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I’ve gone back and forth on doing author interviews here, but when the chance to interview blogger and goth/Harajuku fashion queen, La Carmina, landed in my lap, I knew it was time.
I’m honored for her to be my first author interview and for it to be about such an intriguing book: The Little Book of Satanism. It’s not a topic you hear about every day but it’s something I’ve been curious about for few years now after watching Hail Satan (on Hulu).
La Carmina is a Canadian travel, fashion, and Japanese pop culture blogger who also happens to have authored four books and helped host an episode of Bizarre Foods.
Today she’s here to tell us a little bit about herself, her blogging career, and Japan while sharing her enthusiasm for and dispelling some misconceptions about Satanism.
Where you can buy The Little Book of Satanism: Books-A-Million | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | Indie Bound
Let’s start with the fun questions
The first question, and my favorite to ask anyone, if you were a tree what kind would you be and why?
I think I’d be a Purple Ghost Japanese maple tree. I’m Canadian (born and raised in Vancouver) but spend a great deal of time in Japan, and my hair color tends to be dark purple or red hair, so I think this tree best represents me!
If you could only visit one country forever, which would it be and why?
Japan, hands down. I’ve been traveling to Japan since childhood, and spent my formative young adult years in the Tokyo Goth subculture.
After several years away, it felt so good to be back last month to see my friends and indulge in the food, alternative experimental fashion, and Gothic / drag parties.
What is your favorite book? Or top five if you can’t pick one.
It’s impossible for me to choose just one, so I’ll name some of my favorite books with devilish themes: Dante’s Inferno, Paradise Lost, Revolt of the Angels, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Master and Margarita.
I discuss all of these in The Little Book of Satanism, as these works of literature had an enormous impact on how we think of the Devil, Hell, and Satanists.
Now onto a little more about you
What do you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies?
Many of my hobbies have to do with my work, such as fashion styling and travel. I also take the time to work out when I can. I’m fond of long walks, and do rebounder and ab / Pilates / yoga exercises.
What is your favorite theme restaurant in Tokyo?
Kagaya! Be prepared to be taken on a wild ride by the izakaya’s maestro, Mark. I don’t want to spoil anything, but you’ll end up laughing all night long at his surrealist performances (involving costumes and puppets), and surprises that accompany each drink or food order. You can get a glimpse of Kagaya and other Japanese theme restaurants here on my La Carmina Blog.
What are three places or things you would recommend to anyone visiting Japan to see or do?
Indulge in the fabulous food. I’m a huge fan of inexpensive but high-quality conveyor belt sushi, okonomiyaki, takoyaki, ramen, and yuzu everything (it’s a Japanese small tart citrus, and my favorite flavor).
Then, check out the inspiring street fashion in Harajuku, particularly alt, kawaii cute and Goth boutiques like Takenoko, Yellow House, 6% Doki Doki, Listen Flavor, department store Laforet, and secondhand store Closet Child.
Finally, Japan’s temples are not to be missed. Tokyo’s Gotokuji pays homage to lucky maneki neko with thousands of lucky cat statues, while Fukagawa Fudoson is dedicated to the fierce Shingon Buddhist deity Fudōmyō-ō.
And don’t miss out on Seimei Shrine in Kyoto, which is Shinto but has black and red pentagrams everywhere! (In my The Little Book of Satanism, I talk about how symbols can have different meanings worldwide, so this is not a Satanic symbol in this context.)
What’s the coolest thing you’ve done in, or to come from, your career in blogging?
Because of my travel blogging, journalism and TV hosting work, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to over 70 countries, including dream destinations I never thought I’d see in my lifetime.
I’m intrigued by mysterious ancient ruins, so it was thrilling to visit Easter Island, Jordan, Egypt, Cambodia, and other fascinating places.
I see you had a show, Satanic Show + Tell, what were some of the coolest objects you got to see as part of that?
On our web series Satanic Show + Tell, my co-host Dr. John Skutlin and I interview famous faces about their macabre and devilish possessions. Evan Michelson of the Oddities TV show was our first guest, and she showed us her remarkable Satan antiques including a red-faced and kitschy devil puppet.
Ryan Matthew Cohn (also from the Discovery Channel hit series) and Japanese body modifications researcher Keroppy Maeda shared skulls and tools involved with trepanation, or drilling a hole into the head.
We even interviewed a former cannibal, Nico Claux, who had bloody interesting items like a letter from Japanese flesh-eater Issey Sagawa! You can watch my Satanic Show + Tell show here on The Satanic Temple TV; we are releasing many more episodes soon.
What was your favorite part about filming that?
During the past few years of lockdown, it was a joy to be able to connect with creative people around the world by having them on the show, as it was remotely filmed.
We got to reconnect with old friends and get to know new, creative individuals. The show has come a long way since the debut on TST TV, and I’m proud of what we have created.
And finally, more about The Little Book of Satanism
How long have you been part of The Satanic Temple and what got you interested in it/ how did you get involved in it?
I started seeing news articles about The Satanic Temple’s campaigns around 2014, and got interested in their activism over the years. I have a law and political theory background, and did my undergraduate thesis on “engaged Buddhism” and nonviolent movements.
TST’s socio-political action (advocating for equal representation and access to public forums as an officially-recognized Satanic religion) appealed to me, as well as their Seven Tenets that uphold humanistic and democratic values.
How did you decide to write The Little Book of Satanism?
I wrote a number of blogs and articles about Satanism over the years, including for publications like Huffington Post, Fodor’s Travel, The Daily Beast, and Architectural Digest.
In late 2021, Ulysses Press / Simon & Schuster were keen to publish an accessible guide to Satanism, which summarizes the history, development, values, and practices of Satanists.
We connected and the project was a perfect match for me, so the book came together and will be out on October 25 – right before Halloween.
What was your favorite part about writing The Little Book of Satanism and what is your favorite part of the book?
I enjoyed diving into academic sources about Satanism, and conducting in-depth research on subjects that have long been meaningful to me.
These included a variety of books about the witch trials, the Knights Templar, Hellfire Clubs, the Church of Satan and more.
I particularly enjoyed writing about the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and 1990s (in which people were accused of engaging in Satanic ritual abuse, animal and baby sacrifice, etc), as I feel it is important to convey how false claims of Devil-worshiping cabals have ruined lives.
Anything you found particularly difficult about writing it?
As this had to be a “little book,” it was a challenge to stick to the limited word count! The story of Satanism spans millennia, and I wanted to be able to include information on rituals, symbols, holidays, pop culture references, and more.
I hope The Little Book of Satanism helps a general audience come to a better understanding of the religion and its practitioners, and combat commonly-held negative perceptions about Satanists.
What is something you wish everyone knew about Satanism?
That for the most part, Satanists do not believe in an actual Devil, let alone worship him. The majority of Satanists are nontheistic and consider the Prince of Darkness to be a metaphor for self-realization, rebellion, critical thinking, nonconformity, and other positive values.
How does Satanism relate to travel, design, architecture, etc. and in what way does it influence them?
Satan has long been a muse for artists, builders, and writers. One section of my book describes how artistic depictions of the Devil have changed over time: he’s pictured as a frightening beast in Medieval Christian art, but becomes a beautiful, muscled hero during the Enlightenment.
Many countries have monuments or places associated with the Devil, such as an exquisite fountain in Madrid that shows Lucifer falling from Heaven. Without doubt, Satan has left his hoofprint around the world.
What is the top place you think people interested in Satanism should try to visit?
They should take a pilgrimage to The Satanic Temple’s headquarters in Salem, Massachusetts. The library is filled with art and books about Satanism, and you can see the Belle Plaine memorial (with pentagrams on a large black cube) and the infamous, towering Baphomet statue (involved in the ongoing Arkansas lawsuit to uphold religious pluralism on public capital grounds). I wrote a guide to visiting TST HQ for anyone interested in going.
How does the Satanic subculture differ around the world?
Satanism is expressed differently according to the cultural context. For instance, only about 1 percent of Japanese residents are Christian, so Satanists in Japan don’t grow up with the fundamentalist influence that one sees in places like the US. (I discuss this in detail in my OnlySky article about Satanism in Japan).
Satanists worldwide may also incorporate elements of their local culture into their practice, such as drawing inspiration from Kali (Hindu goddess of destruction) or Yama (Buddhist Hell-king).
How about the Satanic Panic? What do you think of that? What should people know about it?
In the 1980s and 1990s, there was a wave of hysteria about Satanists infiltrating schools and suburbs, and engaging in heinous acts like child sacrifice and ritual abuse.
It got to the point that police officers were conducting seminars on how to spot a teenage Satanist (look out for heavy metal cassettes, or pentagram doodles!)
Farfetched as these claims sound now, they had real and tragic consequences for those caught up in the web of lies – including people who were falsely accused of committing crimes in the name of Satan.
Although the histrionics about teenage Devil-worshippers died down after the 90s, the Satanic Panic never truly ended. Conspiracy theorists like QAnon continue to perpetuate falsehoods about Satanists today. I hope The Little Book of Satanism can help people understand the roots of the Panic, and put to rest the many misconceptions about Satanists.
Last but not least, what is your favorite thing about Satanism, and what is something interesting about it that people should know?
I love how it is an accepting community for those who are marginalized – including women, minorities, and LGBTQ. It’s wonderful to see how many people who are ostracized by mainstream society or deemed “sinners” by other religions have found meaning and self-worth in Satanism.
You can read more about the Little Book of Satanism here, and follow La Carmina here: La Carmina Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook
Thank you for the great interview and enjoy the book!
Thank you so much! I can’t wait to read it 😊