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.