Facts and Fallacies of "Human Sacrifice" in LaVeyan Satanism

Do Satanists Believe in Human Sacrifice?

baphomet pentagram
Church of Satan, used with permission

Thanks to urban legend, Hollywood, and rabid Christian fundamentalists, few images are as ingrained into the American's mind about Satanists than their supposed love of human sacrifice. While sacrifice of this type is absolutely abhorrent and illogical to a Satanist, The Satanic Bible nevertheless does discuss a certain sort of magical working that it describes as a human sacrifice.

There Is No Blood-Starved Deity

Historically, animal and human sacrifice have generally been performed in religions where the deity in question needs blood to survive or is appeased by the life given up in their name. LaVeyan Satanists, however, are atheists. To them, there is no actual entity called Satan. Ergo, sacrificing a life to appease Satan is nonsensical.

Emotion as Magical Power

Strong emotions generate energy within magical rituals. LaVey highlights three particularly strong emotional sources of power: the death throes of a living creature, anger, and orgasm.

Satanic magicians primarily draw power from themselves, and magicians can certainly do this through the channeling of anger or orgasm through sex or masturbation. With these tools at their disposal (and not made taboo as they are in many religions), the third source – death throes - is unnecessary.

The fact of the matter is that if the "magician is worthy of his name, he will be uninhibited enough to release the necessary force from his own body, instead of from an unwilling and undeserving victim! (The Satanic Bible, p. 87)

Symbolic Sacrifice As Source of Wrath

The Satanic Bible does discuss a symbolic human sacrifice through hexing, a magical working that "leads to the physical, mental or emotional destruction of the 'sacrifice' in ways and means not attributable to the magician." (p. 88) The primary goal, however, is not the destruction of the individual but rather the anger and wrath summoned up within the magician during the course of the ritual. Anything that happens to the sacrifice is of secondary importance.

Suitable Targets

The only people Satanists will consider targeting with such a sacrificial hex is a "totally noxious and deserving individual" who "by his reprehensible behavior, practically cries out to be destroyed." (pp. 88, 89-90)

In fact, Satanists see the elimination of such obnoxious influences as something of a duty. These people are emotional leeches, dragging everyone else down to feed their starved egos. Moreover, Satanists stress responsibility for behavior. Actions have consequences. When people behave badly, their victims should take steps so as not to be further subjugated to the abuse rather than turning the other cheek and making excuses for the offender. As the eleventh ruler of the Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth states, "When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him."

Unsuitable Targets

The target should never be undeserving of it. Regardless what urban legend might say, Satanists have no interest in targeting virgins, holy people, or any other upright members of society. Nor is a target ever chosen at random. To do so would be both malicious (not to mention sociopathic) and lacking in the desired anger.

In addition, both animals and children are specifically forbidden targets. Both lack the capacity and understanding to bring such a consequence upon them. Animals work on instinct, and maliciousness operates on a level beyond instinct. Children are held particularly sacred to Satanists, and they consider any harm visited upon them to be particularly vile.

Satanists Decry Criminal Activity

Again, even when a Satanist talks of "human sacrifice," they are not talking about a physical attack or any other illegal activity. Satanists have zero tolerance for lawbreakers and support hefty civil punishments for them.

The Term "Human Sacrifice"

One might think that Anton LaVey could have found a less charged term than "human sacrifice" for what he proposes, but the choice of words is very in-line with the tone of the rest of the Satanic Bible. LaVey strongly preferred to speak plainly and bluntly sometimes to the point of an exaggeration to challenge taboos that he saw as primarily existing to control members of society. His vocabulary was deliberately inflammatory.

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Beyer, Catherine. "Facts and Fallacies of "Human Sacrifice" in LaVeyan Satanism." Learn Religions, Aug. 26, 2020, learnreligions.com/human-sacrifice-facts-in-laveyan-satanism-95977. Beyer, Catherine. (2020, August 26). Facts and Fallacies of "Human Sacrifice" in LaVeyan Satanism. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/human-sacrifice-facts-in-laveyan-satanism-95977 Beyer, Catherine. "Facts and Fallacies of "Human Sacrifice" in LaVeyan Satanism." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/human-sacrifice-facts-in-laveyan-satanism-95977 (accessed March 20, 2023).