LaVeyan Satanism

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LaVeyan Satanism (also known as Atheistic Satanism or Modern Satanism), referred to simply as Satanism among adherents, is a religious philosophy founded in 1966 by Anton LaVey and codified in The Satanic Bible in 1969. Its core beliefs and philosophies are based on individualism, epicureanism, secularism, egoism, and self-deification, and propagates a worldview of naturalism, Social Darwinism, and Lex Talionis.[1][2][3][4][5]

Additionally, Satanism involves the practice of magic, which encompasses two distinct forms; greater and lesser magic.[6] Greater magic is a form of ritual practice and is meant as a self-transformational psychodrama to focus one's emotional energy for a specific purpose.[7] Lesser magic is based on the laws of attraction and consists of using one's natural abilities to manipulate others.[8] LaVey wrote extensively on the subject of magic and ritual in his works The Satanic Rituals and The Satanic Witch.[9]

Contrary to popular belief, LaVeyan Satanism does not involve "devil worship" or worship of any deities. It is an atheistic philosophy that uses the character of Satan as a symbol of pride, carnality, liberty, enlightenment, undefiled wisdom, and of a cosmos which Satanists perceive to be permeated and motivated by a force that has been given many names by humans over the course of time. Satan (Hebrew: שָּׂטָן satan, meaning "adversary") is seen as a symbol of defiance to the conservatism of mainstream philosophical and religious currents, mainly Abrahamic religions, that see this character as their antithesis.[10][11][12][13][14]

Adherents to the philosophy have referred to Satanism as a non-spiritual religion of the flesh, or "...the word's first carnal religion".[15][16]


The Sigil of Baphomet is the official insignia of the Church of Satan. It first appeared on the cover of The Satanic Mass LP in 1968 and became widely associated with Satanism after appearing on the cover of The Satanic Bible in 1969[17]

On Walpurgisnacht of 1966, Anton LaVey began the Church of Satan. Beforehand, he had given lectures from his home, the infamous Black House, charging two dollars for admittance. He formed a "Magic Circle" with his closest associates. It was soon suggested to LaVey that he had enough material to start an organized religion.[18]

The Church of Satan attracted a great deal of publicity. Its use of nude women as altars, and performances of a Satanic wedding and funeral service, brought it much attention. Anton LaVey shaved his head and wore a white clerical collar, sometimes even wearing horns to complete the image of the Devil incarnate. His flamboyant personality attracted many followers and admirers.[19][20]

In 1969, LaVey published The Satanic Bible, which, even to this day, remains the most authoritative literature on the subject of Satanism, outlining the basic concepts, philosophy and rituals of the religion. A companion book, The Satanic Rituals, published in 1972, presents an array of rituals associated with Satanism throughout the ages, but not necessarily central to the Church's belief system. LaVey also released other literature to further expand on the ideology, namely The Satanic Witch (previously published as The Compleat Witch), and two essay anthologies: The Devil's Notebook and Satan Speaks![21]

Since its inception, many individuals sought to recreate LaVey's success by founding comparable organizations claiming the throne of "true" Satanism, but most were short-lived and ceased within a few years. Some, however, have sustained themselves. Those departing gave reasons for their break including differences in ideology, or a rejection of a perceived commercialization of the institution as led by LaVey. One example is the Temple of Set, which, in 1975, was led by former Church of Satan member Michael Aquino, citing, among other things, disagreement with LaVey's worldly atheism.[22] Aquino believed in a living deity, whom he called Set.

The other major organization affiliated with LaVeyan ideology is the First Satanic Church, founded in 1998 by Anton LaVey's daughter, Karla LaVey. She argues that, after her father's death, the church moved away from his original modus operandi, and shifted towards being a commercial money making machine. Thus, the First Satanic Church can be considered a re-founding of the original, although the leaders of the LaVeyan Church have often distanced themselves from Karla LaVey since.


The alchemical symbol for sulphur as it appears in The Satanic Bible above the Nine Satanic Statements. It is one of the most recognized symbols associated with Satanism.

In The Satanic Bible, Anton LaVey describes Satan as a motivating and balancing dark force of nature. Satan is also described as being the "Black Flame", representing one's inner personality and desires. Satan is seen as analogous with nature and even, conceptually, with certain concepts of a supreme deity or god.

In his essay, "Satanism: The Feared Religion", the Church of Satan's current leader, Peter H. Gilmore, states:

Satan appears in mythology and literature around the world as a trickster, rebel, and classical figure seeking the destruction or subjugation of man. Figures such as the Greek Prometheus are said to perfectly exemplify the qualities of Satan, the prideful rebel.[24] Satan is seen as the powerful individual who acts regardless of what others might say.[25] The word satan is derived from the Hebrew meaning "the adversary", or "the accuser" (hstn or ha-satan);[26] thus, by combining the traditional rebellious imagery associated with Satan and other similar deities with the etymology of the word itself, Satanists claim to be adversaries of mainstream religious practices and behavior. As such, they define religious activity as "herd conformity", seeing it as stifling to individuality, creativity, and progressivism.[27]

Satanists do not believe that Satan is a god or godlike force; rather, the function of God is performed and satisfied by the Satanist themself. That is, the needs of worshipping, ritual, and religious or spiritual focus are directed, effectively, inwards towards the Satanist, as opposed to outwards towards a God. Religious acknowledgement and spiritualism are essential to one's development and continued well-being, but should not be sourced from true belief in a deity.

Instead, LaVey proposes that if all gods are creations of humans, worship of an external deity is worship of its creator by proxy. He then suggests that the rational Satanist should instead internalize their gods and, therefore, worship themselves; hence the Satanist maxim, "I am my own god".[28]

It follows that Satanism shuns the idea of belief in all other deities as well. Belief in any such externalized deities is generally considered grounds for excluding someone as a Satanist. Devil-worship in particular is considered nothing more than a misguided perversion of Christianity, and practicers thereof are regarded as on par with Christians or other adherents of the 'Right-Hand Path'.[29]


Fundamental individualism[edit]

Central is the idea that an individual must enforce their own meaning on life and rise above the perceived conformity of the masses. The Satanist is seen as equivalent to Friedrich Nietzsche's Übermensch; LaVey claimed "Satanists are born, not made" and that "Satanists have a disease called independence that needs to be recognized just like alcoholism."[citation needed] There are progressive and libertarian elements here; diversity is encouraged, everyone is expected to discover his/her own sexuality, chart his own personality, and decide their own ambitions in life. In this stress on individuality, Satanism is considered a "Left-Hand Path" religion.

Satanism and self-transformation[edit]

Adherents to "life-denying" religions are often regarded as self-abnegating in their devotion to their own servility. LaVey's Satanic creed views religion as promoting an impersonal relationship with what the churches referred to as "God". Satanism was presented as an opportunity to self-identify with one's own concept of God. Great attention was paid to details gleaned from noir films like White Heat and The Big Sleep in creating one's ideal Self from deliberately invoked forms. Satanism encourages a follower of the religion to grow throughout their life as they see fit.

Satanism and sexuality[edit]

LaVeyan Satanism is critical of Abrahamic sexual mores, considering them narrow, restrictive and hypocritical. Sex is viewed as an indulgence, but one that should only be freely entered into with consent. The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth only give two instructions regarding sex: "Do not make sexual advances unless you are given the mating signal" and "Do not harm little children", though the latter is much broader and encompasses physical and other abuse. This has always been a consistent part of Church of Satan policy since its inception in 1966, as Peter H. Gillmore wrote in an essay supporting same sex marriage:

Finally, since certain people try to suggest that our attitude on sexuality is “anything goes” despite our stated base principle of "responsibility to the responsible," we must reiterate another fundamental dictate: The Church of Satan’s philosophy strictly forbids sexual activity with children as well as with non-human animals.

— Magister Peter H. Gilmore[30]

In that essay he also stated:

The Church of Satan is the first church to fully accept members regardless of sexual orientation and so we champion weddings/civil unions between adult partners. So long as love is present and the partners wish to commit to a relationship, we support their desire for a legally recognized partnership, and the rights and privileges which come from such a union.

— Magister Peter H. Gilmore[30]

Satanic Virtue[edit]

Lex Talionis, or "The Law of Reprisal" (from the Latin lex/legis (f.), "law", and talio, -onis (f.), "retaliation", "rejoinder") informed much of LaVey's Satanic formulation. "Do unto others as they do unto you" supplanted the directive to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you", so that you are only to give compassion and sympathy to those who deserve it.

It is a reactive rather than a proactive rule; empathy, love, compassion, and sympathy are not to be wasted upon "ingrates" – such emotions are best spent only on those whom the Satanist deems worthy. The religion of Satanism, as LaVey espouses it, is centered almost exclusively upon the concept of being one's own god; as such, values and attachments such as love, affection, and caring, along with opposing concepts such as hate and wrath, are to be disseminated at the discretion of the individual Satanist. As such, it is the individual's responsibility (and not that of a god, or the fault of any devil) to both justify and accept the consequences of their actions.

LaVey felt that intelligent and strong people spent too much time caring for "psychic vampires" — weak individuals who demand attention and care, yet never give any back. He taught that Satanists should strive to remove themselves from such people, the better to live in accordance with their instincts and individual wills.

The Nine Satanic Statements[edit]

  1. Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence.
  2. Satan represents vital existence instead of spiritual pipe dreams.
  3. Satan represents undefiled wisdom instead of hypocritical self-deceit.
  4. Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it, instead of love wasted on ingrates.
  5. Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek.
  6. Satan represents responsibility to the responsible instead of concern for psychic vampires.
  7. Satan represents man as just another animal (sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all fours), who, because of his “divine spiritual and intellectual development,” has become the most vicious animal of all.
  8. Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification.
  9. Satan has been the best friend the Church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years.[31]

The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth[edit]

  1. Do not give opinions or advice unless you are asked.
  2. Do not tell your troubles to others unless you are sure they want to hear them.
  3. When in another's lair, show them respect or else do not go there.
  4. If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat them cruelly and without mercy.
  5. Do not make sexual advances unless you are given the mating signal.
  6. Do not take that which does not belong to you, unless it is a burden to the other person and they cry out to be relieved.
  7. 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.
  8. Do not complain about anything to which you need not subject yourself.
  9. Do not harm young children.
  10. Do not kill non-human animals unless you are attacked or for your food.
  11. When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him.[32][33]

The Nine Satanic Sins[edit]

In 1987, Anton LaVey has stated that followers of LaVeyan Satanism should avoid the following actions, calling them the "Nine Satanic Sins".[34]

  1. Stupidity
  2. Pretentiousness
  3. Solipsism
  4. Self-deceit
  5. Herd Conformity
  6. Lack of Perspective
  7. Forgetfulness of Past Orthodoxies
  8. Counterproductive Pride
  9. Lack of Aesthetics[35]


In LaVeyan Satanism there are two main types of Magic, Greater Magic and Lesser Magic. Greater Magic is a form of psychodrama and involves ritual and ceremony to focus one's emotional energy for a specific purpose. Lesser Magic is a variation of the laws of attraction and consists of non-ritual or manipulative magic, through use of natural abilities to manipulate other humans, and therefore circumstances, by wile and guile. At the forefront of this effort, according to Anton LaVey, is knowledge of how to employ appearances to one's advantage.

LaVey states that Greater Magic ritual can be divided into three subsections based on the type of spell desired: Sex (or lust), Compassion or Destruction.[36] LaVey discusses Greater Magic in detail in his books The Satanic Bible and The Satanic Rituals.

The proper mastery of lesser magic involves discovering what types of strategies of action and usage of aesthetics naturally compliment your personality and appearance. He states that a person can employ contrived appearance to gain the alliance or obedience of others, and a competent magician can even combine these aesthetics as necessary. LaVey also states that a magician's actions to manipulate are an important component of Lesser Magic. LaVey later treated the matter of Lesser Magic in considerable detail in his book The Satanic Witch.

The Black Mass[edit]

The usual assumption is that the Satanic ceremony or service is always called a black mass. A black mass is not the magical ceremony practiced by Satanists. The Satanist would only employ the use of a black mass as a form of psychodrama. Furthermore, a black mass does not necessarily imply that the performers of such are Satanists. A black mass is essentially a parody of the religious service of the Roman Catholic Church, but can be loosely applied to a satire on any religious ceremony.

— Anton LaVey in The Satanic Bible[37]

LaVey further explained his stance in an interview with Occult America:[38] He did not, however, go along with the dramatization of evil as performed in the original Black Mass. “Those,” he explained, “were psychodramas at a time when people needed them. They had to express their opposition, their rebellion against an established church. Our rituals are suitably modified to express the needs of our particular era."

LaVey went on to call it a redundancy; the equivalent of 'flogging a dead horse.' (See: The Satanic Bible. The 'dead horse' in this case being conservative Christian dogma). Historical Black Masses (as described by the fearfully imaginative) would often involve candles made of baby-fat and the Osculum Infame (kissing the Devil's arse). Both are entirely in opposition to Church of Satan edicts – not bending a knee in acquiescence to any god or devil, and not harming children – and would therefore be both contradictory and hypocritical for a Satanist.

Rather than hold a 'Black Mass,' in 1966 Anton LaVey held a ceremony at his home ('The Black House') before shaving his head and announcing Anno Satanas – the (first) Year of Satan. Afterwards, prominent members of the Church of Satan would hold 'High Mass' on Friday nights at The Black House, as verified in the aforementioned interview.

Holidays in Satanism[edit]

Main article: Satanic holidays

According to The Satanic Bible, the primary holiday within Satanism is one's own birthday. Since Satanism embraces nature, the seasonal turning points marked by the equinoxes and solstices are also acknowledged. Walpurgisnacht is also a major holiday within Satanism and marks the anniversary of the founding of the Church of Satan. Lastly, Halloween is considered a significant holiday and is "...celebrated as a time when one's inner-self might be explored through the use of a costume, or one might recall those of importance in one's life who have died – as was done on that night in European tradition". Yule is also recognized as the Pagan counterpart of Christmas, and a time of indulgence and other festivities.[39]

Etymology of Satanism[edit]

The prefix "LaVeyan" was never used by Anton LaVey and is not recognized by the Church of Satan nor does it appear in any of its literature. The church has stated its contention that they are the first formally organized religion to adopt the term "Satanism", and describes the term "Theistic Satanism" as "oxymoronic".[40]

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the term 'Satanism' dates as far back as the 1560s.[41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Church of Satan FAQ 18. DRUG ABUSE". Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
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  13. ^ [1][dead link]
  14. ^
  15. ^
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  17. ^
  18. ^ Aquino, Michael (2002). The Church of Satan. 
  19. ^ Steiger, Brad (1999). The Werewolf Book. Visible Ink Press. 
  20. ^ Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. Gale Group Inc. 1996. 
  21. ^ "Satanic Source Sheet". Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  22. ^ Aquino, Michael (2002). The Temple of Set. 
  23. ^ "Satanism: The Feared Religion". 1966-04-30. Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  24. ^ Cotterell, Arthur (1990-04-19). A Dictionary of World Mythology. USA: Oxford University Press. 
  25. ^ Paradise, Matt G. "World Mythology". Archived from the original on 2007-04-06. Retrieved 2007-04-13. 
  26. ^ "Google Translate". Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  27. ^ Hernandez, L. "What in Hell is 'Satan'?". Retrieved 2007-04-13. 
  28. ^ LaVey, Anton (1969). The Satanic Bible. Avon. 
  29. ^ Interview with Peter H. Gilmore, David Shankbone, Wikinews, November 5, 2007.
  30. ^ a b "Founding Family: 'Morality' versus Same-Sex Marriage".
  31. ^ "The Nine Satanic Statements". Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  32. ^ "Eleven Rules of the Earth". Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  33. ^ "Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth - First Satanic Church". Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  34. ^ "The Nine Satanic Sins". Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  35. ^ "The Nine Satanic Sins". Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  36. ^ The Satanic Bible, The Three Types of Satanic Ritual, pages=114-118
  37. ^ There is a chapter in the Book of Lucifer entitled The Black Mass
  38. ^ "LaVey: Occult America". Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^

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