The Satanic Bible by Anton Szandor LaVey

I’ve been so reluctant to review this book, for no other reason than the fear of what some of my Christian friends will think of me. “Oh, Darryl, we knew this would happen. You rejected your faith in Christ; you’ve been busy learning how to move objects with your mind; it was only a matter of time before this happened.” Now just HOLD ON A MINUTE. Let’s make a few things clear. Firstly, The Satanic Bible is not some ancient occult text, as might be feared by uninformed Christians; it is merely a book written in the 1960s by one Anton LaVey who founded his own particular branch of Satanism called the Church of Satan. Secondly, it strikes me that if we want to be critical of something, we ought to first know something about what we’re criticising, by reading what it’s all about from the source itself, rather than blindly accepting the second-hand criticisms of our church leaders. Thirdly, my motivation in reading this book was not an interest in joining Satanism, but in helping myself to learn about whether Satanism really takes place at high levels of society and government, as the conspiracy theorists tell us.

The Satanic Bible was a surprising read, to say the least. Initially, the book is concerned with replacing the moral guidelines of conventional religion with alternative ones. Religion, says LaVey, has traditionally been based on abstinence, whereas Satanism is a religion of indulgence. He tells the story of how, as an organ player at a carnival in his youth, he would see men coming to the stripshows, then on Sunday morning at the church, these same men would get themselves right with God, only to return to the stripshow the following week, in a never-ending cycle of hypocrisy. According to Satanism, “man’s carnal nature will out,” therefore LaVey sought to invent a religion based on man’s carnal needs, rather than in futile opposition to them. Satanic morality presents some recognisable Christian principles, with slight modifications, such as “Do unto others as they do unto you”; “Kindness to those who deserve it, rather than love wasted on ingrates.” Some of the principles made a kind of sense to me; others I felt very uncomfortable with, such as “Death to the weakling, wealth to the strong.” At times, LaVey has a way with words – an ability to state his case succinctly, smashing through false, pretentious counter-arguments with amazing brevity – and often with a dash of humour. For instance, consider the importance the Christian Church places on confession of sin. Here’s what LaVey had to say:

When a Satanist commits a wrong, he realizes that it is natural to make a mistake – and if he is truly sorry about what he has done, he will learn from it and take care not to do the same thing again. If he is not honestly sorry about what he has done, and knows he will do the same thing over and over, he has no business confessing and asking forgiveness in the first place. But this is exactly what happens. People confess their sins so that they can clear their consciences and be free to go out and sin again, usually the same sin.

Perhaps the most surprising finding in The Satanic Bible is the assertion that LaVeyan Satanists do not worship Satan. To them, Satan is no more real as a being than the tooth fairy. Instead, the word Satan is used to personify what LaVey vaguely calls a dark force of nature. Satanic ritual is largely a form of “psychodrama” – another vague term not strictly defined, but which I understand refers to the use of ritual to stimulate emotion. And emotion is where the real power lies. This is where my ears really perked up, because this is by no means the first time I’ve heard the idea that emotion is the “fuel” in a magical working; I came across the same idea in my research of telekinesis. Others who talk about “the power of intention” are acknowledging the very same, for what is intention but fervent (i.e. emotionally charged) desire.

It is stated that, contrary to popular belief, Satanists do not sacrifice babies, other humans, or even animals; children and animals are viewed as the highest form of life. The “magic” behind such ritual sacrifices is not in the blood itself but in the harvesting of the adrenal and bio-electrical energy expended in the death throes of the sacrifice. This certainly sheds new light on the prevalence of sacrifice in the religions of the ancient world – Judaism (from which our Christianity emerged) no exception. Perhaps all those ancient cultures were not as dim-witted and primitive as we commonly believe. The Satanist, however, shuns sacrifice, knowing that there are easier ways to generate the necessary emotional energy, from oneself.

Learning a thing or two about the “science” of magic was fascinating to me, especially in relation to my ongoing interest in telekinesis. I learned telekinesis without any guidebook, purely by attempting it again and again, taking careful note of what worked and what didn’t. I came to the understanding that successful telekinesis depended on first creating a strong mental image of what I wanted to occur and pouring strong desire into that image; then clearing the mind of all thought and letting it happen. Imagine my alarm when I read the five principles of Satanic magic: (a) desire, (b) timing, (c) imagery, (d) direction, (e) the balancing factor. We can forget (b) and (e), because they relate only to magic performed on a person, e.g. what time are they are most susceptible to influence, and the necessity of being realistic in your expectations. But (a), (c) and (d) correspond nicely to my own telekinesis technique. Telekinesis works because you employ desire with (mental) imagery, then direction, which is the letting go. Perhaps those elements are rather obvious, but it strikes me that the same underlying “science” is behind both telekinesis and magical ritual. After all, visualing a “psi wheel” spinning and causing it to spin for real is not so different from sticking pins in a doll with someone’s photo attached to it and manifesting an actual curse in their life.

Does all of this make me want to quit my telekinesis experiments? No. Because after all, we use our imaginations and our desires all the time in life. It’s just that few of us ever realise that we are constantly attracting experiences to ourselves through those very desires. In fact, having this understanding only makes me aware that we might well be psychically attacking others without realising it, merely by brooding over unresolved hurts. In this sense, we are all magicians, whether we realise it or not. And what is magic? The most memorable statement in the book for me was (paraphrased) “Everything that is now considered science was once considered magic.”

Satanic magic, however, takes one giant step further, into even more mysterious territory, and this is where the original claim about Satan being merely a “dark force of nature,” rather than an actual entity, starts to fall apart for me. If Satanic ritual is merely psychodrama designed to stimulate emotion, why does The Satanic Bible state strict guidelines, such as the placing of the image of Baphomet (a goat-headed entity representing Satan) on a particular wall. Why the strict regulations about candles? The list goes on. Most telling of all are the “Enochian Keys.” These are strange passages were allegedly supernaturally communicated to Elizabethan occultist John Dee, written in a language called Enochian. Each Key serves a different purpose, and it is said to be dangerous to recite these things recklessly. It strikes me that if I am required to make certain sounds with my lips, then something is there to hear and interpret those sounds as words, certainly something more personal than a force of nature. And it is this, more than anything else, that urges me to be especially cautious about Satanism. For I would ask, “At what cost do I invoke help from beyond?”

I think this may be a dangerous book, particularly in the hands of the young and naive. It is capable of seducing you with a moral viewpoint that is more realistic, and at times more attractive, than that of traditional religion. My personal morality comes not from organised religion, but from my intuitive understanding that we are all one. So, the furtherance of my own ego (which Satanism champions) is tempered with the understanding that I am everyone, and whatever I do to another, I do to myself. If I did not have this understanding, Satanic morality may well have had more impact on me than it did: “If a man smite thee on one cheek, smash him on the other” is not a principle that resonates with me, although I can see why it might to some ears. Another danger I perceived: the view that there is no actual Satan could give one a false sense of security about ploughing ahead recklessly into Satanic magic. An impersonal force of nature doesn’t hold the same sense of threat as an mysterious unknown entity. The latter scenario seems far more likely to me than the former.

Finally, what of my original motivation for reading this book? Did it shed any light on whether Satanism (or a similar occult philosophy) takes place at high levels of government? Well, there was a brief anecdote about Benjamin Franklin’s involvement in the Hellfire Club secret society, and an assertion that all truly successful people are adherents of Satanic philosophy to one extent or another, whether knowingly or not. A poignant question occured to me: if true magical power exists on earth, where would it be – in the hands of a few obscure people, or in the hands of the rulers? Since magic is what would enable one to gain power, surely then it’s the magicians who would be the ones in power. It’s notable that the section of The Satanic Bible on magic is subtitled “Mastery of the Earth.” The Third Enochian Key is prefaced thus:

“The Third Enochian Key establishes the leadership of the earth upon the hands of those great Satanic magicians who throughout the successive ages have held dominion over the peoples of the world.”

Of course, to many readers, all of the above is purely theoretical, because believing in magic is like believing in Santa Claus, right? Well, to someone like me, who learned how to genuinely move matter with his mind, I’m afraid it’s drastically more believable. Who knows.

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13 thoughts on “The Satanic Bible by Anton Szandor LaVey

  1. Eric says:

    The Satanic Bible is intelligent, interesting and well written. People fear what they do not understand or have been taught by their religion to fear.
    Thanks for the detailed review

  2. JOHN says:

    The passage that was quoted from Le Vey’s work about hypocritical Christians struck me as rather passe and facile. I think a deeper understanding of Christianity would be required on this front.

  3. John says:

    Taking into account Jesus’ well documented condemnation of the religious hypocrites of his day, it seems that La Vey’s understanding of Christianity is at best flawed, or else a gross stereotype devised to discredit the Churchgoer. Presumably its appeal maybe for those who would embrace the philosophy of ‘smashing’ their opponent in the cheek; sadly, it is such destructive behaviour that is the most difficult to moderate, and one that clearly violates the central tenets of Christianity.

  4. Brian says:

    After reading your reviews of Anton LaVey’s writings, particularly The
    Satanic Bible, I believe there are a few things I can help clarify for
    you. Before forming The Church of Satan and writing The Satanic Bible,
    Anton LaVey held witch seminars from the Black House. A publicist who
    ran Avon Books and several newspapers suggested to LaVey that he start
    a Satanic Church..then the publishing of The Satanic Bible along with
    the rapid publicity all fell into place. The Satanic Bible is
    comprised of a series of essays that was handed out to members as the
    Satanism Monograph before it was published in book form. There was
    most likely a time frame in having the book ready, so The Enochian
    Keys were most likely just added as filler to make the book more than
    a pamphlet. Half of that portion of the book is blank pages. They are
    used in the rituals in a similar fashion as the Latin spoke in some
    catholic ceremonies and are meant to evoke the emotions needed to
    enact change for whatever means the ritual is employed towards. The
    Enochian Keys were originally meant as an angelic language..LaVey
    changed the translation, and claimed the angels were merely angles. By
    doing that, he not only threw dirt on another grown-up fairy tale but
    pointed out (as with other things), the metaphysical constipation of
    most occultists who hide behind Judaism and Christianity. As with the
    first of the four books in The Satanic Bible, The Book Of Satan, is
    lifted word – for – word from Ragnar Redbeard’s Might Is Right (1896).
    That’s primarily where all the blasphemous material in The Satanic
    Bible is found, including the passage you were uncomfortable with
    “Death to the weakling, wealth to the strong”, “If a man smite thee on
    one cheek, smash him on the other”. One purpose in having the
    blasphemous material at the beginning of the book is, those with a
    guilt-conscious instilled from Christian mythology won’t want to read
    further. And, as LaVey stated at the beginning of the Speak Of The
    Devil Video, Satanists are born and not made. The definition of Satan
    is adversary, accuser, opposite, etc. So, “Satanism” is a religion
    opposite of conventional religions. The reason why the image of
    Baphomet is hung on the west wall has nothing to do rituals performed
    to an actual Satan but is symbolic, as the Muslims fece the East
    towards Mecca.
    The Satanic Rituals aren’t really necessary although it is one of the
    most attractive aspects to many who become interested in LaVeyan
    Satanism. LaVey called it “the gray area between psychiatry and
    religion”..as a sort of therapy, the person will go into the
    intellectual decompression chamber and release pent up feelings and
    leave them there, believing that there desire will come to pass
    instead of being consumed by frustration. The rituals were most
    prevalent in the Church of Satan (while LaVey was alive) during the
    first few years. The rituals provided publicity for the church while
    it was still young and over time, LaVey became more reclusive and went
    without performing rituals for decades. Many rulers and people in
    power are Satanists in the sense that they don’t complacently pray and
    wait for something to happen but take action. Many Christians are
    actually Satanists in the sense that they live an indulgent lifestyle
    although the hypocrisy involved in their ways is very un-Satanic. The
    book isn’t really dangerous..it points out that religion and the
    occult are both nonsense. I believe LaVey’s philosophy makes more
    sense than anything else I’ve read..at it’s very core, it isn’t about
    bogeys, hobgoblins or devils..”good” and “evil” are subjective to the
    time and place in which you live..but above all else, it’s about not
    conforming to the mentality of the herd of mindless sheep who buy into
    commercialism and change with the times. It’s about living life to
    it’s fullest – it’s the only life you have and noone has ever provided
    substantial evidence to the contrary.

  5. Brian says:

    In response to John..

    A better understanding of the Holy Bible will leave a person confused yet those who fear death and have “god-fearing” guilt burned into their psyche will come back for more to avoid the fires of “hell”. Christians claim to love God, although the attraction is not an appreciation of their Creator, but saving their own butts from burning. If the Holy Spirit dwells within a saved person and if they are truly living a “spiritual” life as a born-again saint, then why do they need a physical carnal book to physically hold and take in with their carnal bodies to continue their Christly existence? The answer is simple: it’s not spiritual, it’s carnal and produces a masochistic high in the believer as he feels more and more saved and holy every time he obstains from something he desires in a supposed battle between the old and new man. The church and it’s many denominations and offshoot religions can’t agree on the beliefs all based on the same writings originally written in Greek and Hebrew..and why should they agree? With all the different translations of the scriptures and inaccuracies therein. If there weren’t so many factions within the “body of Christ” maybe they’d come together and realize what a bunch of nonsense it is..the scales would fall from their eyes! But then there would still be the problem of fear..fear of dying. The Holy Bible summed up: A book that teaches you to be something that it also teaches you that you can never be.

    • jesus loves u says:

      no….Lord Jesus CHRIST is not sleeping..you are the lord of this world now but the time of your death will be the time of your punishment.,there will be gnashing of teeth in hell with your lord Satan and there’s no way out…there is only one true God,it’s JESUS CHRIST who saved us..I love you guys,…and i want to meet you in heaven someday with our Lord Jesus Christ…i pray that your spiritual eyes will be open..in Jesus’ name…….

      i will pray for you guys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. jesus loves u says:

    no….Lord Jesus CHRIST is not sleeping..you are the lord of this world now but the time of your death will be the time of your punishment.,there will be gnashing of teeth in hell with your lord Satan and there’s no way out…there is only one true God,it’s JESUS CHRIST who saved us..I love you guys,…and i want to meet you in heaven someday with our Lord Jesus Christ…i pray that your spiritual eyes will be open..in Jesus’ name…….

  7. jesus loves u says:

    satanic bible is a big lie that will drag you to hell!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!beware guys!the judgment is near,put your trust and faith to our Lord Jesus Christ.His second coming is the time to fulfill His promise to us,HIs children.see you in heaven soon!!!!(:

  8. Darryl Sloan says:

    To “jesus loves you”: You are attempting to scare me into believing in something that I don’t believe in for rational reasons. If I believed only because someone had made me afraid to disbelieve, is that even real faith? This is why you fail. Save your psychological terrorism, your impotent prayers, and your unwanted pity, for weak-minded tremblers. I’m not one.

  9. anton dog la vagina says:

    satanic church is stupid and who ever existed in this world,….
    why in the devil worship,….
    much less willing to believe the same person bald and dumb like Anton LaVey, …

    your brain is already at Kotori Dog by Anton LaVey, …

    just want to worldly pleasures,…..

    berimanpun people need pleasure,. and is given happiness and joy,…. not like you guys are impressed on the forced pleasure.

    stupid,……..

  10. ruth warren says:

    You bwtter sop the stupidity of plying with God the almighty, wat the dirty is Satanic bible? God will punish you, my fellow christians lets join hands and let God show them the right way,

  11. darryl says:

    i dont beileve and dont want to follow it either i just want to read it to see its point of view im not an ignorant person

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