the magick mirror of Yesod

German mirror - Metropolitan Museum of Art

I think this should tie up the loose ends of the recent series of posts and videos on magick, Qabalah and occult Satanism*.

I have always (as in going back almost 40 years) found the sephira of Yesod both fascinating and key.

It is the sphere of The Moon on the tree of life, and the most visual, tactile part of the astral plane, shifting and reforming, where one thing becomes another, and time is different, and whose flux maintains the stability of the world we see with our senses. Change in stability, stability in change. It is also a sphere much associated with sexuality and deep, atavistic desires. It appears to me as a kind of magick mirror, in which we can glimpse the signs of our True Will, our deepest desire, for thelema translates to a term closer to desire than to our mental sense of “will”.

This is also our first gate into the subconscious, and the area where magick most essentially happens.

***

Back in either the very late 70s or very early 80s I would look at Eliphas Levi’s illustration of the Sabbatic Goat as Baphomet, the well known androgynous figure.

baphomet

Levi says of the goat figure:

he makes the sign of occultism with both hands,
pointing upward to the white moon of Chesed, and down-
ward to the black moon of Geburah. This sign expresses
the perfect harmony of mercy with justice

Transcendental Magic: Its Doctrine and Ritual

Now though the directions of the Moons seem the wrong way round for the Northern Hemisphere, I took it that constructive Chesed would be associated with the waxing Moon, while martial Gevurah would be associated with the waning Moon. Where then would the Full Moon be? The obvious answer seems to be Yesod, which is primarily associated with the Moon, while the gateway to the astral is said to be open at the time of the Full Moon.

Though no mention is made of it in Levi’s chapter, it then left it open to me as to where the New Moon would be placed. Associated with what? The answer that came to me was that the New Moon (the dark of the Moon) would be associated with a place in the Abyss, with the sephira “which is not”, ie Da’ath. The eleventh sephira, “Knowledge”, eleven being the number of magick.

In fact, come to think of it, the way Levi describes Baphomet, Chesed is to his right (our left), and Gevurah is to his left. This is the opposite of the placements we would see if Baphomet were in front of the Tree of Life (or if we ourselves were performing a qabalistic cross for instance). Likewise the waxing and waning Moons would be in mirror image (given that Levi would probably have never seen a Moon waxing towards the right, as occurs in the Southern Hemisphere). So in this depiction Baphomet is actually sitting with back to the Tree of Life, facing the other way (unless this is simply accidental).

baphomet2

In fact I followed this association of the New Moon and Da’ath in my practice back in the early 80s, and when doing my art work I would often find that inspiration for a painting or drawing would dramatically come through at the dark of the Moon. If the Full Moon funnels down the light of Tiphareth and Kether from the astral of Yesod, then the dark of the Moon opens a gate from Da’ath, to the new, the alien, the “infernal”, and the truly individual. You have to be without judgement to work with this, and it is ecstatic, creative and liberating, but it can also be taxing, so you do have to look after yourself.

As I pointed out in my video, the hexagram arrangement on the Tree of Life marks out polarities linked to the planets and sephiroth, and one of the polarities is between Da’ath and Yesod, and between Saturn and the Moon.

11c

Given that it has often been said that it is the “astral light” that is being worked with to make magick, I think it makes sense that Saturn and Da’ath come through here as key agents in both the shaping and the disruption of the astral, to bring about magick.

Continuing with the theme of eleven, the number of magick, the eleventh sign of the Zodiac is Aquarius, originally ruled by Saturn. Atu No 11 of the tarot is “Strength” or “Lust” (in the Crowley deck), showing Babalon riding The Beast, and is the path connecting Chesed and Gevurah. This shows the conjoining of opposites (of whatever polarity) which is involved in magick.

The number 11 however does not seem to indicate a natural union (without any sense of value judgement attached to “natural”). The 11° OTO originally referred to the use of anal intercourse, and in Grant’s reworking involved (non-procreative) heterosexual vaginal union during menstruation. Aquarius is ruled by Uranus in modern astrology, and Uranus is famous for its capacity to powerfully deviate from the “norm”, whether in terms of genius, self-expression or atrocity.

On this point I am reminded of a question which posed itself to me a few years ago. When looking at the wheel of the zodiac we can see that it divides in two between a broad Summer and Winter (which swap over in the Southern Hemisphere).

yearwheel

Summer starts with a sign ruled by Venus, progresses through Mercury to a union of the Moon and Sun at the heart of Summer, before leaving via a Mercury and then a Venus ruled sign.

We then enter Winter through a Mars ruled sign, travelling through a Jupiter sign, before we get to the combination at the heart of Winter; two Saturn ruled signs. We then exit Winter in reverse order, through Jupiter and Mars.

I always wondered, what was the union of Saturns? In one sense I think it is a union across worlds (or universes). In fact the “unnatural union” requires this, for it is a union of sames (Saturn-Saturn) whose polarity must involve another dimension. So there is a trans-dimensional quality to this magick. In fact, this is spirituality in the raw. The congress of and with spirit.

The two signs involved are Capricorn and Aquarius, the 10th and 11th signs. 10 + 11 = 21. The 21st Atu of the tarot is The World (or The Universe), the card of success and fulfilment, ruled by Saturn (again). It is the path that links Yesod to Malkuth (the material).

Here I believe we do see a formula of magick, mapped out in the Qabalah and the zodiac. Yesod is the magick mirror, capable (necessarily) of reflecting both the repetition of the natural and the incursion of the supernatural. It is a mirror that we can tilt towards this world or the other.

Saturn is the key planet, and Da’ath the key sephira, but of course there is a lot more to life than this, and plenty to enjoy and work with in the realm of Nature. For some of us though, other kinds of work also seem to be pushed upon us.

Some blessings are strange indeed, and some strangenesses a blessing.

Love, and do what thou wilt.


*  https://youtu.be/xWksUvgw_NA

https://youtu.be/nF54yZQe7lc

https://youtu.be/EthmVHoe3FY

* and this post

Light, dark, crowns and reversals

Coronadolores By Cofradía de Ntro. Padre Jesús Nazareno (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons - digitally altered

I’ve been finding it good to do videos at the moment, having found a nice way of recording them on my phone while pacing around the flat, which makes the flow and spontaneity work for me. I’ve been focusing on Spiritual (Theistic) Satanism, and things like Qabalah, and it has been a relief to be able to just focus on the kind of Satanism that speaks to me, without qualifying it with an attempt to (not mis-) represent Satanism more broadly. In fact, since really embracing the sense of Satan as a being, things have really slotted into place, and I’ve come that much closer to finding the next steps of my path. In some ways this was inevitable for me, as I am a polytheist and occultist, and the spiritual (rather than the materialism of more purely LaVeyan inspired Satanism) was bound to play a large part for me.

My last video was more of a video diary entry, and in it I was musing on the meanings of “dark” and “light” which people refer to.

One of my problems with neopaganism was its prosaic use of what were meant to be significant insights. We were told often of how monotheism “demonized” the dark and exulted a sense of the “light”, and how Pagan religions, being far more “natural”, accepted the different parts of life, the dark and the light, the painful and the blissful. We were given the sense of dark and light being a polarity of Nature, embraced by naturalism. Night and day, Summer and Winter, sunrise and sunset, birth and death. But there’s a catch here.

Is all that we have to consider really natural? Are we really accepting suffering equally with happiness (and should we)? Are we, in all our apparent aberrations as human beings, not also Nature? And when you have gone through the cycle of accepting day and night, birth and death (speaking as an ex-nurse, I have never got used to death), with that panacea of “reincarnation” as the supposed solution – have you really done the dark? Even if we talk about “facing the shadow” psychologically, what do we really mean? And what of “evil”, that ultimate emotive term of condemnation? I have no doubt that none of this is as the monotheists claim. But is it really so easy, so clean, so tamable?

As you might guess, my answer is “I don’t think so”. It’s good as far as it goes, but it only really goes as far as the insights of secularism and a tolerant common sense, which is fine, but not profound.

If you want to enter into a spiritual understanding of existence, then the darkness you deal with can’t just be “psychological” or symbolic, and can’t just be natural. And beyond a certain point, neither can magick. My critique here is not of the “Paganism” of old, which while it may be only partly known to us, dealt in grittier, dodgier stuff. It’s more modern, mainstream Paganism that I think hasn’t got it. The monotheisms, while I am opposed to them on pretty fundamental grounds, at least know something is there, and have the guts to call it “evil”, even if they don’t understand it, or its place in self-actualisation, and are antagonistic to the latter.

At some point we have to deal with the alien, the monstrous, that which doesn’t even belong to this Universe, which cannot for that matter be said to either exist nor not exist. This brilliant, lawless darkness we glimpse through the cracks, the points inbetween, and in so doing breathe a freedom we have never known before, an original creativity which lies also at the heart of ourselves. At that point, all bets are off. It is neither evil nor good, but ecstatic, yet in the absence of goodness will always be rationally and conventionally viewed as “evil”.  This freedom is part of what I see as being at the heart of both Satanism and Thelema.

The Left Hand Path has different goals to the Right. It is not “one of the infinite paths up the mountain”. This is no holism or universalism.

The Right Hand Path would have us ascend the Tree of Life, and merge ultimately in egoless union with The One. At least I believe that is the general picture. At the top of that tree (qabalistically) is Kether, The Crown. I don’t see any point in this, the coming here, only to go back, not even to a heaven, but blissful extinction in the unity we were meant to have come from, and should necessarily still be a part of already. So the Left Hand Path (in my view) takes another crown for its system, the sphere of Da’ath (knowledge, I think as gnosis), the gateway in the abyss, to other Universes, to the reverse of the Tree of Life.

Here we have the mystery of time and space, multiple alternate realities, and the labyrinthine, lustrous, black mother of pearl of the tunnels of being. And here the lawless creativity and gratification, the Sabbat of the dark of the Moon, the New, the brilliant, the free.

Here poetry, art, criminality (inevitably though not necessarily), and the savage desire that fires genius and the crackling, reckless impulse of science.

Here a figure dances and glitters between dark and light. An illicit Mercurius; magician, trader, thief, demon.

The fruit of Saturn, and Pan and our deepest dreams.

The new flesh.

 

the little genius with teeth, claws and a desirous heart

Coming back to a painting I posted about here, just a little more on what I see it representing now.

IMG_0029 I was always touched by the image, the protectiveness of the demon, the trust of the little child.

I see this now as an image of the inner demon in a person, the divine, individual spark that can grow and flourish, pictured as a baby, black as night but etched in light, the hidden god.

The baby is held by a demon because it is itself a demon in potential, and because it is guarded by the discarded, the disregarded and the reviled within us, and because this very area, wild and beyond judgement, is what “looks after” our potential, while we are finding the way through life, and won’t let us quite forget our true nature.

For a similar reason, this scene is in the desert, the place of barrenness, loneliness and the harsh extremes of nature, clear and crisp and immense.

The Moon is waning, because the waning Moon has always seemed like an old friend to me, and as it wanes it accompanies those who greet it deeper and deeper into the night, at the most solitary and secret times, until it is itself a sliver of silver heralding the dawn.

On the horizon there is a glow, as of an intimation of first light, but the phase of the Moon makes this impossible, for dawn would be a long way off with the Moon in this position. This is not the light of day, but an unnatural light, and a reminder that magick is never only natural. Against Nature also has its place in magick, and self-realisation.

Little demon, hidden self.

the satan in the sunshine

It’s almost a year since I became a Satanist (call it first thing on 1st May as the real anniversary) and the identification has settled down nicely. It really comes into its own when dealing with life, dealing with the world, and when in action, even when that action is internal. The contemplative and relational aspects of spirituality remain largely the same. The ethical enquiry is sharpened inwardly, and more circumspect and tolerant in terms of outward expression, but it plays essentially the same role in personal orientation, though it hinges very explicitly upon personal responsibility. It’s in action, in doing and becoming that Satan seems to show most brilliantly.

I said a good while ago that to me “Satan” was the principle of individualized consciousness, and that remains a good indication. Maybe you should say “The Satan”, as you would say “the weather”, or “the force of gravity”. Different people see it different ways of course. It does in any case represent one of the mysteries of consciousness. In these associations there is something I would describe as “solar” in characteristic, both astrologically and magickally, just as the number 666* possesses. You can trace some of this through Crowley’s work, and find such lines as the following in Liber Samekh:

“O breathing, flowing Sun!”

“O Sun IAF! O Lion-Serpent Sun, The Beast that whirlest forth, a thunder- bolt, begetter of Life!”

“Thou that flowest! Thou that goest!”

“Thou Satan-Sun Hadith that goest without Will!”

Liber Samekh

and:

“Thou spiritual Sun! Satan, Thou Eye, Thou Lust! Cry aloud! Cry aloud! Whirl the Wheel, O my Father, O Satan, O Sun!”

“Thou, the Saviour!”

“Silence! Give me Thy Secret!”

“Give me suck, Thou Phallus, Thou Sun!”

“Satan, thou Eye, thou Lust! Satan, thou Eye, thou Lust! Satan, thou Eye, thou Lust!”

“Thou self-caused, self-determined, exalted, Most High!”

Ibid.

It is Crowley’s personal religious iconography of course, but the associations between Sun and Satan are spiritually sound for me. Selfhood, the deeper root of will, the light of conscious being and becoming, the crux of individuation.

Here it comes …

* the number being connected to the magic square of the Sun

the devil’s field guide – part 5

This is the concluding part of my review of LaVey’s Satanic Bible, which I began here. I’ll mainly be focussing on LaVey’s ceremonial and drawing a few things together, though if you want the full, published run down of his rituals you’ll need to look up the book itself, and it’s companion volume “The Satanic Rituals*”.

To back track, LaVey does talk about magic in the earlier parts of TSB, for instance defining its ethics according to the goals of the individual Satanist – ie that it is neutral and pragmatic.

This is a good time to look back at LaVey’s view on devils and Satan. He  gives some assorted background to them (with varying levels of accuracy), and what they mean to modern Satanists in his view. The original meaning of “satan” he gives as “the adversary” or “the accuser”, while “devil” comes from the Indian “devi”, meaning “god”, which is I think correct, aside from devi meaning “goddess”, deva being the masculine form. I used to hear the term translated as “shining one” by a number of esotericists and neopagans.

For LaVey:

“Satan represents opposition to all religions which serve to frustrate and condemn man for his natural instincts. He has been given an evil role simply because he represents the carnal, earthly, and mundane aspects of life”

And probably you could add to the first sentence: “and which serve to frustrate and condemn the individual for their authentic, individual perspective”, in opposition to supposed universal or natural law. Satanism was one of the first magical religions to fully embrace gay men for instance, way ahead of Wicca. LaVey does tend to return to carnality repeatedly, even as he tends to harp on blasting enemies at times, but it does go deeper than that. You can see why Satanism would be an attractive option for some people. It is not for everyone, but I do think that a “satanic” approach is the best for some, and an essential part of the spiritual ecosphere, whether it is labelled “satanic” or not. “Left Hand Path” would be a broader term of reference, but however it is termed, we need a way of breaking through the political and moral garbage, the consensual conformism, and the subjugation of the individual (the actual recipient of all direct experience) that conventional spirituality almost always involves at some level, depending on who you are and who you “bank” with, at what price socially or individually.

He dismisses the idea of “circle protection” as hypocritical, as:

“To the Satanist, it seems a bit two-faced to call on these forces for help, while at the same time protecting yourself from the very powers you have asked for assistance.”

It could be noted that there are other reasons for casting circles (and protection could just be a practical issue with some energies), but circle work is indeed dispensed with in his scheme, which he considers a better way of allying yourself with the forces you are working with.

Intellectual Decompression

Throughout the book LaVey presents Satanism as a rational philosophy, made for (and by) an animal with more than rational needs. The path from the rational to the (controlled) non-rational is ritual, which he characterises as intellectual decompression. Ritual can be solitary or group, each of which have their own advantages. A group ritual gives more of a reinforcement of faith and “an instillation of power”. It renews confidence in the power of magic. Furthermore, while his philosophy is very individualistic, it isn’t intended to be solitary by him, as he considers solitary religion to be in some regard self-denying, and this self-denial brings a person closer to anti-social behaviour in his view.

“It is for this reason that the Satanist should attempt to seek out others with which to engage in these ceremonies”

This is an interesting point for people to consider, and it’s interesting to note that LaVey is critiquing being too much of a loner (specifically spiritually), and looking to avoid “anti-social behaviour”. Of course our forms of social interaction have changed considerably since 1969, and with the internet people can be solitary yet connected at the same time to others, while the field of magic, witchcraft and alternative spirituality is probably now dominated by people following solitary paths, but I think it remains a good point. Better to go your own way rather than follow the wrong path for you, but better still to find “good company” for yourself, if it is genuinely available.

LaVey thinks that things like destruction rituals are better suited to group work, as he thinks the sharing of anger to be relatively unembarrassing. Certainly expressions of group anger are socially quite acceptable in our society, whereas group grief, and (especially) group lust are more likely to be devalued or demonized. That really does say something about our society, and what it finds useful in people.

We can note again here that LaVey’s ritual is very emotional, in fact floridly and deliberately so. But for these reasons he thinks compassion and sex rituals are better suited to private ceremonies. You could probably question his view on this, and work with it, under the right circumstances though. But a person can’t be self-conscious in the ritual chamber (unless it was itself part of a sexual kink for instance).

Whether group or solitary however, standard invocations etc are used. Personalized parts can then be sandwiched between the standardized beginnings and endings. “The formalized beginning and end of the ceremony acts as a dogmatic, anti-intellectual device”, dislocating the ritual chamber from the outside world. Ritual acts as a “training school for temporary ignorance”, in order to expand the magicians will.

The Ritual

I’m not going to go into all the details of LaVey’ general purpose ritual here, as you can find it all in his book,  so I’ll just touch on some points.

The ritual forms a coherent whole, with a beginning, middle and end, the actual magical working forming the centre of it. As noted above, there is no “protective” or circle casting element, though there is what LaVey calls a “purification of the air” by the ringing of a bell.

The focus is the “symbol of Baphomet“, which is borrowed from Stanislas de Guaita in fact, and the altar which is placed in the west. This is an unusual position for an altar in most forms of magic, where it is usually in either the east or the north. In the east it is in the place of the rising Sun, and the element of air (or fire sometimes). In the north it is the direction associated with earth, darkness and mystery, as well as the Pole Star (in the Northern Hemisphere, South of the equator north is the direction of noon of course). LaVey may be doing this in order to “throw” the associations and go against orthodox form, or he may be taking the place of the setting Sun as associated with the coming of night (and thus the powers of darkness), but he doesn’t actually say. West is still associated with water in his scheme, and with the serpent Leviathan, whose name is also written around the  Baphomet symbol in Hebrew. Is he enshrining the emotional power, desire and imagination of the element of water as key to his view of magic? I really don’t know.

The “invocation to Satan” starts with commanding “the powers of darkness” in the name of Satan, who is characterized as “Ruler of the earth” and “King of the world”. At the same time it seeks to call forth the powers of Hell, as their brother or sister. It asks for the things the magician will request, and affirms a vital alliance of being and nature between the magician and the personified forces involved. It affirms the certainty of the magician’s power, and then calls forth the demons/gods seen as appropriate (LaVey gives a list of names from demonology and Pagan lore which he recommends).

It’s a bit of a mixture as an invocation, but it does more or less progress from welcoming, to supplication, to identification and union with the forces involved, to empowered affirmation, though some of it is a bit back to front in order, and it is very short.

There are elements of communal sharing of wine, and asperging, which add to the communal “religious” form of the ritual. There is also a calling forth of the “crown princes of Hell” at the four directions, similar to a calling of the quarters, as each direction is also associated with an element (consistent with common western magical tradition, eg east-air, north-earth etc), but starting with Satan at the south and progressing counter-clockwise to Leviathan at the West. This is not a banishing, so it is unusual on two counts, for the starting and end point (ending up at the west again), and the direction in what is essentially an invocation. This dislocates the ceremony from common esoteric tradition, which may be LaVey’s intention.

The heart of the ritual is the magic that brings about the fulfilment of the participants. There are separate instruction given for each of the three ritual intent categories that LaVey identifies, but they all conclude in climactic outpourings of energy (orgasm, genuine tears, rage etc), followed communally by the priest reading aloud the requests and/or burning their written forms. The requests are followed by the exclamations “Shemhamforash!” and “Hail Satan!”. “Hail Satan” seems fair enough, but “Shemhamforash” is actually a Hebrew reference to the hidden name of God (a bit like “tetragrammaton”), thoroughly monotheistic, and LaVey’s use of it is puzzling, unless he just thought it sounded impressive! It makes no good sense to me though.

Concluding the ritual, an “appropriate” Enochian call is recited “as evidence of the participants’ allegiance to the Powers of Darkness”. Enochian is a “language” originating with the Elizabethan magician John Dee and his medium Edward Kelly, who considered it an “angelic” language of non-human origin, and while magicians often claim it has a genuine syntax and vocabulary, some linguists have counter-claimed that it has elements more commonly found in glossolalia (“speaking in tongues”), and the syntax it retains is closest to English (Dee and Kelly’s own language). I think LaVey was using it for its emotional effect, and its “barbarous” qualities in inspiring the mood and consciousness of the reciter and listener, though he was taking it quite out of its original context. In a sense it is the Latin to his Mass, though he has hijacked it from Dee and Kelly. I’ll take a closer look at his use of “Enochian” below.

After this is complete, a bell is rung, and the priest says the words “SO IT IS DONE”. And with that, the ritual is over.

Assorted points

The altar in LaVey’s scheme is ideally a naked woman, of which he says:

“Satanism is a religion of the flesh, rather than of the Spirit; therefore an altar of flesh is used in Satanic ceremonies”

and:

“A nude woman is used as the altar in Satanic rituals because woman is the natural passive receptor, and represents the earth mother”

This is the classic idea of a “Satanic altar” as propagated in 19th and 20th century art and literature, and having a naked human being as an altar has an obvious appeal and impact for a sex-positive and fleshly religion, but if for instance the congregation was largely gay male, this would really be nothing but high camp, and quite ineffective in that case. So I would think it better for the altar to be whoever suits the participants. As for being the “natural passive receptor”, well that might technically be true in terms of procreation, but not in any other sense necessarily, and LaVey’s Satanism is about indulgence, not making babies. The “earth mother” comment could have come from any Jungian influenced psychobabbler since the 1950s, and indeed here LaVey is for once sounding like a Pagan hippie. I can think of some men who would make wonderful altars, and I think it is up to the Satanists themselves as to what suits them.

On a related note, LaVey’s comments on clothing seem a little dated. The men wear black, cowled robes etc (ok), while the women wear suggestive garments that might arouse the men (unless they are older, in which case they go with black as well). Arousing sexual energy I can see as a good thing, but why only the energy of the men (though display can be arousing for the dsplayer as well of course)? But really, why not maximise everyone as a source of sexual inspiration? One thing that could be sensible though is the wearing of masks, which can help with disinhibition, and also might add to the surreal or sinister aura of the ritual.

The symbol of Baphomet is a subject that LaVey goes into a bit, with fanciful excursions to the Goat of Mendes (who was actually a ram in fact, though I will always love this term thanks to Dennis Wheatley), and the Knights Templar. He says that this symbol represents “the Powers of Darkness combined with the generative fertility of the goat”. The Hebrew characters circling the face of the goat spell out “Leviathan”, who is “the serpent of the watery abyss, and identified with Satan”. We can certainly thank LaVey for rescuing this symbol from obscurity and turning it into a definitive symbol of modern Satanism. As I stated before, its original form (with the addition of the names “Samael” and “Lilith”) can be found in La Clef de la Magie Noire by Stanislas de Guaita, published in 1897. The Church of Satan details their derivation and use of the symbol here. They certainly gave it its place in the modern world.

The Book of Leviathan

And so we come to the art of verbal invocation according to Anton LaVey.

“If the magical ceremony is to employ all sensory awareness, then the proper sounds must be invoked”

He considers emotional experience to be primary here, and he says that his invocations are here designed as “proclamations of certainty”.

We have already mentioned his invocation to Satan, and in the separate invocations he uses for the three ritual intentions the language is theatrical, melodramatic and draws in part upon a broadly sci-fi/horror sensibility which is quite delightful.

In the lust ritual it is directed towards influencing the mind of the target.

In the destruction ritual again, the object is to influence the mind and psyche of the target. Various deities are called upon in both these invocations (which really act only in part as invocations in the classic sense).

The compassion ritual seeks protection, strengthening, citing comradeship in the Left Hand Path. It seeks revivification and healing, neutralisation of adversaries, and liberation in joy and strength.

LaVey’s Enochian

LaVey says that he used Enochian as the magical language of the Satanic Bible. He claims that the “angels” of the work are in fact “angles”, and that the work forms a window to the “fourth dimension”. In should be noted that this seems quite contrary to anything Dee himself wrote¹.

LaVey gives his own translations “with an archaic but Satanically correct unvarnishing”, though I think “unvarnishing” would be a bit of a euphemism. Even a cursory glance at his keys shows his substituting the name of Satan etc for other words where it suits him, so it may be that he really considers this to be the real “essence” of the keys (correcting for Dee and Kelly’s Christianising), but just as easily could be that he found enochian a good material to flesh out his rituals with, so he adapted it to a “Satanic” form. What is in little doubt is that Dee and Kelly would have disagreed with him, and if LaVey was as much of a materialist as he claimed, you would think that they as originators of the keys would be the authority, unless he actually believes that enochian was a real, pre-existing language of supernatural origin, and Dee and Kelly just got it wrong. But LaVey clearly has a genuine interest in the magical and paranormal, so there is a good deal of “wiggle room” here. Given LaVey’s tricksterish lilt in much of the book, it could of course be that enochian had the requisite aura and form to inspire awe, complete with magical associations, and so LaVey wove it into his performance. In the intellectual decompression chamber it all becomes “real”, and his patter softens up the mind for better participation. It wouldn’t be the first time a magus has told fibs in order to facilitate an experience.

We can take a simple look at one of the shorter keys:

18th key (LaVey):

Ilasa micalazoda olapireta ialpereji beliore: das odo Busadire Oiad ouoaresa caosago: casaremeji Laiada eranu berinutasa cafafame das ivemeda aqoso Moz, od maoffasa. Bolape como belioreta pamebeta. Zodacare od Zodameranu! Odo cicale Qaa. Zodoreje, lape zodiredo Noco Mada, hoathahe Saitan!

18th key – phonetic translation as per enochian.info

Ilasa micalazoda olapireta ialpereji beliore: das odo Busadire Oiad ouoaresa caosago: casaremeji Laiada ERANU berinutasa cafafame das ivemeda aqoso adoho Moz, od maoffasa. Bolape como belioreta pamebeta. Zodacare od Zodameranu! Odo cicale Qaa. Zodoreje, lape zodiredo Noco Mada, hoathahe IAIDA.

So we can see that LaVey is (mercifully) providing the phonetic versions of the keys, and these are very faithful here, apart from the substitution of “Saitan” (Satan) for “IAIDA” (discrepancies highlighted in red here).

Now we come to the English translations:

18th key (LaVey):

O thou mighty light and burning flame of comfort!, that unveilest the glory of Satan to the centre of the Earth; in whom the great secrets of truth have their abiding; that is called in thy kingdom: “strength through joy,” and is not to be measured. Be thou a window of comfort unto me. Move therefore, and appear! Open the mysteries of your creation! Be friendly unto me, for I am the same!, the true worshipper of the highest and ineffable King of Hell!

18th key – English translation as per enochian.info

O you mighty Light and burning flame of comfort which opens the glory of God to the centre of the earth, in whom the Secrets of Truth 6332 have their abiding, which is called in thy kingdom Joy and not to be measured: be you a window of comfort unto me. Move and show yourselves: open the Mysteries of your Creation: be friendly unto me: for I am the servant of the same your God, the true worshipper of the Highest.

We can see that there is a lot more discrepancy here, and given that the only enochian differences in the keys are the words “IADA” (highest) and “Saitan” (Satan presumably), there is quite a bit of interpretive licence in play. “Busadire Oiad” would be translated as “glory of God” according to this enochian dictionary, but LaVey translates the same words as “glory of Satan”. So whereas he substitutes the name “Saitan” for the enochian word for “the Highest” at the end of the key, at the beginning he just takes the word for “God” to mean “Satan”. On the other hand “for I am the servant of the same your God” becomes “for I am the same!”. The word “Noco” can be translated as “the servant” or “the minister”, and “Mad” translated as “of God” or “of your God”, but while the enochian is in LaVey’s phonetic version (“Noco Mada”) it is missing from the English, giving “for I am the same”.

Looking at the twelfth key, it follows very much the same pattern of largely faithful phonetic transliteration (with key substitutions), but with a “Satanically” skewed English translation. So, without going through every key with a fine-tooth comb, I think it would be fair to say that the phonetic translations alter the originals to a minor degree (eg a single name), while the English translations stray further and give LaVey’s version, significantly removed from the consensus interpretation of the originals.

But as LaVey says:

“In Enochian the meaning of the words, combined with the quality of the words, unite to create a pattern of sound which can cause tremendous reaction in the atmosphere. The barbaric tonal qualities of this language give it a truly magical effect which cannot be described”

And in subjective terms this is very likely true, and may well work within the context of LaVey’s usage. What LaVey has done is tailor the meanings to his own sensibilities, and he feels he has purged them of an overly pious meaning, more in tune with their true essence. This would of course be anathema to any orthodox scholar of Enochian magic (strictly speaking, he is not even using the original keys in the examples I looked at), but that isn’t really his concern. It just has to work for him.

Personal Conclusions²

LaVey’s views on magic contain a good deal of common sense and worldly practicality, though as with much of his writing, it is filtered through his own sensibilities, and sometimes these seem weighted on the side of aggression, at least to me. His approaches to magic and ceremony I think do foreshadow Chaos Magic in his pragmatic relativism and iconoclasm. He is a contradictory figure in some ways: a scathing materialist with an obvious belief in magic, a seemingly alienated individualist who implicitly reveres “Nature”, a decrier of esoteric “mystery mongering” who weaves obscure Elizabethan magic into his system. But that is part of what makes him fascinating. And indeed, contradiction, apparent obfuscation and folly are all part of the archetype of the “Magus” in some ways (but for a purpose).

My own approach to magic is quite different to LaVey’s, apart from anything else being polytheistic, so I am unlikely to use his forms too directly (and I am too old a dog to be doing other than my own work). I do admire him though for what he has done, both in experimenting according to his own interests, and in essentially founding an entire modern movement, which can be seen reflected to different degrees in the whole of modern Satanism, wider aspect of the modern Left Hand Path, and even in Demonolatry.

He may sound at times like the Boney M of ceremonial magic, but that just makes me like him even more. Disco, after all, was way more revolutionary than the people who looked down on it. LaVey might not have the subtlety of Austin Osman Spare or Rosaleen Norton, but he understood the importance of the individual, the imagination and feeling, and the place of the infernal in magical inspiration. And he didn’t mind offending people.

I owe him one.

demon brother5

Anton LaVey in still (screen capture) from “Invocation of my Demon Brother” by Kenneth Anger via YouTube

* “The Satanic Rituals” hasn’t been reviewed in these post.

¹ at least as far as the “angles” versus “angels” issue [comment added 10th February 2016].

² this conclusion also takes in Part 4 [comment added 16th March 2016].