I’ve never understood why anyone would want to worship Satan. After all, if he is real, why would anyone want to worship a created being, any created being, rather than the Creator himself?
Sounds like the picture perfect example of a losing proposition.
Nevertheless, for as long as Christ has been away from this earth since his Ascension, so too have there been people who have sought the presumably wise guidance of the ultimate fallen angel.
Moving forward to today, I suppose it should be no surprise at all that Los Angeles has been and continues to be a haven for the unorthodox, including those who hail the angel of light.
What may be surprising is to find the Los Angeles Times write about Satanists as positively as it did today:
In November, in the candlelit basement of a house just above the Silver Lake Reservoir, Alexandra James walked over to an altar where her husband, Zachary, waited near a bleached human skull, teeth locked in eternal rictus. From the altar, she lifted a sword and drew points across his chest while a circle of onlookers watched solemnly (well, a few giggled too). An organist played eerie minor key chords and Alexandra turned to face the group.
“On this altar we consecrate swords to direct the fire of our unholy will,” she said. “A human skull, symbol of death. The great mother Lilith created us all, and will destroy us all.”
“Hail Satan! Hail Satan! Hail Satan!” The group chanted back.
The Jameses had planned the ritual as the climax of a low-key house party that included a dozen or so friends associated with ritual magic — artists, writers, rock musicians who freely mingle occult vocabularies (Satanist, coven, witches), none taken too literally. But a bigger moment came a few hours later when word circulated that Charles Manson had died. Far from mourning a man whose crimes burned satanic imagery into the American mainstream, everyone cracked beers in celebration and jammed on psych rock tunes. Bonnie Bloomgarden, the singer for the band Death Valley Girls, joked that Manson’s spirit would be reincarnated as a small dog, and that she’d probably accidentally adopt it.
It was a great night for a heterodox generation of new self-described Satanists who are upending old “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Helter Skelter” stereotypes in service of radical politics, feminist aesthetics and community unity in the divisive time of Trump.
What better indication that we live in troubled times when Satanists point to Trump and say, “See? We’re not nearly as bad as him.”
The article meanders between describing contemporary Satanists as those who appear to be following it as a fashion statement, and how they differ from “orthodox” practices.
If satanic rituals of old were centered on smashing Christian orthodoxy and middle American propriety — or, more basely, taking drugs and getting laid — this form of Satanism explicitly uses a huge range of ideas to give shape to the inchoate rage felt by so many — especially women and other marginalized groups.
These new converts believe that when confronted with so much chaos, one way to make sense of it is to conjure it themselves.
“If you don’t give people some sense of magic and community, you get the Proud Boys,” Alexandra said, referring to the fraternal neo-fascist group created by Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes. Zachary agreed: “People like the Proud Boys have their own social clubs, and that’s black magic. Instead of running away from that, we need to find better ways of organizing ourselves.
“In these times,” he added, “a lot of people want to not feel helpless. And Lucifer was the original rebel angel.”
And yet Satanists never ask what happened to him as a result.
The article also delves deeply into how local artists have turned to Satanism.
Even among the merely Satan-curious, the imagery seems to be popping up all over art, film and music.
The Jameses’ group — not officially affiliated with any one strain of Satanism — is loosely based around their doo-wop band Twin Temple, which sounds like the Marvelettes if that group had pined after the blessings of Baphomet instead of the boy next door. They got their start playing shows for the music-activist collective Play Like a Girl. Dressed in uniforms of black leather and lace, the couple made quite a striking duo on the town, and soon enough others wanted in on their scene.
“They were these barfly regulars with a Gomez/Morticia Addams vibe. We would riff on all things weird,” said Brent Smith, a novelist who met them at the rock bar Harvard & Stone. He sees their rituals as less of a religion and more of a structure for community and making art.
“It’s hard enough inspiring people in L.A. to congregate,” Smith said. “But there’s also real philosophy there, and the means to apply it. Rituals keep you accountable to the work you’re doing. Satanism doesn’t require ideology, and it’s ideology that so often kills writing.”
On Halloween, much of the group gathered in the basement of the Hollywood bar Black Rabbit Rose, where a who’s who of modern occultists gathered for rituals, rock shows and talks from the scene’s demimonde elite.
Avant-garde director Kenneth Anger (whose “Lucifer Rising” is a favorite of Satanists and starred eventual Manson family murderer Bobby Beausoleil) took questions from fans like Matt Skiba, the Blink-182 guitarist and Satanist. Noise musician and prominent Satanist Boyd Rice interviewed Karla LaVey (daughter of Anton LaVey) about war stories from the scene’s midcentury heyday. Glenn Danzig, founder of the horror-punk band the Misfits (who recently sold out the Forum for a reunion show), gabbed with fans in the VIP suite and showed off an archive of rare last-days-of-Jayne Mansfield photographs alongside the Lethal Amounts gallery owner Danny Fuentes, who organized the party and often hosts exhibits of transgressive occult-y art.
At the witching hour, Twin Temple performed a full set, capped with a ritual during which it performed an anti-baptism of its coven-mate, the young film director Kansas Bowling. Blood-smeared and stripped down to nearly “sky-clad,” as they put it, Bowling was offered up in service to the goddess Lilith as an avenging angel for crimes against women.
“Some of these men, like Harvey Weinstein, are finally being held accountable for their crimes,” Alexandra yelled at the crowd. “What do you think, shall we burn him at the stake? Or shall we drown him and see if he floats?” The crowd erupted in cheers for both.
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls.