Magic is the art of producing a desired effect through the use of spells and rituals. If you’re an atheist/agnostic magician, a ritual is an elaborate improvisational performance staged for the universal collective/sympathy responsible for magic’s existence. If you’re a spiritual/theistic magician, a ritual is a careful appeal to a deity (or deities) to curry their favor, barter with them, or simply commune, depending on which deity is your patron.
These principles apply to any form of witchcraft. It is the common ground upon which occult magic is all based. It is also, however, where the similarities end.
Wiccans follow the Wiccan Rede, a poem from which they derive their ethics.
Bide within the Law you must, in perfect Love and perfect Trust.
Live you must and let to live, fairly take and fairly give.
For tread the Circle thrice about to keep unwelcome spirits out.
To bind the spell well every time, let the spell be said in rhyme.
Light of eye and soft of touch, speak you little, listen much.
Honor the Old Ones in deed and name,
let love and light be our guides again.
Deosil go by the waxing moon, chanting out the joyful tune.
Widdershins go when the moon doth wane,
and the werewolf howls by the dread wolfsbane.
When the Lady’s moon is new, kiss the hand to Her times two.
When the moon rides at Her peak then your heart’s desire seek.
Heed the North winds mighty gale, lock the door and trim the sail.
When the Wind blows from the East, expect the new and set the feast.
When the wind comes from the South, love will kiss you on the mouth.
When the wind whispers from the West, all hearts will find peace and rest.
Nine woods in the Cauldron go, burn them fast and burn them slow.
Birch in the fire goes to represent what the Lady knows.
Oak in the forest towers with might, in the fire it brings the God’s insight.
Rowan is a tree of power causing life and magick to flower.
Willows at the waterside stand ready to help us to the Summerland.
Hawthorn is burned to purify and to draw faerie to your eye.
Hazel-the tree of wisdom and learning adds its strength to the bright fire burning.
White are the flowers of Apple tree that brings us fruits of fertility.
Grapes grow upon the vine giving us both joy and wine.
Fir does mark the evergreen to represent immortality seen.
Elder is the Lady’s tree burn it not or cursed you’ll be.
Four times the Major Sabbats mark in the light and in the dark.
As the old year starts to wane the new begins, it’s now Samhain.
When the time for Imbolc shows watch for flowers through the snows.
When the wheel begins to turn soon the Beltane fires will burn.
As the wheel turns to Lamas night power is brought to magick rite.
Four times the Minor Sabbats fall use the Sun to mark them all.
When the wheel has turned to Yule light the log the Horned One rules.
In the spring, when night equals day time for Ostara to come our way.
When the Sun has reached it’s height time for Oak and Holly to fight.
Harvesting comes to one and all when the Autumn Equinox does fall.
Heed the flower, bush, and tree by the Lady blessed you’ll be.
Where the rippling waters go cast a stone, the truth you’ll know.
When you have and hold a need, harken not to others greed.
With a fool no season spend or be counted as his friend.
Merry Meet and Merry Part bright the cheeks and warm the heart.
Mind the Three-fold Laws you should three times bad and three times good.
When misfortune is enow wear the star upon your brow.
Be true in love this you must do unless your love is false to you.
These Eight words the Rede fulfill:
“An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will”
The primary ethical statement – “An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will” – bears a striking resemblance to LaVeyan Satanism‘s Eleven Satanic Rules of Earth, with one major exception: its permissiveness of harm to deserving parties.
1. Do not give opinions or advice unless you are asked.
2. Do not tell your troubles to others unless you are sure they want to hear them.
3. When in another’s lair, show them respect or else do not go there.
4. If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat them cruelly and without mercy.
5. Do not make sexual advances unless you are given the mating signal.
6. Do not take that which does not belong to you, unless it is a burden to the other person and they cry out to be relieved.
7. Acknowledge the power of magic if you have employed it successfully to obtain your desires. If you deny the power of magic after having called upon it with success, you will lose all you have obtained.
8. Do not complain about anything to which you need not subject yourself.
9. Do not harm young children.
10. Do not kill non-human animals unless you are attacked or for your food.
11. When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him.
In magical terms, this means Wiccans are forbidden from casting negative-energy spells, or entering ritual spaces with the intention of harming anyone.
LaVeyan Satanists, however, have no such prohibition. In fact, they specialize in the art of curses. Theistic Satanists specialize in curses, demonology, sex magic, chaos magic, and sometimes necromancy.
Simply put, Wiccans and Satanists understand the archetypes within nature differently.
“Wiccans understand the female archetype in a completely different way than Satanists do. We know that Woman is Nature – Darwinian law as well as peaceful, awe-inspiring sunsets. Women can be conniving and ruthless, plotting and vengeful. “Mother Nature” isn’t loving and all-embracing. She’s selective, cruel and unyielding.”
– Blanche Barton, Satanic Feminism
Whereas Wiccans support the viewpoint of nature as an ultimately benevolent force, Satanists prefer to imagine Her at Her most ruthless.
Ritual Practices and Intentions
Wiccans primarily perform circle magic, or the drawing of a magical circle for use as a protective ward against negative-energy beings. Much emphasis is placed on the consecration of ritual tools and altars, the purification of the magician through cleansing baths and self-blessings, and the need for a clear, unbiased mental state when casting spells.
LaVeyan Satanists, as atheistic divine humanists, believe Satan represents a creative force inherent in all people. This force could be tapped into by channeling intense emotions in groups. The theatrical element, called psychodrama, present in his rituals is intended to exaggerate the emotional response of the participants, and not to appease demons or curry Satan’s favor, as they believe this to be an archaic Christian notion. The emotions are typically conceived as “negative;” lust for sex magic, anger for destruction magic, and sadness for sympathetic magic. Magicians are expected to cry, scream, rage, and drool lecherously with impunity. LaVey emphasized, however, that drug states – while similar to the effect induced by ritual magic – were to be avoided, as magic could only be performed reliably when the magician masters his emotions and biochemistry, rather than allowing his emotions to master him. They also do not use protective circles in their spells; a nude woman laid out in front of an effigy of Baphomet, usually the eponymous Pentagram of Baphomet, is their preferred altar.
Theistic Satanists, as believers in the existence of demons, use ritual magic to commune with them. Aleister Nacht, for example, combines rituals derived from LaVeyan Satanism and La Messe Noir for the purpose of allowing demons to occupy one’s body. He rejects the use of protective circles and wards, as this would be counter-intuitive to the purpose of the ritual in the first place! (He does, however, advocate the use of a purifying salt bath prior to rituals to render one’s energy output neutral.) Many theistic Satanists combine source material similarly as inspiration for their rituals, so practices may vary, but the intention is always the same: to perform the bidding of demons on this plane, either by serving as vessels or communing with them to better divine their will.
The Importance of Reagents and Tools
Wiccans believe certain minerals, plants, incenses, colors, etc. were associated with specific deities. Magicians specify whichever deity they are revering – either the Horned God or the Goddess – based on these reagents.
LaVeyan Satanists use many of the same ritual tools, including athames, chalices and pendant, for the intention of bolstering a ritual’s psychodrama.
Theistic Satanists differ. Aleister Nacht and the Magnum Opus Coven, for example, states that associations such as astrological symbols and lunar phases can help a magician up their ante, but are not mandatory to guarantee a ritual’s success. The Order of Nine Angles, to cite a second example, abides an elaborate list of associated reagents, tools, symbols, and chants to invite the possession of specific demons in Naos: A Practical Guide to Modern Magick – and insists upon their proper and exact use.
Even within the substrata of Satanic magic, there is a variance of opinion on the particulars of ritual magic. However, regardless of the path, Satanic witchcraft differs significantly from Wiccan witchcraft in key areas.