A Note on LaVeyan Satanism

Far too long has the subject of Satanic magic and philosophy been written down by wild-eyed journalists of the right-hand path.

–Anton Szandor LaVey, The Satanic Bible.1

While not a “wild-eyed journalist of the right-hand path” (whether defined in Tantric, Blavatskian or newage terms), I have, over the past few months, shared some rather amusing sensationalist news stories written by those who are2. I thought it only fair to take the time to write a short piece on “real” Satanism and go beyond highlighting some of the more absurd stories that rise up out of the deep.

This is a little tricky as Satanism is a broad term these days encompassing a variety of religions. There’s “traditional” Satanism which does involve devil-worship and Luciferianism which (sometimes) runs along similar veins. However, there’s also “modern” and LaVeyan Satanism which does not, as these Satanists are atheistic, holding the self in the highest position of reverence.

For years I managed the website for the Satanic e-list EvilOne.org (now defunct) – a great bunch who inspired a fondness for all things Satanic in my3 heart4. The list was primarily inspired by LaVeyan and modern Satanism, though not affiliated with any specific organization, and that’s what we’ll look at today.

Anton Szandor LaVey (born Howard Stanton Levey, 1930-1997) was the first to formulate an organized Satanic religion. For LaVey, Satan represented a force of nature:

…the powers of darkness which have been named for just that because no religion has taken the forces out of the darkness. Nor has science been able to apply technical terminology to this force. It is an untapped reservoir that few can make use of because they lack the ability to use a tool without having to first break down and label all the parts which make it run. It is this incessant need to analyze which prohibits most people from taking advantage of this many faceted key to the unknown – which the Satanist chooses to call “Satan”5.

The ironically named Church of Satan6 was officially created on April 30th, 1966, though born out of an earlier lecture group, the Magic Circle. It was a church without gods that encouraged reservation of belief:

It has been said that “the truth will make men free”. The truth alone has never set anyone free. It is only DOUBT which will bring mental emancipation. Without the wonderful element of doubt, the doorway through which truth passes would be tightly shut, impervious to the most strenuous poundings of a thousand Lucifers7.

The Church he established is still active today, and for a mere two hundred dollars American8 and a signed statement affirming one’s intention to join, becoming a card carrying member of the Church of Satan is quite simple.

In 1969 LaVey released The Satanic Bible, the defining text of what has come to be known as LaVeyan Satanism and subsequently inspired many of its derivatives. The Satanic Bible clearly laid out the tenets, rites and rituals of Satanism for the first time written by and for self-proclaimed Satanists.

Philosophically, LaVey was strongly influenced by the will to power of Frederick Nietzsche and the Objectivism of Ayn Rand, layered with a ritual magick predominately taken from Aleister Crowley. LaVey advocated a “controlled selfishness” tempered with a straightforward approach to personal conduct, promoting “responsibility to the responsible”.

LaVey writes:

“Satanism is based on a very sound philosophy,” say the emancipated. “But why call it Satanism? Why not call it something like ‘Humanism’ or a name that would have the connotation of a witchcraft group, something a little more esoteric – something less blatant”. There is more than one reason for this. Humanism is not a religion. It is simply a way of life with no ceremony or dogma. Satanism has both ceremony and dogma9.

Indeed, in general the philosophy is quite sensible and morally upstanding from a rational standpoint. Pointing out that LaVey wrote specifically against ritual murder, animal sacrifice and torture may seem superfluous, but it’s quite surprising to discover how many intelligent and otherwise well informed people seem to have this misguided estimation of Satanic practice.

For more information on LaVeyan and modern Satanism, see The Satanic Bible and the various works by Anton LaVey, as well as The Satanic Scriptures by Peter Gilmore, current High Priest of the Church of Satan, the Church of Satan’s website.

First published on Plutonica.net, “A note on LaVeyan Satanism”, on January 22, 2008.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...Footnotes:
  1. LaVey, Anton. The Satanic Bible. New York: Avon, 1969, p. 21. []
  2. See “News: Catholic Pope orders bishops to set up “exorcism squads””, “News: Residents of Reeves, Louisiana finally “escape” the 666 area code”, “News: Satanic hand severed, microwaved and a plane-flying rat brain” and “News: Motion 666 calls for the disestablishment of the Church of England” to start. []
  3. cold, black []
  4. I don’t currently have any Satanic affiliations. []
  5. p. 62 []
  6. Or “The Satanic Church” as it was initially titled. []
  7. p. 39 []
  8. Sorry Canada, it was a better deal a few months ago. Don’t worry, the it’ll go down again! []
  9. p. 50. []
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Psyche is the editor of Spiral Nature, and has been published in numerous journals, including The Cauldron, PanGaia, and Witches & Pagans. Psyche is on Twitter as @plutopsyche, and on Tumblr as plutopsyche.