By Benjamin Welton

The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey (via Pak Tua Rah)

Though they may have been atheists, both the German philosopher and the Russian-American author are undoubtedly channeled in Anton LaVey’s Satanic Bible.

Despite its name, Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan has very little to do with either Satan or his worship. In LaVeyan Satanism, the important god is ourselves and our natural instincts. Borrowing somewhat from English occultist Aleister Crowley and his libertine credo of “Do what thou wilt,” LaVey’s The Satanic Bible outlines the philosophy and rituals behind the Church of Satan, and for the most part, the central figure is the ego and the will of those considered strong enough to accept Satanism.

The Nine Satanic Statements included in The Satanic Bible are:

  1. Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence!

  2. Satan represents vital existence instead of spiritual pipe dreams!

  3. Satan represents undefiled wisdom instead of hypocritical self-deceit!

  4. Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it instead of love wasted on ingrates!

  5. Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek!

  6. Satan represents responsibility to the responsible instead of concern for psychic vampires!

  7. Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours, who, because of his “divine spiritual and intellectual development,” has become the most vicious animal of all!

  8. Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification!

  9. Satan has been the best friend the church has ever had, as He has kept it in business all these years!

By focusing on vitality and a hatred of hypocritical selflessness, LaVey and his Church of Satan expose their less outwardly sinister roots. Namely, their philosophy has two chief architects: Friedrich Nietzsche and Ayn Rand.

Friedrich Nietzsche, 1872 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Ayn Rand, 1957 (via Fine Art America)

From Nietzsche, who famously declared the death of God in The Gay Science, LaVey lifted not only the categorization of Christianity as a “slave morality,” but also adapted the Ubermensch as the ideal Satanist. In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche describes the Ubermensch as a master of “this-worldliness,” a natural aristocrat who denies spiritual redemption in favor for accomplishments in this life.

While Nietzsche’s philosophy verged on the mystical and metaphysical, Rand was a through and through materialist. In her many books, she excoriated not only socialism and the socialistic impulse as tyranny by another name, but also lambasted altruism as a false god kept in power in order to keep humanity from reaching true happiness. Rational self-interest became the rallying cry of Rand’s Objectivism, which she describes in The Virtue of Selfishness as “a morality of rational self-interest — or of rational selfishness.”

Knowing all of this goes a long way towards exorcising the evil from the Church of Satanism. In reality, LaVeyan Satanism presents a materialist and egoist philosophy in Halloween costume. And even though The Satanic Bible takes magic rituals seriously, those spells are predicated upon the projection of will rather than supernatural intermediaries.

The only thing scary about LaVeyan Satanism is its championing of self-aggrandizement. When LaVey proclaims “Satan rules the Earth,” he is proclaiming the primacy of humanity and the glories of natural instincts. It is, in the end, not terribly different from today’s secularism. Perhaps seeing where his and future generations were heading, all LaVey did was give a name to their practice, thus founding a religion of economic comfort and social ennui. No demons need apply.

Benjamin Welton is a freelance writer based in Burlington, Vermont. He prefers “Ben” or “Benzo,” and his writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Crime Magazine, The Crime Factory, Seven Days and Ravenous Monster. He used to teach English at the University of Vermont, but now just drinks beer and runs his own blog called The Trebuchet.

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