Celebrating a Satanic Thanksgiving

It’s common practice in the United States for families to gather on Thanksgiving and, as part of their dinner ritual, go around the table and name some of the things that they are thankful for in their lives. This isn’t a bad ritual: it is important to spend time appreciating the goodness in one’s life.

I listen to the answers of friends and family as they take turns around the table. Some are thankful for health, some are thankful for material prosperity, still others are thankful for close emotional ties and love between friends and family.

But my heart begins to pound as the turn-taking approaches me, because all I can hear in my mind is a loud voice screaming, “Who, exactly, am I thanking?”

As a Satanist, I don’t believe in God, so I certainly am not thanking it. I also don’t believe in Satan, either, and although it would be funny and mischievous to thank Satan at the family Thanksgiving dinner table, I want to participate in this ritual in solemn good faith.

So what can I say I’m thankful for, and still be honest to my Satanic beliefs?

I am certainly pleased that I have good health, financial stability, and loved ones with whom to share the holidays. But these are not things that were “given” to me, they are things that I worked for or that were put upon me by circumstance and luck, or (in most cases) a combination of both of those things. But whom would I thank?

I am certainly appreciative of the positive aspects of my life. But is that the same as being “thankful”? I’m honestly not sure. I suppose I could cast “thanks” in a more abstract way, and simply state that I am thanking circumstances or “the universe”. But part of me is uncomfortable with that: it seems to deviate from common parlance, and do damage to the way “thanks” is normally understood. Usually you would “thank” a willful agent, a conscious entity. You don’t normally “thank” inanimate things.

To me, it makes no sense to say I’m “thankful” of these things.

Which is fine as philosophy; however, the unstoppable procession of answers that moves around the Thanksgiving table has almost reached me. What do I say?

So I turn the question on its head. Instead of asking, “What am I thankful for?” I ask myself, “Whom should I thank?” Suddenly, the answer becomes much easier.

My turn arrives. “What are you thankful for?”

“I’d like to thank all of you for having me over today,” I say, “And for such amazing food and good company! I’d like to thank my partner and the love of my life for being there for me, encouraging me, and caring about me. I’d like to thank all of the people I work with on a day to day basis, whether at my job or any of the other communities I’m a part of, for helping me to be happy and creative and productive as I strive to reach my goals and make my community a better place. I thank all of you for being part of my life, and contributing to my experiencing a journey in life that is happy and healthy and free.”
I smile. Everyone around the table approves.

And I whisper silently, under my breath, “….hail Satan.”

My religious relationship with the Easter Bunny

I do not worship the Easter Bunny. I want to state that clearly from the very beginning, so that there is no confusion. But I do consider bunnies the most important symbol of Easter,  with specific religious significance for Satanism.

Peeps BunniesThe Bunny represents the triumph of the secular over the mystical. Christians still like to tell themselves that Easter is about some kind of weird deal where God bribes Satan, but let’s get real: in America in the twenty-first century, Easter is a widely-celebrated cultural phenomenon that has almost nothing to do with Jesus. It is about consumerism and candy and spring time.  It is about wearing pastels and showing a little skin after a long winter. It is a celebration of the material world, physical transformations of spring, and indulgence in pleasures. The perfect Satanic holiday, all centered on the glorious Bunny.

And as a Satanist, I enjoy subverting cultural norms an expectations. I enjoy taking symbols with one expected meaning, and turning them around to present them as something else. To get people to question their expectations, and move people out of their comfort zones. So for me, the truly iconic Satanist symbol for Easter is…. the Evil Bunny.

We can find the Evil Bunny in many places in pop culture.

Evil rabbit from Watership Down One of my favorite Evil Bunnies appears in the classic animated not-so-much-for-children movie Watership Down: a story all about rabbits. It features a fearsome “bad guy” rabbit, General Woundwort: battle-scarred, vicious, a military dictator of his warren. He’s basically a rabbit version of Hitler.

Frank, from Donnie DarkoThe movie Donnie Darko features a bunny that is not so much evil as ominous. A mysterious creature that looks like a terrifying half-skull rabbit creature appears to Donnie in a vision and tells him when the universe will end!  The creature, named Frank, imparts strange bits of wisdom to Donnie every time he appears. Is it a creature? Is it a person in a scary bunny suit? How can we know for sure?

Donnie: Why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?
Frank: Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?

And of course, there was a running joke throughout the series Buffy The Vampire Slayer that one of the characters (who was formerly a demon) had a fear of bunnies. She even sings a song about them:

“Bunnies aren’t just cute like everybody supposes. They got them hoppy legs and twitchy little noses, and what’s with all the carrots? What do they need such good eyesight for anyway?”

All of this convinces me that the Easter Bunny–or perhaps a nice evil version of the Easter Bunny–is the perfect Satanic religious symbol for this holiday.

Which movie or television show featuring an Evil Bunny will you watch this Easter?

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!