Let me explain why I was somewhat wary of this from the outset: What I knew about LaVey Satanism lead me to the conclusion that it was basically Libertarianism. I’m fine with that. (I mean, actually worshipping Satan makes slightly more sense than reading Ayn Rand; if only because spending an eternity in hell would probably be faster than plodding ones way through Atlas Shrugged – less painful, too…) So I read the intro, written by the current High Priest. He said that the Church of Satan was only for special people. Nothing unusual: libertarians are famously elitist. He lists those for whom Satanism is intended:
“a select few who are epicurean” Yep, reference to ancient Greeks. That’s in-keeping with Libertarianism. “pragmatic, worldly, atheistic, fiercely individualistic, materialistic, rational” So far so good. I can deal with Libertarians no problem. What’s this next bit…? “and darkly poetic” Oh shit! Fat Goths who can’t grow beards, and wear vampire capes! Abort! Abort! Step away from the book!
I guess it was naïveté on my part to expect to read The Satanic Bible and not come across blotchy fatsos who write pornographic Ann Rice fanfiction. I mean, I can deal with Rationalists, but Live Action Role Players engaged in a life-long game of Vampire: The Sucking, that’s where I draw the line.
That having been said, the book was alright. All a bit dramatic and overblown, but given my proclivity for poems written by depressed teenagers and heavy-metal lyrics, that just made it more fun to read.
It was pretty much just a humanist manifesto (but slightly more aware than the frothy rantings of Ayn Rand insofar as LaVey admits the existence of love – which Rand’s autistic robots could never do – and says that, while he never touches the stuff himself, altruism is a fine enough idea if that’s your bag) that slowly transfigures itself into the rule-book for a live-action role-playing game. Nothing necessarily wrong with that. (I did like how unapologetic LaVey was when outlining the appropriate dress for a satanic ritual: long black robes for the men; tight, slutty clothing for the women. There’s something almost refreshing about being that blatant.)
Overall, I think the most telling part of the book is LaVey’s digression into other people considered Satanists where he says, to paraphrase, “How come people can’t figure out that Aleister Crowley was taking the piss? I can’t believe that it’s not clearly self-evident that he wasn’t serious. Now back to what I was saying about how to perform a Black Mass…”