Speaking to Rev. Tristán Kapp of the SASC
PDBY spoke to the second officially appointed reverend of the South African Satanic Church about his time with the SASC, the church’s philosophies, and some of the SASC’s background.
How did you get involved with the SASC and become a reverend?
It’s actually a funny story. I reached out to Riaan early in June, after seeing him as a Facebook friend suggestion, and I also read about the church in the newspaper and I decided that I want to contribute in some small way. So, I got the Satanic Bible, I read it, and found that what was written in there resonated with me to such an extent that I could not help but be a part of this movement. The focus areas that stood out to me was that it validates the self (who we are) without judgement, and promotes vital existence in life, instead of looking over your shoulder -aiming to please a deity to get approval for your validity in just existing. The self-affirmation that it promoted was (to me) much healthier, psychologically speaking, than the Christian church (which I left, because it ostracised me for my ‘otherness’ and trying to fight for those who are different).
Subsequently, I made contact with Riaan; we had an interview and he asked where I see myself and I told him that social media marketing and communication is my forté so I managed to find myself running the Facebook and LinkedIn pages of the SASC. And then later, the council of the church offered me the position of Reverend (based on my theological expertise) through Riaan, and I was happy to accept!
What do your duties as a reverend include?
Well, the same as any other clergy person. I do naming ceremonies, officiate weddings, lead Satanic bible readings/study, help make decisions about important matters – yet, overall during lockdown it merely consists of supporting and helping anyone and everyone in any way I possibly can.
As a Theology student, what was your exposure to religions that are not considered mainstream (such as Satanism)?
When studying the Biblical texts in their original historical context, one often encounters other religious influences. However, Satanism, Wicca and neo-Paganism was not something I learned in class about. I enjoy reading variedly and in all the times I spent in some exclusive books, reading a book about a topic that caught my eye -or even just googling something I encountered and didn’t understand, made me more informed than the average theology student. I have always been very passionate about people and their stories, and I also think making friends with people who were different from my (then) Christian beliefs enriched me. And lastly, I have always been inquisitive and introspective: it was mainly these aspects that exposed me to anti-mainstream thought and religious philosophies. In my final year, I went through a bad breakup with a girl and it lead me to question the truthfulness of many things (including Christianity) and I remember seeing a course at the University of Edinburgh on science, religion and philosophy – and it was there where I became acquainted with Eastern Cosmologies and science vs. church. And I became aware that my narrative wasn’t the only one in existence (as Christianity often lulls one into believing).
How was the process of getting the SASC recognised in South Africa?
It was a tedious 4-year process, spearheaded by the first Reverend, Riaan Swiegelaar along with the spokesperson Adri Norton. They decided that – with the help of the now church council – South Africa has a need for religious diversity, and Satanism requires a representative to end the stigma. Nevertheless, we are as of this year, a registered NPC (Non-Profit Company)! And so the actual movement rather started this year February and the media became aware of our presence during May-July!
The SASC has received a lot of backlash, how do you and other church officials respond to this?
Of course! Riaan, Adri and I have received numerous death threats, threats of violence from people who will come to burn down our church or trace our addresses and then come and kill us in the most horrible of fashions. We have received all these forms of bullying, abuse and hate from the white, Afrikaans Christian community. And all we have done is open our doors to those who identify with the Satanic philosophy – we’re actually very decent people; we don’t slaughter animals. We don’t make people rich, and we don’t hate anything or anybody. Our main philosophy behind this backlash is mainly “when we show up as ourselves, others will too.” We were all misfits once, but the Satanic Church provides a home for otherness!
Has there been a lot of interest in the SASC at the University of Pretoria?
On one occasion I saw a brief discussion about it on a University of Pretoria students Facebook group, and one or two people commented a lamentation of “it’s the end of days” and “Jesus is coming soon” – but others seemed very open minded to it. Especially African students. Even some of my African colleagues with whom I’ve walked a road during Undergraduate BDiv. have really been amazing. So, from the University’s side most of my friends have been immensely supportive.
Have/Are you or the SASC considered/considering establishing a student chapter of the church?
It is definitely something I have thought about, yes. As the very first Satanist I ever encountered was a student at UP, and a friend I made through another friend. However, I have helped start a society before and it’s a lot of work but I would definitely consider it very strongly, if the demand is there! We don’t want to convert people, and we believe that one is born a Satanist. We get a lot of messages from people thinking we’re the illuminati, we make people rich or grant special powers to them – which is not the case… So, we don’t want people to join for the wrong reasons. We want people who are serious about Satanism and not looking for unrealistic quick fixes to certain situations. We’re the SA Satanic Church, not a pyramid scheme.
On the SASC website, the church separates itself from crimes that claim satanic links or influences. How does the SASC respond to such claims of satanic influence, and how does the church distance itself from criminals who claim to follow Satanism?
This is a very important question. We live by the 9 Satanic Tenets, and one of the most important tenets are, “Satan represents vital existence, instead of spiritual pipe-dreams” and “Satan represents responsibility to the responsible”- these two are quite emphatically the most important tenets in this regard, because each person is responsible for what they do. But every person who does not present the characteristics nor relate to the concepts illustrated in them, they are not Satanists. 90% of crimes that happened in times like the Satanic panic was not Satanic, but instead crimes of individuals with psychic instabilities and other toxic traits.
Nonetheless, we take allegations of Satanic Ritualistic Abuse & Occultic Ritualistic Abuse very seriously, and our council has allocated funds and support towards a full investigation should such matters arise. We are also working closely with the SPCA and I personally offer to investigate reports of the aforementioned. I also allocate my counselling services as a registered specialist wellness counsellor at the ASCHP for victims of trauma.
Could you tell us about the workshops offered by the SASC and what Satanic Magick is?
The workshops are like a mentoring program, to help people harness their own gifts. It’s one on one, allocated to help individuals to develop their own abilities. Satanic magick is also black magick, as it is in accordance with one’s own will.
The central SA Satanic Church ritual is magic (the capacity to change outcomes, which could not be changed through ordinary methods, in accordance with one’s will). All magic is amoral. There are two types:
• Lesser Magick. A system of manipulation that draws on one’s natural ability to manipulate others. There are three types: sexual (with the objective being seduction and ecstasy), compassionate (with the objective being helping loved ones), and destructive (with the objective being to release anger).
•Greater magick involves influencing external events by creating an extreme emotional state that produces high levels of adrenaline. If the levels are high enough, one’s vision of what one wishes to happen will penetrate the unconscious mind of the person being influenced. If the time is right, the person will behave as the influencer wishes.
What do SASC rituals and reversed baptisms consist of?
Many kids are baptised against their will by water in the church, and we contradict it with fire. We don’t baptise them with literal fire, however: It is rather a symbolic ‘deliverance’ ceremony, where the person is surrounded by candles and their purpose is basically freeing the person from that of being baptised against one’s own will as an infant into the Christian faith. A rite of passage basically! And it is also a parting ceremony (psychic cords), so reversed baptism is where a person is surrounded by candles to cut ‘psychic cords’ (mental attachments/imprints) attached to the person from the Christian church/ other forms of emotional trauma (i.e. divorce)!
How can people who are against the church or feel that the church is a negative organisation learn more and find information about the SASC’s policies and principles?
We have ample resources available on our website https://www.satanicsa.org/resources and we have letters from our clergy and spokesperson here https://www.satanicsa.org/letters-fromour-church-office. If there is anything else they wish to know that is not on our website, they can refer to our social media or utilise the emails I have provided at no. 15!
How does Satan as an archetype, and often literary figure, influence Satanism?
Well, the name, for what it’s worth catches the attention of people. There is the immediate attentiveness when someone just mentions the word “Satan” or “Satanism” – it’s enough to make families disown children and kick them out of their houses. It creates a split between families; individuals in general who grew up with a certain idea of Satanism and Satan have such psychological baggage and fear instilled in them by the church. So, the Christian theological construct of Satan as an actual spiritual entity have given us immense publicity. The faithful’s hatred towards a narrative of their own creation motivates us to be kinder and better people, it shows us that we are indeed capable of such behaviour, but we choose to ‘mind our own business’ as we respect the existence of all others, and only seek to establish our own little space in the sun! And this demands more self-control, and careful picking of battles.
What is the significance of the name “Satanism”?
This is a question that arises very often, “why call it Satanism if it’s so humanistic and existential?” Because the word, Satan in Hebrew שטן means “adversary” or “opposer” and in the Biblical sense of the word, opposition to the religious norm as the challenger of ideas and minds of the superstitious. We don’t worship the devil, he doesn’t exist. The term “Satan” was only later used in the New Testament to describe those against the Christian movement. And only in the Gospels he takes a meta-physical form as a tempter of Jesus in the desert, and basically just a metaphor and promoter of critical thinking. Hence the church’s opposition to our free-thinking, because we ask the same questions and demand the same answers as the Satan in the Bible. I wrote an article on the matter: https://atheisminthenameofgod.wordpress.com/2019/06/25/the-myth-of-the-devil/
Are there any additional comments you may wish to add?
If anyone wishes to get into contact with me or anyone from the church office, they are more than welcome to use these details: email@example.com or my personal email: firstname.lastname@example.org