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Comments on LaVey's "Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth"

by Diane Vera



Copyright © 2005 by Diane Vera. All rights reserved.



In my opinion, LaVey's Eleven Satanic Rules of The Earth should have been titled "How to get along with assholes." They appear to have been written on the assumption that most people are hot-tempered, emotionally insecure, and generally unreasonable. Most of LaVey's rules make sense as a set of guidelines for dealing with hot-tempered and emotionally insecure people, especially if you yourself are a hothead too.

However, several of the rules really DON'T make sense as the most advantageous way to deal with more reasonable people. And they certainly don't make sense as guidelines for a group of people who are working together on a longterm basis.

  1. "Do not give opinions or advice unless you are asked."

  2. It is usually a good idea to refrain from giving unasked-for advice no matter who you are dealing with. However, extending this to "opinions" in general strikes me as a bit extreme, unless either (1) you yourself are the kind of person who tends to voice all your opinions in an obnoxious manner, or (2) the person you're talking to is the sort of person who is likely to take anything you say the wrong way, no matter how nicely you say it. Fortunately, not all people are so obnoxious or so easily offended.

    Having to keep silent about one's opinions most of the time is not desirable, in my opinion. Voicing one's opinions -- and discussing them, better yet debating about them -- is a good way to develop one's ability to think. A person who never voices opinions except when asked is likely to end up intellectually stunted.

    It is generally a good idea to be cautious about voicing your opinions about other people, as distinct from voicing opinions on more impersonal matters.

    Also, it's probably best to be cautious about voicing your opinions -- on any topic -- to strangers. But, when dealing with a person who knows you and respects you and whom you know is reasonable, even unasked-for advice isn't always a no-no -- although too much of it will be annoying even to reasonable people.

    If people are working together on a longterm project, it is essential that they be freely able to give and receive constructive criticism. Staying quiet may be the best policy if you have an insecure boss, but a good manager should be open to suggestions and feedback.

  3. "Do not tell your troubles to others unless you are sure they want to hear them."

  4. Usually a good idea. Talking about your troubles to people who don't want to hear them does get annoying.

    But sometimes it's necessary to talk about one's troubles to a person who doesn't want to hear about them. For example, if someone is CAUSING you trouble, it may be necessary to confront that person.

    Of course, if the person causing you the trouble is utterly unreasonable, or if the person WANTS to cause trouble for you or just doesn't care, then talking to the person may be useless, and more drastic measures may be needed than mere talk.

  5. "When in anotherís lair, show him respect or else do not go there."

  6. Almost always a good idea no matter who you're dealing with.

  7. "If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy."

  8. This one makes sense only if the person who has annoyed you is utterly unreasonable. In that case, there's no point in trying to be nice about it, because the person is bound to take anything you say the wrong way anyway, and/or will just not listen to a reasonable request. And if you too happen to be a hothead, well, you gotta have some outlet for your rage.

    On the other hand, if the person who has annoyed you is an otherwise reasonable person, then it makes much more sense just to ask the person, politely but firmly, to stop doing whatever he or she has been doing that you find annoying. Many people respond better to gentle requests than to being treated "cruelly and without mercy."

    I think it's important to avoid being too quick to jump to the conclusion that a given person is being malicious or unreasonable.

  9. "Do not make sexual advances unless you are given the mating signal."

  10. Good idea.

  11. "Do not take that which does not belong to you unless it is a burden to the other person and he cries out to be relieved."

  12. This one I find a bit puzzling. It isn't too often that I run into people who cry out to be relieved of some possession of theirs but who can't just get rid of it themselves. And if I did run into such a person, I'd still ask first rather than just take the thing in question.

  13. "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."

  14. This one, quite frankly, strikes me as promoting dishonesty with oneself. If at first a given magic technique seems to be successful, but then later it ceases to be successful, a reasonable person would naturally question whether the initial "successes" were really a result of said magic technique in the first place. But LaVey's rule #7 seems to be saying that you better not question it or else. It's not as bad as the traditional Christian "Believe in our God or else go to hell," but it's the same general idea. Believe in X because something bad will happen if you don't.

  15. "Do not complain about anything to which you need not subject yourself."

  16. One way of interpreting this rule is that you should not blame other people for situations that you yourself are at least partially responsible for. With that I agree. However, "complain" is a more general word than "blame." A situation may be partly your own fault, but it may be desirable, if possible, to work together with one or more of the other affected people in order to fix that problem. But, to do that, one must first mention that the problem exists. When dealing with a reasonable person, complaining about a problem is often the first step toward solving it.

    On the other hand, when dealing with the kind of person who would be unwilling to listen to your complaint, you may be better off just severing ties with the person. Thus, LaVey's rule #8 seems to me to be another one of those rules that makes sense only when dealing with hot-tempered, emotionally insecute people.

  17. "Do not harm little children."

  18. Agreed.

  19. "Do not kill non-human animals unless you are attacked or for your food."

  20. Agreed pretty much, with some exceptions, such as killing undesirable insects in your house or apartment even if they haven't directly "attacked" you.

  21. "When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him."

  22. "Destroying him" may or may not be feasible depending on circumstances. And whether "destroying him" is worthwhile or desirable in the first place depends on how severe the "bothering" was, and on the nature of the "bothering." For example, the person might be presenting an issue that you need to deal with, even if it's unpleasant. If not, then it's often better just to walk away than to try to "destroy him." But not always. Of course, here in the modern West, "destroying him" should be done by legal means such as a lawsuit or charging the person with harassment, not via physical murder.



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