This is probably going to be a longish post. You don’t have to read it all at once; you don’t have to read it at all if you don’t want!
Due to the lockdown and the interruption to my university course, I have had more time to write in my blog during the last few months than ever before. But as the days and weeks stretched on, without any meaningful end in sight I found I had nothing to say. To be honest, what I have realised now is that I was sinking into confusion and even depression. So I need to say something about that first.
The Corona-crisis has had a bad effect on many people’s mental health. Mine too. Nothing too serious, but yes, I was affected negatively. I lost focus. I felt quite desperate. I felt I had lost my way and life had lost it’s meaning. I felt lonely despite being with the most caring family in the world. I become lazy. Worried. Unhappy. Anxious. I even felt something I have never really felt before; guilt. I felt guilty because I am an extremely privileged person in a relatively safe environment and so I had no right to feel worried or unhappy. I felt guilty because the things I missed the most were the hedonistic pleasures I had enjoyed during the year before the virus and it seemed wrong to mourn the passing of things that would seem trivial, frivolous and decadent to most people. I have, in effect; two, perhaps even three homes in Vienna, Zurich and Berlin, no financial worries and good health so I felt guilty for feeling sad and depressed when I know for sure there are millions of people in much, much worse situations than me. Mine were first world problems to be sure. I felt I had no right to be depressed, and that made me more depressed. Slowly, without even noticing it at first, I began to withdraw more and more into my comfortable little room at my mother’s house. Doing nothing.
Satanism became an abstract idea. Something I had been interested in. Something that had been a part of me but which seemed out of place in the new, post covid, reality.
What I needed was, as Mother Cassie put it, “A kick up the arse!” Well, that came partly through Cassie herself and most of all from my biological mother Sophie who seemed to stay more centred than the rest of us all through the lockdown. I won’t go into all the details but it ended up with me looking freshly at what Satanism is about and with Sophie putting me on a train to Berlin and telling me to “Go fuck your girlfriend and whoever else you want instead of fucking up your life!”
Before going on to the next part I want to say something more about depression. My case was not that serious and my solution seems to work for me but I am not sure it would be helpful to all people. Coronavirus has forced us all to change our lives radically, to spend a lot more time isolated from friends and family, to find other things to do outside our normal work or studies. For some it means being trapped with people they don’t want to be with, such as abusive partners, for some it means unemployment and poverty. And around all of this and the many other changes we are adapting to there is the fear of the virus itself and what it could do to us or our loved ones. We are all vulnerable to anxiety, depression and mental health problems at this time and we need to be considerate of that and look out for each other. I think more people might have problems with their mental well-being during this crisis than the number of people who are infected by Covid itself. Let’s be nice to each other.
For me the answer was in Satanism. In going back to the basics and in being honest about who and what I am. For the past few months I had been caught in the trap of being sensible, intelligent and scientific. All very good things, and very Satanic; but there is more to Satanism than that. There is a balance to be had. It is just as bad to be hung up on one side of the balance as it is on the other. All darkness and no light isn’t healthy but nor is all light and no dark. In my case after a year of fairly unrestained sex, drugs and partying there followed a strict lockdown in which I obayed all the rules but allowed myself no fun at all. All I did was focus on depressing scientific facts about the virus that was destroying the life I had before, and trying to be excessively sensible in order not to catch or pass on the virus.
I am something between a Theistic Satanist and a modern, atheistic Satanist. A strange combination, but that is how I am! I tend to refer back to LaVey’s simple statements as a starting point for my beliefs. The first statement says “Satan represents indulgence rather than abstinence.” Pair that with the 8th statement which says “Satan represents all the so called sins as they lead to physical, mental or emotional gratification.” In short, Satanisnts are hedonists because we recognise hedonism as a path to personal growth and fulfillment in terms of knowledge and pure good health. I believe that. I need the hedonistic side to be complete and balanced. It doesn’t mean it is “only” about hedonism, but it does mean that as a Satanist I recognise the benefits of those parts of life and am not ashamed of it. The question of course is how to enjoy those aspects of life and live as fully as possible in the context of a global virus that attacks us at exactly those points where we socially and physically interact with each other? The simple answer is, “carefully”. However the answer is certainly not to ignore those aspects of life completely.
The first “sin” that LaVey mentions is “Stupidity.” Lavey warns in particular about the stupidity of herd mentality and the danger of following the media blindly. In the context of Coronavirus I believe this means questioning a lot of what we are told and going back to the science as much as possible. I don’t go for conspiricy theories. I am not an anti-vaxer. I do believe we have to take extra care with hygiene, reduce social interractions to some degree, keep a social distance in public places, wear a face covering when necessary, observe lockdowns when there is a big outbreak in our area, subscribe to track and trace programmes and self isolate and get tested if there is any sign we might have caught it. We also have to support all genuine scientific research into a vaccine or other treatments, but call out any idiotic cures or theories we see going around. But within these restrictions we as Satanists (and I would argue ALL PEOPLE) should find ways to continue living as fully as possible and not allow ourselves to succumb to the feeling that meaningful life is over. We might be in this situation for a while, a long while possibly, and during that time we have to LIVE. So rather than be stupid, we have to be intelligently creative.
Another “sin” that LaVey mentions is “lack of perspective”. I think Anton Lavey was mainly concerned here about other Satanists doubting themselves because their beliefs and choices were so far outside the norm. While my liking and respect for science and sensibility are probably understood and accepted by a lot of people who don’t share my religious/spiritual views; my hedonistic desires are probably less commonly respected. It is safer for me to be open about my worries and my understanding of how science guides us in dealing with covid-19, than for me to say having fun is still equally important to me. Satanism encourages us to be ourselves confidently, knowing we won’t always fit in, and that others will not always understand, agree with, or accept us. We are what we are.
Of course the most important thing is balance. I had begun to forget where my centre of balance is and become consumed by intellectual fears and worries. Everybody’s centre of balance is somewhere different. Most people’s place of balance will not be in Satanism but mine is. Finding that centre of balance is not always easy (if it was, far fewer people would be fucked up so often). I would urge people to try and find their centre of balance and think about what that phrase means. For me it has a lot to do with being grounded. The thing that those of us who choose a left hand path understand is that for some individuals the “centre” might not be where the majority in society suppose it should be. But whether your centre of balance lies in Christianity or Origami, I think you will feel better once you find it.
Fast forward a few days and here I am in Berlin. So far my girlfriend and I have found enough enjoyable debauchery with each other that we haven’t needed to venture further afield yet; but we probably will at some point. We are wicked women (in many people’s eyes) but understanding and accepting who and what we are, keeps us sane. She has been closer to the virus than many. She is a nurse and has been working with Covid patients under many layers of uncomfortable protective equipment for the last few months. (This was one of the things that forced us to keep apart for a while even after the lockdown restrictions had been relaxed). Probably many of the people whose lives she helped save would disapprove of her lifestyle if they knew.
Berlin is Berlin! In some parts of the city there is hardly any sign that Coronavirus happened. In other parts the ongoing restrictions and basic precautions like wearing facemasks are more obvious. The club scene in which she and I first met and got together is all but dead at the moment. There are some livestream internet events and some illegal parties (which we wouldn’t attend) but the hot, dark and smoky club scene we used to be part of, is in hibernation. It is sad. But other life goes on and we will find our own ways to recreate the pleasures we enjoyed and help bring more aspects of the old life back again. And in between debauchery I am preparing myself for a return to university in Vienna after the summer. Even university will be changed with much more work online and my year abroad on an internship has been postponed indefinitely…
But we have to cope with these things. On the depressing side, I have accepted coronavirus as a fact of life for the time being. People who think it is nearly over are dreaming. The reality might be that we are still closer to the start of this thing than the end of it. There will be further infection spikes. There might be more long term lockdowns. Travel might be frequently interrupted.Long term plans mean nothing at the moment. Sadly, more people are going to die. None of us are immune (so it seems so far) so we have to be careful. It will be a challenge, maybe it is the biggest challenge of our generation.
The challenge is not just to stay alive and exist through the next months and years (although that might be challenging enough for some) but to actually LIVE our lives and our truths. In any case that’s what this Satanic woman is going to try and do.