I was featured in the article ‘Exercising Beasts’ in Helle Magazine, May 2014.
Originally posted on hellemagazine.com, but the site can no longer be reached except via the web.archive.org site found here: https://web.archive.org/web/20140724193231/http://www.hellemagazine.com/2014/05/exercising-beasts.html
Below is the transcript from the original post:
Hello, Helle readers. My name is Tania, I’m a Witch in the Church of Satan and I am also what some call a gym rat.
I realize that sounds like the beginning of a true confession, but I am content with both monikers and proud of them, as well. When I became affiliated with the Church of Satan, I had a passion for fitness. As the years have passed, it has delighted me to see more and more members taking an active interest in one of my favorite things. It does not surprise me, as I find that Satanism and fitness philosophies have many congruent ideas and perspectives. It did lead me to realize, however, that it is not a topic widely written about and discussed. Id like to change that a bit.
Our cabal is made up of a variety of personalities, just as there are myriads of active lifestyles out there. Everyone of us enjoys different outlets and naturally we all have varying takes on what fitness means to us and what we enjoy doing. I’ve noticed, however, that the rewards are similar and we all agree on what a positive outcome we get from our endeavours. Before I provide a platform for sharing the stories of others, Id like to give you my own.
I spent the first chunk of my life growing up in a ballet studio. From age three on, my life revolved around dance, I was in love with it and it consumed everything. Apart from my studies and my books at home, there was nothing else that I did with my time. I took classes upon classes after school and on weekends, workshops all summer, auditioned for companies and gained a lot of character building qualities while trying to navigate that world as a young one. I was taught strict discipline early on, learned how to develop a thick skin and accept extreme verbal criticism and structure became my security blanket. Physical strain led to emotional endurance that the combination of both strengthened me. It was not a typical childhood, in many ways it was better. I would change none of it.
As the years passed, I continued to spend excessive hours at rehearsal with my ballet company while other teenagers were going to the movies, dating and having fun. All of that came to an abrupt end, however, when an injury took me out of commission for good. Having your dreams and efforts shattered at sixteen was a tough pill to swallow, and I abandoned what I loved in a furious all or nothing mindset.
I look back on this with a massive rolling of the eyes, as it was a mistake, but if you’ve ever met a teenager, you surely must be aware that they already know everything. The years carried on, I tried on different passions, made up for lost time in the fun department and carried on living my life in a way that I thought was quite fulfilling, though I could never escape the nagging thought that something was missing. I was scatterbrained, emotional and often-times morose. Did I mention that I was lazy? Well, I was lazy in many ways, not considering that any free time would be beneficially spent doing voluntary physical activity except for dancing myself into oblivion at a nightclub. After all, I dont like it when its too cold, nor do I endure extreme heat well. I only run if someone is chasing me and the last time I fell off a bicycle I vowed to never get on one again. For all practical purposes, I saw myself as delicate, that didn’t necessarily equate immediately with what my perception of the sporty type of person was.
It took me a good decade to snap out of it, vanity being my main motivator in the beginning. After two children, one realizes that there are aspects of themselves that will never be the same, but it doesn’t mean that you cant be the best version of your current self possible. I joined a gym. I hired a trainer to take me through an intensive eight week program to try and jump-start my efforts. When I began, I did not know how to use one single machine in the building, did not have any endurance whatsoever and was absolutely certain that everyone was laughing at me. But after seeing results in the first week, I was hooked. The concept of being able to transform things that you aren’t happy with was delightful to me. I have always loved being in control, to be honest, and this put so much power into my hands. I did not have to sit back and accept anything I didn’t want to, I could change it! My love affair with fitness took off from there.
I had new drive, endless sources of information to research regarding nutrition and training and all of the sudden, a clearer head. It did not take long for me to realize that this was no accident. I was calling upon discipline, structure, the love of incessantly pushing physical and mental boundaries… all things that had been stored away for a good while. Once the cobwebs were brushed off of them, I started to become whole again. I slept more peacefully, could process information more effectively and had an instant daily outlet for the surplus of emotions that I tended to bottle up. Many times I joke about trading a therapist for a trainer, but its really quite accurate. I have always been a person that thrives under routine and my daily small rituals, there are myriads of them that I do without thinking. My training time began being a more significant place for concerted internal ritual, what I focused on when I walked in the door was successfully and effectively left on that gym floor. Results followed. Happiness ensued.
Over the years, I have experimented with all types of activities. I am convinced that the key to really sustainable fitness lifestyles are finding the things that resonate with you deeply, things you love doing. After all, picking something that you hate isn’t exactly setting yourself up to succeed. Hence, why I never tried to be a marathon runner, I only run as if I’m being chased. There is a place for that in my routine! I can say for certain that I am never bored and will try anything fitness related at least twice. My first love was weight lifting and I still find it to be the most beneficial aspect of my arsenal of activities. I learned the ins and outs of this lifestyle by being taught a bodybuilder type method of lifting and eating. As time has passed, I have moved away from that and focused heavily on athletic strength, conditioning and agility training, where high intensity plyometric exercise is mixed with strength training and lots of bodyweight exercise is nurtured. I started kickboxing three years ago and found my current trainer about one year ago. He is an MMA based trainer with a bodybuilding past,and he has taken me a long way. I have evolved in so many ways and it has changed my perspective on everything. I also developed a great affinity for rock climbing, as it enables me to utilize my natural strengths. It will be a never ending journey of experimentation and worthwhile pursuits.
One really cant discuss fitness without including nutrition, and there are just as many paths to travel down. Some are fads, others are gimmicks, even more are effective but largely unsustainable for the majority of individuals. I have tried most everything. Mainly the things I found to be quite effective were also quite restrictive. As someone who loves to indulge from time to time, this made me cranky. I did not want to feel like I had to classify everything as clean or dirty foods, nor did I want to feel like I was cheating if I had something that I wanted. You can research this topic for twenty years and still not make a dent. I just happen to be quite lucky to have found the right fit for me with flexible dieting and macronutrient counting. It allows the consumption of anything you like in moderation and as long as it fits your nutrition goals. Nothing is off limits, so long as you hit your numbers each day. One can only achieve their goals by consuming large quantities of whole foods, so it naturally produces a healthy balancing act with room for enjoyment through cuisine!
In essence, I have gained extraordinary things from my love of fitness. I see my time in the gym as a great indulgence, everything that I accomplish there is solely for me. I believe in living life to the fullest, which means I will continue my pursuit of being better, faster and stronger. There is a lot see and do in this world, and we all have limited time. I plan on making the most of my time and spending every second on this earth with good life quality, as a happy and healthy Witch. As Satanists, its wonderful to find something that nurtures our deepest carnal instincts and natural human tendencies. Throughout history, we have seen different versions of the gladiator for a reason. In this modern society, which is based largely on stamping out those qualities in pursuit of more civilised endeavors, it is fulfilling to tap into that part of our existence. To sweat is to live, to challenge oneself to step outside of our physical and mental comfort zones is essential for growth and overall strength. The confidence garnered from these activities awakens the beast in all of us and we reap the benefits in our lives in every way. Aren’t we all in pursuit of reaching the next level? This has been my key to finding it, I’m not alone. Allow me to introduce to you some different perspectives from folks I admire greatly. I get most of my inspiration from seeing the strength in others and pushing myself to keep up. This is a good group to run with, here are some of the Elite and their thoughts:
Magister David M. Harris
I do yoga. More specifically, a program developed by former professional wrestler Diamond Dallas Page called “DDP Yoga” Since April of 2013.
I discovered this completely by accident. I’m a lifelong pro wrestling fan. Most wrestling fans are fully aware of the tragic stories of both Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Scott Hall (AKA Razor Ramon,) two phenomenal talents whose bodies were destroyed by the business, and their mental capacity and drive demolished by drugs and alcohol. Nothing worked for either one of these guys. Both could barely walk. Dallas, having maintained friendships with both of these guys outside the business, moved them into his home and got them working his program. 1 Year later, both are walking, both are sober, Scott is now physically training his son to get into the business, and Jake is talking about wrestling another match. This made me look into the program, and ultimately choose it as my preferred method of workout.
“Satan represents vital existence instead of spiritual pipedreams!”
One of the things that made me resistant to yoga was the spiritual aspect of it. Chakra balancing and all that Buddhist “become one with nothing” nonsense… its all horseshit! DDP Yoga (which was formerly known as “Yoga for Regular Guys”) removes the spiritual aspect and places the point of focus back on you.
DDP Yoga as made me thinner, more toned, more flexible, and yes, more attractive. Watch Kevin Slaughter’s video that we shot at The Black House, or the “Inside the Church of Satan” documentary, and you’ll see what a fat disaster I was.
Its a known fact that in this superficial world, the beautiful get what they want more easily. Part of lesser magic is being able to use your body, as well as your words, to influence.
There is legitimate science behind everything that was and/or is considered “mystical.” We simply haven’t discovered it all yet. But one of the things we have figured out is the endorphin rush we get from exercise. It helps us to expel negativity, and replace it with a sense of calm, similar to ritualization. Magister Sass’ essay on meditative ritualization is probably the best piece I’ve read on this subject, even if it doesn’t deal directly with exercise. One can easily see the correlation.
It is vital, knowing what we know now about the human body, that you adopt some sort of physical activity regimen as part of your daily routine. Our philosophy is one that embraces life and all it has to offer. Why shorten our time here by sitting on your ass getting fat?
Reverend Ashley S. Palmer
I’ve been interested in fitness since childhood and was initially motivated by the aesthetic strength on show in the World Wrestling Federation and displays of heroic violence in the Rocky and Rambo movies. The theme of the underdog or outsider undergoing self-improvement through discipline and training to reach success in competition or survival was and is very satisfying and motivational. I had my first taste of strength training around this time when competing with my family in regular light-hearted push-up and sit-up challenges, which led to me having a chin-up bar installed in my bedroom to increase the intensity of the workouts.
I remained fairly fit and physically active and cycled everywhere through to my late teens, but by my early twenties I had gradually become increasingly sedentary and lost interest in health and fitness falling victim of the typical decadent modern lifestyle of eating to excess for pleasure and sitting at a desk by day and a couch by night. As a consequence I became physically soft and about 40 pounds overweight. Having noticed this trend towards declining health, I decided that it was time to get back into shape and started long-distance cycling from the beginning of 2008. Following the health advice from the National Health Service, I got as much cardio exercise as possible and ate a low fat, high carbohydrate (‘healthy’ whole grains etc) diet. I regularly engaged in 7-10 hours of cycling a week which included 30 mile sessions and even a 55 mile charity cycle ride with my old work colleagues. Although I gained some fitness and proficiency in enduring lengthy aerobic exercise, I remained the same weight. After three years of gruelling cardio with little apparent health benefit, apart from enjoying the fresh sea air and sights along the coast, I decided it was time to rethink my failing diet and exercise regime.
Early in 2011 there was much talk on the internet about something called ‘the Paleo diet’ which I immediately dismissed as a fad based on misguided romanticism of our ancestors. However the topic continued to appear on various blogs and podcasts that I subscribed to, and a couple of Facebook friends had reported success with various forms of Paleo/Low Carb High Fat diet combined with weight lifting and high-intensity interval training, so I decided to read the articles discussing this and found Mark Sisson’s ‘Primal Blueprint’ approach to diet, exercise and lifestyle to be rational and very compelling. His ideas on nutrition and fitness are informed by the science of evolutionary biology with the basic premise that as human animals we evolved and adapted to thrive in our natural habitat, and our brains and bodies function best when we engage in behaviour that resembles that of our hunter-gatherer ancestors to which we are largely genetically identical. Sisson’s ‘Ten Primal Blueprint Laws’ struck a chord with me and complement LaVey’s ‘Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth’. Both are grounded in simple Darwinian common sense. Primal laws include: Eat Lots of Plants and Animals, Lift Heavy Things, Sprint Once in a While and Avoid Stupid Mistakes.
This outlook is not unique to the Primal Blueprint and most folks involved in the Paleo or Ancestral Health movements share and follow similar general guidelines. Having already proven that the conventional wisdom of calorie counting and carb-fuelled chronic cardio was a complete waste of time, I decided I had nothing to lose and fully adopted the Primal lifestyle at the beginning of September in 2011, and by December I had already got down to my ideal body weight and felt fitter than ever before!
The Primal/Paleo diet put simply is a mainly low carb, low sugar, high protein, moderate-high fat diet that consists of plenty of meat, fowl, fish, eggs, vegetables, animal fat along with some fruit/berries and nuts. I avoid grains, sugars, trans- and hydrogenated fats, so no bread, pasta, donuts, cakes, sweets, cola and other processed food. I continue to follow and reap the benefits of this approach today and each element of the lifestyle has become second-nature.
My current fitness program is geared towards gaining raw strength and power whilst remaining lean. This is based upon simple and effective strength training that engages the entire body to strengthen and gain mastery over the natural basic movements of the human animal. The aesthetic benefits of being physically fit are an appealing and motivating by-product, but the primal ethos has nothing in common with the appearance-focused exercise often promoted in commercial gyms using machine-assisted muscle isolation routines. To return to the Rocky theme (IV specifically), I always favoured Rockys primitive heathen outdoor training methods in Russia contra to the sterile high-tech and drug-fuelled training of Drago. My weekly exercise schedule is mainly comprised of classic barbell weight lifting following Jim Wendlers 5/3/1 training system. This consists of four sessions a week with each day focussing on one of the four main lifts; bench presses, squats, overhead presses or deadlifts finished with assistance exercises such as rows, dips, hanging leg raises, chin-ups, pull-ups and Farmers Walks chosen to complement the days main lift. These are all performed in my garage gym with the rest of my exercise being had by spending quality time outdoors enjoying and exploring nature. This includes hill sprint sessions up from the beach along with low level activity in the form of walking, cycling, hiking in the woods or swimming in the sea. I’ve found that this time away from technology and the trappings of modern life in conjunction with observing our natural circadian rhythm to ensure that a full nights sleep is had provides invaluable and necessary stress relief.
“Someday, sometime, he is destined to break through the vile bonds that have been cunningly laid on him, escape from the wasting decline that originates from unnatural confinement and regain once more his primitive freedom of Action… If the human animal lives a natural, clean life, out on the plains and forests away, where ocean rollers crash along the shore or on the banks of the pouring rivers, he requires no police-force to protect him… The normal man is the man who loves, and feasts, and fights, and hunts the predatory man.”
– Ragnar Redbeard, Might is Right
The primal and evolutionary approach to health overlaps with the Darwinian core of Satanism and enhances this worldview. As Satanism is a carnal philosophy that rejects egalitarianism, weakness and the afterlife in favour of meritocracy, strength and enhancing the one and only life we have, physical fitness and health should be a point of paramount significance for the Satanist. Our dictums of ‘Might is Right’ and Lex Talionis highlight the importance of strength and the ability to defend oneself, family and lair. Even without the threat of danger, the benefits of maintaining a healthy and battle-ready body manifest themselves in everyday life, from the ability to be more autonomous and self-reliant, to a greater resilience to sickness. The sense of pride and satisfaction that one experiences from successfully following a training schedule and gaining strength is best summarised by the Nietzschean notion that good and happiness can be defined as all that heightens the feeling of power in man and the feeling that power is growing.
I have personally found that regular exercise along with my daily creative pursuits are effective Satanic ritual acts which satisfy and nullify any need to perform any regular formal Satanic Greater Magic. Instead of self-transformative psychodrama, I engage in personally tailored activities on a daily basis that are physically and mentally self-transformative with tangible results that directly impact on and improve life. To me, it is far more Satanic to spend time engaged in self-preservation and mastery rituals harnessing the majesty of the natural world rather than expending all of one’s energy locked in a ritual chamber disconnected from reality. As Magus Gilmore remarked in the Satanic Scriptures;
“There is true magic in the mastering of skills… So to be a master of magic, toss out those musty grimoires… achieve material success and you won’t even have to say ‘Shemhamforash’ in public… We not only rejoice in the fleshly life, we are masters of it. That is Satanic magic.”
I work out with an awesome trainer (Joe D who won Mr.Pennsylvania!) three times a week and do “High Intensity Interval Training” which is really a killer dance class with instructor Timaree from Philly Dance Fitness. I also swim. I go through phases of being very into it and then slacking; but when its on, its ON!
I have always been physically active and enjoyed fitness. As I kid I was in a Russian ballet company that was competitive and all consuming. Later in my early 20’s I began Kung Fu, particularly Ninjitsu, which I loved for years until a
back injury. I also worked as a Go-Go Dancer full time, plus performing as a punk singer. I have a lot of energy! I switched to yoga and then Bikirim yoga, which lead me back to the original back injury. Working out at the gym with a trained professional is the way to go for me physically and I love it.
As a Satanist, I accept full responsibility for myself and my quality of life, and I really like feeling as good as possible and having as much fun as possible. A decadent, sexual, rock-n-roll life goes hand in hand with looking and feeling my best. I do Isagenix which is a whole protein, vitamin system alongside the gym, so when Im on tour I can eat “freely”, stay up all night and wear what I like, skinny jeans and ripped up shirts. I can indulge without any hang-ups or restrictions. If Im exuding confidence and happiness I attract it and thats really important to me.
I believe the energy charge from working out triggers my subconscious to conscious thought and manifests inner desires into reality. I mean, masturbating is another route; sexual magic is great also. Ive had “visions” for videos, songs that have come to me while swimming or dancing. Its kind of amazing that those thoughts become real and involve other people. All my songs are rituals, so a morning swim has led to joining in with musicians, recording, expressing my inner desires live to an audience and having those desires realised. Its a very ritualistic experience.
Reverend Adam P. Campbell
I enjoy strength training and running. I alternate my focus through the week between upper and lower body for strength training and run 2 1/2 miles every morning. I look at exercise as a part of my lifestyle rather than a goal oriented activity. My routine centres on maintaining and toning my body, rather than building weight and muscle. I prefer a lean muscular form. The bottom line is that I want to look good naked for my partner and myself.
I started weight training in middle school. I wanted to look like Jean-Claude Van Damme as a young man. It was a part of my young adult life through high school, then I backed off and paid more attention to girls and life. When I joined the military it was reintroduced to exercise as part of my lifestyle and I have held that perspective since. I have waxed and waned in my frequency through the years, but I always come back to it, feeling better about myself and life when I am exercising regularly.
Wanting to be healthy, and recognizing the mental health benefits of regular exercise is essential if you want to live a long and productive life. That alone is Satanic. I want to experience all I can in life, and feel good while I am experiencing it, so it just makes sense to exercise my body and mind in preparation of a long life of experience and activity.
It reminds me that being in control of your life is about conditioning and preparation, rather than simply reacting. This is echoed in Satanism’s saying of ‘Study not Worship’. We condition our minds to be quick and agile, why would we not do the same to our bodies? Exercising regularly makes me feel good, have sharper focus throughout the day and both are essential to Lesser Magic.
Exercise is an amazing energy generator, which may sound counter-intuitive at first, but you release endorphins and feel invigorated. Regular exercise reduces stress, wards off anxiety and feelings of depression and boosts self-esteem. When performing a Satanic Ritual, energy and focus are integral, regularly exercising is a means to those ends.
It’s well known that exercising helps you sleep but if you’d prefer to stay awake with your partner between the sheets, keep in mind that it helps with your stamina as well. Aerobic exercise and strength training with make you healthier, happier and sexier!
Citizen Marius Slesk Huseby
My activity of choice is mainly powerlifting. I also ride my bike to and from work, and occasionally do some strong man/conditioning with found objects when I trek in the woods.
I have been actively working out since July 2013, but Ive always been interested in being fit. I was an avid fan of strongman and wrestling when I was a kid/teen, but as I neared my twenties, I grew lazy and slothful, exercising my mind only. Then my back got seriously fucked up, with two prolapsed spinal discs, one of which was putting enormous pressure on my sciatic nerve, making it severely painful. That was three years ago. The advice I got from doctors was to rest as much as possible, which made me grow even lazier. Then my doctor sent me to a back rehab training centre and I got the exact opposite message; dont be a lazy fat-ass.
So I started lifting logs and light stones (an ex-member wrote a blog post about the Centurion Method, and I dove right into that shit). All the while I could barely walk as my back got worse and worse. Still, I soldiered on, finding pleasure in getting slowly stronger, and looking forward to the surgery I was to finally have. After the surgery and subsequent recovery period, I started looking for a gym to train at, good local powerlifting and strongman gyms. I found one, and Ive been training there since December, hell bent on becoming as strong as I can be. I have a long way to go, but Im progressing steadily.
Becoming strong and fit is something I find very Satanic, and Im happy to see that more and more of us are getting into the lifestyle. Strength through joy is a well-established concept within Satanism, sand this strength should be physical as well as intellectual and mental. Also, I like to turn it around, as I find joy through strength to be a fine thing. After all, a healthy mind will only suffer in a weak and unhealthy body, something I know all too well.
Exercise has largely taken over for any ritual praxis I may have done in the past. Exercise requires a strong mind as well as a strong body. Every lift is a ritual step, every workout a ritual, all with one goal in mind: becoming a strong motherfucker.
“The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds. ”
This is why I lift- not for competition, save with myself and the elemental forces. Not for aesthetic, save that natural beauty that comes from real strength. Not for beast, devil or god, save that god that lies within, that beast that stirs and slavers when he is roused by challenge; that devil that sneers at weakness and whispers promises of the power and dominion that comes with defeating it.