REMINDER: I do not speak for The Church of Satan. I'm just loud.
I Spoke with Magister Bill M.
One thing I believe whole-heartedly is that you can never learn too much. One can never have perfect knowledge on any subject. Not me, or The President, or Neil deGrasse Tyson. This is one of the reasons why I do these interviews, as I’ve said before. It is part of my job as a Satanist to learn as much as I can about Satanism and be able to look at it from various points of view. It is, similarly, my job as a productive member of society to be able to consider points of view that are different from your own in general. This is how you grow as a person.
So please enjoy the latest entry in…
This time I sat down at my computer and sent some carefully constructed questions with Magister of the Church of Satan Bill M. I highly recommend taking these answers to heart, checking out The Devil’s Mischief, and following Bill on Twitter.
So, without further ado, Magister Bill M!
1) How did you discover the Church of Satan?
I grew up in the 1980s during the Satanic Panic, so I had heard here and there about the Church of Satan. Various representatives would get a tiny bit of airtime on the many sensationalist daytime talk shows, if they were lucky. It wasn’t until the mid 1990s that I really read The Satanic Bible as an adult and came to identify myself as a Satanist, then inevitably found out more about the Church of Satan. I’ve been a member for about 20 years.
2) What have you done in your life that you are the most proud of?
It’s easy to name the more obvious stuff: my mathematics degrees, my engineering career, music talent, and the other sorts of things they’d put in a newspaper obituary. But I guess overall I’m just proud of my ability in and of itself to hone skills and turn frustration into creations. That might seem vague or corny to some, but it’s a work ethic that led to my podcast (The Devil’s Mischief) and other work for Radio Free Satan, my websites such as GeorgeCarlin.net, other Internet creations like my Facebook group “Ridicule of Shitty Writing”, numerous essays, things I’ve done as a musician, meeting people whose work I’ve admired, seeing the improvement in students of my own with math or music, and lots of other things which may seem little in and of themselves, but add up to enrich my life on the whole.
3) What is your position within the Church of Satan and what does that mean?
I hold the title of Magister. I tell non-Satanists that in layman’s terms, it’s sort of like the rank of bishop. To me though, it’s a proud honorary title that says my life as a Satanist has caught the attention of the Church of Satan, and that they’ve deemed my understanding and presentation of Satanism to be exceptional. I think with the title though comes a responsibility with certain things I say and where I say them, knowing that people might stupidly (or deliberately) misconstrue my personal views as being some sort of official statements from the Church of Satan. Obviously that’s not what being a representative of an organization means, but hey, you know how the media and the Internet can be.
4) If a wizard came up and told you that he would give you $100,000,000 but you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would you do with your money and what song would you pick?
I’d honestly pass on that deal. I already make a sizable salary, and music is too important to me to make a sacrifice like that. But just to play along with this fun hypothetical scenario anyway, I think I’d pick something without words, like Ravel’s “Bolero”. I’d take maybe $1 million to blow on fun things, another $1 million to help out some close friends and relatives, then put the rest into a mix of investments and real estate. I’d keep the money a secret otherwise, to avoid hearing from too many supposed “friends” who’d want a cut.
5) Has anybody ever given you shit for being a Member of the Church of Satan?
Oh yeah, this happens from time to time. In the offline world, not many of my acquaintances know of my affiliation. I’m very selective about whom I decide to come out to as a Satanist, because I know the reality of the status quo’s perception of our deliberately adversarial religion. I don’t tell co-workers, in part because I don’t think ANYBODY should be talking about religion in the workplace. But most people I choose to come out to are smart enough to understand me and get the gist of what the COS is about, after I give them the 60-second Satanism 101 talk. I’ve certainly misjudged a few people before though, including people who I thought seemed level-headed enough but suddenly turned all self-righteous and irrational over hearing that “S” word, or vice-versa; a couple of people whom I thought would react all angrily and emotional surprisingly accepted the Satanism thing just fine.
Online of course, where I’m an “online persona” and more transparent about being a Satanist, it can get expectedly nasty. It used to be the Jesus freaks who’d find me and give me shit most often. But these days, I probably get more shit from the equally annoying “new atheist” crowd, or at least the more militant of them, who can’t wrap their brains around concepts like atheists in non-theistic religions or using captivating metaphors. Both the Jesus freaks and the militant atheist crowd though are ultimately letting Christianity define the meaning of things like “religion” to them, and are largely motivated by the pipe dream of wanting to see at least 90% of the world adopt their way of thinking.
Then of course you have the even more annoying pseudo-Satanists who parrot whatever anti-COS or anti-LaVey lines they read somewhere on the Internet. I’ve lost count of how many “Satanic organizations” have come and gone who claimed to be some sort of superior replacement for the COS, and turned out to be basing their beliefs on things that don’t even make sense within Satanism, trying to do things we’ve already found not to work (we don’t need grottos in 2018, folks), or stupidly replace entire parts of Satanism with contrary parts and think it can still work. Some other trolls who bash COS membership are simply idiots who view any form of commitment as being “conformity”, as if having any sort of structure would be a threat to their personal liberty. It’s ridiculous.
6) What is your favorite swear word and why?
I find myself saying “motherfucker” a lot these days. I’m not sure why. I think I like the multi-syllabic quality of it.
7) Define Greater Magic.
This may forever be one of those nailing-Jello-to-a-wall topics when trying to explain it to outsiders. A lot of it has to do with the fact that it’s a subjective experience that calls for controlled suspension of disbelief, so to try to intellectualize it is a contradiction. But I’ll try my best.You know how The Satanic Bible says, “Herein you will find truth, and fantasy”? Well, here’s where the fantasy part comes in. And note that the word is “fantasy”, which means by definition it’s something viewed as being imagined, as opposed to a belief that supernatural things really exist. Just as we use the figure of Satan as a metaphor, you could view the concept of magic as being a metaphor, too. A dictionary will tell you that when people use the word “magic”, they’re typically never referring to the alleged supernatural powers claimed by spell-casting occultists. Rather, the word is most commonly used to refer to the sleight-of-hand art of stage magic (which many occultists dry to distance themselves from by spelling their own practice as “magick”, with a “k”), where the magician knowingly sets up an illusion for his audience for the purpose of triggering an emotional response. Other times people use the word “magic” or “magical” to refer to something exceptionally enchanting or beautifully surreal, as in “That wedding was simply magical!”. These two last usages of the word relate much more with Satanism’s use of magic than the typical occult one does.
I would perhaps define greater magic as the self-transformative use of symbolism and ritual in a focused, subjective setting to facilitate the manifestation of one’s own stated desires. That may seem like a lot of wordage, but keep in mind we’re talking about a topic that takes up 2/3 of the pages of The Satanic Bible, all of The Satanic Rituals, and several essays among other books like The Devil’s Notebook, Satan Speaks, and The Satanic Scriptures. To further elaborate on my definition: you start with a clearly-stated desire, and to help you along in transforming your mindset and setting you on the right path to that, you utilize a ritualistic setting. In fact, as Dr. LaVey said in his essay “Ravings from Tartarus”, Greater Magic is ultimately a way of formalizing acts that otherwise may not have gotten any attention without the ritualistic trappings. Mechanically speaking, the essence of the practice has much more in common with the sort of goal-visualizing techniques and meditations you’d find in a self-help program, than occult practices that depend upon faith in actual supernatural concepts. The added Satanic trappings of a greater magic ritual however help emotionally connect everything back to the philosophical core of Satanism.
I’ve talked about Greater Magic at length before, in a number of printed articles and interviews. I encourage anybody who’s interested in the topic to listen to my extensive talk on the Demented1’s YouTube videocast.
8) Are you working on any creative projects right now?
Currently I’m trying to put together a special episode to celebrate the 15th anniversary of The Devil’s Mischief. Magister David Harris has helped me out with this. The Devil’s Mischief is, as far as I know, the longest-running Satanic podcast still in existence. More information on the show can be found on the official site. I also continue to make original content for the Dr. Schitz page, am working on a book of my past Satanism-related essays, and always have a number of musical projects going on at any given time.
9) How do you celebrate your birthday?
For several years I would alternate between celebrating in Las Vegas and celebrating locally here in the Boston area. I absolutely fell in love with Las Vegas the very first time I went there in 2000. There’s never a shortage of things to do there. But whether I’m celebrating in Sin City or celebrating close to home, a recurring theme is treating myself to one or more live events and the best food, for starters. Every year is always a little different and takes some planning, but I’m determined to have an amazing time.
10) If you had to live in another time period, which would you pick?
On the one hand, I’d like to travel back to the 1970s to see a lot of my favorite pop culture things in the flesh: favorite arena rock bands at the height of their popularity, sit in the audience for a live taping of TV shows like “All in the Family”, watch some of my favorite movies on the big screen, pay for a coffee with a quarter, and so on. However, I don’t know if I’d want to live there, especially when I think of having to throw away so many modern technological conveniences we take for granted, like ATMs and cell phones. Not to mention the gas crisis and high crime. I think it’s all too easy to romanticize the past. The Woody Allen movie “Midnight in Paris” has some Satanic lessons on that. We live in a great time right now where we have a lot of wonderful technology to create Total Environments of past times and places if we want to, keeping only the parts we like. So if I did have to live in another time period, I’d want to explore some period in the far future, where we’d presumably have even better technology for optionally creating whatever environment we want.
I hope you guys loved this interview as much as I did! The answers were long and thought-out, which, when coupled with Bill’s voice in his writing, makes reading enjoyable and informative.
Keep learning, Darling Devils, and keep hoping that stupidity becomes painful.