I’m beginning to think that the Canadian government doesn’t like me.
In April of this year, I ventured north to spend Walpurgisnacht with my friends Robert Lang and Diana DeMagis, publishers of THE BLACK PUN-KIN. I carried with me several issues of SINISTER #1* to give to them, and a few others I knew I was going to see, as well as a set of Sigils I created that were associated with a project that Robert and I have in mind.
Upon my arrival in Ottawa I went to customs, just like everyone else on the plane. Unlike everyone else, I was singled out for increased scrutiny. I suspect that it was because of my appearance. I was attired in my usual manner, wearing a black suit, black fedora, a red dress shirt, and my Baphomet lapel pin and ring. Perhaps my stature had some bearing on the matter as I’m about six and half feet tall and am not particularly willowy—it has been commented that I look like I could have a career in professional wrestling. Maybe they were alarmed at my stylish black travel case—did it appear to them that it could contain something nefarious? Most of the other passengers looked, as one would expect, like utter slobs. Clearly, I must have appeared to be some kind of outsider. The customs officer searched through my property and discovered the copies of SINISTER and began flipping through one. As he scanned the article Satan Rides The Range he said. “Looks pretty violent. What’s all this about revenge?”
I answered that revenge was a basic theme of the Western, which was what the article was about.
“You are for revenge?” the officious prick asked.
I answered that Satanism was not just revenge, but we did not believe in turning the other cheek.
“So this is a religion?”
Yes, I answered, the Church of Satan was established 34 years ago. It is an international organization with members all over the world, even Canada.
“And you believe in revenge?”
I explained again that Satanists did not believe in turning the other cheek, but that we were also very much concerned with pursuing our own self-interest, and very much believers in personal responsibility. I said that Satanism did not promote criminal behavior or violence, and that out of self-interest, Satanists tend to avoid such behavior because of the myriad problems that they bring with them.
“These will have to be held for determination,” he told me. He then picked up the envelope marked “Sigils.” “What are these?” he asked.
I explained that they were abstract symbols which represented ideas in an indirect way. I didn’t really want to get into a discussion of the magical applications of such sigils, and hoped that my explanation would be sufficient. He looked at the sigils. “These will also have to be held,” was the official pronouncement.
Going through another bag he came across a large silver Baphomet medallion that I wear for rituals. “You wear this?”
I said that I did.
“Perhaps,” I said, but explained that I didn’t see how that mattered, since Satanic religious ceremonies do not violate the law.
I was handed a receipt for the confiscated materials and told that I could call in three days to find out what they had determination. Pointing to a door, the customs officer said, “Step through there, please.”
Thinking I was finished, I stepped through the door only to find myself directed into an office. A few minutes later, a woman entered and asked me my name, address, how much money was I carrying, and so on—all the standard stuff. Then she asked “What is your criminal record?” Not, “ Do you have a criminal record?” She just assumed that, as a Satanist, I must be a criminal. I explained to her that I have absolutely no criminal record.
“How did you get the money?” she asked. Now, I was not carrying a huge sum. I had a couple of hundred bucks on me. I explained that I had a job, and that this is how I came to have this rather “princely” sum. I confess, at this point, that my patience was wearing rather thin.
“Where are you staying?”
“With friends,” I told her.
“What’s their phone number?”
I explained that they were almost certainly not home as they were supposed to be meeting me at this airport. I gave them the names and she left the office. A few minutes later I was allowed to leave. In the waiting area outside, I found a very much annoyed Robert Lang, and an outraged Diana DeMagis. I wish I could’ve seen her give “little miss customs” Hell. It sounds like it would have been fun.
Eventually I got my magazines and sigils back, after about two months.
This was not the first brush I’ve had with Canadian customs. On my only other trip to Canada I was detained by customs in Toronto. Fortunately I wasn’t carrying any magazines or sigils on that trip so I only missed a connecting flight to Ottawa.
As no one else on either flight was held up in customs I can only assume that if you are a tall, well-dressed man with a shaven head you are looked upon with suspicion by the Canadian government. I know that many Canadian citizens certainly gawked at me as if I were a sideshow exhibit.
While SINISTER #1 is officially banned in Canada, I, at least for the time being, am not. Maybe next time I’ll go incognito and wear herd clothes and a week’s growth of stubble.