I grew up in Farmington, New Mexico. It’s a little oil and natural gas town in northwestern New Mexico. Not a bad place to grow up, all things considered. Crime was pretty low, the education was surprisingly good, and there were lots of great mountain bike trails.
In the 1980s, though, the town was in the grip of terror. An unholy invader had desecrated the innocence of a town that had undergone race riots not that long ago. Actually, when you get right down to it, that invader was running roughshod over all that was fine and good in the United States. It was an insidious deceiver, sneaking around on Ninja feet and taking the souls of decent folk when they least expected it. Ninjas were still cool, though, as Ninjas always have been and always will be.
If you were around in the 80s you probably remember the hysteria around Satanism. If you were in Farmington, the threat was very real. Or so we were told.
Whoops. Sorry. This is the right one.
That, by the way, is the Sigil of Baphomet, one of the main symbols of the Church of Satan.
Anyway, it was during the 80s when people were seeing Satanists everywhere. There was a huge amount of propaganda running around detailing all the various ways one could inadvertently turn to Satanism. For a full list of all the things that can send you to Hell just look for the guy at any given protest wearing a tin foil hat and carrying a large sign. He’ll be more than happy to tell you, in intricate detail, all the things you’re doing wrong.
Damn those Rosicrucians anyway. I always knew they were up to no good.
Maybe it would be easier to detail all the things that won’t send you Hell.
1) Going to church all the time. As long as it’s the right one.
So, the country was going to Hell in a hand basket and it was all the fault of those dirty Satan worshipers. The Highway to Hell was not only a kick ass album, but wide and fast and had easy access on-ramps. People were so paranoid they started looking for Satanic messages everywhere. Remember back masked messages? The idea that bands put prayers to Satan in their music that you could only hear if you played the album backwards? (NOTE: this is tricky with an MP3) This is the decade where people decided The Eagles’ “Hotel California” was about Satanism. Actually, any music was probably about Satan. At the time, I was listening to the greatest rock band in the world.
You can tell, just by looking at that picture that those guys were totally Satanists, right? I mean it’s obvious and there’s certainly no way Dickinson, Harris, and crew were just tapping into some imagery to help them sell albums.
During this time in Farmington history all of us in high school were called into the auditorium and told, in no uncertain terms, that no T-shirts with anything that could be misconstrued as Satanic would be allowed on campus. This included everything that was not Christian. Naturally, the Navajo population was apoplectic because their imagery wasn’t Christian. It didn’t really matter since the Baptist church ran the town with an iron fist and was not about to cede any control of hearts and minds. Remember, when I was in high school we couldn’t wear shorts to school because shorts were immoral.
Whatevs. I was rocking out and didn’t really care what else was going on. Which is probably why I graduated by the skin of my teeth. Deciding to get away I went to that Mecca of open-mindedness known as Portales, New Mexico. Oops.
From the obvious evil of Iron Maiden to the more subtle 666 tattoos that we’ll all get when the U.N. finally seizes control and marks all true believers with the mark of the Beast, I’ve been hearing about the horrors of Satanism for a very long time. Earlier this year I decided to go straight to the source and see exactly what the Satanists were really up to. I scrounged up a copy of LaVey’s “Satanic Bible” and read the blasphemous thing.
What I found was hardly the end of the world. LaVey was a smart guy and “The Satanic Bible” was his reaction to the hypocrisy of the pious he saw all the time. He would see men out cavorting one night and showing up in church the next day and condemning people for doing exactly what they had been doing. So he sat down and hammered out his bible. At the time it was a horrifying thing, this Bible of Satan and it shook up a lot of people. Personally, I found it to be nothing more than secular humanism with some ritual and magic thrown in to make it seem religious.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say the whole book was trivial nonsense, I actually agreed with some parts of it, but it was far from the book of pure evil I’d been taught it was. In fact, LaVey’s philosophy, while a little goofy in my eyes, was actually more freedom-oriented than its mainstream counterparts. The gist of it doesn’t go so far as to say do whatever the heck you feel like, rather the Satanic Bible revels in the idea that you’re a human and should enjoy it. Embrace your animal side and let it run every now and then. Don’t go out of your way to hurt people, but don’t take a lot of crap with a smile, either.
So, would I call myself a Satanist? Nope, not even a little bit. But it was nice to see someone take religion and turn it on its head. For all the fluff and bluster about Devil worshippers trying to take over the world, their own Bible doesn’t seem to back that idea. I guess that means it’s safe to dust off my copy of Powerslave and rock out.