Here’s a lockdown dilemma for you: When should Satanists do what they’re told?

The textbook grognard answer would be, when it benefits them–but that really doesn’t tell us anything. In the short run, for example, it’s beneficial to obey the law and avoid punishment. But if the law is bad then the beneficial thing in the long run may be to disobey to spur reform.

(Historically speaking, breaking the law is the most reliable way to change it, although this is admittedly not the ultimate effect of most crimes.)

Truth be known, people are not particularly good at judging what’s good for them anyway. That’s how I ended up trying to deep-fry a Ho Ho at work once because there were no more Twinkies left. Of all my offenses against god, this is still the most severe.


lockdown coronavirus authority satanism

“A deed without a name…”


Perhaps a simpler answer is to obey when you wish to. But the Dante-like torments of the news cycle illustrate why this is also not a practical policy.

A fragile menagerie of hopelessly hapless anti-lockdown losers don’t want to follow simple instructions like wearing a mask or keeping the ambulatory fever swamp of their wretched bodies a few feet away from mine. Sometimes civil disobedience is only as good as the dumbest person’s judgment.

Conspiracy assholes bleat that lockdown is a secret Satanist plot, but in reality it’s the nature of Satan that makes this such a thorny question for actual Satanists. Satan is the revolutionary, the iconoclast, the reformer, the outsider; at least, this is the image we invoke the most often.

“We admire Satan as a symbol of the questioning mind, the refusal to serve, the refusal to blindly obey authority,” Satanic Temple Seattle founder Lilith Starr writes in The Happy Satanist.

Is not Satan the outlaw of outlaws? And he gives his followers the joy and wild liberty of all free things of Nature, the rude delight of being a world apart,” oddball French historian Jules Michelet wrote in his 1862 Satanism & Witchcraft.

Hell, John Milton doesn’t even wait to finish the very first line of Paradise Lost before warning us it’s a story of “first disobedience,” a phrase that sounds distinctly kinky out of context.

It’s easy to say that we’re rebellious freethinkers who go our own way and fight the power. Hell, during lockdown days it’s even easy to do: any jackass can be contrarian, obstinate, or just oblivious.

You don’t even necessarily have to be consistent about it. Old Anton LaVey used to put up a big show with the devil horns and naked bodies draped across the altar, but often he preached fairly staid, conservatives ideas.

And in his mind that really was unconventional, thinking himself a courageous iconoclast flouting the new norms of San Francisco counterculture in the ’60s by wrapping his novelty red cloak around straight and ordinary conventions.

Far-right man-children on social media throw similar fits today, like when dwarfish conspiracy huffer Paul Joseph Watson proclaimed, “Conservatism is the new punk rock.” Which swiftly unseated Chipmunk Punk as the least punk thing ever.

Point is, it’s generally very easy to at least feint in the direction of being rebellious. Doing it in a way that’s smart, responsible, personally advantageous, and intellectually honest is harder.


lockdown coronavirus authority satanism

“Hey Mike, I’ve got a new word for you to learn: ‘optics.'”


The Satanic Temple’s public invocation decries not authority as a broad concept but instead specific variables like “arbitrary authority” and “comforting delusions.”

But arbitrariness is a value judgment. Some Satanists to the left of the average Temple member criticize TST for relying on the court system, for example, saying that litigation by default legitimizes a bankrupt judicial system.

To be honest, this is sort of a fair point: US courts are a shit enema at the best of times, and these are hardly the best of times. The reason why I rarely take these critics very seriously in the end though is that they never seem to have any really useful alternative solutions to the problem.

Bottom line, I think it’s good if Satanists have religious values that call on us to make our own judgments. Clearcut, black-and-white rules seem simpler, but they also just plain don’t work. The world is full of religious hypocrites in large part because life comes at you too fast for ancient gods to keep up.

It is sometimes awkward to on one hand say, “Be skeptical of authority, question your leaders, prize your own decision-making over rote guidelines,” but then also tell people, “This time really just do what you’re told and stay home you worthless drama sponge.”

But hey, religion is complicated, don’t tell me you’re just hearing it now. I’d like it if doing the right thing meant only saying shit that always makes me feel good. But this is the really really world, it’s not all ice cream and handjobs out there.

If you demand a simple answer, this is the best I can do: Authority is effective when it’s humane, compassionate, practical, and exercised in good faith. When it’s not, then discontent becomes those things instead.

Sometimes debate will spark up around the Seven Tenets and the question of bodily autonomy. If “one’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone,” should Temple backers reject things like vaccination or stay-at-home orders?

I would argue no, for reasons that merit a blog of their own sometime. But I’ll say this: In my personal opinion, if any Satanic doctrine says not to vaccinate your kids, that doctrine would have to change.

Like science and unlike conventional dogma, Satanism has the capacity to change if it’s wrong. And more to the point, we’re certainly not in the business of making martyrs–of ourselves or anyone else.


lockdown coronavirus authority satanism

It only seats one.