STBlasphemy101 SUMMARY KEYWORDS blasphemy, satanism, people, outsider, christ, reactionary, symbol, mass, absolutely, transcendent, satanic temple, important, blasphemous, book, sacred, satanist, satanic, black, point, satan SPEAKERS Stephen Bradford Long, Matt Langston
Stephen Bradford Long 00:14 This is sacred tension, the podcast about the discipline of asking questions. My name is Steven Bradford long and as always, I have to thank my patrons. My patrons are my personal lords and saviors, and I could not do this show without them. My patrons are keeping me from selling my internal organs on the street to fund my debilitating content creation addiction, you are the last line of defense when it comes to my self destructive content creation habits. So if you don't want to see me cutting out my own kidney, with a kitchen knife and selling it to someone down the street from me, then please just go give $1 each month on my Patreon, I am a very cheap bitch, you can buy me for $1 and you get access to extra content every single week, my Patreon show House of heretics with the former Salvation Army officer turned Christian heretic, Timothy McPherson, we talk about religion, politics, all kinds of stuff happening in the news, or whatever's on our mind. So if that interests you all content is unlocked at $1. And of course, you can give more and I humbly beseech you to do so because every little bit helps. So for this week, I have to thank Andrew and Arthur, thank you so much. There are other ways to support this show. You can also leave five stars on Spotify or Apple podcasts that tells our digital overlords that the show is worth sharing with others. All right, I think that's it. Did I miss anything, Matt?
Matt Langston 01:51 I don't think so. I'm wondering how you already know you have a buyer for your kidney and if they are in your neighborhood.
Stephen Bradford Long 02:01 Listen, we're not we're not going to talk about that. Okay, I am here with Matt Langston, longtime friend of the show. He is the the one who midwifed this show into existence. He is also the maestro of sacred tension. He does all of the music. He provides all of the music from the band eleventy seven, which is his baby. And so if you like the music at the beginning, in the end, you have him to think yeah, you also have a new song out. Which, you know, I should plug for you. It's called Why what is it called? Wild hot ones. No wild ones.
Matt Langston 02:39 Weird ones weird ones. You're such you're such a fan.
Stephen Bradford Long 02:44 I have such a diehard fan. What's it called hot sauce. Anyway, yeah, you have a new song. It's on Spotify. Everyone should go listen to it. It's called weird ones. I will play it at the very end of the show so people can can hear it. Just don't forget to send me the audio for it.
Matt Langston 03:06 Yeah, yes, absolutely. I can make that happen.
Stephen Bradford Long 03:10 Perfect. Yeah. So you have been on the show on and off. For years, we've been doing this kind of weird, post Christian thing for, you know, years now together. We're very good friends we've been creating together. We've been conversing together for, you know, a long time. So
Matt Langston 03:33 yeah, I think those are all safe assumptions. Absolutely.
Stephen Bradford Long 03:36 So for this conversation, I wanted to do something that I haven't done before, which is kind of review the premise, review the primary points and talk through them with someone review the primary points of an article that I'm working on. Yeah, and I wanted to do this because I think that it's one of the main sticking points for a lot of people when it comes to Satanism. So I thought that I would have you on as a non satanist but someone who's you know, Satan adjacent. You're
Matt Langston 04:16 Satan. I can't wait. I cannot wait for that T shirt to land in the t as t shirt. All it has to say to Satan adjacent
Stephen Bradford Long 04:25 Satan adjacent or I will sell that I will sell that T shirt. That's it. That's it. Whenever I launch a new sacred tension merch store, I will. I will do that. Yeah, so I think the primary one of the most challenging aspects of modern Satanism, okay, so for people who don't know if this is your first time to sacred tension, welcome. I'm glad you're here. I am a minister of Satan and the Satanic Temple. However, everything that I'm about to say is my own opinion. I do not speak on behalf of other Satanists. This is just my own formulation. And this is just my own kind of personal musings. And if it doesn't relate, then it doesn't relate. And that's great. That's fine. So
Matt Langston 05:09 every time that you introduce yourself as a satanist and kind of explain like who you are and what you do, I always hear like spooky theramins in the backroom. Like Halloween noises, and sounds
Stephen Bradford Long 05:21 We can do that that can be your rage. Your favorite thing? You're the audio engineer, you should send me right, I should be making this happen. You should be making this happen. So yeah, maybe we will include that. In the audio. Okay, so yes, I'm a I'm a minister of Satan. That does not mean, however, that I speak on behalf of the Satanic Temple, I am only speaking on my own behalf as an individual Satanist. So I think that one of the most challenging aspects of modern Satanism is blasphemy. And this covers a wide range of, of topics. Why does Satanism have such a dark aesthetic? Why does Satanism seem to be so combative? Why is it healthy for something to be so visibly in opposition to something else? Is it healthy for a religious community to to be perceived to be whether this is accurate or not to be perceived to be fundamentally in opposition to something else, right. And then we get into kind of the nuts and bolts of blasphemy and to the black mass into offensive imagery imagery that could be interpreted as offensive to religious majorities, right? So I have known people to literally weep when they encounter the black mass. So I have a friend who I, who is very dear to me, I read him some passages from the black man, one of the black masses that Shiva honey has in her book, The Devil's tome, and he just burst into tears. There are a lot of people where when they are confronted with the full breadth of satanic blasphemy, it's like they just shut down. cannot proceed. So the inevitable... So your friend who was moved to tears, yes. Right. Can you go into that? Like, what was it just out of it was so emotionally moving for him and not in a good way?
Matt Langston 07:33 Not in a good way?
Stephen Bradford Long 07:34 No, no, not in a good way.
Matt Langston 07:35 Okay, gotcha.
Stephen Bradford Long 07:36 No, it was it was such a visceral reaction. So the black mass is a pretty extreme ritual. And it I mean, its origins are pretty extreme too. And maybe we can get into that there's a reason for why it's so extreme there is there are very important historical reasons for why the black mass is what it is, right? But it is an extreme ritual. And so some black masses can you know incorporate bodily fluids and nudity and very sexual imagery and desecration of the host? And it's an inversion of the Catholic mass, right. And that is specifically what makes it a black mass is it is an inversion, a blasphemous inversion and recreation of the black man or of the Catholic mass right? And so
Matt Langston 08:29 yeah, well I was just gonna say this is interesting to me because I think that there are a lot of people who are who might also be Satan adjacent. Right? Yes. But like you like let's just say for instance, somebody is brand new to the Satanic Temple, right. And the only thing that they know of, of practicing Satanism are the tenants. Right? Very clear defined tenants have like what that is at no point in that outward facing, say, like, and no point in that outward facing Satanism are people all of a sudden just like introduced to these kinds of rituals, like black mass, you know what I mean? There's a big gap. Absolutely. Like what the public faces and then what a lot of the practices are deeper into the grave. Or the the catacombs deeper
Stephen Bradford Long 09:20 in the crypt? Yeah, the haunted house that I think that's probably true. So, you know, people's first exposure to the Satanic Temple is the seven tenets for people who don't know there are the seven guiding tenets when people ask me what I believe, as a Satanist as a tst. Satanist. It's also important to note that there are multiple there are many different kinds of Satanism, right? And the Satanic Temple is just one of many. So when people ask me what I believe I point them towards the tenets as that is the best encapsulation of what I believe. Right? So people really, really struggle with the blasphemy part. I think that it's worth Looking at all of the different ways that blasphemy can manifest itself, not so much in an attempt to make people more comfortable with it, it might always be uncomfortable, not in an attempt to make it make people agree with it, because that isn't necessary. Rather, this is to just maybe help help initiate some some greater understanding. So, I have categorized blasphemy for myself into three primary categories. And I will call these reactionary blasphemy, transcendent blasphemy and unnatural blasphemy. And in Satanism, I have observed all three. And so blasphemy is not just one thing. It is many, many different things. Let's cover reactionary blasphemy first. So reactionary blasphemy is an act of blasphemy. Oh, by the way, let's back up and define what even blasphemy is. What is addiction? What is what is the dictionary definition of blasphemy? Yeah, by the way, are you? Are you tracking so far? Oh, me or the SU? No. Yes, you are in the audience and tuition.
Matt Langston 11:14 I mean, anytime that you and I are together, I feel like I should always be bringing a notepad and just like start making a thought tree. Be able to like follow everything that's happening. But I'm doing that right now. And I'm having a great time so far. Are you really are you making notes? Oh, yes, absolutely. Okay. I've already got you can see.
Stephen Bradford Long 11:34 Yes, I can. Okay, beautiful. Okay, so. Yes, according to the Oxford definitions from Oxford languages, blasphemy is the act or offense of speaking sacrilegious, ly, about God or sacred things, profane talk. Okay. So that's a working definition of blasphemy, things that profane the sacred. So reactionary blasphemy reactionary. Blasphemy is the type of blasphemy I think that I almost always get pegged with when I tell people I'm a Satanist. Which is blasphemy deliberately intended to wound or to shock with reactionary blasphemy there is inevitably an audience. So reactionary blasphemy doesn't work if there isn't an audience around, right? It takes it takes two to tango. Yes, exactly. So I was going through my own life, trying to think of the times that I have engaged in reactionary blasphemy. And one one that I came up with was when I was at a Christian high school, so I was the I was a gay kid, fabulously gay kid in a Christian high school. And I would scrape off the school logo of my T shirt and replace it with a swastika which was oh my god, Steven, which now I would never do I do not in any way endorse the use of a swastika but the but what I was trying to do in like my very stupid Elementary, you know, high school way Yes. Yes. Was send a message about how authoritarian and stupid I saw this conservative Christian setting. Right, right. That was it wasn't me kind of like cosplaying as a Nazi or bullshit like that. And listen, people, if any of you clip this and put it on Twitter that I you know, put it put a swastika on my school uniform. You're, you're fucking stupid and you're missing the point. All right, be use, use some of those critical thinking skills that you have. And actually parse what I'm saying I wasn't doing it to cosplay as a Nazi instead was a very crude and stupid attempt to kind of make a statement about how oppressive and authoritarian the setting was.
Matt Langston 14:01 When we're illest you're illustrating reactionary? Blasphemy? Yes.
Stephen Bradford Long 14:04 And, and then the whole point was getting the reaction from people. Right. Right. That was the whole purpose. That was the whole point. So I think that when a lot of people outside of Satanism think of Satanism, this is the kind of blasphemy that they think of. They have people have been hurt people have been wounded by the church. And now they want to now they want to kick back they want it's almost like a form of symbolic vengeance. Right right. Right. And I I don't really relate to this kind of blasphemy at all you know, I'm I feel like you're
Matt Langston 14:46 doing a pretty great job with your with your Nazi right relating to that guy. That's,
Stephen Bradford Long 14:53 that's the point is that is kind of fundamentally adolescent, at least in my view, right. It's kind of a, it's kind of,
Matt Langston 15:01 it's a very human thing to do. That's also kind of I think people act out in those ways, even as a rite of passage to sort of kick the tires on, like, what authority is into into challenge. Like, what to challenge their reality. And what you just
Stephen Bradford Long 15:15 said is really important, where it's developmentally appropriate to push the boundaries of authority. And that's, that's kind of part of learning who you are. I mean, that's like the identity formation of the identity formation stage of growing up. This is me, pretending to be a psychologist, and I'm really fucking not so take everything I'm saying here with a grain of salt. Okay, but, but from what I understand, my partner is a therapist, from what I understand there are, it's really developmentally important to test the boundaries of authority and sometimes reactionary blasphemy, be it deliberately satanic or not, is part of that. So you're you push against an authority, and they push back. And that that isn't important, give and take and understanding the world around us. Right? That is just part of life. And so sometimes using satanic imagery sometimes using you know, if you listened to Marilyn Manson growing up or you listen to Alice Cooper growing up or whatever, you know, all of that stuff can fulfill the role of reactionary blasphemy where you're pushing against something and they push back. I don't relate to reactionary blasphemy anymore. It was something that you grew out of, yeah, I feel like I grew out of it. It's okay if other people haven't grown out of it. And my Satanism was never has never really been for other people to witness my Satanism has never really been an attempt to offend other Christians, or theists or what have you. And I know and I know that that is a very kind of counterintuitive thing for a lot of people outside of Satanism to hear because when they think Satanism, they think this kind of blasphemy, but I so I wanted to use reactionary Satanism as a launching off point where my Satanism is not this, it is okay. If it is someone else's, that's where they are in life, they've been fucked up by the church, or what have you. And this is how they're processing it. Or, you know, they're just a teenager living, you know, living in Christian America, and, and they're figuring that shit out and reactionary blasphemy is going to be part of that,
Matt Langston 17:40 you know, I actually relate to this pretty hard because I feel like those that type of reactionary blasphemy was very much like frowned upon. And the hammer came down very hard in the culture that I grew up in on people that sort of engaged in that, or that pushed back already figures. And I always thought it was kind of ironic that like, within the church that I grew up in, it was it was this constant, like questioning of everyone else's authority, except for the church except for, except for your elders, except for people that were a part of this specific religious belief system. And I don't know if I feel like I like a healthy belief system, a healthy religious practice is something that can turn the eye in on itself, as often as it sets it outward.
Stephen Bradford Long 18:28 Absolutely. Yeah. And you know, there's so so all of this is to say that I'm not willing to dismiss reactionary blasphemy as an important developmentally appropriate phenomenon. Yeah. And for a lot of people, it it's necessary. Can it go dark? Can it get ugly? Can it become irresponsible? Yes, absolutely. But that leads to one final point that I want to make about reactionary blasphemy, which is that it isn't violence. And as long as it does not descend, I mean, this is just you know, me, you know, being a free speech, bro. And annoying free speech, bro. But there can reactionary blasphemy be counterproductive? Yes. Can it be hurtful? Yes. Can it even maybe be immoral? Yes. None of that makes it violent. And therefore it should not be perceived or treated as violence. It is the very definition of a victimless crime. Because as long as the blasphemy remains in the realm of symbol in the realm of speech and symbol, it isn't violence, and it should still have a place within culture. And you know, I think that this is all that this is really important in light of the recent stab attempted murder and stabbing of Salman Rushdie, where he wrote the book The Satanic Verses 30 For 334 years ago, the Ayatollah of Iran, put out a fatwa on him and 30 years later, he was almost fatally stabbed to death on a stage. Oh my god, right. And so, for everyone interested in that, by the way, go back and listen to my show with Lucien Greaves recent show, the show is called the freedom to offend. And we go really in depth into the Salman Rushdie. So the point is, without getting too deep into the very complex dynamics of Islam and so on, Salman Rushdie wrote a book, it doesn't matter what kind of book it was, what category of blasphemy, it's it fell under. It was a victimless crime. It was symbolic. All the only violence that was done with symbolic and I won't even say it was symbolic violence. It was not violence at all.
Matt Langston 20:52 Yeah, like when I'm hearing you say that I'm like, it will. How is it? How is writing something? Exactly? Unless it's an executive order to like have some someone murdered or?
Stephen Bradford Long 21:03 No, that's exactly right. It's so so slander, or what is it slander and threats of violence? Yeah, are all appropriately appropriately illegal. So all that to say, Can reactionary blasphemy be counterproductive? Yes. Could it even maybe be unwise and immoral? In some cases? Yes. That does not mean that we should treat it as violence makes it fun. Or that is not fun. No reaction, reactionary last week can be so much fun. Right. But I also don't relate to it. It is not. That is not where my Satanism comes from. It's okay if it's where some someone else's Satanism arises from, but it's not mine. Tracking so far?
Matt Langston 21:48 Absolutely. Okay.
Stephen Bradford Long 21:50 So third category. No, God damn it. I can't count. Second category. Yep. Second category is what I call transcendent blasphemy, transcendent blasphemy, is blasphemy. That is no longer for the sake of an audience. It is no longer about hurting someone else. It is no longer about offending someone else. Rather transcendent blasphemy is about using blasphemous symbols and blasphemous speech and blasphemous rituals to reach self transcendence, an altered state of consciousness or to heal in some way just to move past trauma that we have experienced.
Matt Langston 22:40 Yeah, like I would I would equate what you're saying right now to to what therapists would call inner work. Yes, absolutely. There's something that's totally for you. This is you sort of understanding, getting in touch with yourself exploring your trauma, exploring the things that mean a lot to you and healing in that fashion.
Stephen Bradford Long 22:58 Definitely. And so what's important to note here is that there isn't a clear delineation between reactionary blasphemy and transcendent blasphemy. Oh, so there isn't, you know, they can merge. So think of these less as discrete categories and more as like a color spectrum as like a color wheel. And they can blend and morph into each other. Right? They aren't discrete seriously
Matt Langston 23:27 going to blow everyone's minds before you even get to the third type of blasphemy.
Stephen Bradford Long 23:31 I guess I will. Listen, I'm the new Teal Swan. I'm talking about color wheels. All right. Yeah. So a good example of this or a good explanation of what transcendent blasphemy is, comes from Lucien Greaves where he wrote this piece that is featured in Shiva, Shiva honeys, the devil's tome, this is from the introduction. But this was written kind of early in the satanic temples history when the Satanic Temple put on a black mass in Boston. So Lucien Greaves, who's the founder of TST, for those who are new to all of this, quote, The Black Mass, as it is enacted today, has no need for supernaturalism and it is not performed with the infantile expectation that it should conjure Satan or demonic spirits. In fact, it is our assertion that the black mask can be enacted with no ill will toward the world at large, but as an expression of personal independence against the stifling strictures of supernatural religion that were instilled in some of us as a frightened and unwitting children. The black mass at its best should have a cathartic and liberating effect for its participants and observers. In this spirit. Satanism in general embraces the blasphemous as we reject divine fiat and the notion of symbolic crimes. The black mass has been described as l elementary level Satanism, as its appeal is strongest for those just finding the light of reason and turning away from their timid superstitions realizing that they can speak names in vain, eat the wrong kinds of meat on forbidden days, or throw a blessed cracker away with the trash without so much as a bolt of light of lightning to answer and wrath, not the crackers. Right. So, what he what Lucien here is describing is a sort of blasphemy that really isn't about offending anyone.
Matt Langston 25:38 Satanic adjacent snack foods. That's what I heard.
Stephen Bradford Long 25:44 Yes, satanic adjacent snack foods. Okay, I'm very good. That can be another line of merch that I can release for Sacred tension.
Matt Langston 25:53 Yes, absolutely.
Stephen Bradford Long 25:56 Yeah, so what he's what he's referring to here is a sort of blasphemy that isn't about pissing off an audience. That isn't the motivation anymore. It's about achieving an act of transcendence. So
Matt Langston 26:13 like personal expression that maybe you were hindered from before? Exactly.
Stephen Bradford Long 26:17 And being able to overcome those wounds. So this, I think, allows for a lot more flexibility than reactionary Satanism. So for example, I love the symbol of Jesus. And I love Christian iconography. So if you come into my office, where I'm recording this in front of my desk, I have this wall in front of my desk that is covered with ancient Christian symbols. So I have an old Catholic cross, I have an ancient Russian Orthodox icon that's about 300 years old. And then I have an old Russian Orthodox crucifix that is about 200 years old. I love these symbols. They're beautiful. And then this one right here is my favorite icon that I have. This is called the Cosmic Christ. This was painted by a, a monk at the Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky, which is where the great mystic Thomas Merton lived and died. So to go Kentucky monk, way to go Kentucky monk, right. So I love Christian symbolism. Yeah. But why? The reason why I love those Christian symbols is because those particular symbols represent to me an expansive image of love, and forgiveness demand God who came to earth to confront imperialist power, and is the champion of the least of these. I fucking love that. But that is not the Christ, whose name was used. When I was going through exorcisms for being gay, that Christ deserves to be blasphemed. There are many different Christ's, there are as many Christ's as there are believers in Christ.
Matt Langston 28:18 Because everyone's creating their own reality. They're projecting their own. Exactly, it's on to everything, which is why the whole concept of turning, turning that turning that look that light inwards, on your religious beliefs is so important, even when the Bible talks about being transformed by the renewing of your mind. That to me, that's what that's feels like it's speaking about is, is understanding that, like your eyes, your eyes are the lamp of the body, and like you are creating your reality by how you decide to perceive it.
Stephen Bradford Long 28:51 Yes. And all gods that we believe in are ultimately solitary things that exist within every human mind, right? Yes. And so I, you know, I watched a documentary, where a Catholic woman said that the priest who raped her would then perform the Eucharist every time he raped her. to absolve them of to absolve her of her sins, Jesus Christ, right, okay, that Christ deserves to be blasphemed because there is no single Christ. And so we can take whatever Christ whatever symbol that was used to hurt us. And we can engage in some transcendent blasphemy, to overcome that symbol to overcome the shackles with with the understanding that when I am doing that, it isn't saying anything about say the symbol, a symbol of Christ that is actually perhaps a symbol of LGBT equality or I think for the least of these, right, so this is why on one side of my room, I can have a satanic altar. And then on the other side of my room, I can have the symbols of Christ, there is there is much greater flexibility. I feel like within transcendent Satan or within transcendent blasphemy, to be able to say, this is a personal thing. I'm not here to denigrate a valuable symbol, if that symbol bring if that symbol inspires you to do good, the Christ that I am blaspheming has nothing to do with that symbolic Christ. And by the way, when I'm talking about God and Christ here, I'm doing so purely in symbolic terms, I don't believe that these are actual deities. Yes. Does that all make sense?
Matt Langston 30:47 Yeah, I mean, I also think it might be important to like, to start out with this very fundamental assumption that blasphemy can only exist in opposition to something, right? Like, it doesn't just exist, because we have to have something we have to have an object of our affection and we have to embody that object. And say, that we believe that it is somehow sacred, that it is above
Stephen Bradford Long 31:15 you know, there is no blasphemy without first the sacred. Yeah,
Matt Langston 31:21 exactly. But even like that delineation, deciding that we this one thing is sacred, and this other thing is not feels very much like a, you know, first chapter of the Bible eating from the tree of the knowledge, kind of situation, you know what I mean? Right?
Stephen Bradford Long 31:37 So So it strikes you as just another delineation between good and bad,
Matt Langston 31:43 kind of Yeah. And like the the older that I've gotten, the more mature that I've become, which isn't much, right, I find that I find that there are fewer things that really offend me, when it comes to religious beliefs, or when people disagree with certain religious beliefs, or when they hold something really, really sacred to themselves. I always feel like it's fair game for that thing to be made fun of. In the same way that I think that all of my beliefs are fair game to be made fun of you, because all of you we create suffering when we embody something and say, Well, this is somehow inherently worth more to the human experience than this other thing is, and we call one thing sacred and one thing secular, I feel like, I feel like best spiritual practice asks people to understand that all things are both simultaneously you do. And it just depends on how you're looking at it and what you decide for them to be.
Stephen Bradford Long 32:39 I wrote an article some time ago called Seven satanic dichotomies. And one of the dichotomies it cut it down to three. No, I couldn't it had to be seven. It had to be seven, because there are seven satanic tenets. And so it had to like, you know, it's on brand. It is very on brand, yes. Was one of those sets of dichotomies is profane, versus sacred. And those things seem like they are in opposition to each other, when in fact, I think that they are in deep symbiotic relationship with each other, and I as a Satanist experience, both, almost sometimes almost simultaneously. Sure, and so we can, we can have a sense of the sacred and a sense of, of blaspheming, the sacred simultaneously. And this is kind of embodied in this symbol of Baphomet, which is an old esoteric symbol, it was drawn by Elvis Levy, and it's kind of the symbol of the reconciliation of opposites. So you have angelic and demonic male and female, light and dark all in all together and this in the sabbatic goat all together in the Baphomet. And that's really what that represents. So for, for me, I'm, I have a deep sense of the sacred and I have a deep sense of the blasphemous and those two things are not in opposition to each other. I feel like they actually fit together pretty well. Yeah. So are, are things tracking so far with with reactionary or with reactionary and then transcendent blasphemy? Absolutely. So, the other point here that I want to emphasize is that reactionary blasphemy or sorry, transcendent blasphemy is not confined to Satanism. I, I think that transcendent blasphemy is you know, using shock or using transgressive, transgressive imagery, transgressive symbolism as a A form of self transcendence that's universal. A really fantastic modern example of this is the Piske Christ. If you remember back in the this was either than the 90s or the 2000s. This photograph of a crucifix emerged in urine, I vaguely remember it was it was an art piece. And everyone was super pissed about this. People thought quite literally, quite literally. They thought that this was just a horrific act of blasphemy. Yeah, so here's what the artist had to say his name is Andre Serrano. He says, what it symbolizes is the way Christ died. The blood came out of him but so did the PIs and shit. Maybe if piss Christ upsets you? It's because it gives some sense of what the crucifixion actually it was like, I was born and raised a Catholic and I've been a Christian all my life. Okay, so his Christ
Matt Langston 36:03 was that sorry the name name is still really fucking funny. Like saying this Christ but like so haphazardly like oh, yeah, you guys ready to pitch Christ the other day? Because see what I got. I was doing. Free wild fella.
Stephen Bradford Long 36:21 Yeah, piss Christ is definitely that one guy at the bar who's always there every single day. And he's kind of weird. And he smells really bad.
Matt Langston 36:30 And I actually actually feel like that like piss Christ is in the same way that like deer leaked in zoo lander was like a new form of fashion. I feel like his Christ kind of kind of describes a lot of a lot of what happens around Asheville, a lot of the sort of ultra Safari and cater Asheville. It piss Christ were born.
Stephen Bradford Long 36:50 Christ is the aesthetic of downtown Asheville. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, it's correct. That should be like a new Instagram style, like up there with cottage core and dark academic like this is Christ.
Matt Langston 37:08 Which is so interesting to me that like that, when he's explaining the thought process behind this piece of work, he's like, Yeah, well, there's like piston shit everywhere. But it's just clearly more fun to say piss Christ than poo Christ. True. So that's why we went with that. True. I mean, it was that also a part of the I didn't get to read the rest.
Stephen Bradford Long 37:30 I haven't, I haven't before you know, it's fine. I haven't read the whole statement. But the point is the point being, that this is a modern example of kind of a long standing tradition of using aggressive or Yeah, using dark transgressive imagery as a form of self transcendence as a form of meditation as a way to reach a to transcend yourself and find kind of a new transformative experience. Right. We also have precedent for this in the Bible itself. Yeah, so the price was accused of blasphemy Christ was accused of blasphemy, but also the prophets, the Old Testament prophets, they this is motherfuckers those disgusting motherfuckers so this is actually something that my friend John Morehead pointed out who is a an evangelical scholar and multifaith, multifaith guy, and he's my favorite evangelical on the planet, everyone should go watch his show. multifaith matters, by the way, it's great. So he, in an interview with another Christian, they were talking about Satanism, and one of the things that he said was using shocking religious imagery that isn't actually foreign to Christians and Jews that isn't foreign to the Bible. The prophets frequently did that the prophets frequently you like zekiel and so on Isaiah, they used some pretty aggressive and grotesque imagery. And sometimes like Ezekiel, just straight up weird performance art, too, to attain a kind of a higher transcendent state or to shock the Israelites into
Matt Langston 39:21 i Be aware that there's that but to your point earlier, a lot of this feels like reactions, Transcendence, blasphemy that turns into React that
Stephen Bradford Long 39:32 turns it very quickly. Well, and that's, that's part of the point as well to say that this is more of like a color spectrum than it is discrete categories, you know, these things can shift in and out of each other. Right? Yeah, absolutely. Um, so when we talk about satanic blasphemy, or when we talk about the black mass, for example, very often it is for our own transcendent Since it is for our own well being catharsis and enjoyment, which is why so many black masses happen behind closed doors, they don't happen on the street, they don't happen, you know, in in some public space in front of a church to piss off Christians, they have been in black masses, doors,
Matt Langston 40:19 black masses happen in the same way that Christ commanded everyone to pray.
Stephen Bradford Long 40:26 One could say that and of course, you know, I'm not speaking to hashtag hashtag not all Satanists, you know, I'm not speaking on behalf of all Satanists here. But in my experience, the black mass has very often been a private affair. And also, I'm looking at time and I don't want to spend too much more time on this point. But it's, I think the history of the black mass is really important. So I covered this some with Locke Carmina a couple of weeks ago, where we were talking about her book, The Little Book of Satanism, where she does kind of a cursory overview of the history of Satanism. And a really important point in that history is the affair of the poisons happened, and I believe the late 1600s, and the Paris occult underground was being cracked down on by the church and the church would drag in these, you know, midwives and potion makers and Abortionists, it was folk magic, it was just, you know, if you are a peasant, or if you are a poor person in Paris, and you want to marry someone, or you need an abortion, or you need a fertility treatment, or you or whatever the case may be, you'd go to one of these practitioners. Yeah, so the Catholic Church, which started to drag these people in and tortured them under horrific conditions, and is from these torture sessions that they extracted confessions of the black mass
Matt Langston 41:59 that is so Catholic,
Stephen Bradford Long 42:01 right? So the black mass is literally this artifact of theocratic torture. So I believe that the black mass is important in part because of that. That's why it's important, sometimes one of many reasons to continue to celebrate the black mass as a remembrance of those who have been tortured and abused by superstition, and theocratic power. So the very genesis of the black mass is theocracy. Does that make sense? No. And so, very well said. I think that's I think that's all we have to say on transcendent blasphemy any any final thoughts before we move on?
Matt Langston 42:46 I'm so excited about what number three? It is. Is it going to be Piske Christ plus for me? Is it going to be some other kind of rainbow unicorn blasphemy that I've never heard of before? Listen, how are you? How are you gonna tie this all together? Dev?
Stephen Bradford Long 43:02 It is definitely unicorn blasphemy. And you would know all about this because listen, no one no man has as many unicorns in his house that you do without putting at least some of them up your ass.
Matt Langston 43:15 That's true. They're also growing I feel like they're they're procreating. There's just I think that when bands I think when bands come into the studio, they're just like, secretly leaving more than just waiting for me to notice that there.
Stephen Bradford Long 43:29 I bet they are. No word has gotten out. We're that you are obsessed with unicorns. Okay, pause dear listeners, if ever you find yourself at Matt Langston house, preferably at 3am or 4am, because you've broken through the window. You will be confronted with just a fucking shrine, a shrine an entire shrine of unicorns, they are fucking everywhere and
Matt Langston 43:56 everywhere fucking and everywhere.
Stephen Bradford Long 44:00 Matt is a unicorn fetishist.
Matt Langston 44:03 Oh my gosh, I wish I wish I could call
Stephen Bradford Long 44:06 my that but myself that listen, I went and very nicely looked up unicorn dildos for you. You did it you never took me up.
Matt Langston 44:19 Which also I need to tell you this and we have to get to the third one right? We have to Yeah, I feel like we're building so much suspense right now. But I I was shopping with Jessica yesterday and I found something for you. And I immediately put it into my satchel and I shoplifted it and I'm gifting it to you. Did you really shop with I didn't shoplift it I paid for it. Well, I don't have a satchel but yeah, I found it. It made me think of you and before I forget because you know I've gotten like you guys gifts before and I'll sit on it for like 18 months before I remember to give it to you. So please remind me that I got you something I'm very excited for you to have.
Stephen Bradford Long 44:55 Oh, I will. That's very sweet of you. Okay, and I will I will find only get you those unicorn dildos. Okay. Number three, natural blasphemy. Last NAT blast. So I don't relate to I don't personally really relate to reactionary or transcendent blasphemy, quite honestly.
Matt Langston 45:20 But you spoke about it so much, Steven.
Stephen Bradford Long 45:23 I know I, I spent a lot of time on it. By the way, I think the perfect summation of transcendent blasphemy is in the words of our mutual friend. Ida Karolina. It's blasphemy. Not blast for you. Oh, right. So it's blasphemy not blast for you. It is blast. It is blasphemy for my own edification not for anyone else not for shocking someone else or whatever.
Matt Langston 45:52 Okay, so you're just telling everybody right out of the gate that you're a nap? Glasser.
Stephen Bradford Long 45:56 I'm an app. Placer This is you. Okay? Yes, I'm an app. Placer I don't really relate to I don't have this deep desire to blaspheme religious symbols. I get it. I understand it. And I have been there in the past, but I'm just not there anymore. I feel like I'm actually pretty at peace.
Matt Langston 46:19 Where did you are you? Have you grown and matured? And I guess a whole person
Stephen Bradford Long 46:23 or something. But yeah, I don't. I feel like I'm, I'm really mostly at peace with my history and Christianity. And I don't feel this deep need to blaspheme those symbols. I'm okay. It's fine. And I, and there are a lot of ways in which I still love Christianity, I still love the symbol of Christ in a lot of ways. It's just not my religion. You know, I can, I can respect the good from afar, and it doesn't have to be mine. And that is true. I have heard personally, anecdotally, a lot of Satanists that I know say the same thing. They very often come from completely atheistic backgrounds. They were never raised in the church, or maybe they come from different religious backgrounds. Maybe they entered Satanism from Islam, or from Judaism or from paganism. So people come to Satanism from all different types of backgrounds, in which case, the black mass just isn't going to have much resonance, it isn't going to have that cathartic punch for them. And this is true for me as well, they so they might appreciate the black mass as an important piece of satanic history. They don't feel any particular derive to be part of it. And that's true of me too. Sure. But there is one last kind of blasphemy that still remains to me and that is natural blasphemy. I am by my nature. A so right now, all of that was a setup for Nablus. All of that was a setup for NAT blasts.
Matt Langston 48:01 Okay, so happy workshop today. Um, you're here. You're for
Stephen Bradford Long 48:04 that. How are you enjoying this master class and blasphemy.
Matt Langston 48:09 Master bless class, Master Blasket.
Stephen Bradford Long 48:13 Good good. Across the country right now. There are people who think that my very existence is a defilement of nature contrary to God's will, a corruption of God's natural order, simply because I'm living my life. So I'm gay. I'm just living my life. Oh, shit. My natural inclination. Yeah. In case you didn't know. Listen, you're you're into, you know, unicorn dildos. I got it. I'm into Dix, it we all have our natural blasphemies. So every age is going to have its pieties every age is going to have its its its normative notions of what is right and wrong, good and evil. Short in every generation, there are going to be people who are naturally blasphemous just by their very nature, because they were born in a particular way or they have a particular inclination or what have you. I am favorites. I am an atheist. That is where I believe my mind has naturally taken me or non theist, if you prefer when people ask me what a non theist is, I just say it's an atheist who isn't an asshole about it. So let's go with non theist because I am non theist, I am deemed less trustworthy by a good portion of people in United States and less moral, less ethical. So that is a naturally blasphemous situation that I find myself and same for being gay across the United States are people who see me as corruption as a defilement as a distortion of God's natural order. I didn't deliberately set out to do any of those things. This is just how I am this past shows See me this path chose me.
Matt Langston 50:01 Right? So, God smiled upon you.
Stephen Bradford Long 50:09 That's real blasphemy is exactly what it sounds like. It is the state of being a it is it is the state of being blasphemous whether you want to be or not to the prevailing order. This is the kind for me personally, the kind of blasphemy that Satan is the symbol of first and foremost, he is the advocate of the outsider. He is the one who tells us to put aside stupid cultural norms and look at concrete actions and look at character instead of arbitrary societal norms to you know, paraphrase the invocation of the Satanic Temple, and this is why I believe Satanism has such a darkest aesthetic, why it's so spooky, why it's so uncomfortable because the outsider is never comfortable. The Outsider never feels good, right? So it's easy for us to say in the age of gay equality, that, you know, gay people should be embraced and accepted. Try saying that 70 years ago, that disgusting, icky feeling that he that so many people get from Satan, from the ultimate outsider, that is the same revulsion and disgust that people felt towards homosexuality, despite the fact that there is nothing wrong with it. Right. So part of the reason why I believe Satanism has such a darkest aesthetic is because the outsider is always unsafe, the outsider always feels dangerous. Now, this does not mean that we should valorize every outsider, this doesn't mean that outsider equals moral or ethical or good. Instead, what it means is that we should judge people on the basis of their actions, not on their see it actually, let me just quote the, the invocation of the Satanic Temple, we must demand that individuals be judged for their concrete actions, not their fealty to arbitrary societal norms, and illusory categorizations. Love it. This is why blasphemy, for me still has enormous resonance. It's about embracing the fact that I am naturally blasphemous my entire life, I have been an outsider because of my orientation. And because I'm a non theist, and I've been naturally skeptical my whole life, I can take that experience and see that there's real value in that. And Satan is the icon of the outsider. And that symbol inspires me to continue to see past societal norms and see where the outsiders are in our own world. Yes. And so this kind of blasphemy for me is, is really where it is. This is this is where my Satanism lives right now, it might not be
Matt Langston 53:29 found the sweet spot of blasphemy is what you're saying. Maybe not.
Stephen Bradford Long 53:33 I mean, but here, here's the thing. I'm not saying any of this to imply that I am better or smarter or more mature than anyone else. I don't think I am. It's just where I am. And maybe in a decade or in a year, I will almost certainly be in another place in my relationship with Satan. Because that is how religion works. Yeah. So what are what are your thoughts? What are your reactions to this concept of natural blasphemy?
Matt Langston 54:01 I'm just hitting hard emojis and smiley emoji sending them to your screen right now. Yeah, I mean, I think this is a really interesting way of interfacing with blasphemy and, and sort of understanding on a visceral level, like what it is the ways in which we already have engaged in blasphemy, the ways in which we are born into blasphemy that it is a part of our lives that as long as as long as there is something to be blasphemed there's a high chance that we will encounter it at some point. You know, I think, also understanding blasphemy like when you're talking about it in terms of being something that you are born into, that you could just be born into a time a circumstance, a family, a social unit, in which when you're flourishing as a human person ends up feeling like blasphemy to someone with a different set of beliefs about what that flourishing should look like. And as I've said, As a right, that's a really important thing to explore personally, and to be able to see and recognize in other people.
Stephen Bradford Long 55:07 That's absolutely right. And, you know, the continuous question I get is, why is Satanism wise? You know, why is it Satanism? Well, it's because of this for me it is because that, that gross feeling that Satan invokes that's the exact same feeling that gay people that that people felt in response to gay people, to trans people, to people with different types of bodies, to people with albinism, for example, or people who have autism, you know, in the through human history, the response to the outsider has been fear and disgust. And therefore, it makes sense to me that the symbol of the outsider will also be a symbol that invokes fear and disgust. And so it really, for me isn't about shocking people. It's simply about being consistent in my symbolism. And in my, in my religion. So there are there are a lot of ways in which blasphemy can kind of fall off the tracks. So I think one way in which it can lead us astray, is when we start to assume that outsider is equivalent with moral, that outsider is equivalent with good. And that isn't the case, we shouldn't, by default, valorize, every single outsider that we come across, but the point is, outsiders are human, just like the rest of us. And so there will be some outsiders who are virtuous and good. And there will be others who are gross and disgusting and evil murderers, the murderer. Yeah, exactly, you know, Richard Ramirez and John Wayne Gacy, Jr. They are, they are also the ultimate outsiders, you know, serial killers, the old are the ultimate outsiders, that does not mean that we should valorize them, you know, who are also the ultimate outsiders historically have been trans people, historically have been gay people that so the point there is that instead of allowing the note the label of outsider to be sto the label of good instead, it should be sto the label of human right and, and another way that this can result in some pitfalls is by valorizing, our own outsider dumb, while maybe not necessarily being aware of the privileges that we experience, so socio economically, there's really no meaningful way. And culturally, there's really no meaningful way in which I am personally an outsider. I mean, I was raised in a middle class home, I am white, I'm male. Of course, all of those things have their own set of struggles. I'm not dismissing. I'm not dismissing that sometimes being a man is hard and its own unique ways. Of course, that's true. But it also comes with a unique set of privileges that most other people who are not men don't experience, right. So I, I find it more helpful and more fruitful, to instead center my Satanism on the natural blasphemy of others and defending them and less on my own. Because I do think that Satanism Can, can develop a self indulgent self obsession with one's own outsider status. And this is especially true among dudes among men.
Matt Langston 58:38 We all know what it's like to run into that person who just absolutely believes their own shit. Yes,
Stephen Bradford Long 58:45 exactly. I think that it's some that it's more helpful to reorient my concern with humanizing the outsider. towards others. Yes. And, and allowing that to be the center of my practice. So all of that to say, I think that's it, I think those are the primary points that I wanted to cover with this. And again, I wanted to cover this because it is, in my own experience, the most the single most dismissed and misunderstood part of Satanism and maybe one of the richest as well there is real depth here in in the use of transgressive symbolism, there is real meaning and richness there. That's important, but it it is so often the most dismissed part of Satanism.
Matt Langston 59:39 Yeah, because it's one of the most salacious, it
Stephen Bradford Long 59:43 is one of the most salacious and again, this isn't to say that all blasphemy is appropriate that doesn't you know, for for example, not all blasphemy is created equally not all blasphemy is created equally okay. So for example, if you Are if your background is is Christian oh how do I want to frame this if your background is Christian and as some some stupid act of blasphemy you're burning a Koran all you're doing is burning another religions holy book,
Matt Langston 1:00:15 but that would be blasphemous against against another religion and not yours.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:00:19 Exactly. So it wouldn't be rooted in that in that personally transcendent experience of overcoming your also, I strongly encourage people not to burn books, in general does is not a is not a good that does not have a good historical precedent.
Matt Langston 1:00:39 Every time you every time you burn a book, a librarian loses a fingernail it's
Stephen Bradford Long 1:00:43 again every time you every time every time you burn a book, Rebecca Shaw our friend will will lose a fingernail but no, but let's say for example, you're you're a former Christian now a Satanist who's burning the Koran Okay, all you're doing is just destroying a another religions holy book that has none of that. That religious catharsis for you.
Matt Langston 1:01:06 You're creating more paranoia in the world. Exactly. Just you're you're doing something out of a hatred out of just the performative nature of it. And there's no substance behind that it's just an empty expression of anger
Stephen Bradford Long 1:01:21 or in correct and again, I think that that kind of speech should be protected. That does not make it moral. Or does it make you a cool guy for doing it? Yeah, exactly. And it doesn't make it appropriate. So and also just don't burn books, please. God damn, maybe that's maybe we have touched on my one blasphemy. Don't burn books. Dear God, Read. Read the fucking books. Read the fucking book instead of burning it. I think breathing a book is far more blasphemous than burning it, actually being able to read it and absorb it and absorb it into your being and being able to parse it. That is a far more transgressive act than burning it. But that's true. Anyway, so
Matt Langston 1:02:07 now I feel like I'm I need to be on the search for like the one book that I could burn in front of you that you would have a really hard time being like, no, don't do that. I don't know. I wonder if there's a I can't think of one a loophole, a loophole in this. No, I
Stephen Bradford Long 1:02:25 don't, I can't think of a single book that I don't know, this is all because I read you know, Fahrenheit 451 When I was like 12 years old, and that, oh, it's still one of my favorites. That instilled in me, you know, deep convictions about book burning.
Matt Langston 1:02:40 I don't know if this counts is a book but but when I was younger, and I was working at a restaurant, whenever Christians would come in, and instead of leaving me an actual tip, they would leave me a
Stephen Bradford Long 1:02:49 tract. Oh, God.
Matt Langston 1:02:53 Like $100 Bill, and instead it was like, I'm gonna give you something even worth more than money.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:02:59 Oh, my God. No, absolutely. Burn that shit. Burn that shit in a black mass that can go back in and go. All right.
Matt Langston 1:03:09 Okay, I'm happy I did it.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:03:11 Are there any final thoughts? Before we this
Matt Langston 1:03:13 has been this has been wonderful. I always love the way that you were that your mind works. I love the way that you can take an idea and really chase it down and turn the gym and see the way light reflects off of different sides of it. I think you're really great at that. And I feel like a better person for these conversations that we're able to have together. I'm
Stephen Bradford Long 1:03:35 so glad and dear listeners by the way if this is your first exposure to sacred tension again, welcome I'm glad you've made it this far. Everyone is welcome to join my Discord server there is a link in the show notes. My Discord server is a very cool community. There are all kinds of mostly Satanists in there but people from other backgrounds and traditions as well. So you're all welcome to join in the conversation. I also love hearing back from all of you so you can leave a comment on the blog post for this episode on Steven Bradford long.com or you can leave your feedback on the discord server. I love hearing back from all of you. And also let me know if you like this format if you like this, this format of me kind of coming on with a friend and just unpacking an idea together unpacking maybe one of my articles or or you know some a particular topic or theme within Satanism or something else. So let me know if you like this format and I will start mixing it into the show as well. All right. I guess we're going to end on what was it called?
Matt Langston 1:04:48 Hot ones. Hot sauce. Wild, Wild Wild hotness. It's a brand new single for Um my band eleventy seven called weird ones. And if you like this conversation and you like blasphemous things, you might find a couple little easter eggs in it for you.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:05:10 Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, everyone should go listen and I will close out the show with it all right that is it for this show. The music is by eleventy seven the theme song is wild you can find it on Apple Music Spotify or wherever you listen to music This show is written produced and edited by me Steven Bradford long and it is supported by my email@example.com forward slash Steven Bradford long as always Hail Satan and thanks for listening in Messina feelings. Started