Sadie Satanas is a sitting member of the Satanic Temple National Council, and she had a lovely winter solstice, thank you for asking. She spent it celebrating with her mother (who was born on the solstice), her partner, and her cat named Saffron.
For her, Christmas is a bit too closely tied to spiritual religions to observe, but she notes that lots of Satanists celebrate just the same, and that's okay. "Celebrating the holidays in a Satanic fashion is to respect the beliefs and customs of all those who would celebrate them peacefully, and without infringing on the rights of others."
The former chapter head of her division in Santa Cruz, the lifelong satanist was recently promoted to her national position to manage inner chapter relationships, overseeing all branches of The Satanic Temple and making sure that everything is up to code. Fuck what Sabrina told you, The Satanic Temple is not about blood spells and all-consuming fire. In fact, the primary belief of Satanism is benevolence and empathy toward all people, which is the backing to many philanthropic platforms headed by the Satanic Temple. "Our chapters do a lot of altruistic work -- we have people that have adopted highways and beaches, people that do drives for menstrual products," said Satanas.
She recently gave a speech in Little Rock, Arkansas, to a crowd of 200 protesters, supporters, and counter-protesters. Activism is central to the Satanic community, as mandated by their second fundamental tenet: "The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions." Members of The Satanic Temple were in Arkansas specifically to rally against organizing members of the Klu Klux Klan, who were in attendance. Satanas stood majestically in front of a newly unveiled statue of the goat-headed occult figure Baphomet to talk about her experience as a trans person in the Satanic Temple.
"Although other spiritual religions may condemn people for being LGBTQ, the Satanic Temple celebrates them and venerates them," Satanas told Out. As a trans woman, she found acceptance in the Satanic community with ease, as mandated by the third tenet: "One's body is inviolable, subject to one's own will alone."
"We see people who are living their authentic identities, they're living their true selves and manifesting their individual will, and to us that's noble."
Though she doesn't really do the whole present thing, she is asking for one thing from Santa Clause this year: "The separation of church and state." In a conversation with Out, she clarifies a handful of misconceptions around the Satanic community, and shows us how Satanism might be one of the kindest, most compassionate religious organizations out there.
Out: So, how do Satanists spend the holidays?
Satanas: [sighs] Satanism is a nontheistic religious organization. To me, the beauty of celebrating the holidays in a nontheistic manner is that you're free to celebrate them however you wish. Some Satanists don't celebrate the holidays, as they might see it too closely tied to other religious expressions they want to distance themselves from. Other Satanists do celebrate and don't see it as synonymous with spirituality.
Winter holidays harken back to pre-Christian traditions and winter solstice marks the time when there are the fewest hours of the sun. After that, the days start to grow longer and we celebrate the return of the sun. It's my opinion that the solar cycles require no accompanying mythology to understand and that spiritual religions do not have a monopoly on celebrating them. Holidays at their core are about cycles and change and foraging our own traditions around them.
It's kinda like how some Jewish people see Christmas. Some people don't practice, some don't care, some shrug and do the present thing.
And many Satanists are Jewish, and don't feel that the two are incompatible.
Many Jews are nontheistic, and many Satanists are nontheistic. I'm not saying that the two are in alignment with each other, I'm saying that many people find them compatible.
How did you come to find the Satanic Temple?
I discovered The Satanic Temple when I was 14 and starting my transition around the same time. It took me a few years to really get involved because I wasn't comfortable in my skin enough to participate, and became more actively involved in 2016.
So, in a way, you coming into the Satanic Temple was in tandem with your discovery of yourself.
Absolutely. There are parallels between being queer and being Satanic. Often both Satanists and LGBTQ folks have to come out to their friends and family. Often we know what it's like to be ostracized for religions, and sexual and gender identities, so queer Satanists know what it's like to be rejected for all these things. There's a natural fit in the Satanic Temple for LGBTQ folks because they find acceptance here that they might not find in other religious movements. They find in the Satanic Temple that they're not only accepted, but celebrated. That, to me, was a no-brainer.
What are some big misconceptions about the Satanic community?
There has been a narrative for decades about the Satanic community that has been reported in the media and is full of misconceptions. People think that we are evil or sacrifice babies, or that we do magical rituals, but there's none of that. The Satanic Temple is a nontheistic organization. We do engage in ritual, but we're out here doing altruistic activities any other religions are or should be doing. Of our core tenets and beliefs, the first one itself is "Compassion and empathy for all living creatures within accordance with reason." So I think if people would create their conceptions on our actions rather than the misconceptions that they've heard, they would see that we're a lot different than we are made out to be.
There's a common misconception that we are simply trolls. This is patently false. We are a valid religious organization with core tenets, community, practices, and beliefs. I think it's unfair to call a Satanic organization, who does so many altruistic activities, trolls!
I think a lot of people also feel like Satanists are always trying to "recruit," which might be another misconception.
Well, yes Satanism is a coming-home religion. We don't proselytize and we don't recruit. We may host an event to raise awareness about what we are doing, but we don't actively seek membership, unlike many spiritual faiths. We wait for people to find us, and if they do, we accept them -- unless they're an asshole or an abuser or something like that. But we don't recruit! We wait for people to come to us. Also, if we went into some communities proselytizing, we could be seen as colonizers, and I have no desire to be seen as that.
I'm curious if there's any element of Satanism that is self-care to you?
I think Satanism in general is self-care to me. Being queer and a Satanist, I find that I am not welcome in some portions of community. Engaging in a Satanic community where I'm accepted for who I am unconditionally is a form of self-care. It's allowed me to heal myself and accept myself because I have a family that embraces me and supported my transition.
So, you are both a Satanist and a vegan. Do you get a lot of "Hail Seitan" jokes?
Yes, and I make them! To me being a vegan is compatible with Satanism because our first tenet is compassion and empathy, but it's also within accordance of reason.
What are your thoughts on the new Sabrina the Teenage Witch series?
[sighs shadily] I haven't watched it. That's all I can say.
Have you been following the story about its statue of Baphomet violated a copyright infringement?
As a member of the Satanic Temple, I've obviously been watching the story - I have not been involved in the litigation in any manner. My involvement with the Baphomet statue is that I spoke at the Arkansas rally when they took the Baphomet to the capital and gave a speech about being a queer Satanist.
Celine Dion recently came under fire by exorcists. She was creating a genderless clothing line for babies and was regarded as perpetuating Satanist propaganda. Do you have thoughts on this?
I don't think it was her intention to propagate Satanism, however, I do think her ideas about gender identity align with our core Satanic values. Most Satanists recognize that gender is nonbinary. Actually, I don't know anyone in Satanic Temple that isn't in support of that. Smashing long-held spiritual traditions that seem to limit things to a binary is inherently Satanic.
But we still like Celine Dion though, right?
Absolutely. I think it's great what she did. I was overwhelmed by it because that was a big deal for me. Any kind of pushback against the theocracy in support of gender identity is a big part of my life because I recieve discrimination from it daily.
Are you asking for anything for winter solstice?
I don't want anything, but my spouse loves buying presents. Personally that's not a tradition I'm invested in. The winter holidays can be a hard time for queer people and satanists. I'm just glad that I have a family to spend it with. For the same reason that queer folks often feel isolated at Christmas. Queer folks and Satanists often both know what it feels like to be rejected for their identities in order to be called sinners and be labeled enemies of the family. We both know what it's like to be denied our civil rights or what it's like to be disowned or to be welcomed home for the holidays.
Do you have any resolutions?
Satan harder. There are a lot of big things coming up with the Satanic Temple in 2019 and there's a lot of work ahead of us.