The Satanic Temple of New York unveiled on Monday designs for a Satanic monument on the steps of the Oklahoma State Capitol. The edifice, featuring plenty of occult symbolism and smiling children, is proposed for the site adjacent to the capitol’s controversial Ten Commandments statue.
The monument features the goat-headed figure of Baphomet beneath an etched pentagram, with two happy children by the creature’s side. As the Washington Post reported, Lucian Greaves, a spokesman for the temple, stated: “The monument has been designed to reflect the views of Satanists in Oklahoma City and beyond […] The statue will also have a functional purpose as a chair where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation.”
As we reported last month, the monument is in response to a granite carving of the Ten Commandments installed in 2009, which has recently been challenged in a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union’s Oklahoma chapter. As Brady Henderson, ACLU Oklahoma’s legal director, told the Guardian: “We would prefer to see Oklahoma’s government officials work to faithfully serve our communities and improve the lives of Oklahomans instead of erecting granite monuments to show us all how righteous they are. […] But if the Ten Commandments, with its overtly Christian message, is allowed to stay at the Capitol, the Satanic Temple’s proposed monument cannot be rejected because of its different religious viewpoint.”
The Satanic Temple — not to be confused with the Church of Satan — states that they see Satan “as the ultimate icon for the selfless revolt against tyranny, free & rational inquiry.” Unsurprisingly, the conservative Republicans in the Oklahoma legislature have not responded warmly to the statue, nor to the chimed-in offers of tributes from the Universal Society of Hinduism, PETA, or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. As Don Armes, Republican member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, crowed to the Associated Press: “I think we need to be tolerant of people who think different than us, but this is Oklahoma, and that’s not going to fly here.”
While the Satanic Temple’s designs were submitted right to the panel that controls the capitol grounds, a moratorium has been instated by the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission on new statues. As of January 7, they’d already raised over $18,000 on Indiegogo towards their goal of $20,000 to build the statue. It shows a Baphomet much like the one in the French occultist Eliphas Lévi’s 19th century illustration — the most popular image of an occult “Satan” — although the symbolism on this statue and that invoked by Lévi is more complicated than that. A goat-headed being points both up and down, indicating the “as above, so below” Hermetic pose. The downward-pointing pentagram — which for Lévi meant a good rather than sinister symbol showing “the triumph of matter over spirit.” Usually one arm of Baphomet is female, the other male, and the twisted snakes on its torso can also be seen as an androgynous symbol, as well eternity and the circle of life. And between the goat’s horns is a flame — something indicating enlightenment, but also an image associated with witchcraft.
And all this ominous balance between good and evil is joined by a pair of children that would be at home in any Precious Moments figurine. If the Oklahoma legislature wanted, they could take this opportunity to just open the floodgates and turn the state capitol into the most glorious religious sculpture park.
Subscribe to the Hyperallergic newsletter!