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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In focusing on the famous few, we risk doing a disservice to all victims of child sexual abuse

There is a danger that we make it harder, not easier, for victims to come forward in future. 

Back in the 1970s when relations between journalists and police were somewhat different to today a simple ritual would be carried out around the country at various times throughout the week.

Reporters, eager for information for their regional newspaper, would take a trip to the local station and there would be met by a desk sergeant who would helpfully skim through details in the crime Incident Book.

Among the entries about petty thefts, burglaries and road accidents there would occasionally be a reference to an allegation of incest. And at this point the sergeant and journalist might well screw-up their faces, shake their heads and swiftly move on to the next log. The subject was basically taboo, seen as something ‘a bit mucky,’ not what was wanted in a family newspaper.

And that’s really the way things stayed until 1986 when ChildLine was set up by Dame Esther Rantzen in the wake of a BBC programme about child abuse. For the first time children felt able to speak out about being sexually assaulted by the very adults whose role in life was to protect them.

And for the first time the picture became clear about what incest really meant in many cases. It wasn’t simply a low level crime to be swept under the carpet in case it scratched people’s sensitivities. It frequently involved children being abused by members of their close family, repeatedly, over many years.

Slowly but surely as the years rolled on the NSPCC continued to press the message about the prevalence of child sexual abuse, while encouraging victims to come forward. During this time the corrosive effects of this most insidious crime have been painfully detailed by many of those whose lives have been derailed by it. And of course the details of the hundreds of opportunistic sexual assaults committed by Jimmy Savile have been indelibly branded onto the nation’s consciousness.

It’s been a long road - particularly for those who were raped or otherwise abused as children and are now well into their later years - to bring society around to accepting that this is not to be treated as a dark secret that we really don’t want to expose to daylight. Many of those who called our helpline during the early days of the Savile investigation had never told anyone about the traumatic events of their childhoods despite the fact they had reached retirement age.

So, having buried the taboo, we seem to be in danger of giving it the kiss of life with the way some cases of alleged abuse are now being perceived.

It’s quite right that all claims of sexual assault should be investigated, tested and, where there is a case, pursued through the judicial system. No one is above the law, whether a ‘celebrity’ or a lord.

But we seem to have lost a sense of perspective when it comes to these crimes with vast resources being allocated to a handful of cases while many thousands of reported incidents are virtually on hold.

The police should never have to apologise for investigating crimes and following leads. However, if allegations are false or cannot be substantiated they should say so. This would be a strength not a weakness.

It is, of course, difficult that in many of the high-profile cases of recent times the identities of those under investigation have not been officially released by the police but have come to light through other means. Yet we have to deal with the world as it is not as we wish it would be and once names are common knowledge the results of the investigations centring on them should be made public.

When it emerges that someone in the public eye is being investigated for non-recent child abuse it obviously stirs the interest of the media whose appetite can be insatiable. This puts pressure on the police who don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past by allowing offenders to slip through their hands.  And so there is a danger, as has been seen in recent cases, that officers lack confidence in declaring there is a lack of evidence or the allegations are not true. 

The disproportionate weight of media attention given to say, Sir Edward Heath, as opposed to the Bradford grooming gang sentenced this week, shows there is a danger the pendulum is swinging too far the other way. This threatens the painstaking work invested in ensuring the public and our institutions recognise child abuse as a very real danger. 

Whilst high profile cases have helped the cause there is now a real risk that the all-encompassing focus on them does both victims of abuse and those advocating on their behalf a fundamental disservice.

As the public watches high -profile cases collapsing amidst a media fanfare genuine convictions made across the country week in week out go virtually unannounced. If this trend continues they may start to believe that child sexual abuse isn’t the prolific problem we know it to be.

So, while detectives peer into the mists of time, searching for long lost clues, we have to face the unpalatable possibility that offences being committed today will in turn only be investigated fully in years or decades' time because there is not the manpower to deal with them right now.

So, now the Goddard Inquiry is in full swing, taking evidence about allegations of child sex crimes involving ‘well known people’ as well as institutional abuse, how do we ensure we don’t fail today’s victims?

If they start to think their stories are going to be diminished by the continuing furore over how some senior public figures have been treated by the police they will stay silent. Therefore we have to continue to encourage them to come forward, to give them the confidence of knowing they will be listened to.

If we don’t we will find ourselves back in those incestuous days where people conspired to say and do nothing to prevent child abuse.

Peter Wanless is Chief Executive of the NSPCC.