Posts Tagged ‘peter gilmore’

On the church after Anton LaVey

Dec
5
David Shankbone interviews Peter Gilmore on Church after Anton LaVey

David Shankbone: Does the Church of Satan have relationships with other churches?

Peter Gilmore: Not at all. We’re not ecumenical.

David Shankbone: It would seem there are pagans or humanist religions that follow your general philosophy.

Peter Gilmore: I wouldn’t say that. Most pagan religions are theistic on one level or another. They generally think their deities exist in some part. We don’t believe Satan exists as a deity. I think there are some pagans who may look at their Gods and Goddesses as archetypes only, and in that sense that would be closer to our position because you can look at the symbol of Satan as an archetype. But, we generally don’t feel we have any relation to any kind of religious organization.

David Shankbone: What is the membership numbers for the Church of Satan?

Peter Gilmore: We never give out numbers. The reason for that our founder came up with and I agree with him and keep to his policy: if people think there are too few of us, they tend to not want to take us seriously. If they think there are too many of us, they think we’re a threat. There was even a point back during the Satanic Panic in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when there was governmental legislation proposed to ban Satanism because they thought there were all these metal heads out there sacrificing babies, doing drugs and making child pornography. Of course, now we know, it was mostly people who were borderline Christian evangelists pretending, but then accusing their own family members and getting them put in jail, or acting as therapists and most of those people have been sued and properly censured since then.

David Shankbone: Has the church thrived after LaVey’s passing?

Peter Gilmore: It has. Partially because we are taking advantage of technology with the Internet and global media; our website gets hundreds of thousands of hits a day and literature keeps getting translated into many different languages the world over. My own book, The Satanic Scriptures, the hardcover came out in April and the paperback is coming out this month. I’ve already got five different languages coming out and I’m negotiating for others. We are thriving, we have many members.

David Shankbone: What is your book about?

Peter Gilmore: It’s a collection of my essays I’ve written over the past twenty years talking about Satanic philosophy, how it’s applied. I talk about music since I am by training a composer; I went to NYU. I have a Bachelor’s and Master’s in music composition, mostly focusing on orchestral work. One conception in the book I wanted to dispel is the stereotype that Satanism is always associated with Metal and the cookie monster voice. That's Satanism? No.

David Shankbone: It’s not all Gene Loves Jezebel sounding.

Peter Gilmore: No. Satanic music is specific to each person. So to me, Satanic music is the symphony, which to me is the highest art form. So Beethoven, Mahler, Bruckner, Shostakovich — to me that’s some of the most Satanic music ever written because the architecture is there, the expressivity is there; the reflection on the human condition is all present and it’s not idealistic. It’s mostly questioning or showing what a human is capable of doing. And I love architecture. Cathedrals are wonderful. I have no hatred of those because they are put to religious use. They have symbols on them, but I know those are just symbols. I love skyscrapers too.

Who owns the Satanic Bible?

Mar
10
David Shankbone: Do Dr. LaVey’s children have anything to do with the church at all?

Peter Gilmore: His son Xerxes is a member because he asked to be. We generally don’t let people under 18 join. We used to let people whose parents allowed them to join, but because people are so litigious we changed that. We just don’t want to take the chance that some parents say, “Yes, it’s okay if my kid joins the Church of Satan,” and then decides that’s the reason they can’t control their kid. We’re just not willing to go there. But if our members have children who are interested, they can participate and become members, but that’s the only way you can if you’re not legally an adult. So Xerxes could become a member because his mother was High Priestess at one point, and still remains a member.

David Shankbone: But not Zeena?

Peter Gilmore: No, she left years ago. She’s not very bright and is very jealous. She and her paramour, Nikolas Shreck, got married I think. They wanted to take the Church of Satan over at one point and wanted Anton LaVey to retire, but he was a feisty guy and said "Hell no!" So they quit in high dudgeon and ran off to Europe and said, “America is corrupt and horrible and we’re going to Fortress Europa!” They played with being Nazi occultists, which is kind of funny because both of them have Jewish blood. They’re just like clowns. They then joined the Temple of Set, which was an organization that split off from the Church of Satan years ago, in 1975, when Michael Aquino—

David Shankbone: Based on the Egyptian god?

Peter Gilmore: Yeah, and they’re theists. They believe that Set exists and that their priests can commune with him and that their founder is the voice of Set. So, it’s like, good that they left for housecleaning. But Zeena went and joined them and became High Priestess because Michael Aquino has this Anton LaVey obsession, which is obvious since he wrote a book about him that’s about a thousand pages, so he made her the High Priestess of their organization. Then she left to form an even more orthodox Setian group called “The Storm”, which to us is just funny. Such theatrics. His oldest daughter Karla isn’t a very bright girl. She kind of hung around the background and once in a while she would come out to speak in public and support her father. When Xerxes was born she kind of got miffed because she wasn’t the center of attention. Karla is also jealous type. She withdrew from her father, which hurt him a lot.

David Shankbone: How did the legal wrangling surrounding his estate pan out?

Peter Gilmore: They finally settled. What ended up happening is he had written a will. Anton LaVey’s idea was that if he acknowledged he is going to die, then he’d be giving in to death, so he didn’t want to go to an attorney and make out a will. He was very feisty and had his own perspective on that. So he finally wrote a will out and signed it, but it wasn’t notarized and there were no witnesses. So when it came to court they said it wasn’t good enough. They basically split everything up between the three children, so Karla and Zeena and Xerxes all got part of the estate.

David Shankbone: Who received the copyright to The Satanic Bible?

Peter Gilmore: The estate. The money that comes in from that gets split up and goes to the three kids. Also there is a small percentage that goes to LaVey’s companion, Diane Hegarty; she says LaVey. But they were never married and had a falling out in the early 1980’s. She went off and left Satanism and sued him for palimony and he had to sell his house because of all of that, and he sold it to an old friend and member. Diane got a pile of money and she got a tiny percentage of the books that had been written up to that point. Every once in a while she comes creeping in off the periphery to say, “Ah! I’m Diane LaVey!” and it’s like, you were Diane Hegarty and you were kind of involved in it, but before the Satanic Panic happened you left and had nothing to do with it. She was never someone who wrote or said anything of interest. She was just the pretty blonde wife of Anton LaVey. She was a nice figurehead, but wasn’t of much use beyond that.

Theistic Satanism

Nov
22
David Shankbone: What is your relationship to Theistic Satanists? Peter H. Gilmore: We don’t think they are Satanists. They are devil worshipers, as far as I’m concerned. David Shankbone: There is one in New York who does a lot of websites. Peter H. Gilmore: We don’t think they are Satanists. They are devil worshipers, as far as I’m concerned. Diane Vera? She’s a kook. David Shankbone: She’s also an editor on Wikipedia. I contacted her, but I never received a response. Peter H. Gilmore: We don’t think they are Satanists. They are devil worshipers, as far as I’m concerned. 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. If they really believe they are in communication with some sort of interventionist deity…you know, somebody can be a deist and think that maybe there was some sort of force that launched everything and now has nothing to do with it. That’s not anything you can prove. It’s also not a matter of faith. It’s a matter of making a choice between whether there was something or there wasn’t. I think maybe that is the most rational decision. I think science makes it look otherwise, but I don’t think somebody like that is mad. But anybody who believes in some kind of existence in deity or spirits or anything that intervenes in their life is not somebody I hold in any kind of esteem. David Shankbone: Have you had much interaction with the theistic Satanists? Peter H. Gilmore: No, I just have complete contempt for them and have no contact with them at all. If anybody does contact me and say they are a theistic Satanist we tell them to take a hike. [Laughs]. David Shankbone: Do you know what they think of you? Peter H. Gilmore: I have no idea and I could not care. I consider it lunatic and it’s Christian. If you want to believe in an existing devil then you probably believe in an existing God and you’re really just a Christian heretic, you’re not a Satanist. David Shankbone: What do you think is their motivation to worship a Christian Satan? Peter H. Gilmore: I really wouldn’t know, I’d have to talk to them, but my supposition would be that they want to feel they are naughty on some level. If they really believe in these existing deities, then they have to decide what the values of them are. The Gnostics used to think that Jehovah was bad; the demiurge, and that the real God was something more in touch with what they thought humanity should be like. So, maybe these people think that Jehovah is evil and Satan is good. I just think it’s equally silly whether you believe in an Easter Bunny or Zeus…it’s just…irrational.

Church of Satan 101

Nov
17
David Shankbone: How would you define the word Satan?

Peter Gilmore: Satan is a model or a mode of behavior. Satan in Hebrew means "adversary" or "opposer"; one who questions. Since we generally are skeptical atheists, we question all spirituality. We believe that carnality is all that exists and the spiritual dimensions are fictional. So we stand against eastern and western religions that promote fictions, according to our perspectives. So we are adversaries. Satan to us is an exemplar. When we look at how he is portrayed by Mark Twain in Letters from the Earth, or Byron, or Milton's Paradise Lost, he ends up being an inspirational symbol to us. We say we would like to be more like that. We will not bow our heads; we will be independent. We will constantly question.

David Shankbone: What is the Church of Satan?

Peter 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!" So you then have to make a decision that places yourself at the center of your own subjective universe, because of course we can't have any kind of objective contact with everything that exists. That's rather arrogant and delusional, people who try to put things that way. So by making yourself the primary value in your life, you're your own God. By being your own God, you are comfortable about making your own decisions about what to value. What's positive to you, is good. What harms you, is evil. You extend it to things that you cherish and the people that you cherish. So it's actually very easy to see that it's a self-centered philosophy.

But it also requires responsibility, since you are taking on for yourself the complete onus for your personal success or failure. You can't be praying to a God or blaming a devil, or anyone else, for that matter, for what happens to you. It's on your own head. That's a challenge for most people. Most people tend to really feel that they want some kind of external support, that they are outward looking and might want some sort of supernatural parental figure, or even some sort of existing governmental authority, existing in their life.

David Shankbone: Why do you think people are like that?

Peter Gilmore: I think there are actually two kinds of people. There are the kind of people who need that, and the kind that don't. The kind that don't are the smaller percentage of our species. It's as simple as that.

David Shankbone: Why do you think there are those who need to have a God or supernatural parental figure?

Peter Gilmore: I think it's natural to them. I don't think it is something developmental, but that it's just part of their own nature. That they feel a need for something above them, whether it be human or supernatural. And they can't get away from that.

David Shankbone: In the history of a lot of religions, a doctrine was developed by people who were oppressed as a way to explain their lot, and that their oppressors were going to "get theirs in the end." That's where Karl Marx was saying religion is the opiate of the masses, because it creates complacency with oppression now because in some other ethereal dimension equality will be achieved.

Peter Gilmore: Well, see the idea of the "God" comes from the oppressors, and it's a way of controlling folks, by saying, "I have communication with this authority figure but you can't. I'm special." That's where priesthoods come in, but also governmental authorities and parties, let's say the Communist Party or the Nazi Party at one point. They have the key to the way the universe should exist, and everyone needs to be subservient to them and take what they say as holy writ whether they are actually claiming it is divine or not. That's why so many of those fascist and totalitarian systems function like religions, because they put the leaders and whatever they wrote as some kind of scriptural authority that is not supposed to be debated or examined, but simply swallowed whole.

Now some people might come up with a religious belief that may counter an existing system that will help them feel better about their underdog status, and then sometimes that develops into a major religion and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it is crushed and snuffed out. That's natural to our species, that people have to find a way for dealing with their existence.

The Satanist, we look at our existence and say, "We're not going to look for something outside of ourselves. We're going to be proactive." We'll go out there and try to make a change, and we'll deal pragmatically with whatever life situations we have. So the Satanist, regardless of where he is living and under what kind of conditions, he is going to try to find a way to make his life as good as it can be based upon his own abilities and the world around him. We don't expect everybody in Satanism to be a genius, we expect people to take whatever they have by nature, and do the best with it. So in that sense, we challenge people who are our members; the only idealism we have is directed at ourselves. We try to look at ourselves and try to realize what our potential possibly could be, what talents do we have. And then we try to take those, through whatever work is needed, to take those as far as we can.

David Shankbone: What would be their motivation for doing something for society and not for themselves? Would there even be a motivation?

Peter Gilmore: Oh, absolutely! It's up for you to choose your own preferences. By being self-centered you can select your own values.

David Shankbone: Like, I get value out of what I am doing for Wikimedia, even though it's for free, there is still a value…

Peter Gilmore: Absolutely! What you're doing, David, is a Satanic example. The whole point of Satanism is again to choose your values, and if you become somebody that really feels you want to work for hospitals for free - a number of our members work for animal organizations because we generally cherish animals and think they are far less polluted than people with values that are anti- their nature. So, Satanists are often very giving.
Because our values come from the self, people who try to tell themselves that they must be selfless, they can't really understand why you would be giving if you're a selfish person. But I think that's more a revelation of their own natures, meaning if they didn't have some external force making them being nice to people, they would be bastards! We Satanists, because we are relaxed, we love our lives, we love people who enrich our lives and things that are around us that we enjoy, we can be really giving. Gods can be beneficent! So when you are your own God, you can be happy to give!

David Shankbone: How would a Satanist define evil?

Peter Gilmore: Evil is whatever is harmful to you and the things you most cherish. It's that simple.

David Shankbone: Some people have a compulsion to rape, and it harms them to not act upon it. If it was harmful for somebody to not go out and rape somebody, how would a Satanist address that situation?

Peter Gilmore: We then have to go into the realm of society, and we believe that as animals that are social, we have a social contract. When we deal with other people, our approach is that we want to have maximum freedom, and maximum responsibility without infringing on people as much as possible. So we would set up laws so we really don't have to spend all of our time defending our territory, being in some kind of castle keep situation. So anyone who is going to go out and assault undeserving people, is someone we would deem a criminal and have them locked up or dealt with in whatever way seems most appropriate, whether it's therapy, whether it's drugs, or if they can't control themselves, execution.

David Shankbone: Capital punishment is not antithetical to Satanism.

Peter Gilmore: Not necessarily, but essentially we would rather shrink from the government having the power to take you and murder you, because we don't have a lot of confidence in people being rational, or being truthful, and we have seen so often - especially with DNA testing - that a lot of people have been jailed and accused of murder and they were wrong. That's wrongful. So it's not this broad, "We accept capital punishment and it's fine!"

David Shankbone: "Slaughter them all!"

PETER GILMORE: Right! But there are certain situations where it would be appropriate. Say, when Colin Ferguson shot all those people. There should be absolutely no time wasted on that.

David Shankbone: But should it be the government doing it?

Peter Gilmore: I think the government can have the ability but under control. There needs to be checks and balances. That whole idea in the United States that has come from so many other past forms of government is something we feel is necessary. We don't want any form of megalomaniacal government with absolute power that can do anything willy-nilly to its citizens. Satanists are generally Libertarians. They may choose their specific political alliances because it might better whatever they are trying to do in their lives, but essentially most of us are fairly libertarian people. We would like to have government as minimal as possible.

David Shankbone: Do you have a 10 Commandments?

Peter Gilmore: We have the 9 Satanic Statements, but we don't have commandments that are laws that are like sins. We have eleven sins that are kind of behaviors that we don't want to be doing. For us, we try to create a situation where we have some social interaction with people that can be beneficial for ourselves. But we don't set up these kinds of laws that somebody is going to punish you for. So with Satanism they are things where you kick yourself and say, "Why did I do something stupid? I shouldn't do that next time." It's better for you. It doesn't matter about anybody else on that level: you've got to not be an ass.

David Shankbone: Are there certain sites or places that are important to the Church of Satan?

Peter Gilmore: No, we don't really have any holy ground or anything like that. For the Satanist, if there is any kind of architecture you like, or a place you like to visit - some people like places with devil themes or where there is historical interest. But there is nothing particularly Satanic about any location.

David Shankbone: No place with a natural significance?

PETER GILMORE: Well, it's the universe. We look at it like Carl Sagan and we are star stuff, we are made of the stuff of exploding stars. We Satanists look at the universe in this wonderful context of that's what we are part of and that's really exciting. We don't need to single out any special part of it unless you find a place you really enjoy. The place you were born, perhaps, or the place you grew up. Some people are interested in a historical figure and say the place where a castle was built or a particular battle was fought, or some individual took a last stand.

David Shankbone: If someone wanted to explore your beliefs, what should they read?

Peter Gilmore: The Satanic Bible is the place to start, because that is the foundational literature for the organization. All of Anton LaVey's books are worth reading. The Satanic Witch is his compendium of Lesser Magic, which is our concept for how you manipulate people on a day-to-day basis to get them to do things in your favor. It's geared toward women because we think it's fine for women to use their sexuality to get what they want. It's part of nature, so go ahead! Dress for success! But it works for guys, too. Whatever you have to charm people. Glamor is worthwhile, so The Satanic Witch is useful for that. He's got collections of essays, too, and The Satanic Rituals is more for a formal setting, where different cultures were examined to see what kind of diabolical imagery was in them. Rituals can be fun to do in a large group setting; but they're not anything you have to do. Here's a Russian one, here's a French one; here's a German one. Here's a Black Mass - what would that be like? In Satanism a Black Mass is not something we are running out and eager to do because as far as we're concerned, Christianity is a dead horse, unless in your life you feel there has been this really negative Christian influence that you need to purge, it's just kind of pointless.

And my book, The Satanic Scriptures, is worth reading, because it ties up where we have been, where we are now, and where we are going. So if you only picked two, I would say read The Satanic Bible and The Satanic Scriptures, because then you'll have the book ends of the over forty year span of the Church of Satan.