Welcome back. This week we’re continuing to dive into Satanic magic and examining the elements required for a successful outcome.
This is the first and certainly most important element in ritual magic. Desire, intention, “…motivation, temptation, or emotional persuasion” (p. 121), all describe this primary element. Performing a ritual requires and conjures a lot of energy. Without a specific intention, it will prove to be a waste of time and energy to perform it at all. No matter the ritual type (compassion, sex, or destruction), intense desire and intention for the outcome are non-negotiable.
With this in mind, it’s important to understand that there’s no such thing as a practice ritual. There’s no point, it’s a waste of time and vital energy, and does nothing to help the magician achieve their desired outcome. All of the energy that a magician has, related to the target of the ritual, should be reserved for the actual ritual (more on that later). Do or do not. There is no try.
Here, LaVey also discusses the false idea that performance of ritual magic is a means of proving one’s skill, or showing off. “It is true that if the magician wishes to gain power through impressing others with his feats of magic, he must produce tangible proof of his ability. The Satanic concept of magic, however, fails to find gratification in the proving of magical prowess” (p. 121).
LaVey also makes reference here to those he calls ‘natural magicians’ – children. When a child wishes for something, they do it intensely and without fear. It’s not like a prayer, which involves not only wishing, but apprehension and fear of God. A child’s wish is nothing more than a pure intention with lots of energy behind it. “Be as a child, and do not stifle desire, lest you lose touch with the first ingredient in the performance of magic” (p. 122).
It’s important that rituals are conducted when the target is in its most receptive, or passive, state – sleeping, bored, or otherwise mentally unoccupied. With this in mind, consider the traditional image of witches, warlocks, and sorcerers – they are night people. “What better schedule on which to live, for the sending of thoughts towards unsuspecting sleepers!” (p. 123)
LaVey dives further into the sleep cycle and elaborates on the times when someone would be most receptive in their sleep state. When someone is very tired, they sleep deeply for several hours, and they fall into non-REM sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “this is when the body repairs muscles and tissues, stimulates growth and development, boosts immune function, and builds up energy for the next day.” This means the brain is naturally in a non-receptive state, and it’s not going to respond much to outside stimuli. Once the body has rested and restored itself for a few hours, you enter into REM, or dream, sleep. This is the time when your brain “…consolidates and processes information from the day before so that it can be stored in your long-term memory.” It’s during this stage of sleep that a target is naturally most receptive to ritual workings. The body is rested and still in a passive state, and the brain is done with restorative work and ready to accept stimuli. LaVey advises that one can estimate a target’s period of REM sleep by considering their sleep schedule. If someone goes to bed at 11:00pm, and wakes up at 7:00am, “the most effective time to perform a ritual would be about 5 o’clock in the morning, or two hours before the recipient awakes” (p. 123).
Timing is also crucial for the magician, or ‘sender,’ as they must be at their peak of efficiency in order to perform a successful ritual. If a magician wants to perform a ceremony at 5:00am, and is traditionally not awake at that time, it’s best if they gradually adjust their sleep schedule to be able to perform at a high level at that time of day.
LaVey also discusses how, if a woman is the target of a ritual, the magician should be mindful of her menstrual cycle. A woman is allegedly most ‘sexually approachable’ right before or right after her period (although there are actually many factors that contribute to this). Whatever you choose to believe on this topic is up to you, but it’s certainly something to keep in mind, as it can impact the target’s receptivity.
A woman who’s looking to target a man has many more options, and wouldn’t need to take monthly hormone cycles into account. However, the seasons may play a role. “The time of year following the spring equinox is the most fraught with sexual vigor in a man, and he asserts himself accordingly…” (p. 124). As long as the man is not totally drained of sexual energy, he’s fair game. Easy work for a proficient witch.
Note: LaVey does not address the gender spectrum in The Satanic Bible; terms like non-binary and gender-fluid simply did not exist in the 1960s. However, it is worth noting that the Church of Satan is wholly accepting of all gender expressions.
The adolescent boy who takes great care in carving, on a tree, a heart containing his and his love object’s initials; the little chap who sits by the hour drawing his conception of sleek automobiles; the tiny girl who rocks a scuffed and ragged doll in her arms, and thinks of it as her beautiful little baby – these capable witches and warlocks, these natural magicians, are employing the magical ingredient known as imagery, and the success of any ritual depends on it.p. 124
Imagery is powerful, and an essential ingredient of Satanic magic. If you remember, the entire ritual practice is “…meant as self-transformational psychodrama.” Consider the destruction ritual; the intention is to destroy someone symbolically, not physically (although one should never take that ritual lightly!). “Imagery is a constant reminder, an intellect-saving device, a working substitute for the real thing” (p. 125). Remember, the ritual practice is emotional, and never intellectual. Imagery serves as a representation of something that the magician won’t have to think about during a ceremony, it detracts from the entire process. Having imagery eliminates the need for the magician to delve into their mind during this time.
The imagery used in a ceremony should directly correlate to the desire and the intended outcome. “Any drawing, painting, sculpture, writing, photograph, article of clothing, scent, sound, music, tableau, or contrived situation that can be incorporated into the ceremony will serve the sorcerer well” (p. 125). In the case of a sex ritual, the desired situation must be created in a way that can be referenced during the ceremony, whether through writing, images, film, etc. And conversely, if destruction is the goal, the enemy must be destroyed by proxy in the ceremony. This could be through something like a voodoo doll, which would be repeatedly stabbed, or an image of the person which would be burned or otherwise destroyed.
To illustrate the power of imagery, LaVey briefly recounts the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea, which you can read here.
The witch who casts her spells between long waits by the telephone, anticipating her would-be lover’s call; the destitute warlock who invokes Satan’s blessing, then waits on pins and needles for the check to arrive; the man, saddened by the injustices wrought upon him, who, having cursed his enemy, plods his way, long of face, and furrowed of brow – all are common examples of misdirected emotional energy.p. 126
Having an awareness of energy is an important part of being a Satanist. Personally, I think it’s one of my own greatest talents. I learned once from a mentor that I must always be the custodian of my own energy, and that advice has stuck with me for many years. A magician’s energy, the energy of those around them, the energy conjured in a ritual, all are there to send in the direction of their choosing.
Anxiety and anxious energy are a waste to the Satanist. That’s certainly not to say that Satanists never experience anxiety, but it’s important to have an awareness of your energy at all times. If a magician waits anxiously for the results of their ritual to appear, they’ve wasted vital energy that could be directed towards the achievement of their desire. LaVey speculates that “…with this [anxious] attitude, it is doubtful that enough concentrated energy to even perform a proper ceremony could be stored up in the first place” (p. 126).
Dwelling on a situation, or worse, complaining about it, dilutes the energy that the magician has that should be directed towards the desired outcome. It’s important for a magician to have an intense awareness of their energy, and essentially to save it all up for the ritual. “Once the desire has been established strongly enough to employ the forces of magic, then every attempt must be made to symbolically give vent to these wishes IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THE RITUAL – NOT before or after!” (p. 126).
Seeing as the point of ritual is to get rid of emotional baggage, dwelling on the subject in the time leading up to or following a ceremony defeats the purpose of having a ritual in the first place. “Contemplation, daydreaming, and constant scheming burns up emotional energy that could be gathered together in a dynamically usable force” (p. 126). Don’t waste energy here – rather, direct it to the correct place and time.
The Balance Factor
Are you a gross, lumpy, lewd-mouthed, snaggle-toothed loafer who is desirous of a luscious young stripper? If so, you’d better learn to use the balance factor, or else expect to fail consistently!p. 127
Balance is an extremely important force of nature, and as such, also is extremely important in the performance of greater magic. LaVey states that this is more important for sex and compassion rituals, and less for destruction. The balance factor boils down to knowing your abilities, and acting accordingly.
For example, someone who has tried using lesser and greater magic to achieve their desires, but fails consistently, should take a look introspectively. “Are you a talentless, tone-deaf individual who is attempting, through magic, to receive great acclaim for your unmusical voice?” (p. 127). That’s putting it wonderfully bluntly – in other words, don’t have wild, crazy, unrealistic expectations for the outcome of your ritual. It’s not, after all, actual magic – performing a ritual ceremony will not suddenly give you a beautiful voice (no matter what The Little Mermaid may have taught you).
While the balance factor is extremely important in the practice of ritual magic, it’s also an important quality for a Satanist to have at all times – true, deep knowledge of one’s self seen through a lens of equanimity.
That’s all for today, stay tuned next week where I’ll be covering a topic that is currently undetermined!
All quoted material comes directly from The Satanic Bible by Anton Szandor LaVey, unless otherwise linked or noted.
Interpretations and opinions are my own; I am not a spokesperson for, nor endorsed by, the Church of Satan or any other entity.