at the gilded palace of sin

Or as some of us like to call it, home.

This is just a little ode to the people who can throw convention and consensus out the window, walk right in the face of moral judgement, celebrate it and embrace their individuality. Not as martyr or victim, but just as who they are, as their own victory.

That takes guts, and honesty, and a very well grounded sense of humour. It also needs the capacity to not give a fuck. I admire all these things.

In the areas of the esoteric, spirituality and religion, these things are especially welcome, because they are so rare. In modern Paganism I wish they could just be parachuted in more often.

We really haven’t got over all our moral bullshit. We still act like there is “team good guy” and “team bad guy”. We still act like there is such a thing as objective “evil”. We fail to own our wills, our consequences, our fallibility, our effectiveness. If it can’t do damage, then it probably can’t do good either, not in the real world. That’s how life is.

It is for these kind of reasons that I applauded The Satanic Temple’s “pink mass” at the grave of the mother of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps. Despite much laughter over this, people did criticise it, both for being a “desecration” (like wow, desecrations sure aren’t like they used to be in the movies!) on the one hand, and for being a spoof on the other. I guess if you’re a Satanist you just can’t win! The point was though, that this was both spoof and serious, because they had a serious intent which also used humour and parody. And no, there was no such thing as a pink mass before this (or probably after), though mainstream news media immediately reported the “pink mass”, like everyone knows what that is, right? The best headline I saw ran something like “Phelp’s mother catapulted into lesbianism in afterlife by Satanic ritual at graveside”. Now come on, just for that, it was worth it. Phelp’s people picket funerals, not head stones, funerals with mourners and relatives, living people, basically saying that the deceased deserved to die because of other people’s gay rights, and that LGBT people are all going to hell. The Satanic Temple did a little thing over a grave stone, with no one around, no one mourning or hurt, and made an ironic statement about Phelp’s mother now having to be lesbian in the afterlife, according to their “beliefs”. Their “right to free speech” was apparently not the same as the WBC’s in the eyes of the police. The maternal grave stone was apparently unavailable for comment.

But let’s come closer to home than the Westboro Dingbats. Religion, psychiatry and politics have soaked esotericism in their effluvia for ages. And people do try and improve things, really sincerely, but there comes a point at which the improved, humane scape goat is still a scape goat. Just shuffled around and modernized. The knot, the crux, it seems to me, is individuality and pleasure. It’s not ethics, because that would require real, ongoing enquiry rather than judgement. In a world that is still sold on controlling morality, on virtuous victimhood, on reproduction and guilt, on sacrifice, on blame and exoneration, on the “divine plan”, or the “political program”, and on those bad, bad, bad guys – well, count me on the wrong side, because I know who I can honestly trust.

The one who walks in their own light, their own love, their own pleasure, their own intelligence, and their own identity, is the one who walks in any light at all.

That’s a responsibility we have to pick up, not condemn.


The title of this post has been shamelessly lifted from The Flying Burrito Brothers.



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