A VERY SOCIALLY DISTANCED SATANIC SOLSTICE
On Saturday, June 20–the summer solstice–Bay Area Satanists met for an in-person Satanic ritual for the first time since February, observing a simple and extremely socially distanced solstice rite on the shores of Lloyd Lake in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
Not all of our Bay Area Satanists chose to attend–some had competing demands on their time, while others were simply not comfortable with a gathering in the midst of the region’s ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. San Francisco permits in-person religious gatherings as of June 15, but the question of how to hold personal observations in a responsible manner falls to the individual.
Although those who did not attend were missed, there’s nothing more fundamentally Satanic than deciding your own fate for yourself, so even their absence gratified the spirit of the occasion. Those of us who did attend–a crowd of 16 (17 if you count baby Dorian)–were also of two minds on the topic; no matter what precautions we take, such a meeting necessarily carries with it increased risk compared to virtual rites or just staying the hell home.
That said, it’s been a tough few months in isolation, and simply having something to look forward to served the psychological wellbeing of many, so we think it was the right decision.
Convening on a lawn south of the lake about 90 minutes before sundown, members sat a safe 6.66 feet away from one another and kept face masks on at all times while catching up. As sundown approached, we retired to the far side of the lake, where the eerie Portals of the Past monument–the remains of a mansion destroyed during the 1906 earthquake, leaving only the entrance intact–served as our ritual site.
Since the path by the lake is narrow, we actually conducted the ritual three times in small groups to keep everyone properly spaced. This ceremony was a very, very simple affair, with an altar consisting of just one candle, and an invocation adapted mostly from 19th century socialist writer Flora Tristan’s Emancipation of Woman, in which she praised Lucifer as the great symbol of human liberation.
The solstice is not usually an occasion we observe, selected in this case more on account of the convenience of the date. But imagining the sun as a parallel to Lucifer–the morning star, after all–gave us an opportunity to reflect on our lives during these troubled and, frankly, often stupid times.
Like Tristan’s fallen angel, we too may feel as if we’ve been left tumbling in the dark, untethered from the things that previously gave us direction. The solstice, a time when the sun and the Earth come closer, reminds us that no matter what, there are some days when we rise just a bit higher than circumstances and are, in fact, closer to touching the sun.
Plans for future gatherings are very much up in the air right now–because honestly, what kind of sucker would start putting eggs in any basket at a time like this? As always, we’ll work to help each other create new paths forward, regardless of the failures of common institutions.