LaVeyan Satanism

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LaVeyan Satanism is a religious philosophy founded in 1966 by Anton LaVey, codified in The Satanic Bible and overseen by the Church of Satan. Its core philosophies are based on individualism, egoism, epicureanism, self-deification and self-preservation, and propagates a worldview of natural law, materialism, Social Darwinism, Lex Talionis, and mankind as animals in an amoral universe.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] Adherents to the philosophy have described Satanism as a non-spiritual religion of the flesh, or "...the world's first carnal religion".[8][9][10]

Contrary to popular belief, LaVeyan Satanism does not involve "devil worship" or worship of any deities. It is an atheistic philosophy that asserts that "each individual is his or her own god [and that] there is no room for any other god".[11] Adherents instead see the character of Satan as an archetype of pride, carnality, liberty, enlightenment, undefiled wisdom, and of a cosmos which Satanists perceive to be motivated by a "dark evolutionary force of entropy that permeates all of nature and provides the drive for survival and propagation inherent in all living things". He also serves as a conceptual framework and an external metaphorical projection of [the Satanists] highest personal potential. Satan (Hebrew: שָּׂטָן satan, meaning "adversary") is seen as a symbol of defiance to the conservatism of mainstream philosophical and religious currents, mainly the Abrahamic religions, that see this character as their antithesis.[12][13][14][15][16]

Additionally, Satanism involves the practice of magic, which encompasses two distinct forms; greater and lesser magic.[17] 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.[18] Lesser magic is based on the laws of attraction and consists of using one's natural abilities to manipulate others.[19] LaVey wrote extensively on the subject of magic and ritual in his works The Satanic Rituals and The Satanic Witch.[20]



LaVeyan Satanists see Satan not as a literal entity but as a metaphorical symbol. According to Peter H. Gilmore, "The Church of Satan has chosen Satan as its primary symbol because in Hebrew it means adversary, opposer, one to accuse or question. We see ourselves as being these Satans; the adversaries, opposers and accusers of all spiritual belief systems that would try to hamper enjoyment of our life as a human being"[21]

In The Satanic Bible, LaVey describes Satan as an "allegorical personage", a "personification", and "...merely represent[ing] a force of nature—the powers of darkness which have been named just that because no religion has taken these forces out of darkness."[22]

"Satanism is not a white light religion; it is a religion of the flesh, the mundane, the carnal - all of which are ruled by Satan, the personification of the Left Hand Path."

In a 1986 interview with Walter Harrington of The Washington Post, regarding Satan, LaVey states:

"Satan signifies our love of the worldly and our rejection of the pallid, ineffectual image of Christ on the cross."

In his essay, "Satanism: The Feared Religion", the Church of Satan's current administrator, 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."[23]

In his essay, "What, the Devil?", Peter H. Gilmore again expounds on the usage of Satan as a symbol:

"Satan serves us well as a symbol. He was described as the prideful one, refusing to bow to Jehovah. He is the one who questions authority, seeking liberty beyond the stultifying realm of Heaven. He is the figure championed by the likes of Mark Twain, Milton, and Byron as the independent critic who heroically stands on his own."

Satan is said to also serve as a conceptual framework and an external metaphorical projection of [the Satanists] highest personal potential. Satan (Hebrew: שָּׂטָן satan, meaning "adversary") is seen as a symbol of defiance to the conservatism of mainstream philosophical and religious currents, mainly the Abrahamic religions, that see this character as their antithesis.[12][13][14][15][16] 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][27]

To LaVeyan Satanists, the belief and worship of Satan as an anthropomorphic being is thought to be nothing more than a misguided perversion of Christianity, and practitioners thereof are regarded as on par with Christians or other adherents of the 'Right-Hand Path'.[28] The Satanic Bible often uses the terms "God" and "Satan" interchangeably,[29] except when referring to the concepts of these as viewed by other religions. LaVey also occasionally uses the term "God" to refer to other religions' views of God, and "Satan" or synonyms to refer to the idea of god as interpreted by LaVeyan Satanism, as when he writes, "When all religious faith in lies has waned, it is because man has become closer to himself and farther from 'God'; closer to the 'Devil.'"[30] Throughout The Satanic Bible, the LaVeyan Satanist's view of god is described as the Satanist's true "self"—a projection of his or her own personality—not an external deity.[31] Satan is used as a representation of personal liberty and individualism.[32] Satan is also used as a metaphor for the ideas connected with the early Christian view of Satan or the serpent: wise, defiant, questioning, and free-thinking.[33] LaVey discusses this extensively in The Book of Lucifer, explaining that the gods worshipped by other religions are also projections of man's true self. He argues that man's unwillingness to accept his own ego has caused him to externalize these gods so as to avoid the feeling of narcissism that would accompany self-worship.[34]

"If man insists on externalizing his true self in the form of "God," then why fear his true self, in fearing "God,"—why praise his true self in praising "God,"—why remain externalized from "God" in order to engage in ritual and religious ceremony in his name?
Man needs ritual and dogma, but no law states that an externalized god is necessary in order to engage in ritual and ceremony performed in a god's name! Could it be that when he closes the gap between himself and his "God" he sees the demon of pride creeping forth—that very embodiment of Lucifer appearing in his midst?"

— Anton LaVey, The Satanic Bible, pp. 44–45



Atheism and Self-deification[edit]

Atheism (the lack of belief in the existence of external deities) and materialism (the assertion that matter is the fundamental substance in nature, and that all phenomena, including mental phenomena and consciousness, are the result of material interactions) are the core of LaVeyan Satanism's philosophical foundation.

The cornerstone of the LaVeyan Satanic ideology is the concept of the ego, which can be defined as extreme self awareness, rational self interest and individualism. The idea that an individual must enforce their own meaning of life and rise above the perceived conformity of the masses. The Satanist is seen as equivalent to Friedrich Nietzsche's Übermensch.

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".[36]


The concept of "human nature" is prevalent throughout The Satanic Bible. The Satanic Bible challenges both the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, advocating instead a tooth-for-tooth philosophy and identifies humans as instinctually predatory, and "lust and carnal desire" are singled out as part of humans' intrinsic nature. LaVey describes Satanism as "a religion based on the universal traits of man,"[37] and humans are described throughout as inherently carnal and animalistic. Each of the seven deadly sins is described as part of human's natural instinct, and are thus advocated.[38] Social Darwinism is particularly noticeable in The Book of Satan, where LaVey uses portions of Redbeard's Might Is Right, though it also appears throughout in references to man's inherent strength and instinct for self-preservation.[39][40] LaVeyan Satanism has been described as "institutionalism of Machiavellian self-interest" because of many of these themes.[41]

A fundamental stance of LaVeyan Satanic philosophy is the subjectivity of ethics, values, and morality, and that nature and the universe are indifferent to human existence and thus, amoral, asserting that "right and wrong" must be defined by the individual alone.[42][43] Though such a concept would seem to suggest the promotion of reckless hedonism and violence, the membership in the Church of Satan requires that the individual abide by the laws of their country. LaVeyan Satanism itself promotes adherence to a "social contract", which for instance prohibits murder (excluding cases of self-defense) as well as the harming of animals and children.[44]

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 said 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.


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. Gilmore 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[45]

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[45]

Basic Tenets[edit]

LaVey outlined LaVeyan Satanism's basic tenets in The Nine Satanic Statements, The Eleven Satanic Rules of Earth, and The Nine Satanic Sins. The Statements serve as an iteration of what the archetype of Satan is representational of within the philosophy. The Rules are said to serve as the " of the jungle for social interaction". The Sins are said to serve as a guideline for what LaVeyan Satanists consider to be non-productive behavior which should be avoided.

The Nine Satanic Statements[edit]

The alchemical symbol for sulphur as it appears in The Satanic Bible above the Nine Satanic Statements.
  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.[46]

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 little 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 them to stop. If they do not stop, destroy them.[47][48]

The Nine Satanic Sins[edit]

  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[49]

Magic and ritual[edit]

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.[50] 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.

Holidays in Satanism[edit]

Main article: Satanic holidays

According to the Satanic Bible, the primary holiday within LaVeyan Satanism is one's own birthday. Since LaVeyan Satanism embraces nature, the seasonal turning points marked by the equinoxes and solstices are also acknowledged. Walpurgisnacht is also a major holiday within LaVeyan 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.[51]

Etymology of Satanism[edit]

LaVey's Satanism has had a number of qualifiers attributed to it, including modern, atheistic and most notably LaVeyan, to differentiate it from devil-worshipers and other groups that have since adopted the term "Satanism". Due in part because of the organized nature of the religion, with codified doctrines and tenets in conjunction with the Church of Satan's centralized, hierarchical structure, LaVey's Satanism has been referred to as "Orthodox Satanism".[52][53][54][55][56]

The prefixes such as "LaVeyan" were never used by Anton LaVey or by the Church of Satan, nor does the term appear in any of its literature.[57] The church has stated its contention that they are the first formally organized religion to adopt the term "Satanism" and asserts that Satanism and the "worship of Satan" are not congruent.[58] The term "Theistic Satanism" has been described as "oxymoronic" by the church and its High Priest.[11] The Church of Satan rejects the legitimacy of any other organizations who claim to be Satanists, dubbing them reverse-Christians, pseudo-Satanists or Devil worshipers.[59][60] Today, the Church of Satan promotes itself as the only authentic representation of Satanism, and it routinely publishes materials underscoring this contention.[61][62]

The term "Satanism" dates as far back as the 1560s to refer to anything that was related to the character of Satan. Its general meaning was an "evil disposition" or simply anything that was non-Christian. Throughout the 1800s the term was used to refer to the literary works of Byron.[63][64]

Related philosophical schools[edit]

  • Charvaka - one of the heterodox schools of Hinduism, that emphasizes materialism and philosophical scepticism, and considers sensual pleasure as an important element of human life. The doctrine was sometimes called "demonic" by its opponents.[65]
  • Yangism - an ancient Chinese philosophical school, that believed that human actions are and should be based on self-interest

See also[edit]


  1. ^ High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "Satanism and Objectivism". 
  2. ^ High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "Satanism Needs An Enema!". 
  3. ^ "Church of Satan FAQ 18. DRUG ABUSE". Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  4. ^ High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "Lucifer Rising -". 
  5. ^ High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "Satanism: The Feared Religion". 
  6. ^ High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "Walpurgisnacht of XXXVII". 
  7. ^ High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "Full Disclosure: The Snowman is Diabolical Hit". 
  8. ^ Peter H. Gilmore talks on "Speaking of Strange" (Part 1 - 5). YouTube. 9 April 2007. 
  9. ^ High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "Support the Church of Satan". 
  10. ^ "Truth Behind Religion Series Ep. 2: Inside the Church of Satan (Interview With Magus Peter H. Gilmore)". Cut2TheTruth. 
  11. ^ a b High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "F.A.Q. Fundamental Beliefs". 
  12. ^ a b Catherine Beyer. "An Introduction to LaVeyan Satanism and the Church of Satan". Religion & Spirituality. 
  13. ^ a b High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "What, The Devil?". 
  14. ^ a b High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "F.A.Q. Fundamental Beliefs". 
  15. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  16. ^ a b High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "Religious Requirements and Practices -". 
  17. ^ "Truth Behind Religion Series Ep. 2: Inside the Church of Satan (Interview With Magus Peter H. Gilmore)". Cut2TheTruth. 
  18. ^ High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "F.A.Q. Ritual and Ceremony -". 
  19. ^ High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "On the Role of Ritual in the Life of a Satanist". 
  20. ^ High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "Print -". 
  21. ^ The Church of Satan [History Channel]. YouTube. 12 January 2012. 
  22. ^ High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "Satanism Needs An Enema!". 
  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. ^ Interview with Peter H. Gilmore, David Shankbone, Wikinews, November 5, 2007.
  29. ^ Muzzatti 2005, p. 874.
  30. ^ LaVey 2005, p. 45.
  31. ^ Wright 1993, p. 143.
  32. ^ Cavaglion & Sela-Shayovitz 2005, p. 255.
  33. ^ Hughes 2011, p. 1.
  34. ^ LaVey 2005, pp. 44–45.
  35. ^ Harvey 1995, p. 291.
  36. ^ LaVey, Anton (1969). The Satanic Bible. Avon. 
  37. ^ LaVey 2005, p. 53.
  38. ^ LaVey 2005, p. 46.
  39. ^ Lewis 2002, p. 4.
  40. ^ LaVey 2005, p. 47.
  41. ^ Taub & Nelson 1993, p. 528.
  42. ^ High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "F.A.Q. Fundamental Beliefs". 
  43. ^ High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "Founding Family -". 
  44. ^ High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "Frequently Asked Questions-". 
  45. ^ a b "Founding Family: 'Morality' versus Same-Sex Marriage".
  46. ^ "The Nine Satanic Statements". Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  47. ^ "Eleven Rules of the Earth". Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  48. ^ "Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth – First Satanic Church". Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  49. ^ "The Nine Satanic Sins". Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  50. ^ The Satanic Bible, The Three Types of Satanic Ritual, pages=114-118
  51. ^ High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "F.A.Q. Holidays". 
  52. ^ "The Birth of Satan". 
  53. ^ "Contemporary Religious Satanism". 
  54. ^ "The Devil and Philosophy". 
  55. ^ "The Illuminati". 
  56. ^ "New Religious Movements and Religious Liberty in America". 
  57. ^ 9sense - Peter H. Gilmore, High Priest of the Church of Satan, Walpurgisnacht XLVII A.S. YouTube. 4 May 2012. 
  58. ^ "Church of Satan". Church of Satan. 
  59. ^ AbOhlheiser (7 November 2014). "The Church of Satan wants you to stop calling these ‘devil worshiping’ alleged murderers Satanists". Washington Post. 
  60. ^ Wikinews:Satanism: An interview with Church of Satan High Priest Peter Gilmore
  61. ^ Gilmore, Peter H. (2007). The Satanic Scriptures. Scapegoat Publishing. 
  62. ^ High Priest, Magus Peter H. Gilmore. "“Rebels Without Cause”". 
  63. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". 
  64. ^ "Satanism". 

External links[edit]