Church of Satan

Church of Satan

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The Church of Satan is a religious organization dedicated to the philosophy of LaVeyan Satanism as codified in The Satanic Bible. The Church of Satan was established at the Black House in San Francisco, California, on Walpurgisnacht, April 30, 1966, by Anton Szandor LaVey, who was the church's High Priest until his death in 1997.[1] In 2001, Peter H. Gilmore became the high priest, and the church's headquarters were moved to Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan.


Early years

The Black House, home of Anton LaVey and headquarters of the Church of Satan from 1966 - 1997

In the 1960s Anton LaVey formed a group called the Order of the Trapezoid, which later became the governing body of the Church of Satan. The group included: "The Baroness" Carin de Plessen, Dr. Cecil Nixon, Kenneth Anger, City Assessor Russell Wolden, Donald Werby,[2][3] and Michael Harner. According to the Church of Satan historiography, other LaVey associates from this time include noted Science Fiction and Horror writers Anthony Boucher, August Derleth, Robert Barbour Johnson, Reginald Bretnor, Emil Petaja, Stuart Palmer, Clark Ashton Smith, Forrest J. Ackerman, and Fritz Leiber Jr.[4]

In the first year of its foundation, Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan publicly performed a Satanic marriage of Judith Case and journalist John Raymond. The ceremony was attended by Joe Rosenthal. LaVey performed the first publicly recorded Satanic baptism in history for his youngest daughter Zeena, which garnered world-wide publicity and was originally recorded on The Satanic Mass LP.[5][6][7][8] A Satanic funeral for naval machinist-repairman, third-class Edward Olsen, was performed at the request of his wife, complete with a chrome-helmeted honor guard.[citation needed]

The Church of Satan was the subject of a number of books, magazine and newspaper articles during the 1960s and 1970s. It is also the subject of a documentary, Satanis (1970). LaVey appeared in Kenneth Anger's film Invocation of my Demon Brother, acted as technical adviser on The Devil's Rain, which starred Ernest Borgnine, William Shatner, and introduced John Travolta. The Church of Satan was also featured in a segment of Luigi Scattini's film Angeli Bianchi, Angeli Neri, released in the United States as Witchcraft '70.[citation needed]

In 1975 LaVey phased out the Church's "Grotto" system and eliminated people he thought were using the Church as a substitute for accomplishment in the outside world. Thereafter, conventional achievement in society would be the criterion for advancement within the Church of Satan. At the same time, LaVey became more selective in granting interviews. This shift to "closed door" activities resulted in some rumors of the Church’s demise, and even rumors of LaVey’s death.[citation needed]

1980s and early 1990s and "Satanic Panic"

In the 1980s the media reported concerns of criminal conspiracies within the Church of Satan. The FBI would later issue an official report refuting the criminal conspiracy theories of this time. This phenomenon became known as the "Satanic Panic". LaVey's daughter Zeena was the spokesperson and High Priestess in the Church of Satan during the 1980s.[9] During this period, she appeared on television and radio broadcasts, in part to educate about the Church, and in part to debunk the mythology surrounding the Satanic Panic — a period of time in the same era in which Satanism was blamed for the actions of Satanic ritual abuse.[10]

From then until her renunciation of the Church of Satan in 1990, Zeena appeared in such nationally syndicated programs as The Phil Donahue Show, Nightline with Ted Koppel, Entertainment Tonight, The Late Show, Secrets & Mysteries and the Sally Jesse Raphael Show. The appearances were made at the behest of the Church of Satan as its spokesperson. She did this on behalf of her father Anton LaVey, who was no longer interested in making media appearances, as she stated while being interviewed alongside her husband by televangelist Bob Larson.[11]

In the 1980s and 1990s remaining members of the Church of Satan became active in media appearances to refute allegations of criminal activity. The Church of Satan and its members were very active in producing movies, music, films, and magazines devoted to Satanism. Most notably Adam Parfrey's Feral House publishing, the music of Boyd Rice, musician King Diamond, and the films of Nick Bougas, including his documentary Speak of the Devil: The Canon of Anton LaVey.[citation needed] The Church of Satan and Anton LaVey were also the subject of numerous magazine and news articles during this time.[citation needed]

After LaVey

After Anton Szandor LaVey's death on October 29, 1997, the role of High Priest was empty for some time. On November 7, 1997[12]Karla LaVey made a press release about continuing the church with fellow high priestess Blanche Barton. Barton eventually received ownership of the organization, which she held for 4 years. Karla LaVey ultimately left the Church of Satan and founded First Satanic Church.

High Priest Peter H. Gilmore.

In 2001, Blanche ceded her position to long-time members Peter H. Gilmore and Peggy Nadramia, the current High Priest and High Priestess and publishers of The Black Flame, the official magazine of The Church of Satan. The Central Office of the Church of Satan has also moved from San Francisco to New York City's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood, where the couple resides. The Church of Satan does not recognize any other organizations as holding legitimate claim to Satanism and its practice, though it does recognize that one need not be a member of the Church of Satan to be a Satanist.

As the Church of Satan does not publicly release membership information, it is not known how many members belong to the Church. However, according to an interview with the Church of Satan, "interest in the Church of Satan and Satanism is growing all the time if our mailboxes, answering and fax machines, and e-mail is any indication."[13]

In October 2004 the Royal Navy officially recognised its first registered Satanist, 24-year-old Chris Cranmer, as a technician on the HMS Cumberland.[14]

On June 6, 2006 the Church of Satan held the first public ritual Satanic Mass in 40 years at the Steve Allen Theater in the Center for Inquiry in Los Angeles. The ritual, based on the rites outlined in The Satanic Bible and The Satanic Rituals, was conducted by Reverend Bryan Moore and Priestess Heather Saenz.[15]

In December 2007 the Associated Press reported on a story concerning the Church of Satan, in which a teenager had sent an e-mail to High Priest Gilmore stating he wanted to "kill in the name of our unholy lord Satan". Gilmore then reported the message to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who informed local police, who arrested the teenager.[16]

Membership and organization

Early promotional poster

The Church of Satan has two types of members, Registered Members and Active Members. Registered Members are simply people who have been inducted as members of the Church. To be deemed an Active Member, a person has to be involved with the Church and local members.

Active Membership is divided into five Degrees. Active Members begin at the First Degree. One must apply and be approved for an Active Membership, and this is subject to one's answers to a lengthy series of questions. One cannot apply for higher Degrees, and the requirements for each degree are not open to the public. Promotion to a higher degree is by invitation only. Members of the Third through Fifth degrees constitute the Priesthood and may be addressed as "Reverend" (although the titles of "Magister/Magistra" and "Magus/Maga" are more often used when referring to members of the Fourth and Fifth degrees, respectively). Members of the Fifth degree may also be known as "Doctor", although "The Doctor" usually refers to LaVey.

Individuals seeking membership must be legally defined as adults in their nation of residence. The only exception made is for children of members who demonstrate an understanding of the Church philosophy and practices who wish to join. Their participation is limited until they reach legal adulthood.

The Church of Satan does not solicit membership. Those who wish to affiliate can become Registered Members for a one-time registration fee of two hundred dollars ($200) in United States currency. Affiliates receive a red card declaring them as a member of the Church of Satan to other members.[17]

Memberships may be terminated at the discretion of the ruling body of the Church of Satan consisting of the High Priest, the High Priestess and the Council of Nine. Upon termination, the issuing of a refund is ultimately left up to the High Priest's ruling, although generally 50% is returned to the cast-out member (the other 50% used to cover ruling expenditures).


Members of the Priesthood act as spokespersons for the philosophy of the Church of Satan, which include the titles of "Priest"/"Priestess" and "Magus"/"Magistra." Members of the Priesthood make up the Council of Nine, which is the ruling body of the Church of Satan. The Order of the Trapezoid consists of the individuals who assist in the administration of the Church of Satan. The High Priest and Priestess acting as administrative chiefs and primary public representatives; each position (High Priest and High Priestess) is held by a single individual at a time. The current High Priest is Peter H. Gilmore,[18] the current High Priestess is Peggy Nadramia.[19]

The Church of Satan evaluates active members for the Priesthood by their accomplishment in society. Their ranks in the church rises as they master skills and gain peer recognition within their outside profession. While expected to be experts in communicating the Satanic philosophy, members of the Priesthood are not required to speak on behalf of the Church of Satan, and may even choose to keep their affiliation and rank secret in order to better serve their personal goals, as well as those of the organization. Membership in the Priesthood is by invitation only and is very rarely given.[20]

Past and present High Priesthood


A Grotto is an association of Satanists in geographical proximity. The Church of Satan has decided that it no longer needs to formally recognize Grottoes for members to socialize or organize rituals, since most members use online forums for these purposes. However, should a group of Church of Satan members form a "magic circle" for purposes beyond basic social and ritual interaction, and should that circle remain healthy and active for a year and a day, the leader may apply to have it formalized as a Grotto and be chartered as Grotto Master. The Grotto is expected to remain clandestine, an underground cell that only the privileged may eventually come to know. Grotto Masters are not spokespersons for the Church of Satan, nor are Grottoes local representations of the Church of Satan. A Grotto's charter can be revoked for inactivity.[24]


The Church of Satan does not "worship" or believe in Satan, nor does it believe in gods. LaVeyan Satanism follows the belief that one's self is one's own "God". It does not believe in suppression of desire and human nature. In an interview with David Shankbone, High Priest Peter Gilmore stated "My real feeling is that anybody who believes in supernatural entities on some level is insane. Whether they believe in the Devil or God, they are abdicating reason".[25] Gilmore defines the word "Satan": "Satan is a model or a mode of behavior. Satan in Hebrew means 'adversary' or 'opposer'; one who questions."[25]

Gilmore went on to add "Satanism begins with atheism. We begin with the universe and say, 'It’s indifferent. There’s no God, there’s no Devil. No one cares!'"[25]

The Nine Satanic Statements

The Nine Satanic Statements outline what "Satan" represents in the Church of Satan:[26][27]

  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.

The Nine Satanic Sins

The Nine Satanic Sins are:[28]

  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

The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth

The Eleven Satanic rules of the Earth have been given as:[29]

  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 don’t stop, destroy them.

Pentagonal Revisionism

Pentagonal Revisionism is a plan consisting of five major goals written in 1988 by LaVey:[30]

  1. Stratification — "There can be no more myth of "equality" for all—it only translates to "mediocrity" and supports the weak at the expense of the strong. Water must be allowed to seek its own level without interference from apologists for incompetence. No one should be protected from the effects of his own stupidity."
  2. Strict taxation of all churches — "The productive, the creative, the resourceful should be subsidized. So long as the useless and incompetent are getting paid, they should be heavily taxed."
  3. No tolerance for religious beliefs secularized and incorporated into law and order issues — "Amnesty should be considered for anyone in prison because of their alleged 'influence' upon the actual perpetrator of the crime. Everyone is influenced in what he or she does. Scapegoating has become a way of life, a means of survival for the unfit. As an extension of the Judeo-Christian cop-out of blaming the Devil for everything, criminals can gain leniency, even praise, by placing the blame on a convenient villain. Following the Satanic creed of "Responsibility to the responsible", in a Satanic society, everyone must experience the consequences of their own actions—for good or ill."
  4. Development and production of artificial human companions — "An economic 'godsend' which will allow everyone "power" over someone else. Polite, sophisticated, technologically feasible slavery. And the most profitable industry since T.V. and the computer."
  5. The opportunity for anyone to live within a total environment of their choice, with mandatory adherence to the aesthetic and behavioral standards of same — "Privately owned, operated and controlled environments as an alternative to homogenized and polyglot ones. The freedom to insularize oneself within a social milieu of personal well-being. An opportunity to feel, see, and hear that which is most aesthetically pleasing, without interference from those who would pollute or detract from that option."

These goals have a secondary purpose, as stated by the author, to allow non-Satanists to determine their alignment with Satanist "attitudes." Thus, the goals arguably serve as a litmus test for non-Satanists, more so than as a compendium of the Satanist purpose. Since the "goals" cross ideological boundaries into economic (taxation) and technological (human companions), they seemingly expand the scope of Satanism to include non-ideological purposes. However, as "goals", Pentagonal Revisionism is not specifically a statement of dogma but rather the application of Satanist dogma to current social/economic conditions with the resultant five "goals" that stand out where Satanism can do the most good, i.e. act as a rally cry for members. Other texts, such as The Satanic Bible, also by LaVey, serve the most specifically as a reference for Satanic dogma.[citation needed]

Regardless of the political connotations behind the first three "goals", the Church does not advocate any one political party or ideology.[31] In his essay "A Map for the Misdirected", high priest Peter H. Gilmore stated,

As has been said many times before, one’s politics are up to each individual member, and most of our members are political pragmatists. They support political candidates and movements whose goals reflect their own practical needs and desires. Our members span an amazing political spectrum, which includes but is not limited to: Libertarians, Liberals, Conservatives, Republicans, Democrats, Reform Party members, Independents, Capitalists, Socialists, Communists, Stalinists, Leninists, Trotskyites, Maoists, Zionists, Monarchists, Fascists, Anarchists, and just about anything else you could possibly imagine. It is up to each member to apply Satanism and determine what political means will reach his/her ends, and they are each solely responsible for this decision. Freedom and responsibility—must be a novel concept for those who aren’t Satanists. We take it in stride. Members who demand conformity from other members to their particular political fetish are welcomed to depart.[32]

See also


  1. ^ "Official Church of Satan Website". Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  2. ^ Lacey, Michael. "Pieces of the Action: What's worse? A venture capitalist or a guy who smokes crack with underage hookers?". SF Weekly Jun 20 2007. 
  3. ^ ""Satan's Den in Great Disrepair" Lattin, Don (January 25, 1999)". San Francisco Chronicle. January 25, 1999. [dead link]
  4. ^ "A Brief History of the Church of Satan 2. The Magic Circle". Retrieved 2011-01-20. 
  5. ^ "The Satanic Mass/Zeena's Baptism Track A9 go to 3:42". 
  6. ^ "The Satanic Mass, Track A9 (Zeena's Baptism)". Murgenstrumm, 1968 Vinly LP. 
  7. ^ "Satanist Anton LaVey Baptising Daughter". San Francisco, California, USA: Bettmann/CORBIS. May 23, 1967. "LaVey [...] said the mystic ceremony was the first such baptism in history." 
  8. ^ "clippings of Zeena's baptism world wide". 
  9. ^ "Zeena Schreck Interview in Vice Magazine, Beelzebub's Daughter, by Annette Lamothe-Ramos". 
  10. ^ "KJTV Interviews Zeena LaVey". 1987.
  11. ^ ""The First Family of Satanism"". 1989.
  12. ^ 'Black Pope' of Satanic Church dies aged 67 Copyright (c) 1997 Reuters SAN FRANCISCO (November 7, 1997 7:47 p.m. EST) By Andrew Quinn
  13. ^ The Church Of Satan – Interview
  14. ^ "UK | Navy approves first ever Satanist". BBC News. 2004-10-24. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  15. ^ "Los Angeles CityBeat — The Devil's Advocates". Retrieved 2009-06-07. [dead link]
  16. ^ "Teen Held After E-Mailing Satanic Group Threat to Kill Grandparents". 2007-12-15. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  17. ^ "Affiliation with the Church of Satan". Retrieved 2010-09-01. 
  18. ^ a b "Peter H. Gilmore". Church of Satan. Retrieved April 2014. 
  19. ^ a b "Peggy Nadramia". Church of Satan. Retrieved April 2014. 
  20. ^ James R. Lewis; Jesper Aagaard Petersen, eds. (4 November 2004). Controversial New Religions. Oxford University Press. p. 430. ISBN 9780198035657. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  21. ^ "Zeena Schreck's last interview as High Priestess of the Church of Satan. Ref. to her title as "High Priestess of the Church of Satan" at 02:00 and again at 02:22 ref. To her title and being daughter of its founder.". 
  22. ^ "In interview question posed to Zeena for Obsküre Magazine by Maxime Lachaud, September 2011 "I do not want to get into your personal life, I know it must be painful enough, but you were spokeswoman for the Church of Satan..." Zeena explains how she became the High Priestess of the Church of Satan.". 
  23. ^ "Vice Magazine Interview with Zeena Schreck describing how she became High Priestess and in which years. Beelzebub's Daughter by Annette Lamothe-Ramos May 16, 2012". 
  24. ^ The Church of Satan Website, under Affiliation: The Grotto System Retrieved December 3, 2010
  25. ^ a b c Interview with Peter H. Gilmore, David Shankbone, Wikinews', November 5, 2007.
  26. ^ LaVey, Anton Szandor (1969). "The Nine Satanic Statements". The Satanic Bible. Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  27. ^ LaVey, Anton Szandor (1969). The Satanic Bible. New York: Avon Books. p. 272. ISBN 978-0-380-01539-9. OCLC 26042819. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  28. ^ LaVey, Anton Szandor (1987). "The Nine Satanic Sins". Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  29. ^ LaVey, Anton Szandor (1967). "The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth". Retrieved 2011-02-14. 
  30. ^ LaVey, Anton Szandor (1988). "Pentagonal Revisionism: A Five-Point Program". Retrieved 2010-09-26. 
  31. ^
  32. ^

Further reading

Books by Anton LaVey

  1. Wolfe, Burton H.; LaVey, Anton Szandor (1969). The Satanic Bible. New York, N.Y: Avon. ISBN 0-380-01539-0. 
  2. Peggy Nadramia; LaVey, Anton Szandor (1971). The Satanic Witch. Venice, Calif: Feral House. ISBN 0-922915-84-9. 
  3. Anton Szandor La Vey (1972). The Satanic Rituals. New York, N.Y: Avon. ISBN 0-380-01392-4. 
  4. LaVey, Anton Szandor; Anton Szandor LA Vey (1992). The Devil's Notebook. Venice, Calif: Feral House. ISBN 0-922915-11-3. 
  5. Anton Szandor La Vey; LaVey, Anton Szandor (1997). Satan Speaks!. Venice, Calif: Feral House. ISBN 0-922915-66-0. 

Books by Peter H. Gilmore

External links

Interviews with Anton LaVey

  • Interview with Anton LaVey by Michelle Carr and Elvia Lahman, originally published in the September 11, 1997 Velvet Hammer souvenir programme.

Interviews with Peter Gilmore

Interviews with Zeena Schreck (née LaVey)