For Episode 29 – Spotlight: Being a Satanist of Color, we asked our listeners to email us with their personal experiences as people of color within the Satanic community: the good, the bad, and everything in between. Here are the letters we read on air, plus a few that came in after our recording deadline. They appear here unedited, although some identifying information has been removed to protect the letter-writers’ privacy.
Thank you for getting around to this, you have no idea how much it means to me, and i’m sure many others.
For as long as I can remember, 1st grade or so, I’ve been a nonbeliever. I was raised in a catholic family located in Los Angeles county, and sent to catholic school from 1st grade until 6th grade when we moved and i was overjoyed to join the public school system. Out of fear of disappointing and enraging my parents, i kept my lack of belief hidden until my mid-teens when i learned there was actually a word for non-believers like myself ATHEIST! I figured if there was a word for people like that, i was not alone, so i mustered the courage to tell my parents that very night, holy hell was i in for a shock. Of course, i got the typical “you don’t know what that means”, “It’s only a phase”, “don’t be stupid, you’ll go to hell”, etc. followed by months of the cold shoulder. Mom didn’t speak to me for months, and dad kept his distance and refused to talk about it.
Then there were my friends, all of whom we believers. Even though they were good friends, we had countless discussions, arguments, dismissals, and even outright hostile belittling towards one another. I was called nerd, “too smart for my own good”, stupid, heathen, devil, demon, etc in jest, though we all know there was some truth in that jest.
Some of them remain, to this day, as close as brothers. Others, well we can say they did not, some making quiet departures and others loud hostile departures. Religion is such a deep part of the hispanic experience that most seem to have an almost visceral response to anyone not falling inline and/or questioning their reality. Most of my friends mentioned previously were black or of mixed race and they are very similar in that way, their families beliefs are “central to their being”, despite the hypocrisy of the way they conveniently sidestep those same beliefs to enjoy their everyday lives.
Fast-forward to my late teens when I started dating, yet again I was in for a shock. Apparently “good” little christian girls take issue with guys being unbelievers. This lead to countless debates, fights, dates cut short and girls totally ghosting on me. It wasn’t until i met, my current wife, Mel oh wonderful open minded and truly accepting Mel. She was genuinely the first person to make me feel OK with disbelief. Although she was raised catholic, and attended catholic school K-12, she totally got it. She passed no judgement, and was able to have civil discussions on the topic. As our relationship blossomed and we fell into a fully committed relationship and ultimately wed, she moved away from Christianity and explored other options, ending up at Buddhism. I took the journey with her, helping her along the way out of christianity and in the process learned more about other religions, why people believed them and the meaning that it held in their lives. As a result i found myself gravitating towards buddhism as well, until i found the same patterns of sexism, abuse, etc.
Once again I found myself searching, I touched all the typical atheist milestones… The 4 horsemen, Sagan, Tyson, Hawking, Shermer, Randi, Marx, Nietzsche, Confucius, Nihilism, etc. Don’t get me wrong they all meant and still mean very much to me, I was simply looking for something more. Then I found the Satanic Bible, upon reading it I immediately started identifying with a lot of the concepts set forth. Not long after, I began calling myself a Satanist………..in secret. For over a year I held this stance, then I learned of the TST (about 2yrs ago), it was genuinely a WTF moment for me! Now this I got, the reimagining of concepts, the reframing of certain beliefs, the addition of more appealing ideas and most importantly the subtraction of some of the more unsavory ideas LaVey held. I was at once comfortable calling myself a satanist around other people. Of course they are typically taken aback and mildly offended, until I bust out my TST card, explain what the temple stands for, and name a few of the campaigns they have taken on. The recent media coverage helps to put us in a better light for sure, though I still get questions about the use of offensive imagery and language. Eh, guess we still have a ways to go.
Anyways I know i’ve sort of droned on so i’ll let you go so that you may digest other stories.
So I’m a huge fan of the show so there’s that. One word to describe it would be difficult. I have a small tattoo of baphomet on my right arm that I have to hide at work due to the fact that religion is so pervasive in Georgia and at my job. It’s one of few things that I hide from most people because it’s essentially like being a double minority. I have to covertly advocate for Satanic values in the community because if you say “Hey, TST Atlanta is doing A, B, and C” you’ll get push back immediately in the community. You might very well be disowned by your friends and family. It’s like depression and suicidal thoughts. These are things that the community tends to not discuss (and in some cases view as weakness). My family gets me and my girlfriend is fascinated with it so I’m fortunate to have that type of support system. I mean it really doesn’t matter too much since I’m an adult, but I remember being a kid and having to cloak those beliefs in public and private and it makes me think of black kids that identify as Satanists not having that type of support. I can go on and on but I have the awareness to know when I’m rambling. I definitely had to email you all. Keep up the amazing work, live deliciously, and Hail Satan.
Hi! I saw your call for Satanists of color, and I thought I would speak up.
I’m an Asian-American woman and was raised in a Catholic household. Many Asian cultures are extremely strict and conservative, and the ones I grew up with are no exception. I was taught what was right and wrong, and there was no room for questioning. Always pray to God, follow the old superstitions, and never rock the boat. Anything even remotely sexual was taboo, and women voicing opinions was frowned upon. I followed the rules, but the older I got, the more I found myself disagreeing with them. However, if I ever tried to break away, I was told something was wrong with me over and over until I hated myself.
When I found Satanism, this began to change. For the first time, I found a group of people who held the same beliefs as I do. Maybe it sounds dumb, but I felt so validated, like I didn’t have to hate myself for not believing in God or ghosts or curses. There was never anything wrong with me for being bisexual, a feminist, and an advocate for safe sex instead of abstinence. I was amazed that many Satanists voiced their opinions so openly and bravely. I felt like I might belong here.
I’m a Satanist now, and I moved far away from the people I grew up with. After all this happened, they don’t speak to me anymore anyway. However, this doesn’t mean I reject my Asian roots. I’m still incredibly proud of my heritage, I still celebrate my cultural holidays, and I still speak my family’s language. I just no longer participate in the oppressive parts. I’m also incredibly lucky to have an amazing husband and a few close friends who all support the journey of self-discovery that Satanism has helped me with. They say that I become more and more like myself all the time.
If you got this far, thanks for reading about me, and thank you so much for making this podcast. It was one of the things along with Lilith Starr’s “The Happy Satanist” that opened my eyes to how cool the Satanist community is! Keep up the good work.
This is very brief but I was happy to hear about the discussion and feel joyful to share my thoughts in the matter.
From the time I learned about atheist Satanism I found it interesting that it wasn’t more popular among POC. It is because the vast majority of POC’s modern culture comes from religious traditions; however many like myself have gone to great lengths to decolonize our modern culture and a big part of that is renouncing religions that were forced upon our ancestors against their will. With that being said, yes other satanic organizations (not TST) have had a history of bigotry and misogyny. That made it so the first time I reached out to the TST I asked if the organization was supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement and the LGBTQ+ community. As soon as I learned about the solidarity and ongoing pursuit of justice I was sold. As long as I have been, first an ally and now a member, I’ve had nothing but welcoming encounters with other Satanist. This makes it so encouraging to believe that the POC members will grow in numbers as we grow as an organization. I want to thank you for opening up the conversation, I think this type of discussions will allow for future opportunities to become more inclusive in our mission. hail yourselves and Ave Satanas.
Hi. I’m part of a FB forum for TST and was asked to submit an opinion for your show that I shared in the forum.
My opinion is as follows
Most POC (my view is Black) grew up in the Abrahamic religions of Christianity and Islam (very few in Judaism). These religions, particularly Christianity, has white deities (god and devil). When we leave and cast off these, we are really trying to cast off the white gods that have been embedded into our brains, but those gods don’t lose their character. Satan is still evil and white people are considered evil.
Being associated with a benevolent sky god who is also white is considered part of the colonial mind control to get black people to think they are inferior to whites and to obey them. That’s why many who reject christianity choose atheism or try to return to traditional African spirituality like Ifa and Voudoun (polytheistic religions and not all gods have benevolent qualities. There is a duality and balance between light and dark).
Satanism is ‘unwelcoming’ for Blacks not necessarily because whites make it feel unwelcoming, but because its associated with (white) christianity, evil, and whiteness. Religious blacks wouldn’t dare join and non-religious blacks don’t see a point.
Plus I’m not really a Satanist, I’m atheist. Lucifer is just a deity I’m fond of and I really related to the satanic tenets (statements) as put forth by LeVey and the COS (oh, so THAT’S what COS means ? . I was reading that earlier and had no idea).
I might dabble in voodoo and the dark arts but I adhere to nothing and practice nothing at present.
Hello Fellow Godless Heathens,
Thank you for providing the opportunity for us to voice our non-White opinions, lol.
I attended a Satanic Mass in the summer of 2017. I wasn’t completely comfortable because I stuck out like a sore thumb, at least I felt like that. It wasn’t because I’m Hispanic, because there were people from other ethnicities as well. They were mostly White people, but I did see some Hispanic and even a young Asian lady. What made me feel uncomfortable was the fact that I think I was the oldest person there, and I don’t “look” like a Satanist. I’m 49, enjoy wearing bright colors, I’m feminine, and I don’t have tatts or piercings (other than my earlobes). I know Satanists are all types of people, but that night, most of them “looked like” Satanists. They wore black, had tats/piercings, were very young, and the event showcased a heavy metal band. I’m not into metal, so I was bored, unfortunately.
Anyway, I wish I could offer more to the table regarding race. For me it wasn’t so much race, but age.
Thank you for reading this,
I’m not going to get into the fallout with TST because that will just start a dumpster fire.
I will say that Satanism has been a great help in recovering from religion. My LA family has extremely crucial in dealing with feelings of loss that come with leaving something that I had dedicated so much of myself to. I’ve also met and befriended some awesome people from elsewhere in the country and around the world.
I have had to deal with some racism in forums and on our page that I definitely never dealt with in a church. It’s the same kind of racism you can find in any comment section, but that banality sort of keeps any sense of a larger Satanic community at arm’s length for me.
Admittedly, I’m not concerned with sigils and Baphomet and things like that. I’m not into rituals that much either. I just like Satan as a symbol of the ultimate rebel, his revolt being akin to the Haitian Slave revolt or something. So guess I get lost in all the other abstractions because my analog is so direct.
Anyway, thanks for doing this. Ave Satanas!
This is going to be a long email, but I’ll try and keep my word count below a classic Daniel Rant(TM). 😀 First, let me say that I don’t claim to speak for Hispanic people as a whole, and that my thoughts on the matter are purely my own. They’ve been informed by my upbringing, my extended family, and the population of South Central Texas (San Antonio and its surrounding areas) where the percentage of Hispanics is higher than all other ethnicities combined.
Hispanic is something of a blanket term here in the U.S., casting a fairly wide net over many different ethnicities. I, your prestigious Paxton Pilate, come from a father of Mexican descent, and a mother of Spanish. The two cultures are remarkably similar, though it’d be wise to never say that to a Spaniard. My Grandfather on my Dad’s side was born in Mexico and was a migrant worker, crossing the border every day to work the fields. My Grandmother was born in the United States, but just barely. Her parents had also crossed the border at some point and settled in Texas. When World War II happened, many of the migrant Mexicans were offered a deal. Carry a rifle for this man’s Army, and be instantly naturalized. My Grandfather did so, and when he came back from the theater of war, met and married my Grandmother, who was already a citizen by proxy of birth.
The point I’m making in that little tale is that my Grandparents were both first generation Americans, and brought many of the old traditions with them. They raised their kids with the blend of of Catholicism and Mexican superstition that many, many Mexican families subscribed to. My Grandmother was in fact a Curandera, which in the old country was something of a shaman, if you will. She had an enormous garden with all the herbs and spices she’d ever need to treat any ailment that people would see her for. Ever heard of someone rubbing an egg on a person to remove the Mal Ojo (evil eye)? That’s what Curanderas did. Ever heard of curing hiccups by balling up a red thread and pressing it against someone’s forehead? Curandera. What’s interesting, is how these peoples were able to reconcile being Catholic, yet subscribing to this kind of superstition. You’d think that Christ and the occult don’t mix, but I assure you they did.
You couldn’t turn to a wall that didn’t have a picture of the last supper in her home. Statues of saints, Mary, and lots of them. This is all to say that growing up, my father, and to a degree my brother and I, were taught to be superstitious. Ever hear of La llorona or El Cucuy? Fuck me that shit was scary when I was a boy. How about the Chupacabra? All of this was folklore that was woven in to the heart of the superstitions we subscribed to, and after the Roman Catholics tainted Spanish folklore, which then crossed an ocean to be wrapped in to Mexican mysticism, guess who was at the center of the Mal Ojo?
Did you say Satan? Because it’s Satan.
Thus I and many like me possibly grew up with a more substantial Satan. He was the adversary of God, of course, but he also was the evil at the heart of Mal Ojo. Our stories ended up being attributed to him in some way or another. El Diablo. Sure, you could scare him a way by showing him a cross, but he would always come back trying to peddle his influence. Even in the fucking 21st century, where we as a species are piloting two remote controlled robots on Mars, you can still find this traditional blend of superstition alive and well. Very alive.
If I had to wrap up all of my thoughts in to a single sentence, I would say it this way. “It’s probably not you, it’s us.”
It’s only after I got older and grew the mind of a skeptic. It’s through personal experience of the absolute lack of God that I became atheist. It’s through exposure to TST and its philosophies, Black Mass Appeal, and self education that I became Satanist. I had to shake of some heavy, heavy mantles before I was able to freely consider the ideas of religious atheism, but I managed to do so because my heart lead me that way. Nothing supernatural about that, when I say follow my heart. I wonder if it’s the communities themselves that don’t seek out Satanism because of the teachings of their parents and grandparents. I wonder if it’s because there was a long while I was afraid of the Devil that my Grandmother would rub eggs on me to rid me of the evil spirit that kept me in a sort of complacency.
So, what do we do about this?
I think it’s all about reach, and community. There’s a San Antonio TST chapter trying to get formed down here, which I’m eagerly awaiting. Several of its members are Hispanic, possibly ones that could recognize a lot of what I’ve written today. I think that if there are intentional in-roads made to Satanic communities with Hispanic members, though they be small, it can grow from there. That’s not an easy thing to do, I recognize that. One of TST’s tenants speaks on basing reality on current scientific information, which I love, but could see a lot of my persuasion having a tough time dealing with. I have hope that one day the superstitions of the old world will start to grow thin in Hispanic communities, which will in turn open some minds. Funny as it might sound, it was so very easy for me to say there’s no God, but it was difficult to give up my Mexican superstitions.
I think that we, as Satanic people of color need to be boots on the ground to help grow those communities, and that disparate communities should have a good collaboration with others so that we don’t feel as isolated. I think that we need to reach out to others speaking the same language they are as well, because nothing bonds people together faster than seeing others as the same. Even though at the end of the day, no matter where we’re from, we’re all human beings. I’m hoping to do something like a Satanic Dia de Los Muertos event or gathering, if I can muster enough of the SA folks, for instance.
I wonder if the predominant ethnicity of Satanists today is circumstantial. It’s circumstantial, but then when a POC joins said community, I could see where they might think it’s endemic.
tl;dr – I don’t think it’s you, I think it’s us. We need to grow our ranks, but it would be helpful for y’all to keep your arms open, as well as the dialogue open to us.
Regardless, I implore ya’ll to keep doing what you’re doing for the good of all of the marginalized folks out there.
I’m a career musician and I record electronic music for fun as well. I live in the Silicon Valley and teach Cello full time and record and arrange music on commission for a living.
I’ll start by admitting that your topic featuring POC felt like the perfect way to put myself out there and say Hi to this community that I’ve quietly identified with but have been alone in for quite some time.
For myself, Satanism is not always perceived the same way that others may see it, but again, I only live in my own 4” heels.
I’ve always been an in-betweener, too ethnic for most caucasian-americans, and too Americanized, opinionated, dark (skin etc) for Japanese — however my upbringing is very Japanese, despite being a California-born former navy baby, and I even find it sometimes hard to relate to Japanese-American culture, as i’m 2nd gen, but identify as Japanese, not Japanese-american or Asian-american. (if that makes any sense)
I am mixed race, Japanese on my Moms side, Native-American on my dad’s. I even have a CDIB issued to me, and my Last name is a result of the Indian Relocation Act. Because I don’t look 1/2-something and 1/2 white, I often feel like a perpetual foreigner.. There’s often a default for others to assume I don’t speak English, or don’t belong. It’s nothing new and just something I’ve accepted as something that “happens”. What i can’t change about others should not be a burden or in the way of my happiness or success.
I didn’t grow up with Christian beliefs, nor have I ever seen Satanism, or atheism as ‘evil’ or wrong. But I grew up in a very Christian town (yes i was a token) and around kids and parents who were wary of me and my family because we weren’t part of a church.
I grew up with very rural, old-folksy set of Japanese beliefs and superstitions, a mix of traditional Shinto and Buddhism. These beliefs are not necessarily practiced in a community like a church, and are somewhat ethnocentric and focus on the self. Growing up, it made me feel strong, proud to identify to my culture—but a lot of it was due to visits to Japan, so it was reinforced with seeing family and people in their town who knew my family… I have to point out that i was the FIRST mixed race child most of my mom’s hometown had EVER seen. It may be because everyone there is poorer than other parts of Japan that they had a very unique warmth to me being different.. but as a kid, this was most of my experience with my heritage.
As an adult, when i moved to LA for school, I started to see that the way i was loved by my family was not always the case with Japanese people or Japanese-Americans for being 1) mixed 2) a very different mix 3) didn’t look like typical mixed kid 4) didn’t grow up with ‘Asian American’ values and family history or an ethnic community. I felt like my light was dimmed a little because i often can’t relate to others, so I gave up trying to fit into the identity i thought I had.
I still hold my upbringing close to my heart, but especially when moving to the Bay Area, I felt like my wings were clipped for being so different from “my people”. (In LA there are far more 2nd gens and mixed race and more Japanese/Japanese Americans go outside their group socially… the Bay Area often is a little more closed in.. Im often “the dark one with the WIGHT Husband”)
Satanism helped me learn to love myself again.
It never felt like it would ever contradict any way I already conduct my life, and a lot of times overlaps with Shintoism and some Buddhism. A vast contrast is how a lot of what i was raised with, with religion, focused on how you can contribute to the world, not disrupt others/life/nature, and often times it weighs more on pleasing others first and saving face. It’s also a very Japanese thing to do..
With Satanism, it taught me to not just accept things the way they are, but to improve myself and make myself happy—which is VERY hard if you’re not used to it. I didn’t grow up being told someone was proud of me, and i was not hugged as a kid. i was expected to go about life expecting no reward…which i’ll admit has made me successful in my career and i take bad news pretty well due to that… but to teach myself that life can be even better when it’s rewarding not only changed my outlook to a more positive one, but I felt like other parts of life (career, health, art) began to thrive as well~
I admit I’ve been a shut-in with my beliefs, and maybe from my fear of rejection from a group.. from my experiences in the past.. but I also am very VERY new to lurking in the online community.
Little by little, i’ve pushed myself to participate on Twitter, and I hope to be somewhere in person eventually. I have no friends in the Bay Area because I live in Tech Central and don’t work in Tech, so I sort of felt like the appeal of Satanism being a representation of the ‘Outsider’ was something that resonates with me. So much feels open to everyone’s personal experiences and interpretation, and for myself, I feel automatically like it’s where I belong.
Another part of my isolation may also be just my default as well. I have felt rogue for years in my beliefs and identity, it’s tough to put myself out there as a horribly shy person—but I am so thrilled to see such a thriving community online, and quite some activity in the Bay area. I am interested in being more involved.
Thank you for taking the time to hear my long spiel.
I hope someone might be able to relate in some way, and I look forward to hearing others’ experiences and learning from them
with Love, Luminescence, and Satan,
If being inclusive and accepting to people of color is your goal, it’s working (for me, it did anyway). My closest friends and people I can count on the most are considered heathens and heretics. They are more genuine than the christians I grew up with.
I hope that you do not find yourself responsible for all the work. We (those of color) must do our part to separate from our inherited (sometimes unwanted) legacy, as difficult as it can sometimes be. Offering patience and support can go a long way. Even if it takes us a long bloody time.
Keep up the great work!
To Whom It May Be Godless,
As far as my experience in the Satanic community from a minority perspective, I have not seen many, if any, of anyone of color. Granted, I have been in the TST since 2016 and have only been to one official event in AZ while I was visiting family earlier this year. To quote The Bloodhound Gang’s classic, A Lap Dance Is So Much Better When the Stripper Is Crying, “I was lonelier than Kunta Kinte at a Merle Haggard concert.”
However, I do not think the TST is not accommodating to POC; I believe in my case its more of choice in career and location. As I have mentioned previously, I have been in the Navy since 2008 and stationed mostly in Virginia. Being in the military and an Atheist is already pretty uncommon. Add to that voting for Bernie, shortly after becoming a Satanist, and you found yourself the prettiest lil Lefticorn! I’ve met more Wiccans while I have been “out” than any other non-traditional religions. I also think when it comes to POC, we tend to have more of a church integration upbringing, than the average Caucasian. So much like Atheists who are minorities, to find a POC who is also a Satanist is primarily looking for minorities within the minority of the minorities.
I love y’alls podcast. I hope this helps with your upcoming shows, thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and I would love to be a contributor to your show in the future, especially when/if you get political…
Ave Satanas! #damned #satandemands6citedsources
While I may be too late, I wanted to at least contact you and see if there was anything I could add. I am a member of the former Satanic Temple of LA now called the Satanic Collective. Yes, I am a person of color, even though one of the Church of Satan’s troll account tried to tell me I wasn’t. It comes from all sides.
The experience has been mostly good especially since I was in with one of the more diverse and open minded chapters of TST. I do have to say that I never felt I had much representation in the NC and once I found out the Randazza issue, I was appalled and personally insulted.
I don’t think that white people, much less white Satanists understand how threatening white power/alt right people are and having an organization that you have trusted and believed in decide that working with someone who is racist and BFF with some of the worst of the bunch is to people of color, especially this Chicana woman. It seems like an amusing game to them, one that their superior intellect will win for them. They know better than us. They pat us on the head and tell us not worry. We’ve heard that before.
These people hate me and want me out of my home country. Check the news in Wall Street Journal about Mexican Americans being denied passports and being told they are lying, their birth certificates are fakes, and that they are will be deported.
The TST NC may think that Mark Randazza and his pals aren’t dangerous, but I know that they are and guess who they are coming after. The thing that they should know is that if this isn’t stopped, eventually they will come for them.