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.
Garry Knight via Creative Commons
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Why Barack Obama was right to release Chelsea Manning

A Presidential act of mercy is good for Manning, but also for the US.

In early 2010, a young US military intelligence analyst on an army base near Baghdad slipped a Lady Gaga CD into a computer and sang along to the music. In fact, the soldier's apparently upbeat mood hid two facts. 

First, the soldier later known as Chelsea Manning was completely alienated from army culture, and the callous way she believed it treated civilians in Iraq. And second, she was quietly erasing the music on her CDs and replacing it with files holding explosive military data, which she would release to the world via Wikileaks. 

To some, Manning is a free speech hero. To others, she is a traitor. President Barack Obama’s decision to commute her 35-year sentence before leaving office has been blasted as “outrageous” by leading Republican Paul Ryan. Other Republican critics argue Obama is rewarding an act that endangered the lives of soldiers and intelligence operatives while giving ammunition to Russia. 

They have a point. Liberals banging the drum against Russia’s leak offensive during the US election cannot simultaneously argue leaks are inherently good. 

But even if you think Manning was deeply misguided in her use of Lady Gaga CDs, there are strong reasons why we should celebrate her release. 

1. She was not judged on the public interest

Manning was motivated by what she believed to be human rights abuses in Iraq, but her public interest defence has never been tested. 

The leaks were undoubtedly of public interest. As Manning said in the podcast she recorded with Amnesty International: “When we made mistakes, planning operations, innocent people died.” 

Thanks to Manning’s leak, we also know about the Vatican hiding sex abuse scandals in Ireland, plus the UK promising to protect US interests during the Chilcot Inquiry. 

In countries such as Germany, Canada and Denmark, whistle blowers in sensitive areas can use a public interest defence. In the US, however, such a defence does not exist – meaning it is impossible for Manning to legally argue her actions were in the public good. 

2. She was deemed worse than rapists and murderers

Her sentence was out of proportion to her crime. Compare her 35-year sentence to that received by William Millay, a young police officer, also in 2013. Caught in the act of trying to sell classified documents to someone he believed was a Russian intelligence officer, he was given 16 years

According to Amnesty International: “Manning’s sentence was much longer than other members of the military convicted of charges such as murder, rape and war crimes, as well as any others who were convicted of leaking classified materials to the public.”

3. Her time in jail was particularly miserable 

Manning’s conditions in jail do nothing to dispel the idea she has been treated extraordinarily harshly. When initially placed in solitary confinement, she needed permission to do anything in her cell, even walking around to exercise. 

When she requested treatment for her gender dysphoria, the military prison’s initial response was a blanket refusal – despite the fact many civilian prisons accept the idea that trans inmates are entitled to hormones. Manning has attempted suicide several times. She finally received permission to receive gender transition surgery in 2016 after a hunger strike

4. Julian Assange can stop acting like a martyr

Internationally, Manning’s continued incarceration was likely to do more harm than good. She has said she is sorry “for hurting the US”. Her worldwide following has turned her into an icon of US hypocrisy on free speech.

Then there's the fact Wikileaks said its founder Julian Assange would agree to be extradited to the US if Manning was released. Now that Manning is months away from freedom, his excuses for staying in the Equadorian London Embassy to avoid Swedish rape allegations are somewhat feebler.  

As for the President - under whose watch Manning was prosecuted - he may be leaving his office with his legacy in peril, but with one stroke of his pen, he has changed a life. Manning, now 29, could have expected to leave prison in her late 50s. Instead, she'll be free before her 30th birthday. And perhaps the Equadorian ambassador will finally get his room back. 

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.