Anton LaVey: Founder of The Church of Satan

LaVey gained a lot of publicity with his brand of Satanism.
LaVey gained a lot of publicity with his brand of Satanism.

Who Was Anton LaVey?

Anton LaVey was an infamous musician, occultist, writer and the founder of The Church of Satan, which he oversaw as High Priest until his death on October 29, 1997. Lavey, who was born Howard Stanton Lavey, authored the Satanic Bible, the book upon which he founded his church. His philosophy of Satanism is is still widely misunderstood by those who have not studied his books, or have preconceptions of their own regarding the term.

What is LaVeyan Satanism?

LaVey's particular brand of Satanism, for starters, does not actually rely upon a literal interpretation of a devil. Satan is interpreted more as a symbol rather than a person. The philosophy of Anton LaVey and the religion he founded promotes an aggressive individuality and pleasure-seeking perspective on life, but entails a respect for other individuals and both natural and man-made laws.

The Baphomet symbol is used by the Church of Satan.
The Baphomet symbol is used by the Church of Satan.

Origin of the Church of Satan

LaVey Founded the Church of Satan in San Franciso, California on April 30th, 1966. This particular date is highly significant among Pagans, Satanists and Catholics, and is know as Walpurgis Night. As the founder of modern-day Satanism, LaVey was referred to by some as "The Black Pope", although his official title in the church was High Priest.

The Satanic Bible

The Satanic Bible, which bears the distinction of being the work upon which LaVey organized his church lays out the foundations for the philosophy of what has come to be known as "LaVeyan Satanism" by many, and simply "Satanism" by it's adherents. Various writings followed this book and expanded upon it, or provided additional material for use in ceremony or ritual.

Books By Anton LaVey

  • The Satanic Bible
  • The Satanic Witch
  • The Satanic Rituals
  • The Devil's Notebook
  • Satan Speaks!

Is LaVeyan Satanism Really Satanism At All?

As LaVeyan Satanism rejects spirituality in any form, including the worship or even acknowledgement of a literal Satan, some critics have argued that the term Satanism itself is misleading and was largely utilized as shock value and to gain media notoriety. The media certainly did pour their attention into this small but notable church, and it wasn't long before LaVey found himself a magnet for news crews, followers and even curious celebrities.

Though they profess a disbelief in a literal Satan, LaVeyan Satanists do engage in ceremonies.
Though they profess a disbelief in a literal Satan, LaVeyan Satanists do engage in ceremonies.

Satan as a Symbol

Satanists would contend, however, that the symbol of Satan is quite legitimately in the realm of their territory. Satan is perceived by those who follow LaVey's philosophy, as a force of nature which represents the most basic and primal instincts of mankind. Rather than repressing man's more carnal appetites, Satanism embraces and encourages the pursuit of pleasure and of worldly success and notoriety. This is not to say that Satanists do not have their own system of ethics or a moral code.

Like atheists they do not believe that faith in a supernatural deity is necessary to lead a productive and positive life. Cruelty for the sake of cruelty, as well as irresponsible and illegal behavior is condemned. The ultimate crime for a Satanist is perceived as stupidity, and an emphasis on acquiring knowledge and skill exists.

The Nine Satanic Statements written by LaVey and contained within The Satanic Bible, give a brief outline of what Satan is believed to represent.

This Satanic symbol is also used by King Diamond, a musician known to be a member of the CoS.
This Satanic symbol is also used by King Diamond, a musician known to be a member of the CoS.

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!

Satanism is attractive to those who wish to rebel or shock.
Satanism is attractive to those who wish to rebel or shock.

Who is Satanism Popular With?

Perhaps despite it's best efforts on some fronts, Satanism remains popular amongst teenagers who often have little appreciation for it's more intellectual aspects and simply revel in the notion that they are rebelling against what they perceive to be the repressive elements of a largely Judeo-Christian society. With the death of LaVey in 1997, the Church of Satan has in many respects lost much of it's former notoriety, though it remains operational as an organization and still retains many supporters and adherents.

Aspects of LaVey's Life Still Debated

LaVey's own life and accomplishments remain a matter of some debate, though there is little doubt that he gained a level of success and acclaim that many in life are unlikely to achieve, regardless of the details. Likewise LaVey's personal life and relationship with his daughter Zeena is an issue of contention, as she later denounced her father and become involved in rival organizations, despite being an active participant in the promotion of LaVey's brand of Satanism in her earlier years.

LaVey and Manson met in 1994.
LaVey and Manson met in 1994.

Connection to Celebrities

Anton LaVey was known to have enjoyed the limelight, and Marilyn Manson is one of many celebrities who LaVey associated with. Many celebs credit Anton LaVey were some level of inspiration. LaVey and Manson met in 1994 at the infamous "Black "House", as LaVey's home was called.

Manson discusses the meeting and the effect it had upon his artistic direction in his book The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell. Notably, he was offered and accepted an honorary priesthood in the Church of Satan by LaVey himself. He has maintained he never officially joined the church and considered it to be simply a gesture of respect.

LaVey also claimed brief affairs with actresses Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, although this will likely never be confirmed.

Death

Anton LaVey died on October 29, 1997. His death was somehow mislabeled on his official death certificate as taking place on Halloween. Interestingly, he was taken to a Catholic hospital as it was the closest available. His cause of death was listed as pulmonary edema, which involves fluid accumulation in the lungs.

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16 comments

ChristinS profile image

ChristinS 5 years ago from Midwest

wow - fascinating information and put together so well. I knew that "satanists" didn't actually believe in a literal devil - but I didn't know much about the rest of it. They don't seem as "shocking" as most would have us believe. Live and let live I always say..


Bud Gallant profile image

Bud Gallant 5 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada Author

Thank you for your kind words, Christin. It's genuinely appreciated. I'm barely scratching the surface with this one, but perhaps will expand more upon the subject at a future date. I'm glad you found it fascinating. That's one of my favorite words. :)


Nerdistt profile image

Nerdistt 5 years ago from Florida

I love learning about religions. Satanism included. I read the Satanic Bible, it was a very interesting read. Anton LaVey was an intelligent man. Voted this up. An idea for another article, have you given thought to writing about the Necronomicon? That was another interesting book.


Bud Gallant profile image

Bud Gallant 5 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada Author

Hi, Nerdistt.

I've read the Necronomicon also, and it is interesting for sure. It's been a long time since I've looked at that. I would definitely like to write more on topics like this which are not often broached. This particular hub was pretty random. I actually rewrote and expanded on it from something I wrote some time ago as part of a series on different religious leaders of modern times.

I'd like to do a Necronomicon hub. I might actually end up making a new account and devote it to that kind of genre in the future if it seems viable, as far as general interest.

Also, I agree with you about LaVey. Actually, it's sort of funny, because even my father who is a devote Catholic appreciated LaVey's intellect when he read a bit of his social commentary from the book Satan Speaks!

I've always found it to be worthwhile to explore different ideas on life, spirituality and existence. I certainly do not regret the time I've spent doing that, because it's been very enlightening.


Jennuhlee profile image

Jennuhlee 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

Wow, I was excited so see what you had to say about this when I saw it listed as one of your hubs. This is so interesting, Satanism has always interested me but I never really understood it. This has a lot of good information, I found the nine satanic statements to be so intriguing, great hub, one of my favs:]


Bud Gallant profile image

Bud Gallant 5 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada Author

Glad you found it interesting, Jennuhlee.

LaVey was certainly a unique man with some unique perspectives. I read some of his books many years ago. I've always been interested in other people's views on life.


Rhea Malhotra 5 years ago

Oh these guys are so stupid and just see how all of them will get a much worst dog death!! bloody.......


St.Cyprian 5 years ago

Nice article and good job pointing out that Satanists don't worship Satan - I've seen about 30 articles here on HubPages from Christians who don't seem to grasp the idea that not everyone is anxious to live their lives on their knees in deference to The Invisible.

All occult orders (all based on a form of freemasonry) have circles within circles. What you see when you read LaVey's books are what he wants you to see. He is showing you what it takes to be part of the outermost circle. His books were a way to make money and a recruitment tool. His target audience, which was plotted together with Avon publishing back in the 1960s was to be adolescent boys. Make no mistake, the inner circle is something else altogether. You will find proof of this in the life of Charles Manson and the bizarre life and movies of Roman Polanski who were, also, rumored to have ties with the original church.

Excellent, well-written and informative hub!

Accolades!


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether

April 30th, 1966. This particular date is highly significant among Pagans, Satanists and Catholics, and is know as Walpurgis Night.

Which Pagans consider this date significant? I've never heard of it. Not to be the devil's advocate (no pun intended). If you're speaking of a connection with Beltane which is May 1st, then there's definitely a connection there...though a misled one. I've read quite a bit of the Satanic Witch by Anton LaVey, while an intelligent being, I find his philosophies to be based on selfishness and feeding the selfish desires. While I'm open-minded to all spiritual paths, I find this one not as constructive as I don't see how anyone can ascend or learn if they are only focused on pleasing themselves. In the Satanic Witch, he also mentions that some men need to be "manipulated" by women's powers so that women can get what they want. Again, very interesting article...though I'll never be quite a fan of LaVey or the Satanic Church. Thanks!


James K 4 years ago

I want to become a member please help me


Larry Okeke profile image

Larry Okeke 4 years ago from Enugu, Nigeria

The best article i've read all day! You finished it, bro! Period! I wrote a similar article about the church of satan and the horn sign but mine can by no means be compared with this. Not with so many errors and speculations. I terribly need to prune that hub of mine. Voted up and useful and what's more, am now following you


anthony 4 years ago

Jesus rocks


nikolove 4 years ago

there is a satanic church and a bible so children of God be careful and sinners give your lives to Jesus. he is the only one who can save you

NIKOLOVE

VAN

DER

LOVE in cameroon


jesus 4 years ago

the wages of sin death but the gift of god is eternal life through christ our lord


leonthe14 profile image

leonthe14 3 years ago from Australia

I was a satanist...twice.

I was a theistic satanist not an atheist narcissistic clown like the COS is full of. I have written an ebook on my experiences which is available for free, it is called "Creed of Assiah" and can be downloaded from http://creedofassiah.webs.com


bono 3 years ago

woship the king of king

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