This is how I reacted to “Have a blessed day”

I was driving in the parking lot of the grocery store looking for a place to park. As I was rolling past a large SUV, I noticed the space beyond it was empty. I almost noticed too late. But I took the tight turn, and pulled into the space. I turned off my car, opened the door, and got out.

“I almost got you there, brother!” came the cheery man’s voice. He had just gotten out of the SUV. “I nearly clipped you with my door!”

“Oh, goodness, I’m sorry…. I didn’t even see you!”  I said, immediately apologetic.

“No, no, it’s fine! I pulled back in time. The Lord was watching over us, so everything turned out ok!”

For a millisecond, my smile was frozen on my face while I tried to decide what to say next.

I went with: “Well, I’m happy for your reflexes! It’s amazing all these little near-misses that happen every day, huh?”

“The Lord is protecting us in ways we don’t even realize!” he suggested.

At this point we were walking side-by-side, both obviously going to the grocery store, so we had no choice but to spend the next 20-30 seconds of our lives together.

“It’s a beautiful day out!” I said.

“It sure is,” he replied, “And it’s supposed to stay that way the rest of the week!”

“Is it? That’s wonderful!” I opined, “And people are saying it will be a mild summer, as well.”

“Lord willing!” was his reply.

We reached the entrance to the store.  He started to walk in, and I paused to pick up a basket. As the distance between us grew, I called out in parting: “Have a great day!”

“Have a blessed day!” he replied with a smile. Again, there was a millisecond pause where I considered how to reply… but then the moment was past, the opportunity was lost. He was gone.

A part of me felt bad, like I had missed a perfect chance! Something simple, like a parting, “Hail Satan!” — spoken with a genuine pleasant smile, of course.

I played out that scenario in my imagination. How would he have reacted? There is no way of knowing for sure. Fear, anger, and attempt to get into a philosophical debate? Who knows. Perhaps he would simply have laughed, thinking it was a joke.

Would he have recognized that I was mirroring his own behavior: offering a pleasant parting remark, in soothing tones and with a smile? Would he have seen my “Hail Satan” as the exact functional equivalent, socially and psychologically, of his “Have a blessed day”, except expressed through the language of a different symbolic system? Would he then have taken the comment in the spirit in which it was intended, and smiled in return?

That is what I did in my response to him. I could have said, “What God?” or elaborated more specifically: “I don’t believe in God.”  But I understood how he meant his remarks, I felt instinctively that he meant me no ill will. So I replied to what I thought his underlying intent was, rather than to his words.

Would he have done the same for me, if I had wished him a parting, “Ave Satanas”?

Oh come on!” the skeptic might reply, “You know darn well how people will react to Hail Satan!  The only reason you could have for saying that is to provoke! Don’t try to pretend your ‘Hail Satan’ would be just as innocent as his ‘have a blessed day’.”

But this is the real root of the issue. Being a Satanist, there is literally no way for me to use a “phrase of blessing” that is true to my own religion without also being aware that it is a confrontational act. If you want to openly be a Satanist in today’s world, you are forced to embrace the aspect of Ba’al. You cannot simply be.

For a Satanist, some acts are simultaneously sincere expressions of deeply-held feelings, and at the same time are also acts of defiance. Like an interracial couple holding hands in public in the 1930’s, saying “hail Satan” is not just one or the other. It is both.

Today, my opportunity was lost. I took the higher road that I never expect others to take. And the man I met has no idea of the path the conversation could have taken. Maybe some day he will feel what it is like to be on the other side of that equation. Maybe some day he will have to pause for a millisecond to think about how he should react, when someone smiles and with a genuine open heart says,

Hail Satan!

My Favorite Satanic Holiday

The idea of a Satanic holiday is almost absurd to me. I say “almost,” because I celebrate a lot of holidays, but in the back of my mind, I am always a little bothered by the meaning of the word itself: holy day. As I reject all that is holy, surely I should reject the idea of a holy day, and yet I recognize the purpose of choosing certain days of the year to celebrate certain occasions.

One does not have to believe in the supernatural to respect the idea that marking certain days special is a way to celebrate the turn of the seasons, the sacrifices of those who have come before us, and the promise of a new year. Holidays are occasions that represent different aspects of life, both joyous and tragic, and reflecting upon their meanings can give us a greater appreciation for ourselves and our place within the grand scheme of existence.

There is one holiday that I cherish above all others, because it is a Satanic holiday, if you will pardon the apparent oxymoron. As I equate Satanism with living a joyous, fulfilling, and purpose-driven life, this particular holiday best captures the essence of those ideals. It is a day of standing tall with a heart that swells with pride in oneself and one’s accomplishments. It is a day of bearing down against the obstacles that stand in one’s path, and declaring, “I shall not be overcome!” It is a day to laugh, to cry, to be vulnerable, to be strong, to experience both joys and heartaches. Most importantly, it is a day to make the most of oneself and one’s circumstances.

My favorite Satanic holiday is called Today.

How will you spend your Today? Will you be a victim, or will you be victorious? Will you establish a new connection with others, or deepen an existing relationship? Will you create something that will last beyond this day, or beyond all of your days? Will you allow fear to prevent you from new experiences, or will you indulge, with all of your heart and mind, in all of the pleasures that Today has in store for you?

I challenge you to celebrate Today with all of your being, no matter what happens. Don’t squander this most precious of holidays. Do that which will bring you in greater alignment with your values and your goals, and remove every unnecessary or harmful element from your path. For this Today may be the only one you have left, so spend it wisely, but courageously. Go forth with strength and grace.

Hail Today! Hail Satan!

The Narrative of Ba’al

“When you open your eyes, and look around you, you see you are not the only one cast out of society. With the light of reason no longer obscured by a mass collective of the docile and credulous, you can see the arbitrary social conventions, norms, and roles, for the irrational, detrimental things that they are.” —Narratives 2(Ba’al): 23-24

The Narrative of Ba’al is the second chapter in The Satanic Narratives: A modern Satanic Bible, and introduces the aspect of Ba’al: representing perseverance in the face of opposition.

Many people ask Satanists: “Why not just say you are atheists? Doesn’t it just hurt you to take on the mantle of such a maligned label?”

But a Satanist embraces outsider status. Satanists know that it makes life harder when you are quirky, a rebel, an outcast, a “weirdo”, a freak… but the benefits of individuality outweigh the costs. When you accept looks of judgment from others as a compliment rather than an embarrassment, you embrace that aspect of Ba’al.

The Reset Button

The second Core Value of the UAoS is “Perseverance in the face of opposition,” which comes from the Narrative of Ba’al. While we as Satanists face opposition from a predominantly Judeo-Christian religious society, at least in the Western world, we share an enemy with many of our detractors: the daily grind. In fact, the daily grind is probably the bigger enemy for most. Unless you are among the financially elite, there is probably a good chance that you work for a living. Whether you have a boss or are your own boss (which means all of your customers are your bosses), you probably owe something to a banking institution or maybe just need to eat every once in a while.

Some of you may be fortunate enough to do whatever the hell you want to do whenever you want to do it, but statistically this is not the case. You’ve got to be responsible, roll up your sleeves, and go about providing a needed good or service for society.

And that can be mentally and physically exhausting.

Even doing work that you love can be taxing on your mind and body. There was a time when nothing could provide greater joy to me than performing theater, but after each performance I barely had the energy to walk and talk. Then I became so accustomed to the run of a show that, once the show was over, I didn’t know what to do with all of my excess energy. I was practically bouncing off the walls.

I recommend that you find a way to rejuvenate yourself, to hit the reset button after the great, gray beast of everyday life has mauled you for showing up to the office.

The secret, I believe, to perseverance has more to do with healthfully maintaining your energy levels than tensing up to bare down on every challenge that you face. I’m not going to tell you how to do that, because that’s something you have to figure out on your own, but I do suggest that you think in terms of looking for ways to constantly hit the reset button when taking on a challenge.

Hail perseverance! Hail Satan!