Episode 16 – Conducting Fieldwork: Witch Zaftig’s research on the Church of Satan

In this month’s segment of Unorthodoxy with Witch Zaftig, I discuss conducting fieldwork in the social sciences. The discussion includes generalized comments on research, but centers on my own fieldwork in the Church of Satan itself, and how to address all that that entails: ethics boards, protocols, consent forms, recruiting, data collecting and storing, confidentiality, and the challenges of navigating fieldwork with humans.

As mentioned in the podcast, strict ethical guidelines were enacted to prevent repeats of these types of incidents: the Tuskegee syphilis experiment and the Milgram experiment.

For more information check out this chapter, “The Ethics of Social Research.

There are many books for further study, but here are two:

For the beginner: Ethnographic Fieldwork: A Beginner’s Guide.

For the more advanced: The Handbook of Social Research.

As always, listen to the stand-alone segment here, or the entire podcast here.

Original air-date December 27, 2015.

Episode 14: So was LaVey an innovator or not?

In this month’s Unorthodoxy with Witch Zaftig segment we examine the question of origins of religious Satanism from a scholarly perspective, and ask whether or not LaVey was truly an innovator. The goal is to objectively investigate the claims of precursors to LaVey’s Satanic ideas. As all religions, philosophies, and conceptual works are responding to inherited historical threads as well as emerging from their modern context, every ingenuity reinterprets, reexamines, and re-presents previous notions. This segment focuses on these “Satanic” precursors by discussing how understandings of the devil informed LaVey and modern religious Satanism. As always, you can listen to the stand-alone segment, or the entire jam-packed 9sense podcast.

The primary source for this segment comes from the book The Devil’s Party: Satanism in Modernity, edited by Per Faxneld and Jesper Aagaard Petersen (2012). (Due to Oxford Scholarship Online, most of the articles can be read for free.)

Devil's Party

The section of most interest to us is contained in the first three chapters, which discuss precursors to Satanic discourse, that is, how people framed and conceived of the devil prior to the modern era.

It Is Better to Believe in the Devil: Conceptions of Satanists and Sympathies for the Devil in Early Modern Sweden,” by Mikael Häll.

Sex, Science, and Liberty: The Resurrection of Satan in Nineteenth-Century (Counter) Culture,” by Ruben van Luijk.

Witches, Anarchism, and Evolutionism: Stanislaw Przybyszewski’s fin-de-siècle Satanism and the Demonic Feminine,” by Per Faxneld.

And finally, we mention an article about LaVey’s magical innovations, namely the concepts of Total Environments and Erotic Crystallization Inertia (found in LaVey’s later works) by Carl Abrahamsson, in The Fenris Wolf, Issue no. 7, titled, “Anton LaVey, Magical Innovator.” Abrahamsson’s interest lies less in our question of Satanic precursors (i.e. Satanic discourse), and more with how LaVey’s ideas inform and contribute to magical practice and thought (i.e. magical discourse).

Fenriz Wolf, vol. 7
It’s a fascinating discussion as it relates to how scholars attempt to study claims and counterclaims from groups in tension, as they struggle with questions of legitimacy and authority.
As always, you can listen to the stand-alone segment, or the entire jam-packed 9sense podcast.
Original air-date is Oct. 18, 2015.

Episode 13: Grimoires and Magic Books

This month’s segment is about Grimoires, that is, magic books. Texts of specialized knowledge have a particular history in Western culture, as they develop alongside Christianity, which, because of its primacy of the written word, informs how other texts are viewed by the society at large. You can listen to the stand alone segment, or the entire episode in which I co-host with Rev. Campbell.

The main source for this segment is Owen Davies’, Grimoires: A History of Magic BooksThe introduction is accessible via Amazon.

Here is Davies himself in a promo for the book.

As also mentioned in the segment, the Codex Gigas, or The Devil’s Bible, is not strictly a “magic” book, though it does produce a similar legend surrounding its nature, as it was purported to carry a curse. Do check out the National Library of Sweden’s website where you can view the codex online.

Codex Gigas

Listen to the stand alone segment, or the entire episode.

Original air-date September 20, 2015.

Episode 12: Bible Study 101

This week’s segment is inspired by the all-too-common occurrence of self-identifying Satanists attempting to “debunk” Christianity with incorrect or misunderstood claims about the biblical texts. It is entirely irrelevant to me if someone opposes Christianity or not (or any other religion), but time and again, usually on the interwebz, people in various Satanic forums make statements about Christianity that reveal their own ignorance of the subject. They rant against Christianity or proudly proclaim to have burned a bible! My response is always the same: did you burn the bible fearing its contents, did you feel lured to salvation, were its ideas appealing? No? Then treat it as if it were any other religious book; a neutral text, but one capable of providing useful information. To be blunt: if Christianity makes you that angry, it has power over you, and your draw to Satanism is reactionary, not proactive.

Remember, “Satanism demands study, not worship,” and it behooves us all to understand the historical facts of any particular religion.

Because this information is important, a listener requested the segment be summarized here for future reference, and I have obliged. This blog post is thus a primer for studying the biblical texts. The following is but a small fraction of overly simplistic information about the biblical texts. See the source references for more detail and study. (As always, you can listen to my stand-alone segment here, or the entire 9sense podcast.)

First, some basics: the current biblical text is comprised of two main parts, the Old Testament and New Testament. The Old Testament, though, is not the most accurate name. The Old Testament books are the sacred scriptures of Judaism, and the Hebrew (more accurate) name is Tanakh or Hebrew Bible.

Papyrus scroll, 10th century b.c.e

The Tanakh/Hebrew Bible is, first and foremost, a compilation. It is an anthology of separate texts written over the span of almost 1000 years, totalling 24 “books.” They are grouped into subcategories of the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. It is not strict historiography, but instead a literary and theological treatise for the ancient Israelites. The original language is mostly Hebrew, but, as with most ancient documents, have been translated and transcribed into various languages at different times. Each particular translation or transcription can alter a text in great or small ways, as it will incorporate and reflect the lingua franca of the time it was translated or transcribed. Even the original Hebrew meaning may not be known for certain, as ancient Hebrew is different than modern Hebrew. Imagine how Shakespearean language sounds to contemporary anglophone ears, and multiply that by 3000 years.

The next important term is “canon.” A canonical text is a text recognized as authoritative by the religious leaders. Sometimes authoritative texts are disputed, and the Hebrew texts are no exception. The 24 books of the Tanakh were recognized as canon by the Jews in Palestine (I’m using the name for the territory at the time), but, as Jews had been exiled more than once from their territory, Jews in the Diaspora in Egypt had other books, appendixes, and commentary. This grouping of texts is known at the “apocrypha.” Today, interestingly, a Catholic and Orthodox Christian bible will contain these apocryphal texts, but not a Protestant one (Protestant Christianity is all non-Catholic or Orthodox Christianity).

Canonization of any particular religious text is usually after a long period of growth and development, with multiple circulating texts being used by various people, until an authoritative voice compiles the desired texts, and declares them “canon.” As already stated, often the canonical selection is disputed, and that is precisely what we have for followers of Jesus of Nazareth.

First, Jesus was Jewish. He is a Jew living in a Jewish community (under Roman rule), addressing Jewish issues. This is an important factor for biblical development: the early Jesus movement was not necessarily a separate movement from Judaism, as, at the time of Jesus, there were multiple Judaisms (indeed, as there were also multiple Christianities, both then and now). Because Christians self-understand Jesus as the Messiah that was foretold in the Tanakh, the Tanakh is included in Christian bibles (renamed the Old Testament).

The New Testament is also an anthology of texts (27 books), comprised of the 4 Gospels, Acts, the Epistles (letters), and Revelation (also called the Apocalypse of John). The 4 gospels at the beginning are not the earliest. Saul/Paul of Tarsus’ 1st letter to the Thessalonians is actually the earliest Christian text we currently have, dated about 60 c.e. Paul’s letters are addressing communities he visited and preached to: he worked alongside them speaking about Jesus’ message. The letters discuss how these communities should live, given that Paul thought Jesus would return soon. Paul’s letters demonstrate that he is working it out, considering different ideas, and trying to get a hold on the information he has. Remember, Paul is also a Jew, a Jew entirely without the 2000 years of Christianity to inform his interpretation. He does not have any text, nor has he met Jesus. But he is literate (extremely rare in the ancient world, though quite common among Jews), and educated (as evidence by his prose style, he was likely trained in classical rhetoric, writing in ancient Greek). He has heard about this guy Jesus, and is traveling around preaching about him to people in cities such as Thessalonica and Corinth. The letters are  responses to queries and attempts to reaffirm his authoritative claims once he has moved on to other cities. The content varies as his audience changes; he addresses Jews and Pagans (polytheistic non-Jews) alike.

The Pauline letters are thus integral to the development of Christianity, for the simple reason that they survived.

Not all the epistles were authored by Paul, as there are several of the letters called “pseudo-Pauline.” That is, letters signed as Paul but not written by him. In the ancient world, it was not uncommon to sign a document under your mentor’s name. Greek philosophers also practiced this, as it meant you were part of a particular school of thought. Paul’s confirmed letters assume the world would change dramatically any time now and thus everyone should prepare themselves for Jesus’ return. For example, he states that unmarried people should remain unmarried: there is no need to raise a family if we are all about to be reborn into eternal life when God establishes his Kingdom on earth. A few generations later, when Jesus has not yet come back, the communities have to address certain issues, and have begun to develop a clerical authority, and mandates for communal longevity.

The New Testament process of canonization took about 300 years, and was disputed by various authorities. Christianity also had multiple circulating texts, some of which were excluded from the current canon. The current compilation of 27 books was first suggested by Athanasius of Alexandria, a powerful bishop in Egypt (~367 c.e.), though other theological authorities controverted the canon. Fearing accusations of heresy, some of the non-canonical texts were hidden for 1600 years, and found only in 1945. This group of documents are called the Nag Hammadi library, and they portray Jesus in contrasting ways to canonical texts. They were rejected precisely because they were not on-message.

Nag Hammadi Codex, in Coptic

It bears remembering that the process of transcribing and translating the texts is widespread. For example, we have 5000 Greek copies of the New Testament, and no 2 are alike.

As an aside to the biblical texts, Christianity does not rise as a singular, powerful monolith, that emerges as the state religion and then oppresses everyone. That is an incorrect and horribly flawed view of history. Consider instead that it was an obscure Jewish sect in the far off troublesome province of Judea in the massive Roman Empire, a place where Roman miscreants were stationed as punishment. The Jews were always causing trouble (resisting Roman rules, refusing to sacrifice to the Emperor), and the Jesus movement was but one among many thorns in the Romans’ side. Once the Jesus-followers become their own thing, they are eventually called “Christians.” It remained illegal to be a Christian for the first three centuries.They were considered a “cult” in many ways, as they did bizarre things like meet among their dead (in the catacombs, because assembly was illegal), and were accused of being cannibals (because they “ate” and “drank” the body and blood of Christ). Constantine did not convert to Christianity (as most people believe), but he did issue an edict for Christian decriminalization.

Another important set of documents are called the “pseudepigrapha.” These texts are both Jewish and Christian, and though they never became canon, they were clearly used as authoritative by some communities at some times. They tend to be texts that offer commentary on the current canonical texts. For example, the book of Enoch, a Jewish text from the 1st century, contains the story of angels that came from heaven to mate with human women, giving them tools and makeup. This text gets reinterpreted by medieval Christian theologians as Satan’s origin story, and folded into Satan’s narrative (the source text, however, does not mention Satan at all). A colleague of mine described pseudepigrapha as “fan fiction,” and it can be useful to think of them that way.

Both Christians and Jews produced massive amounts of influential texts, which are often dealing directly with Jewish and Christian narratives. They interpret, expound on, and supplement the canon with various stories and commentary.

Biblical texts are still going through processes of translation. You can obtain translations from Cherokee to Kurdish, Icelandic to Urdu. The King James version reflects medieval European dynamics, the New International Version is the most currently accessible to modern readers. All have their own context and method of interpretation.

Hence, a “true” meaning of any biblical textual analysis is not the goal of scholars, but instead they consider the linguistic (original language, translations), literary (form, prose, style), compositional (who put together a particular canon, and why?), comparative (other documents at the time), archeological (the physical properties of the codex, on what kind of paper, using which kind of ink, written with what kind of instrument?), historical (facts that can be corroborated), and socio-political (the motives and agenda of the author, their intended audience, addressing which contemporary issues) properties of each book for a better understanding of their source and influence.

One final note on the documents themselves: as already stated, most people in the ancient world are not literate. This means that texts can be considered as a sacred object whose special contents can be accessed only by skilled magicians (learned and elite theologians) capable of deciphering (reading) the strange and mysterious hieroglyphs (alphabet). Because materials (papyrus, ink) are so rare and expensive, if something was considered important enough to write down it was considered especially powerful knowledge. Knowledge accessible to only a select few, and transmitted by those in power.

Primary sources:

Early Jewish Writings 

Early Christian Writings listed by date.

Nag Hammadi Library

Bible Gateway available in various translations and languages.

Secondary sources:

Bible Brisket. Excellent summary of the biblical compositional history, complete with flowchart.

Reading the Old Testament, by Barry L. Bandstra

The New Testament: Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writingsby Bart D. Ehrman.

As always, you can listen to my stand-alone segment here, or the entire 9sense podcast.

Original air-date: August 16th, 2015.

Episode 11: Religion and the Third Gender: Historical Examples of Transgenderism

After a two-month hiatus, Unorthodoxy with Witch Zaftig returns with a new segment discussing the concept of a “third gender.” As always, the stand-alone segment can be heard here, or listen to the entire 9sense podcast here.

We discuss three cultural examples of third gender status, and how the enveloping society addresses transgenderism:

Native American Berdache or Two-Spirited peoples. Berdache are understood with more complexity than the Euro-American concept of homosexuality, but are instead viewed as having both male and female spirits, and thus doubly spiritually gifted.

South Asia’s Hjira

And finally, Albania’s Sworn Virgins. Check out this short video from National GeographicGQ article, and full photoessay from Jill Peters.

974x1473xswornvirgin3.jpg.pagespeed.ic.4LnTM7RfNa

Photographer Jill Peters, jillpetersphotography.com

Additionally, here is the trailer for Rachel Morrison’s documentary He/She/He.

We tie in our discussion with Satanism, and LaVey’s statements about transgenderism, which were few, but consistent:

LaVey’s focus in The Satanic Witch is usually directed at straight women, but there are several (smaller and less detailed) references to persons of differing sexual orientations throughout his writings. In his various texts LaVey: denounces notions that transgendered persons are “nuts” and encourages them to seek medical advice on transitioning from amenable psychiatrists (Letters from the Devil 2010, 40); extolls the virtues of healthy transvestism (ibid 1); claims homosexuals are the only truly sexually liberated (The Devil’s Notebook 1992, 99); and allows for masculine women who want sex changes as an act of self-fulfillment (The Satanic Witch 2003, 38).

[From Holt 2013, “Blood, Sweat, and Urine:The Scent of Feminine Fluids in Anton LaVey’s The Satanic Witch,” International Journal for the Study of New Religions 4.2: 191, footnote 9.]

Episode 11 can be heard as a stand-alone segment here, or listen to the entire episode here.

Magistra Ygraine—Confessions of a Wicked Witch

Magistra Ygraine over at Radio Free Satan has a new episode of Confessions of a Wicked Witch in which she discusses the Church of Satan 50th year Conclave:

The Wicked Witch talks about the recent secret Church of Satan conclave for Year 50.  How come these thrilling Satanic events aren’t held more often?  Well, Magister Bill M. makes a guest commentary to explain why.  Magistra Ygraine’s daughter Satania joins the show for discussions about the conclave, Satanic parenting, the continuing college saga, answering emails, the conclave salons, and more.

Have a listen—it’s well worth it!

http://www.radiofreesatan.com/?powerpress_embed=8182-podcast&powerpress_player=mediaelement-audio

Episode 10: Alien Cults and UFO Religions

This is a fun one! In this month’s segment, we discuss Alien Cults and UFO Religions, and their relationship between science, religion, and popular culture. Ufology religions tend to co-opt popular scientific language and ideas and “religionize” them, echoing and incorporating the popular preoccupation with alien abductions, sightings, and conspiracy theories. We focus on two main alien religions, Scientology and Heaven’s Gate (whose website was mirrored and is still viewable), by tying in their particular religious claims with the enveloping social discourse on science.

As always, you can listen to the stand-alone segment here, or the entire 9sense Podcast in which I co-host.

The two main sources for this episode are listed below, with relevant excerpts.

Scientology

Brief excerpt from Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis:

One of the interesting aspects of the Church is how certain elements of the popular culture of the 1950s were preserved within the Scientology subculture.[…] A more subtle, but far more significant, mid-century theme preserved in the time capsule of the Church’s subculture is reflected in its name. Prior to the blossoming of cold war nuclear concerns and the emergence of the ecology movement’s critique of runaway technology, the general populace accorded science and science’s child, technology, a level of respect and prestige enjoyed by few other social institutions. Science was viewed quasi-religiously, as an objective arbiter of “Truth.”; Thus any religion claiming to be scientific drew on the prestige and perceived legitimacy of natural science. Religions such as Chris- tian Science, Science of Mind, and Scientology claim just that. There are, however, a number of differences between popular notions of science and science proper. Average citizens’ views of science are signifi cantly infl uenced by their experience of technology. Hence, in most people’s minds, an important goal of science appears to be the solution of practical problems. This aspect of our cultural view of science shaped the various religious sects that incorporated “science” into their names. In sharp contrast to traditional religions, which emphasize salvation in the afterlife, the emphasis in these religions is on the improvement of this life. Groups in the Metaphysical (Christian Science; New Thought) tradition, for example, usually claim to have discovered spiritual “laws”; that, if properly understood and applied, would transform and improve the lives of ordinary individuals, much as technology has transformed society.

[…]

The Church of Scientology is in this same lineage, though Scientology takes the further step of explicitly referring to their religio-therapeutic practices as religious technology; in Scientology lingo, the “tech.” In much the same way as the 1950s viewed technology as ushering in a new, utopian world, Scientology sees their psycho-spiritual technology as supplying the missing ingredient in existing technologies—namely, the therapeutic engineering of the human psyche.

Prophets and Protons

Brief excerpt from Benjamin E. Zeller’s, Prophets and Protons: New Religious Movements and Science in Late Twentieth-Century America:

“Our message is not now, nor has it ever been, religious or spiritual,” declared the individual calling herself Anlody, a few months before the mass suicide.[2] The message was not religious, Anlody insisted, although her own statement containing those words also discussed the human soul, the “Chief of Chiefs,” Lucifer, the Tree of Life, and eternal salvation. In the mind of Anlody and her fellow members of Heaven’s Gate, the eternal fate of her soul did not qualify as a religious or spiritual concern. In a parallel development, Anlody’s compatriot and leader, who called himself Do (pronounced “doe”) declared of his movement, “[t]his is as scientific—this is as true as true could be.”[3] Yet, the “scientific truth” that Do discussed in the video in which those words appeared included extrasensory perception, spirits, biblical prophecy, extraterrestrials, and the nature of Jesus’ resurrection. Such is the irony of a group that fits most scholars’ assumptions about a religion, but itself demonstrated only a tepid ambivalence toward the category of religion.[4]

Within Heaven’s Gate, science and religion coexisted as unequal binary opposites. Science, the movement’s members insisted, represented truth, rationalism, reasonability, and the reliance on evidence. Religion, by contrast, possessed falsehood, emotionalism, no sensibility, and reliance on faith. The former category surpassed the latter in every regard, they argued, and therefore the adherents of Heaven’s Gate positioned their movement as a science. Yet in term of content, function, and the groups with which it competed, Heaven’s Gate certainly qualified as a religion. For example, their worldview centered on salvation, creation and the Creator, the nature of the soul, and the Bible. The group adapted religious practices from the New Age religious subculture, such as diet regimentation, meditation, and channeling. And in their own words, they reached out to “ministers, evangelists, and [New Age] awareness centers.”[5] The actions of the members of Heaven’s Gate implied that it was a religion, but that they really wanted to be more like a science.

2. Anlody, “Investments,” in HGA, sec. A, 98–100 (originally produced 1996).
3. Heaven’s Gate, “Planet About to Be Recycled—Your Only Chance to Survive—Leave with Us [Edited Transcript],” http://www.heavensgate.com/misc/vt100596.htm (accessed 13 November, 1997 [Defunct]).
4. It is certainly not my intention to enter into the debates over the definition of religion. Certainly scholars differ on how to define the concept, and I wish to note here that according to most definitions with which I am familiar, Heaven’s Gate is a religion.
5. Heaven’s Gate, ’88 Update, in HGA, sec. 3, 2–19 (originally produced 1988).

Original air-date May 24, 2015.

____________________________

Suggested readings:

Palmer, Susan J. Aliens Adored: Rael’s UFO Religion.
Partridge, Christopher. UFO Religions.
Zeller, Benjamin E. Heaven’s Gate: America’s UFO Religion. 

Church of Satan Year 50: Rev. Campbell speaks with the High Priest, Magus Gilmore

Now Available on 9sensePodcast.com and iTunes!

10 May, L A.S.

Church of Satan Year 50 – Reverend Campbell sits down with the High Priest of the Church of Satan, Magus Peter H. Gilmore for a thorough discussion about the Church of Satan’s 50 years. Magus Gilmore details the initial impact of the church, its efforts in disseminating its message, the diversity of its members, the Church of Satan’s past celebrations and what he sees in its future. This is a very special look into the Church of Satan that you will not want to miss.

Notes: The Satanic Bible and The Satanic Scriptures Combined Special Edition: http://www.rabidcrow.com/#!satanic-bible-hardcover/cuka
Music sampled is composed by Magus Gilmore: http://www.churchofsatan.com/music-peter-h-gilmore.php

Walpurgisnacht Essay: In-n-Out Satanists

The weekend of Walpurgisnacht 2015 marked the beginning of the 50th year of the founding of the Church of Satan in 1966 C.E. (Year 1, Anno Satanas).[1] To commemorate the event, a conclave was held in a secret location somewhere in the United States, and I was in attendance. The Church of Satan celebrates itself according to its prime tenet: Life is the Great Indulgence: Death the Great Abstinence. What better way to rejoice life than a bacchanalia of food, music, booze, and burlesque?

On this rare occasion of being among Satanists, the topic of whether or not you are “out of the broom closet” came up over the course of the long weekend in multiple conversations. Risks and benefits, safety and precautions, and family and career, are all weighed and judged in order for each Satanist to make that informed choice. In this technological age, having that information public is not something to be taken lightly. Beyond the potential professional implications, there are always unstable individuals who would do you or your loved-ones harm for being a Satanist. This is not hyperbole.

By and large, most members are not openly affiliated. It is a mistake to assume that because a handful of members divulge their Satanic identities online that it is indicative of the body of the Church of Satan as a whole. The administrative authorities do not release their numbers. Even active members of the Church of Satan would not know the entirety of its membership beyond their limited first-hand experience. There are members who never attend events, rarely socialize with other members, do not hint or imply their religion in any social media platform, and even keep their membership hidden from other members until trust is established, and even then. For some members, the repercussions would be too great.

As for myself, my membership in the Church of Satan is an open secret. I do not divulge it publicly, but my family and close friends are aware, as are my supervisors, and the faculty of my department. If a student of mine were to ask me directly I would simply state that I keep my religion personal. Because I teach on topics ranging a wide spectrum of religious practice and theory, I want my students to focus on the ideas and themes of the course, not my personal religion.

I am not so foolish as to assume that students have not heard rumours (as unreliable as those are) but I take a small pleasure in knowing that if a student took my class thinking it would be an easy A because I am “alternative” that they will be quickly disillusioned. I am as quick to address the anti-religious bias, as I am the religious bias. Painting any religion as one big Truth is as equal to painting them all as one big Lie. True scholarship lies in being uncomfortable, in considering viewpoints drastically different from our own. The challenge is to be critical without criticizing, to analyze without witnessing. In a Western context, challenging Christian paradigms embedded in our legal, academic, and social institutions is not the same thing as disparaging Christianity itself. I never ask my students to agree with the religions we discuss (and some of them are gloriously bizarre). I do ask them to consider the entirety of the poli-socio-historical context. True objectivity does not exist, but a keen critical eye certainly does.

I mention my professional stance because it relates to my membership in the Church of Satan: anyone considering being open about their Satanic religion must demonstrate their integrity by their actions. Over the past decade I have volunteered at events, sat on committees, organized conferences, supported student initiatives, and became involved with various projects (that is in addition to maintaining my grades, teaching to the best of my ability, and pursuing my research). The supplementary effort was not an afterthought, but a calculated strategy to demonstrate that I am dependable, hard working, resourceful, and trustworthy. Non-Satanic readers may, possibly, read this admission and consider it manipulative on my part, a ruse to deceive those that placed their trust in me. On the contrary, I have done these things without shame or duplicity. I consider it an act of mutual support with a department and faculty and that has encouraged me and my fringe research, and allowed the pursuit an often-overlooked area of scholarship. I take pride in the time I invested in my department because it is an investment in my own reputation. Everybody gains. The kids call that a win-win. If someone’s negative feelings about Satanism outweigh a decade of consistent contribution and accomplishment, that is their failing, not mine.

If I have any advice for those anywhere along the spectrum of being out or not, it is to be proactive. Do not wait for someone else to gain control over this potentially dangerous bit of information. Anticipate as best you can, then act accordingly. That is Satanism in action.

[1] The Satanic calendar marks the beginning of the year as January 1st. The years are marked at the beginning (1966 C.E. is year 1 A.S.; 2015 is year 50, etc.) of a year, not the culmination. However, the Church of Satan was founded on April 30th in 1966, which LaVey named Year 1, Anno Satanas. Hence, while January 1st is the date of the new year, April 30th is the date the founding of the CoS is commemorated.