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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, Michael Harner, and Shana Alexander. Other LaVey associates from this time period 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.
The Church of Satan was established 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.
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. The church also performed a public funeral for Church of Satan member Edward Olson, at the request of his wife.
The Church of Satan has been the subject 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".
According to Peter H. Gilmore, "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!
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.
In the 1980s the media reported concerns of criminal conspiracies within the Church of Satan. Members of the Church of Satan, such as Peter H. Gilmore, Peggy Nadramia, Boyd Rice, Adam Parfrey, Diabolos Rex, and musician King Diamond, were active in media appearances to refute allegations of criminal activity. The FBI would later issue an official report refuting the criminal conspiracy theories of this time. This phenomenon became known as "The Satanic Panic".
In the 1980s and 1990s 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, and the films of Nick Bougas, including his documentary Speak of the Devil: The Canon of Anton LaVey. The Church of Satan and Anton LaVey were also the subject of numerous magazine and news articles during this time.
After Anton Szandor LaVey's death, his position as head of the Church of Satan passed on to Blanche Barton. Barton remains involved in the Church; however, in 2001 she 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.
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.
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.
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, and there are no requirements to achieve this position. 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." 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.
Registering as a Member
The Church of Satan does not solicit membership. Those who wish to affiliate can become a Registered Member 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.
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, though generally 50% is returned to the cast-out member (the other 50% used to cover ruling expenditures).
The Church of Satan authorizes some Active Members as Agents, qualified to represent the Church of Satan and to explain the philosophy of Satanism to the media and other interested parties.
Members of the Priesthood act as spokespersons for the philosophy of the Church of Satan, which include the titles of "Priest"/"Priestess", "Magister"/"Magistra", "Magus"/"Maga". 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 act 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, the current High Priestess Peggy Nadramia.
The Church of Satan evaluates active members for the Priesthood by their accomplishment in society—mastered skills and peer recognition within a profession—rather than by mastery of irrelevant occult trivia. 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.
Past & present Church of Satan High Priesthood
- Anton LaVey — Founder & High Priest 1966 – 1997
- Diane Hegarty — Co-Founder & High Priestess 1966 – 1984
- Blanche Barton — Anton's Assistant, High Priestess 1997 – 2002, now Magistra Templi Rex
- Peter H. Gilmore — High Priest 2001 – Present (5th Degree, Magus)
- Peggy Nadramia — High Priestess 2002 – Present
The Church of Satan does not worship or support a belief in the Devil or other supernatural entities. "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," said Peter Gilmore. Gilmore defines the word Satan: "Satan is a model or a mode of behavior. Satan in Hebrew means 'adversary' or 'opposer'; one who questions."
Satanists within the Church of Satan adhere to these as guidelines on how to live. However, it is important to remember that Satanists generally do not view the Satanic sins, statements, and rules of the earth as things that one must go out of their way to do. The Satanist ideally sees these things as truisms and how they naturally live their lives, as opposed to a Christian or Jew, who would strive to follow the words of Christ or the mitzvot, respectively.
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The Nine Satanic Statements
The Nine Satanic Statements outline what "Satan" represents in the Church of Satan.
- 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 Nine Satanic Sins
- Herd Conformity
- Lack of Perspective
- Forgetfulness of Past Orthodoxies
- Counterproductive Pride
- Lack of Aesthetics
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 little 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 them to stop. If they don’t stop, destroy them.
Pentagonal Revisionism is a plan consisting of five major goals written in 1988 by founder Anton Szandor LaVey:
- Stratification — "No one should be protected from the effects of their own stupidity."
- 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."
- 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 they do. 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."
- 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 TV and the computer."
- 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 a compendia 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, it must be noted that as "goals", Pentagonal Revisionism isn't 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.
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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.
- ↑ "Official Church of Satan Website". Churchofsatan.com. http://www.churchofsatan.com/home.html. Retrieved 2009-06-07.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Interview with Peter H. Gilmore, David Shankbone, Wikinews', November 5, 2007.
- ↑ "UK | Navy approves first ever Satanist". BBC News. 2004-10-24. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/3948329.stm. Retrieved 2009-06-07.
- ↑ "Los Angeles CityBeat — The Devil's Advocates". Lacitybeat.com. http://www.lacitybeat.com/article.php?id=3916&IssueNum=158. Retrieved 2009-06-07.
- ↑ "Teen Held After E-Mailing Satanic Group Threat to Kill Grandparents". FoxNews.com. 2007-12-15. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,316967,00.html. Retrieved 2009-06-07.
- The Church of Satan: A History of the World's Most Notorious Religion by Blanche Barton (Hell's Kitchen Productions, 1990, ISBN 0-9623286-2-6) — Out of print
- Satan Wants You: The Cult of Devil Worship in America by Arthur Lyons (Mysterious Press, 1988, ISBN 0-89296-217-8; Warner Books, 1989, ISBN 0-445-40822-7) — Out of print
- Lucifer Rising: A Book of Sin, Devil Worship and Rock 'n' Roll by Gavin Baddeley, Paul Woods (Plexus Publishing (UK), 2000, ISBN 0-85965-280-7)
- The Church of Satan. Fifth Edition, 2002 by Michael A. Aquino. A documentary history of the 1966–1975 Church of Satan. [Note: This is a very large PDF file: 9.4mb.]
- Modern Satanism- Anatomy of a Radical Subculture: by Chris Mathews (Praeger Publishers, 2009, ISBN 031336639X)
Books by Anton LaVey
- Wolfe, Burton H.; LaVey, Anton Szandor (1977). The Satanic Bible. New York, N.Y: Avon. ISBN 0-380-01539-0.
- Anton Szandor LA Vey. The Satanic Rituals. New York, N.Y: Avon. ISBN 0-380-01392-4.
- Peggy Nadramia; LaVey, Anton Szandor. The Satanic Witch. Venice, Calif: Feral House. ISBN 0-922915-84-9.
- LaVey, Anton Szandor; Anton Szandor LA Vey (1992). The Devil's Notebook. Venice, Calif: Feral House. ISBN 0-922915-11-3.
- Anton Szandor LA Vey; LaVey, Anton Szandor. Satan Speaks!. Venice, Calif: Feral House. ISBN 0-922915-66-0.
Books by Peter H. Gilmore
- Butler, Timothy; Peter H. Gilmore; Barton, Blanche; Peggy Nadramia. The Satanic Scriptures. Scapegoat Publishing. ISBN 0-9764035-9-5.
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
- YouTube . Magus Peter H. Gilmore talks about the Church of Satan on CBC program "The Hour".
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