There are dozens of self-help books on the shelves these days, many of them
recommended by Oprah, Rosie, or some other daytime celebrity with their own
self-titled magazine. Cures for low self-esteem, smoking, porn addictions,
chicken soups for your gay brother's best friend's sisters' dog... you name
it. Regular readers of PULP will all nod sagely when I tell the world that
there are more pressing social issues. Like Satanism. What if you or
someone you love is a Satanist, or is developing satanic leanings? What do
you do? Alanon can't help you. No manner of liquid meal will suffice. You
must turn to COPING WITH SATANISM.
Written in 1994, shortly after the Geraldo-fronted anti-Satanic flap of the
late 80's, COPING is a fairly balanced study of a very complex issue. Its
hundred-odd pages and large typeface bring to life the rich history of
Satanism and indeed the whole of the Evil Occult Arts. While ostensibly a
study of the practices of devil worship and worshippers, there pervades the
work a subtle and pungent aroma of Christian condescension. Rather than
detract from the book's tone, I feel it only adds to the enjoyment.
The reader is introduced to the subject via a fictional account of young
Jamie and the new kids at her school that frighten her even as they arouse
curiosity deep within her secret places. After Jamie considers turning to
evil the book moves on to a brisk, yet full, history of the concept of evil.
The 2 and a half pages devoted to the metaphysical musings of humankind
are some of the most rewarding I have ever read. Drop your religion and
philosophy classes now, kids. It's all in here.
There's an interesting list of alternate names for the Prince of Darkness,
most of which also seem to be suitable euphemisms for the male genitalia.
"Black Prince", "Old Hairy", "Old Horny", "Ash", "The Good Fellow", and my
personal favorite "Lusty Dick".
Our historiography continues, taking us from Dante's Divine Comedy and
Milton's Paradise Lost all the way to Burns' Oh God! You Devil!. We are
shown how various marginalized Christian sects from the Gnostics to the
Knights Templar have had their beliefs perverted, no doubt by Evil, into
those of the Satanist. We end our journey through time with Anton LeVey,
head of the Church of Satan and the actor who starred as Satan in Rosemary's
Just in case you may already be a Satanist and not know it, the next chapter
illustrates a number of common signs and sigils used by Satanists when they
are keeping it real. You have your inverted pentagram, your baphomet (don't
believe Ash, there is a difference), your 666, inverted crosses and so on
and so forth. The authors do stray here and seem to throw in every symbol
associated with society's fringes that they can find.
This chapter also identifies a number of Archetypes of Satanic Individuals
that I suspect every regular reader of PULP falls into somehow. There's the
Psychopathic Delinquent, The Angry Misfit, and The Pseudointellectual. The
chapter ends with a glance at that bastion wrongdoing, Dungeons and Dragons.
Let me quote from the text:
"Becoming engrossed in these games...could cause a player to relax defenses
against evil and thus provide Satan a window of opportunity to gain control
of his or her personality."
They couldn't be more right. Gentle reader, you may or may not be aware
that toy industry giant Hasbro has recently released a new edition of the
quarter-century old D&D game through their Satanic Hobbies Division, Wizards
of the Coast. Rest assured, this abomination must be halted! Pick up your
pencils and write to:
BADD (Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons) 295 Main Street Boxford, MA
You'll be glad you did.
Continuing on, the chapter on Rituals and Ceremonies cautions the reader
that it is not a 'how to', and it sure isn't. It teases the reader with
hints of incantations, conjurations, and sex magick, but it never pays up.
Departing from the Christian positivity for a moment, the authors sum up the
practice of Satanism as one of self-esteem building as opposed to
religiosity. It also states that perhaps people get into Satanism because
they are lazy.
Need some helpful dates on which to Blaspheme? Let me assist you:
Apr.30: Walpurgis Night/Beltane Eve - a great time for sacrificing children!
June 23: Midsummer's Night - Satanists celebrate it 2 days late. They're so
Oct.31: Ash's Birthday (He prefers it if you refer to it as his 'Special
Dec.21: Winter Solstice
Chapter 5 presents the Four Levels of Satanic Involvement, as modeled by Law
Enforcement consultant Robert Hicks. Level 1 is the much rumored level
wherein broad conspiracies exist, ritually abusing and murdering hordes of
children. Most sane people and the FBI put this level of Satanism in the
same category of imaginary things as UFOs and Michael Jackson. Level 2 is
the home of organized public Satanism, such as LeVey's Church of Satan and
the O-Town Official Fan Club. At the 3rd level we have 'self-styled'
Satanists, like Chuckie Manson. I like to put TV shows like "Will and
Grace" and "Dharma and Greg" in here too. Something foul spawned those. 4th
level involvement consists of 'ritual dabblers' and anyone who has ever
listened to Heavy Metal music. Signs of this level of involvement could
- -reading books on Satanism
- -conducting ceremonies in cemeteries
- -changes in diet
- -the appearance of odd alphabetic marks on clothing
Thus some 4th level Satanists are:
- -anyone who reads 'Coping With Satanism'c
- -funerary officials
- -anyone at Jenny Craig
- -Tommy Hilfiger
Chapter 6 devotes most of its time to the next most serious issue in
Satanism after D&D: Heavy Metal music. While not daring to just come out
and say that Heavy Metal is the music of Lucifer, a rather large finger is
pointed just so. Never mind that by 1994 Heavy Metal as a genre had largely
been subsumed by the uber-genre of Alternative Rock, but perhaps the Devil
is merely hiding his handiwork. After all, a strong argument could be made
that Treblecharger and OLP have more to do with social disintegration than
either Ratt or Quiet Riot ever did.
The book begins wrapping things up with another fictional story that could
have been torn from today's headlines in 1994. This time it's Mike. Mike
starts dressing in black, doing poorly in school, writing violent stories,
and scoring with chicks of questionable character. If Mike had been in high
school 5 years later, he would have proceeded to get Daddy's gun and make
like a postman, but back in the innocent and naive early 90's, he merely
turned to Satanism. I won't spoil the ending of this nail-biter...
There is also a short chapter on Getting Out of Satanism and a helpful
glossary of terms to round things out.
Overall, the book was a highly enjoyable, super-charged read, on the level
of any John Grisham thriller. Before his timely death, Stanley Kubrick was
said to be working on a motion picture adaptation. Steven Spielberg picked
up the pieces and turned it into AI, coming this summer, to a theatre near
you. I know I'll be at the front of the line. Until then, though, all we
can do is read the book that started it all, and look around us and wonder,
who are the Satanists? They could be your teen-aged daughter, your
grandfather, or the editor of an internet infotainment rag. You just never
This book gets 8 out of a possible 10 stars, losing points for not being
graphic enough and not really hiding the Christian soppiness.
Referenced in Coping... is the book Satanism: A Guide to the Awesome
Power of Satan by W. Baskin. It is a much more satisfying read.