The Satanic Scriptures, by Peter H. Gilmore
Scapegoat Publishing, 0976403595, 302 pp., 2007
To the Satanist, Satan is not a conscious entity to be worshipped, rather it is a name for the reservoir of power inside each human to be tapped at will.
When Anton LaVey’s died in 1997 his wife, Blanche Bardon, assumed his place as the head of the Church of Satan. In 2001 Bardon ceded her position as High Priestess, and promoted Peter Gilmore and Peggy Nadramia to High Priest and High Priestess respectively; positions they still retain today.
The Satanic Scriptures comprises of a collection of essays written between 1987-2006, many of which were previously published in The Black Flame, the magazine founded by Gilmore and Nadramia which served as the official magazine for the Church of Satan. Unfortunately, apart from the odd reference to current events, there’s no clear indication when individual essays were written, a shame as it would have helped provide context for some of the opinions voiced.
The essays focus heavily on Satanic thought, practice and guiding principles as directed by LaVey and the Church of Satan. A student of music, Gilmore presents the reader with an overview of his favourite “Satanic” composers and brief guide to their works.
One of my favourite essays in the book discusses the misguided enthusiasm of some newcomers to Satanism who don’t quite “get” it, yet desire to “prove” themselves great and powerful to the world. Gilmore writes: “Satanism’s championing of self-empowerment is used against Satanism itself when over-zealous amateurs decide they have a mission to represent Satanism.” Indeed, this tends to result in bizarre high school groups, or the proliferation of the absurd and hastily created websites which littered the Internet in the late 90s (a practice which continues today, I’m afraid to say). Needless to say, it doesn’t reflect well on the novice Satanist, or the Church of Satan.
As Gilmore comically notes “As far as I can tell, the rest of the world’s religions and philosophies don’t have this problem, and this is generally because they preach submission. When someone reads The Holy Bible, he doesn’t immediately go out, make a website-Vatican emblazoned with the Papal Seal, claim he is a Cardinal or Pope, and ordain correspondents as Priests, Bishops and Arch-Bishops”2. The man certainly has a point.
The last section deals with ritual, after a brief note on the subject, and a dedication rite, three larger rituals are detailed: a Satanic wedding, a Satanic funeral using Anton LaVey as the example, and a Norse-inspired ritual called the Rite of Ragnarok. Following is a brief biographical essay on Gilmore written by his wife, Peggy Nadramia.
Philosophy of Magic, by Arthur Versluis
168 pp, 1986
This is a quick and short read. I liked some aspects of this book, but I’d also have to disagree with this author on a lot of his views. He tends toward a very mystical approach to magic, that its done mainly for spiritual purposes. He considers the use of it for practical purposes to deviate from the true goal of magic. The influence of Eastern mysticism is pretty apparent in this book. He also had a lot of inaccurate information on alchemy, trying to reduce to solely a symbolic activity. In this his book echoes the trend of a lot of authors that have attempted to reduce magic to pure symbolism.
It’s an interesting read for a mystical perspective on magic. Some people will like it better if that’s their approach.