Below is an English translation by Reverend AEnigma of the Dutch language article. It should be noted that the journalist took notes, rather than recording the interviews, and thus some concepts seem a bit distorted when translated from their original language due to her interpretation of the subject.
(by Harriët Salm — 7/12/15)
Evil is everywhere. The pilot of your flight can be suicidal, your daughter’s boyfriend a jihadist, the new neighbor a heavy criminal. How do we deal with evil in the world and in ourselves? Reporter Harriet Salm investigates this in a series from many points of view. Today: members of the ‘Church of Satan’ in New Jersey about the beauty of the devil.
SATAN THROWS A PARTY FOR THE BEAST IN MAN
King Seti the First behaves excellently. The boa constrictor owned by Satanist Darren Deicide (38) is free to prowl the room, even when visitors from the Netherlands are present. But the constrictor is quiet around the neck of its master. “You need not worry,” assures Deicide. “He is not venomous and strangles only rats.”
Darren Deicide is one of thousands globally — the church does not give exact figures- who have joined the Church of Satan. Their central administration is established in New York, with High Priest Peter Gilmore and his wife and High Priestess Peggy Nadramia. Nadramia refers us to two church members in New Jersey who are willing to talk about what Evil means for Satanists.
From Jersey City train station, a ten minute walk takes us consecutively along the Great Hall of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Greek Orthodox church, and a little further the Roman Catholic St Joseph parish. America is a religious country. But the Church or Satan does not show itself to the outside world. That could lead to problems with malicious Fundamentalist Christians. We need to ring the bell at a nondescript house.
Deicide — long black coat, gray trousers, white shirt — leads us to a basement. On the coffee table only some sex magazines, a complete box of The Twilight Zone, a handbook for magic. On the wall a mirror framed between two woodcut skeletons. A standard with a pair of black candles. “You are now in the home of a Satanist, so I will offer you something strong to drink, gin or maybe beer? I brew my own beer with hop from the garden,“ says Deicide, laughing. We stick with water.
One assumption he removes immediately: nowhere is there a church building where members of the Church of Satan meet. "Religion for us is strictly private. A Satanist turns his own home into a church.” So we just ended up in his living room. Deicide is not the name stated on his passport. It is a public pseudonym, he is known under that name as a Satanist and as a blues singer. But he also has a “very normal” job, a second life, where no-one knows about his Satanism. And he would like to keep it that way. “If they know you are a Satanist, colleagues do tend to take a different attitude. Sometimes a better one, but usually a more negative one.”
Aden Ardennes (26), upstairs neighbor, joins the conversation. Glasses, blond, little dragons as earrings. He constantly takes a puff from his electronic cigarette, and his hair is still wet from the shower. Ardennes is just waking up. It is six o’clock in the evening. He laughs: “Had a party,
it has become quite late.”
He is also a member of the Church of Satan, and likewise chooses an alias, which he also uses when writing books, mainly about sex, and when organizing sex parties, a main activity outside of work. What kind of work they do in their normal lives, both do not say. Ardennes: “There are people with preconceptions about Satanists, why should we expose ourselves to that?”
And so we arrive at their worldview. Self-sacrifice is nonsense. The highest purpose in life for a Satanist is making it enjoyable for himself. Deicide: “We accept that the universe is utterly indifferent to our existence. And we are proactive in life and put ourselves at the center. ” They do not believe in any deity, not even in Satan, they say, which shatters a second assumption, namely that that Satanists worship the devil. Deicide: “We are atheists. People who say: ‘I have contact with a god, and that god has said that you should do this or that’ — we reject that. In essence, that is indoctrination and brainwashing.”
Yet to them, Satan is a beautiful symbol. It represents pride, freedom and individualism. Ardennes: “Freedom to do what I want. To be myself without apologizing.” Satan also means resistance to conventional religions, which, in their eyes, create a despicable distinction between the body and the soul. Ardennes: "We are all animals, even humans. We eat, sleep and have sex.”
Deicide: “Because of their spiritual capacities, people, in contrast with animals, are able to terribly fool themselves. A human can deny his natural impulses through his reasoning. Homosexuality is a clear example, it has for a long time been viewed as a mental illness. Even today, many religions say: “Kill those desires in yourself, that make you what you are.” Ardennes, himself gay, "People have become apologizers. Look, I have never seen a bonobo apologizing because he masturbates. I do not understand why a person should say “sorry” for that.”
They call themselves moral relativists. “It all depends on who you talk to, whether a particular act is considered to be good or bad” says Deicide. Take for example the attack on the WTC in New York on September 11, 2001. Many Americans will say it was pure evil. But the perpetrators see it as a good deed. Ardennes: “We are all evil. Americans also bomb innocent children in Afghanistan.”
“What happens in the world, is nothing more than a kind of spectacle for me,” says Deicide. ”I sit in my chair and see the human animal at work. I see it more as my own responsibility to keep track of what happens in the world, in order to take timely measures for myself. If, due to terrorist threats, too many safety measures are in effect in my immediate environment, I’ll leave.” Here, also, strictly individual limits apply. Ardennes: “In my eyes, all things that make my life bad, are evil. And all things that make my life enjoyable, are good.”
To combat evil, the Church of Satan has its own method: magic. We stand up and walk to a side chamber with a low ceiling. Inside is not a single window, a large wicker chair, bookshelves and a double bed. Deicide: “This is my ritual chamber. Here I can completely let go, by myself or with company. I really feel like a king here. That chair is my throne.”
To the naked eye there are not very many dark things in this magical cave, some attributes, such as a skull of a deer with a line from The Satanic Bible, excepted. Which he got from a friend. Deicide: "The ritual room should be a place where you can completely shut off the intellectual part of your mind, and you can surrender to what Anton LaVey called a psychodrama. You re-enact, in a dramatic fashion, a desire or an emotion.”
How does it work? “Suppose someone has hurt you, which was unjust, but there is no real way to set it right. It becomes like a malignant tumor in your brain. You always think of that person, and it bothers you. Then, in your ritual chamber, you visualize your revenge. You invent a curse. Something very bad that happens to that person. You visualize this really happens to him. And then you can let it go.” Ardennes laughing: "And sit back and see how that person is going down.” A lot of wild stories circulate about satanic rituals: babies that are butchered on the altar, young virgins sacrificed. “All nonsense”, assure both Satanists.“ Those are unfounded myths.” They get angry over people who accuse Satanists of criminal actions. Those people are not part of their church.
We return to the living room, where King Seti threatens to crawl onto Ardennes’ lap, before going to sleep on the table. He has not eaten anything for two months. This is normal for snakes, says his owner. But he is moving into the “hunt phase.” More and more often he restlessly swings his head from side to side. Soon Deicide will buy him a rat.
How seriously should we take this Church of Satan, which is not a church? Ardennes: "Satanism is all about fun. My goal in life is to enjoy.” Provocation is part of it. And blasphemy. “We love to twist others’ concepts to suit our own purpose. It is part of a show. We are looking for a good party. And if it works with a naked man on an altar, or several, or a young lady, then why not?” Deicide: “Sex with minors is not allowed, this is in our rules. Our philosophy is about more than just having fun.” The philosophy of the Church of Satan encourages him to study and gives him meaning in life.
“Others get that meaning from an external power. If you are a good American consumer, an iPhone 6 or a nice house will give meaning to your life. This meaning, then, comes from the opinion of another, the valuation of a neighbor. We do not want that. We construct our own values, decide what we find good and bad, what we want to do and what not.”
“Many find that strange, disapprove of it. But we really do not care at all what society thinks. We are outsiders. And we love it. "Ardennes: "Oh yeah.”
King Seti the First does not move as we leave this Church of Satan again.
This is the seventh installment in a series. Previous parts: May 30, 6, 13, 20, June 27, July 4.
SIDEBAR: Satan’s Church
The Church of Satan was founded in 1966 by Anton LaVey (deceased in 1997). LaVey thought that Christianity unfairly heaped all the evil in the world on the devil, while it really was Christianity that was the root of much misery. Hence he invented the Church of Satan. The individual is central to his teachings, and that each individual has as his purpose to make life for himself as pleasant as possible.
Satanists have eleven life rules, such as: If you are moving about in public, do not disturb anyone; If someone bothers you, ask him to stop; If he does not stop, destroy him. There are also nine “rules of Satan”, such as: “Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek." According High Priestess Peggy Nadramia, the church has "thousands of members” all over the world, precise figures she does not give out. There are also members in the Netherlands, according to her. An e-mail with questions to a Dutch Satan Church website remains unanswered. (Note: that site is not affiliated with the Church of Satan) For $200 adults may register at the headquarters in New York, with High Priest Peter Gilmore and his wife Nadramia. There are no administrative divisions in other countries, everything is managed centrally.
Criminologist Tjalling Anne Beetstra received his doctorate in 2009 on research into the Church of Satan. It is not a church, he says: a Dutch judge has ruled in the early nineties that it is not a church community, and therefore cannot receive tax advantages. Beetstra prefers to think of it as a cult, a subculture. "A product of the sixties, a combination of sex and magic that appealed to many people at that time. It is about redefining the boundaries of sexual behavior and reacting against Christianity. Pretty innocent, mind you, it is all about “long live the fun. In the 90’s a group from Amsterdam got in touch with the headquarters in the US. They meet in small groups in people’s homes. I think they still do. I estimate this concerns about a few dozen people.”
“It has never been proven in Netherlands that children were victims of Satanic rituals or other criminal affairs in the name of this church. Also in the US no evidence of serious abuse by the Church of Satan was delivered” says Beetstra.
CAPTION UNDER MR. DEICIDE’S PHOTO:
Darren Deicide, Satanist since 2008: “The Satanic Bible says: ‘Satanists are born and not made.’ So there is no question of conversion, but rather an acknowledgement of what is already there. For me, that is very liberating’’
CAPTION UNDER MR. ARDENNES’ PHOTO:
Aden Ardennes, Satanist since one year: “It also has to do with my homosexuality. Satanism is the first religion that fully accepts people like me.”