Black Goat Cabal > Essays > Meetup
The opinions expressed below are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by the Black Goat Cabal.
Using the Meetup site
to organize a local Satanist social group or discussion group
by Diane Vera
Copyright © 2006 Diane Vera. All rights reserved.
If you want to try to find local Satanists and organize at least an informal social group or discussion group (which, in my opinion, are good first steps toward building a group of people who hold rituals together), one way to so so is through the Meetup site.
The Satanist scene is now big enough and diverse enough that, in my opinion, it is now worthwhile to try to organize groups offline. Until recently, forming an offline Satanist group had not been a high priority for me at all, because, until recently, there didn't seem to be very many if any Satanists out there with beliefs or attitudes at all similar to my own. I did meet a few Satanists offline back in the 1990's, but meeting more of them just didn't seem to me to be worth the effort. When I returned to the Satanist scene in 2002 after a several-year absence, it seemed to me that the most important thing for me to do was to try to raise the intellectual level of the Satanist scene as a whole, via my Theistic Satanism website and online forums. Thus, online activity seemed a lot more important to me than anything I could possibly do offline. Through my online interactions I also learned one heck of a lot. But my priorities have now changed.
My strategy for now is to build first an informal social group and then, later, a more formal discussion group, and then, eventually, a full-fledged local New York City congregation of the Church of Azazel, from amongst those people in the discussion/social group who are interested. To build my group, I've been relying almost entirely on the Meetup site, which for me seems to be the best way to find interested local people, since I'm not currently active in any of the "dark" subcultures that tend to attract Satanists. I've had much better luck with the Meetup site than with just my own Theistic Satanism website, which has been up since 2002. Even with the Meetup site, which I began using in 2004, I didn't have much luck until October 2006, when I finally held a dinner gathering that was attended by a total of seven people. (My previous record high was four people including myself. Most often, nobody showed up except for me.) My November 2006 meeting was attended by a total of six people, which I still consider reasonably successful. I hope the momentum continues and builds.
To organize a group on Meetup, you'll need to pay a monthly fee. (Meetup is free for everyone except organizers.) Here are my suggestions on how to attract as many people as possible and thereby get the most for your money:
- Choose your location carefully. Do not invite a bunch of strangers to your home. I would suggest holding your Meetup in an inexpensive restaurant or diner. This means you'll need to find a suitable restaurant in some place where people aren't likely to freak out if they overhear your conversation. I would suggest the gay ghetto of your nearest major city, preferably some place where there are also lots of goth clubs and other businesses catering to assorted controversial subcultures. Be sure to use this neighborhood's ZIP code - not your own home ZIP code - when the Meetup site initially asks you for the country and ZIP code where you are looking for a Meetup or want to start a Meetup.
- On the Meetup site, take advantage of your ability to cross-list your group in up to three other categories besides your main category. My own group's main category is "Satanism," but, in September of this year, when I noticed that I had the ability to cross-list, I also put it in the categories "Luciferian," "Occult," and "Magickal." To avoid attracting the attention of too many wrathful white-lighters, I didn't cross-list it under the "Pagan" or "Witches" categories, but I did change the name of my group to "NYC Satanists, Luciferians, Dark Pagans, and LHP Occultists." (Previously, the default name was "The New York City Satanism Meetup Group.") In my own case, adding categories and changing the name of my group was what enabled me, finally, to have successful meetups. The vast majority of the people who attended were still Satanists of one kind or another (predominantly theistic Satanists), but the additional categories apparently attracted some people who either (a) didn't realize that the Meetup site had a "Satanism" category or (b) were afraid that a Meetup devoted just to "Satanism" would be dominated by obnoxious screaming dogmatists, as all too many "Satanist" forums are online.
- Keep the search engines in mind when naming your group and when writing its description and "About" page. Consider what keywords people might use when searching for a group like yours (e.g. "Satanism," "Satanist," and various geographic names pertaining to your locale) and use those keywords more than once in the text. (For examples, see my own group's homepage and About page.) Be sure to use at least some of those keywords in the name of your group, which will be the title page for your group's homepage. Note that it will take the search engines up to a few months to find and index your group's homepage, so you won't get results from this immediately.
- If you have any means of publicizing your group offline, by all means do so. For example, if you happen to be active in any "dark" subcultures such as the goth scene, the vampire scene, or the metal scene, wear a point-down pentagram or Baphomet when you go to goth clubs or metal concerts, and have some Satanism-for-dummies literature handy to give to anyone who seems intrigued by your jewelry. For example, you might want to print up a pamphlet similar to my pamphlet What is Satanism?. Although the vast majority of people in the "dark" subcultures are not Satanists, these subcultures do attract a larger proportion of Satanists than can be found in the general population. (I myself am not currently active in any of the "dark" subcultures, which has been a big disadvantage for me; it's probably one of the main reasons why I did not succeed in organizing an offline Satanist group sooner than I did. But I do know of at least one person who successfully created an offline Satanist group by this means alone.)
I would suggest bringing copies of your intro-to-Satanism pamphlet to your Meetup itself as well, in case you're asked questions by the waiters or management.
- Put up a separate website somewhere in addition to your pages on Meetup, with links back and forth between the two. (If you are a theistic Satanist who is also an articulate writer as proven in one or more of the Theistic Satanist forums, you are entitled to free web space on TheisticSatanism.com.) A separate website with articulate writings will attract more people to your group. Publicize your site via link exchanges, web rings, etc.
- Read the Meetup site's advice for organizers, and follow as much of it as you comfortably can.
- Be patient and persistent. No matter what you do, you probably won't get more than one or two people - if that many - attending your first Meetup. Even on the Meetup site, the majority of people who sign up for your group will not show up. But persistence pays off, in the long run. Longevity and continuity give you more credibility, both with people and with search engines.
Note: If you are the organizer of a Satanist Meetup group for at least three months in a row, and if your group does not use a dogna-based definition of "Satanism," that will be one of the many ways you can qualify as a Satanist "leader" for the purpose of joining the Black Goat Cabal.