According to Anton La Vey there are two types of magic: High Magic and Low Magic. High Magic refers to ‘ritual magic’ and Low Magic to the magic of ‘situation-manipulation’. In La Vey’s system ritual magic is performed in a similar way to that which many contemporary magical practitioners would be familiar with: there is a general circle format, an evocative setting, supernatural beings are asked to assist, symbolic tools are used, and the practitioner needs to be specific about and concentrate on their goal. The point is — unlike a lot of other types of modern magic — to actually achieve a result, not to just revel within a magic ritual, that being enough of a result for many people.
In addition, the High Magic system of La Vey has only three types of ritual: rituals for Compassion, for Lust and for Destruction. In each of these rituals the practitioner is required to be fully involved emotionally with the purpose of the ritual, for example in a recent Lust ritual I needed to become physically lustful — La Vey says that if you can’t achieve an orgasm over the person you are lustful toward within a ritual designed to attract that person, then you don’t deserve to have them! So what one is meant to do in these sorts of rituals is to evoke as best as possible the real-world scenario of the desired result and become immersed within that — essentially fantasy — world as if it is real.
If I want to attract someone sexually I need to be actually desirous of them, otherwise I need to analyse whether I should be doing, say, a Compassion ritual instead. It depends on what I want the person for. La Vey liked to pare back human needs into simple categories: desire, hunger, anger. He believed that humans are simply clever animals — which we are — and so when you take on his type of system you have to do a lot of analysis of yourself and of the situations you find yourself in and then try and work out what kind of ritual approach is the best one, or if ritual actually is the correct approach to a problem or situation. I need to stress that many La Veyean Satanists do not do a lot of structured ritual, certainly not a lot of group ritual, because effective ritual needs intense concentration and that’s not easy to achieve in a group, unless you are very close.
As for the ‘Low Magic’ which really is the type of magic I like best these days and, in my opinion, is actually more difficult than the more formal ritual magic which is just a case of following procedure. La Vey’s Low Magic also involves a three-fold category, the Witch or Warlock (yes, La Veyean male Witches are called Warlocks) need to assess themselves first because they are their own tool in this type of magic. You need to assess your effect on other people — because this is really about interacting with other people and getting them to conform to your will — so you need to be well-informed about your appearance, your sound, your smell, the subtle and not-so-subtle animal cues that people give to each other all day without thinking about it.
La Vey believed there are three general categories that people fit into: Sex, Sentiment and Wonder. Sex is pretty self-explanatory, sentiment means that you evoke pleasant memories in another thus making them open up to you and wonder can incorporate a range of reactions ranging from admiration to fear. Other people will view you and classify you (semi- or subconsciously) into one or a combination of these categories. La Vey believed that there are predictable responses different types of people have to the Sex, Sentiment and Wonder categories and you need to assess yourself in regards to those categories and assess your quarry and how their type is known to react to those qualities. You need to work out which category you fit into and then take it from there. It’s about appearing to become a ‘package deal’ and people thinking they have you all worked out, when they actually don’t.
Basically it is about acting. For example, I seem to come across as a mixture of sex and wonder, I don’t think I project any sentiment. Depending on whom I am dealing with and what I want from them I may have to modify my ‘normal’ projection to one that they will be responsive to. For example, an overconfident, macho he-man would be more receptive to a coy ingénue who appears to think everything he says or does is “really amazing”; a submissive male would be more likely to shiver with delight if I were to come across as very stern, dominating and no-nonsense—neither of those are the ‘real me’, it’s a case of me assessing a quarry and then putting on an act.
But is it magic? Well, Aleister Crowley defined magic(k) as the art and science of causing change in accordance with your will — he never specified a particular way to achieve that change, just that you do achieve it. So my opinion regarding La Vey’s Low Magic system is that while it is not a ritual procedure, it is definitely ‘magic’.