Legend has it that the Devil lurks in Salem, Massachusetts and that his influence led to the murderous witch hunts and trials of 1692. Today, the Prince of Darkness retains a strong presence in the New England town, which is the headquarters of The Satanic Temple and Salem Art Gallery.
No need to worry about being roasted by fire and brimstone when you walk into this Gothic, gray manor. The temple/gallery is a friendly, creative space where you can admire rotating art exhibits, peruse books on moral panics, and sit on the lap of a giant goat-headed statue.
Anyone is welcome to visit Salem’s lair of Satanists, and learn about their seven compassionate tenets and activism work. You’ll even see families with children wandering through the halls, and snapping selfies in front of occult paintings. Plan a “date with the devil” at the Salem Art Gallery and Satanic Temple, and you’ll undoubtedly have a hell of an inspiring time.
About the Satanic Temple
The Satanic Temple (TST) was founded in 2013 by Malcolm Jarry and official spokesperson Lucien Greaves. Today, TST has two dozen chapters worldwide and a head office in Salem. The Satanic Temple is a different organization from The Church of Satan. The latter was founded in 1966 by Anton LaVey, author of “The Satanic Bible.”
The Satanic Temple holds the status of a tax-exempt church, but it's a non-theistic organization. Contrary to stereotypes, members don’t “worship the devil” or hold supernatural beliefs. Rather, Satan represents the individual’s never-ending quest for knowledge, through rejecting tyranny and making rational decisions backed by scientific evidence. In this spirit, The Satanic Temple sets forth seven fundamental tenets that focus on living with wisdom, compassion, and justice.
As seen in the entertaining Netflix documentary “Hail Satan?” The Satanic Temple cleverly rebels against arbitrary norms that interfere with individual freedoms. The groups has used devilish imagery and satirical campaigns to challenge religious encroachments in public spaces, such as by singing a “Satanic invocation” in a black hooded robe to challenge opening prayers at city council meetings. Most famously, TST built an 8.5-foot-tall bronze statue of Baphomet (the Sabbatic Goat and a symbol of Satanism) to sit beside a Ten Commandments statue outside the Oklahoma State Capitol. The court supported their claim that the Christian monument discriminated against other religions, and the tablets were removed. TST then offered to donate the statue to other states that have a Ten Commandments statue. Until "Baphomet" is accepted as a public art donation alongside other public religious monuments, it is on display in the art gallery.
- Take your time to explore the various rooms and admire the rotating art exhibitions, which typically have deviant or demonic themes. Be sure to walk up the winding staircase to see works by local artists, which range from black baby goats to ghostly figures.
- In the parlor, you can “hail” the infamous horned and hoofed statue, which weighs 3,000 pounds. Baphomet was a heathen idol associated with the Knights Templar, and later with occult and mystic traditions. His famous image as the Sabbatic Goat is based on an 1856 drawing by Eliphas Levi. Drape yourself over Baphomet’s lap, and admire the sculptural details that include pentagrams, snakes, and two children staring up in awe.
- The gallery also displays the impressive Satanic Temple Veterans’ Monument. TST created this memorial to sit next to a Christian cross in Belle Plaine’s remembrance park but were denied the right to display it. The monument features a black steel cube marked with a gold inverted pentagram. Visitors can place handwritten messages inside the empty soldier’s helmet that rests on top.
- Be sure to stop by The Satanic Temple’s library, which has a fascinating assortment of wax death masks and antique medical devices. Peruse rare books and objects on the subject of witch hunts, Satanism, and the occult. TST Salem also has the largest collection of literature on the 1980s “Satanic Panic,” including laughable police guidelines on how to spot a teenage Satanist.
- Before you go, stop by the gift shop to pick up a “Hail Satan” t-shirt, or a pentagram skull ring by a local artisan. You can also book a $15 Satanic Salem Walking tour that enlightens you on the town’s dark history, without the standard tourist information or spooky stories.
How to Visit
The Salem Art Gallery and Satanic Temple are located under the same roof at 64 Bridge Street in Salem, MA. (Fittingly, this house number is only a few digits shy from 666.) Salem’s major tourist attractions, such as the Witch Museum and historic sites, are located in the central part of town. TST and Art Gallery are further north, at around a 20-minute walk or 5-minute drive from the main hub. If you’re only in Salem for the day, we recommend taking an Uber or taxi to save time.
The Satanic Temple and Salem Art Gallery are easy to spot: look for an ominous black and red sign, which points to a dark gray historic house. Built in 1882, this Victorian-style manor once housed a funeral parlor. These days, the entrance is decorated with a rainbow LGBTQ flag marked with TST’s logo—a Sigil of Baphomet (the Sabbatic Goat) and an inverted pentagram.
The Salem Art Gallery is currently open to visitors by appointment only, with limited spaces. Make an advance reservation via their website. Admission is $25 per person, and guests can choose from available one-hour timeslots. The Gallery and Temple are open from noon to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 1:30 to 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
What to Do Nearby
- Visit the Salem Witch Museum, and learn about the witchcraft paranoia that gripped the town in 1692. You’ll hear a dramatic retelling of the history set to life-sized sets, including a figure of Satan with red horns and glowing eyes.
- Then, ponder the crumbling Puritan tombstones at Charter Street Cemetery, which are marked with “death’s heads” or grinning skulls with wings. The graves sit next to the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, a simple granite monument that honors the 20 innocent victims.
- Fans of classic horror movies will be thrilled by Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery. Inside, you’ll encounter life-sized wax monsters and memorabilia from frightful films like “The Shining,” “Carrie,” and “Halloween.”
- Finally, peruse the indie stores on and around Essex Street. You’ll find boutiques filled with handmade and local Gothic delights, including soy candles, silver pumpkin necklaces, tarot cards, and custom-fitted vampire fangs.