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LaVey's 'The Satanic Witch' was published at a time in the twentieth century when femininity seemed about to be frogmarched off the map and relegated, as something archaic and downright repressed, to the annals of history. Before such a shift occurred, LaVey penned this witty, charming and informative defence in praise of beauty, glamour and 'loose women' the world over. Power, he declares, comes from a recognition and enjoyment of traditional gender roles. Not a message particlarly palatable to bra-burners or to LaVey's contemporary 'good' witches. However, and despite initial misgivings expressed by some of my my fellow reviewers here and elsewhere, this book is remarkably and refreshingly pro-woman. It debunks popular Wiccan texts that suggest certain propensities for magical ability. Hell, in LaVey's world, all women - regardless of star sign, parentage or innate mystique - have the ability to influence the world around them. It is elitist not in the sense that only rare and gifted individuals stand a chance, but in that self-awareness and good old-fashioned guile can get you where you want to be.
So how does it work? LaVey suggests a self-reflexive assessment of one's physical appearance and mental qualities, which he classifies and situates on a so-called Synthesiser Clock. This is key to an understanding of one's self and others. In order to bewitch a man, one must operate as the opposite of his Apparent self, that is, his obvious physical and mental characteristics. A rugged, masculine twelve o'clock will respond most favourably, then, to a feminine, curvaceous six o'clock, with a whole multitude of nuances between. If nothing else, this establishes a deeper understanding of the attributes of self and others. This seems to have been LaVey's intention: if true manipulation depends upon an in-depth knowledge of people, then the Synthesiser Clock establishes a precedent for this. A minor quibble with this ingenious although perhaps outlandish system would be that LaVey depends heavily upon personal experience, and wants his readers to trust his inferences about the different skills, likes, dislikes etc. of people at different positions on the clock. Sticklers for referencing will be furious. I must admit to a few irate moments myself during this section of the book: the advice is to just go with it, and enjoy the ride. If you are prepared to give credit to the author, a valuable dose of self-aggrandisement will be duly delivered.
Once you have established your place on the clock, LaVey teaches the now arcane arts of seduction. He is as meticulous on the perfection of these arts as you might expect an articulate carny with a penchant for the ladies to be! Be prepared for LaVey's characteristically bawdy and punchy rhetoric. An enjoyable experience, and not an homage to the Moon Goddess in sight. LaVey discusses the subtleties of hair colour, posture, dress, voice and attitude. All of these need to be considered in the art of witchery. But here we come to minor quibble number two: LaVey establishes the 1940s woman as the archetype, with her three-inch heels, seamed stockings and figure-hugging dresses. Whilst this is undoubtedly a bewitching and timeless image, it is nonetheless a product of LaVey's own E.C.I. (Erotic Crystallisation Inertia, where erotic tastes become 'fixed' as one's ideal at a relatively young age). As a young man of this era, it is understandable that LaVey saw, desired and preferred this type of woman. However, other generations may just as well have preferred other styles as ideals of their own, regardless of whether or not they conformed to the particular penchants of another person. Fetishes are multifarious!
However, the minor issues I've raised with this text do not detract from this book's overall positivity and influence. Read this, enjoy the tongue-in-cheek sections as just that, and feel instantly empowered! A book that embraces all women for being women, and doesn't beat us up for our inability to act male.