On Occultism of the Past Revisited

I MEANT what I said in The Satanic Bible, when I referred to such prior garbage as “sanctimonious fraud. . .” -Anton LaVey, “On Occultism of the Past”

On occasion I will encounter those whom claim themselves to be aligned with Anton LaVey’s philosophy while contradictorily applying new age, occult claptrap to aspects of Satanism, which he actively railed against. Particularly regarding the ritualistic aspect of Satanism they will fling such vague concepts around as “spirituality,” “vibration,” “energy,” et al. in endeavors to explain their seemingly subjective success in the ritual chamber. Despite the numerous times that LaVey stated his disgust for such idiotic notions, still they seem to persist while these people forget that ritual is psychodrama. I think generally that this clinging to unscientific, pseudo-Satanic mysticism hints at a larger issue. Perhaps this funnels to a psychological need to subscribe to belief, that these people just can’t divorce themselves from proclivities of the “spiritual.” This is fine for a believer, but not for a Satanist.

I feel as if I am at this point in life where maybe I have become a bit more matured mentally, and so it seems important to reevaluate my own views to uncover any pseudo-scientific, groundless ideas that have either remained or recently crept up. In this reevaluation, I have perceived in others a tendency in regard to Satanism to buy into occult nonsense, specifically applied to Satanic ritual. These occult tendencies contrast the very principles that LaVey outlined for the ritual chamber. Moreover, I would posit that deep into the heart of the matter, Satanism is far removed from the occult although this isn’t blatantly evident. Satanism has connotations of the occult for obvious reasons, however, superficially. Satanism then is much deeper, the “tip of the iceberg.” In the preface of The Satanic Bible, LaVey captured this sentiment when he said,

The true magus knows that occult bookshelves abound with the brittle relics of frightened minds and sterile bodies, metaphysical journals of self-deceit, and constipated rule-books of Eastern mysticism. Far too long has the subject of Satanic magic and philosophy been written down by wild-eyed journalists of the right-hand path.

Alternatively, Satanism efficiently capitalizes upon hang-ups and utilizes them to full advantage. This can be seen here in the mysterious, occult connotations of Satanism, effectively its charm. Indeed, LaVey wrote on this very sort of charm with the “Law of the Forbidden” published in his book The Satanic Witch. In accordance with this Law, the superficial connotations of the occult can be appealing, however, after this on-the-surface superficiality all ties between Satanism and the occult die out, are non-existent. This is made evidently clear in “Occultism for the Millions” (published in The Devil’s Notebook) when LaVey stated,

. . . Pop occultism is fodder for nincompoops, and its only merit is that it detracts from established religious mores. Occult (hidden) knowledge will seldom be found in obvious sources. The very phrase, “popular occult movement,” is a contradiction in terms. Satanism cannot rightly qualify as an occult phenomenon, and I have never claimed it as such.

In light of this it is dishearteningly amusing (but not surprising) to view “Satanic” contemporaries buying into occult nonsense applied to ritual. Man has demonstrated a need for ritual and dogma, and Satanism has addressed both of these needs. Instead of paying homage to externalized forms of the ego, i.e. deities, Satanism views ritual as a celebration of one’s carnal self – as psychodrama, and thus fulfills this need to ritualize. Man is always going to express this need anyway, so Satanism supplies the ego gratification without the externalized notions. Likewise, I think it’s important to keep perspective in regard to Satanic ritual, which is to bear in mind that it’s above all a psychodrama, so as to not drift into unscientific, occultic mysticism.

Satanism advocates skepticism and scientific inquiry in its disposition to question accepted norms. As Satanism is a naturalistic philosophy being grounded in reality, and conforming ideas to nature and natural laws – there is no room for baseless notions of the occult or new age claptrap. How quickly it is that one will throw out skepticism when viewing psychodrama, and will instead take up every notion of “spirituality,” “transcendentalism”, and many other metaphysical occult concepts despite LaVey’s outlines of symbolism and contrived fantasy. Perhaps these kinds of people are still integrated psychologically to the system of belief, and are not yet ready to be unplugged from the machine of superstition. In “On Occultism of the Past,” LaVey summed up the dead end of occult lore rather nicely:

Summing up, if you NEED to steep yourselves in occult lore, despite this diatribe, by all means do so. But do it as a ritual in itself, i.e., objectively towards subjective ends! Read on, knowing that you won’t learn a damn thing in principle from Levi, Crowley, Regardie, (or Sybil Leek either!) that isn’t extended one-hundred fold in The Satanic Bible or The Compleat Witch [later published as The Satanic Witch], but that you’ll have the spooky fun, ego-food, and involvement which invariably accompanies a curriculum concerned more with the gathering of ingredients than the application of principles.

Forasmuch as concepts like “spirituality” are vague and meaningless, people nevertheless want to feel “spiritual.” The term spirituality has become broad, hackneyed, and illusory, carrying no weight behind it. Moreover, the use of this term namely by Carl Sagan, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris perhaps has had a bit of rejuvenation among atheists and secularists, removing the religious and supernatural connotations. What this term seems to boil down to here is a profound emotion felt toward something. But then why not stop there and call it the profound? Or visceral emotion? Even more exasperating is when one ignorantly applies it to Satanism.

Satanism is fundamentally atheistic. There is a plethora of literature in the Satanic Canon expanding upon this, and atheism is an elementary first step in self-deification. Furthermore, on the subject of this anti-superstition there are in fact grounds of the supernormal where phenomena may occur by natural processes that do not violate natural laws, which science may have no current explanation for. This can be expressed by the statement “today’s magic is tomorrow’s science.”

As a final point, I would like to de-emphasize the aspect of ritual. For far too much it seems that the overall focus is aimed toward the ritual chamber, when one would be better off honing his skills in the real world to proactively achieve his goals. In his essay “Occultism for the Millions,” LaVey stated,

“It still takes far more practice and skill to type well than to read auras. Or to change a transmission than to make predictions like, ‘A famous singer will have marital difficulties this year.'”

I think likewise that this statement can apply to ritual also. As one must not forget, “Satanism is coming out of the ritual chamber, and into the outside world.”


Books mentioned in this essay pertaining to the source material:




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