, so who knows.

Wish me luck. Prayers and sympathy rituals are certainly also welcome.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Death is not lovelessness.

I've been thinking about death lately. Well, I have thought about death a good deal throughout my life. I've thought about death when I was so cornered and miserable that I would rather "gnaw my own foot off" than keep enduring my current situation, and I've thought about death when I've been scared of dying, and I've thought about my parents dying and my friends dying.

But now I have new thoughts about death.

For a child, loss of hir parents' love is interpreted as death. That can be quite literally true in the case of children who are abandoned in unlivable conditions or who are murdered by their own parents. The other type of loss of love commits a slow and torturous soul murder that results in psychic numbing and, later, either suicidal tendencies or abusive and violent behaviors.

So I have wondered if, perhaps, fear of loss of love as death is also true in the reverse- that we fear death because we interpret it in terms of our past, in terms of loss of love, in terms of soul murder.

If that's so, then the atheist who has found self-love need never fear oblivion.

Self-love is not just for people who choose not to rely on or believe in a higher power, however. It's for everyone. I think it is not only possible but extremely healthy to not only love yourself so much that you're not enmeshed with Satan, but to trust Satan enough that in either case, your soul will be accounted for when you die. That's where I stand as an agnostic-theistic Satanist. Right now- and I don't know if it will always be this way- I am not afraid of not existing. I am not afraid to die. If I cease to exist or if my god gathers me in his arms in the end are equally acceptable options to me. Eternal torment doesn't exist for me because it is essentially unjust and against the very basis of human love and compassion. Eternal torment exists only for those who have not yet found a way out of the maze of pain and into the light- or, for those of the left-hand path, into the soothing, cool shade.

This post ends abruptly!

Friday, June 10, 2011

My story: My history as a Satanist.

My first exposure to religion happened when I was about three or four years old. I remember sitting by my mother's bedside and listening to her read the bible. This was when she still had hopes and dreams about molding me into the type of daughter she wished she had been. We never made it past Genesis.

My parents, if anything, were consistently inconsistent. They would say Jesus Christ and Oh, God! Naturally, my brother and I picked up those habits. But if an exhuberant Oh my God! should slip from my mouth, I was immediately reprimanded to not say the Lord's name in vain. Often the message was cemented with a spoonful of dish soap shoved down my throat. I never noticed my parents feeding themselves dish soap any time they slipped up.

Eventually, that rule faded. By the time I was ten I was cussing about as much as folks do on daytime television.

I was always an introspective child. My mom frequently told me that as a baby I was quiet, inward turned, and could be left alone for hours without making a fuss. In hours of spirit-crushing boredom, forced to lie still on my bed because my mom wanted to take a nap, I would contemplate nonexistence. At four years old I decided that it was something like a camera that pans from perspective to perspective- when you die, it simply switches to someone else's perspective.

What was, perhaps, an aspect of my personality that saved my life, also became a curse. I would also lie in bed at night, undergoing mental torture. I would compulsively say the word 'God' in my head and then try as hard as I could to not mix it with a cuss word. Godfuck. God...zilla.
 My mother had always seemed to me to be omnipotent. It was as though she could see into my head. As a kid I was incapable of understanding that it was my expressions and body language she was reading. In a sensitive person, the ability to read other people's emotions can lead to empathy. And sometimes, it was empathy. But most often, it was used to cage me in and punish me and twist me up into knots.

If my parents could read my mind, then of course God could. I couldn't ever think any "bad" thoughts. I didn't know what kind of punishment to expect, when it would come, or what form it would take.

The fear of God turned into downright paranoia that lasted until I was at least twelve or thirteen years old.
But religion in my household was lax enough that I was also able to develop a healthy cynicism by the time I was well into my puberty (ten years old). I disdained church; resented it, in fact. It just seemed like a bunch of rigid customs and boring services listening to some stranger ramble. On a more personal level, I had begun to come to terms with the fact that no matter how hard I prayed to God, the blows kept coming, and the terror I felt at night, seemingly without origin, never abated.

Sometime in my "tween" stage, I started to explore other religions. I don't remember where I got the book, but I ended up with Silver Ravenwolf's "To Ride a Silver Broomstick". I tried out being Wiccan for a while. My older friend bought me a pentagram necklace that I proudly wore to school, much to the detriment of my social life.

But Wicca was not enough. Its focus on peace, forgiveness, the Threehold law, and the idea that anything we think can be real, did not appeal to me. I didn't feel vindicated by the things I learned about Wicca. And the idea that anything I thought would be real simply scared me. I had seldom been able to get a peaceful night's rest without being plagued by fear of unknown terrors- of ghosts, of demons, of murderers, a fear that was exacerbated when I saw the Exorcist when I was nine years old. If what I thought was lurking in my closet was real, then there was no hope.

My brother, four years my senior and already in high school, had begun his own step toward individuality. He had started wearing black, and had a copy of La Vey's Satanic bible. At this time I was also starting to wear black, and reading Gothic comic books. My brother showed me his bible, and when he was away from the house I would borrow it and read it for myself.

I liked La Vey's unforgiving attitude toward Christian dishonesty. I finally felt vindicated.

But there were also messages within his book that triggered the guilt that had been my heritage, as well as other emotions, emotions belonging to a reality that was locked up in the dank closet at the back of my mind.
When I was about twelve, my parents finally got the internet for our house. Before the internet, I was already lonely, "unsocialized". I was too honest to hide the things about myself that are considered disgusting and contemptuous, and too needy and fucked up to gain anyone's sympathy for long. A friend I had had in grade school got tired of me by sixth grade and stopped answering my calls, especially because I had no interests outside of the house and no other friends to talk to on the phone. My world was tiny, it didn't go beyond my room, my books, and my sketches.

The internet opened up my world. It also gave me a limited amount of control of how other people perceived me. Nobody could look at me and see the fat, bespectacled, unattractive little girl I was. A certain amount of honesty and disgustingness is a privilege belonging to people who get higher regard than fat little kids in this world. Since no one could tell either way, they could only judge me for my words. I was still considered "weird", though. A friend later admitted to me that when she had first met me, I scared the shit out of her. I couldn't hide what I was and wasn't very aware of other people's feelings and thoughts to begin with. I didn't really have empathy for anyone, although I tried as hard as I could to be a good friend.

I eventually found my way to Joy of Satan, probably via a Google search for 'Satanism'. I learned a good deal of interesting information, but it just triggered my guilt more and twisted the knots in my head even tighter. I got all kinds of messages from it- about requisite loyalty and service to Satan when, by then, my avolition was rapidly developing into total paralysis of the will, admonishments to "not be afraid" when experimenting with meditation and self-hypnosis, when I knew very well that I had much to be cautious about. This was before my diagnosis, but I knew on a visceral level that I could fuck myself up pretty bad by messing with self-hypnosis.

Around this time, I had started cutting myself. Puberty awakened long repressed emotions and I sought everywhere for a witness, someone to hear me, to empathize with me. I was met with derision, disgust, contempt, silencing. "What the fuck is wrong with you? My childhood was way worse and you don't see me complaining." One is exonerated to sainthood by never speaking of their troubles, and yet it is considered healthy and sane to unleash one's negative emotions on the helpless.

I ended up in a mental institution, needless to say. All I had needed was someone to listen to me. And then I was put in a place where everyone reinforced the same damaging messages. I remember talking about how I wanted independent studies, because the amount of bullying I underwent at school had risen to a level that I couldn't handle anymore, especially because when I told any of the adults in my life, they told me it was my fault for alienating myself from others. That is what I have been consistently told; that I alienate myself from others. When the truth is, no one ever did anything to make me feel welcome.

Anyway, a fellow inpatient snapped at me that everyone gets bullied and just deal with it. It cut deep. The staff were controlling and verbally abusive. One of the staff members matter-of-factly explained to us how it "didn't make sense" to cut yourself. "That's like slapping yourself because someone slapped you," he said.

Still naive and honest, I talked about my religion to any who would listen. I'm not quite sure how the staff responded to that, but I ended up on Haldol.

Well, my parents' efforts to control me seemed to have worked. I stopped cutting for years as my emotions became compartmentalized. I became like a snail which freezes in the winter and remains quite dead until thawed. The more I suppressed and repressed my emotions, the less energy I had left to simply function in school. I finally did get independent studies, but my attendance was inconsistent. I had absorbed so many messages about how bad and stupid I was and things I must never do or say or expressions I cannot make that it became almost impossible to leave the house. I was frozen in terror and didn't even know I was terrified. My emotional affect became blunted and even this became something to be remarked upon and tormented for. My brother, the laughing jackal of the family, who can find something hilarious about the way you breathe, would constantly tell me I looked like I was about to murder someone.

I took a break from Satanism for a while. The only other Satanists I had met were patronizing, although fairly tolerant, adult men who did nothing to help me unlearn my guilt and discover my right to set boundaries. My relationships with other people tended to be abusive and cold. Nobody ever dared to speak about anything of any emotional relevance beyond what books we liked and what we did that day. If anyone got emotional in our group, everyone would fall completely silent. We ignored each other's distress signals, thinking this was the polite thing to do, when in reality we were so repressed that strong emotions scared the fuck out of us, made us uncomfortable, made us angry.

For a while I just drifted through the internet, focusing on my hobbies and conducting a self-imposed and informal education where I looked up anything that struck my fancy. For a while I became engrossed in the online crime library.

Around the age of fourteen, I discovered my first book by Alice Miller, For Your Own Good. It awakened sleeping emotions, and while I ended up in self-destructive clashes against my mother and brother, it released me from most of my guilt feelings, self-hatred, and anxiety.

I was not "cured", but I knew how to find pathways to things that could validate the things I felt. I eventually found my way into a feminist community, where I found out that all the things I observed around me and reacted so strongly to were not only real, they were part of a worldwide pattern. From feminism I branched out to other areas of social justice. I learned about ableism, racism, LGBQTIAA*, trans theory. My passion for justice had been awakened.

Feeling more confident, I renewed my interest in Satanism. I had been reading Diane Vera's website as well as Joy of Satan, and it was a haven I could return to- I was never made to feel guilty or like there was a prescribed way of being a Satanist. I had always stayed with Satan out of loyalty, now and then feeling vague guilt feelings about never observing his personal day or engaging in meditative prayer, and I felt ready once more to pick up my education where it left off and form a more personal relationship with my god. I also wanted to become involved with other Satanists again.

And that's where I am today.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Expanding on the previous post.

So it isn't Friday yet, but I'm posting anyway. Friday is my posting day because it's at the end of the week, therefore if I have to handle anything stressful online- such as trollish comments on my blog, or simply just mustering the concentration to write a post- I can go home and recover from it during the weekend.

Right now I'm stabilized. For me that means I'm not having uncontrollable mood swings, no paranoid thoughts, and no delusions. (I'm not really given toward uncontrollable anything to begin with. I bottle everything up and release tension in writing.) HOWEVER, I still get confused easily. That's the main aspect of my disorder that I'm  handling right now. Being a fairly coherent and calm schizo for me means that the energy I exert toward getting along with others, toward being articulate, toward making sure I don't have "emotional outbursts" (for the people in my life right now, they consider a testy tone an "outburst") of any kind, leaves less energy to plan my weeks and organize myself.

I'm living in a room and board house, and the pressure to conform to their expectations has just been upped without notice. I had just gotten settled in, and thought I knew the rules, and now, seemingly out of the blue, the house manager is "helicoptering" over me.  I  don't understand where this sudden distrust has come from, considering that the previous week had been a fairly good one. I had been able to leave the house at least four times a week to go to my program (I work with a program geared toward getting people with disabilities "on their feet" and self-sufficient), and I had been washing my own dishes and not only doing my assigned chores, but double my assigned chores (by accident).

But now the house manager is behaving as though she can't trust me to follow the rules unless she is constantly and mercilessly on my case about them, and I already have my plate full as it is, without feeling like I can't even go out into the dining room to eat my dinner in peace without someone jumping out of the woodwork to harass me over a stray crumb I leave behind. I've talked to her about this as reasonably and calmly as I can. I told her I'm under a lot of stress right now and I can't handle learning new rules every day, at every turn, especially because I had only just mastered some of the more basic ones. And her response was, "But if I don't tell you right away, you'll never do it."

I have no idea what makes her think that, considering I have not once failed to respond positively to being informed of my mistakes. The whole situation itself might be a set-up having nothing to do with me- because now that I've asked her, however nicely, to please leave me alone for a while, she's free to interpret it as "Calypso doesn't want to follow the rules!"

The entire situation is not only stressful but humiliating, because I'm not a child, much less a "delinquent" one, and yet that's how I'm being treated. It's a sort of double-bind situation that occurs no matter where I go- if I don't ask for help, people assume I have things under control, and that they can expect more out of me. If I do ask for help, I'm "demanding" and need to be put in my place. If I'm "put in my place", my energy goes toward suppressing my anger and humiliation and staying out of everyone's way so that I don't blow up at someone, but people mistake that for "normalcy" and angrily wonder why I can't handle more rules and chores, since apparently I'm not suffering from any mood swings or hallucinations or split personalities or what the fuck ever they assume I have to deal with just because they use 'schizo' as a handy label instead of taking the time to understand it as a complex reality that I have to navigate every day, from within and without. Pressure gets piled on and on, and then if I snap, it's seen as an aspect of my disorder, instead of a justifiable reaction to real situations, and then people start asking nosy and infuriating questions about whether or not I'm taking my meds. There is literally no way for me to "win"- and by win I mean simply find some peace for myself, peace that I need in order to function in other areas of my life. Areas of my life that the manager of the house doesn't see because they take place outside of the house, or in the privacy of my room.

That's why posting is delegated to Friday, and that's also why I don't feel like I can take much part of "legitimate" activism, that is, being up to date on the news, and getting involved in discussions.

Right now, I'm working on moving from a room and board to a better place, one with more privacy and more room for me to do what I need to do to manage stress AND function outside of the house.

I'm talking to the people who are helping me at my program, and they've proven to be willing to help in any way they can, so that puts my mind at ease some more. When my mind is at ease I can focus and plan better.

I've started considering, lately, delegating topics not directly related to Satanism to a different blog.

Friday's post is supposed to be about a more in-depth exploration of how I found Satanism, and how it helped me, and why I remain on the dark path today. I'm also going to talk about my brother a bit, a former spiritual Satanist turned hardcore Christian. I'm going to have to review former posts to see how much I already covered this topic.

Until Friday, then. (For real this time.)