A Hellraising Journey through the Garden

—The Messianic Machiavel

The Descent

Midway through my life, I went astray And started writing for a Satanic crowd.

A traveler I’d been, from the past to today

And so I felt it was surely needed To write of my journeys and trips.

Your curious wanderlust to be seeded.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to write this all in triplets like this, but when I asked my fellow Satanic authors what they thought of me doing a Satanic travel guide, The Hell Priest suggested a Dante’s Inferno theme. I thought it was a great idea, and since Ciardi’s translation of that text is my favorite, I thought I’d give this a go. There’s no way I can finish the whole thing like that, however, so I’m going to switch back to good ol’ American style prose. You may, however, want to picture Pinhead playing the role of Virgil here, as we go on a journey through nine locations that you may wish to consider for your next Lucifer inspired vacation.

First Circle: Chicago

The journey begins in a city by the lake.

It’s a bit overrated, but it should be considered,

If a Satanic vacation we’ll take.

I have an tricky relationship with the city of Chicago. I live about an hour and half away from it, and with it’s two fairly large airports, I’ve started many trips there. However, I’m close enough to it that my little town sees lots of Chicagoans during the summer, and to be honest, I’m not exactly enamored with their approach to our small town life. I hear “Well, I’m from Chicaaago” a few times every summer, right before they tell me that this fact grants them some sort of secret knowledge about why whatever I’m doing is wrong and how they know better.

I’m just kidding (mostly).

I’ve had some amazing times in this city, and most Chicagoans are wonderful people. Anyways, besides good airports, what else does the city have to offer? It also has some amazing museums. The Field Museum, The Museum of Science and Industry, and the Art Institute of Chicago are all leaders in their respective fields. The Field has an almost unrivaled collection of dinosaur bones, and the displays on the history of life on Earth are excellent for a Satanist to bone up (couldn’t resist) on quality arguments against evangelicals. The Art Institute has a great collection of Impressionist paintings, and the sheer quality of the art is delightful for some Satanic art appreciation.

Chicago also has a LOT of fan conventions. Anime Con is always a blast, plus there’s C2E2 for the comic/pop culture fans, and I just went to the Oddities and Curiosities Expo, which was probably my favorite convention I’ve ever been to. Lots of great art work, a cool sideshow, and very interesting vendors.

Second Circle: Denver

The Mile High City is a great place to stay.

No more teasing you now,

For it’s time for us to play.

I’ve only been here once, but it was a great city to visit. My favorite part was seeing Opeth and Gojira at Red Rocks. Now, you’ve probably heard how magical Red Rocks is; take whatever you’ve heard, and magnify it a hundred times. It is without question the best venue I’ve ever been to. If you’re a fan of either band, imagine Gojira’s aggressive, percussive sound reverberating around a beautiful canyon, then picture the richness of Opeth’s sound following up. The bartenders there (there are several places to get a drink) have very heavy hands, and you more than get your money’s worth. Watch out, however, as it’s quite an uphill walk to the parking lot when you arrive, and quite a long downhill walk (in the dark) when you leave. I highly suggest getting a shuttle to take you to and from the venue, as traffic might be a bit flaky when you leave.

Denver also has a great food scene. Right out front of the their art museum there’s a line up of really cool food trucks during the summer months. Walk up and down the row before you choose, as there will be a lot of great choices. The quality and innovation of the menus is amazing, and for those of you who have worked in a kitchen before, you’ll be very impressed by the engineering and set up these folks have come up with. If you want inventive, tasty food with creative twists, this is a must see in this town.

Third Circle: New York City

I have a question: what’s your pleasure?

You’ll find in the Big Apple.

Your experience here will be a real treasure.

To be honest, this city wasn’t super high on my list of places to visit: we were just looking for a trip with a fast flight (we live a couple hours by plane away) so we chose NYC. However, once I got there, I almost immediately realized how amazing this city is. First off, let’s talk about pizza. Without a doubt, pizza is my favorite food. In college I once went over 70 days in a row of eating pizza, and since then I’ve been to several pizza conventions and tours. I highly suggest going on a tour in New York. They can take you to the original shops that first served the dish here, and you’ll actually learn quite a bit our U.S. immigration history. For the Satanist, the exchange of good ideas and food, all of which is present in the pizza, is wonderfully daemonic.

I also highly recommend Coney Island; in fact, do that first. The sideshow there is something to see, and even if you are into the creepy and weird (you probably are) I think these folks will make you squirm a bit. It’s first class creepiness with contortionists, sword swallowing, fire eaters, and more. It’s pretty close to some legit pizza places too, so if you still have an appetite, you’ll have options.

The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are important for the Satanist as well. My great grandmother came through there years ago, and I had a few intense moments exploring some of the things she saw and places she probably stayed while there. While the buildings are great, and you’ll learn a lot about our immigration history, I think it was actually the journey back to the mainland that struck me the most. They pack the tourists in pretty tight, and I could hear several different languages being spoken by foreign tourists. It struck me that my great grandmother probably experienced something similar on her trip to the mainland.

Fourth Circle: United Kingdom

The journey is still going, far from unraveling.

Don’t leave your passport at home

It’s a waste of good traveling.

Before traveling to the U.K. I’d only been outside the U.S. one time; I visited Canada as a child, and while they are certainly their own country with their own culture, being from Michigan, it wasn’t an exotic trip. The U.K. however, was a bit jarring. First, London is a massive city, and it moves VERY quickly. So fast, it makes Chicago look medium paced in many ways. We stayed in London, but on the east side near the Thames. It was a neat little apartment set up, and while it was nice, it kept us a bit away from the main action of downtown.

If you go, you may want to find a place that is more centrally located. Because of the size of the city, we found that cab drivers didn’t always know the area we staying in, and more than once we were just dropped off when the driver thought we were pretty close. The mass transit system works pretty well, and there are a lot of stops, but if you aren’t familiar with it, it can take some getting used to. Plan accordingly, as this can be a major issue.

London is interesting; it was surreal to walk by new building and cranes (the city is under constant construction) and a few steps later, find myself next to a building several hundred years old. Keep in mind that the city is a major tourist destination, and it will be loaded with tourists from all over the world. In some areas, especially downtown, the lines will be long, sidewalks near sites will be shoulder to shoulder, and you may find it difficult to really see whatever is you’re trying to look at. For example, the Rosetta Stone was completely surrounded, four or so feet deep, by tourists all with their phones up to reach over their heads to see it. I certainly don’t blame them for this, as that’s exactly what I was doing, but I’m just warning you won’t have time to really examine and ponder the attractions.

While I have to say that London disappointed me a bit, Edinburgh was amazing. It’s about a four hour train ride from London, and the accommodations are fairly comfortable. The train goes through the countryside, and you’ll be able to see small towns, farms, rolling hills, etc. on the trip. My only warning for Scotland, pack a jacket. We were there in July, and it was only in the 50’s F, and it was drizzling. I’m from Michigan, so that sort of weather doesn’t bother me too much, but I did find myself wishing I’d worn somewhat warmer clothing. I bought a sweatshirt, and was fine from then on. You’ll also find that the people of that city are often the friendliest folks you’ll ever meet. Americans tend to stand out, of course, but the Scottish seem eager to help out the tourists. Make sure you visit the zoo- it’s set on a mountainside that overlooks the city, so in addition to seeing the animals, you’re also treated to great views of Edinburgh the whole time.

The best part of my trip, however, was seeing Stonehenge and Bath. While you can’t touch the stones, you can get pretty close, and you’ll have plenty of space and time to take as many pics and selfies as you want. They also sell mead there, free samples, which I highly suggest buying. Sadly, mead from Stonehenge doesn’t have magical powers, but it does feel pretty cool to drink it. Bath isn’t far down the road, so make sure you go there as well. Be prepared, however, as when the tour bus gets close, you’re going to be shocked at how beautiful the city it.  It’s made almost entirely out of marble, and they’ve done a wonderful job maintaining it. It doesn’t look like a functioning city, but it is. People live and work there, just as they have for nearly two thousand years. It’s also the site of a Roman bath (hence the name) which is a really interesting tour. If you’re like most Satanists, history, folklore, magic, and beauty appeal to you: Stonehenge and Bath will provide you with all of that.

Fifth Circle: Barbados

Head to islands to hang by the beach

Debauchery and gluttony

Is not far from reach.

Barbados has historical significance for Satanists, as it’s the birthplace of Tituba, the first accused in the Salem witch trials. They don’t talk about her much there, but it is interesting to see the grounds she was lived on (before being taken in bondage to Massachusetts). Being from the upper midwest of the United States, the Caribbean is quite the shock. The weather is amazing, warm in the winter, but not hot, with low humidity. Also, go hungry, as the food is incredibly fresh and extremely tasty. You’ll also find the people agreeable and helpful if you need anything.

The island is fairly small, but it is too big to simply walk on your trip; you’ll likely want to rent a car. If you’re from the U.S., don’t be intimidated by driving there. They do drive on the left side of the road, and the cars are built with the driver on the right, but everyone is so understanding of tourists that if you make the occasional mistake, you’ll be fine.  Take it slow at first, and it will help if you have an observant copilot. My wife held the map while I drove, and her help was indispensable. There are almost no right angles on the island, so you want to keep your eyes open, but the Bajan people don’t drive very fast, and everyone is laid back.

While you’re there, I highly suggest going on the submarine. Most of us don’t think about it, but the planet Earth is actually more water than it is land. Intellectually, we all know this, but it’s difficult to really understand what that means. The sub experience is great: you get a good meal, the staff is friendly- everything you’d hope for. Going underwater, however, over 100 meters, is intense. Schools of fish swim by, there’s a shipwreck, and you eventually see the ocean floor. For those who enjoy considering the world from a different perspective, the sub trip is a must.

I recommend staying at a place that has a kitchen. Bajan food is wonderful, but it’s worth your time to visit a grocery store so you can prepare food on your own back in your room/apartment. Even if you aren’t great in the kitchen you can find many simple dishes that are quick and easy to put together. You’ll save money, time, and you’ll be able to experience the country from a new angle, one that doesn’t make it into the travel brochures.

Sixth Circle: Las Vegas

Heading out west in the pursuit of more sinnings

Looking for shows, tables and slots

Just have no illusion about keeping your winnings

The first time I went out there, my wife and I went for a brief trip to attend a convention for her industry. On the flight in we saw the Vegas Strip, and immediately we were excited to get down there. However, I’m not much of a gambler, so the gaming only appealed to me a bit. I’ve heard of people putting hundreds of dollars in slot machines, which is fine, if that’s what you want to do, but I’m more likely to play a $20 bill as long as I can, then head back to the lounge for drinks and food.

Where should you while in Vegas? First, I highly recommend staying on the strip. Prices are a bit higher there, but it’s worth saving to have that experience. With everything so close, you’ll likely save money on cab/Uber fare, and you’ll have more time to enjoy yourself. Plus, many of the resorts on the strip have free exhibits, the most famous being the Bellagio fountains, but that’s far from the only one. We tend to stay at The Venetian, and while it’s a little pricey, it’s a beautiful building, and we often spend a lot of time just walking through it to look at the decor and architecture. The place is MASSIVE! Between the shopping, eating, shows, exhibits, etc. you could potentially stay in that one building (it is connected to Palazzo) for your entire trip.

I don’t suggest staying in, however. One of my favorite things to do out there is go to Cirque du Soleil shows. The athleticism is astounding: I can’t get my mind around the feats of strength and skill you see in a Cirque show. Again, it’s not exactly cheap, but it’s well worth the money. Also, check out a Penn and Teller show. They perform slightly off the strip at the Rio, but Penn is a noted atheist, and logic and reason play a big part in the performance. I was fortunate enough to go on stage for the bullet catch where I loaded a .357 bullet into a gun and watched Penn shoot Teller in the mouth with it. Teller than walked over and spat the bullet into my hand. I don’t believe in magic, and they tell the audience that there’s a trick to it, but I’m not sure I believe them. Those guys might be wizards (just kidding, of course, but not really).

Finally, go on a tour. There are a bunch to choose from, but a lot of people miss just how beautiful the country around Las Vegas is. The Grand Canyon isn’t far (it doesn’t disappoint) and so is Area 51 (fun, but you don’t see any aliens, of course). My favorite tour, however, is riding ATV’s or hiking through the Red Rock Canyon. The ATV tour guides are really laid back, and even if you’re intimidated by the vehicles, don’t worry about it. They take it nice and easy, and nobody has to get too far outside their comfort zone. When riding, I was fortunate enough to ride alongside a hawk that was flying nearby. I’m not a spiritual guy, but that was a pretty spiritual experience. The hiking guides tend to be a lot of fun too, but that is a more physically demanding experience. The guide will tailor the trip to your skill level, however, and you will likely find yourself wanting to go beyond what you thought you could do. I’m very afraid of heights, so I was very proud of myself for getting up on some of the rocks and near to the cliff edges. Whatever you choose to do, get out of the city and see how amazing the land is. Your Satanic familiar will thank you.

Seventh Circle: Iceland

It is not the flight that summons you; it is desire.

Take a trip to the north,

And visit the land of ice and fire.

I was tempted to place this place number one on the list- it’s amazing. Before I go too far, however, a word of warning: getting there is fairly inexpensive (for international travel) as there is a “discount” airline that flies there from many U.S. and European airports for very reasonable prices. I won’t name them here, but they’re quickly becoming the most popular choice for Icelandic travel; you’ll find them when you do your research. However, though the trip is fairly affordable, Reykjavik is a brutally expensive city. Car rental is expensive, room and board is expensive, and so are the souvenirs. Plan on whatever you’re expecting to spend, and add 50%. It’s worth saving for, so if you think Iceland sounds at all interesting (it’s not for everybody) please consider it.

What’s there for the Satanist? First off, it’s the land of Vikings, so if you’re interested in Medieval and Norse history (many Satanists are) you’ll have a lot of options. This isn’t the kitschy viking stuff you see at Renaissance Fairs (not that there’s anything wrong with Renaissance Fairs) it’s the real thing. Our first stop was at a cafe in Reykjavik for lunch. While there, I tried hakarl, which you’ll surely see listed as a popular tourist challenge. You can find numerous Youtube videos of people trying it, so I won’t go into much detail here, but just know that it’s fermented shark that’s been dried for several months. The videos aren’t lying, as it’s the most vile tasting stuff I’ve ever had. I guess it was a typical food for the Norse, but most Icelanders don’t eat it anymore. They do, however, love serving it to tourists. If your Satanic philosophy makes you long for culinary adventures, give it a try. Be ready with a napkin, however, as it’s very difficult to swallow.

While you’re there, take a day to just explore Reykjavik. The people are very friendly, the architecture is beautiful, and most of the food is absolutely delicious. The Icelandic people have done a nice job preserving their culture while not objecting to new influences. It’s a beautiful approach, and I wish other countries were so adept at that balancing act. You can eat Icelandic food for lunch (try to meat soup) and get a pizza for dinner (they’re pretty good at pizza).

Everyone speaks English, usually very well, but keep an ear out for Icelandic. The language is extremely difficult to pick up as a second language, but it’s fun to listen to. Metal fans will like it, as it may be the most metal sounding language on the planet.

Don’t stay in the city the whole time, as the surrounding countryside is really something to experience. If you’re like me, and you like getting away from humans a bit, this is the place for you. Within minutes of leaving Reykjavik, you’re on open, almost entirely empty roads. We were there during one of the “peak” tourist seasons, and we saw basically nobody outside of town. Sticking to the metal theme, the landscape looks like album art. Mountains, open fields that are broken and cracked by caves and lava rock, boulders, rolling hills, cliffs, waterfalls, etc. Keep your head on a swivel as you drive, because you’ll drive by stunning views the whole time.

Eighth CIrcle: New Orleans

Explorers… demons to some, angels to others

The city of Saints is great.

But it’s probably not for your mothers.

I was almost reluctant to go to New Orleans, as it had been built up so much in my mind that I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. When I finally went, I found that everything I’d heard was true. It’s one of the most explicitly Satanic cities in the country, however, evil, romantic, subversive, and it did not disappoint.

First, the city itself. I always stay near the French Quarter, which is filled with awesome little shops and artists literally making art right on the street. I’m a fairly atheistic Satanist, but I really enjoyed visiting the Voodoo and other magic oriented shops that are are on pretty much every block. The folks in them are sincere, and they’re happy to answer questions. Make sure you visit at least a couple of them, and have your picture drawn by a street artist. Throw in a few Hurricanes (the drink) and you’ll find yourself loving New Orleans pretty quickly.

Once on an airplane flying down there, I read something about how New Orleans is the northernmost Caribbean city. It’ not technically on the Caribbean, but that seems like a fairly apt description. It feels like you’re in a different culture entirely, almost like you’re not in the United States at all.

One year we visited for Halloween, and while there we saw Ghost in concert (always a good time) and we went to a Halloween party that was advertised as being “family friendly.” I suppose it was, but it was also very creepy. Women with horns walking around on stilts, lots of devil costumes, and a fairly hairy guy in a wedding dress, in a cage, screeching into a microphone. It was blast, but it walked a line between fun scary and scary scary. In fact, you’ll probably notice that New Orleans walks that line quite a lot. Speaking of scary, do a ghost tour. I don’t believe in ghosts myself, but the stories are fascinating, and you might find you get more than a few chills.

Ninth Circle: Salem

The best one of all; I’ll give you a clue.

The witch city awaits…

We have such sights to show you!

In my opinion, every Satanist should try to visit this city. It’s like our Mecca, or something like that. It’s close to Boston, so flying in is no problem, and it’s fairly affordable. A good hotel will cost about $100-200 per night, and meals are very reasonable.

What’s here for the Satanist? Where do I begin? First, there’s obviously the history. While most of the United States tries to obscure the darker parts of its past, the people of Salem are more than willing to explore the witch hunts that happened there, and entire industries are built around pondering them. You can visit the many monuments and locations on your own, I’ve done that a few times, but I recently went on a tour that was led by a Wiccan. It was really interesting to see things from his perspective, and I think I may have learned more on that tour than any other (I’ve been to Salem three times for research for work and once on my honeymoon). Some of the museums are better than others, so take everything with a grain of salt until you’ve done some research on your own. The events of 1692 are still up for debate, and we aren’t entirely sure what happened, so be skeptical of anyone who tells you the “real” story. Some of it is unknowable, but it’s well worth pondering, and it’s relevant today.

In addition to an emphasis on history, Salem also has a real interest in horror as entertainment. I haven’t been to Count Orlock’s new location, but I’m looking forward to going back soon. His previous location was already the most amazing wax museum I’ve even been in, and the new place looks even better. He has very high quality wax statues of nearly every major movie monster. I was particularly pleased to see Darkness from Legend and Amy from Fright Night on my last trip there. He’s also a super nice guy, but he does have a habit of appearing from the shadows to ask how you’re enjoying the trip. He’s not in costume, but he has a very quiet, deliberate voice, and when you’re surrounded by monsters in the dark, his appearance can be delightfully creepy. Put this on your bucket list.

Of course, The Satanic Temple is headquartered there, and while I realize there’s a bit of a schism in Satanism right now, they are doing important work, and their “Art Gallery” is worth visiting. I found everyone I talked to there to be very friendly, and the place did not disappoint. They have very interesting art pieces, a good collection of books, and if you get a chance to see it, the Baphomet is very impressive. It’s bigger than I expected, and expertly crafted.

If you get a chance to only go to one place, this is the place I’d recommend more than any other. It’s family friendly, and children love it, but there’s fun for grown ups too. The Satanist will delight in the wonders of this town.

The Ascent

We finished our trip, but there’s no time to rest

Crawl through the opening to see the stars.

Now journey for real as one Satanically blest.

The Earth is one giant garden of Eden, and it’s there for you to explore. There are, of course, several places I couldn’t discuss here, so please do some research, and explore those places that interest you. The world is a big place, and while you can’t see all of it, you’ll find that your mind is expanded after every trip you take. If you aren’t in a financial position to go far, take a look at places nearby. Every town has historical markers, libraries, museums, and other places that have value for the Satanist. Spread your wings, and move around a bit- awaken your inner Serpent and prepare to feast from the Tree.

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