WOLF NIGHT, LUPERCALIA, & THE HOUNDS OF HELLENISM
Everybody needs to get in touch with the beast within from time to time, and for Bay Area Satanists that time was Wolf Night–our variation on Lupercalia, an ancient Roman festival adopted by some Modern Satanists today as a celebration of self.
Historically, Lupercalia was a fertility festival that honored the legendary She-Wolf who suckled Romulus an Remus, as well as the god Lupercus, a wolflike figure who may or may not have a variation on Pan, the Greek god of shepherds and wild places and the spitting image of Satan.
The Romans sacrificed animals and, in a bizarre display, lashed the bodies of women with the bloody hides in the belief that this would inspire fecundity. Whenever alt-right types get on about the supposed glories of European civilizations, remember the image of naked party boys running through the streets or Rome with bloody floggers.
Today, Lupercalia provides some neopagans and Satanists a slightly more primal alternative to Valentine’s Day, which probably borrowed from this tradition in earlier times. The Satanic Temple’s recently published holiday calendar designates Lupercalia (February 15) as a holiday celebrating the body, the self, personal autonomy, sex (or asexuality), and animal nature.
The Temple calendar is a cool reference but probably not something we want to abide by with orthodoxy ourselves. Partly for convenience and partly for the sake of a few people who wanted to attend Lupercalia events elsewhere, we moved our celebration to February 16 and dubbed it Wolf Night instead.
At a private Oakland location, more than 40 Bay Area Satanists–roughly a third of them joining us for the first time in-person–gathered for food, drinks, and music, punctuated by a new Satanic ritual of our own composition.
After a volunteer opened the ceremony with the Dark Lord’s Prayer, our own Becky Heck led the assembly in an invocation dubbed “Where the Wild Things Are,” a variation on an animal-centric Satanic ritual she first performed the previous year, paying tribute to natural creatures and to the powerful (if sometimes unflattering) myths that we’ve adopted about them over the centuries.
Next, Tabitha Slander and Daniel Walker performed “The Wolf & The Goat,” a Satanic invocation offering two allegorical teachers with two very different perspectives. Both wolves and goats were sacred to the ancient traditions celebrated on nights like this, and both are, at times, guises of Satan.
But whereas goats are proverbially individualistic, stubborn, and opinionated, wolves are cooperative social animals that rely on each other to survive. In “The Wolf & The Goat,” members of the assembly petitioned both creatures with questions and received answers from each that, while often contradictory, were always simultaneously true.
Ultimately this exercise emphasized the most vital Satanic ideal: diversity of perspective rather than orthodoxy. To conclude, Simone Lasher conferred the Mark of the Beast on all, using a ritual knife, in imitation of the sword used to mark ancient priests with the blood of the sacrifice.
Human beings are animals at heart. But this is a complicated value, made even more so by our prejudices and assumptions about the nature of, well, nature.
Occasions like Wolf Night allow us to explore the significance of our animal temperaments in constructive ways, in an environment that recalls one of the most powerful drives that almost all of our beastly cousins partake in: the urge to come together.