It is 2013 and I am 15 years old, a staunch atheist, and fascinated by people. I want to know what makes them behave the way they do, what makes groups so important to people, and I want to know why people think Satan is so bad. I had asked what it was he did wrong to be thrown out of heaven in my Catechism classes, but I hadn’t really been given a solid answer and the instructor was a little wary of me from that point on. I had been given an open ended research project in my honors English course, and these interested culminated in my choice of topic. My original topic was “Devil Worshippers, Cults, and the Motivations to Become Part of These Categories.”
I first spent time researching specific and famous cults, trying to find a common thread between them that would support one of the various definitions I had found. When that failed to bring me the specificity needed for the research paper and subsequent speech that was assigned, I moved to Devil worship and it’s common characteristics. I wanted to know specifically what these people believed, why they worshiped a being they believed was doomed to failure, and how prevalent such beliefs are in Western culture. Understandably I initially googled “tenets of Satanism,” which brought me first to this About.com article. After reading that article, I followed links to the 9 Satanic Sins, The 11 Satanic Rules of the Earth, and the 9 Satanic Statements. My initial reaction to all of this was that whoever this LaVey guy was, he gets it. I had never really thought about the character of Satan as symbolic, but even that made sense. I thought “Could I be a Satanist?”
This thought came with a high degree of reluctance for me. I told myself it was unfair to think of myself as a Satanist until I read the Satanic Bible, and changed the topic of my research to be entirely on what Satanism actually was insomuch as I understood it at the time. But, being 15 and penniless, I decided to ask my Catholic mother to buy me the Satanic Bible. Under the banner of schoolwork, I promised to pay her back when I got my next summer job. She declined my money and bought it for me. Upon it’s arrival, she asked if it was just for schoolwork, and I answered honestly, telling her that I was actually interested in it personally. As one could imagine, the response was not overwhelming support, and that conversation lead to the compromise that I could choose what to be open about religiously when I turned 18 and 3 years of a very large elephant in the room. But, I was still allowed to keep and read The Satanic Bible.
I finished it in a few hours. The whole philosophy had a profound impact on me, as I continuously found myself saying “yes, exactly” as I read my own thoughts laid out better than I could have articulated at the time. Despite this, I still did not feel ready to say “I am a Satanist.” I had never really thought to do rituals, and the thought really struck me as odd. Why would I need ritual? So I resolved to try it. I had little money, but I did scrape up enough to buy a Sigil of Baphomet necklace and a candle. That is all the ritual in the Satanic Youth Communique required and that is what I did. Doing that ritual made me realize that I was missing a connection to a deep well of emotion, and missing a release. It was at that moment I self identified. The rest, as they say, is history.