A look into alternate realities and atheistic religion

Hidden figures of Puget Sound

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A look into alternate realities and atheistic religion

The Satanic Temple of Seattle (TST) is a countercultural, nontheistic community which focuses on activism and belief based on rational inquiry.

The Satanic Temple of Seattle (TST) is a countercultural, nontheistic community which focuses on activism and belief based on rational inquiry.

Courtesy of TST

The Satanic Temple of Seattle (TST) is a countercultural, nontheistic community which focuses on activism and belief based on rational inquiry.

Courtesy of TST

Courtesy of TST

The Satanic Temple of Seattle (TST) is a countercultural, nontheistic community which focuses on activism and belief based on rational inquiry.

Keely Carolan and Samantha Swainson, Copy Editor and Staff Reporter

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When thinking of modern day Seattle, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Possibly the tech-dominated culture, its title of “liberal bubble,” or the often bleak weather. Underneath the seeming normality of every city, there are often endearing twists and turns that set one person apart from the other.

Looking past the remnants of indie shops turned into upscale or hip restaurants, it’s not hard to dig into the funky, eccentric, and sometimes, straight up bizarre affairs that play out in the lives of ordinary citizens.

The teen years are a time of rebellion. But for some people, this anti-establishment narrative they’ve developed doesn’t stop; it only becomes more sophisticated, more organized, and more powerful.

 

Flat Earth: a subtle anarchy

From the founding of our country, the anti-establishment sentiment has run rampant through our ranks; the Puritans fleeing religious persecution in England, the counterculture revolution of the 60s, and more recently, the unnamed uprising against the domestic and foreign policy of the American government.

With recent scrutiny of political America, everyone has fallen victim to the deafening shout of defiance against our complacent society. Oddities and quirks often cause the dissent of traditional standards; the very concept of a Flat Earth does just that.

In this era of impressive technological advancement, where astronauts and scientists have been able to explore space and dissect every particle brought back, can there be a genuine Flat Earther left? If so, do they have the courage to broadcast a widely outcasted belief to society?

Tacoma local, Darryle Marble, asserts his firm stance in the Flat Earth theory in his YouTube channel encouraging viewers to viewers to investigate Flat Earth, working to contradict the globe model by conducting scientific experiments to prove the theorem.

His most infamous analysis, known as the “spirit level experiment,” where he took a construction level on an airplane to demonstrate the lack of curvature on the Earth, has over one million views.

“The level should’ve indicated that the airplane was dipping the nose down in order to make up for over five miles of curvature,” Marble said. “But the level showed that we were flying over a flat plain. That was the experiment that went viral, well over 1.1 million views.”

Flat Earth isn’t a new phenomenon, its roots reach far into history. To the scholars of the Renaissance, the Earth was flat, and they held a great fear of falling off the edge of the world.

While Marble gets a lot of positive feedback for his bravery in advocating his controversial viewpoints, he also receives plenty of negative feedback from men and women insistent to stand against the #feoffensive (Flat Earth offensive).

“The thing is, the negative responses aren’t so much because people are angry, it’s because we’ve been told something so many times that now people believe it to be true,” Marble said in a phone interview, “But it makes too much sense after looking at it from a critical, unbiased standpoint.”

Initially, Marble was a believer in the globe model himself. After a weekend of intense research and documentary viewing, he found himself unable to deny the information being presented to him. Thus began his personal experimentation, video making, and even lecturing at annual Flat Earth conferences. Marble emphasizes the importance of doing your own research.

“When you go outside and look up at the sky and you see clouds, in one spot or moving extremely slow, do you feel like you experience the earth spinning over a thousand miles per hour?” Marble asks. “Is that something that you feel, you experience? That’s my approach. My experience tells me that the Earth is flat and stationary.”

Going against the pull of the populous can mark a person. They’re mismatched and labeled as in the wrong, fables spread of the people who stand on their soap boxes, sputtering about an ominous foretelling of the end.

“Mainstream society tries to paint us all as absolute idiots, which is not the case. We’re not crazy, we’re not insane, we’re not lunatics, we don’t try to speak from a position of intellectual superiority or anything,” Marble said. “We just don’t trust the government and we took the time to do our own research. I try to remind people, the heliocentric influences, as I like to call them, we believed in the globe too.”

 

The Paranormal: who you gonna call?

    If there’s something strange in the neighborhood…

The paranormal has been a long time fascination for humankind. The idea of what lays beyond the veil of death, what awaits us in the afterlife, has left people in search of immortality or accepting of what is to come.

Questions litter their minds: are we left with a torturous afterlife wandering limbo in desperation to complete unfinished business? Is there a heavenly afterlife that awaits in return for a lifetime of good deeds? Or are we left with nothing, no semblance of consciousness, a void?

Unfortunately, while these queries remain unanswered, humans are still left to their traditions and belief systems. The Evil Eye to protect from supernatural misfortune, sage to burn against evil spirits, ouija boards for the reckless to interact with the unknown.

Mainstream society tries to paint us all as absolute idiots, which is not the case. We’re not crazy, we’re not insane, we’re not lunatics, we don’t try to speak from a position of intellectual superiority or anything.”

— Darryle Marble, Flat Earth Proponent

If there’s something weird, and it don’t look good…

Ross Allison, the founder of AGHOST (Advanced Ghost Hunters Of Seattle and Tacoma) and co-owner of the tour company Spooked in Seattle, spoke on the intricacies of being a paranormal investigator.

“Back in the day you basically didn’t tell people you were a ghost hunter because if you told everyone you’d be avoided. But now due to the popularity of ghost hunting, you’re a rockstar,” Allison said. “It’s also made a situation where there’s a lot of groups, very contaminated and overrun in the field. It’s a big problem out there, it’s so easy for people to call themselves a ghost hunter. A lot of people are calling themselves professionals because they’ve seen every episode of Ghost Hunters.”

Ghost hunting is a tricky endeavor; separating the ordinary from the extraordinary, distinguishing the facts from the mishmash of myths and mistakes, and proper examination of the evidence on hand. Was that flash of light the fault of an investigator or work of a paranormal?

I ain’t afraid of no ghost…

AGHOST is the oldest ghost hunting organization in the Pacific Northwest, a volunteer organization of about 60 members with the opportunity to investigate peculiar instances across the state.

Bringing the supernatural close to home, beneath Pioneer Square is a network of passageways and basements brimming with the specters of men and women lost to a subterranean world of debauchery.

“[Seattle] Underground is great because of the history, because of the illegal activities that took place there it became a secret location,” Allison said. “Back in the early 1900s, after they covered up the Seattle sidewalks, they forgot about these underground taverns. People would use them and carry on into the afterlife. We’ve had many experiences such as capturing electronic voice phenomena (EVP), disembodied voices, seeing shadowy figures, and hearing a strange knocking noise.”

Let me tell you something, ghost bustin’ makes me feel good…

Disregarding if you believe in the paranormal or not, the idea is frightening. Entering places filled with the good and the bad, the imprint of the past leaves a haunting harbinger.

“There’s always going to be doubters,” Allison said. “You can’t really prove the phenomena, even with audio and video evidence, anyone that doubts the paranormal field really has to experience it for themselves. You’re not going to persuade the skeptics to believe, but I try to open people’s minds to the idea that there is something out there.”

If you’re seeing things, running through your head, who can you call?

 

Freemasonry: a lifetime of brotherhood

    “Mystery creates wonder, and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand”

  • Neil Armstrong

Humanity has often pondered on what lays beyond the locked door–what mysteries await those who choose to delve within? As naturally curious human beings, we are fascinated with unwritten secrets, objects of antiquity, symbolism; anything alluding to something beyond normalcy.

As exclusive groups with access to fountains of knowledge, secret societies are at the center of any heinous accusation; world domination, assassination, terrorism, conspiracy. The Freemasons stand at the center of thousands of impassioned allegations.

With 14 presidents and nine signers of the Declaration of Independence being members, Freemasonry is ingrained into the bedrock of the American government, East to West. As a relatively young city, Seattle is no exception.

Very Worshipful Brother Coe Tug Morgan, Assistant Grand Secretary Emeritus, has been a part of the Seattle’s Masonic Lodge of the Arts for over 75 years. He spoke on the web the Masons have spun predating Washington State history.

“The election of the first [Washington] territorial legislature met in the Masonic Temple in Olympia,” Morgan said. “Later in 1858 two members of the legislature, members of the Saint John Masonic Lodge in Seattle, got a bill passed to create the Washington Territory University which is now the University of Washington.”

Deputy to the Grand Master District No. 5, Steve Harrell, is a strong advocate for the realization of equality even amongst imposing and elegant titles such as Grand Master, Worshipful and Very Worshipful Brother.

“The most important thing is, we’re all brothers,” Harrell said. “When we refer to each other, we’re talking brother, that is the most important thing. After that, it’s all just gilding on the lily.”

To many, the idea of the fraternity is a concept meant to stay with Greek life. A lifetime of brotherhood isn’t what everyone is looking for, especially in an adult all-male organization in modern day.

Troy McFarland, Junior Warden of the Grand Lodge of the Arts, has ruminated on the subject since joining.

“I had concerns about joining Masonry because it was a men’s only organization,” McFarland said. “But as I’ve gotten into it, it is a place with men that want to better themselves and that makes good men better.”

Of course, what first comes to mind when envisioning these Freemasons are dusty white men with secret handshakes, meeting in an ominously lit room wearing dark cloaks. Far from it, the Masonic Lodge of the Arts meets in broad daylight, with its roots in theatre, those involved in production could only afford to attend meetings during the day, thus creating the Daylight Lodge.

Junior Deacon Kahlil Blocker brought attention to the idea of eurocentric secret societies and the misconception that modern day Freemasonry is an antiquated club that’s views are being left behind.

“I assumed that Masonry was about white dudes as well, I was worried that I would feel ostracized when I joined and I never felt that way,” Blocker said. “There are Lodges that are made for ethnic groups. I very distinctly didn’t want to join one of those because you’re separating yourself in another way. If you’re not learning anything from somebody of another culture, that’s just as isolating. I have never felt discriminated, like I didn’t matter; I have started walking through the line of officership and everyone is as much excited to see me do that as I am.”

With the making of the internet, where knowledge on the most obscure topics is traded freely, the Freemasons can hardly be considered a secret society in modern age.

Although, the guidelines are still there with symbolism and religion deeply imbedded into their practices. Freemasonry remains a place of dedicated brotherhood in a society lacking face-to-face interaction.

“I don’t view Masonry to be archaic, our view isn’t archaic, our ceremonies very much come from long standing traditions,” Blocker said. “To be honest, that’s important, to experience the way things have been done, at least ceremonial, for a long time, that those can be preserved and presented, that’s a solidifying thing we do. The view may not stay the same, I’m glad the procedure is.”

 

Satanist: the celebration of the social rebel

Blood, gore, sacrifice and more: Ave Satanas, and welcome to a celebration of the acceptance of man’s true nature—the carnal beast. The little things often associated with the Evil One of biblical texts, he who is known as Lucifer and Satan.

When thinking of the Devil, one mustn’t forget his disciples. Worshipers that stand illuminated against the night, their figures adorned in blackened horns and goat visages.

These descriptions could not be further from the truth.

The influence of mainstream religion has greatly diminished the righteousness of the concept of Satan. The Satanic Temple of Seattle (TST) is a countercultural, nontheistic community which focuses on activism and belief based on rational inquiry. While most rituals they conduct are purely symbolic, their activities extend beyond spiritual discovery and personal exploration. And no, they do not worship the supernatural figure of Satan.

Three members of the leadership council, Azazel, Pockets and Kat Fish*, were willing to speak in detail about the tenets of the Temple and the struggles they’ve faced proclaiming themselves as Satanists.

“[TST] takes the trappings of religion and makes them into a form that rejects the supernaturalism aspects,” Azazel said. “While still helping people get into the mental and emotional states that come with it.”

For the TST, Satan represents rebellion against a compliant social state which accepts oppression, injustice and religious tyranny. TST engages in many forms of activism; participating in Pride Parade, court cases establishing the separation of church and state or advocating for religious freedom.

“Coming from a certain background and being converted over time, I had that brief phase where I was like ‘I’m an anti-theist, god is dead, religion poisons everything,’” Azazel said. “That’s true to some extent but it’s also not very useful. The best I can do is be a positive force for people. You don’t have to be an atheist to do that, you don’t have to be a supernaturalist to do that. TST exists as somewhere to reach that middle ground.”

Humanist values are strongly emphasized in this branch of Satanism, and the Temple specializes in advocating for people who have suffered from social justice issues. They handle many legal cases in which the line between religion and the law tend to be blurred, such as conflicts surrounding abortion or free speech on school campuses. TST emphasizes community service, such as blood drives and food banks, and prides themselves on their compassion and empathy towards others.

To be clear, The Satanic Temple is entirely different from the Church of Satan, which was the original form of supernatural Satanism officially established in 1966. The schism between these two religions is compared to conflicts between the Catholic Church and the Protestants. While they hold some similar beliefs, there are fundamental differences which make for distinct separation between the two.

“Relative to other religions, in satanism there’s more of an emphasis on study rather than worship,” Azazel said. “So you get a lot of geeks, a lot of academics, a lot of autodidactic people from pretty much every field of knowledge…It’s very liberating. It’s a community that is built around the pursuit of knowledge.”

Unfortunately, throughout history the name of Satanism has somewhat been dragged through the dirt. This makes it hard for many who are a part of that community to be open with their identity in their day to day lives. While always remaining professional with clients, Kat Fish ended up sharing this part of their identity with their employer at the domestic violence agency where they worked.

“I ended up getting my hours pretty much cut, they stopped having me around, and I ended up basically being forced out of the position in the end. And I love it, I don’t even want to say the name of the organization because it’s so close to my heart, I love these folks, and yet at the same time, it was an individual person that,” they paused, clearly emotional over the matter. “It didn’t even matter how much time I had put in, it had been a year at that point. Crazy hours, I had worked myself pretty much to the hospital at one point, but it didn’t matter.”

Many people who end up with the Temple come from backgrounds of trauma, such as homelessness, violence, and oppression. The TST is striving to be a place where people can feel as though they belong, where they are respected and taken care of.

“We are making space for people,” said Kat Fish. “Giving them a space to listen, and saying, you know what? We understand. Here is a place for you, you are welcome here, and [we are] creating that community where people can exist without fear.”

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