Anton LaVey: Founder of The Church of Satan
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.