The Happy Satanist (2015)

Lilith Starr is a powerful sorceress of the Devil. Many know her recent history: Long-time head of The Satanic Temple’s Seattle chapter, stalwart community organizer, and now semi-retired “Satanic Zen monk” who still serves as an online guru for the religion.

But before all that, Starr found herself on the brink of death — or worse. She found Satanism at that lowest moment, and The Happy Satanist (2015) tells how, with help from her comrades, she found the power within herself to battle back and reclaim her life.

Starr’s book contains frank discussions of obstacles she faced such as drug addiction, suicidal ideation, and homelessness. Rather than repeat those very personal stories, I’ll focus on how she overcame the obstacles: by creating her own religion of self-empowerment. The Happy Satanist is a great example of what Satanism looks like in practice — as a philosophy of action.

STARR MAR 2016
Starr, March 2016. She has worked in the sex industry as a dominatrix, erotic masseuse, and BDSM educator.

+ You Are Your Own God +

Starr traveled a unique religious path both before and after becoming a Satanist. In true individualistic fashion, she blends ideas and practices from diverse belief systems to create something that fulfills her own needs.

First, Starr has always been an atheist, and her nonbelief is of the fiery anti-theistic variety. She takes a dim view of monotheism’s effect on children, whether it’s physical or sexual abuse, or stultifying their minds with guilt, shame, and threats of hell. She equally takes issue with monotheism’s grip on government and on public opinion. Starr understandably scorns the cruel, sadistic, and misogynistic Abrahamic god, because he can and does hurt people, despite not being real. As she repeats throughout the book: “The emperor has no clothes!”

Starr practiced Zen Buddhism for years before finding Satanism, and she insists that her Satanic conversion did not at all contradict or alter her existing Buddhist beliefs, but rather reinforced them. Starr preaches the benefits of meditation and helpfully provides a simple description of a meditation routine. In particular, Starr praises meditation for enabling a state of “flow”, a heightened attunement to reality.

Thus Starr was an atheist and a Buddhist when she found The Satanic Bible (1969) by Anton LaVey. She read that book, along with its companion text The Satanic Rituals (1972), and she immediately bought into the core tenet of Satanism, as she understood it:

You are a complete, organic being with many dimensions, and you have the ultimate power to change your own life and world experience. In other words, you are your own God.

That realization didn’t just change her life, it saved it. Shortly after, Starr vowed to live as a full-time Satanic magician and priestess of Darkness — a living representation of “love, justice, compassion, destruction and renewal, transformation.” Since then, she has striven to live out those ideals in her activism and her magical practice.

+ Every Poem Is a Spell +

Reality itself is the most magical thing in the universe. My magic practices serve to act on my own subconscious, to help me move through reality with all my psychological levels aligned to a common goal.

Even more than her fame as a unicorn wrangler in Seattle, Starr’s insights in magical technology might be her most meaningful contribution to the Satanic milieu. Like her religious belief system, her magical system integrates diverse influences such as Myers-Briggs types, Zen meditation, blood rituals, and good old-fashioned sexual energy.

Since the publication of The Happy Satanist, Starr has elaborated at great length on her theories of Satanic magic. Those online articles add to the firm foundation she laid in the book, where she stresses that despite the word “magic” being thrown around so much, she holds no supernatural beliefs. She echoes LaVey’s line that we are far from fully understanding ourselves, therefore “magic” is just a way of exploring our unknowns, with the goal of maximizing our potential.

Starr indeed gives a lot of credit to the LaVeyan magical system, while reminding us that magical practice is a very personal undertaking which individual practitioners must tailor to suit themselves. To that end, Starr considers all of her writing and artwork, in fact every single action she takes, to be part of a huge ongoing Satanic ritual:

Every word I write is a magical act, flung out into the web of many consciousnesses like a dandelion seed in search of soil. Every poem is a spell. Every photograph is an homage to the magic inherent in one fleeting moment, a ghost of life still flickering with slow pale fire. All my creative paths are aligned with my intent: to bring more love and joy into the world, to knock down decrepit walls with the truth, to dance on the ruins of the old structures of oppression and hate.

Thus social media plays a major role in Starr’s conception of magic. Whenever she shares a work she has produced, she knows she is creating a change in people’s perception which wouldn’t have happened otherwise. She recognizes this phenomenon for what it truly is: a magnificent Power which can change the world for the better.

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Starr has written extensively about Satanic altars, ritual bells, and other magical technology.

+ A Bright Trail of Luciferian Fire +

Partly due to her struggles, Starr is not nearly so naive or ‘non-political’ that she fails to extend her revolutionary reasoning to the political realm. In fact, Starr holds the values of a fire-breathing leftist, and I get the distinct impression that even if she somehow left Satanism tomorrow, she would keep those values.

In no uncertain terms, Starr decries free capitalism, corporatism (including mass media and big pharma), gender binary traditionalism, and so on. She complains that our society (especially monotheism) conditions us to dismiss poor people and to blame them for their own misfortunes.

Citing her own hard-won experience with addiction recovery, Starr criticizes Alcoholics Anonymous and similar 12-step programs which insist that the patient surrender themselves to ‘God’. This stipulation is counterproductive and degrading to Satanists and other freethinkers, and for many people, the program simply doesn’t work. Starr suggests secular alternatives which bolster the patient’s agency, rather than denying it.

In the “Incendiary Breasts” chapter, Starr blasts the hypocrisy of a culture in which ‘sex sells’ but sex is also censored and considered ‘bad’. This creates an unnecessary and harmful feedback loop of arousal and shame, and of course monotheism perpetuates the whole damn thing. Starr states her own free love principles, proudly declaring that her husband Uruk Black is her sex-slave, and that working in the sex industry (as a dominatrix, educator, etc.) is among the great joys of her life. To drive her points home, Starr treats us to a topless photo. A little fanservice never hurts!

Starr delights in walking her own path, and she encourages others to also blaze their own trails, rather than live as mindless followers. For Starr, this is the essence of the left-hand path:

It is not simply a turn in the opposite direction, but a spiraling out into new territory, a founding of a new approach. Break the circle we are trained to shuffle along forever, and forge your own path into the wilderness. When you look behind, you’ll see a bright trail of Luciferian fire.

+ Concluding Words +

My recommendation to any open-minded person who wants to know the basics about Satanism, as told by Satanists, is to read The Satanic Bible and then to read The Happy Satanist. The former is like the ‘Old Testament’ of Satanism, then Starr’s book puts a suitable modern spin on the religion. Both books discuss big ideas while still being easy to read and understand.

Starr’s days as a highly active public figure are behind her, and she stepped away from TST-Seattle’s leadership in mid-2019. She and Uruk are both hobbled by pain and disabilities. Sometimes their well-being depends on the kindness of their fellow Satanists, who get a kick out of lending the legends a helping hand.

Starr still publishes great content on her blog, and she is rumored to be working on a followup book. I hope she completes it, despite her poor health. Whatever happens, Starr can be proud of herself, and we can be proud of her. She believes no illusions, but she can be certain that she has made the world a better place, and left a bright trail of sweet fire wherever she’s gone.

STARR FEB 2020
Starr, Feb. 2020. Nice Revolt shirt!

+ Sources & Links +

  • Starr’s blog is required reading. For years she has used her blog to highlight community members, to share magical technology (altars, rituals, etc.), and to promote the religion she credits with saving her life. She also wrote the best essay on The Revolt of the Angels to date.
  • Speaking of Revolt: For our hypothetical open-minded person to whom I already recommended two books, I’d recommend Revolt as their third.
  • My write-ups on The Satanic Bible¬†and LaVey’s magical muse, The Command To Look.
  • Cover photo and altar photo by the author.
  • Starr’s photos are from her Facebook page.

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