In my past, there was a time where I became so abused with Christianity that I went in the other direction. The motto “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” resonated with me then, and still does now.
I had spent my whole life bowing and scraping to the deity I was told to, living in constant terror of being struck down for sinning, or being so polluted by sin that I was a lost cause. Having her try to beat the Devil out of me on several occasions was also a part of this, because she would attack me saying she could see Satan standing behind me laughing at her while he had me in his clutches, so in order to defeat him she chose violence against me.
Having these thoughts and encountering someone’s “visions” was scary for a child, and I sought constant contact with the God of my bio-donors in an effort to stave off of burning for all eternity. I thought at that time that if I just prayed enough, then their God would tell her I was good, and to love me instead of seeking to end my existence all the time.
Sadly, this God never intervened on my behalf, and I entered my teenage years seething with hatred at anything connected to my birth religion. My loathing for it only increased after being sexually assaulted, and having everyone tell me it was their god’s will that it happened, in order to break me into a better person. I wore all black, painted my face into a deathly black and white mask, I dyed my hair the color of decaying blood, and sketched pictures of myself in chains, killing my tormentors, dying, or tapping into lightning in order to end my torment. Growing up there were many conspiracy books about Satanism and the influence it had on society, including diagrams of symbols that Satanists would carve into victims for sacrifice, names of demons connected with Satan, and stories of the authors encountering demon possessed people who they fought with the bible or names of God.
These books outlined gruesome rites that they believed Devil-worshipers performed under darkened skies with one another, or on newborn babies (the idea of harming a child repulsed me, but was a fervent belief that the book mentioned at every moment). Each chapter discussed a new theory of how some other part of society or the government was being controlled in secret by these people, and expressed a kind of horrific fascination in their accounts of these ceremonies happening.
Reading this book as an angry teenager who would have gladly watched her guardians suffer in these ways was a guilty pleasure for me, and I hid the book in my room to examine more of this forbidden world. I felt drawn to the symbols of the Antichrist that was written about in hushed tones and whispered warnings. I lay awake at night with bruises and cuts burning from my tears, and imagined what life would have been like if Satan were on my team. If I were able to call upon Him and ask for help and protection, and offer my service in return. I would fantasize about how I would wreak my punishment upon those who hurt me, and whisper desperate and deeply hidden prayers/wishes to the nighttime shadows lurking in my room.
I found an old chain, a key-ring, black hair pins, and wire in the bottom of a drawer and began bending them into a Pentagram as described in these books (not realizing the deep and richly varied history of this symbol), focusing my intention on creating a symbol of both power, and a talisman to protect me. As I twisted the metal into the desired shape (with either a Leatherman tool or my bare hands), I imagined what I would do if Satan were to show up, and how I would gladly become His servant if He were able to save me.
Once this necklace was done, I wore it constantly, trying to hide the chain under turtleneck shirts to avoid detection. Sadly my efforts to hide it were not successful, and my siblings gladly ratted me out for wearing something unfamiliar. I tried pinning the pendant into my bra line, hiding it in a pocket or my sock, but each time I thought I had a hiding place for it, my privacy would be interrupted again with full body searches, or my room being torn apart looking for something to punish me for. After carrying it with me for about a week, I gave up trying to keep it on my person, and threw it into some bushes while walking the dogs. I wept as it disappeared into the shrubbery, feeling as though all hope was lost, and as though my last reserves were stripped away.
Time blurred after that, waking moments bled into each other so much that I lost any sense of self-worth or burning flame to live. I briefly considered suicide, but as I held the bottle of pills in my hand, I couldn’t bring myself to end it. I felt as though I reached deep within myself and grasped an ember of heat, a hunger to survive that I had thought was long since snuffed out.
I had screamed at the skies above me demanding a sign or proof that I should live another day, and found as I looked into the Abyss, there was Something looking back at me. Instead of the lightning or fiery pillar in the clouds, I found a primal drive that was almost animalistic pulling me up out of the mire I was stuck in. Each clawing movement that lifted me up felt as though my joints were on fire, or as if my stomach was filled with molten energy. I grasped the hand reaching out to me, and found myself face to face with the Darkness I had whispered to all those nights ago.
And I felt hope.
I couldn’t give up, my story wasn’t finished yet, I couldn’t let everyone’s predictions of my failure and death come true, I had to keep living, my very life was spitting in the face of all who mocked or abused me. Realizing these things, I packed my backpack with clothing and ran away from home, seeking freedom through living on the streets or in teen homeless shelters. I seized onto the mentality that I was worth more, and that each step I took was one further away from my origins. Staying on the streets as a waif didn’t last long, but my resolve to live did. It was only through many years of living, struggling, and surviving that I have reached where I am meant to be.
I now know Who helped me, having studied folklore and information over the years that described the Being I saw. The Man in Black, Old Scratch, Satan, or Lucifer would be some of His titles, and I honor Him as a Promethean deity that helped set me free. As the pull towards Rootworking, Hoodoo, Appalachian folk magic, and New World based magic gets stronger, so does the pull to honor Him more in my life.
The counseling that I have been attending has aided me in starting to confront my past, and since He is a part of it, this feels like a new chapter in my Path to focus more on Him and His help in the past.