A brief musing on the nature of Satanic ritual

Who wouldn't be on a Satanist's speed dial: Elmer Fudd, Bugs Bunny or Judge Dredd?

Visitors to The Church Of Satan website are often bewildered when confronted by an image of Anton LaVey fronting a group of black-robed Satanic ritual participants, their faces concealed by the donning of animal masks. When juxtaposed with the pragmatic philosophy that Satanism is purported to be founded on, the question that the curious are prompted to ask is: “well, if you don’t believe in the Devil, why all the demonic imagery?”

The image in the aforementioned example depicts a ritual outlined in The Satanic Rituals known as Das Tierdrama. The rite was originally performed by The Order Of The Illuminati founded in 1776 by Adam Weishaupt, and the purpose of the ritual is for its participants to willingly assume the animalistic attributes of purity, honesty and increased sensory perception. If you are wondering what possible advantage the assuming of such attributes might offer someone, well... you try creeping up on a sleeping lion. Think of it as a sharpening of the acumen.

In his book The Satanic Scriptures, High Priest Peter H. Gilmore stipulates that there is no requirement for anyone to believe that ritual operates as anything other than self-therapy. Although these rituals are orchestrated as what we term to be a “Psycho-drama”, Gilmore adds that it is through personal practice and verification that one may discover that they also effect some very real results in accordance with one’s will.

The fact is that the nature of how ritual works with its multitude of theories and possibilities would be far too broad a spectrum to be explored with sufficient depth in the space afforded me here. Suffice to say, I can briefly encapsulate it thusly – our desires and emotions, even the human psyche itself, exist without quantifiable form. It is through symbolism that such concepts are afforded the substance required to help bolster the will, offering it direction through increased focus. In Man And His Symbols, Carl Jung posits that “because there are innumerable things beyond the range of human understanding, we constantly use symbolic terms to represent concepts that we cannot define or fully comprehend. This is one reason why all religions employ symbolic language.”

The difference in the Satanic credo here is that our own use of such symbols is a method by which we focus the carnal human will rather than entrusting the fruition of our desires to the auspices of some intangible deity. It is here where the distinction can be made that; although, we do indeed employ what some have seen as demonic imagery it is still administered with a more pragmatically orientated rationale than it might first appear.

To end on a lighter note it should be added that the ceremonies and practices outlined in both The Satanic Bible and The Satanic Rituals are standardised guidelines which will set the able practitioner on the road of his own personal discovery where only the limitless parameters of the imagination are the final arbiter of what he might achieve. One thing is certain – it is not at all about doom and gloom. Above all, Satanism is fun! Anton LaVey once said “a Satanist without a sense of humour would be intolerable”. With this in mind it is easier to understand why and how the black magician is just as likely to symbolically summon the aid of Bugs Bunny as a trickster as he is to Loki. Or Judge Dredd as a metre of justice as to Satan himself, though I doubt you’d find many a Satanist summoning the help of the hapless and so easily hoodwinked Elmer Fudd.

In closing I hope I have addressed, and at least with a little humour, the charges some people level against us that our rituals are based on some reverse Christian ideology.

Umberto Ray is predominantly known as a poet and his work has appeared in magazines and anthologies around the world. His first book, The Blood In My Veins, was published in 2005. He has been a CoS member for several years and was ordained into its priesthood on Walpurgisnacht, 2007.
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For the first time in my life I have a sworn enemy – and I don’t even know her name

The cyclist, though, was enraged. “THAT’S CLEVER, ISN’T IT?” she yelled. “WALKING IN THE ROAD!”

Last month, I made an enemy. I do not say this lightly, and I certainly don’t say it with pride, as a more aggressive male might. Throughout my life I have avoided confrontation with a scrupulousness that an unkind observer would call out-and-out cowardice. A waiter could bring the wrong order, cold and crawling with maggots, and in response to “How is everything?” I’d still manage a grin and a “lovely, thanks”.

On the Underground, I’m so wary of being a bad citizen that I often give up my seat to people who aren’t pregnant, aren’t significantly older than me, and in some cases are far better equipped to stand than I am. If there’s one thing I am not, it’s any sort of provocateur. And yet now this: a feud.

And I don’t even know my enemy’s name.

She was on a bike when I accidentally entered her life. I was pushing a buggy and I wandered – rashly, in her view – into her path. There’s little doubt that I was to blame: walking on the road while in charge of a minor is not something encouraged by the Highway Code. In my defence, it was a quiet, suburban street; the cyclist was the only vehicle of any kind; and I was half a street’s length away from physically colliding with her. It was the misjudgment of a sleep-deprived parent rather than an act of malice.

The cyclist, though, was enraged. “THAT’S CLEVER, ISN’T IT?” she yelled. “WALKING IN THE ROAD!”

I was stung by what someone on The Apprentice might refer to as her negative feedback, and walked on with a redoubled sense of the parental inadequacy that is my default state even at the best of times.

A sad little incident, but a one-off, you would think. Only a week later, though, I was walking in a different part of town, this time without the toddler and engrossed in my phone. Again, I accept my culpability in crossing the road without paying due attention; again, I have to point out that it was only a “close shave” in the sense that meteorites are sometimes reported to have “narrowly missed crashing into the Earth” by 50,000 miles. It might have merited, at worst, a reproving ting of the bell. Instead came a familiar voice. “IT’S YOU AGAIN!” she yelled, wrathfully.

This time the shock brought a retort out of me, probably the harshest thing I have ever shouted at a stranger: “WHY ARE YOU SO UNPLEASANT?”

None of this is X-rated stuff, but it adds up to what I can only call a vendetta – something I never expected to pick up on the way to Waitrose. So I am writing this, as much as anything, in the spirit of rapprochement. I really believe that our third meeting, whenever it comes, can be a much happier affair. People can change. Who knows: maybe I’ll even be walking on the pavement

Mark Watson is a stand-up comedian and novelist. His most recent book, Crap at the Environment, follows his own efforts to halve his carbon footprint over one year.

This article first appeared in the 20 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Brothers in blood