My Criticisms of “The Compleat Witch”
I have a few problems with Magus Anton LaVey’s “The Compleat Witch” (#13D)—the most glaring these is his reliance on anecdotal evidence to support his claims of how women can make use of the “Law of the Forbidden” in order to charm both men and women alike. He makes outrageous declarative statements such as “the most effective turn ons will never look staged.” How does this actually work though? And more importantly how does he know this type of statement can be understood to be a fact?
Magus LaVey is relying on two things here to support his claims—(1) the fact that women reading this book are primed to agree with what he’s saying not only because of who he is but because they are looking to make themselves “Compleat Witches” and (2) his claims are supported by compelling the reader to put them into practice.
A blue-haired feminist reading of this book would probably dismiss it as being absolutely outrageous. How could he possibly know anything about what it means to be a woman? He never lived as a woman! Magus LaVey is a white cis-gendered male born into a life that invalidates every claim he makes in “The Compleat Witch.” However—from my point of view, I would find the feminist reading of this book to be ill-informed. LaVey is an outsider from the experience of what it means to be a woman. Therefore, he can make observations women can’t make for themselves. In other words, he can see our blind spots.
Aside from his somewhat perverted assertions about how a woman should go about putting the Law of the Forbidden into practice (strategic panty slips) there’s something endearing about how Magus LaVey views what can make a woman charming.
What LaVey never addresses directly in the book is where exactly he lies on the LaVeyan Personality Synthesizer (LPS) clock. The way he writes leads me to believe that he regards himself as an eleven o’clock or twelve o’ clock on LPS. He makes over abundant references to women that have qualities of a five or six o’ clock.
So why is this important?
He believes that it adds to his credibility in a subliminal way by conveying himself to be the all-seeing, all knowing alpha male. People who are naturally leaders fall in between the eleven to one range on the clock. The problem with this is very similar to the feminist argument—how can he know so much about the rest of the positions on the clock when he’s a twelve o’ clock male?
While it would be unfair of me to say that “The Compleat Witch” was written with five to seven o’ clock women in mind, I do get the feeling that his Demonic Minority Self is catering to women in that range on the LPS.
The LaVeyan Personality Synthesizer as Applied to Gender Transition
Magus LaVey’s work in “The Compleat Witch” is very female positive in a back-handed sort of way—he does constantly acknowledge that not all women are bombshells, but he does make an effort to point out ways to improve. This includes all types of women. The LaVeyan Personality Synthesizer was included in this book to not only address diversity issues that may arise from his sometimes biased suggestions but also as check and balance to his own claims on what works and what doesn’t work in the application of “The Law of the Forbidden.”
To me, the most interesting aspect of “The Compleat Witch” were a few very brief mentions of where transgender individuals fall on the LPS. Considering when this book was written, I find it interesting (and progressive!) that LaVey included this detail.
He writes, “the woman most prone to stereotyped lesbian activities is the twelve o’clock. The man most likely to fit the established image of the homosexual is the six o’clock. All types, however, have their respective homosexual counterparts. This simply implies that a twelve woman and a six man are ideally suited for sexual interchange and often are transsexuals. When a sex change operation is performed, it is most complete and successful in these individuals.” I wish that LaVey explored this more fully, but based on his writings in (#13D) I have come to an understanding as to how transsexuality interacts with his system. I’ve come to this understanding because of my own personal life experiences as both a transgender woman and also as compleat witch.
As a male I wasn’t exactly the paragon of all things alpha—on the LPS I was on the lower spectrum of the clock, probably a solid five o’clock or five-thirty. I had always been the more subdued outsider struggling to be the alpha I wasn’t. During that time in my life my Demonic Minority Self was a strong female figure—which is something I wrestled with prior to the start of my transition at nineteen in 2005. What I find interesting about how the LaVeyean Personality Synthesizer applies to my transition is how my Demonic Minority Self as a male surfaced to the top and became my Majority Self as a woman.
To me, this makes sense because as we transition to our new gender identity we still stay the same in many respects. If I now embody the identity of an eleven o’clock female, my former male self (a 5 o’clock) becomes my new Demonic Minority.
By the nature of what it takes to transition, transgender women are primed and ready to become compleat witches out of the box. A very curious excerpt from the “Sex Magic without Sanctimony” section of Magus LaVey’s book further supports this idea:
“The emphasis on the power of strong contrast is supplied by the fact that you are ‘dressed up’ in all the readily visible areas of your body while totally naked under your coat. The same element is present in the incongruity of mingling with people who are clothed while you are naked in an unstated environment. If this does not present a feeling of self-consciousness, you’ll never make it as a witch, for you lack the emotional response of the individuals on who you would be working your magic. If you are so alien to other’s emotional responses, I would recommend you give up on trying to be a witch or else take a few lessons from a Martian or Venusian who has learned to ‘pass.’ The Law of the Forbidden is subjectively practice in your constant awareness of your outrageous behavior.”
Transgender women, especially at the beginning of our transitions are easily recognizable by those around us as being both different and unnatural. Most people aren’t stupid. Mode of dress, the voice, facial structure, and height are huge giveaways for the would-be male bodied individual making the attempt to “pass.” Trans-women are self-conscious by our very nature—and this adds to our power. The aspect to this that I find most interesting—is that by going out into the world to operate as our Demonic Minority Self as opposed to what we are naturally, we employ Magus LaVey’s Law of the Forbidden not only against other people but also against ourselves. The power that we draw from our self-conscious behaviors is therefore doubled because of this phenomenon.
If was born into this world as a five o’clock male then my Demonic Minority Self would be that of an eleven o’clock female. As a five o’clock male I was attracted to the idea of becoming my Demonic Minority Self because of how attractive she was to my sensibilities. She was everything I wasn’t. Assertive, pretty, outgoing, and extroverted. Because I was attracted to the eleven o’clock woman, my sense of self-consciousness was amplified when I finally summoned the courage to go out into the world. I was attracted to myself, but also shy of myself—and therefore working the Law of the Forbidden…upon myself. Because I adopted this identity that wasn’t what other people perceived to be my Majority Self as a male that also caused me to become even more self-conscious by projecting the Law of the Forbidden onto those people.
I remember as a young twenty year old trans-woman back in 2006, believing that I was passing as female one hundred percent of the time. I thought that my size and age made me untouchable. I thought I could wear anything without being clocked as trans. How wrong was I? I was making huge fashion mistakes, like wearing pants way too tight, too much makeup, etc. I was aware of this in a subliminal sort of way, but I was made more aware of it when other people pointed out my many fashion oversights.
LaVey writes, “In utilizing the Law of the Forbidden, you can make many of the things you do appear as though you were unaware of them happening. Thus, you will be employing a double threat by your proper and conducive choice of garments and also by your apparent lack of knowledge of your exposure.”
The difference between what he’s suggesting here, and what I was going through early on in my transition is that I wasn’t acting like I was unaware of my fashion fubars. I actually wasn’t aware at all! So when LaVey says “the most effective turn ons will never looked staged,” the fact that I was going out to bars with pants on so tight that my cock ’n balls were poking out of one of my pant legs while dressed like a woman—this potential turn on wasn’t staged. I wasn’t acting, because I wasn’t aware. So when I was getting unwanted attention by would-be tranny chasers trying to bed me, I was genuinely drawing power from their awareness of my difference from all the other “girls” at the club.
Magus LaVey writes that “The power of the vampire lies in that no one believes him.” At the onset, this rule is one-hundred percent true when it comes to dealing with other people as a trans-woman. In the beginning, no one actually believes—including yourself, that you’re a woman. A lot of our power as trans-women is drawn from this knowledge, and as we become more aware of ourselves we can use this to our benefit should we decide to venture down the path of the compleat witch