You would be forgiven for not immediately associating the words “Satanic abortion ritual” with the empowerment of women, instead visualizing images of tenebrously becloaked acolytes chanting blasphemies while partaking in demonic rites by the light of hell’s own flames. In reality, however, such flights of fancy couldn’t be farther from the truth (although hang on to that image – we’ll come back to it later). This ritual is actually the fiendishly clever brainchild of The Satanic Temple (TST), which created it as a part of its long advocacy for women’s rights and includes various legal actions to protect bodily autonomy. As a federally registered and non-theistic religion, TST created its “Satanic abortion ritual” to empower women seeking safe abortions by circumventing the medically unnecessary restrictions imposed by some states on Planned Parenthood and other clinics.
Recently, TST’s deeply held commitment to women’s rights is being embodied in auditory form through the band Satanic Planet, in which TST co-founder and spokesperson Lucien Greaves gives voice to such causes through the medium of music. Alongside members Luke Henshaw (Planet B, Sonido de la Frontera), Dave Lombardo (Slayer, The Misfits), and Justin Pearson (The Locust, Dead Cross), Greaves’ words and lyrics speak of the devil as a symbol of rebellion against injustice and tyrannical authority. Satanic Planet’s debut album (out May 28 via Three One G) spans a dark spectrum of doom-laden industrial soundscapes, often with a distinct flavor of horror – frenzied screeches and howls à la The Exorcist, with snippets of Christian songs creepily sampled into the mix, and a pan-demoniac cacophony of horns juxtaposed against the lyrics “Mark of the Beast, 666” (told you we would come back to that first image of Satanic ritual!).
Satanic Planet is a wide-ranging project that features two women among its collaborators – namely, Shiva Honey and Nomi Abadi, both of whom have dedicated their multi-faceted careers to bolstering the voices of marginalized women. Honey is an ordained Minister of Satan with TST and founding member of the Detroit chapter and International Council. She has been involved in various national campaigns, including the organization’s efforts to bring its infamous Baphomet statue to Arkansas in 2018. Meanwhile, Abadi is a classically trained and Grammy-nominated pianist, composer, and singer, as well as founder of the Female Composer Safety League (a non-profit dedicated to protecting women in the composing industry from harassment) and inventor of the NORY® double keytar.
Honey and Abadi’s guest tracks will premiere at Satanic Planet’s virtual album release party, held online via TST’s The Satanic Estate platform on May 28. Tickets are available via donation, and the events include a band panel (hosted by yours truly), drag queen and art videos, and a dramatic “unbaptism” ritual by Honey. Satanic Planet has also released a range of clothing and beach towels, with proceeds supporting The Satanic Temple’s reproductive rights activism. To learn more, we spoke to Honey and Abadi about their powerful contributions to Satanic Planet’s first album and their long-time work that champions women and marginalized groups.
AF: How did you get involved with Satanic Planet? In what ways are the band and The Satanic Temple (TST) meaningful to you?
SH: I became involved in TST back in 2014. I had been doing a lot of creative work and community organizing and became a founding member of TST’s first chapter in Detroit. The tenets and ethos of the organization lined up well with my personal beliefs, and there was an incredible creative, dangerous, and exciting energy within the Detroit group that resonated with me. We were a band of artists and organizers on the creative edge that became responsible for Snaketivity, the Baphomet Unveiling, and many of the initial actions that brought TST into the hearts and homes of people around the world. During that time, Lucien and I became friends. We worked on setting up the International Council (one of our internal governing bodies for TST) and continuing to establish the organization as it grew exponentially. Eventually we started to collaborate on creative projects. In the fall of 2019 I asked him to contribute to some tracks to accompany my Satanic ritual book, The Devil’s Tome: A Book of Modern Satanic Ritual, and soon after he asked if I wanted to contribute to Satanic Planet.
NA: I was thrilled to be asked to sing and write vocals for “Devil In Me” by my friend and musician, Justin Pearson. I didn’t think twice about involving myself with music from the Satanic Temple. As an Egyptian Jew raised in South Orange County, I grew up sidelined by mainstream society, where being a Christian is a standard American expectation. The opposition I felt toward our system as a whole growing up, and still feel today, is palpable. While I’m not a Satanist, I have always felt warmth and acceptance from the Satanic community more than any other religious community, and believe that if Jesus were around today, he’d probably be a modern day Satanist.
AF: How is Satanic Planet different from your previous musical projects?
SH: I’ve been writing music since I picked up a guitar when I was 10! Music has always been my great passion, but I haven’t really been able to pursue it as seriously as I’d wanted until now. I’ve been in bands pretty consistently since I was around 16. They’ve ranged from rock, to jazz to electronic. I started Blood and Honey with my current collaborator Kyle Apsey just before I joined TST. We started staging occult and Satanic live performances the summer before I joined the Temple. I’m currently working with Kyle and Lucien on a record of Satanic ritual music with my band called Serpentīnae to accompany the Satanic rituals in my book The Devil’s Tome: A Book of Modern Satanic Ritual and The Devil’s Deck: A Tool for Satanic Enlightenment. Music has been such an important part of my ritual work, so I wanted to create something explicitly for the Satanic practitioner. The music for Serpentīnae will be super eclectic, beautiful and intense – right now I’m working with live cello, synths, big guitars, and soaring vocals. We secretly released an EP, Solve et Coagula, last year directly to folks who backed my book, so it’s circulating but not available for purchase or on music streaming sites. Satanic Planet is united in Satan, but very different in sound. I’m really proud to be a part of both projects!
NA: It isn’t every day that you get to jump on counterculture music projects with musicians you grew up in awe of, like Dave Lombardo. Aside from TST’s cause, working alongside the musicians involved with “Devil In Me” has been the most incredible aspect of this project to me. I’ve played in so many bands and counterculture festivals (mostly for women’s rights and animal rights), but Satanic Planet is a culmination of so many different voices across the empowered, pissed and disenfranchised underbelly of society. If the system has ever left you out, there’s a place for you in Satanic Planet.
AF: Can you describe how you worked with the band remotely, and collaborated throughout the pandemic?
SH: I was supposed to fly to California to work on the record before the pandemic, but had to do everything remotely, ultimately. I have a lot of experience recording remotely, as most of the music recorded by Blood And Honey was written and recorded while I was in Detroit and Kyle was in Korea. This was way different because the only person in the band I’d met in person was Lucien, and I was pretty disconnected from everything. It was hard to navigate how much or how to contribute without that personal connection, but ultimately Luke sent me a couple tracks with ideas, and I did my thing. I’m hopeful I can add more to the next record!
NA: I joined Satanic Planet in the weird and uncertain beginning of the pandemic, and right off the bat, the guys were great to work with. I recorded my own vocals for “Devil In Me,” which sound as kickass as they do because of the magic that is Luke Henshaw.
AF: Nomi, tell me more about your contribution to the “Devil in Me” track.
NA: When Justin Pearson first came to me, I knew they wanted something dark and gruesome, and realized pretty quickly that I probably wasn’t going to be “singing.” I wrote a few different melodies for Lucien Greaves’ gorgeous lyrics, and the notes I kept getting from the guys at first were, “It’s too pretty, you’re singing it too pretty”… So I decided to go back to my black metal roots from high school, when I loosely referred to myself as a Satanist. Then I got the “Fuck yeah, this rules” e-mail back from JP and Luke, which made me really happy. And to be honest, fucking relieved.
AF: Shiva, how were you involved in the “Exorcism” and “Unbaptism” songs?
SH: When the project first started, Lucien Greaves sent over some music to the guys that he and I recorded when we scored Häxan live at the Philamoca back in 2018. Luke heard the vocal melodies and harmonies I created for those performances and wanted to incorporate them into a track. That vocal line became the backbone of “Exorcism.”
The lyrics for “Unbaptism” are based on my Unbaptism ritual from The Devil’s Tome. When the band was working on “Unbaptism,” Lucien asked me to send over photos and the script for the Unbaptisms I created for The Satanic Temple in Salem in 2019. They ended up using a lot of lines directly from my ritual. I also contributed screams, whispers, and vocals to that one.
AF: Shiva, how will your live Unbaptisms differ from your previous Unbaptisms? What can people expect at upcoming Satanic Planet concerts?
SH: The Unbaptisms will be an interesting feat in this time of COVID. The ceremonies I’ve conducted have been very participatory and intimate. We’re figuring out how to make it all happen as the time for touring draws nearer. I’m hoping the stage show will be grand. When Lucien and I have collaborated on live events in the past, we’ve made them intense, all consuming and engaging.
AF: You’ll be doing an Unbaptism at the Satanic Planet virtual release party at The Satanic Estate. What can the audience expect on May 28?
SH: Unbaptisms are one of the core rituals performed by Satanists. Many adherents find the act of formally separating from their former, often traumatic, religious life a freeing act of defiance and empowerment. As COVID continues to ravage the world and prevent us from gathering together in person, it’s incredibly important for us to be able to engage in these experiences, so I decide to conduct a virtual Unbaptism for the release party for Satanic Planet’s new record. I’ve got all the info on how to participate on my site.
This is the first time a virtual Unbaptism has been done. To make it intimate and focused, I created an introduction video and a video with pre-ritual work that people can do at home before the day of the Unbaptism. Then, on the day of the release party, I’ll be at TST’s headquarters in Salem to lead participants through their Unbaptism. I’ll conclude the event with a DJ set, then send those who were Unbaptized a certificate commemorating their Unbaptism that they can print at home.
AF: Satanic Planet has merchandise with all proceeds supporting The Satanic Temple’s reproductive rights campaigns. Can you tell me about why TST’s activism for women and marginalized groups is personally important to you?
SH: I was an organizer for years before I joined TST – one of the reasons I joined the organization was because it gelled so well with my values and ethics. I don’t believe in an afterlife – I believe that it’s my purpose to make life better for people now because it’s the right thing to do. This is part of my devotional practice as a Satanist. Whether it’s through art, music, supporting legal battles, or organizing, I’m trying to stir a revolution within and without.
NA: Yes, please support TST and their women’s reproductive rights campaigns! I’m deeply grateful to TST for putting a spotlight on these issues directly and intersectionally. For me, alongside founding the Female Composer Safety League (FCSL), which is reinventing the nature of toxic studio work environments and mentorships in film, game and TV composing, I’ve (somewhat unintentionally) brought activism into all my artistic platforms. Anyone who’s listened to my music knows that trauma/empowerment/angst toward our system has always been at the epicenter of what I do, and I have disdain for artists who don’t use their platforms to help others. For me, being an artist isn’t about pleasing everyone – it’s about having something valuable to say, and saying it lovingly with zero fucks.
AF: Both of you are multi-faceted artists. I’d love to learn more about your other creative projects.
SH: I’m just about to start shipping out The Devil’s Deck; tarot and oracle decks have been an important part of my ritual practice, so I decided to create a Satanic ritual deck that would link to my ritual book The Devil’s Tome and can be used to sharpen inner knowledge, aid in healing, and deepen personal power. I’m really excited – this printing is 666 copies, contains art from Lucien, Alexander Corey, and me and is this beautiful gilded art piece.
I create Satanic ritual tools through my shop Serpentīnae and just opened my online school. I love working with candles and after teaching workshops around the globe, created my first online course – Finding Your Flame: Cultivating Your Power Through Satanic Candle Ritual.
My next projects will be writing Satanic ritual music with my band Serpentīnae to accompany The Devil’s Tome and to finish up my next book, which will focus on how to approach death and grief from a Satanic perspective.
NA: One of my projects this year will be making a classical piano album. I grew up as a piano prodigy, and now I’m mostly a singer, actor, and horror and fantasy composer. I have a lot of scoring on my plate, including two horror films I’m particularly thrilled about. As excited as I am to return to classical, I anticipate being met by the classical community with many feelings about me rejoining the field as a crossover artist. So we’ll see. On that note, I also have an ’80s throwback project in the works that I play my double keytar on (NORY®) that I invented/patented, which is making its TV debut this year. This is the first year I’ll be embarking on documentary filmmaking, making a movie that ties very much into my nonprofit work, which I’ll be directing and scoring.