Greater and lesser magic

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Magic, as practiced in LaVeyan Satanism and outlined in The Satanic Bible is described as "the change in situations or events in accordance with one's will, which would, using normally accepted methods, be unchangeable". This definition incorporates two broadly distinguished kinds of Magic: Lesser (manipulative and situational) and Greater (ritual and ceremonial).[1] LaVey wrote extensively on his theories of magic in The Satanic Rituals and The Satanic Witch. Satanism is an atheistic and materialistic religion and these concepts are also applicable to Satanic magic as it does not involve the paranormal or supernatural.[2]Anton LaVey, the synthesizer of this system, did not describe magic moralistically by discerning "White" (good) or "Black" (evil) varieties. Such neutrality correlates with LaVey's philosophical view of an impersonal, and therefore amoral, universe.[3]

Within this system of magic, the terms warlock and witch are most commonly used by, and to refer to, male and female practitioners, respectively.


Lesser Magic[edit]

Lesser Magic is a system of manipulation that incorporates one or more of three main psychological themes: sex, sentiment, and wonder. The first theme is virtually self-explanatory – sexual seduction is the main aim of the working; the term "sentiment" refers to ideas or impressions of innocence or those inspiring contentment, compassion, or even amusement; and "wonder" often denotes ideas of austerity and awe or impressions provoking fear or submissiveness on the part of the recipient. But these themes can be combined, when appropriate, to multiply psychological impact by increasing the number of complex and simultaneous emotional responses from the recipient. To build his theories concerning Lesser Magic, Anton LaVey seems to have taken inspiration, at least partly, from The Command to Look by photographer William Mortensen and to have capitalized on its strategies, thus prompting the practicing Satanist to expand on whichever of the three major themes he (or she) seems to naturally exhibit.

LaVey later expanded his system of manipulation in The Satanic Witch. The book was written from the woman's perspective because LaVey believed that women could more fully apply his concepts, but much of the book can be applied by men also. He relates ideas worked out from watching the proprietors of carnival stalls and fortune tellers in their manipulation of customers. The Satanic Witch also proposes the LaVey Synthesizer Clock, a form of somatotyping that adds a fourth body type, the "feminine." The synthesizer is used in identification of personality in order to know how best to manipulate a person through traits often associated with their types and what LaVey referred to as their "demonic" personality, or their opposite on the clock.

Greater Magic[edit]

From left to right: Karla LaVey, Diane Hegarty, and Anton LaVey ritualizing in The Black House, the original headquarters of the Church of Satan.


Greater Magic involves ritual and ceremony in order to focus one's emotional energy for a specific purpose. Satanic ritual is highly variable, with a basic format given in The Satanic Bible. Satanists are encouraged to use whatever props and means suit their immediate emotional and psychological needs in order to bring their workings to an exhausting and complete climax. The Church of Satan claims that a mastery of Lesser Magic will contribute to a mastery of Greater Magic.

The Satanic ritual is referred to as an "intellectual decompression chamber." Careful planning of the ritual form according to rational considerations of what means and props are most effective is executed before the rites begin, but during the ritual, skepticism and disbelief are willfully suspended, thus allowing the magicians to fully express their sexual or other emotional needs and frustrations, holding nothing back regarding their true and deep feelings. Also, it is notable that Satanism acknowledges that a Greater Magic working is much more likely to succeed with a few Satanists who are committed emotionally to and focused on what they are doing than with a throng who may all be distracted.

Greater Magic, like Lesser, employs one or more of three major psycho-emotive themes: lust (sex), compassion (sentiment), and destruction (wonder). LaVey elaborates on methods for focusing these motivations. Lust rituals can involve masturbation, with orgasm as the goal. Compassion rituals are designed to evoke overwhelming pathos or sadness, and crying is strongly encouraged. Destruction rites involve the symbolic annihilation of an enemy through the use of "vicarious" human sacrifice often involving a customized effigy representing the intended victim which is then put through ritual fire, smashing, or other representation of obliteration. Greater Magic also resembles Lesser in the possibility of combining more than one of the three broad themes of emotion, when appropriate, in order to maximize the success of the working. In any case, full and exhausting self-expression is encouraged for productive Satanic ritual.

Much emphasis is placed on evocation and music. The last part of The Satanic Bible is dedicated to invocations and the nineteen Enochian Keys, originally written by John Dee. Music is encouraged because it is said to easily manipulate one's emotions, which contributes to the overall success of the rituals.

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