In my edition, the first thing you see when you open the cover is an introduction by Magus Gilmore, written in 2005. I’ve always felt like it’s important to know a bit of the history of books published in the past, and this is no exception! Knowing about the life of Anton LaVey (author) is helpful to put some of his words into perspective and to understand what he’s commenting on. When you’re reading something over fifty years after it being published, you have to reconcile modern perspective with that of the past. For me, the Satanic Bible wouldn’t have been the same without this introduction. It goes into explaining that Anton LaVey was employed as a police officer as well as a carnie in his life, and through this he was exposed to many different people. Sharp minded individual as he appeared to be, it was inevitable that his philosophy would heavily lean on his own experiences. If your edition doesn’t have this introduction, never fear. Though, I do appreciate the one in my own.
The book continues with a preface, a prologue, and then the Nine Satanic Statements, crowned at the top with the symbol for sulfur, or as it is better known in my religion, “The Leviathan Cross.” The Nine Satanic Statements listed below was the only doctrine list included in the Satanic Bible because the others were either not yet completed or were seen as a bit too controversial to include with the publication. Those not included are: 11 Satanic Rules of the Earth and the 9 Satanic Sins. Far later, successor Magus Peter Gilmore released a fourth list called “The Satanic Assertions.” This was also not included in the Satanic Bible, but all mentioned here are considered to be the cornerstone of the philosophy and dogma.
Fire: The Book of Satan
I’m not a rabid fan of Might is Right. The way it is written is certainly poetic, and I do find it a work of art even though the concepts written in it stray a little too far for my appreciation politically and culturally speaking. Of course, this blog isn’t about “Might is Right,” it’s about the Satanic Bible, but “Might is Right” was a key influencer for the Book of Satan, it’s plain to see, once you have read both books. I do appreciate that Anton LaVey was inspired by these ideas but that he interpreted them in a way which made sense to him, much in the way we all do when we read the words in the Satanic Bible.
It is from Redbeard’s inspiration in this part of the Satanic Bible where readers choose to interpret undertones of Social Darwinism, a term which in itself is often misunderstood and mistakenly used. It was fathered by philosopher Herbert Spencer in the late 1800s when he applied Charles Darwin's "Theory of Evolution" improperly against society's social dynamic resulting in a catastrophic excuse for racist atrocity in the years to come. Where Satanism advocates for individualism and meritocracy, it is easy to see the reality that Satanism does not condone bigoted racist behavior such as that which Spencer's Social Darwinism enables.
The Book of Satan is split into four chapters which are not named, but after the prologue, “The Infernal Diatribe,” subjects that seem to be addressed are: the conventions of the Satanist, an advisory from Satan (hypothetical) against subscribing to falsehoods, Lex Talionis, how to be your own savior, as well as dispositional health and fitness. Again, this is where I think people decide that the Satanic Bible echoes the concept of Social Darwinism, but I would recommend that these misguided individuals research what Darwinism really is, as well as the period and history of Herbert Spencer. History may never repeat itself, but it does echo, and the researcher may be able to better understand what hysteria was infecting the minds of citizens after indulging their intellect—what a perfect segway to the Book of Lucifer!
Air: The Book of Lucifer
I love this book in particular. Where the Book of Satan seemed to be about introducing the reader to the fiery passion imbued within the Satanist, and about making “an arrival” for that power and passion, I could connect more with this book because this book is what shattered the misunderstandings and misconceptions that I had about the religion. For instance, when LaVey opened with the way that Satanists view gods, I was a bit goldfish-wide-eyed. I remember thinking, “Whoa, wait, what? Someone else thinks this way?” It was the first inclination that I had that maybe this would be something I could connect with. I remember the way my heart pounded and my hesitation to read onward, if only so that I could have more time with the words that had reached me so directly. Read onward I did though, since like the satisfaction of enjoying the forbidden fruit, I needed to know just how similar the perspective of ‘this guy’ and my own were similar. He didn’t let me down!
This book needs to be read a few times in order to fully appreciate the depth of what is being said. This stands in contrast to the Book of Satan which was extraordinarily straight forward, and throughout the experience you may feel a bit like a philosopher stooped on your pedestal. The words are easy to understand, but the depth to them will be what inspires you to crack the spine again and again. In periods where I’m weary from the relentless endlessness of the herd, I have in the past restored my energy here.
Overall, I can’t decide which chapter would be my favorite. I think the most meaningful to me was the first, “Wanted! God—Dead or Alive” though the chapter on “Love and Hate” was just as much a breath of fresh air. The chapter titled “Indulgence….NOT Compulsion,” is highly reflective of the Satanic spirit, and of course, everything in between earned more than a few nods from my smiling eyes. The titles are very clearly a type of literary clickbait, and the words inked beneath them are very clearly worth something more—though just like the name of our religion, “Satanism,” there just simply isn’t anything better that chapters like, “On the Choice of Human Sacrifice” or “Hell, the Devil, and How to Sell Your Soul” could be named.
Earth: The Book of Belial
I believe it’s within “The Satanic Witch” that Anton LaVey states that Lesser Magic cannot be taught, and I have to say that to a degree, the same can be said for ritual. The Satanic Bible explains that Satanic rituals (Greater Magic) is a mere psychodrama for the actor, but in a religion that is as individualistic as this, I found it surprising that it was communicated so concretely the way that rituals are to be performed. On one hand, I do understand that rituals have to do with ceremony and tradition, but on the other I recognize that if Greater Magic is truly about the practitioner, it needs to be their own concept of tradition and ceremony for fullest impact to be had. Frankly, I find some of the script to be cringey. It may be personal aim to prevent the delusion of self, but when it comes to ritualizing, we need to enter an emotional and subjective state for it to be effective. If I could provide a picture for you of what the sentiment is like, consider the famous photographs of Anton LaVey in the ritual chamber with companions wearing latex animal masks. It was theatrical, but it was obviously theatrical. It was silly, pretending to be serious, and that’s really what ritual is, but for me the jarring silliness is well, jarring, and I can’t sink myself into it. For that reason, as you have seen me share, I write my own invocations and perform my own ceremonies of personal importance, though I do more or less design my rituals to be aware of the “Thirteen Steps” (even if out of order) as described in the Book of Belial. LaVey goes into describing the “Intellectual Decompression Chamber” in its appropriately named chapter, as well as the basic recipe for successful deliverance of Satanic Lesser Magic and Greater Magic in this book. If you’re interested in magic, don’t skip ahead. Read the Book of Satan first, followed by the Book of Lucifer, and then tackle the Book of Belial. Otherwise, you will misunderstand the metaphors and will probably mess up in a way that will haunt you for longer than you’d prefer.
Water: The Book of Leviathan
Within the Book of Leviathan you will find such things as an “Invocation to Satan,” as well as other resources that can be used toward rituals specified in the Book of Belial, including the names of those who would be invoked.
In the end, I would recommend giving this book a read if you haven’t already, and if you have, you would certainly already understand why it is that I recommend to others that they do so. Even if you don’t believe you’ll agree with what’s within the pages you should still expose yourself to the way “the other side thinks.” It’s about time that “the other side” got a platform to voice their opinion anyway, but this book is well written, it’s intriguing, and it’s bold. It’s inexpensive, obtainable, and it’s short. There is no reason not to read it, and I hope in short time that you do.
"The Satanic Warlock," Robert Johnson
"The Satanic Rituals," Anton LaVey
"The Satanic Witch," Anton LaVey
"Might is Right," Ragnar Redbeard