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Hidden figures of Puget Sound

A look into alternate realities and atheist religion

Keely Carolan and Samantha MARGOT, Copy Editor and STAFF REPORTER
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED March 6, 2019

When thinking of modern day Seattle, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? The tech-dominated culture, its title of “liberal bubble,” or the often bleak weather? Underneath the seeming normality of every city, there are endearing twists and turns that set one person apart from the other.

Looking past the remnants of indie shops turned into upscale or hip restaurants, it’s easy to dig into the funky, eccentric, and sometimes bizarre affairs that play out in the lives of ordinary citizens.

Teen years are a time of rebellion. But for some people, this anti-establishment narrative they’ve developed doesn’t stop; it becomes more sophisticated, more organized, and more powerful.

Flat Earth: a subtle anarchy

From the founding of our country, an antiestablishment sentiment has run rampant through our ranks; from the Puritans fleeing from religious persecution in England to the unnamed uprising against the domestic and foreign policy of the American government.

With recent scrutiny of political America, everyone has fallen victim to the deafening shout of defiance against our complacent society. Oddities and quirks often cause the dissent of traditional standards; the concept of a Flat Earth does just that.

In this era of impressive technological advancement, where astronauts and scientists are able to explore space and dissect every particle brought back, can there be a genuine Flat Earther left? If so, do they have the courage to broadcast a widely outcasted belief to society?

Tacoma local Darryle Marble asserts his firm stance in the Flat Earth theory in his YouTube channel, the #feoffensive (Flat Earth Offensive), encouraging viewers to investigate Flat Earth, working to contradict the globe model by conducting scientific experiments.

His most infamous analysis, known as the “spirit level experiment,” where he took a construction level on an airplane to demonstrate the lack of curvature on the Earth, has over one million views.

“The level should’ve indicated that the airplane was dipping the nose down in order to make up for over five miles of curvature,” Marble said. “But the level showed that we were flying over a flat plain.”

While Marble gets a lot of positive feedback for his bravery in advocating his controversial viewpoints, he also receives plenty of negative feedback from men and women insistent to stand against the #feoffensive.

“The negative responses aren’t so much because people are angry, it’s because we’ve been told something so many times that now people believe it to be true,” Marble said in a phone interview, “But it makes too much sense after looking at it from a critical, unbiased standpoint.”

Initially, Marble was a believer in the globe model himself. After a weekend of intense research and documentary viewing, he found himself unable to deny the information presented to him. Thus began his personal experimentation, video making, and even lecturing at annual Flat Earth conferences.

“When you go outside and look up at the sky and you see clouds, in one spot or moving extremely slow, do you feel like you experience the earth spinning over a thousand miles per hour?” Marble asks. “Is that something that you feel, you experience? That’s my approach. My experience tells me that the Earth is flat and stationary.”

Going against the pull of the populous can mark a person. Fables spread of people who stand on their soap boxes, sputtering an ominous foretelling of the end of the world.

“Mainstream society tries to paint us all as absolute idiots, which is not the case. We’re not crazy, we’re not insane, we’re not lunatics, we don’t try to speak from a position of intellectual superiority or anything,” Marble said. “We just don’t trust the government and we took the time to do our own try to remind people, the heliocentric influences, as I like to call them, we believed in the globe too.”

The Paranormal: who you gonna call?

If there’s something strange in the neighborhood…

The paranormal has been a long time fascination for humankind. The idea of what lays beyond the veil of death, what awaits us in the afterlife, has left people in search of immortality or accepting of what is to come.

Unfortunately, while these queries remain unanswered, humans are left to their traditions and belief systems. The Evil Eye to protect from supernatural misfortune, sage to burn against evil spirits, Ouija boards for the reckless to interact with the unknown.

If there’s something weird, and it don’t look good…

Ross Allison, the founder of Advanced Ghost Hunters Of Seattle and Tacoma (AGHOST) and co-owner of the tour company Spooked in Seattle, spoke on the intricacies of being a paranormal investigator.

“Back in the day you basically didn’t tell people you were a ghost hunter because if you told everyone you’d be avoided. But now due to the popularity of ghost hunting, you’re a rockstar,” Allison said. “It’s also made a situation where there’s a lot of groups, overrun in the field. It’s so easy for people to call themselves a ghost hunter. A lot of people are calling themselves professionals because they’ve seen every episode of ‘Ghost Hunters.’”

Ghost hunting is a tricky endeavor; it involves separating the ordinary from the extraordinary, distinguishing the facts from the mishmash of myths and mistakes, and proper examination of the evidence on hand. Was that flash of light the fault of an investigator or work of a paranormal?

I ain’t afraid of no ghost…

Beneath Pioneer Square is a network of passageways and basements brimming with the specters of men and women lost to a world of subterranean debauchery.

“[Seattle] Underground is great because of the history. Because of the illegal activities that took place there, it became a secret location,” Allison said. “After they covered up the Seattle sidewalks, they forgot about these underground taverns. People would use them and carry on into the afterlife. We’ve had many experiences such as capturing electronic voice phenomena (EVP), disembodied voices, seeing shadowy figures, and hearing a strange knocking noise.”

[Ghost] bustin’ makes me feel good…

Whether you believe in the paranormal or not, the idea is frightening. Entering places filled with the good and the bad, the imprint of the past, leaves a haunting harbinger.

“There’s always going to be doubters,” Allison said. “You can’t really prove the phenomena, even with audio and video evidence, anyone that doubts the paranormal field really has to experience it for themselves. You’re not going to persuade the skeptics to believe, but I try to open people’s minds to the idea that there is something out there.”

If you’re seeing things, running through your head, who you gonna call?

Satanism: celebration of the social rebel

Blood, gore, sacrifice and more: Ave Satanas, and welcome to a celebration of the acceptance of man’s true nature—the carnal beast. The little things often associated with the Evil One of biblical texts, he who is known as Lucifer and Satan.

When thinking of the Devil, one mustn’t forget his disciples. Worshipers that stand illuminated against the night, their figures adorned in blackened horns and goat visages.

These descriptions could not be further from the truth.

The influence of mainstream religion has greatly diminished the righteousness of the concept of Satan. The Satanic Temple of Seattle (TST) is a countercultural, nontheistic community which focuses on activism and belief based on rational inquiry. While most rituals they conduct are purely symbolic, their activities extend beyond spiritual discovery and personal exploration. And no, they do not worship the supernatural figure of Satan.

Three members of the leadership council, Azazel, Pockets and Kat Fish*, were willing to speak in detail about the tenets of the Temple and the struggles they’ve faced proclaiming themselves as Satanists.

“[TST] takes the trappings of religion and makes them into a form that rejects the supernaturalism aspects,” Azazel said. “While still helping people get into mental and emotional states that come with it.”

For the TST, Satan represents rebellion against a compliant social state which accepts oppression, injustice and religious tyranny. TST engages in many forms of activism; participating in Pride Parade, court cases establishing the separation of church and state or advocating for religious freedom.

“Coming from a certain background and being converted over time, I had that brief phase where I was like ‘I’m an anti-theist, god is dead, religion poisons everything,’” Azazel said. “That’s true to some extent but it’s also not very useful. The best I can do is be a positive force for people. You don’t have to be an atheist to do that, you don’t have to be a supernaturalist to do that. TST exists as somewhere to reach that middle ground.”

Humanist values are strongly emphasized in this branch of Satanism, and the Temple specializes in advocating for people who have suffered from social justice issues. They handle many legal cases in which the line between religion and the law tend to be blurred, such as conflicts surrounding abortion or free speech on school campuses.

Community service work is also something that the Temple prides themselves on: from blood drives to food banks, giving back is a way that they practice the compassion and empathy towards others outlined in their fundamental tenets.

To be clear, The Satanic Temple is entirely different from the Church of Satan, which was the original form of supernatural Satanism officially established in 1966. The schism between these two religions is compared to conflicts between the Catholic Church and the Protestants. While they hold some similar beliefs, there are fundamental differences which make for distinct separation between the two.

“Relative to other religions, in Satanism there’s more of an emphasis on study rather than worship,” Azazel said. “So you get a lot of geeks, a lot of academics, a lot of autodidactic people from pretty much every field of knowledge…it’s very liberating. It’s a community that is built around the pursuit of knowledge.”

Unfortunately, throughout history the name of Satanism has somewhat been dragged through the dirt. This makes it hard for many who are a part of that community to be open with their identity in their day to day lives. While always remaining professional with clients, Kat Fish ended up sharing this part of their identity with their employer at the domestic violence agency where they worked.

“I ended up getting my hours pretty much cut, they stopped having me around, and I ended up basically being forced out of the position in the end. And I love it, I don’t even want to say the name of the organization because it’s so close to my heart, I love these folks, and yet at the same time, it was an individual person that,” they paused, clearly emotional over the matter. “It didn’t even matter how much time I had put in, it had been a year at that point. Crazy hours, I had worked myself pretty much to the hospital at one point, but it didn’t matter.”

Many people who end up with the Temple come from backgrounds of trauma, such as homelessness, violence, and oppression. The TST is striving to be a place where people can feel as though they belong, where they are respected and taken care of.

“We are making space for people,” said Kat Fish. “Giving them a space to listen, and saying, you know what? We understand. Here is a place for you, you are welcome here, and [we are] creating that community where people can exist without fear.”

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Hidden figures of Puget Sound