Despite the ominous sounding name and all subsequent reactions from many ignorant and judgmental people, the Satanic Bible is a beautiful and powerful book. Written by Anton Szandor LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan, it includes a series of essays, rituals and core principals of the non-theist religion Satanism.
There is no demon-worship involved – to Satanists (of this type) what Satan represents is summarized in the following Nine Satanic Statements:
- Satan represents indulgence, instead of abstinence!
- Satan represents vital existence, instead of spiritual pipe dreams!
- Satan represents undefiled wisdom, instead of hypocritical self-deceit!
- Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it, instead of love wasted on ingrates!
- Satan represents vengeance, instead of turning the other cheek!
- Satan represents responsibility to the responsible, instead of concern for psychic vampires!
- Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours, who, because of his “divine spiritual and intellectual development,” has become the most vicious animal of all!
- Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification!
- Satan has been the best friend the church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years!
The Church of Satan suggest that those who are Satanists – as in, those who believe the basic tenets of Satanism – will become aware of this while reading the the Satanic Bible; this awakening will often take place through identification with already held deep beliefs that the book outlines and exposes.
On a personal note, I discovered while reading it that I wasn’t – but only because of their belief that social stratification is a natural phenomenon and something to be encouraged. In this regard, it is similar to the highly individualistic philosophy of Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’. Indeed, LaVey himself said that his book was “just Ayn Rand’s philosophy, with ceremony and ritual added”.
Asides from that small point, Satanism is more an atheist philosophy than a religion. Many who enjoy the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, Mark Twain or Lord Byron will find much enjoyment and resonance within its diabolical pages.
The rituals themselves are more carnival shtick than demon-worship occult – LaVey had indeed been a carnival musician – with some elements of psycho-drama thrown in. These elements are freely admitted by the Church and by LaVey himself; there membership are mostly intellectuals who revere science and knowledge over mindless ritual. Not that this in any way detracts from the power of their ceremony – it can be heavily cathartic, as seen in their ‘destruction rituals’.
To quote LaVey directly:
“Love is one of the most intense feelings felt by man; another is hate. Forcing yourself to feel indiscriminate love is very unnatural. If you try to love everyone you only lessen your feelings for those who deserve your love. Repressed hatred can lead to many physical and emotional aliments. By learning to release your hatred towards those who deserve it, you cleanse yourself of these malignant emotions and need not take your pent-up hatred out on your loved ones.”
The general idea in a destruction ritual is to rid yourself of the ‘malignant emotions’ by performing a ceremonial psycho-drama ritual. This is a valid and powerful version of self psycho-therapy. Satanists, instead of fostering a submissive ‘turn the other cheek’ mindset, direct their hatred and resentment outwards, purging themselves of negative energy.
I have always been a fan of William Blake, and especially of ‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell’. For me, the Satanic Bible is in the same vein as Blake’s seminal work. To illustrate with some direct passages from Blake’s philosophy:
“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”
“The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.”
“Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.”
The similarities can be found ad infinitum, which is partly why I find the Satanic Bible such a satisfying and enlightening read. It is also supremely pleasing as an aesthetic object; Satanists sure know how to make beautiful ceremony of the dark and diabolic.
images from: http://www.churchofsatan.com/