Posts Tagged ‘church of satan’

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.

Satanism: An interview with Church of Satan High Priest Peter Gilmore

Nov
15
On a windy October day in Central Park, Monday, November 5, 2007, Wikinews reporter David Shankbone sat down with the High Priest of the Church, Peter H. Gilmore, who has led LaVey's congregation of Satanists since his passing in 1997 (he became the High Priest in 2001). They discussed the beliefs of the Church, current events, LaVey's children and how Satanism applies to life and the world. In the 1980's and the 1990's there were multiple allegations of sexual abuse in the context of Satanic rituals that has come to be known as The Satanic Panic. In the United States, the Kern County abuse cases, McMartin trial and the West Memphis 3 cases garnered worldwide media coverage. One case took place in Jordan, Minnesota, where horrible allegations were made, at which point the Federal Bureau of Investigation was alerted. Twenty-four adults were arrested and charged with acts of multiple crimes related to satanic ritual abuse; only three went to trial with two acquittals and one conviction. Supreme Court Justice Scalia noted in a discussion of the case, "[t]here is no doubt that some sexual abuse took place in Jordan; but there is no reason to believe it was as widespread as charged," and cited the repeated, coercive techniques used by the investigators as damaging to the investigation. One of the most visible Satanic organizations—though one that was never a suspect or charged in any of the Satanic Panic cases—is the Church of Satan, founded by Anton LaVey. Members of the Church, 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 and the FBI would later issue an official report debunking the criminal conspiracy theories of this time. Gilmore feels Satanists are often misunderstood or misrepresented. LaVey's teachings are based on individualism, self-indulgence, and "eye for an eye" morality, with influence from Friedrich Nietzsche and Ayn Rand; while its rituals and magic draw heavily from occultists such as Aleister Crowley. They do not worship—nor believe in—the Devil or a Christian notion of Satan. The word "Satan" comes from the Hebrew word for "adversary" and originated from the Abrahamic faiths, being traditionally applied to an angel. Church of Satan adherents see themselves as truth-seekers, adversaries and skeptics of the religious world around them.

What is the basic history of the Church of Satan?

Nov
13
In the 1950s 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. In October 2004 the Royal Navy officially recognised its first registered Satanist, twenty-four year old Chris Cranmer, as a technician on the HMS Cumberland. 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.

What is the basic biography of Anton LaVey?

Nov
9
LaVey was born in Chicago, Illinois to Jewish parents Michael Joseph Levey, a liquor distributor from Omaha, Nebraska, and his wife, Gertrude Augusta Coultron. His family soon moved to California, where he spent most of his early life in the San Francisco Bay Area and later in Globe, Arizona. According to his biography, his ancestry includes French, Alsatian, German, Georgian, and Romanian stock. His parents supported the development of his musical abilities as he tried his hand at various instruments, his favorite being keyboards such as the pipe organ and the calliope. LaVey's biography tells of his dropping out of high school in his junior year to join a circus and carnivals, first as a roustabout and cage boy in an act with the big cats, later as a musician playing the calliope. LaVey later noted that seeing many of the same men attending both the bawdy Saturday night shows and the tent revival meetings on Sunday mornings reinforced his increasingly cynical view of religion. He later had many stints as an organist in bars, lounges, and nightclubs. While playing organ in Los Angeles burlesque houses, he reportedly had a brief affair with the then-unknown Marilyn Monroe as she was dancing at the Mayan Theater. This claim has been challenged by those who knew Monroe at the time, as well as the manager of the Mayan, Paul Valentine, who stated that she had never been one of his dancers, nor had the theater ever been used as a burlesque house or for "bump and grind" shows. According to his biography, LaVey moved back to San Francisco where he worked for 3 years as a photographer for the police department. He also dabbled as a psychic investigator, looking into "800 calls" referred to him by the police department. Later biographers have questioned whether LaVey ever worked with the police, as there are no surviving records substantiating the claim. LaVey met (in 1950) and married (1951) Carole Lansing (1935 or 1936 - 1975), with whom he had his first daughter, Karla LaVey, in 1952. They divorced in 1960 after LaVey became entranced by Diane Hegarty. Hegarty and LaVey never married, but she was his companion for many years, and bore his second daughter, Zeena Galatea LaVey in 1963. At the end of their relationship Diane Hegarty sued for palimony. Becoming a local celebrity through his paranormal research and live performances as an organist (including playing the Wurlitzer at the Lost Weekend cocktail lounge), he attracted many San Francisco notables to his parties. Guests included Carin de Plessin, Michael Harner, Chester A. Arthur III, Forrest J. Ackerman, Fritz Leiber, Dr. Cecil E. Nixon, and Kenneth Anger. LaVey began presenting Friday night lectures on the occult to what he called a "Magic Circle" of associates who shared his interests. A member of this circle suggested that he had the basis for a new religion. On Walpurgisnacht, 30 April, 1966, he ritualistically shaved his head in the tradition of ancient executioners, declared the founding of the Church of Satan and proclaimed 1966 as "the year One", Anno Satanas—the first year of the Age of Satan. Media attention followed the subsequent Satanic wedding ceremony of radical journalist John Raymond to New York socialite Judith Case on February 1, 1967 (photographed by Joe Rosenthal). The Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle were among the newspapers that printed articles dubbing him "The Black Pope." LaVey performed Satanic baptisms (including one for Zeena) and Satanic funerals (including one for naval machinist-repairman third-class Edward Olsen, complete with a chrome-helmeted honor guard), and released a record album entitled The Satanic Mass. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, LaVey melded ideological influences from Ayn Rand, Friedrich Nietzsche, Aleister Crowley, H.L. Mencken, and Jack London with the ideology and ritual practices of the Church of Satan. He wrote essays introduced with reworked excerpts from Ragnar Redbeard’s Might is Right and concluded with “Satanized” versions of John Dee’s Enochian Keys to create books such as The Satanic Bible, The Compleat Witch (re-released in 1989 as The Satanic Witch), and The Satanic Rituals. Due to increasing visibility through his books, LaVey was the subject of numerous articles in the news media throughout the world, including popular magazines such as Look, McCall's, Newsweek, and TIME, and men’s magazines. He also appeared on talk shows such as Joe Pyne, Phil Donahue, and Johnny Carson, and in a feature length documentary called Satanis: The Devil's Mass in 1970. LaVey’s next and final companion was Blanche Barton. Barton and LaVey are the parents of Satan Xerxes Carnacki LaVey, born November 1, 1993. She succeeded herself as the head of the Church after his death, but has since stepped down from that role. Anton LaVey died on October 29, 1997, in St. Mary's Hospital, San Francisco of pulmonary edema. He was taken to St. Mary's, a Catholic hospital, because it was the closest available. For reasons open to speculation, the time and date of his death was incorrectly (by two days) listed as the morning of Halloween on his death certificate. His daughter Zeena Schreck claimed responsibility for LaVey's death through putting a ritual curse on him. A secret Satanic funeral, attended by invitation only, was held in Colma. LaVey's body was cremated, with his ashes eventually divided amongst his heirs as part of a settlement, on the assumption that they possess occult potency, and can be used for acts of Satanic ritual magic.