|Church of Satan
First Satanic Church
|Anton LaVey · Peter H. Gilmore
Diane Hegarty · Karla LaVey
Suitheism · Might is Right
|The Satanic Bible · The Satanic Rituals
The Satanic Witch · The Devil's Notebook
Satan Speaks! · The Black Flame
The Church of Satan
The Secret Life of a Satanist
The Satanic Scriptures
||This article may be written from a fan's point of view, rather than a neutral point of view. (April 2013)|
LaVeyan Satanism or LaVeyanism, often referred to simply as Satanism among most adherents, is a tradition in Satanism founded in 1966 by Anton LaVey. Its core beliefs and philosophies are based on individualism, secular humanism, religious skepticism, freethought, epicureanism and "eye for an eye" morality.
Contrary to popular belief, LaVeyan Satanism does not involve the worship of "the devil" or any such deities, it is an atheistic philosophy that uses the character of "Satan" as a symbol of pride, carnality, 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.
Anton LaVey established Satanism's first and largest religious organization, the Church of Satan, in 1966, and codified Satanic beliefs and practices in The Satanic Bible in 1969. The Church of Satan states that there are a number of Satanists around the world, including both members and non-members. It often rejects the legitimacy of any other organizations of Satanists, dubbing them reverse-Christians, pseudo-Satanists or Devil worshipers.
- 1 History
- 2 Beliefs
- 3 Philosophy
- 4 Magic
- 5 Satanic holidays
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
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.
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.
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!
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. 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 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.
Today, the Church of Satan promotes itself as the only representation of LaVeyan Satanism, and it routinely publishes materials underscoring this contention.
In The Satanic Bible, Anton LaVey describes Satan as a motivating and balancing dark force in nature. Satan is also described as being the "Black Flame", representing a person's own inner personality and desires. Satan is seen as synonymous with the nature and even, metaphorically, with certain conceptions of a supreme deity or God.
In his most important essay, "Satanism: The Feared Religion", the Church of Satan's current leader Peter H. Gilmore states:
“ Satanists do not believe in the supernatural, in neither God nor the Devil. To the Satanist, he is his own God. Satan is a symbol of Man living as his prideful, carnal nature dictates. The reality behind Satan is simply the dark evolutionary force of entropy that permeates all of nature and provides the drive for survival and propagation inherent in all living things. Satan is not a conscious entity to be worshiped, rather a reservoir of power inside each human to be tapped at will. Thus any concept of sacrifice is rejected as a Christian aberration—in Satanism there’s no deity to which one can sacrifice. ”
Satan is said to appear in mythology and literature around the world as a trickster, rebel, and classical figure seeking the destruction or slavery of man. Figures such as the Greek Prometheus are said to perfectly exemplify the qualities of Satan, the prideful rebel. Satan is seen as the powerful individual who acts regardless of what others might say. Also, the word satan is derived from the Hebrew for "adversary" or "accuser" (ha-satan). Thus, combining the traditional rebellious imagery associated with Satan and other relative deities, together with the etymological aspect of the word itself, Satanists claim to be adversaries of mainstream religious practices and behavior which they define as "herd conformity", seeing it as stifling to individuality, creativity, and progress.
Satanists do not believe that Satan is a god or god-like force; rather, the function of God is performed and satisfied by the Satanist him/herself. That is, the needs of worship, 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 focal to a person's development and continued well-being, but should not be sourced from true belief in a deity.
LaVey proposes, instead, that if all gods are creations of humans, worship of an external deity is worship of its creator by proxy. He suggests, then, that the rational Satanists should instead internalize their gods and therefore worship themselves; hence the Satanic maxim, "I am my own god."
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, and devil worship in particular is considered nothing more than a misguided inversion of Christianity, the practitioners of which being regarded as on par with Christians or other practitioners of the 'Right-Hand Path', instead of Satanists.
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." 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
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
LaVeyan Satanism is critical of Abrahamic sexual mores, considering them narrow, restrictive and hypocritical. Satanists are pluralists, accepting polyamorists, bisexuals, lesbians, gays, BDSM, transgender people, and asexuals. 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 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
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 whether they be of opposite or the same sex. 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
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 rule, compared with the Christian proactive rule; by the rule, love, compassion, and sympathy are not to be wasted upon "ingrates"; these are to be given only to those who the practitioner feels deserves them. 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 always demanded attention and care, yet would never give any back. He taught that Satanists should strive to remove themselves as much as possible from such people in order to live in accordance to their instincts and individual wills.
The Nine Satanic Statements
- Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence.
- Satan represents vital existence instead of spiritual pipe dreams.
- Satan represents undefiled wisdom instead of hypocritical self-deceit.
- Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it, instead of love wasted on ingrates.
- Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek.
- Satan represents responsibility to the responsible instead of concern for psychic vampires.
- 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.
- Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification.
- Satan has been the best friend the Church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years.
The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth
- Do not give opinions or advice unless you are asked.
- Do not tell your troubles to others unless you are sure they want to hear them.
- When in another's lair, show them respect or else do not go there.
- If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat them cruelly and without mercy.
- Do not make sexual advances unless you are given the mating signal.
- 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.
- 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.
- Do not complain about anything to which you need not subject yourself.
- Do not harm young children.
- Do not kill non-human animals unless you are attacked or for your food.
- When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him.
The Nine Satanic Sins
- Stupidity — The top of the list for Satanic Sins, the Cardinal Sin. It’s too bad that stupidity isn’t painful. Ignorance is one thing, but our society thrives increasingly on stupidity. It depends on people going along with whatever they are told. The media promotes a cultivated stupidity as a posture that is not only acceptable but laudable. One must learn to see through the tricks and cannot afford to be stupid.
- Pretentiousness—Empty posturing can be most irritating and isn’t applying the cardinal rules of Lesser Magic. On equal footing with stupidity for what keeps the money in circulation these days. Everyone’s made to feel like a big shot, whether they can come up with the goods or not.
- Solipsism—Can be very dangerous. Projecting your reactions, responses and sensibilities onto someone who is probably far less attuned than you are. It is the mistake of expecting people to give you the same consideration, courtesy and respect that you naturally give them. They won’t. Instead, one must strive to apply the dictum of “Do unto others as they do unto you.” It’s work for most of us and requires constant vigilance lest you slip into a comfortable illusion of everyone being like you. As has been said, certain utopias would be ideal in a nation of philosophers, but unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, from a Machiavellian standpoint) we are far from that point.
- Self-deceit—It’s in the “Nine Satanic Statements” but deserves to be repeated here. We must not pay homage to any of the sacred cows presented to us, including the roles we are expected to play ourselves. The only time self-deceit should be entered into is when it’s fun, and with awareness. But then, it’s not self-deceit!
- Herd Conformity- it’s all right to conform to a person’s wishes, if it ultimately benefits you. But only fools follow along with the herd, letting an impersonal entity dictate to you. The key is to choose a master wisely instead of being enslaved by the whims of the many.
- Lack of Perspective—Again, this one can lead to a lot of pain. You must never lose sight of who and what you are, and what a threat you can be, by your very existence. We are making history right now, every day. Always keep the wider historical and social picture in mind. That is an important key to both Lesser and Greater Magic. See the patterns and fit things together as you want the pieces to fall into place. Do not be swayed by herd constraints—know that you are working on another level entirely from the rest of the world.
- Forgetfulness of Past Orthodoxies—Be aware that this is one of the keys to brainwashing people into accepting something new and different, when in reality it’s something that was once widely accepted but is now presented in a new package. We are expected to rave about the genius of the creator and forget the original. This makes for a disposable society.
- Counterproductive Pride—That first word is important. Pride is great up to the point you begin to throw out the baby with the bathwater. The rule of Satanism is: if it works for you, great. When it stops working for you, when you’ve painted yourself into a corner and the only way out is to say, I’m sorry, I made a mistake, I wish we could compromise somehow, then do it.
- Lack of Aesthetics—This is the physical application of the Balance Factor. Aesthetics is important in Lesser Magic and should be cultivated. It is obvious that no one can collect any money off classical standards of beauty and form most of the time so they are discouraged in a consumer society, but an eye for beauty, for balance, is an essential tool and must be applied for greatest magical effectiveness. It’s not what’s supposed to be pleasing—it’s what is. Aesthetics is a personal thing, reflective of one’s own nature, but there are universally pleasing and harmonious configurations that should not be denied.
Magic, as practiced in LaVeyan Satanism, is defined in The Book of Belial of The Satanic Bible as "the change in situations or events in accordance with one's will, which would, using normally accepted methods, be unchangeable". This definition incorporates two broadly distinguished kinds of Magic: Lesser (manipulative and situational) and Greater (ritual and ceremonial). LaVeyan Satanism, however, does not describe Magic moralistically by discerning "White" (good) or "Black" (evil) varieties. Such neutrality correlates with Anton LaVey's philosophical view of an impersonal, and therefore amoral, universe.
Lesser Magic is a system of manipulation that incorporates one or more of three main psychological themes: sex, sentiment, and wonder. The first theme is virtually self-explanatory – sexual seduction is the main aim of the working; the term "sentiment" refers to ideas or impressions of innocence or those inspiring contentment, compassion, or even amusement; and "wonder" often denotes ideas of austerity and awe or impressions provoking fear or submissiveness on the part of the recipient. But these themes can be combined, when appropriate, to multiply psychological impact by increasing the number of complex and simultaneous emotional responses from the recipient. To build his theories concerning Lesser Magic, Anton LaVey seems to have taken inspiration, at least partly, from The Command to Look by photographer William Mortensen and to have capitalized on its strategies, thus prompting the practicing Satanist to expand on whichever of the three major themes he (or she) seems to naturally exhibit.
LaVey later expanded his system of manipulation in The Satanic Witch. The book was written from the woman's perspective because LaVey believed that women could more fully apply his concepts, but much of the book can be applied by men also. He relates ideas worked out from watching the proprietors of carnival stalls and fortune tellers in their manipulation of customers. The Satanic Witch also proposes The LaVey Synthesizer Clock, a form of somatotyping that adds a fourth body type, the "feminine." The synthesizer is used in identification of personality in order to know how best to manipulate a person through traits often associated with their types and what LaVey referred to as their "demonic" personality, or their opposite on the clock.
Greater Magic involves ritual and ceremony in order to focus one's emotional energy for a specific purpose. Satanic ritual is highly variable, with a basic format given in The Satanic Bible. Satanists are encouraged to use whatever props and means suit their immediate emotional and psychological needs in order to bring their workings to an exhausting and complete climax. The Church of Satan claims that a mastery of Lesser Magic will contribute to a mastery of Greater Magic.
The LaVeyan Satanic ritual is referred to as an "intellectual decompression chamber." Careful planning of the ritual form according to rational considerations of what means and props are most effective is executed before the rites begin, but during the ritual, skepticism and disbelief are willfully suspended, thus allowing the magicians to fully express their sexual or other emotional needs and frustrations, holding nothing back regarding their true and deep feelings. Also, it is notable that Satanism acknowledges that a Greater Magic working is much more likely to succeed with a few Satanists who are committed emotionally to and focused on what they are doing than with a throng who may all be distracted.
Greater Magic, like Lesser, employs one or more of three major psycho-emotive themes: lust (sex), compassion (sentiment), and destruction (wonder). LaVey elaborates on methods for focusing these motivations. Lust rituals can involve masturbation, with orgasm as the goal. Compassion rituals are designed to evoke overwhelming pathos or sadness, and crying is strongly encouraged. Destruction rites involve the symbolic annihilation of an enemy through the use of "vicarious" human sacrifice often involving a customized effigy representing the intended victim which is then put through ritual fire, smashing, or other representation of obliteration. Greater Magic also resembles Lesser in the possibility of combining more than one of the three broad themes of emotion, when appropriate, in order to maximize the success of the working. In any case, full and exhausting self-expression is encouraged for productive Satanic ritual.
Much emphasis is placed on evocation and music. The last part of The Satanic Bible is dedicated to invocations and the nineteen Enochian Keys, originally written by John Dee. Music is encouraged because it is said to easily manipulate one's emotions, which contributes to the overall success of the rituals.
The Black Mass
The "Black Mass", a symbolic opposition of the church used in the past, is not used in the current day by Satanists, as Anton LaVey explained in an interview with Occult America: 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."
Anton LaVey stated in The Satanic Bible (The chapter in the Book of Lucifer entitled The Black Mass):
|“||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.||”|
LaVey went on to call it a redundancy, and it is commonly misinterpreted that the Church of Satan has performed actual Black Masses, however using baby-fat candles and kissing the devil's buttocks (both are common practices outlined in the chapter) would be both contradictory and hypocritical for a Satanist to do. In 1966 Anton LaVey held a magic circle, or coven, at his home for a charge before shaving his head and announcing Anno Satanas. Afterwards, the prominent members of The Church of Satan held 'High Mass' on Friday nights at The Black House, as verified in the Occult America interview aforementioned.
The most important holiday in Satanism is one's own birthday, as it is the birth date of one's own god. This is a reminder that the Satanist, committed to true "vital existence", should consider himself (or herself) the most important person in his own life. LaVey recommends that a Satanist celebrate his own birthday in any way he chooses, with as much pomp and ceremony as he sees fit. The Satanic celebration of one's birthday can thus be seen as something of a "Black Mass", by redirecting to oneself the sanctimony and celebration typically reserved for the many "high holy days" commemorating the births of key gods or saints in other religions.
Three Satanic holidays are named by Anton LaVey in The Satanic Bible but are not considered sacred.
One among these holidays is Walpurgisnacht, which in addition to the occult significance the date carries, also marks the formation of the Church of Satan in the year 1966, or I A. S. (Anno Satanas, "In the year of Satan"). This date is commonly celebrated by Satanists with private or group rituals, and private parties or family celebrations to commemorate the foundation of the Church of Satan.
LaVey also mentions the summer and winter solstices, and the spring and fall equinoxes as lesser holidays. These are likewise often celebrated by ritual or private party. However, they are sometimes also used to substitute popular holidays that Satanists wish to avoid imparting a Christian overtone to but still wish to celebrate in some form.
Halloween is very commonly celebrated by Satanists, but typically there is far less occult significance attached to the date by Satanists than the public might imagine. Halloween is a popular date for both private and group ritual ceremonies, but also a popular date for Satanists to hold private parties for no other purpose than to enjoy the dark fun that is commonly celebrated on that date by the public at large. If anything, Satanists seem to take a sense of irony and humor in the holiday.
Satanism does not specifically forbid the celebration of any holidays or festivals held by other cultures or even other religions. For example, Hispanic Satanists may celebrate Day of The Dead and Chinese Satanists may celebrate Chinese New Year. Entirely secular holidays are commonly celebrated by Satanists either for personal reasons or merely as an excuse to have a good time. It is not entirely uncommon for Satanists to even celebrate overtly Christian holidays such as Christmas, though the religious trappings are generally stripped from the holiday, secularizing it. Many Satanists, however, either transfer such holidays as Christmas to the Winter Solstice and either place a darker spin on it or secularize it entirely, or decline to celebrate such holidays altogether.
On June 6, 2006 marked a Satanic High Mass in Hollywood, California by the Church of Satan. This celebration was by invitation only and limited to 100 attenders, and was held in large part to mock the superstitious fear of the date by the public. The date 06/06/06 does not hold special religious significance in Satanism, nor does the number 666. The event was documented, and many members of the Church of Satan were interviewed, by the BBC with permission.
- The Church of Satan
- First Satanic Church
- Anton LaVey
- Peter H. Gilmore
- Karla LaVey
- The Satanic Bible
- The Satanic Rituals
- The Satanic Scriptures
- Church of Satan Book
- Satanism: An interview with Church of Satan High Priest Peter Gilmore
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