One thing from re-reading The Satanic Bible by Anton Szandor LaVey, it’s that LaVey liked to fuck, but I also learned a lot of other life lessons, and they are surprisingly practical and actually pretty positive.
Though there is a lot of stuff in there about rituals and bells and witchy women wearing sexy outfits—unless you’re old because that’s not the energy LaVey was looking for—the overall message of the book is one of self-acceptance, self-indulgence, and self-respect. If one were to revise the ubiquitous “Live, Love, Laugh!” wall decal in the spirit of Satanism, it would read “Eat, Bone, Avenge!”
The Satan described by LaVey isn’t the one the Church Lady warned you about. Satan is a concept, symbol, or force to be harnessed to live an enjoyable, successful life. Satan is not an anthropomorphic horned entity to whom one sacrifices animals and children—in fact, that’s a big Satanist no-no. In the chapter “On the Choice of Human Sacrifice,” LaVey explains that “under NO circumstances would a Satanist sacrifice any animal or baby!” How does one generate the energy needed for effective spells, you ask? By jerking off (cool), or by sacrificing someone “asking to be cursed by their very action” (like a Nazi, I guess). So now that we have the pesky issue of baby killing out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the lessons contained in The Satanic Bible, that are surprisingly applicable in the day-to-day.
It’s okay to want to feel good.
It’s too bad that LaVey died just two years shy of the Bloodhound Gang’s “Bad Touch,” because he would have been obsessed. The point that you and me (baby) ain’t nothing but a couple of animals is driven home over and over, but LaVey advises that, instead of fighting our base, animalistic desires, we give into them, and just be happy, dude. (There is one caveat to following one’s bliss, and that is that one mustn’t do so in a way that brings harm to people who haven’t done harm to you.)
The book is very pro the seven deadly sins, as it’s these things that lead to pleasure, and pleasure is good (that’s why it feels good). “Envy” is simply looking “with favor upon the possessions of others,” and being “greedy” is just “wanting more than what one already has.” Both are described as “the motivating forces of ambition,” without which “very little of any importance would be accomplished.” “Gluttony,” explains LeVey, is “simply eating more than you need to keep yourself alive.” Similarly, pride is wanting to look good, not wanting to get out of your warm and cozy bed is sloth, and lust is…well, lust.
Wanting to eat because things tastes good, sleep because it feels good, and make paper because you want the same cool shit your friends have is not something you should be ashamed of, and these “sins” can motivate you to improve yourself and your life. If you want to go to the gym for the sole purpose of making that booty more shelf-like, that’s a perfectly good reason, and you may end up extending your life and improving your mental health in your prideful quest for a better butt. This all may seem selfish, and it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Pride, for example, can motivate one to do great, altruistic things. If activism wasn’t motivated at least a little bit by pride, there would be way fewer Instagram photos of people holding protest signs. Though I’m sure there are people who are capable of volunteering at a puppy shelter and not tweeting about it, you can’t tell me they don’t feel good after a day of helping sad dogs, who are always deserving of help.
Enthusiastic, consensual sex is the best sex
I don’t think it was a coincidence that this book was published in 1969; even today, one can almost hear LaVey hissing “yessssss,” from the grave. The Satanic Bible is very pro sex, but it’s also very pro consent. Satanism has a reputation for compulsory orgies, but though “Satanism does advocate for sexual freedom,” it “does not encourage orgiastic activity or extramarital affairs for those to whom they do not come naturally.” Group sex is chill if it brings you and your partner joy, but fighting through tears during an orgy to prove “to others (or worse, yourself) that you are emancipated from sexual guilt” is not.
Sex is good (if you enjoy it), and the amount and type you want to have is the amount and type you should be having (or, if you don’t like sex, not having). Satanism is down with pretty much all forms of consensual sexuality activity. Masturbation is cool, straight sex is cool, gay sex is cool, group sex is cool, and no sex is cool. Indulging in fetishes and kinks is also cool, “as long as it involves no one who does not wish to be involved.”
Indulgence, not compulsion, is an important distinction. Indulgence is doing what you want to—again, as long as it’s not hurting others—and not feeling bad about it. If having casual sex (safely) with a lot of different partners genuinely makes you feel empowered, or is just very fun, there’s no reason you should feel bad about (ethically) doing so. If it makes you feel icky—and that ickiness does not stem from guilt you were told you should feel by someone else—don’t do it. Compulsive behavior, whether it comes from a place of morality-enforced abstinence or something else, is not the sex droid you’re looking for—a “Satanist is master of, rather than mastered by sex.”
Punch Nazis and slay vampires.
LaVey never explicitly said he was antifa, but he was very much in favor of “making yourself a terror to your adversary,” and treating those who would not follow the Golden Rule with “the wrath they deserve.” Satanism doesn’t advocate violence for its own sake, but the goal of dealing “blow for blow” and “doom for doom—with compound interest liberally added thereunto,” is to make people who would do you or others harm reconsider their shitty actions and shitty opinions.
In addition to the obviously, outwardly aggressive, LaVey has no time for the “passively vicious,” which he refers to as “psychic vampires.” These are people you hang out with because you feel guilty if you don’t, even when you don’t enjoy their company all that much. These are the people who never directly make their needs known, yet you always find yourself doing little favors for, none of which are returned. This is the person who doesn’t have a lot of friends because they’re just “really picky” about who they spend their time with, and—after a round of social shit talking—will “hasten to add you fulfill every requirement and are truly and outstanding exception” and are “one of the few very worthy of his [or her] friendship.”
Essentially, if you find yourself giving and giving to one very particular human, yet never seem to get anything in return (save for shiny gifts meant to inspire a sense of obligation), whose needs you always prioritize even though they don’t show you the same consideration, get them out of your life. (This, obviously, does not apply to children. You can’t get rid of those.) Doing so is not especially difficult: just say no.
If it seems like I am picking and choosing the parts I like from this book here, it’s because I very much am. The Satanic Bible is not without problems. Not only did LeVey plagiarize and borrow many of his ideas, but there are definite vibes of ableism along with some Ayn Rand-y nonsense. It’s also offensively corny at times—like, did you know that “EVIL is BACKWARDS for LIVE?”—and LaVey loses some of his sex positive points by suggesting that older witches leave the sexy garb to the younger ladies, and instead embrace the “cookie lady” aesthetic. (Side note: I don’t feel that “sexy cookie lady” isn’t my vibe.) His lack of feminist ideas is clear.
The Satanic Bible isn’t something one should read without a critical eye and then follow blindly—in fact, doing so wouldn’t be very Satanic, as one is supposed to “question all things”—but there’s a lot of terrible in the world, and embracing an indulgent, sex-positive, anti-jerk worldview can help. Whether you call it “finding your joy,” “living your truth,” or “hailing Satan,” doing the things you want to do (without guilt), building relationships with value to you, and sticking up for yourself will make your life a lot better, so go get yours. (Unless “yours” involves white supremacy, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, fascism, or any other similar, harmful ideology, in which case you can get punched.)
As with most book revisits, more was revealed. 😉