Church of Satan's Advice to Youth
Due to the ever-increasing amount of mail that we have received from young people who are new to Satanism, we feel the time has come to put together some information to help answer your specific questions and concerns.
If you have read our books, you know that Satanism isn't about taking drugs, and it isn't about harming animals or children. Unlike many religions and philosophies, Satanism respects and exalts life. Children and animals are the purest expressions of that life force, and as such are held sacred and precious in the eyes of the Satanist. Besides, it is very un-Satanic to take any creature's life against its will. It is equally un-Satanic to cloud your brain and impair your judgment with mind-altering substances. A real magician has no need of those kinds of things, as he should be able to bring about changes in consciousness by the very power of his Will and imagination.
If you have not yet read The Satanic Bible, you should do so. It has a lot more information on our attitude toward Satan, and will give you a clearer idea of our philosophy, ideals and goals. Perhaps at first they will be difficult for you to understand, because you may have been raised in an environment that dictates that God=Good and Satan=Evil. The truth is that good and evil are often terms that people twist to suit their own purposes. Sometimes people will lie and try to make you think certain things just so you will do what they want you to do. Always remember that the final judgment is yours. That is both a great freedom and a great responsibility. For us, Satan is a symbol of the power of that choice.
There is no one way that a Satanist is "supposed" to be. Uniqueness and creativity are encouraged here, not mindless conformity. It doesn't matter what kind of music you like to listen to; it doesn't make any difference whether you prefer gothic music, black metal music, classical music, old popular tunes, or show tunes. It doesn't matter what style of clothes you like to wear. What does matter is that you are a mature, sensitive, self-aware individualist who revels in the Darkness, and who wishes to align yourself with others who share your views. In this world of prefabricated, media-saturated, unoriginal drones, it is up to the Satanist to cherish, maintain, and preserve true individuality and creativity. Satan represents freedom from hypocrisy, from convenient lies, and challenges that which is presumed to be true. He is strong and defiant, and inspires us to our own strengths.
Frequently asked questions
That said, let's address some of your most commonly asked questions:
"How old do I have to be to join the Church of Satan?"
You may become a member of the Church of Satan at any age, though further participation in the organization is limited to those who are eighteen years of age or older. This is not meant as a judgment of your maturity; we've received letters from 14-year-olds who had a distinct, mature grasp of Satanism. But we must be realistic about the world around us. One reason is that we don't want to become a haven for the kind of sanctimonious perverts that Christian churches and other "Goodguy Badge" forums (such as Big Brother/Big Sister, Boy Scouts, etc.) often are. There are a lot of sick people out there, and we don't want our vital young Satanists to become victims of twisted adults who are more interested in contacting young kids than they are in practicing Satanism.
Another reason is because your parents or other adults in your life may not understand or might be hostile toward your exploration of this religion. They may try to cause trouble for us, falsely accusing us of any number of things, just because they feel threatened. So, we simply cannot allow anyone under the legal age of consent to participate in any activities directly sponsored by the Church of Satan. The only exception to this rule would be with the written permission and attendance of your parent or legal guardian. Some of you may be lucky enough to have a very good relationship with your parents and they may be supportive, even enthusiastic, about your exploration of the Dark Side. They may be willing to go with you to meet a local Grotto Master and decide on your level of participation at this point in your magical development. If this is the case, let us know.
"Do I have to become a member to be a ' real' Satanist?"
All you have to do to be a real Satanist is start living like one. Dr. LaVey wrote The Satanic Bible so that people could pick up a copy, read it, and know everything they need to know about Satanism and how to put it to work in their own lives. Most people who choose to become members do so as a symbolic act to themselves, to formally align themselves with others of like mind, and to show their support for a philosophy and way of life they agree with. It is a purely personal decision--we don't solicit memberships. But actual membership usually conveys to others that you are serious about your beliefs, and that you know enough about it to have read Dr. LaVey's works and align yourself with his spearhead organization. It usually grants you a certain amount of respect as an authority. If you were going to speak as a member of the Church in a public forum, you should actually be one. If you were going to start a grotto affiliated with the Church of Satan, you'd have to be a member (again, you'd have to be over the age of eighteen). But as far as benefiting from Satanism in your life, or defending true Satanism, those are the rights and responsibilities of every Satanist, "official" or not.
"My parents and friends don't understand me, and don't approve of my interest in Satanism. How can I make them accept my beliefs, and where can I go to perform my rituals?"
Unfortunately, most young Satanists face this problem. Few of us are lucky enough to have sympathetic parents, or others around like ourselves. However, as long as you are living under your parents' roof and they are feeding and taking care of you, you do owe them a degree of consideration. Offer to let them read your books, and talk about what misunderstandings they may have from T.V. talk shows and Christian propaganda. But you can't force anyone to understand what, for you, is an obvious and magical revelation. If Satanism offends others who have necessary control over your life right now, do your studies and rituals in private. If you don't have a place at home where you can be alone, find a special spot on the beach, in a field, or in the woods where you can ritualize when you need to. While you are understandably enthusiastic about your new-found religion, it is not very Satanic to make yourself miserable by creating a problem with your parents when you have to live in the same house together, or at school where your real goal may be to aggravate those in authority in the guise of "expressing your individuality."
Practice Lesser Magic. Remember that a competent Satanic magician should be able to size up any situation and weigh his choices of action to bring about desired results. Enthusiasm is certainly encouraged and appreciated, however Satanism asks no one to be a martyr. And keep in mind that most people simply aren't going to understand because, ultimately, they don't want to. That is as it should be. Satanism is not for everyone. Satan, by his very nature, walks alone. He is the true individualist, the outcast. This doesn't mean that you cannot care about those who are close to you; Satan also represents love, kindness and respect to those who deserve it. It just means that you should not concern yourself with people who do not approve of you. Revel in your uniqueness; be proud of who and what you are. Achieve all you can with the strength and determination of Satan himself coursing proudly through your veins. When Satanism leads to positive changes in your accomplishments and attitude, your parents and other adults around you will notice. The best way you can represent Satanism is by providing a living example of how the diabolical arts have made you a stronger, more focused person. The results will speak louder than any logical argument you can present.
"Is it better to study and ritualize alone, or to work with others?"
Unless you are able to find others who are as knowledgeable about Satanism as you are, it is better to work alone. If you do choose to ritualize with others, you must make certain that they are 100% clear on what Satanism is all about. If they are into it just out of curiosity or for thrills, they'll get their thrills all right--the wrong kind! Many young Satanists find they have one dose, magical friend who they feel they can work with, but usually one of you is actually magically stronger and more sincere, and chances are that's you, since you're the one who has gone through the trouble of actually contacting the Church of Satan. It's often best for you to work and study alone, guided by the material in our literature, rather than have your magic and concentration diluted by would-be friends. As the saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. What that means in this case is that if you perform rituals with others who are not as serious and dedicated as you are, they will hinder your magic, not strengthen it. Many adult Satanists work and study alone by choice. Finding a true magical partner can be stimulating and rewarding, but if you need such a person in your magical progression, you'll conjure one up (see Herman Hesse's Demian or Illusions by Richard Bach).
Don't be disturbed or frightened or think you're crazy when you feel contacted by the Dark Ones you conjure forth, or by the magical results you begin to produce. You're not crazy for feeling the way you do about the hypocrisy, blindness and incompetence you see all around you. Nor are you crazy to see the results of your Black Magic. Approach the Dark Masters with the proper degree of respect and decorum--that's what rituals are for, to establish a relationship. If you approach the demons respectfully, they will reward you with knowledge, guidance, and success. Your demon guide is within you--don't look for it outside. You just have to contact that part of yourself and listen to it. That is the most important work anyone can do.
"Do I need all the things mentioned in The Satanic Bible to do my rituals?"
You don't need everything mentioned in Dr. LaVey's books to do an effective ritual. Maybe you don't have the money to obtain, or the private space to store, items such as swords, chalices, black robes, gongs and elaborate altars. Here is a powerful ritual you can perform tonight, and all you need is a quiet place where you can be alone, a Baphomet either on your person or in front of you, and a single black candle:
Light the candle and set it before you. Sit up straight, breathe deeply and relax. Clear your mind of all outside thoughts. As you gaze at the flame, say in your mind or out loud, "I am ready, oh, Dark Lord. I feel your strength within me and wish to honor you in my life. I am one of the Devil's Own. Hail Satan!" Open your mind. It will take time. You may think you are ready, but you may still find you cannot let go right away. Concentrate on your image of Satan and on the word "strength" and listen to what comes up from yourself. You have answers for yourself that no one else can give you. This is a simple way of conjuring Satan into your life. He'll snap you into line and tell you what you have to do to be happy, strong and focused--and he'll give you the stamina and courage to push yourself to do it. The path you've chosen won't be easy; sometimes it may be a nightmare. But when you are ready to face the challenge, it will be there.
A few final words
A few final words: Just because you are not yet eighteen doesn't mean that you cannot explore on your own these Dark Realms that are opening before you. This is a very potent, magical time. You were compelled to write to us for a reason, and fight now you are going through an initiation into the Black Arts that must be all your own. Your body and your mind are going through intense changes. Take this time to learn all you can--about yourself and about the world around you. Explore your skills, talents, and inventiveness. Learn to play music, paint or build a robot. Use your brain and your heart to find out what is right, what is true, and what will make you stronger. You are not alone. You are different; you are superior, and it's okay for you to feel that way. You see what others do not; you know what evil lurks in the hearts of men. Don't settle for whitelight bullshit just because you can't actively participate with other "official" Satanists right now. Don't fill your mind and dilute your magic with crap. Don't believe someone who claims to know more about Satanism than you do. You're the one who contacted us; you might even join. A friend your age probably doesn't know nearly as much about real magic as you do. An adult who claims special powers and who says he can initiate you into the Dark Realms is probably just looking to fuel his own ego (or wallet).
Read our Bunco Sheet carefully so that you won't be taken advantage of, and look over the rest of our information. You don't have to join. Remember, to be a true Satanist all you have to do is start living like one, so don't complicate your life by pushing when it isn't necessary. Your status within the Church of Satan will be based on your real accomplishments in the outside world, not how many magical sigils you've memorized. The Church of Satan will be here when you are ready, and if your commitment is strong and sincere, you will benefit from this time. Your family and friends might be concerned at first because they've been brainwashed about what Satanism is. If they love you, when they see the positive changes that occur due to your new dedication to Satanism (and most of all, to yourself) they'll try to understand and support you.
Best wishes for further success and fulfillment. You are with us.