Podcasts/Sacred Tension-STSisterZitherMonastacism

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STSisterZitherMonastacism SUMMARY KEYWORDS monasticism, practice, satanic, people, tst, monastic, ritual, guru, contemplative, community, satanism, christian, world, satanist, boundary, anti, meditation, life, explore, feel SPEAKERS Stephen Bradford Long, Sister Zither

Stephen Bradford Long 00:00 You're listening to a rock candy podcast this is sacred tension, the podcast about the discipline of asking questions. My name is Steven Bradford long, and we are here on the rock candy Podcast Network. For more shows like this one, go to rock candy recordings.com. All right. As always, I have to thank my patrons before we get started. My patrons are my personal lords and saviors. This show is not possible without their help. So if you love this show, and the blog, if you look forward to sacred tension every single week, please consider joining their number by going to patreon.com. Forward slash Steven Bradford long, there's also a link in the show notes. You can buy me for just $1 a month. I'm a very, very cheap sell. But it helps enormously so if you have any spare cash, please throw it to your favorite podcaster. And so for this week, I have to thank Wednesday, Rach, Kane, Nevermore, Scott de nom and Van winter, I also have to say all of my patrons sound like magical creatures, which I really appreciate as well. So the more magical the name, the better. Of course, a lot of us are struggling financially. And you might just you might just not have the margin to be able to support a creator financially. And if that is the case, I completely understand. One of the best ways to support this show is to leave five stars on either Apple podcasts or Spotify, that tells our digital overlords that this show is worth sharing with others it will show up on their home screen the for you section on their podcast app. So please leave five stars and then on Apple podcasts, you can leave a little review. If you do I will read it on the show as thanks. And finally, this show is sponsored by the satanic temple.tv. The Satanic Temple has an amazingly creative and interesting community and on tst. TV, there is all kinds of stuff. There's a satanic puppet show called Dear Satan. There is a cooking show, there are featured length films about bizarre things like trepanation, and Anton LaVey, and Genesis P orage. And all kinds of weird countercultural underground stuff as well as occult rituals, live streams, et cetera, et cetera. So if all of that interests you, then please use my promo code, sacred tension all caps, no space at checkout, and you will get one month free. All right. I think that's it. Sister zither. Thank you so much for joining me. How are you?

Sister Zither 03:17 Yeah, thank you so much for having me. I'm great. I'm really excited to talk to you.

Stephen Bradford Long 03:21 So you appeared on my radar because you are one of our ministers in the Satanic Temple. So you're a fellow minister, and you lead a service for I believe it was the Tuesday night services. And it was a fantastic service where you talked about your expertise, which is monasticism and combining monasticism with Satanism. And this is an area of particular passion. For me, I am incredibly passionate about contemplative life, in part because it has been a lifesaver for me. It has been one of the pillars of my well being and my functionality in the world is contemplative life. And I think it's really important for our very young community to explore this as well. So tell us some about who you are and what you do, and and your interest in this subject.

Sister Zither 04:23 Yeah. Well, I just also want to say, before I jump into that, I'm so glad that we have services the way we do, where it's panel based, it's community based, and we are a young religion and I think having these discussions will help all of this grow in really interesting ways. So I'm, I'm indeed a minister with tst. My academic background led me into interest in monasticism of my particular specialization is secular and sacred property law related to 13th century female mannequin communities. So that's really specific and also Um representations of monasticism and popular culture which is much more modern perspective because I have this sort of like very, very very dawn of Christian monasticism perspective, high medieval perspective in the contemporary popular culture perspective. I feel like I for me monasticism is a living, growing evolving thing. And going back to the service, I think I made a huge mistake that I talked about monasticism and not monasticism comes with the plural and there because I think because of the popular culture perspective, a lot of people come at the concept with very narrow ideas. If we think about like people who saw the Name of the Rose movie or something like that, when in reality and you'll know this, from your diverse origins of practice, there's many types of monasticism and many directions to go and we can create new things as we wish.

Stephen Bradford Long 05:57 So in as succinct way as possible, which might not be possible because as you just said, there are many monasticism but what is monasticism?

Sister Zither 06:10 So if I want to make a really quick overview of monasticism aims, you can have monastic which is based on solitude you can have opera tactile, which is setting apart oneself you can have an Anchorite which is withdrawn so just instead of set apart these are the ones that like close themselves into the wall or what have you. Yeah. Yeah, for example, for example, there's there's a lot of famous examples of that gets into really interesting concepts of mysticism that's rather practice rather definition center, biddick monastics are community based, which I think is a really interesting direction and aesthetic monasticism is based on discipline, which canner doesn't have to be separated and those are kind of the the European Christian models that we can draw from but there's really a lot more there's basically two vectors of defining monasticism one is some sort of withdrawal or renunciation and the other one is some sort of routinization or ritualization. So, some factor that separates a person and the other one that turns activities into intentional activities imbued with more meaning than normal. So this this kind of represents kind of is succinctly as possible the range that we can fill with different practices.

Stephen Bradford Long 07:42 I love this Okay, so it's like I've been playing Elden ring lately and so, this is you at the beginning of the Choose your character you can like choose you know, the prophet or the samurai or the or the astrologer or whatever Okay, so these this is your your character panel, these are your types of monastics and Pinna Moo during the service who is a friend of mine and very smart guy he summed up his understanding of monasticism I think as a discipline and a boundary and your thoughts...

Sister Zither 08:23 Yeah.

08:23 ...well well in an in like a very just broad basic sense. A discipline so some for for some people that could be very intense like you know, there were the the monastics and and in Ireland who would you know, do you know pray while in bitter cold water and you know, just like brutal brutal stuff, basically like praying while waterboarding themselves and shit like that, right? So you have very brutal practices, and then you have less brutal, less abusive practices, like maybe meditating for a certain period of time each day, or doing some ascetic practice each day. And then you have a boundary which is kind of shutting, shutting off a part of the mundane world, the the every day, this thing that that maybe a lot of people take for granted that you are choosing to no longer take for granted and cut off from your life as a for a period of time or whatever. Would you say that that's accurate?

Sister Zither 09:34 Yeah, I think that's a perfectly fine like working definition. And I think the only thing I would maybe add to that is the sense of time a lot of people think that to be monastic or to engage in these intentional, separate activities needs to be a permanent commitment when actually a lot of practices in monasticism you can pop in and out for the weekend in Greek orthodoxy. Some of the monasteries allow like short term visitors, there's nothing wrong with having a monastic afternoon and then you return to the world afterwards. In no way decreases the level of the effect. It's rather fitting it into what works.

10:16 Now, so you covered kind of the range of monasticism within the Christian world. And in the West, is there a difference? Is there a different typology that you find in maybe Buddhist or Hindu traditions?

Sister Zither 10:32 Yeah, so the basic factors of withdrawal and ritualization. And these sorts of things taken in whatever term you like, those are kind of the basic factors that create the monastic as being someone separate from the other practitioners in society. I'm particularly interested within the range of tst. What do early forms of monasticism look alike in different religions? There are things that could be identified as something like a monastic adjacent practices in Jainism or even in Judaism. Buddhism obviously has monasticism and different types of European or Mediterranean monasticism has gone through multiple evolutions been praised and declared heretical. We also I don't think need to be at all limited to something that exists in our history. If you want to draw your monastic inspiration from anyone from the bene Jesuit, to the Sisters of perpetual indulgence, like anything. Sci Fi works, yes, it

11:40 does. Because so Satanism is an invented religion. I'm so glad you bring that up, because Satanism is an invented religion, and we can draw from all kinds of sources sent like, I have friends who draw from Anathem Neil Stevenson's novel, which is like, which is a book about like scientific, academic monasticism. So why through history, have people been drawn to monasticism? Why is this a drive that we see? Consistently? Maybe we don't see it consistently? Maybe there are cultures where it doesn't exist, but But why is it that this is something that that people are drawn to?

Sister Zither 12:20 That's a That's a great question. You know, I, I would like to just start with a caveat that I don't think religions need monasticism. I don't think TST needs monasticism. That said, it's a tool and a toolkit. And it could be an interesting tool to have around. And it will be an interesting tool for a very specific type of practitioner either for one part of their life for a limited trial, let's say, or something that they want to incorporate longer term as to a why I think that really depends on the type of practice they're trying to heighten and how they want to go about heightening that which has as many possible answers as there are people who would choose to engage. It's basically anyone who wants to do something to consciously intentionally heighten their practice for a certain amount of time through these concepts of delineation of space, be it physical or mental and some sort of intentionality and changing one's practice to highlight it, or to heighten it.

13:33 So would you say that people are people might be drawn to monasticism because they realize, oh, there's something I like I need to work on in my life, you know, I can't think life is too loud right now. Or here's this character flaw or something that I feel like me might be a character flaw, maybe I lose my mind and traffic or whatever it might be. And so I'm going to withdraw in a particular way to heighten my development in some way.

Sister Zither 14:05 And definitely, I'm a little bit afraid that American, I'm gonna I'm gonna bully American Society for a minute, at least.

Stephen Bradford Long 14:16 We deserve it.

Sister Zither 14:17 So have just that. There is a drive and I think a large pressure to improve oneself. And I'm making scare quotes here. This drive for improvement. And I do think when we're talking about monasticism, there are awful forms of monasticism terrible forms of monasticism. That should not be used as a model, I don't think and I think their natural outgrowth of just sacred anorexia for example, or the Crusades, for example, or the entire Jesuit order, for example. So there's extremely problematic behaviors that come out with a drive towards what is perceived as a better state or an improved state. And I would maybe even approach mountain monasticism in a way that does not aim for an improved state but just rather an increase of intentionality be that leading to improvement or you know, not like, if you need to take a nap, like take a nap, are you going to be an improved person afterwards? Maybe, maybe not. But maybe that nap was necessary maybe that meditation is necessary for that moment. But I I'm, I'm worried when we start looking at goals of improvement or things like that. Not saying that people can't use that obviously like tool in the toolkit. But I would I would hate to pigeonhole the whole concept of monasticism as being something towards improvement.

Stephen Bradford Long 15:51 I'm so glad you brought that up. Because you're exactly right, there's kind of this fetishizing of AAA, or an obsessive fixation on self improvement. And one of the forms of meditation, or one of the approaches to meditation that I have found particularly helpful lately is the direct approach of realizing, Oh, the nature of my consciousness is already open the nature of my consciousness, like right now, right here in this space, there is nothing to arrive to, there's nothing to arrive at, I am simply an open present being and I can be attentive to that or not the and so there isn't this, this striving there? Isn't this, this obsessive cleaning, striving, whatever, you know, that was the nature of my meditation for so long, especially when I was a yogi when I was in the yoga world, there is this, this this striving need to attain some kind of perfection. And it was very destructive. So I'm really glad that you bring that. I'm really glad that you bring that up. So now that we have done like a very cursory overview of monasticism, how might we explore this within a satanic context? And I asked that fully acknowledging that that is the most wide open question possible. Like, the options are endless. The options are, are, are infinite. But how? How might we begin to explore monasticism in a satanic setting?

Sister Zither 17:39 And of course, that's like the starting point, right? Which is one reason why I wanted to do the service and why I'm so excited to talk with you is, I think this is an idea that's going to just grow on its own. And I can't even I can't even comprehend the things that other people will come up with. And in that sense, I think the people experimenting and trying out things and seeing what works for them will be a fantastic experiment and late on what are possible practices. That is talking, it sounds like you, you have a very developed practice. And that's something that you've developed really over time. And as you've cultivated these things, and as as I've cultivated, cultivated my ideas and my notions about what is a practice or what's not. I've closed a lot of doors doing that. And I'm really excited to see what people come up with when they haven't gone through years of narrowing a path and closing doors and, and things like that.

Stephen Bradford Long 18:49 Yeah. So when you say closing doors, do you mean like limiting your the options in your own personal life or how to express monasticism? You're Yeah, okay.

Sister Zither 19:01 Yeah, no, that's it. Yeah, go ahead. No, no, no, no, please go on. I was I was just gonna say I've cultivated my own practice. And I've been thinking about it for the amount of years that I have been thinking about it. And I find it really hard, the further you walk down a certain Road, to remember the origin of the road or remember all the options that were there. I don't know if you have a similar experience, since you've also like invested massive time and energy into cultivating your practices. If someone brought you the idea of satanic sandcastle building to accept the inevitable demise of something, something it's a great idea satanic sand castle building to accept the impermanence of reality, but it might not be the first thing that comes to mind because you might be drawing more on the things you know, so well.

Stephen Bradford Long 19:51 Yeah, you're absolutely right about that. Because I would say that I'm actually very traditional. In my practice, you So I was previously a Christian, of course, and I would pray the rosary. And I would pray the Book of Common Prayer, which both of which I think are really extraordinary technologies in a specific sense, you know, and they aren't useful for everyone, but they were very useful for me. And so then when I became a Satanist, I was like, Okay, I'm going to take those types of practices and refashion them in my own way for my own satanic practice. And so I developed a what I call a satanic root document, which is like my own Book of Common Prayer. And I've been working on it for years. And then I touch base with that document every single day. But it's rooted in a very traditional concept, which is, you know, having like this core document, the Book of Common Prayer that you return to again and again and again and again every single day. And so something like satanic castle building would not even occur to me because I am very limited to a like modifying those traditional practices.

Sister Zither 21:07 There's, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. But also when I'm when I'm thinking about the what, how are we going to start where to start? I feel totally unequipped to weigh in on that at all, just because I am so limited because I have hyper specialized and I'm just completely deformed in that way. So I'm, I'm only going to have bad answers, basically, because I can't have useful answers for that, because I don't have that freshness to the topic.

Stephen Bradford Long 21:42 And what does if I may ask, what does your own practice look like?

Sister Zither 21:46 Yeah, so I'm also tragically, I Okay, okay. It's not tragic, very traditional. I'm, I'm heavily influenced by things that already are things that have already been established within other monastic practices and things like that. All I've done is Satan ties them. And so, this, this includes doing away with chastity clearly. And

Stephen Bradford Long 22:14 the opposite of elder chastity. Actually, I don't I do not mean to derail you at all, but Sure, sure. My My partner is an ex Jesuit novice. And, and so you want to talk about the Jesuits and how fucked up the Jesuits are, we can definitely talk about that later. But anyway, I'm sorry, go Oh, man.

Sister Zither 22:37 Yeah, yeah. No, no, exactly. So like, the so for me coming also from an already established, like knowledge of monastic backgrounds. There's extra pleasure in inverting and blasphemy arising on top of that, which someone who, if they're not coming from a Christian background, or if they're not informed about that, there's no joy in being like, I'm going to be extra unchaste. Today, you know what I mean? Whereas like, that is a joy of practice, or, or this idea of, instead of doing the monastic reading and the monastic forms of submission, the opposite of that, to invert that very intentionally, and things like that. And I feel like that's not transferable to everyone. That's a very specific flavor that's built on my pleasure of knowing what I know about existing practices and knowing how much it would piss people off if they could see what I'm doing. So yeah, absolutely.

Stephen Bradford Long 23:39 I love that. And so we have kind of satanic inverted monasticism. And I think that's fabulous, kind of extending the black mass into life. In other words, which I think is really really cool as a concept. And it sounds like your expertise is in Christian monasticism, in particular. What is that relationship to Christianity like for you as a Satanist right now? I know, that's another very, very broad question. But, you know, I have a in let me just preface it. preface that question with my own experience, which is, I have this intense love hate relationship with Christianity. And I don't consider myself anti Christian, but I consider myself anti authoritarian. There's a lot of abuse of authoritarianism within Christianity, and yet, I am post Christian in the sense that I am deeply informed by Christian theology and my Christian background. So it's it's a weird, complicated relationship, and I'm just really curious about your relationship to Christianity as a Satanist who studies Christian monasticism.

Sister Zither 24:58 Yeah, yeah, and actually As my Satanism developed, I found my relationship to my work to be more and more fraught. I was actually working on a project to translate and annotate saints life. And I couldn't bring myself to finish it because I don't want to work with the people I would need to work with. In order to get a translated since I've published like I, there's this weird phenomenon, specifically in medieval studies, or in theological studies, where if you're a Christian working on a Christian topic, it's a non issue, it's just natural. It might even be to your benefit to be somewhat of an insider and formed or to be openly a believer, but should you be atheistic study and Christian topics, you're always kind of held at arm's length that you're not really handling it right? Or you're not being sensitive enough for blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And should one openly be satanic studying comparative religious aspects or something like that? Or is dare dare anyone who is not Christian study a Christian topic and comment on it. That would require Oh, well, you need a statement of positionality. And you need to be extremely clear about how you are biased in your presentation and Dadda Dadda Dadda. And this also brings up really interesting questions, we would like to get more scholarship on TST on satanic issues, it would be awesome to have a bit more scholarship done on and properly written up on satanic theology, modern or satanic theology. Can Satanists do that and be accepted by the Academy? Or is it going to come off as autoethnographic navel gazing? Will it be accepted, because Christians open and out and vocal Christians are very well accepted in that so for me, I found the more I go down satanic development, the more problematic I find it to do work, which this will sound very, very, maybe vengeful, but do work that works directly with, for example, monastic orders in a way that directly benefits monastic orders when I intend to critique them. And especially when I can openly act from my role,

Stephen Bradford Long 27:18 I feel like I have an experience that kind of rhymes with that, which is my experience in the yoga world were so glad that COVID came at the time that it did. That sounds terrible. But I was already planning my escape from the yoga world. Because more and more I felt like I was an enabler of the pseudoscience by working in various settings, where I did not feel like I could voice criticism, and not being able to voice criticism of say, anti Vax, or severity, pseudo scientific and, frankly, dangerous, fake cures, medical cures, kind of pseudo scientific thinking, which can really destroy people in the long run financially and physically. And just feeling like I was unable to, to criticize that in any meaningful way. I feel like if I could voice my opinion, I would have been content to remain in the yoga world. But I couldn't, I felt like I would have been heretical in a in a way that that just would have made it unsustainable. And so I ended up leaving now I am focusing much more on just seated meditation, a seated meditation practice, because frankly, I find the meditation world far more sound scientifically. I'm far more aligned with and that isn't necessarily true in every case, of course, but just far more aligned with the current science than the yoga world. And so I feel like I can, in my own way, relate to that fraught relationship with your field.

Sister Zither 29:17 Yeah, I think it's not limited to any one field. I think it's a larger phenomenon that comes from that Christian hegemony and that Christian like control of so many narratives, and it's so hard to push back on that it will be really interesting. There's only been a couple of calls for papers out for things related to modern Satanism. And with tentative prodding, I noticed that most scholars working on it are working on it because it's a niche topic that has not yet been thoroughly explored, but they are not insiders. And this is not saying that it's a benefit to be an insider. But if so much theological writing has been done by people from within a religion. I would really like to see how that develops when we're talking about, for example, tst, flavor, Satanism, if there's space for internal folks to voice their opinion, and how will that be treated after so many years of standardizing how we approach other religions and other religious research. And these are very vanilla, like calls for papers of like, Satanism and feminism and popular culture and things like that. And everyone's like, oh, cool, I'm gonna write about Satan commercials or something like that. And it's cool. It's just, it'll be interesting to see where that

30:36 goes, if it actually touches on the religious community. In other words, is, I think what I'm hearing you say there.

Sister Zither 30:43 Yeah, it's like a little bit of that. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Stephen Bradford Long 30:46 And one of the ways that I like to think about monasticism is similar to how I think about ritual. And of course, there's a lot of overlap here, but I think Shiva honey has a pretty healthy approach to and everyone can listen to my interviews with Shiva, honey, she's on semi regularly to talk about ritual and whatnot. But she says, you know, different strokes for different folks. And some people, they, they really fucking love ritual, I actually personally happen to not really be one of those people, I I do have rituals, of course, but they're, they're much more contemplative in nature, they're much less. They don't have props, they don't have, you can see my altar back here. That's the only prop I have. And right now it's covered in books. So I have a very neglected ritual practice, but that, but I don't necessarily feel a need for like a daily or weekly ritual practice that involves kind of that emotional catharsis. And, and, and symbolic acts, and all of that kind of stuff. But a lot of people love it. And that's wonderful. That's fantastic. And we have space to explore ritual, individually and publicly, right, individually, and and communally. And, and then for people who just aren't into it, it's like, yeah, just go smoke a cigarette while everyone else is doing the black mass or whatever, right. And that's great. And TST has space for all of that. For that whole spectrum of like, you know, just go drink a beer. While while all the other Satanists are doing the black mass or the destruction ritual and and if it isn't your thing, then that's fine. And I see monasticism in a similar light, if that makes sense. It's like it's a tool that is available to us, and some people won't resonate with it. And that's great. And then others will. And that's also fantastic.

Sister Zither 32:56 Yeah, I think the only thing I would be prescriptive about is being prescriptive on the pitfalls to avoid. I would be then the anti guru. I will be vehemently Yeah. And you know, from the yoga world, Guru ism is just let's,

Stephen Bradford Long 33:16 let's definitely talk about that in a minute. So you would be visiting him in Vienna? The I can't say that

Sister Zither 33:24 strongly. I can't draw strongly.

Stephen Bradford Long 33:28 So you're strong. Yeah. You would be strongly opposed to Guru is okay. So, so insights from monasticism of what not to do in a religious setting. Right. So it sounds like guru ism is one of those things. Is there anything else that would be prescriptive for Yeah.

Sister Zither 33:44 Oh, my God. Yes. Strongly anti guru, strongly anti dogma, because that's, that's just, that's not going to go anywhere. Good, strongly and holier than thou arms race. And this is particularly a problem with a skepticism. Yeah. You know what I mean, right? Yes, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. So that that could go so so poorly, and strongly anti shame. Just as soon as we start talking about practice, or sharing practices and things like that, that opens up a lot of vulnerabilities and there needs to be a very strong message of like, your practices, your practice, like shame free. We're not setting any sort of correct practice and correct practice. It's hard though, because even with traditional monasticism, again, this skepticism and things like that, it gets into a lot of honestly self destructive behaviors, which as some people I can see people working in kink, I can see people working in a lot of very specific restrictive behaviors, for example, and there will have to be conversations about Where's where's the line on that? Not not just Same but also not to get that arms race or not to get like destructive monasticism has huge potential to become destructive as we've seen, in actual practice with people

Stephen Bradford Long 35:13 again and again and again. Yeah, so I mean, for example, my, my partner, I won't go into details, because it's his story, but he experienced some looking back on it, just just straight up abuse in, in the monastic world, just just straight up abusive stuff that was very unhealthy, but was under the veil of piety, it was under the veil of holiness and so much becomes permissible under the under the the pursuit of holiness, it's it becomes like it becomes this smokescreen for to just for abuse. And so I I am hearing kind of five primary cautions, one is Guru ism, the other is on holier than thou. The other is self you know, self flagellation. The other is dogma and the other is shame. And these are all very real pitfalls in the formation of, of, of contemplative practice, or ritual practice or a monastic practice or whatever combination thereof. Right. And, and I think that I still probably am working through a lot of the internalization of these, because I, I have had some pretty extraordinary experiences within within a contemplative setting. But then with that, almost always, in my experience has almost always come a an element of coercion or abuse. And it's hard to separate those things out. It's really, really hard.

Sister Zither 37:08 Yeah. And we've become so good at abusing ourselves and coercing ourselves like once that that has been established. We run on autopilot, too. So yeah, yeah, those

Stephen Bradford Long 37:19 tapes go really deep. And so it's so easy to sell flagellate when it comes to this kind of stuff. And so guru Dum, that's something that I'm particularly interested in, because, of course, I was in the yoga world, I cannot think of a single guru, who wasn't in some way a despicable human being. It there's just something about that culture, that that encourages abusive, narcissistic, power hungry people to to become awful. And so that's, I've seen it a lot, and it's super gross, and it's super destructive. Do you have any insights on on how to avoid guru dumb? Like, what are what are cultural safeguards? or societal safeguards that that we can have in place culturally to avoid a guru dumb?

Sister Zither 38:17 Oh, I wish I knew. Yeah. I wish I knew.

Stephen Bradford Long 38:21 Well, it because it's human nature, almost. It is. So these things crop up so often in human nature's and so it's really hard to have good safeguards.

Sister Zither 38:33 Yeah, good. Yeah. And the thing is, is we can't stop. People from positioning themselves in gurus, especially with the current ecosystem for social media and the current ecosystem for information transfer. People will try to become growers. The only thing we can do is as a larger community, be vocal about caution about those things. We can't stop people from being attracted to gurus either, like how do you stop that magnetism? There's a reason why Guru ism is a thing. And I'm sure many communities would like to avoid it. I think the way we've shaped a lot of TST practice, for example, the way we have services being so linear and non hierarchical the way the communities are set up to be very egalitarian and things like that, I think continuing to not only cultivate that and set up those frameworks, but to openly and vocally praise that and be like, oh, so good that we were talking all from the panel today and things like that, like, elevate each other and be very careful to make sure that the net is cast wide that we're elevating many voices, and take that as a sort of preventative measure against the attraction of gurus. Are the attraction of becoming a guru?

Stephen Bradford Long 40:02 Yeah, I love that. And also, for me, one of the most helpful things for me to remember is being aware of a cognitive glitch does not actually make me less vulnerable to it somehow. Goodness, yeah. You know, and so and just because I'm a Satanist who is anti authoritarian, who is anti, just the, it's like, this glitch is so pervasive that even be holding the values that I hold, that doesn't mean that I should stop being careful. It's like, though, just because I know that I'm anti authoritarian, and I hold these values, and I'm a Satanist. And I'm aware of the propensity towards a guru dumb, does not actually make me any, any less vulnerable. And it it kind of reminds me of the rational community, you know, the eight, you know, hardcore atheist rationalists, being falling down, you know, touting rationality, and touting what they call anti tribalism. And then so often falling down this, this kind of right wing rabbit hole. And, and, you know, the, and they are aware of the cognitive glitches, a lot of them are technically aware of the cognitive glitches. And that awareness in and of itself does not keep them from falling down these really gross rabbit holes. And so awareness is not enough. It has to be more proactive, like I have to be proactively anti guru.

Sister Zither 41:49 Yeah, correct, proactively anti guru. And also, don't feel obligated that it always needs to be all on your shoulders all the time, there's the importance of being able to prop each other up. There's the importance of active and open communication between people. So if someone's getting a little, little close to that edge, you can be like, Hey, I heard the thing you said, I want to talk to you about that kind of thing. But you know, I have a not to be too much like, oh, community community, cuz we're Satanists. We're hired individuals or what have you. But the community and open conversation sunlight, sunlight, fixes bad ideas, sunlight on bad ideas is super helpful.

Stephen Bradford Long 42:38 If we may, quote The aforementioned gross right wing atheists. Sunlight is the best disinfectant with the coffee, sometimes. Not all the time, but a lot of the time. And so that kind of open communication and yeah, I completely agree with you that that I think the structure of tsp kind of helps to mitigate a lot of the more toxic features of that we might find in contemplative life. And monasticism, by the way, I'm using the words, contemplative and monastic interchangeably. I think I'm just now realizing that would you say that that is an appropriate thing? To to to conflate the two or not?

Sister Zither 43:27 I personally wish they're in the same basket, but they're not the same thing. But I don't see any any big issue and like, if that for you is what your practice looks like. Absolutely. Like to find myself like, go go nuts.

Stephen Bradford Long 43:44 Yeah, yeah. So I've been thinking about what might what? Maybe what is a starting point for exploring monasticism within a satanic setting? And I and I came up with this very basic three point, formula. Okay, so I'm a, I'm a former Protestant come out of the Calvinist tradition. We love our points. So this is this is my three point formula for beginning and but it's but it's like pirate code, it's more of a suggestion than a than a rule, right? So keep that in mind. So, step one would be exploring a boundary. Now this boundary can be literally anything under the sun. It can be a boundary of Okay, at this particular time of day, I'm just going to turn off my technology and I'm going to go for a walk or it can be you know, what I am, I am done interacting with a particular type of person. So I'm going to put a boundary there or, or maybe I'm, I'm getting overwhelmed with social media. So I'm going to remove social media from my phone. So we have a boundary. And that can literally be anything under the sun, it can be that it is an individually tailored boundary. So that's step one. And then step two would be a practice. Now, this can be literally any practice under the sun, it can be some kind of kink, it can be some kind of ritual, it can be some kind of meditation, it can be some kind of, you know, just reading in the evening, it can be literally any anything under the sun. So, so step one would be find a boundary, Step two would be find a practice. And then step three is a duration. And so we could say, I'm doing it just for this weekend. Or we could say I'm doing this for the next year. Or we could say I'm doing it for the next six months, or the next week, or whatever. And that's it. That would, and I and that might be those three steps, find a boundary, find a practice for a duration of time. And that's it. And it can be any variable within any of those three slots, but and so it provides a structure, but it's wide open. And I don't know what do you think of that? What do you what do you think of that as an entry point? And is there anything that you would subtract or add to that?

Sister Zither 46:29 Yeah, well, I'm gonna Yes, and you on this that I think the only thing that's missing is like usually they have these symbolic names like the golden path or something. Okay, I can just propose Can we call it the three string banjo of satanic enlightenment?

Stephen Bradford Long 46:43 Yeah. The three string banjo and I'm here in Appalachia in North Carolina, so I am down with that.

Sister Zither 46:55 All right, all right, to to sing your own tune towards balance. Harmony.

Stephen Bradford Long 47:03 So you have so you have those three strings, but you can play whatever the fuck you want on those three strings.

Sister Zither 47:09 Yes. Yes. As long as you're jamming on it. Yeah.

47:12 Yeah, the name that I was coming up with was way more boring, which was just the satanic monastic pledge.

Sister Zither 47:18 But I like, you know, that makes more sense.

Stephen Bradford Long 47:22 And so you know, but I like the the three stringed banjo of satanic monasticism more but then maybe you could initiate the banjo pledge, Banjo slash pledge with a ritual with a small ritual, if they want to do that kind of an initiation ritual or a starting ritual. I know that sober faction, which has some gorgeous rituals. They have they have a kind of a starting ritual and, and sober faction to begin the seven rituals, which is for people who are not in the know. So perfection is our sobriety. community within tst. Yes, yeah. So perfection is fucking awesome. And anyone who is interested in that you go listen to my interview with Jody and John eldritch. Who are the directors and it's just a beautiful program. So for people who are who are into ritual, they could initiate it with a with a little ritual.

Sister Zither 48:21 Well, so the way I'm thinking about if if someone were to ask me, How do I start incorporating monasticism or some sort of conceptualization of monasticism into my practice? A lot of monasticism as you know starts with like the novice level or there's like degrees of entry. And I think a lot of the degrees of entry and existing forms of monasticism are in early monasticism don't have any big jumps, you're really literally just doing the same stuff you you normally do, it's just You've crushed it crossed the threshold into understanding it differently. So if I were to do a model, like a version of the the three string banjo of satanic enlightenment, just coin that right now. I would say pick something that you're already doing that's positive and start doing it intentionally. So anything that you're already doing that you feel like this is a thing I want to hold on to make it intentional and then amplify it anyway as like string number two, and then to get that that whole chord of reflect and adjust so that there's no necessary pledge or no necessarily bond or vow or something like that. There's many monastic orders that require absolutely no vows. You are different monastic practices where, you know when you're crossing that threshold, you can mark it if you want, you don't have to, but that reflect and adjust as being part of the amplification process part Did the intentionality process and I think that also, like you said, to keep it open and have the whole range, what you want to play with it is whatever you want. But really focus on the what's already working for you, what are you already doing, use that as an anchor point, rather than adding or subtracting, sometimes that can be super stressful for folks to try to remember.

Stephen Bradford Long 50:25 Yeah, and it can definitely become overwhelming really fast. And so maybe an example here, so I'm already a reader, I already, you know, read a lot, it's one of my primary forms of, of entertainment. So and then I also, you know, try to shut down my, all my technology in the evening for at least an hour before bed, because, you know, I'm very, very, very sensitive to light. And so if I'm looking at my phone or whatever it I will not sleep, period. And so I have to have that wind down period. And so this is something that I know about myself. And so, but this is already like a pre existing thing in my life, right? This is already something that that I'm working towards, or it's in my life to a certain degree, well, maybe with the three stringed banjo, satanic monastic pledge, I, I would take this thing that is already present in my life, and become more aware and intentional about it. And so the boundary could be okay, well, every night at 11pm, I'm going to attempt to kind of put put the gaming away or put YouTube away or email or whatever it is. And so that would be the boundary. And then the practice would be okay, I'm going to read for 30 minutes to an hour, which is something that I already do, but this is just kind of becoming more intentional about it. And then the duration, let's just say, you know, for the rest of March, right, and then it's like, at the end of March, I could revisit it, revisit this and see if it's actually working, is it working or not? Okay, well, it's time to update it. If it isn't working, you know, then then we can tinker around with it, see what works and what doesn't work. And so it's like a pre existing thing in my life, that I'm just bringing kind of greater awareness and intentionality to I'm fine tuning it. But yeah. Say I am someone who may be more prone towards certain obsessive compulsive disorder. Obsessive Compulsive proclivities, this might actually not be good for me, this might not be Yeah, this might not be healthy for me. And so I have had friends who are who, whose ritual practice does not interact well, with their, whatever version of neurodiversity that they have. And so in that case, maybe not putting the framework of, of the three stringed banjo pledge, what would be the appropriate,

Sister Zither 53:11 we could also have the, the single drum head jambay, of satanic enlightenment, where you have just like, a moment where you do the thing, and that is your practice. And it's over. And it's done. And you can do it as many times as you want, as few times as you want. At any point, you can beat out a rhythm on it, or what have you. I think the only thing is it needs to be consciously separate from whatever you're normally doing. But we can have as many different varieties as there are monasticism. So definitely no single single path, One Ring to rule them all kind of approach.

Stephen Bradford Long 53:50 Absolutely. Well, I think that's a great note to end on. This has been a fantastic conversation. And I think that there's so much more to explore here. This is something that is a passion of mine. And I would love to have you on again to talk more about this. And maybe we could explore the you know, we can explore this more. One of the exciting things about being a Satanist is that we get to invent it, we get to create it as we go along. And that's one of the most exciting things about being in a new religious movement is we get to create the religion that we want to see in the world. So this is just another aspect of creating the religion that we want to see in the world. So yeah, definitely. I'm

Sister Zither 54:34 so glad that that we're doing it and I'm so glad that you have a platform, a public platform where you can be vocal and conscious about conversations about this. It's invaluable to the community and to the development of our TST religion.

Stephen Bradford Long 54:50 Awesome. Thank you so much. All right. Well, that is it for this show. The theme song is wild by eleventy seven you can find it on Apple Music or Spotify or wherever Are you listen to music? This show is written, produced and edited by me Steve and Bradford long and it is a production of rock candy recordings, as always Hail Satan. And thanks for listening